Demolition Derby

WOAH, horsey.  Life is so good and crazy lately.  We’ve been crashing in our hometown while we get some dirty (read: not baby friendly) work done in the house. It’s been so wonderful catching up with family and friends and not having to buy groceries. While we’re thoroughly enjoying the perks of our parents’ homes (lake! pool! babysitters!), we seriously cannot wait another second to get into our little pride and joy.

1887 staircase

In the meantime, we’ve been back and forth to the new house (which conveniently is only an hour and a half away if you take the back way) and have been knocking around the old crowbar a bit.  Walls have been smashed. Hundreds of nails have been pulled.  Even the refrigerator has been taken apart to be moved (I know, I didn’t really know that was possible, either).

We’re happy and tired, but luckily we’re off the hook from doing manual labor while the professionals are sanding and sealing the floors.  This means we get to squeeze in a little extra lake time, but it also means we get to move in next weekend!  With furniture!  And Henry!  I mean, we might only have half of a kitchen, but… who needs one of those anyway?

A looksie at the damage:

1887 home restoration

Our main issue has been the floors.  We ripped up so many layers of laminate, carpet, and plywood, followed by a few solid days of pulling nails.  Some busy body hammered a nail about every 2 inches throughout the entire house and then felt the need to get happy with a staple gun.

The guys coming to sand down the floors couldn’t get in until each and every one was pulled, so we divided and conquered each and every little tack and nail.  It was probably the most annoying task EVER, but it’s done and was so worth it.

old house restoration

We kept finding a lot of irregularities in the wood and couldn’t be sure it’d even out, but there was really no turning back once we got started and we knew we wanted all of the layers of junk out regardless.

1887 home restoration

Under the stairs was a weird afterthought of a closet.  We knocked out the new and kept the original, exposing a little cubby that’s basically the most adorable little telephone/book nook imaginable.

1887 home restoration

Everything in the kitchen is going except for the fridge, so we had to start tearing out cabinets and get the floors exposed enough for them to refinish everything that won’t be covered by the new cabinets and appliances.

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Apparently, someone had some funky wallpaper back in the day.  The faux wood laminate in here was also aggressively glued in between the staples and nails, making for an extra enjoyable time.

kitchen remodel

It seemed like this process of pulling out everything we didn’t want would never end, but now we have the clean slate we were looking for.  We stopped by yesterday for a peek on the progress of the floors and it looked incredible.

The sanders said this was one of the roughest jobs they’ve seen.  The final result will be a lot darker after they apply the polyurethane, nice and deep and variated.

hardwood

Sometimes things have to get worse before they gets better and in this case, it couldn’t be more true.  There were moments in the past few weeks where it was hard to see how this was going to clear up, but it’s really starting to settle.  It’s been tough, but it’s also already been incredibly satisfying.

For the most part, the backbreaking, dirty jobs are over and we get to start on the fun stuff (although knocking into that wall was pretty thrilling).  But, for now, we’ll be resting our crowbar arms and gearing up for the next phase of painting and practically an entire kitchen rebuild!

S O . P U M P E D .  Y’all ready to go appliance shopping?

New House!

If you follow us on instagram or facebook, you have probably noticed that we bought a house!  I know, A HOUSE!  A 4bd 2ba, 1887 DREAMBOAT that we couldn’t be more eager to lay our hands on and crawl inside.

baker builderWe’ve been so ridiculously busy with family stuff, tying up loose ends in Chicago, and (oh yeah) a 13 day close on this house that we haven’t had the chance to share with you all of the details.  Don’t worry… this is where it all comes in!

late 1800s houseSo, for starters, a few of you might be wondering where this dreamboat resides.  While we love Chicago, we are proud to now claim the St. Louis metro area as our new home!  A bit slower pace, closer to family, you know… all of that settling down family-style business.

Okay, okay… enough is enough.

Meet: Penn Street!  She’s a solid old girl who has been kind enough to let Henry park his carseat for a little while.

diy blog

When you first walk in, theres a big old staircase greeting you.  The lime green, asian placard, and faux stain glass are only staying at the party for a minute.

old staircase

It’s hard to see beyond that dark glossy red, but the living room has the most amazing bay window!

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The ceilings are high and the windows are huge!  We’ve already pulled up the carpet and painted primer over the red (couldn’t happen fast enough)!

The next room is the dining room, again painted an interesting shade.

dining room before

This is the only room with the original hardwoods still exposed.  Unfortunately, they are so lacquered you can basically see your reflection, so we’re going to have to get all of the floors in the house refinished.  I know… WOMP womp. We’re just glad that what we’ve found (so far) under the carpet and laminate is salvageable.

Off the dining room is what will be the office.  The previous owners had it as their master.

baker builder house remodel

There’s a small bathroom here too that will function as the main guest bath.

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Back through the dining room is the kitchen.  It’s a fairly good size, but it needs a major facelift.  The cabinets and laminate floors are getting ripped out and we’re going to upgrade the appliances.  We also plan on dropping a small island in the center for some extra counter space.

kitchen before

Through the kitchen in a small mudroom/laundry area that leads to the basement and the back porch.

laundry before

Upstairs, there are 3 bedrooms and a bathroom.  There’s also a large amount of storage and closet space, giving little Henry lots of good hide and seek spots.

First, the master.

master before

Nothing huge or fancy, but a big wall of windows, closet space, and (hopefully) nice wood sleeping under that carpet.

master beforeHenry’s room is perfect for a little boy, complete with a child-size Narnia closet hideaway.  All of that blue and brick is going white and the carpet is coming up, too.IMG_1120

The guest bedroom/mommy closet spillover has another baby closet door that leads to a gigantic crawl space that we are currently calling the time out room (kidding, folks).  There’s also a pretty big regular person size closet in there.

guest bedroom

The bathroom is fairly ready to go after some paint and upgrading of mirror and sink.  Eventually, we’d like to knock out some walls and make it more open, but that’s on the back burner for now.

bathroom before

One thing is for sure, we won’t be running out of projects anytime soon.

While the previous owners taste isn’t say… exactly our style, they truly took great care of this house and kept on top of all of the important stuff.  They were also apparently a whole lot better gardeners than we are.

vegetable gardenThis overgrown veggie garden on the side of the house is now apparently in our hands.  Also, tons of flowers and sturdy bushes line the entire house and backyard.

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And to top it all off, there’s a back deck that will be satisfying our dining-al-fresco needs on the regular.

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Smile, Brian.  You’re on candid camera!  Not really.

Overall, we’re feeling incredibly fortunate.  We’ve wanted a fixer upper with the right amount of fixer upping needing for so long.  We have looked at houses that needed a TON of work and others that were just a little too done and this one hit right in the middle.

It’s going to take a while and a lot of hard work, but that’s the beauty of it all.  We can take our time, do it right, and soak up every ounce of homeownership.

So, wish us luck and check back soon.  Phase 1 of demolition/operation blank canvas is coming your way!

 

 

Sweater + Shorts

The weather in Chicago is incredible this week with temps hovering in the 70′s.  Usually I am desperate for hot summer days, but this climate is perfect for walking with the baby, having every window open, and forgetting about humidity hair.

Besides, tell me… what is more luxurious than wearing shorts and a knit sweater at the same time?

shortsandsweater

This is how this city gets people, I tell you.

images via pinterest

Key Lime Coconut Milk Popsicals

dairy free key lime popsicles

For the past two months, I’ve been eating a paleo diet.  No, that doesn’t mean I eat like Fred Flintstone now, but it does mean that I haven’t been eating dairy, gluten, grains, legumes, or sugar.  For the most part, it’s been incredibly easy and I’ve managed to shed almost all of the baby weight poundage.  I truly don’t miss eating cheese (I know!) and couldn’t care less about bread, pasta, corn, and the other usual carb suspects.

coconut milk key lime popsicles

I feel incredible and it’s probably changed the way I eat forever.  Yes, I’ll eat pizza again (and have since becoming paleo) and I’m not swearing off black beans for life, but I will probably never go back to eating dairy in most of my meals or going through days without enough protein.

I could go on about this for awhile, but I’ll spare you.  All I can say is if you’re looking to feel fabulous and maybe shed a little bit of weight, you should google it and give it a try.

key lime popsicles

The one thing I am still indulging in a bit is sugar.  I mean, c’mon… I’m a baker!  Dark chocolate flows through my veins.  The only problem is it’s difficult to bake without flour, milk, or cream.  I also don’t really want to eat a bunch of gluten substitutes and packaged snacks to sub in for what I used to eat. What has been finding its way into everything is coconut milk.

vegan key lime popsicles

From adding this to my coffee to whipping it into fluffy cream for berries, I am obsessed.  With warmer temps on the forecast and my popsicle mold calling my name, I made these bad boys.  They’re totally dairy free, decently low in sugar, and insanely good.  I rolled them in a little bit of graham cracker crumbs for effect, but that’s completely optional.  They’re truly great all on their own.

Recipe for Key Lime Coconut Milk Popsicles

1 can Full Fat Coconut Milk (easily found in the Asian section)

1/4 cup sugar

1/4 cup lime juice

1 lime, zested

Gently warm coconut milk and sugar over medium heat in saucepan.  Stir until sugar is dissolved.

Stir in lime juice and zest.  Pour into popsicle molds and put in freezer.

After about 15 minutes, put in the popsicle sticks.  This keeps them straight and upright.  Put back in freezer until solid.

Immerse popsicle mold in warm water to loosen.  Remove and roll in graham cracker crumbs!

Kitchen Must Haves

I like to keep my kitchen gadgets to a minimum.  It saves space, money, and time when you have really good quality staples that can be used in a variety of ways.  There’s nothing that makes me cringe more than one-use gadgets that always seem to be hot pink and sold on late night TV.  I’m sorry, but most people don’t need a designated s’mores machine.  Unless you do, then forgive me.

If you invest in the simple, high quality equipment and tools in your kitchen, you’ll find you have everything you need.  No more looking for your specific mashed-potato-whipper-thing when you realize a fork or a good whisk can do the job.

So, I thought I’d share a few of my kitchen essentials.  Of course, there are more things that I use occasionally (muffin pans, cast iron skillet), but these are the tools I find myself reaching for most often.

kitchen essentials

paring knife and chefs knife // wooden cutting board // heavy dishtowels

These two knives are practically the only ones you need. Wooden cutting boards  are great for chopping produce, serving cheese, or presenting the components for taco night. Nice dishtowels keep hands and countertops tidy and double as oven mitts.

kitchnessentials

immersion blender // food processor // silicone spatula

Immersion blenders make soup or ganache a breeze. A food processor is great for making pesto, energy bars, or grating carrots. A good silicone spatula gets in the curves of your mixing bowls and pots and pans.

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kitchen aid mixer // ceramic bakeware // metal colander // balloon whisk

sheet trays // dutch oven // stainless cookware

A mixer is a must for a home baker. Ceramic bakeware is pretty and functional. A metal colander is good for hot pasta or washing produce. A balloon whisk works for mashed potatoes and sauces. Baking sheets for cookies or roasting vegetables.  A dutch oven for practically everything. A nice set of stainless cookware can last you forever if you treat it right.

My OCD side also prefers everything to be white, black, stainless steel, glass, or wood.  This way, no matter what I buy, it fits in with the rest of my kitchen.  This also goes for my serving ware and dishes, allowing me to mix new, vintage, modern, or more traditional pieces together easily.

How do you stock your kitchen?

House Hunting // Office Space

Have I told you guys that we are house hunting? Our dreams and schemes have been shifting a lot lately, so I’ve held back on talking about it too much.

We’re toying with a few different ideas of where to live and what exactly it all means for our little family. From pointing out every for sale sign we pass to being THIS CLOSE to putting an offer on an old mansion type house in our hometown, we aren’t quite sure when and where we will pull the trigger.

What we DO know is when it happens, it’s going to be mind-blowing (for us at least).

office design

We also know that we are going to need some serious creative space. I need an office that doesn’t double as a dining room and Brian needs an area to spray paint/saw things/whatever it is he does when he disappears into the basement.

We need room to grow. Room to thrive. Room to do things like shut the door and get some work done.

home office ideas

I daydream of my work ON THE REGULAR between browsing countertop options and goofy-talking the words “lady gaga?” over and over again to Henry.

Hey, whatever makes the boss happy.

home office spaceofficeWhere do you get your work done at home?

images via pinterest

Giveaway! Art Prints from Minted

Brian and I both had a small collection of vintage art and other random pieces when we brought our possessions together over 5 years ago. Most of it has been passed down through family members or picked up at thrift stores. While we love the stuff we’ve got, I’m getting kind of tired of looking at it, to be perfectly honest.

Over the years, we’ve snagged a couple of extra paintings or prints together, but we aren’t really the type to buy art. You either have to shell out the dinero for the real stuff or accidentally find it buried in a pile of junk.

Now, with these limited edition art prints from Minted, we can still snag the work of smaller artists without the price tag of an original piece (a plus when you’re constantly changing your decor or have a growing kid).

Here are a few I’ve got my eye on for my office area:

prints

And, of course, for Henry’s room:

kids art

Minted has been kind enough to give me the opportunity to giveaway one 8×10 framed print to one of you!

To enter, simply like baker-builder on Facebook or follow baker-builder on Instagram. Already follow us? Leave a comment below to enter!

Only one entry is allowed per person.

I will select the winner at random this Friday (5/23) at 5pm CST!  If you win, I will contact you and you can tell me which print you would like (hint: it doesn’t have to be one of these)!

In the meantime, I’ll be deciding which one I’m going to go for. I think that sweater-wearing-giraffe is pretty rad.

Good luck!

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links and I may be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking these links.

To the Young Moms

It seems silly to call myself a young mom, but I’m one of the few people my age around with a baby. While most of my peers are still out yolo-ing and living days of spontaneity, I’ve taken to a world of nap scheduling and calculated grocery store runs.

My life looks very different than those of the people around me and I sometimes feel as if I’m pitied. But truthfully, the side-eye looks I get when the baby starts crying or the sad faces that immediately follow after I say I’m going home early make me want to laugh.

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Yes, I’ve traded 10am for 6 (and 1 and 3) and freedom is now a long shower or two free hands at Target. My new version of success is a completed load of laundry, but I can assure you, I’ve never felt more fulfilled.

Yes, I might have had my baby a little earlier than others, but that only means I get to love him longer. And while the most exciting part of my day might be witnessing my son giggle for the first time, I can promise that there’s nothing else I’d rather hear.

So, Happy Mother’s Day to all of the other young moms out there. While the world looks at us like we’re floundering and deprived, I know how happy you are. And someday, if they’re lucky enough, the rest of the world will too.

What to Wear

One thing I absolutely love about summer is going to weddings. Getting dressed up with your man, pretending to live a fancy life, and spending an evening celebrating love? What could be better?

Here’s a little round-up of my favorite nuptial garb this season:

what to wear to all those weddings this summer

 Shiny metals, blushy pinks, earthy elements, and (always) stripes.

1. Girly Peach; 2. Sequins; 3. Baubles; 4. Fringe; 5. Straps; 6. Stripes; 7. Skirts; 8. Tassels

St Germain Margarita

Want to meet someone special? This baby was created this weekend and I’m kind of in love. In honor of the holiday that can only appropriately be called Cinco de Drinko, I whipped up this St Germain Margarita. It’s light, not too sweet, and totally girly.

You see, the problem with margaritas is they are usually full of sugar, sickening sour mix, and then lined with a face-swelling amount of salt around the rim. A good girly cocktail shouldn’t leave you feeling sick. It should be a fabulous sidekick, showing up in a party dress, with its hair done, and always trying to make you look good.

This little girl is SO ready to be your wing woman.

elderflower margarita

Now, sorry to get all Bethenny Frankel on you, but this is a true skinny margarita. It doesn’t include a jug of bright green liquid and apparently rings in around 100 calories. Now, that’s something I can get behind.

Also, if you haven’t experienced the beauty of St Germain yet, you need to get on it. A good friend gifted us a bottle of this elderflower liqueur for our wedding and I didn’t get a chance to enjoy its glory until recently (have you met Henry?), but it’s basically the snazziest bar item available. The flowers are hand picked in France and then transported by bicycle to the bottling plant. Really? Really.

margarita made with st germain instead of sour mix

So, impress yourself and your friends by making this your go-to summer cocktail. Look good, feel good, soak up the sun. Can we go on a boat, please?

Recipe for St Germain Margarita

1.5 oz Tequila

1.5 oz St Germain

Splash of lime juice

Club soda

Fill a glass with ice and add tequila and St Germain. Splash in some lime. Fill with club soda. Keep it easy, guys.