A Sink Full of Veggies by Brooke Courtney

With August well underway, our garden is in full swing producing beautiful dahlias and zinnias, plus delicious cucumbers, carrots, tomatoes, jalapeรฑos, peppers, onions, potatoes! June loves when I wash off the days fresh veggies in the sink and was begging to stand at the sink and see them when she woke up from her nap the other day.

June quickly learned that those potatoes turn into delicious rosemary fries and holds out the potatoes and goes "friiieshhhh!" She also gathers up the potatoes and sits on the couch with them.. just holding them in her lap. We call them her "couch potatoes." ๐Ÿ˜‚ She also eats the cherry tomatoes right off the vine like little grapes and squints her eyes with delight when the tomato pops in her mouth!

Side note, have you ever planted potatoes before? This was my first year and I loved it! I wish I had done like 5x the amount! They're so good and easy to take care of. Next year I'm definitely going to plant more.

Cat Scratches & Cake Pops by Brooke Courtney

Sweet little June had a rough start to her day. ๐Ÿ˜‚ Not only did she shut her own head in the bathroom door, minutes later one one of our cats scratched her pretty good! Needless to say she was feeling all the feels. I had a long list of things to get at Target and took her with me, where she rode around and pointed to every single "kitttttyy" and "puupppp-pup" on the pet food bags and smacked her lips 400 times while rolling down the cracker and cookie aisle. ๐Ÿ˜‚ After we went through checkout, I got myself a coffee at the Starbucks and purchased her a cake pop to try, hoping it would make her day a little better. And boy did it work! She was pumped up. It was so precious how excited she was about it.

Isn't she so stinking cute! After a few minutes of enjoying her cake pop, she crawled all the way underneath the benches outside of Target, dragging her cake pop along the cement as she went. She was really proud of herself for figuring out she could go underneath the bench.

Headband: Love, Amalie Maren | Ice Cream Cone Tee: Little Babe Designs | Skirt & Shoes: Baby Gap

Kitchen / Before + Progress by Brooke Courtney

brookecourtneykitchen

There is something just so magical about before and after photos, on any subject really - food, houses, weight loss, organization. If you're anything like me though, you know that nothing is ever really done. And I don't mean that I don't finish things, I do!, just that... my house is always evolving to be more like who I am, who we are as a family, and what our current needs are. I swap artwork and pillows and decor around all the time. Which is why I'm calling this post "Kitchen: Before + Progress". So, here is the one before photo I snapped - unfortunately after the wall between the two rooms already came down! But what a difference already, right!?!? (I promise to get better at taking before photos for all future house projects!)

From the very day we moved into our house (October 2009), we always knew we wanted the wall to come down between the dining room and our tiny kitchen. But until we could make that happen, our dining room was painted white to brighten up the space, and our kitchen was painted to look more like the 1950s, with the powder blue cabinets and sunny pop of yellow above. When we first moved in the kitchen was shades of tan with forrest green trim straight out of the 1990s. It was bad. I have photos of this somewhere, but can't seem to find them currently.

Anyway, fast forward to fall of 2015 and we asked Josh Strayer, of Home Improvement Services, to do a few projects on our house for us - the biggest one of which was our kitchen remodel.

Here's a rough breakdown of what did:

  • Removed the wall between the dining room and living room.
  • Custom "island" counter with storage below and bar top seating on the other side.
  • A dishwasher installed under new countertop!!!!!!!! (Suck it, sink!)
  • Replaced the small existing counter tops around sink area to match new counters.
  • New oven (it just so happened to crap-out the week we were buying the dishwasher!)
  • White subway tile backsplash was installed floor to ceiling on the wall with the oven.
  • Painted lower cabinets Space Black by Benjamin Moore.
  • Painted upper cabinets and walls Bright White - straight off the shelves at Home Depot (Behr).
  • Added a small cupboard for storage in the "dead space" above the refrigerator.
  • Added additional outlets and a dimmer.
  • Had an outlet installed high in the wall, knowing we wanted to plug in our cord lights that we wrapped around the pipe/fixture we made.
  • Changed out all hardware to be brass. (Planning to change out sink faucet soon, too!)
  • Replaced the boob-light in the kitchen to match the existing dining room light (from Ikea.)

Happy to report that with all those changes, this is what our kitchen looks like on an average day.

We honestly can't say enough times how much we love it. It literally changed our entire house. Removing the wall brought so much light, and life, to the kitchen. I can now cook and prep food and not feel like I'm all alone, shut in behind the wall. We've already had more people over for dinner in 2016 than we ever did.... like, ever before. Haha!

Adding the dishwasher was equally life changing. Dishwashers are amazing. They like.. wash your dishes while you sleep. And then you get up and BAM! they're clean. #magic

Adding the new white countertops was one of my favorite choices we made. It's so bright and allows for lots of Instagramming and food photography to happen easily. So worth it. I also love that adding the new countertops raised our existing sink. It now feels like more of a feature of our kitchen, where before it got a little lost over there in the corner. Our house has a lot of that 1929 charm, which is why we bought it in the first place, so keeping the original sink and cabinetry was always part of the plan.

I'm really looking forward to continuing to host dinners, add a little artwork here and there and eventually decorate the new kitchen for Christmas. I'll be sure to share more "progress" photos when I do.

Feel free to comment, or contact me, with any questions you might have about our little kitchen update! And for one last whoa ... here they are side by side. 

Rattan Children's Chair for June! by Brooke Courtney

You better believe I just about leapt over all the things in my way when I spotted this amazing children's sized rattan chair in the back corner of a thrift store a few weeks ago. I hadn't been having much luck all day and then bam!, there it was in all it's glory. And only $15 for that matter! I'm certain I would have paid twice as much, but obviously am thrilled that I didn't have to.

I love to thrift all sorts of things, but what I would call "secondary" furniture is always some of my favorite find! Things like end tables, chairs, shelves, plant stands, etc. (That's not to say that you can't thrift something like your couch or bed, but I simply haven't found those worth purchasing.)

I also love that thrifting items allows me to try out new styles and decades for our home. More than once I have thrifted an item that I wasn't totally sure about, ended up loving it, and then we upgraded to something very similar from a newer store - like Ikea, or West Elm or something!

Our front porch is pretty empty right now, minus the house plants I have moved outdoors for the summer, and June's new little chair. Furniture for the entire front porch is currently on my "things to thrift list" and the hunt is going well! Just need to find a few more items and then I'll be able to call it done! (At least for this season.๐Ÿ˜‰ )

Chair - Vintage / June's Headband - Iris & Lark / Plant Stands - Vintage / Garden Boots - Target / Pacifier Clip - Ryan & Rose

3 Ways to Devil Your Eggs by Brooke Courtney

I didn't always like deviled eggs. But at some point last year I gave them a try, under the reasoning that "Hey. If I can birth a child, I should be able to eat a hardboiled egg." The "if I can birth a child" path of reasoning has actually gotten me to try a lot of things in the last year - and not just food! So, way to go June!

I am not a picky eater by any means. But something about the assumed texture of a deviled egg always weirded me out. Anyway, fast forward to today and I make deviled eggs at least once a month. Every week I get a fresh dozen of eggs from my Mom's chickens and devil-em-up! 

EGG PEELING TIP: Use OLD eggs. I never use eggs that are less than a week old. They'll be impossible to peel if you just got them. So plan ahead with your purchases and give them a week or two in the fridge before you boil them. You'll thank yourself!

Today I'm sharing three different deviled recipes with you - the classic way my Grandma made them, the way I make them with a little hot sauce, and a healthier option with avocados.. and bacon. So, scratch that healthier idea.

I hope you'll give one, if not all, of these a try!

CLASSIC EGGS: Like my Grandma made them.

INGREDIENTS

  • 6 Hard boiled eggs
  • 1/4 c. mayo
  • 1 tsp vinegar
  • 1 tsp yellow mustard
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • Cracked pepper to taste
  • Paprika for garnish
  • Flowers for garnish ( *Do not eat the flowers unless you know they're edible!)

PICNIC EGGS: Like I make them, with little hot sauce.

INGREDIENTS

  • 6 Hard boiled eggs
  • 1/4 c. mayo
  • 1-2 tsp yellow mustard
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • Dash of hot sauce (Texas Pete's if you got it!)
  • Salt + Pepper to taste


AVOCADO EGGS: With bacon. because, why not?

INGREDIENTS

  • 6 Hard boiled eggs
  • Half of a ripe avocado
  • 1/2 tsp Chili powder (or more, if you want!)
  • Salt + Pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS: Hard boil your eggs. If you have a tried and true method - great! Use it! Otherwise, here is how I do mine. Place all eggs single layer on the bottom of a large pot. Fill pot with cool water one inch above your eggs. I always use my middle knuckle as a guide when filling my pot. This way, if I feel they're over or under cooked, I always know I've started with the same amount of water every time and can adjust elsewhere to make them better next time! // Also, note June being super cute... reading her books at the counter while I work - which lasted about 4 minutes.

Place pot onto the stove and bring to a rolling boil. Once your water is boiling, turn off the burner, cover with lid and set timer for 12 minutes. (If in the future you feel they were too soft or overcooked, adjust your timer by a minute or so until you get it just right!)

Just before you timer sounds, fill a large bowl with really cold water and ice. You'll place your eggs into the ice bath to stop the cooking process.

Remove your fully cooked eggs from the hot water and place them into the ice bath. Once you have all of them in the water, reach back in and, one at a time, crack them a little bit. Place back in ice water. The cold water will seep into the cracks and make your eggs even easier to peel! If the warm eggs melt all your ice, no worries. Just continue to run cold water into the bowl for a few minutes.

Peel your eggs. (Save the eggshells for your compost pile!) Carefully, with one smooth and slow motion, slice your eggs in half. Dump the yolks into a separate bowl. Now you're ready for the fun part!

You won't necessarily be making three batches like I did. Instead, choose your recipe from above and make one large batch! Smash and mix and smash and mix! Now you're ready to fill them. I normally just use a spoon, but if you'd like to transfer your filling to a ziplock back (and cut off the corner), or into a piping bag - go ahead!

Top with appropriate garnish and eat up! If you won't be eating them right away, place into a container lined with folded paper towels and refrigerate. It's common for deviled eggs to "sweat" in the fridge, which can make them kinda soggy in a day or two. The paper towels will absorb the extra moisture and keep them fresh much longer! Change the paper towels every other day if you haven't already devoured them by then. Enjoy!