30 Design Mistakes You Should Never Make from Houzz

This article came on my newsfeed this morning and I thought it was very interesting.  While I agree with most, I do not agree with all. There are as many opinions about design as there are people with opinions. 

Drop the paint can, step away from the brick and read this remodeling advice from people who’ve been there

April 21, 2016
There are a million and one things to consider when taking on a remodeling project. Some of those decisions have the potential to significantly impact your home — and in turn your emotional well-being — for years to come. It doesn’t matter how functional your new kitchen is, for example, if you hate the flooring material you chose. It’s going to eat away at you every single day.

In hopes of preventing these situations, we asked readers for design advice on things you should never, ever do during a remodel. Their suggestions are quite revealing, and worth considering. But remember, the thing about advice is that you don’t have to take it. After all, the main takeaway message here should be that no matter what, it’s your home. And you should do whatever you want. Just don’t say we didn’t warn you.

30 Design Mistakes You Should Never Make from Houzz

Oh where do find a Hat Box ???

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When I was young and thought I was quite fashion forward, I collected hats to wear with every outfit I had in my closet. We often attended the track at Del Mar, where we were members of the rather “elite” Turf Club. It was my late husbands favorite way to entertain and it was my favorite excuse for a new outfit with a matching hat. Even though I no longer have any of the dresses that go with the hats, I still have the hats.

I have loaned the hats out for several fashion shows over the years, as they have now become almost vintage, just like me.

I will never forget a few years ago, I dressed up as Marilyn Monroe for a Halloween Party, with the chiffon dress, gold heels and a beautiful mink coat my late husband bought for me when were going to move the Pacific North West.

Arriving at the party, someone asked me: “Where did you find that gorgeous vintage coat?”

I looked back at her and said: “Oh Shit, I am old!”

We all laughed, but that is a little how I feel about my hat collection.  Thirty-five years ago, I most likely paid well over $200 for each hat and at the time I had about forty of them. I still have about twenty and the boxes were starting to fade and fall apart.  I started looking on Amazon and Ebay, only to see that the price of Hat Boxes, like most other things had gone up.

The two hat boxes in the worst repair could use a new look. Straight edge, cutter, great glue, some nice wrapping paper and ribbon could save the day or at least two of the hat boxes.

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A little time and energy and they look like new. I found some of sewing supplies worked easily to make this happen. The straight edge used mostly by quilters, made it easy to cut a straight line and rolling scissors made it easy to cut a circle using the hat box as the pattern. On the polka dot one, I just repainted the edges with a magic marker, but on the striped one I had to add ribbon, as the edge was totally worn out.  I think it worked well.

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One of the boxes still had the price tag on the bottom and even that many years ago it was $25. They are far from perfect, but sure look a lot prettier in my closet than they did.

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The closet is a work in progress, but I think the repaired and new (found at TJMaxx) are a nice addition to closet.  I will post a few more photos of my closet and you will begin to see that I am a avid collector.  I love not only hats, but belts and shoes and what I call junk jewelry.  It will all have an organized place in my new aqua closet. I will share as it is completed.  Right now everything is in my bedroom.  Oh my!  IMG_6442

I figure a light aqua blue/green is a happy color and that is what I want to feel when I go in my closet.  Hope I might inspire you to reorganize and see what you can do to make your closet a happier part of your house.

 

Oh where do find a Hat Box ???

Pizza Pizza Pizza

Everyone loves pizza, but what is interesting to me is that everyone seems to like it a bit different.  My husband and I loved the pizza we ate in Florence, Italy.  It was simple, with not a lot of ingredients, thin crust and totally delicious.

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I found this photo online and it is an example of that perfect pizza we found in Italy. I eat gluten free 99% of the time, but that one night in Italy I ate three pieces of my husband’s pizza.  I had ordered a salad, but I guarantee his pizza looked a lot better than my salad.  I savored every bite and unsavored it about three in the morning when I woke up quite ill.  But I still loved that pizza and going forward eat in a lot more moderation.

I have been trying to made a good pizza crust for a while.  I have used Paul Hollywood’s recipe and America’s Test Kitchen.  I sort of combined the two to some success.  I am realizing there is a real art to making great pizza.

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With this pizza I used a pizza stone with a pizza dish on top.  I heated the oven to 550 degrees (blew out the fan) and added the pizza.

Lesson here:  Maybe a little lower temperature is okay, roll out the dough thinner and add the basil after the pizza is done.  I used a fresh mozzarella, but not the best I could find, so next time I will find a buratta  mozzarella, as it is softer and much more flavorful.  I always make my own sauce, but find it is better if I use fresh tomatoes rather than low sodium canned.  I have a wonderful herb garden on my back porch, so always use a variety of fresh herbs.

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The next pizza next pizza I attempted I used my new cast iron pizza pan described by America’s Test Kitchen as being the best.  For this I decided to use up the rest of some sausage from the night before.  I had to wait for a turn in the oven, and the pizza dough kept rising.

After the fact I watched a video on how to use this new cast iron pan.  I did not want to take it out of the oven, so attempted to put the toppings on while it was still in the oven. This is where I say: “failure”.  The crust was messy, too think and had a rather odd shape.  Next time, take the pan out of the oven and add toppings.

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The bottom of the crust on this pizza was perfectly cooked, but it sat out a little too long, so it grew in the heat of the kitchen.  I also discovered that I really don’t like sausage on my pizza, or mushrooms.  Lesson learned: Get it together faster, keep it simpler and take the dang pan out of the oven to add toppings. BTW we threw this one out.  One taste was enough to know neither of us liked it much. Crust was great, but toppings were too much. Great way to ruin a yummy crust.

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This one was our favorite, even though cooked on just the pizza stone and not the cast iron.  I do admit, I kind of messed the only one cooked on the pizza cast iron.

Conclusion of this experiment: Make the dough as it tells you in either recipe, divide it in thirds like it tells you and unless you are cooking for several, freeze two of the pizza dough balls for later.  Every recipe I have tried makes way too much pizza dough for two people.

My recipe for the red sauce is as follows:

  1.  Chop a bunch of tomatoes and I leave the skins on
  2. Chop up some very fresh garlic
  3. Add a little good quality EVOO
  4. Grab herbs or buy them and add them to the pot
    1. I like oregano, thyme & rosemary
  5. Cook for a while
  6. Add a teaspoon of sugar
  7. Puree till finely blended and add however much salt & pepper you like

Paul Hollywood’s Pizza Dough recipe:

Ingredients

  • 250g/9oz strong white flour, plus extra for flouring (in the US use bread flour)
  • 5g/¼oz salt
  • 30ml/1fl oz olive oil
  • 5g/¼oz fast-action yeast
  • 180ml/6fl oz water
  • semolina, for dusting (optional)

    Ingredients

    For the pizza dough

    Method

    1. For the pizza dough, mix the flour, salt, olive oil, yeast and water together in a bowl.

    2. Turn the dough out onto an oiled work surface and knead for 5-10 minutes, or until the dough is smooth and elastic. Cut off a small piece of the dough and stretch part of it as thinly as you can. If you can see the shadow of your fingers through the dough – the light should shine through the dough like a window pane – without the dough tearing, it is ready to prove.

    3. Shape the dough into a ball and tip into a bowl.

    4. Cover with a damp tea towel and leave to rise for an hour.

    5. Divide the mix into three balls. Roll out on a floured surface into circles. Place each circle on a flat baking tray or a plastic chopping board dusted with semolina (so the pizza can be easily transferred to the oven later).

    6. Place a pizza stone or an upturned baking tray into the oven and heat the oven to 220C/425F/Gas 7 (in a non-fan oven).

     

    America’s Test Kitchen Recipe

    1 ¾ cups water divided, 1/2 cup warm, remaining at tap temperature
    2 ¼ teaspoons dry active yeast (1 envelope)
    2 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra for brushing dough
    4 cups bread flour
    1 ½ teaspoons table salt
    vegetable oil (or cooking spray) for oiling bowl
    semolina for dusting peel
    2 LARGE, 4 MEDIUM OR 8 INDIVIDUAL PIZZAS

    This dough can be used for any size pizza with thick or thin crust; simply adjust the cooking time to fit the pizza. Make sure you heat the oven to 500 degrees for thirty minutes before you start cooking. Your tiles or stone need at least that long to heat up; if they’re not properly heated, your pizza crust will be thin, blond, and limp. Once the dough for the crust has been topped, use a quick jerking action to slide it off the peel and onto the hot tiles or stone; make sure that the pizza lands far enough back so that its front edge does not hang off. For a cornmeal-flavored dough, substitute three-quarters cup of cornmeal for three-quarters cup of the bread flour. Editor’s Note: This recipe was updated in 1997, when we found that adding more water resulted in a tastier pizza. This recipe contains a total of 1 3/4 cups water, while the original that appeared in the magazine in 1995 contains 1 1/2 cups.

    1. Measure 1/4 cup of warm water into 2-cup measuring cup. Sprinkle in yeast; let stand until yeast dissolves and swells, about 5 minutes. Add remaining 1/4 cup warm water plus remaining 1 1/4 cups tap water and olive oil. Meanwhile, pulse flour and salt in workbowl of large food processor fitted with steel blade to combine. Add liquid ingredients (holding back a tablespoon or so) to flour and pulse together. If dough does not readily form into ball, stop machine, add remaining liquid, and continue to pulse until ball forms. Process until dough is smooth and satiny, about 30 seconds longer.

    2. Turn dough onto lightly floured work surface; knead by hand with a few strokes to form smooth, round ball. Put dough into medium-large, oiled bowl, and cover with damp cloth. Let rise until doubled in size, about 2 hours.

    3. Turn dough out onto lightly floured work surface and use chef’s knife or dough scraper to halve, quarter, or cut dough into eighths, depending on number and size of pizzas desired. Form each piece into ball and cover with damp cloth. Working with one piece of dough at a time, shape as shown in illustrations below. Transfer to pizza peel that has been lightly coated with semolina, brush dough very lightly with olive oil before topping and cooking.

    4. Use the following guide to determine cooking time for pizza crust with topping but without cheese. All pizzas need to be cooked an additional two or three minutes after adding cheese, or until cheese is completely melted.

    THIN CRUST

    14-inch pizzas (Master Recipe makes 2) – 7 to 8 minutes

    12-inch pizzas (Master Recipe makes 4) – 5 minutes

    8-inch pizzas (Master Recipe makes 8)- 3 minutes.

    MEDIUM-THICK CRUST

    12-inch pizzas (Master Recipe makes 2) – 9 to 10 minutes

    8-inch pizzas (Master Recipe makes 4) – 5 minutes

    6-inch pizzas (Master Recipe makes 8) – 4 minutes.

    So there you have it, probably too much information about making a simple pizza.  I find using the best ingredients and doing lots of practice runs (and I am definitely still working on mine) will give you the best results.

    I remember reading Malcolm Gladwell’s book telling you it takes 10,000 hours to be an expert at anything and am hoping that does not apply to making the perfect pizza.

    Happy eating.

Pizza Pizza Pizza

Today Show: What to wear girls night out

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The Today Show was on in the background as had a cup of coffee. The topic was what to wear on a Girls Night Out.  I haven’t been on a Girls Night Out in about twenty years, but I do love fashion and after watching the “fashion” shown the other day on another news station I was curious to see their version.

I do have to say if I had to any of these I would most likely just stay home in my stylish sweats.

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Their first outfit was not bad, but if were to go out with friends and drinks were going to be involved I would not be wearing a jumpsuit.  I did that when I younger and part of the top fell in the toilet bowl.  I did not stay out late that night and quite honestly never wore a jumpsuit again.  I do occassionally wear a lovely paint smeared pair of overalls when creating big canvases, but not to go out and use public restrooms.

Screen Shot 2017-08-25 at 2.38.46 PMSeen shot, so not the best photo.  I don’t even know what to say about this combo. I love converse tennis shoes and own about ten pair, but never wear out or out to dinner. I think you should wear clothes that compliment your body type, not cut you half as this one does. Don’t people wear belts anymore.  Dang, I must have about 50, now “out of style” belts.  Of course my waist is no longer my best asset anymore either.

Screen Shot 2017-08-25 at 2.40.13 PMIf nothing else with this outfit, people will see you coming a mile away. Love the colors separately, but together this one gives me a headache.  Love the shoes, but my feet would not like them very long.

Screen Shot 2017-08-25 at 2.41.15 PMActually thought this would be pretty (on someone about 20), but is simple and elegant and looks great on the model. My arms need to be covered, so would not show up in my closet.

Screen Shot 2017-08-25 at 2.43.22 PMHere is their version of LBD or in the real world, the “Little Black Dress” that we should all have in our closets.  I do own a few, but mine fit a tiny bit loser and I think she is a beautiful woman, but a little loser would look better on her too. Clothes should flow softly with your body, not totally cling to it.

The Today show overall was better the Fashion Trends I wrote about the other day. The trend they were showing was how you could dress for not much money and look great. I think either buy less and pay more or shop at vintage shops.

Today Show: What to wear girls night out

Happy Birthday ???

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Yesterday in the mail, I received this book from my only brother as a “Birthday” gift. If you don’t know anything about the book, it is described on Amazon:

“Dinesh D’Souza, author of the #1 New York Times bestseller America, is back with this darkly entertaining deconstruction of Hillary Clinton’s flawed character and ideology. From her Alinskyite past to her hopes for America’s progressive future, the presumptive Democratic nominee is revealed to be little more than a political gangster intent on controlling the nation’s wealth. D’Souza chronicles the sleazy ascent of the Clintons and makes clear what some voters have long suspected: that Hillary is far more dangerous and corrupt than Bill ever was.”

I try to stay away from politics on my blog and will continue to do that. My brother is a stupidly loyal Trump fan and definitely not a Hillary fan. At the start of the presidential campaign he sent email after email against Hillary and for Trump.  I nicely asked him to stop several times and finally just had to block his emails.  I took him off my newsfeed on Facebook, as I did not want to read his rantings of “Fake News”.

So why would someone send this as a Birthday Gift?  I have not idea, so I marked “Return to Sender” and dropped it off at the Post Office.

I am glad it is almost Fall, as it has not been a good summer for me.  I was told if I say anything more about certain family members I will be sued for slander.  I never said anything bad, just a note of what happened. The asthma attack brought on by the fires up north and a dog in the house, was not fun or the trip to Urgent Care. I discovered my neighbor is slowly trying to kill my bamboo, by cutting over thirty stalks at three feet.  I just got this lovely birthday gift and now looking into my fish tank, I think my cat ate George, one of my Betas as he is not in the tank and the Catfish bottom feeder looks quite dead.

So the summer is coming to an end.  The best part of summer was having my granddaughter here for three months. If only all this other shit hadn’t happened, it would have been the perfect summer.

Here’s to Fall.

 

Happy Birthday ???

Bamboo Bamboo

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Neighbors! We all have them. They may be five feet or five miles, but basically we all have neighbors. Most people try to get along with their neighbors as it is just easier that way. I have lived in several neighborhoods in my life. Growing up on a farm, my grandparents were my neighbors.  They were wonderful people so that was a great experience.

When I lived in Manhattan Beach in California I never met one of my neighbors. When one neighbor’s mail accidentally came to our house, I knocked on the door and the person asked me just to put it through the mail slot.  Not so friendly, but luckily we did not live there very long.

Living in Del Mar, California my neighbors became friends. Some of them remained friends till they died. There were no boundary disputes or view disputes. The lot next to us sold and we lost most of our ocean view.  We did not buy the lot, so knew there was nothing we could do. Would you believe an ocean view lot in Del Mar back then sold for $40,000?

Moving to Bainbridge Island we had wonderful neighbors that are friends to this day. They had four children that closely matched the ages of my three, then they had two more. My youngest son and one of their daughters still spend time together and they are in their thirties.

Moving to waterfront on Bainbridge it got a little edgier, with a shared driveway, boundary disputes and even sharing part of a sport court. I sold that house fifteen years ago and they are still having boundary disputes. I will never do a shared driveway again. One neighbor put their trash on top of my trash, so I paid for extra bags till I finally called Waste Management and they went through the trash and the neighbor started paying for their own trash.

Having neighbors can be challenging or nice. It depends on a lot of factors. When you live on low bank waterfront in Kingston, your neighbor is ten feet away from you on each side. There are view covenants so you don’t destroy the view of neighbors and they can’t destroy your view.

Building the home in Kingston where I now live I knew we had a fabulous view and I knew if I set the house back twelve more feet than allowed it would not effect my view.  I did it to be nice to the neighbor. Luckily I did, so now I am allowed to add a privacy wall to my patios.  It is within the view restrictions.

As you can see by the photo, the neighbor two doors over built a deck on the side of his house, as he could not build on the water side of the house because of the view restrictions.  He sits and smokes and talks loudly on the phone, so we just completed this wall upstairs and pictured below the wall we built downstairs.

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We can finally eat and entertain with a little bit more privacy. We no longer see the huge Sea Hawk colored basketball/tennis court or the red caboose. Nice!

Bamboo. Bamboo. Several years ago we planted bamboo along our property line. There is a cement wall supporting our neighbors fence, so we knew the bamboo would not spread in her direction. Her house is set back, so we also knew it would not affect her view. We do have a deep barrier on our side of the bamboo, but still fight the spread of it. When my granddaughter is here, we do the “Bamboo Hunt” and when she finds another baby bamboo, she calls out:Bamboo Bamboo”.  I cut it back.

She spent the summer with me, so we did a lot of bamboo hunting.  It always made it fun. Yesterday I was working in the yard, cutting back the new growth, when I noticed I was getting a “hole” in the bamboo that I had not noticed before.

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As I walked closer I realized that quite a few stalks of my bamboo had been cut off at four feet or less.  I decided to remove them, as there were so many cut off ones.

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Now, I know I did not cut these off, and my gardener had not cut these back, so how did this happen? I think my neighbor must be doing Midnight Gardening?  Legal?

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This is about two-thirds of stalks that were cut short, and I plan to remove the others today. IMG_1354

I walked down to the beach to see if the bamboo was hanging over in the neighbor’s yard and it was not. I was still a little puzzled. I know she does not like my bamboo, but can she reach two to three feet into my yard and cut my bamboo? Is that legal?

If you live on the beach, legally you cannot have a wall more than four feet high within the first 200 feet of the water, but you can plant anything. I do find it an interesting law, but it is the law. When I lived on Bainbridge one neighbor planted juniper plants right on the property line, blocking my view of the Bainbridge ferry, and there was nothing I could do about it. I could not even cut without that neighbors permission. That is my understanding of the law.

So here I am fifteen years later and I am guessing my neighbor is not only cutting my bamboo, but reaching into my yard and cutting it.  What do you do? You want to try to be a good neighbor, but what does that entail?  For now, I will take the remaining cut bamboo out and just keep an eye for any more cut. Confrontations do not make good neighbors and I have had one too many confrontations this summer already.

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So here are the three to four foot remains of what my neighbor cut the tops off. The fire pit is about 2.5 feet deep.  There are about 30 stalks here.  Pretty gutsy neighbor.

I think when we move in a few years I will give up waterfront living and move somewhere, where there are less neighbors.

Bamboo Bamboo

Chickens Make Happy

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Meet Henrietta, Hennie and Gertrude new family members this summer. We got set up for them with the visit of my six year-old granddaughter for the summer. Thought she might enjoy watching them grow over the summer.  As it turns out, I like it more.  They are characters with individual personalities.

Henrietta is the black one on the left and she is second in command, followed by Hennie. Gertrude, the white Bantam is the leader of the pack.  She is the first one to try any food, the first one to venture out the door and will meander furthest from the coop.  My neighbor’s seven year-old granddaughter came over and was watching the chickens one day.  She looked at me and said I know why you named the white Gertrude, she is SO rude.

When we first got the chickens I kept getting the black chicken (Henrietta) and the brown chicken (Hennie) confused.  My six year-old granddaughter looked at me very seriously and said:  “It’s easy grandma, Hennie is brown like me”.  I have not confused them since.

When I am working in the garden, I let them out in the sunshine, but have to be careful as we have several Eagles in the area.

I was told that chickens are natural trash disposals and so far that seems true.  I did a little research about what not to feed them, but I find it fun that salad and fruit no longer goes to waster. We grow wine grapes in the back yard so I generally let them have some in the early evening when I am having a glass of wine.  That is their five-o-clock cocktail.

Carrot greens are no longer wasted and they seem to love herbs.  When Claire was here and would not eat bread crusts, they were quickly devoured. The favorite so far seems to be corn on the cob.  They come running when they see me with that.

In this life and at this time when it is hard to find something to smile about, my chickens make me smile.

Chickens Make Happy