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My indoor garden for under $100 with IKEA stuff

For those of us without garden space, having a functional growing space has no easy fix. Even a bright window cannot provide enough light for growing veggies and most plants. I’ve been looking at indoor growing solutions. Most of them are hydroponic/aeroponic and are prohibitively expensive. I didn’t want a crazy setup that took up an entire room, nor did I want to spend hundreds of dollars only to have to abandon the project for some reason. So here’s my kit:

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Kitchen coffee center: just put it in a drawer!

One of the main goals for my new kitchen was to find a solution for my coffee stuff. In our previous space, it was sort of confined to a corner of the counter, but still took up counter space and still was an eyesore. Since I use a stove top coffee maker and/or a French press, I hand wash the parts and need a place to dry them. Again, that takes up counter space.

So what do we have in total? A coffee grinder, a hot water kettle, a couple of coffee pots that are used regularly, canisters of beans, a milk frother, coffee stirrers, sugar… these really add up!

The solution is using one of my drawers in our new IKEA kitchen as a hidden coffee station. It turns some of the IKEA parts that go with the Bygel rail system seem to fit nicely on the rails for the drawer. As you can see, I’ve got some of the smaller items in the Bygel cups and have used one of the baskets for drying my coffee pot. I’ve put an old cloth underneath so the drawer doesn’t get wet, and have also taken a small cloth bag and put some uncooked rice in it to absorb any leftover humidity (you can’t see it in the photo but it’s there. It’s about the size of a golf ball). So far, so good.

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Vote for our kitchen on The Kitchn’s Small Cook Kitchens Contest!

The LA Lady's IKEA Adel DIY Kitchen


Happy Friday! Looks like our kitchen made it onto the list so click here or click the yellow graphic below and vote for our kitchen!



Also wanted to note: I think I’ll only occasionally be doing Friday Linkathon since not a lot of folks read it, so I’ll just post one if there’s something timely to announce.


Green alternative to oven cleaner: The (lazy) Baking Soda method

Oven cleaning is usually the toughest cleaning job in a home. Conventional oven cleaners are also one of the most toxic cleaning substances in you home, too. And the self-clean feature? This mode can fry the electronics in your modern range and many appliance sales associates don’t recommend it.

I propose this: the easiest, greenest and laziest method of cleaning an oven.

First, plan on not using your oven for 24 hours.

Get out a large bowl. Start with adding one cup of baking soda. Grab a cup of warm water and start drizzling it into the baking soda until it forms a soft paste… somewhere between toothpaste and clay and wet sand. If you’ll be cleaning the sides or top of your oven, you might have to experiment with the consistency and make sure it’s not too crumbly.

The inside of your oven will be white and chalky. No worries. Now here’s the lazy part: wait 24 hours. You can wait 12 if you’re impatient or have a baking emergency. Even if you forget about it and a week later realize you did this to your oven, no worries.

When you’re ready to clean it up, get out the large bowl again and mix 1 part warm-to-hot water and 1 part vinegar. Start by picking up the large clumps with your hands or a brush and a dustpan. While this substance isn’t toxic, it might dry out your hands a bit so wear gloves if you’re concerned. Now that you’ve removed the major stuff, do a check and see if there are any stains still present. If so, dip a rag into the water and vinegar mixture, wring it out well and using the baking soda residue, scrub that stain away. Don’t worry: you won’t harm the surface.* Scrub in a circular motion. If this still isn’t coming off, add a little more baking soda to the spot and let it sit while you clean the rest of the oven. To clean up the leftover baking soda, saturate your rag a little more heavily and keep wiping until there are no more traces of white powder. If it seems like there’s still a fine grit of residue on the surface, put some vinegar in a spray bottle, spray the whole surface and wipe down with a dry cloth. The vinegar will dissolve the baking soda¬†√† la elementary school volcano for the science fair.

The result is a clean oven without using oven cleaner and without a ton of work (in this blogger’s opinion, of course).

As a side note, I’ve tried cleaning ovens with vinegar solutions, including vinegar infused with orange peel which is usually a great grease-cutter. I think it works well on surfaces like counters but baked-on grease needed something grittier. If it was a delicate surface, I’d try Bon Ami. It’s my favorite when I need to scrub something like stainless steel or enamel cookware.

*if you have a fancy oven that’s made with a material other than the blue or black painted metal that most ovens have, be sure to test a spot first. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a stainless steel or ceramic oven interior but I’m sure it exists. Baking soda, while gentle enough for fabrics, just might scratch a delicate surface.

IKEA Adel kitchen: before and after sneak peek!

The LA Lady's IKEA Adel DIY Kitchen

So it’s been a couple of weeks of traveling and house guests and I’ve been remiss in posting. And there was Dwell on Design where I met the most awesome purveyor of skincare products (more on that soon) and I had a great time.

Basically, I was putting the finishing touches on the kitchen and then I had to leave town! After weeks of IKEA cabinet assembly and tile installation, we have a finished product. So now I’ve been able to work in the kitchen and so far it’s been amazing. SUCH a huge improvement over the old 80’s kitchen. And now I won’t hit my head on the cabinets either!

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Making the garden a must-have in the kitchen: 5 steps to plan, grow and harvest your indoor garden

Becoming aware of where our food comes from is a big issue these days, and more and more people are turning to home gardening to ensure the quality of their food. If you have a sprawling yard with plenty of space and the desire to grow, you are capable of raising almost everything you want to eat. To do this is a tremendous effort, so I’m taking a more moderate approach. As an Angeleno, I have zero outdoor space to garden… not even a patio! What I have is a small window in an office where my Tillandsia and succulents take their place. I’m sure there are plenty of New Yorkers and other urban dwellers who are in a similar situation.

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The LA Lady @ Dwell on Design

I attended Dwell on Design last year and I’ll be there this year, taking pics and covering the McNuggets. Mostly, I’ll be focusing on small space solutions and exhibits relevant towards that style of living, but I might throw in some of the electric car stuff that is SO COOL that I usually just can’t stand it. It was a great show last year that gave me a ton of ideas for our kitchen renovation.

If you see a tall woman taking pictures it’s probably me. I’ll have my trusty name tag on as well. Hope to see you there!

Cleaning my bamboo floors: homemade cleaner vs store brands

bamboo floor cleaner diy natural organic homemade

So we’re pretty much done with construction and that means our whole place is FILLED with dust. And it’s a mixture of dusts: drywall, wood, particle board… you name it. Most of the time I sweep up our beautiful floors with a dry cloth but this time it wasn’t going to cut it.

Anyone will tell you mopping a hardwood floor or bamboo floor (or anything other than tile or linoleum) is not only overkill but can harm the surface. All you really need is a damp cloth. Most of the time, a damp cloth sprayed with distilled water will work just fine. But, the extra dirty messes call for something a bit stronger.

So my solution ended up being Method’s Squirt and Mop, but diluted in distilled water (and sprayed instead of just squirting cleaning solution on the floor). I read several reviews that said it left streaky marks, but I’m wondering how many people used tap water, since it can leave mineral deposits behind. If you think this sounds crazy, fill a water glass, dump it out and set it on your counter until it drip dries. If you see spots on your glass, that will then be on your floors or whatever you’re cleaning with water.

Vinegar was going to be way too pungent for my floors, no matter what kind of fragrance or essential oils I added. It’s fine when I’m cleaning a little bit of counter top or when I have a particularly nasty mess, but the surface area of my floor meant that the whole place would be stinky for a while. The Method cleaner comes in a couple of different scents and I’m liking the Lemon Ginger scent. Diluting it in water makes this last longer so I can justify the purchase a little more. I’m sure there’s a way to assemble something more homemade but considering how much I use, this seems like a good solution.

My other choice would have been the Bona cleaner, but it’s quite expensive even if I diluted it down.

Like my mop?! A microfiber cloth slung over a Swiffer?! Classy!

Like my mop?! A microfiber cloth slung over a Swiffer?! Classy!

Kitchen Renovation: DIY Installation: IKEA Adel Cabinets

ikea akurum adel cabinet bases installation diy

After running into a rogue vent, having some odd city inspections and a handful of other road blocks, we finally have our drywall and tile in and are installing cabinet frames. This is when the kitchen starts to look like a kitchen and not a tool shed. When we were bidding the project with our contractor, he said multiple times, “if you run into trouble with the cabinet installation, give me a call.” This was the major line item we decided to DIY and his faith in our ability to do a decent job was slim. I don’t blame him: these cabinets are not a simple DIY. They require some serious planning. 80% of our effort was spent on planning. Experience in assembling IKEA furniture really won’t help you on this project. What will help you is research… and a good tape measure… and a great drill, some extra screws… a laser level, etc. etc. etc.

Mr. Los Angeles has one of the best brains I’ve ever seen and the only contribution I provided was an extra set of hands and some basic suggestions. Even after paying someone from IKEA to come and measure our kitchen, he double-checked that every cabinet would fit and every door would have the right clearance to open. He also took into account that there’s not single wall that’s straight in this joint and we’d have to buy enough shims to build a tree house for The Brady Bunch. And in the true spirit of a remodeling project, there would be problems that need solving.

This process might seem obvious to any/all of you who’ve done this before, but I thought I’d include them anyways since we wouldn’t have known to do some of these things without researching it first. The way I see it, you can go about installing your IKEA kitchen in two ways:

  1. Get the cabinets and follow the directions while installing them. Done and done.
  2. Research the ins and outs of IKEA cabinets. Search YouTube for installation suggestions. Get the proper tools. Measure measure measure. Add all of the end panels, toe kicks, plinth pieces and details that finish off the kitchen.

We went with option two and, at times, it was difficult. I’d say about 60% of our knowledge base wasn’t contained within the IKEA directions but found in online forums and videos. Our contractor offered us a few tips we didn’t find elsewhere and that saved us big time. And it’s not that the IKEA directions are really lacking. In fact, it’s amazing how they’ve organized the whole process.

Before I launch into this, I’d like to recommend a few tools, some of which are specified in the directions and some that aren’t. It’s worth suggesting at this point that if buying all these tools and spending all this time installing the cabinets will outweigh the cost of having someone install them for you, then you might want to rethink a DIY installation:

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Custom DIY spice rack in your IKEA kitchen

Ikea custom diy spicerack

I’ve been immensely impressed with the IKEA process. The few problems I’ve run into have been relatively minor in the grand scheme. They’ve thought of everything…

…almost everything.

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