The Kitchen’s Open

Our kitchen is in the center of our home and open to all the rooms around it.  It was something I loved immediately about our house.  It wasn’t finished when I first stepped in it, but it was so nice to be able to see the other rooms around it.  I remember this view the most, which is basically standing at the stove and turning around to see all the seats at the bar and into the dining room.

Kitchen - view from stove

From the same spot, if you turn to look to the right you can see into the Breakfast Room too.

Kitchen - from stove into dining room and breakfast nook

Now, if you walk into the breakfast room and look back into the kitchen, you can see most of the space.  You can also see a bit of the living room in the distance.  To the left of the refrigerator is our pantry cupboards, and to the left of that is the laundry room door, which also leads to the garage and the stairs to the basement.

Kitchen - view from breakfast nook

This is the view from the laundry room door.

Kitchen - view from laundry room with living room in background

And, a close up of the stove side of the kitchen to show off our tiled backsplash.  Bob and I tiled the backsplash ourselves, after we tiled underneath the bar.

Kitchen - stove with tiled backsplash

Lastly, this is the view from the patio doors looking back into the kitchen.  The breakfast room is on the far left.  The door you see leads to the laundry room.

Kitchen - view from living room with tiled underneath bar

So, that is a little tour of our kitchen.  Bob had it all cleaned up nicely, so I took the opportunity and snapped these pictures. 🙂

Sorry, if you noticed the brief blogging hiatus, Summer is getting the best of me, and I’m definitely still working on Balance!

Do you prefer an open kitchen?  Or, would you rather have it is a separate space?

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Our New Sectional

Our new sectional finally arrived about two weeks ago.  I did share a sneak peak on Facebook with Puddy making himself at home on the couch.  But, I didn’t share the rest of the couch because it wasn’t exactly how we ordered it.  Our pillows were on back order at first, so we got them about a week later.  And, it had the wrong color feet on it.  The correct feet finally arrived and are installed, so now I can share the full sectional.

New Sectionl - close up

When it was delivered to the house, it had espresso colored feet on it, which looked terrible with our light floors and other wood furniture.  The feet on it now were just like we pictured.  The great part about the sectional is that we ordered it for this room.  Our old sectional was from my previous house, so it wasn’t set up the right way for our living room.  Now, we have the longer side facing the fireplace, so the coffee table can be parallel to the fireplace too.

New Sectional - view from patio doors

It makes the room feel cozier.  We are still debating an end table for the other side.  It would need to be skinny though so it doesn’t block the walkway.  I was even considering a garden stool.  With the length of that side previously, we couldn’t have an end table on that side.  So, it’s nice to have options.

New Sectional - Flexsteel

We are still using the rug we had.  It really throws off the colors since the new pillows have blue.  The four matching pillows are what we ordered with the sectional.  The other two prints, I picked up before the sectional arrived.  I don’t think I’ll keep both on there at the same time, but for now we like having all the pillows on the couch.

New Sectional - Puddy on corner

Puddy definitely approves!  It took him a little bit to adjust, but he didn’t waste time making himself at home on the new couch.  Bob and I love it too.  It is long enough on each side for us both to stretch out, which is great. We have the comfort factor taken care of, now we just need to work on redecorating the room.  So, now that you see it in the room, what are your thoughts on a rug?  What about a second end table?

Simple Strawberry Shortcake

I don’t know about you, but I always look forward to this time of year.  Not only does the warm weather finally arrive, but so do local strawberries.  It is a very short window of time that local strawberries are available.  And, one of my first thoughts when the season arrives is Strawberry Shortcake.  There are many recipes for Strawberry Shortcake, but I’ve never met anyone outside of my family that makes it the way we do.  So, today I’m sharing our family recipe.  I’m giving you fair warning…it’s addictive!  I almost had Strawberry Shortcake for breakfast today because I enjoy it so much.

Simple Strawberry Shortcake

This time, I actually picked  my strawberries.  It was a lot of fun, and I might go try to pick some more this season.

Strawberry Picking - 2 quarts full

The recipe is quite simple:  yellow cake mix, cook and serve vanilla pudding, and strawberries.

Strawberry shortcake - ingredients - strawberries vanilla pudding yellow cake

Bake the yellow cake according to the directions on the box.  You can bake in whatever size pan suits your needs.  I usually use a 9×13 pan.  While the cake is baking, you can begin to make the pudding.  For the pudding, the only variation is to double the milk amount.  The larger box of vanilla pudding says 3 cups of milk, so I use 6 cups in the pudding for shortcake.  I used skim milk and it turns out fine.  You really just want it to be runny pudding.  Once the pudding boils, allow it to cool, and then refrigerate.

Strawberries up close

Wash your strawberries and remove stems.  Cut the strawberries into halves or quarters depending on the size and your preference.  Then, sprinkle the berries with sugar.  I used 1.5-2 quarts of strawberries and sprinkled 2 tablespoons of sugar on them.  Refrigerate strawberries.

Strawberry shortcake - sliced strawberries with sugar

Once your cake is done and all of your ingredients have had time to cool, you can make each dish according to individual preferences.  I keep the pudding in a small pitcher so that it is easy to make to order.  Cut a slice of cake, pour some pudding on it, and add strawberries.  You have a simple and delicious strawberry shortcake.  Enjoy!

Strawberry shortcake - served

How do you make strawberry shortcake?

Balance

This weekend I really began to reflect on the simple word “balance”.  Last year, I focused on balance when it came to my exercise.  I had previously just focused my workouts on running, but I wanted to change it up and balance my workouts better.  And, last year I felt that I was finally able to accomplish that, and I have managed to continue it.  Now, I do yoga twice a week, a cardio/body weight exercise class once a week and then run one or two times per week.  This is in addition to my daily walks with Puddy and my somewhat regular lunchtime walks.  So, even though I have been able to find balance with my exercise, I am still struggling with balance in the rest of my life.  When I found this picture on Pinterest, it seemed too perfect for the thoughts I had in my head and felt compelled to share here.

Balance- The key to life

source

When I started blogging, I was better at sharing glimpses of what was happening in my life.  But, then something changed and I focused much more on just the projects.  I want to get back to sharing life again, because the truth is, the projects I complete are just a small part of life.  And, if I don’t try to balance and focus on enjoying life more it won’t be good for me or this blog.

Note: The rest of the pictures have nothing to do with the topic at hand, but are just pretty pictures that I wanted to share.

Balance - daisies up close

I have realized that the balance struggle becomes more difficult each year when the weather becomes nicer.  There is so much that must be done, as well as so much that I want to do.  The calendar starts to fill up and soon it seems that summer passes by.  So, since Summer has not officially started yet, I am going to try to focus on balance more this summer.

Balance - nest of eggs

A bird laid these pretty eggs in the driveway at my mother-in-law’s beach house.

I don’t think I’ve talked about my job, probably because I was trying to separate blogging from work, but in reality I need to balance the two.  My full-time job is as a Human Resources Manager.  I love my job.  I work at a great place and work with wonderful people.  But, my job is also very demanding.  So, at times it leaves me a bit drained, which means I don’t have the time, energy, or creative initiative it requires to have something to blog about.  I’m going to try to do better at this, as I focus on balance.  But, I also need to be realistic.  For many other bloggers, blogging is their job (at least it seems that way for a lot of them that I read).  It is very unlikely that blogging will ever be my job.  But, I do really enjoy having blogging as an outlet for me.  I enjoy sharing my projects and life with whoever is reading, which most of the time seems to be only my family and friends.  I hope to balance work and blogging, while staying true to myself, and hopefully gaining more readers to share my life and projects.

Balance - peony up close

As part of balancing, I need to figure out how split my free time with yard sale and thrift shopping and with working on the projects I already have sitting around the house.  This is most difficult in Summer time because I really enjoy Saturday morning yard sale shopping.  It is such a short season that anytime I have a “free” Saturday, I try to go to yard sales.  The balance struggle then occurs, when I get home in the afternoon and don’t have the energy to work on anything that I’ve bought.  And, most of the items I buy at yard sales need some work.  So, I’m going to try to get better at splitting my  time with shopping and creating.  Weekends are just too short!

Balance - butterfly from st maarten

Another part of my goal to balance is all the other things that have to be done: cleaning, grocery shopping, yard work, etc.  Fortunately, most of the major yard work for the year is done, but it still needs to fit in the balance.  However, all of the other routine things must be done each week, and I still need to find time to do it.  I’m lucky to have a husband who helps out with all of it (other than grocery shopping), but he’s busy too, so it’s a balance for both of us.  The last aspect of my goal, is balancing my quality time with Bob.  Since we are both so busy, we both have to work on the balance, but we are both conscious of the need to work on it and enjoy life.  With that said, I’m going to put away the laptop and enjoy the rest of this beautiful evening on our patio.

Does anyone else struggle with balance?  Any suggestions for improving balance?

Operation Garage Organization

If you follow Puddy’s House on Facebook, you already saw the picture below which shows how bad the one corner of our garage looked.  And, if you don’t follow along on Facebook, hop on over and like our page. 🙂 I plan to show more quick updates in real time at Puddy’s House on Facebook – I just gave a sneak peak of our new couch today.

Garage - Before right side

Over the winter, I was searching Pinterest for some inspiration, and I posted some of my finds here.  Our after pictures don’t quite look like the inspiration I found, but what the inspiration did help with was thinking through what would make sense for our garage and how it would be best organized for us.

Now, back to some before pictures of our garage.  It looked BAD!  We have a little bit of everything stored in there.  Fortunately, it is contained to around the perimeter because we do park both of our cars in the garage.

Garage - Before full right side

Garage - Before full left side

Garage - Before left side

So, we took stock of what needed organized and headed to Lowe’s to see what we could find.  I already had those 2 short shelves in the picture above – I had gotten them free from work and figured we could use at least one of them in the garage.  At Lowe’s we found a nice large shelf, 2′ x 4′, that we thought would help us out.  And, the bonus was it was on sale for $79.

Garage - new shelf with gardening sports etc organized

We got the shelf put together and then we had to find the best spot for it.  We moved the tool organizer from this spot and put the shelf in its place.  The large shelf ended up housing most of the junk that had just been laying around.   The empty propane tanks and gas cans live on the bottom shelf with some concrete mix, spouting and plant baskets.  The second shelf has primarily gardening supplies.  The third shelf up got some of the tools – the leaf blower, shop vac and extra tool box.  The fourth shelf up has sporting goods: golf balls, fishing rods, fishing boots, tennis balls, etc.  You can barely even see the real estate signs anymore; they are laying flat on the top shelf, which also houses the chain saw.  The shelf worked well for us and is rated for plenty of weight.

Garage after full left side

Not much else remains on the left side.  The bike is still there, but only because we couldn’t find a ceiling or wall mount for it at Lowe’s.  That is still on our to-do list, but for now it is not in the way.  We already had the hanging racks for the chairs, tennis rackets, hoses, and weed eater.  The other area that really got cleaned up on that side was the front.

Garage - cabinets firewood and golf clubs organized

We stacked the firewood better and created a bit of a separator so that we could store both of our sets of golf clubs on the metal shelf.  The spare folding tables got tucked between the cabinet and the wall.  All of this freed up the space around the wheelbarrow so that it is easily accessible when we need it.  I did some minor organizing inside the cabinets, but they were in pretty decent shape when we started.  We keep the car cleaning supplies, tiki supplies, tools, extension cords, saws, and other flammables in the large cabinet. The short cabinet has nails, screws, caulk, and painting supplies.

The other side of the garage had a decent amount of work and reorganization too.

Garage  - after full right side

The yard tool organizer moved to this side.  And, we used one of the freebie shelves to organize our variety of shoes, as well as some of my DIY supplies.  I keep spare boards, a drop cloth, sander, stripping supplies on these shelves now. Its nice to know where it is, and this is also so that the mouse outside can’t get to my drop cloth again.

Garage - after yard tools shoes and painting supplies

The ladders used to take up pretty much the whole wall, but when we thought about it, we realized we could hang them vertically and minimize the space they took up.  It was nice to tuck two of the ladders into the little useless corner by the side door.

Garage - after ladders reorganized

So, overall we only spent $79 and have an organized garage that Bob and I both are very pleased with the results.  We can both get in and out of our cars easily and we also know where everything is supposed to be stored now too.

Garage - after full garage organized

Is your garage organized?  What do you store in there?  Any good organization tips or tricks to share?