...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

 

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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.

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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.

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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

03.16.15 / Made Me Smile

spring 2015

We had a few nice days over the past week and took full advantage of them by hitting up our favorite parks and opening the windows. (Mabrey laughs hysterically every time I give her an “unnerdoggie” on the swings. Pure happiness.) I almost forgot what it was like to breathe fresh air. It looks like we will survive another winter after all. Spring is so close! We are so ready!

A few links that stuck with me…

*Goodbye garbage house. H-E-L-L-O dream house. (I love all the well-placed windows.)

*A unique space that feels stylish yet not overdone.

*Note to self: an amazing loft studio makeover.

*Haven magazine volume one is now available! The print is based in Cincinnati, Ohio, and all volume one profits go to Freeset, an organization in Kolkata, India, helping women who have left or escaped sex trafficking.

*How to take successful interior photos, part 1 and part 2. (Thanks for sharing your secrets, Alison!)

be here now // Mary Lauren

*Be here now.

*The most practical travel makeup bag. (I use a similar, larger version for the kids’ Legos.)

*Esther’s perfectly imperfect parenting confession:

I find myself comparing to other mothers who are so productive and “successful” doing so many things while having even more kids than I have, although I know it’s okay to do less and live slower but sometimes I just feel “lazy.”

I can relate.

T minus 4 days until spring!

images: 1) Dana Miller for House*Tweaking 2) Mary Lauren