...because home doesn't happen overnight.

blue apron vacation 2

I’ve been subscribing to Blue Apron for a little over a year now. The family plan is perfect for us: 2 adults, 3 young kids. I use it for especially hectic weeks when our family schedule is extra busy and also for weeks when Steve is out of town and I’m winging the single parenting thing. It’s a huge relief finding the box of farm fresh ingredients on my doorstep, knowing I can postpone a trip to the grocery store for a few more days.

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Trying out new chef-designed recipes at home gets us out of the dinner rut and gives me more confidence in the kitchen, too. The filipino-style beef picadillo and fish & sweet potato chips are on regular rotation at our house.

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The kids are always excited when a Blue Apron delivery shows up. The only part they don’t like is sometimes waiting for me to take pictures of the food before they can eat it ;)

Last fall when we were gearing up for our family vacation to Rosemary Beach, I was making a list of food items to pack. To save money, I was packing breakfast, lunch and snack items. We usually eat half of our dinners out on vacation, but I wanted to cook at least two dinners. (The beach house we rented boasted a full kitchen.) I could see that space in the cooler was going to be tight and that’s when it hit me! Why not schedule a Blue Apron delivery to our vacation rental? And that’s exactly what I did.

I set it up to arrive early in the week, a day or two after our arrival. It was delivered to our porch while we were at the beach but, no worries, the box was refrigerated. It was so convenient! No need to hunt down a local grocery store in an unfamiliar city and then spend way too much vacation time trying to figure out where everything is. No need to buy a box of stick butter just for one tablespoon. All the ingredients are shipped pre-measured so there’s no waste and no rummaging around a rental kitchen for a measuring spoon or cup. (The only ingredients you might need on hand are olive oil, salt and pepper – which our rental supplied but you might want to pack them if possible.)

If you plan to cook on vacation, Blue Apron is ideal. There were a few evenings towards the end of our stay where we didn’t feel like rushing back from the beach, cleaning up and going out for dinner. That’s when I cooked. No one wants to take a cranky, overtired toddler out to dinner at a restaurant, am I right?

Do you have a U.S. vacation coming up? Maybe a staycation? If you plan on cooking, I would suggest giving Blue Apron a try. They deliver to most of the country, including Texas now! As always, shipping is free.

*BONUS* – The first 100 readers will get two meals off their first Blue Apron order FREE! Just click here.

Happy cooking and vacationing!

*This post sponsored in part by Blue Apron. Thank you for supporting the brands that support this blog.

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking

Last year Arhaus invited me to a local store to scout out my favorite items for a giveaway. I had so much fun working with them and hooking up a lucky reader with a sweet chair. This year I’ve partnered with Arhaus once again to bring some much needed luxe to a client’s bedroom. Here’s what we’re working with:

arhaus bedroom before 1

The room itself is well-proportioned but it’s suffering from a bad case of the matchy-matchies. The bed matches the nightstands matches the chest matches the dresser. (It’s okay. We’ve all been there.) The alternating olive and tan walls are distracting.

arhaus bedroom before 2

This is the view from the bed. My client enjoys watching television from the comfort of her bed, but the location of the TV on the tall chest of drawers is awkward and slightly precarious. An adjoining sitting area is empty – save for a lone dresser.

My goal for the space is to make it feel less choppy, less empty, less generic, more refined but not stuffy. Per my client’s request, the TV, carpet, columns, blinds and king mattress will stay. My client prefers muted hues and luxurious touches like tufted upholstery, nailhead trim and linen. She even asked for a few sequins! Here are my plans for the space:

Moody Luxe master bedroom

 

1 – To capitalize on the room’s innate moodiness, I chose Benjamin Moore kendall charcoal for the walls. The cream trim and molding and light-covered carpet will contrast nicely with the charcoal. To break up the dark walls, I’ll hang white curtains and oversized art with lots of movement.

2 – The bed will be turned 90º and placed against a blank wall instead of blocking the two windows. Arhaus’s Mariah headboard in taft pewter will make the bed a grand focal point. I’ll dress up a simple, white linen duvet with a vintage (sequined!) Moroccan wedding blanket and euro shams with a contrasting border. White campaign-style nightstands and cog-like table lamps will flank the bed providing symmetry, contrast, texture, storage and light.

3 – A midcentury dresser and chest will add warm wood tones and clean lines to the space. Brand-new dressers aren’t in the budget so I will be revamping a vintage set. A low dresser will hold the TV and be placed opposite the bed in the far corner near the window so it isn’t as obtrusive. (The dark walls will also help camouflage the screen.) A taller chest of drawers will reside in the sitting area.

4 – My client chose the Audrey chaise in tumble natural as the main piece for the sitting area. A bronze side table will provide a surface for books, magazines or a glass of wine. A kilim pillow in rose and sage will break up all the tufting and add muted color. Black and white abstract art is a modern touch and a large wall mirror will bounce light around from the windows.

That’s the overall plan! Even though I’m mainly dealing with the wife during meetings, I want her husband to enjoy the space, too. So I’m balancing out the feminine details (sequins, curves) with more masculine elements (charcoal paint, straight lines). I checked in on the room’s progress recently and things are slowly shaping up. I can’t wait to share the finished space in a few weeks!

*This post is NOT sponsored but I would like to thank Arhaus for providing the two pieces mentioned above. I am grateful to be in a unique position to pass along quality products to my readers and clients to help stretch their budgets.

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking

DIY trash enclosure text

The warmer weather has us turning our attention outside. While our home’s interior is mostly done (I use that term loosely…nothing is ever done here), there are a few things we’d like to tackle outdoors. We were hoping to install a few shade sails in the backyard but that project has been put on hold while we wait for the verdict on Everett’s medical bills. Until then, we’re trying to knock out a few smaller scale (i.e., less expensive) projects while the weather is cooperating.

We had been brainstorming a trash / recycling bin enclosure for over a year, and we finally tackled it a few weeks ago. Our trash can and recycling bin sit on the driveway against the house just past the overhead garage door. We wanted something simple in appearance with horizontal slats, without gates or lids. After pricing out materials for a DIY version made with composite decking, we decided to go with plain ol’ cedar for less than half the cost. Here’s what we did:

DIY trash enclosure steps

1 – Up until a few weeks ago, the bins sat with their backs against the house. We turned them 90º with the backs facing the backyard. This allowed us to design a simple L-shaped enclosure off the side of the house. We measured the bins in their new orientation, added a few inches for maneuverability, then installed two fence post brackets in the driveway with concrete anchors. We added a treated 2 x 4 to the brick facade with Tapcons. This provided a surface to tie the slats in to.

2 – We wanted the enclosure high enough to hide the bins but lower than a nearby windowsill. (No one wants a trash enclosure staring at them through the window.) We measured accordingly then screwed a treated 4 x 4 fence post into the first bracket. Scrap pieces of lumber stood in as temporary supports to keep the fence post from jostling around. For a narrower slat, we ripped 1 x 6 kiln-dried cedar boards (from Menards) in half. Working from top to bottom (to ensure full top and bottom slats) and using stainless steel deck screws, we installed the first cedar slat and checked it with a level. Subsequent boards were added with ~1/4″ spacing. Each board was cut to size and mitered on the outside corner. To avoid rot, we kept the slats a few inches off the driveway.

3 – Once the shorter side was finished, we moved on to the longer side using the same materials and methods.

4 – The slats are up!

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We added a treated 2 x 4 vertically to shore things up on the longer side but didn’t take it all the way to the driveway.

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Finally, we capped the enclosure with two (non-ripped) 1 x 6 kiln-dried cedar boards for a finished look. We decided to hold off on sealing the cedar for now and see how it holds up since it’s mostly under an eave and is usually blocked from rain / snow by our parked minivan. (Yep, we held out as long as we could but the minivan was inevitable. I love it and I hate that I love it.)

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Bins be gone! The fragrant cedar is a welcome distraction when taking out the trash.

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This little area looks so much tidier from the road now. (Btw, I lost the DirectTV battle. HOWEVER, we’re canceling our service once our contract is up later this year so that dish is going buh-bye. Netflix ftw.)

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The bins are easily pulled out on collection day.

DIY trash enclosure 1

It’s pretty basic and no-frills but we’re really happy with how the enclosure turned out. I’m a sucker for the narrow slats and natural wood. And tidy is always a winner in my book. We’re going to use a similar design to create a hanging screen / planter to conceal the electric meter on the back of the house. I’m on a mission to HIDE ALL THE UGLY THINGS WITH CEDAR SLATS!

How do you conceal your waste bins? Electric meter? What outdoor projects are you working on this year? Last year I painted the peeling garage door as a stopgap measure and we had the elderly asphalt driveway replaced with concrete. Even if we aren’t able to do the shade sails this year, we’d still like to put in a few raised beds, install a clothesline and start a compost.

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking