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February 21, 2018

Pre-Spring House Tour | Kitchen & Hearth

Last week I did a little Pre-Spring freshening around our house.  I can't bring myself to write "winter" but that is definitely the season we're still in, as I sit here looking at icicles outside of the window.  No, this is the pre-spring tour of our home.  My spring bulbs I'm forcing on our counter are sprouting up, feeling very promising.  I've switched out all of our pink velvet pillows from Valentine's Day.  Now they are covered in my favorite, classic Navy Block Prints.  

If you are new here, you can find all of the resources for our kitchen, here.  For this post, I'll focus on what is new for this Pre-Spring Tour.

This is such a hard angle to capture in our home, but one of my favorites.  I love the big chunky island, with the lanterns above, and all of the windows.  I've replaced my antique "warm" rug that I use during the Holidays with a fresh sisal runner for the warmers seasons.  

I replaced our velvet pillow covers with these classic navy block prints in two patterns.  

I use two Large (22") on the ends, then one Medium (20") and one Rectangle, mixing and matching Navy Hydrangea Print, and Navy Privet Berry Print Covers.

I have the new Narrow Antique Mat Boards in my Gold Frames with the new Classic Botanical Prints.  I love the dominance of the mat, and the smaller print.  These are the 14x11" frames.

I'm debating altering the square ottoman.  I don't love the color any longer.  I would like to have it reconfigured to have one solid cushion on top for which I could have a slipcover made.  

Thoughts?  Maybe a small stripe or check?  The medium brown just isn't doing it for me!

From the kitchen to the mudroom.

Another sign that winter is still around.  I'm considering moving this to the school house (our new project, read about it here!)- it seems more appropriate there.

Love watching these bulbs sprout up - hoping they have enough energy to bloom.

The cookie jar is full with the new Salted Chocolate Chip Cookies I made.

Pale Pink Hyacinth that are making the entire house smell like Spring : )

February 16, 2018

Salted Chocolate Chip Cookies Recipe | SO Good

We were recently at a bakery and they had these big flakes of sea salt on their chocolate chip cookies.  For a household where I'm not really encouraged to make anything but Chocolate Chip when it comes to cookies - this was a delightful new spin for me.  Especially because I can load ours up with flaked sea salt and leave Emma's normal without great effort.

Of course, you can use any chocolate chip cookie recipe that you like, but I did include my notes & tips below.  I started with the original Tollhouse recipe.

I feel like I'm probably behind the bandwagon here.  I know salted everything has been around for a while.  I mean, I posted a Salted Caramel recipe about 7 years ago...  But, for some reason, I've just now gotten around to buying real flaked sea salt.  It is probably the smallest investment you can make in the kitchen for a "fancy" ingredient.  I think it was $6 at our grocery store?   I think you can find it at Target, Williams-Sonoma and nice grocery stores.

I always scoop my cookies.  It is just so much easier than using spoons.

TIP : I still put SOME salt in the dough, but only 2/3 of what is called for in the recipe.  This helps it from becoming too salty, and you still get to enjoy the sweetness of the cookie.

Salted Chocolate Chip Cookies

2 sticks of softened butter
3/4 cup of brown sugar
3/4 cup of granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon of vanilla
2 1/4 cups of flour
2/3 teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon of baking soda
2 cups of chocolate chips
2 tablespoons of flaked sea salt (I used Maldon)

Cream together butter and sugars in a mixer.  Add eggs and vanilla and mix until combine.  Add flour, salt and baking soda.  Stir until just combined.  Add chocolate chips, stir until just combined.
I bake them on a Parchment Paper lined Large Baking Sheets (for 8-12), or a Small Baking Sheets (for 4-6).  I usually bake one pan, then make the rest into balls and put them in the freezer.  We use them for easy weeknight desserts or even when we have last minute dinner with company.  Adults LOVE warm chocolate chip cookies for dessert.  And so do kids.

TIP : After a couple of trials, I discovered that rolling the cookie dough tops in sea salt worked better than just sprinkling it on.  

I just sort of press the balls a little bit on the salt - but not too much.  They can get too salty.  But, remember how cookies will spread, so just make sure there is enough for a flake on each bite when baked.

Bake at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes.

My spring bulbs are coming along nicely!

Tour our kitchen, here >

I was hoping to have them in bloom for my spring product photos next week, but it does not look like that will happen.

The baking counter is sharing space with my Valentine's Day flowers.  Mike did really well this year : )
Those ranunculus are so big and pillowy soft.

Yum!  Those crunchy, salty flakes.

Baking on Parchment Paper is such a dream because it is naturally non-stick... and there is NO cleanup. Just throw the sheet away.

My Products Featured :
Parchment Paper, $10 for 100 sheets >
Large Baking Sheets, $10 >
Small Baking Sheets, $7 >
Oatmeal Striped Essential Kitchen Towel, $6 >
Indigo Striped Oven Mitt, $12 >

Shop all of my Baking Essentials >

February 13, 2018

Our Menu This Week | Easy Make Ahead Valentine's Dinner

This Week's Menu

I love Valentine's Day week : )  This afternoon, I'm working on some homemade treats for us and teachers.  We're going to start our day with homemade cinnamon rolls, and after school, we'll indulge in some chocolate cupcakes.  We have a busy day with Emma's party at school, so I'm planning an easy make ahead dinner - Slow Simmered Ragu.  It can cook all day while I'm gone and it will be ready when we get home - Perfect for a Wednesday night Valentine's Day.  Dessert will be our favorite for any special occasion - Chocolate Molten Cakes.  They are easy to make for a small group.  The rest can go in the freezer!  The recipe links are below.

I make my menu on my Kitchen Tablets - love them.  Isn't that little French Green pot so classic?

Shop Tablets & LePens, here >

Last week's new collection featured a lot of new Family Dinner Essentials that make the daily routine easier and a little prettier - which makes things easier, right?  Some of my favorite ways to gussy up my kitchen is with fresh tea towels and pot holders.  Seriously - go look at your tea towels and your oven mitts.  I'm sure they've seen better days!  Why are oven mitts always the worst looking thing in anyone's kitchen?  These Classic Navy & White stripe have been my favorite for years.  They look great with the new Navy Block Print Tea Towels, too.

Our favorite way to dress up the table during the week is a pair of beautiful Beeswax Candles and a pitcher of something - berries, hydrangea, tulips, whatever you can find at the grocery store.  It will be the best $12 you spend all week.

Shop all of these Family Dinner Essentials, here >

Here's a little peek at our spring bulbs I've been forcing for a couple of weeks - they are starting to sprout!  These are daffodils.

And these are Tulips.  So fun to have a little Spring inside.

Poached Salmon & Vegetables

Since tomorrow is Valentine's Day, I thought we'd start out ahead of all of the chocolate indulgences with a super healthy super tonight.  This has so much flavor!

"Homemade" Cinnamon Rolls

Tomorrow morning we're starting off with "homemade" cinnamon rolls (from frozen bread dough) for Valentine's Day : )

For dinner, a big bottle of wine and Slow Simmered Ragu - a house favorite!

This is always my go-to for a special dinner at home - they are so easy to make, especially in small batches.  The rest can go in the freezer!

Over the weekend, I plan to make this Rosemary Pork Roast - it is so unbelievably good.  It is hearty, but still feels a little springy.

February 12, 2018

The School House | Our New Project & Home for Everyday Occasions

If you've been following me on Instagram over the last week, then you've been getting sneak peeks into our latest adventure. We bought an old School House!  It has been in the works since last Fall, but we weren't sure it would actually happen until it actually happened, so I kept it under wraps until the papers were signed.  But now, we are the proud owners of a one room rural school house in my hometown, Lexington, Missouri.

This is one of those places that I've driven by hundreds of times and dreamed about what I could do with it - and as I discovered this weekend at home, many other locals have done the same thing!  When it came on the market in the Fall, I went on a long walk and thought of 100 ideas (from b&b to bakery!), before I had the "ah-ha" moment.  After it came to me, my mind went running and there was no turning back - I had decided to move my entire store operations to The School House.

All of the product processing, packaging and shipping will happen from here.  For the past four years, the fulfillment has happened at a warehouse, where I am one of their clients.  They have been great for helping me grow to this point, but I have such an itch to, of course, "do it myself."  Now, I will set up my own staff to custom package my products in this very charming building.  I have so many plans about expanding our offerings and ability to make every single order more special.  I am so excited, I can hardly believe it.  How fun is it that all of your orders will be coming straight from this little building in the country?!

This is the school house at dusk last weekend, when everything had a glaze of ice on it.

It sits on almost two acres of land off of a country road.  I plan to have a big garden and an orchard... at some point.

It was built in 1914, and served as a rural school until 1956 when all of the local rural schools were consolidated.  For about 40 years, it sat empty.  In the 90's the original owners of the farm on which it sits, renovated it to be a bed and breakfast.  It has been empty for sometime now, waiting to be brought to life again.

The family did an excellent job renovating it and bringing it up to modern standards, all while being respectful of its simple, utilitarian style.  The chalkboard and most of the trim is original to the school.  

The "students" came back to the school after the renovation for a reunion and signed their names on the chalkboards.  How amazing is that?  They are still there, and will remain, as a nod to the past.

Here are some of the students that attended school here.  I love to look at each one of their faces.  They likely walked to school, or rode a horse.  Many of the family names are still the same families that own the surrounding farmland to this day.

The band!

The main feature of the room is the entire wall of windows.  They are glorious and extend almost all of the way to the top of the 12 food ceilings. 

The room is really one big open blank space - exactly what I need it to be.

Off of the one room, is a kitchen that was the original Library.  The cupboard to the right was the original bookcase.

The first thing I did was replace the appliances.  You know I have to have a functioning kitchen!  I plan to do a little DIY update by painting the cabinetry, and replacing the pulls, faucet and hood.  

I want to be respectful of the history here, but I also want to steward it into the future and make it useful and give it life again.  What is better than giving something old a new use and purpose?

I've been collecting inspiration photos since the fall, and just had a gut feeling of how I wanted it to look.  I love utilitarian spaces and plan to use Shaker inspired paint colors, furniture and fixtures to make it feel like it should.  I don't want to dramatically change The School House, but I want it to feel very country, but fresh and bright.  The trim will all be painted this creamy beige (Ben Moore Marble Canyon).  All of the walls will stay their original creamy white.  The moving part of the windows will stay dark stained, as well as the doors.  

When I came across these inspiration photos, they were exactly what I had envisioned.  A utilitarian, country workshop.  It feels clean and fresh, muted and subtle.  It is seasonless - I can see it with holiday greens and berries, daffodils in spring and big bunches of oak leaves in the fall.

I love the cream on cream woodwork and walls in my home, but I am so drawn to this more country look.  I'm excited to have a place to use it!

I will not be getting new cabinets or countertops, but this is what I would do if I was : )

I LOVE thinking about the functioning plans for the packaging and shipping.  I really hope to bring our order fulfillment out of the normal "box" and do some fun and creative things.

I would like to paint the floor in the foyer with a diamond pattern - so charming.

We spent the weekend there, getting everything ready to paint.  Here, my assistant painted all of the color samples on boards.

I had six different shades of beige and grey to find the perfect one that complimented the light and the walls.

I thought this Crisp Khaki was the winner, but it dried to a sort of bleh tone.

We took the doors off so they would not be painted - aren't they beautiful?

Kitchen to the left, foyer to the right.  We are doing a beadboard and peg treatment in the foyer.

This is the final paint color for the trim - Ben Moore Marble Canyon.  It was the perfect creamy, warm beige that wasn't too dull, wasn't too green, and wasn't too pink.  Paint can be so funny.  Here's hoping I picked the right one - it is being applied as I type.

I'm excited to take you along on this journey!

Follow along on Instram for the behind the scenes progress.

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