...because home doesn't happen overnight.

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

10.25.14 / Made Me Smile

tub progress

That, my friends, is the first time the (declawed) claw foot tub has been filled with water…at least while in our possession. And it happened yesterday. It felt extremely momentous. I’ll share more soon. The installation was tedious with inevitable hiccups but, look!, running water!! We feel like we’ve cleared a huge hurdle in this never-ending bathroom project. And that definitely makes us smile. Ear to ear.

More feel good stuff…

*Waltzing vacuum cleaners.

*The perfect lil’ reading nook.

*Since I’m “a little weird,” for fun I scoped out vacation rentals in Austin, TX. How ridiculously cute is this remodeled Airstream?! WANT.

*Add art to your kitchen.

the black shack

the black shack

*A black shack: equal parts edgy and beautiful.

*Ghost lights.

*Ikea’s take on The Shining. (Red rug. Ha!)

Have a great weekend! Steve and I are going to hear Ira Glass speak at the Aronoff tonight. I’m so excited! (Have you read or seen Sleepwalk with Me? Ira co-wrote and produced the film version.) I love listening to This American Life. I’m curious to see how similar / different it is to hear Ira in person. Either way, it should be fun! Storytelling is the best.

images: 1) Dana Miller for House*Tweaking 2 & 3) Ansis Starks

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Today I’m sharing two more golden nuggets from our friends’ home: a modern shed and playhouse nestled in a corner of the backyard. James designed and built both structures on his own. (If you haven’t noticed by now, his craftsmanship is impeccable.) The outbuildings are covered in 12″ HardiePlank lap siding, a fiber cement product known for its beauty, strength and durability. The planks are meant to be lapped over each other but James installed them flush for a simpler, sleeker look.

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Since James uses the attached garage to work on client projects, the family needed a separate space to store tools and equipment for lawn maintenance and gardening. A wood ramp allows James to wheel out the lawnmower easily. I wasn’t able to snap a shot of the shed’s interior, but the walls are lined with leftover walnut paneling from the home’s interior renovation. (It’s the same paneling that wraps the pony wall as seen here.) It’s the most attractive shed interior I’ve ever seen.

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The exterior is painted a rich chocolate brown. Colored acrylic windows (from TAP Plastics) are a surprising and fun feature.

modern playhouse 1

Many elements are repeated in the playhouse for cohesion: chocolate brown HardiePlank siding, colored acrylic windows and a mono-pitched roof. The door is painted the same turquoise as the home’s front door. Large outdoor playthings are stored underneath the raised structure and concealed by timber slats. A small deck cantilevers off the front of the playhouse supporting a staircase on one end and a slide on the other.

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A series of five small acrylic windows in orange and blue tie in to the shed’s colored windows.

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The interior is outfitted with interlocking foam floor tiles, a chalkboard wall, a small picnic table and a toy box. A niche in the chalkboard wall (not shown) provides a convenient spot for storing a bucket of chalk.

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modern playhouse and shed 2

modern playhouse 2

The modern designs of the shed and playhouse fit the family’s midcentury home so well. James and Kristina have a knack for incorporating their style into everything they do. When you visit their home, you experience the different spaces – inside and out – as parts of a bigger whole. The spaces flow into one another with ease thanks in part to deliberate, consistent design. I love that.

So what do you think? What’s your favorite aspect of the shed and / or playhouse? Obviously, my kids are big fans of the slide ;)

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking