Installing the Bathroom Sink, Faucet, and Bathroom Accessories

Installing the Bathroom Sink, Faucet, and Bathroom Accessories

So, it’s the first week of January 2018. My bathroom is finally functional again now that it’s painted, tiled, and the toilet’s installed. My sister moves in and it’s time to hop on to the final task for a functional bathroom: installing the sink!

I’d originally ordered a pretty pedestal sink for my bathroom, but I realized that the pedestal would take up precious floor space. Floor space I needed for storage. In particular, toilet paper storage. So, I returned my original sink and ordered a new wall mounted sink. Now, because the walls weren’t tiled in here, I wanted a wall mounted sink with a little bit of a backsplash. The sink had to be pretty small in size too, in order to meet code requirements and for ease of access to the room. The sink is immediately to the left inside the bathroom, right beside the door, and there’s only about 14″ depth available before the sink is sticking out. I couldn’t move the sink over closer to the toilet because code requires 15″ from the center of the toilet to any other element. It was a tight fit! I ended up landing on the Kohler Greenich Sink because it fit both my constraints.

Continue reading “Installing the Bathroom Sink, Faucet, and Bathroom Accessories”
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A Scary Night and My New Emergency Backpack

A Scary Night and My New Emergency Backpack

So in a very dark irony to this recent post title about updating my electrical at Berrybrier, my neighbor’s house caught on fire in the middle of the night a few weeks ago. We still don’t know the cause of the fire, but it was an extremely terrifying experience and definitely had some lingering effects on me…

I’d gone to bed around 10pm that night and fell asleep quickly as after work, I’d spent all evening cutting beadboard for my master bathroom in the driveway. Around 1:30am I rolled over in my sleep and gained just enough consciousness to realize it was raining. The raindrops were relatively persistent. This actually made me wake up even more as I’d left some beadboard in the driveway and the rain could seriously ruin the MDF. Ugh! I was annoyed at myself for not putting it away like I knew I should have, but it wasn’t actually supposed to rain! These thoughts of frustration woke me up further and I could tell through closed eyes that the room was pretty light out so it must be morning. At the same time I realized the sound I was hearing wasn’t quite raindrops. I opened my eyes.

My entire room was lit up red orange. I thought the wood I left in the driveway had caught fire and then caught my house or the garage. I didn’t know how that was possible, but it was my first thought. As i bounded over the pile of tools I’d left next to my bed, I could hear movement above me, which meant Jackie my roommate was awake too. By the time I’d clambered over my bed and over the pile of tools, grabbing some PJ pants and a bathrobe, I could see properly out my bedroom window that it wasn’t my house at all, but the neighbor’s house kitty corner behind us. And the flames were already 30 feet high.

I sprinted out of my room throwing on clothes along the way and shouted “Jackie!” She responded immediately, “I know! I’m on the phone with 911, I’ll get Bronwyn!” I was grabbing shoes at that point and ran for the backdoor, “Good! I bet someone’s already done that! I’m getting the hose!” Jackie knew better, her conversation describing the fire and location of it with the 911 operator wasn’t going well. “I don’t know what the street name is! It’s the street behind ours! If you come to us you’ll see the fire!” “Your location information isn’t helpful.” “I know! But that’s all I’ve got!”

Meanwhile I grabbed the hose from the front yard and sprinted through the brambles in my backyard to the far corner. The house from my perspective was hidden by 30 foot flames which were sneaking around the corner of the house towards a shed which was next to the fence line that backed on to my neighbor Erik’s property which also had a shed: squished on to the 12′ of space between the fence line and his garage full of 12 years of wood he’s collected from job sites. Erik and I shared a fence and that fence continued along the side of my garage. As I sprayed the corner of the fence line, I hoped my soaking would delay the violent, crackling flames by seconds, maybe a minute. I knew that if the fire continued to lick the side of their house and caught their shed, the whole fence line could go up, catching an exponential number of other things on fire.

As I soaked the corner of the fences, Jackie grabbed Bronwyn from her room and they both ran out of the house. Jackie grabbed some water bottles, asked Bronwyn to check on me, and walked briskly around the corner to the street behind ours. It wasn’t until Bronwyn was out of the house that she knew what was going on. The thirty foot flames were obvious from the front steps, whereas her street facing window hadn’t provided any context to the house behind ours. Jackie reached the neighbor’s street and thankfully they were all out of the house!

Bronwyn came to make sure I was a safe distance from the fire (which I was). Then she headed to Erik’s house which he rents to three young people, one of whom is our second cousin. No one appeared to be awake and if the fire caught the shed and fence line, Erik’s house wouldn’t be around for long. She pounded on their door, but no one answered. She quickly realized the front door was actually unlocked. She ran inside and up the stairs to pound on the bedroom doors, but still got no answer. Finally she screamed out our cousin’s name, “Carla!” And the three housemates woke up and realized someone wasn’t just messing around. Bronwyn got them all out of the house and that’s when the fire department arrived.

The fire department simultaneously arrived on both the street of our neighbor’s house and our street. Jackie met the first firefighter on the neighbor’s street and let him know the family was out of the house. They sent several fire fighters through the front gate to assess the fire. I was standing holding my hose by the fence when the first firefighters came through the neighbor’s yard. One of them yelled “Holy F***! That’s hot!” which was not exactly reassuring. The firefighters on our street thought the fire was at Erik’s house and started unloading ladders. Bronwyn was coming out of Erik’s house at this point and directed them to the 30 foot flames behind Erik’s house. They asked her to open his gate (she knew the padlock code) and she led them (and their hoses) around Erik’s house to the backyard where they sawzall’ed down the back fence between Erik’s property and our neighbor’s and opened up streams of water on the fire.

They arrived as the flames began licking at the shed and quickly forced the fire back. I turned off my hose and walked back to our house where I ran into Jackie who told me the neighbors were all safe. Thank goodness! There were four firetrucks on our street at this point and the firefighters directed the kids who live in Erik’s house to stand in front of our house as “people who are standing in front of their houses when they catch fire have a tendency to go back inside to get something.” They also told us to get any pets out of our house and to wait outside.

The firefighters arrived within 3-5 minutes of Jackie’s 1:38am call with seven total firetrucks and at least 30 firefighters. They had the fire under control within minutes of arriving, though it took them several hours to get out all embers and call it a night. I was extremely impressed by their response time and quick action against the fire. We were able to return to our house around 3:30am and Jackie, Carla, Bronwyn, and I sat upstairs in Jackie’s bed watching the firefighters walk the neighbors property, roofline, and house checking for hidden embers. We were completely hyped up on adrenaline. By 4:30am though, we called it a night and set up a bed for Carla on our living room sofa. We just wanted to all be together. The firefighters finished their work around the house by about 5am and most of the firefighters left before that.

The devastation of the house is obviously apparent, but more importantly, no one was hurt in the fire. The experience is one I hope to never go through again and I cannot even imagine what the family underwent. Thanks to a recent permit finalizing of the dormer, I had freshly installed carbon monoxide and smoke detectors throughout all three levels of Berrybrier. I feel good about that and I know the house is a lot safer now that the electrical is updated. I learned later that you typically only have 2 minutes to evacuate in house fires since homes are so flammable. This makes me want to run fire drills!

But, I wanted something else, something I could grab in an emergency when the fire department tells me to grab my pets and clear my house.  I know I should also put together a supply of emergency water in the basement soon too (we have plenty of food that could be eaten in an emergency) in case of an earthquake type emergency. My 13 years of girl scouting has taught me to be prepared if nothing else! My friend Claudia had an emergency backpack in college and I decided to make my own.

This is a just in case backpack, I hope to never need to grab. Ironically I’d donated an extra backpack I had lying around a few days before the fire, so I ended up buying a new backpack at the Columbia Employee Store. This one has a much larger capacity though, so that’s probably worth the $25. Online, they don’t have the moss + red colorway I bought and it costs a bit more that I paid, but it’s a great 25L bag! Inside the backpack I placed supplies in three categories: personal supplies, first aid, important documents, survival goods.

Here’s broken down lists of what I included as well!

Personal Supplies:

  • Shirt
  • Leggings
  • Underwear
  • Socks
  • Sandals
  • Sweatshirt
  • Toothpaste
  • Toothbrushes
  • Contact Solution and Case
  • Bar of Soap

First Aid:

  • Antibacterial / Itch / Pain Ointment
  • Bandaides
  • Roll of Gauze
  • Ibuprofen
  • Ace Bandage

Important Documents:

  • Printed PDF copies of my important / identification documents

Survival Goods:

  • Protein Bars
  • Two 2 Liter Bottles of Water
  • Matches
  • Emergency Blanket
  • Fleece Blanket

Can you believe I managed to squeeze that all into a $25 backpack? I was impressed too! Now this bag lives where I can easily grab it while running out of the house and gives me a bit more peace of mind. What’s been your experience with emergency situations? Did it encourage you to get more prepared?

Have you ever had a run in with a fire? Or know someone who’s house caught? What was the cause? What did you do to make yourself feel better about it afterwards? Did you put together an emergency plan? Am I overthinking this?! Let me know in the comments below!

When I wake up, well I know I’m gonna be…

When I wake up, well I know I’m gonna be…

…I’m gonna be the man who wakes up next to you one who’s still exhausted. Or at least I used to be, today, I’m sharing the change that has made my mornings so much better, happier, and most of all, brighter!! It’s a simple switch that’s made me feel so much better rested.

Also thank you to the Proclaimers for lending me some lyrics to butcher. Who doesn’t love this song? Some of the funniest How I Met Your Mother episodes featured this song as the only one that plays on the stuck tape in Marshall’s college car stereo. Anyone else remember that hilarity?

Back to waking up in the mornings though: I’ve really been struggling in the last few years to get out of bed in winters when it’s still dark and cold out. This is a stark contrast, a big change for me, because previously, I would jump out of bed the second my alarm went off. I despised snoozers and prided myself on my “skill” of waking up immediately. Then something changed. I am now a snoozer. I’m a wake-up-and-reset-alarm-er. I’m a dragged-myself-out-of-bed-and-barely-made-it-to-the-bus-in-time-er. It’s unfortunate and it needed to change. I’m not sure how or when I first heard of the wake-up-light alarm clocks, but I knew about them somehow and about 2 months ago I started looking into purchasing one.

I ended up finding this one from Philips, which at almost $90 isn’t exactly inexpensive. I hate spending that kind of cash on purchases where I’m not certain of the results, so instead of clicking “buy” myself, I forwarded the link to my mother with the not so subtle hint that this would make a perfect Christmas present. She took the hint and this was the first gift I opened on Christmas morning. Well, the pictures on Amazon don’t do it justice! This alarm clock is actually quite stylish!

Phillips Wake Up Light Alarm Clock | Land of Laurel

So how has it changed my life? In so many ways! Let me break it down for you. This type of alarm clock is really cool! And no, this isn’t a sponsered post, I’m just excited to tell you about it! Seriously, I really can’t shut up about this alarm clock. I’ve been telling all my friends and co-workers all about it!

It’s super easy to use and highly customizable. You set you alarm for the next morning and then 30 mins before the alarm goes off, the light inside turns on to a dim setting and slowly gets brighter and brighter over the next half hour. This is supposed to help simulate a sunrise which can tell your body’s circadian rhythm it’s time to get up! Then the alarm itself has a couple of different settings. You can wake up to an am/fm radio station or to one of the two pre-set alarms: bird song or jungle noises. I’ve been waking up to the bird song and it is amazing! This alarm clock is life changing. In the mornings, I tend to hover in a semi-conscious state for a minute and I can hear the bird song. Without fail, each morning, I think to myself how nice it is that the birds are singing. A minute later, my brain registers that this is my alarm and I open my eyes. The light really helps remind my body that it is indeed time to wake up each morning. I am never jolted out of REM cycle like I was previously. Instead, I feel like my body slowly wakes up over that half hour allowing me to feel much more awake when the alarm truly does go off.

Phillips Wake Up Alarm Clock | Land of Laurel

The alarm itself is pretty simple and well designed. It’s definitely not an ugly bedside alarm clock. It feels just about as stylish as an electronic devise can be. It’s light weight and clean lined. You can adjust the settings on the alarm to make the time show brighter or dimmer. I have chosen a dimmer setting so it doesn’t glare at me while I sleep. The light on the alarm itself can also be dimmer or brighter and you can decide the volume of the alarm as well. It’s these little adjustments which make it so easy to personalize. For instance, I have the light on my alarm maxed out so it is as bright as possible when it’s time for me to wake up, but since I’m more sensitive to sounds, I keep my sound setting pretty low. You can also chose to use the light just by itself, which I do on occasion since my new bed hasn’t been built yet (gotta get on that already!), and the alarm is easier to reach that the higher up lamp switch.

Philips Wake Up Alarm Clock | Land of Laurel

Over all, this alarm, I can truly say, has been life-changing. I feel a million times better in the mornings when it’s time for me to get out of bed. I know longer feel the need to push snooze, nor do I feel like I’ve been jolted from my sleep. Having an alarm clock again after eight years of using my phone as an alarm also has the added bonus of preventing me from picking up my phone first thing in the morning. This means it’s a lot easier to resist scrolling through Instagram or Facebook or reading the news and gets me into my morning routine sooner so I’m not in a rush!

This may seem like a small thing, but the more I realize how deeply addicted I am to my phone and all the social media platforms it holds, the more I’d like to take time away from that technology. It’s one of the reasons I love to camp and get away from my phone. Somehow, it’s miraculously freeing to step away from technology and all the entrapments it holds. Not being connected is an amazing thing in this wi-fi enabled world and getting out of the routine of checking in on Facebook, Instagram, and Apple News first thing each morning is a relief. Now I peruse these things on the bus to work, when I’m not in a rush to get out of the house. It’s a minor difference in terms of timing, but a significant difference in how I wake up and start my day.

So to anyone out there who struggles to get out of bed or loves their snooze button, I highly recommend the Philips Wake-Up Light with Sunrise Simulation. It is going to significantly impact the start of your day in the most positive of ways! Starting off the New Year with this new way to start my days has been a great game changer for me and my life.

Do you have one of these, from Philips or another brand, at home already? Let me know your thoughts! Do you love it as much as I do? Because I think I might just marry this alarm clock I love it so much!

*This post contains affiliate links*

 

 

Safer Shower

Safer Shower

My shower curtain started to disintegrate. Yay! How happy this made me. Not. I was not pleased. However, this gave me an opportunity to get a more eco-friendly alternative without feeling guilty for swapping my old one out.

 

One of the biggest toxins no one talks about?  Vinyl. Polyvinyl chloride, PVC, (or as it’s more commonly known: vinyl) is a type of plastic that is rather toxic. It’s toxic during the manufacturing process, leading to the release of many chemicals into the air and water streams. It’s toxic when it’s in your environment, releasing chemicals that are harmful to reproductive organs, cause breast cancer, birth defects, and endocrine disruption. As well as being toxic after we finish with these products and dump them into the landfill where they will stay for millions of years, leeching more of these chemicals into their surroundings. The main ingredient in vinyl that is so terrible is one of the plasticizers that gives plastic that flexible characteristic: phthalates. There are two kinds of phthalates, ortho-phthalates and terra-phthalates. The adverse health affects of ortho-phthalates are more known and they are, although legal, increasingly more regulated by private companies such as Home Depot. Basically, although many companies and government agencies are aware of these horrific affects of this toxin (and the many other chemicals that compose vinyl), it is sadly, still not illegal. Vinyl is heavily used throughout the toy, construction, any many other industries.  My personal theory is that vinyl will become the next asbestos. But I am not a scientist, I’m just guessing. I may be way off, but until proven otherwise, I make efforts to avoid vinyl.

 

Basically, my old shower curtain was vinyl and I wanted a much healthier replacement. The LA Times even wrote an article on the toxins associated with vinyl shower curtains. We’re talking liver cancer, nervous system damage, nausea. I wanted something that I could breathe a little easier around! I hoped for a waxed organic cotton liner, but I had difficulty sourcing one in the short time frame I accidentally caused for myself (I tossed my shower curtain liners before actually purchasing new ones… oops!).

 

My search led me to Target where I ultimately purchased two of these Threshold Shower Curtain Liners  (one for either side of the clawfoot bathtub). At $18 each, they were not the cheapest liners. But they’re made of polyester which doesn’t release the type of vicious toxins that vinyl does.  Although I still wish I could find some in cotton, these made a good alternative for now. Next time I’ll do my research before tossing the old liners!

 

Shower Curtain Liner | Land of Laurel

 

As for how the polyester fabric holds up to water compared to vinyl, I have not noticed a difference! These new liners keep all the water in just as well as the more plastic-y feeling vinyl curtains did (an important thing when you have a clawfoot bathtub/stand up shower and wood bathroom trim!). Plus they look and feel so much better!

 

Polyester Shower Curtain | Land of Laurel

 

Overall, I am so happy with this purchase! The liners look great, I feel better about their chemical make up, and they’re just a little bit wider than my old curtains keeping more water in! The bathroom is coming along now (you may notice I’ve hung some art!). I’ll have some finishing touches to share and then I can call this room done!

 

Is anyone else terrified by the adverse affects of chemicals in vinyl? Anyone know where to get a good wax-coated cotton shower curtain liner?

5 Minute Cat Haven

Remember that time I found cherry crates at a fruit stand on the side of 101? And it was pretty much the most exciting thing ever? I took them home and filled them with magazines and placed them under the glass top of the coffee and side tables in my living room. They looked pretty awesome and helped prevent incredibly clumsy people like myself from running into the glass table top so frequently. As they were sitting there I soon realized I wasn’t the only one who loved the crates. Malary could frequently be found sitting in them, on top of the magazines, or stretching out resting her paws on the crates. She seemed to prefer the coffee table crates and occasionally surprised visitors with her presence.

 

Cherry Crates Under Coffee Table | Land of Laurel

 

Well, lately, I’ve been trying to purge all the excess crap I have in my life. I took two laundry baskets full of clothes to Goodwill; I organized my bathroom medicine cabinet and under-sink cabinet, tossing the excess products I no longer use; I organized my shoe/jackets closet, got rid of several coats and pairs of shoes; and I went through my magazines tossing everything I no longer wanted (don’t worry, I kept every issue of House Beautiful).

 

I used four of these cherry crates in my living room. Two under the coffee table and one under each side table. One side table is sitting below the ivy plant in the middle of the photo above. I ended up tossing every single magazine I had in that crate. I have no idea why I’ve held on to so many magazines, I never flip through the non-house/home related ones.

 

Anyways, I was left with an empty crate! Now… I just love my cat. I know, I know, I’m a cat-lady, but whatever. #catladyandproud I decided that in this little tucked away crate I could make Malary a little spot of her own.

 

I hopped over to IKEA in Emeryville (holla ten minute drive! #entirereasonImovedhere) intending to buy two small throw pillows or a stand bed pillow to stick into the crate. Well, IKEA doesn’t sell standard pillowcases by themselves from most of their bedding lines. You can get the plain solid color ones, but that seemed too plebeian for my little kitty queen. I looked through the throw pillows and almost sprang for two of the faux sheep skin ones, but then I stumbled upon the red version of this guy, the Annbritt pillow. Apparently this is from the winter collection and they’re no longer shown online. IKEA still had a whole bunch of these sweater pillows in grey, cream, and red. Of course, I had to go for the red. The funky dimensions (approximately 15×30″) made it a perfect fit for the wooden crates. I was a little nervous Malary would be off put by the buttons, but I decided to go for it anyways. And at $13 buckaroos, really, how could I not?

 

I brought the pillow home and immediately stuck it into the empty crate. I sprinkled it with cat nip to get Malary’s attention right before snapping this picture.

 

5 Minute Cat Bed | Land of Laurel

 

The cat nip worked pretty much instantly, because as soon as I snapped that last picture, Malary was all, “Hmmm, excuse me, what are this?”

 

Malary's Cat Bed | Land of Laurel

 

After she spent a few minutes exploring the new bed, I stuck it back on the shelf on the side table. She hopped on in and pretty much hasn’t left it since. Although she normally spends most of her mornings napping on the back of the couch by the big windows, the last couple of days I’ve found her curled up down here.

 

Sleeping Cat in Bed | Land of Laurel

 

It’s pretty freaking cute, y’all. And I’m not just talking about the cat. This is a pretty attractive cat bed in my opinion. The crate? Vintage and cool, textural with the wood. The pillow? Happy, bright, red, and the sweater texture is just so cozy! By tucking it under the side table, not only is it more isolated and cave-like for Malary, it also doesn’t scream “CAT BED!!” to anyone hanging out in this room. By placing it beneath a glass top, I can also stalk my cat while she’s sleeping. Yes I am a complete creeper, but she’s just so cute!

 

Hidden Cat Bed | Land of Laurel

 

Ignore the bits of pollen the ivy decided to dump all over the table. Thanks!

 

Eventually she clued up to my cat-stalking and gave me her pissed off face.

 

Malary | Land of Laurel

 

…so I had to stop watching her curled up on her new cat bed. She is the boss after all…

 

 

 

 

 

Just kidding! She then started cleaning herself and it was ADORABLE.

 

Cat Tongue | Land of Laurel

 

I mean, seriously, can you believe this little girl is sixteen years old?! She is still my cute baby girl. Gah!

 

Cat Bed | Land of Laurel

 

Okay, okay, enough fan-girling over my cat. I told you I was a #catladyandproud, right? Who else out there is a self admitting cat lady? Made any cat beds lately? Or found one that fit in with your home decor?

 

Silver Succulents

I mentioned here that while Nicole and I visited in Portland, Oregon we stopped in at the Goodwill Superstore on the Southeast side. Wowza! If you live in Portland, go there! It was amazing! Huge! There were rows and rows of clothes and entire section devoted to books. Books organized by genre! I’ve never been to a thrift store with a) so many books or b) books this well organized! Only United Airlines strict carry-on baggage allowances kept me from buying a large stack. That and the fact that I recently spent $40 on used books (that’s like 30+ books!) at the Blackoak Books moving sale in Berkeley. Hello my name is Laurel and I am a book-aholic.

 

This Goodwill Superstore had an entire aisle full of sterling silver, priced extremely low. This is where Nicole and I got truly excited. I had the idea of buying one of the smaller silver pieces and filling it with succulents. Because how adorable would that be? The answer is extremely adorable! We both decided to get small, packable, objects. Nicole ended up with a creamer and I found this fantastic sugar bowl which was missing it’s top. Perfect, since I needed it to be topless for the succulents anyways. We were ready for our friendship succulent planters now.

 

Goodwill Sugar Bowl | Land of Laurel

 

At home, I unpacked my sugar bowl. It was still adorable. Yay! This was such a great way to upcycle something sad and unwanted into something cute and happy. Here it is next to Fred for comparison sake. The little sugar bowl is  about 5 inches wide from tip of handle to tip of handle and only about 3 inches high.

 

Fred and the Silver Sugar Bowl

 

I didn’t want to go out and buy succulents, because, why spend the dough when I can get them for free? Plus I need teensy tiny succulents. What did I do? I raided the driveway, which is lined with three varieties of succulents. I sliced off a few of the smallest off shoots from each variety and was ready to go!

 

I quickly popped a few small pieces of gravel into the bottom of the sugar bowl, added some potting soil, and gently stuck in the succulents. The sterling silver sugar bowl ended up being everything I imagined!

 

Sterling Silver Sugar Bowl Succulent Planter | Land of Laurel

 

Not only was it super cute, but it was somehow playful and sophisticated. It makes makes me want to sip a hot cup of tea and speak in a British accent. Or should I say, “Ahhcksent?” Yes, maybe the latter is best.

 

I thought about polishing the sterling silver, but ended up deciding against it. Partially, because I am truly lazy, partially because I don’t have any silver polish lying around, but mostly because I love the patina it already has. The tarnishing is kind of beautiful and I love it, just the way it is.

 

As for the little mini-succulents– they were a perfect fit! I tried to find sprouts that varied both in height and size so there would be some movement. It worked out pretty dang well! My favorite variety are the little guys at the top that are tinged with purple at the tips. Anyone know what they’re called? I have planted several of them (there is even one in Fred). I’m a bit worried that they’ll grow crazy tall (like the one in Fred did), but until it happens, I’m not going to stress about it! I’m not sure why they grow so tall inside (maybe lack of sun?!), outside they get much larger and wider rather than growing straight up all skinny. I ended up bending the one in Fred underneath one of the leaves of the aloe vera, because it got so tall it started falling over. Crazytown!

 

Sterling Silver Sugar Bowl Mini-Succulent Planter | Land of Laurel

 

Overall, I’m pretty psyched about this guy. My only issue is that now I want like fifteen more! I initially thought they’d look awesome on the window ledge above my bed. Then I tried to stick this little guy up there and realized that the window ledge in that room is shallower than elsewhere in the house. The little legs on the sugar bowl basically make it instantly attempt to catapult off the ledge. Don’t worry, I drop things so frequently that I am now fantastic at catching them. Some of the time. The sugar bowl is safe! RIP glass mason jar completely full of apple cider (I missed the fridge shelf yesterday afternoon…).

 

But clearly, I need to hit up Goodwill a few more times and pick up a few more sterling silver pieces to use as succulent planters. I can see them scattered everywhere in a house, sitting on top of stacks of books. Very English countryside. Very me. Especially the part about the books. Have you read Living History by Hilary Clinton? I read it several months ago and ironically what struck me the most about the book was a few simple paragraphs describing the interiors of Jackie Kennedy Onassis’ home. Filled with books! You got it people, if Jackie O did it, then it is beautiful, timeless, and oh so classic. Or at least that’s what I plan on telling anyone who asks if I need as many books as I own. Because, yes, yes I do. They make me happy.

 

Anyways, my new little sugar bowl is too cute and I am excited to make a whole bunch more! They would make fantastic little gifts, don’t you think? Party favors, wedding favors, birthday gifts, I can think of so much more!

 

Sterling Silver Sugar Bowl Succulent Planter | Land of Laurel

 

 

I’ve decided to stick this little guy on my nightstand for now. We’ll see if that’s enough light to keep him happy. Hopefully so, because who doesn’t want to wake up next to something that dang cute?!

 

Have you ever upcycled something into a planter? Have any advice on raising succulents? Know what varieties of succulent I’ve found from my driveway?

We Ate Our Way Through Portland – PART II

Post Saturday and Sunday we were full. Very satiated. Don’t worry, though. We kept eating. Monday morning in Portland. Day three of our trip. We we woke up early. REALLY early. We dropped Scott off at work at 6:40am. Then we went back to the house and saw Nikki off before hopping into Nikki’s car and heading to Pip’s Doughnuts. Why don’t more people talk about Pip’s Doughnuts?! This place is AMAZING! First of all, it’s on the cutest little street. NE Fremont Street looks like something straight out of the 1940’s. The buildings all told a story. We ended up wandering through the surrounding neighborhood as well, the houses were all adorable! They all looked different and were painted fun colors. The cottages and craftsman style homes all seemed so historical and stylish compared with California’s constant stream of ranch style homes painted beige or grey with black trim.

 

NE Fremont Street Potland | Land of Laurel

 

Let’s go inside Pip’s though and get to the good stuff. First of all, they had these cute cans filled with succulents. Too cute!

 

Succulent Cans | Land of Laurel

 

I’ve always wanted to do something like this! Just need cans that look old, but are still waterproof. Anyways, Nicole and I waited for a short bit, ordered our food, and quickly got a table. We split the Chai Latte Flight and eight doughnuts. We loved every flavor of doughnut we tried, my favorite was the Dirty Wu, but the Meyer Lemon Pear Butter was fresh and delicious, you can’t go wrong with Raw Honey and Sea Salt, or the Nutella and Sea Salt. Basically anything with sea salt is amazing. Nicole loved the Candied Bacon and Maple too. And oh my god. The chai flight. This was my personal heaven, y’all. Five kinds of chai lattes. Each tastier than the next. My favorite was a bit surprising. The Emmylou is non-caffeinated and made from an herbal tea with lavender, camomile, and chrysanthemum.  It taste like relaxation and yoga breaths, lazy Sundays and rainy days by the fire. Amazing. My next favorite was the King & I, which was more of a traditional chai. Nicole preferred Ginger Rodgers and Heart of Gold. The former was gingery and spicy, the latter had hints of coconut and turmeric.  Neither of us really liked the Smokey Robinson, which, as you may have guessed from the name, had a distinct smokey flavor. We finished the doughnuts as well as four of the chais and left half a cup of the Smokey Robinson behind.

 

Pip's Originial Doughnuts and Chai Flight | Land of Laurel

 

After Pip’s we headed to Alberta which quickly became our favorite little street in Portland. There were so many cute shops and we shopped till we dropped. I bought a cute dog collar at Healthy Pets Northwest for my parent’s pooch who recently outgrew her old one. We both bought tank dresses at Frock which was a cute store with happy colors and lots of cool clothing. We both adored Digs which had a cool mix of home items, gardening supplies, and some clothing. They had so many cool containers and tons of air plants. I fell in love with a Turkish towel bathrobe, but the price tag had me balking.

 

And, then it was time to eat again. Yup. We ate more. And more. And more. This time we stopped at Pine State Biscuits.

 

Pine State Biscuits | Land of Laurel

 

We nommed on The Regina and The Double Down. Lot’s of eggs. Lot’s of gravy. Plenty of deliciousness. Nicole and I were splitting almost every meal at this point. We just wanted to be able to try all the options. It was amazing. Here’s The Regina in all her glory. We gobbled down The Double Down before I could snap a picture.

 

Pine State Biscuits' The Regina | Land of Laurel

 

After gorging ourselves once again, we stumbled outside and discovered two awesome mural walls. One had a fantastic message, which I very much appreciated it.

 

Mural Wall | Land of Laurel

 

Of course, we had to take some pictures. We propped my phone up on a bush, then a random car (scaring the owner who was getting a haircut enough for him to send the stylist out to make sure we weren’t doing anything bad to it! Oops! Sorry!) and set the timer.

 

Mural Wall 1 | Land of LaurelMural Wall 2 | Land of LaurelMural Wall 3 | Land of LaurelMural Wall 4 | Land of LaurelMural Wall 5 | Land of Laurel

 

We had some fun with that. I love how the colors of the mural pop against our black and grey outfits. Sometimes taking a good picture is all about finding the right setting.

 

After wandering back down Alberta we hopped into the car with the plan to hit up Powell’s Books and the Pearl District before picking up Nikki at her office. Fail. We drove down Mississippi Street and quickly realized we needed to stop and venture into the shops on this cute street as well!

 

We headed into PDXchange, a fair trade and local store, where I bough a necklace made from a bullet in which a trellis pattern had been melted. Miraculously, at the end of the trip TSA did let me wear this through security!

 

Bullet Necklace | Land of Laurel

 

We stopped for coffee and tea at the Fresh Pot before continuing to pop into every shop along the street. Before long, it was time to pick up Nikki so we headed south towards her office. We actually arrived a bit early so we stopped in at the nearby Goodwill Superstore and ended up buying coordinating silver containers at $3 buck a pop. We plan on planting succulents in them. After we nabbed Nikki, we decided to stop in at Grand Marketplace to oooh and ahhh at all the antiques.

 

Grand Marketplace | Land of Laurel

 

There was lots of silver similar to what we’d just purchased at the Goodwill Superstore, but for 10 times the price, but many other things caught my eye. The displays were so artful and fun! You felt like you were in a bohemian apartment in the 1920’s. It was delightful to walk around the large shop.

 

Grand Marketplace Display | Land of Laurel

 

One day, I’m building myself a big kitchen island that looks like the above. So beautifully worn, so functional. We managed to convince Nikki to hit up the Motherland while we were some what near by. This is when I got really excited!

 

Powell's Books

 

No trip to Portland would be complete without a stop at Powell’s Books! I wish I could say I spent my time exploring the entire store, but in truth, I quickly  picked up a copy of Wildwood as a hostess gift for Nikki and then dove into the urban agriculture section immersing myself in books on backyard chickens and goats. For an hour. I could have stayed for ten hours in that section alone!

 

After Powell’s we picked up Scott from their house and headed to the Chapel Pub for dinner. We got a cozy little table right next to a small fireplace. I used my girl scout skills to take the fire from coals to brightly burning flames. I ordered a hot buttered rum for the first time. Literally the best drink I’ve ever tried. My new favorite. So good and creamy! Definitely searching out a local place to try that again.

 

Hot Buttered Rum | Land of Laurel

 

Then we ate. So. Much. Food. Greek tater tots and Cajun french fries? Yes please. Nikki and I both got veggie burgers. Then we split dessert. We ate and ate and ate. I couldn’t even look at food afterwards. That night we fell into bed, happy, full, and exhausted. Nicole was leaving the next day and we still had things to do!

 

Tuesday morning, Nicole woke up early and dropped Scott off at work. When she got back, I woke up, threw on clothes, and then we took Nikki to her office. We then had what we called “dirty breakfast” still half-asleep, partially in last nights clothes, unshowered. We planned to return to Nikki’s to clean up after our meal. We went to Zell’s which was close to Nikki’s office. We ordered Eggs Florentine and a German Pancake with Pear Butter and slices. Nicole and I both make these Germanic style pancakes (recipes courtesy of our Oma’s, mine German, hers Dutch), but this one was puffier than our own. It was fluffy and delicious. Yum. After breakfast (how could we ever eat again?!), we headed back to Nikki’s to clean up before driving over to the west side to visit Washington Park.

 

We drove through the beautiful park for a while, admiring the stunning forest before wandering out into the wealthy neighborhoods surrounding the park. We spent the next hour looking at houses in the hills before it was time to drive Nicole to the airport. I dropped her off with a hug and a see you at work soon! Then I hit the highway towards Multnomah Falls. Wow, it was a gorgeous drive and when I was arrived it was once again, like walking into a fairy tale. The little lodge looked like a tiny medieval inn, ready to bed down lonely travelers for the the night. The falls? Absolutely stunning.

 

Multnomah Falls | Land of Laurel

 

Everything was misty from the falls, a light dew descending on anything and everything within sight. The damp atmosphere gave plenty of moss the energy to grow, making everything gorgeously green. Moss covered stairs right out of my dreams.

 

Multnomah Falls 2 | Land of Laurel

 

Moss covered stone walls inspired me to pet them. Repeatedly. Seriously, Portland is so green! It’s the place that defines the word lush. Lush greenery abounds.

 

Multnomah Falls 3 | Land of Laurel

 

I climbed up to the bridge to take this shot of the water descending into the first pool. See how the mist is being throw off the falls? It was truly magical.

 

Multnomah Falls 4 | Land of Laurel

 

The water rushed by, roaring from the first fall into the pool, before falling once again, somehow even more violently into the second pool below.

 

Multnomah Falls 4 | Land of Laurel

 

After exploring my way up the path a bit, I turned around hopped back into Nikki’s little Honda Fit. I drove back into Portland, grabbed some delicious Palak Paneer Fries from a food truck, and wandered around the Pearl District for a while, venturing back into Powell’s Books, but still not able to leave the urban agriculture section!

 

Palak Paneer Fries | Land of Laurel

 

Then it was time to pick up Nikki from work again. We headed back out to her house where we met up with Scott and his friend Josh, then went out again to– you guessed it– eat! We went to Swift and Union. Everything was yummy. Nikki and I split the Tofu Sando and the Beet Veggie Burger with goat cheese. Blow your mind good. I was so full at this point, I was pretty sure I’d never need to eat again after I flew home from Portland. But don’t worry, that didn’t stop us. We hopped back into the car and drove out after dessert. We hit up Portland’s famous Voodoo Doughnuts. At 8:30pm the east side location had absolutely no line whatsoever. We went in and made our selections.

 

Voodoo Doughnuts | Land of Laurel

 

I got a chocolate doughnut with Coco Pebbles. Nikki got one with Oreos and peanut butter. Scott got a Butterfingers doughnut and a Scooby Doo dog one that donated to the local Humane Society. We ate most of them and saved the rest. We were all so so so full!

 

Voodoo Doughnuts Scooby Doo | Land of Laurel

 

We got home in full food coma mode and soon hit the hay. The next morning, we were off! After everyone was dropped off at work, I headed back to Washington Park, exploring the rose-less Rose Garden (too early in the year), the Holocaust memorial, and walking along some of the less muddy paths. The camilla bushes everywhere were blooming, sprinkling bright color splashes in the lush greenery.

 

Camillas in Bloom | Land of Laurel

 

All too soon, my trip was coming to a close. I filled up the car with gas, headed back to Nikki’s, grabbed my bags, and called my uber. Off to the airport I made it through security and on to my plane with thoughts of adorable and colorful craftsman style homes and a very full belly.

 

Have you ever been to Portland? What did you do? All I want now is to go back!

 

Other Design Fails

Guess what guys? It’s Christmas. Yup, Christmas! You thought Christmas was in December? Nope. You’ve maybe heard of Christmas in July? Also wrong! It’s Christmas right now, today. Still confused? Here’s the 411.

 

When I moved into my house in Berkeley, I bought a lot of my existing furnishings and bedding with the idea of slowly updating a lot of it. It soon became clear that this might need to happen sooner rather than later for my bedding. Why? My comforter, barely warm enough during California winters in other rooms I’ve slept in, was excruciatingly hot in this 10 year old, properly insulated home. I woke up sweating almost every night and this was with the window left open in winter! Time for a change!

 

I went to IKEA and bought a new down comforter, one of their “coolest” models. This is it, I thought. This comforter weighs one third of my old one. It will be so much cooler. I will no longer get sweaty. I will sleep blissfully. Like an angel. This was right around when I bought my new West Elm duvet cover. I had high hopes for my new bedroom look!

 

A few nights in, I realized, although this new comforter was significantly cooler than my original one, it wasn’t cool enough. At all. I like to sleep snuggled up in warm bedding in a cool room and this was just too hot, even with the window open! Maybe I’m wearing the wrong pajamas, I thought. I tried long pants, I wore no pants, I tried tank tops. I wore just underwear, I tried nightgowns, I wore leggings, I wore REI moisture-wicking base layers. Nothing worked. Okay, fine, I thought, I can come up with another solution, this is so much better than having the opposite problem. And I’ve lived through that too. 

 

I started looking for quilts. A thin quilt would surely be cool enough! Now, I just need to find one in a great green color to match everything else in my room. Months past… I looked on every site and in every store I could think of. I found… nothing in green. Eventually, I stumbled on this quilt from West Elm. It didn’t come in green. At this point, I was sleep deprived from being too warm. I started to care less about green. I started to rely on my primitive lizard brain. My primitive lizard brain likes the color red. So does my frontal lobe, actually, but my frontal lobe is much better about regulating the amount of red. It’s good at mixing red with neutrals. My lizard brain doesn’t give a flying @!$&. My lizard brain wanted to sleep in a cool environment and not wake up sweating.

 

Then the quilt went on sale. My lizard brain just loves a good sale. It was definitely in control when I hopped on those nightstands I posted about Monday like they were big, juicy, lizard-food bugs. What happened next? I’m sure you can guess. I bought the quilt in the paprika color and the matching standard shams. When these came in the mail, I love them. They’re a beautiful red, my absolute favorite shade of red! I was excited. These will look fantastic, I thought.

 

Then I washed them and made up my bed…

 

West Elm Duvet and Quilt | Land of Laurel

 

Merry Christmas! Don’t you just love decorating with red and green? OOPS.

 

I’d convinced myself before pushing the “Place Order” button, that the red quilt would look fine in my bedroom. After all, the duvet had plenty of red in it!  In reality? Happy Christmas. My pale green walls, green throw, and even the floral duvet met up with the red quilt and started celebrating the birth of Jesus. Throw in some gold sequined throw pillows and you’ve really got a Christmas party! Doggoneit. Switching up the nightstands with the blue and green books was also an attempt to help with my new holiday inspired space.

 

Nightstands and Red Quilt | Land of Laurel

 

 

… it didn’t really help much.

 

The red completely dominated the other colors in my duvet. The shades of white, blue, green– they all disappeared. All I see now is red. And it’s not because I’m angry. Let’s call this learning. Let’s call this evolving.

 

Even Malary wasn’t happy with the new look.

 

New Bedding | Land of Laurel

 

Here’s the thing though, the quilt did solve some of my problems. It is the perfect weight. I am no longer super hot at night. I can even sleep with the window closed now! I don’t wake up all hot and sweaty. I no longer sing Nelly’s Hot in Herre at 2:00am. My roommates are much appreciative! So in some ways, this quilt is the best thing ever! Now, if only I had bought it in that pretty Natural/Flax color rather than Paprika… But, I am no good at keeping light neutrals, oh, how should I say it? Light and neutral. They usually become spotted and dark. Quickly. Nope, white and lights don’t mix well with clumsy ole me! Slate might have worked… but it was so dark!

 

So what am I going to do? Live with it for now. Maybe switch up the shams and get some different throw pillows. Or! Move to a place with a guest bedroom and split up the bedding, since I love them both so dearly. That’s not happening anytime soon though… And I do love throw pillows. Until I move forward with a new plan, I’ll just be over here celebrating Christmas. All day. Everyday. Good thing I love holidays!! I would like a design win though… I’m over failing!