Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Our One Year House Anniversary!!

I cannot believe that we have been in this house for an entire year! It has been a great year full of adjustments, DIY projects, and acclimating to living in such a large, older home. We moved from a two bedroom, 1 bath, 1100 square foot home to a 5 bedroom, 2.5 bath, approximately 3500 square foot (we don't know the exact sq. footage due to changes that have been made), 106 year old home. We had lofty goals for this year and honestly the hardest part has been deciding what projects to tackle and what ones to put off for later.

When we moved in, we knew that over time we would like to make changes. Some changes we planned to do immediately and some we knew wouldn't happen for years. 

Here is the list of our ultimate goals for this house

(These are major projects, not just lighting updates, paint changes, cosmetic changes, etc.)

Completely finish family room in basement
Gut and redo bathroom basement
Convert heating system from oil to natural gas
Run electricity to the garage and install automatic doors
Add a closet somewhere on the first floor 
Replace wood siding with vinyl (Only will do once wood begins to show wear)
Update main bathroom
Convert master bedroom into a master suite
Convert storage space on the 3rd floor into jack and jill bathroom
Replace countertops in kitchen to stone and paint cabinets
Add mudroom off kitchen
Update outdoor areas, add back porch, fix up front porch

Whew! That is a lofty list! Some projects, such as the master suite and kitchen updates, will not happen for a couple years because they will be expensive projects. Since we like to pay cash for everything (credit cards give me the heebie geebies) we rather wait and save up until we can afford these projects.  We also won't do the third floor until we have more children or until a child is old enough to move upstairs. We have a really great space there and I have such great plans for it when the times comes! 

So I am happy to say that we have accomplished some of those major projects and lots of little ones over this last year! 

Here's what we have accomplished

Converted oil to gas, replaced ancient boiler with a new one
Gutted and started from scratch with basement bathroom
Replaced gutters (This was a surprise we did't know needed done)
Added and installed an exhaust fan in the kitchen
Added a closet in the foyer 
Replaced old appliances with stainless steel
Tons of painting!

My favorite project of the year has definitely been the bathroom remodel. This bathroom came out really well and I am really proud of all the DIY work we did. I will hopefully be revealing this bathroom next week! We just have some finishing touches to do!

As for smaller, cosmetic projects, I love the changes that paint has made. Our bedroom color, Sea Star by Benjamin Moore, is probably my favorite paint change. I am also in love with the DIY Chunky Wood Shelves we built, the Kitchen Command Center we installed, and the way the Kitchen Hallway turned out!

So what have we learned this year? Well for one, keeping this house clean is tough. We have four floors and I feel like as soon as I get one cleaned up, another one is a disaster. Organization and getting rid of stuff that we don't need is key. I really need to work on decluttering and reorganizing this year.

I am also coming to terms with the fact that every house project does not need to be done RIGHT NOW! I am not a patient person and have such high expectations but I need to bring myself down to reality. One project at a time is the way to go, or else you can easily feel overwhelmed. I currently am finishing up the bathroom remodel, halfway done removing staples and tack strips from carpet I ripped out last week, have about 4 painting projects going on, and a couple furniture refinishes going. This is way.too.many. projects. Prioritizing and finishing one thing up before you start another really makes things easier. Clearly I am currently not listening to my own advice, but if I was, I would be a much saner person right now.

Old houses are old (shocking I know!) Floors are going to be uneven, walls aren't straight, pipes are old, and something always needs to be fixed. Perhaps for some people, this wouldn't be worth it, but I think in our house, the charm we have with our old house definitely pays off. We have beautiful original woodwork and hard wood floors, skeleton key door knobs, pocket doors, big chunky trimmed out doors and windows, solid wood paneled doors, a leaded glass front door, and many other original details that could never be replicated in a new home. So I think the biggest lesson learned this year is that our big old house is going to need constant upkeep. Again, prioritizing is key, and making sure you always have some sort of contingency fund in case a pipe suddenly breaks or something.

So here's to another year of making our Old House a New Home! Thank you for reading and I hope you continue following as I keep on cooking, DIYing, and generally driving myself crazy in the process.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Chocolate Chip Zucchini Muffins with Oat Streusel Topping

I've talked here before about how my parents always had a huge garden when I was growing up and we were often overrun with zucchini. We experimented and made all kinds of things, zucchini crusted pizza, zucchini soup, zucchini pasta, but one old stand by was always zucchini bread.
My mom is not really into baking. She is an excellent cook, but baking just never really interests her. So much to my surprise, some days I would come home for school and my mom would be making zucchini bread. And not just 1 or 2 loaves, but what seemed like 10 loaves. Everyday I would come home and she would be making more and more loaves. At the time, I don't think I really liked zucchini bread, so I quickly tired of the countless loaves. Now, I realize my mistake. Were I to have an endless supply of zucchini bread being pumped out of my kitchen now, I would be ecstatic. 

This recipe is not my mom's recipe, but instead, one I found while perusing Pinterest. It looked amazing and the streusel topping really was calling my name. This was a quick and simple recipe to whip up and definitely didn't disappoint. It is moist and full of flavor. I am in love with the topping and think I will use it on even more bread recipes! The original source of this recipe says that this bread has won awards, and I don't doubt it!!

Chocolate Chip Zucchini Muffins with Oat Streusel Topping
Adapted from: Sally's Baking Addiction

For the topping
2/3 cups old fashioned or quick cooking oats
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tbsp. flour
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 cup unsalted butter, cold, cut into small pieces

For the bread
1 cup of shredded zucchini
1 large egg
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup canola oil*
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 cup semi-sweet or milk chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 425 degrees and spray a muffin tin with non-stick cooking spray.

To make the topping: Mix together all ingredients except for the butter. Using a pastry cutter or two forks, cut in the butter until the topping resembles small crumbs. You can even use your hands to crumble this together. Set aside.

For the muffins: In  small mixing bowl, mix together the zucchini, egg, vanilla, oil and both sugars. Mix until combined. In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Mix until combined. Mix wet ingredients into the dry and then add the chocolate chips. Stir until combined but be careful to not overmix.

Fill muffin tins with batter and then press a couple tbsp. of topping onto each muffin. My recipe made 9 muffins but I made them very large. Bake in preheated oven for 5 minutes and then, keeping muffins in the oven, lower temperature to 350 degrees and then bake for another 13-14 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

These store well in an air tight container or you can freeze them!