...because home doesn't happen overnight.
11.06.14 / M.I.A.

Rosemary-Beach

I had every intention of writing up a post on how we created the tub’s base and finished the tub’s exterior but, alas, life got in the way. I don’t think it’s necessary or productive to whine about the specifics so I won’t. Just know that my focus is elsewhere at the moment, as it should be.

Steve returns from an extended business trip tomorrow and we’re on vacation next week. We’re really looking forward to regrouping and spending some quality time together as a family. Over the years we’ve taken a few trips to see extended family and we took a couple’s vacation to celebrate our (belated) tenth wedding anniversary, but we’ve never done a legit family vacation. It’s kind of sad! This vacation has been in the works for over a year. We’ve been saving and planning for it since last winter when the weather was so brutal and so relentless that it motivated us to plan something fun. We’ll be in the Rosemary Beach area of the Florida panhandle. We’ve never been. If you have any recommendations for what to do, eat or see, I’m all ears!

I have one pre-scheduled post slotted for next week, but I promised my family that I would cut myself off from the laptop while we’re away. So that tub post? Look for it the week after next. Until then, I’ll be posting some pictures of our adventure on instagram if you want to follow along.

See you soon!

image: Boston Herald

blue apron 11-6

I don’t know about you but after a sugar-filled weekend I’m ready for some homemade food. I recently made a butternut squash & caramelized fennel pizza that was a delicious, seasonal meal.

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Steve is away on an extended business trip so I signed up for another Blue Apron delivery. I tried Blue Apron for the first time earlier this year after Steve’s appendectomy and it was a lifesaver during that busy, stressful time. I knew it would come in equally handy during a week of single-parenting. Skipping a grocery trip with kids in favor of farm-fresh ingredients delivered right to my doorstep? I’ll take it! It’s a little ridiculous how excited I am to open the refrigerated box and read over the three yummy, chef-designed recipes for the week.

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The ingredients are pre-measured to avoid waste. Even the smallest amounts of herbs and spices are included. (You only need olive oil, salt and pepper on hand.) It’s pretty foolproof.

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I’ve said it before… cooking isn’t in my wheelhouse. I’m not like my mom. I can’t scan ingredients in my pantry and fridge then whip up a meal in minutes with little mental effort and lots of cheery humming. Cooking doesn’t come naturally to me that way. (I wish it did.) I need a plan of action. Thankfully, Blue Apron includes a detailed recipe card for each meal.

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My kids are little foodies and they enjoy helping me prepare meals. It’s fun to see them discover new foods. Confession: I had never cooked a fennel bulb before trying this recipe. Eek!

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I also learned a little more about goat cheese. Did you know goat cheese has only become a popular food in American cuisine within the last 30 years? Did you know that when a recipe calls for crumbled goat cheese, it’s best to buy it in log form and crumble it yourself? The log is creamier and less dry than the pre-crumbled bits. (A reader recently brought this to my attention.) Choosing a high quality goat cheese is a good idea, too.

Vermont Creamery supplied the goat cheese for this recipe. The dairy is located in Websterville, Vermont. Allison Hooper and Bob Reese invested $1,200 each to start the company in 1984. They hired Adeline Druart, a native French woman and cheese expert (naturally), as an intern originally then later promoted her to general manager. Allison’s son oversees Ayers Brook, a nearby farm that supplies the dairy with goat milk. I love hearing the stories behind businesses like this. And I like knowing where my food comes from. I’m so happy to know Blue Apron supports local businesses and farmers. You can learn more about Vermont Creamery and see how they make great goat cheese by watching the video above.

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Anyhow, the pizza was so good… and beautiful. Not being anything close to a chef, I would have never thought of combining these ingredients to make a rustic, autumnal dish. Two out of my three kids loved it. (One has aversions to onions and parmesan cheese so it was a no-go for him.) And, of course, I devoured it. The fennel-parsley salad and spiced honey drizzle were the perfect final toppings. The recipe claims the pizza serves three but we have half of it left over. I know what I’m eating for lunch this week! I am a total leftover dinner for lunch eater.

Are you interested in giving Blue Apron a try? The first 50 readers to sign up here will receive two free meals on their first order! Shipping is available to most of the country and it’s free. There’s no commitment and you can always skip or cancel your service at any time.

Happy eating!

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

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking

11.02.14 / Made Me Smile

sunday fun day

Hi all. How was your week / weekend? Did you do any trick-or-treating? Our Halloween was blustery and rainy but it didn’t stop us from partaking in beggar’s night for a few hours. We were shivering and soaked to the core by the time we got home but wouldn’t have missed it for the world. Layne was always one house ahead letting us know what each house was serving. Like we were at a restaurant and he was reading the menu.

“You guys, this house is serving full-sized Snickers!” It was so funny.

Don’t tell anyone but I think Everett was a little scared. It got dark early and he kept asking if he could hold my hand. I didn’t mind ;)

It was Mabrey’s first time trick-or-treating but you would have never known. She caught on quickly. I could see the wheels turning in her head after the first house. So, I walk up to some stranger’s house, ring the doorbell, say trick-or-treat and they give me CANDY? I’m so in. By the end of the night, she had it down to a science. She discovered early on that if she lingered, smiling for an extra 10 seconds after the initial handout, she would score a second handful of loot. Girl is smart.

I’ll never forget my very first beggar’s night as a parent. Layne was about the same age as Mabrey. I gave him the gist (ring doorbell, trick-or-treat, candy, thank you) and we approached the first house. Layne rang the doorbell. A man opened the door. Layne said “trick-or-treat” then walked right in liked he owned the place! The homeowner was like, “Come on in!” We were all dying. I guess I forgot to mention to Layne that we don’t actually go in the houses.

More good stuff…

*A clean closet makes everything better.

*So does a tidy nook.

*A metal roof like no other.

*Tiny houses are a big thing.

*I think I pinned every room in this house.

organic midcentury kitchen

*Love the organic vibe and clever DIY’s in this midcentury remodel.

*A slew of stunning kitchen makeovers. Instant gratification FTW.

*When the weather turns cold, I live vicariously through bloggers in warmer climates. I’m loving Honey and Fizz right now. Especially the fun marquee in the kitchen. Such a cheerful and homey space!

*Busted out my trusty fleece-lined leggings this weekend.

Have a good one! I’m stealing the kids’ chocolate and trying to ignore the time change.

images: 1) Dana Miller for House*Tweaking 2) Kikuko Usuyama

ghost lights 1

Other than displaying carved pumpkins, I haven’t really decorated for Halloween in years. (I’m more of a seasonal decorator than a holiday decorator.) This year the kids were hounding me more than usual and I’ve been on a recent “life’s too short” kick so I finally came around and spooked up this place. It’s nothing over the top but I think I have a chance at Mom of the Year 2014. (You know I’m kidding, right?)

ghost lights 2

I spent $6 (coupon included) on two yards of tulle and black poster board at JoAnn’s to create ghost lights over the kitchen island. I rolled out the two yards of tulle and left it doubled over (for a layered effect) then cut it into three equal sections, one for each pendant. I cut a hole in the top of each section, slipped the tulle over the pendants then secured it with string. I trimmed the tulle to my desired length then “fringed” the ends by cutting ~2″ wide strips on the bottom half of each ghost. I freehanded three ghost faces and cut them out of the black poster board then secured them to the tulle with double-sided tape.

ghost lights 3

They turned out pretty creepy. I think the key is to use a really thin and airy tulle (not the stiff, scratchy stuff) and to scrunch the ends. (Where are all my ’97 high school grads at? We hella good at scrunching.) The moaning ghost faces portray way more emotion and despair than two black eye holes. The cat is real. Yeah, you’re going to need to rescue a kitten to pull off this look in its entirety.

spider web

I attempted to make a spider web out of jute string that I already had on hand. It turned out okay?? There’s a good reason why I’m not a spider. Apparently, webs take patience and a certain amount of skill. I immediately felt horrible about all the real webs I’ve swiped.

First, I hung three lengths of jute in an asterisk formation. I tied the ends to anything I could find: antlers, cords on the side of the cabinet, a doorstopper, etc. I rigged it so that we can still open the cabinet and door. Starting from the outer most part of the web and working my way in, I knotted off sections of jute in a hexagonal pattern. I taped a paper spider to my creation to better designate it as a “spider web.” I don’t know. It reads more like an unfinished, ginormous dreamcatcher to me.

All the spiders are crying, “You call that a web?! You disgust me.” In my defense, I don’t extrude silk from my nether regions.

halloween living room

I couldn’t boo the kitchen and not the living room.

bats

I bought two sets of removable 3D bats and filled the area above the TV with them. (A ladder was involved.) I love these bats! Don’t let the reviews fool you. A few people were disappointed that the bats aren’t larger but I actually prefer this size. The bats are plastic and you bend them to get the 3D effect. They also come with removable stickers. I’m not sure how the adhesive will hold up after one season but I can always break out my trusty putty tabs if necessary. These bats are definitely going to be a mainstay of our Halloween décor.

halloween mantel 1

I grouped pumpkins and squash on the mantel on either side of the TV wall. They were a steal at Trader Joe’s and were left over from a Thanksgiving tablescape shoot. (It goes live mid-November.) That’s where the eucalyptus branch came from, too. I laced the mantel with these copper string lights. They are the best! The delicate LEDs put off a warm white glow and the copper wire can be easily manipulated. Unlike traditional string lights, they’re barely noticeable when not lit. I can see myself using these throughout the holiday season.

halloween mantel 2

I sprinkled in a few paper maché skulls. I bought them for pennies at Michael’s several years ago during one of their post-Halloween sales and they’ve been stashed in the attic ever since. I’m very proud of myself for remembering to bust them out this year. FINALLY.

spiders

Likewise, I scored these window decals during a post-Halloween sale a while back when we were living in our previous house. They were originally two large window-sized poster decals but the size and shape were all wrong for our current home’s windows so I cut the spiders out from the background. I wasn’t sure how well the spiders alone would stick to the window. I used a damp rag to wet the window first to help with adhesion. So far, so good. I may end up laminating the spiders after this season to protect them. (You could easily DIY something similar with a little black craft paper or poster board. I was just trying to use what I had on hand.)

And now for some nighttime pictures because that’s always fun…

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spiders 2

spiders 3

Ah, the ol’ spider in the lampshade trick. It’s a classic. There’s also a little spider in one of the windows on the front door that I failed to photograph. Have I mentioned Steve is terrified of spiders?

Anyway, I threw all this together one day last week while the boys were at school. It was fun to see their reactions when they came home. They were so surprised! Everett’s favorites are the ghost lights. Layne likes the bats and skulls. I like the fact that I can reuse almost everything.

What are some of the ways you decorate for Halloween? I need to up my game for next year.

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking