Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The Hiatus

It took a week of heavy lifting, sorting, cleaning, selling, and donating. We are out of the old and into the new. I thought I'd reveal the house in stages, starting with the reason we bought it- the backyard. Our house sits on a lot and a half of roughly landscaped, wide open wild lawn that butts up to county acreage behind our back fence. We have a baseball field.

In case you are wondering, we did not relocate to Southern California, but, we are now the proud owners of 4 mature palm trees. This isn't something that exactly drew me to the house, but they are growing on me for some reason.  We'll have to get a hammock to tie between the two that sit next to one another in the back of the yard. There is also a beautiful, full, branchy tree right in the center of the lot; the future home of a tree fort, and a little shed-turned-play house.

We'll be spending a lot of time out here this summer, as we get started on renovating top floor. We'll paint the old shed, put up a badminton net, camp under the stars. So many things about the house will change, but for now, this yard is perfect, and the Southern and Western facing views make you feel far away, even at the top of an unassuming cul-de-sac.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Plant Recipes

This will be the last dispatch from the coffee table in this living room with the black and white rug. We get the keys today!  I'm still knee deep in packing materials, but as this is maybe the busiest month on record, we are also attending the big elementary school fundraiser tonight, two days before we move. The word on the street is that if you bring your own flower arrangement you can claim your table.  I thought this is as good a time as any to test out this amazing new recipe book that was sent to me to's a recipe book about plants, or rather, how to use plants to create beautiful, decorative arrangements for your house.

If you are a fan of succulents, air plants, lichen covered branches and flowering cacti you will no doubt benefit from the planting tips and styling ideas in this book by Baylor Chapman of San Francisco's Lila B. Design floral and garden studio. The projects in The Plant Recipe Book: 100 Living Arrangements for Any Home in Any Seasoninclude terrariums, special occasion arrangements, and unconventional vessels and methods for display. I tried my hand at a fancy Pink Bush Aloe recipe, it is a school fundraiser after all. I spiffed up a wooden salad bowl with a little paint, and filled out soil with sedum and some other succulents scrounged from parts of the garden. Here's a picture tutorial!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Orla Kiely

Perhaps I am needing a moment to procrastinate on all the packing and loan doc drama that takes place the week you close on a house.  Perhaps I need a moment to channel my inner Peggy Olson right now, the Mad Men final season begins next week, and since I'm about to move to a 1968 split level ranch in "original" condition, I need to immerse myself in the time period. Whatever it is, I am taking a moment to daydream about what will happen when I tear down the stifling interior walls and make myself a new kitchen. My first point of design inspiration is coming from Orla Kiely.  I got her book "Home" last winter- it's full of case study houses and danish modern interiors, and features her own colorful, happy London home. I've always loved her now iconic scribble stem pattern. She has this groovy look to her textiles, an obvious nod to the bold patterns of the late 60's, but with a little restraint, and way better colors.  I don't think I'd ever go so far as to put up wallpaper in the kitchen(or would I?), but I do think I'll take her cue to add lots of pops of color with my existing white and walnut furnishings... 

The Orla Kiely House collection, including furniture is now available in the US. 

Oh and did I mention her Spring/Summer clothing collection? It's like Wes Anderson and Anthropologie had a baby. Mr.Jennings, we're in trouble. 

Friday, March 28, 2014

The Move- Part 1

I feel like we just did this. A couple of days ago I crept up into the attic and dragged out the moving boxes. As just about everything is approved and signed off on, and we are set to close next week, I have to accept that we need to pack it up and move again.  Believe me, I am overjoyed that we are finally going to be landowners, but packing up a home for the second time in less than two years isn't exactly a party, especially because we really moved into this place, filling every nook and cranny with our things.  Extricating ourselves will be a big project.  I'm starting with the front and moving my way back. It seems that I have acquired a few chairs since we moved here...

And a lot of brass and white ceramic vessels, and animals figurines? And ferns...and rattan... It's like the early 70's in this house. I just need to invest in a macrame wall hanging (don't think I don't want one). Fortunately the new place is of the era.

And I just made so much (big) stuff...I don't know what I'm going to do with all of it. Curses. No more gold spray paint! Coming soon, the before pictures of the new place. It's going to get quite the makeover. Until then... bubble wrap.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Zipzicles - Reader Giveaway

I saw these magical little popsicle pouches on Pinterest, and got a little frustrated that I didn't invent them myself. Seriously, how genius? Fill them with yogurt and put them in a school lunch (you could re-use a few times), make your own all fruit popsicles, or portion out apple sauce. I ordered a few packs to test them out and they are indeed amazing, so today I'm sharing my first two pop recipes, and I'm going to giveaway a twelve pack of Zipzicles for one of you to try out. Just leave a comment at the end of the post to be entered to win. I'll announce the winner next Wednesday, April 2nd.

Pop #1 Strawberry-Banana

Blend ripe banana with quartered strawberries, about 1:1 ratio, add a little coconut water to thin to smoothie texture.  Portion mixture into individual Zipzicle pouches using a funnel, seal and freeze flat.  

Pop #2 Chocolate-Peanut Butter-Banana (Vegan)

1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1/4 cup vanilla almond milk
2 ripe bananas

Blend ingredients, fill using a funnel, and freeze flat.

Don't forget to leave a comment to be entered to win!

Monday, March 24, 2014

Testing The Waters

I love working with tween girls...they say the funniest things. They are always so chatty and engaged, they are not yet too cool or distracted by themselves, yet they are not too young to focus their attention on something, take direction, and work through a problem. For this reason, I am testing out my first iteration of design classes with 4th through 6th graders in an after school enrichment at my son's school.  Here's my spiffy flier. If all goes well with this test run, I'll be able to open up classes to everyone soon!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

DIY Glow In The Dark Stars

Things are plugging away over here. Thank you for all the kind words about Wylie, and our big news last week. We have our big home and pest inspection today, one of the last major hurdles before we can finally call ourselves homeowners. The boys are starting to get excited about moving, and are already talking about what they want in their new rooms.  Jasper has this cool idea to keep his room white, and paint his ceiling black, for a scatter of glow-in-the-dark stars. I'm totally down with this idea, and I thought we could make it a little more like an art piece and a fun project if we made our own stars with polymer clay.  You can purchase glow-in-the-dark oven bake clay and a set of star cookie cutters at the craft store.  I am using 3M command strips to attach to the ceiling to set them off the ceiling ever so slightly, to give the impression that they are floating in the sky.  Here's the simple tutorial.  


Glow-in-the-dark polymer clay, 1-3" star cookie cutters, command strips, rolling pin, parchment paper or non-food silicone pan liner, sheet pan.

Preheat oven to 275 degrees. On a non-stick surface, roll out clay to 1/8" thickness.  Cut with star shapes and lay on covered sheet pan.  Bake for 30 minutes, remove from oven and allow to cool.

Trim command strips to fit the back of the star, leaving some of the pull tab for damage free removal.

Scatter across the ceiling, make constellations, have fun! They glow brightly when the lights go off, fading gradually after a few minutes. Perfect for bed time. 

Thursday, March 13, 2014

What's Really Going On

I haven't been posting a lot lately, because we've been going through some stuff...good and bad.  For several months, my little guy, Wylie, has been complaining of headaches. Totally disturbing, right? We were forced to schedule an MRI, something that required him to be completely anesthetized, in order to find out if something was up with his brain. We had to take an early morning trip back to Oakland to have him put under for the scan.  It is not really all that fun watching your child with tubes up his nose, completely knocked out. The procedure went well, and much to our relief, about 10 minutes into our post-MRI ice cream party at Fenton's, his doctor called to tell us that the radiologist found no brain abnormalities. This doesn't explain the headaches, but I'll take it. As you can imagine, I've been operating at a high stress level. I got sick. Really sick. I'm still on really powerful antibiotics to treat a double ear infection brought on by a bad cold. I just haven't had the time to produce new project based content for Poppy Haus for the past few weeks, and I'm feeling a little melancholy about that.

There's something else, something I've debated about even sharing at this point, so as not to jinx it. We just made an offer on a house, and holy crap the offer was accepted.  This is something that we were pretty sure was never ever going to happen for us. We live in the Bay Area, where we've always been pretty much priced out of the market, even here in Petaluma. If all goes according to plan, we'll soon be the proud owners of a small,1968 split level ranch with a big old yard for our boys to run wild. It will need so much work done to make it right, but I've been waiting for this opportunity since, well, since forever. Keep your fingers crossed for me.


Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Green Bangers and Mash

Pardon my radio silence. I got pretty sick and I just had to take a few days to mend. Now I'm back, and I'm ready to talk Irish pork products.

When you think of St Patrick's Day food, a corned beef and cabbage meal comes to mind.  Unfortunately I just don't care for the taste of brined beef. Perhaps this is because it is disgusting, I don't know. If I'm eating Irish, I much prefer the pub favorite bangers and mash. Yesterday I experimented with the traditional version, giving it a little California love, making it more green (there's a secret ingredient), and a wee bit healthier. All of the components come from Trader Joes and the whole meal took under 30 minutes to prepare, making it easy breezy for next Monday night.       

Green Bangers and Mash


1 lb white potatoes, unpeeled, washed and quartered
32 oz chicken stock
1/4 cup fresh basil finely chopped
1 avocado
10 oz shaved Brussels sprouts
2 tbsp olive oil
6 Irish pork sausages

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
Bring the stock to boil and add the potatoes, simmering until very soft. While the potatoes are cooking, toss the Brussels sprouts (mini cabbage) with the olive oil, and sprinkle with sea salt.  Lay out on a sheet pan and set aside, while you prepare the sausage.  Lay the sausage on a separate sheet pan and pop into the oven. Allow to cook for 10 minutes, then using a pair of tongs, flip them, putting them back in to roast for another 10 minutes until firm to the touch.  Put the Brussels sprouts in to roast as well. 10 minutes at 425 degrees will cook them through and brown the outer skins. While the sausage and Brussels are finishing up, strain the potatoes, reserving about 1/4 cup of stock for mashing. I use a hand held blender to get the potatoes started, then, secret ingredient, the creamy, buttery avocado. It sounds strange, but you don't pick up any avocado flavor. Add a few pinches of sea salt and the chopped basil, and puree until blended, but do not over mix, or the potato will get too starchy. Add more sea salt to taste.  Plate and you're ready to "Erin Go Bragh".

Monday, March 3, 2014

This Haus is a Huset

Modern Viking dwelling

Growing up, after a good meal my dad would often say: "Tak for mad, tusind tak, jeg elsker dig"- a Norwegian phrase that translates to "Thanks for food, a thousand thanks, I love you". I knew that my Grandma Maxine had some Norwegian in her, and I guess I also knew that my mom's mom, Grandma Bev was also part Norwegian, making me a just a little bit Norwegian myself. I've remembered the phrase and repeated it occasionally over the years, as you do with nostalgic childhood things. I'm thinking of it now, because I got some funny news the other day that completely turned my genealogical identity on it's head. Background: I was raised in a family where our story was that we are Swiss-German on my Dad's side. Both of my parent's lineage is solidly Germanic, with a little English, a little Irish, and a little Scandinavian making up the rest. This is the identity I grew up with. My maiden name is decidedly German: Buhler. I had an Oktoberfest for my 30th birthday, and I named my blog Poppy "Haus", because I am have always identified as an American fräulein.  As it turns out, I am not German, not much or not at all.

My sister recently sprang for one of those ethnicity tests that you can order through She revealed the results to my brother and I this weekend and we were both a little flabbergasted.  We are close to 50% Scandinavian.  We are only 4% western European.  The rest of the mix was English, Irish, and 15% Italian?(this apparently explains the Swiss-German ancestry, as they border each other). As it turns out, Ich bin ein Skandinavisches. I am actually Viking. Awesome.

Typical Modern Viking Man
This explains face for starters, my lofty blonde relatives on both sides, my preternatural ability to navigate IKEA, my political leanings, my love of pickled herring and boiled potatoes(not true), my fondness for Eric Northman, and my obsession with birch wood, teak lounge chairs, and houses that look like the one pictured above. I always get a Norway pine for Christmas. Truly, I think I've always known. Have you ever found out what you are really made of? It's crazy. After expressing a bit of what seemed like displeasure with the DNA results, my dad did note that his father's mother was half-Danish. This is starting to add up. So what do you think, do I need to change my blog name to Poppy Huset?  Doesn't have the same ring to it, does it?

Thursday, February 27, 2014

The End of An Era: Ikea Discontinues EXPEDIT (Sort Of)

You know that shelf we all have from Ikea?  I swear, I cannot think of one person that I know who doesn't have one. You know what I'm talking about, it's the ubiquitous cube shelf that you fit baskets into or use to store your record collection. Yes, that one. Ikea is killing it off, and when I read the announcement the other day, I have to admit that I felt a tinge of nostalgia for all the EXPEDIT's I've put together (albeit in a frustrated rage).  Sure, the veneer chips, and the shelves can sag with time and weight, but for so many reasons it's still the perfect piece of furniture, especially if you have kids. The truth is, Ikea is actually replacing the EXPEDIT with something that looks almost exactly like it. According to Gizmodo, the new KALLAX will have the same interior dimensions with a thinner outer edge, which will vastly cut down on the amount of wood needed to produce their most popular shelf. They're doing it to save trees. Still, I'm a little sad to say goodbye to my old friend, if only in name, so I gathered together some of my favorite Ikea EXPEDIT hacks to date. If you have one lying around, and I know you do, here's some inspiration...

EXPEDIT Doll House (source unknown)

EXPEDIT credenza/ sideboard

Craft/cutting table EXPEDIT hack

Room divider and hallway storage EXPEDIT hack

Reclaimed wood fronts and log storage EXPEDIT hack (source unknown)

Reshuffled shelves and wall mounted EXPEDIT hack (this I might have to do)

Bench seating EXPEDIT hack

Changing Table EXPEDIT hack

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