Create / Enjoy

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

House-hunting the second time around: ups and downs

We've been through a lot of ups and downs this summer thinking about houses.

We started thinking about selling ours back in April or May. The market was looking pretty good for selling, a lot of people we know are buying or moving, and we've been really getting the itch to get chickens and a dog--which we need a yard for!

We love our townhome. We watched it get built in early-mid 2012. (Seriously, watched the whole thing--here, here, here, here, here, and finally here.) We picked out finishes, wall/ceiling color, a built-in, even a little bit of the closet shape. We waited for more than 8 months while the house was constructed, and lived in our tiny, dark, 80's townhouse in a funky neighborhood in Portland and visited our home site almost every weekend. I started collecting decor pieces and ideas months ahead of time.

Now, we've lived here just over 3 years, and for the past 2 or so I've hardly changed a thing! It has been so wonderful to live in a comfortable, adequately sized space with all my favorite stuff in it, not having a list of house to-do projects every spare moment.

But... pros and cons, all good things must come to an end, all that. We developed 3 primary goals of moving from our lovely home into a new unknown. Three big goals:

  1. Yard. It's time. When we bought our townhome, we were excited to have two decks, a common green between the rows of houses, and no yard to mow. It's been good, but we've about hit the limits of container gardening and we'd like chickens, a dog, and bees! And a garden!
  2. Be closer to family. Both Jason's and my parents live west of us, farther from the city. We want to be closer and see them more often!
  3. Save money. I know, I know... we want to buy a (potentially) bigger house with a yard and save money?? Thankfully we have some equity in our current place and the market has picked up so we'll walk away with a good down payment on the next place, which will help, and we won't be paying the $103 HOA anymore. With husband hoping to attend physical therapy school for the next few years starting next fall, we saw the opportunity to sell as a great chance to be in a more stable position during that time. One thing we considered was finding a split level home with a basement apartment unit in the bottom that we could rent out to family or a tenant. More on that later... 

We started our search in May looking for the perfect split-level home. The price range was pretty wide and I found quite a few very nice houses!! But even the nice ones often needed construction and a kitchen added or wet bar expanded in the basement... it got overwhelming thinking about everything we'd need to do, and imagining our profit from the sale slipping away. It got pretty stressful.

So, we started from scratch. We stopped with the ambitious renovation plans and thought, what kind of house would we want for just the two of us?

In order to still achieve goals 1 and 3, that got us looking at a relatively limited list of homes with at least a 6,000 SF lot but still in a pretty low price range. We did a few weeks of serious house-hunting with our realtor (who we love, by the way--Claudia Pobanz at Knipe Realty) and looked at a lot of depressing places. Some very small, some very boring, some very gross ("The Cat Pee House") or damaged, one nice but literally under powerlines, some okay but too expensive... 

Then, in an act of desperation, before our last round of tours I flipped through my Redfin favorites and saw a split-level home for way cheaper than the others. No trendy updates (original 1977 kitchen, lighting, doors, etc.) but really well kept up, great yard, good size, all that. I gave it some thought and asked husband--should we look at this one just to see?? What if it's almost ready to be divided for a basement apartment and all it needs is a few fun, cosmetic updates? What if it's a totally great deal and home for us and we can go back to the old split level plan?

So, we looked at it. We fell in love. 

We listed our house Thursday, had a full price offer on Saturday, and accepted it Monday. We're making an offer today (Tuesday) on "Grandma and Grandpa's House," as we're calling the split level (it's a one-owner home that is clearly occupied by elderly people with familiar-looking grandma-ey decor and two twin beds in the master bedroom), and we really hope it works out. If not, it'll be back to boring, small, and/or gross ranch houses and garages with houses attached! ;)

Here are a few of the houses we've toured, favorited, and thought about. Some of them have gone pending in 2 days, some were too expensive, some were terrifying inside...

It's a tough world out there, house hunting in summer 2015! I'm so grateful that we're able to sell our place and hopefully find a great opportunity to move up.

While we wait to work out the details of the new place, we're SO excited it's hard to handle. I lie awake at night thinking about how I'll install the new floors and whether or not I should paint the window trim (probably yes). I seriously can't wait to start the project! I already have a spreadsheet started!

In the meantime I'm also looking for split level/70's remodel success stories. This one is super similar to the house we want, and I'm so impressed by their entry stair remodel! This one is a little bigger, but also some great ideas (here and here).

Wish us luck, and pass on any words of wisdom if you have them!

Friday, August 28, 2015

PNW summer dinner party recipe! Spiced broiled salmon with lime butter

Aaaah, the star of the show... the final recipe from our Pacific Northwest simple summer dinner party is here! This salmon turned out amazing and I've made this recipe twice since! (Without the lime butter, sadly... I highly recommend it with the lime butter!)

This recipe features incredible wild-caught salmon from Kenai Red Fish Company, a CSF (community-supported fishery) that delivers subscriptions to Portland. I love salmon and wish I ate more of it, but it's hard to find the good quality stuff and know where it's from. This company provides a really wonderful service and connection to amazing salmon!

For the recipe I developed for our dinner party shoot (also featuring Sam RosenMary BodyenStemm Floral, and Kelsey Malie Calligraphy) I wanted to do something exciting and summery, but also let the great salmon flavor come through. I really like making my own spice blends, but I also wanted the tanginess of citrus. I did lime instead of lemon with this simple, slightly spicy rub--it was a great combination!

This recipe is great for dinner parties (or busy weeknights) because it only takes about 10 minutes in the oven!

Spicy Broiled Salmon with Lime and Lime Butter


Lime Butter:
  • 1 small clove garlic, pressed
  • 1/2 stick (8 tbsp) unsalted grassfed butter, room temperature
  • 3 tbsp lime juice
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt


  • Juice of 1/2 lime
  • Slices of 1/2 lime
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp coriander
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 2 large fillets (about 2 lbs) wild-caught salmon
  • Coconut oil for baking sheet


    1. For the lime butter: Combine all lime butter ingredients in a mini food processor (or use a jar and emulsion blender). 
    2. Refrigerate lime butter several hours or overnight (optional, just makes it scoop better).
    3. Turn oven to broil at 475 degrees. Coat a baking sheet with coconut oil.
    4. For the salmon: Mix dry ingredients in a dish and rub on insides of salmon fillets.
    5. Squeeze lime juice over lime fillets. Top with lime slices. (For crispier individual fillets, cut into smaller pieces before broiling.)
    6. Broil for 10 minutes.
    7. Serve with pats of lime butter.

    The combination of flavorful, slightly spicy salmon and heavenly garlicy-tangy-salty butter is incredible!!! Seriously magical!

    The party shoot was featured on Glitter Guide here. The recipes are on Glitter Guide here and individually on my blog - see my Real Food Recipes page.

    Monday, August 24, 2015

    PNW summer dinner party recipe! Roasted potatoes, radishes, and green beans

    I've talked before about how much tastier some veggies are baked versus boiled. It's still a relatively recent revelation for me, though, and when I was putting together the menu for our Pacific Northwest simple summer dinner party I wanted to do simple veggies and flavors, but special because they're baked!

    So I combined a few of my fave roasted veggies into one dish--green beans, radishes (surprisingly good roasted!), and fingerling potatoes. 

    These were so tasty, we were snacking on them throughout the rest of the shoot! (Styling by Sam Rosen, photos by Mary Bodyen, flowers by Stemm Floral, calligraphy by Kelsey Malie Calligraphy, and salmon from Kenai Red Fish Company (see the photos here).)

    And this is a great summer local food recipe--I got almost all the ingredients for this shoot from our CSA and the farmers' market, including the green beans, potatoes, and radishes!

    Roasted Potatoes, Radishes, and Green Beans


    • 2.5 lbs potatoes (I used a mix of white and red fingerling)
    • 2 bunches radishes
    • 1.5 lbs green beans
    • 1/3 c. olive oil
    • 1 1/4 tsp sea salt
    • Ground pepper

    This makes a big batch (serves 4-6), so halve ingredients for a smaller family.


      1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat a baking sheet with olive oil.
      2. Wash and remove eyes from potatoes. Cut in half (or large bite-sized pieces).
      3. Cut stems from radishes, wash, and cut in half.
      4. Snap green beans and leave long or cut in half.
      5. Toss all veggies, salt, and pepper with oil. Bake for 35 minutes or until well roasted, stirring halfway through.

      Serve hot, although they are also delicious cold the next day, like a side salad!

      The party shoot was featured on Glitter Guide here. The recipes are on Glitter Guide here and individually on my blog - see my Real Food Recipes page.

      Friday, August 21, 2015

      PNW summer dinner party recipe! Simple strawberry and shallot salad

      I think I first heard of berries in salad in high school, but it was something totally new and exciting compared to what my mom usually did with greens. Not till grad school did I discover putting cooked ingredients into salads--grilled veggies, sautéed chopped onions... I still think of both (berries or cooked things) in salads as totally fun, interesting combinations! So for the salad I did for our Pacific Northwest simple summer dinner party (collaboration with Sam RosenMary BodyenStemm Floral, Kelsey Malie Calligraphy, and Kenai Red Fish Company, I used local berries and lettuce with a tangy homemade dressing and sautéed shallots from our CSA! 

      Here's the recipe!

      I got almost all the ingredients for this shoot from our CSA and the farmers' market--this recipe included! 

      Strawberry and Sautéed Shallot Salad


      • 6 shallots
      • 1.5 tbsp olive oil
      • 1/2 tsp sea salt
      • 4-8 strawberries, depending on size
      • 1 head red leaf lettuce


      • 2 oz. olive oil
      • 1 oz. red wine vinegar
      • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
      • 1/4 tsp sea salt


        1. Slice shallots. Sauté in olive oil with salt until translucent.
        2. Chop and spin lettuce.
        3. Combine dressing ingredients in a jar and blend with an emulsion blender or whisk.
        4. Toss lettuce with dressing and plate onto salad plates (optional).
        5. Slice strawberries.
        6. Distribute sautéed shallots and strawberries onto plated salads.

        Serve plated or in a large bowl. Serves 4-6.

        The party shoot was featured on Glitter Guide here. The recipes are on Glitter Guide here and individually on my blog - see my Real Food Recipes page.

        Wednesday, August 19, 2015

        PNW summer dinner party recipe! Smoked salmon cucumber lettuce cups

        I love summer, and cooking local food, and putting together pretty dinner parties. So the Pacific Northwest simple summer dinner party I did with Sam Rosen, Mary Bodyen, Stemm Floral, and Kelsey Malie Calligraphy (see more photos here) was a great opportunity for me to try out some great summer recipes, with two types of salmon from Kenai Red Fish Company. I put together quite a menu, so I'll share these recipes with you one by one as I get them typed up!

        Let's start with the appetizer!

        I know smoked salmon is delicious on its own or with simple flavors, so I wanted to use it in an appetizer. But I didn't know of many without dairy in them! So I came up with these tasty cucumber-filled lettuce boats that are perfect with this flavorful smoked salmon. And dairy-free, Paleo-friendly.

        I used this delicious smoked salmon from Kenai Red Fish Company.

        This recipe is perfect for summer--you can get delicious fresh cucumbers and tomatoes at your farmers' market, and probably the cilantro, too!

        I got almost all the ingredients for this shoot from our CSA and the farmers' market! 

        Smoked Salmon and Cucumber Lettuce Cups


        • 1 medium cucumber, peeled and chopped small
        • 2 tbsp fresh lime juice
        • 2 tbsp chopped cilantro
        • 1/2 tsp sea salt
        • 1 filet (approx. 8-10 oz.) smoked salmon
        • 12-20 medium-sized romaine lettuce leaves
        • cherry tomatoes


          1. Marinate first 4 ingredients at least 4 hours, or overnight.
          2. Distribute cucumber mixture into lettuce leaves.
          3. Break up salmon and distribute on top of cucumber mixture.
          4. Chop cherry tomatoes in half and put 2-3 halves on each lettuce cup.

          Eat with your fingers! The marinade drips onto your plate or napkin, so carry a cute cocktail napkin with you around the party as you eat these!

          The flavors are so simple and fresh. Perfect for showing off the high quality smoked salmon. And a great light appetizer, lots of veggies and tanginess before a big meal!

          The party shoot was featured on Glitter Guide here. The recipes are on Glitter Guide here and individually on my blog - see my Real Food Recipes page.

          Tuesday, August 18, 2015

          Blue and white striped simple tie neck top and peach-picking

          I woke up Saturday morning with an idea. I'd been loosely thinking about going out to a u-pick farm to pick peaches one of these weekends, but I wasn't sure how long the season was, and I thought it would be fun to make something loose, woven, and cottony for the trip. (I love going out to farms, I wanted to make it special!) I called the farm we go to (Jossy Farms in Hillsboro) and... this was the last weekend for picking peaches, and they weren't open on Sunday.

          So, I went to the sewing room, found some pre-washed fabric and a simple pattern (Simplicity 1355, a recent fave), and... an hour and 20 minutes later (!!), I was out the door in my new top!

          I wanted something really simple, since I didn't have a lot of time and wanted something light and airy for being out in the hot sun. Two inspirations here.

          I used (and modified) Simplicity 1355, which I've used a lot lately. It's a dress and jumpsuit pattern, but I cut basically the top for view C/D, but extended the front and back pieces about 6-8" to make it a top. I thought about doing a dress shirt hem, coming up at the sides, or a slight high-low hem with the front a little shorter, but I wanted to honor the structure of the stripes and keep it symmetrical all around.

          I also made the drawstring casing smaller and made the drawstring as narrow as possible. I think it's cuter that way.

          The pattern has a seam down the center front and back to accommodate the slits, but I didn't want to mess with the stripes by adding a seam, so I cut a narrow V in the center front and gave it a tiny hem.

          I chose to tie mine in the back, which takes a little coordination after you put it on... but preserves the smooth front look.

          The armholes have a white bias binding.

          A seriously fast sewing project!!

          I don't know when the last time I bought a top pattern was (I don't make them often), but I don't like to do pattern-free, either--I usually find garments that are at least loosely based on a pattern are more flattering on me!

          The top was perfect for our peach-hunting (hunting because there weren't many left on the trees, really had to look closely!) at Jossy Farms in Hillsboro. How cool is that barn??

          We got... some peaches. Most of the really big ones were already on the ground! We got this box, and froze the ripe ones for later.
          Shorts: Old Navy. Shoes: Old Navy (similar). Hat: Nordstrom Rack c. 2004! (similar) Belt: Vintage. Top: DIY!

          It's the beginning of pear and apple season, though! We got a few too many pears.. not sure what to do with them all! I guess I could can them?? Pear sauce?? We try not to eat too much fruit and save it for special occasions, so I'd like to do something I can use slowly!

          I love the top and it's exactly what I wanted for a hot summer day outside!

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