...because home doesn't happen overnight.

outdoor dinner 8

With the two older kids back in school and summer slowly slipping away, I find myself trying to make the most of what little daylight time we have together in the evenings. Eating dinner together as a family has always been a priority for us. Often times, Steve doesn’t return home from work until after 7:00 p.m., or he’s traveling. So when we do get the chance to eat dinner all together (as opposed to just the kids and me) during the week, we jump on it. It’s a great way to reconnect and share stories from the day. It’s never formal but it always feels special. The weather has been so pleasant lately that we’ve been eating al fresco on the back deck. We have an outdoor dining table but gathering on the outdoor sectional for dinner feels cozier, more comfortable. Everyone is at ease.

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With the busyness the school year brings, I’ve started ordering meals from Blue Apron again, too, depending on our schedule. The family plan is meant to serve four, but we’ve found that it’s the perfect plan for us since our youngest two usually eat half of a full serving. That equates to roughly $6.99 per person (for a family of five) which is less than what we normally pay to eat out yet a little more than what we pay for grocery shopping + meal planning on our own. The convenience of having fresh ingredients delivered right to our door in just the right amounts is kinda priceless though. Especially during chaotic weeks.

A new-ish feature of Blue Apron allows subscribers to see what’s on the menu up to a month in advance. You’re able to select which recipes you want to try and/or opt out of delivery for upcoming weeks. Shipping is always free!

blue apron outdoor 10

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Our most recent delivery included the steak gyros & corn on the cob with tzatziki sauce & spiced butter and now it’s our all-time Blue Apron favorite. It was super quick and easy to prepare. Mabrey even helped ;)

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I served it family style on the coffee table outside.

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The kids loved the “help yourself” setup and made their own plates. Everything was good but the corn was AMAZING. Coming from me, that says a lot. I’ve lived in the midwest all my life and corn is a summer staple around here. Growing up, we had a large garden and rows of corn. Some of my fondest childhood memories include corn roasts at our house with all my aunts, uncles and cousins. My dad would get a large brush pile burning and we would roast ears of corn at the top of the pile, sticking them between the smoldering branches. When they were done, we ate them standing around the bonfire. The corn was so good that butter was entirely optional, rarely necessary.

Admittedly, when I first scanned the Blue Apron recipe and saw the corn + spiced butter combo I was leery. Adding anything to corn other than butter and salt felt almost sacrilegious. But it was DELICIOUS. The sauce is basically a mixture of butter, garlic and greek spices. Steve and I both agreed it was the best corn we have ever had. If you take only one thing from this post, let it be the corn + spiced butter recipe. Trust.

I like how Blue Apron nudges us out of our usual dinner comfort zones. In the same delivery, I also ordered the crispy catfish & roasted potatoes. The side of summer bean salad with garlic-lemon aioli was so good that we are bringing it to a family cookout next weekend. I want to try the oven-braised tandoori cauliflower and the piri-piri chicken next.

How are you eking out the last few weeks of summer? Did you know today is National Eat Outside Day?! How will you celebrate?

BONUS: The first 50 readers can grab two free meals on their first Blue Apron order by clicking here!

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

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking

07.28.15 / Liked & Linked

summer fun

breakfast tacos

balayage lob

With only two weeks until school starts (?!), we’re trying to soak up what’s left of summer. Last week we cooled off at the pool, hosted a sleepover, met up with old friends, took slow family walks, slept in, lounged on the back deck, caught fireflies and harvested two cucumbers from our garden (if you can call it that). Our breakfasts and dinners have been later than usual. Breakfast tacos are on heavy rotation because they’re so easy and no one whines. On a whim, I had six inches of hot, sweaty hair lopped off. And after a year of teasing from my dad (oh, have you been painting stuff white again?), I had my grays colored. I’ve never really had a hairstyle per say. It’s been long – too long – for years. And I’ve never done more than subtle highlights every few years. So this new lob + root color + balayage combo is quite the change but I LOVE IT. I think I’ll actually keep it around for a while…and maybe even go shorter next time.

More things to love…

*A DIY garage door before-and-after. Yowsas!

*A 5-month renovation. The white cork flooring is a unique yet practical choice.

*This amazing family home. (Final reveal by Amber Interiors coming soon.)

*American-made warm LED work surface lighting.

*Please tell me you’ve already seen this.

makehaus kitchen

makehaus kitchen 1

*I will never tire of small space renovations. (Note the top shelf extending above the sink window.)

*A hilarious account of taking your kids with you to the gynecologist. It’s been more than 4 years since I survived a very similar experience. One day I’ll share but I’m not there yet.

*The magic of not trying so hard is a very real kind of magic. (Psst…Holly is writing a new book!)

*This adorable book light is saving my marriage.

*My hair stylist recommended using this dry shampoo to stretch the time in between washings and preserve my new color. So far, so good.

I hope your week is off to a great start!

images: 1-3) Dana Miller for House*Tweaking 4 & 5) Heather Jennings for Make+Haus

07.07.15 / Liked & Linked

swimsuit lunch

family bonfire

After two months of jam-packed weeks and weekends, we enjoyed some much needed down time last week. The seemingly never-ending rain let up just in time for the holiday weekend so we hit up the pool, ate burgers in our swimsuits, went on family walks, watched fireworks and roasted s’mores. It was simple and perfect.

A few links…

*“Let’s sell the house, sell the car. Sell all of that baby stuff, the garden and kitchen stuff, all that extra stuff. What is all that stuff anyway? Let’s take the kids out of school. Escape the rat race and disappear for a year.” AMAZING.

*My latest architect crush.

*Modern outdoor furniture made from recycled milk jugs.

*Jessica Helgerson’s new farmhouse was recently shot for…the firm’s portfolio? a magazine pitch? an upcoming feature? Whatever the reason, I CANNOT wait to see it. Psst…a sneak peek of the master bedroom.

amber thrane courtyard

amber thrane shasta

*Daydreaming about this creative lady’s cozy courtyard and vintage Shasta camper.

*My go-to cookbook these days when I don’t feel like thinking about dinner. We had the aloha sliders with pineapple relish and Szechwan peasant pork over the weekend. So easy! So tasty!

*After extensive “research,” I’ve concluded that these vanilla marshmallows and this dark coconut toffee chocolate make the perfect s’more. Trust. Oh, wait. Did you think I was paleo? Nope. That cookbook above is excellent whether you follow a paleo diet all of the time, some of the time or never.

I hope you had a wonderful holiday!

images: 1 & 2) Dana Miller for House*Tweaking 3 & 4) Amber Thrane of Dulcet Creative