...because home doesn't happen overnight.

bday 2

On Saturday, we celebrated Mabrey’s and Everett’s birthdays with extended family. (Mabrey turned two on Sunday and Everett will turn six on Monday.) Their birthdays are close enough to warrant a joint celebration – at least with extended family. Mabrey and Everett have such a close, unique relationship. They don’t mind sharing the spotlight with the other. At least for now.

On my kids’ actual birth days, the goal is to make them feel as special as they are. For us, that doesn’t mean oodles of gifts or an expensive party for all their classmates or even matching decorations. Extra cuddles, some balloons, a special gift, favorite foods, revisiting their birth story, maybe a visit to their favorite park and saying “I can’t believe you’re X years old already!” is all it takes. And we always read Dr. Seuss’s Happy Birthday to You!

bday 3

It got me thinking about how other families celebrate birthdays. Back when I working as a pharmacist, one of my co-worker’s had a Birthday Hat. It was a big, obnoxious (in a good way) hat that each person wore on their special day. They have pictures of each family member wearing the hat each year on their birthday. Such a fun tradition!

Growing up, my family took pride in singing the most horrible, drawn-out version of “Happy Birthday” you’ve ever heard. Loud, off-key, out of sync – that’s the stuff! The worse, the better. It’s always funny to see how non-family members not accustomed to our tradition react to the rendition. Usually, they look on in horror!

bday 1

How do you celebrate birthdays in your family? Any unique traditions? I’d love to hear ‘em.

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking

02.07.14 / Made Me Smile

light 1

The things that made me smile this week…

*An architect’s $11,000 dream house. (The most expensive thing is the toilet!)

*Fiddle leaf fig humor. #thespot

*Instagram of the week.

*My remote should arrive any day now. No more one-armed selfies! Pictures of the whole famn damily!

*A cosmetic kitchen overhaul from the designer’s viewpoint.

*Blinded by the light.

*Lots of snow = lots of reading.

*My favorite ankle boots for the 35+ crowd.

Do something that makes you smile this weekend! I’m taking five boys (!) to see The Lego Movie. Smiles all around.

image: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking

girl nursery 1

So many times I get asked, “What if Mabrey had been a boy? What would the nursery look like then?” I thought it would be fun to turn my answer into a mood board and share it with you. Here we go. The nursery. Boy edition.

boy nursery

First off, the room’s layout would remain the same. It just works so I wouldn’t mess with it. There are so many items in Mabrey’s nursery that I love and would work well in a baby boy’s room, too. I would definitely keep most of the larger, basic items. The crib, the changing table with baskets & bins, the mirror, the wall shelves, the rocking chair, the trunk under the window, the ceiling light, the rug, the woven shade, the deer head…all that would stay. (For the sake of keeping the mood board simple, I show only a few of these items above but all of them would remain in the room.) The majority of this stuff hails from Ikea. The rocker and woven shade are from Overstock. The trunk was a wedding gift. The rug is from West Elm. The deer head is from White Faux Taxidermy.

I am still head over heels for the wall color. It’s Benjamin Moore dark pewter and I would use it all over again. (That’s saying a lot as I have been known to paint a room three times before I land on the perfect hue.) It’s a deep, moody gray blue with green undertones. It makes the small room feel oh-so-cozy and is conducive to sleeping. And I like sleeping babies – boy or girl. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with boys and pink but I think it would be fun to add red-orange, mustard and green accents against the dark walls along with a lot of white for contrast.

On to the items I would change. The pattern on Mabrey’s curtains is pretty feminine. I would hang these at the window and closet instead. As for the DIY art above the crib, I would probably DIY a gradient wood stain for the same effect but a more masculine look. So it would go from a natural to rich wood tone. But since you guys don’t have this exact empty frame hanging around at your house, I also love the idea of DIYing a big wooden Ohio and painting a small heart or star in the location where my baby boy was born. (The Ohio in the mood board is an ornament but you get the idea.) I would pair all white bedding with a colorful quilt. I really like this vintage kantha. And I would bring in more color and pattern with pillows (here, here, here and here) and scatter them throughout the room in the crib, on the trunk and on the rocker. Two or three green rope baskets (eek! They sold out in between creating the mood board and writing this post but they’re from Target.) would corral toys and sit on the floor below the wall shelves. To bring a little more life to the open shelves, I’d add green boxes and framed nature photography.

All that’s left to add is a bouncing baby boy! Don’t get me wrong, I love my babygirl and her room. But sometimes it’s fun to re-imagine a room for someone else. Or is that just me?

P.S. – A few more shots of M’s room these days…

girl nursery 2

girl nursery 3

girl nursery 4

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking

chicken marbella 1

If you’re like me, you panic at 5:00 p.m. thinking about what to put on the table for dinner. I don’t particularly enjoy cooking so whatever I make tends to be quick and easy. I get stuck in ruts making the same things over and over. I don’t read cooking / foodie blogs regularly because it isn’t my passion and I usually end up feeling completely inadequate and overwhelmed. But, and here’s the big but, I LOVE EATING. So I cook. Sometimes all it takes is one new recipe to shake things up and bring my meal plan out of doldrums. I always appreciate an easy, yummy dinner idea so I thought you might too. And, to me, home is as much about what you do in it as what you do to it.

EASY CHICKEN MARBELLA

chicken marbella 2

Add ingredients listed above to a medium mixing bowl and stir gently to combine. Pour the mixture over three to four chicken breasts in a baking dish. Bake at 350°F for 30 minutes or until cooked through. Warning: your house is going to smell amazing.

chicken marbella 4

chicken marbella 3

It should look something like this when done.

chicken marbella 5

Remove bay leaves. Serve with couscous and pour juices over.

chicken marbella 6

Even easier…make this dish in the crockpot after freezing the ingredients. You can combine all ingredients in a freezer bag ahead of time and store in the freezer until you’re ready to cook. (Great gift idea for moms-to-be! Write baking instructions on the bag and don’t forget to include a box of couscous to go along with it.) You could easily whip up a batch of this chicken marbella on the weekend, freeze, then serve later in the week. I like a lot of olives and capers but you can use less if you wish. Multiply the recipe to accommodate larger gatherings.

Enjoy!

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking