Skip to content

5 Years of the Dabble

2014 July 29

Saturday marked 5 years of the Dabble’s existence.  No kidding.  5.whole.years.

I haven’t been around much lately and when I have I’ve been all “look what I’ve (we’ve) done to the house” or “look who likes what I (we) do.”  Which seems as though I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be at this point in life.

I think much of that was made possible because I wanted to put myself out there and started here.  Trying to connect with others who enjoy their passions as much as I do.  Those who have a strong zeal for something, anything in life.  I revere and connect with those folks.  People, such as yourself, who like to use quality ingredients with a seasonal focus of the home cookery variety.  People who enjoy sharing their lives and finding the odd events life brings funny and something that bonds us all (or should).  People who enjoy taking something most others see as junk and making it into something special (like furniture/a house/simple ingredient…hint hint those are my areas of interest…and by no means the only things I speak of).  It started here and it lead me to follow other passions.

No one would have found me if I didn’t start here.  I feel honored and humbled that anyone even cares.  I just do what I do and if it sparks interest (or doesn’t), well then, there it is.

My life is completely different from 5 years ago in the best ways ever.  (My standards for myself anyway.  You gotta set your own idea of success.) I thank you if you’re still here.  I’ll be back.

Featured on…

2014 July 7

I don’t say OMG very often but this has been an amazing OMG week with two features on some awesome, inspiring sites.  The first was for my wallpaper front dresser at Apartment Therapy and today’s spotlight is over at House*Tweaking where Dana interviewed me about our Ikea kitchen reno.  It was an honor to be chosen by her since she is one of my absolute favorite bloggers.  Love both of those sites!  Take a look.


Befores and Afters: Renovations of Each Room (with Sources and Totals)

2014 June 25

At the Wits yesterday I shared what many people have probably been waiting for from me for a few years regarding our home improvements-“the befores and afters.”

In a few months we plan to put the place on the market and vamoose to Seattle.  We’ve known this for about a year and a half because we asked to do so and the company granted our relocation.

My husband and I set out to update 95% of our home and we’ve done the majority of that work.  The only parts left are the 3 rooms in the basement.  I’m very proud, teary-eyed and a bit in disbelief that it has really come together.  When you’re facing a room of dust and rubble it’s hard to imagine it will be anything else, then multiple that times one hundred and you’re sitting inside my head for the last 2 1/2 years.

So I finally spent some time putting together this post here of our accomplishments (with lots of pictures) and want to also share it with you supportive people who have grown fond of me despite myself.

Here’s a sample living room “before” shot.  Visit the link above to see the rest.

New (Ikea) Kitchen

2014 June 17

I’m not here to tell you about Whole30 again.  (I’m on day 28 of the 30 and having some positive results.  Feeling inspired, empowered and healthier.  I get cheese this weekend and maybe wine.  No maybe, I’m having some damn wine.)  I thought this being a food blog you’d like to see our newly renovated kitchen.  I love it.  Just in time to, you know, move to Seattle.  You can read more about the project here.


Brownie + kitchen reno + Whole30 + absentminded husband = murdery eyes and brain bombs

2014 June 4

I started Whole 30-an elimination and reintroduction diet/health program/lifestyle similar to Paleo but stricter (a controversial topic for me because I tend to side on the side that thinks Paleo is dumb…just for what some have made it into “paleofying” everything, but find it in its purest form something not to scoff at).

With Whole30 you part ways with sugar (except in fruit), alcohol, grains, legumes, dairy, white potatoes, carrageenan, MSG, sulfites, baked goods /junk food “Paelofied” or anything that would trigger “the sugar monster” for 30 days (or more) then reintroduce foods that could cause systemic inflammation to get a better idea of your tolerance of some foods. Having allergies, migraines, odd pains and weight to lose, this seemed ideal. Many claim that their health greatly improved and was even cured in some cases. As the Whole9 community/Whole30 website states:

The physical benefits of the Whole30 include improved body composition, energy levels, sleep quality, attention span, mental attitude and athletic performance.

The psychological benefits of the Whole30 include changing long-standing, unhealthy patterns related to food, eating and your body image, and a dramatic reduction or elimination of food cravings, particularly sugar and carbohydrates.

Testimonials from Whole30 participants reflect the prevention, improvement or “cure” of:high blood pressure, high cholesterol, type 1 diabetes, type 2 diabetes, asthma, allergies, skin conditions, PCOS, infertility, migraines, depression, bipolar disorder, heartburn, GERD, joint pain, ADD, thyroid dysfunction, Lyme disease, fibromyalgia, leaky gut syndrome, Crohn’s, IBS, Celiac, diverticulitis, and ulcerative colitis.

These results have been documented by tens of thousands of Whole30 participants – these are real life examples, not theoretical possibilities.”

That part is awesome (and I did experience some of that already), but the eating part sounds tough. My opinion is that it sounds worse than it is, although I had just come off of Phase 1 of the South Beach Diet with unsuccessful results and was all “yay I get fruit.” It was my complaint of SBD working the first but not the second time that my friend Mindy told me about Whole30. I was convinced my metabolism was junk and that something had been going on for the last 2 years of my constantly trying to lose weight without success.

In the first 7 days I lost 6 lbs., had lots of energy and thought my stomach looked flatter. I’m now on day 15 and have not hit the benefits beyond slightly better looking skin and my nails growing faster (for me to chew on), my allergies are worse than ever and I gained back 2 lbs. this morning which could be why they say not to weigh yourself or keep track of anything for the 30 days. I.just.can’t. I think my body is in retaliation mode. I expect my body to get over it and get with the program.

Wait, energy. I have that now. Sometimes too much and I can’t fall asleep until midnight to 1AM and my thoughts are more manic than anything. On Saturdays I have freak outs because after a long day of working on the kitchen renovation I want a beer or glass of wine or some cheese. But nooooo and that’s when we have our 20th approved hot dog with sauerkraut after I threaten to stop Whole30. (It’s actually very good, but I don’t want an Applegate hot dog at that point.) I have 2 more Saturdays. (Maybe more if I keep going.)

I’ll tell you my overall impression of Whole30 in the next post, probably when I complete the 30 days. This post is about how I should have given up by now (I won’t) or how special my husband is or a combination. Just read. This was written on day 10.

Greg is bound and determined to ruin the Whole30 experience for us is my impression of the first 2 weeks. Well I’m on day 10 so not quite 2 weeks. But yes, just hell-bent on making it the hardest and most aggravating thing I’ve experienced in a while which is saying something…because I live with him. Ha!

I researched, read the book, found online guidance and tools, made a Pinterest board filled with recipes and tips. I ordered supplies I couldn’t find at the store and equipment like a programmable slow cooker and more storage containers. I made lists and notes to get through the first week and made sure to have back up meals and approved snacks. It was all another job which happens with diets and lifestyle changes. It’s to be expected. I’m used to it after South Beach Diet, Cabbage Soup Diet, Banana Diet, Weight Watchers and all of the other “diets” I’ve tried. Whole30 makes a lot more sense and should be called “the way people should be eating anyway” diet. I’ve been documenting some of what I eat and products I like on my Instagram account if you want a peak.

Back to the husband problem. Week 1 he “accidentally” ate a brownie on the third or fourth day. It didn’t dawn on him nor did he say anything to me until that weekend. He didn’t see it a big deal. He ended up sleeping on the couch. That’s how wrong he was. I was so ticked I barely slept and was still angry in the morning which doesn’t happen very often. That’s where I’m not sure if it was following the Whole 30 diet or lack of sleep that wiped me out that weekend in a way I hadn’t felt in a long time. It wasn’t necessarily sleepy tired, but physically and mentally exhausted. (Greg said he never got that but la-di-da…and he ended up looking leaner and keeping his energy up which is total bs since I was doing the prep work and he just ate what I gave him and I only looked slightly less fat which I think is in my head at Day 15.)

Sure being on the “restrictive” diet might make me/us more agitated than usual, but this brownie was a case where there was more that had piled up until it came to a head that weekend when he casually said -so he had been saying all week-that his stomach has been upset and I kept telling him he must be doing something different from me because I was fine. We went over and over what it could have been then he casually dropped that he had a brownie. I kid you not, he was surprised to find out he had to start over and that a brownie wasn’t ok. A sugar-filled, chocolate, yummy delight? Are you sure I can’t have dairy, sugar, or chocolate in the form of a dense cake? Could have sworn that Whole 30 allows all of that…and potato chips, cheese, pasta, beer and any other dessert or processed food I want. No? Hmmm.

I’m sure I had the murdery look on my face when he said it. I think I was more upset that it didn’t click that that was not cool. It was 2005’s “Ice Cream-gate” all over again. Have you heard that one?  Well sit down for this if you aren’t already.

Greg, my then fiance, went for a run-like 1/4th of a mile by campus with lots of walking (how I imagine it went) when he thought “I ran far enough, it’s giant ice cream cone time.”

A little backstory here: I asked him if he would clean up the apartment since it was his stuff all over the place before I got back from class…I get back, the place is an even bigger mess including a sink full of dishes I hadn’t made and his clothes tossed everywhere. Clothes that were added to the other piles I had hoped would be picked up. I was a bit worried something bad had happened…just then I turned around to see him outside the glass patio door about to enter with this giant ice cream cone. Just licking away, innocence on his face. That’s when he spotted my angry face on the other side of the glass mid-lick. I will never forget that moment.  It’s hilarious now.

I should mention I was on Phase 1 of the South Beach Diet at the time so this was especially cruel. His innocent, sweet, ice cream-all-over-his-face face changed to a dumbfounded, surprised face. To this day I reference that story and make that face when he has done something similar so he knows the equivalent acts and understands that it feels like a bomb goes off in my brain when he does things like that.

The brownie event also happened to be the weekend we were putting in our new kitchen. The 6th weekend (and Memorial Day weekend) of living in a weird arrangement since taking out most of the old kitchen for the renovation. I know, perfect timing to start the Whole 30. We had a grill and microwave most of the time with limited use of the oven. Perfect.

Notable mention: the previous weekend we went to put the stove back in the kitchen after a weekend of painting when the stove sparked and died upon plugging it in. Why? Because the cord was caught on the corner when Greg decided to toss it around like a lightweight dance partner (something he does not know with me) and unbeknownst to us, jerked the terminal lose which caused sparks when it hit the plate that is there to prevent this sort of thing. He put it back on and all was well. Until…

Back to Memorial Day weekend or “Brownie-geddon,” Monday evening came around and we put the stove back in place to use for the next week. Fine and dandy. Tuesday morning arrived, I went to use the burner and hmm, no juicy. None of the glass top burners would turn on. Greg checked it out and said “it did it again” but this time we had to replace the entire cord/terminals. Nothing had been caught so it was baffling. But, it was repaired and we moved on.

Week 2 (which was only 2 days after the cord replacement) he set the stove burner on fire…close anyway. He left the burner on-it was on for 5 hours-and because something went kaput with the top a few days before, the lights don’t work when they should to tell you a burner is on or still hot. The burner was not red nor had a light indicating it on or hot. It was set to level 7 for 5 hours. Pretty much since he made his breakfast at 5:30AM.

Meanwhile doo doo doo I had a lovely morning. The pups and I headed outside, looked at the flowers, had some coffee and checked my email on the laptop, on the beautiful patio. Came in, set to organize the cabinet, put the brand new slow cooker on the stove and a minute later I smell burning. No smoke detector went off. Nothing. I turned around to smoke billowing from the slow cooker and burner. I turned the burner off and ran with the slow cooker to the mulch out the side door, leaving a trail of burning, melting plastic. Useful if I ever forgot out to get to the side door from the kitchen. Murdery eyes numero 3. Greg was not there to see these, but he could hear them on the phone I’m sure.

The plastic was scraped from the burner, but the slow cooker was done. The new one. I just got a few weeks before for some Whole30 cooking. I was more concerned with having to buy a new stove until I got the melted plastic scraped off. We got our dishwasher to match the appliances-same brand and everything. Found it on craigslist for cheap. So cheap and in working order that we jumped for joy. A joy Greg would try to wipe out a few months later or a few days after putting the matching dishwasher in the renovated kitchen. He makes dreams come true in home improvement/renovations and yet is a murderer of joy sometimes in other areas. I refer to him as a lumberjack chopping down all my dreams. I have a song for it.

Dreams like when you think wow, this Whole30 is great and we both feel pretty good/it’s not hard and we really like the food/I just spent $300 on groceries for 2 people for a week’s worth of food & it better not be wasted and screwed up…then Greg happens. Then lots of bangs and pops in my head from the bomb.

*I’ve received a few comments from friends that make it seem like I’m blowing it out of proportion, but if you live with Greg-even a week would do it-you would understand. This is years of the same, people. Plus, it’s mostly husbands I’m getting this from….

All of that in my first 10 days of Whole30. Greg is 3 days behind. Because of a brownie.

The lesson is brownie + kitchen reno + Whole30 +absentminded husband = murdery eyes and brain bombs.


Bacon, Avocado and Cheese Sandwich

2014 May 20

I’ll share what I share over there. That’d be the kitchen renovation we’re in the process of doing. Over there being the blog I have written at far more recently and often than here, the Wits.

It’s been nearly a few months with a ramshackled room that I used cook in. One entire side is torn out and the upper cabinets are gone on the other side. All that remains is the sink, dishwasher, base cabinet and the countertop (speckled with drywall mud, dust, paint and whatever else has graced the reno). Otherwise, this was a spot once called a kitchen. With its stove, microwave, sink, dishwasher, space to chop, cabinets to store cookware, utensils and dinnerware, etc.. At first I really enjoyed the newly demoed space because it meant progress, change, and most of all, that we’re almost finished with the house so we can move to Seattle. Then, weeks went by with little happening and the novelty wore off. Greg works late. Certain tasks take the hit. I get something cleaned up or finished and the next step for Greg involves ruining the said task I just marked off the list, only to be put back on the list…while I’m cursing at him.

And yelling and cursing are happening a lot. This past weekend was a breaking point where I wanted to cause my husband harm. With each project we’ve hit that point. It’s called marriage.

Most of the appliances and food stuffs spilled into the the dining room and parts of the living room. I grab a knife from a box atop the fridge in the dining room, pick up a cutting board from the stovetop in the kitchen or in the dining room depending on if it’s safe in the kitchen (this weekend we saw sparks…don’t get the plug stuck and rip out the terminal), then I take a look around for a spot to get knifey on something just to end up hoping the wobbly surface I found clear won’t result in slicing my finger. Often this knifin’ around falls on the dining table that barely seats 2 and on top of that (literally) is the microwave. This table is partially in the dining room and partially in the living room and completely in the way. We make do.

I have to pat myself on the back because I’ve still been able to make some darn delicious meals. Oddly I think I’ve made more recipes of the delicious variety with everything in a hellish state than not. Maybe I won’t know what to do with an actual updated kitchen. Yeah…no. I’ve committed to organizing the recipes we’ve been eating for many months in the hopes of sharing them with you. Today I went through those and snagged one that stuck out. It has bacon. Enough said. Not enough? Avocado, bread and cheese. I hope you didn’t pass out from all that awesome.

Bacon, Avocado and Cheese Sandwich

Drizzle & Drip original recipe

Serves 1


your favorite baguette, sliced to your liking and toasted

1 ripe avocado, smashed (perhaps slosh a little lime juice on it)

a few pieces of cooked bacon

a handful or two of blue cheese (or your favorite cheese, perhaps cheddar)

Smear the smashed avocado onto your toasted bread, top with bacon and cheese put the bread lid on and slip into sandwich heaven.


2014 April 10

Yo, the hubs and I recently did an interview with Goedekers-a trusted appliance, furniture and home lighting company.  To find out how we answered why we started blogging, what fuels our passion for woodworking, what our favorite DIY projects are, what sparked our interest in reselling vintage and antique items, where we’re at with the progress on our house/what’s left, what our renovation status and timeline is for our move to Seattle, AND what we envision for our lives in 5 years-check it out here.

Ikea Kitchen Planning

2014 March 27

I’ve been gone far too long.  Let’s see…it was around Thanksgiving-ish.  I’ll try to do better. I have lots of recipes worth sharing. Yada yada.


Much has been going on in our lives.  Most of that can be found at  Including 2 new bathrooms.  One has marble hexagon tile involved and the other was a big transformation.  We’re going on to the kitchen which is where this post comes in.

I could use your advice and opinions about Ikea kitchens.  In the blog world this seems to be a huge, often touchy subject.  Let me know what you think.

Here’s the post I wrote yesterday for that other blog of mine.  (For any confused souls out there…we’re renovating our house-pretty much the entire thing-by ourselves before putting it on the market and moving to Seattle…we’re in Minnesota right now…the goal is to now have it finished this summer.)

We went to Ikea Friday. 40 minutes from our home. Smack-dab in the middle of their kitchen sale.

Greg and I planned on being there for hours of kitchen design hell help after reading experiences from other bloggers.  The truth is that it is much easier than I thought.

I’m not going into why we chose Ikea cabinets because there are plenty of others who have written about their decision regarding the quality and such. The facts are that we’re renovating our home for resale, are on a tight budget, a lot of designers choose Ikea then make custom choices in other areas of the kitchen-moulding, hardware, built-ins, etc..

And that’s exactly what we’re doing. Only using Ikea cabinets and adding different moulding, hardware, appliances (the ones already here), and fixtures. We went over the numbers and it looks like we’ll be able to renovate the kitchen for about $5000 ($2600 in cabinetry). Everything but the flooring.

What we’re working with currently…that is a rare photo with me in it…enjoy

The original 1952 kitchen is still intact with pink paint inside the cabinets, poorly constructed “shelves”, weird residue that will not come off, sticking drawers, a weird plaid liner in some of the cabinets, and the hardware keeps falling off because parts are rusting away and we can’t fix them completely without replacing them. It’s past time for an update.

Using the Ikea kitchen planner is easy-ish. Sometimes it’s rather frustrating trying to place items and it takes some finagling. (Right now I can’t log in to it, but that’s because our computer is being ridic since updating to Maverick…issues, Apple.) You aren’t supposed to rely fully on the planner when it comes to having the exact parts (plinth/toe kick/panels/legs,etc.)-that’s why going to Ikea and meeting with an employee is necessary. They will make those adjustments and recommendations.

Not from Ikea-our own rendering 

Go with all of your measurements-room dimensions, windows, appliances, etc., know the cabinets you want (we’re doing Adel off-white…the famous shaker-style), have your plan as exact as you can get on your own with their online planner and bring your questions.

Once at Ikea, you will be seated at a computer where you log in to your online design. You will have to do most of it on your own if you haven’t already-employees are there to help.  There are some affordable options if you want to hire that part out.  Some specifically design Ikea kitchens.

Back to our trip. It was one of those moments where we swooped in, were helped to a computer immediately and everything just went smoothly. We were out before the arguing couples next to us had even decided on the size of one of the base cabinets. We high-fived (yes we still do that) and were on our merry way to the housewares section where I got a step stool for the newly finished bathroom. Bing bang boom.

We’ll see about the ease of our self-installation though.

New layout…kind of (it’s missing some components)

Delivery seems to be one of the tricky parts.  It is affordable.  I believe they said ours would be $99 and they hire delivery out.  You then assemble all the parts yourself from lots and lots of boxes.

However, I am hesitant after reading some nightmare delivery situations. It takes a long time to mark all of the boxes to be sure you have everything. If they don’t have something you’ve ordered and you miss it, you might have to purchase it again. That’s what I’ve read anyway. Same goes if you order your kitchen and load your own truck at the store and miss something. Pressure making sure all of the parts are there in hundreds of boxes does not appeal to me nor does having to purchase something again. Keeping a delivery truck at your house long enough to get a good count of your materials sounds nightmare enough. The type of drivers we’ve had here didn’t even want to wait just to let me see if a single cast iron sink arrived without damage. I can’t imagine the shipping companies giving someone an hour to check their items. By the way, if you don’t open the boxes, you can return most things to Ikea. There are mixed tales of Ikea taking something back or letting you have a part that was missing without paying again. I’m not 100% on their customer service in this area. Contact Ikea for this.

We’re hoping to avoid that by picking up the items during a few trips ourselves. Greg going by after work helps a ton too since he works close to the store. We’re lucky like that in this case and it helps our budget. We can break it into parts. I can store it in the other bedroom.

Greg and I are also somewhat lucky our kitchen isn’t very big and that the design looked a lot better without upper cabinets on one side (besides the one above the fridge).

We designed, re-designed and re-re-designed with Ikea’s online kitchen planner at home. I took a few afternoons over a few weeks dedicated to going over our layout options then we took an entire Sunday to go over it with one another to get the final design.

The MLS pic of part of our kitchen…aka the dopes of the kitchen

We do not want to keep the kitchen layout as-is with new cabinets. Oh no, we’re adding a tall pantry cabinet, bringing in the doorway a smidge to accommodate a built-in for our standard fridge (that could be the hardest part because this will be a custom job with plenty of its own plans), getting rid of the upper cabinets by the stove because we’re putting in a wall range hood, and best of all, we’re adding base cabinets on either side of the stove so the stove and fridge aren’t just sitting out in the open like dopes. I can’t stand when there’s no counter space or storage and the fridge and stove just stand by each other in the open. I believe this will revolutionize this kitchen. Revolutionize, ha.

To recap: super easy in terms of going to the store (mid kitchen sale even at the Twin Cities store), logging in to our online plan, having an employee look quickly over it and answer all of our questions in literally one minute, then she quickly turned to print the entire thing out (took the longest). She then revised it since you can’t rely fully on the planner then gave us a comprehensive list of our kitchen where she said everything at this point was in the warehouse. Again, mid-kitchen sale…which we didn’t even qualify for because our Ikea kitchen total is about $2600 and it took $3500 to save 10%.  No complaints there.

They DO NOT have financing like some will tell you. We were told the company they worked with-GE Capital from my research-wanted to boost the interest rate to 35% so Ikea told them where to stick it.

Anyone have an experience or two to share using Ikea cabinets?