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Thursday, July 21, 2016

The remodel.

I had a good friend in our old neighborhood and I loved her house.  It was gorgeous on the inside and outside.  But what I loved most of all about her house was that there was a guest bedroom on the first floor that was right off the kitchen.  She used this bedroom as a play room.  I absolutely loved that.   So when we moved here in 2006 and decided to build our house, I knew the exact floor plan that I wanted.

Peter had just turned 3 and Sarah was 1 1/2 and I scoured the internet for floor plans that included a bedroom right near the kitchen.  I found one that was extremely similar to my friend's house.  The kitchen, eat in area and family room where open to one another, there was a room for the office and a dining room and the much loved bedroom near the kitchen.  Upstairs there were three more bedrooms and a bonus room.  I was sold!

So we began building this house, sight unseen (other than the floor plan) in real life and have been here for the last 10 years. 

We used the guest bedroom as a playroom for the first 5 or so years that we lived here until we eventually moved all the toys(junk) upstairs to the bonus room.  So that aspect of the floor plan was perfect for us.

However, and this is a big however,  the floor plan that I chose was much smaller than my friends floor plan - I would guess by about 500 square feet or so.  Which meant that the kitchen, eat-in area,family room and dining room were all much smaller than my friend's house.

The dining room fit our table but there was no way it would fit if we put the extension in it.  Our kitchen table fit but it was tight.  The worst part however was the kitchen area itself.  There is hardly any counter space to work.  If more than two people want to try to do anything in there together (like bake cookies, or put away groceries, or wash and dry dishes) it is practically impossible. 

I remember when the house was being built and I walked in after everything was framed out, I caught my breath.  The kitchen is so tiny, kept screaming through my head.  What the heck have I done?!

The kitchen has served it's purpose.  I've been able to make meals for my family and occasionally for others, but it's never been a space that I've truly enjoyed or even wanted to be in.  There's minimal storage, minimal work space, and if people are over - no space for any one to be. Because you know when you have people over, they always end up in the kitchen.  Well, not here!

And even as I was searching for the floor plan with the guest bedroom off the kitchen, I was also secretly hoping to find a floor plan with a large center island and a kitchen sink that looked out into the back yard.  I wasn't able to find a floor plan (within our budget) that met all those criteria so I opted for having the babies near me downstairs while they were little.

But now my babies aren't babies. They are big.  They take up a lot of room.  Sarah wants to help cook.  I want to have more people over but the space just isn't conducive to that. So for the past couple of years, I have been trying to come up with something in my mind that would work.  A new footprint for a small space.  And I've watched a lot of HGTV. 

I realized, there was no way I could come up with a plan on my own (even though I had some decent ideas) so I headed to my friend Google and found Thumbtack.  Thumbtack is a website to use when you are looking for someone to help you with work on your house.  You enter in your area and what type of work you need to have done and it sends your information to the people near you that can do what you need done.

I entered the information and held my breath.  And by the next day I had an email in my inbox from a woman who was a designer.  And she just so happened to work with her husband who was a contractor.  Y'all!  It's like I have my own personal Chip and JoJo!  And a fun little coincidence - her name starts with J and his name starts with C!

She came over, we discussed what I wanted, and she got to work.  I think she has come up with a plan that will be perfect.  Our eat in area will become part of the kitchen and we will use our dining room exclusively as the main eating area. (In the entire 10 years that we have been in this house, we have used that dining room less the 10 times.  I would say closer to 7 or 8.  That's wasted space right there!)  I will get my island and my kitchen sink overlooking the back yard.  The foot print is still the same size (small)  but I think this plan maximizes the space and will make it all more usable. 

At least that's what I'm hoping and praying for - a good usable, family kitchen that takes advantage of our small space in every way possible.

The next 6 to 8 weeks are going to be crazy. We are heading to the Cape on Saturday and they will start the demo process while we are gone. When we return Dan will be gone for two weeks be home for one week then gone for another.  And then school will start.  I'm sure we will spend a lot of time at my parent's house.  At least I imagine we will cook and eat our meals there.

It's going to be crazy, and stressful, and expensive but I hope it all turns out like I'm imagining.  And I'm wondering if there's anyway to get some shiplap on the walls!  

Monday, July 18, 2016

Weekend Update.

We had a busy weekend.  Saturday was yard mowing and gardening and house cleaning. 

 Here's Peter mowing the grass:

He was very annoyed that I was taking his picture so right after this, Dan went running out with his phone and got right up to Peter like he was paparazzi.  I wish I had a picture of Dan running out there.  It was hilarious.

And here's my girl making blueberry pie for Sunday lunch.  It was really good.  Her new job every week is making dessert for Sunday lunch. We eat at my parent's house every Sunday after Mass.  Sarah wants to bake and my mom would love not to have to make dessert every week so I offered up Sarah's service. So far it's a win-win! 

On Saturday evening we headed out to see the Winston-Salem Dash play a little baseball.  There was a storm passing though so the game started 45 minutes late. 

I forced the kids to pose with Bolt the mascot while we were waiting because I knew they would love that.  HA!!

Look at that!  No forced smiles.  And its because Peter knew he was getting rabbit ears and it made him laugh.

 Me and my girl!
My men before the game.

The game went into extra innings (twelve total to be exact!) but we persevered because we wanted to see the fireworks after the game.  The Dash have the best fireworks so we always make sure we go to a game with fireworks at the end.

Sunday was Mass, lunch at my parent's house with this for dessert:

Dan and I took naps on Sunday afternoon because we didn't get home from the baseball game until 12:30 AM!  That was late.  (My twenty-something self would be rolling her eyes at me with that last statement.  I guess it's official - I'm old!)

And for diner (I don't ever cook a real dinner on Sunday because we have a huge lunch and because I'm pretty lazy) I made some bruschetta melts.  I followed this recipe. 

They turned out really well.  However I made a couple of changes. I used herbed goat cheese instead of cream cheese and didn't use as much mozzarella.  I also added some balsamic glaze.  I will definitely be making these again.  I wish I could say that I used tomatoes from our garden but they are all still green.  It's driving me crazy because I'm ready for BLT Sunday!  At least the basil was from our garden. 

I wish I had a pan of these right now!

This morning we had swim practice.  We are getting ready for the county meet on Friday and Saturday. 

I dropped the kids off at home after swim practice and went to the grocery store.  And now it's already 1:30, I'm doing laundry and have a lot of other things I need to accomplish this week.

We leave for Cape Cod on Saturday and (fingers crossed) we are starting a kitchen remodel.  More on that later.  Until then, I really need to clean out my fridge and some cabinets!

Happy Monday, y'all!

Friday, July 15, 2016

Your crock pot is your friend!

Our swim team has practice in the mornings and in the evenings.  You don't have to go to both but we always do.  The swim season is very short, the pool is just a few minutes from our house, I get to talk to my BFF at evening practice and the kids get to see their friends again.  So twice a day practice it is!

Evening practice for 11-year-olds and up is from 6:45 to 7:30.  Dan usually gets home from work right as we are pulling out so in order to eat dinner as a family before 8:00 PM, I have been using my crock pot like crazy this summer. As much as my family loves beef stew (and they really do!), I have been trying to find different things to put in the crock pot and last night was a winner!  Everyone liked it (that's rare) and I will be making it again.

We had Philly Cheese Steak Sandwiches!  The filling cooked all day in the crock pot.  When I got home from swim practice, I put some hoagie rolls under the broiler to get them toasty.  Then I added provolone cheese to each roll and let that get melty and then we heaped the filling on to the sandwiches.  It was so good!  And so easy!

The original recipe is from and can be found here.  I omitted the mushrooms because no one in our family eats them but you can add them if you like. 

Here's what I did:


Cube steak - I used about 1 and 1/2 pounds - slice it thin
Peppers - I had red and orange and yellow so that's what I used instead of green
Onion - slice it really thin
1 t. salt
1 t. pepper
1/2 bag of pepperoni


Dump all of the above into a crock pot.  Cook on low for 6 hours.

Toast hoagie rolls under broiler.  Add provolone cheese until a little melty.  Add the mixture from the crock pot onto hoagie rolls and enjoy!


This is the mixture before we loaded it onto our sandwiches. 

And Sarah baked chocolate chip cookies we which had for dessert.  (Well, technically, I had been eating them all afternoon but I also had one after dinner!)

 Enjoy your weekend!

Friday, July 8, 2016

Friday Funny

I took Peter for his yearly allergy appointment.  Luckily he doesn't have any issues right now but we have to go every year to get his prescriptions renewed.

Since he has no issues, we've been seeing the PA instead of the doctor.  It's much easier to get an appointment with the PA, there is less wait once we get there and she is very friendly and knowledgeable.  And she's really pretty.

Toward the end of the appointment, I asked if we could come back before school and have Peter retested for all of his nut allergies.  When we were given his original diagnosis at 15 months old, the doctor told us there was a chance that he might outgrow them.  So he's been tested twice since then and both times, it was very clear that he had not outgrown them.

It's been at least three years since we had him tested and I had asked Peter if he wanted to try it again and he was in agreement.

My conversation with the PA went something like this:

Me:  Can we come back before school starts to have Peter retested for his peaNUT allergy?  Also, I was wondering if we could have him tested for all the other NUTS as well.  When the doctor gave us the original diagnosis Peter was allergic to some tree NUTS but not all tree NUTS so the doctor basically said to avoid any confusion to avoid all NUTS.  I was hoping there are at least a few NUTS he can eat but I don't remember which NUTS he isn't allergic to.

PA:  We can definitely test him to see if he is still allergic to peaNUTS and any other tree NUTS. Since it's been several years since he's been retested for any NUT allergies it's  probably a good idea to retest now.  (looking at Peter)  Wouldn't it be great  if you were no longer allergic to NUTS.

Peter's face began to turn red and then the PA left the room to get a sample of nose spray for Peter to try.  Peter started snickering and was covering his face with his tee-shirt.

Me:  What's so funny????

Peter:  Mom!  You said NUTS. You guys kept saying NUTS over and over again.

Me:  You are such a 13-year-old boy.  I can't believe you are giggling over the word NUTS.

Peter:  You said it again!!

I guess I've got my own little Beavis and Butthead.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Still searching for a yummy summer salad....

If you're looking for me, it's likely that I'm at the pool!

Typically we miss a lot of evening practices thanks to thunderstorms and this season has been no different.  That's why I like to make sure that we get to morning practice.

Today I made a little healthy salad from a recipe I found on Facebook.  It was okay but I probably won't make it again.  The dressing contained avocado, lime juice, cilantro, vinegar, and olive oil. It was pretty but it needed something - maybe some jalapeno to give it some kick. I poured the dressing over tomatoes, corn, and black beans.  It was healthy but it left me wanting more.

On the Fourth, we headed to Linville Caverns.  We enjoyed touring the caverns but we had been to the Luray Caverns about 5 years ago and these were much smaller and less impressive.  (Although honestly, I'm not sure the kids remembered much about that trip.)

I tried to take a couple of pictures and they didn't really turn out.

The drive through the mountains was really pretty though and we talked about how it reminded us of Ireland.  Although, as Dan pointed out, there were too many trees.  But the weather was a little cloudy and the hills were very green and it just felt Irish to us!

And then on Monday, several neighbors were setting off fireworks so we got to enjoy some of those from the back porch.

Great photo, huh? 

And just like that it's already Wednesday afternoon and I'm pretty sure summer is going to be over any minute now. 

It always seems like once the 4th of July hits, school is right around the corner.  I'm already getting emails about sales on school uniforms and when I was in Walmart yesterday, the summer seasonal items were gone and big cases of notebooks were being carted in. 

Better get back to the pool and soak up some more summer!!

Friday, July 1, 2016


It's Friday and it's a long weekend!  Let's celebrate by doing Seven Quick Takes!

1.  Friday Funny (Or alternately titled My Mom is So Lame) - Yesterday I was trying to find and print off a map that contained the US and Honduras.  I wanted to send it to one of our sponsored children in Honduras and I wanted to highlight where we live and where he lives.

Peter came into the office and asked what I was doing.  After I told him he suggested that we check Google Earth to get a better idea of where the village was.  We typed in the street address of the Unbound facility.

After we found it, I said, "Oooohhh!!! Go to street view so we can get an idea of what it looks like in that area!"

Peter, very annoyed with his poor dumb mothers said, "Mom, there is no Google street view in third world countries."

So, I guess Google isn't everywhere like I thought.

2. Sarah and Chey had an epic water balloon fight.

They had a lot of water balloons.

 It took them way longer to fill up than it did to actually throw them all.

3.  I took the kids to Sheetz for $1.99 F'Reals.  (F'reas are milkshakes that are sold at Sheetz, WaWa and other convenience stores.)

4.  The kids did some dry land work before swim practice yesterday and they looked hilarious so of course I had to take pictures.

Crab walking and bear walking is no fun apparently!

5. Sarah and I made some yummy guac.  So good!  The cilantro was fresh from our garden.  However, we are still waiting patiently for our first tomatoes.

6.Sarah loves to try new styles with her hair.

 This is a side braid and bun!
She created these gorgeous waves by french braiding her hair while wet.  After it dried she took it down and voila!  No heat waves! 

7.  Today Sarah has a friend from school coming over to go to the pool and spend the night.  She's super excited.  Peter plans to spend the night at my parents house to escape all the giggling!  

Happy Fourth of July!!!!   Don't forget to head over to Kelly's to see the other 7QT!