five things we learned last week


1) Old posts still inspire comments, and decorating trends still inspire ire. Nancy says: “Oh, after looking at 60+ houses in Phoenix before buying ours in July, I have to say I’m sick to death of fake (and real, for that matter) travertine tile bathrooms. I’m also sick of cheap looking Home Depot vanity ‘kits’ and brushed nickel fixtures. I’m tired of brown and blue, and I’m tired of every refurbished home I see that looks like a page ripped out of Pottery Barn with no regard to the style of the house and/or its location. Some older trends seem to be slow to die: toile prints; leopard/zebra prints; dark and muddy Tuscany-inspired fabrics and wallcoverings; odd, uber-modern lighting that doesn’t match the scale or size of the furniture.” If there’s anything Nancy hasn’t covered, you can tell us what decorating trends you’re sick of here.

2) You have great ideas for dog beds. We were suprised and pleased at the suggestions for dog beds that stand up to a chewer. Amyt says: “What I did to solve the problem was to use a queen-size comforter from a second hand store, folded, as a dog bed and sew a giant case for it from a durable material. I used upholstery material, but denim or even heavy wool might work as well. There’s no zipper, velcro, or buttons. The ‘top’ of the bed is one solid piece, the bottom is two pieces that overlap in the center of the bed by about 4″. It’s worked really well so far. It’s easy to take out the comforter and clean everything. And it was CHEAP.” Click to see lots more ideas for dog beds that won’t make us go broke — thanks, readers!

3) Everyone has her own method for arranging books. Faith says: “I have 3 floor to ceiling bookcases. Fiction, non-fiction and reference. Fiction and non are arranged alphabetically by author and reference is arranged by subject (gardening, craft {sub: sewing, millinery, knitting, etc.}, design) then author. I’m a freak, but I’m a happy and organized freak.” How do you arrange your bookshelves?

4) We love us some Trader Joe’s. Laurie says: “Oh jeez, I could go on and on with my TJ’s favs. My store just added single red bell peppers (as opposed to the packed 2 or 3 mixed colors) and I think I was overly excited about that. Their scrubby sponges are awesome, they come 5 in a pack i think, multi colored. The french roast coffee, yum. The fresh baked breads are so gooooooood. I especially love the ciabatta. Can’t find Tofurkey brand items for less anywhere else. I could go on…” What’s your favorite at Trader Joe’s?

5) It’s Moosewood stew time again! Crazy Swede says: “I just moved and have not unpacked my Moosewood cookbooks yet. I was craving this dish and am happy to have found it on line. It is one of my all time favorites. OK top 100. It always works out and I’ve never found anyone that did not like it. Easy to make and not predictable like so many dishes are.” Yum — now we’re inspired to make it again, too.

Photo by Shiny

blogwatch: where we were clicking this week

Take an eco-chic nursery tour at Style Saves the World.

Georgeous custom furniture from Etsy, at Casa Sugar.

Decorate your first apartment with help from Decor to Adore.

Food for thought (or not): Twilight Earth’s “We Have Become a Spoiled, Obese, Expectant and Fearful People.”

Live vicariously through someone who dealt with a rude person on an airplane, at The Consumerist.

Just for fun: go behind the design at Sublime Stitching.

The 20 best perennials to plant in fall (with photos) at Sunset.

Best guest bedroom ever at Door Sixteen.

my favorites from trader joe’s


Trader Joe’s is our go-to store for good food on the cheap. They’re not the hugest in terms of square feet, but we’re always able to find a surprisingly large selection of food and drink for surprisingly low prices. I thought I’d share some of my TJ’s favorites. For those of you without a Trader Joe’s nearby, what’s your store for good, cheap goods? –Mary T.

Soy Chorizo
This is one of Megan B.’s favorites, and I know why — I’ve had one of her breakfast burritos, and the soy chorizo is a great way to go veg with a lot of taste. You can really stretch the amount that comes in each package, too, to get plenty of bang for your buck.

Pre-seasoned Seafood Steaks
First, I want to acknowledge that Trader Joe’s was the target of concerns about not sustainably harvesting seafood — they are addressing those concerns, which you can read here. They offer a changing selection of frozen seafood steaks that come already seasoned, such as the Chimichurri Pacific Salmon that we enjoy. Throw it on the grill, add a vegetable, and you have a quick, delicious meal.


Simpler Times Lager
Yes, it’s true — just $4.99 will get us a six-pack of beer that is surprisingly tasty. Great choice for a party.

Liquid Laundry Detergent
It smells pleasant, it cleans well, and a gallon of this stuff goes a long, long way. Read an in-depth review at Greener One.


Chicken Taquitos
Pop these in the oven, and you have a party treat that seems like you put in a lot of effort. These aren’t super-expensive, and every time I’ve served them, all of them are gone in a flash.

A few other Trader Joe’s faves: 100-Calorie Cookies (Oatmeal Chocolate Chip or Chocolate Graham Toucans), California Estate olive oil, Crunchy Curls, Fully Cooked Bacon, Organic Tomato Sauce, Fire Roasted Tomato Salsa

Soy Chorizo image via The Vegan Mouse
Refrigerator image via Flickr member rei_saru

eye-popping designs from french paper’s pop ink


Anyone who’s worked in advertising or printing is familiar with French Paper. Not only are they popular as a source for print materials, over the years they’ve started making their own clever and colorful Pop Ink gift and homeware designs. We’ve written about the Decor-a-Boards, but I was excited to recently take a look at some other Pop Ink offerings I’ve missed. Check out these oh-so-cute and demented Cannibal Kitchen cocktail napkins, or these gorgeous cocktail napkins in Wallpaper designs. Look at these lovely and goofy melamine plates. Get wowed by this fabulous gift wrap selection. Check out all the Pop Ink here. –Mary T.

handmade nation screenings: are you in?

Faythe Levine’s Handmade Nation, her documentary on the rise of indie crafting, is being shown in special screenings in many states. I’ll be getting out to see it when it comes to Seattle in a couple weeks. If you want to see if a city near you is on the list, check the right column on the Handmade Nation blog — cities in Missouri and Virginia are on the list, as well as Washington, DC. Even if the documentary isn’t screening near you, it’s due to be released on DVD in November — perfect for holiday giving! Watch the trailer here. –Mary T.