Archive for March 2016

Easter + Teenagers

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

I promised myself that I am going to do better keeping up with blogging and recording our family's going ons along with my DIY goodness and ranch house beautification. But I am SO tired tonight.

Is it okay if I just post our Easter pictures and call it done for today?

Why am I so tired you ask? Oh, because I had to stay up late so I could pick Ellie and Jonathan up from the "Fall Out Boy" concert in San Francisco last night. Yes, last night as in Easter Sunday last night.

This was one of those times that my weak calendaring skills really bit me. A couple months ago Jonathan asked if he could take Ellie to the concert and I was so pleased that he wanted to take his little sister that I said yes. Then we realized it was on a Sunday and I still said yes; it seemed like the kind of experience that could enhance their relationship forever, like, "...remember how cool it was when we went to that concert together when we were kids?" kind of enhancement.

But it wasn't until after he bought the tickets that I realized it was on Easter Sunday. Drat! So we had Easter crepes for brunch before church and then an egg hunt.

Are our kids too old for egg hunts? Probably. Do we care? Not at all. In fact, Marc and I knew we'd be shelling out money for concert t-shirts so we got a bunch of $1 bills and rolled them up in plastic eggs and then Marc hid them outside.

Jonathan and Ellie thought it was ridiculous. Here is Ellie giving me "the look."

 And Jonathan "posing" for a photo.
A couple more just for family records and whatnot.
It's not the same as when our kids were small, but it's still good.
Happy Easter everyone!

How My MidLife Crisis Led Me to Opening an Etsy Shop

Friday, March 25, 2016

Two weeks ago I opened an etsy shop called Barnacle Designs to sell zipper pouches and, hopefully in the future, other things I make. I'm pretty excited.

And about one week ago a friend asked me what gave me the motivation to do it. She said she feels like all of her friends are launching themselves out after their dreams and she feels left behind or unsure of how or what she should do to make her dreams come true.

That question has been on my mind all week. I mean, I've been a creative person all my life, and I've dipped my toes in the entrepreneurial waters before only to step gingerly back on the shore. So why is now different? Why am I going after this idea full speed ahead instead of just dabbling in it?

I think there are a couple reasons but the main one is just embarrassing to admit. It's because I have less kids at home (face palm). Seriously, some women are so capable of juggling so many things, and they do it well and beautifully, and I am just so 100% not that kind of woman. Parenting kicks my butt, ya'll! Even though I know it isn't helpful, I expend MASSIVE amounts of emotional energy worrying about my kids and any issues or problems they are having.

Do you remember that episode from the original Star Trek series where the empath can take the wounds from one person completely onto herself and heal them in the process? I'm kind of like that in that I tend to seriously take on myself the pains and trials of the people I love except it is actually stupid because it incapacitates me and does virtually nothing productive for the person I love.

But here is a clip from the episode I'm talking about. Her name is Gem and she is my spirit Star Trek character. Who's yours? Do not tell me you don't have a spirit Star Trek character. It is allowed to be from any of the series or movies, but bonus points if it is from the original.

I have veered a little from my point here. Okay, my point was that parenting takes a butt load of emotional energy. And with two kids out of the house I think that energy has slowly been seeping back into my own well or whatever and is now ready to spill out into something fun and creative.

Let me be clear here, the issue was not with my children. They were and are amazing and their pains and problems were not out of the range of normal people-who-are-growing-up things. I just hadn't learned how to manage my anxieties and worries and gift of massive empathy in a productive way. It often overwhelmed me.

But now there are only two at home, and while I am not completely free from the empath thing, I think I do manage it a lot better. I actually have my two oldest to thank for that because I have observed how self reliant and capable they are of handling their own stuff. They need their mom, sure, but not to solve their problems for them.

I have a good metaphor for this shift in my energy. Remember when you had one kid and taking them to the grocery store was like hell on wheels? And you would have given your pinky toe to NOT have to take their squirmy, screamy, beggy little self to the store? But instead of it getting better you decided to have another kid; so now you had to take two squirmy screamers with you?

Stay with me...but then one week things worked out and you got to go to the store with just one kid. And suddenly that seamed SO EASY. Like you could go to the store with one kid all day long. Something that used to be hard was suddenly a piece of cake, I guess because you're capacity for grocery shopping with tiny monsters had increased or something. 

I feel like that is what has happened to me. A few years ago I found myself a stay at home mom with just two kids, and the kids are older diapers, no nursing, no wiping boogers. There are other challenges to having teens, I'm not going to lie, but some things get easier and one of them is going to the bathroom by yourself.

If you haven't arrived yet hang in there little camper.

So this new energy propelled me into a whole lot of DIY home stuff, decorating and furniture makeovers and holiday crafting were a fantastic outlet for me. I LOVE making things pretty. I tried figuring out how to make furniture renovations a business-y thing but with cost and time and opportunities to mess up, I couldn't quite commit to it. I thought a lot about getting a job but couldn't imagine one that I would feel passionate about. The fact that I am blessed enough to have these choices is amazing, but I still couldn't figure out exactly what to do with myself. It's not like my parenting gig is up either, with two teenagers and an incredibly busy husband I have to be pretty light on my feet in adapting to whatever emergency school project, home repair, doctors visit or gaggle of hungry kids pops up. You know what I mean.

Then I made a zipper pouch.
And I kind of fell in love. You can read about that more here. Opening an etsy shop feels like it works well with my  life right now, it fits with my blog and I am having a lot of fun (and a tiny bit of frustration) learning how to set it up and market it and whatever else you are supposed to do with an eensy new business.

So back to that friend, the one who is feeling left out. I want to tell her that her time will come. It's hard to know what will shift into place and allow her that opportunity, but surely something will! I don't want to sound too cheesy, I just want to reaffirm that everything changes. Things that are hard right now won't always be, and dreams that are on the back burner will have their chance if we keep nurturing them.

And that, my friends, is enough of that. If you want to see my etsy shop you can visit it here, or you can click the etsy badge on my sidebar, or you can check out the "BarnacleDesigns" tab up on my navigation bar OR you can come over and I'll just spread pouches out all over the table and we can gush over them. If you want to keep your small stuff all zipped up together, trust me, I've got you covered!

Special Occasion Menu

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Last Saturday was Katie's 21st birthday. Twenty-one is a very important birthday and it demands a spectacular birthday dinner. Today I'm sharing one of our families' favorite menus for a special occasion. It is a little more labor intensive than an everyday dinner, but so worth it in deliciousness when you really want to pull out all the stops.

Here is the line up along with recipes:

Thai curry seafood 
Chicken satay with peanut sauce
Mandarin Salad

and for dessert Mario Betali's Panna Cotta

Let's start with the chicken satay and peanut sauce because you can do them both the night before if you like.
I slice up 4 or 5 boneless, skinless chicken breast like so-
And marinate them in the Yoshida marinade from costco by placing them in a ziplock bag with about a cup of the marinade and then refrigerating it overnight or for a minimum of 6 hours.

When you're ready to cook them thread them onto wooden skewers and have your man child squat with them.
  Spread the satays out in a single layer on a baking sheet and broil for about 4 minutes, flip, and broil 4 minutes on the other side or until cooked through with no pink in the middle. Serve with...


This is my mom's peanut sauce and boy are you going to thank me when you try it. Or her, if you want to thank her I will pass it along.

In a 2-quart pan, combine 1 cup water, 2/3 cup creamy peanut butter, and 2 cloves garlic (minced or pressed). Cook over medium low heat, stirring, until mixture boils and thickens. Remove from heat and stir in 2 tablespoons firmly packed brown sugar, 1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice, 1 tablespoon soy sauce and 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes. Serve hot. If made ahead, cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days.

Now for the Mandarin Salad. I love it because it is light and refreshing and goes really well with any Asian type foods you might serve. I think I got this recipe from my friend Susan in Virginia but it's been so long I'm not entirely sure. Susan, if it is your recipe, thank you and credit. I am giving you credit-however that is done.

1/2 c sliced almonds       3 TBS sugar
1/2 head iceberg lettuce   1 c chopped celery
1/2 head romaine
2 whole green onions, chopped
1 11 ounce can mandarin oranges, drained


1/2 tsp salt              dash of pepper
1/4 c veg. oil            2 TBS sugar
1 TBS chopped parsley     dash of tabasco
2 TBS Vinegar

In a small pan over medium head, cook almonds and sugar, stirring constantly until almonds are coated and sugar dissolved. Watch carefully as they will burn easily. When they are done spread them on a piece of tin foil to cool.
 These are so yummy all by themselves. My advice is twofold, first, wait before tasting them. They take awhile to cool down and will burn your tongue like the dickens if you are not careful. When these come off the stove everyone in my family eyes them with trepidation and anticipation because we all love them and we have ALL been burned when we were too eager/greedy. The second part of my advice is, even though they are really tasty to munch while you're cooking-try to leave some for the salad.

Mix all dressing ingredients in a blender or magic bullet, cover and chill. This can be done earlier in the day or the night before to make getting everything done easier.

Mix lettuces, celery, and onions. Just before serving add almonds and oranges. Toss with the dressing.         

Now onto the star, the seafood curry.
 The recipe is originally from Epicurious but it has been heavily edited by my Aunt Colleen. I'm sharing her version because it is better.


    • 1 tablespoon Thai red curry paste
    • 2 13.5 oz cans of unsweetened coconut milk
    • 1 bag of broccoli slaw
    • 1 pound uncooked shrimp, peeled, deveined (cooked will work too)
    • 1/2 pound sea scallops (frozen is fine, defrost according to package directions
    • 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
    • 1 red bell pepper chopped
    • 1 TBS minced ginger
    • 3-4 cloves of garlic, minced or pressed
    • Peanut oil OR Sesame oil
    • Olive oil
    • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
    • 2 tablespoons fish sauce (nam pla; optional)
    • 2 cups hot cooked jasmine rice or medium-grain rice (2/3 cup raw)


    1. Swirl Peanut or Sesame oil in a medium pan and saute garlic and ginger over medium heat until soft. Remove to plate. In the same pan heat 1 TBS olive oil and saute red pepper until soft. Set aside with the garlic and ginger. Place curry paste in large pot. Whisk in 1 can of coconut milk. Bring to boil; boil 1 minute. Stir in remaining 1 can of coconut milk. Add broccoli slaw, shrimp, and scallops, and ginger/pepper/garlic mix. Return to boil. Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer until seafood is cooked, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat and add basil, lime juice, and fish sauce. Season with salt and pepper.
    2. Press hot rice into four 2/3-cup custard cups, dividing equally. Invert cups to unmold rice into 4 bowls. Spoon stew around rice and serve.
After eating all that you are going to have to sit around, visit, and play games before you have room for dessert. Even though it's Italian instead of Asian inspired, this panna cotta goes perfectly with this menu. It isn't too sweet or heavy and it is super duper delicious.

  1. It turns out that I forgot to take a photo of the finished panna cotta, but here it is chilling in my fridge...
Makes 6 servings


  1. Panna cotta
    • 2 tablespoons water
    • 1 1/4 teaspoons unflavored gelatin
    • 2 cups whipping cream
    • 1 1/4 cups plain goat's-milk or whole-milk yogurt (I like the Pavels)
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • 1/2 cup sugar
  2. Strawberries
    • 2 1-pint baskets strawberries, hulled, thinly sliced
    • 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar-we had fig balsamic from the farmer's market and it was amazing!
    • 1 tablespoon sugar


  1. For panna cotta:
    1. Pour 2 tablespoons water into small bowl. Sprinkle gelatin over water. Let stand until softened, about 15 minutes. Whisk 1 cup cream, yogurt, and vanilla in large bowl to blend. Heat remaining 1 cup cream and 1/2 cup sugar in small saucepan over medium heat, stirring until sugar dissolves and cream comes to simmer. Remove from heat. Add gelatin mixture, stirring to dissolve gelatin. Mix hot cream-gelatin mixture into yogurt mixture in bowl. Divide mixture among six 3/4-cup ramekins, using about 1/2 cup for each. Refrigerate desserts uncovered until cold, then cover and refrigerate overnight.
  2. For strawberries:
    1. Toss strawberries, vinegar, and sugar in large bowl to combine. Let stand 30 minutes, tossing occasionally. Spoon strawberries over panna cotta and serve.
    2. Like I said, this menu is pretty special. When you make it your guest are sure to know how important you think they are and how much you love them (Hey! There's a little peeky-peek into some of my issues with food. Food=Love)

Bon Appetit and have a wonderful day my friends.  

One Day In L.A.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Last weekend we took a quick trip down to L.A. to visit Marc's family. Like, super quick; we drove down Friday afternoon, spent Saturday together, had hugs goodbye Sunday morning and were back home in the Bay Area by dinner time.

When we realized Jonathan and Ellie have different Spring breaks we decided we couldn't wait all the way until summer to see the fam so a quick trip was in order. 

Marc's sister Stephanie and her husband Blake were in town from Virginia so it was an extra good weekend to visit. We ended up staying in the very same hotel that Marc and I spent the first night of our honeymoon 25 1/2 years ago. Yes friends, that is where the magic happened. Ooo La La. It was super fun watching our kids squirm as we reminisced about how very romantic it was.

This beautiful tree was right outside our hotel.
On Saturday morning we had breakfast at Great Maple. It's such a pretty restaurant.
We were some of the first diners there and the fresh, as in hot and gooey, maple bacon doughnuts were so so yummy.
Great Maple
Just, I mean, come on! These were maybe the best doughnuts I have ever had. Unfortunately I also ordered the popover plate with a poached egg, squash blossom stuffed with goat cheese and sauted mushrooms and tomatoes.

I was stuffed with doughnut but it was so pretty I had to try and eat some.

I hurt myself doing so.

We spent the rest of the day with Marc's mom and dad, sister Jenna, and Stephanie and Blake.
We were so busy visiting I only took this one picture. Arrrrg! Jonathan and Stephanie had fun playing the guitar (J) and the ukulele (S) together and Jenna and I made a special dinner to celebrate Mom and Dad's upcoming 50th anniversary.

The next day we headed home but on our way out we stopped for an early lunch. Can you guess where?
Can you believe with all the trips we make to L.A. we've never been to Pinks? Well, Marc can because he hates hot dogs but I do not hate hot dogs, unless it's a gross hot dog, which these were not. This was a very nice hot dog and I'm glad we got to try it.

We also made a quick pit stop at California doughnuts so Miss Ellie could be happy but I forgot to take a picture.

All in all it was a nice trip even if it was awfully quick.

P.S. Last week I opened an Etsy store to sell my zipper pouches. You can visit it here. I'll tell you the story of how I decided to open it later this week.
My pouches just chillin' in the Marriott bathroom. They travel well.

Armoires In Every Room, Please

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

I've been blogging for, maybe, ever and my blog has stayed pretty small and I'm okay with that. Over the years I've had lots of requests to do posts featuring different products but I've just ignored them because I generally (always) only want to write about what I want to write about because I am the boss of this blog! 

But I finally received a request that I can't say no to; Chairish asked me to share some of my favorite ways to use an armoire and since armoires are one of my favorite pieces of furniture (fastest way to Narnia, amIright?) I am doing it. Yes! Still, I'm not being compensated for this-I just really like the topic and their website is super awesome for furniture/decorating addicts like us. 

So here are my first ideas, based on the fact that I have a bathroom with zero storage.

I would replace our mirror with one that has a shelf built in beneath it to hold some pretty necessities that I'd keep in cut glass jars with copper colored lids. Yum.

I'd absolutely love to have a gorgeous, vintage armoire like the one pictured here from Charish that I would fill with big, fluffy, MATCHING towels (please let me one day have all matching towels).

Plants love bathrooms so I'd apply my greenish thumb to growing one that would trail beautifully over the top of the armoire.

I put a picture of my favorite room spray by JR Watkins because every bathroom needs that, organized or not. And speaking of nice smells, we cannot go wrong with an Anthropology candle.

And finally, that sink with the built-in hand towel hangers? Genius.

Of course, bathrooms aren't the only good way to use an armoire. I love the one in our guest room here
And if you like the decorating rule that every room should have something black in it, how fabulous would this one be in a room that needs extra storage?
I absolutely love an eclectic mix of furniture styles in a home, it makes me think that the people who live there are interesting and well rounded as opposed to a home that has been studiously decorated in a single style. An Asian style armoire is an amazing way to get a "citizen of the world" feel in your home and Chairish has an entire section of them.

EEEEEP! This would be perfect in my green bedroom.

And I can't even handle how much I want to just exist in this happy room.

And be best friends with whomever lives here

So what do you think? Is there room for an armoire in your home?


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