Working Hard or Hardly Working?

August 19, 2014

No no, working hard. Definitely.

Big projects take me a long time. Which is why I wanted to give you a little sneak peek of the living room progress. To keep you interested—assuming my apartment is interesting to anyone but me. And to assure myself that you’re assured that I’m actually doing stuff.

Living Room Sneak Peek || Jade and Fern

You didn’t think I was gonna stop at just painting the room white, did you?

I’m beyond excited that my living room is so close to being an actual reflection of our tastes. Yay!

There’s going to be several DIY tutes for you guys coming out of this makeover so hold on to your butts. Plus, a certain item I’ve been coveting for a long time (hint: my new sponsor Kaya Kilim is involved).

Things should be ready to go live next week. Unless I just majorly jinxed myself. Please have mercy, oh DIY gods.

What’s keeping you all busy this week?

The Story of How Three Couches led to the Ultimate Vegan Avocado Potato Salad

August 12, 2014

You know your project hoarding has hit critical mass when you find yourself with three couches.

The year was 2009. A. and I had been living together for about 6 months and I was sick of looking at the hideous hand-me-down frat boy couch he contributed to our then-apartment.

The Couch that Started it All || Jade and Fern

Ok, it doesn’t look that bad in this photo, but trust me, it was everything the modern domestic loathes: overstuffed, threadbare, leaking down-feathers everywhere. Blech.

I was determined to acquire a new couch. Something pretty, comfy, and cheap. After religiously trolling our friend Craigslist, I found The One. It looked something like this:

The Green Couch of Destiny || Jade and Fern

image via Attainable Vintage

Except, it was in much worse condition. My tastes and enthusiasm for Big Projects were a lot different at the age of 24. The couch was free, the exuberance high, so into the apartment it was lugged.

“I thought you wanted a nicer couch,” A. complained.

“I’m going to reupholster it! And I’ll fix the broken legs too. Easy peasy!”

And that’s how we ended up with Two Couches.

Fast forward a few weeks later. Maybe months? I don’t know. This time period is a blur, but one thing is certain: reupholstery was not happening. I began to think more realistically, and decided we needed a new new couch. Back to Craigslist, where I quickly found The One:

The Red Settee of Opulence || Jade and Fern

image via Classic Direct

Thinking realistically was not something I really excelled at in my “first apartment” days. After $200 and a harrowing drive with a poorly bungee-corded trunk, the settee was ours.

And that’s how we I ended up with Three Couches.

It was at this point my good friend Laura from Germany came to visit us. The first thing she said when she walked in the front door? “Oh! … You have three couches.”

And that’s when I knew I had a problem.

Here’s the thing, though; when you have three couches distributed between your living and dining rooms, you can throw big parties. Plus, Laura is a wonderful chef, so really, it was kismet.

And that’s how I ended up with the recipe for The Ultimate Vegan Avocado Potato Salad.

The Ultimate Vegan Avocado Potato Salad || Jade and Fern

This is the salad that distracted our confused party guests from the plethora of couches. It’s nutty and creamy, with a bit of tang from the lemon and arugula. Perfect for those late-summer BBQs we are all too busy to attend.

The Ultimate Vegan Avocado Potato Salad || Jade and Fern

Underwhelmed by this pile of green goo? You got me, I was not able to photograph the salad in a very appetizing way. Food photography is hard. But trust me when I say, it is delicious. I’ve been making it at least once a year since 2009, and the bowl has been scraped clean every time.

After all this reading, it’s about time for the recipe!

Vegan Avocado Potato Salad:

Serves 6 as a side; great for potluck parties!

Time: 20 minutes active, + 2 hours inactive potato-cooling time

What You Need:

  • 2 lbs. yukon gold potatoes
  • 1/2 C. raw pine nuts (sub chopped raw almonds if you’re saving $)
  • 1/2 C. loosely packed arugula
  • 2 Tbs. parsley
  • 2 Tbs. olive oil
  • 2 ripe avocados
  • 3 Tbs. lemon juice (from about 1.5 lemons)
  • 1 1/2 tsp. ground coriander
  • sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Step One - Peel and chop the potatoes into roughly 1-inch chunks. Boil until just tender when pierced with a fork (15-20 minutes). Drain and rinse with cold water—the Germans call this “scaring the potatoes”—then set aside to cool completely.

Step Two - While the potatoes are cooking, toast the pine nuts until fragrant and lightly browned. The easiest way to do this is in a toaster oven set to 350ºF for 5 minutes (check them OFTEN so they don’t burn!). You can also toast the nuts in a dry skillet over medium-low heat, stirring frequently. Once toasted, set aside to cool.

Step Three - When the potatoes and pine nuts have cooled, stir them together in a large bowl. Coarsely chop the arugula and parsley and toss them in. Pour in the olive oil and stir it all together, trying not to crush the potatoes.

Step Four - In a separate small bowl, dice the avocados and stir in the lemon juice. You want to avoid mashing the avocado, just stir the pieces around so they get coated in lemon juice. Add the mixture to the larger bowl.

Step Five - Season with the coriander, salt, and pepper, and stir the salad well. Enjoy!

*Note: As you might imagine, leftovers don’t keep super well because of those delicious avocados. Store them in an airtight container for no more than a day. But don’t worry, you won’t have leftovers, it’s that good!

*Another Note: You can prepare the potatoes a day ahead and keep in the fridge, then just assemble the salad shortly before serving. Easy, right?

*Ok, just one more Note: This potato salad is sooo easy to double or adjust in any way you please. Want a higher avocado-to-potato ratio? Do it. Need more green in your diet? Keep that arugula comin’, baby.

The Ultimate Vegan Avocado Potato Salad || Jade and Fern

As for the couches and the project hoarding?

Couch Three was sold to a Maine photographer for a profit. It now lives out its days as a prop in a thriving portrait studio.

Couch Two, sadly, could not be resuscitated from its piteous disrepair. After being deposited to the side of the road, it went to Couch Heaven and now gets to lounge in The Big Living Room in the Sky.

Couch One eventually returned to its former owner and our good friend, Sean. It just recently found a new temporary Forever Home with a bunch of Broke Students, as all overstuffed threadbare couches dream.

We now own a beautiful, modern, Real Grownup Couch, chosen by A. (of all people). We no longer have the room in our apartment for couch hoarding, but we do have a garage, which looks like this:

The Garage of an Incurable Project Hoarder || Jade and Fern

I clearly haven’t learned anything in the past 5 years.

Are you an incurable project hoarder too? What’s your favorite summer salad?

Thank you, Laura, for letting me share your fabulous avocado potato salad! Miss you!

Make it Friday: Procrastination Nation

August 8, 2014

I’m procrastinating.

Not that this is really rare or anything, but today I’m procrastinating finishing up my living room projects so I can finally reveal the new look here on the bloggy.

Maybe, maybe, I got overly ambitious and am trying to do too many things.

Or maybe, maybe, I will get it all done.

You’re gonna get something regardless, it’s just the degree of awesome which will vary.

Until then, I’m admiring these projects by lovely makers who already got their shit done:

Make it Friday: Projects to admire while you procrastinate your own, via Jade and Fern

This paper petals wall hanging by Oh Happy Day is just spectacular.

The cutest (and easiest!) way to spruce up party lanterns: cover them with hearts, of course. By A Bubbly Life for PB Teen.

Obviously I gotta love anything that’s a hexagon or a coaster. These marbled clay coasters by Something Peach are just dreamy. (Time-out for shameless self-promotion: see my own hexagon coasters here!)

This pom-pom pillow from Living with Punks has been making the rounds on Pinterest this week and I am smitten. Look at those giant poms!

Touted as a Valentine, I think a floral ampersand collage would make a great gift for myself any time of year. By Design Sponge contributor Ashley Campbell.

Not exaggerating at all—The Crafted Life’s wooden “hello” sign is my favorite DIY project. Ever. Seriously, Rachel, you killed it times a thousand.

What inspirational projects have you seen this week? Any good weekend plans for making or just living?

P.S. Thank you so much to everyone for all the thoughtful, supportive comments on yesterday’s chronic pain post! It wasn’t easy to write, but I knew ahead of time that you guys would be awesome about it, because you guys ARE awesome.

On Pain, Limitations, and the Struggle to Accept

August 7, 2014

On Pain, Limitations, and the Struggle to Accept || Jade and Fern It’s been 7 days since my last migraine, and I’m starting to make plans again.

I can go back to work! I can do 10x more projects and blog posts! I’m unstoppable!

I’ve been here before. In fact, this pattern plays out every time I get a break from migraines for more than a few days. What can I say, I’m an optimistic person.

The problem is, I have chronic migraines and fibromyalgia. I live well in spite of this, but they aren’t going away anytime soon, if ever. And accepting that fact is even harder than dealing with the pain.


I want to share this story with you, this side of my life. Because it feels like I’ve been deceiving you a little bit. I mean, I LOVE making things and blogging about them and joking around and being ridiculous. I have a lot of fun in my life and try to live every “well day” to the fullest.

But pain is an enormous part of my existence that affects me daily. To keep that off of this blog is to deny my story. Blogland can sometimes be all sunshine and rainbows, and that’s awesome, we don’t want to be confronted with hard truths every day. But we all have adversity and struggles in our lives, and I’m sure many of you have pain or know someone who does. Today, I’m honoring that.


Life with chronic pain is a constant whirlwind of emotions. There are days when I sob and shake my fists at the universe, and days when I am so filled with hope and elation that it feels my heart will burst.

My therapist tells me to have understanding and compassion for my body, but truthfully, I can’t help but think of it as a saboteur, sneaking up on my enthusiasm and ambition and knocking me into bed, sometimes for days at a time. (As a result of 12-15 migraines a month, I have seen almost everything on Netflix, including ALL available episodes of Law & Order and its many spinoffs).

When you have a chronic pain condition, your nerves become inflamed and overactive, so you end up being more sensitive to more stimuli and have more pain (that was a terrible explanation of a medical truth, but hopefully you get the point).

In the last few years, the most unpredictable things have started to affect me. Sunlight glinting off the ocean at the beach—migraine. Moved too briskly on one of my daily walks—fibromyalgia flare-up. Laughed so much my jaw started hurting—migraine.

It’s like the friggin’ chaos theory, a butterfly flaps its wings in Brazil and I end up bedridden! On Pain, Limitations, and the Struggle to Accept || Jade and Fern

My (bunny) heat pack and eye mask—little comforts to get through.

The worst is how unreliable all this makes me. Deadlines are almost impossible for me to stick to—I’ve even had to stop working because I just couldn’t keep a job anymore with my abysmal attendance. My good friends know what’s up by now, and I try to schedule “backup days” for events that I plan or host in case I end up sick. I know it can’t be helped. But I hate that I’m not somebody my friends can count on, not really.

Now you know why it took me sooooooo looooooong to finish painting!

I’m not writing this to complain, or for pity. I know many, if not most, of us don’t get to live the lives we dream of. But that SUCKS, you know?

I am vivacious and passionate and adventurous and have dreams the size of blue whales, but my health forces me to live a small life.

Ok, so maybe this is partially about complaining. Sometimes you just have to get all that garbage out.

Time for the good news! It sounds like an awful lot when you put it all together and dedicate a whole blog post to it. But I DO live well on the whole, really. I’m happy. I’m still vivacious and passionate and adventurous and have dreams the size of blue whales. I want to do more and bigger and better, but I’m proud of what I’ve managed to do. I am not defeated.

Yes, of course, I’d love to improve, and whenever it’s 11:11 I squeeze my eyes shut and wish to be well. But I’m incredibly lucky too. I am able to do what makes me happy. This creative outlet has been life-changing, it’s helped me feel like I have a life again. (You can read more about how I rediscovered my creativity after a long dormancy on my Pinterest post).

12-15 migraines per month is a lot for the average person, but it’s actually a huge improvement from where I was three years ago, and I relish in having so much of my life back. They are less severe now, too—Botox is a miracle drug, people.

I find ways to outsmart some of the limitations I face, most recently acquiring a cheap lap tray so that I can work on small projects in bed on days when I only have a “minigraine.”

Sometimes, I’m even able to feel understanding and compassion for my body and its tricksy ways.

Life isn’t perfect, but it’s good, you know?

And anyways, what would Champ do without me being in bed so frequently? :) Living with chronic pain - Champ the Cat cuddles during a migraine || Jade and Fern

Migraine days are Champ’s favorite days.

Wow, if you made it this far, you are a real trooper. Thank you for allowing me to share this with you. I know it was a long post and not the easiest, but it was time.

Now I’d love to hear from you! I certainly hope all of you have easy perfect lives, but assuming that is not the case, what struggles do you need/want to share? What comforts you when times are hard? How have you worked through adversity? Let’s inspire and encourage each other, and honor each other’s challenges!