...because home doesn't happen overnight.
02.10.16 / Liked & Linked

snow day

snowy night

Last week was a doozy. Steve was out of town. The kids took turns not sleeping. I swear they got together and planned their wakings so that I never logged more than three hours of sleep per night. Tantrums and bickering were at an all-time high.

Cheetah is usually pretty chill, but even her temperament leaned toward ornery. She went missing one night after I took the trash out. (I must not have closed the door all the way behind me.) I didn’t notice until hours later when I went to feed her and she didn’t come running. It was late and the kids were already in bed. I expected to find her sitting outside the back door but she wasn’t there. I quickly slipped on the first pair of shoes I could find (Layne’s high tops), grabbed a spotlight and locked up the house. I jumped in the car and drove around the block with the window down yelling, “Cheeeeetaaaaaaah.” About three-quarters of the way around the block, I spotted two glowing eyes and gray fur peeking out from under some bushes near a house. Cheetah! I pulled into the unsuspecting homeowners’ driveway, dimmed the headlights and sprinted towards the house. I was on my belly reaching into the bush for my cat when I came face-to-face with a opossum. “OH $#@*!!” Abort, abort! It’s funny now but I was totally freaked out at the time.

Eventually, I did find Cheetah in a neighbor’s fenced backyard. The house had recently sold and, luckily, was unoccupied when I slipped through the gate to retrieve my cat. Can you imagine the first impression I would have made if the new homeowners had been there?! Crazy trespassing cat lady in her pajamas and Air Jordans.

Not surprisingly, I came down with a fever, chills and extreme fatigue Thursday evening. I was so weak I collapsed on the couch and told the kids they were going to have to put themselves to bed. The mom guilt! I drifted in and out of consciousness while Layne helped Mabrey change into her pajamas, brushed her teeth, read her a book and tucked her into bed. The boys sat quietly at the kitchen island drawing for a while. During a foggy moment of awareness I heard Everett say, “I love Mom. I hope she makes it through the night.” I laughed on the inside. They readied themselves for bed, gave me hugs and went to bed with nary a complaint. It was probably the least dramatic bedtime in our house in the last few months. I thought, “Huh, maybe I’m raising decent human beings after all.”

A few links…

*Steve made paleo jerk chicken in the crockpot for the game on Sunday. So easy, so yummy.

*A brass tripod floor lamp on sale!

*The next kitchen trend?

*A tiny bathroom makeover. (Love the lil’ gold lever on the toilet.)

dreamy kitchen

black faucets

*House stalking via instagram: a dreamy kitchen and black bathroom fixtures.

*This affordable rag rug is popping up all over the place. For good reason!

*The kids and I watched Big Fish during a recent snow day. (I forgot how much I adore that movie.) Layne requested the book for his birthday.

May your kiddos and kitties be well-behaved this week ;)

images: 1 & 2) Dana Miller for House*Tweaking 3 & 4) Bridget Ambrose

02.02.16 / A Great Gift Idea

blue apron jan 4

Want to know what I gifted nearly all the adults in our lives over the holidays? Yep, Blue Apron. If you’re a long-time reader, you’ve heard me tout the food delivery service in the past. (Keep reading further though because I’m not simply regurgitating all the things I’ve mentioned before.) If you’re new here, let me fill you in briefly.

blue apron jan 1

Blue Apron delivers fresh ingredients in a refrigerated box right to your doorstep. The ingredients arrive in the exact proportions along with a recipe card and detailed instructions which include photographs of steps to give even novices in the kitchen the confidence to churn out a delicious meal. Typically, the cost is less expensive than dining out or ordering takeout. Simply sign up online for weekly orders. You can skip or cancel deliveries at any time! An online “cookbook” is free to anyone so you can replicate meals at home with ingredients from your local grocery if desired. (We recently tried the cajun fried catfish with collard greens and mashed sweet potatoes. It was a hit!)

blue apron jan 2

I’ve been subscribing to Blue Apron going on two years now ever since our friends in Nashville recommended it. I especially love to use the service during weeks that Steve is out of town (this week!) and also while on vacation. In fact, I had a delivery sent to our vacation rental in Asheville this past fall. I was a little worried because our location was nearly off the grid and tricky to find – especially after dark. After we arrived at the cabin, I called Blue Apron to relay better directions and they were super helpful about forwarding the information on to UPS. Even with the new directions, our food arrived after 9:00 p.m. the day of delivery so my account was automatically credited for the full amount. Nothing was wrong with the food (it was still fresh and we ate it) but the company was great about upholding its promises of timely delivery and quality ingredients. And I talked to a real live person on the phone who was super nice, easy to understand and not reading from a script!

blue apron jan 3

In the last year alone, there have been several improvements made to increase customer satisfaction. You can now view weekly menus weeks in advance of ordering and select which meals you would like to try. There is also a new recycling program available and plenty of tips and ideas for reusing the packaging. (We have reused the ice packs for picnics and packing coolers for road trips.) The company is working to provide more sustainable food by working directly with farmers. I would like to see organic produce offered, but overall I am impressed by the company’s efforts to listen to and address customer feedback by implementing change.

blue apron jan 5

blue apron jan 6

At the end of 2015, I was surprised to discover that I had accrued free meals which I gifted to some friends and family members at no cost to me. I also purchased some meals to gift. Blue Apron is a great gift idea!

blue apron 7

If you’re a Blue Apron virgin, you can score two free meals on your first order by clicking here. Offer is only good for the first 50 readers so act fast!

*This post sponsored in part by Blue Apron. In order to remain transparent, I would like to mention that I pay out of pocket for my own subscription. Blue Apron provided the meal seen in this post. Thank you for supporting the brands that support this blog!

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking

02.01.16 / Liked & Linked

mild winter

kid free target shopping

How was your weekend? The highlights for me included some epic kite flying at the park (sixty degrees in January?!) and a date night with Steve that ended with toilet paper shopping at Target. #sohot I had the absolute best meal of my entire life at Hawthorn Grill, a local chef-owned restaurant. If you’re ever in Dayton, Ohio, you must give their pan-seared walleye a try. It’s to die for.

Mine and Steve’s only resolution this year was to go on more date nights. We’re actually following through with it! We found a great sitter (one of the many advantages of living in a college town) at the beginning of the year, and she’s watched the kids TWICE for us in the last month. The kids adore her. Last week when we told them she was coming Saturday evening they were all, “WHAT?! You guys just went on a date!” They aren’t used to seeing us do the date night thing more than a few times per year so twice in one month is pure craziness. But it’s awesome. Our motto for 2016 is date nights > divorce ;) Seriously, they’re cheaper. Toilet paper included.

A few more awesome things…

*The leather teardrop earrings I wore for date night. They’re oversize but super lightweight!

*My favorite $5 carafe with cork stopper.

*I’m trying not to want this leather + kilim laptop bag but…

*A vintage rug in a killer kitchen.

lived in home

lived in home

lived in home

*Loving the lived-in vibe of this family home.

*A dreamy kitchen makeover featuring IKEA cabinets. (Bravo, Anna!)

*Triple bunk beds and some very honest words on parenting.

*I finished reading this magical book over the weekend and I think it deserves an entire blog post. To be continued…

Happy one month closer to spring!

images: 1 & 2) Dana Miller for House*Tweaking 3-5) Lauren Kolyn for Apartment Therapy