Monday, August 22, 2016

An Unstaged Backyard Summer Tour

Well, I'm a little late on the bandwagon, but I had some "nap time" on my hand today, and I thought it would be a perfect opportunity to show you all why we moved to our farmhouse-style home.  To give you a little background, we found this house purely by luck.  We were looking a house on a different street, stumbled on this open house on another street, and found a spectacular view we knew nothing about despite being long-time residents on this side of town.

After much debate and number crunching, we could not get this view out of our minds.  The rest is history.  The home came already landscaped, which was a total plus.  One downside is there is A LOT of gardening to be done at certain times during the year.  Do I mind? Absolutely not!   Believe it or not, I find yard work kind of soothing and rewarding. Since spring, I've gotten to enjoy all sorts of blooms from gerber daisies, lavender, peonies, roses and hydrangeas.

So, I'll get started.  I should mention that I didn't do any staging for these pictures, so forgive me for the random Doritos, towels, toys, etc. that might be hanging around in the photos.  I'm all about real life, and embracing a little bit of the mess!

This is around our fire pit.  We have wanted to get some new patio furniture for quite some time, however, greater needs have come up.  Instead, we settled for a little furniture facelift.  My sweet dad painted the furniture for me, and I found some Target chair cushions that fit.  Sometimes, a fresh coat of paint and some new pillows makes it fell brand new! The pretty lantern was also a sweet Target find.  This pot has a combination of purple fountain grass (one of my favorites) with sweet potato vine and a little variegated geranium.

Another view from behind the fire pit area.

Here is an entrance to our dining room.  Cool thing about these pots?  Everything in them is perennial, which means I don't have to re-pot each year.  Score!  If only I could keep little fingers from breaking the delphinium down...

One of our hydrangea bushes.  If it were up to me, I would have like fifteen more of these in our backyard.  They are a real beauty both on the plant and in an arrangement.

Different view of the fire pit.

One of my favorite spots.  My hubs and I like to sit out here in the evening with a glass of wine and check out all of the deer and wildlife in the pasture and preserve below.  Have you ever seen deer around a sprinkler?  Might be one of the funniest things ever, all enjoyed from our backyard. Earlier in the summer, each side of these chairs is adorned with shasta daisies, but they got a good ol' hacking by the master gardener herself.

Here my first attempt at a vegetable garden.  Truly, I threw it together during a nap time without too much thought. Next year, I'll have a better idea of what works, but go figure, potatoes were one of our best producers! This is sort of the after math, but despite being a trial run, I'm totally hooked!

So, we drink beer, but we don't brew it, so these guys sort of go to waste.  But, they do look fabulous on our mantle in the fall!

Here is our sea of lavender.  Truly, it looks like a sea when a gentle breeze rolls through. It is really stunning, bees and all!

Here are some concord grapes that grow over our shed.  Maybe someday I'll have a use for them.  I'm open for suggestions!

A little path to the front of our house. 

Here is our patio with a little table-top makeover my dad made for me.  It's a wood top on a metal lattice-type table.  That's my sweet girl, Abby.  Her and I hold this fort down.

In case you couldn't tell already, I really like this lantern.

This is the side of our house that was originally a bunch of garden boxes.  It was a good idea, except in a ton of shade, so we gave them away.  Now, we have the "play structure".  We debated long and hard about this, and if we should purchase it, and I can say I'm now sold.  I love them playing outside instead of watching as much TV as we were.  That TV can be a trap for us all, and this had definitely been a good distraction!

This may not look like much now, but I have BIG plans for her so stay tuned.  Think momma's little paradise!

Hope you've enjoyed this tour!


Saturday, August 20, 2016

Every once in a while, I find a recipe worth raving about, but it has to be two things: super easy and super delicious. To let you in on a secret, I attempted to be a "cook" (probably some time in junior high when stuff gets all sorts of weird) by making spaghetti noodles and topping it with olive oil and basil from a plant at my grandma's house. This was my first and last attempt of creating a "recipe" on my own.  It was literally boiled noodles with olive oil and basil.  My sister has never let me forget about this "basil pasta" that I tried to create, as well as some other strange things I did as a kid.  So now that you know my secret, you will know I am no chef, and I will probably never post a recipe that I've created on my own, so fully expect me to give you a nice little link to where I got the goodness.

Not sure if this happens everywhere, but at the end of summer, everyone is giving squash away around these parts.  I kid you not, I've had someone bring a squash to give away at work that was bigger than a newborn.  I love squash, but was looking for something to jazz it up, so that even my hubs would like it.  Smitten Kitchen had a recipe that seemed like it would work. Sorry, I did not take pictures of my beautiful creation, but I did snap a few of the leftovers because I just felt compelled to share this great recipe (and great use of surplus squash).

Here it is, folks.  Smitten Kitchen's Summer Squash Pizza. Pointers, you might ask?

  • I didn't use the recipe for the dough--I simply stopped at Trader Joe's and got a ready-made batch for less than $1.50.  Simple is what I do, and I'm really not lying about that! 
  • Make sure you allow the shredded squash to rest for at least 20 minutes because a whole-lotta water comes out and needs to be drained/squished out. 
  • I added more salt on top of the mixture because I felt I really squeezed the bejesus out of my squash, and might have lost some during this squeeze fest.  I also added some fresh ground pepper and crushed red pepper, because it just seemed like a good idea.

I also made a 5 minute marinara with a recipe that fit what I had on hand.  It also turned out pretty great too. One minor adjustment I made--hat might work out well for you, too--is substituting 1 T (a heaping one) of dried onion flakes for the onion part of the recipe. This was only because I was using pantry staples, otherwise, an onion would have been great!  Literally, this sauce was a can of tomato sauce and like 5 little herbs that even I had on hand.  This guy was called "Awesomely Easy Marinara Sauce", and I can confirm it was awesomely easy indeed.

Yikes, look at that dirty stovetop!  Truthfully, this guy gets cleaned about once a week.  It just seems silly to me to clean it every single night, at this point in my life, when I could be having some precious snuggles on the couch before bedtime.   Maybe some day I will have ultra-clean bloody-worthy photos, but for now, I'm being real, and showing you the dirty!

So if you find yourself in the predicament of squash overload, give this recipe a try. Super tasty, super easy. Your tummy will thank me.

Have a great weekend!


Thursday, August 18, 2016

A little update...

We are in a bit of a holding pattern for our guest bathroom remodel, but one exciting thing has happened: I got my Restoration Hardware knockoff vanity.  Living in Idaho often means less access to the "big fancy" stores like RH, so sometimes, you have to get creative.  I found this vanity on their website, placed it into my cart, and was ready to bite the bullet. Then, I saw the shipping fees--over $500.  I waited. I stocked the website. Still, no shipping break.  So, I decided to go local, which was definitely a good idea.  Quick google search, a few emails, and I had a builder for my pretty yet masculine vanity.  Going this route, I was also able to choose exactly the marble type I wanted for the counter.  After about 25 emails to different local granite/marble fabricators, I finally found the one and only remnant, and got a killer deal.  When all is said and done, this piece will cost over $1,000 less than RH's version, and is all solid wood, no veneers, unlike the pricey little RH number.

Want to check it out? Right now, its home is in our garage until go-time, but I thought it would be fun to give you all a sneak peak.

So, here it the Restoration Hardware one it resembles.

 And here is the one I had built, without its fancy little calucutta marble counter.

Not bad, right? This sweet little deal was courtesy of RC Woodstuff, a local carpenter. So happy he was able to make this little dream possible!

Make sure to make your day great!


Sunday, August 7, 2016

Our Guest Bedroom

When we first moved into our home, we had a whirlwind of events that were partially caused by us, and mostly caused by the nature of home buying/selling/closing.  We closed in the afternoon of the "3rd" got our key the afternoon of the "4th" (which happened to be our anniversary--yay!), and had to be out of our home by the afternoon of the "5th".  Oh, and did I mention we had a previously planned cabin vacation with my hubby's family scheduled for the "6th"?  Yikes.  Not sure what we were thinking!!

Although I wanted to clean every square inch of our home, I had to take a deep breath, accept it really was not all that bad, and just keep going with the flow. I had a 6 month old and a 2 year old at that time, was working full-time, and did not have the time to sterilize the whole house (which I might add, I refuse to do now.  I have 2 little boys and one "big" boy... Enough said.). There was one thorn in my flesh, however, that I had to address immediately.  Our guest bedroom.  It was this awful yellow color and, unlike the rest of the house, was kinda grubby, smudgy, and teen-boy yucky!  It was a gaming room for the former owners two teen boys, and the walls showed it.

My mom and dad knew this was bothering me, especially because my sister and her family were coming for a visit later that month (you know, that crazy one where we moved, had a vacation, an anniversary, and tried to unpack everything?). So, my mom volunteered my dad to come over and paint the room for me so the guest room could be a little cleaner, a little more serene, and a lot more inviting for guests during their stay. It was painted in Behr Wheat Bread, which is not my favorite "greige" color now, but was really the first one I came across. I've got entirely too much painting to do throughout the rest of the house to repaint a perfectly good paint job! For now, it will just be perfectly imperfect.

Sorry there isn't a before picture, but I was too overwhelmed with life when we first moved in to document the journey. Have no fear, I will fully document everything from here on out! And, here the guest room is in all of her glory.

And here's a closer view of that fine species of a table my daddio built for me. I wish I could do more than just stain--maybe someday I'll be trusted with power tools!  To get the instructions, just visit the Shanty 2 Chic ladies.  When I'm grown up, I want to be like them...and not cause my loved ones undue stress that I'm holding power tools.  For now, I'll have to suffice with scissors, nails, a hammer, and glue--I can still do plenty of damage with these!

Hope you are having a wonderful weekend, and aren't being smoked out like we are here in Idaho!  

God Bless!


Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Something I have tried to do in our home is create new/fresh spaces with the furniture and items we already have.  When I met my husband, he had a fully furnished home with pretty nice things for a bachelor.  Being  a bit on the thrifty side, it pained me to just "get rid" of these pieces without putting some thought into how I could reinvent their placement in our new home, and project a little of our "married" style onto them.  And by "married" I mean a slightly more feminine take.

One of my favorite "moves" has been with a piece that was originally used to showcase some car memorabilia of my husbands in his bachelor home (and our first home together).  This table served many uses in our old home, and is currently resting in its best spot to date.  At our old home, we (I mean "I") repurposed the table as a sofa table which looked great, but wasn't really an option in our new home layout.  When we moved to our new home, it was our TV stand in our bedroom--don't judge me. Watching a good Lifetime or Hallmark movie while relaxing in my cozy bed happens to be a favorite naptime activity for me. Embarrassing, but I refuse to give that up!

One day, I got restless, and decided this table was going to be a beautiful new entry table--one where I could add a few knick knacks to for seasons/holidays and add some pizzazz to the hallway. Funny thing about me: I have moved several large pieces of furniture around our homes on my own, including up and down staircases.  When I have an idea, I simply cannot wait for my husband to get home to help--I have to do it right then.  I figure out clever ways to move things (or I just woman-handle it) and get it done. I'd say that's pretty macho. So here it rests (probably forever) in our hallway.

The only thing I purchased for it was this mirror, and it was one of my first thrifting finds (and I believe, a steal!).  Found him for a whopping $6 and, I might add, he is a nice sturdy little mirror, with a touch of patina! At the store, I thought I would need to repaint the border (it is gray/blue and copper in color) but once I placed it on the table, there was magic.  Those colors actually made the piece unique and fitting.  The floral piece are spring "bud" cuts from one of our trees that happened to dry out like this, so I just left them there in all their budding glory.  Here's a close up of the table and mirror, so you can see this gorgeous $6 find, and examine the dust bunnies I failed to dust off for this picture.  Under the table is a our "go-upstairs-junk-basket".  I highly recommend this, especially if legos and matchbox cars migrate throughout your entire home, gracing every surface imaginable.

Hope you enjoyed our entryway update.  Thanks for stopping by The Gray Abode.