...because home doesn't happen overnight.

blue apron vacation 2

I’ve been subscribing to Blue Apron for a little over a year now. The family plan is perfect for us: 2 adults, 3 young kids. I use it for especially hectic weeks when our family schedule is extra busy and also for weeks when Steve is out of town and I’m winging the single parenting thing. It’s a huge relief finding the box of farm fresh ingredients on my doorstep, knowing I can postpone a trip to the grocery store for a few more days.

blue apron vacation 4

blue apron vacation 3

Trying out new chef-designed recipes at home gets us out of the dinner rut and gives me more confidence in the kitchen, too. The filipino-style beef picadillo and fish & sweet potato chips are on regular rotation at our house.

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blue apron vacation 6

blue apron vacation 7

The kids are always excited when a Blue Apron delivery shows up. The only part they don’t like is sometimes waiting for me to take pictures of the food before they can eat it ;)

Last fall when we were gearing up for our family vacation to Rosemary Beach, I was making a list of food items to pack. To save money, I was packing breakfast, lunch and snack items. We usually eat half of our dinners out on vacation, but I wanted to cook at least two dinners. (The beach house we rented boasted a full kitchen.) I could see that space in the cooler was going to be tight and that’s when it hit me! Why not schedule a Blue Apron delivery to our vacation rental? And that’s exactly what I did.

I set it up to arrive early in the week, a day or two after our arrival. It was delivered to our porch while we were at the beach but, no worries, the box was refrigerated. It was so convenient! No need to hunt down a local grocery store in an unfamiliar city and then spend way too much vacation time trying to figure out where everything is. No need to buy a box of stick butter just for one tablespoon. All the ingredients are shipped pre-measured so there’s no waste and no rummaging around a rental kitchen for a measuring spoon or cup. (The only ingredients you might need on hand are olive oil, salt and pepper – which our rental supplied but you might want to pack them if possible.)

If you plan to cook on vacation, Blue Apron is ideal. There were a few evenings towards the end of our stay where we didn’t feel like rushing back from the beach, cleaning up and going out for dinner. That’s when I cooked. No one wants to take a cranky, overtired toddler out to dinner at a restaurant, am I right?

Do you have a U.S. vacation coming up? Maybe a staycation? If you plan on cooking, I would suggest giving Blue Apron a try. They deliver to most of the country, including Texas now! As always, shipping is free.

*BONUS* – The first 100 readers will get two meals off their first Blue Apron order FREE! Just click here.

Happy cooking and vacationing!

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

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking

main bathroom after 19

Remember when we finished the main bathroom? Yeah, that was fun. I am so grateful for that second bathroom. It’s been a game changer. There was just one teensy, weensy issue with the room. Where do we put the toilet paper? After all the work that went into making the bathroom, we didn’t have the heart cajones to drill into the subway tile or the wood vanity to hang a toilet paper holder. I tossed a few rolls in a basket under the sink and called it a day. Except Mabrey (and all of her three-year-old spunk) was having trouble reaching the basket from the toilet. #toddlerproblems

Enter Sugru. The instant I was introduced to the moldable, 3D glue, I had an a-ha! moment.

sugru toilet paper holder 1

sugru toilet paper holder 2

Because Sugru is waterproof and stable at high temperatures, it’s ideal for bathrooms. I used white Sugru to adhere the backplate of this toilet paper holder to the wall near the toilet. Then I waited 24 hours for the dough-like substance to harden into a strong rubber-like adhesive. In the meantime, I spray painted the holder flat black to mesh with the bathroom’s other finishes.

sugru toilet paper holder 3

Once the backplate was secure, I mounted the paper holder. I took advice from my lovely friend, Belinda, and rotated the holder 90º. (Traditionally, toilet paper holders are installed horizontally.) The vertical installation keeps the paper roll from falling off so easily – especially useful if children are using the facilities! I like the way it looks, too. Simple and modern. The black picks up on other black elements (pencil liner, tub exterior, hex floor tile, etc.) in the room. I love the way it turned out but, more importantly, Mabrey can reach the toilet paper now. Should I tire of it (not likely), Sugru is removable with a little elbow grease.

sugru 1

After my first successful Sugru project, I started looking around the house for other potential uses.

sugru lamp 1

Over a year ago, the kids knocked over my favorite lamp while horsing around in the living room. The cap that keeps the lampshade in place was cracked and I’ve been straightening the annoying thing ever since. I even resorted to duct tape at one point but it didn’t hold up. The crooked lampshade was driving me bonkers!

sugru lamp 2

I fixed it with black Sugru. Did I mention Sugru comes in different colors for discreet applications?

sugru lamp 3

No more crooked lampshade, but the kids are still horsing around in the living room.

sugru chair 1

They like to run and jump onto the gray chair. The chair legs are constantly twisting out of place. Again, me = bonkers.

sugru chair 2

I removed the chair legs and added a bit of Sugru for stability.

sugru chair 3

I screwed the legs back in and removed the excess adhesive with a small piece of tissue paper. Then the hard part came…keeping the kids off the chair for 24 hours while the Sugru cured.

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It worked like a charm! We’re one week in and I haven’t had to readjust the legs once.

sugru footstool 1

So, naturally, I used Sugru to shore up a wobbly leg on the vintage footstool in the boys’ bedroom.

sugru footstool 2

Awesome. Are you noticing a theme here? If you have kids, go get ye some Sugru.

sugru shade 1

We’ve always had problems with the roller blind in Mabrey’s window. It tends to jump out of the mounting hardware when recoiling which causes it to come crashing down which nicks up the drywall which makes more little work for me which infuriates me more than it should. Many a four-letter-word has been muttered in the name of that effing shade. (It’s just that one…all the others work great.) I used a little Sugru to create a bumper of sorts around the mounting bracket. It still allows the shade to roll up and down but doesn’t let it fly off the bracket. It’s glorious.

sugru shade 2

And it’s completely undetectable behind the woven shades.

I officially added Sugru to our junk drawer last week. It’s one of those fix-it things that comes in handy in a pinch. The possibilities are endless. See my favorite tutorials here. I know you’re already brainstorming things you could fix with it. Luckily, Sugru is now available at Target stores nationwide. Find your nearest store to add Sugru to your DIY arsenal for quick and easy fixes. (It would make a great gift for grads and dads, too!)

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

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking

play kitchen after 2

Santa gifted Mabrey this play kitchen last year. I didn’t find it obnoxious for a toy. But Mabrey kept asking, “When are you going to paint my kitchen?” Girl catches on quickly. Store bought items rarely stay the way I find them.

play kitchen before 1

In an effort to tidy up the side of the fridge, I decided to tweak the play kitchen with paint. And by paint, I mean paint, backsplash, new hardware, open shelving and an oven light. I may have taken things too far. Oops.

play kitchen before 2

The before. Again, it wasn’t obnoxious but there was room for improvement.

play kitchen steps 1

1 – The first thing I did was remove the chunky handles and patch the holes with wood putty.

2 – After a few applications of putty, I lightly sanded the patches and surfaces to be painted – just enough to scuff them up a bit.

3 – I taped off the oven window, control knobs and countertop.

4 – I gave the kitchen two coats of Sherwin-Williams coastal plain in a satin finish. (Btw, did you know you can purchase Sherwin-Williams paint at Lowe’s now? So convenient!)

play kitchen steps 2

5 – I bought two sheets of Smart Tiles subway tile in white. I had been eyeing them for a while but many sellers only sold them in packs of six and I didn’t need that much. When I saw them on sale at Wayfair for $5.99 per sheet and sold individually, I bit.

6 – The sheets are self-adhering vinyl with an easy peel-and-stick installation. The tiles are staggered on the edges for an overlapping seam.

7 – When positioned properly, the seam is barely noticeable. Lining up the grout lines carefully is key. I had to readjust the second sheet a few times to get a perfect fit. I don’t know that I would ever use these in a real kitchen (maybe a rental?) but they’re perfect for this application.

8 – I cut away the excess tile with utility scissors.

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9 – I cleaned up the edges with a utility knife. I cut from the backside of the kitchen and pressed a board against the front side of the backsplash for more control. I ended up painting the top of the wood backsplash white for an even cleaner look.

10 – I used scraps cut from the first sheet to fill in small portions of tile on the second sheet. I had just enough tile!

11 – I added new handles. Because the play kitchen’s cabinet doors aren’t a standard thickness, the included screws were too long. I had to rummage around in the garage to find a few random ones that would work.

12 – (This is where Steve says I went overboard.) I cut a piece of lumber (thrifted from our garage) to fit the width of the backsplash. I sanded it smooth by hand and added a quick coat of wood conditioner.

play kitchen steps 4

13 – I applied two coats of wood stain. (It’s Minwax special walnut, my favorite.)

14 – I secured the shelf with two wood screws, using the original screw holes (from the original shelf) as my pilot holes. It’s super sturdy.

15 – I spray painted the faucet flat black to tie in with the new hardware. (Don’t think I didn’t consider adding a small bathroom faucet, but that really would have been too much. Ha!)

16 – The finished product!

play kitchen oven light

For fun, I added a battery-powered LED tap light in the “oven.” Mabrey LOVES this new feature.

play kitchen after 5

play kitchen after 4

play kitchen after 3

Just this morning she made me a broccoli cake ;) She couldn’t care less about the gray-green / subway tile / reclaimed wood / matte black hardware mix, but I’m all over it. One in my size, please?

play kitchen basket 1

Mabrey has a basket of play kitchen accessories. I keep it on a low shelf in the living room when she isn’t playing chef. She likes to carry it over to her kitchen when she’s playing. The red stool stands in as extra countertop space.

play kitchen basket 2

She was gifted this toaster, this coffee maker and a slew of faux food including some felt items from etsy. So cute!

play kitchen after 6

When I was tweaking the play kitchen, I couldn’t help wondering if there was a market for unfinished playthings that consumers could put their own spin on. Someone should do that. I think it’s so nice when toys (especially larger ones out in the open) meld with a home’s decor. I’m more likely to leave it out which means it’s more likely to be played with which is the whole point anyway, right? Or, I might be cray-cray.

At any rate, it was a fun little project and Mabrey seems to enjoy it. Now to tackle that messy fridge!

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking