Yes, dear readers, it is happening! COLOR has appeared on our house! Painting the soffits white has been fun and all, but the real change came when Matt started with the teal yesterday!


It looks SO good! I feel very lucky to be married to a guy willing to take the patience to edge with an artist brush and make everything look super professional.


And just for fun: our garden.



August Already?!

Where is the summer going? On one hand we have had a lot of time at home. Our weekends have been less busy (no weddings this summer!) and we have enjoyed the slower pace of external commitments. On the other hand we have been SO busy with never ending house projects. Some updates:

House & Painting:

Oh how I want to be painting! We are so close. 90% of the scraping is done, so it is on to caulking, repairs and paint. We have been lucky (?) to have so much dry weather for this particular project but the hot temperatures have made progress really slow. We are making plans to reorganize rooms in our house. The dining room and office will swap, which means we are reassessing our furniture and on the lookout for a new, smaller, cuter office desk. We spotted one on craigslist but were too late to get it. Fingers crossed!



The hard work this spring is really paying off! We are hauling in greens and beans every day, and the tomatoes are ripening fast. The Spanish beans did so well this year. We are picking ½ lb every other day and eating our fill. I hope we can save some to freeze! Squash is slower than I anticipated. Perhaps we need to hand pollinate next year. Overall it was a great first year in the real garden. For the next growing season the focus is building up our soil. It is awful and will do so much better next year.



Work is going well for me. I am enjoying projects and leading my team in Seattle. I manage to work from home about once a week and that is a nice balance. The commute into Seattle is wonderful on the new water taxi. The ferry terminal on Vashon is under construction for at least the next year and that makes driving off a bit more inconvenient. Earthquake upgrades are worth it though!


Our garden veggies are the star of our meals these days. Lots of chard or kale cooked with bacon or made into curry. Salmon on the grill, lots of beans. Caprese salad and eggs are staples too. I have been experimenting with homemade ice cream more and am always on the lookout for recipe inspiration for new flavors.

Cats are great. Rats in the attic are slowing getting picked off one by one with traps. Chickens are doing well too, though are now confined to a smaller run instead of free ranging the yard. We just got fed up with all our plants being ripped up and dirt strewn everywhere.


Ah, summer getaways sounds so nice. Right now we are focusing on pausing for concerts in the park and quick trips to the lake to swim. We don’t have any plans but as soon as the house is painted we are taking off for a surf trip to the coast. Making plans for Kauai in November too…


This past weekend we took a day to celebrate our anniversary in a special way in Vantage, WA. It was 107 degrees but we had a ball and lots of fun images to share. More details to come very soon!IMG_5960[1]

That is pretty much a wrap! We are slowly making friends on the island and that is really, really nice. Hard to believe we are approaching our 3rd wedding anniversary next week!

Scraping Away

Tyvex suits in 90°+ temps is not fun. Matt can attest to that. He spent most of last week scraping the west side of our house, and this weekend I donned my suit and mask to help spot on the ladder/scaffolding work. The good news: we got the west side scraped, HEPA vacuumed and all cleaned up. It is ready for caulk, repairs and paint!IMG_4856[1]

This week we are tackling the south side of the house. We have already gone through ¾ of a roll of plastic sheeting, 2 rolls of blue tape and so many hours of work. But we are making progress! Scraping out house in prep for paint is a slow process because there is some residual lead left from last time the house was scraped. We are following all the protocols for safe removal and taking out time to get it right. It will feel good to not have peeling paint.

Let me tell you. We are ready for a camping break for the 4th of July.

Home Project: DIY Exterior Door

When our exterior deck door started leaking we knew it was time to replace it. But with a narrow and original old just about 30” width it was going to be hard to find a replacement door to fit, and we figured it was just more practical (kids, Christmas trees etc) to put in a wider, 36” door.

After three estimates, many door options rejected, and a simple, inexpensive Home Depot door settled on we decided to tackle this project on our own. Matt watched hours of YourTube videos and got on a first name basis with Shannon; a DIY video contractor on houseimprovements.com.

I am happy to report that our new door is in place, looks great and should be leak free! Great work Matt!


Phase 1: remove old trim, remove latham/old insulation etc, build new studs and header

Phase 2: install new studs and header

Phase 3: remove old door and cut siding (thank goodness for a freak week of summer weather in October…it was 70 degrees!)

Phase 4: repair old threshold, cut more siding, decide on plan of action for flashing

Phase 5: install flashing, trim top edge, install door! caulk

Phase 6 (lets be honest here…by this point we lost count of phases…): insulation, foam insulation, trim inside, install drywall + at least 6 trips to the hardware store

Now on to the finish work!

I cannot wait to have the living room back in order and am BEYOND thrilled that Matt successfully tackled this project! We honed our skills with a fleet of new tools, and learned a ton about how our house is constructed. As a 1925 house, moved to the island in 1978 there is a lot of history to uncover. We also learned that NOTHING is square, plumb or level. “well, that is as good as it’s gonna get” was a common phrase. Thank goodness the leak is gone though and we got the door sealed up just in time for a huge fall wind/rain storm.

Now on to a carport and chicken coop! (and take down our big tree, build the retaining wall, and new garden plot, and build the cat porch) Ah, homeownership.

Fall Happenings

IMG_0923[1]A lot is happening in our little island life. Most obviously is the now prominent project overtaking our living room. Remember at the start of summer when we so carefully had the ceiling re-finished and everything painted and “done”? Ha. Done is never done when it comes to a house. The leak below the exterior door reappeared while cleaning the deck (that IS done!) and so we shuffled the priority list to replace the door. And while we are at it, why not make it a wider door?

After 3 estimates and lots of YouTube videos Matt decided to tackle the project himself. He is doing a great job. At this point the project is only open from the inside of the room but we are ready to install the new header and open up the door on Sunday. Next week we should be putting the room back together, have a nicely hung new (warmer!) door, new insulation and no leak!


Last weekend I attended my friend Diane’s bachelorette party. It was fun, but I am feeling old when I would rather just go to bed at 9 o’clock than just be heading out to the bars. All in all it was a good celebratory weekend though. Tonight we head off to Bellingham for the wedding!


Also new to our house is an antique cabinet that we have been hunting on Craigslist for MONTHS. The guy selling it was WAY overpriced in his expectation for it’s value. I have bought a lot of antiques on Craigslist and am good at spotting deals and fair prices. No wonder this one sat for 6+ months. It was too $$$. After 4+ phone calls and lots of detail about how much we wanted the cabinet we came to a price agreement that we could live with. It was still higher than it is “worth”, but worth it to us. Mainly because it is only 14” deep. You would not believe how hard it is to find a shallow cabinet! Plus it is the perfect design for our dining room. It is happily in place, filled with our dishware treasures and makes the room feel SO much bigger! Here is a preview from when were were loading it up:


We also had a milestone for the family: Grandpo’s house sold. It is the end of an era but the beginning for a new family that has big plans and so much love for this cool house. On Sunday we ventured to Tacoma to take one last swim in the pool and hot tub before keys turn over to the new owners.


Our garden is winding down. The last of the ripe tomatoes were picked and we are dehydrating them to store in olive oil. Yum! Last night we feasted on grilled eggplant from our garden, garnished with tuna, capers and cherry tomatoes. Yum!IMG_0930[1]

Overall life is good. We can feel the pace of things slowing down with Fall in the air. Traffic on the island is reduced by more than half. It is quiet and calm and cool at night. We are thinking of soup and bread and starting up the fireplace. It has been a great summer.

Brown Butter Ice Cream

This weekend was full of house projects. Sometimes home ownership is exhausting. And sometimes it is stressful…Sunday was both for us. We have been working hard on our decks, and realized halfway through cleaning one that our deck door is still leaking and causing water damage in the downstairs bedroom…where we just got drywall fixed. The project list is getting reshuffled and now the focus is replacing that door and fixing the leak before fall. Sigh. It was a lot to juggle through.

But we celebrated a glorious summer weekend with fresh garden veggies and homemade ice cream. That helped.

Brown Butter Ice Cream

This ice cream is so decadent (calories in homemade ice cream don’t count, right?!) but so good. The brown sugar gives the custard base a complex caramel flavor. I imagine that it would be a cleaner “brown butter” flavor with white sugar but we loved this ice cream. The recipe I referenced called for corn starch instead of an egg but we liked this less processed approach.

  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 ½ cups heavy cream
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar
  • 2 Tbs corn syrup
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, browned
  • vanilla
  • pinch of sea salt

Place the butter in a wide stainless steel skillet over medium heat. Let the butter melt then let it cook, swirling the pan occasionally, until the butter is quite brown and smells toasted. Remove from the heat and let cool.

Mix the milk and cream in a heavy saucepan. Whisk the sugar and corn syrup into the milk mixture in the saucepan, and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Whisk until the sugar is completely dissolved, being careful not to let the milk boil over. Simmer lightly for about 5 minutes, then temper egg yolk and whisk to combine into hot milk. Return to the heat and cook, stirring, for about one minute. Remove from the heat.

Combine the cooked milk mixture with the cooled brown butter in a blender or food processor. Carefully blend milk at high speed, adding brown butter slowly until completely mixed and emulsified. Add in the vanilla and blend for another 30 seconds.

Cool the milk and butter mixture in the fridge for at least two hours, or overnight. Freeze in your ice cream maker according to instructions. Add the salt into the ice cream maker in the last few minutes of churning.


Lessons of Island Newbies

Islands truly operate on their own time. As newbies to Vashon we are learning this first hand. Since we are borrowing the truck this week, it is the perfect opportunity to haul away our accumulated garbage/demo debris to the dump, so last night we loaded it up and headed to town. Halfway there we realized that the dump is only open M/W/F/Sat…oh, and it closes before we make it home from work. Awesome. Next best use of our time? Go buy replacement boards for our deck. At least the lumber yard was open. We sheepishly loaded our new boards on top of a massive heap of dump-bound waste, and the guy helping us just laughed. It is all part of island life!

Lesson #2: there are no hot tub servicing companies on the island. Guess what? None OFF the island will come out either. Not so awesome when your hot tub mysteriously stops working. We did eventually track down a company that will come out and are waiting for an appointment. Maybe we can figure it out before they come…

I still cannot find the packing tape, and of course it has started to rain just as we need to paint the decks. And we have another wedding this weekend AND are headed out of town next Thursday for vacation. So much to do and so little time! Oh the joys of homeownership!