What’s Up This Week

This week we were working on a bunch of projects but didn’t get a chance to finish anything, so I’ll post finished pics next week. I was also struggling with fatigue from 3 nights of insomnia (gah!). But I’ll share a few updates on our progress this week.

diy table

Our DIY dining table is almost done! It’s been basically constructed and now needs to be finished off with stain and poly, and then assembled in the dining room.

baby using tools

This little girl helped put the table together.

staining table

Yesterday we put on a couple coats of stain (Minwax Special Walnut, my favorite) and we’re going to put on a couple coats of polyurethane today.

dining chairs goodwill

I often feel like we never find anything good at Goodwill anymore, but then something like this happens! My latest find — four mid-century-esque dining chairs. Solid oak, cushion stuffing in really good condition. Oh and did I mention the table came with (I’m saving it for the “craft room” in the loft when we get around to it). All for 40 bones?! I have a feeling these chairs are more 80’s than truly mid-century but I think they’ll be great once I recover the seats and refinish the wood (hopefully in a less honey finish, if I can sand off all of the current finish).

And finally:

trader joes cards

I switched in some new “art” in the small 5×7 frames on the left of this gallery wall in the breakfast nook. They are actually cards from Trader Joe’s for 99 cents each!

(Please ignore the disintegrating trim on the right there. It will all be fixed. Someday. Also, paint on the walls. It will happen, I promise.)

trader joes art

Trader Joe’s has the cutest cards, and they are printed on really nice textured matte cardstock that looks just like watercolor paper. I love that they have a lot of non-subject specific cards so they don’t look strange framed. Go get some! For a buck you can get really cute art at Trader Joe’s to switch things up around the house!

Elsewhere on the Internet, a few more of my articles are up at Wisebread.com:

Is Your Apple Dangerous? How to Eat Fewer Pesticides (While Saving Money) – buying organic is one way, but there are several strategies you can use to reduce your pesticide exposure in food.

5 Ways to Say “No” to Friends and Family – We all could use some more balance in our lives…saying “no” once in a while is a good start.

How to Save 10-20% on Online Purchases Every Day – My not-so-secret method for saving every time you buy something online.

Have a great weekend everyone!

Homemade Hawaiian Poke Bowls

poke bowls title

It’s been a while since I posted a recipe but I hope this recipe will make it worth the wait. I first heard about poke from my friend Tricia, and I first tried it at North Shore Poke in Huntington Beach. It’s kind of a Hawaiian fish salad…delicious fresh chunks of fish and seasonings layered on top of either greens or rice. If you like sashimi, you’ll love poke. If you like ceviche, there’s a good chance you’ll like poke too.

The great thing about poke is it’s kind of like the poor person’s sashimi. The fish has to be fresh, but it doesn’t have to be the most expensive cut of fish, and it is kind of just hacked into chunks rather than sliced with precision. That’s good news for those of us lacking professional knife skills ;p!

poke bowl top

poke bowls top 1

I got my fish from our local Japanese grocery just because I trust it a little more to be fresh (high turnover, and they serve sushi and sashimi in the store). I wouldn’t get fish from your local supermarket or Costco or something like that. Go to a good fishmonger’s or farmer’s market, or a smaller grocery store that you trust, because the fish will be raw and can harbor harmful bacteria if you’re not careful. Although I’ve never had a problem, there’s always a risk in not cooking seafood fully.

I love salmon so that’s what I made my poke from. However, some people might find the oiliness of the salmon combined with the avocado to be a bit too rich. Poke is usually made from ahi tuna so you might want to go that route (although salmon tends to be cheaper). Get a good salmon or tuna steak, preferably de-boned and skinned to cut down on prep time. Keep your fish chilled until ready to mix with the sauce.

poke bowl side

Poke Bowls
Serves 2

1 large salmon or tuna steak (about 1 pound)
1 avocado, cubed
cooked white rice, to serve

1 small shallot, finely diced
3 green onions, diced
1/3 cup low-sodium soy sauce
2 (ish) tablespoons sugar
1/4 cup toasted sesame oil
1 tsp grated ginger
1-2 tbsp sesame seeds (to taste)
extra green onions

Mix all the sauce ingredients together and let them sit for about 30 minutes so their flavors meld.

Remove bones and skin from fish, and cut into 3/4″ chunks.

Mix sauce together with the fish and avocado and refrigerate until ready to serve. Taste and adjust seasonings. Serve with extra diced green onions, sesame seeds, and soy sauce (I also like to serve it with furikake). Serve on top of steamed white rice that has been cooled to room temperature.

You can easily double all the ingredients to make enough for 4 people.


Sharing at SavvySouthernStyle, TheShabbyCreekCottageTatertotsandJello and Remodelaholic!

Begone, Wood Trim!

breakfast nook Collage

Hey all! Thanks for reading even though I haven’t posted much this week. We’ve been trying to crank out a lot of house/yard projects this summer, but they all take time, and thus I haven’t had the chance to post as many little crafty cute things as I’d like to.

This week I’ve been working on this space:

wood trim breakfast nook

The breakfast nook (before picture above) has always been workable, so I hadn’t bothered to do much to it other than hang pictures. But last week while we were painting some other stuff, I decided it was time to paint the dark wood trim. I have nothing against wood but in this room it was looking dated and a little too 1980’s summer camp.

2 coats of Zinsser Cover Stain (water based) and 2 coats of semi-gloss white (untinted white base from Behr) later and we have this!

kitchen nook white

I painted a couple of coats on the plank wainscoting too. It had been previously an off-white cream color (combined with the wood trim, totally dated!).

breakfast nook white

Ahh, so much fresher in here! Next, I’m planning to paint the walls and install a DIY roman shade in the window. We’re also going to remove the battered quarter-round baseboards and replace them with some more substantial base trim. Then I’m going to do something to make over the 70s oak table and chairs we inherited from my in-laws. So many projects, so little time!

Sharing at NotJustAHousewife and DIYShowoff!

Our Big Weekend Project

I still can’t believe we managed to pull this off in a weekend.

Granted, it was a long weekend, but this project was completed in just two days. So definitely weekend doable.

This is our living room wall before.


And this is our living room wall now.

slider complete

That’s right. We cut a hole in the wall and installed a sliding glass door into this long and windowless wall in our living room!

By “we”, really, I mean Chris and his dad installed the slider. I contributed by being in charge of the toddler all day and by giving constructive criticism when warranted ;).


Our walls are ridiculously thin. These mass-manufactured tract homes were built out of prefab wall panels and our walls are only about 2″ thick.


Chris peeled off the outer layer (after removing the electrical) so he could see what he was dealing with. Then he cut a hole just so he could step through and work.


You can really see how thin our walls are. Basically two plywood panels joined with pieces of wood and this interesting honeycomb foam insulation, which was disintegrating from age. Also, there were large gaps where there was no insulation.


Chris and his dad cut the hole to the size of the slider (which we bought from Lowe’s for about $350).


After cutting the hole they added a new header and side support beams. You can see the header above, whereas the side support beams were inserted into the walls between the plywood panels.


Because we are planning to install rigid foam insulation and siding over the walls this summer, we wrapped the window frame and surrounding walls with Tyvek, a water resistant barrier. Then Chris added flashing to the sides.





You gotta flash the windows properly to prevent leaks. Other windows in our house had not been flashed properly and in a driving rain, water leaks through. We can kind of get away with it in Southern California, but still, better to do it right. We’re hoping to flash the rest of the windows properly before we install new siding.


We were chasing the light, but we got ‘er done! All this in one day!

slider horiz

The next day we added the pieces of trim, partially salvaged from the board and batten (well really just the battens) we had removed with the wall.

Because our walls are so thin, the window frame was thicker than the wall. Fortunately, the board and batten thickened the wall so it came up flush against the frame, and then the extra trim we added along the top and sides finished it off. We just need to caulk the seams, patch nail holes, and add another coat of paint.

Not bad for a couple days’ work, eh?

Sharing at HopeStudios, AStrollThruLife and SavvySouthernStyle!

Budget Window Treatments

We finally have window treatments for the family room, hooray!

roman shades

This room has LOTS of windows and we knew that it was going to cost quite a pretty penny to get window treatments. We already have white floor-length curtains on the sliding doors, so we decided to do simple white roman shades for the windows. I figure, white is classic, and if I tire of the look I can always stencil them or add paint or ribbon or something.

roman shades 1

I found these at JCPenny and they were among the cheapest I could find. AND, they are currently on SALE so go grab them now if you are looking for simple white roman blinds. They are the Savannah III Roman Shades. When we bought them they were 25% off and we got some extra discounts using our secret method for getting online discounts. Just to put it in perspective, the 31″ shades are on sale now for $30 compared to getting them $100 or more elsewhere.

roman shades 2

They may be cheap roman shades, but they are surprisingly good quality for the price. They don’t fully block out the sun, but rather just filter the light. This isn’t a bedroom so that’s fine for us. (This is also our toy storage area).

I heard about these shades through Emily Henderson’s blog. I figured, she’s a pro, so I can’t go too far wrong, right? The JCPenny shades were among her picks for cheap roman shades that are simple, functional, and decent quality.

roman shades 3

A roman shade was pretty much the best solution for this awkward area under the spiral staircase that goes up to the loft. Well, mini-blinds would have worked, but they’re just not as pretty!

(By the way, that milk-crate plastic fencing in the right bottom corner is our attempt at babyproofing the spiral staircase so the baby doesn’t hit her head under the stairs.)

I still have many other windows in this house to work on, and I think I’ll try a DIY roman shade next, probably in the kitchen, so stay tuned!

See more pictures of the family room here.

Sharing at TheThriftyHome and TheStyleSisters!

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