...because home doesn't happen overnight.

Everyone knows the kitchen is the heart of the home. A few gift ideas for those who keep it warm…

gift guide : the kitchen

 

1 – acacia pizza peel – Perfect for pizza night.

2 – Thug Kitchen – Because cooking should be healthy and fun(ny).

3 – oil pourer, cruet – Hands down, the best oil / vinegar dispensers on the planet. No drips, no messes. You get a perfect pour every time. (We use the large one for olive oil and the small one for balsamic vinegar.)

4 – melamine bowl – Great for the kids’ snacks.

5 – gold foil kitchen print – Dancing makes everything better.

6 – sustainable bamboo trivets – Earth-friendly. Countertop-friendly.

7 – salt & pepper bottle grinders – Functional and beautiful. Two qualities of a perfect gift.

8 – One Pot – A fresh and easy take on comfort food. *BONUS* – Less dishes to wash.

9 – stainless steel straws – Eco-friendly. Kid-friendly. The only way our kids will drink the green juice we make.

10 – shallow maple bowl – Display fresh produce, or corral coffee and tea brewing supplies.

P.S. – Our juicer is still going strong after two years of almost daily use!

image: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking

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I recently partnered with Wayfair to create a Thanksgiving tablescape. The idea was to show how you can pair splurge-worthy reusable items (fine china, flatware, cloth napkins, candelabras, etc.) with easy, inexpensive DIYs to create a festive but not too literal look. I’ve always loved natural garland lining the center of a table so that was my jumping off point. I removed the wishbone chairs from the ends of the table and brought in two chairs from our outdoor dining patio to sit between the tulip chairs. This provided seating for six and allowed the table runner and greenery to spill over the ends of the table.

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I sewed a custom table runner out of vintage batik fabric and pom trim.

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I’ve found that most ready-made runners look too narrow on our chunky table so I created a wider one. It measures ~20″ wide.

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I bought a few $3 bunches of eucalyptus from Trader Joe’s and placed them on the runner along the center of the table for a natural, organic vibe. Not only do I love the look, but the greenery is more conducive to conversation versus traditional centerpieces. It makes for a casual but intimate dining experience. (And it smells divine!) I sprinkled in mini pumpkins and candles. A few of the orange pumpkins weren’t meshing with the color scheme so I spray painted them gold.

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The geometric candelabras were originally black. I spray painted them gold, too. Spray all the things gold! I melted purple and indigo crayons then rolled the bases of taper candles in the wax.

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I love how the candelabras turned out. They’re so, so pretty.

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I kept the place settings simple. Silver banded china (a wedding gift twelve years ago!), sleek gold flatware and linen napkins are quality staples with longevity that can be used year-round for special occasions. Instead of using napkin rings, I tied leather laces around the napkins and tucked in eucalyptus sprigs.

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I carried the eucalyptus and pumpkins over on to the floating credenza and threw in roses from a local grocer.

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I used wood letters, wood stain, hot glue and jute string to create a “give thanks” banner. (The craft store was out of stock on T’s so I had to improvise with an L and I.)

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I strung the two banners across the window and secured them with clear 3M cord clips. I like the way the wood letters tie in with the bench and woven shade.

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I think my favorite aspect of the decor is that it doesn’t scream Thanksgiving (aside from the “give thanks” banner) and it doesn’t stray too far from our home’s everyday vibe. The gold, white, green and indigo color scheme works well in our dining room but still feels autumnal.

You can read more about my Thanksgiving tablescape over on Wayfair. Find the source list below. If you have any questions, just ask!

Sources:

china – wedding gift, JCPenney
gold flatware – West Elm
wine glasses – family heirloom
linen napkins with midnight border – Coyuchi, Wayfair
leather cord – Realeather lace
batik fabric – etsy
pom trim – JoAnn’s
geometric candelabra – Wayfair
eucalyptus, pumpkins – Trader Joe’s
gold spray paint – Design Master 24 karat pure gold (It’s a wonderful warm gold with copper undertones – perfect for fall!)
wood craft letters – JoAnn’s
wood stain – Minwax special walnut

Psssst – We’re having THE BEST time on our family vacation! We’re already dreading leaving what feels like paradise. I wish everyone could experience this place.

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking

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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

10.23.14 / Easy Harvest Salad

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A few weeks ago we hit up our favorite pizza place, Dewey’s, and had the most amazing harvest salad with figs, pumpkin seeds, bacon and a cider vinaigrette. (If you ever get the chance to eat at Dewey’s, you must try the Green Lantern. It’s part of their regular menu and they rotate in seasonal items, too.) It was so good that Steve and I couldn’t stop talking about it for days. I decided to try my hand at replicating the salad at home. It’s not an exact match but it’s pretty close. I’ve made it several times now and we can’t get enough. Maybe you would like to try it?

For the salad I used a baby spring mix, dried figs cut in half, roasted pumpkin seeds, uncured apple smoked bacon pieces (You bake it, right? It’s super easy and less messy.) and crumbled goat cheese.

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For the vinaigrette, I went with this simple recipe since I had all the ingredients on hand. I just mixed everything in the blender.

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Done and yum. Even our kids gobble this salad up. I think I know where all the seeds from our jack-o-lanterns are going to end up this year!

What are some of your favorite fall recipes?

P.S. – Easy fall beans.

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking