Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Finally a Finished Bathroom!

Okay, so we still need to do some touch-up painting and baseboard, but it's so close to done, I thought I'd share now. First, brace yourself for the 'before' picture. I'm warning you, it's not easy to look at...

((( shudder )))

But after months of hard work, and plenty of frustration along the way, we finally have a bathroom we love.

Eco-groovy cabinets (FSC certified birch with non-offgassing, non-urea-formaldehyde finishes) with Paperstone countertop (made from recycled paper!), Marmoleum flooring, super-efficient toilet, no-VOC paints... a green homeowner's paradise! :-)

The mirror frame is decorated with rocks that Matt, Carlos, and I collected from Agate Beach. I think it's my favorite part of the whole room.

Storage baskets made from recycled paper.

Shower surround also constructed from Paperstone.

Another shot of the mirror.

I'm kind of in awe of how much storage we were able to cram into this tiny space - tons of cabinets in the bathroom itself, plus we were even able to use an under-utilized corner of the bathroom to add a linen closet in the hallway just outside the bathroom door (though I forgot to photograph that).

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

It's the Chicken Taj Mahal

I cannot tell you how much time and energy we spent getting our property ready for our birds - probably more than on any other project! There was lots of fencing to be built, and lots of gates, and then of course the little barn itself... but it's finally done (well, okay, except for some custom feeders Matt's still building).

We were feeling overwhelmed so opted to have the basic structure pre-built, but we painted it ourselves and outfitted the inside with all kinds of perches, nesting boxes, storage, etc.

While I would have liked to go a 'greener' route for the barn's construction, I have to say that I would do it this way again in a heartbeat, given our time constraints and the need for the structure to be super secure. Duane at Capital City Sheds did an awesome job - he pre-cut all the materials, showed up at our house at 8:00 in the morning, assembled the shed, and was gone by 5:00 that same day. Pretty incredible to watch, and much faster than Matt or I could have done. Not too expensive either.

Here are some pics of its progression.

Here it is with some paint (same color as the house), and with the lower fence posts in.

Upper fence posts added...

Side enclosures going in...

Some salvaged windows and a couple of Wooly Pocket planters (made mostly from recycled plastic bottles, how cool is that?) complete the front of the barn.

We're still planning to add a little cement patio/landing in front of the big door, with a small planter on either side for home-grown greens for the birds.

The barn interior and the yard is divided into two sections - one for chickens and one for the ducks and turkeys. The duck/turkey side has lots of nice trees and such, but the lower yard for the chicken is in need of some enrichment - I'm planning on adding a few maple trees but don't want to put anything too close to the fence because I don't want them to use it to escape. Any other enrichment ideas besides trees?

Bye-bye from Rosa. :-)

Fruit Trees!

I am so excited to have so many mature fruit trees on our new property! They are all badly in need of pruning, but are still producing a ton of fruit.

Apples, apples, and more apples!

How do I know when they are ready to be picked? They are kind of small right now but a few have fallen to the ground already.

It looks like there are maybe five or ten different varieties of apples!

And the plums are beginning to be ripe enough to eat! Hooray!!!

A Sea Life Bed for Carlos

We really wanted to find a nice twin/full bunk bed for our son, Carlos' room at the new house. But I wasn't thrilled about spending $1,000 on a child's bed, and I couldn't find any eco-groovy twin/full beds even if I was willing to spend a lot. Thankfully, I have a very capable husband and he and I decided to build a bed instead. We found some plans on the internet for about $10 and constructed it from solid redwood. We ended up spending more than we hoped just on the materials (I think it was around $500), but at least we ended up with a sturdy bed that hopefully had less negative impact on the environment than a commercially made bed would have. (And I can say with 100% certainty that it wasn't made with child labor in China!) We used a low-VOC clear finish on the wood.

Carlos' current obsession is sea life, and it's an interest I'm happy to nurture in any way that I can. I decided to turn the bottom bunk of his bed into an undersea wonderland, and he and I are both thrilled with the results. :-)

The felt animals are from Etsy sellers ObeyMyBrain, jelene, and Heartfelt3, with a few more still on the way from LochNessMonsters. I made the bedspread from an old blue sheet, which I tie-dyed and added some sparkly fish appliques to. I found some ocean-y fabric for the backdrop and the ceiling, and made a few clumps of 'seaweed' from green and blue ribbon. The finishing touch is a strand of white LED lights, which you can't see too well in the photographs, but they look super cool at night. :-)

Bedroom in Progress

Well, we're all moved into the new house. There's still a lot to be done, with minor tweaks scheduled soon and major renovations/additions over the course of years, but it feels good to be here full time, and the place already looks so much better with the work we've put in so far, and with all of our own furniture and decor here, it's so much more homey and appealing.

I have a few updates to share - I'll start with our bedroom which I've posted about a few times already. I'm bound and determined to use this extremely bright blanket we bought in Guatemala last April as our bedspread, but it's driving me nuts - I'm having the hardest time matching anything to it - I don't want our bedroom to be day-glow neon colors, but I do like this blanket...

The blanket in question - I have a love/hate relationship with this thing.

Beautiful embroidered pillows, also from Guatemala.

I think I want to hang these above the bed - they are from a huge vintage wall calendar that I found at an estate sale a while back. They are one of the few things I've been able to find that incorporate some of the vibrant colors of the blanket without being overwhelmingly bright/garish.

More Guatemalan accents above my antique dresser - a hand-painted chicken mask and brightly colored table runner I bought in Antigua.

On the eco-friendly front, our dressers (which we've had for years) are antiques, our bed frame is made from maple grown and processed here in the Pacific Northwest, and our mattress is all-natural latex, free of the chemical flame retardants, plastics, vinyl, and petroleum-based foams often found in conventional mattresses.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010


I realized that my last post would perhaps have had more impact if I had shown a 'before' photo, so here it is - our bedroom pre-remodel (please note this is NOT our furniture!!!) :-)

Our Bedroom

The perfectionist in me wants to wait to post these until we get our furniture and other pretty things moved in, but the pragmatist in me says 'get over it!' :-) so without further ado, here's the first completed room in our new house!

It's hard to get a decent photo of the whole room since it's very tiny. But everything is new - texture, paint, flooring, trim, and window! And I love the way the colors all turned out - three walls are a nice neutral beige, there's one orangey accent wall, and that gorgeous deep red on the floor.

For the walls, we used eco-friendly no-VOC paint from Yolo Colorhouse. I love this company because they don't have hundreds and hundreds of colors - instead, the designer and artist owners hand-select a few dozen awesome colors that they are sure will look good in your house, and they provide lots of guidance and suggestions about what colors will complement other colors. It definitely made me feel more confident in my color choices.

We are not fans of wall-to-wall carpet - it's just not practical with pets and kids - so for the flooring, we went with Marmoleum, a brand of linoleum that is made from renewable, all natural ingredients - no funky plastics or off-gassy glues - yay!

This room will be ours until after the final phase of our remodel is complete, which could be a few years down the road, depending on finances. Eventually we'll have a bigger room and this one will either be a guest bedroom or a second child's bedroom.

Oh yeah, Otis wants to make sure you know he helped with the painting in this room!

Saturday, July 17, 2010


I'm feeling guilty about not posting more here... but I have no time to post because we're doing so much work on the house! Pictures soon, I promise! Our bedroom and the bathroom should be done within about a week, which means we can move just about any time now.

In the meantime, here are some details from the plans that we submitted to the coastal commission this past week (hooray!) - they are done by Julian Berg in Arcata, CA. In case you haven't been there in person, here's what the current layout looks like (tiny!).

Click either image to see a larger version.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Etsy Shopping

I love Etsy - not only because it's been a huge part of my success in growing my own business (god, that sounds like an infomercial), but also because I can always find cute, unique, handmade things that are the polar opposite of what you might find at Wal-Mart or Target. Last night I felt like feathering our new nest a bit and decided to go looking for some homey touches for our new house (well, yard, I guess) on Etsy. Here's what I bought -

Things are starting to come together out at the new house - this Saturday, we get new floor in the bathroom and our bedroom, and the week of July 19th, our bathroom cabinets, countertop, and shower surround are going in. We should be all set to move in after that (though there is still a lot of work to be done, so plenty more fodder for future blog posts). I can't wait to share all the details of our green bathroom remodel - we found out about some great products that I think you're going to love! Stay tuned...

Monday, June 28, 2010

Busy, Busy!

Matt and I have been working hard out at the new house and we're making a lot of progress, but I like to post my projects once they are totally finished and everything seems to be in an in-between state right now (hence the scarcity of posts lately). But rest assured, exciting things are coming soon - the yard is almost chicken-worthy, and by mid- to late-July, our bathroom and one bedroom should be done, and I'll post photos then, I promise.

In the meantime, here's a peek at a design board I've been working on for our bedroom.

The beige and orangey colors in the background are the wall colors and the burgundy-red at the bottom is the floor. We want to use a very colorful bedspread that we got in Guatemala in April, but it doesn't totally go with the wall and floor colors perfectly well, so I was playing around with a quilt and some pillows to try to tie it all together. It's colorful, I know, and that's something that's kind of been hard for me to roll with in the past, but after this recent amazing trip we took to Guatemala, I decided that one of my goals with our new house was going to be to embrace color the way the Guatemalan people do. Everything there was so beautiful! And I want to be reminded of the amazing places and people there when I look around my new home.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Free Stuff

A remodeling project inevitably produces a lot of waste. I hate that. If anyone has a use for either of these items, please get in touch and help us save them from the landfill.

Wood sliding closet doors, painted white, fits about a 48" opening.

Hollow core wood door, good shape, 30" wide

Sunday, June 6, 2010


Phase one of our huge fencing project is complete. I guess there's nothing too green about a wood fence, but it's necessary for keeping our animals safe (plus I think I need to get over feeling like I have to apologize if not every single post here is 'green'-related; the unfortunate truth is that I can't always find an eco-friendly option, but I'm trying my best).

(That whole stretch to the left is done now; I forgot to take a picture after it was finished.)

I think phase one (the wood fence) was about 250 linear feet; phase two is a wire fence (close to another 25o feet, I'm afraid) that will separate two chicken yards from the human/dog yard, and phase three is another (much shorter) stretch of wood fence on the upper corner of the property.

On June 14th, our chicken barn is being built on-site (not by us; whew!); after that point, we'll execute phase two of the fence and the property will officially be chicken-worthy. Here are a few pics of our feathered friends, who are blissfully oblivious of all the work taking place on their behalf...

Surprise Flowers

Our land has approximately zero landscaping, except for some lovely mature fruit trees (several varieties of apples, pears, apricots, plums, cherries, walnuts...) and these beauties, which Matt almost tore out because he thought they were weeds (before they were blooming) - does anyone know what they are?

Saturday, May 22, 2010


Just for fun...

Friday, May 21, 2010

Disinfecting without nasty chemicals

Yesterday I worked for a while disinfecting and sanitizing the kitchen cabinets. We do plan to pretty much gut this kitchen and start from scratch (anyone know of any 'green' cabinetry options?), but that's not going to happen for about a year, so for the short-term future, I'll be operating out of this fairly dated, but reasonably functional, older kitchen.

Before we begin moving any of our things into the kitchen or bathroom, I wanted to get them as clean and de-germed as possible, but I didn't want to use harsh chemicals or waste-generating disposable wipes. Luckily, it's possible to disinfect kitchen and bathroom surfaces extremely effectively using two common, non-harmul household items - vinegar and hydrogen peroxide!

I started the process by using the shop vac to suck any loose debris out of all the cabinets, then followed up with a good heavy spraying of vinegar, then hydrogen peroxide. Learn more about disinfecting with vinegar and hydrogen peroxide here.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Address Numbers

I'm not sure how much of a 'green' issue this is, but I do prefer whenever possible to buy from an independent artisan rather than a nameless big-box retailer, so I'm going to go ahead and blog about it here. :-)

Our new place doesn't have an address marker, so I've been on a quest to find the perfect numbers. I would have really liked to find a DIY project to make something myself (and I still might do that; we'll see), but I couldn't find any decent DIY inspiration online on the subject, so I've turned to Etsy. I thought it would be fun to share some of my favorites. (All of the photos are the artists' own, not mine.)

Oval Birds on a Branch by AtlasSigns, $143.00
(We would just get our address numbers below the birds.)

Here are a few more by AtlasSigns - I especially like the leaf and the pear.

Custom Hand Painted House Number Tile by carmenstiles, $90.00
(I think I'd like this one better if each number was an individual tile; I'd really love to find some hand painted Guatemalan tiles to incorporate somehow - it would tie in nicely with some of the Guatemalan decor that we're going to use inside the house...)

Custom Mosaic House Numbers by jenniestephensart, $75.00
(She has lots more examples of her work on her website - beautiful!)

And if you're looking for a budget option, this cute little House Number Sign by HandCarvedSigns is just $25.00.

So what do you think? Which is your favorite and why? I'm leaning towards the first one (of course the most expensive...) Also, definitely let me know if you know of any fun (but still attractive!) DIY projects for address numbers.