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Jun 25, 2013

guest bathroom

One of my favorite rooms in our house happens to be our guest bathroom. Unfortunately, we don't use it very often but it's there in case we have guests! We are very excited this bathroom will get used next week by out favorite Kansas family. My sister in law and her beautiful family will be staying with us next week.

I don't clean this bathroom as often as I do the rest of the house but I thought I'd peak in it to make sure it was in tip top shape for guests! Every time I go into this bathroom my eyes are drawn to this picture my mother in law gave to my husband for Christmas one year.

This picture is a view of the old farm before we started renovating it. I just think it's a neat picture with the snow softly sitting on the old farm. It's quiet, peaceful and relaxing; just the way I want my guests to feel when they are here.

I actually chose the colors and décor of this bathroom based on this black and white photo. I don't have a lot of black in my home, but I wanted at least one gray and black bathroom.

I had the gentleman who made my kitchen cabinets build the bathroom vanity. I wanted something attractive but functional. My inspiration for my design was a really big vanity from Pottery Barn. I had him just do a half the size of my inspiration piece. I chose to have it done in knotty pine to match the rest of my woodwork. I love the simple shaker legs.

 The top is Corian which was installed by the gentleman who did my kitchen countertops. My plumber installed the faucet fixtures and the drop sink,. This is a very custom piece made to flow with the rest of the wood work in my house. It's crazy how many resources it took to finalize the look. My sister in law wanted to know where we bought it from because they were looking for something similar but unfortunately, I didn't have a retail source. If you can't find what you have envisioned in your head, have it made by someone (or yourself if you're talented in that department!)

The hardware for the handles came from Lowes. I wanted them to resemble a drawer pull you'd find off an old dresser. They are black which creates a nice contrast with the chrome fixtures in the bathroom. I am not a fan of mixing hardware, but in this bathroom the black and the chrome worked very well together.

When it came to choosing a mirror and a light fixture, I was completely indecisive for a while. You can really get creative when it comes to a spare bathroom because it's not something you're using every day. You still want it to be functional to your guests, but it's okay to find something unique versus totally functional.

I actually chose an outdoor light with a black finish from Lowes and this accent mirror in a painted mustard color from a country primitive store.

I love the hardware on the mirror! I have some other star hardware featured in the bathroom as well. The towel bar and the toilet paper holder each have accent stars along with the shower curtain rings.

It's just enough stars to make a nice statement but the bathroom doesn't look like a star threw up all over the place by any means.

The shower and window curtain both came from our family friend's boutique, Olde District 5. I was looking for a black plaid shower curtain and she happened to have one when I was walking around her store one day. I had her order in the window valence to match. There's just enough beige in the curtains to add a nice accent color to the room. I was worried it will be too warm with the cool walls but it worked out well and pulls out the warm yellow from the wood work.

Along with a calm, peaceful picture, every guest bathroom should have some humor to lighten the mood. I have never been a serious person and when I saw this sign at Green Oak Antiques I about died laughing and had to have it.

If only. If only......

It pairs nicely with the black star candle holder with the battery operated candle that needs to batteries. I've been telling myself for about 6 months to replace the batteries in that thing.

I like to keep plenty of wash cloths available in a guest bathroom. That's always the first thing I am searching for when I stay somewhere. I hate rummaging through people's bathrooms. A good quantity is a must so they aren't forced to use the same one over and over again. Or maybe that's just one of my quirks.

Another awkward situation I always find myself getting into as a guest is figuring out where the heck I should hang my towel along with my husband's and everything else we have going on in a tiny bathroom. Guest bathrooms are usually small and lack room for multiple towel bars so it's a good idea to have some hooks available as well for extra drying room.

I think we are all ready for guests! I'm thinking The Old Blue Silo Inn may be in our future? Ha. I doubt my husband would enjoy strange guests walking around. Maybe we will just settle for close family and friends. Any takers?

Jun 16, 2013

garage doors to carriage doors

When we built our pole barn house and it came to picking options sometimes we had to choose functional over the look we actually wanted. There were a few things that factored into this and availability along with price were two of them. We absolutely love our garage doors but we have bigger doors than your average house so we only had the industrial options to work with. When it comes to industrial grade, you want durability over pretty. I am very thankful that I had the option of grids in my windows!

There's one problem with our doors. They look like garage doors and our
house looks like a barn. I wanted to give them that carriage door look so they would flow better with our barn house. I didn't want to spend a lot of money on this project because this project was not going to improve the function of the house.

I wasn't going to put cheap hardware on my beautiful white doors, either. I saw a lot of pins on Pinterest where you can "Update your garage door for only $12!!!" When you spend only $12 on hardware, you're asking for trouble down the road. I worked at an industrial fastener supply company for 2.5 years - I knew better.

While doing some research, I came across a website that offered magnetic hardware for your garage doors. Yes, magnetic hardware. That was the answer to my problem! It was a small investment and there is no drilling, no damage and absolutely no risk. It's a magnet. If I didn't like it, I could peel it off!

So once I figured out how I was going to update our garage doors, I ordered my magnetic hardware from and I picked out this kit because you receive the four hinges and the two handles for $29.95. As an added bonus, they offered free shipping! I ordered two kits all together so we're looking at $60 dollars to update my garage doors versus thousands and thousands and thousands. Have you priced fancy garage doors lately? Yikes. Especially a 12x16!

My package arrived on a very rainy night and of course it rained the last several days whenever I had some free time to slap these babies on. I was getting very anxious. We finally were able to get started on the project this afternoon. It was probably the easiest upgrade I have ever done.

First I applied the handles. I centered them on the door at a height that seemed natural given the doors actually had to be opened with a handle.

 They're not exactly 3D but from far away they look real. Honestly, even up close they don't look that bad. After all, they're not functional. Just for looks. As a disclaimer, you will not be able to use these handles to assist closing or opening the door in the event of a power outage.

Handles were finished and it was time to move on to the hinges which involved a ladder for the upper two.

Super easy!! Check out that technique... it's almost like I have been installing magnetic garage door hardware my entire life.

Dan was hard at work installing the hinges up top.

You'll notice that the hinge is not flush with the edge of the door. You want to avoid installing it flush so it doesn't interfere with the seal of the door. This is only noticed if you're up close and personal with the hinge.

And, drum roll please for the final outcome of our very professional garage door update :

Drrrrrrrrrrrrrrr drrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr. (Ok enough of that)

I like it. What do you think? I hope the hardware doesn't look too small for our doors. Down the road, I may look for a kit that is more to scale but this works for now. It was cheap and has helped us to achieve the look we were going for without giving my husband a hard attack at the request of having to drill into our expensive metal doors.

You should try it! It could make such a huge impact on your home especially on a normal sized garage door. I feel like our hardware gets a little lost with the big door but it still works and makes a big impact. Keep in mind, our doors are a lot taller than normal. Tall enough to fit a semi or a tractor through!

Jun 13, 2013

collecting dust or memories

I have always been intrigued by collections. Everybody out there collects something. You have your stereotypical collections like baseball cards, records and well, we all remember that classic plush toy made by TY that was popular in the 90s. My grandmother made sure my brother and I owned every single one available and I am almost positive she may have broken someone’s arm or two if there was the “last one” sitting on a shelf.  Come on. Admit it. Even you owned a Beanie Babie. Or two. Or three. Or three million.

Collections intrigue me because some are fads and some are so personal and go way back that you can really learn a lot about a person just based on what they collect. Some people have been collecting the same things since they were kids. That has always interested me. My mom has been collecting pig figurines for as long as I can remember and she has them scattered all over the house neatly tucked into her décor. Those are my favorite kinds of collections. The ones you live with and incorporate into your décor. My husband and I collect farm toys but it's more his thing than mine anymore. I actually added an office for him in our floor plan just for that collection. (And so he could have a nice quiet place to himself to pay bills or meet with the crop insurance guy.) I told him we could have farm toys in the house as long as they were very old and slightly rusty. Rustic if you will.

One of my favorite collections is my gray antique enamelware. I don't like to sit back and say "yeah, I collect antiques".... 'Antiques' is such a broad term and could cover just about basically anything. When people say they collect antiques I usually say "Oh yeah? Antique what?" You have to remember, people had stuff 'back in the day' just like we do now. The only difference is things were made better and a lot of it wasn't as massed produced as things are now. Not to mention, old things are really, really cool and interesting. They "just don't make things like they use to..." Also, there are so many time periods too. I'm not into mint Victorian antiques  but I have a friend who is (Yes, Anna I am talking about you sister!) and I can appreciate her love of a good find just as she can appreciate my love for a rusty piece of barn junk.

I can't really remember how I got started collecting it. I think I picked up a piece one day at the antique store after staring at it for 20 minutes and went to the counter to purchase it, brought it home and stuck it in a box until I found a use for it. Eventually I started seeing more and more of it at stores and it just spoke to me. I just find the gray to be such a nice neutral color that can just go about anywhere and look like it belongs. I would pick up a piece each time I'd go antiquing. It gets expensive as each pieces costs $20-50 easily depending on the condition or size. My mom caught on that I enjoyed the gray enamelware and she started ebaying for it, finding a lot better prices. I have a pretty good sized collection now, especially after my birthday. Enough to display on the base of my china cabinet.

I am still not done collecting. I will continue to pick up pieces I don't have that I find interesting. I'd really like to get the milk can. They're out there. I just haven't found one cheap enough yet. I prefer the pieces to have some rust on them. They don't have to be in mint condition. I like pieces that have stories. Not something that looks like it's been sitting in storage it's whole life. Eventually some day, I'd like to fill that whole cabinet with gray enamelware and if we outgrow the cabinet, then we will add some shelves in the dining room.

Things you collect don't have to sit in a box or in a tub. Find a creative way to make them functional and displayable. If you have a collection of Rookie baseball cards from when you were a kid, put them in a fun album on your coffee table and when your nieces and nephews come to visit, whip it out for an afternoon of reminiscing. If your collection is sitting in a tub or box in the attic or basement you need to figure out if : a) it really doesn't mean all that much to you or b) you're waiting to get rich quick someday or c) maybe you're saving it for your kids or grand kids to have. If it's a) or b) it's time to move on and sell it if you can't incorporate it into your daily life. Maybe you will find yourself on the next episode of Pawn Stars!

How can you incorporate your collection into your home? After all, you spent a lot of time and money building it. Of course you can decorate with it. That is the obvious of course! I use one of my gray enamelware strainers as a place to corral my sink necessities. At first I was afraid I would ruin it with daily use and was going to "save it for good" but then I told myself that it needs to be used. It needs a purpose and I love looking at it every time I go to wash my hands or dishes. It's fun! It's also very functional because I set it just slightly over the edge of the sink so any excess water from my wet hands can drain out.

What do you collect and why? I'd love to hear from you!

Jun 11, 2013

one pot pasta

I definitely slack off in the kitchen this time of year. I am always looking for recipes that are super quick and easy. In the winter time, I don't mind experimenting with fancy cuisine with fresh ingredients but when it's nice out, the less time I can spend on dinner the better. This past winter, I would put a good meal together and it would take about an hour and a half to two hours from start to clean up.

One of my most favorite go-to meals that I usually keep all the ingredients for (thanks to the Schwan's man) is what I call 'One Pot Pasta'. You can call it whatever you'd like, but basically it's dumping a bunch of ingredients into a pot of boiling H20. That is what we decided to make tonight.

Martha Stewert came up with the original idea. I just simplified it. I'm not all for a fresh head of broccoli and zest/juice of a lemon when I'm in a hurry! 

I have been experimenting with 'One Pot Pasta' for quite some time and my ingredients of choice are :

  • Frozen Broccoli (My favorite is the broccoli florets from Schwan's)
  • Penne Pasta (I use gluten free because I have to eat that way but you can use regular too)
  • Frozen tail-off cooked shrimp
  • Fresh (Or kind of fresh) Parmesan Cheese
  • Minced garlic
  • Olive Oil
  • Seasoned salt (A major staple in my house is Tastefully Simple's Season Salt)
  • Italian Seasonings
  • Pepper

I don't have measurements for you because well, I don't measure a darned thing in this recipe because really, you can't screw it up. If you're looking for a quick and easy meal, measuring is not quick and easy.

Oh, and you need a pot. Fill it with water. You know your boundaries. Fill it too full and you just may boil over and be sure to leave room for the shrimpies, pasta and broccoli. But don't dump them in yet!

Before we get knee deep into this recipe and while we are waiting for the water to boil, I will disclaim that I am not a photographer and I am not a chef. So if you're looking for a fancy food blog, I'd probably turn around and run. Quickly.
 I think it's really annoying when people talk between recipe instructions and try to be all cute and funny. Now I know why they do it. It's hard not to!

Anyways, you want to bring your pot of water to a boil and insert your pasta following the instructions on the package. It's really hard to screw up pasta. It has been done, though. We had one pot mush last week because I left the little penne dudes in way too long.

In the meantime, while said pasta is boiling, I like to dump my shrimpies in the strainer and run cold water on them so when I go to dump them in my pot of water, they aren't all the way frozen and I believe it keeps them from getting chewy. If you think this step is a waste of time, skip it. I won't be offended. But your shrimp might.

After the pasta has boiled about 2-3 minutes, I dump in about half a bag of broccoli and the shrimp so it can finish boiling with the pasta. I don't like to put these in too early because the broccoli turns mushy and the shrimp will get kind of rubbery.

When the broccoli and shrimp are combined with the pasta, the party begins!

Sometimes you need to crank up the heat because the frozen ingredients can cool the water off quickly. Try to keep a rapid boil!

Okay, now we're partying!

When there's on only a few minutes left, this is when I like to add the garlic, season salt and the Italian seasonings.

Now, is when you're going to need some muscles. Okay, maybe only if you have a camera in one hand.

When the timer for the pasta goes off, dump everything from the pot into your strainer.

After the water drains, dump everything back into the pot and carry pot back over to the stove burner. Turn burner off.

Dump a healthy amount of olive oil into the pot. If you are unsure how much, just make sure it's enough to coat everything evenly but not too much. I'd give you a rough estimate but we are going for "quick and easy" here....

Next, dump on a healthy pile of parmesan cheese or a pinch if you're on a diet.... and some pepper (not pictured)

And stir it all together in the pot until the cheese is sort of melted.

Garnish each individual portion with parmesan cheese! Ew, I am definitely not a food photographer.

And eat!

My husband loves this dish and yours will too! I don't have kids so I can't tell you if they would like it. I bet if you took out the shrimp and broccoli they would?

She's not allowed to have any.

If I offer her some, the husband gets pretty upset with me!

Since I am pretty unprofessional with my recipe presentation, I forgot to tell you how much this yields. Really, this is enough for my husband and I to get a full plate for dinner and fill three Tupperware dishes up for lunches this week which is a bonus. This actually heats up very well. Even the shrimp. The shrimp can be a tad rubbery, and your coworkers will ask you what the heck that smell is when it's brewing in the microwave, but it's still worth your while.

That folks, is a face thrilled to be helping in the kitchen! I am suck a lucky gal.

And there you have it! A quick and easy go to meal that just about anyone can make.

And p.s. Tupperware, Schwan's and Tastefully Simple did not pay me to do this post. But if they would like to, I would not be opposed! ;)

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