Kitchen Features {that you may or may not love}

If you were able to design your DREAM kitchen, what special features would it include? An island? Pots and pans hanging from the ceiling? Everyone has their preferences, and when we remodeled our kitchen, there were a few characteristics I knew I HAD to have. You may have some of these and not love them as much as I do… so I’m going to show you how I use them in hopes that you may love your kitchen a little more…

1. The Glass Cabinet

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Don’t be afraid of the glass cabinet door! Now I admit, I would not want all of my cabinets to have glass. But having just one can be such a perfect centerpiece to your kitchen. The trick to keeping it beautiful and clean? Fill the top half with items you don’t use often, but have an interesting look to them, whether it’s their color, shape, or something else. Then the bottom half, stick to clean, simple dishes. Mine have all sorts of Fiestaware in them – plain colors, but staggered in different heights. I use these plates every day, but it’s pretty hard to make a pile of plates look messy!

2. The Corner Lazy Susan

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So many people use these for their canned goods or other pantry items. Don’t do it! Those little items can get completely buried in there. Without even turning it, I have all of my saute pans and saucepans on the bottom, ready to use every day right next to my oven. On the top, I have my batter bowl (which I seriously use for EVERYTHING), a can of cooking spray, and a few baking pans. Then in the back, I have some of the pots I use less often – steamer pot, double boiler, etc – and my stack of mixing bowls, etc.

3. The Non-Pantry

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When we were figuring out our new kitchen layout, there was just no room for a full-blown pantry. But let’s be honest…if you have a big pantry, you tend to fill it with random items you rarely use! We just have two shelves dedicated to pantry items, and it helps me be more intentional about the groceries I buy each week. I know it’s not super pretty, but hey, like I said in #1, I don’t keep all my cabinets totally organized!

4. That Tiny Cabinet Above Your Microwave

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This one is always obnoxious, but the best I’ve found is to put items like extra cookbooks up here, since I don’t use them too often. I also put my cutting boards up here vertically so I can easily see them all and grab which one I need.

I hope this helps you love some of your great kitchen features! What other features do you love / hate?

Basic Granola

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I looooove granola, but I feel like the ones we buy in the store are so full of sugar, and are SO expensive. So I decided to attempt my own, and I have to say, I’m pretty happy with the results! It’s not nearly as sweet, and has a great nutty flavor overall. I don’t know about you, but when something is so sweet, it’s easy to overeat it. So here you go, my homemade granola!

Ingredients
4 cups of oats
1 1/2 cup pecans
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Pinch of salt
handful of almond slivers / nuts of your choosing
1/2 cup of oil (I used olive but coconut would be REALLY good)
1/2 cup maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla
extra add ins once it’s cooled: shredded coconut (add halfway through baking for toasted coconut), dried fruit, chocolate chips, and just about anything else you can think of.

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees, and line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or silicone liners.

2. In a large bowl, combine oats, nuts, cinnamon, and salt. Add in oil, syrup, and vanilla and mix until everything is coated. Pour mixture out onto your prepared pan.

3. Bake for 10 minutes, then stir. Bake for another 8-10. Remove from the oven and let it cool completely before breaking it into pieces. Once it’s cool, add in anything else you’d like, such as dried fruit, chocolate chips, etc.

Enjoy!! I love this with a good greek yogurt. Happy summering!

Mudroom {Before & After}

It’s been a while since I’ve given a house update, but don’t worry – we’ve been working! And let’s be honest – it’s the hubby who does the brunt of the work around here. Our latest project (which was supposed to be a “weekend project” but was more like a “month project”) is just about complete. We have this little mudroom that the previous owners added off the kitchen. It’s our main way in and out of the house, and also houses our laundry. I’ll let the pictures do the talking, then I’ll share more details of everything we did…

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The mudroom when we purchased the house (L) …and now (R).

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The mudroom after a little bit of reorganization (L) …and now (R).

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My hand hubby even replaced the screen door and security door, staining them by hand. Nice, huh?

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While I don’t have a great before photo of the old sink, here’s the pretty new utility sink and cabinet the hubster installed.

So in total, here are all the updates we did:

  • Leveled the floor (because it wasn’t before)
  • Tiled the floor to match the kitchen
  • Tore out the old sink, mirror, and shelving unit
  • Patched some major holes in the walls
  • Painted the walls and trim
  • Stained and installed screen door and interior door (and also painted our side porch grey)
  • Installed a new shelf, sink, and cabinet
  • Installed blinds on the window

Phew! Not a weekend project. But I love it now, and plan to add a few more finishing touches as far as decor, like a table under the window and some other little touches. What do you think? Fun, right?

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Flight Behavior {Book Club}

One of my favorite activities since moving back to Nashville has been joining a book club in my neighborhood! Thanks to this amazing group of women, I’ve read books I would not have otherwise thought of, and and learned so much by getting to know new people.

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So once in a while, I’ll share a book with you! We recently read Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver, You may remember her from Poisonwood Bible, which is hands-down her most popular book. She is a beautiful writer with unique plots, and I highly recommend her writing. Without giving too much away, Flight Behavior is set in very rural East Tennessee. The main character’s personal journey of growth is one that I think anyone can relate to in one way or another. Check it out, and let me know what you think!

4th of July {in three ingredients}

I hope you had an amazing 4th of July! We had fun with our family and friends, which of course included a cookout. I love to cook and to bake, but sometimes, I just want to make something really simple – especially when I’m bringing it to someone else’s home. So today I’m sharing a few simple ideas for some three-ingredient, patriotic cookout contributions.

Fruit Salad

This is an obvious summer favorite, but you can keep it super simple with watermelon, blueberries, and bananas if you’re stick with a red, “white,” and blue theme. Add in strawberries, apples, pears, and anything else you love! And cutting watermelon into stars is fun for the kids, and for the adults.

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Chocolate M&M Pretzels

Remember these beauties? I love these because every holiday has its own themed m&m’s, which makes it easy to create a treat that is holiday-appropriate. Substitute the m&ms with red, white, and blue ones to go patriotic. And if you like caramel, try using rolos instead of hershey kisses!

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Flag Kabobs

These are even more fun than star-shaped watermelon for the kiddos. Simply use kabob skewers with marshmallows, blueberries, and either strawberries, cherries, or raspberries (or all of them!) to create a fun little display. Let me know if you’re able to make yours with straighter lines than I did…

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What else? Do you have a favorite, easy, summer trick when it comes to all the cookouts and holidays? Please share!

Kitchen & Dining {Before & After}

I have waited a long time to share photos of our newly remodeled kitchen and dining room! Like with all of our projects so far, I have to give MAJOR kudos to my husband. He gutted our kitchen to the studs pretty much by himself. It’s taken six months, but I finally feel confident saying our kitchen is finished!

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The before kitchen had your classic orange and yellow wallpaper, and dark brown cabinets. There was no dishwasher, so we added one in where the refrigerator used to be. We built a new space for the refrigerator, and built our cabinets all the way to the ceiling. We also added canned lights to the ceiling to brighten things up!

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There was a wall between the kitchen and dining room that we removed, which has really opened up the flow between the two spaces.

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In the dining room, we ripped out carpet, painted the walls, and I took the old yellow cabinet you can see in the above “before” photo and turned it into a china cabinet.

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So tell me what you think of our bright little kitchen!

Here are a few more goodies from the process…Happy homeowning!

January 2016 {1SE}

My creative project for the year is going to be capturing just one second every day using the 1SE app, and compiling them into monthly snippets of my life… Remember that time I did this for about 5 months? I LOVED the result. What I loved most about it is what it meant to me – it was a sweet reminder of the little moments. Even cooking dinner at home or walking the dog became a special part of my day to day.

So to kick it off, here is my January! I plan to upload these videos to you monthly, and then I’ll compile one big 2016 at the end of the year. Cheers!