Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Really really REALLY Cool Flooring Idea

A few weeks ago my family and I rented a house for a few nights down in Olympia, Washington so we could have a fun stay-cation with my in-laws who were visiting and my brother and sister-in-law, who live about and hour and a half away.  My husband grew up in Olympia, and we love the small capitol city vibe there.  We found the house (on a great discount since it was the off-season) here.

The house had a beautiful view of the Puget Sound, and would have had a beautiful view of Mt. Ranier (if it hadn't rained all weekend-doh!).

It also had very interesting, gorgeous flooring in the kitchen and great room.

Isn't that cool?  My sister-in-law and I spent some time trying to figure out what it was made of, and I finally caved and just called the owner of the property.  She said that it was an epoxy cement that was troweled right over the sub-floor (including the tile that was already on the floor in the kitchen!).  Then she had a local artist paint it.  She said that she told him that she wanted it to look like the ocean and a sandy beach.  This is what he came up with.  



On a practical note, she said it was followed with 4-5 coats of sealer.  Being a beach house and a rental, it has seen lots and lots of traffic (the owner says it hosts several weddings a summer).  It has been in place for seven years, and she is only now thinking it might be time for a recoat.

The downside is the cost--she said they paid $12 a square foot.  Yikes.  That's at least 3 times what I want to pay for flooring.  And no, I didn't ask how much she paid outright--I have some manners, after all.  I did discreetly ask how the process compared in cost to other flooring options like tile and hardwood...then she dished up the details :).

Maybe I'm crazy, but this looks like a floor I could do myself. The cement is pretty smooth, but has some texture (i.e. you don't have to be a perfect cement person).  Plus, there is no wrong way to paint the floor--it would probably be pretty fun.  And I really love it.  It is so versatile and unusual and organic-looking.  The big question is: am I brave enough to pour cement on the floor and just go for it?  Still mulling that one over...

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Pie! Pie! Pie! (and Chocolate Mousse Cake Recipe)

Thanksgiving is only a few days away (did you know? :) ).

Anyway, I'm hosting 16 people, which will be fun but hectic.

I love all parts of the Thanksgiving meal, but I really, really, really love pie.  So does the rest of my family.  We may love pie a little too much, in fact.

We even have a family song about pie.  My husband writes and records songs as a hobby.  A few Thanksgivings ago, in an attempt to keep the hungry hordes out of my way in the kitchen, he made up a great song.  It is aptly entitled, "Pie" and features a resounding chorus of "Pie! Pie! Pie!" (repeated about a million times).

Our pie obsession may have gone a little too far.  Most Thanksgivings, our pie to people ratio is 1:1.  That's when I started to realize that we may need a pie intervention sooner rather than later.

However, since we have so many people coming this year, I am happy to report that our pie to people ratio will be more like 1:2, which feels a little more respectable somehow.  We will be having: 2 pumpkin, 1 apple, 1 peach, 2 key lime, 2 chocolate cream and a pumpkin cheesecake.

In the meantime, my little brother's birthday was on Sunday, and I made him a Chocolate Mousse Cake with a shortbread crust.  Really, I think it should be considered a pie--it has a crust after all.  I guess cheesecake does, too, though.  Confusing.

Anyway, pie/cake distinctions aside, it was delicious.  It is sort of like eating a great big truffle in a shortbread cookie crust.  In other words, heavenly.  It is perfect when eaten just a little warm with whipping cream (don't even think about using Coolwhip) or a scoop of ice cream on top (or both, like we did ;) ).  Also, this crust is great to use for any pie that calls for a graham cracker crust in case you're still looking for pie inspiration.

Shortbread Crust

1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup finely chopped nuts
1/2 tsp finely shredded lemon peel OR 1/2 tsp extract (almond or vanilla)
1 cup flour
2 T sugar

Mix all the ingredients together until you have a cohesive rubble (I use my Kitchenaid with the flat paddle).  Then press into the bottom and an inch and a half up the sides of a Springform pan (or pie plate, if using it for a different recipe).

Chocolate Mousse Cake/Pie

2 8-ounce packages (16 squares) semi-sweet chocolate, chopped up (or use 16 oz. good-quality chocolate chips, like I did)
1 cup whipping cream
6 beaten eggs
3/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup all-purpose flour

Melt and stir chocolate and cream over low heat until chocolate melts (or microwave on medium or using your microwave's melt setting).  Transfer to a large bowl.  Combine eggs, the 3/4 cup sugar, and flour: beat 10 minutes or until thick and lemon-colored.  Fold 1/4 of the egg mixture into the chocolate mixture, then fold chocolate mixture into remaining egg mixture.  Pour into crust-lined Springform pan.

Bake in a 325 degree oven for 55 minutes or until puffed around the edge and halfway to the center (center will be slightly soft).  Place on a cooling rack.  Cool 20 minutes and remove sides of pan.  Cool for 4 hours.  Chill leftovers.  Serves 16 (it is really rich).

If I don't manage another post before then, I hope you all have a happy, delicious, blessed Thanksgiving surrounded by the people you love!

Oh, also--I was very moved to read about another blogger's experience with a premature birth and loss of her baby here.  Definitely grab a tissue before you follow that link, though.  What a sweet, faithful Mama, and what a poignant reminder to me to make sure I tell my Heavenly Father how grateful I am to be the mother of six healthy children.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Lessons Learned Lately

I am either delusional or optimistic.  Either way, I never finish my to-do list.  Maybe I will again someday when I don't have so many beloved "distractions" around who need such constant attention.  Then again, maybe I put more on my to-do list than anyone could actually accomplish, ever.  And really, I am not necessarily looking forward to all my "distractions" leaving.

Having someone else do your remodeling costs a lot of money.  We have received multiple bids for flooring, windows, garage doors, totally re-doing our master bathroom, replacing our all-galvanized water pipes and doing some electrical updates.  We are sitting back and letting the high costs absorb until we are willing to cough up the dough.  If the shock doesn't wear off, we may have to figure how to carve out time in our hectic lives to do-it-ourselves.  Noooooooo!

Costco shopping is a 4-hour chore, if you count putting it all away.  I love Costco, but it is very time (and money :) ) consuming.

I love hand-me-downs.  I have been getting the next size of clothes out for Lucy, and it has been fun to see lots of cute things that Sophie used to wear, as well as donations from cousins and friends.  It's also been fun to package up the things she's grown out of to give to some friends at church who are expecting baby girls.

Volunteering at school is fun.  I was an art docent (taught an hour-long art class) in Lukas' class this week and it was precious.  We did chalk drawings of leaves in the style of Georgia O'Keefe.  Some of his classmates made me drawings and notes to say thanks.  One of the kids (who had chalk all over his face and on his arms up to his elbow) came up and said: "This is the funnest thing I've done all week."  Awesome.

80's sitcoms sure were innocent.  We've been streaming "Alf" from Amazon (lots of free content with a Prime membership) and our kids think it's hilarious.  It is definitely in the "so-stupid-it's-funny" camp, but I was struck by how much edgier/raunchier lots of prime time T.V. comedy is now.  Times they are a changin'.  

Getting anything extra accomplished around my house takes a looooong time.  It seems like a two steps forward, three steps back sort of deal.

Trying not to eat sugar for a month is hard, but I feel a lot better when it is a very restricted part of my diet--doh!  One of my good friends threw down a "No-sugar November" gauntlet and I couldn't resist.  Yes, if she jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge, I would be right behind her :).  I am definitely a sugar-a-holic.  I need a 12-step program, but I am doing a pretty good job myself, one day at a time.

When your newly daytime potty-trained 4-year-old (hooray!) falls asleep on the couch sans pull-up, and a voice inside you tells you to put a pull-up on him "just in case", you should listen to that voice.  Just sayin'.

And last, before climbing on sculptures in parks and having a fun photo-op with your family, you should really read the signs nearby.  People walked by and I thought they were just smiling bemusedly at my cute family's antics, but I think they were thinking, "What a bunch of idiots!" to themselves.  I can hardly blame them.

I have a few fun posts planned for next week (I've been sewing up a storm!), so stay tuned!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Some Boys' Room Touches--ADHD

I think I have ADHD--which in this case, stands for Attention Deficit Home improvement Disorder.  I flit from project to project and room to room.  I envy the methodical people who can just do one room at a time until it is all done.

So right now, I'm bidding out on remodeling our master bathroom, bidding out on windows and garage doors, looking at hardwood and carpet for upstairs/downstairs, putting together a color scheme for soft furnishings (curtains and pillows) for the living room and trying to de-junkify (what? that's not a word??) my laundry room.  Oh, and doing a fun chalkboard project with the top of our old piano bench.  The bottom finally gave up the ghost, or at least, was about to.  We decided to put it to sleep before someone sat on in and it collapsed beneath them.

Maybe all the years of motherhood have rendered me incapable of concentrating on one thing at a time.  I can't decide if that's a good thing or a bad thing.  For me, it is usually energizing to have my finger in a million pies at a time.

Anyway, I made some progress with the little boys' room this summer that I still love looking at.  I still need to do more in there (buy a bunk bed, paint where the popcorn ceiling removal left scars, figure out something to do with the ugly louvered closet doors and mini blinds in there).  In my random, haphazard fashion, I'm sure I'll get to it eventually.

But until then, check out this cute corner (and ignore the leaning lampshade of Pisa...).

I bought the dresser from a seller at the Second Saturdayz Market in Seattle (again, stoopid misspellings just irk me--har har) in June.  She had refinished it, and I just fell in love with it.  Especially for her price,which was just $150.  Not my usual standard of frugality, but worth it to me to have something cute that I don't have to take two weeks' of Lucy's unpredictable nap times to do myself :).  I am getting to the point that I have more time to do my own things now, though, and it feels grrrrreat!

Anyway, a  few more details on the dresser:

Ah, love it, love it.

As for the stuff on the top of the dresser.  I spruced up the lamp with a sign I bought at the Railway Museum in Swindon, England when we lived there for the summer about 5 years ago.  I am a sucker for graphic, vintage-ish, tin signs.

I tied it to the lamp with an old leather necklace cording that had broken in the middle.

The buckets from Target hold each boy's special collection.  Here are Sawyer's rocks, gathered from walks through the neighborhood.

And one I found in his bed under his pillow.  Little boys just make me smile.

Last but not least, the boys' church ties in an antique egg basket I found at the D.I. in Sandy, Utah for $2. I especially love the bow tie.

Anyway, now back to my regularly scheduled programming of a little here, a little there--slowly making our house into a home.

I'm linking up to: Miss Mustard Seed's Furniture Friday  and  Weekend Bloggy Reading