Our kitchen redesign mood board


You guys, I just have so many ideas spinning around in my head (and on my dream kitchens pinboard) that I had to make this mood board for myself!

I couldn't even settle on an overall style, or a word to describe the style we wanted, until I put all my ideas in one place. Despite loving so many of those dream kitchens, not a single one has every element we've decided we want. But now I think I've got it almost figured out!

Part of the problem was, husband doesn't love all my absolute favorites, the all-white kitchens. They're too stark or too girly for him. But he does like a lot of the things I want in a kitchen, so we've found a blend of things that work for both of us.

Key elements: white subway tile, darker grout, open shelving, black cabinet hardware, white farmhouse sink, industrial/barn lighting rather than something fancier/more glam, this very cool affordable vent hood, and a bamboo window blind. I've decided the look is sort of clean, sort of modern, sort of industrial... that's what I'm calling it.

By the way that photo of those lovely shelves is from Jen Loves Kev's kitchen reveal

It is so totally exciting that it's almost time to start actually purchasing these things. (In fact, I already bought the hood because there was a great price from a seller. We'll store it somewhere till we move... :/ .)

What do you think?

Compiling all these ideas visually was really helpful, and I think I may need to do it for the rest of the rooms, too! Have you ever made a mood board? Any tips for me in decorating our spaces from scratch? Anyone know of any kitchen remodels I should look at?

All of these pieces are affordable! Shop them here. 

(Grain-free, Paleo-friendly) rustic fig tart


It's fig season! I'm pumped. As I shared the other day on Instagram, my parents have a big fig tree and every year around this time I'm excited to go over there and pick ripe figs before the birds get them. When I was a kid I didn't know what to do with them, but now I know how amazing they are when they're really ripe (they seriously taste like pure HONEY) and quite a few things to do with them!

This time around I wanted to bake them. I pictured a rustic, slightly crumbly open-faced tart. I've made a couple other fall-ey grain-free tarts, and I've found some ingredients that really work well (without being too almond flour-heavy, as a lot of Paleo baking recipes are). (See also my grain-free apple/pear crumble recipe and cranberry-apple tart recipe.)

(You will notice a trend--I am all about low maintenance baking. This recipe was so easy!)

And it turned out just like I wanted!

Grain-Free Rustic Fig Tart



  • 1/3 c. sunflower seeds
  • 1/3 c. unsweetened coconut flakes
  • 3/4 c. almond flour
  • 1/4 c. coconut palm sugar or sweetener of choice
  • 1/4 tsp. sea salt
  • 5 tbsp. unsalted grassfed butter (cold) (or palm shortening if dairy-free)


  • 6-8 fresh figs


  1. Pulse sunflower seeds in a small food processor, until finely ground. Add other dry ingredients and pulse until combined.
  2. Chop butter into small chunks and add to processor; pulse until combined. Mixture should be thick and chunky. 
  3. Spread crust mixture onto parchment paper on a baking sheet. Flatten with spatula or fingers to get an even layer.
  4. Chop figs into eigths. 
  5. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes until crust is golden.

Makes 6-8 servings.

Optional extras:

If your figs aren't super ripe and honey-sweet, you could go for a more savory flavor, or add a glaze! Here are some options:
  • Make a glaze of honey and water; add right after tart comes out of the oven
  • Add goat cheese and sliced almonds; reduce balsamic vinegar on the stovetop to make a rich, tangy glaze
Or enjoy with some vanilla ice cream of choice!

If you don't have figs in your parents' backyard... save this recipe for next time you run into some!

My new home dec obsession!! (It's fun! You'll love it!)


Well, as you might imagine, my head is just swimming with home decor and remodeling ideas for our new house!! It seems like I spend every spare moment thinking about grout colors, dining room lighting, and other essential considerations. I really need to organize my thoughts and pinned ideas onto some mood boards or something...

So while I wait for closing on the house so the projects and purchases can begin, I've found a fabulous new hobby that encourages my enthusiasm and teaches me things, too!

I've talked before about how I'm a podcast listener. (Balanced Bites, Happier with Gretchen Rubin, Pop Culture Happy Hour from NPR, and recently The Birth Hour are favorites.) But recently, with perfect timing for my all-my-spare-time (including commutes to work when I can listen to podcasts) home decor/renovating obsession, I stumbled across Young House Love Has A Podcast. I've been aware of Young House Love for years and years, and am so impressed by their DIYs and tutorials! I listened to a couple episodes and now want to be friends with John and Sherry as well as read their cabinet-painting posts. I've listened to every episode now and really enjoyed them! Some very useful information (like about rugs--oh, rugs are so hard!) as well as helpful anecdotes about what's going on with them, like trying out an electric lawnmower.

They mentioned they were on another DIY/home decor/family podcast, the Chris Loves Julia Podcast. In my recent surge of pinning and decor idea-collecting, I'd run across Chris Loves Julia's stuff before and liked their classic-yet-modern, clean style. When I ran out of Young House Love podcasts, I listened to all the Chris Loves Julia ones, too! I now love them, too. Also some useful information, like about color undertones when picking paint (another scary choice!), plus just interesting descriptions of what they've done to their homes. 
Chris Loves Julia

It's really fun, too, when you can follow along with the podcasters by looking at their blogs and Instagram pages for photos of what they're talking about, and the podcasts are all pretty new so the updates they talk about are almost in real time. 

I tried listening to an HGTV podcast a while back when I was desperate for more home decor content in my brain, but it was kind of stale and I didn't recognize any of the guests. With bloggers' podcasts, I've heard interviews with other bloggers I've followed for years, AND heard from DIYers doing what I'll be doing in a few weeks!

I'm sure there are other DIY-related podcasts out there that I haven't found yet. Do you know of any? Where do you soak up ideas for home projects??

Beach getaway and inspiration from the cabin in the woods


As I shared on Instagram throughout the weekend... I had the loveliest birthday weekend featuring family, visiting sister-in-law from the Bay Area, a trip to the most peaceful cabin at the coast (with a hike and visit to Hug Point, our new favorite), and a day to rest up at home before the week started. It was so perfect! (I also spent some good chunks of time perusing kitchen hardware online. And pinned lots of house ideas.)

I stayed at this amazing cabin at my bachelorette party more than 5 years ago now, with sister-in-law's connection, and it was so cool to go there with husband now since he LOVED it, too. And, we've been talking a lot about the style we want for our new house but husband has a hard time picturing things until he sees them in context--so it was good to look at how the range hood, black doorknobs, black ceiling fans, and other elements I've told him about look in a home.

I really wanted to capture the magic of this gorgeous beach house for our memories this time!

First, possibly my favorite part:

Now imagine that lovely tub in this rustic setting!

 I love the big porches on three sides. And lots of cross-ventilation with double doors on two of them.

The sauna is a new addition since I was there last. Sauna or steam room if you pour water on the coals.

Inside there's a main room and loft, like any cabin should have.

The main room has some great vintage pieces and this wood stove, which is the main source of heat in the home.

The kitchen is possibly the first place I saw open shelving in real life, back in 2011 when I first visited!

The bathroom is under the loft and is quite roomy. There's no indoor shower (just a charming outdoor shower, which I used and which was exhilarating!) but this incredible tub.

The bedroom is decorated simply but, like the rest of the house, with style and fabulous lighting.

Oh--and it's a couple blocks down a quiet gravel road from this:

And you can watch sunsets like this!

This place is owned by sister-in-law's cousins, and she thought they might rent it out but I checked and didn't find it on Airbnb or VRBO. Sorry. But, hope you're a little calmed and inspired by these photos like we were staying there! We're so lucky to have a connection to this amazing place!

We're calling it "the miracle house"--and it's really happening! (#stanley90sreno!)


It's alllll happening! The earnest money is in, the inspection is done, and we have applications in for our townhouse! Fingers crossed the appraisal goes well and on time; if it does we'll be moving in a month! Now I'm so excited to share more info about the house and photos with you!

As I shared last week, we switched up our search parameters (and max budget) and found a home that we think will suit us for a long time. We're surprised we could afford something so big, in such a nice location, and with so few repairs needed (that we know of so far). We've been looking off and on for ages, and this house has been listed since March (!), but somehow the stars aligned last week and we only just then looked at it and made the offer!

Hence "the miracle house." It's 4 bedrooms; 2.5 baths; built in the 90's so no lead paint, asbestos, etc.; only about 20 blocks from our current home which is an easy commute to work and both of our parents' places; and bigger than anything else we've looked at!! It's like, how is this possible? How can we get such a great house?!

There are downsides--it's been a rental and not cleaned up much so every. single. wall needs to be repainted and the whole thing is carpeted with stained carpets. But really, that's what we were looking for in a home. We want to build the "sweat equity" and design it ourselves. The house was way overpriced when it was first listed but since it's been on the market so long they've lowered the price and they accepted our offer for $10k less than the current price. The other downside is the small yard. It's not as small as it looked in the listing photos, and there are some fruit trees, but it's much smaller than some of the 0.25-acre lots we looked at on other homes. We consciously decided to sacrifice lot size for number of bedrooms and size of the home. (But we can still have up to 4 chickens on it!)

We move October 14. Now's the fun part--I have oodles of pinned ideas and a growing spreadsheet of improvements and costs per room. This is going to be a big renovation.

The first step will be new flooring and paint everywhere. The kitchen remodel will also be high on the list. I looooove kitchens. I've been pinning dream kitchens here since before we bought our current home!

Have you done a big house remodel?? I'd love to see your photos and before/afters and hear your stories! Share a link in the comments below if you have one!

I will be sharing more updates in real time on Instagram so please head over there to follow along!

A bright print open shoulder top for early fall (and my birthday!)


It's my birthday tomorrow!! I made myself a new top. I've always had fun picking out my outfit for my birthday or birthday party, and a BRIGHT color or print always seemed most appropriate. I remember one childhood birthday party in the park that involved a full-skirted dress with a white background and bright gumball-colored polka dots of varying sizes (ah, the 90's).

I've come a long way since then, but I still met my brightness goal! This top was born from 1) the leftover fabulous fabric from this fun party dress and 2) this pretty Anthropologie open shoulder long-sleeved top!

I've made several off-the-shoulder tops and a dress this summer (see them in the gallery here) and I just love the style! It makes even the simplest top interesting and outfit-making.

I seriously messed with the pattern, you guys. It's McCall's M7163 but last time I made that pattern the shirt was SO big I swam in it and ended up taking in the body and sleeves several inches to make it flattering. So this time I made it two sizes smaller than it called for, quite a few inches shorter, and with WAY smaller sleeves (particularly since I knew I would not be adding elastic in the shoulder areas, like the Anthro one).

Seriously, look how much I took out of the sleeves!

I also added some straps and only did the elastic in the front and back panels.

It turned out just like I pictured!!

I also was excited to wear it with my new Express mid-rise "jean leggings" which are not leggings at all but actually the most perfect-fitting normal, substantial jeans! As I shared on my Instagram the other day, I haven't bought jeans in multiple years so this was a big deal for me. I ordered them in a Short so the length was ankle rather than long enough to cuff like most of my jeans, and they're perfect!! They have just the right amount of stretch to fit my strong thighs, too, which is so hard to find in a lot of brands these days.

It's fun to make something SO different than anything else I've ever done before! I got out of my comfort zone of natural fiber neutrals with this bold print for the dress earlier this summer and now it worked well for this, too!

Pattern: McCall's M7163

  • Made 2 sizes smaller than called for
  • Made length really about 4" shorter than called for (I gave it a deep hem as well as cutting it shorter)
  • Made sleeves substantially narrower
  • Only put elastic in the front and back panels
  • Added straps

It's great for a celebration (birthday!!) or any other early fall event where you want to make an outfit special with just one great piece!

Shop the original inspiration top, some similar ones, and these fabulous-fitting jeans here!


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