Let Me Show You Around
Meet our new house

I’ve finally taken the 10 minutes it actually takes to get some pictures of the house, and I’m ready to show you. We’ve been busy on home projects, tough work schedules, a bossy baby, and hosting and visiting family.

In the few weeks since my last update we had happy days and sad days – many more happy than sad. However, we did say goodbye to our dog Beaker. As a dachshund, he was born to have back problems, but Beaks had it especially rough. His prior owner was abusive and lead to some major back damage that meant he couldn’t control his back legs well – and sometimes his bladder. Once we moved into this much bigger house, things only got worse. It was clear it was time to put him to sleep. It was a sad day, but the right decision. Here’s to you, Beaks. We miss you.

Fortunately though, we had plenty to celebrate around here too. My sister-in-law got married and the entire family was in the wedding.

Good looking crew, eh?

Little K was a stinky skunk for Halloween.

IMG_6788And Little K finally started walking!

He’s much more stable after a couple of weeks of practice, but he’s not without a few extra tumbles these days!

So anyhow, we’ve been busy. I’m hoping the hibernating phase of winter starts soon! In the meantime, let me show you around our new place:

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Catching Up
I own an island now

In the last several months I turned 30,

Little K turned one,

my sister Rachel moved to Arkansas,

my sister Michelle started sophomore year of college,

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and E and I bought an island. A kitchen one.

I’ve always wanted a kitchen island, but when we first found this house I just wasn’t sure it was all I hoped for in a kitchen. I don’t love the orange wood cabinets with the golden wood floors with the teeny snippet of slate tiles under the cabinets with the really dark maroon walls. Somehow it just didn’t feel “right” when I was standing in it. I knew that it had the makings of a great kitchen and we were sold on all the other parts of the house. So saying yes to purchasing this home was a no-brainer. Still, now that we’re here and unpacked, I’ve gotten a chance to make this kitchen mine. And guess what? I love it. I still don’t love all the orange-ness (though it’s not quite as extreme as this picture), the slate tile with bisque colored outlets every foot, or the heavy maroon walls. But that’s all the styling of the home and I can work on that – very slowly, no races here! – over the next many years we’re in this house.

I’ve not yet had the time to take any pictures myself, so all of this furniture is from the last owner. We’ll do a tour in photos very soon though!

What I do love is the openness of this room adjoining the eat-in kitchen table, the deck, and the upstairs living room. When we have company over it’s so much easier to entertain without forcing everyone to sit at the kitchen table for hours on end.

I love the amount of cabinet space. Yes, I doubted the ample amount of space that this kitchen has. I know, I’m certifiable. Somehow I thought our last kitchen had more cabinet space, probably because it seemed like it had a larger footprint. Reality though is that this kitchen has more counter space and storage, thanks to that beautiful island and the huge pantry storage with slide out drawers.

And lastly, I love how at-hand everything is in this kitchen. I know a lot of that has to do with my mom and all the fabulous organizing and unpacking she did in my kitchen. But even still, the amount of space means I’m not fighting with ten other dishes when I’m trying to get something out of a cabinet, all of the appliances are well spaced so people aren’t on top of each other if they’re working in the kitchen together, and the appliances themselves are really new with awesome functionality.

I’ve had a moment or two where I miss something about our first home. It was the home E and I lived in before we were even married, where we brought both dogs and Little K home to, where we found sanctuary after long days and tough times. We left some of ourselves in the landscaping and decorating, and it was hard to walk away from that. Even so, the time it took for me to feel home here surprised me. We’ll always look back fondly on our first home, but we’re even more excited to look forward at all that comes with our second home.  

PS: I’ll do my best to post a little more often than once a season around here. My next to do: a walking tour of the house in pictures.

 

Fake it ’til you make it
S’mores Brownies

skipaheadYou know what I hate about bonfires? Smoke. I hate that my hair and clothes and coat all reek of smoke until someone hoses me down with a fire hose and some febreeze. And face it, if you’re having a bonfire, you’re probably going to be out there until the wee hours of the night and who wants to take a febreeze shower after that?

Other than that, I love bonfires. I love the community that always happens when a bunch of people hang around a bonfire. I love feeding the fire and watching the flames grow, shrink back, and finally become nothing more than a white-hot ember. And I love the food. Roasted marshmallows, burnt black hot dogs, and of course – S’MORES!

But, heck, who has time to sit around a bonfire on a Tuesday night? Well don’t worry, Bakerella and I have you covered with some fake out s’mores you can make in your oven. And then, watch, the people will flock to the table and that same sense of community will grow. And all without your hair smelling like smoke (well hopefully…).


S’mores Brownies

Overall: four-star

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These brownies were really yummy and fairly easy to make. I didn’t love what happened with the graham crackers after they baked. They kinda just melted away into the brownies and I couldn’t even taste them. However, these brownies seemed to get better and better as they aged. Gooey chocolate and soft marshmallows. (Recipe here, from Bakerella.)

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It’s Na-chyo Birthday
Ginger Rhubarb Compote

skipaheadSo is this post about nachos or ginger rhubarb compote? Well both.

Yesterday was E’s 30th birthday. Old man. (Give me a month, I’ll catch up.) For his birthday he asked for one thing: the best nachos in town. He always does this, folks. Asks for the moon and then expects me to deliver. I mean, who is he to ask for nachos in Minnesota. That’s like asking for cheese in Wisconsin or seafood on the coast. Oh, Wait.

So I found lots of places with the “Best Nachos in Town.” But after a lot of Yelp reviews and some foodie reviews online I found the golden ticket: Salsa A La Salsa. Ooo, yum. The chips were made fresh and they topped them with refried beans, guac, sour cream, taco meat, cheese, lettuce, and pico de gallo. I know, it sounds pretty standard, but I’m confident it was the fresh chips that made them so delectable.

After a lunch of junk food and an afternoon of sweets (courtesy of his many awesome co-workers), E was craving a salad and feeling a bit like Elaine in this episode:

So I scrapped my plans for cake and instead made E something with rhubarb. You really can’t go wrong, in E’s eyes, when you cook with rhubarb. We had this rhubarb compote (I’m calling it Rhubarb Butter at my house though) on bread, but it would be amazing with some creamy cheese or on a cracker. Or even over ice cream!


Ginger Rhubarb Compote

Overall: five-star

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This was so incredibly easy to make, I felt ashamed telling E. Hey, honey, here’s how much effort I put into your birthday dessert: 10 minutes. It tastes pretty good too. If you don’t like rhubarb, obviously this won’t be for you, but the ginger and cinnamon take the edge off the sour rhubarb.  (Recipe here.)

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Echo, echo, echo: The Best of May

May was another speedy month, but an exciting one! We made the decision to sell our house in search of one with a little more space for the someday-brothers/sisters of Little K, plus we want a little more room for entertaining and hosting overnight guests. We spent almost all of May putting furniture in storage, painting, cleaning, peeling wall paper… The house is officially done now though, and officially on the market! We’re getting lots of showings (and so far Little K is handling his displaced after-daycare time well!) and E and I are crossing our fingers that this is a quick process! Well, not too quick. We have to figure out where we’re going to move!

You didn’t hear as much from me during May as you normally do, and if I’m being honest, things probably won’t get loads better for June. Here are the little “projects” on my to do list:

  1. Help get things at work back to normal and fully staffed.
  2. Sell our house.
  3. Find a place to live.

You can count on a couple best of moments though. And, although May was so quiet around here I could hear an echo, I did have fun. Here, let me prove it to you.

Best of the best: This has to be the garlic press giveaway I did for the Garlic Bread post. The recipe was easy and quick and the garlic choppers rock my socks, man. I love ’em! (Hope the three winners do too!)

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Enjoying the bubble
Sahadi’s Lebanese Lentil Soup with Spinach

skipaheadLittle K has hit another milestone in life. I stopped hauling his carseat everywhere. He now sits all by himself in the front of the shopping cart eyeballing all the shoppers around him and straining to reach whatever is close enough for him to yank off the shelf. I have so much fun shopping with him, I barely notice what’s going on around me and I sit and chat with him even though he’s not quite able to chat back. “Where do you think they hide the mayo, kid?” “Do you want turkey and rice or chicken and apples?”

When I went into Target the other day though, I noticed a mom putting a baby seat into the shopping cart. I peered into the carseat and saw a very new, very sweet little girl. Her momma was inspecting and reinspecting the way the carseat latched and then, when all looked well, she pushed the cart off into the produce area, all the while in her own little bubble. She was beaming (both momma and baby) and each only had eyes for the other.

It made me feel very nostalgic for a time that was only a season ago. I can remember the first time E and I took Little K to the store and how many people remarked about how tiny he was. I’m sure we had that bubble around us too. Walking in a daze, bumping into endcaps, grinning like a fool. It’s funny how the everyday, mundane tasks – like grocery shopping – can become such special little moments between momma and baby. In the not-to-far future, Little K will want to walk on his own and I’ll miss the squirming, grabby, handle-sucking baby in the front of my cart. Until then, I’m happy to enjoy the bubble.


Sahadi’s Lebanese Lentil Soup with Spinach

Overall: five-star

When I met E he had really tall hair. Like no one ever told him to trim his frizzy hair shorter than 3 inches and use pomade. It wasn’t the best look for him, but luckily I looked past that and looked at what counted. That’s what you need to do here. Look past the uglier than 3-inch tall hair, to the amazing, fresh, yummy flavor. (Recipe here, from Bean By Bean: A Cookbook.)

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Mark Me Tardy
Spotted Cow Honey Bread

skipaheadOh hi.

Don’t mind me, I’m just that kid slipping quietly into class trying to pretend that I’m not tardy. Yeah, it’s been a while since we chatted. Uh, sorry ’bout that. I won’t belabor the boring day-to-day of my life, but it involved my good friend Kerin having a beautiful baby girl, me doing a crazy amount of house prep (We’re about to put our house on the market! Who wants to move to Minnesota? Anyone, anyone?), and trying to keep my head above water at work while we’re missing our leadership.

Little K is jealous of this girl's fabulous head of hair!

Little K is jealous of this girl’s fabulous head of hair!

In the last week my baby turned nine. months. He’s army crawling all over the place, waving buh-bye, and starting to mimic words. Next week he’ll be going to kindergarten, the next week he’ll be driving, and then he’ll be moving out and starting college.

He points out everything these days. He's pointing at Waldo dog in this picture. Kid loves his doggies.

He points out everything these days. He’s pointing at Waldo dog in this picture. Kid loves his doggies.

Hopefully life will calm down and let me check in with you a whole heck of a lot more often. If not, maybe it’s because our house sold the first week we put it on the market. Lets you and I hope for that, mmkay?


Spotted Cow Honey Bread

Overall: three-star

This is the quickest, easiest bread I’ve ever made. The flavor doesn’t rock your world, but it’s a good one to pair with soup or to load with butter and jam. Plus – there is beer in it… Oh, and not just any beer – New Glarus beer! Brewed just a hop and a skip from my hometown!  (Recipe here, from Conscious Kitchen.)

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Pretty Good Odds: Giveaway for Garlic Chopper

I mentioned last week that I’m giving away three of these hot little numbers:

Three. And so far we have two people entered. I’m not much of a numbers freak, but I think those are pretty damn good odds. If I were you, I’d enter. The giveaway ends Wednesday, May 15th, 2013 at 8am CST, so enter today. Here’s how: leave any old comment on the garlic bread post here. That’s it. Pretty complex stuff, right?

But wait, there’s more! You can get extra entries (and give yourself even better odds if that’s even possible at this point) if you:

Just make sure you leave me a separate comment for each entry (so if you’re a twitter and facebook follower, leave me a total of three separate comments) so you get the entries in the drawing!


Weeeee! Garlic Chopper Giveaway
Garlic Bread

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**This giveaway is now closed, thanks for all the follows and comments! Holly, Sherry, and Jenny each won a garlic chopper of their very own! (Ladies – check your email for more info!)***

Before I had Little K I remembered friends telling me how your vocabulary, movie catalog, and music presets change so much after you have a baby. Instead of Maroon 5 it’s the Wiggles, instead of damn it’s oh gosh!, instead of Hangover 3 it’s Baby Einstein. I always laughed at their joke, but didn’t quite understand how right they were. I guess I always thought it was a conscious effort to sensor yourself. You stub your toe and rather than swearing like a sailor you look over at that sweet smiling baby and say, “whoops a daisy!” Maybe it starts out like that, until you find yourself saying, “weeeee!” to an empty car. True story.

The other day I was rounding a particularly tight corner and suddenly I heard myself saying, “Weeeeeee!” I cut myself short in bafflement. I didn’t just say that, did I? (When I hit a big bump or round a tight corner, I always tell Little K, “Hold on!” or “Weee!,” even though I have him strapped so tight in that car seat we could probably be off-roading in the Rocky Mountains and he wouldn’t have a clue.) I have a long car ride to get to work each day and my fellow commuters know that you start to have conversations with the radio – “Oh Baloney! It’s gonna be 85 on Monday, in your dreams, punk.”  you talk out loud to yourself about your day – “Gotta get that TPS report filed!” – and you even have one-sided conversations with the cars around you – “Ok sweetie, you have plenty of room – just merge already! Mmkay?” But what you do not do is talk in baby voice about the man walking his doggie or how bumpy a ride it is, and you certainly don’t yell out weeee! when you’re coming off an exit ramp!

But I did and I sat there stewing in embarrassment for a minute before I started giggling and said “WEEEEEEEEE!” even louder. I am comfortable with the fact that I’m a Mom through and through now – even when baby isn’t in the car – and, heck, it’s fun to say weeeee! And so, because I want you to say weeee, I am giving away three rolling garlic choppers! The details to enter are at the end of this post.


Garlic Bread

Overall: five-star

You guys, how did I not know garlic bread was so easy to make?! I have to admit, I’ve always bought the pre-buttered garlic french loaf from the bakery section of my grocery store, rather than just making it myself. I thought it had to be kind of a pain to prepare and probably wouldn’t taste as good. But it’s yummy and easy. #totalpackage  (Recipe here, Simply Recipes.)

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Kitchen staples: Plates and Paperclips
Spring Pinterest Challenge

Update: Ruh roh. Turns out you guy were right, the hot glue didn’t hold up. The first plate to fall was the metal one, the second one to fall was the fire king turquoise plate. Who’s a sad panda? Me. Oh well, I found another really nice plate and replaced it lickety split. This time I hung some of the plates with wire hangers and the other ones I either used this felt/glue method or I just added super glue/krazy glue around the hot glue area for a little more permanent hold.

It’s here, it’s here, it’s here! Yep, it’s time for the Spring Pinterest Challenge. For this go-round Emily from Sparkle Meets Pop, Katie from Bower Power, Sherry from Young House Love, and Renee (another Minnesota lady!) from Red Bird Blue threw down the challenge. For those of you that don’t know, this challenge was thought up by the lovely Ms. Katie Bower to stop us from just pinning and actually start doing.

For the Winter Challenge I tackled some new flour and sugar canisters for the kitchen. I brought in a little pop of color to my brown kitchen and tied in the teal color that shows up in different ways in my kitchen and living room. For this Spring challenge, I’m bringing in some color to my kitchen/dining room again. And, if you didn’t get the hint from the title, I’m doing it with office supplies and a kitchen staple: PLATES! (Are you shocked that I’m doing something kitchen related?) I mentioned before how our kitchen opens into our dining area, which flows right into our living room. The walls, furniture, and appliances are pretty much all varying shades of brown in those areas.
The wall in question.

The wall in question.

I had been toying around with the idea of creating a collage of plates on a wall somewhere in my house for a while now, but when Katie Bower posted her wall of plates just two days after throwing down the Pinterest Challenge, I realized this needed to be my challenge project. My original plan was to do something like this:
Not necessarily using milk glass, but all one color of unique plates with delicate scalloped borders and shapes. Then I saw Katie’s post with a variety of plates and colors and was reminded of this post from way back in 2011 on Today is going to be awesome: