Making a home (Part 2)

The Kitchen is the heart of our home.  I spend about 75% of my day in the kitchen.  I’m not one for dark wall colors or cabinets.  So the existing kitchen colors had to go.  Despite the tons of natural light in this kitchen, it kind of felt like a cave.  Plus there were a few quirks with the layout that just weren’t practical.  Like the sink at the end of the counter, I wanted a work space there.

 

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I love cooking!!  It was really important to me to have a very functional (and pretty) kitchen.   Having a gas range and an externally vented range hood was a must.  I’ve always wanted a double oven, but I really didn’t want a separate range, so we found a great alternative with this GE Cafe dual fuel double oven!

 

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We moved the range, the sink, the dishwasher, the fridge and even the microwave.

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All those dark cabinets were replaced with a bright modern white look.   The walls were painted with Sherwin Williams Rainwashed.  I absolutely LOVE this color.  It is so pretty throughout the day.

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Now that the refrigerator has been moved, you can actually walk through this doorway when someone has the fridge open!

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It’s the little details that really make a difference.  I certainly never thought of “where is the most practical cabinet to have the trash can?” or “on which side of the sink would I prefer the dishwasher?”  This made for hour and hours of planning, arranging, and rearranging.  stressful?  Yes.  Worth it?  Most definitely!!!

 

Making a home

Last summer we bought and renovated a house. I loved the layout of the house, but the inside was quite dated and in desperate need of love.  I know for some people it’s hard to see the end result when you’re house hunting.  I love envisioning what it would look like if you change this color or that floor.  There was so much potential in this house, it just needed help.  So here’s a little glimpse into the process of making a house into our home.

 

The dining room was really drab and dark.  The chandelier was really low. (Eventually, that particular one will be replaced, but all in good time!)

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So we lightened up the walls with Sherwin Williams Aloof Gray.  We put in new floors throughout the house,  this happens to be Mullican Maple Cappuccino.

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We used our existing Ikea table and a bookshelf turned side table.  Recently added the rug.  I have a really hard time committing to pictures.  I hate holes in the wall, so for now, the walls are pretty bare.

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I love the colors and how well they tie into the “office”.

 

Dark Chocolate No Bake Cookies

This is a cookie that my husband asks that I never make again.  Why?  Well, because he loves them, and would eat the entire plate.  They are entirely too addicting.  2014-05-04 04.05.52

The Ingredients for this are simple.  You probably have most of them in your kitchen.

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Here’s what you’ll need.

  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 4 TBS Dark Chocolate cocoa powder
  • 1/8 tsp kosher salt
  • 3 cups quick rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla

2014-05-04 02.08.58Combine the sugar, butter, milk, cocoa powder and salt in a saucepan over low heat.  Bring mixture to a rolling boil, stirring the entire time.  (This will take a while, but it’s worth it!)  Boil for about a minute and a half.2014-05-04 02.22.30Remove from heat.  Add the peanut butter and vanilla, stir until it’s combined.  Then add your oats.2014-05-04 02.23.19If only you could smell this.  Oh man.2014-05-04 02.24.08Spread out a piece of waxed paper.  Scoop generous portions onto the paper.  2014-05-04 02.24.21I like to use a small cookie scoop, it’s a little neater this way, and you get a pretty uniform batch of cookies.2014-05-04 02.27.23  Now this is the hard part.  You have to (or at least should) wait for them to cool and set.  It’s no fun being patient, but you can clean up while your waiting.  (AKA, scrape the pan and lick the spoon.)2014-05-04 19.12.51They’re good any time of the day.  Even for breakfast with your coffee.  What?  They have milk and oats in them!

 

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Simple and sweet.

We’ve had an overcast, at some times rainy, week.  So here is  a simple way to anticipate the May flowers.  Go make one (or 10) today.

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(FYI.  I used an old t-shirt to make this.  About a 2″ by the width of the shirt length.  Pin a couple to your shirt, scarf, attach it to a headband.  The sky’s the limit.  Use your imagination!!)

Boy Parties

When he was little, I loved having parties with lots of “stuff”.  Decorations, food, cakes, cupcakes, party favors, activities…etc.  I stressed about every little detail.  As A has gotten older, he has wanted to simplify.  Parties became sleepovers, lots of food and snacks became pizza and cake.  I love how much easier it is.  That is strange for me.  I make everything overly complicated.  Here are a few short, sweet pictures from his parties.

You’ll notice how they are simplified over the years.

2011

IMG_0009i(Recognize the blue shirt on the right?  It’s part of the space guy from the LEGO movie.  Cool before our time, right?!)

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2012

IMG_1133iThe words and the Death Star are made out of Wilton Candy Melts.  The small ships are from an advent calendar.

 

IMG_1132iThe Death Star was made using a water balloon as a base, then covered with numerous layers of candy melts.  I attempted to “carve” the death star details.

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These cookies were made using the Star Wars cookie molds from Williams Sonoma.  I put a layer of chocolate on the back.  YUM!!!

 

2013

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2014

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You can’t get much simpler than this.  Brownies, green frosting, Rice Krispy treats and blue jello.  Thank you Minecraft for the easiest cubed dessert ever.  The boys devoured it.

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Girlie Parties!

So we are rapidly approaching March.  It’s by far our busiest month.  Two of my kids have March birthdays.  With an older boy and a girl just a couple of years younger, we have no choice but to have two different parties.  I love parties.  I love planning party themes, making menus, cakes, etc.  It’s easy to be intimidated by all the parties you see online that are so extravagant and over the top.  It’s a kids birthday party, why spend $100s-$1000s of dollars on a KIDS PARTY??  Seriously.  My kids parties are planned on a pretty modest budget because they are going to care so much more about having fun with their friends at the party than how amazing it looks in pictures!  So I thought I would share a few photos from our parties over the last few years.

Today I will start with Girl parties!

Let’s go back to March 2011.

The butterfly party.

I was in the first trimester of my third pregnancy.  I hated food.  All food.  Indiscriminately.  So this menu was simple.  Fruit, cupcakes, drinks.

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IMG_0158iWe cut out lots and lots of butterflies.  Large and small.  We used them to decorate around the room, on the straws, even on the drinks. IMG_0156iI used candy melts to make butterflies, there were a few free handed ones but mainly I used a candy mold to make them.   Easy peasy.

Next was March 2012.

The mermaid party.

It definitely didn’t scream mermaid, but she loved it.

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There were cupcakes and a small cake.  the frosting was supposed to be reminiscent of waves.  IMG_1176iiOnce again, candy melts and molds were employed for seashell decorations that were placed on the cupcakes.

IMG_1175iDon’t you love the look of frosting? IMG_1192i

The cake had three layers, the pink layer matched the cupcakes.  I loved this color combination.IMG_1182iI found fish plates at Michaels of all places, on clearance for 25¢.  I used them to hold various things on the table.   The “ocean cups” were a combination of jello and whipped cream.  Of course we had to serve Goldfish!  Spinach artichoke dip and bread for the grown ups!  I had a hurricane vase that wasn’t in use, so of course it needed a betta fish and matching colored pebbles.  I admit, I didn’t really think that idea through too much.  We had a beta on our dining room table for a few months, until a friend took it to her classroom as a pet!

On to March of 2013.

The rainbow party!

2013-03-30 00.57.23iThe thing I love about “generic themed” parties is that there is so much room for interpretation.

I made a bunch of different colored frosting and let her decorate the cake.  She thought that was the best thing ever.

Rainbow fruit tray.  Yes.

Rainbow plates. Yes. 2013-03-30 00.58.06iRainbow Goldfish and skittles.  Of course.

Rainbow twizzlers.  Who knew they existed?!  (obviously I don’t venture past the chocolate section of the candy aisle.)2013-03-30 00.57.47i

I couldn’t resist buying lots of brightly colored tulle.  And then, what to do with it?!  How about make a rainbow like the picture on the plates.  Awesome and Easy!2013-03-30 00.57.54i

Oh Hobby Lobby.  Why do you have to have the most awesome selection of everything?

Rainbow bead necklaces.  Easy party activity, take home gift, and extra burst of color all in one!2013-03-30 00.58.01iFor favors and bingo prizes I made hair bows and rainbow hair clips.  We packaged rainbows and clouds.  Even a flavored lip gloss.  Every little girls dream, without spending a ton of money!!