We Heart Detroit.

My hubby does different work with municipalities, in different cities and states.  One such place he’s been traveling to and working on, is Detroit.  He’s learned so much over the past two years from work about the city and it’s current situation, (and by extension, so have I) and in certain regards, it’s become a big part of his professional life.

So when his birthday rolled around last month, I wanted to find some way to take a moment and use that as inspiration.  Because, as I’m sure you’d guess, his work is sometimes frustrating and sometimes tiring.  And because he loves gifts that intend to motivate or inspire, I tried to find a small way to do both.

I decided then, that the best way to represent the city, was with a map.  And as I’ve shared before, we love maps in our house.  Thanks to the Etsy shop, iLikeMaps, I was able to get a great map of the city of Detroit.  (Sorry, my pictures seem a little blurry here.)

Detroit Map

I wanted to go one step further and added a quote.

Detroit Map

The quote reads, “Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off your goal,” a statement made by Henry Ford.  (I thought,  “a statement made by a Ford?  Perfect for Motor City!”)

Using clear labels, I printed the quote out and attached it to the mat that came with the frame (a Target purchase).

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All in all, it was a simple little task to upgrade and finish off a great map of the city of Detroit.  We’ve hung it above my map of Brooklyn (my former work place), as you come in and out of the house.  Can’t miss it.  And hopefully, he remembers to keep going, although frustrations can abound when working with bankrupt municipalities.

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Any fun birthday gifts others have created, in such a semi-homemade manner?

Have a great day, everyone!

Paint it Black, Pt. 1

Yes, a nice little You Tube embedded video for you all today, in connection with my title post.  Side note:  Mick Jagger was a dreamy rock star, back in the day.  I totally get why the girls are screaming in this video.  Back to the post -aside from all that intense and dark metaphorical soul-searching of the classic Rolling Stones’ song, it’s rather true:  I’m painting some small detail items here, and a lot of them are black.  Case in point, I’m finishing up some kitchen stuff and the star color (or lack thereof?) is black.

It’s starting with the support leg that is holding up our breakfast bar/countertop.  It’s a newel post, (think National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, “Fixed the newel post!!), screwed into the kitchen floor twice to support the heavy quartz on top of it.  We primed it white, but I wanted a little bit of contrast, to carry on with the darker accents we have in the room.

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From metal fruit basket, to the black that appears in the appliances, to the chalkboard, a frame, the curtain stripes, I like how it looks.  And honestly, it reminds me of an inspiration picture I found via Crate and Barrel and their bistro-inspired kitchen island, found here.  I liked the white countertop and the black legs – classic and neutral and clean.

So, I decided to go that route in choosing my paint color here.  I used the leftover Benjamin Moore paint we had from painting our office desktop and a brush and painter’s tape to keep things simple.

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From white:

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To black:

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It was already primed and took two coats of the black.  I was able to get them both done when the boys were napping, thankfully.  Easy project to complete and easy to clean up.

Kitchen

It even coordinates nicely with the black in the dining room, which I like.

Kitchen

 

My next goal is to tackle the blonde stools sitting underneath the countertop.  I was looking into metal ones, ones with backs, ones with leather seats – all to realize that right now, my toddler uses them to climb up to get to the sink or counter area.  We’re going to put new ones on hold, as the ones I was eyeing were a bit more than the ones we’ve got, and might not be as sturdy/durable to survive EM’s journey into climbing kitchen furniture in coming months.  So, for now, a coat of black paint will make them fit in and not break the bank.

Kitchen

So, hopefully, I will soon have the stools sanded and painted black to go with the rest of the kitchen’s accents. I just need to have a nice day to use the palm sander.

Any projects people have going on in their homes?  Anyone tying details together for a project?  Anyone else now have “Paint It Black” in their heads?  You’re welcome!

Have a great day, everyone!

 

31

My maternal grandma, a proud member of the Greatest Generation, had some pretty simple, but pretty profound principles that she passed down to her family.  Sitting here, I could write volumes about the things I learned from her about faith, trust in God’s will, the importance of family and participating in the culture from which our family came.  But one of the most important lessons I learned from her was to celebrate just about everything.  Celebrate milestones and birthdays, random Friday nights, the start of summer or the end of summer, the nation’s birthday, important anniversaries of life, of loss, of memories.  Take the time to come together with the people you love, blood relatives or chosen family, raise a glass and have a good time together.

Pause for a moment, and take stock of who you have in your life and relish it.

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So, taking a page out of her book, JD and I decided to celebrate our 31st birthdays in true Grandma C./pre-war style: in New York City.  Since time moves so quickly and seems so jam-packed with cleaning, kids, family events, work and travel, what we really wanted this year was some time together.  So we cashed in those credit card points (handy little things, really) and did an over night into Manhattan, just the two of us.  (Shout-out to my in-laws for taking on the boys for the night!)

It was a Friday during Lent, so our Catholic-selves ate at a delicious Greek fish restaurant, then headed over to the ever-swanky Plaza for a drink at their champagne bar. I felt (a little) like Daisy Buchanan, minus the yellow car, the millions and the general disillusionment of life, as I sipped my French 75 in a cozy chair in the lobby of that historic New York landmark.  Cross that cocktail experience off of the life list!  (By the way, those types of cocktails pack a wallop!  My Grandma wasn’t kidding when she said they made them stronger in her day!)

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The next morning, we even got a walk through Central Park in and brunch at Norma’s, at Le Parker Meridian.  Hey, you only turn 31 once! ;)

It was so great to get out, reconnect, and just take our time strolling through the city.  It was a great way to celebrate both of us turning 31, the year that we closed out and the one yet to come.  I felt like Grandma would have approved!

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Here’s hoping everyone gets to take the time and celebrate the important, small and big, moments you have going on.  Life’s too short not to!

Spaghetti Squash: Or that Vegetable That’s All Over Pinterest, but Really is Not a Spectacular Replacement for Actual Spaghetti

So in search of new ideas to correspond best with our nutritional lifestyle change, I kept seeing images and recipes for “spaghetti” squash.  I had no idea such a squash existed, let alone, to inspire the dozens of recipes and reviews about it being a proper replacement for spaghetti and pastas of any type.

SPOILER ALERT: It is NOT a proper replacement for actual pasta.  To compare the buttery and tender taste of a homemade pasta, in a sweet tomato sauce, with a  bit of basil and Parmesan cheese, to a vegetable that gets baked in the oven and then pulled apart with a fork and shredded, with a rather crunchy/albeit, al dente consistency, is not a fair or worthy comparison.  It’s like comparing spaghetti to squash.  Not even in the same category.

With all of that said, however, I will say this: as a vegetable to add to a dinner of meatballs and red sauce, when you aren’t eating pasta or bread,  the spaghetti squash, as a squash and as a different side dish, was pretty tasty and something that I have now have cooked twice.  While not a substitute, it’s not a terrible replacement, if that makes sense.

So, I followed a simple recipe out of Melissa Joulwan’s Well Fed, and cut the squash in half:

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Then, I placed it face down on a baking sheet, lined with parchment paper.

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I placed a couple of tablespoons of water around each half of the squash, and put it into a 425 degree oven.

After about 50 minutes, it was done and ready for the eating.

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It was pretty easy to cook and the consistency wasn’t mushy at all, but had a nice little sturdiness to it, which could be similar to an al dente pasta.

I put in a little bit of olive oil, salt, pepper and pasta sauce and meatballs:

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Not a bad meal, overall.  I’ve cooked it a couple of times now, with meatballs, but would definitely look to change it up by using perhaps a pad-Thai-inspired recipe to go inside the squash, or something like that.  It might be pretty yummy – but again, not a true substitute for noodles.

 

Little Man ‘Stashe Bash

I did it.  I jumped on the mustache-wearing, gentleman-toting, bow-tie-styled trend of mustaches and babies and I ran with it… sprinted like an Olympian runner.

For Emmett’s first birthday, we went all out with a Little Man theme, from many many items from Oriental Trading, to some that I DIY’d, it was all mustache/bow-ties, all the time around here.

There’s not too much to say, so here are some pictures of our Little Man and his special day!

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Vegan, dairy free birthday cake for our little milk-protein allergy man!

IMG_3312The little boxes contained mustache whistles from Oriental Trading (I know, just what every parent wants their kids to have, right?)  It was a great party and we felt really lucky that we were able to celebrate EM and his first year!