...because home doesn't happen overnight.

UPDATE: I inadvertently posted this before catching up on my blog reading and discovering that Joanna at A Cup of Jo wrote a very similar post on this very topic last week! Eek!! This post idea had been on my to do list for some time. Great minds think alike? Anyway, feel free to check out her post and the comments sections here and there for a slew of recommendations.

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One of my favorite things about our little house is its proximity to a variety of grocery stores. It takes me less than 10 minutes to drive to the nearest Trader Joe’s. It’s super convenient but it can be dangerous. I try to stick to my shopping list but everything looks so good! I usually end up leaving with at least one experimental purchase. I’ve learned to look for almost sold out items. In most cases, an empty shelf is a good omen.

Here are my favorite go-to’s:

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*premade salads – They make for quick and easy lunches on the busiest (or laziest) of days. I especially like the lemon chicken & arugula salad and the uncured bacon & spinach salad.

*fully cooked uncured apple smoked bacon – It crisps up quickly on the stove or in the microwave making it ideal for hurried mornings.

*ready to bake pizza dough – It’s the BEST readymade dough my taste buds have ever encountered. I use it for pizzas, bread & butter and even pretzels. It tastes best right out of the oven.

*French liquid hand soap – The orange blossom honey scent is delightful. (And the Trader Jacques branding is quite comical.) I set it out in the main bathroom on special occasions when we have guests visiting. It always generates a compliment or two.

*inner peas – I pack these baked green peas in the kids’ lunch boxes.

*dry roasted almonds with 50% less salt – Steve requests these for his paleo salads and snacks. Mabrey LOVES them.

*dark chocolate-covered anything – If you’ve been to Trader Joe’s, you know what section I’m talking about. I prefer my almonds smothered in dark chocolate, thankyouverymuch.

*dried mango slices – They’re better than fruit roll-ups in every way.

*uncured sliced corned beef – I crave these sammies.

*cookie butter – Kryptonite in a jar. And if you put it on an apple, it magically becomes a healthy snack. (Not really, but it’s still my favorite.)

*sauerkraut with pickled persian cucumbers – I love sauerkraut and I love pickles so it’s no surprise that I love this combination. I like it hot or cold (see corned beef sandwich link above).

*toasted coconut pancake mix – Just add water for a crepe-like pancake with a hint of coconut. These pancakes were an integral part of our winter survival kit.

*organic tomato & roasted red pepper soup – I pair it with a hot ham & pesto sandwich for a comforting meal.

*organic vegetarian chili – My family loves it on uncured, all beef hot dogs.

I’d love to hear what you buy at Trader Joe’s. Any recommendations? Thanks in advance!

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking

 

03.23.15 / Made Me Smile

Dayton Art Institute

Dayton Art Institute

dayton art institute

dayton art institute

The last few weekends have been good to us. No snow, no traveling, no big projects, lots of exploring. It’s been wonderful having a wide open schedule and making (or not making) plans on a whim. I feel like much of the time Steve and I are tag-teaming our parenting responsibilities, so it’s nice when we actually get to do something all together as a family. And it’s more fun being a present parent than a serious one with a never-ending schedule.

This past weekend we visited the Dayton Art Institute and it was perfection. The kids were in awe and asked tons of questions. (They were mostly questions about boobs.) Sometimes I forget that we have one of the best art museums for kids in our backyard. If you’re ever in Dayton, Ohio, you should check it out. It’s not too big, not too small. A current exhibition, The Last Supper by Julie Green, was especially moving and it sparked an interesting conversation with our oldest. I love it when art does that.

I’m also loving…

*The hits of black and dark olive in this row house by Mazen Studio.

*Benita’s DIY bar cabinet featuring a Superfront door.

*Sunset’s special small space style issue. (So fun to see familiar homes in a different way!)

*The kid-friendly lunchbox of my dreams.

i carried a watermelon

*I carried a watermelon.

*The idea of a zero waste home. (Not sure I have the discipline to hit zero but every little bit helps, right?)

*Clare’s new large format prints. Use the discount code HOUSETWEAKING at checkout to score 15% off any purchase.

*A gauzy, floral robe for the summer ahead. (I wish it had been in my hospital bag when I had my babies!)

P.S. – It’s snowing now.

images: 1-5) Dana Miller for House*Tweaking 6) etsy (listing unavailable)

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I need ideas for our hallway! But first, a story.

A few weeks ago I was introduced to FilterEasy. I hadn’t heard of the company before. FilterEasy is a subscription air filter delivery service. When you sign up, you simply select the number of filters needed, the individual sizes, your preferred level of allergen protection and how often you want to switch them out. FilterEasy does the rest and when it’s time to change, your filter order shows up at your doorstep. No more marking calendars. No more forgetting your filter’s size. No more nasty filters. It’s an ingenious concept.

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When was the last time you changed your air filter? You’re not alone. We’ve changed ours maybe three times in the last three years. Which brings me to this…

In the middle of the night last week our furnace suddenly started making a high-pitched screeching sound. It was not pleasant. Steve took a look at it (as much as someone can “take a look” half asleep at 3 a.m. with a flashlight running on nearly dead batteries) and guessed it was a bad bearing on the fan motor. The next morning we had a local HVAC company come out to confirm his initial diagnosis. Just for kicks, we asked for a quote for the repair. They quoted us >$600! Gulp. Luckily, Steve was able to find the part elsewhere and replace it himself for <$100 in just a few minutes. Whew.

Still, we got to thinking about our furnace. It’s 14 years old and we’d really like to have it around for a while longer. I can think of a million other things I’d rather spend my money on than a new furnace. (Wallpaper for the hallway? Hint, hint.) So we jumped on the FilterEasy bandwagon. Obviously, we haven’t been doing our furnace, our lungs or the environment any favors by skimping on air filters. Steve and I were pleasantly surprised to discover that the cost of the subscription service is actually CHEAPER than buying direct from our local home improvement store. And the filters are made right here in the U.S. by the same manufacturer that provides filters to hospitals and NASA. Really, it’s a no-brainer, folks. Act fast! The first 100 readers to sign up here will receive their first order for FREE!

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Now we have no excuse not to change our filter on time, every time. It’s as simple as opening a box and replacing the old with the new. (Is it just me or am I the only one who is overly excited to see where all the bloggers’ furnaces are? It seems like such a personal thing. It’s like getting a peek at their closet or something.)

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So, back to the hallway. The new, clean air filter is the most exciting thing here. Just look at how bored Cheetah is. She can’t even keep her eyes open. It’s a complete snooze fest and I’m ready to do something about it.

hallway before 3

The hallway is narrow and riddled with doors. A short hall jaunts off to the left at the bottom of the image. You can see the door to a small linen closet and at the end of the tangent hall is the main bathroom. My biggest problem with the main hallway is that it dead-ends into a closet door. Boo. In an effort to spruce up the space, I’m considering wallpaper.

Usually, I’m not a wallpaper person. (I thought I wasn’t a cat person either and we all know what happened there.) But I kinda want to go for it. It’s just a hallway, right? It’s not an entire room. And it might be just the oomph! this hallway needs.

hallway brainstorm

I’ve been scouring wallpaper sources, and I’ve fallen hard for this Eskayel grayscale pattern but I’m not sure about the scale. The kids said it looks like “grandma wallpaper.”

hygge & west pajarito

I’m also digging this Hygge & West pattern.

Beware the Moon

And I’ve admired this ostrich motif for years.

To tone down the busyness (and save money on wallpaper), I’m thinking of DIYing a wainscoting but I can’t decide if that would be appropriate for our house and / or if it will only chop up the hallway even more. I go back and forth. As far as the dead-end door goes, I’m hoping the wallpaper will distract the eye. If not, I’ve considered painting the door black or hanging coat hooks on it.

Anyway, I would LOVE to hear your thoughts! Sometimes it helps to have an outsider’s eye. What would you do if this were your hallway? Wallpaper? Wainscoting? Gallery display? Any wallpaper sources you’d like to pass along?

Thanks in advance and don’t forget to show your furnace some FREE love!

*This post sponsored in part by FilterEasy. Thank you for supporting the brands that support this blog! FilterEasy offers any size custom or 4” filter if necessary. Just email hello@filtereasy.com and mention HOUSETWEAKING.

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking