Sun Tunnels

Our den, where we spend a lot of time when we are home, stays pretty dark during the day.  It is flanked by the garage on one side, a covered screened porch on the opposite side, and a fireplace wall with no windows.  I have always thought that I would love to add small, high windows on either side of the fireplace and have built-ins installed below them.  I’m sure that will be a pretty good sized budget project, so in the short-term (and as our gift to each other for our 10th anniversary) we decided to add two sun tunnels to the room to add a little natural light.  They go through the attic and roof to let sunlight into the room.  From inside they look like very large recessed light fixtures.

Here is the room with the new sun tunnels installed:
Den 11.11.15

Here is the room before:
Den 10.13.15

Both pictures were taken on sunny afternoons, with the same camera setting and neither were altered in post-processing.  It isn’t a glaring difference, but the extra bit of light really brings the room alive.

Here are the installed sun tunnels.  Each is about 14″ across.Sun Tunnels

The tunnels without the cover:2015-10-29 11.56.21 HDR-2

During installation:2015-10-29 12.06.26

Seattle to San Francisco

At the end of August, my mom and I flew to Seattle and met up with my sister for a road trip that would take us back to San Francisco over 5 days.  We spent the first two days touring Seattle.  We visited the Space Needle, Chihuly Gardens, and went on a whale watching tour the first day.

Space Needle from Chihuly Gardens:
Space Needle

My favorite piece at Chihuly Gardens was this glass chandelier:

We got to see a pod of Orca (Killer) Whales:
Orca Whales

On our second day in Seattle, my mom and I took a food tour through Pike Place Market.  I would highly recommend this tour – the food and our guide were both wonderful!  We tried fresh donuts, smoked salmon (and one of our tourmates got to catch the fish!), Beecher’s mac-n-cheese, Chukar cherries, clam chowder, piroshkies and crab cakes.  My favorites were the savory piroshky and the clam chowder.

The original Starbucks in Pike Place Market:Pikes Place

Mom enjoying her clam chowder:Food Tour

We stopped along the way in Oregon to do a little shopping, but not much else – just driving.  We spent one afternoon in Portland eating from food trucks and walking around, so I think Bradley and I will visit there again in the future to really experience it fully.  Once we got into California, we made our way to the Redwood National Forest.  Bradley and I had only ever made it up to Muir Woods before, so this was a treat.  One of the really interesting stops was called fern canyon.  Towering walls on both sides of you covered in ferns – it was beautiful.


Fern Canyon

Once we got into San Francisco, Bradley flew in to meet up with us.  We spent the rest of the week trying a few new things, as well as revisiting some of our favorites.  We went back to the SF Botanical Gardens:SF Botanical GardenWe also caught a Giants game.  They have a beautiful stadium, but I was so over being hot all week (strange to say about SF) that I spent a lot of the game watching on tvs in the concession stand area.

SF Giants

We researched some new places to eat this time, ending up at a hole-in-the-wall place in chinatown in which very little english was spoken and we ate our food huddled on a door stoop.  One morning we ate at a french brunch place called Zazie.  We also tried a good burger place in Berkeley called Eureka and wandered around a game shop nearby.

Games of Berkeley

On Sunday we visited a strategic partner of Northpoint called New Vintage Church:
2015-08-30 11.40.19

Storybook Baby Shower

My cousin just had her little boy last week.  We threw her a Storybook themed shower a few weeks ago.  She has always been an avid reader so this theme was perfect.  We used children’s books, baby blocks, and primary colors heavily as the decor.

For our spread of food, I started with a blue chevron tablecloth and used cake plates, bowls and platters to get the food on different levels for better visual interest.  I found the inspiration for the food tent labels here – the ones she did not have pre-made, she shares how to make your own.  I made the hanging stars out of pages I cut from a copy of If You Give a Pig a Pancake using this tutorial.

Food Table CookiesIf You Give a Mouse a Cookie (Oreo Pudding Cookies)
Fruit PlateThe Very Hungry Caterpillar (Fruit Plate)
Ham SandwichesGreen Eggs and Ham (Ham and Swiss Sliders)
MuffinsIf You Give a Moose a Muffin (Krusteaz Pumpkin Spice Mix)
Pigs in a BlanketThe Three Little Pigs (Pigs in a Blanket)

Hanging Decor

For the drink table, I attached paper honeycomb balls to the wall.  This was much easier than trying to hang them from strings at the correct heights but still just as cute to me.  I set some children’s books on the bottom shelf of the sideboard.

Drink Table Punch

Fuzzy Yellow Ducklings (Lemonade Punch)

Story Books

My mom cut flowers from her yard for us to use at the party, and I filled a big bowl with wooden baby blocks for a table centerpiece.


Above the gift table I strung together circles I had cut from children’s books and colorful paper.  I made a couple of paper fan wheels from pages of a Mickey Mouse storybook as well.  I made the diaper cake by fanning the diapers in a circle rather than rolling and banding them.  The center layer is board books I picked up at the Dollar Tree. The mini flashcards strung around the bottom layer are from this etsy seller.   I found the cute Hungry Caterpillar rattle at Tuesday Morning.

Gift TableDiaper Cake

This was a really fun shower to throw.  Thanks to my mom for providing our location and flowers and thanks to my other cousins for providing food and serveware!

New Electrical Panel

We checked another item off our house’s to-do list.  The home inspection revealed that our electrical panel needed to be replaced sooner rather than later.  It took an entire day to do, and the electricians still had to return the following week to address a couple of other smaller tasks we wanted done.

New Foyer Outlet

We had them add an outlet to the foyer.  It is a large area and I was surprised that there was not an outlet here or in the hallway next to it.  Last Christmas, I put our tree up in the foyer – it looked great there, but I had to run an extension cord in front of the stairs and around the corner into the living room.  This year, it will be much easier and cleaner looking.

Stairwell Light

After we moved in, I ordered a new wall sconce for the stairwell to replace a Tiffany-style  sconce.  The new light fixture, like the previous one would not work.  Bradley fiddled with the switches, and even changed out both switches, but it still wouldn’t work.  The problem turned out to be bad wiring to the switch at the bottom of the stairs.  So for now, the fixture can only be operated from the top of the stairs.  Not ideal, but we didn’t want to have them mess with the drywall for now.  At least it does work now.

New Electrical Panel

Dining Room Update

In the dining room, I have rearranged our existing furniture to give it a fresh feel and see what I like.  With the table lined up long-ways to the window, I felt it gave more room for a table on the only wall without a door or window.  I would love to have a sideboard table like this, but it isn’t a high priority financially.

Dining 0715a

I saw this collection of botanical prints and was inspired to add some to our house.  I ordered this book from Amazon, because I wanted to use drawings of flowers that are native to our area (many of which are now in my own yard thanks to my mom).  I framed them in gold frames that I picked up at Goodwill and used a Martha Stewart metallic glaze in Coffee to tone down the gold.

Dining 0715b

There were quite a few more prints that I would like to have used, so I may add more down the road.  For now I am displaying Atamasco Lily, Red Cardinal flower, Fly Poison, Dwarf crested iris, Red Buckeye, Dutchmen’s Britches, False Soloman’s Seal, Eastern Columbine, and the Red Chokeberry.

Dining 0715c

On the side table, I placed a lemon button fern on a milk glass cake stand.

Dining 0715d