Tuesday, November 10, 2015

A Plan for the Laundry Room

Of all the rooms in our house, if one were to be taken away I think I would miss the laundry room the most. Is it my favorite room? No way. But man alive is it useful. Not only is it laundry central, which as we all know the laundry never ends, but it is also our mudroom and the entrance we use from the garage in and out of the house multiple times a day. Plus it houses a second refrigerator and freezer which are a total luxury and so nice to have. 

Truth be told though, the laundry room takes quite the beating. It's the catch-all room. Anything that doesn't have a home seems to find it's way to the laundry room and then sits there. Sometimes for a day, sometimes for much, much longer. It's enough to drive me crazy. 

I've been daydreaming about how to spruce up the space for quite awhile now, making it more functional and adding a splash of "pretty" in too.  The other day I finally took a minute to put all my ideas together. 

Here's what I've come up with... 

Getting this all put together may actually take quite awhile. As does anything that requires time and two hands lately. Between school schedules, activities, and a baby happily hanging out on my hip, there's just not much time left for projects. But just getting the ideas down feels like great progress and I'll slowly work on it when I get the chance.

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Thursday, October 29, 2015

Salted Caramel Sauce

I feel like I should start this with a confession... 

Salted caramel is basically my version of kryptonite. I simply cannot resist it. 

I have always been a caramel fan. Growing up we would go on vacation to this little resort town that had a candy store, we all could pick out one piece of candy and I always chose the caramel. I can still remember what it looked like stacked up in the display case, individually wrapped in parchment paper. I would take tiny bites and let it melt in my mouth to try and make it last as long as possible. 

Point is, I love me some caramel. And then someone, somewhere went ahead and decided to add just a hint of salt to my beloved caramel and seriously, can it get any better?! 

When I first saw a recipe for salted caramel sauce it was a no brainer that I needed to try it. Now a couple of years later it is a staple in our house. This stuff is delicious. We use it most often on ice cream, but really the possibilities are endless, drizzled over grilled fruit, or cheesecake, a dip for apples, eaten straight out of the jar with a spoon, whatever suits you, I'm not here to judge. 

This recipe for salted caramel sauce is similar to many other ones you'll find with just a few changes that have given me better and more consistent results.

Salted Caramel Sauce
2 cups sugar
12 tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup heavy cream
1 tbsp fleur de sel (I've tried a few different kinds and so far this one is my absolute favorite)

To start make sure you have all the ingredients ready and nearby.

In a large heavy bottomed pot begin melting the sugar over medium heat. Using a spatula or wooden spoon continue to move the sugar around. The sugar will clump up, don't worry, just keep moving it around and it will start to melt. Using an instant read thermometer you want to cook the sugar until it is 330 degrees. It should be a deep golden color. I usually have a few sugar clumps left when it gets to temperature, that's ok, they'll be strained out later.

Once the sugar has reached 330 degrees add in the butter and whisk until the butter is fully melted and incorporated.

Turn off the heat and while whisking slowly add the heavy cream. At this point sometimes it will look like you've ruined it and that the sauce is starting to separate, just keep whisking, and very soon you should have a beautiful golden sauce.

While it is still warm pour your sauce through a fine mesh strainer to get rid of any sugar lumps that didn't fully melt. Whisk the fleur de sel in to the strained sauce. Continue whisking/stirring occasionally as the sauce cools.

When the sauce has cooled refrigerate it and enjoy!

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Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Measuring Up

This is one of those projects that has been a loooooong time in coming. When I first saw a growth chart ruler years ago I knew I wanted one for our house. About a year and a half ago I found an old piece of 2x12 sitting out in our pasture and knew it would make the perfect board for the ruler. And bonus, I didn't even have to fake the weathered look because it had been sitting out in the rain for so long.

Then that board sat leaning up against our garage for about six months. When I finally got tired of looking at it outside I brought it in to the garage so it could "dry out", which apparently took about a year because I just got around to bringing it inside and actually doing a project with it last week.

I mean, why rush things?

The actual project itself was actually super simple. The only prep I did to the board was give it a light sand to eliminate any big splinters. I used the Silhouette to cut the hash marks and numbers out of black matte vinyl, one foot at a time.

Now let's talk about these hash marks for a minute. The extremely OCD side of me really, really wanted to divide each foot into sixteenths just like you would see on a ruler. Twelve hashmarks just isn't a thing. BUT with a little convincing from Bryce, I realized it really does make so much more sense to have each inch marked. Thus, authenticity be darned, we've got twelve hashmarks for each foot.

My first attempt at putting the vinyl on the wood was a total failure. It just wouldn't stick. So I sent a SOS text to my fantastic and very crafty sister-in-law and she suggested using spray adhesive. She's a genius. I gave the back of the vinyl a quick spray of Elmer's Spray Adhesive before putting it on the wood and it stuck without any problem.

I had great intentions of putting a top coat on the whole thing, but so far it hasn't happened. If the vinyl starts to peel or if little hands start picking at it maybe I will, but for now I'll take the easy way out.

I've been saving the kids' visit summaries from their pediatrician since Audrey was born just to be able to one day add them to a growth chart. It's fun to be able to see just how much they've grown and how they compare to each other a different ages.

If anyone is interested I'd be happy to share the Silhouette file with the hashmarks and number. Simply leave a comment with your email address or email me directly at raising1543@gmail.com.

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Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Hanging On

Normally by this time in October we have woken up to frost covering the ground a few times. This year has been different. Based entirely on my opinion and without regard to any scientific fact, I'm pretty sure this is one of the warmest falls we've ever had. There has yet to be frost and we were still seeing temperatures near 90 degrees just last week. 

While it is a bit disappointing for my fall loving self, it has been great for the garden. We are still up to our ears in summer vegetables. 

To be honest though, I'm having a bit of gardener's guilt. While I love our garden and everything we are able to get from it, by this time of year I start getting antsy to get things cleaned up a little. Despite our best efforts we have lost the battle with the weeds in dramatic fashion, one too many plants have gone to seed, and the tomatoes are so dense that trying to get to the ripe ones in the middle is nearly impossible.

What it boils down to is I've lost control of the garden, I'm blaming kid #3, and I'm ready to rip the annuals right out, clean up the beds and restore a little more order to the whole place.  

But then that would also mean the end of garden-cut bouquets and snacking on snap peas and "hey Audrey, run out and pick us something to have with dinner tonight" and BLTs (because there is no point in a BLT if that T isn't fresh from the garden) and the list goes on.

So for now I'll refrain from ripping everything out and consider myself lucky that our growing season just keeps getting longer, giving me just enough time for another BLT or two!

Thursday, October 15, 2015

A Peek into our Kitchen and Dining Room

Don't you just love a good home tour? I know I do. I enjoy getting a sneak peek into someone else's home so I figured it would be fun to throw ours into the mix. 

First up... the kitchen. One because it is kind of my dream kitchen and quite possibly my favorite room in our house and two because it is the room that is the most "done" in terms of decorating and has been for quite awhile (mostly because there really wasn't much decorating to be done!) 

So say hello to our kitchen... 

I spy the top of Owen's head! 
We decided to forgo a traditional dining room for more of a dining "space" right next to the kitchen. You can't see it in these photos but our living room is also open to these two areas. We spend the vast majority of our time in these rooms.

The open shelving in the kitchen is one of my absolute favorite features. I love both the look and the ease of getting to our dishes. We are often asked if the stuff on the shelves is just "for show" and it isn't. With the exception of maybe one or two pieces everything is stuff we already owned or were gifted and it is used regularly. In fact, when we hosted Thanksgiving last the shelves were looking a little sad as I had pulled most everything down to use. 

Our biggest kitchen splurge was the 48" Wolf range. We both knew we wanted a nice range, but I thought going this big and having a 24" griddle was completely unnecessary. I'll be the first to admit, I was wrong. That griddle is the best thing ever, I literally use it daily. We cook everything from pancakes to stir fry on there.

Needless to say, I love our kitchen. It suits our family and our style perfectly. And while I love a beautiful room, our first priority was always something family friendly and usable. After having lived here for two and a half years I think we achieved that and more. We love this space and really wouldn't change anything about it.

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Thursday, October 8, 2015

Creamy Macaroni and Cheese

Comfort food was in order around our house this week. You see we've all had a case of "the bug". At first we thought it was food poisoning, yuck, but now we're not sure what it was because three days later Audrey is still sick. Whatever you want to call it, it has been no fun and I'm hoping today is the last day of it.

Anyway, we needed comfort food and what says comfort food more than homemade macaroni and cheese? Today we made it in it's most basic version, just the macaroni and cheese sauce, but often times we'll fancy it up by throwing in some meat or vegetable. And by meat I mean bacon. Obviously.

This is one of those recipes I have down pat. I love that I never have to look it up and it can be ready in under half of a hour, all I have to remember is "two". Two tablespoons butter, two tablespoons flour, two cups of whole milk. Pretty easy, right?

Creamy Macaroni and Cheese

2 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
2 cups whole milk
1/2 tsp powdered mustard
1/4 tsp garlic powder
Salt and pepper
2 cups grated cheddar cheese (today I used half white cheddar and half yellow cheddar)
3 to 4 cups macaroni (measured dry and depending on how creamy you want your macaroni and cheese, I usually stick closer to the three cups because the sauce thickens so much as it cools)

In a large pot of salted boiling water cook macaroni until al dente.

In a large sauce pan, I use our dutch oven, over medium-low heat melt the butter. Whisk in the flour and let cook for one minute. Add the milk whisking often. Add the mustard and garlic. Continue cooking over medium-low heat whisking or stirring very often until the sauce has thickened enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon. You want to keep the heat low so that the sauce just barely simmers, you don't want it to come to a boil.

Turn off the heat and add the cheese in two batches. Stirring in each batch of cheese until completely melted. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Add macaroni to cheese sauce and stir to coat macaroni.

Serve and enjoy!

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Monday, October 5, 2015

It Starts with a Chair

It seems as though I am right on schedule. Predictably just a little over two months postpartum I'm getting the decorating itch. It happened with Audrey and I gave our living room at the time a bit of a spruce. It happened with Owen (although I'm not sure I can really blame him as we had also just moved into our house the week before he was born, so everything needed decorating). But I do distinctly remember styling the open shelving in our kitchen, and climbing up and down a step stool with him in a front pack. And now it's happening again with Ella. I fully blame the babies and their need to eat. I spend countless hours sitting in various spot around the house while Ella eats which gives me far too much time to stare at whichever room I'm in and start decorating it, or redecorating it as the case may be, in my mind.

I think it's high time I start actually putting all those plans into action.

So I'm starting with this chair, and another one just like it. They are going in our living room to replace a couple of chairs that have seen much better days. I found these two at Tuesday Morning last week and am pretty sure I love them. And just in case I don't the tags are still on and I have 39 more days to change my mind before the return policy runs out.

Hopefully they will give me just the jumpstart I need to embrace our tan couches and really pull the rest of the room together.