Do Something that Scares You: A Fireplace Remodel

Thursday, April 28, 2016

This week's Do Something That Scares You is my report on our fireplace rehaul.

This is where I tell you that I am not going to do a tutorial on how to remodel your own fireplace.   But I am going to tell you where to find the tutorials I used, how it went down for us, and what not to do so you can learn from our mistakes...

This whole idea started with me HATING the very visible cords from our TV which is hung above the fireplace.  My OCD nature could not stand those cords haunting me all day, every day.  I put IKEA cabinets up while nesting with my last baby and that at least gave us some more storage and hid the cable box, but it wasnt exactly looking like the built-ins I was going for.  Plus, the cords going from the TV to the cable box were still there.

I studied tutorials for recovering a fireplace easily 3 of the 3 1/2 years we've lived here.  It took me that long to get my guts up to finally bite the bullet, but I did my best to combine my favorite tutorials into what we needed and wanted: Young House Love and Thrifty Decor Chick.  At first, I wanted to hire someone, but when I had a guy come to give a bid, he seemed to not be understanding my vision and I was worried it would both be so expensive and in the end not what I wanted.  My mom and I had already purchased some tile when she visited (two months ago... oops!), so I thought I'd start with that.   And in usual fashion, I began with some demo as that's the easiest way to get yourself started--no going back once things are destructed!

What's For Dinner: Indian Butter Chicken

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

I am assuming most of you are like me: you make the same meals (or types of meals) over and over again.  You might go through helpful periods of meal planning, but then you gradually slip back to your usual routine of not planning dinner until 4:59 and then trying to magically make something easy, yet tasty with whatever you have on hand--so basically, you're back to your usuals.

I actually like cooking.  I really do!  However, I do not like cooking at 4:59 PM with three kids who all want to be held/entertained and are grumpy and hungry.  (PS: Two things that have helped this: 1) we always go for a quick walk/bike ride after my almost-3 year old wakes up from his nap; 2) my kids can only watch one short show a day, and it's only when I'm cooking dinner and ONLY after they have cleaned the entire house.  They are extremely motivated to do so--it's a win-win!)

Our usual go-to meals involve some type of Mexican meat for burritos and rice/qunioa bowls; pasta dishes (with easy butter sauces or a quick homemade marinara); home made pizza; big salads with croutons made with Costco ciabatta bread; some kind of baked chicken with rice; and a recent favorite: nachos.

About 1-2 times per week, I try to branch our from our go-tos and make something new.  When I do so, most of my recipes come from two sources, because I don't have time for the wormhole that is Pinterest: Our Best Bites (I own this book and this one), and Mel's Kitchen Cafe (which Janssen introduced me to years ago, and I am forever indebted to her for it).

So, today I'd like to share Mel's fantastic recipe of Indian Butter Chicken.  I had almost everything on hand, and substituted other spices with whatever I was missing--however, the garam marsala spice can't be subbed.  Make sure you do have that one, because the very, very last thing you need is to run to a store at 5:30 to get a missing ingredient.  

Also, I replaced half of the chicken with one big sweet potato that I diced, steamed in the microwave for 3-4 minutes (my microwave takes forever, so start lower), and then put into the pan at the same time as the chicken.

This really was a yummy dinner.  My kids gobbled it up, especially my 8 month old.

Make this, and make it soon.


When Mothering Doesn't Come Naturally

Monday, April 25, 2016

CJ--my first baby--was born shortly after we arrived at the hospital.  My husband ran as he pushed me in a wheelchair while I screamed one long, guttural scream down a hallway, past nurses panicking and rushing to direct us to an empty room.  Brad practically catapulted me onto the bed where I landed on all fours, screaming like a cavewoman with every push and crying between contractions through the curtain of my sweaty, matted hair, "I can't do it!  I can't do it!"  The nurse cheered me on, "You're doing it, baby!  You're doing it!"  Right when I felt like I was surely dying, CJ slipped out into my just-arrived Dr's hands, and he and the nurses handed her up to me through my legs, her cord still attached to my insides, while I shakily attempted to cradle her up against gravity, to my hyperventilating chest.  After a minute, I asked, "Um, can I turn around now?"

Where there should have been euphoria, joy, and soul-shattering love, I felt only shock and a kind of out-of-body surreal-ness--absolutely the opposite of what everyone prepared me for. My first few minutes of motherhood felt anything but natural.

WOT: Home Projects

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Well, hello there!

My apologies to the two people who read this blog (my husband and occasionally my mother).  I did not mean to go so long between posting.  My hat's off to those moms out there with kids who do any type of part-time work/blogs/hobbies from home, but I've been so swamped that I have barely checked my blogs (which are like my drugs) or even Instagram (also a drug).

What have I been up to, you ask?  Besides mothering three small and often-hungry children, I've been doing every project on my list that I've neglected since my baby's birth 9 months ago, and sadly for my husband, that means he has been too.

All of the projects!  All at the same time!  Because if your house is already filthy, your children already neglected, and all the tools already out, when is there a better time to do every thing to your house that you've been procrastinating?

In this case, the last two-three weeks have involved the following projects, which I'll review for today's Working On Things (WOT):

1) CURB APPEAL: Driveway (Nonexistent) Corner and Mailbox update.

Three Fridays ago, Brad came home to two eyesores.  Our driveway has a drastic taper at the entrance so we are always driving over this corner grass, a corner that happens to be where our drains empty rainwater out to the street.  The pipe's spout looked packed with mud, so I knew it was time to do something about it.  Our neighbor talked me through how to fix it and also left me a big bag of the drainage rocks we'd need, so I decided to just shovel the grass out.

In the process, I discovered the pipe was completely busted, so of course I stopped right there and went on to tearing down the mailbox instead.

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