Friday, December 11, 2015

New House Before & After: Kitchen

I already shared our family room transformation, now it's time for the kitchen!

Our two biggest complaints about our old house were lack of living space and lack of kitchen space. Our old kitchen wasn't awful, but it was pretty small.  No pantry, and a very small amount of usable counter space posed challenges for me, which was frustrating because I cook all the time and spend a lot of time in the kitchen!

When we moved one of our major sticking points was a kitchen upgrade. We didn't have a lot of specifications as to what that would look like, we just needed more space, more storage, and better function, which wasn't that hard to do considering what we had before.  I'm super happy with what we ended up with.  


The picture is actually pretty kind.  The cabinet finish was pretty worn in many places, especially on the most used cabinets. The exhaust hood was disgusting, and the pantry doors hung askew when opened. Dark cabinets aren't my preference, but if the finish was in better shape I probably would have left them for a while instead of refinishing them myself right before we moved in O.o 


I spent a week painting the cabinets white, by myself, while caring for 2 kids, with the pressure to get it done ASAP because I didn't want the kitchen to be torn up when we moved. We have 20 cabinet doors + a pie cut cabinet* + 5 drawers.  I ended up doing 4 coats of white on the fronts (2 more than the product claimed), 3 on the back, then 3 coats of protective coating on the front, 2 on the back + all of this had to be done on the actual cabinet frames as well.

I cannot strongly enough convey how badly this project sucked. I very realistically estimate that I spent 50+ hours over the course of 7 days to complete this project.  That's a lot of very tedious work and stressssssful while also having to care for kids. I thought I was going to lose my mind many a time.  By far the single worst DIY project I've ever completed.

BUT!  I finished it and I'm happy with the results and so SOOOOO (*SOOOOOOO*) glad this project is done!  

Oooooh, ahhhhhh!

Refinished the cabinets white (obviously, per my PTSD-esque flashback above), all new hardware, new refrigerator and over-range microwave, and fresh, happy paint (color: Drizzle by Sherwin Williams).

Much improved, I think!  

Still to come: very soon we will be adding blinds to the windows and we're also on the lookout for a bigger and/or expanding kitchen table now that we have more space.  Depending on how that ends up I might want to add some shelving or a hutch/cabinet/some such as well.

*So, apparently these are called pie cut cabinets?  I've more frequently heard them referred to as lazy susans.  I just call it a turner, which is probably completely made up.  ::shrug:: 

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Week of December 6th

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

Saturday we went to Mark's big holiday event, which is always lots of fun.

The kids got to visit with Santa.

Jack knows what's up and hopped right up on Santa's lap to make his request - a car transporter that carries LOTS of cars!  Molly was much more wary, but I give this girl credit.  Even though she was scared (warranted) she still timidly walked right up to Santa to make her request - Elsa and Anna on a bike. Pretty impressive for a scared 2 year old.

Because we that wasn't enough Christmas fun for us we then went to buy our Christmas tree!

There were A LOT of Christmas trees.  This is not good for me, who goes about everything as if there is ONE RIGHT CHOICE, even when I sometimes understand logically that this method doesn't always apply.  So... two hours (and one pretty annoyed husband) later, I found the perfect tree :D

Surprisingly I was drawn to the mid-sized trees, which I thought were so cute, but because in year's past we've had a mini-tree and we actually have room for a full-sized tree now I figured we'd better go big or go home!

Ooooh, ahhhhh!

And we continued decorating...

We even have a mistletoe!  Cute, huh?

So, now we're all decorated inside. We still need to get the outdoor stuff done, which will be a larger undertaking this year for sure.

Yesterday evening was my annual cookie exchange with friends and was all sorts of fun!  We all bring cookies and an app to share, wear comfy clothes, and have a nice relaxed evening.  I look forward to it every year!  This was my first year hosting.  It was nice, but also a lot of work to try to bake, cook, AND clean, while caring for kids that go right behind you and make a mess again and need you to stop whatever you're doing every 3 minutes.  It was a long day, but worth it!

These are the Molasses Cookies I made. I also whipped up some quick fudge.

All the cookies.

And all of the cookies that I get to keep :D

Aren't these cookie tins adorable?  Target!
Jack is Star Student of the week this week, which means he gets to kick off the week sharing a poster about his family, which will be on display all week.

Super adorable, right?!

Each day he gets to bring in something else to share: hobby (he brought a truck and talked about how much he likes playing with trucks, reading about trucks, drawing trucks, etc. :D ), favorite book (he brought in The Big Book of Mighty Machines, which... is probably not what every 5 year old is currently reading non-stop), and tomorrow he will bring in a favorite toy, and Friday he gets to share someone special so Mark is coming in for Show-and-Tell.

He's so excited about being Star Student.  He's been counting down to his turn all year!

I also *FINALLY* got the results of my lactation counselor certification exam in the mail and I PASSED!  I'm officially a certified lactation counselor!

It was a longer than usual journey amidst a crazy summer so I'm feeling very accomplished and relieved to have certification in hand!  Woot!

Here's what we're eating this week!

Sunday:  Turkey Pot Pie Soup with Parmesan Drop Biscuits

Monday:  Beef & Noodles (made with leftover beef from French Dips that I had stashed in the freezer) with Roasted Brussels Sprouts (I can't tell you how excited I am to have finally got my hands on some brussels sprouts!)

Tuesday:  Leftovers for the kids, Mark had a work party, and I hosted a cookie exchange with friends. I made Molasses Cookies (so good!  I made these last year too) and Spinach & Artichoke dip as well as some Pomegrante Sangria, yum!

Wednesday:  Leftovers

Thursday: Baked Chicken Fajitas with Guacamole

Friday & Saturday: Out

Friday, December 4, 2015

New House Before & After: Family Room

It's kind of crazy to think about but our whole house journey started right around this time last year. It's been a long year and and even LONGER 6 months, but it was all worth it. We're very happy in our new house, especially now that the big immediate projects have been finished and we're feeling more settled.

This time last year we had our first showing of this house and made an offer. We didn't actually get the house the first time around, but a few weeks later the deal fell through with the original buyers (probably because they got an inspection and realized the house needed a little more than just cosmetic work) and we had the opportunity to make another offer and in late February (I think?) we got news that we had in fact gotten the house the second time around.  We closed in late April and moved in in June.

I figured that it's about time that I shared a few before and after pics.  I only wish that I had more pics, but a lot of the initial work that was done is unimpressive.

Between closing and moving a lot of unexciting things happened: repairs to the siding, new A/C, new hot water heater, repairs to the furnace, and fixing a lot of busted pipes.

Water pouring from your ceiling is just generally not a good thing.

Oh, and the mailbox.  Let's not forget about the fact that sometime between our walk through of the house and purchase someone ran over (I assume?) our mailbox so that had to be replaced.

A lot of functional things.

One of the bigger projects we have accomplished is cosmetic improvements in the family room.

Some before pics:

(I wish I had taken before pics... instead of having to use screen shots. In my defense during the "before" time period things were just a wee bit hectic.)

Stained, worn, outdated carpet, outdated entry tile, dinged up walls and old paint. The pictures are actually pretty kind, it looked much more sad in person.


And after:

Ooooh, ahhhhh...

Fresh paint (I was painting on my birthday.  Oh, the memories that we made this summer O_O ) and a lot of new flooring (so pretty), our furniture, and some new accessories (including the cute little entryway rug that I adore, and pretty, bright curtains, and the area rug that was way harder than it should have been to decide on.) and I pretty much love it!

It's a big space, which is good, but it's also looking a little bare.  I think it needs a few more accessories, definitely some sort of entry table, and maybe at least one more piece of furniture, we'll see, but we're finally to the point where it's feeling homey around here.  I mean, there are decorative touches and everything.

You see this mantle?

It didn't decorate itself, ya know.

In addition to a few little accent pieces and decorative touches that I'm sure are yet to come we still need to replace both ceiling fans and the entryway light (they're a little outdated and not our style) and we'll also be replacing the front door (can that count as part of the family room?) because it's not in great shape.  Exciting things, of course.

I'll share more updates soon!

Monday, November 16, 2015

Week of November 15th

Last week was a pretty low-key week, which is always nice.

I'm doing my best to ignore all of the pictures I've seen all over social media of people moving right on into Christmas and bypassing Thanksgiving completely.  Or, I guess they still celebrate it, but surrounded by Christmas stuff?  I don't know.  So weird.  I choose to live in a world where each holiday is celebrated in its own special time.  #waronthanksgiving

I'm super pumped that Thanksgiving is next week.  Everyone knows it's the best holiday and I'm ready to eat all the things and give all the thanks!

I've been Instagramming and I totally love it.  I realize I'm like 5 years late to the party and the cool kids are probably already post-Instagram, but I loves it!  I love seeing pictures from friends and strangers that capture everything from the special to the mundane.  I love that you can browse different topics depending on what your interest is at that moment and it's fun to see what different people share.  After all, a picture speaks a thousand words, eh?

In other random news, I've perfected homemade coconut oil kettle corn so it made an appearance for snack twice this weekend.  Nothing beats freshly made salty sweet popcorn!

Here's what we're eating this week:

Sunday:  Tomato Soup with Grilled Cheese Panini

Monday:  Sweet Potato Nachos

Tuesday:  Shepherd's Pie

Wednesday:  Mom's night out for me, Homemade Pizza for the fam!

Thursday:  Leftovers

Friday & Saturday:  Out

I'm linked at Menu Plan Monday hosted by

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Week of November 8th

So, let's see, last week...

My car went for a little spa visit and came back looking beauteous.  When we purchased it the car had *just* become available and when we test drove it literally hadn't even been vacuumed out. While we were dealing with paperwork they did a quick once over and washed, wiped down, and vacuumed, but it was in need of a full detail and a few miscellaneous things like a good wax and buffing out some surface scratches, basically everything a dealership typically does before selling a car.

I had to drive a Chevy Cruze for a day and... that was sad.  Glad to have her back!

Tuesday was chicken day!

^That's 40lbs of quality chicken, purchased at an awesome price, trimmed and ready for the freezer!  Well worth the hour or so it takes to get it freezer ready.  This will last us for about a year!

Know what's nice when you have to deal with 40lbs of chicken?  Having adequate workspace to do so.  I used to have to do this on a little ~3ft x 3ft (that's probably a generous measurement) square of counter space that wasn't even dedicated and still had some things sitting on it.  Doing anything feels so much easier when you have more room to do it in!

I'm still feeling the effects of the time change.  That^ was taken at about 4:30pm.  When the sun was going down.  ::facepalm::  I dislike that it's completely dark out by the time dinner rolls around at 6pm.  It's going to be a long winter.

At my nieces' birthday party over the weekend Molly played stand-in for her slightly older cousin who had enough of birthday partying by the time cake time rolled around.

Somebody had to do it.  Molly's just practicing for her own 3rd birthday in just over 2 months (say what?!?)

And I got this full of awesome shirt, which pretty much made my life.

This is a phrase I use on the reg so I'm pretty sure Target designed this shirt just for me.

Also: I'm Instagramming now.  Apparently this is where all the cool kids hang out so obviously I need to be there jump on this trend about 5 years after everyone else.


Sunday:  Meatloaf with Buttermilk Mashed Potatoes and Roasted Broccoli

Monday: Teriyaki Chicken Stir-Fry with Brown Rice

Tuesday:  Leftovers

Wednesday:  Leftovers/Freezer Meal

Thursday:  Homemade Pizza with Salad

Friday & Saturday: Out

I'm linked at Menu Plan Monday hosted by

The above link to Zaycon Foods is a referral link.  I'm in no way affiliated with that company other than loving them for quality bulk meat purchases at a good price.  I've been a regular customer for several years now.  

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Week of November 1st

Woooweee!  I can't believe it's already November.

Last week we celebrated Halloween with some pumpkin carving and trick-or-treating.

Mine is the happy pumpkin.  Always.

Firetruck and purple princess (A.K.A. Sophia the First)

Molly chose her own costume.  At this age, Jack still didn't care what he dressed up as (he was a lion).  It wasn't until his 4th Halloween that he wanted to choose his costume.  Big surprise, Molly had an opinion :D

Jack, of course, wanted to be a firetruck.  A fire fighter?  No, a fire truck.

His costume turned out pretty cute.  Lucky for me, I have experience with crafting truck costumes.  I also bought him a little fire fighter coat and hat to wear with it, but that idea was nixed because according to Jack he's a firetruck and firetrucks don't wear clothes.  Obviously...

The coat and jacket came in handy for his school party because kids were allowed to bring costumes to wear, but they had to fit in their backpacks.  Firetruck =/= backpack friendly.  Lucky for everyone, Jack was okay with wearing the firefighter costume to his party.

This was our first year trick-or-treating in our new neighborhood so I wasn't sure what to expect as far as how much candy to have on hand to pass out.  There's a lot of kids around so the day of trick-or-treat I panicked and picked up a few extra bags of candy giving us probably 1 1/2 big bowls or so to hand out.  We left a bowl out for trick-or-treaters while we went around trick-or-treating ourselves and came home to... at least 2/3 of the bowl still filled.  And with a half hour of trick-or-treat left to go we didn't even get anymore trick-or-treaters.  Womp, womp.

I have no idea where all the kids were because there were plenty of trick-or-treaters out and about.  I guess many just didn't make it back to our little cul-de-sac despite the fact that nearly everyone back here had candy to pass out.  ::shrug::  Guess I'll know for next year.

And now Halloween is over and everyone's all like...

And I'm just sitting over here like...

It's only November, people, slow your roll.  #waronThanksgiving

Menu for the week:

Sunday:  Smothered Sweet Pork Burritos with Guacamole

Monday:  Wisconsin Cauliflower Soup with Panini

Tuesday:  Paleo Sausage Veggie Bake

Wednesday:  Freezer Meal or Homemade Pizza

Thursday:  Leftovers

Friday & Saturday: Out

I'm linked at Menu Plan Monday hosted by

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Week of October 25th

Last week we made our annual pilgrimage to the pumpkin patch.

We picked the best pumpkins in the patch, which are waiting patiently to be carved in preparation for trick-or-treat tomorrow night.

In true Stephanie fashion, I'm still working on Jack's costume, but hopefully that will be finished tonight.

We've just been living life over here.  We had friends over last week for the first time at the new house and I also finished up my lactation counselor course and exam.  I'll be anxiously awaiting the results as the assessment portion of the exam was challenging and no one I talked to, including myself, felt super confident about their performance on that portion,  Eeep!  Did not help that I had to wait ~8 weeks to take an exam that's designed to be taken at the end of a week long course :/  Too bad it's not just a written exam because I'm not worried about passing that portion! ::fingers and toes crossed::

We've been eating apple-y things and soups and squash and all manner of fall things around here.

Here's what we're eating this week:

Sunday:  Leftovers with some Buffalo Chicken Dip thrown in the mix

Monday:  Roasted Chicken with Buttermilk Mashed Potatoes and Honey-Glazed Carrots (better believe those chicken scraps were turned into delicious homemade stock!)

Tuesday:  Acorn Squash with Apple Sausage & Cranberry Stuffing with Salad

Wednesday:  Pumpkin Chili (Crock Pot) with Pumpkin Corn Muffins

Thursday: Trick-or-Treat!  Pumpkin Chili Leftovers

Friday & Saturday: Out