Especially when it comes to home design, I find so much inspiration in holding beautiful printed books in my hands. That’s why I am so glad there are people like Kali Ramey Martin putting lovely resources out into the world. Her book, Potager, and her seasonal magazine, Notebook Quarterly, curate recipes and gardening tips and home inspiration in such a masterful way. Our conversation spanned a variety of topics related to welcoming spring into our homes through what we are cooking to how we decorate our homes. We talked not only about seasonal decor but also about more permanent home design choices like paint, wallpaper, furniture, and more. I hope this conversation leaves you inspired to embrace in your own home all the beauty that springtime has to offer.
In this episode, we cover:
- The secret to baking with einkorn flour
- New ingredients we are using this spring
- Favorite springtime recipes we are making
- Getting started with a spring garden
- How Kali is restoring her 1920s cottage on a modest budget
- Honoring the style of a home in your decor choices
- Choosing paint colors and wallpaper
- The secret to decorating with natural elements all year round
Kali Ramey Martin is a farmer’s wife, mom of two sweet boys and amateur at just about everything. She is the author of Potager: From the Garden to the Kitchen and publishes a magazine called Notebook Quarterly. She happily dabbles in gardening, floristry, homesteading, photography, interior design and cookery, and is passionate about making the world a softer, simpler, more beautiful place.
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Flowers that are good for drying: sun ball, gomphrena, lavender, eucalyptus, straw flowers, Persian crest, ornamental grasses, hydrangeas
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Lisa Bass Welcome back to the Simple Farmhouse Life podcast. Today I’m having on Kali Ramey Martin. She is the author of the Notebook Quarterly. She creates some seriously beautiful work on gardening, on recipes, and also home and interior design. She’s currently making over a cottage and doing a beautiful job with it. Actually, we did this interview and then afterwards we just kept chatting about design. I’m like, “I should not have turned the camera off.” Because we both are so interested in just making our farmhouses beautiful, and buying antiques, and color and pattern, and all of that kind of thing that I’m starting to get really interested in and really wanted to pick her brain on. But join us for this conversation as we talk about a lot of that.
Lisa Bass Well, thanks for joining me, Kali. I really appreciate it.
Kali Ramey Martin Thanks for having me.
Lisa Bass So tell my listeners a little bit about your quarterly and your book. I also have your book sitting here. Very beautiful.
Kali Ramey Martin Thank you. So the book, I wrote in 2020. I actually just— my mom was turning 60, and she was really depressed about her birthday. And I was like, “What could I do to blow her mind?” so that she wasn’t bummed out about turning 60? I was like, “You know what? I’ve always wanted to put all my recipes in a book and have something tangible for our family— just family recipes from both sides. And she’s always asking me, “What’s your recipe for this?” So I was like, “I’ll just make her book and then she won’t be sad on her birthday.” And then I spent about a year and a half working on it. By the time I got done, I was like, first of all, really surprised that I finished it. I just didn’t know where it was going to go. And over the course of that time, it was 2020 and everything was crazy. And it kind of like allowed me to work through that fear of legitimacy, I guess. Like, “Oh, I’ll never be good enough. I don’t want to go through the process of trying to get an agent and trying to do this. Like, I just don’t know if I could take the rejection.” And I just finished the book and was like, “Man, I just wrote a book. This is awesome.” And feeling like so much joy over just the accomplishment. And I was like, “Why not give it a shot?” This seems like it’s okay enough to— you know, maybe other people would enjoy it. And then my husband looked at it. I hadn’t showed him the whole time. Because I was like, “I don’t even know what I’m going to do with this. It’s just for my mom.” And he’s like, “This is good. What are we going to do with this?” I was like, “Oh, I don’t know.” So that was kind of how the book started. Which that’s not the most glamorous, flattering story, I guess, because I didn’t really set out to do it. But it kind of just like propelled me into the rest of this. And so after making the book, I kind of got addicted to having something tangible and not just creating content that people look at once and then it dives into the abyss of the internet. I had been at that point, I’d gotten really exhausted just by the neverending appetite of a blog or Instagram, where you’re constantly making new content for free and people look at it once and then it’s gone, you know? And to have something tangible— it was so fun just to hold it in my hands, to see other people holding it in their hands. And so when I started to think like, “What’s next? What do I want to do next?” I’m like, “I’ve got to print something. It has to be in print because I’ve fallen out of love with the internet.” Not entirely. I still enjoy it. But there’s nothing like having something in your hands. I mean, you know. You’ve written a book.
Lisa Bass Yeah, there’s definitely a different experience. Like just mentally, whenever you’re taking in a book, it’s not this where your brain’s jumping around to a million different things. And oh, “there’s an email,” “oh, there’s a text.” Taking it in that format is definitely a whole different experience. It’s actually relaxing. I feel like looking through a book at night is relaxing—or a magazine—versus whenever I’m scrolling something. I don’t have that same feeling at all.
Kali Ramey Martin For sure. I think it just allows you to be more present than the internet does. Like you’re saying, your mind’s not going, “Oh, I should look for that on Craigslist,” or “I should put that in my Amazon cart,” or “I should—” whatever. You’re actually present in that moment. So I guess that’s kind of how the magazine was born is— all the things that I love and inspire me, I’m going to put in one place. And then, as it’s evolved, it’s kind of allowed me to feature other people who like the same things. And over the last couple of years, to be able to just put something out that’s like sheerly beautiful, sheerly simple and tangible and good news oriented— it’s been really fun and uplifting for me.
Lisa Bass Yeah, it’s really beautiful. So in your cookbook, you go through the seasons and share recipes all throughout the seasons with sort of a homestead gardening type of focus. And I thought it’d be really fun to talk about all things spring— so spring cooking, spring design. You throw a little bit of design in your quarterlies, which I really love. I’m very inspired, especially by a lot of the color. And so let’s talk a little bit about spring cooking. One thing I had a note to talk about was einkorn flour—which is not specifically spring related, but whenever I was reading through your book, you have an intro section on ingredients. And I get asked questions about this all the time, so I thought it’d be a good time just to talk about it. But baking with einkorn, conversions— people are very— this is like an up-and-coming topic, I feel like. Everybody wants to know how the conversions work and how you do your recipes with with that.
Kali Ramey Martin I am not a natural baker. I have recipe ADD so bad. So it’s been a discipline to learn how to bake well. I’m not able to be refined, and that’s what I find— I love your recipes and your stuff so much because you’re never like, “This is how you do it perfectly and I’m a chef.” You’re like, “This is how you make it beautiful and delicious and practical.” So I guess that’s always my goal. I’m often taking somebody else’s recipe and working from it because, you know, I’m not a recipe developer by any means. But einkorn is so beautiful and I’m obsessed with it. I refuse to use anything else. And I think if people want to try it, they should jump on in.
Lisa Bass Yeah, and I agree. I was reading in your book, you put that “the einkorn flour absorbs liquid and fat more slowly.” So I always—on all recipes, whenever I convert them over to Einkorn—I’m always reducing the liquid or increasing the flour content. And it made me wonder if maybe it just needs more time. Like you need to mix together whatever dough or batter you’re making, let it sit for a minute, and then maybe you don’t actually need less liquid or more flour. Yeah, just the thought. I had never thought about it, that I actually just absorbed it more slowly. I don’t know if you had the same experience or if you do kind of like an autolyse process whenever you’re making something with einkorn.
Kali Ramey Martin So my grandma— we have a sourdough starter from my my grandfather, who was a park ranger in Denali National Park in the 40s. And so I have his starter, and we’ve we’ve done that my life, which is so fun. And on her recipes, she says once you mix all the batter together that you let it sit for five minutes. And I was like, “Why?” Finally. “Why do you do that, Grandma?” And she just said, like, “Well, you have to give time for the flour to absorb the liquids and the fats.” And I was like, “Interesting.” So then when I started using einkorn, I realized like because it’s already so buttery on its own, it probably needs the same sort of process. And I have adjusted liquid amounts, too, in the past or added flour. But over time, I’ve just found if I let it sit for five minutes, it does seem to absorb things if it has a little more time.
Lisa Bass Yeah, that’s a good tip. I had never thought about it that way. So what other spring ingredients? I’m sure Einkorn is a staple in your kitchen, as it is in mine all year round. But what spring ingredients are you excited about?
Kali Ramey Martin Well, I just got my first asparagus patch ever going. This is the first house where I’ve known like, we’re going to be here for the next three years, so I can plant this with confidence. So I’m really excited about asparagus. We won’t have any this year, obviously. But asparagus, peas. I’ve got to plant peas this weekend, which sounds crazy, but it’s Oregon, so we can do that. What else? Mint. Peas and mint is like my favorite combination. And then rhubarb. I’m absolutely mad about rhubarb.
Lisa Bass I have never planted rhubarb, and I don’t have a good source of it. And I love it whenever I get it, but I don’t get to get my hands on it very much. So what are you making with rhubarb?
Kali Ramey Martin Well, there’s a recipe in my book for rainy day rhubarb muffins. I kind of tell the story of how I had a really hard day, and I went to my mother-in-law’s kitchen, and I was just like lamenting. It was when I was in my early 20s, and I didn’t know what the heck I was doing with my life. The whole time I’m talking, she’s mixing these muffins, and she bakes them, and she pulls them out of the oven and sets one in front of me. Like, she doesn’t even say anything the whole time. Just sets this muffin in front of me, and I start eating it and I’m like, “Oh, okay. Life’s going to be okay.” So there’s just something about rhubarb that’s like comforting and hopeful and a bright flavor in a dead season. I just love it.
Lisa Bass Yeah, I need to get my hands on some. Yeah, I really need to get my hands on some rhubarb.
Kali Ramey Martin Does it grow well where you guys are at?
Lisa Bass I believe so. I mean, I think. I know my friend has a rhubarb patch, but she’s the only one I know. I don’t know anybody else who has it, honestly. I don’t really know why. But yeah, it’s not super easy to come by. So what other things do you put it in?
Kali Ramey Martin I love like a rhubarb crumble. I make a rhubarb compote, which is super easy. It’s basically like lemon juice and a little bit of sugar. And we put that on our sourdough pancakes and waffles. And then there’s this recipe that I’ve always loved. It’s a recipe for Eton mess, which is a British dessert with meringue and whipped cream and a fruit compote. And it’s very fancy and fussy, and it takes me like all day to make it. But it’s so just fun and extravagant, and it’s one of those things that you’re going to spend the day in the kitchen for fun to make this specifically. But I love it.
Lisa Bass We do fun days in the kitchen, too. There are a lot of recipes that are just specifically for those kind of days. Like they’re not practical on a weeknight or if you’re busy at all. But if you have some time in the kitchen, yeah. I really like recipes like that because they’re really rewarding afterwards. They’re always usually really beautiful and something you don’t get to taste very often. So what are some of your other favorite spring recipes? I was looking through your book, and a few that stuck out to me were the farmer’s market broccoli salad and the pesto risotto. I’m really looking forward to trying both of those.
Kali Ramey Martin The farmer’s market broccoli salad, I basically just took my mother-in-law’s broccoli salad recipe—which is so good—and added in kohlrabi. Kohlrabi is one of those things like if you do a CSA or you go to the farmer’s market, you’re like, “What the heck am I supposed to do it this vegetable?” So throwing it into something that I already loved was a good way to kind of incorporate that. And then risotto— spring risotto is just the best. Put asparagus in, put peas in, a fresh pesto with your new greens. The best.
Lisa Bass Yeah, you’re giving me lots and lots of ideas. I actually have a bunch of asparagus in the fridge right now. Okay, that would be really good in a risotto. We love making risotto. It’s a really good way to use up a lot of bone broth. So health wise, it’s really good. So what are you doing to prepare for all of this, all these beautiful ingredients? I see that you have some seeds maybe starting behind you there? Nice. This is the greenhouse.
Kali Ramey Martin My guest room slash office slash green house. Yeah, starting all the seeds. Getting really excited about that. We spent all of last summer building our garden structurally, which was so sad. It’s the first year in a long time that I’ve had without an actual garden, and I felt very bad for myself all summer. But it’s in. The beds are lined with rocks. We’ve got paths lined with wood chips. We’ve got a fence. And we topped dressed everything with about six inches of fresh compost, which will continue to rot a little bit until I’m ready to plant things out. And so it’s just out there calling to me every day. It’s right out here calling to me, and it’s pretty much ready to go. Pull a few weeds, and we’ll get started.
Lisa Bass Yeah. So last year was a lot of building infrastructure and the raised beds, or maybe not the raised beds. But yeah, the whole setup. We did that a few years back when we first moved into our property, and we did not have a great garden that year and it definitely was sad. Tell me a little bit about your new place.
Kali Ramey Martin So we found it a year ago. My husband was just like brushing his teeth in the morning, and he always looks at Redfin. And he was looking at it and said, “I found something, but I don’t want to show you.” And I was like, “Okay, whatever.” I mean, I’m sure you’re the same way. In order to consider a home, you kind of have to move in in your mind. You have to imagine what remodeling you could do. You have to decorate it in your head. You have to imagine your family there, especially in the kitchen. And so I just told him at some point, like— because we’d been looking for a long time—like, “I don’t want to know unless you’re ready to make an offer. Like, don’t tell me about it. Don’t take me there unless you want to buy this. I don’t want any knowledge of it.” So he says that, then he goes to work. And he calls me like an hour and a half later and says, “Hey, I made an appointment with our realtor at 11.” And I’m like, “What?” My husband is not a fast mover, per se. And so I was like, “What?” And so we came over here at 11 and we parked. We like drove in this huge tree-lined drive, this big gravel driveway. It’s kind of out in the middle of nowhere. I’d never been in this area before, even though it’s only nine miles from where we used to live. And we get out and walk through this ancient fruit orchard. And I’m just like, “Okay, if we’re not buying this place, I don’t even want to see the rest of it.”
Lisa Bass Take me out right now.
Kali Ramey Martin Cause like, I’m in.
Lisa Bass Yeah, we have to leave right now.
Kali Ramey Martin I am all in. And because of the market, because the market went so crazy, our current place that we were living in— we had flipped it in about three years. Torn the whole thing out, did an extreme makeover. My dad is a contractor. And so because of the market, we had almost doubled the value of it. And so we were able to swap our one acre place for this 10 acres here like hand for hand. Which was like the biggest, clearest God thing ever, for us. We just felt like, “Okay, well, this is insane. So obviously it’s meant to happen.” I mean, it’s been a dream come true. Our boys have 10 acres to roam, we’re fencing for animals. And we’ve got some very ramshackle barns, but a cute little cottage that we’ve been working on. And there’s just so much potential, so much room for growth. And for me, it just feels so exciting to be settled after all this time now.
Our experience was very similar to yours. We were looking for a really long time. I’d say, probably five years. Maybe only seriously, seriously, in the last two or three before we found our place. But same situation: I fell in love with every single place we walked into. We put offers on two different places. They got rejected, and both times it was like we already moved in completely in my head. I had every room renovated in my head. Thankfully, though, the place we ended up finding was better than both of them, for sure. So it all worked out in the end. But yeah. So is your house an old house?
Kali Ramey Martin It’s a 1928 cottage, and it was originally like 800 square feet. In the 90s, they put an addition on the front and the back. So they added a mud room and a bedroom. And then on the front, there’s these two kind of strange little rooms and then an entry hall in between them. But they’re really nice because they’re completely covered in windows on all the sides. So both of them are super light and bright. And it’s a strange house, architecturally. When I first walked in, I was like, “Oh boy, what are we going to do with this?” But I quickly like, dove into researching and realized that it had a very Scandinavian, kind of like a Swedish country cottage feel, just the way it was laid out. I’d seen a picture of a Swedish cottage before and just kind of the small, divided rooms. And so I was like, “Okay, I’m going to dive into that.” I quickly got inspired like, “Okay, we could do this. I can see where this can go.” And it’s been really fun to kind of jump into like a different—similar to you guys—jump into a different style than maybe you ever anticipated.
Lisa Bass Yeah, yeah. Whenever we moved into our house, same thing. It was not the style I was expecting. I think when I first saw the house and when I first renovated it in my mind—when we walked through and made the offer and all of that—I was picturing just the same style I had at my last house, but just here. And as soon as we moved in and I started putting stuff in here, I’m like, “This is a different— this house is completely different.” It was built in a whole different era than our last house. It needs entirely different attention, and I’m really honestly still figuring it out. I feel like I haven’t done some of the rooms justice at this point, and I’m starting to sort of see that. So that’s something that’s just a learning process, because it’s a Victorian home. So it has a lot of that character to it. And it’s not my simple craftsman that the last house was at all.
Kali Ramey Martin It’s been fun to see you like dive into that, though. I think it’s so cool how you can marry two things, too. Like, it doesn’t have to be all one thing, right? You’re probably not going to be hanging magenta velvet drapes in your rooms, like a Victorian would. But you can bring those like country textures and feelings that you really are comfortable with and then kind of stretch yourself. It’s been fun to watch you do that, like with furniture and even like darker wood colors. You know, everywhere right now is like scrubbed furniture and bleached furniture, and I always think it’s so refreshing to see someone with like dark, rich antiques or, you know, stuff like that, where you’re not worried so much about what’s cool, but you’re worried about really being true to your house and kind of drawing up natural beauty of what you have to work with.
Lisa Bass Yeah, that’s exactly right. I do feel like, like you said, I’ve looked at old Victorian interiors and this house will never have that because it’s just not my style. But there is a certain direction that my country textures and all of that needs to go to fit in with this house. And I actually really enjoy it. Like I really—turns out—love this style. And yeah, it’s a lot of fun. I’m trying to incorporate a lot more color in my walls and everything. So I was looking through your fall quarterly at your cottage kitchen revealed. And I absolutely love it. I have no idea how I would do something similar with the color. I’ve been thinking it over a lot. I have beadboard that’s like off-white, and I have cabinets that are white, and I want to put color somewhere. But I’m not sure where. I love yours. Like I love how you have beadboard halfway up and then wallpaper. Yeah. Tell us more about your kitchen because it’s really, really beautiful.
Kali Ramey Martin Thank you. When we moved in, we could really only afford to do a couple of things at once. And so we chose the floors and the kitchen because that was the most important thing to us. And my dad was a builder for 40 years, and so he basically said, like, “Come up with what you want, and we’ll make it happen.” And I’m like, “Okay.” So we were severely limited by what we had to work with financially. We kind of put all our eggs in one basket just getting here in the first place. So I had to come up with something that looked amazing but didn’t cost an amazing amount of money. And so I quickly decided we’re not doing cabinets. We’re not doing any cabinetry because that’s a huge cost. And then we already have old appliances, but this is a really small space, so we’re just going to put the appliances in the mud room next door and we’re not going to worry about that. We brought our dishwasher over from our last house. My dad had given it to me. It was a leftover from one of his projects. And so like, we just didn’t have the big ticket items. And then he said, “Okay, well what are you thinking? If you don’t want cabinets, what do you want?” And I’m like, “Well, I just want these like workbenches.” So for a while— kind of like, I think when you did your kitchen, you kind of did the same thing. Like, “Oh I’m going to buy all these separate pieces and then piece them together.” And so for a while, I was thinking that way, but I just couldn’t find the right dimensions and everything. And so finally, he was like, “Send me a picture of what you’re thinking.” And so I gathered a couple of pictures up and sent them to him, and he’s like, “Yeah, I’ve already got the material. I’ll take care of it.” And I’m like, “Okay.” So when we got the keys, the same day we went in and just stripped a ton of stuff out. And when we got into the kitchen, we had found what I thought was shiplap. And like, shiplap isn’t totally my style. But to me, wood is better than drywall any day. And so I was like, “Okay, well, I’ll just paint that and that’ll be the walls, and that’ll be fine.” But when we got into it, we realized it wasn’t actually shiplap. It was this tongue-in-groove that was really rough, and it just didn’t look nice. So when my dad came down a couple of days later and we were trying to make decisions, I’m like, “What if we just cover it with wood paneling and then we can put wallpaper on the top?” I’ve always wanted to do wallpaper, and everyone’s told me that I’m crazy forever. And I was like, “You know what? It’s time. I’m not afraid anymore.” And so we kind of put the beadboard up, went with that plan. We put the workbenches in, and then I just sat with it for a while and was like, “What do I want this to feel like?” I got a roll of the wallpaper. I looked at the colors in that. I had seen a picture of a bathroom with the same wallpaper in that similar green that I have. And I was like, “This is going to feel a little crazy, but we’re just going to try it. We can always repaint it.” And man, it just really turned out so well. I love it. It’s my favorite room in the house, and I pretty much spend all my time in there if I can.
Lisa Bass Yeah, yeah, I love your kitchen. I like the color. I did a similar color in my pantry, and I haven’t regretted it one bit. I’m like, “Okay, I think I can actually take this more places.” I think I’m going to put that same green going up our stairwell as like a next place of color. But yeah, your kitchen— did you do a lot of antiques? And I think your stove is vintage also?
Kali Ramey Martin Yes. So my grandmother bought that stove in the 50s. And she cooked on it, all of my dad—.
Lisa Bass What?
Kali Ramey Martin Yeah, she cooked on it all of my dad’s childhood. And then one of her kids replaced it for her in like the 80s with an electric one. And she’s been mad about it since. Like, “I want my stove back. That was the best stove I ever had.” Two Christmases ago, we were in the process of buying the house. We go down to my dad’s shop because he wants to show me the material that he’s using to build the kitchen benches. We’re home for Christmas. We go down to the shop and he’s like, “Oh, hey, have I ever shown you this?” And he pulls the stove out from under the stairs and I’m like, “What is that?” And at this point, I was like trying to save up money for an AGA because I’ve always just— the AGA stoves are like the dream. But I couldn’t figure out how to get— I mean, they’re like 10,000 bucks, right? It’s just not going to happen. When we just bought this huge place that needs— every square inch of 10 acres need work. I’m not going to spend $10,000 on a stove. And so he pulls this out, and it’s like the exact color that I had wanted from an AGA. And I’m like, “Can we fix that up?” And he’s like, “Well, I don’t know.” I’m like, “But Lisa from Farmhouse on Boone fixed up her stove, so we can do it.”.
Lisa Bass Oh yeah, nice. And mine was a random Facebook marketplace and not a family heirloom. So, yours deserved it.
Kali Ramey Martin I was so glad that I had seen that because I was like, “We can do this.” And sure enough, we brought it from Spokane, and my husband actually installed it all himself. It really didn’t need anything. My grandma had taken immaculate care of it. It’s got a few quirks. Sometimes you have to start it up with a screwdriver. But it works beautifully, and it is kind of the crowning glory of the kitchen.
Lisa Bass Yeah, I agree. I love mine too. And I have decided that the technology hasn’t come a long way. Like it’s just gas. Is yours—I forget—is yours gas or electric?
Kali Ramey Martin We have propane here.
Lisa Bass Okay, yeah. So that’s what mine is, too. And it’s a very simple concept, really. It’s just a little gas, little fire. It’s not like it needed a whole new technology. Honestly, we don’t need computers in them. So whenever some people have thought, you know, we’re crazy for using a vintage stove, I’m like, “It’s just like my mom’s, honestly.” Like hers— it does the exact same thing. Like, you turn the knob and fire comes out. Like, it’s just the same thing. So it’s really not all that nuts.
Kali Ramey Martin Totally. I love knowing, too, like if the power goes out, I can still make dinner.
Lisa Bass Right? Yeah, yeah. I thought of that through a few ice storms we’ve had lately.
Lisa Bass This episode of the Simple Farmhouse Life podcast is brought to you by Mockmill. In my kitchen, I have been using my Mockmill grain mill for the last couple of months to mill my fresh einkorn berries and my wheat berries to make sourdough bread and all kinds of baked goods like pancakes, all the things that I use einkorn for. It is really beautiful, so it sits out on the counter and I can use it any time of the day. It’s not something I have to lug out of the cabinets, so I love it for that reason. Mockmill is offering a discount when you go through my link. So if you go to FarmhouseOnBoone.com/Mockmill and you click on the link, that will automatically apply a 5% off coupon to your cart, so make sure to go check that out. FarmhouseOnBoone.com/Mockmill.
Lisa Bass So, what’s behind you? Are those wallpaper samples or is that some kind of art?
Kali Ramey Martin Those are wallpaper samples. So, you’re going to be excited because, in the spring issue, there’s an article on picking paint colors and picking wallpaper which is just the most fun thing ever.
Lisa Bass Oh, okay, good.
Kali Ramey Martin But yeah, I don’t think I have a sample of it here. I’m working with a new printer on this magazine—a local printer—and so I don’t have a copy yet. But yeah, there’s an article about choosing paint colors and figuring out what you like. And I think you actually posted a video a couple of weeks ago talking about some of your favorite design books. And for me, that’s been the best way to pick patterns, pick colors. If you look at a book that’s 30 years old, and you still love the way it looks, it’s a good choice because you’re still liking it and it was built in the 90s or whatever. And so that’s how I’ve picked most of my patterns and colors. My husband got me a Perfect English Farmhouse. He got me that like 10 years ago when it came out, and there was this wallpaper in there. This one right here. The hummingbirds. I think it’s Cole and Sons Hummingbird Wallpaper, which is the one in my kitchen. And as soon as I saw it in that book, I was like, “I have to have that wallpaper someday.”.
Lisa Bass See? I still love it. Yeah.
Kali Ramey Martin And so for 10 years, I like, carried the torch for this wallpaper. So when it came time for the kitchen, it was like, I know exactly what I want. And I think that that’s the best way. Like, God bless Pinterest and all, but books are where it’s at, in my opinion.
Lisa Bass Yeah, I’ve sat by the fire a lot of nights throughout this winter, looking through that same book and a few other design books, and I’ve also sat and scrolled Pinterest, and I always end up with way more ideas that are actually going to lead somewhere. Like with Pinterest, I get a lot of ideas like, “Oh, I could do this. I could do this. I could do this.” But then I never like come up with a plan and something that’s going to actually be implemented in my house, mostly because it’s really hard to search and curate what I’m looking for. Like I almost always have almost an exact idea of what I’m thinking. I just want to see it done. And it’s really hard to find and to really take in via Pinterest. So, yeah, I agree with you. The books really help with that.
Kali Ramey Martin I think especially when you’re trying to marry two different styles. Like you’re trying to marry a country farmhouse and Victorian style. And for me, it’s like Swedish cottage and English style, which I just love. It’s hard because you’re never going to find—unless you find your, you know, kindred spirit of design—you’re never going to find a picture of like what you’re actually— so you have to be like, “Okay, I like this paneling with this color. And I like this wallpaper. And I like this countertop or whatever.” I’m kind of having to do that with our bathroom design right now, because it’s like all the things that I want, individually, look kind of crazy. But I just know in my head that when it all comes together, it’s going to look really cool. But it’s hard to explain it to people, too. Like you want to do a checkerboard shower surround with a very patterned floor? Are you sure? I’m like, “Yes, yes, trust me.”
Lisa Bass Yeah, well, in those books, too, you’ll thumb through them and then you’ll see pattern on pattern, sort of like what you’re thinking. Enough to know that it would look good. Also, I’m like you. Like I can completely picture something. Whenever I imagine painting or doing anything, I’m like, “I can see it already. Pretty much.” But sometimes I can’t figure out exactly what would look best, even though I can see it. I can see what won’t look good a lot of times, too.
Kali Ramey Martin Yes, totally. And that’s—going back to this—that’s why I am obsessed with samples. Paint samples, wallpaper samples, fabric samples. It’s just so helpful to touch it, feel it, see it in the right light. And we’re trying to pick a paint color for a living room right now. And it’s this long, narrow room with all these different entrances and windows. And probably every three feet, the light looks different. And so picking a paint is just like, “Oh my gosh, how am I going to do this?” One end of the room, it looks beige. The other end of the room, it looks highlighter white. Like it’s a tricky one. So having all the stuff in your hands, in the room— I think that’s really helpful, too. So I have all my wallpaper patterns, and it just helps me to kind of realize what I like, what I don’t like. Plus, I just think it’s fun and enjoy studying things like that.
Lisa Bass Yeah, I love the style that you’re going with your home. I mean, I realize this is kind of what your home is, but it’s one of my favorite styles. I think if I could choose a home to decorate, it would be one like that. The Victorian, it’s like sometimes the ceilings are too high, it’s too grand, and the simple doesn’t work. But sometimes I just want it to, and I want it to have that cozy feel like yours has. And you know, I can sort of figure out how to get that with mine, but I find it a little bit tricky. I need help. I need your quarterly.
Kali Ramey Martin Well it’s coming out soon.
Lisa Bass Good. I’m looking forward to it. What are some good sources for wallpaper? I’ve been looking because I’m going to wallpaper my entryway, possibly my bathroom. I might be going crazy with wallpaper, so where should I look?
Kali Ramey Martin I love it. So in the article, it does talk about my favorite companies that make wallpaper. And then, I didn’t talk about sources per se, because a lot of times, if you know the maker of the wallpaper, you can find it a lot of different places. There’s like Wallpaper Warehouse online. I often end up ordering mine from England. I’m trying to remember the name of it, but it’s basically just— Wallpaper Direct. There it is. Or Wallpaper Warehouse. There’s lots of places to find the patterns. It’s more about like finding the maker. So a couple of my favorite brands— for English brands, there’s Cole and Sons. William Morris is a super popular one— kind of traditional botanicals and stuff like that. And then there’s a couple of different Swedish companies. I’m going to butcher the name, but it’s like Borastapeter. But I do go through that in the article that’s coming out. And figuring out what you like in wallpaper is actually more important than, you know, the brand or the the company because there’s just so many out there. It really helps to kind of fine tune that and and figure that out before you dive into the world of wallpaper. Otherwise you find yourself 37 pages deep in an internet search and you’re like overwhelmed and depressed and deciding just to paint it.
Lisa Bass Yup, I’ve definitely been there. I think I have my entryway pattern figured out, but I might have played it too safe, though. Because I have this botanical pattern I like, but it’s all just one color. Like, maybe you can choose black or green or whatever, and it’s just the botanical pattern that’s sort of like—I don’t know how do I say this—it’s like drawn, like it’s not filled in. So maybe, I don’t know if I’ve gone too safe and I’ll end up wishing I’d gone bolder, but that’s because I’m new to wallpaper, I think.
Kali Ramey Martin I think that’s smart though, to ease into it. Because if you like, start out with something crazy right away, I don’t know. Maybe you feel overwhelmed. It’s smart to ease into it. And then as you love it, you can continue to spice it up a little more. But dipping your toe in the water is never a bad idea.
Lisa Bass Yeah, true, especially with our taller ceilings and everything I’m like, maybe it would be a lot. Whereas like with your kitchen, you’ve done beadboard halfway up, then the wallpaper. It really is a nice combo. What are some other spring decorating things that you do? Now maybe you’re so new to your house that you’re just trying to get it decorated in general, and there’s not really this swapping things over for spring. But do you do any seasonal decorating for spring?
Kali Ramey Martin You’re totally on on track about still just trying to get things. I just hung up a mirror today on the wall, and it’s like the first thing I’ve hung on the wall in the living room. It was like, “Oh, this feels big.” But I think, similar to you, I tend to try to decorate with things that are natural so that when the season’s over, I don’t have to store them. We don’t have a single closet in this house.
Lisa Bass Wow.
Kali Ramey Martin Not one. And so storage is just not a possibility. I get to benefit from doing magazine stuff by having lots of fun props like flowers. And dishes are always my secret decor item. I pull out flowery dishes in the spring and put those up on the plate rack. But pretty much try to keep it simple. I’m always bringing in fresh daffodils from the yard, and as my flowers continue to wake up and get going. My focus this year is going to be on really preserving dried flowers because I want to decorate with dried flowers. I want a lot of them. I bought a couple of dried flower wreaths from some friends last year, and every time I look at them, they make me so happy and so I’m like, “Okay, I need more dried flowers, and then I can use those for more of the seasonal decorations.”
Lisa Bass Yeah, actually, before you said the thing about the dried flowers, I was thinking, “I wonder if she gets anything faux?” Because—as wrong of me as that seems to say—there’s times whenever, like after my Christmas greenery comes down, there’s certain areas that feel really, really naked for a while, and I don’t really have anything outside yet. And I have some forced bulbs. I have a couple of those. But I’m like, “Maybe I should get like a really, really pretty, very realistic looking faux something, like arrangement, that I could bring out during that time.” But you’re right. Dry. That’s what I need. I have two dried floral wreaths that are the most beautiful thing, and those could come out. So what would be something good to plant? Because I’m very interested in this topic, and I don’t feel like I’ve ever planted any really great flowers that are great for drying. And so, yeah, what are you going to plant for that?
Kali Ramey Martin So I actually strategically picked out a bunch of seeds for that this year. I have friends nearby who are florists, and they were a great resource, but maybe I should write an article about flowers to grow for drying.
Lisa Bass I think you should, because I’ve been wanting this for a while.
Kali Ramey Martin Yeah. So this year I’m doing sun balls, which are the little yellow ones. Gomphrena, which is similar to sun balls, but they’re colored. Obviously lavender. Eucalyptus I’m growing for the first time this year. Straw flowers are really great for drying. They’re kind of already dry on their own. Let’s see what else. Persian crest, which is kind of more of a greenery, but it’s got really little kind of fronds that look really pretty dried. I’m going to try and grow a couple of types of ornamental grasses to put into wreaths. Hydrangeas are beautiful dried. So obviously some of this stuff won’t come out until later in the year, and I won’t be able to have it for spring. But next is where my eyes are fixed on.
Lisa Bass Yeah, I think that’s a really good idea. So in the garden, I’m always planting sunflowers, zinnias, cosmos and dahlias. Those are my cut flower— just those are like what I plant for cut flowers, but they don’t dry beautifully. Pretty much none of those do. So I’m interested in that, in growing some things that would be able to— I could dry out, put up in the fall, put up in the spring.
Kali Ramey Martin Yeah, I’m thinking that would make a great article, and I’m thinking there have got to be a lot of things. I remember— I’ve actually been looking for a book on Thrift Books on dried flowers, because I think like Martha Stewart put one out in the 90s that has a ton of things. I think it would be fun to not only make wreaths and little tied-up bunches and stuff, but I would also love to make potpourri, which is like very 90s of me. But I just love natural scents like that where you’re not adding faux fragrances, and I don’t know, I just think they look beautiful and romantic.
Lisa Bass I completely agree. I like that. Have you ever seen—who made it? Pulley Maid, I think—there’s this little like metal white thing where there’s wood and then there’s wooden rods between them. And I don’t know if it’s made for hanging up laundry or something like that, but I saw somebody that bought one of those and then hung big bunches of herbs on it. And so I actually purchased one of them. It took like five months for it to get here because it came from somewhere really far away. And so I’m going to grow some things that I can hang on that. Dry out some herbs and things.
Kali Ramey Martin Yeah, that’s such a good idea.
Lisa Bass Yeah, I love all of those charming aspects of the farmhouse, like baskets hanging and herbs hanging. And so planting things intentionally for drying is something I’m really interested in because I was telling somebody the other day, I don’t really even care how much produce my garden makes. I just want to be out in it with it all grown up around me. And so a lot of it is just the aesthetics and the feeling of it and just enjoying it. Obviously, I enjoy the produce as well, but it’s not strictly practical. There’s a lot of beauty.
Kali Ramey Martin Yeah, I think when you’re not trying to feed your family off of your garden, there’s a little more wiggle room for indulgence and beautiful things. And that’s not to say it can’t be practical, too. There’s a lot that you can do with flowers. I love to cook and bake with flowers. Most of the recipes in the upcoming spring issue are all incorporating flowers into regular food. And I think that’s— I love tying the garden to the kitchen, no matter how you can. And so it’s not like flowers are impractical. You just got to figure out how to weave them into everything.
Lisa Bass Yeah, yeah. That makes perfect sense. I’m excited to see some of your recipes, though, because I’ve never actually done that. I’ve never really used any florals in recipes, so I’m excited to try that. Oh, so many great topics. I’m really so excited about spring. It’s like 75 degrees here today, and so we’re getting a taste of it. And yeah, enjoying it. I don’t know. Where are you in Oregon? Are you close to the coast? Or are you more east?
Kali Ramey Martin We’re in the Willamette Valley, so we’re about an hour and a half-ish inland from the coast. About an hour and a half south of Portland. And just right in the middle of miles and miles of farmland.
Lisa Bass Perfect. That’s the best place to be. So tell us the best place to find you, where to get the Notebook Quarterly.
Kali Ramey Martin So I do have an Instagram account. It’s just @krameymartin, and I post there regularly. I post information about the book and the Notebook Quarterly. My website is just KaliRameyMartin.com. And the spring issue is available for preorder now. It will ship on April 1st. The preorder thing— I wish I could just sell it straight up, but I pay for it out of my own pocket, so I do the preorders and that really helps me get a feel for how many to order. And then we’ll ship out on April 1st, and I’m super excited to get it out. It’s just going to be fun. Every single page has flowers on it, and I really enjoyed working on it.
Lisa Bass Well, if it’s anything like your book and your other quarterlies, I know it’ll be really beautiful.
Kali Ramey Martin Thank you.
Lisa Bass All right. Well, thank you so much for listening to this episode of the Simple Farmhouse Life podcast. Make sure to go check out Kali over on her Instagram. Check out her Notebook Quarterly and her book, and I will see you in the next episode of the Simple Farmhouse Life podcast.