Friday, December 31, 2010

Had my pie and ate it, too

Here's an unpublished post that seems seasonally appropriate...Another stop on my mini-roadtrip to Acrosanti was to the Rock Springs Cafe to check out their popular pies. Yes, I realized that pie might be in a different realm than the Acrosanti vibe (where people live in a natural environment and aim to eat healthfully and sustainably), but the strawberry rhubarb looked too good to pass up. And isn't rhubarb a vegetable?

And it tasted delish, too--perfectly tart.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Bird's Eye View

So I'm playing around with the great room furniture, trying to come up with placement for some ottomans to find a seating arrangment that works--knowing that some other items are going to be moved around throughout the house in the near future, but the core setup will remain the same.

I'm still excited about these sofas--a fantastic craigslist purchase that was fun and educational--the Lou Regester sofas were the the "dance room" or sun room of an amazing historic redwood house and were meticulously cared for and regularly reupholstered by the original owner. There are 2 additional seats and a half, you can sort of see them in the background of the breakfast nook in this post. Ideally, I'd have them reupholstered in a less golden toned material, but that can wait and I can't complain about their current state.

The ottomans were an awesome find in a more usual circumstance--on super clearance sale at Target. I purchased 4 and got them to my car and then realized that I could not Tetris them in. Fortunately my bf came to the rescue and I didn't have to sit on an ottoman in the Target parking lot forever.

I think some other furniture will make its way out to the great room, and maybe I'll be getting some items on the wall before too long...Thoughts on the arrangements? FYI, the TV mount is just to the right of the fireplace. 

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

I *Finally* Contained Myself

After my shameful before photo and my journey (ok, multiple journeys) to the Container Store and Goodwill, I finally have the closet under the stairs under control. Yippee! 

Ok, the vacuum rolls in there, so it's not typically quite as "spacious"-looking.
Separate bins for cards, small hardware, sewing supplies, tape and glue and drawers with Sharpies (a favorite writing utensil), calligraphy pens, magazines, and (possibly my favorite drawer label) "Things that Cut". Items I want to be able to see or I might need frequently are in open organizers--which reminds me that I should probably get a second flashlight--all the paint is shelved and labeled, and the gift wrapping is moved out to the garage (garage organization will be a post for another day...)

I've already been happy that I can easily find items and love that I can simply roll out the vacuum instead of extricating it. Oddly enough, this does not increase my desire to vacuum.

PS--Goodwill can be an organizational item goldmine! I didn't find everything I needed, but I was able to get magazine storage and some wire baskets.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Armed and Ready

I went quite awhile without a TV in Home Monochromatic Dynamic. And then a new sibling roomie came with a 46" flatscreen, and I happily accepted the addition to the great room. I had planned for the space for a wall mounted TV during the renovation process--having the electrician add an outlet and jack on the wall above my bar on casters, but getting a TV wasn't a priority at the time. But hey, when it falls in your lap...

Decor tip: having a cord dangling from the loft draws the eye up and makes for a classy arrangement

It sat on the bar for awhile until I found a TV mount that would swivel, tilt and extend significantly. It was important that the TV be able to extend out of the recessed space and that it swivel so that folks sitting on the end of the couch would still be able to watch comfortably. I settled on this model from because it fit the bill, was in my budget and the comments were overall favorable (I felt I could screen out some of the negative comments when it seemed that it possibly wasn't installed correctly). Then I bided my time until an overstock sale or coupon came up! I call this overstalking. Anyway...

Upon opening it up, I realized that the commenters who noted that the installation instructions were practically nonexistent were absolutely accurate.
Um, yeah, note the half sheet of paper with 6 drawings. But playing around with the pieces let me and my super handy parents (thanks Mom and Dad!) piece it together. After identifying the placement of wall studs, we realized that we had to add a piece of wood (as the instructions "noted") onto the stud so the mount would be stable. But a full piece of wood would cover the outlets, so a couple 2x4s were the answer. After these were cut down (so they looked prettier), we hung them with substantial bolts and then painted them (presentation is important, even if it's not something that's usually visible).
After the paint dried, everything else was put together and ... viola!
I love that it's discrete when i want it to be and that it can be comfortably viewed during other times. Now we'll see how long it takes for me to get cable.

Any favorite TV settings? Any technology/construction projects that turned out a-ok?

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Hooked Back on Monochromatic Dynamic

Whee! I'm back to the blog. So many things to share that have happened, that need to happen and that I want to happen to Home Monochromatic Dynamic.  But here's a tiny project to ease into it...

I try to justify aimless shopping by thinking it always pays to dig through sale sections regardless what you come in a store to find. While searching for some sandals I saw online (sometimes I like doing online reconnaissance before I venture into a store), I checked out UrbanOutfitters home items, (clearance priced and marked down) and found this awesome wall hook.

It weighs a ton and I love the shape, finish, and hinged hooks. The price was right ($9!) so I purchased it without having a specific destination in mind. So, when cold weather hit and I witnessed a trend (a pile of cardis and pullovers on a box next to my bedroom door, I knew where that hook I purchased needed to go.

Not bad for $9. That's technically under $1 a hook...hehe.

Ever had anything socked away that came in handy later--like that swimsuit you bought on clearance in December or that dress you wore for a last-minute invite, but purchased without a specific event in mind?

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

I've Been Remiss!

I've been terribly lacking in the blog post realm, but I've had some great summer travels (West Coast, Midwest, Western Europe) and I'll be back in the saddle soon! In the meantime, some things in the monochromatic dynamic household have been coming together and other things have fallen apart (roof leaks, why!?) and I can't wait to share more fun projects I have planned.

Non-monochrome view in Madrid

Saturday, July 10, 2010

I'm pulling for you, Basil...

I really am. I have a very difficult time cajoling plants to stay alive. It seems like I over-water or under-water, fry them in the sun or deprive them of enough light, and when I sing to them they immediately wilt.

sigh. Basil was a necessary ingredient for a dinner last week and the actual plant was less pricey than the picked leaves so, against my better judgment, I set myself up for heartache and bought it. I planted it in its terra cotta coffin pot and it's survived several days so far.

Perhaps to encourage my gardening, or support my recent success non-failure I was gifted this awesome Sagaform planter (that I know came from a one of my favorite shopping methods--a Gilt sale)...

...and I can't wait to plant some herbs! Mostly because I'm under the impression that my plants will look exactly like the ones pictured on the box. I'm hoping the watering concept--that the plant absorbs it from the base of the planter--will help curb my deadly watering habits. Now I just have to stay tuned for the next grocery store sale on basil plants. Seriously, what smells better than fresh basil?

I'll share my outdoor gardening successes and failures some other time.

Anyone had success nurturing a basil plant? Suggestions are very welcome.
What other herbs should I plant in my new pot?

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Natural Ruggedness

I finally made it to HomeGoods and had fun wandering around checking out the decor and furniture choices. This rug was a purchase from said trip. I'm not sure A) if I should keep it and B) if I do keep it, which side is optimal.

Tonal, peaceful, dirt-hiding gray? Fresh, summery, contrasting white? Or just leave the floor alone?

Care to opine?

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Wheelin' and dealin'

One of my earlier Craigslist discoveries was a wood bar. I saw an ad for a bar I liked, but by the time I responded it had been sold (cue violins). Then, crazily enough, someone posted the same bar (not the exact same, but the identical make) the following week.

The sellers said it's from CostPlus World Market, so it's understandable that there would be multiple secondhand versions out there.

Like so many other items, this hung out at my parent's (and then my sister's) until I got my place. Coincidentally, the bar's width is perfect for one of the alcoves on the side of the fireplace in the great room.

After maneuvering it into place, I was struck with realization that moving the bar when empty was pretty cumbersome, so moving it when full might as well be impossible.  And since the bar is only open on one side--which is great since folks can't critique my bar paraphernalia organizational skills--mobility was key.  After brainstorming ideas that included having the bar on a giant hinge attached to the wall (hehe), I settled on swivel wheels as an achievable solution.

So, I made my way to Home Depot and got some casters like these:

Then got home and realized that the plate was slightly bigger than the leg, the holes in the screw plate weren't far in enough that there would be enough space between the screw and the edge of the leg for the screw to get a good bite, and that I was likely greatly underestimating the final weight of a fully stocked bar.

Armed with this new (and, eh, probably easily foreseen) information, I returned to Home Depot and got casters similar to these:


The casters had 2 pieces--a slim funnel with teeth on the lip and the wheel on a stem that would fit into the funnel once the funnel/anchor was embedded in the wood. After putting holes in the legs for the stem anchor (making sure that the drill bit was completely vertical so the wheels wouldn't be at that wonky every-shopping-cart-I-ever use angle), and getting a lot of sawdust in my nose and mouth by blowing the wood shavings out of the new hole, the funnel was ready to be dropped in. I hammered them down until the teeth on the lip of the funnel were embedded in the wood and put in the stem of portion with the wheel, which locked into place with a satisfying click. Voila!

When flipped over, the bar rolled relatively easily. When filled, it rolls less freely, but easily enough that I can get access to the back of the bar without calling for backup. Which is great, because if it was still wheel-less and altogether impossible for me to move, I might think I needed to increase my adult beverage intake to make it more mobile.

PS, the empty space above the bar will eventually house a swivel-mounted TV.
Any beverage storage solutions that you find convenient? Does anything last long enough to even be stored?

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Sweet potato fries

My sister wanted to take advantage of a special on salmon burgers, so we planned a meal centered around them. A slight variation on your typical burger should be accompanied with a slight variation on your typical fry, so we decided to try making sweet potato fries as a side.

How handy that my brother is well-versed in frying, since roughly 50% of all his home-cooked meals involve it. He brought over his fryer and cooked the fries perfectly.

This was news to me, sweet potatoes are not orange before they are cooked. This caused some kitchen confusion--basically I was convinced that my sister picked up the wrong tuber. I'll never doubt you again, sis. On this subject, anyway.

We used canola oil and put each batch of sliced sweet potatoes in the fryer for about 3 minutes, until they were goldeny-orange.

We seasoned half with cinnamon and sugar and the other half with some chili powder. Both were excellent, and good together, too.

Honestly, the leftover fries were even delicious straight out of the refrigerator. And for that very reason I don't think I'll be purchasing my own fryer anytime soon.

Any other fried delights to share? I want to try out fried bananas, any tips?

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Parfait Montage

Who doesn't love summery parfaits? I made these for Father's Day dinner on Sunday with layers of strawberries, cream (heavy whipping cream with a few tablespoons of powdered sugar and a teaspoon of vanilla), chocolate pudding (boxed--I know, total cop out--and mixed with soy milk because I didn't have enough other milk on hand--still delicious), and cherries.

To pipe the cream on the top layer, I used a sandwich bag with a corner lopped off:

Double over the edge of the bag so you don't gunk up the top and you can still seal it.
Leave a corner food-free (or move the cream/icing/cheesecake mix out of the way).
Ready to beautify the tops of the parfaits.

When I was done I binder clipped (that's right, they're not just for the office anymore, folks) the open corner to save the leftover cream (which was mixed in with marscapone cheese and orange zest for a dip for the rest of the cherries the next day...)

I'm impressed with my foresight in making sure that a dessert spoon could easily fit in the glasses before I layered eveything up. I should have made extra, I could really use another one right now...

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Tabled the Issue

Among my many regular keyword searches on craigslist is "lucite". I started searching after I randomly saw a listing for a lucite coat rack and I really wanted--but was completely out of my price range (even if I factored in a little friendly craigslist haggling).  So, the lucite search is more therapeutic than anything else, but sometimes cool things turn up, including this simple metal table with a lucite top.

Yay for super versatile second-hand finds! This was a coffee table in the loft pre-desk acquisition (more on that later) and then became a bedside table (more on the ever-morphing bedroom later, too) and now it hangs out beside a couch in the great room. I just saw that CB2 has a similar table, but with a glass top and a higher price tag. But it's probably able to bear more weight.

CB2 Smart Side Table $149

Any standby craigslist searches that have brought you success? Nevermind, I don't expect anyone to share their secrets.
Isn't moveable, versatile furniture the greatest!?

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Happy Father's Day!

Special shout out to my Dad: ever-stylish, consistently hilarious, and always honest.

P.S. Referencing "Resort Wear" is a family joke that my Father started. It involves posing and requires participation.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Trip to Arcosanti

Last weekend I visited Arcosanti. This "urban laboratory" had cool architecture, an interesting background story and a peaceful natural setting--and the great weather during the visit made the experience all the nicer.  

Stairwell of Visitor Center with Soleri Windbells

Looking down into the dining room

One of the apartments (about 100 people live on-site)

Arched ceiling  in the "town square"
(the color is added through the silt construction process)

Some of their agricultural land
The Agua Fria is at the tree-line in the distance

The office center?

This fun roadtrip had another stop, I'll post about that deliciousness later.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Rampant Shelf-ishness

Sometimes that "measure twice, cut once" mantra works, and sometimes it becomes "measure once, file down some edges for a long time..." 

I like the look of floating shelves that wrap around corners, and using some easily assembled Target shelves seemed a quick way to do it in my master bath--especially because the 24" shelf was the exact width from wall to wall over the toilet. Cue premature "hooray" now. Evidently walls are not exactly flat or exactly the same width apart all the time (of course I knew this, everyone knows this, but I didn't let that knowledge prevent a perfectly good and frustrating experience!). I wish I got a few photos (or video?) of me struggling with the shelf in between the walls of the toilet alcove--I'd get the shelf into the space about a foot, then the walls would narrow and stop my progress. Then I'd try to angle it up or down to find an area with more leeway...about 40 minutes later I was left with a shelf wedged about a foot directly above the toilet at a 45 degree angle. Yep, that half-bath by the front door definitely comes in handy. After a day-long sabbatical from the fiasco, I revisited it with back-up support, unwedged it, and whittled down the edges enough that it fit into the space like a glove. Putting up the other shelf was a comparative breeze (although it is difficult to match the planes exactly, so strategically placing items on the seam proved helpful).

So, I have more visual interest and some extra open storage (for prettier bathroom items), which may come in handy depending on future bathroom sink and vanity alterations...

I think I need to get a print or 2 on the shelf, too--so I'll be on the lookout for something that fits the bill.

The master bath is still not a finished project, but it's getting there with the shower drapes/curtains, closet organization (I'll have to post more photos of the space later), towel bar, and dresser. (And this is after the massive sunken tub/shower/closet/door/walls reno--I'll have to unearth some of those photos, too!)

Should I put the hook I got earlier (photo at this link) under the shelf on the side nearest the curtain? I'm leaning toward yes...

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Stone . Paper . Metal Giveaway!

A few months ago I posted about the fantastic earrings I received from Emily at Stone . Paper . Metal. She's doing a giveaway on her blog for some amazing chalcedony earrings and I'm being nice enough to tell you about it, even though it hurts my odds of winning!

Good luck! (she's taking entries until the 19th)

Visit Emily's etsy store, too!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Food puzzle solution

I got home the other evening thinking I'd have to assess the contents of my fridge and run to the grocery store to fill in the gaps so I could make a sane person's dinner. Imagine my delight (really, imagine it) when I realized that I could make dinner from the food stuffs I had on hand. I've attempted to organize the thought and activity process that preceded the discovery that I didn't have to leave the house...

1. I need to use up this tofu
2. These vine-ripened tomatoes are really good and there are three left
3. I should have used this mozzarella sooner (trash)
4. The only vegetables I have are carrots and spinach leaves
5. ugh, I don't want a salad
6. What did I get these green onions for, again?
7. I have a lot of pasta and rice...
8. ooo, there's a frozen pie I need to bake (turn on oven)
9. Freezer has some corn, stir fry veggies, edamame and frozen dinners
10. Don't eat a frozen dinner, that constitutes food puzzle cheating!
11. What do I do with this tofu....? Already had stir fry and I don't love big chunks of tofu (search recipes on web and found this recipe for tofu fried rice!)


I changed a couple things from the recipe--no cashews, added stir fry veggies and chopped baby carrots (precooked the carrots so they wouldn't be disproportionately crunchy), added garlic, used this nonsense instead of soy sauce...

I forgot to take a photo of the pie until the remaining quantity was embarrassingly small. But there was pie.

Any other tofu successes? Has anyone fried tofu? That's what I want to try next.