Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Happy 2nd Birthday

This cutie pie turned two over the weekend.


To celebrate we had a small gathering of family over for appetizers and cake.  Alan made fun of me because I said I wasn't doing 'anything' this year.  Last year's party was an avalanche of disaster between the weather and the flu.  But, when it came down to it, I knew we just had to celebrate somehow.  Especially since it looked like the weather was about to keep us cooped up yet again.  (Thank you polar vortex)

So, I ran around to the places I knew would make a party easy. 

- Party City for supplies
- Trader Joe's for appetizers
- A trusted bakery for the cake
- A quick stop at the grocery store for my most trusted punch recipe (will share this week)

And we partied.


And though it was hectic getting everything together in just a couple of hours, it was a fraction of the effort put in last year with much greater reward.  I could relax and enjoy the time with our girl.


The cake was white with strawberry mousse.  M had her own cupcake to destroy and devour, and that she did.  She is so my child when it comes to cake.

No one bother me, I am eating cake.

It happened to be national appetizer week or something at Trader Joe's (is this a thing now?  fine with it but still) so I grabbed what sounded good, which was pretty much everything.  If you're headed there in the near future, the Spinach Stuffed Mushrooms were great as were the Feta and Caramelized Onion Tarts which are my favorite.  Skip the Chicken Parmesean thing on a stick (one bite and done for most on these), and the Mac and Cheese Bites are just OK.  We had lots leftover so Alan had good reason to jab me for doing too much after saying I'm not doing 'anything'.  (He says he'll be very worried the day I say "I'm going ALL out!").


It wasn't the stylized theme parties that I covet on Pinterest or Hostess with the Mostess, but it was a good time.  Small and sweet and perfect.

Just like our little girl.  Who is now two.

Stop the clock.

Hope you are staying warm wherever you are. 



Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Smoked Salmon Bagel with Red Onion and Caper Cream Cheese





With a toddler in the house, we don't eat out as much as we used to.

Like about 99% less.

Unless it involves a place where she can be loud without fear of dirty looks (i.e. the senior citizens dinner hour at Baker's Square where they just think she's cute) or a where a dancing cow lives, enticing her to eat her grilled chicken nuggets.

At any rate, when we did got out, one of our favorite places also happened to have one of my favorite appetizers.  A huge platter heaped high with buttery smoked salmon and piles of toppings, accompanied by their warm bread basket. 

The yumminess I remember could have been partially created by the 2 Cosmos I typically downed before it arrived at the table... but I lean towards it actually being the food. 

Anyway, I have really been craving those flavors recently.  There is nothing "dancing cow" about them.  Smoked salmon and capers are full on, in your face, meant to be enjoyed by an adult foods.  So I bought the essentials and came up with this sandwich to tide me over until our next date night.  Dare I say, it hit the spot.  All I was missing was a Cosmo.

Thought about it, but that may be frowned upon at 11:30am during nap time. 

Gather:
  • Plain cream cheese, 1/2 a block, softened
  • 1/4 cup finely diced red or purple onion
  • 1 Tbsp capers
  • 1 small package or can of Smoked Salmon (splurge if you want, but I find the cheaper brand at the store is just fine)
  • 2 Bagels for Serving (I highly recommend pumpernickel)
  • A few green leaves.  Arugula would be nice, or use Romaine.  I used the "Spring Mix" that we always have in the fridge.
Do:
  •  Mix together the first three ingredients in the bowl.  Mash it good.


 As if you needed instructions to assemble a sandwich... 
  • Slice the bagels in half, and spread the Red Onion and Caper Cream Cheese on half.
  • On the other half, lay 1/2 the smoked salmon and some green leaves.  
Amounts are relative here friends... slather and lay on as much as you want. 



  • Assemble.
  • Enjoy.
As if you needed to be told to commence with the eating.

I had cream cheese left over, but it will be wonderful on its own spread on a few crackers to use it up.  I think this combo would also make an easy and elegant appetizer version using pumpernickel bagel chips as the base. 

Here's to treating ourselves at home!

For Pinning if you wish: 




Monday, January 20, 2014

Hallway Bathroom Before and After





Last August while I was on a blogging hiatus, we finally remodeled two of our bathrooms (so see, we were busy.)  We gutted and re-did the hallway and master baths back to back.  Back to back construction is not necessarily fun, however, are we ever pleased with the results!

The upstairs hallway bathroom is pretty much the "main" bathroom of the house.  It is the largest, and has the tub. It also hadn't been updated since oh... 1978.


Yeck.

The vanity was not only ugly and dirty, the drawers fell out when you pulled on them, so was pretty much unusable as far as storage goes.  The flooring was loose and obviously water damaged. 

And then there was the tub.  (sorry for the blurry pics, our camera just wasn't having this bathroom either)


Beige, bad caulking.... beige.

The walls were also very soft when you pushed on them, and there was just an odd amount of extra caulk around the bottom of the tub wall.  So aesthetics aside, that spurred us to remodel here sooner rather than later in case of major leaks.  I wanted into that wall to see what might be going on.

(Happy to say there weren't any major leaks, just old and bad tiling).

Here's one more beauty shot so you can truly enjoy the after.


Complete with seat up.  Because it adds to the ambiance.

Needless to say the whole thing was ripped out and everything was replaced.  We hired out a contractor to do it all, and bought the supplies ourselves. 

The vanity was a score from Craigslist for $200.  Brand new, they had just decided to go a different route with their own bath remodel.  The counter and sink were from HOBO (bargains).




All the shower walls were removed and replaced with moisture resistant green board.  We had a hard time deciding on a tile pattern for this bath.  We wanted it to remain fairly neutral and timeless.  While I love all the very pretty glass tile patterns out there right now, I just worry that they will be "out" in 10 years.

And I don't plan to do this again that soon.  So, we stayed safe.  I'm happy with it.


We also added some inside storage by taking some space away from a hallway closet.


The shelves are 8" deep and are just right for holding some essentials.  Truthfully, we're not really utilizing it much right now.  But I have a feeling that when M turns 14 we will quickly be glad we have so much storage.



What I love the most in the new bath is the "wood" look ceramic tile.  I had seen it on Houzz and lobbied hard to have the same look in our new bath. 


It's got great texture, and even though it is gray it really adds some warmth.   Alan is glad I fought for it.  We ended up getting this tile at HOBO as well for $1.27 each.  Which in a word, was cheap!

What we hired out:

  • ALL the dirty work.  We wanted it done right and knew when purchasing this house we were going to budget professional contractors for the bathrooms.  Especially for fear of any plumbing problems.  It was a splurge, but it was SO worth it.
What we DIY'd:
  • Design and purchase of the materials.
  • Repainting of the vanity mirror found on steep clearance which was previously a cherry color.
It still needs some finishing touches, something on the wall... but for now this is a 38473047% improvement over its former state.  Wouldn't you say? It is our guest bath and pretty much M's bath.  I feel so much better putting her in this tub than the old one!

Next before and after post will be the Master Bath.  Which was not quite as ugly as this one, but very, very close. 

What was your biggest home project in the past year?  Anything major coming up?