...because home doesn't happen overnight.

Everyone knows the kitchen is the heart of the home. A few gift ideas for those who keep it warm…

gift guide : the kitchen

 

1 – acacia pizza peel – Perfect for pizza night.

2 – Thug Kitchen – Because cooking should be healthy and fun(ny).

3 – oil pourer, cruet – Hands down, the best oil / vinegar dispensers on the planet. No drips, no messes. You get a perfect pour every time. (We use the large one for olive oil and the small one for balsamic vinegar.)

4 – melamine bowl – Great for the kids’ snacks.

5 – gold foil kitchen print – Dancing makes everything better.

6 – sustainable bamboo trivets – Earth-friendly. Countertop-friendly.

7 – salt & pepper bottle grinders – Functional and beautiful. Two qualities of a perfect gift.

8 – One Pot – A fresh and easy take on comfort food. *BONUS* – Less dishes to wash.

9 – stainless steel straws – Eco-friendly. Kid-friendly. The only way our kids will drink the green juice we make.

10 – shallow maple bowl – Display fresh produce, or corral coffee and tea brewing supplies.

P.S. – Our juicer is still going strong after two years of almost daily use!

image: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking

A few gift ideas for those of us who live, work and feel better in a tidy environment…

the tidy house gift guide

 

1 – heritage catchall – Perfect in an entryway or laundry room for emptying pockets.

2 – pinwheel geo box – Use it on a coffee table or bookshelf for stashing playing or flash cards. Gift it with a deck of cards!

3 – angled heirloom pencil holder – Corrals pens for grab-n-go list-making. Don’t forget the pens!

4 – easy clean corded hand-held vacuum – Great for households with pets and / or kids.

5 – hairpin magazine rack – Clever and stylish reading material storage for small spaces. Throw in a few favorite magazines to get ‘em started.

6 – steel and walnut coat rack – Practical and fun near a door or on the back of one.

7 – kraft and gold polka dot planner – For old school folk like myself. If I don’t write it down, it doesn’t happen.

8 – power squeegee – For streak-free windows, mirrors and showers every time. No paper towels needed.

9 – printed woven storage – “I have too many baskets,” said no one ever. *BONUS* – It doubles as a gift box.

And a complete splurge for those who have been extra nice this year ;)

image: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking

It’s official. We have a deadline for the main bathroom. My sister is coming to stay with us in about a month and it would be really nice to have two fully functioning bathrooms by then…if not sooner. Vanity installation is in full swing and I’m already thinking about fun little things like a mirror, shower curtain, wall hooks and towels. I’ve been looking at a lot of pictures of bathrooms online lately and something struck me.

modern bathroom

Have you ever wondered where the ventilation fan is in minimal bathrooms like this one? These are the menial things I waste my time thinking about. We have a recessed light over the shower / tub area and a separate box fan in each of our bathrooms. They’re definitely an improvement compared to what was there before. (Nothing.) But when I take pictures of the bathrooms I notice the fans. Such buggy lil’ eyesores.

Our friends are remodeling their master bathroom and they mentioned a bathroom fan disguised as a recessed light. Say what?! Apparently, Steve and I have been living under a rock. Had we known about this clever fan a couple of years ago we definitely would have incorporated it in the bathroom renovations. I’m putting it on the “next house” list. Ha!

Did you know about the sneaky fan / light thing? Why didn’t you tell me?! I did some checking and it looks like there’s an LED version available now, too. Gah!

image: Marmol Radziner

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I don’t know about you but after a sugar-filled weekend I’m ready for some homemade food. I recently made a butternut squash & caramelized fennel pizza that was a delicious, seasonal meal.

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Steve is away on an extended business trip so I signed up for another Blue Apron delivery. I tried Blue Apron for the first time earlier this year after Steve’s appendectomy and it was a lifesaver during that busy, stressful time. I knew it would come in equally handy during a week of single-parenting. Skipping a grocery trip with kids in favor of farm-fresh ingredients delivered right to my doorstep? I’ll take it! It’s a little ridiculous how excited I am to open the refrigerated box and read over the three yummy, chef-designed recipes for the week.

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The ingredients are pre-measured to avoid waste. Even the smallest amounts of herbs and spices are included. (You only need olive oil, salt and pepper on hand.) It’s pretty foolproof.

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I’ve said it before… cooking isn’t in my wheelhouse. I’m not like my mom. I can’t scan ingredients in my pantry and fridge then whip up a meal in minutes with little mental effort and lots of cheery humming. Cooking doesn’t come naturally to me that way. (I wish it did.) I need a plan of action. Thankfully, Blue Apron includes a detailed recipe card for each meal.

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My kids are little foodies and they enjoy helping me prepare meals. It’s fun to see them discover new foods. Confession: I had never cooked a fennel bulb before trying this recipe. Eek!

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I also learned a little more about goat cheese. Did you know goat cheese has only become a popular food in American cuisine within the last 30 years? Did you know that when a recipe calls for crumbled goat cheese, it’s best to buy it in log form and crumble it yourself? The log is creamier and less dry than the pre-crumbled bits. (A reader recently brought this to my attention.) Choosing a high quality goat cheese is a good idea, too.

Vermont Creamery supplied the goat cheese for this recipe. The dairy is located in Websterville, Vermont. Allison Hooper and Bob Reese invested $1,200 each to start the company in 1984. They hired Adeline Druart, a native French woman and cheese expert (naturally), as an intern originally then later promoted her to general manager. Allison’s son oversees Ayers Brook, a nearby farm that supplies the dairy with goat milk. I love hearing the stories behind businesses like this. And I like knowing where my food comes from. I’m so happy to know Blue Apron supports local businesses and farmers. You can learn more about Vermont Creamery and see how they make great goat cheese by watching the video above.

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Anyhow, the pizza was so good… and beautiful. Not being anything close to a chef, I would have never thought of combining these ingredients to make a rustic, autumnal dish. Two out of my three kids loved it. (One has aversions to onions and parmesan cheese so it was a no-go for him.) And, of course, I devoured it. The fennel-parsley salad and spiced honey drizzle were the perfect final toppings. The recipe claims the pizza serves three but we have half of it left over. I know what I’m eating for lunch this week! I am a total leftover dinner for lunch eater.

Are you interested in giving Blue Apron a try? The first 50 readers to sign up here will receive two free meals on their first order! Shipping is available to most of the country and it’s free. There’s no commitment and you can always skip or cancel your service at any time.

Happy eating!

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

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking