Create: Charred Corn Tacos

So I'll probably never be a food blogger.  I don't have the urge and am not nearly tidy enough in the kitchen to take pictures of the cooking. I also dig into the food too fast to get a pretty photo of it. BUT. When I discover something this amazing I have to share. It's practically a duty to let you all know about these tacos.

I grew up with flour tortillas, which were fine, but this summer I discovered how yummy a warmed corn tortilla can be. Then I grilled a couple corn cobs on a whim (too lazy to boil it) and threw some peppers and onions next to them. Something magical happens to those veggies as they get a little charred by the flames. They require no more fussing than a squeeze of lime juice and a little salt and pepper and bam — best salsa ever. Add the salsa to a tortilla and other amazing things like avocado and cheese? Perfect summer dinner.

I'm not exaggerating when I say we had these 5 times in one week. They're that good.

Since it's hot and sticky and I don't really love cooking when there are other fun summer activities to get on to, these have been perfect. I use some precooked meat, throw the veggies on the grill, and we have a fresh, delicious dinner in 15 minutes. The secret is that the grilled sweet corn and fresh cilantro make the whole taco so flavorful that these could be served at a fancy shmancy taco place.

You can fill your taco like me and proportion everything just so, or you can do it like Dave and pile it so full that he can't even pinch it shut at top. By the end of the meal he can make a whole taco from just the droppings that have fallen out while he was eating.

Also, these are just as good without the meat, so if you vegetarian or just don't have meat in the house, these are still a winner.

tacos-23.jpg

Consider this recipe a guideline, the ingredients are so fresh and simple that it would be nearly impossible to mess up. We use whatever is in the fridge and throw it on the table to go on the tortillas. The salsa is the real star of the show. 

Ingredients:

  • 2 ears corn
  • 1 red onion
  • 1 red pepper or a handful of smaller red peppers
  • 1 jalapeno (optional)
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
  • juice of 1-2 limes
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/2 lb pre-cooked, chopped meat of some sort (chicken, fish, pork, etc)
  • 1/4 to 1/2 tsp chili powder (depending on how spicy you like things)
  • 1/8 tsp cumin
  • corn tortillas

Additional optional toppings (go a little crazy with these):

  • sour cream
  • hot sauce
  • cheese
  • chopped lettuce
  • avocado
  • sliced cabbage
  • grilled pineapple
  • lime wedges
  •  

Instructions:

  1. Heat grill to high. 
  2. Slice onion lengthwise into 1/2 inch slices. shuck corn. Cut pepper in half and remove stem and seeds. 
  3. Place vegetables over flames and cook until slightly charred. 
  4. Remove and chop veggies into small pieces. Season with salt and pepper and dress with the chopped cilantro and lime juice. 
  5. Season meat with chili, cumin, salt and pepper. 
  6. Heat tortillas either in a skillet or wrapped in aluminum in the oven. 
  7. Top each tortilla with veggie salsa, chicken and all the other toppings your heart desires. 

House + Home: the kitchen

House-29.jpg

Here it is! Our new kitchen in all it's bright and beautiful glory. So excited to finally share it with you.

Of all the things we did to this little house, the kitchen is the one that gives me the most daily joy. 

It may sound silly, but since we finished things up on this remodel, I find myself enjoying chores like doing the dishes and if you know me, that a huge deal. Dishes have always been the bane of my existence. Now I just want my cute little kitchen to be clean and the work to get it tidy is 100% worth it. We spent almost 2 months cooking with only a toaster oven and electric kettle, so you better believe I was over the moon once I got to start cooking in a real kitchen again.

In case you'd forgotten this is what the kitchen used to look like:

The glorious light streaming in makes the room look so much cuter than it was. But those drawers were only boxes with handles that if you pulled too hard, would dump their contents on your toes. The sink was a grand total of 6 inches deep. I could not reach the handles on the top cabinets without standing on my tip toes. The fridge opened up to block the main walkway into the living room. It wasn't the worst, but it was a handmade kitchen from the 1950s and not functional or pleasant.

After alot of imagination, a blizzard drive to Ikea, some really hard work and a whole lot of love, we now have this: 

Now, I know the room basically stayed the same. We didn't change the layout, size or general function. We didn't remove walls or install new windows. We even left some of the old cabinets up and didn't redo everything. But it still feels like a completely different room. 

Isn't she a beaut!? I can't get over that before/after myself. Here are a few more angles:

For our budget, this is a whole lot of bang for our buck. Our goal was, in the words of Dave, to "spend as little money as possible." 

I spent days brainstorming, sketching, researching and dreaming of what we could do to make this into a cheery space. Since I love to cook and can easily spend hours in the kitchen, it was extremely important to me.

When we added everything up at the end of the project the total for this came in under $2500. That includes a brand new dishwasher, all new lower cabinets (9 drawers!), sink, and faucet. I wasn't actually going to say how much we spent, but I just added it all up and was so proud of us for keeping things reasonable, I had to share. Considering the 2017 average kitchen renovation budget is 20k, I couldn't be happier with not only our results, but our costs as well.

*Note: I know talking about money can be tricky and that to some what we spent is a measly sum and to some it's crazy expensive. However we did buy the house knowing it needed updating and budgeted a certain amount. We consider it an investment that we get to enjoy along the way. :)

We had some pretty lofty goals for the kitchen and by the time we finally finished we had:

  • Removed linoleum and had the floor refinished
  • Demoed bottom cabinets
  • Built and installed new cabinet lowers
  • Put in new countertops, sink, and faucet
  • Added a dishwasher
  • Switched the stove and fridge placement
  • Removed the weird backsplash "arcs" 
  • Tiled the backsplash 
  • Painted the upper cabinets to match the lowers
  • Updated the cabinet hardware
  • Gave the whole room a fresh coat of paint
  • Exchanged the overhead light fixture
  • Installed a new/brighter light fixture above the sink and added a switch
  • Built shelves for the north wall

Phew, listing it all out makes me feel tired. Dave and I did all the work ourselves with some help from his brother with the cabinets and a professional electrician when necessary.

As far as the style, I love country and farmhouse style and knew that it was important to keep the room bright. There is only one window and my goal was to help the light as much as possible. That window needed no changes itself because it's been perfect all along. The view is lovely and the light that streams in is the best.

The first big issue to figure out was the dishwasher. There wasn't one and it was a condition on us buying the house that we would add one. Because our kitchen is so small we had to figure out how to fit a sink, stove, dishwasher, and as much cabinet space as possible in that small stretch of wall.

A small dishwasher was fine with me, so I found the one with the best ratings and ordered it right up. Then I realized that I didn't really ever use the double sink in the old house and actually liked the look of the one basin farmhouse sink better anyway. We kept the full size stove and still had room for 2 large stacks of drawers. I couldn't be more happy with the fact that I can stand next to the dishwasher and unload most of it into the drawers next to it without taking a step. 

The countertops were an easy decision. I wanted butcher block for our old house and we'd decided against it, but this time I knew it was worth insisting on. At first I felt like they were too yellow, but now I haven't even thought that in a long time. I also find I actually love them more with wear marks and imperfections added. It gives them a lovely character. The only thing we have to be careful about is making sure we oil the areas around the sink often enough to keep them water resistant.

The sink is probably my favorite part of the entire kitchen. I've dreamt of a farmhouse apron style sink for a long time. They can be pretty pricey, but good ol' Ikea has affordable options. Believe it or not, we ended up getting ours for half price by finding it in their As Is section.

I was worried I might end up missing a standard double sink, but this basin is huge. I honestly feel like I have more room because the one sink is so spacious. It can have a good amount of dirty dishes in it and is still usable. It also cleans up super well. I give it a good scrub with this every couple days and it shines right up.

The backsplash is my handiwork. Dave was a bit intimidated by such a large surface, but I loved the project. More than anything else, as we added those tiles, we could feel the classiness of the kitchen increasing. So much satisfaction from an afternoon of work. I'm itching to tile other things now (bathroom maybe?).

We also moved our magnetic knife board from the old house and put it back up under the cabinets. It's so handy to have them out of the way, but within reach. 

The finishing touch on the whole kitchen was our shelf/cart combination on the north wall. It had been empty of anything and left the room feeling extremely lopsided. Once we put up the shelves and placed the card there, all of a sudden the room felt balanced and weirdly complete. It was the perfect touch. We keep our toaster oven and a couple crates on the cart. The shelves store my most commonly used pantry items and an ever changing display of flowers, cook books, vases, bowl, and knick knacks. They fulfill my desire for open shelving without compromising cabinet space.

I love my little kitchen so much. It was a big project for us, but the rewards match the effort. I am finishing this post filled with gratitude for how our new house is turning into a home. 

Sources:

Sink, countertop, cabinets, dishwasher, faucet, cart, shelf brackets, tiles, light fixture, sink light, hardware, fairy lights, soap dispenser, storage jars

 

House + Home: the bathroom

This room has mostly been done for a couple month now, but we've been working on so hard on everything else that time got away from me before I finally took pictures. 

This was the first room we tackled after moving in. My first choice would have been the kitchen, but Dave has a thing about needing clean and nice bathrooms. To be fair this room was probably the grossest in the whole house, so it didn't take much to convince me. It ended up being a really good idea to do the bathroom first because it was a smaller project and gave us a place to shower and feel human after nights of working on other parts of the house.

Ok, so this is the best before and after shot I have. I had forgotten how bad it was until I pulled up the before picture. My jaw just about dropped to the floor when I saw it. How quickly we forget how nice the things we have are.

HouseBefore-26.jpg

The first thing with our bathroom is that it's pretty tiny, so we didn't have a ton of options. Changing the layout was 100% out of the question and gutting the room wasn't necessary. 

So that left us with a list of wants/to dos:

  • New flooring
  • Paint
  • Remove medicine cabinet so it doesn't stick out into the room
  • New Vanity
  • New Light
  • New Door
  • Pretty Mirror

We got started pretty quickly after moving in. In fact, my parents came in the day after Christmas and helped tear out the old medicine cabinet and vanity. My mom scrubbed the tub and put together the Ikea puzzle that was the vanity cabinet. It was a nice surge of energy to have at the beginning of a project.

We debated for a while what to do for the flooring. I really wanted ceramic tile, but figuring out how to level the floor and how much higher the floor would be afterward deterred us. In the end we just went to Home Depot, picked out some peel and stick vinyl tile (I can't find them on their website) and stuck them to the existing subfloor. I did insist we leave space for grout between each tile to give it just a bit more of a "real" tile feel. 

Someday it might be nice to do a real tile floor, but this one it holding up great and the price point and installation were perfect for our situation.

Is it strange to want to write a love sonnet to my vanity and sink? Because I totally want to. We eliminated the medicine cabinet because it just ate up headspace and made the room feel smaller. (Personally I don't even see the point of medicine cabinets!) 

Anyway I love our vanity. It has two deep drawers below the sink and they hold all our toiletries and bathroom supplies except for towels. When it's time to tidy up the counter I just dump everything in the drawers and voila! all done. It's the best. I never want to go back to any other kind of bathroom cabinet.

I also adore that cute 3 panel door that Dave and his dad installed. In such a small room the door takes up a lot of the visual space and the door upgrade made a huge difference. Plus now we have a lock! I think our guests appreciate that. ;) 

My other favorite part of the bathroom is the peg rail. We needed a good amount of space for towels and such. I discovered peg rails in the depths of Pinterest and I want on in every room of our house now. They're dreamy — simple, functional, effortlessly cute — everything I love.

I scoured the internet for a round mirror in our price range. After agonizing for so long we found this one at our local Target. Just a classic instance of overthinking when the simple solution is best.

The same happened with the light over the sink. Our budget wasn't huge and everything I liked was insanely $$$$. We found this at Home Depot and I liked the type of light it gave. It's a nice glow for using the mirror and lights up the whole room well. I was initially worried about the mismatched metal finishes, but it doesn't even bother me and maybe a real interior designer would shake their head at me, but I don't care! I'm just happy to have a fresh, clean space for brushing my teeth.

I think from start to finish this room didn't take longer than 2 weeks. We had some good help and it was such a sweet relief to have it done. On to the next one!

Sources: Mirror | Vanity | Faucet | Shower Curtain | Peg Rail | Soap Dispenser | TP Holder

 

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House + Home: Inspiration and Vision

Before I jump into post about the individual rooms of our house and the changes we're doing to them, I thought it might be helpful to share an overview of the vision we have for the home as a whole. We've learned so much about what works for Dave and I in regards to houses and homes. Clutter and darkness are both things that most definitely to not fall into that category.

With half the year in Michigan spent primarily indoors, having a bright, warm and clutter-free space makes an undeniable difference in how we feel about life and each other. In our old house we had a crawlspace instead of a basement which kept the floor chilly. Also the main living space faced north, so we never got sunlight in our dining/living room. 

It was a wonderful first house and we learned so much during our time in it. We tried beadboard wallpaper in the bathroom and lots of things spray painted gold in the office/studio. Dave installed such a lovely backsplash in the kitchen. We painted The bedroom white on a whim while we were doing the floors and it was one of the best decisions. I discovered so much from those rooms.

This new house has many improvement on the old one already: the floor-plan is more efficient, the windows are south-facing, there is a basement, as well as beautiful views and hardwood floors. The other thing I'm really excited about this house is our decision to do most of the updates right away. Instead of tackling them one by one, we wanted to do the big things at the beginning so we can enjoy them for our whole time here. 

I think Dave expected to duplicate the changes we'd done to the old house, but he didn't realize that even in a little over a year his wife's style can change. Not only has it changed, but in many ways I feel like I've been discovering what my style is, instead of being influenced by other people or Pinterest trends. My true tastes are a combination of so many things and experiences. The time I've spent in Austria has instilled in me a love of linen and clean lines. Growing up on a farm gave me a passion for nature and and natural materials. My hobbies of knitting and painting mean that textiles and art in our house are especially meaningful and I am pretty picky about them. I've even noticed a strong tendency toward Scandinavian design that I might credit to my paternal Swedish roots. There are many other influences woven into my identity, tastes and style. But these specifically have shown up in our plans for this new home.

Before we even closed on the house, I spent most of November dreaming and thinking about what sort of atmosphere this home should have. There is a German word Gemütlich that is insanely hard to explain, because no one English word can encompass its meaning. Simply translated, it means "cozy." But it really has many connotations including those of feeling comfortable, content, cozy, and at peace. (The Danish word Hygge is related.) I knew I wanted our house to embody Gemütlich. I hope it is a cozy, functional and inviting space where we live our life and welcome guests.

Things that would make the home gemütlich for us means lots of light/white to make our 800 sq ft home feel open and bright instead of confining. We want to incorporate natural materials — wood, plants, wool, cotton, linen — wherever we can and intentional decor that gives us joy. We also have to eliminate clutter to feel peaceful and comfortable.

I spent a great deal of time first identifying my favorite Instagram homes and then dissecting what about them made me like them so much. Then I started a Pinterest board and filled it with images that were examples of the feeling and atmosphere we want to create. I have countless pages in my journal filled with collages, room measurements, paint samples, lists of supplies and idea sketches. Dave and I spent time discussing ideas and options. Most of the time thought, if it truly fits within our bigger vision, then we agree on decisions. 

If you've made it this far, wow, thanks for reading all my crazy overanalyzing. I made this mood board to sum up our inspiration and the style we're hoping for. Good things are ahead!

Source  |  Source  |  Source  |  Source  |  Source  |  Source  | mine |  Source

Source | Source | Source | Source | Source | Source | mine | Source

 

 

House Before Pictures

New year, new house, new everything. Isn't that front door amazing? I love it so much. 

(fridge is in the middle of our living room, btw)

Anyway, I finally got my act together and have some pictures of our new house. The whole place is barely 800 sq feet, so we are spending some time and effort getting everything efficient and updated. It was built in the 50s and we are only the 3rd owners. So while we love it, the bathroom and kitchen were a bit worn out and the paint throughout needed an update. So nothing drastic is going to change, but at least you'll know what we started with.

Keeping it super simple I threw together quick bullet points of what we want to do in each room followed by the pictures. I also whipped up a quick floor-plan to help make sense of the pictures:

Living Room

  • Paint
  • Window Treatments
  • Refinish floor

Bedroom

  • Paint
  • Remove Closet Doors?
  • Closet Organization
  • Window Treatments
  • Big mirror

Office

  • Refinish Floors
  • Paint
  • Window Treatment

Bathroom

  • Redo Floor
  • Paint
  • Re-caulk Tub
  • New Vanity
  • New Light Fixture
  • Mirror

Kitchen

  • Refinish Floors
  • New Lower Cabinets
  • New Sink & Faucet
  • Dishwasher
  • New Stove
  • Light Fixture
  • Repaint Upper Cabinets

Hall

  • Refinish Floor
  • Paint
  • New hardware on Linen Closet

I was going to ask for you to excuse the weird fridge placement and casual pictures, but these are before pictures after all!  ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ Hope you enjoyed them.