photo Whaling-City-Cottage-8-2015_zpsoygeotsf.jpg

{kitchen renovation} laminate counters. seriously.

In a perfect world, we’d install dreamy soapstone or engineered stone for the perimeter counters in our new kitchen.  But unless there’s a stash of Union paper money or a priceless ship captain’s painting hidden in my house somewhere, it ain’t gonna happen.

The lovely soapstone in Joan’s kitchen is a huge inspiration.  It is so choice.

for love of a house

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{DIY} ruffled streamers


June turns 5 next week – where did the time go???  After the fish cake of 2013 (see below), this year she asked for an ocean party.  Notice I’m not using the word “theme.”  Because I’ve seen the themed parties online.  And those people are on crack.  Our wedding wasn’t as nice as the parties people are throwing for kids nowadays.  Personally I think kids could give a rip about the tiny details and I prefer to set my offspring’s expectations low.  🙂

That said, I do put some effort into food and decorations.  (Yes, I’m that lunatic making homemade hummus of her kid’s party).  Last year I made this ala Martha.

fish cake

Don’t be fooled by his cuteness….this cake nearly killed me.  Like Wesley in The Princess Bride.  I just sucked one year of your life away.  The ham-fisted cook in me would have been lost without help from my patient and lovely cousin.  Crumb coat sounded like something stuck to my shirt.

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ikea kitchen round-up

In the process of deciding on Ikea cabinets for our new kitchen, I’ve looked at a lot of kitchens online that used them.  Those of us wandering the design blogosphere know that Ikea cabinets are a great base for a unique, beautiful and high-quality kitchen.  The 11 examples below show how a little personality and customization can turn basic into gorgeous.

The Ikea kitchen file in my head was getting cluttered, so I decided to consolidate those bad boys.

 1. Country Living

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mood board for big girl room

June’s big girl room is, like, Number 27 on the list of projects that need to get done around here.  (A much higher number if you ask my husband).  But 5 years of wear are starting to show….and damn this is fun.

june mood board

Starting with a wingback chair upholstered in Premier Prints Titan Birch Zig Zag that we already have….

Healing Aloe by Benjamin Moore
Roman shades in Aztec Wisteria fabric by Honey + Fitz for Spoonflower
Canterbury Rug by RugsUSA
Mint border sham by Biscuit Home
Gray tufted headboard
Ghost chair
White desk
Bold lamp
Quirky art – definitely something from The Black Apple and some Paint By Number
Gold or brass accents

And every girl needs a vintage 70’s marine mammal poster.



{DIY} vintage sconce


I love our quirky old house but it baffles me sometimes.  It was obviously built when heat and electricity were a novelty, not a necessity.  Our master bedroom still doesn’t have heat.

I’ll let that sink in….

Another example of old house weirdness is our upstairs hallway.  It’s narrow and doesn’t have a ceiling light.  What it does have is a random sconce, an enormous radiator and the entry to the attic.

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organizing our grocery list and menu

Being organized isn’t easy in our not-yet-renovated kitchen.  Pantry items are in four different places, our fridge is a tiny cave and our cabinet storage is lacking.  Given how much I cook and how much food we go through in this house, one of the main things tripping me up is keeping track of food.  What we have, what we need, what meals are we making this week.

I need some list action close to the fridge, so all the old pictures got cleared off the freezer door and I added a cut-in-half chalkboard decal from Michaels, a magnet list for groceries and a cute holder for pens and chalk markers.  Much better….

No cute styling here.  This is what it looked like after grocery shopping this evening.  Random Tegu magnet blocks up there too.






for the love of stoves….and a major craigslist find

I’m a simple girl.  I own almost no jewelry, don’t have a shoe fetish, and still dress like a tomboy.  A summer wardrobe of skirts and Birkenstock Gizeh probably doesn’t count as high style.  However put a bad ass stove in front of me and I’ll start petting it.  Come to mama.

Pretty kitchen +  commercial stove…..we will be together someday.  Oh yes.  We will.


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the emerald isle

In honor of St. Patrick’s Day, I’m posting some pictures from our 2008 trip to Ireland with my dad and his girlfriend.  I haven’t looked at this album in years but going through it, two things came to mind.  One: hot damn I took a lot of pictures with my old point-and-shoot.  And two: we barely scratched the surface of this gorgeous country.  We had 10 days and focused on western Ireland, starting in Galway City (the center of Burke-topia) and working our way down through the Dingle Peninsula, Tralee, and Killarney.

Even if you’re not Irish, it’s so worth a visit!  It’s beautiful, there’s so much to see, and the people are insanely nice.


linguine with clam sauce

This dish is seriously addictive.  Umami out the yang.  I’ve made it for a few dinner parties and somebody always ends up scraping the bottom of the bowl with a piece of bread.  Every last bite gets devoured.  Purist might balk at my version….but who cares when it’s so delicious.


Note: I’ve never made this with canned clams so I’m not sure how it would convert.  Plus the liquor from the fresh clams is integral to the sauce.  They are miraculous little flavor-makers.

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best homemade caesar salad dressing

Oh savory, anchovy-y, rich goodness.  You’re my favorite.


I recently went on a mission to make perfect a homemade Caesar salad dressing.  I’ve made some attempts in the past but somehow the proportions were always off.  But this time, we may have a winner.  My husband’s exact words were “holy f*#%@ that’s good.”

In a food processor (I use my mini-chop) put in a large peeled garlic clove, 1 tbs dijon mustard, 2 tbs mayo, 1/2 tbs anchovy paste, 1 tbs balsamic vinegar, 1 tsp worchestershire, couple lugs of olive oil, juice of half a lemon and a few grinds of pepper.  Tweak these proportions to your taste.  Wazz this up, then add 1/4 t0 1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese and 1/4 to 1/2 cup of vegetable oil.  Wazz this to combine.  Now you’ll have to play with it a bit to get the consistency right.  I usually add a dash of water to smooth it out too.  No salt though. The anchovy and cheese lend plenty of that.

My crouton strategy is: brush thick slices of store-bought olive oil ciabatta bread with olive oil.  Toast in the oven a bit.  Rub with a cut-in-half garlic clove.  Chop into perfect bites.  Assemble your salad with your favorite lettuce, veggies, protein, etc.

Basically, this dressing would make a shoe taste good.