...because home doesn't happen overnight.

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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!

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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

UPDATE: Apparently, I was operating on no coffee / no sleep / no brain cells at the time this post was written. So sorry for all the confusion! I have edited the post to clarify the main points and terminology. I hope it makes a little more sense. Thanks for all your feedback!

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A few years ago, I shared my bunk bed making secrets. Two and a half years later, I want to edit that post…starting with the removal of the cheesy lead shot. (Ugh.) But no, for real.

For the most part, the tips I shared are still in full force over here. I still use a step stool and sheet clips. (They’re like suspenders for your sheets.) I still keep pillows to a minimum. I’m still nixing the flat sheets. (They’re pointless with kids.) But there is one little thing that has been making my life even easier when it comes to making the boys’ bunk beds.

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They’re linen duvet covers in European sizes. Let me repeat. Linen duvet covers. European sizing. They will change your life. No more ironing. (Who am I kidding? I have never ironed bedding.) No more baggy, ill-fitting duvet covers. No more balled up, bunched up comforters inside said duvet covers. No more comforter clips.

European-sized duvet covers are smaller (narrower & shorter) so they actually fit the comforters. There’s less shifting of the comforters inside so I’ve been able to lose the comforter clips. (I still use sheet clips on the fitted sheet on the top bunk.) Also, the smaller sizing means less fabric to tuck around the mattress. Less tucking = less linen wrestling = less sweating = happy mama.

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I went with white European singles from this etsy shop and opted for the zipper closure for the boys’ twin mattresses. (If you are thinking of purchasing a European duvet cover, double check that it says EUR sizing. Not every listing in this etsy shop has EUR sizing available at this time which is why I didn’t link to a specific item.) For me, I prefer the zipper closure over any fold over, button or tie closure. It’s convenient and there’s no comforter slipping out over time.

I made the switch over a year ago. At the time, it seemed like such a splurge but now it feels like money well spent, an investment in my sanity. Bed making is quicker and the wrinkly linen is super kid-friendly. I’m hoping the white will stand the test of time. I can always pair it with something more colorful when boredom strikes.

When the BHG crew was here last month, the stylist brought in different bedding for the bunks. She was huffing and puffing, sweating and cursing by the time it was all said and done. We agreed that making bunk beds is the worst.

Thank goodness for those linen duvet covers that always look great with little effort. I’m tempted to make the switch in my bedroom, too.

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking

ikea 2016 2

The kids and I were in Florida last week visiting my grandparents. There was a stack of mail waiting for me when we returned home. I was happy to find a copy of Ikea’s newest catalog among the stack of envelopes and shelter glossies. I had thought the catalog’s official release date was August 15th. I was surprised to see it show up in my mailbox so early. At any rate, I devoured it in one sitting. I made a list of the items and ideas that caught my eye. I thought I would share them with you today. In an effort to avoid ruining the novelty for others, I won’t be sharing photos of each item. I’d love for you to experience the catalog on your own then refer to my list if you feel inclined to do so. UPDATE: If you aren’t able to get a catalog in your hands, you can view it online here. Let’s get started!

*pg. 6, 61, 198 With its minimal design and small footprint, the LISABO dining table is ideal for small spaces.

*pg. 7, 63, 197 I actually spied the MÖCKELBY dining table several weeks ago at my local Ikea. It was love at first sight. The piece is a modern take on the trestle table. I predict it will become a best seller. FYI: I originally read the description as solid oak, meaning this was a solid oak table through and through. After further clarification, it appears the table is particleboard with a solid oak top layer.

*pg. 8-9 I have been (im)patiently waiting for the highly anticipated line from Ilse Crawford. It looks like I will have to wait a bit longer. The SINNERLIG collection debuts this fall but I’m already in love with the natural materials and textures. The cork furniture (dining table, bench, stools) and bamboo pendant lamp ($60!) are my favorite pieces.

*pg. 15 Metallic gold tape turns a basic white fridge into a fun statement. Easy and inexpensive!

*pg. 25, 60, 179 The RISATORP wire basket is pretty, practical and versatile. I can see it being utilized in almost any room to corral food, toys, linens, art supplies, toiletries, mail, books, etc. Also, the pantry on page 25 is dreamy.

*pg. 33 The affordable HINDÖ shelving unit with cabinets has an industrial vibe. I would use it in a kitchen, dining room or creative studio for combined open and hidden storage.

*pg. 81 The SITTNING tea light holders (made of natural stone) and small chopping boards (made of oiled acacia) are less than $5 a pop! I’ll definitely be grabbing a few of each.

*pg. 85 An interactive, kid-friendly wall features chalkboard paint halfway up the wall topped with shelving and knob hooks. A unique idea for a playroom or basement family room.

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pg. 141 (Probably my favorite page of the entire catalog.) I love everything about this bathroom! I’m so happy the GODMORGON cabinet is still available. (We love ours!) The bamboo countertop option warms things up and the TÖRNVIKEN vessel sink finally solves the problem of standard water traps crowding drawer space.

pg. 167 Yay for a dark nursery!

pg. 176 The INGEFÄRA pot combines a traditional material (terracota) with a modern design (deep saucer) at a ridiculously cheap price point of $2-$4 depending on size.

pg. 187 Ikea has been keeping kitchens organized for a long time with various containers. Add the KORKEN jar to that list.

pg. 198 The simple design of the IDOLF chair works with nearly any table style. I’m especially fond of the added support detail just under the seat. It reminds me of a Thonet.

pg. 208 Good-looking yet affordable ceiling lights are few and far between. The new VARV ceiling lamp checks both boxes.

pg. 237 The HILVER table boasts warm wood tones with white accents and clean lines. I like the idea of using it as a desk in the corner of a living room or home office.

pg. 272 I’m diggin’ the hardware-less 2-drawer OPPLAND chest for less than $100.

pg. 286 I always fall for Ikea’s cheap, flatwoven rugs. The TÅNUM and SIGNE do not disappoint.

pg. 292 I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything like the NORDRANA baskets before. They’re constructed of polypropylene (the same material used for outdoor rugs) and washable. They’d be perfect hanging in a bathroom for easy and accessible storage.

pg. 304 Your kids want brightly colored plastic toys. You prefer wooden ones. The LILLABO cars are the perfect compromise.

pg. 305 I think Mabrey needs the DUKTIG cash register ;)

That’s my list! Overall, I really enjoyed browsing the new catalog. I like how Ikea shows many of their products in different settings on more than one page so you get a feel for how they might look in real life. I also thought the styling felt layered and lived-in…always a good thing in my book. One area that I thought was lacking this year was the bedding category which surprised me because I usually love their inexpensive bedding options. Have you flipped through the catalog yet? I’d love to know what caught your eye!

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking