Category Archives: Good Living

Where the Magic Happens

Hey! Remember last spring when we moved? And I said I was going to be sharing some of our home improvement projects here on the old blog?

About that. I lied. Or something. Honestly, there hasn’t been much worth sharing. Everyone knows the process of making a house your own is a slow one. I have a lot of blank walls, a lot of half finished rooms. I have a lot surfaces missing expertly placed decorative items. And most of all, I have a lot of windows missing window treatments. Luckily none of these windows look directly into the windows of any our neighbors. 😉

The one room that’s getting there is the kitchen. Thought you’d all like to take a peek.

Welcome to our kitchen!

I tend to spend a lot of time in here. Hours on end. Entire weekends. But it’s so cozy, I hardly even notice that what I’m doing in there (cooking, cleaning, washing dishes) happens to be what most people would define as work.

This crescent moon shaped island is without a doubt a unique conversation piece. It has plenty of room to spread out and has electricity. Pretty, but also functional. The stools provide a cozy place to have a quiet breakfast.

So you’re probably thinking…there TWO refrigerators in there? That’s crazy cakes. Well, here’s the thing. When we moved in there was the fridge behind the island and huge gaping hole along the back wall under the overhead cabinets there. We needed a forklift to pick our jaws up off the floor when we heard what it would cost to turn that space into additional cabinets and storage…that just wasn’t happening right away. So what did we do? We stuck a sad looking, half dead houseplant on the floor in the gap and stashed 12 packs of soda there. You know, the usual. When we decided to replace the fridge behind the island with a new french door (LOVE!) we just pushed the old fridge over to that empty space. Like a glove, friends!

I admit it’s a bit odd and it’s not a forever solution, but the extra space for beer and boxes of clementines and my ice cream maker bowl is nice. Someday the budget will allow to finish it off properly but for now, we’re content with being the weirdos with two refrigerators. 🙂

Now, a few of my favorite things about this room.

The view. Morning sun glistening off fresh snow. We see more than our fair share of friendly forest creatures out in our yard at the edge of the woods. The deer are particularly active. 🙂

The tile back splash. This was an unfinished mess when we moved in. Now it’s a beautiful focal point.

Kindly ignore the glaring dirt spot on the cook top. Please and thank you.

The glass front cabinets and drawers that flank the cook top. The drawers are the perfect size for spice jars and my out of control collection of loose measuring cups and spoons. And the cabinets allow for storage and a fun pop of color.

The booze shelf. Because… Duh. 🙂

The other thing I love about the kitchen is the way were able to personalize it. Eric constantly gave me a hard time at our old house about how I refused to put anything on the walls. I just couldn’t seem to find anything I liked. I hated every single mass produced metal wall piece and print I saw. So I stopped looking. Best decision ever. And now we have stuff on the walls.

Like these nifty little metal signs my brother-in-law had made for us for Christmas.

They have our name and other identifying info on them, so that’s been blacked out to protect the innocent. 😉 I’ve mentioned before how Eric grew up a on dairy – the top sign is the graphic that was printed on the side of his grandfather’s farm truck and the bottom is bottle cap from his product. Sentimental and special, these make the kitchen uniquely ours.

For Christmas, Eric bought and had framed this print from an Illinois artist. I love it because everywhere you look there’s something new to discover and it’s brimming with my favorite colors. It’s a little bit city and little bit country. Just like us. And of course, the U of I references are appreciated…seeing as that’s where we met.

Finally, as a blogger, there are plenty of photos of food laying around. Fitting for the kitchen, obviously! Now, my photos are nothing special so it’s not like giant canvas prints would be appropriate. But scaled way down, stuffed into cropped square frames, and tiled along a wall in the dining area, it’s a fun way to display a few favorites. I gave the photos a vintage feel by washing out the colors a bit so they wouldn’t be so harsh on the wall. I really liked how they turned out.

Sorry for the cruddy pic – the patio door is directly across from this wall and the glare is insane.

So there ya have it! I hope you enjoyed the detour for a little behind the scenes tour. Back with food in the next post. I have one of my most favorite recipes to date on deck so stayed tuned for that! 🙂

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Filed under Good Living, Just for Fun, Renovations

Old Paint, New Paint, Red Paint, Blue Paint.

Oh, painting. Why do we always get fooled into thinking it’s going to be a fun job? It’s just like wrapping a ton of Christmas gifts. You do it so infrequently that when it’s time to do it again, you’ve forgotten how much it really…well, isn’t fun. At all.

At first it’s exciting. Oooo, pretty colors! Fresh supplies! You’ll blast some of your favorite tunes and turn this blank slate into something beautiful that everyone will enjoy!

But then. Mistakes happen. Supplies run low in the middle of the job. It takes way longer than you ever thought it would and by the end of the day you’re so tired of crawling around on the floor you can’t believe you EVER thought it was going to be fun. Lesson learned. Until you forget again, that is.

In our new place, every single surface had to be painted. Every. Single. One. Every wall, every piece of trim, every interior and exterior door. All 2200 square feet of finished living space, in every room, every hallway, every nook and every cranny.

See, the previous owners (oh, those pesky previous owners!) they did SOME painting. (Some. Until they obviously got tired of it, sometimes before they even finished the wall right in front of them.) And by some miracle we didn’t even hate all of their color choices. But it just wasn’t done very well. Drips, rough edges, blobs all over the ceiling. It had to be redone. We couldn’t stand it. Plus most of the trim, baseboards and door jams, and all of the interior and exterior doors were still in primer – that is, never painted at all.

While normally we’d just strap on our worn-out, yucky painting jeans and just go after it while quietly cursing every stroke of the roller under our breaths, this job proved to be too large for us to handle. And, as much as it pained us (Cheap does not even begin to cover it, for realz), we decided to go ahead and leave this one to the pros. So, we were handed a book of swatch samples the size of an unabridged dictionary and told to choose.

We spent hours wandering our empty house trying to decide. One of the toughest jobs ever. If you do it yourself, hey, it’s just paint and as annoying as it would be to redo an entire room after you decided you hated the color, it wouldn’t sting so bad. But when you’re PAYING someone (handsomely *ahem*) – there is tremendous pressure to get it right the first time.

When I think about the colors I want on the walls in my home, I get the warm fuzzies. Good thing Eric and I are on exactly the same page when it comes to this stuff. 🙂 (I knew we were made for each other!) We like neutrals that are rich in cozy hues, greens that are decidedly more yellow, and reds and golds that match the fiery flair of my spice cabinet. The frosty blues and aquas, steely grays and silvers, and cooling lilacs and purples that seem to be so popular these days just don’t do it for us. So much of the year is cold and gray around these parts, it’s hard for me to imagine bringing that vibe inside. With a toasty, cozy color pallete, we’re sure to have summer year round.

So the blues and grays are out and yellows and greens are in. The painters arrived and they didn’t leave for almost three weeks. THREE WEEKS. That’s a long time to be side-stepping around a work zone in your own house.

Good news though! It was worth it. LOVE. Every thing looks great, exactly like we hoped it would.  All colors are Sherwin Williams interior. Here’s what we ended up picking:

From left to right:

  • Red Cent-SW6341
  • Beeswax-SW7682
  • Hinoki-SW7686
  • Muslin-SW6133
  • Netsuke-SW6134
  • Garden Sage-SW7736

Pics of swatches vary from what the color looks like on the wall. Obvs. 😉 But you get the general idea.

That saucy, spicy terracotta red ended up in the kitchen. It makes me hungry just looking at it. It’s also in the downstairs half bath.

That bees-knees honeycomb gold keeps our small, cozy den warm and inviting. It will look great next to a roaring fire and a steaming mug of hot chocolate. We also used this one to gussy up the the guest bath upstairs and bring the sunshine into one of the bedrooms.

The rich but neutral tan is in the main living room, as well as the downstairs and upstairs hallways. It’s the perfect blend of understated and vibrant.

The lighter, slightly green tinted shade is much softer in person. It lightens up our master bath perfectly. With its dark vanities and textured tiles swirled with milk chocolate brown and slate gray, this shade makes our bathroom modern, yet cozy. It’s also in a bedroom.

The next shade over is the previous shade’s neighbor on the color swatch. They are like BFFs. 😉 It’s just tad darker and richer. We put this on the walls in the master bedroom and it flows perfectly from the bathroom. The fourth and final bedroom was done in this shade as well.

The sage green is my favorite of the bunch. Naturally, as green is my favorite color! In person, it’s earthy and warm and a lot less drab. It makes the bay windows in the front of the house pop. It highlights our lovely headboard and double door entry in the master bedroom. And it breaks up the tan as an accent in loft that’s open to the living room. Oh, and it’s blanketed the laundry room. If I have to do my least favorite chore, at least I can be surrounded by my favorite color while I’m doing it! 🙂

So, the painting is done! YAY! We’re slowly but surely making the house our own and I’m anxious for things to get back to normal. Boxes, boxes everywhere! Eek!

In food news: The kitchen is open once again! YAY! I spent hours (days?) organizing my kitchen and I think I’m finally back in business. It’s going to be a great place to create and share deliciousness with family, friends and all of you. I’ll be celebrating with a GIVEAWAY! Yes, a fabulous giveaway coming at ya this week. Just in time for my third (!) blogiversary which just happens to be this Saturday!

So! See you all in a few days with a new recipe and a fun surprise. I’m SO ready to put the food back in this food blog! 🙂

One Year Ago: Shrimp and Sausage Boil Pizza
Two Years Ago: Chicken Marsala Pasta Toss

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Filed under Good Living, Major Projects, Renovations

Our Little Money Pit

Oh heeeey, friends. Remember me?

April’s just about come and gone and I’ve all but dropped off the face of the earth. It happens. Don’t think I haven’t been thinking of you. I have. It’s just that things have gone straight into the depths of insanity and chaos around here. Plus, if I shared with you what we’ve been eating, you’d hit the unsubscribe button and never look back.

Just out of curiosity…how many consecutive fast food meals have you had in a row?

Um, yeah. I’m pretty sure we’ve beat that in the last few weeks.

If it helps, I feel absolutely terrible. I’m not kidding. AWFUL. My body hates me. If I never see another greasy bag again it will be too soon. #pukeyface

The reason for this sudden lapse in good dietary judgment?

Remember back in November? When I mentioned we were moving back (home!) to the great state of Illinois because Eric took a new position within his company?

No?

Yeah, it’s all a bit hazy for me too. Well, WAY BACK in the fall we put in an offer in on a home we loved. Ah, the fairy tail was about to begin….

The catch? It was a short sale. If you’ve ever spent entire afternoons lying in your bed watching HGTV (What? Don’t you judge me!) you know there is nothing short about a short sale. It is without a doubt the most stressful and drawn out real estate transaction you will ever encounter. And all the while, it’s in the back of your mind…this may not happen at all. Any of the parties could bail at any second.

We waited. And we waited some more. Then our old house sold. And then we were homeless for a while. And we waited some more. Then we moved a house of stuff into a rental. And did a little more waiting.

FINALLY on March 31, we signed on the dotted line and they handed us the keys. OH, HAPPY DAY!!

Hold on a sec. Did I mention that this particular house was…uhhh, a little rough. Yes. A little rough around the edges.

All looks well from the front door…

But upon closer inspection…

Almost NOTHING is finished. Railing and step not stained. Mantel? Who needs one of those? Missing baseboard? Check.

Range hood not built in. Tile work needs finished and grouted.

Hey, I don’t like painting either, but once I start I’m pretty sure I’d finish. Oh, and I’d try to do a decent job. Because THAT right there…would drive me bonkers.

That looks…not good. Like at all. Bad. Very bad. And if you’ll notice there’s no doorknob on the doorway to the master. This another common theme throughout the house…missing doorknobs. Are doorknobs overrated or something? Because I personally kinda like ’em. They’re good for…you know…opening and shutting doors.

Three things here. 1) W.  2) T.  3) I think you know the rest.


Exposed plumbing. Makes for a relaxing master bath. In Opposite World.

STICKERS. Bee stickers. Dog stickers. Polka dots and peace signs. Do you know what happens when you put sticky things on raw drywall that’s not primed or painted? Here’s a hint: IT GETS DESTROYED. It’s also worth mentioning that not a single electrical outlet or switch in the house has a cover on it. The risk of electrocution adds a bit of a thrill to the otherwise mundane task of fumbling for the light in a dark bathroom in the middle of the night, doesn’t it? Yes. Danger is my middle name…

See, I can’t cook. I just can’t. I can’t cook because of things like this:

And this:

And this:

We need hard hats to get to the shower in the morning. There’s no cooking going on in this work zone.

I do not hate the house, I just hate the mess. I do not hate the house, I hate the mess. That’s what I keep telling myself as we navigate through this process.

I wish it ended when our delightful, hard working carpenters and painters leave, but, alas, that’s when the real work begins. The work of moving our entire house, now stored in boxes in the garage in into the house and unpacking it. I’m already NOT looking forward to that…

Now, the good news! You all get to come over and shampoo my carpet!

Oh, wait….

Actually, I’m going to be introducing some new content here on Milk & Honey! See up there? The tab on the top that says Good Living? Click there to see my posts all about house, home and other domes-esseties. 😉 Well, don’t click yet – this is the only post so far, but stay tuned for more!

I’ve recently become interested in home and decor blogs because they are a great resource for real world information and inspiration from real people when it comes to sprucing up the old homestead. Magazines and television are all well and good…until you find out that one throw pillow costs $300. Let’s get real. Who can afford that??

Let me tell you what to expect. First and foremost: everything you see will be BUDGET-FRIENDLY. We are cheap. Scratch that…not cheap, frugal. We can’t spend $300 on a throw pillow and we don’t really want to. Lots of DIY, lot’s of bargain hunting, lots of working with what you’ve already got. It’s going to be SO fun, and I hope you’ll stick around and join me so we can swap ideas. 🙂

The good eats will be back shortly. In fact, I have an outstanding giveaway waiting in the wings that I am just BUSTING to share with you. I seriously cannot wait. I think you’re really going to like it. I just need to find it. It’s in a box somewhere. Stay tuned for that as well. In the meantime, have a home cooked meal for me. Eat something fresh and green and enjoy the heck out of it. I’ll just be over here…beautiful sugar-snap-peapod-green with envy.

Mmmm. Peapods…. 😉

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Filed under Good Living, Major Projects, Renovations