Sewing New Curtains

Slowly but surely I have been sewing new curtains for all the bedroom windows, and they are finally complete. Each curtain is lined with blackout fabric so that if you want to sleep until noon or take an afternoon catnap, you may!

IMG_6970The Tulip Poplar Room inspiration comes from the colorful and whimsical flowers of the Tulip Poplar tree, so for these curtains I chose a green and white geometric printed fabric. It’s a fun and cheerful fabric.

IMG_6977The structure of these curtains couldn’t be more simple: just large rectangles. I used curtain rod clips so that I didn’t need to sew top- or back-tabs. So easy.

IMG_6320Next up, the Walnut Room curtains are a crisp white fabric. Nothing fancy here – just neat and clean, but they are still lined so they keep out the light really well. This room will have bold patterned fabrics elsewhere, in items like rugs and pillows, so the neutral curtain fabric will balance out the room. I love these curtain rods! The ends look just like black walnuts. For the curtain structure, I used a traditional back-tab pattern.

Lastly, and my personal favorite, are the Sycamore Room curtains. The color is so rich and warm, I want to wrap myself up in the fabric. I tried to find a color that matched the Sycamore tree’s seed bombs – the ones that are so fun to throw and watch explode in a puff of gold.

IMG_7084These, like the Walnut Room curtains, are also back-tab curtains.

IMG_7087Lucky for me, I had some leftover fabric from the Sycamore Room curtains and plan to sew myself a pretty infinity scarf for fall!

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Eggs in a Cloud with Green Mango Smoothie

IMG_6786Scrambled, over-easy, and hard-boiled are all really delicious ways to cook and eat an egg – I couldn’t pick a favorite, but every once in a while it’s fun to get a little creative. Recently, I tried out a new method that involves whipping the egg whites and then baking them with the yolks balanced in the middle, often called eggs in a cloud. They were really neat! The pillowy whites have a light texture, and it’s nice to add herbs, cheese, or other flavors to this part of the dish. I think a little cayenne would be great, too.

IMG_6780To accompany the eggs, I made bacon and a really fantastic and refreshing green mango smoothie.

Eggs

Here’s the list of ingredients:

  • 4 eggs
  • 1/3 cup white cheddar, finely grated
  • ¼ cup blend of thyme, parsley, dill (or any combination of your favorite herbs)
  • salt and pepper, to taste

IMG_6772And here’s the method of preparation:

  • Separate the egg whites from the yolks and place in different bowls.
  • Whip the egg whites until stiff peaks form. Fold in the cheese, herbs, salt, and pepper.
  • Using a parchment lined baking sheet, spoon 4 mounds of egg whites onto pan, and make a well in the center of each with a spoon.
  • Bake at 450F for 3 minutes.
  • Remove from oven and place one yolk in each well. Return to oven for an additional 2-3 minutes or until yolks have set.

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Green Mango Smoothie

Adapted from Thriving Home Blog’s Green Pineapple Smoothie.

IMG_6774Here’s the list of ingredients:

  • 1 cup frozen mango
  • ½ of a large, ripe banana
  • 1 cup fresh spinach or baby kale
  • 2 sprigs fresh mint
  • juice of ½ lime
  • ¾ cup coconut milk
  • 1 tblsp chia seeds
  • 1 tblsp flax seeds
  • 1 tsp honey

IMG_6775And here’s the method of preparation:

  • Combine and puree in blender until consistency is smooth. Enjoy!

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Tulip Poplar Bathroom Renovations: Shower, Beadboard, and Tile

IMG_6719During this phase of the Tulip Poplar Bathroom renovations, we installed Kerdi waterproof membrane on the shower walls and floor, sloped the shower floor, installed and painted beadboard, and laid tile. Whoa! A lot goes into building a bathroom, and we’re getting close to completing this one.

IMG_6583We painted the walls of the bathroom a creamy yellow, and we painted the beadboard white. Josh installed a shelf above the beadboard – it will be perfect for holding toiletries or a small bud vase. A big thank you to our friends who helped us paint!

IMG_6642Josh spent a lot of time carefully installing Kerdi membrane – this material covers the shower walls and floor to waterproof it. It uses the “fleece” of either side of the membrane to adhere to the drywall, or backer board, with the help of unmodified thin-set mortar. Advanced putty knife techniques are helpful, but it doesn’t take long to get the hang of it. He also finished a shelf that’s built into the shower wall, and he carefully covered it with Kerdi membrane, too.

IMG_6622Next, Josh sloped the shower floor with “deck mud,” which is about a 1:6 mix of cement and sand. This base will ensure that the water will properly flow into the drain. He calculated, measured, and pounded the mortar into shape with a wood float.

IMG_6656For the floor, we chose a cream colored marble tile and for the shower walls, we selected large white ceramic tiles. The ceramic wall tiles are a neat shape – not your typical rectangular subway tile – these have a more obtuse shape.

IMG_6730Lastly for this phase of the project, Josh installed the cabinet, toilet, and sink. He connected these to the newly installed plumbing. These additions really bring the bathroom close to completion. We’re almost there and are really excited to share the finished product with you!

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Natural Beer Soap with Cocoa Butter

IMG_6757Beer soap has been on my “to do” list for a while, but I wanted to wait until I had perfected my standard soap recipe since beer soap is a more advanced project. For beer soap, you need to make sure it is flat – any carbonation in the beer could create a volcano effect when you add the lye. Additionally, adding lye to room temperature beer heats up the beer, creating an unpleasant smell. To retain the wonderful properties in the beer and to keep it’s nice aroma, I made beer ice cubes once all the carbonation was removed.

beer soap 3Both Josh and I are beer drinkers, and we are lucky to have a lot of great local breweries nearby. I selected a dark stout for this soap and chose not to add any essential oils. Instead, I complimented the stout by adding cocoa butter. Cocoa butter has a wonderful chocolaty smell, plus it creates a hard bar of soap with moisturizing lather.

beer soap 2I didn’t add any natural colors to the soap, either, since the beer already has a warm brown color after saponification. The only additive I used was a dusting of cocoa powder on the bottom of the mold. When I poured the batter over this, it created neat splotches of darker brown on the surface of the soap. I think it turned out really great! Keep in mind that beer will cause your batch to reach trace quickly, so if you do want to add essential oils or color, you’ll need to work fast.

beer soap 1

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I can’t wait to make more batches of beer soap with different beers – maybe a citra hopped pale ale or a sour beer? Here’s a crazy idea: wine soap! That could be a fun experiment with some local Afton wine.

Ricotta Pancakes with Mulberry Compote (“Marionberry Pancakes”)

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Did you know that Portlandia, the TV show, released a cookbook in 2014? Well, they did, and it is awesome. Most importantly, it includes a recipe for marionberry pancakes. One evening, I gave the recipe a try and made our own version using fresh mulberries.

pancakes

If you don’t have the book, there are a lot of nice looking ricotta pancake recipes online, including this one and this one.

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The pancakes are nice and fluffy. I happen to like small pancakes (I think they cook more evenly), but these would probably work well as larger pancakes, too. For the compote, I added our freshly picked mulberries to a small pot, added a little bit of water and lemon zest, and simmered until the everything was thick and syrupy. No marionberries or mulberries? You can use any kind of berry, or apples with cinnamon make a great topping, too.

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I served these pancakes with some locally made sausage and some beautifully dry rose wine from Veritas winery. Breakfast for dinner can be so festive!

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If you haven’t seen any Portlandia episodes, I highly recommend watching a few. The humor is very dry and quirky, and we love that they have a few skits about a bed and breakfast.

Tulip Poplar Bathroom Renovations: New Walls, Electrical, Plumbing and More!

An update for the Tulip Poplar Bathroom is long overdue. Renovations are going really well – Josh framed, insulated, and installed drywall on the new walls. He also added a new dedicated 20 amp electrical circuit, ran hot and cold water plumbing, and connected into the forced-air ventilation system. If you missed our first post about the Tulip Poplar Bathroom, this bathroom was previously two closets. We demoed the interior wall and are now creating a brand new bathroom – you can read about the details here. It’s amazing to see the bathroom take shape.

For the electrical work, Josh ran new interior sheathed electrical wire to the boxes for the light switches, outlets, and light fixtures.

IMG_6276He worked carefully and double checked all his work (always with the electricity turned off!), and we now have a Ground Fault Interruption (GFI) receptacle by the sink, two light switches, a ceiling light and wiring for a vanity light above the future sink.

IMG_6280 He also installed plumbing and pipes for the shower, sink, and toilette. Since there wasn’t any plumbing in this space previously, he had to run a 4” arm from the septic tank and install new branches to each future fixture location.IMG_6293He also used a mechanical vent in order to vent the drain system without drilling another pipe up and through the roof. Josh said that the vent lets in air that is displaced when the water flows down the drain like if you were holding your finger over the top of a straw and then you lifting it off. With the waste lines in, he connected the hot and cold water supplies to each fixture location. He tied into the existing CPVC pipes, so he spent a lot of time under the floor and in the attic. The time in the attic is worth it though – we’re going to have a waterfall showerhead in this bathroom!

IMG_6365A new floor vent was needed so that AC and heat could be sent into this room, so Josh linked up a new flexible vent pipe to an existing stubbed-out arm from the forced air unit and installed a new decorative vent in the floor.

IMG_6339He also installed a brand new window in the exterior wall. It will provide great natural light in addition to fresh air so that a ceiling ventilation fan is not needed.

IMG_6493Next up, Josh will waterproof the shower walls and floor with Kerdi membrane, install the sloped floor with “deck mud”, and tie in the Kerdi drain. For the main space, we will be using beadboard and molding for a nice decorative finish. Stay tuned!

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Protein Granola Bites

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As an alternative to buying and eating packaged protein bars like Cliff and Luna Bars, we started making these protein granola bites to refuel after outdoor activities. Depending on how much peanut butter and honey you use, you can adjust the consistency and either create a looser granola or a more dense texture that keeps its shape in bars or balls. These snacks taste really, really good and use natural ingredients – nothing mysterious or unnecessary! I can find most of the ingredients in the bulk food section of our local grocery store. 

Ingredients like peanut butter and chia seeds already contain protein, but to add extra protein to this recovery snack, I’ve used a natural whey protein powder. These are so easy to make – no baking required. Just stir it all together! Plus, it’s really easy to pack on hiking, camping, or climbing trips.

Recipe adapted from Easy No Bake Protein Energy Bites.

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Here’s the list of ingredients:

  • I cup oats
  • ½ cup natural peanut butter (no salt or sugar added)
  • ½ cup unsweetened desiccated coconut
  • ½ cup cacao nibs (or mini chocolate chips)
  • ¼ cup honey
  • 1/8 cup chia seeds
  • 1/8 cup flax seeds
  • 2 tblsp vanilla whey protein powder (optional)
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon

And here’s the method of preparation:

  • Combine all ingredients in a bowl and stir.
  • Shape into balls and store in the refrigerator in air-tight container. 

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If you leave the mix as a loose granola, it tastes great eaten in a bowl with a little milk. 

Hope you enjoy making and eating this healthy and less expensive protein bar. Happy adventuring!