HOUSE UPDATES

 
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It’s been a while since I posted any updates on our beloved bungalow that we affectionally refer to as Dandihaus. This year has been interesting and filled with smaller DIY projects rather than anything larger scale due to an unfortunate, yet respectful, decision from our go-to contractor. So here’s what we have been working on!


LIVING ROOM UPDATE!
Once the dust settled from the stair renovation and the holiday season we decided to take down the awkward archway that divided main living area and making it flush with the walls and ceiling and closing the original doorway into the hallway to make one seamless wall.
Our living area has always been pretty snug but once the family visited for New Years we realized how constrained we were were by this arch way ifor furniture placement wanted to create a more open space. Luckily, we were able to schedule this project when my father-in-law was still in town so he and my husband got straight to work on demoing. Once complete, it only took our contractor less than two weeks to patch up the walls and ceiling and make new baseboards. Then with a few coats of paint to cover up MORE beige, the living area improved a million times. We were a little worried that closing the old hallway entrance would make it dark and an awkward space in the back but it actually was perfect and created a lot of privacy for the bathroom and guest room.

In the near future we are looking to re-size the one window near the kitchen and replace all windows in this room to match the style of the new one in the staircase, smooth the ceilings, replace the trim, baseboards, and crown moulding. Stay tuned.

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KITCHEN UPDATE!
The kitchen has been such a debate. The original plan was to give it a refresh to hold us over until we could gut and remodel. We started by painting the walls because I just couldn’t take the beige paint anymore. I admit, I did this in kind of a rush without really thinking or wanting to put too much thought in it and just ended up painting it white. Like really white. Like the white in the can sans any pigment. For some reason, I just didn’t think of it until I was half way through and I was already using a paint-and-primer in one and was not about to do it again.
Good news is: WOW did it make an improvement in light. This kitchen actually feels alive now.
Bad news: it is REALLY white.

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Next, we were going strip and paint the cabinets which my husband was really against. It was going to be a lot of work and I wasn’t sure how it would turn out. The white walls were great but it did make the ugly ass counter tops and crappy floors more noticeable. Where do you even go from here? We didn’t want to paint the cabinets white now too and we could not find a color that would compliment anything in this kitchen. Not even black would do. And you know what, we kind of didn’t hate the contrast of the wood against the white walls. But man, were they beat up. My dad was getting ready to come out to visit to help us with the kitchen and anything else so, thankfully he came up with a simple and easy solution: Old English. That shit really brought out the warm wood color and hid almost all the wear and tear from decades of abuse.
And then to add insult to injury: these cabinets seemed to have never had any hardware! I didn’t want to go out of my way and spend agonizing hours sifting through the billions of hardware options so I found some decent knobs and pulls on Amazon that I would not feel terrible about getting rid of in a few years with the remodel. We needed a total of about 30ish pieces and couldn’t believe I found these for a grand total of about $50! I think they are great for what they are.

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We also finally changed out the terrible lighting! My husband switched out all of the crappy bulbs in the canned lights with new LEDs which are awesome. And we finally took down those two awful light fixtures (can you believe I couldn’t sell these babies?)! I ended up moving the pendent light from the guest room and we hung it above the stove and then added an awesome chandelier in the bay window / one day breakfast nook from Schoolhouse Electric.

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Lastly and probably the best: WE INSTALLED A NEW BACK DOOR! I couldn’t stand the door that came with the house! It was warped, weathered, didn’t seal completely and was dizzying. Now, this was something that would be a permanent fix so we took this decision more seriously. Thanks to some light internet searching I was able to locate a place called Building Material Resource that sells high end doors that have the slightest manufacturing defects so the doors are literally half the full retail price. And I found exactly what we were looking for!
We picked out a 1/4 lite with a single panel solid fir door by Simpson Door Company. This door was everything that I wanted, it met our budget, and it went perfect for the vision of our future kitchen. It is literally my dream door. Who knew a door could bring me this much happiness?
To save on installation cost, we flew my father-in-law out to help us with putting it in. And it was definitely worth the wait. The door is so beautiful and it lets even more light in! We also went with a keypad lock for it and it has been a great decision.
I totally recommend buying one if you are considering it.

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When it came time to finish it we debated to either paint or stain it. We originally went with stain. But to make a long story short - it didn’t work out. So we stripped it and painted it. We went with Behr’s Ultra Pure White on the inside and Marquee Red Pepper on the exterior (to go with our future exterior color scheme) in semi-gloss. I never thought I wold have a red door but here we are!

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BATHROOM UPDATE!
Another hot topic has been the bathroom. What to do with the this bathroom? Almost two years later and all we had done is put in a new toilet (which was huge). I couldn’t deal with the darkness from the turquoise any longer and had to get in there and paint it. I didn’t go for any specific color other than just white for now - I could change later. After what felt like a ton of work - once again the room was instantly transformed. It felt so much more like a clean and bright bathroom now rather than some dated room. I didn’t do the ceilings tho because I hadn’t picked out new lights and honestly the entire ceiling needs to be re-mudded and I didn’t want to deal with it at the time.

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Since this was more of a refresh rather than remodel, I wanted to spruce up the vanity, too since ripping it out would’ve created a domino effect. I did some research and bought Rust-o-leum’s countertop paint. This stuff is cool but know what you are getting yourself into. Not only can you “not really” choose your own color, this shit is toxic and takes foorrrrevvvver to dry. But it did make the counters look better. From here I was going to paint the body of the vanity and put in peel-n-stick floor tiles (I found super cute ones from FloorPop!) over the existing linoleum but then once again, changed my mind due to to seeing how much work it was going to be and maybe if I leave it as is it will push me to do the full remodel sooner. But at least we have white walls now right?
I am still in the process of picking out a new mirror and hardware for the towels and such but I did find this awesome lion head ring from my friends at Hippo Hardware in Portland. This will do for now.

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WE GREW OUR OWN VEGETABLES! AND ATE THEM!
The garden! I have been loving it though I don’t really know what I am doing. Back in the early Spring my husband built me this awesome raised bed out of left over wood we had. I love it. I began starting seeds inside in the winter for this which included super sweet 100 tomatoes, spaghetti squash (I used seeds from a squash we bought and ate from TJ’s), lemon cucumbers, celery, & jalapenos and bought starters for strawberries, spinach, beets, and broccoli. Not everything turned out so good but I definitely learned what to not try to grow again and what not to plant next to each other. It has been super rewarding to grow your own edible food tho. Can’t wait to try new plants next year!

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OH. AND THE GRASS DIED… AGAIN.

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What a surprise. We don’t know how to care for grass. It’s worse than last year.
Come this fall we are planning on trying to re-seed this barren yard. Also, stay tuned.

Thanks for reading this far! Owning this home and working on it slowly has been such a ride.
More updates to come soon (I hope).
Love ya!

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THE BEST CARROT CAKE EVER

 
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This cake is very special to me. It's a recipe that my Mom has been making forever. It's so good that she even had this recipe as her wedding cake. It's the cake I always make for my husband's birthday. I was first reluctant to share this "secret", but it's really too good not to. I know that all carrot cakes aren't created equal, but this one really takes the...cake. Plus, there's nothing better than a homemade cake... even if you're not really a cake person, like me. 

Carrot Cake is wonderful because it's an anytime type of cake. It can be for birthdays, weddings, bbq's, or you can even have it for breakfast, if that's your thing. This one is a little different, but hear me out: PINEAPPLE. This is not a pizza, so don't freak out. A little bit of pineapple goes a long way and keeps the cake moist without overpowering. I also add a bit of coconut, which gives a subtle flavor with a little texture, since I prefer to make this without nuts. And lastly... The Orange Cream Cheese Frosting! Adding a splash of fresh-squeezed orange juice and a bit of orange zest is really the show stopper. You and all of your fellow cake-eaters will be hooked.

Now, this is a cake you should make ahead of time. Meaning, if you want to make it for a party, I recommend baking the cake layers the night before and placing them in the fridge or freezer. My theory has always been that cake tastes better the next day - plus, it's easier to frost when the cakes are firm. Don't worry, however, it can be made and devoured in the same day if you're in a rush.

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WHAT YOU'LL NEED FOR THE CAKE:
2 cups flour, sifted
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 cup canola oil
2 cups sugar
4 eggs
2 cups grated raw carrots (I like to use rainbow)
1/2 cup sweetened shredded coconut
8 oz crushed pineapple, drained

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Preheat oven to 350 and grease/flour two round nine-inch cake pans, and set aside.

In a medium bowl, sift flour. Add baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt. Resift. Set aside.

In a large bowl, beat sugar, oil, and eggs.

Begin to mix in flour mixture slowly. Try to not over mix. Batter should be thick at this point.

Mix in grated carrots, coconut, and pineapple.

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Evenly pour the batter into both pans and place into the oven.

Bake for 25 minutes and then check to see if the center has set and toothpick comes out clean. Depending on your oven, you may need a little more time but keep an eye on it. No one likes burnt cake.

Once set, remove and cool. Once cool enough, remove from pans and let cakes finishing cooling on racks. 

Pro-tip: If you are making these ahead of time to freeze, make sure cakes are FULLY cooled before wrapping in plastic/foil and placing in fridge or freezer. Any residual steam will make the cakes soggy.

 

WHAT YOU'LL NEED FOR THE FROSTING:
1 stick unsalted butter, room temp
1 package regular cream cheese, room temp
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp fresh squeezed orange juice
1 tsp orange zest

In a large bowel, mix butter and cream cheese.

Add in vanilla and beat until fluffy.

Gradually add in powdered sugar, orange juice and orange zest and mix until well combined.

Depending on your taste, you can add in extra orange juice and zest.

Pro-tip: Before frosting the cake, I like to line my plate or stand with four strips of parchment or wax paper to keep things clean. Then I place the first layer on top. 

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Spoon a generous amount of frosting on the top of the cake and smooth out to the edges.

Carefully place second cake layer on top and repeat.

For the sides you can add as little or as much as you want, depending on what style you are going for.

Once you have added the frosting, carefully remove paper from the bottom and throw away.

Lastly, decorate your cake any way you like and you have yourself THE BEST CARROT CAKE EVER! 

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VALENTINES DAY DINNER

 

Going out to eat on Valentines Day is for suckers. Romance is in the kitchen. I don't know about you guys, but staying in and cooking with (or even better, him cooking for me) is what it's all about. Since my first Valentines Day with Danny (this will be our 8th!), he has always made us his Chicken Tortilla Soup. It's so special, and it's one of my favorite traditions together. 
So, I have rounded up a couple of dinner ideas for all kinds of lovers. And you get to eat in pajamas, or be naked — if you're into that kind of thing.  

 

For the Meat Eaters - Asian Braised Shortribs : Beyond Sweet and Savory
For the Fishies - Garlic Butter Tuscan Salmon : Cafe Delights
For the Vegetarians - Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Quinoa & Spinach : Green Valley Kitchen
For the Vegans - Creamy Coconut Lentil Curry : The Endless Meal
For the Paleos - Chicken Kofta Skewers : Tasty-Yummies
For the Whole 30s - Spicy Southwest Stuffed Peppers : Jar of Lemons

Happy future Valentines Day, lovers. xo

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