26 2 / 2014

She’s Back!

Keep up with Secret Housewife at her new site: 

http://www.secrethousewife.com

01 9 / 2012

07 11 / 2011

Playing Catch Up

Hello! Seems like it’s been forever since I posted last. Lots has happened so I’ll do my best to catch you up!

The bathroom is 90% done! Wahoo!! Tile has been laid, toilet is flushing, faucet is flowing, lighting is bright, walls are painted, window sealed & trimmed and shelving installed. All we’re waiting for is the giant sheet of swinging glass, otherwise known as the shower door. We put in our order at Lowe’s about a week ago. We’ve approved the drawing for production and now we wait. The guys at Lowe’s say it will be ready for pick up the day after Thanksgiving. Long wait! So… in the mean time, I have been contemplating accent colors and baskets for organizing. Fun - but I’m ready to have my bathroom back. 

We literally had NO idea what color to paint the walls so we just went with a beigy/off white to hold us over. After living with this color for awhile, I’m definitely thinking we need to go darker. Originally I thought that a dark wall color would make our tiny bathroom look even more itty-bitty so we went light. Meh. Not too crazy about it. Especially with all the white going on in the toilet/vanity/shelving/trim etc. Chances are we’ll pull a color from the shower tile. Maybe a dark, chocolate brown? Not sure. We’re planning on redecorating our bedroom soon. Our color scheme for the bedroom will be yellow/gray/white. We want to make sure that everything flows nicely. Lots to think about.

Halloween!
Party #1: Fright Night
My sister and brother-in-law had their ninth annual Halloween “Fright Night”. Games, food, costume contests, scary movies. My sister’s “thing” is cupcakes and she always amazes us at what she can do with these little morsels of goodness. This year she created werewolves.

Pretty amazing, huh? I actually think her husband made them this year, which makes them even more amazing. I went to the party alone this year {my husband was in Oregon visiting his mom} and just threw on my old high school cheer uniform. Cheerleader! Easy. I partnered up with another “single” and we won the great pumpkin relay race. 

Party #2: Blood Bash
Co-workers and lots of drinking at this party. We came as Wilma and Fred. Unfortunately, I have no pictures. Boo.

We didn’t stay long because the next morning I was running in a 5k. Needed to get my rest. I met my friends at the course and knocked out a quick 3.14. Lindsee and I both finished in record time. Felt good. 

It was a Halloween race. Some people dressed up. There was a banana chasing us.

There were zombies on the course waiting to attack.

Halloween treats! I always like to do something fun for the design team at work around the holidays. This year I put together some little treats that I saw on Pinterest. Love this website, btw. So much inspiration for anything and everything you could ever think of. These are just brownies with white chocolate dipped pretzels and marshmallows made to look like a skeleton coming up out of the grave. I packaged them up in little bags and attached a little hanging tombstone with their names and a little message on the back. How cute are these!?

 

Didn’t take long at all. All that I really had to do was bake the brownies, draw on a little skeleton face and assemble. Easy! And a big hit.

And to top it all off - I got to go trick-or-treating with my nephew on Halloween night. Is he the cutest little pirate you’ve ever seen or what?

18 10 / 2011

Pot Roast

It’s that time of year again! Sweaters, falling leaves, comfort food… and crock pots. That’s right people, fall has arrived. This is my favorite time of the year. Not only because I get to prepare comfort food but because I get to snuggle under a blanket on the couch, drink some hot cocoa, light a fire and the best of all… come home after a long day to the smell of dinner. What’s not to love?

Tonight, we came home to the mouthwatering smell of pot roast. I’ve been watching {well, DVR-ing} The Chew recently and have gotten some really good ideas for dinner. This recipe has been adapted from Michael Symon’s Pot Roast recipe. He cooked his in the oven for one hour. I decided to turn it into crock pot bliss. Low and slow. Delicious. Can’t wait for the leftovers in my lunch tomorrow.

Ingredients

3 lb Brisket
1/2 C diced Bacon
2 Garlic cloves, smashed 
1 Jalapeno, split in half lengthwise
2 Tbsp Coriander, crushed and toasted
1 Red Onion, roughly chopped
1 Carrot, roughly chopped
12 oz. Apple Cider
1 bottle Beer {I used Henry Wienhards Private Reserve} 
Salt and freshly ground Black Pepper

Directions

In a large stock pot cook your bacon until crispy. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside. Season your meat on both sides with salt, pepper and crushed, toasted coriander. Sear meat in bacon grease on both sides {about 3-4 min. per side} until brown. Remove meat and place in your crock pot dish. Add onion, garlic, carrots and jalapeno pepper. Cover with beer and apple cider. Cook on low for 8-10 hours. 

I served this with mashed potatoes and gravy that I made from the cooking liquid. When the meat is fork tender take it out and set it aside {I think ours cooked for about 11 hours. It was so unbelievably tender that it just pulled apart with a fork}. Cover with tin foil. Strain the cooking liquid into a pan on the stove. Smoosh the vegetables as best you can through the strainer. Bring to a boil and thicken with a mixture of cornstarch and water. Instant gravy. 

Note: I have a fear of crock pots. They intimidate me. I never know what to throw in the pot and everyone always tells me: “Just throw some meat and a bunch of stuff in the pot, turn it on and leave.” This has never been helpful to me. For whatever reason, I have ALWAYS needed to follow a recipe. This one is delicious. It’s definitely worth trying. Oh, and I prepped mine the night before. I just put the pot in the refrigerator overnight and then pulled it out in the morning and started the crock pot before I left for work. How easy is that?

P.S. Don’t worry about the jalapeno. It just adds a subtle kick to the dish. Go ahead and leave the ribs and seeds intact. I promise. It will be okay.

07 10 / 2011

Master bathroom teaser pic! It’ll be done in two weeks. Two weeks, people!!! Wahoo!!

Master bathroom teaser pic! It’ll be done in two weeks. Two weeks, people!!! Wahoo!!

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07 10 / 2011

Pesky Fruit Flies

Is it just us or are the fruit flies out of control this year? Seriously. It’s like they’ve formed a little colony in our kitchen. We cannot seem to get rid of them.

Our usual go-to method of destruction is apple cider vinegar {see Exhibit A}. We’ve been doing this for the past couple fruit fly “seasons” and it has worked like a charm. Just grab a small dish and fill it with some apple cider vinegar and a couple drops of dish soap. The fruit flies are attracted to the sweet smell of the cider and the dish soap on the top helps get rid of the surface tension so that when they land they’ll just sink straight to the bottom. 

Exhibit A

For whatever reason, it seems like this years fruit fly parade has tripled in size. They’re everywhere. Time to do a little research…

Fruit Flies 101

The lifespan of  a fruit fly is short. They can hatch within a day and are full grown within six days.

Fruit flies can live up to one week once they are full grown and within that week will lay up to 500 eggs. 5-0-0-!!

They live wherever there is moisture: your garbage disposals, under the refrigerator and your dishwasher.

Fruit flies don’t eat the fruit. They eat the yeast that starts to grow on the fruit when it decomposes.

The fruit fly experts say to wash your dishes by hand for a week or so to keep the moisture out of the air that is caused by your dishwasher.

While researching, we discovered a new way to trap these little miniature devil flies {Exhibit B}. Put some banana and banana peel in a mason jar {bananas are their favorite}. Create a funnel with a piece of 8.5x11 paper and put it inside the mason jar. Sit back and watch the trap do its magic. Be sure to tape the funnel to the outside of the jar so that they can’t escape. When you are satisfied with your prisoner count, screw the lid on and discard. 

Exhibit B

Note: We used a vase in this picture. We had been using old jelly/jam jars but then ran out. So, really, you can use any type of cup/glass/canister/jar that works for you.

Happy fruit fly capturing! It’s very rewarding.

01 10 / 2011

Before & After: Pantry

Finally getting around to posting the before and after pantry pictures. As stated in a previous post, I took a week off from the daily grind for some much needed relaxation only to be surrounded by all of my DIY projects staring me in the face. I finally decided to make some progress and tearing down the pantry was first on my list. I have ALWAYS dreamed of a giant walk-in pantry. I drool every time I see Sandra Lee or Ina Garten walk into their wide open, beautifully designed, miniature room of pantry food heaven. Unfortunately, our tiny little 1968 home doesn’t lend itself to this so I had to make do with the space I was given. At least we had some pantry space! 

Check out what we were staring at for four years…

Blech! No door, unorganized, appliances on the floor, serving dishes up way too high… embarrassing. One year we hosted Thanksgiving and decided to tack up a sheet to keep it all out of sight… like that looked any better. 

Step 1: Clear everything out.

Step 2: Demo! Rip down the shelving and sand the walls smooth.

Step 3: Paint

Step 4: Stencil

I had this bright idea to stencil the back wall using a stenciling kit that I had purchased about a year and half ago at West Elm. Let me tell you… this was the hardest part of the transformation. Hands down. I’m not really sure if stenciling is a pain or if I just suck at it but I’ll probably never do it again. Although… we are VERY happy with the results.

 

Step 5: Paint the shelving and the hutch

We decided to re-purpose our “liquor cabinet” that was old and dated and use it in the pantry as storage for our canned goods. This was our plan to keep all of those unsightly cans in hiding. We removed the old hardware and purchased some new, modern pulls from Ikea. We also headed out to Dunn Lumber to purchase some wood for our new shelving. We had the guys at the hardware store cut the shelving to the depth we needed so that all we {and by we I mean my husband} had to do was cut it to the right width. 

Step 6: Install the shelving

Step 7: Organize!


SO happy with the outcome!

The wooden crates on the top shelf hold all of my baking supplies.

The wire basket to the right of those holds our surplus of napkins, paper towels, paper plates and plastic utensils. Didn’t want anything too heavy up there.

The wire basket one shelf down on the left contains glass jars of nuts and dried berries.

To the right of that are glass canisters full of dry ingredients: flour, sugar {powdered, pure cane and brown}, oats and rice.

The two tin boxes on the bottom shelf hold all of those loose packets of stuff. One is full of tea, hot cocoa and spiced cider. The other is full of spice packets.

And of course, Perri’s dog treats in the glass jars on the bottom right. 

The white hutch holds all of our canned goods and cooking liquids. I was a little sloppy with the inside paint. Meh. No one will see it anyway, right? 

The drawer holds some of our spices. Most of our spices are stored in the freezer.

It might not be Ina Garten-worthy. But it’s definitely a huge improvement. Sometimes I’ll just walk over and stare at it. We LOVE it. Little by little we’re getting this cute, old house up-to-date. 

BEFORE

AFTER

17 9 / 2011

Bacon Grease = Liquid Gold

If you’re anything like me, you were told at a young age that you should never pour bacon grease down the sink because it will sit there and harden and eventually clog your pipes. BUT… you don’t want to just throw it out either because it can add so much flavor to your cooking. Get ready for another brilliant bacon idea…

Let the grease cool in the pan. Once it’s cool {bacon grease splatters are no fun} pour it into an ice cube tray.

Freeze the grease until it hardens. Pop it out and store in ziploc bags in the freezer.

Just slice off whatever you need to give your dish instant flavor! Then pop it back in the freezer for next time.

Some ideas for bacon grease:

  1. For pan-frying potatoes
  2. For buttered bread crumbs to top mac and cheese
  3. For seasoning green beans or cabbage
  4. For pan-frying eggs
  5. To grease your pan for cornbread or biscuits

No need to add any salt when cooking or baking with bacon grease.

If you don’t like the idea of cooking with bacon grease and you have a dog… here’s another idea. Drizzle the bacon grease over your dogs food. I’m sure it adds a great bacon flavor that they would love and the grease will give them a nice shiny coat.

Happy cooking! 

08 9 / 2011

Staycation = Impromptu Pantry Makeover!

I took the week off for some much needed relaxation {can’t believe it’s already Thursday}. Going a million miles a minute can really get to a person. So I decided to have my very own little staycation, which in my opinion is the BEST vacation. Although, I haven’t been doing much relaxing. Anyone who knows me knows that I can’t sit still. Especially when I’m at home with so much “potential” lying around everywhere I look.

The sight of our pantry has always made me cringe. I’ve been staring at this eyesore for four years…

There wasn’t even a door to keep everything out of sight. Blech! What a mess.

The time had finally come. On Tuesday night everything started making it’s way into the garage. My husband was less than shocked when he came home to see all of the pantry contents sprawled out in the garage. I’m very “spur of the moment.” And lucky for me, my husband is very easy going and patient. Somehow he always gets roped into my crazy ideas.

I’ll post the full makeover once it’s done. Here’s a teaser pic just to keep you intrigued…

Wish me luck! And check back soon for the big reveal!

04 9 / 2011

Before & After: Curb Appeal

Finally getting around to posting some before and afters. One of our biggest accomplishments has been the transformation of the overall outside appearance of our home. When we purchased it, it was far from glamourous. Not to say that it’s over-the-top now, but we have managed to bring the life back to it. Here’s a picture of what it looked like when we bought it in 2007…

Drab, ordinary, dated… it hadn’t seen “the love” in a while. Lucky for this tired, old house we immediately saw the potential. 

Our vision included:

  • Landscaping
  • New driveway
  • New windows {lose the shutters}
  • New roof
  • New paint
  • Updated porch/deck
  • New garage door
  • New front door

Whew! That’s a lot. But we were up for the challenge. We were able to take care of the paint, garage door and front door right away. But we really had no idea what to do for the landscaping. The possibilities were endless and we knew that we wanted a clean slate but we really didn’t know where to start. Sooo… we decided to hire a landscape designer. She gave us three plans and we chose our favorite. Once we had the plan in our hands we did all the man work, saving ourselves loads of money. Here’s what we went with…

We wanted bright colors to pop off of our newly-painted house. Chartreuse, white, bright purple and some black. A ginko tree, maple tree, ornamental grasses and hardscaping were all a part of the plan. Ooh, and she even included plans for a new porch/deck. Nice! And everything was in the plan: specific names of plants, measurements on where to plant and how far apart each plant should be from the other. We knew this would take some time, lots of energy and patience but we were ready to tackle it!

Unfortunately, we don’t have any pictures of our progress as the new front yard took shape. Sadly, we were robbed and all of our pictures were on the computer that those, ahem, assholes stole! So we’ll just have to fast forward to the end result.

New sod rolled, hardscaping in place and baby plants planted…

Landscaping done!

Next up, new driveway. Old blacktop gone…

New pebblestone in…

With the new landscaping, the old, lonely front patio was in dire need of updating. The yard looked great, but we couldn’t wait to see the impact that a new front deck would provide. Here are some shots of the old…

Lucky for us, my dad is somewhat of a handy man. He was able to come help my husband with a lot of this. Again, saving us a fair amount of cash. Thanks, Dad!

Notice the “floating” step. My favorite part of the design.

Windows came next. We stripped the windows of the shutters almost immediately after moving in. What an eye sore. The updated windows add so much appeal alone. Plus, the old ones were single pane so we’re also saving money on our heating bill. Old…

Are you ready for the big reveal? Here’s what our house looks like now!

We are SO happy with the results. Our hard work definitely paid off. {Mental note: grass needs fertilizing}

We’ve just about crossed everything off our list: 

  • Landscaping
  • New driveway
  • New windows {lose the shutters}
  • New roof
  • Updated porch/deck
  • New garage door
  • New front door

I think our roof can hang on for a few more years. That will definitely take a huge chunk of change. When we finally replace it, I’d like to go with a darker brown color. I think the new roof will really give the house that polished look. 

Our home has come to life! Definitely the curb appeal we had envisioned. 

BEFORE

AFTER

Landscape design: Katie Weber