Monday, July 21, 2014

The Official Guest Room UnReveal

Is there such a thing as a room unreveal?....

Because if there isn't, there really should be...

Because believe it or not....

This is what the room looks like after we cleaned up a bunch. 

This is the room that will eventually be Will's big boy room, but until then it has been our catch all room and our second guest room when we have a lot of people come to stay. Since the later will be true in a couple of weeks, it is the perfect kick in the pants to get the room clean and sleep ready (and to finally craigslist a bunch of stuff!)

Do you have a room that is a perpetual catch-all?

Friday, July 18, 2014

TBT Blog Style: Flippin' the Kitchen and Dining Room (Final)

Over the past few weeks we have shown you what the Kitchen and Dining room looked like in our first house, how we demolished it, and started to build it back up. Today, we put on the finishing touches and show some before / after pics.

It is always important to do a good dry-fit of your base cabinets, and to test out how the doors open/close so that any last minute adjustments can be made. You can also see the lighting upgrades and the holes in the wall were for blowing insulation.

For the upper Cabinets, we installed back braces to make attaching the crown easier down the road, and made sure that the electrical and vent for the fan all came together.

At this point we needed to get that floor finished, so we made our first unforgivable mistake in this renovation. We really liked the idea of dark, rich color, so we really slathered that stain on. As we now know, this was an impossibly foolish thing to do, since the stain layer was too thick. This meant that the polyurethane adheared to a weak layer, and within a year we started to have parts peel up. Long story short: stain needs MANY light coats, with a good wipe in between if you want to get this color!

The chimney was nicely incorporated into the room by building a custom bookshelf around it. This design was a lot of fun to put together, and continues to be one of the features we are most proud of in this room. Note that the shelves are continuous even though they are "L" shaped, and that the support for that exterior corner alternates as you work your way up the bookshelf.  The also fit in nicely next to the refrigerator to continue the built-in look.

The kitchen was now really taking shape. It may look like we forgot one of the upper cabinets, but this was very intentional because we had big plans for that space.

And here it is...

Kidding!! Even though Madeline is the perfect accessory and was surprisingly agreeable to this space, it was actually our intention to build a custom dish rack for our most used plates. Also notice the backspash which Cassandra installed with painstaking detail, and the crown molding which really gives the space a finished feel. 

You can also see the bucher-block island that we installed. The drawers for this were actually re-purposed from an old dresser that the previous owners left in the basement. Converting it to an island-base should have been easy, but while the drawers were from the other dresser, we built the base ourselves (with my dad's help!). This meant cutting many small narrow pieces out of plywood, and after cutting 100 of them perfectly, while doing the very last one my thumb got bit by the table-saw. I recovered, and that thumb is healthy enough today to endure more abuse, but it was not a good thing, and a cautionary tail to this day!

Here you can see the completed look with that custom bookshelf:

Take a second to look at all the fantastic details in this kitchen!!

Let's do a final before and after shot:

This was an amazing project, and while thinking about all the work it took makes me wonder how we ever had enough energy to do a project like this (a recurrent feeling these days . . .), we learned so much from the experience that I am so grateful that we were naive enough to attempt this. 

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Tasty Tuesdays: Thai Spaghetti Squash with Chicken

Ok I'm don't usually rant but I'm going to just a little. Sometimes I love the internet and sometimes I hate it. I love it when I find inspiring ideas and awesome people. I hate it when I happen upon a multitude of incomplete, missing or just bad execution of ideas when I really looking for something. This is what happened last week with basically every good looking recipe I found. I guess it's a good reminder that anyone can post to the internet and that if I want a for sure good recipe I need to use an actual cookbook. 

When I finally came across one blog with a good looking meal with an actual recipe I went with it even though I was met with floating adds on the top and bottom and a pop-up ad so I could barely see the site content (I get that you want to make money on your site but I find this annoying... maybe that's bad business on my end but I don't like it). I got the ingredients and went to make it. Then I read the instructions and realized that they were worthless. They amounted to: mix everything together. I was pretty disappointed. 

Based on my lack of success this week in finding inspiring meals, I decided to post the recipe that I put together to save the meal I started. I'm not going to bother to post the link of the original blog since I drastically changed both the ingredient amounts and the instructions. (plus I don't want you to get inundated by ads). So instead, here is my version of Thai Spaghetti Squash with Chicken.

Makes 4 servings
360 calories/serving
  • 8 cups cups cooked spaghetti squash (1 large squash)
  • 2 chicken breast, sliced
  • 2 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp red curry paste
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 2 tbsp coconut cream
  • 1/2 cup skim milk
  • 1/4 cup crunchy peanut butter
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1/4 cup chopped peanuts
  • 1/2 cup chopped green onions
  • 1/2 cup sliced carrot

Preheat your oven to 350˚ F. Cut the squash in half and lay the pieces cut side down on a lipped cookie sheet. Add just enough water to  the cookie sheet to cover the bottom. Cook the squash for 30-40 min or until a fork can easily puncture the skin of the squash.

While the squash is cooking, prepare the sauce. Heat the sesame oil in a sauté pan over medium heat. Once hot, add the curry paste, ginger, cinnamon and black pepper. Cook a few minutes until fragrant then add the coconut cream, milk and peanut butter. Stir until the peanut butter is melted and then add the fish sauce, honey and soy sauce. Cook for 2 more minutes and then transfer all but a 1/4 cup of sauce into a separate bowl. Cook the chicken in the remaining sauce. 

Once the squash is done, use a fork to separate the meat from the skins (you might want to let it cool for a few minutes). Add the squash and chicken back into the sauté pan and pour in the sauce. Mix everything together over low heat until combined.

Once combined, you can top you thai spaghetti squash with peanuts, green onions, sliced carrots or other things like sprouts or a little sriracha. 

This is a great low calorie dish if you are really in the mood for some thai but don't want the carbs. 

Monday, July 14, 2014

My Try at Terrariums

I was in IKEA awhile back and saw these sweet little plants and decided to finally get some greenery in our house. With Will we can't really do floor plants but these were perfect for sitting on our dining room table. Also, I was under the impression that succulents were pretty easy to take care of so I thought I would give them a go.

So, I did a little research, bought some supplies (vases from Marshall's, stone from Target) and replanted my little plants. Unfortunately, it turns out that they didn't like me as much as I was hoping for. After a couple of weeks things weren't looking so hot and I thought they weren't getting enough sun. After an afternoon outside, it turns out I was half right. The larger plant looked sunburnt so it came back to the table and has been doing pretty well now with a little less watering.

The little succulents did much better in the sun (however I was too late to save one of them) so I moved them to the sunroom.

Since the empty spot was a little sad, I cut the section growing out of the vase and just stuck it into the empty spot.

I watered it before our trip and checked back a couple of days ago and the little cut section actually looks like it's growing!

Based on my attempts, this is what I've learned in the past month

1. I can still kill a plant while trying to keep it alive
2. Forgetting I have plants for a week makes them love me more
3. Plants can get sunburnt
4. Transplanting a cutting is a super cheap way for it to look like you can actually keep plants alive
5. "Easy to keep alive" is a relative phrase

Don't worry, I learned other things this month but these are the plant related things. Plus, you probably could care less that I finally have a good way of remembering how to choose the correct field size for monitor unit calculations (I told you you wouldn't care... but I was pretty psyched!).

So, has there been any plant planting, killing or better yet, plant saving in you house this month? If so do tell. I need all the tricks I can get to keep these guys alive!

Friday, July 11, 2014

PVC Storage for Hair Tools

We're back in our downstairs bath again today. We are slowly trying to make this NOT the most hated room in the house but it's slow going. One of Nate's biggest annoyances in this room is that the only easily accessible outlet was by the sink. So, when I would blow dry my hair, the cord would be over the sink and if I didn't put it away right away, we would have an electrical cord in or right next to a nice water source. Not the safest design ever.

So, we went about trying to cheaply fix this problem. Obviously moving the outlet or sink would not be very cost efficient so instead, we grabbed a 4" PVC pipe we had hanging around and cut off a section.

Since our bathroom is in the addition (aka the crappiest construction job ever) there was no stud except in the corner and since we were going for easy, we decided to spend 5 minutes complaining about the crappy construction job, 2 minutes pushing on the wall and seeing how much the drywall wiggled (see no center stud above) and 1 minute screwing the PVC piece to the stud (we predrilled the holes in the PVC first).

Then we were able to plug in the blow dryer and leave it plugged in. We fed the cord through the PVC so that the cord won't dangle near the sink and I can easily pop the dryer back into place when I'm done with it.

On the other side, there was miraculously a stud in a sightly more convenient spot so we could hang two smaller PVC pieces at angles to house my curler and straightener.

To keep the cords a little more out of the way, we drilled a hole through the counter to access the plug underneath. We also installed a simple computer desk grommet (like this one) to make the hole less noticeable. Now, I can easily pull out what I need and put it back without having to deal with cords all over the place or a lot of plugging and unplugging.

Since we already have the PVC pieces, this was an under $5 project that really will improve our day to day life. It's definitely not the prettiest project but we're kinda past pretty in this room and are going for functionality until we save up enough to completely overhaul this space.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Wednesdays with Will: Trip to PA/NY

Flying with a 15 month old is going down in our history books as a not so fun thing to do. Luckily, once we were off the plane, it was all fun all week long. We started off the week with a family reunion on Nate's dad's side in PA. There was a lot of beach/pool time as well as play time with the cousins and grand/great-grandparents for Will (and even a couple of deer spottings!)

After the reunion we headed to NY where we met up with my parents and family as well as Nate's mom, stepdad and sister/brother-in-law who were expecting a baby any day! We stayed in a hotel which Will enjoyed quite a bit and we turned the closet into his own little quiet space.

Will also got to meet his great-grandmother for the first time and we really enjoyed spending time with her and she and Will were too cute together. We also snuck in a couple of little vacation things like a trip to the lake and a ride on the carousal in the mall that I would go to when we visited my grandmother as a kid (although he enjoyed the "escalator ride" much more). Will also took his first trip to build-a-bear to build a puppy for his new little cousin.

We love being able to spend time with family even if we can't get away for as long as we'd like. Hopefully next time we can spend a little longer up north and maybe have a little one that will sit on an airplane!

Friday, July 4, 2014

Happy 4th!

We just got back from a week long trip visiting family. We got back just in time to head down to our town's fourth of July festival. It was a little rainy but the fireworks were spectacular and I got to play with my new camera toys!

Will couldn't really decide if he liked them or not but he survived them and did like the fact that he got to play on the playground after dark.

Today we are spending some time with friends and hopefully some time in the pool cooling off. Next week we'll show you more from our trip, but within the theme of pool time, check out our little baby model striking a pose! 

We hope you have a safe and fun filled day!