Friday, August 1, 2014

Kitchen Remodel part 2

~ a funny fact about the nester ~

my husband is amazed that i can talk construction workers into building extra things at no cost. one of the many things i persuaded our painter to do, was to paint our old barstools. i think it is my happy personality that is contagious.

our kitchen
since i couldn't fit all my photos and paragraphs on the last post, i decided to break up the story. so if you missed out on the earlier post, here is the link: kitchen remodel, part 1  my hope is that this post will help you with your kitchen projects and inspire you. 

remodeling can test your patience...

how many of you have survived a kitchen remodel? what was the hardest part of the remodel, besides spending waay too much money?! here is a funny story about testing my patience... during our remodel, i had to listen to our worker's music. let's just say that i heard the same songs over and over for 7 months. so, you can imagine that certain songs just make me cringe. i kind of go into a bizarre physical state when i hear the song " moves like jaeger"! remodeling does test our patience, but in the end it is worth it.


i viewed many light fixtures in the store and on the internet and i found a line of handblown italian lamps. i was excited that they contain the colors of the granite and the cabinets in the beautiful glass. i feel that lighting is a very important element in a kitchen. we placed lights over our island, the sink, under the cabinets and over the stove. also, we did have our electrician put some of them on dimmer switches. just some ideas to think about when designing your kitchen.

~ task lighting
i just love the under cabinet task lighting. all of these lights are controlled by one switch. in our last home, my husband installed another type of under cabinet lights and we had to manually turn on each row of lights. now that they are all on one switch, this makes me so, so, happy!

~ stove top lighting
i love these halogen lights. it lights up my work space and makes stove top cooking so much easier.

fun decor

~ framed cards
so a little known fact about me is that i love cows. here in northern california, the cows roam the hills and you can hike among them. so here is my favorite cow. it was originally a greeting card that i framed. this is an easy to way to get instant art that is cheap!

~ i can't have enough clocks
if you have read my older post (here is the link: clock) you are familiar with this cute and happy clock. i found it at a thrift store and it was on sale!

essential equipment

~ elica zepher hood
we bought this at our local appliance store and our salesman went to their back room and found this awesome hood that was the last year's model. so instead of paying the premium price tag for a new model, we ended up saving a ton of money. the thing i love about this hood is that the top part is made of glass, so it allows light to come through and makes the cooking area less claustrophobic and dark.

~ dacor gas stove top
in our seattle home, we had a dacor stove that was very similar to this one. the thing i love about this specific stove top is the cooking surface. it is made of a very washable material. i love how easy it is too keep clean, and of course that makes me very happy!

~ moen faucet
i love this faucet. the key that i found with this type of faucet is that the spigot that detaches does best if the base has an arch that points down. my last one had a regular shape and didn't point down and so when i tried to use the spigot, i had a difficult time getting the hose out of the faucet. i hope this makes sense to you. trust me that this is a good shape for a faucet. also, i love my big sink, it is so hassle free since it is one big tub and i can pile all our dishes in it. 

counter tops and backsplash

~ stone
this is the granite my husband chose. i was so worried that it was going to be way too orange, but once we got it into our kitchen and i quickly changed out my wall color to silver (benjamin moore, revere pewter) so that it complimented the granite. i have a hard time photographing it, but in person it is more subdued. it definitely is dramatic and is the star of our kitchen!

~ finding your granite
we had the darnedest time finding a piece of granite that was big enough for our kitchen island. we found places that carried prefab finished stone counter tops (that were too small) that were ready to install. so, with a ton of research, we found a specialty shop that carried big pieces of stone and the prices weren't that different to the prefab ones. sorry that the above photo is blurry, but it shows the three slabs that we bought. 

kitchen stations

~ dish towels
i wanted the towels to be hidden, so i placed them along the back end of the kitchen island. also, it is cool that they are conveniently located to the sink.

~ dish towel hooks
i bought these damage free hooks at target that won't ruin the surface! i love how they match the wood stain. here is the link on amazon: 3M hooks  

~ my coffee and tea station
i have a little spot that is devoted for making tea and coffee. i also made sure that it was tucked away in a corner so it wouldn't interfere with the flow of the kitchen traffic.

~ coffee and tea station essential equipment
this cuisinart electric tea kettle (here is the amazon link: kettle) is the best. my absent minded husband has fried two tea kettles because he has left them on the stove and for some reason cannot hear the loud whistling noise they make when the water is boiling. so this little kettle heats up the water quickly and also has an automatic shut off feature that makes it essential in our household. also the little nespresso frother in the background is my friend in the morning. it foams my soy milk/milk combo so quickly and just makes my drink taste like i bought it from starbucks! you've gotta buy one!!!  here is the link: frother

~ * ~

this ends my tour of our kitchen and i hope you enjoyed it. i look forward to posting more room tours of my house so, keep checking back or subscribe by email. by the way, let me know how your kitchen remodel turned out, or better yet write a quick comment on your favorite part of your kitchen. i would love to hear from you, really! i truly appreciate your visit and i hope you have a wonderful weekend!

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Kitchen Tour Part 1

~a funny fact about the nester~

when we bought our current home, i never saw it until we moved in! my husband was a brave soul to find and buy the house without me. this was the only time that our realtor's has ever had this happen that the wife didn't see the house before the sale!

we survived our third kitchen remodel!

since a lot of my instagram followers have asked to see more of our house, i thought it might be nice to give you a thorough tour of our kitchen. so i decided to show beyond the surface and view the interior of the cabinets as well as the little details, like my drawers, hardware and decor. we did make some interesting design choices so, i'm hoping that this post will inspire and help any of you who are planning a future kitchen remodel.

info about our two butt kitchen...

here is some background about our current kitchen. we bought our home in northern california about 5 years ago and we definitely knew that we wanted to remodel the dated kitchen, oh yes, it barely had room for two people in the kitchen. my husband called it the two-butt kitchen! so you get the idea, the use of space was not efficient. for about a year, we spent many hours reconfiguring the area and finally came up with a design that would mean tearing down some walls, moving our refrigerator, and bringing in a gas line. after about 7 months of construction, we fell in love with our new roomy kitchen!

the before photo. on the right side of the photo is a wall and a little doorway to our dark dining room. in the foreground is a little eating area which we rarely sat at. the room had beautiful double pane windows, but they were framed in the natural stained wood and we wanted a white fresh look. so we had them painted a crisp white.

deconstruction started on the first day of the project. crazy, right? yes, our remodeling crew tore out everything and in a strange way it felt great! so the wall to the dining room is missing and it originally was suppose to be rebuilt with two cabinets sunk into the walls. but we both loved the openness and so we nixed the wall, we are a contractor's nightmare!

without a kitchen for 7 months. this is our temporary kitchen, who says i don't like camping! i'm thinking my husband had ulterior motives when buying the major camp stove, he now uses it for brewing his beer! 

soft close cabinet doors and drawers. so we went with omega cabinets. they do have a cool option of a soft closing cabinets. watch my video below.



i love the more efficient cabinet design. on a few cabinets we opted not to have the drawers. omega cabinets offer this cool design of a shorter top shelf, so that your view into the cabinet is open and not a dark cavern. this feature prevents things from getting lost in the back of your cabinets. you do lose a bit of shelf space but, every part is utilized.

little helpful detail. so instead of putting down sticky shelf paper, i found these fun plastic placemats. the cool thing is that your shelves end up without the tacky mess and there is no measuring or cutting

mixing it up. this is the front of our island. i love the mix of dark cabinets with the white, it makes the white less stark and warms up the room. 

a surprising place to gain storage. so this is the backside of our kitchen island. we made full use of our space and now i have more storage than any kitchen i have ever owned! 

drawers in the cabinets are an awesome investment. i love having drawers in my cabinets. also, we have the soft closed feature. i love it! we are not morning folks, so having kids in the kitchen early and slamming doors and draws would not be a good thing. my husband and i will pay extra to have less noise!

a great place for your cookie sheets. i love that we were able to use this small space with a cookie sheet storage. since it's located right next to the oven, it comes in handy!

inexpensive drawer hardware. i just love these home depot drawer pulls which look very similar to the expensive restoration hardware ones. we had these at our last kitchen and i loved them. so when something works, repeat it at your next home remodel!

interesting design component. the door hardware is slightly smaller and is installed vertically. 

why we decided on a window seat. our window was way to low to get another line of counters under it so, we had to figure out what would go best there. so our designer suggested a window seat. it now is the perfect spot to sit and chat and also place groceries down on. i was going to have a cushion made for the seat but i really didn't want to cover up the white cabinetry. another really cool thing about this space is that it doubles as a great storage too, and i love the drawers.

window seat drawers are awesome. i originally wanted to display my cookbooks on the open shelves but, i really like them tucked away out of view. these drawers are quite big, deep and roomy. by the way, i love the gwyneth paltrow cookbook, here is the amazon link if you want to make her father's yummy buttermilk pancakes! link to cookbook

2 hidden trashcans. this is an awesome option that we just love. this cabinet holds our 2 trash cans. we use one for garbage and the other for our recycled trash. the cool thing is that the top is covered with wood and so trash doesn't fall down into the bin. now if we could find some magnetic trash cans so that if our kiddos throw out our silverware it will stick to the sides of the can, just saying...

a new out of the way spot for a microwave. our designer suggested that we put our microwave on the lower portion of the island. at first i was worried that it would be inconvenient and i worried about this design choice. but once it was in, i now love it. visually it is out of the way and it is nice to be able to look down at your food. also, if the front door has massive fingerprints and is messy, it is less likely to be seen. that totally makes me a happy, happy nester!

questions? i would love to hear from you. if you have any questions about your kitchen remodel or just have a general question, feel free to leave me a comment. i'll try and use my 3 kitchen remodels to help your with some advice. also, i would love to hear about your kitchen and what you love about it! thanks so much for visiting and i'll continue my next kitchen post this saturday.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

The Best Roasted Brussel Sprouts

~a funny fact about the nester~

one halloween, i couldn't go out for trick-or-treating until i ate my dinner veggies. 
my older brother who was in charge of taking me out, threw my uneaten veggies into the bushes out front! 
we lied to my mom and told her that i had finished them. 
as a child i hated vegetables, but this is not the case today!

the brussels sprouts battle: him versus her!

little known fact about brussels sprouts. did you know that brussels sprouts as we now know them were grown possibly as early as the 13th century in what is now belgium. also, according to wikipedia, "brussels sprouts, as with broccoli and other brassicas, contain sulforaphane, a chemical believed to have potent anticancer properties."

our little competition in our family. how many of you have been subjected to a thanksgiving meal in which one of your relatives brings a dish of bitter brussel sprouts? well, i'm one of those people who always brings the sprouts. but, unlike those that you have encountered, i have a great way of roasting them with a very special ingredient that takes away the bitterness. alright, i have converted many of my family members over to enjoying brussel sprouts, which i feel is a bit of a victory. my kiddos love these veggies and will often request them for dinners. but, today's blog post is not only about my recipe but also my husbands! you see, we both enjoy cooking on the weekends and he thinks he is a better cook then me. so, it makes sense that he would come up with his own version which he strongly believes is better than mine! as you can see... we aren't at all competitive! so we decided to go head to head with our different recipes and let our panel conduct a taste test and decide which one is the best. we don't have the resources like america's test kitchen, but we do have our  two children, my brother and my mom... they are a very sophisticated bunch!  :o)   i thought it would be also interesting to have our panel and my instagram followers decide which dish has the best presentation. so let the competition begin!  

happy happy nester's 
oven roasted brussels sprouts

1  pound of fresh brussels sprouts
1/2 cup good olive oil
1/4 tsp sea salt
3 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
3 cloves garlic
2 tablespoon grated parmesan cheese

preheat oven to 350 degrees

clean and trim the outer leaves of brussel sprouts. cut off as much of the stems as you can and then cut in half lengthwise. place in bowl and mix brussels with 1/2 cup olive oil, 1/4 tsp sea salt, 2 tablespoons brown sugar, 1 tablespoon granulated sugar, and 3 cloves minced garlic. pepper to taste. mix well and spread on a cookie sheet. at this point i always taste the sprouts for bitterness and seasonings. add more sugar, salt and pepper if you feel something is lacking. place in a 350 degree preheated oven. bake for 20 minutes. take out sprouts and stir in an extra tablespoon of brown sugar and a tablespoon of granulated sugar. also, add 2 tablespoons of grated parmesan at this time. return to oven and cook an extra 10-15 minutes until they are tender, make sure to watch them closely since they can brown quickly. the sugar should be slightly carmelized and the brussels will be sweet and tender! about 3 servings

double or triple recipe if you are serving a crowd of people.

preparation. my brussels sprouts will be oven roasted. so here, i'm beginning my preparation with the cleaning of garlic. you definitely want to use fresh garlic, that is the best. once i've cleaned off the outer skin, i prefer pressed garlic just because i'm too lazy to chop it. (ok, i know this photo looks staged, but all the ones my hubs took were blurry. you know all that beer can go to one's head too quickly!). 

trim the bitter core? here are my brussels sprouts cleaned, cut in half, and ready to go. i do take off the grungy outer leaves and cut off the core a little more than the photo shows. i used to snip all of the core off (my husband will go into that subject) since it is pretty bitter, but because i'm a little impatient in the kitchen, i just leave it on and hope that the sweetness of my recipe will squash any bitterness.

here are my secret ingredients! these are the reason my brussels don't have any bitterness and are rather a carmelized sweet goodness! you've gotta to try this recipe.

another important ingredient. also, the oil olive that you cook with is fairly important. once i made these brussels sprouts with a generic olive oil and it didn't come out the same. since we live in the bay area, i love the napa olive oil. here is the amazon link: 12 pack of napa olive oil

great kitchen tool. i love my garlic press since it is so easy to clean in the dishwasher. the whole thing opens up so that the press section is cleanable. here is the link on amazon if you wish to buy it: rosle garlic press

brown sugar rocks the sprouts. the brown sugar and granulated sugar top the brussels.  these are ready to go in the oven.

take them out halfway thru the baking. this is what they will look like halfway cooked. at this point i stir and taste test them. if they are still bitter add more sugar and also add about a 1 tablespoon of parmesan cheese.

hubby's version
Grilled Brussels Sprouts a la Home Brew

Pretty much any dish can become Guy Food if you just cook it on a grill. This even goes for Brussels sprouts, which, let's be honest, look like tiny little cabbages that couldn't muster up the gumption to grow past the size of a gumball. 

But soak 'em in beer, cook 'em on a grill, and you've got yourself a tasty dish that will summon visions of galloping broncos, bar fights, and oversize pickup trucks... but in a yummy, bouche amusant sort of way.

Here's my recipe:
  • 1 bottle of home-brewed, dry-hopped India Pale Ale
  • 1 bottle of home-brewed Belgian style ale (heavy on the beet sugar & Abbey yeast)
  • A nice heap of Brussels sprouts (about enough to fill your cowboy hat)
  • Some super extra mega-virgin olive oil (you really want to be sure about that virginity)
  • Kosher salt (when you're looking for a manly salt, you can count on the Rabbis)
  • Coarsely ground cane sugar (I pound mine into grains with the backside of an ax)
  • Plenty of garlic

Step 1
Pour the India Pale Ale into a frosty beer glass. You can't cook manly sprouts without a damn beer in your hand, now can you?

Step 2
Halve the sprouts with a Bowie knife, katana sword, or whatever blade you've got hidden inside your combat boot -- then cut out the pits. They're bitter and pulpy ("like certain husbands I know" says the Nester).

Step 3
Throw the sprouts in a large bowl (or a hubcap off your truck if you're preparing this camp-side with your hunting buddies in the Alaskan wilderness). Add in a bunch of salt, garlic, and sugar. Dump in some of that blushingly chaste virgin olive oil that you pilfered from a nearby Jesuit convent. Toss it all together while singing "Red River Valley" at the top of your lungs. Then pour a few shots of the Abbey ale into the mix and toss again. (If you've finished off your IPA at this point, you might want to pop open another one. Every real man knows it's a crime to grill without a cold beer in your hand.)

Step 4.
Spread your beer-drenched brussels out onto a stainless steel grilling sheet. The kind with holes in the bottom that allows the fire to sneak through and burn everything you cook. That kind. Wrap the top of your sprouts in tin-foil so the little buggers can't escape (and to trap in the beer-juicy goodness). 

Step 5.
Pre-heat the grill to Really Hot. Throw your concatenation onto the grill and get ready to jump back. (I can no longer grow eyebrows due to olive-oil-induced grill fires).

Step 6.
Grill for several minutes covered in foil... then peel off the foil and cook a bit more to brown (or blacken) to taste. The charred bits you see in the photo above are TOTALLY on purpose. They're not all black like that because I sat around drinking beer and pontificating, while the Brussels burned. That would not be manly, but merely negligent.

Step 7.
Sit around drinking beer and pontificating. Your sprouts should be ready to serve any minute now. In fact... OH MY GOD! THEY'RE ON FIRE! TAKE THEM OFF... TAKE THEM OFF!

the moment of truth...

first judge. nester here, as you can see by the photo we conducted a very scientific blindfold taste test! our poor kids were subjected to our crazy shenanigans. my daughter was the first to taste the two versions and she voted heavily for my brussels sprouts. we females stick together.

second judge. i just love this photo of my son! he of course, favored my husband's sprouts. i'm sure there was so type of bribing going on in regards to my husband's votes! my brother was the deciding vote and he went with the safe route and he liked both dishes equally, but i must add that he had seconds of my brussel sprouts, just saying... so we had a tie!

and the winner of the presentation...

the instagramers who follow me, voted on the style of our presentation and i must say that my photo won! so the nester may have come ahead if you factor the appearance, but truthfully if you like both recipes, enjoy!

thanks to my husband and his crazy writing and cooking talents! and of course thanks to my kids. also, i want to thank my intstagram followers for participating in the happy happy nester's crazy antics! i'm sure we'll try and post our little "her vs him" competition monthly! thanks for stopping by and please subscribe by email if you want to keep up with us. by the way, if you have a special way of preparing brussels sprouts, i would love to hear from you. so write a comment or just let me know if you tried our recipes. and again thanks so much for visiting my blog!