The big reveal – my dream kitchen!

24 Sep

This is my most favourite reveal to date…

As you may have noticed, I love to cook & bake.  I have never had a proper kitchen to be able to do so in before so this was a room I wanted to take extra special care in planning.  The kitchens while I was in university consisted of a single counter which also housed a double sink, dish drying rack and microwave which meant there wasn’t any counter space.  Once hubby & I finished university (we met while I was in my third year – we were roomates, moved in through mutual friends but that’s another story!) and moved closer to a bigger city and into a small one bedroom apartment.  The apartment wasn’t fancy – it was an older building and the kitchen had even less counter space!  While we were living there I started baking cakes (fancy fondant cakes) and let me tell you, rolling out huge sheets of fondant on a tiny surface is not fun!🙂

When we stepped into the kitchen of the house we just bought my stomach jumped.  Let’s face it – whenever you have people over, they inevitably end up in the kitchen, was I ready to have people in my kitchen?  Hubby at that moment walked up beside and smiled and told me to picture the kitchens in the magazines.  It might take a while but we would do it!  Once our offer was accepted on the house there began the million (maybe two million) trips to Sears Liquidation Centre, Sears Outlet Centres, Home Depots, Ronas, Lowes – you name it we were there!  I knew I wanted stainless steel appliances but how could I make them fit within our budget?  Helllllllllo Sear Liquidation Centre!  Essentially it’s a scratch and dent place but it’s first come first serve which means you need to go there every weekend (and we did – for a couple months!) to find exactly what you want.  For example, I had fallen in love with a Samsung fridge (which was wayyyyy out of our budget) but one faithful day we walked in and there it was at 70% off the regular price.  I stood in front of the fridge to guard it as Jeff ran to find an associate!   Signed, sealed, delivered it was ours❤  That is essentially the same story for every piece in our kitchen (well, our house!).  We searched and searched to find the absolute best price on everything – took a lot longer but it allowed us to do more and of course doing almost all of the work in the house (the only thing I wouldn’t let Hubby do was hang the kitchen cupboards – plaster walls, I was a little nervous!) took longer but really stretched those dollars!

If you’re been reading my blog, you must remember our kitchen before’s.  Yes – it’s scary.   Here’s a run down of what we did to turn it into my favourite space:

  • Opened the space up – goodbye walls
  • Moved the sink to underneath the window – who wants to stare at a wall when washing dishes?
  • Replaced the cupboards
  • Added a quartz counter top (I wish I could capture this in a picture better – it has pieces of glass throughout it so it sparkles when the light hits it)
  • Did a marble floor (we caught a lot of flack over this – it’s a high maintenance floor but once I saw it I couldn’t imagine anything else in this space – it is so beautiful)
  • Added a back splash
  • The facet is touch activated – a must for anyone who spends a lot of time in the kitchen!  No more guck all over the facet!
  • New kitchen light – and missing is the 3 hanging lights over the island (to come soon!)
  • Added a giant island – critical for my cakes, and we added a few stools so it doubles as a cool little breakfast nook!

Before I refresh your memory as to what we started with and our dream kitchen I’d like to send a quick note out to our friends and family.  Thank you all for your help, time, conversations and keeping us sane throughout all of this.  Buying a house and doing all of these renos at once was certainly a feat that we couldn’t have done without the love from all of you.  We are so grateful to have amazing people like you in our lives.  Don’t worry – we’re going to take a break before we tackle the basement😉

Enjoy!

This was looking into the kitchen from the top of the stairs

This was looking into the kitchen from the dining room

Looking out of the kitchen towards the stairs.

And drum roll please…..

Sigh – isn’t it beautiful? That island is PERFECT for rolling out fondant!

The kitchen overlooks the dining room – which is great because I love entertaining!

 

Review – Pesto Chicken Stuffed Shells

20 Sep

As you may recall from the last review of the Buffalo Chicken Stuffed Shells, we were thrilled with the results.  In the same batch of cooking that we did, we also made the Pesto Chicken Stuffed Shells.   I was excited to try this recipe – although I was a little upset because of the lack of veggies (you may notice that is a reoccurring theme – I love to add veggies wherever I can!) so to complement I got some local green & wax beans and had them on the side.  There weren’t too many watch outs with this recipe – mostly making sure that when you’re cooking the shells before you stuff them, make sure you cook them al dente so they’re firm but soft enough to open them to put the stuffing in!

What did we think?

Delish!

Nomnomnom!  This was just as delicious as the last stuffed shells recipe!  We give this recipe 4 1/2 stars out of 5!  I think when we cook this next time I’ll reduce the time cooked or cover for the first 20 minutes of cooking.  As you can see from the pictures, the shells got a little crispy but it was still delicious!!  We will definitely be making this recipe in and I think I’ll be sneaking some peppers in!

Pinterest project!

19 Sep

I have to admit – I love Pinterest.  I can get lost for literally hours going through all of the amazing things on there – where has it been all my life?!   I am growing my “dream house” folder and “next projects” and can’t wait to begin!  I wanted to share a project with you here that I started after seeing a pin posted from a blog here.  I absolutely love the idea of having pictures of family & friends all around your house – but in an organized fashion.  This allows me to display a bunch of beautiful photos in an organized yet a bit chaotic way!

I received the photo frame in the middle and decided to build everything out around it.  Hubby & I received this as a gift from my dad & stepmom and since moving I’ve been looking for the perfect place for it!  After being inspired from the post I visited my local dollar store and picked up three different types of black frames.  From there I picked out a few of my favourite family photos, printed them in black and white and laid it all out on my kitchen island.  I had seen on Pinterest that  people were suggesting that you use wax paper to lie everything out and then tape it to the wall so it lies out perfectly – but once I get excited about a project I’m not that patient!

While the frames were lying on the island I got the general idea for how I saw the frame lying out together and then I hung the middle photo frame first.  I then started placing the frames on the wall using the outside frames to guide where they would lie – I measured to make sure that the frames were all 1 inch away from the middle frame and the rest was eyeballing it!  If you’re not good at eyeballing frames I would definitely suggest using the wax paper method mentioned above.   I’ve gotten tons of compliments on the piece and I am super excited!  With buying the frames from the dollar store and printing out all the photos it ended up costing me about $25 total – even better!

So – what do you think of my new living room feature?  As our family grows, so will our living room wall!

Review – Chicken & Rice Soup

16 Sep

I am an avid Martha Stewart fan.  When I recently found a listing of freezer friendly foods  on the Martha Stewart website I knew these must be golden.  I made a bunch of the recipes on the freezer friendly foods list mentioned and the Chicken and Rice Soup is the first one that we have tried.  As usual I will tell you what changes we made:

  • Instead of using a whole chicken I used chicken breasts (I do not like dark meat)
  • I also thought it was very strange that you were supposed to throw away the onions & celery after simmering for an hour.  It was VERY hard to pick them out – I ended up leaving a bunch of them in.

Here it is – looking promising! Simmering during the first hour.

Recipe calls to pick out all the carrots so we can get rid of the other solids – those solids I call veggies and a waste to throw them out!

And what did we think?

ICK!  To begin with, after you add the rice in it soaks up most of the liquid.  It mentions in the tips section to add water to thin if necessary – seriously!  I had to add a couple cups – I actually added chicken stock instead of water because I thought the water would dilute it.  It turns out that even with adding chicken stock to help add liquid it still tasted like – nothing.  It was a mushy soup that tasted like nothing.  Both hubby and I were dumping loads of pepper into our bowls to try and give it some sort of flavour.  The rice along with the shredded chicken made the texture taste like mush.

Here`s what it looked like when I thawed it and placed in the pot – as you can see, not much liquid!

Added some chicken stock and reheated and here it is – ready to eat! It looks good – but sometimes looks are deceiving!

Overall this was the worst recipe we have tested so far.  I do not recommend as is!  We are giving this only 1 star out of 5.  Does anyone have any ideas on how to rescue this recipe – or have a fabulous chicken soup recipe?  I would like to stock up on a good recipe – perfect for fall & winter!

Reveal – cozy master bedroom!

14 Sep

You might remember the before pictures of the master bedroom – scary!  The half ripped down walls, signature terrible floors and certainly lots of work to be done to make it the blissful place that a master bedroom should be!

I would like to say that this is only the beginning – next on my project list for the master bedroom is a homemade fabric headboard and wispy beautiful white curtains hanging from the ceiling like a four poster bed…  And of course – more pillows!!🙂

I’ll put a call out there too – I just got a sewing machine and will slowly be learning how to sew.  One of my first projects will be curtains for the windows.  Take a look at them – what do you think I should do?  Tall, short, patterned, solid?!  Curtains are my LEAST favourite part of decor – for some reason I can never find anything I like!!

Here’s the reveal…. but before we can reveal we must revisit where we came from :)  Enjoy!

Remember the lovely closet before?

And the window before….

Perfect for a snuggle! I’m sad the picture didn’t turn out with the lamps… I’ll have to take another picture of the lamps (an amazing find on Kijiji!) and the sticks!

My gorgeous new closet! Oops – we’re missing a piece of molding above the door🙂

Annnnd what I need your help with! What should I do with this window for a covering?! Right now we have a blackout shade out of pure necessity. Help!

Stunning wedding last weekend!

10 Sep

I have been neglecting my blog the last few days but for very good reason!  There was a very important celebration happening last weekend – my husband’s sister tied the knot!  It was such a beautiful day – even the weather worked out!  We all woke up to pouring down rain Saturday morning but it cleared up to a perfect day just in time for the wedding and pictures!  They did such an amazing job planning the wedding, every detail was just perfect.  I am so excited to welcome another brother into the family and watch them grow as a married couple.  They are both such wonderful people and deserve all the best that life has to offer.  They are currently kicking up their heels on a beach in Mexico (can I say how uber jealous I am?!), I hope they have a fabulous honeymoon and I can’t wait to see them when they get back!

Hubby & I are still recovering from what an awesome time we had – my in laws got a kick out of me yesterday when they were making fun of me not feeling well I exclaimed “I think this means I’m old!!”.   I’m off to bed but wanted to leave you with a few pictures of this absolutely beautiful day!!
Congrats Mr & Mrs W❤

Stunning set up!

How beautiful is this?!

Love, love, love! This cake is so beautiful❤

Review – Sausage and Spinach Bake

5 Sep

I have to tell you – while this was cooking up in the oven it made the whole house smell wonderful!  Hubby came in from the gym and was drooling all the way up the stairs to the kitchen🙂
I made a few adjustments to the recipe (as I usually do!).  To begin, I am totally not a girl who eats pork.  I just straight up don’t like the taste or texture, yes foodies that includes bacon!  Trust me, my husband cries a little every morning about that :)  I picked up some ground beef and used that in lieu of the sausage.   What else did I do…

  • I added a couple handfuls of chopped peppers – anywhere I can add additional veggies I’ll throw them in!
  • I didn’t cook the pasta before hand.  You may remember from a previous post, I mentioned that the pasta was just too mushy even if you only cook it to al dente before freezing.  Not cooking them before hand made them the perfect consistency!
  • We thawed this overnight in the fridge – it doesn’t mention doing this in the recipe but I find it’s easier to manage.
  • I used low fat plain cream cheese instead of the chive-and-onion cream cheese for one reason – fancy cream cheese hits the bottom line!  While making these big frozen dinners I am all about saving money – I used the low fat plain cream cheese and it still tasted amazing!

While we’re on the topic of amazing – that is exactly what this dish was!  I gave the dish 4.5/5 but hubby says it’s a 5/5, we can’t think of a thing to change to make it better!  It was FULL of flavour and baked up perfectly – I’d say that’s a hit all around!

As an extra special treat I had some leftover tomatoes so I threw together a brushetta (my guilty pleasure right now!).  Here’s how I make it:

  • 1 large tomato, chopped into small pieces
  • 1 clove of garlic minced (or two, depending on how garlic-y you like it… I’m a garlic fiend so I go with two!)
  • 3-4 large basil leaves, chopped into small pieces
  • splash of EVOO (extra virgin olive oil) I’d say 1-2 table spoons
  • Optional:  Feta cheese
  • Small french baguette cut into 8 pieces

Take the first 4 ingredients and combine in a bowl (and feta cheese if you choose to add it).  Put the bread on a baking sheet and broil in the oven until it’s a golden glow.  Tip:  I usually have it ready to go and pop it in the oven as soon as I take out the dinner so the oven is already nice and toasty!  Once the bread is a golden brown, take it out and spread the brushetta mixture from the bowl evenly between the pieces of bread.  Enjoy❤

Ready to toss into the oven!

I’m a little jealous for you that we haven’t invented smell-o-internet yet, my house smelt amazing!!