Thursday, May 31, 2012

Come Sale Away

If you should find yourself in the Bay Area this weekend, please come check out our multi-family moving sale.  We're hosting it on Sunday, June 3rd, in Alameda. We'll be spread out on a big front lawn, there will be a lemonade stand with some adorable kindergartners raising money for Legos, and some pretty great finds including my Dipped DOCKSTA table (now making the rounds on pinterest).  Here's the craigslist link.  Hope to see you there, oh and please pass this on to anyone you think might be interested.  


Tuesday, May 29, 2012

More Sweet Than Bitter

They say when life gives you lemons, make lemonade. Well, life gave me a lot of lemons this weekend, about 3 dozen in total.  My in-laws have a meyer lemon tree that really overproduces and as a result we've perfected our homemade lemonade recipe. The glass bottles are from IKEA. They are perfect to throw on ice for a bbq and fit on the door of the refrigerator. I used a grease pen to mark which was which. Here are three variations, Original, Lavender-Thyme, and Ginger...

Homemade Meyer Lemonade
Yields 1 1/2 quarts

1/2 cup granulated sugar
5 cups water
1 cup of fresh squeezed meyer lemon juice (about 6 medium)

I make a quick simple syrup by combining the sugar and 1 cup of water in a small sauce pan over medium heat until the sugar is completely dissolved.  Allow to cool.

Combine syrup, juice and between 3 and 4 cups of water in pitcher or funnel into a glass bottle with a lid.  Stir or shake, serve over ice.

*For the Lavender-Thyme variation, add 3 sprigs of thyme (or lemon-thyme) and 1 sprig of lavender (leaf only) to the cooled simple syrup in the bottle.
*To make the ginger lemonade, add 2 slices of fresh ginger to the simple syrup while it is cooking.  Keep the ginger with the syrup in the bottle, it will deepen in flavor after a few hours. I suppose if one were inclined, this would be excellent with bourbon.


Friday, May 25, 2012

Chugging Along

I took my older son Jasper on the zoo train when he was just over a year old. He had a shock of white hair and a chubby little face. He was already deeply enamored with trains, and I can say that despite new interests in super heroes and Star Wars, trains are still a source of wonder and delight for him.  He'll be finishing up Kindergarten in the next few weeks, we'll celebrate his 6th birthday and say goodbye to his new found friends as we head off to our new home in Petaluma. It's a lot for a little guy. That's what's on my mind right now, along with moving boxes and garage sales and new sofas...  

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Scavenger Hunt

Did you know that Apartment Therapy has a classifieds section within their Marketplace where you can find local hidden treasures like Eames chairs, Room & Board sofas and things that you didn't even know you wanted until now, like this Scandinavian planter?

San Francisco's offering isn't very robust, but New York and LA have a lot to offer, and other regional locations like Madison, Portland and Chicago do not disappoint.  Check it out before weeding through the mislabeled hodgepodge on craigslist.  


Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The Laundress

Today I'm doing something that I've never done before here on Poppy Haus (do I sound like Ira Glass?).  I've enlisted my sister-in-law/ best friend to do a guest post. The topic is one that she is, by all measures, an expert on. Now, I know how to use stain remover and what detergents to buy; what I need help with strategy. I envy her ability to prevent pilling and prolong the life of inexpensive knits, keep her kid's clothes stain free, and preserve the original texture and size of her jeans. You never see an overflowing hamper at her house. No, not ever. I just don't know how she does it! So I asked, and she told me. Cue the Amelie soundtrack.


Carrie's Laundry List

I like to do laundry. I like the feeling of accomplishment when I’ve finished folding and putting away the last load of the weekend. I like how all of the clothes look in their appropriate homes, dressers and closets stuffed full of outfit options for the week. I also like wearing clean clothes that aren’t faded or wrinkled
and I like looking at my husband and little boy wearing clean clothes that aren’t faded or wrinkled.

Those that know me well think I’m a teensy bit crazy about my obsession with clothing and laundry and not looking disheveled and making sure the dirty pile of clothes doesn’t become overwhelming; but it is what it is. And now that I’m a mom that works full time these things are even more important to me and I’m sure there are other people out there that feel the same.

Here are some strategies for staying on top of the laundry and keeping clothes looking fresh.

To avoid the overwhelming dirty clothes pile and inevitable backlog:

Start doing laundry for the weekend Thursday night and do a load  
or two each day until Sunday, folding and putting away after each load. That way you don’t feel as though you are devoting
large chunks of your weekend to this task. 

For the moms out there: 
  • Fold at the table while your little guy or girl is eating breakfast, lunch, dinner or a snack.
  • Fold on the living room floor while he or she is playing next to you.
  • Fold after he or she has gone to bed, while you are watching True Blood, with a glass of wine in hand.
  • Get him or her involved with sorting the clothes into their appropriate piles and putting them in the washer or dryer…it’s fun for them to help, can be a teaching opportunity(colors) and you get to be productive while spending time with them. (This one will probably only work with toddlers…unfortunately.)

To keep clothes looking like new:

  • Wash everything (except whites) in cold/cold…yep, even the lights and delicates that contain tags that tell you to wash them in warm (cold water keeps color from fading).
  • Turn jeans inside out before washing and never, ever dry them. Also, wear them 3-5 times between washes.
  • Don’t just hang to dry things you want to keep from shrinking. Also hang anything you want to keep looking like new (dryers wear down the best of fabric pretty quickly and as a result, it becomes misshapen and faded very quickly).

When you hang something to dry:
  • Fluff the garment in the dryer for 3-5 minutes before you hang it to remove wrinkles and help it take it’s original shape.
  • Fluff the garment in the dryer for another 3-5 minutes once it’s dry, before you wear it, to remove stiffness.

Happy Laundering!



Monday, May 21, 2012

The Todd

I guess Todd Oldham gave a talk on Alexander Girard at Pratt back in February.  Despite the fact that I live thousands of miles away from Brooklyn, it kind of pains me that I wasn't in the audience. He produced a book on Girard that sits waiting patiently on my Amazon wish list.

At my weekly pilgrimage to the red bullseye I stopped in my tracks; I realized that today was the day.  I found myself in front of the fully stocked Kid Made Modern display.  We don't want for art supplies in this house, but this stuff is rumored to immediately sell out, and I was in the store, if by accident, on launch date.  Somewhere, Alexander Girard is looking out for me.  

I found Oldham's Kid Made Modern at the library one day. I've checked it out and been overdue several times over the last year. It's full of interesting projects and techniques, and gives a little mid-century art history lesson with each chapter. The supplies and kits are based on some of the ideas from the book.  

Here's the loot I got today.  The paint by number kit is by Megan Whitmarsh.


Tribal Art

Beauchamping's "Tribe" just makes me smile.  It would make for a nice kitchen wall reminder when an entire bowl of cereal gets dumped on the floor. Find it on Etsy.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Pigging Out

Today is the Teacher Appreciation Day Banquet at our elementary school. I'm the daughter of a teacher, I'm also married to a teacher turned principal, and therefore an authority on what they like, and I will tell you, all teachers like buffets.  

I will also tell you that nothing says "thank you" like pork.

Here's my simple crock pot recipe for barbecue pulled pork sliders, perfect for teachers and potlucks everywhere.

Pulled Pork Sliders
Feeds a village

6-7lbs of boneless Pork Butt (stop laughing)or shoulder
3 diced carrots
1 diced yellow onion
2 diced celery stalks
3 cloves of garlic, smashed
16 oz vegetable stock
16 oz sweet, tangy barbecque sauce
salt + pepper
Slider buns (I found mine at Trader Joes)
Peppers (I like sliced pickled jalapenos)
For this, I make coleslaw simple and without mayo (sits out well)
See recipe below.

Salt and pepper the outside of the pork, I'm pretty generous with the salt.

In a large pan or cast iron skillet brown the pork on all sides to seal in the juices.

Put the pork in the crock pot, adding the vegetables and stock, cover and cook on low for 8-10 hours, if you have less time, cook on high setting for 6 hours. The less meat you have, the shorter the cook time.  The important thing is that the pork breaks down and shreds softly.

Once it finished cooking transfer the meat to a grooved cutting board and using two forks, gently pull the meat apart until it looks like this:

At this point you can do a few different things.  If you do not like barbecue sauce slathered all over your pork, I suggest draining part of the liquid (skimming the fat) from the crock pot and returning the meat to stew, using a slatted spoon to serve.

If you do like barbecue sauce on your pork, discard all but 1 cup of the juices, mix in 16 oz of bbq sauce and return the meat to the crock pot.  

You can serve directly from the crock pot or put the pulled pork in a covered serving dish for the table, or you could assemble the sandwiches and serve on a platter.

If you have leftovers, may I suggest taco night?


1 head of green cabbage, finely shredded
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon of sugar
1 teaspoon of salt
Pepper to taste

Whisk dressing ingredients until emulsified, toss with cabbage.


Thursday, May 17, 2012

Moving Forward

Moving is really overwhelming.  I've got exactly one month until the truck arrives to take it all away and I'm taking the first steps to getting everything packed up.  Here's my plan:

1. Get the extraneous stuff packed first.  This includes decorative objects (I have a few), fancy glassware, entertaining pieces, china, specialty appliances, books and artwork. I will want to take extra care packaging these up, and as moving goes, you get sloppier as the move draws closer.  I can use the small supply of boxes I've been saving for last few months.

2. Plan a garage sale.  This is a big one. We are getting rid of some clutter which includes furniture, baby items, gadgets and electronics.  I'm organizing a multifamily sale.  This is planned for June 2nd on my sister-in-law's sprawling central Alameda lawn.

To prep for that we have to tackle the garage and make some hard choices.  

3. Book a moving company.  Past the era of leaning on family and friends, this is a must.  YELP makes it a lot easier.

3. Get boxes. I'm ordering eco-moving boxes from ZippGo, which rents recycled plastic moving bins.  These will make the move greener and easier for the movers, and will eliminate the need for box foraging and tape!  Toys, dishes, small appliances, bathroom and bedroom;  they drop off the bins and pick them up a few weeks later, forcing you to unpack. 

4. Schedule moving day(s).  We have kids, and kids do not help with moving.  They're being shipped off to family for a few days.  We're moving on a Friday, cleaning our current house on Saturday and doing our walk through on Sunday.  

5. Mail, Bills, Accounts.  This is my least favorite part of moving, but it can be done ahead of time.  Switching utilities, scheduling cable installation, changing addresses on accounts.  Remember magazine subscriptions!  I don't want the new tenants reading my coveted Dwell. 

A Colorful Life

I am so very pleased to announce that PANYL has expanded it's offering to include PANYL by-the-foot! For those of you not familiar, PANYL is a self-adhesive vinyl that is specifically designed for interior and exterior architectural use. Up until now they have offered pre-cut pieces for specific IKEA furniture, which was exciting enough, but now the possibilities are endless.  I am about to move into a beautiful Craftsman with built-ins painted an unfortunate sunny mustard color, and I can't paint over them.  With a pop of color behind each shelf I could completely change the look. I'm also considering it for the drawer fronts of my Parsons dresser from West Elm. The PANYL's are removeable, but will not peel or fade with cleaning and should last for the life of the surface they are applied to. PANYL by-the-foot is 48" wide, and priced at $24 by the linear foot.  

Their color choices are as vibrant and varied as the Pantone book, and include shades of woodgrain.  If you'd like they can send you samples for $1.25 per color with free shipping. 

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Down Under Cover

8 years ago, I bought my first real furniture, albeit from IKEA.  I chose a giant dark brown leather KRAMFORS sofa and coordinating massive chaise for my then tiny craftsmen living room in Berkeley. Structurally they have held up remarkably well, but the leather was defective and finally ripped open on the chaise last month, only exacerbated by the barrage of army men and dinosaurs that have been exploring the tear.  

I am equal parts practical and fickle.  I've been wanting to replace them with a lighter, textured fabric sofa. At the same time I feel like purchasing all new living room furniture is a little ridiculous considering the beating they'll be taking over the next 5 years. I still like the lines of the KRAMFORS, and they are really comfortable, plus they've filled out our open space living room perfectly. Up until now, recovering them has not been an option. Reupholstery wasn't cost effective. I did find a company called Bemz that makes tailored covers for specific IKEA sofas, but they don't fit over leather versions.  Then I found Comfort Works, an Australian company specializing in IKEA covers, that makes special sizes to accommodate leather versions. 

I ordered a set of "Nomad Grey" heavy cross-weave covers for both pieces. I've finished the chaise, which took about an hour to install, including removing the base to get the fabric perfectly taut. So far, I'm really impressed by the quality of construction and I've achieved the tailored textile look without reupholstering or investing in new pieces. Win win.




Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Taco Tuesday

When I was a senior at Davis, my gaggle of girls (and one boy) embarked on a poorly planned Spring break trip to Baja, Mexico.  I'm pretty sure our goal was to get tan and drink cheap margaritas.  We decided to camp on the beach (smart) and eat from roadside taco trucks.  It was at one such taco truck that I watched a lady prepare fish tacos from scratch.  When we got home, sunburned and broke, the recipe became one of my staples.  I made a spiffed up version this weekend with a mango relish, but the basic technique remains the same...

Baja Style Fish Tacos

1 1/2 lbs of fish (I used halibut, but often use snapper or tilapia)
1 cup all purpose flour
1 tbsp sea salt (plus a little more for finishing)
2 cups canola or rice bran oil for frying.

Cut fish into 2 inch pieces
Mix flour and salt in a wide, flat bowl
Heat oil over medium-high heat in a 3" deep wide skillet, keep a splatter guard handy

Sprinkle a pinch of flour into the oil to make sure it is hot. Dredge the fish through the flour, shaking off excess and place in skillet with about 1" of space between each piece.  You'll have to do a couple of batches.  Fry on one side for approximately 2 minutes, using tongs, flip the fish and cook for about 1 minute.  Transfer to a paper towel covered plate and sprinkle with sea salt.  

I always use corn tortillas, prepping them in a tortilla warmer. 
I prefer my tacos with a green avocado salsa, cabbage, cilantro and lime.  To make the mango relish, simply mince fresh mango, radish, cilantro, and a small pepper. I prefer serrano or jalapeno, but to make it more mild I used a pasilla for this particular version.  Mix with fresh lime juice and sea salt to taste.  

Monday, May 14, 2012

Round Too

Confession.  I sold my cupcake paper chandeliers in successive transactions on Etsy last month, and because I was going out of town when the orders were placed, I literally sold the pair hanging from my ceiling.  I meant to replace them, but I also wanted to try out a new idea I had for a larger, single chandelier for our new dining room space in Petaluma.  Using the same technique as the Anenome version, this time using 3" deep wrapped parchment paper baking cups, I paired the chandelier with a red fabric cord and ceiling fixture from West Elm. I left off the center papers on this piece, because the light is much more diffused.  To tell you the truth, I like this one more, and I think it looks more like the Rhododendron chandelier from Anthropologie.  For the tutorial, just reference the original post.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Family Style

One week out of the year, our family gets together in Pajaro Dunes, a small coastal resort south of Santa Cruz, CA.  We stay in a multilevel four bedroom compound that houses 5 grandsons, 3 couples and two grandparents. During the day we try to spend as much time at the beach as the fickle weather allows and and night we dine.  We are a family of eaters, and we can spend a lot of time cooking elaborate meals. Other times, like last night, we make special, but simple comfort food.  Grandma C found this paella recipe years ago in Sunset magazine. It's a family favorite and special to me, as we served a similar version of paella at our wedding reception. I made a butter lettuce, avocado and grapefruit salad to compliment the salty and spicy flavors of the dish. Here's an adaptation of the original recipe.

Simple Seafood and Sausage Paella (adapted from Sunset Magazine)

Serves 6, prep and cook time about 1 hour

12 oz linguisa, firm chorizo or other cooked sausages
1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, peeled and chopped
1 red bell pepper rinsed, seeded and diced
2 tbsp minced garlic
2 cups arborio rice
1 cup dry white wine
1 quart fat-skimmed chiken broth
1/2 tsp paprika (smokey spanish variety)
1/4 tsp ground tumeric
1/4 tsp saffron threads, crumbled
Salt and pepper
8 oz boned, skinned firm white fish (halibut) 
1 lb shelled, deveined shrimp, tails on
8 oz mussels (or small clams) in their shells 
1/4 cup slivered green onions
Lemon wedges 

1. In a 15" paella pan or 12" frying pan (with at least 2 1/4" tall sides) over high heat, turn sausages occasionally until browned on both sides.  For ease, we pre-slice the sausage. The recipe instructs to brown them whole, allow to rest, then slice. 

2. Reduce heat to medium-high and add olive oil to pan; when hot, add onion, bell pepper and garlic and stir often until onion is limp.  Add rice and stir until it begins to turn opaque, 2-3 minutes.  Stir in wine, chicken broth, paprika, tumeric, and saffron.  Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat and simmer uncovered, stirring once of twice, until rice is almost tender to bite, 15-18 minutes.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

3. Meanwhile, rinse and drain fish and shrimp; cut fish into 1" pieces, pull beards off mussels and scrub mussels (or clams) discarding any gaping ones that don't close when you tap their shells.  Cut sausages diagonally into 1/2" thick slices.

4. Gently stir fish, shrimp and sausages into rice mixture; arrange mussels on top.  Cover pan with foil or lid and cook until the rice is tender to bite, fish and shrimp are opaque but still moist looking in center of thickest part, and mussel shells have popped, about 7-8 minutes. 

5. Sprinkle with green onions and garnish with lemon wedges. 

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Lovin' Spoonful

Warning, spoiler alert if you are a mother in my son's kindergarten class.  I put together a very on trend gift for the kids to make today in art. Inspired by the dipped wood all over Pinterest, I picked up 3 packs of the wooden kitchen utensils at IKEA (at $.49 its a steal).  Using masking tape, I marked the dip line and lightly coated the ends with acrylic paint.  Once dry I tied the set together with baker's twine.  

Monday, May 7, 2012

Brown Thumb

I learned all about planting succulents this weekend at the CB2 DIY Saturday from the folks at Lila B. a sustainable floral design studio specializing in succulents and carnivorous plants.  It was an informative, interactive event, and I got to take home my own DIY tiny terrarium for about $7 which included soil, rocks and succulents.  

 The session started with a guide to planting succulent container arrangements.  The trick is to select a variety of succulents, some that have height, some that act as ground cover and some that spread and drape over the container as they grow. Start with a container with a hole drilled in the bottom. Apply a small layer of rocks to the base and mix regular potting soil with sand to aid in drainage. Succulents store water in their thick leaves, they do not thrive with a lot of wet soil on their roots.  Pack the plants tightly, and really loosen the roots from pre-potted plants.  Water sparingly. My kind of plant.

For the terrarium, employ the same concept, using rocks on bottom and top layers to hold the soil in place.  With the CB2 terrarium, build the soil up the back side for depth, as the front opening is really shallow (as seen is the second picture). I chose different pups (the offshoots from larger plants) that reminded me of rosettes.

The most helpful tip I learned was to pluck the pups from larger plants, leave them out for the stem to callous over and then replant.  You could have a huge succulent garden in a matter of months.  You can also spiff up your home by planting the pups into cracks in your walkway and concrete walls.  

Friday, May 4, 2012

The Weekender

CB2 has been hosting DIY Saturdays at select stores for the past few weeks. This free event, open to the public (RSVP) features DIY's for container gardens, design projects, and drinks + tastings. I am bringing along a friend to the Berkeley store.  We plan to hit up Tacubaya (it's Cinco de Mayo after all) and I'll hop across the street to the Crate and Barrel Outlet.  That place is a treasure trove of castoff floor samples, discontinued items and Marimekko fabric by the yard. 

On Sunday, on the other side of the bay in Hayes Valley, I'm hoping to check out the carefully curated Urban Air Market.  I used to participate in a version of this event back when I was with Jasper Hearts Wren. Tents line the square and surrounding alleys filled with regional independent designers, selling their work. 11am-6pm. While I'm there, I'm getting a scoop of Smitten ice cream!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Oh Joy!

I swear by this book. It's not glamorous. It's tried and true. With instructions on how to do just about anything with food, measurement conversions and temperature guidelines, The Joy of Cooking is my most utilized cookbook and it shows.  My copy lost it's dust jacket and gets muckier every time it's used (the cookie section has bits of cookie dough stuck to the pages). To protect it from the elements, I employed a 5th grade book cover technique using left over oil cloth from recovering my kitchen stool. Now I can wipe it off, and the cookie particles inside it can serve as bookmarks for recipes I've made.

Materials: a piece of oil cloth cut 6" longer than the height, and 6" wider than the length when wrapped around the closed book. You will need scissors, double sided tape (permanent) and a ruler for folding.


Fold the fabric so that it is the same height as the book.  

Create a crease on the fold, measure to make sure each side is the same length. Tape the underside of fold down so that it is attached to the interior of the book cover. Repeat on the other end.

Insert book into the cover.  You are ready to get cooking.


Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Space Craft

Today I paid a visit to The Temescal's East Bay Depot for Creative Reuse.  My art teaching partner and I were on the hunt for a centerpiece for a wire sculptural hanging project that the kids will be doing on Thursday.  I'd stepped into this space before, but I'd never really looked around.  It was amazing. Packed to the gills with jars of vintage knitting needles, bins of tubes, cartons, corks, foil ties, books, frames, typewriters, toys and furniture, it was organized chaos, and everything had potential.  If you are in the Bay Area, its a must see. They are not for profit and take donations, so consider sending your unwanted treasures their way. They may get re-purposed into something cool! I want those knitting needles.

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