Hello, Friends.

Dream Kitchen.
Reality Kitchen.

Did anyone notice that I tend to be really heavy into updating this blog in January and then again in, like, July?

I should probably mention that very quantifiable cycle to my therapist. #mentalhealthsymptoms

ANYHOO. The last substantive post I wrote had to do with our yard and all of my wonderful plans for it. Well, my friends. I’ve scrapped most of that. Eric has taken up brewing as his full time hobby, and honestly, a bunch of burly, bearded, beer-drinking bros don’t need a lot of pretty furniture and plants to set the mood for their hops and barley experimenting.

I want a deck though. Like, real, real bad. We’re getting quotes.

We’ve made a lot of changes to the house over the last few months in other ways, though. I think I’m going to have to pull out the camera and share a few snaps soon. I’m really proud of how it’s coming together.

For fun, here’s a list of some of the things we’re still working on. They might change. Who knows! There’s a lot of art to be hung though – is it sad that we’re 1.5 years in and haven’t really moved in yet?

Living Room

  • Paint the TV cabinet
  • Paint (yes, PAINT) the leather chair and ottomon
  • Restuff the seat cushions on the couch
  • Hang our gallery wall
  • Buy (or make) a new end table
  • Curtain behind the TV?

Dining Room

  • New light fixture
  • Build bench
  • Hang art

Kitchen (mmmmmmaybe)

  • Paint cabinets
  • Replace handles
  • Replace light fixture
  • Put in new backsplash


  • Hang art
  • Hang curtains
  • New rug

Eric’s Office

  • Rearrange furniture, put TV on dresser
  • Put down rug
  • Hang art

Back Room

  • Put up shelves for beer
  • Move kegerator
  • Fix shower in bathroom


  • Declutter
  • Hang art


  • Put in deck
  • Run electricty to shed
Link Love

Now Read This

Oh, hello. Sorry for the unexpected hiatus. In a completely related note, I have a post coming up on depression! Also some meal planning stuff, some closet stuff, and some backyard stuff. Until then, here are a few good reads for the week.

Down the Rabbit Hole

The Best Netflix Original Standup Comedy Specials – I’ve seen a few of these, and they were fantastic. I’m also really excited about the The Standups.

Tami Taylor Lines For When You Need A Life Coach – Let’s be real for a second. Life is weird and sad right now. Sometimes I just need Connie Britton to tell me the sun’s going to come up tomorrow.

If You Are Looking for Reasons to Be Happy, You’ll Probably Find Them – Such great advice and perspective. Eric woke up in a sour mood and was less than excited to go into the office the other day. I used the basis of this essay trying to help turn his morning around and it kind of worked! I’m trying to do the same for myself, and intend to start journaling more. I find writing about things I’m grateful for really does change my mood (shocking revelation, I know). I’m hoping to create a habit that might shift my behavior and stave off the little depression-demon that seems to take up residence in my brain and chest every few weeks.

This literally made me laugh for five full minutes.
Home Owners

Yard List

More patio inspiration! Photo Credit: Unknown (but if it’s yours, let me know!)

Alright. I’m doing it. I LOVE LOVE LOVE lists, so I’ll be posting a list of our plans for the house “room” by “room”. I think it’ll be interesting to look back and see our progress, but also what we change. Already my ideas for the backyard have shifted and morphed and evolved and devolved like 12 times since we bought our house. Two examples:

  1. When we first moved in, I wanted to plant a garden in the little patch of dirt by the kitchen door. A kitchen garden, if you will. Sounds so quaint, right? But let’s be real – I am not a gardener.
  2. When we first talked about making the driveway area more patio-like, we planned to create a container garden around the edges and update our furniture. But the more we talked, the more we realized we just really want a porch. So this summer we’re building a deck, and next summer, God- and finances-willing, we’ll be building a lean-to! It’s not the full, gorgeous, lazy front porch of my dreams with a haint blue ceiling, fans, and a porch swing. But it’ll do just fine for my bourbon-sipping, southern summer thunderstorm nights, thankyouvermuch!

So, without further ado – a list!

  • Obtain planters and old furniture Done for now, because Eric told me to stop picking up so much stuff from Nextdoor.
  • Re-pot lavender from mom’s garden Done, and it’s still alive 3 days later!
  • Weed the side garden – In Progress
  • Construct floating deck – In Planning Phase
  • Refinish current furniture – Materials purchased
  • Paint planters – Materials purchased
  • Purchase tiki torches
  • Purchase plants for container garden
  • Purchase new outdoor rug
  • Hang lanterns in trees
  • Run lights from house overhead
  • Purchase outdoor pillows for Adirondack chairs
  • Run electricity to shed
  • Build Lean-To
  • Seal deck
  • Put lattice around gap under shed
  • Build stairs to shed
  • Place pavers to shed
  • Build loft in shed for storage
  • Build firepit area
  • Place pavers to firepit

This is a TON of work, obviously. The first 12 items I plan to have done by early August. I’m hoping to find an affordable electrician to help us with the shed by March of next year, and then the deck and the lean-to will hopefully happen next summer. I’m not sure what our plans are for the remaining items, yet. Depending on time and cost they could happen quickly, or they could be a 2019 project.

How am I keeping this all together, you might be asking yourself. Welp, Eric and I both work in project management, and we’ve been talking about doing a KanBan board for our projects for a while. I don’t need another physical thing in my house, so I went searching for an app that’ll help us, and I found one! It’s called Airtable, and I am IN. LOVE.

I spent a good portion of last night building my tasks and organizing them by room and target date to complete. I can view everything as one large list, broken up by room, or by status. It’s so AWESOME. Here are some snapshots.

Main View
With this view, I can see all of my house tasks in one holistic view, and I can sort by room, status, or target date. I may add a priority view here as well.
Grouped by Room
Here I can group my tasks by room specifically. Eric and I are working on specific rooms roughly by season. Summer = backyard, fall = kitchen, etc. This view helps us organize the timeline for each room, without the distraction of 50 other tasks.
And of course, the KanBan view! Here I can see the projects that are currently in progress, and what we have coming up. We’ve purchased a lot of the materials we need for specific tasks for the yard, and we are finalizing plans for others. We’re also at the beginning stages of planning for the kitchen. Updating almost every room in the house can be overwhelming, and it’s difficult not to shift focus when I see a cool spread in Apartment Therapy or on Instagram. This view helps me stay on track, both in terms of planning, as well as spending. Since the living room updates won’t happen until at least springtime, there’s no need to get distracted by rug sales just yet!

Right now I have tasks in my Home Plan that go all the way through Spring of 2019. Realistically, I’m sure some of these tasks will get moved out even further, or our vision could change completely. But for now, I feel like we have a good direction. Breaking up the rooms and projects like this makes everything much more manageable.

Link Love

Now Read This

Johnny enjoying his new bed, made from recyclable materials. A large, quality dog bed for less than $100?! It exists. It’s real. And I have it.

Down the Rabbit Hole

Smart Organizing Solutions that Make It Easier to Share a Bathroom, 7 Clever Ways to Organize Tupperware and Food Storage Containers, & ​The 20-Minute Daily Clean Routine That’ll Give You Your Weekends Back – I can’t pass up a good list of cleaning tips, and Apartment Therapy always has plenty!

Home DIY: Mini Succulent Planters – On the hunt for inexpensive planter options, I came across this little tutorial, and I LOVE it. I’m thinking I might try it out once we make some headway on building our patio.

Easy & Inexpensive Saggy Couch Solutions – Our main couch is a big green sleep sofa that Eric has had for about 10 years. We can’t afford a new one anytime soon, so I’m hoping this trick will help bring our green monster back to life for a little while.

Things I’m Living For


The Bodyguard soundtrack – Eric has started working at a local growler shop a few times a month, and since he had a shift last night, I was left home alone with 2 lbs of hanger steak, a bottle of wine, and no plans. After a few minutes of browsing HBO’s little corner of the internet, I found that HBO Now is currently streaming The Bodyguard, and you better believe my inner 8 year old was belting along to every Rachel Marron ballad.

Retta’s Instagram Stories – Every weekday morning she posts the same thing. She wakes up, sings “Good Morning to You”, makes Dark Magic coffee in her Kuerig, adds International Delight, takes a sip, and then smiles and says good morning. And for some reason I AM HERE FOR IT. It just brightens my day.

This hairdryer – This hairdryer has changed my life. For years I used brands from Target, and they were…fine. But my hair is so thick that it could take upwards of 45 minutes to really get it dry, and it was impossible to style because it would take too long. This hairdyer dries my hair in six minutes. SIX. 6!!! And I know what you’re thinking – Jenny, you cut you hair. Of course it takes less time. NO! I’m here to tell you that when I was growing my hair out for my wedding, this hairdryer could do the job in TWELVE MINUTES. Guys. LIFE. CHANGING.


Tasty Tuesday – Roasted Chicken Thighs and Vegetables

Alright, y’all. Here’s my first honest-to-God recipe adaptation. I had planned to cook this on Monday, and throw the post up on Tuesday (hence the post title), but ended up cooking on Tuesday. So like, it still works, right?

If you’ve been following along on Instagram, you know I’ve been real in to cooking lately. This is partly to do with our attempt to eat mostly Whole30 compliant during the week (so.much.prep.), but I’ve also been enjoying a lot of food-related entertainment lately:

  • Garden Spells
  • The Soul of a Chef
  • Young & Hungry
  • Chopped
  • Chef’s Table

And ever since I finally learned how to boil water at the age of 14, I have found the kitchen to be very fulfilling – especially if the end result is actually edible, which hasn’t always been the case.

I love cooking so much that last year, all I wanted to do for my birthday was learn how to roast a chicken and throw my friends a dinner party. I searched the internet high and low and found the BEST, and to be quite honest, easiest recipe for roasting a chicken from the queen of impressive home cooking, Ina Garten. The only thing I do differently is I add Brussels Sprouts to the veggies and adjust the amount of carrots to accommodate.

So as I mentioned, Eric and I try to eat Whole30 compliant at home during the week. We’re not doing Whole30 again, but I find that I feel better and have more energy if I cut out excessive pasta bowls, bread, dairy, sugars, etc. I still drink half and half with my coffee every morning (and a glass of wine with dinner more often than not), and we definitely still eat spaghetti or pizza when we have a real craving, but with meal planning we rarely feel like we’re denying ourselves anything, and so our cravings are few, far between, and manageable.

With meal planning, I like to cook one or two big dishes that I can parse out over the week for lunch or a quick dinner when a day’s schedule doesn’t go according to plan. A few weeks ago, I was stumped for something to make that I hadn’t done several times over this year. I was flipping through The Whole30 Cookbook when I came across the recipe for Roasted Roots with Chicken. While Ina’s recipe calls for a whole chicken, plus fennel, carrots and onion, this one calls for chicken thighs, sweet potatoes, rutabagas and parsnips. And it only serves 2. I decided to blend the two recipes together.

We left our Wustof knives in Louisville, but this Ginsu knife did an okay job of safely chopping.
Missing: About 5 Brussels sprouts, sacrificed for my insatiable snacking habit.
Like I said, wine, more often than not.
Definitely skimped on the veggies this time. Add more as needed. The drippings from the chicken thighs are like mana from heaven on these vegetables.
Action shot! Photo Credit: Eric Hofstetter Agel
Pay no attention to the crumbs in the stovetop. Barkeeper’s Friend is en route as I type.
Looks impressive, right? It’s not. Really. At all.
Finished product!
These photos are making me drool. Seriously, best weeknight chicken ever.
No comment needed.
It looks a little sparse, but this filled me right up.

1 lb Brussels sprouts, halved

2 fennel bulbs, sliced

1 small onion, sliced

1 lb baby carrots

10 cloves of garlic, chopped

1/2 bunch of thyme

1 tbsp olive oil

10 chicken bone-in, skin on thighs

1 lemon, sliced

2 tbsp Ghee

Salt and Pepper to taste


Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Prepare Vegetables:

Place Brussels sprouts, fennel, onion, carrots, and garlic on a large baking/cookie sheet. Drizzle with olive oil, reserving 1 tsp. Season with salt and pepper. Arrange 1/4 bunch of time around vegetables. Cover with tinfoil and bake for 10 minutes.

Prepare Chicken:

Place lemons under skin on top side of chicken thigh. Drizzle thighs with ghee. Rub ghee around to ensure coverage on all sides. Season with salt and pepper. Heat remaining olive oil in large skillet over medium high heat. Place chicken skin side down and cook for 6-8 minutes, flipping once.

Combine Ingredients:

Once vegetables and chicken are completely prepared, place chicken on top of vegetables on baking sheet. Add remaining thyme to sheet, arranging on and around chicken. Bake uncovered for 40-45 minutes, or until chicken reaches 180 degree internal temperature.

Allow to rest, covered with foil, for 5 minutes.


Daydreaming About a Patio

Let’s be really honest here. Eric and I do not live in our “dream” home. When we started looking for a house last year, it was because we firmly believed we should stop giving someone else our money (rent) and start investing in ourselves (mortgage). Buying a house was a logical conclusion, but our budget was tight and the market was hot, so we bought a “starter” home we could grow into. And it has a lot of, um, quirks.

While our house is pretty large for two people, I do have a couple of complaints that rear up from time to time. The first is the size of our kitchen and it’s lack of counterspace and storage. Let’s save that topic for another day, shall we?

The second complaint, which is definitely exacerbated by gorgeous weather, is our lack of outdoor space. Don’t get me wrong, we bought a house with plenty of yard, but that’s about it. There’s no deck, no garden, no comfort to speak of. So while a new kitchen configuration will take a lot of time and dolla dolla bills, this month we’re setting our sights on making our backyard habitable.

For starters, here’s some photos of what we’re working with.

We have a driveway that goes straight through to the backyard bordered by some ugly dirt and patches of weeds. My first instinct is to create a sense of ambiance by putting in a container garden.

A container garden appeals to me for the following reasons:

  1. I’m not a landscaper, so I like the flexability of being able to move things around until I like what I see.
  2. Using various pieces of furniture like chairs, benches and tables, I can create texture and visual interest by playing with height.
  3. I can create a color story with the furniture and planters by painting them in a cohesive color scheme.

Of course, my first stop in finding the patio of my dreams needs was Pinterest. Here are a few of the inspirations I found.

We’re starting slowly. First, I’m building the above mentioned container garden, and we’re going to try to find a new outdoor rug. I’m also planning to repaint the Adirondack chairs and furniture we already have. In addition, I spent several hours this weekend at yard sales and flea markets and found a lot of good stuff to start my garden! I have a ton of planters, a headboard, some chairs, a basket, and old watering can – you get the idea. Here’s a few photos, but this isn’t everything.

We also made a quick run to Lowe’s and bought about 10 cans of spray paint. My goal for the week is to clean everything I picked up so that I can start painting next weekend. Our colors are blush and bashful teal, navy and gray, which I think will pop against the white exterior of our house.

So, that’s about it for now. I’m thinking of doing a post outlining plans for each room and space of our house, with a list of projects, like Young House Love used to do. There’s so much more to come for the backyard, and then we’re going to focus on the kitchen this fall.

Very exciting things ahead!

Link Love

Now Read This

patio inspo
(Image credit: The Fresh Exchange)

Down the Rabbit Hole

The Prettiest Patios on the Internet (And How to Get the Look) – As I mentioned in my last post, Eric and I are planning to make some changes to our backyard, and these photos are giving us major inspiration.

How to Do Anything – One of my favorite blogs, A Cup of Jo, is taking a week-long break, but Joanna posted this roundup of all of her How To guides. Definitely adding this one to my reading list.

Fare Isle – I’ve been following Kaity on IG for months now, and only just popped over to her blog this week. Her photos are so dreamy, and her career is basically #lifegoals.

Things I’m Living For

Living Proof No Frizz Shampoo & Conditioner – My hair is a lot to manage, even when it’s cut short. I have spent three decades trying to tame this wild beast and have finally, FINALLY found the perfect combination that works. I’ve tried fancy Japanese brands, salon recommendations, over-the-counter and special order smoothing serums and leave-in conditioners. In the end, my hair always seems to dry out at the ends and lose shape. But not with Living Proof. My hair has never been softer, healthier, and more vibrant. I am in L.O.V.E.

Bucky 40 Blinks Luxury Ultralight Comfortable Contoured Eye Sleep Mask – Eric and I switched our master bedroom a few months ago, and while I like the cozier feel of the smaller room, it also lets in a lot of natural light – early morning light, late afternoon light, basically #allthelight. And we haven’t added curtains yet. I sometimes work overnight for my “day” job, and try nap beforehand to make it to my 6:00 AM handoff. Since moving rooms, that nap has been nearly impossible due to the overabundance of lovely, but unwanted, sunlight. My sister-in-law recommended this sleep mask to me about a month ago, and I’ve slept like a baby ever since.

Wustof Classic Hollow-Edge Nakiri 5″ Knife – A good set of knives are a game changer in the kitchen. We were very fortunate to be gifted several for our wedding, and this one is by far my favorite. I love chopping vegetables. Or dicing them. Or slicing them. Being in the kitchen in general is very therapeutic to me, and this knife has just made the task of prepping that much more soothing. I have heart-eyes for this knife. Seriously.