Switching Up the Kids Bedrooms

While we were saving to build this house, and actually building it, we were in a 900 sq foot two bedroom cottage. There were only two kids at the time, and they shared a room because there was no choice. We were so, so against it at the time. We even considered giving each of them a private bedroom and putting our own bed in the living room. Well, my husband wanted to, I refused.

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(This is what the property looked like.  I can’t believe we bought it!)

Anyway, there wasn’t even enough room for two beds. One child was still in a crib at the time, but when she needed a bed we had her share with her older sister. They shared a dresser. There was one small closet in the room with no door, and half of it taken up by the HVAC return. And it was where I had to keep my own clothes, so no help there.

I was so excited for them to have their own room when the house got done. We planned on a downstairs master and an upstairs with three bedroom with a private bath each (please consult my tab on “simple living”….oh dear). I couldn’t wait for the storage space, the sparkly new bathrooms, the separate and quiet spaces so they would both nap. But as we put the build off, and off, and off, I came to see the benefits of the shared space.

They chatted with each other for an hour each night before falling asleep, so we started putting them to bed at 7. Everyone got some relaxing time before bed, me included. They shared a lot of books, and their baby dolls shared clothes, and they traded stuffed animals back and forth. There was very little middle of the night crying, or being afraid of the dark. They never resisted bedtime. Once they were in there they resisted sleep, but they were happy to get their pjs on and head in together.

And so, when construction began at long last, we decided they would continue to share. It never even really felt like a decision. It was just what everyone wanted, and was never up for discussion. I saw matching vintage iron beds for sale outside a thrift store, and that was that.

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This is our upstairs floorpan.  They have the large bedroom in the bottom left.  The “office” is their small play loft:  The large hall closet now holds their toys.

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When they are older we are thinking we will put some arm chairs here and make it a cozy reading spot.

The wide hallway holds their bookshelf, which needs a little more space:

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They have enjoyed a sweet shared bedroom for a year and a half now. They have fought over certain nightgowns, toys, the music they want to listen to, the stories they want to hear. They have read to each other, told each other about their days, and discussed what they will be doing in the morning. They have a had a nice shared bathroom with a big window where they attempt to style each other’s hair. They have occasionally come down at night when they are scared of storms or winds, but they have mostly been content.

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But last week, they asked a for a change:

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And we were happy to oblige.


Setting Up a Baking Corner

Aren’t these pictures beautiful?

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(both from Pinterest, can’t find the original source)

Please don’t put your baking supplies in a place like this!

It will look great in pictures, and that is about all it is good for.

Put them in your kitchen.

Wherever you stand in the kitchen the most. This tends to be somewhere between sink and stove.

(For me, it is in the corner to the right of the cooktop.)

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Put your flour, sugars, oils, vinegars, salt, and spices in your kitchen “hot zone” where you are standing.  Also your baking powder and baking soda, cocoa, cornmeal, cornstarch, bread crumbs, nonstick spray, and shortening.  All of that stuff.

Mine is the cabinet on the right of the picture above.

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Some baking stuff on the left, spices on the right.

Some can go on the counter. Some in a cabinet.  Deep drawers would be great.

I also have a few things on the counter (white sugar, Brown sugar, panko bread crumbs, and all-purpose flour in the big King Arthur tin.)

My lazy susan holds almost everything else:

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I have a lot of bulk sized items, a lot of unopened extra bags because I stock up when there is a sale, and everything fits easily.  It definitely look better with matching labeled canisters, but it is fine.

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Measuring cups and spoons should be here too, in a spot where you don’t even need to take a step to get them. I have seen pictures of people storing them on hooks inside a cabinet door. I have never tried this but it seems like it would get annoying gingerly placing them on hooks and having them clatter about when you open the door.

I prefer a drawer:

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I moved my spatulas to a canister to make room.

Just keep them nearby. You will soon know exactly where everything is as you use it more.

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Even if you are not a big baker, all of these ingredients are used in everyday cooking too. They belong next to you in the kitchen.

Below this little drawer is a little cabinet for small appliances I use in baking, like the food processor, blender, and bread machine.

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Now this area is all set up for my “everyday” type baking. Breads, cookies, muffins, anything like that can be easily made without trekking back and forth to some distant pantry. It is all right here. If I need to make a marinade, a salad dressing, meatballs, whatever, everything I need is here or in the fridge. The only things I keep in my pantry cabinet, a bit further away, are pasta, canned goods, and unopened extra things like sauces and other fridge stuff.  (Come to think of it, my extra flour, etc. should be probably go there too.)

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Whatever is living in the cabinets by your sink or your cooktop, see if you can give it the boot. If your sugars and flours are in a pantry, take them out and put lesser used small appliances in there instead, or bakeware, or whatever else you don’t use every day that is taking up prime real estate in your cabinets.

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And I think you will find that baking becomes less tedious, as the whole routine of taking things out and putting them back is drastically simplified.

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My mom says it is weird and that all food should be together, in a pantry!  What do you think?


Executing the Color Scheme

I would say half of my posts here are me railing against consumerism, and the other half are me talking about things I want.  This will be the latter.

So last month, I found a color scheme for my house to de-beige it.  Brown was accepted as my primary color throughout the house.  (To include beige, light beige, and all my other favorites.)  Everything that got added had to fit the plan.  The determined colors were:

  1. Navy
  2. Colonial blue (not sure exactly what this is, but in my mind it is a grayed down aqua.)
  3. Red (warm, like brick or rust, and deep)

So as things came up that we wanted or needed, I decided that they would be one of these colors.  We needed blackout curtains for our room, because the moon keeps us awake on clear, full moon nights:

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Hmmm.

We (I) wanted a gallery wall on the stairs because I did:

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I guess there is one painting with navy blue in it!

And we needed a china cabinet so I could move some things out of kitchen cabinets now that all our food is stored in the kitchen.

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(It was $400 on Craigslist, is solid cherry, and is SUPER BEAUTIFUL in person. But very brown!)

Well.  A bit of a failure so far, but I do like them, and the curtains were really just practical, not decorative.  And not sure if you are aware of this, but buying pretty curtains that are also blackout curtains would be like $100 per panel, especially when your windows are huge.

At least I have finished up some new pillow covers:

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(Why is this couch so weird looking in photos.)

Found some flowers,

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And a little green and blue outside.

 

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Does your home have a color scheme?  Are you good about sticking to it?


Thinking about zero-waste

Not thinking about actually attempting it. Just thinking about it.

Wasn’t it it just last fall that everyone was talking about hygge, and we were supposed to be surrounded by candles and playing cards? What was the “lifestyle trend” before that? Outdoor adventure? Quality time? Or was this the first one to have an official name and identifiable start date?

I recently stopped buying dish sponges, because I find them gross and ugly. Now I use dish cloths and a wooden scrub brush. Imagine my joy to learn that the brushes are part of the zero waste lifestyle! They can be composted!

Fine, except that I had them shipped here. They are made in Germany. Germany. The handle is wood, which I’m sure was harvested with power tools, trucked to the factory, and manufactured by something other than manpower. Sponges…well, I would have just picked them up at Costco while I was already there. The whole package weighs basically nothing and probably cost very little to transport from the factory to the store or the store to my home. But thank goodness I can throw this wooden brush in the compost to break down in twenty years. Don’t ask me about the plastic wrapper it came in.

Of course zero waste require a whole new set of implements. Glass jars, reusable produce bags, more wooden brushes, a drying rack, reusable straws. A travel mug so that when you go to Starbucks you can have them fill your mug instead of getting a paper mug. Conveniently, the coffee beans were grown and processed in the back of the restaurant, which is run on solar energy.

I’m not sure why this is making me so grouchy. I’m not saying that little things don’t make a difference. I also think plastic is wasteful and ugly. Heck, I line a basket in newspaper to give leftover food to the chickens and then put the newspaper in the compost. I use cloth diapers! But showing up to the grocery store with a quart sized jug and asking for olive oil… does not make sense.

Usually I am able to look at a trend and just simply think “that is not for me,” and move on. But this one seems so silly, so unrealistic, and so laced with judgement. Trash is a problem. Our throw away culture is a problem. Rich people with expensive brushes, me included, are not the answer. Do your best. Buy your glass jars. And then maybe stop calling it something it’s not.


Brussels Sprouts with Bacon and Cream

It is still wintery here, gray and cool, even though we are getting plenty of eggs and wildflowers. The fire continues, although this might be its last day of the season.  (I feel like I have thought that at least five times this spring.)

 

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Here is a recipe for when nothing springy is ready in the garden yet:

(This is my sister-in-law’s recipe, and my favorite vegetable of all time.  It is somewhat labor intensive as far as sides go, so best to make with a main dish that is in the oven, like a roast chicken or something that is more hands off.)

You will need:

8 slices of bacon

2 lbs of brussels sprouts, trimmed and cut in half

3/4  cup of heavy cream

3/4 cup chicken stock or broth

1/2 t. salt

1/4 t. pepper

  1.  Cook the bacon in a heavy skillet until crisp.  Remove to paper towels to drain.  Leave at least 3 tablespoons of dripping in the skillet.
  2. Turn up the heat until almost smoking, and add the cut sprouts.  You want to them to brown and caramelize.  Stir while they cook, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add the broth, salt and pepper, and reduce the heat.  Cover to let them soften for about 2 minutes.
  4. Remove the cover once they are tender, and add the whipping cream.  Let the cream reduce and thicken, and keep stirring.  They should not look “creamy”.
  5. Crumble the bacon on top and serve.

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