Create / Enjoy

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Apple picking and backyard boots

I reeeeally wanted to pick apples this year. Turns out I almost missed my window, and it was pretty hard to find a place that still had them available for u-pick!

But, I did. I think I went to Duyck's Peachy Pig Farm on an elementary school field trip, so I didn't remember it at all, but turns out it's an old, hilly, bountiful farm-ey wonderland with $1/lb apples and everbearing strawberries. Seriously, 60 years of farm equipment and children's play structures mixed between the rows of crops. It was pretty awesome.

I don't even like green apples normally, but these were amazing.

And the boots. Unfortunately it's a sort of sad story about the boots. Husband and I each got a pair of these matching totally utilitarian black rubber boots a month or so ago, when we had just had our offer accepted on the big split-level house with the big yard and pretty view. We were planning our chicken flock and garden beds already. We'd been holding off on making bigger purchases for the new place, but we saw the boots and figured they'd be great and were so excited... we figured we'd need them in our new yard for yard work!!

But, no yard yet. They've been sitting in the garage of our yard-less townhouse and we don't need them. They just stare at me reminding me that we don't have a house yet. (Read the saga here.) But, I decided, I can still wear them to the muddy Christmas tree farm, and to a pumpkin patch, and now - not because I needed to since it hasn't rained in a while, but because I can - to pick apples.

It was about 80 degrees. Oh, Oregon October 2015.

Super old scale. Pretty cool.

I love being out in the country. Looking forward to pumpkin patch-ing later this year and hoping to find more opportunities to be out on beautiful Oregon farms! I highly recommend you try one in your area--maybe you can still catch apple season!

Friday, October 2, 2015

House hunting and house selling, and here's where we are

It's hard to write this, since I usually try to stay pretty positive on this blog! But, for those of you who're interested in homes and buying and selling, here's our story.

We’ve spend the past few months planning on selling our townhouse and moving into a fixer-upper—either a small ranch-type house or a split level with a basement we could rent out to my brother-in-law or someone else. (You can read more about our plans here.) It’s been an ambitious but feasible plan. Once we kicked things off and listed our home in August, though, it has not been smooth sailing. 

By the way, our goals were threefold: 1, have a yard for chickens, bees, and a dog. 2, be closer to our families... although we're not too far now. 3, save money either through a cheap house with a huge down payment from our profit selling this place, or through a home with a rental unit potential in the basement.

But, our plans didn't work out the way we were imagining. We've been stressed about it, and recently, I've been kind of depressed, so not sharing a lot about what's been going on. But now we've reached the end (for now) and I'm happy to share our story!

Our house-selling/buying story!

1. We started looking for a new place late last spring. We met with our realtor (Claudia Pobanz, highly recommend her) and talked about what we wanted. I set up search alerts and checked my Redfin app constantly. It was so exciting to think about having a new place! Hopefully one we could make our own with fresh paint, new flooring, and updated lighting. We really wanted a yard, too.

But we weren't ready to list our home yet. We had a lot going on with busy summer things and husband's school. I was anxious to get going, thinking the perfect house could come up at any moment and we'd better sell ours do we were in a position to buy!, but we realized we had to wait till early August when husband's school term was over.

2. We found a home we loved. We well cared-for but not cosmetically updated split level, a one-owner home with tilled backyard for gardening and corner lot. We got the offer papers ready, but first had to have an accepted offer on our home. We waited a few days, till a Thursday, to list. We budgeted, assuming a good sales price for our home and slight discount from the listing price of the split level (it has been on the market quite a while with no offers). We picked out flooring and I made a spreadsheet of expenses for updating it and getting the basement ready to rent.

3. We listed our house. People toured it. We got a full price offer after two days in the market and accepted it.

4. We made an offer on the split level we wanted. But after all those months of it sitting with no offers, someone else made an offer days before ours--and theirs wasn't contingent on the sale of a home. The sellers chose the other offer.

5. We were very sad. We knew we were closing on our place in a month or so, so we had to find somewhere to live! None of the smaller ranch houses appealed after the cared for, big split level we'd loved.

6. We found another split level. This one had beautiful hillside views and a larger lot, but had not been kept up or updated, and had a partially finished basement. And was overpriced. But had a spacious living room and great master suite, and we could imagine living there for a long time and making some updates immediately, some over time. We made a low offer on it, negotiated with the sellers a little, and had our offer accepted.

We scheduled all the inspections (home inspection, radon test, and sewer scope). We picked out flooring again and I updated my spreadsheet. Shopping online for home improvement stuff was my new hobby. I looked into contractor pricing options and other discounts we could get. I thought through the timing of the 10 days we'd have for immediate upgrades after closing and before we had to be out of our place. It was a crazy plan, but doable.

7. Inspection day. I was so excited to get to the home again and measure windows and doors, take photos of lighting locations, and get more info to inform my spreadsheet.

But first... We found out the the buyers on our home couldn't get the loan. Something to do with their immigration status. Bank couldn't tell us more but apparently they tried everything and hadn't expected this issue, hence their preapproval. Now no buyer on our home and still a closing date on the fixer split level pending.

Then the inspection. I headed over after work to overlap with the inspector the last hour and measure. My parents came out and I showed them around. They were supportive and helpful with improvement ideas.

When he was done, the inspector talked me through the photos and findings. Lots of little issues here and there. Electrical, water heater, siding damage, water in the crawlspace, flashing issues, deck connections, and... the roof. Totally shot. Apparently these are typical issues for older homes and the inspector wasn't worried, but we were.

We had budgeted for improvements, but not all of those.

8. We negotiated with the sellers. The bank won't lend with a dead roof, so they potentially planned to replace it before closing. We got bids on siding repair and drainage in the crawlspace. We asked the sellers for a credit for all or part of it, or to repair. They declined. Then they got a certification from a roofing contractor that the roof might be good for another 3-5 years (what the bank requires).

We couldn't do it. With no guarantee on the sales price on our house, and unreasonable sellers and no certainty on what the bank would require after the appraisal that the sellers still wouldn't agree to, we terminated our offer. We got our earnest money back, but of course were out the money for the inspections, and kept getting calls from our lender and insurance company until we explained.

9. Simultaneously...we put our house back on the market. We cleaned up again and got back into the routine of leaving it pristine when we left for work in case someone wanted to see it during the day. We were exhausted and discouraged.

We started looking at smaller homes, 1-story, in better condition but cheaper. We lowered our bar in terms of lot size, and found more homes but some of them very similar to our townhome but with tiny patches of dirt in the back. They were all father away from our jobs, and nothing too exciting to work with. There were a few nice ranch houses in our price range, but they tended to go pending in about two days before we'd had a chance to look at them.

10. We got another offer on our home. Good terms, solid buyer. Only financing $50,000 of it! Reasonable closing date and two weeks free rent after. All sounded great. didn't feel good. We'd been at this house thing for so long and considered so many housing options, and not all of them were that much better than where we currently are. We might have ended up with a lower mortgage payment, but a smaller, less nice, father away place AND we'd have to pay the bank and realtors and do all the moving stuff.

Plus, a lot of the people who looked at our home were looking for investment purposes. Renting it out. That's something we'd considered before, because rents in our area are much higher than our mortgage, but then we decided we were being too ambitious and should take advantage of the current market and set ourselves up with a great down payment plus money to spend on improvements by selling now.

But now we don't really want to move like we originally did. Our house is great. If we can wait another year or so, maybe we can save up for a 5% down payment on a new place and keep this one as a rental. I checked again, and rents for our kind of place are very high. I'm confident we could rent it out to a nice family sometime.

11. We turned down the offer. They offered us more money...we said no to that, too. We took our home off the market. With our apologies to our patient realtor.

The end!

After having our stress levels up for so long, it feels like a huge relief to postpone moving and making big decisions, but it also feels like the more responsible thing to do long-term. It's one of those situations where we can't know what might have happened... if we'd listed our home a week sooner and been the only offer on the nicely kept up split level, we could be moving next week! Would that be better? It was what we wanted... we'll never know. All we can do is make the best out of what did happen.

This process has been so long and trying, I think there should be a word for it. "Housetressed," maybe. Or, because I'm sure it's hard to do this with apartments, "Homestressed." I'm tired of being housetressed! Ready to move on!!

So, I've decided to make the most of the wonderful home we have. I'm already feeling better. (Stay tuned for my list of ways to love your home without moving!) Feeling grateful for our supportive families and our comfortable townhome, with no yard but a great location and potential for future income. We're in a great place in a lot of ways and I appreciate that. It's hard not to look at what happened as failure, but I think there are ways to see it as dodging a bullet and making better decisions rather than being lured by the appeal of something new and exciting.

That's the end of the saga for now. As my dad said in a very kind email back to us when I shared the news, "...take some time to relax, enjoy each other's company and prepare yourselves to glide easily into winter and a new year." Will do. Onward!

Monday, September 28, 2015

What kind of DIYer are you?

Writing this post brought to mind the saying - there are two kinds of people: those who put people into categories and those who don't. Not sure where that comes from, but in this post I'm the former!

With all the house shopping and planning we've been doing, I've been thinking about DIY projects and talking to friends who've done them. And I heard this podcast where Diane Sanfilippo explains why she decided to pipe the frosting on her special-ordered gluten free cupcakes on the day of her wedding... she explained it as, she's the kind of person who will cut herself slack if what she makes isn't perfect, but who would be disappointed if she spent more money to have it done and didn't like the result. I hadn't thought about that perspective before!

It got me to thinking, maybe some people don't feel that way. Maybe some people are super hard on their own projects, but more forgiving of others or store-bought items. Maybe some of us do DIY projects just for a creative outlet, whereas others really need or want the item either way, and count the cost difference as a significant savings and money that can go to other things.

So, I think I've identified three types of people who DIY (although maybe it's just three types of attitudes!)--what do you think??

3 types of DIY/DIYer

1. I want to save money.

I'll be honest, a LOT of the projects in my home were inspired by this reason. So often I get my inspirations from catalogs and home tours, and I probably could find the item for full price online! But I'd run out of money pretty fast if I did that. Also, a lot of times I don't want the item enough to pay the big bucks! Often I do DIY projects as a way to get a home decor or fashion trend, something I might not want for years and years to come, but I'm willing to spend a few bucks and some time on.

Examples include this starburst mirror, my recovered Louis XV chair, my nailhead dining chairs...

My tufted headboard is another great example! Padded headboards are so common now you can buy them for not a ton of money, but I had my dad help me build a padded frame years ago and I've done different things with it until I did this awesome tufting project. I really love it, and the total cost was WAY less than even the most affordable store-bought one.

2. I want it exactly how I want it.

Some people do DIY projects to get the most custom product imaginable--one conceived, designed, and created by you! It's so frustrating when you're ready to part with your money for something important for the home or your wardrobe, but you can't find the right thing. It can drive a lot of us to DIY! That's kind of how my huge zigzag ikat wall art came about, and I imagine why a lot of DIY statement pieces are made!

It's also the attitude that brings us DIYs that look (as well as are) totally unique, like this antique chair I made over with vintage chunky fabric. This project was a product of serendipity (buying the chair at the Restore), garage storage (it sat around for a loooong time), and more serendipity (I got inspired and happened to have the right fabric already). There's absolutely no way this chair could be store-bought, and it serves a different design purpose than a plain chair you could buy at IKEA or Target. You have to DIY if you want something unique like this!

You can also do so much with custom words and messages when you DIY. Coming up with a saying is actually the hardest part for me most of the time... I'd love to do more graphic print tees with my Silhouette... here's one of my fave wording projects--this saying was easy to come up with! I love this pillow!

I think the "I want to make something!" attitude also goes in this category. Sometimes the creative bug hits and you just want to make something from something else, even if you don't really need a new lampshade or potholder or whatever. Sometimes when I give in to this urge I end up with things I don't really need! Not always.

3. It either has to be perfect or done by me.

If I had to guess, I'd say most of us DIYers are perfectionists in some way or another... maybe not about everything. Some of us notice every time we walk past the bump in the paint or the mismatched stripes on the skirt we've made. Maybe you get a compliment on a DIY project and can't help but say, "Thanks, it was supposed to be longer..."

Others feel satisfied regardless of how it turns out because of the pride of making. I think that feeling ads to my enjoyment of my tufted headboard! It's not perfect (I can see where I didn't pull the fabric left or right enough, and a few of the covered buttons are a little funky), but it was a fun challenge and I'm so proud of it!

Then there's the Diane Sanfilippo wedding cupcake attitude: if I make a few mistakes, whatever; I did my best. If I pay the extra money and have a pro do it, and if it doesn't turn out perfect, I'll be disappointed.

The best example I could find from my DIY repertoire is this striped accent wall. I did it myself with masking tape, a level, and a yardstick, and because of our orange peel wall texture there are plenty of little blips and bumps if you look up close. But it does not bug me at all. I seriously don't care. If I had paid someone to do it or put up striped wallpaper instead, would I care??

I dunno. Maybe.

Which are you?

It occurs to me as I write this that most people probably fluctuate between groups... maybe these three categories are of attitudes, rather than people. But what do you think? If you're reading this you're probably an inspired, brave, creative DIYer with a few projects in mind! Are you always in one camp or another? Are different projects born from different reasons? Am I missing a big category??

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Super tea! Grassfed collage protein blended tea recipe

I've been making this nutritious tea recipe here and there for quite a while now, but I saw a pregnant friend over the weekend who reminded me how helpful it can be. I discovered the power of collagen protein powder last spring, and came up with this recipe for a homemade chocolate protein shake made with grassfed collagen protein (it's dairy free since it's made without whey protein or milk).

My pregnant friend was having a hard time getting enough protein in her diet some days, but mentioned that she liked tea in the evenings and that she can't have any artificial sweeteners and is avoiding processed foods more than usual in her pregnancy. It suggested this tea recipe as well as the protein shake, and I had to write down/publish this it to share with you as well!

Super tea! Grassfed collagen protein blended tea



    1. Make tea with almost-boiling water; let steep a little longer than you might usually for a strong tea.
    2. Pour tea in blender and add collagen peptides or collagen protein gelatin. The peptides dissolve in hot or cold liquid so if you only buy one and also want to make my protein shake recipe, I recommend that one. I like the gelatin for hot drinks since it makes them thicker! Stir/partially dissolve in tea.
    3. Blend tea and peptides or gelatin. It gets very frothy!
    4. Add honey and milk or cream of choice; blend again.

    Serve hot & immediately! It will be very smooth and frothy, like a chai latte or something. It's very calming and delicate, and has 8.5-9 grams of protein! (You could use two scoops of the collagen peptides for 18 grams of protein, although two scoops of the gelatin might have a bit of a flavor like unflavored Jello does.)

    Great bedtime ritual if you use herbal tea! I find the combination of protein and fat keeps me full and helps me sleep, and there's evidence that both raw honey and gelatin can improve sleep

    Or drink it whenever you want because it's yummy!

    Tuesday, September 15, 2015

    Sharing my dresses with you!!

    I've never done this before!!

    Many times I've had readers ask if I do custom sewing, or could make them a version of a dress I've blogged about in a custom size. I've never done it, and aside from costuming a few plays and making my bridesmaids' dresses and some little girl clothes, unfortunately I've kept almost all my creations for myself. I'd love to make things for other people, but it's never penciled out for me to do custom sewing at reasonable prices, and I don't have a ton of time these days for sewing everything I come up with...

    But, we're moving next month (cannot wait to share house pics and news! We will have our work cut out for us!), and I'm cleaning out the closets and getting rid of things around the house. I have quite a few dresses (as evidenced by the partial dress gallery I've made), and... I don't wear all of them. I started pulling out dresses to give to Goodwill and realized, hey, these are some GREAT dresses!! I want them to go to someone who will appreciate them!

    I hope some of you readers are interested. I don't want any money for them, other than to cover the cost of shipping unless you live around Portland and want to pick one up. Please take a look through these 9 super cute, well made, fun and playful dresses and send me an email to reserve the one (s) you want!! Most of them have only been worn once or twice.

    Dresses for the taking!

    So, here are the dresses. Check out the dress gallery for more photos/How to Wear DIY outfit photos for quite a few of them. They're not really in any order, and thanks to my medication- and nutrient-deficient diet-induced weight fluctuations, they range from size XS to M. I've included waist or bust measurements for each.

    1. Red! Gone!

    Waist: 26"

    2. Blue lace! Gone!

    Waist: 27.5"

    3. Blue gingham! Gone!

    Waist: 28"

    4. Navy with teal lace! Gone!

    Waist: 31"

    5. Yellow seersucker strapless! Gone!

    Waist: 26"

    6. Lace shift! Gone!

    Bust: 34"

    7. Vintage print! Gone!

    Waist: 27.5"

    8. Polka dot lace! Gone!

    Waist: 27.5" (but has some stretch)

    9. Navy stripe! Gone!

    Waist: 27.5" (but pretty stretchy)

    Want one?? Instructions!

    If you're interested in one or more of these, send me an email with your address! They will go first-come, first-served. I want to get this wrapped up by next Tuesday, 9/22.

    I've done some calculations and I think shipping will be about $8, plus the envelop at $2.19... so the shipping cost will be $10. If you're the first one for your dress, I'll send you a PayPal invoice for $10 and ship your dress. (If you want more than one, only $5 for each additional dress in shipping.) (I can only ship to US addresses, sorry!)

    So get shopping and measuring and let me know which ones you want! THANK YOU so much for helping me clean out my dress rack and send these lovely creations to good homes!!

    Wednesday, September 9, 2015

    Lemon garlic zucchini recipe--a family classic!

    Zucchini has been one of my favorite vegetables for a long, long time. I like it grilled, sautéed, spiralized into noodles, added to soups... but sometimes I blank on an easy way to cook it.

    So last week husband took over the dinner preparations and made his mom's classic zucchini recipe. Her garden produces tons of zucchini around this time of year, and I'm pretty sure she always makes it exactly the same way.

    So over the long weekend (Labor Day, then my birthday yesterday!) when all of us were up visiting husband's grandparents, his mom gave me her recipe and I want to share it with you!

    It's SO simple, super fast (I used to overcook zucchini, but the texture is great when cooked this way), and real food/Paleo-friendly so everyone can enjoy it.

    Lemon garlic zucchini recipe


    • 2 medium zucchini
    • 2 tbsp butter
    • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
    • 1/4 tsp salt
    • generous sprinkle pepper
    • 1/2 tbsp lemon juice


      1. Chop zucchini into smallish quarter slices.
      2. Melt butter in a large sauté pan on high heat.
      3. Reduce to medium-high; add zucchini and dry spices. Stir and flip zucchini pieces to get them browning on all sides. 
      4. Once zucchini are softened, add lemon juice.

      Serve hot!!

      We made a double batch to serve the whole family. Had to make it in batches in the pan since you need surface area for all the pieces.

      I know it seems simple, but when you have a ton of zucchini on-hand and need a quick and easy vegetable side dish, you seriously can't beat this!

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