My First Flip (play) House

Flipping houses has been a bucket list goal for me for a long time. I’ve been saving up the capital to dive into one of these projects, but let’s be honest; when you have a three year old in daycare, that really kills the flipping savings account fast!

During one of my (many) sleepless nights I stumbled upon this dilapidated play house on FB marketplace. A steal for just $100. But let’s be honest, they really should have just paid me to disassemble this mossy old thing and haul it off for them.

I brought my little guy with me to pick it up and despite my gut telling me to run and find a different project, it was too late. His face lit up with excitement and my heart nearly exploded. Two hours and a bunch of dead spiders later, this crusty old play house was crammed into my Jeep in a million bits and pieces. No doubt there is family of spiders still living in my car plotting to scare the $#!% out of me some day.

So now what? How on earth was I going to breath life back into this pile of kindling? I started by pressure washing every single inch, which simultaneously eradicated the last of any spiders that were bold enough to stick around for the car ride. Then I let it dry out in the sun.

To be honest, I thought this is where this project would die. But to my surprise, cedar really is an amazing building material. It cleaned up beautifully and once it was fully dried, I felt hopeful enough to pump some more of my flip house capital into this giant question mark project.

For new readers (hi, by the way), we live in the Pacific Northwest. That equates to way too much rain to even consider not treating this wood with at least 60 coats of quality exterior paint. Also, because we live in a townhome, where the yard is highly visible, it needed to reasonably blend with our home. Those factors made paint selection pretty simple: I used the exact colors we selected when we built our house.

All Colors by Sherwin Williams

Here’s a shot I snapped of our house this past winter. For reasons I can’t explain, the Cast Iron looks like mud and the classical white appears yellow on swatches, but in application they are much cooler toned and are quite pretty.

Before I could even consider putting a drop of paint on anything, I did the right thing and properly sealed it with a heavy duty primer. The white primer had me feeling all the Joanna Gaines magic, but then practicality set in: there were zero chances a three year old boy was getting an all white playhouse.

The next task at hand was getting color application situated. I started with the roof and the door, then worked my way into the body color and lastly the trim. I tackled this project with brush and roller application, but swore the entire time that I was going to invest in a paint sprayer for all future projects, because let me tell you – this. was. tedious!

Next came the fun stuff. Most playhouses you’ll find out there are catered to girls – which is great – but I have a boy and while he totally digs pink and purple, I wasn’t about to glam out his house. I kicked around a few ideas and ultimately settled on a cabin theme; which was perfect because Target had a bunch of great finds in their dollar spot area that week.

In addition to the cute items above, I also found a mini camp lantern, plush campfire and a couple of adorable camp mugs to round out the theme – all from Targets dollar spot.

Overall I was really please with the way the cabin was turning out. But I still had to find a home for it in our postage stamp sized yard. Placing it directly on the ground was not an option because the ground is almost always saturated with water and that would just lead to rot.

What it really needed was a deck to keep it off the ground. I had seen a few variations of sandboxes with decks that I wanted to tackle as a separate project and saw this as an opportunity to dive into that project.

Building the deck was a risk because without proper permitting we could get flagged with a violation from our HOA and our city. I did some sleuthing and determined that as long as it was a non-permanent structure, we would be okay. I will add a separate post about that project in the future to share all of the details. But overall it was a really simple and straightforward build that I was able to complete almost entirely by myself over the course of a weekend.

So that’s it. The whole project (excluding the deck) cost about $250 all in (including all the cute toys and decor. Would I do it again? Yes! Would I rehab a dilapidated playhouse again? Sure. It was so worth it to see our little guy light up with delight and the amount of fun he has had since then in his personal play area of the yard is worth every drop of sweat and dollar!

Source List:

The Best White Vases

Amazon has long been one of the most instantly gratifying places to purchase pretty much anything you can think of. I use Amazon for a lot of my personal decor and those items that I love most, I will also use in my clients homes.

Here is a round up of 5 of my favorite white vases that you can find on Amazon. They range in prices from $10 to $34. They are classic enough that you can change your decor around them and they will always be staples.

The first of my favorites are these ceramic Hosley Honeycomb vases. Amazingly, they come in a set of 3 for just $24.99! The tallest vase is 12″ and the shortest is 8″. They have a beautiful texture to them and the white is a clean crisp white with no yellows tones.

My next Amazon find are these cute Succulent Pots. They mount to the wall and are the perfect size (4″ x 4″) for a small plant like, as the name implies, succulents. They also look great with ivy, spider plants and cacti! These will run you $14.99 for a pair.

Another great wall hanging option is the Umbra Trigg Hanging Vase. They come in 3 colorways: White with Nickle, White with Brass and Gray Concrete with Copper. They come as a pair and range from just $12 to $36 depending which option you choose.

Next is this ceramic vase set by Sullivans. I use this look frequently in my modern farmhouse vibe designs. The set comes with 3 vases total and they range in size from 5″ tall to 10″ tall. They will set you back $33.99 but if you have Wiki Buy installed, you’ll save an extra $10 off!

Last in this round up list are these tiny and adorable succulent vases by Garden Basix. For just $9.99, they come as a set of two. The smaller of the two is a mere 2″ with the larger of the two just over 3.5″. These are perfect for small spaces like shower niches where a little plant brings a little extra happiness!

So that’s it! Five great options to bring a little of the indoors into your home. All of these vases are super versatile and will be sure to endure all of the seasons from spring into winter!

I’d love to hear your thoughts and even your suggestions for other great neutral vase options! Send me a message or comment below!

Timeless

I believe there are a few items that should be effortless, timeless, statement pieces in your home. These purchases are usually an investment, but will stand the test of time and be the centerpieces for countless family memories over the decades.

Source, Restoration Hardware

Consider the places you gather often; kitchens, dining and living spaces, and outdoor entertainment areas are commonplace for laughter, silliness and memory making. So why would you skimp on the furniture and decor you use to fill these critical areas of your home?

When we built our first home, those were some of the things we considered while deciding which dining table to purchase. Who knew a table could come with so much pressure? But when we really got to thinking about it, we realized that countless family dinners, holiday gatherings and game nights were going to be hosted in that very spot.

Source, Restoration Hardware

So what did that mean? We needed to make certain that whichever table we purchased met some basic criteria. It had to;

  • Seat at least 8 people comfortably
  • Be sturdy enough for standing on (for silly kids and dancing wine-happy adults alike)
  • Have a neutral, classic style
  • Still look good after years of dings, rings, spills and scratches

It was a tough decision but we ultimately went with the Restoration Hardware – 17TH C. Monastery Dining Table in grey Acacia at 84″ in length. For reference, that size seats 8-10 people but, we found that 10 adults can be pretty tight and we try not to seat more than 8 for a formal dinner.

Restoration Hardware Table Sizing Chart

We have owned our table for just over four years now and while those first few blemishes felt like a knife to the heart, I was able to convince myself that it is just like painting a commissioned piece. Each stroke is unique and contributes to the bigger picture.

Looking back now, the small scratch across the middle of the table makes me smile, because that was when our son was first learning to manipulate objects and he threw a toy across the table to his father. And the little ring stains remind me of the first Thanksgiving dinner we hosted in our new home and my husbands late father accidentally spilled gravy that we neglected to clean up fast enough because we were all enjoying the company of the day.

Overall the table has been well loved and still looks phenomenal. Restoration Hardware makes structurally sound furniture and as a bonus, they also sell touch up kits specific to the color you purchased. We keep our little kit in a drawer close by. It has been excellent for filling in little nicks and scrapes endured around the edges of our table from the occasional flying matchbox car or RC truck.

Source, Restoration Hardware

So my take aways here are simple. Invest in quality items that will hold up over time, but accept that they need to withstand every day life because, we don’t live in museums. They are going to become worn with the memories of your family and that is the most beautiful thing of all and worth every. last. penny!

No Egg Banana Bread

Our son has a severe allergy to eggs that we discovered when he was barely 7 months old. Watching your infant struggling to breathe is one of the scariest things that can happen as a new parent. Quick thinking and modern medicine saved his life that day but, the real challenge was ahead.

Post epinephrine, en-route to ER

Almost everything you can buy pre-made has eggs in it. It was a sad reality we faced as we adjusted our lives to protect our sons. It wasn’t easy at first, but when you are forced to live a new normal, you adjust quickly.

One of the saving graces we found were vegan recipes. But most of them tasted bland to us so we struggled at first to modify them to our taste. Bland just wasn’t going to cut it.

One of our favorite traditions in our home is to bake banana bread every weekend. There is something about the smell of fresh banana bread and coffee that just eases you into a Saturday morning. We really wanted our son to enjoy this tradition too, so after trying what felt like dozens of blah vegan banana bread recipes, we finally found one that we liked.

Dassana of Veg Recipes of India shared her struggle to find a good solution for egg free breads and cakes on her blog. I love her recipes because she offers alternatives and modifications that you can use to fine tune her recipes to your liking.

Her banana bread recipe as written is quite good, but we wanted to make it our own so we got to experimenting a bit and finally arrived at what we feel is the best egg free banana bread out there!

Skip mechanical and go with hand blended

So how did we do it?

We started with Dassana’s original recipe. This includes:

  • 4 medium sized ripe bananas
  • 1.5 cups of flour of your choice
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 tablespoon vanilla
  • 1.5 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda

We skipped the cinnamon and nutmeg, but it adds a nice fall flavor if you’re into that.

The secret is the pudding!

Then we added our spin…

  • 1/2 package banana cream pudding (just the powder)
  • 4 teaspoons organic flax & chia (vanilla flavored)

Organic flax & chia from Whole Foods

If you’ve ever made banana bread you know it whips up pretty quick. About 5 minutes of prep time total.

We manually mix all of the ingredients because we like a lumpy batter better than a mechanically blended batter.

Hand mashed before adding dry ingredients

Hand blended batter

Our steps are as follows:

  1. Toss the bananas, brown sugar, vanilla and vegetable oil into a large bowl and mash.
  2. In a smaller bowl mix the flour, baking powder, baking soda, pudding mix and flax & chia seeds.
  3. Pour the dry, mixed ingredients into the large bowl of the banana mash and fold them together until well blended.
  4. Use a large spoon to drop portioned amounts into cupcake liners.
  5. Bake at 325 degrees on convection mode (if you have that option) for about 40 minutes.

I check my muffins at about 30 minutes to see how they are rising. Your altitude will determine if you need more or less time.

Let them cool and then watch your toddler devour them while you sip your coffee and high-five your husband!

Did you try our recipe? What did you think? Message us in the comments below or feel free to send us an email.

White Cap Oak

It feels surreal, but we are taking the first step in getting our home updated to sell in the coming year or two. If you’re a huge Wayfair fan like me, then chances are you shopped their giant Way Day sale last week.

Well, so did I and it was the most unplanned and expensive purchase we have made on Wayfair in a long time! If you’re a veteran Way Day shopper like me, then you skipped right over to their flash sales. This is where the holy grail of Way Day deals hide, but you have to hit it just right.

Well, I did and long story short, due to a snafu in Wayfair’s pricing architecture, I was able to score some really beautiful engineered hardwood floors for a crazy good deal. I’ll let you do the rough math, but for under $2,500 (incl. tax) we purchased 1,000 sq/ft of this beautiful white oak flooring.

The flooring is by Mohawk and the color is White Cap Oak from their Coastal Couture line. Mohawk features four different categories of flooring; RevWood Plus, RevWood, Solid Wood and TecWood which is the category their Coastal Couture line is from.

TecWood can be installed via various methods (glue, nail/staple, or float) and is highly durable. We do not plan to install it in any bathroom areas of our home so we felt good about not sourcing something from their RevWood Plus line which is highly water resistant.

If you follow along on my Instagram feed, you may have seen a few recent posts I shared from Morgan at theenglishden. First and foremost, her home is to. die. for. So if you don’t follow her feed already, I give you permission to stop right here, click that link and follow. Go ahead, I’ll wait for you.

Okay- welcome back! So Morgan’s floors are actually by Mohawk as well. She chose Seaspray Oak which has just a tad more patina than the White Cap Oak we chose. You guys, seriously- look how beautiful her floors are!

Okay, I’m obsessed and can not wait to get ours installed. Until then I’ll be day dreaming of perfectly oaky goodness!

SnoValley

To say we live in one of the most beautiful places on earth is an understatement. In Snoqualmie Valley we are surrounded by natural beauty and a slower pace of life. The place we get to call home is where city dwellers escape to on the weekends, retirees retreat to slow down and young families flock to raise their children.

In the foothills of the Cascade mountains, we have rivers, lakes, waterfalls, farms, ski resorts, wildlife and so many parks and trails its impossible to ever be bored. Each city in the valley has its own unique features ranging from train depots, farm stands, wineries, breweries, art galleries, and so much more!

As I grow this blog, I will feature my favorite places, semi-secret spots (sorry, I can’t give you the locals only deets unless you are a card carrying member!) and tips and tricks for navigating our incredible community in a way that is special and unique.

Video Source: Brian Davis, Snoqualmie Valley Real Estate

Details

Growing up rooted in a family full of artists and creatives, our eyes were constantly trained to pay close attention to the details. Your craft, no matter what the medium, was expected to be thoughtfully planned, clean and refined; something legendary furniture designer Charles Eames would appreciate! 

“The details are not the details; they make the product,” wrote Charles and Ray Eames for the film script, ECS, about one of their new furniture systems.

I reflect back on the many experiences I’ve had in my nearly (dare I say) forty years and can recall the depth of my frustrations as I agonized over the little details that would sometimes drive me crazy. However, despite how frustrated I became, the feeling of success in completing a project that was well planned and executed, far exceeded the challenges it took to get there.

So the next time you’re rushing to complete a task or project, channel you’re inner Charles Eames; take a step back, give yourself pause, and look closely at the details. Invest in their completeness and allow yourself the opportunity to revel in the feeling of accomplishment that makes you want to put you’re name on it.

Photo Source: Megan Kirby