New Kitchen Rug

I’m in love with antique rugs. They are beautiful, and if you haven’t done much vintage rug eye candy research, I highly recommend you head over to Pinterest now so you can see what I’m talking about! The problem…the price tag. Stupid money…It’s always getting in the way of my dreams! I would love love love a vintage rug for our kitchen, but I just refuse to spend the money on one. Maybe some day I’ll spring for it, but with baby on the way, that some day won’t be now. Instead I opted for the cheap way out and got an Ikea rug for the kitchen.

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It’s the Valby Ruta rug. It’s of course not vintage, but it comes with a much more friendly price tag. It’s $29.99 for this size. It’s almost 3×6. It comes in a variety of sizes. It photographs a bit small in the space. In really life it feels like it fits the space a lot better.

 

 

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It’s maybe not the rug of my dreams, but I really like it, and my tootsies are especially thankful for it and will continue to be thankful through the cold winter months!

Five Favs!

I’m an image junky. One of my interior design professors way back when once said that, “all great designers bombard themselves with images of great spaces.” I’ve really taken that theory to heart, and now it’s such an easy thing to do with things like Pinterest. I spend lots and lots of time on Pinterest. Today, I thought it might be fun to change up my image gathering tactic a bit. I decided it would be fun to pick my five favorite images in each room category from pins I had already pinned. I thought you all might like to see, too! A bunch of beautiful house images are always fun!

Click on the pictures to be linked to the Pin on my Pinterest Boards!

Living Rooms

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Kitchens

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Dining Rooms

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Bedrooms

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Bathrooms

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My New Favorite Dessert

I feel like there are not many people that know this about me, but I love to cook. Am I Martha Stewart? Hardly. Do Shane and I enjoy a delicious home cooked meal every night? Hardly. There are times I get lazy, times I just really don’t feel like cooking, but typically I really enjoy cooking. I find it incredibly rewarding to throw together a really fantastic meal that we enjoy. I tend to find recipes and just ad-lib based on ingredients we already have and personal taste. I almost never follow recipes exactly. That’s exactly how my favorite dessert I’ve ever made happened!

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Typically I’m not much of a dessert person. Sweets just aren’t my thing, but while sitting in the doctors waiting room, I watched a cooking show where a woman made a dessert that intrigued me. I didn’t write anything down. I don’t really remember the ingredients she used. All I remember is that the base for the dessert was a sweet cheese with honey and vanilla, toped with fresh berries, and drizzled with a sweet raspberry sauce. She described the dessert and savory and not overly sweet. She was speaking my language and I just had to try.

I headed to the grocery and picked up some ingredients that I thought would accomplish the same kind of dessert.

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So here’s what I ended up with. This will make 2 smallish servings:

1 Cup Honey Vanilla Greek Yogurt

2/3 Cup Mascarpone Cheese

1/4 Cup Sugar

1/2 Seedless Red Raspberry Jam

1/2 tablespoon of a fruity liquor (Optional)

Strawberries

Blueberries

 

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Once I had everything home, I just went for it guessing along the way. I started with the yogurt and cheese base.

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While I can’t remember at all what kind of cheese the lady used in the show, I just picked up mascarpone cheese. I knew it was a soft, sweet cheese. I don’t believe the lady in the show mixed yogurt into her cheese, but the idea of shoving spoon fulls of cheese into my mouth was unsettling for me. I worried it would be too rich. So, I thought Greek yogurt would be the perfect companion. The lady on the show mixed vanilla and honey into her cheese, so honey vanilla Greek yogurt seemed like a good option. Although, I think it would really be delicious to use regular Greek yogurt and add the honey and real vanilla in yourself. I might try that next time! It’s important to get Greek yogurt, though. It has a better texture and consistency and goes well with the cheese.

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I have a little food chopper that I blended the cheese and Greek yogurt in together. You definitely want to use a machine of some sort to be sure you blend them together really well. A normal blender or a mixer would probably work well. At first, I wasn’t sure how much of the ingredients to use. I went with my gut and mixed 1 part yogurt and 2/3 part cheese. 1 cup of yogurt and 2/3 cup of cheese seems to work well for two servings. Once that is blended you can just place it in the refrigerator.

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Next in line was making the raspberry sauce. I knew I wanted it to be really sweet and taste like raspberry jam but with a soupier consistency. The amounts were pretty much a guess for me on this one, too. Here’s what seems to work well for two servings. (I did have quite a bit of the sauce left over because we don’t like things too sweet. So if you are more like me you may want to cut this in half. I didn’t mind the left over sauce, because it would be good on ice cream, oatmeal, yogurt, along with other things I’m sure.)

1/4 cup of sugar

2-3 tablespoons of water

1/2 cup of seedless raspberry jam

1/2 tablespoon of fruity liquor (I used triple sec)

1/4 cup blueberries

It was important to me to have seedless jam. I’m not a raspberry seed fan, and the liquor is optional. It gives the sauce a little kick in flavor, but it would probably be delicious without it, too.

I just threw it all in a pan and heated on low to medium it until the sugar was completely dissolved. You may need to adjust how much water you add. You want a sticky thick soup consistency. It will be much soupier while its hot in the pan, but shoot for the sticky soup consistency when it’s a room tempurature. Once the sugar is dissolved I let the mixture cool and then threw it in my food chopper to blend in the blueberries.

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This is what you will end up with, just in a larger quantity. I left this out on the counter, because cooling it too much changes the consistency. I like it served at room temperature.

The only thing left to do is chop up berries. I used strawberries and blueberries. I cooked the main meal and waited to put it all together until I was ready to serve it.

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My mom, Shane, and my grandma were the guinea pigs. I let them drizzle their own raspberry sauce on top. That’s the sweet part so I preferred for them to choose how sweet they wanted it.

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Luckily, the dessert when over extremely well! The cheese and yogurt is savory with a hint of sweetness, and when it’s layered with fresh fruit and the raspberry sauce it’s delicious! Everyone ate it up. While I had just a little left over, Shane and I finished it off before the night was over. It was a dessert success from a girl who really doesn’t like making desserts all that much! Now I’ve made it again just to share it with you!

Would Have if I Could Have

Let’s talk “would have if I could have.” Shane and I went into our kitchen renovation with a budget in mind. The truth is we are dangerously close  we have probably capped out on what our little 2 bedroom house is worth. Putting too much more money into it just isn’t a sound financial investment. That being said, Shane and I want to make this house last as long as we can, because the cost of living here is so cheap. We knew if we didn’t make some major improvements we’d be ready to jump ship. It doesn’t make sense for us to live in our dream house right now with Shane traveling so much for work. We lived in our house less than 6 months in 2013. So we set out to create a kitchen that was beautiful, functional, but not outrageously expensive. Let’s talk the ins and outs of what we splurged on and what I would have splurged on if this was our dream home.

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CABINETS

Originally, we had planned on buying the stock white cabinets at Lowe’s

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I kind of had my heart set on an all white kitchen, but the stock cabinets just didn’t feel right. You could tell the quality just wasn’t the same, and I’ve been told that the finish that’s on them tends to yellow over time. I know I didn’t want that. So instead, we went with special order cabinets. The dark brown (nearly black) was the best and cheapest option within the special order cabinets. The white cabinets in the special order section are more expensive, because they are a better quality wood that has been painted white. At first, I wasn’t thrilled with the idea of the dark cabinets, but then I started to put some things together in my mind and knew we could pull it off. I’m extremely happy with the outcome for a few reasons. The number one reason I’m happy we went this direction is that, with stock cabinets you have to make the sizes they carry work for your space.

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Our biggest issue was that the bar/desk area we wanted in our dinning room required base cabinets more shallow then the standard base cabinet. It would have been a nightmare (although, probably not impossible) to custom fit a standard base cabinet. The other benefit is that you can make sure you have wall to wall cabinet storage. When cabinets are built to fit your space, there is virtually no dead space. Beyond the functionality, they just plain look better. You get what you pay for. I’m incredibly happy we went the direction we did with the special order cabinets, and the people at Lowe’s were so helpful planning it all out. It was a bit of a splurge that I’m happy we made.

Now, if price wasn’t an issue, I think I still would have preferred a kitchen with beautiful white cabinets like this…

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Of course, that insanely beautiful window doesn’t hurt. Will I do white cabinets in my next house? Possibly…Probably, but in our current house (where resale is such a big factor) it just didn’t make sense to splurge that much.

 

 

LIGHTING

I had such a hard time finding lighting for our house. I spent so much time on Pinterest trying to find the perfect lights for our kitchen. I needed two pendant lights for over our sink. I looked, and looked, and looked, and then I fell in love with these…

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The only problem…They were all WAY too expensive. Maybe it’s been a while since you have looked around at lighting, let me tell you…it’s painful! Although I’m trying to get away from using Ikea more and more, sometimes you just can’t deny that they have a cheaper alternative. So, I went for it and got these for $24.99 a pop. Maybe it isn’t love, but it’s definitely strong like, and the bank account is happy too.

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In my next kitchen I would definitely spring for a bit more of a high end light fixture.

 

 

COUNTERTOPS

Next up, let’s talk countertops.  We went with Formica Solid Surface countertops. It’s a manmade solid surface with the look and feel of stone, but with a lower price point.

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From far away they just read white, but they have a slight speckle. The speckle is important to me because a solid color surface tends to show everything, every crumb and every dust particle. There were other options and brands that had a bit more of a real stone look, but they also had higher price points to go with it. If this were a forever home those other looks might have been a better option. There are a few really great things about solid surface countertops. They are less porous than natural stone, so they don’t stain, and you never have to seal them like natural stone. It’s a toss up on what I would do in my next house. You can’t beat the look of natural stone, but durability is huge factor for me. I’m not certain my search for the perfect countertop is over. I’m just not sure what I would put in my forever home. I’m a huge sucker for the timeless look of marble. So if I had to make the decision today, I would probably choose that for my next house.

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SINK

One place Shane and I decided to splurge a bit was the sink.

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This is an Ikea sink, which certainly helps with the price, but at $312 there are certainly cheaper sink options. We knew that in a small kitchen the sink would really be a focal point so it was important to me to have a statement sink. Let me tell you, I’m in love with the sink, and I’d probably choose it again for my next house.

 

 

 

FAUCET

The sink is fantastic, but if this was our forever home, I would have probably chosen a different faucet. I am currently in love with faucets that are not a finish you typically see. If this were my forever home I would have went for a brass or an oil rubbed bronze faucet. Maybe something like this one…

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Or this since it literally makes my heart skip beats…

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Again, since this isn’t our forever home, I went with a safer and cheaper option and have opted to try and get additional finishes in less permanent ways. Like utensils….

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I don’t have these utensils from West Elm but they are a great way to add additional finishes to your kitchen. Instead, of theses utensils I have brass measuring cups and spoons. There is also brass incorporated into pendant lights, and our cabinet hardware is brass. It’s a good compromise, but If this was our forever home the faucet would have a fancy finish.

 

 

 

APPLIANCES

Appliances…We basically went with the cheapest modern appliances we could find. We wanted stainless so these Frigidaire Gallery Series appliances did the trick…

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If resale wasn’t an issue I would much rather have the hidden built in appliance look and an island cooktop.

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I’d love nothing more than to be able to play a good game of “where’s the refrigerator?” in my kitchen. We knew we would be leaving behind the appliances in the next few years, so the investment of hidden appliances just didn’t seem worth it. The new appliances are still a huge improvement.

 

 

 

BACKSPLASH

Lastly, Let’s talk backsplash…

I’m not sure I’d do anything different. I ADORE the backsplash. The beveled edge subway tile is one of the cheapest options, but I still love it. It’s so clean. It’s very possible I’d still choose to use it in my forever home.

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Ultimately, I think my decisions for next the next kitchen renovation would be determined by the style of the house.

It’s fun for me to think about the “would have If I could have” options. I do truly love how this kitchen turned out for our house, but I’m so excited to get to make some higher end choices in our next kitchen!

Kitchen- Check!

Shane and I can officially check “Kitchen Renovation” off our (incredibly long) list. The kitchen is done!

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Since you last saw the kitchen we’ve put in a few finishing touches. We tiled a backsplash, and we love it!

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We chose a beveled edge subway tile. It’s a bit of a fancier twist on a typical subway tile. It really gave the kitchen a polished look, and it helps that Shane is really great at tiling! Nothing ruins beautiful tile quite like a bad tile job.

Aside from the tile we added two shelves under the cabinets on the sink wall.

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I adore these shelves because I can fill them with things that are too pretty to be behind cabinet doors, and things that we use regularly.

It feels great to get out beer mugs from Austria and Germany. The little tea pot came from my grandma. I like getting to see it everyday, too!

The neat thing about these shelves is, they are made from an old 2×4 that came from our closet renovation in the bedroom. They are original to the house and I love the fact that we have up-cycled them into these shelves. Shane milled the boards to make them clean and square again, and then he finished them with linseed oil. The brackets are from ikea.

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The copper bowl on the fridge is a Goodwill purchase from a few years ago that I use for potato storage.

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One of my favorite parts of the renovation is the functionality of the area in the dining room.

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Originally, this area had a bar height bar that Shane and I never used. We took it down to countertop height, filled it with cabinets, and designated the lower cabinets as an office. We really don’t have room in our house for an office so this area has been so nice! one cabinet is used for filing and the other holds our printer and other office supplies. Shane and I sit here often. In fact, I’m sitting here now. I could probably count on one hand the number of times we sat here in the previous 5 years. When designing, my number one goal is always to make sure a space is not only beautiful but functional. Every square inch of your house should serve a purpose.

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This area also holds our little home bar.

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There you have it, our new kitchen! Let me share with you some of the before pictures.

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We’ve come a long way and have added 9 additional cabinets for much needed storage.

Here are some of the progress pictures…

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Refinishing the floors.

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Installing the base cabinets.

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The scariest part of our whole kitchen renovation was when the run of upper cabinets in the dining room were too big to fit. We realized that we only needed about a half inch to fit them in. So Shane stuck them on the table saw and cut the lip off of two of the cabinets. I seriously about had a heart attack. These are brand new $300 cabinets he was cutting. Luckily, he knows what he’s doing and it turned out perfect, but seriously…I almost died.

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Well, that’s it! The kitchen is done! It feels so good to say that!

Before:

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After:

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After:

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Kitchen Renovation included:

-Removal of all existing cabinets, countertop, and appliances

-Removal of 3 layers of flooring

-Refinished original wood floors

-Installed new cabinets, including an extra 9 cabinets

-All new appliances

-New solid surface countertops

-Tiled a backsplash

-Made and installed two open air shelves

-Repaired walls

-New trim in kitchen

-Repaired and restored trim in dining room

-Installed new ceilings in dining room and kitchen

-Fresh Paint

-Reconfigured lighting in kitchen, adding pendant lights and two can lights

-Made and installed light fixture in dining room

Kitchen Sneak Peek

We have countertops in our kitchen!!! Our kitchen project has taken about 8 weeks start to finish, so imagine my excitement that I finally have a working (almost complete) kitchen! We ordered our cabinets and then waited about 3 weeks before we started demo so I suppose it technically took about 5 weeks start to finish, but it feels like forever since we’ve been planning it for so long. We aren’t quite done yet. We have to tile the backsplash and hang a few shelves, but the end is so very near! Here’s a sneak peek of the not-quite-finished product…

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I can’t wait to fill the kitchen with practical decorations!!

P.S. We’ve started the tile backsplash and it’s amazing!

Kitchen Sink Love

I adore our new kitchen sink like you wouldn’t believe. It’s huge. It’s white. It’s beautiful.

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You can find it at Ikea. Like most Ikea things, it was a pain to install, but I adore the functionality and beauty of it. I also really love our new faucet that we picked up at Lowe’s. It was fairly cheap as far as the industrial style faucets go, and it’s working out great. It makes fitting large pans into the sink no problem. If you like the look of an industrial faucet I really recommend it.

Be sure to check out the blog tomorrow. I’m going to reveal the kitchen progress!!