A Little Nuts

Sorry for the long silence. Despite my best intentions, the blog has been neglected this month.

It’s just been a little crazy around here…

DSC_7884Gift ordering crazy, card writing crazy, not sleeping because baby is up all night crazy and now stomach flu crazy.

But finally the gifts are all purchased, the cards all mailed and (knock on wood) we’re done being sick. If some Silent Nights come along, we may yet have a Merry Little Christmas. In any case, I’ll try to get some more blogging done soon.

Hope your Christmas forecast is looking bright!

Easy Asian Green Beans

Confession time. I don’t cook anymore. I mean, I sort of cook, but only the fastest, easiest thing I can think of at 4:30 in the afternoon, with the one caveat that it can’t come entirely out of a box. Soup and sandwiches, basic oven chicken with baked potatoes, salads… I am running low on creativity.

So tonight I thought I’d change things up just a bit. I got some chicken egg rolls from the freezer section at Trader Joe’s. I put those on the menu along with plain brown rice and orange slices. Digging through my fridge, I also came up with a bag of green beans that needed to be used, so I threw some things together in the hopes of creating a passable Asian green bean to round out the meal, and what do you know, they turned out so tasty that even the girls gobbled them right up and asked for more.

Easy Asian Green Beans | BobbleHeadBabyEasy Asian Green Beans (Serves 4)

1 Tbs Peanut Oil
12oz Green Beans (washed and trimmed)
Garlic Salt to taste
2 tsp Sesame Seeds (toasted)
Medium sized frying pan with a lid

Heat oil uncovered in pan over medium-low heat. Add green beans and cover. Cook 5 minutes or until green beans start to brown on the bottom. Uncover, sprinkle with garlic salt and stir. Recover and cook for an additional 4-5 minutes, stirring periodically, until the beans are tender. Transfer to a serving dish and sprinkle with the sesame seeds.

And that’s it! So easy, right? But I’m telling you, the garlic, peanut, and sesame flavors mingled together just perfectly, making this recipe more than just the sum of it’s parts. I’m going to be serving this one again for sure!

If only all my experiments turned out this well, I might try to be clever in the kitchen more often. Oh well! Feel free to leave me a comment and let me know what your favorite go-to easy dinner menu looks like. Got any tricks, short-cuts or simple sides? I’m all ears!

Mantel Makeover

Hey, everybody. I’m finally doing it. I’m finally posting the long promised photos of our living room mantel makeover! I know you’ve all been sitting on pins and needles (either that or you’ve totally forgotten that I ever mentioned it in the first place), but the wait is over at last.

Well, almost over, because first I need to remind you of what the room used to look like. Here is the picture from the last time I posted about it, which was November of 2012:

Living Room fall 2012And here’s what the living room looks like now:

Living Room Fall 2014 (2)We could not be more pleased with the finished product! The old mantel was functional in that it held our TV just fine, and it was sturdy (I personally tested that out by crawling all over it hanging Christmas decorations). So, it wasn’t awful, especially from a distance, but up close it had some less than lovely bits and we really wanted doors to cover the TV, media components, and all of the cords that come with them.









So a year ago we got on Angie’s List and contacted three cabinet builders to come bid on the job. (Because as much as we love a good DIY project around here, we decided this one was out of our league and we needed professional help.) We asked them if there was anything to be salvaged on the old mantel and each of them in turn said the same thing, “Rip it out, just rip it ALL out.” So that’s what we did…

Then we had the pleasure of seeing what our living room would look like with a gaping hole in it, which is always a good time.DSC_8294Then we hired one of our Angie’s List prospects, who came in and took extensive measurements, and also one of our kitchen shelves so he could match the stain to our existing cabinetry. A few weeks later he returned with all the pieces of the project and started the installation, at which point our house looked something like this:

DSC_8803We lived like this for two days. Two WHOLE days, people! And now anyone who has lived through a kitchen or bath renovation can laugh at me, but OH MY GOODNESS, I thought I was going to LOSE MY MIND! Things sitting in random places. Power tools where my kids could reach them (though the were unplugged when not in use of course). And the dust. Oh the dust. It was EVERYWHERE! I can’t believe I ever begged Peter to let us buy an old house so that we could renovate it and I’m so extremely glad he didn’t listen to me. What on earth was I thinking?!?!?

But it was worth it, we survived, and so did our cabinet guy. I thought the girls might pester him to death with their hundreds of questions (they did little else but sit watching him and asking questions the entire duration of the install). He was so good about it though and answered them all very patiently.

As you can see, the end product is a million times better than the original mantel. And while the two days felt much longer than they actually were, I can’t imagine how many eons it would have taken us to do it ourselves. Plus there is no way we could have gotten the stain so perfect or the finish so smooth. Seriously, it feels like silk. Don’t tell, but sometimes I just stand there and pet it when no one is looking. Smooth like butter…

Another time, I will post about the new shelves in the corner and the built-in bench in the kitchen that we had installed at the same time, but this post is long enough, I’d say.

Let’s close with one more before and after, shall we?

Before we moved in back in November of 2008…

empty-house-living roomAnd now, November 2014…

Living Room Fall 2014 | BobbleHeadBaby.comMuch improved, don’t you think?

Happy Halloween 2014!

It’s late and I really should get to bed, but I had to post a few Halloween pictures for you all.

DSC_6464Here’s my crew. Lydia the dalmatian, Alethea a.k.a. Angelina Ballerina, and Caleb who rather reluctantly went trick or treating as a penguin.

DSC_6487If you’re a long time reader, you may recall that this was Alethea’s first Halloween costume as well. I thought Caleb made an absolutely adorable penguin, but the only part of the process he seemed happy about was taking it off.

DSC_6488Lydia seemed to enjoy being a dalmatian, although I’m afraid we made the black spots too big, since she got mistaken as a cow several times. Look at the hat people! And although her costume has been a source of angst in our house for some time, Alethea’s Angelina outfit came together in the end and I think she was pleased with it, although she did come home part way through trick or treating to exchange the ears for a warm hat.

And of course, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the pumpkins. Once again, we had a carving party a few days before Halloween and Gramma Denny, Grandma Debbie and I whipped up these beauties…

Angelina Ballerina Elsa Frozen Teddy Bear PumpkinFrom left to right: Alethea’s requested Angelina Ballerina pumpkin (yes, she coordinated her costume and pumpkin just like two years ago), Lydia’s Elsa pumpkin (or as the girls called it, the “Let it Go” pumpkin), and a sweet and simple teddy bear pumpkin for Caleb. (And no, unlike last year, there was no surprise pumpkin to carve.)

DSC_6513With costumes on and pumpkins carved, there was nothing left but to hit up the neighbors for candy. Caleb wasn’t out long, but the girls both came home with quite a haul considering they only did two short streets. Their favorite part of the evening wasn’t even the candy though. It was the large inflatable plastic skeletons one house was passing out. Go figure…

DSC_6478 v3

So that was Halloween 2014. We hope you had a good one too!

Open Door Policy

When Peter and I bought our house six years ago, we realized that it was more spacious than we needed for just our family, even if we ended up having several children. But we also knew that we wanted to live with an open door policy: for our neighbors to always feel free to drop by, to have room for gatherings of church friends, to be able to say, “Sure, friend of a friend of a friend, we’ve got a guest room, come crash at our place.”

In the spirit of that open door policy, I’ve been attempting to seasonally decorate our front porch to be a first sign of welcome to our guests. Having three children under six meant nothing elaborate was happening this fall. Fortunately, nothing says autumn like a big pile of pumpkins.

DSC_6126So come one, come all, we’d love to see you at our front door sometime soon!

A Quick Project

Been trying to figure out why I can’t seem to get anything done around here. People keep telling me it’s because I have a 4 month old. Whatever the reason, there hasn’t been a lot of home improvement happening here lately. I did sneak in one quick project though. I got Caleb’s name in paper mache letters at JoAnn’s, spray painted them a happy shade of green, and hung them above his changing table.



I know his room has a transportation theme, but I still think it’s cool how his name is sort of guitar shaped this way. Maybe he’ll follow in his daddy’s six-stringed instrument playing footsteps.

DSC_5660Whenever I tackle a quick and easy project like this, I’m impressed with how finished a room looks with a little something on the walls. And while Peter and I still have lots of big home improvement projects on our mental to-do list, it feels good to be taking some teeny tiny baby steps toward a house that feels totally “us”.

To summarize… one project down, fifty bazillion left to go…