Some Kitchens Get All The Breaks

Hey there, happy Monday! I hope you have a great week ahead.  I woke up today with Rod Stewart’s song “Some Guys Have All The Luck” running through my head on repeat, so I hope that’s not some sort of sign about my upcoming week. Great, now it’s stuck in your head too.  Sorry.

Anyway, just like some guys, some kitchens have all the luck, and then there’s this kitchen. Lindsey didn’t love one thing about it. She had a teensy budget to work with, but (luckily) she had plenty of courage to jump in and transform it on her own. She did almost all the work herself to create this fabulous kitchen transformation for less than $500!

See all the details on her blog This Delightful Life.


Blue and White Kitchen Before

Blue and White Kitchen Makeover | betterafter.net

 

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Get Cooking with Blue Apron

>>This post is in partnership with Blue Apron.

Cooking is not something that comes naturally to me. At all. I like food. I love eating food. But I do not love the process.

Just thinking about is paralyzing.  First I have to plan a menu, make a list, and go to the store, all of which is like a complex mathematical equation. Factor in food that we have on hand, plus food that we need, divided by food that everyone actually likes, cross multiplied by what’s on sale, subtracted by how long the baby will allow himself to be in public before a having a nuclear meltdown.

Then I get the the store and inevitably discover I have forgotten my list (EVERY TIME!). Then I get home and realize I’m out of some necessary staple like butter. Buttermilk is close enough, right? Wait, I’m out of buttermilk. Chocolate milk? Close enough.

Then my kids eat two bites of food. Then we clean it all up. Then I do it all again. I’d rather just order a pizza and spend my time spray painting something. Do you feel me?

So when Blue Apron came along and told me they could help make the cooking process enjoyable, haha! I seriously doubted it. But I told them I’d give it a shot.  Here’s what I learned.

 

 

Blue Apron is a meal delivery service that sends everything you need to create a chef-designed meal to your doorstep. Everything. Even the two tablespoons of butter. The ingredients come in a refrigerated box and are incredibly fresh.

blue apron raw

 

This was what I received to make Seared Flank Steaks with Roasted Potatoes and ‘Creamed’ Kale. Have I ever made seared flank steaks or creamed kale before in my life? No. So it was actually kind of fun to be pushed in a new direction.

kale and potatoes

blue apron me

Here’s me begrudgingly having fun cooking. And concentrating, and being pale. Look at that mountain of kale! It seems like you could never eat that much kale, but it shrinks down a lot, so now you know.

blue apron detail

Not only is everything fresh and often even sourced from local suppliers, it comes in the perfect proportions. No measuring, and no waste! You can feel like one of those chefs on TV flinging around their little pre-measured bowls of ingredients, cooking a meal in five minutes without even trying.

 

ingredients

Actually, Blue Apron meals are designed to take 40 minutes or less from start to finish. It’s all mapped out. That was my very favorite part. Your meal comes with a recipe card that tells you what to do step-by-step, so that everything finishes at the same time, and poof! Dinner is served.

blue apron dinner 2

Here is another thing I learned.  WOW, it is SO HARD to take pretty pictures of food. Especially while you’re in the midst of cooking it. And the sun is going down. Picture me crouched on a stool over a pan of cooking kale while shooting a picture with one hand and stirring it with the other so it won’t burn, and then not even being able to use any of those pictures. While creamed kale is surprisingly delicious, it is not at all photogenic. This is why I’m not a food blogger. Besides for today.

potatoes

The potatoes were pretty darn good-looking though. (Tell me about it, spud).

So, what’s the verdict?  blue apron dinner3

Yay! We loved it! It was fun! It was easy! It was new!

Our portion was for the Family Plan, perfect for feeding a family of four. My husband eats like he’s a one-man family of four, but we actually had leftovers, so that was unexpected and nice. There’s also a two person plan, and shipping is always free!

The price for the Family Plan is $69.92 for a delivery of two four-serving meals, so $8.74 per meal.  Not cheap – I couldn’t make this an every-single-night kind of thing – but it’s less than eating out at a restaurant, and they use such high quality ingredients that it’s definitely worth it.

So, whether you want to get out of your rut of always cooking the same old thing, or would enjoy the luxury of having everything you need to create chef-worthy meals delivered straight to your home, give Blue Apron a try!

The first 50 readers will get two meals off their first Blue Apron order free! No commitment, cancel or skip anytime.

Check out their entire collection of recipes here.  I could definitely go for that Chili Blackened Cod or Spicy Thai Chicken Noodle Soup. Yumz.

 

blue apron dinner

Enjoy your weekend!

 


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Choosing Laminate vs Hardwood

Spring Break is over and it’s back to the grind.  Sometimes I don’t mind the grind.  I appreciate having things like: a routine, clean laundry, and groceries. For some reason, throw a few days of free time in there and I can’t manage any of that.

So let’s get grinding! Today I’m bringing you another installment of the story of my new floors, dramatically titled: “The Story of My New Floors.”  (Part one here).

Long before I had the chance to work with Lumber Liquidators, I already had an idea of what I wanted.  Laminate floors.  Record scratch Whaaaaa??  Not fancy, luxurious hardwood?  Nope. It’s true.

Like I mentioned before, my brother Nate is a professional remodeler who owns a restoration business. With all his experience, he has chosen to install laminate flooring in his past two homes, and I’ve always loved it.  It looks fantastic for a fraction of the cost, and is ridiculously durable.

((Insane side note: One day a few weeks ago, Brooke White, yes THAT Brooke White of American Idol fame, and one of my favorite humans on the planet, just so happened to be in town. She was shooting a new music video and needed a good looking kitchen and laundry room to film in.  Somehow, someone in the know suggested Nate’s house, and she ended up filming there! Anyway, my sister-in-law Kalli said that the very first thing Brooke said when she walked in the door was not “Hi!” or “Nice to meet you!” or “We’re shooting a music video in your kitchen, now get out of the way,” {of course she wouldn’t say that, she’s the best}, but the first thing she said was “I LOVE your floors! Where did you get them?” So. If it’s good enough for my brother and Brooke White, it’s good enough for me)).

Here’s a shot of Nate and Kalli’s stupidly stunning kitchen and laundry room.  Definitely music video worthy. Here’s the music video.

kalli kitchen

 

kalli laundry

But let’s talk about me for a minute.  I visited Lumber Liquidators to see what was in store.

photo 1 copy

If you’re looking into new flooring for the first time, all the choices and information may seem overwhelming.  But Lumber Liquidators stores are laid out and organized really well, and they are happy to help you with any questions.  I mean, like super happy.  Their customer service went above and beyond.  I mentioned to my husband Matt several times while we were in there that “These guys seem to REALLY like their jobs.”

The samples on the floor are some of their more popular selections, so you can see exactly what a particular flooring will look like installed and out of the box, not to mention how it holds up to heavy use.

lumber liquidators store

After much perusing, bringing samples home, weighing pros and cons, I finally found my winner.  It’s got a lot of gray in it (shocker!) but plenty of brown tones too. It has a weathered appearance, but just slightly.  More like driftwood vs. something that fell off a rotting barn. In fact, that’s the name of it, Delaware Bay Driftwood.

new laminate floor

Here’s a peek!  I’m not being coy, this is actually the only picture I have so far.  Remember how Spring Break kicked my behind? More pictures to come soon.

Now then.  Let’s address the controversy.  Just days (DAYS!) after my floors were installed, news broke out that was highly unfavorable to Lumber Liquidators. The gist of it was that their laminate flooring contained off-the-charts levels of formaldehyde. My stomach instantly tied up in knots. I think I even cried. This was bad news.

As I read everything I could find about it, I learned that my floors (made in Austria) weren’t affected. Huge sigh of relief. The study showed that a small percentage of laminate imported from China was problematic.

But I still find myself mired in a mess! Can I tell you, my reader, to trust Lumber Liquidators? Do I believe that their flooring is safe?

After reading and contemplating both sides of the story, yes, I do believe what Lumber Liquidators had to say in defense of the allegations.  You can read all about it here. The fact that they’ve been a trusted name in the business for over 20 years, that they have a track record of insisting on safety and sustainability, and that they’ve offered to test the air quality in the homes of their customers and ensure their satisfaction are what speak volumes to me. But be aware. Inform yourself.

So, are hardwood floors the better choice because laminate might be dangerous? What I’ve found suggests not. Hardwood floors can also contain formaldehyde, as formaldehyde is a substance that occurs naturally in wood, and formaldehyde is a common ingredient used in flooring adhesives. Like I said, I think the best thing to do is just inform yourself as much as possible and make the best decision for you and your family. Here are some more pros and cons to consider:

Laminate PROS:

  • more durable than hardwood
  • more affordable than hardwood
  • easier to clean
  • no defects, no waste
  • can be installed in ‘moist’ areas
  • stain resistant
  • scratch resistant

Laminate CONS:

  • doesn’t repair as easily
  • doesn’t add as much value to your home as hardwood
  • ‘hollow’ sound
  • may require transition pieces

Obviously this is not a comprehensive list, and there are many more considerations to weigh, but for me, the pros of laminate outweighed the cons. It’s WAY more affordable, it resists scratching and denting and general wear and tear much better than hardwood, it’s recommended in ‘moist’ areas such as the kitchen.  It’s true that if it became damaged, you would not be able to sand it down and repair it the way you would with hardwood, but it’s so durable that I don’t forsee that becoming an issue.

Some people argue that laminate has a ‘hollow’ sound, which I have not noticed.  My flooring has an average thickness at 10mm, and also comes with a pre-attached acoustic foam underlay, so I’m sure that makes some difference.

WHEW! This was WORDY! Thanks for hanging in there.  I’ll be sharing the final wrap-up soon!

Disclaimer:  Lumber Liquidators provided product for this post. All opinions are 100% my own.


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Saying goodbye to our (kinda) old floors.

Hey gang! Today begins The Story of My New Floor!  I tried to think of a catchier title, but that’s the best I got.

As  you may recall, we built our house new less than a year ago.  So what the heck, why are we getting new floors so soon?  I’ll tell you why.  Because we built our home using a building company. That’s just how you do it in Phoenix unless you have a bazzillion dollars and/or acres of property handed down from your ancestors.

Building companies offer you “choices.” These choices include A) cheapity cheap crappy cheap stuff, also known as ‘builder grade’ or B) Stuff of a slightly higher quality, but priced as though it were made of diamonds and hand delivered by Beyonce via yacht.

So we could either go through the builder and put in the nice wood floors we actually wanted and add oh … $35,000 to our mortgage; OR we could settle for flooring we didn’t want and replace it on our own later (for way, WAY less money. That number up there is not an exaggeration).  I tried and tried for the best and least wasteful option of all: to get them to put in NO flooring and let us do it ourselves, but that was a no-go. DUMB.

Anyway, we obviously chose the builder grade flooring. And here it is:

living room into kitchen

Not terrible. But not what we wanted, and not anything that could withstand four kids. The carpet was the cheapest of the cheap. It was very thin and already showing a lot of wear and tear even though I was vigilant about not wearing shoes in the house, no food on the carpet, etc.

laundry room door

This door leads to the garage, so we use it constantly as we come and go, and the carpet here was a grunge magnet.

 

kitchen tile floor before

The tile was the most basic 12×12 gray tile in existence. I think my dentist’s office has the same tile.

kitchen floor before

The carpet that met the kitchen tile was also increasing in grossness daily.

So, before we even moved in, the plan was to eventually rip this out and replace the entire downstairs with wood flooring. Someday.

And then the heavens opened and Lumber Liquidators offered to work with me on this project. Talk about a no brainer. I grew up in a family of builders; my dad is a contractor and my brother owns a home restoration business, and Lumber Liquidators has been their flooring company choice to work with many times.

So the time had come. We were finally going to say adios to our carpet and tile! Demo commenced:

tearing up carpet Yikes.

 

hallway ripped out      Hold me.

photo 4 copy 2

Tearing up carpet was bad, but ripping out tile?  THE WORST.

photo 1

The rubble. The DUST. It’s endless.

photo 5

 

WHAT HAVE I DONE??? I am thinking.

photo 2 copy 2

This part of the process feels like it will never end.

We rented a tool that was meant for tearing up tile, a big jack-hammery thing, and when we went to return it a couple days later, the lady at the desk said “Someone made a mistake. This isn’t the right tool for tearing up tile.”  Awesome. So, apparently there is a better tool out there than whatever the heck we used. I wish I could tell you what it is.

tearing up tile

The next few weeks were spent sweeping and dusting and sweeping again and dusting some more, while we waited for our installation date to draw near.

And that’s all for now!  Sorry to leave you hanging! Especially on such a bummer of a photo.  Take a good long look at it and think about how you didn’t have to be the one to haul away those piles of tile shards, and you’ll feel better.

I will be sharing more soon!


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