Workshop reveal

I can’t believe I can finally say this: The workshop is finished!

Well, nothing is ever truly finished around here. I still have a lot of smaller projects I’d like to do. But I can say I have a functional workspace and it looks amazing.

Here’s what the inside of the workshop looked like before.

Actually, when we first bought the house the workshop didn’t even have lights or electricity. It was basically a garage with a dirty cabinet and a partially finished closet.

It was never really meant to be a finished building, but that’s what I needed so we made do with what we had. Some of the wood in the ceiling looked like it had been salvaged from another building, so I think it was a DIY project from the start.

So, a few weeks ago, Mike and his dad started work on the drywall. It’s something we will probably never DIY again because it’s so much work, but it was a good thing for them to do together. I know Mike learned a lot about construction and got several new tools out of it.

After they sealed holes, patched uneven wood beams and put in insulation, they did the drywall, tape and mud.

That was about when my mom arrived, so we had to move everything that had been jammed in her room outside. What a mess!

Part of the problem (in addition to the workshop being smaller than my old workspace) was that I had never had a chance to go through all my stuff before we moved and get rid of things I didn’t need. I didn’t even know what I didn’t need until I tried to move into the new space.

In the meantime, Mike and I worked on painting the old cabinet and replacing the damaged wood on top. He cut the boards and stained them a nice color.


Check out that crazy old paper inside!

I painted the drawers white and replaced all the hardware.

And then everything was ready. The paint-stained cement floor needed something to make it look a little better, so I got an outdoor rug from Target.

So, drumroll please… here’s how it looks now.

I painted the peg boards lemongrass and then installed them on the back wall, which brings the whole room together. 

I was so excited to use my Pyrex bowls as useful displays. They’re holding all the ribbons, thread, buttons and other sewing supplies my mom and I have between us.

Another corner of the room is my shipping center. Shelves were key to getting the most out of the vertical space in the room.

Sadly my yarn display is almost totally empty! Time to reorder.

I’m glad I had plenty of wall space for artwork and photos, including one of my grandmother. She watches over the shop.

The back of the room is a bit messy, but my felt scraps and extra foam and stuffing have to go somewhere.

I originally thought I would leave the old gray paint on the closet door but now it looks so grungy I think I’m definitely going to paint it. Inside the closet we’re storing all of our signs and things for sales, plus some of mom’s items to sell on eBay. 

Sometime I’d like to paint my desk and the yarn display since nothing matches. Then I’d like to find a vintage wood file cabinet with 4 drawers so I don’t have to have two cabinets precariously stacked.

The final piece is painting the exterior and maybe getting a new light and a sign for the door. I’m picturing something cute that says “Mary Marie Knits world headquarters.”

Easy chicken gyros and tzatziki sauce

I picked up this recipe from the Say Yes blog a few months ago and it has become a staple in our house. It couldn’t be easier to throw together these gyros on a weekend night when you don’t have a lot of time to cook. Just put the chicken in a bag to marinate while you do a few other things and then saute up the meat. 

Go here for the full recipe.

We have just a few cherry tomatoes growing in our back yard (when Harper doesn’t pick off all the green ones) and they work great as a topping. 

Any kind of pita, lavash, or pocket bread will do. 

You can whip up tzatziki sauce in just a few minutes. Here’s my recipe:

1/2 cup Greek yogurt
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
1/2 teaspoon dried dill
1/2 teaspoon salt

Taste it and see if it needs a little more of anything. It’s not a terribly precise recipe. 

When your chicken and onions are just starting to brown, they’re done. Put everything together and dinner’s ready. 

Gluten-free chocolate chip cookies

If I thought my last stab at gluten-free baking was successful, these cookies were even better.

I’d been looking for a way to use almond meal (a bargain at Trader Joe’s, though you can grind it fresh yourself) for a while and when I saw this recipe for coconut-chocolate chip cookies I had to try it. 

Though the cookies don’t plump up like traditional chocolate chip cookies, they are a little crisp on the outside and chewy inside. I used mini chocolate chips instead of chopped dark chocolate but otherwise stuck with the recipe. It’s a good base that would be good with other add-ins too.

Everyone in my house loved the cookies. They’re not too sweet. More like granola bars than cookies. My only complaint is that the recipe doesn’t make enough. You’ll definitely want to double it!

Reggie and Charlotte

I am so entertained by Reggie and Charlotte’s relationship. Reggie has always been pretty aloof towards Sadie. When Sadie tries to cuddle up with her she’ll allow it for a couple minutes, then get up. But not with Charlotte. Those two are cuddle buddies.

Charlotte is also a dog that doesn’t care much for other dogs. She’s always been a dog who loves her people. But from day 1 she has found a kinship with Reggie. I’m always finding them together on the couch, positioned so they both stay warm. It’s pretty adorable.

Heading west

So back up about 4 weeks. 

My mom and I enjoyed an unseasonably cool week in Kansas (THANK GOD) while selling her stuff, packing and cleaning her house. But by the time we left Lawrence it was sweltering. We were not sad to leave 100+ degrees and 80 percent humidity, not at all.


Thankfully we had a full-on midwestern buffet at mom’s sendoff.

But after all that chaos the drive really was peaceful and beautiful.

I was heartened to see that wind energy has really taken off in unexpected (albeit incredibly windy places) like western Kansas and Wyoming. Wind farms made for spectacular sunsets.

Charlotte only wanted to be in one place: on the passenger’s lap. She’s a great traveling dog, just along for the ride.

We stopped in Denver to visit my sister, dad and stepmom. Wish I could have stayed longer, but not this time.


We kept remarking on how much taffy there was at truck stops. 

On day 2 we made it to Salt Lake City just as a storm threatened to make our drive a lot scarier. But instead of hitting us we just drove alongside the storm, which was really kind of cool.

The cheap hotel I picked was pretty awful, but had the benefit of making us leave extra early on day 3. We were so motivated to get home to Mike and Harper that we barreled through the salt flats (isn’t that what you’re supposed to do?) and arrived at home before Harper’s bedtime. 

It’s been a tough few weeks, but it was all worth it for moments like this. 

The best spray painting tool

My mom and I have been working on a lot of spray paint projects lately. It’s just the best way to transform something and bring a scattered room together.


Take this once ugly, now turquoise mirror, for example.

So one day at Home Depot I found myself in the spray paint section once again and I noticed this little tool that you attach to the top of a can to make it easier to spray. Genius! I think it was $3.

It really does help you spray smoothly without drips, and it keeps you from getting the dreaded “spray paint can finger.”

I will not be spray painting without this guy anymore!

What happened

The last time I blogged I sure wasn’t thinking it would be another month before I blogged again. Oops. 

At some point after writing that post I turned on my computer and got nothing but a blank screen. I took it to the Apple store where they told me what I expected to hear: Even though the computer looks like it could be brand new, it’s 7 years old and can’t really handle the operating system anymore. I’m gonna have to buy a new computer. That is the last thing I had time to deal with then, so my computer sat unused while I ordered an external hard drive to store all my data. At least I didn’t lose my files.

At the end of July I flew to Kansas to help my mom sell most of the stuff in her house and prep it for renters so she could move in with us. It was a tough trip, emotionally and physically. We had this Herculean task to complete in just a few days, and although we received a ton of support from family and friends, it seemed like the only people who believed we could do it were mom and I. And even we didn’t believe it at times. But we did it. A dead car battery just about did us in one day, but we rallied from that (feeling grateful that we discovered it while the car was in the driveway and not in the middle of Nevada). Then we packed the Rav and headed west. 

Three days later we arrived in California. Mike was still working on the workshop construction, so it took a few days to complete that, then get all of my stuff moved into the workshop. Then we had to buy new furniture for mom’s room, clean up all our construction trash, and start to get organized as a 4-person household. 

Needless to say, I haven’t had a lot of free time lately. And even if I had time, I had no computer! So that’s what’s been going on. I also found out that the Goodsmiths blog is suspending paid posts, so I guess that gig is over. On the plus side, it means I can share more recipes and projects here, and I intend to! Now that mom’s here I can have a regular work schedule again. I’m still playing catch-up, but I look forward to having some uninterrupted time for blogging here pretty soon. 

Thanks to those still hanging in there. You’re the best!