Living/Family Room and Dining Room

10 Sep

Like I mentioned in my post “Our Bungalow – The Early Days…” the elderly couple we purchased the house from were very comfortable in their home but it was also very dark.  They had lived there a long time and I’m sure loved every square inch of the house.  For us, we saw each room not so much as a challenge, but an opportunity to start from scratch, which we literally had to do.  Here’s a glimpse at what it looked like while they still lived there.


Once we had the keys to our new home in hand, we quickly began cleaning and trying to get to bare surfaces.  Here is what these rooms looked like when we first took possession.   

As we all know, life has a way of taking over and things we want to do often take a backseat to those things we need to do.  While I was busy raising twin daughters and working, re-decorating just wasn’t a priority, nor did we have the money to do it.  In 2004 we were finally able to transform the two front rooms (dining room and family/living room) into what we really liked.

My husband and I had become big fans of a young Spanish artist named Didier Lourenco.  We familiarized ourselves with most of his work and then began our hunt to find just what we were looking for.  The piece we chose became the anchor item in the room that everything else would revolve around.  Still, choosing a paint color was really tough for me.  So many colors really complemented the piece but ultimately I liked the yellow/gold.  Here are a few after photos.

I don’t have many good “before” photos but suffice it to say the after was nothing short of dramatic.  Everything in the rooms was new… paint, furniture, window treatments.  Some of these pictures were taken while the house was decorated for Thanksgiving…

One thing we didn’t change was a vintage piece of art I picked up at the Pasadena City College swap meet years ago.  I don’t know what caught my eye about it initially, but it was love at first sight and I didn’t want to change a thing about it.  We put a nail in the wall, hung it up and called it a day.  I don’t remember what we paid for it, but it’s priceless to me.


While on a weekend getaway to Solvang in 2007, my husband and I wandered into an art gallery and bought a few original pieces done by a local artist.  We thought this one worked nicely in the living room.

Though we don’t use the rooms as much as we once did, we do love that it’s such a comfortable space to relax.  I knew choosing the yellow paint was a bold choice and I worried it would be too cold, but the rooms are instead quite warm and inviting.  Have you ever taken a big risk on a paint color and then been relieved with the outcome?  What about paint disasters?  We’ve all had those too, right?  The nice thing is that you can paint a small section and see how it looks on the wall, in different kinds of natural and artificial light, with your furniture, art, etc.  Take your time to find just what you’re looking for; you’ll be happier in the long run.  And happy is what we all should be.

A Friend is…

8 Sep

“A friend is someone who knows the song in your heart and can sing it back to you when you have forgotten the words.”

~ Anonymous

Nursery and Bathroom…

6 Sep

I know I said I would post next about the Dining and Living Rooms but it really made more sense to start here.  Where we started.

Not long after we were moved in, we had accomplished removing wallpaper, tearing up carpeting, taking down window coverings and painting everything white, in other words our little Bungalow was getting a fresh start.  A re-birth if you will.

We figured we’d take our time making our way from room to room making the necessary repairs and improvement to turn this old house into our home.  However just a few months after we moved in I found out I was pregnant, so our priority became getting the nursery ready.  At 11 weeks gestation we learned we were expecting twins and neither of us wanted to know the gender(s) so we searched to find the perfect neutral color for their room and bathroom.

Here’s what their room looked like during the walk-through…

And this is what it looked like when we began working on it.

There was a lot to do in a short amount of time.  The ceilings throughout the house were covered in acoustic coating and it would be the first change to be made to ready the room for our new babies.  My husband tackled the job all by himself which was neither fun nor easy.  It’s a messy job that requires a mask and goggles at all times.  Reaching above your head scraping little by little is not only exhausting, it’s a very slow process.

Once the ceiling was done, we could focus on the walls and floor.  I did what I could to help out, but as my pregnancy progressed there was only so much I could do.  I could no longer help with little things like stripping paint off the door and window hardware.  Previous homeowners had painted over the delicate brass hardware time and time again.  I wasn’t interested in exposing myself to the harsh cleaning chemicals, so mostly I did what I could to make the jobs easier for my husband.  I fetched tools, cleaned paint brushes, etc.  Painting was fine too, since we have so many windows and the nursery has 6, it was easy to open them up, let in a breeze and paint away.  The house never had the strong odor of paint.  We chose a pale mint green for the room and decided all the trim and mouldings throughout the house would remain white.

Since my daughters are not babies anymore, their bedroom has seen many changes over the years.  When they were about 14, we re-painted and changed the furniture configuration, added a few style details here and there and this is what it looked like

Now that my daughters are college graduates, they’ve made even more changes, like bedding, lighting, etc.  It’s their room and their personal space so I’ll respect their privacy and not post photos of what it looks like today, but it’s a better representation of their grown up style.

Needless to say, the bathroom needed quite a bit of work as well.  The sink and cabinet were old and outdated.  The wallpaper was faded and the floor was a dark vinyl tile but we kept it for the time being.  The star of the room was the claw foot tub, which we refinished and still use today.

When it came time to tackle the bathroom, we found a cute little striped wallpaper in the same green as the nursery.  Though not a big fan of wallpaper, the lower wall we were papering had been covered in vinyl tile at one time so it had some surface scars we did our best to camouflage.  I couldn’t find any good pictures of their bathroom from those days, but here’s what it looks like now.

Yes, this hydrangea came from my garden…it’s one of my all-time favorite flowers.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this latest tour, stay tuned for the Dining and Living Rooms… I mean it this time.

Have a great today and an even better tomorrow.

A Stupid Man’s…

2 Sep

“A stupid man’s report of what a clever man says can never be accurate, because he unconsciously translates what he hears into something he can understand.”

~ Bertrand Russell


Our Bungalow – The Early Days…

28 Aug

When we bought our bungalow in 1989, it was quite different than it is today.  Built in 1920 it had only had 2 owners before us.  The elderly couple we bought it from had lived there about twenty years and I would guess had made some initial décor changes but clearly nothing had been done for a while.  Every wall was covered in wallpaper, the floors were covered in dark shag carpeting or (dingy vinyl tile) and most of the windows had heavy curtains blocking the sunshine.   To say our house was a diamond in the rough would be the understatement of the year.

We knew we wanted an older home with charm and character and its own stories to tell.  We weren’t interested in a cookie-cutter tract home, although there are times when we’d rather not have all the problems associated with a home that’s nearly 100 years old.  Here’s what we initially fell in love with.

The first thing we did was paint every wall surface white.  It was meant to be a short-term solution just to brighten the house up a bit and be a little more cheery.  We ordered mini-blinds from 3-Day Blinds to cover the majority of the 33 windows and 2 of the 4 doors.  Yes, 33 windows.  We pulled up the carpeting to expose the original hardwood floors that sadly hadn’t been very well taken care of.  Every surface of the house needed a lot of attention and we knew we had a gigantic chore ahead of us, but we took it one day at a time.

While both working full-time, we spent our evenings and weekends doing what needed to be done to make it a home.  We knew the initial decorative updates would be temporary but we needed to at least have a clean palette to start.

After two paint jobs, here’s what the house looks like today.

And yes, the water color “banner” on my blog really is my house.  It was painted for me by a friend’s mother many years ago.  The framed painting hangs proudly in our kitchen.

My plan is to post a blog about each room and show you before and after photos.  On occasion we had help, but for the most part we did all the work ourselves.

Stay tuned for the next Around the Bungalow update… The Dining and Living Rooms.  I hope you’ll stop by.

Phyllis Diller…

20 Aug

Odd the way some things are.  I have a few journals that I use to write down favorite quotes.  This morning I thumbed through one to see what I wanted to post.  I came really close to using the one below and for some reason chose the Churchill quote.  Needless to say I got chills when I read of her passing.  I’ve had the quote for years, not sure why it stood out this morning and I don’t even know why I chose against it.  Like I said, odd the way some things are.

I’ve always been a huge Phyllis Diller fan.  My husband and I were lucky enough to watch her perform live on a cruise some years ago.  Afterward, we sat next to her at the bar and listened as she told the group stories.  We all laughed and laughed.  Her stories were good, her laugh infectious.

She would appear on stage with out of control hair, and outfits that were louder than her signature laugh.  She was a self-deprecating comedianne who constantly joked about her age and appearance, her terrible cooking, and her husband “Fang”, all the while pretending to smoke from a long cigarette holder. 

One of my favorite memories was her riding a motorcyle in the movie “Boy, Did I Get a Wrong Number” with Bob Hope.  If you’ve never seen it, I highly recommend this comedy classic.  I found the clip as I was writing this post and of course I laughed again. 

Here’s my second quote of the day… sad it has to come today.  

“My idea of exercise is a good brisk sit.”

  ~ Phyllis Diller (1917-2012)

Rest in Peace Ms. Diller and thanks for all laughs! 

There are two places…

20 Aug

“There are two places where socialism will work: In Heaven, where it is not needed, and in Hell, where they already have it.”

  ~ Winston Churchill

Insalata Caprese

18 Aug

The name means “salad in the style of Capri”.   It’s a simple but delicious dish from the Italian region of Campania, made of sliced fresh buffalo mozzarella, tomatoes and basil, seasoned with salt, and olive oil.  In Italy, unlike most salads, it is usually served as an antipasto (starter or appetizer) not a contorno (side dish).

While it’s unknown whether the salad actually originated on Capri, it became popular after being served there to Egypt’s King Farouk in the 1950s.

Some variations include adding chopped garlic, parsley, and various sauces, like Balsamic vinegar, Italian dressing, etc.  King Farouk reportedly enjoyed it as a sandwich filling.  Some people serve it atop pieces of baguette or other bread.  There’s a little Italian deli by my house that serves a Caprese sandwich and it’s nothing short of scrumptious.  There are countless ways to enjoy this simple little salad.

Last night I went out to my vegetable gardens to see if anything was ready for picking.  Little did I know my four cherry tomato plants were bursting with ripe little treats.



With the unusually hot weather we’ve been having the past month or so (upper 90s and low 100s) I’m not surprised I haven’t had this many to pick every day.  My plants are full of ripe and unripe little round balls and frankly I can’t keep up.  Tonight I thought I better get a head start and start eating.

I have a few basil plants in my herb garden.  I love basil.  The taste, the smell, everything about it.  Even if I never put a delicious leaf in my mouth, it would make me happy just to put the leaves up to my nose and inhale.  Easily one of my top favorite smells.  I put basil in everything.  In fact, this morning I made little muffin pan omelettes and used the tomatoes and fresh basil. Thank you Bonnie, from recipeshappen for the recipe inspiration.  If you’re not familiar with her blog, check it out, it’s fun.



Since my garden has been producing such a wealth of tomatoes, and I always have the fresh basil, Caprese salad is my go-to for a light, refreshing, homegrown treat.   One of the best things about Caprese is that there aren’t really specific ratios you have to follow.  Just cut up or slice any type of tomatoes, cut up or tear the leaves of the basil (some are small enough to just throw in as is), add the cheese and dress as you like.  For me personally, I like to add balsamic vinegar and olive oil.

If you’re like me, you don’t always have a block of fresh mozzarella in the fridge and I guess you could even use the shredded stuff for pizzas.  But what I do always have on hand is string cheese (it’s the perfect low-calorie snack for after a work-out).  Some of you may not be familiar with string cheese.   What is it you ask? Why mozzarella of course.  So named because you can peel it from one end or the other and it comes away in a “string”.  Anyway… I take out my handy dandy kitchen shears and cut little discs.  It’s perfect.



This is a great little salad and one that’s so simple to make (especially when most of the ingredients come from your garden).














What’s growing in your garden?

Eggplant Bhurtha

18 Aug

A friend of mine at work has an impressive vegetable garden.  I don’t know this because I’ve seen it; I’m convinced because of the variety and abundance of veggies she brings in several times each week.  I’m lucky enough to bring home things that I don’t personally grow and at times things I do, but hers are ripe and mine aren’t.  This week was no exception.

Two small purple eggplants found their way home with me and tonight I decided I would find a new recipe to use them.  I searched the internet and as is usually the case came up with a combination of several recipes I could manipulate to suit my family’s taste buds and also utilize ingredients I had on hand.

It’s no secret everyone in my household loves Indian food, so I searched for recipes using the basic ingredients found in that part of the world… cumin, cayenne pepper, tomatoes, onions.  Here’s what I came up with:



2 small purple eggplants

2 Tbl vegetable oil

1 medium onion, diced

1 tsp fresh ginger, grated

2 cloves garlic, grated

4-5 small campari tomatoes (or 1 medium tomato), diced up

½ tsp ground turmeric

½ tsp ground cumin

¼ tsp cayenne pepper

Salt & pepper to taste

¼ cup chopped cilantro


White rice



You’ll be doing 3 things at once here:  Broiling eggplant, cooking rice and preparing the remaining ingredients to be mixed with the eggplant.

Pre-heat broiler.  Rub a small amount of oil on outside of eggplant (or coat with cooking spray).  Cook until the flesh is soft and the skin is blistering off; about 30 minutes.

At the 15 minute mark, turn eggplant over for even cooking and begin cooking rice ~ I always use a rice cooker.  It’s a great way to multi-task.  The rice is perfect every time and it doesn’t take up any valuable stove top space.

Once rice is cooking, add remainder of oil, onions, ginger and garlic to large skillet or wok; cook and stir until onions are tender.  Stir in the tomato and season with spices.  Cook and stir a few minutes.

Once eggplant is done, remove from oven. Cut in half lengthwise and scoop out the flesh.  Discard skin. Chop up flesh and add to skillet ingredients.  Let the mixture cook on low for about 5 minutes just so all the flavors mix with the eggplant.

Serve mixture over rice and garnish with fresh cilantro.



We all really enjoyed this new recipe.  Some dishes are just meant to be and this one didn’t disappoint.  It was bursting with flavors that were familiar and pleasing to our palette and it was filling.  It was prepared using only homegrown vegetables and is a great option for the vegetarians in your life.  I happen to have two in mine.  Oh, and it was super easy.  Does it get any better than that?

Thank you Diana for the beautiful eggplant that inspired me tonight!



One of the things…

16 Aug

“One of the things the government can’t do is run anything.  The only things our government runs are the post office and the railroads, and both of them are bankrupt.”

  ~ Lee Iacocca

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