DIY Butcher Block Kitchen Island

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When we started the kitchen renovation, I searched high and low for a kitchen island that would work in the space. Our kitchen isn’t huge, so I didn’t want something that felt too heavy or took all the attention away from the rest of the kitchen. I had a hard time finding exactly what I wanted, so instead we decided to just build the island ourselves. Lowe’s sells precut butcher block tops which was the perfect start to our island! I loved using the iron pipes for the base. They matched the style of the shelf brackets and the simple design felt complementary to the rest of the kitchen. I think it was the perfect fit! Try it out yourself!! This idea could also be used for a dinning room table or coffee table.

Materials:

Precut Butcher Block 25”x48”
4 x 1”x30” Black Iron Pipe
6 x 1” Black Iron Tees
4 x 1”x8” Black Iron Pipe
4 x 1”x2” Black Iron Nipple
1 x 1’x36” Black Iron Pipe
8 x 1” Black Iron Floor Flange
2 x Rust-oleum Paint and Primer In One flat black spray paint
Valspar Flat Premium Finish Spray Paint
Watco Butcher Block Oil and Finish
Screws
Drill
Rag
Sanding block

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Directions:

1. Gather all your pipes and pipe fittings. Clear an area so you have room to work. Work on attaching all pipe fittings and pipes together to create the base. I started with the middle 36” bar and worked out from there. Although they’re standardized, precut pipe, there is always some variation in threading. It’s a pain but if you know that going in- it helps. Make sure you gently tighten pieces at first, remembering that you’ll need to loosen and tighten some of the connections to get matching lengths later on.

2. Add tee fittings on each end of the 36” pipe. Followed by the 4, 8” black pipe pieces in each end of the tee fittings. Set aside this “I” shaped assembled piece.

3. Work on creating the 4 legs. The order will go flange, nipple, tee, 30” pipe, flange. Repeat this 4 times to get the 4 legs of the island.

4. Attach each leg to the middle “I” piece to finish the base.

5. Tighten or loose connections to make all legs the same height. It takes a bit of finessing!

6. In an outside location, spray paint the entire base with the flat black spray paint. When completely covered and dry (may take 2-3 coats) spray a top coat of the premium finish spray.

7. Place butcher block on top of pipe base. Drill screws through holes in the flanges into the butcher block to secure together.

8. With a rag, follow directions on the Watco Butcher Block oil and seal and finish the butcher block. Will take 2 coats, with a light sand in between.

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Note: This makes the island 37” tall. I wanted a slightly taller island for ease of food prep but you will have to plan accordingly for stools. A counter height stool is a bit too low and a bar stool is too high. The answer is a stool with a swivel top! We wanted them anyways because of the kids, now everyone can adjust their stool height to be perfect for them. I like having mine low so I can cross my legs and I raise Finley’s way up so she can be close to the butcher block. Works out great! Our stools were from Urban Outfitters.

This post was sponsored by Frigidaire Professional and Lowe’s. All opinions and pictures are my own.

24 Hours in Philadelphia

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My Shirt | Jeans | Bandana | Sandals | Finley’s Sandals | Finley’s crop top | Rowan’s Sandals | Rowan’s camera | Orion’s romper (on sale).

Tuesday we headed down to Philly for a quick overnight trip with some friends. Kev is in love with all things hip hop and was super pumped to go see Propaganda finally. We meet our friends down there and all rented an airbnb for the night. It worked out so great, especially with all the kids! A small shared apartment with 2 bedrooms, a kitchen and a nice living room was perfect for 5 kids and 4 adults. When traveling, airbnb is such an awesome option! We didn’t have tons of time in Philly (such a bummer!). We got there around 5pm on Tuesday night and left the next day around 10pm. On Tuesday night we got to meet up with Julie and Chris (yay!!!) for dinner. Love getting to catch up with my dear friend. Still so thankful that blogging brought us together so many years ago. The guys headed out from dinner to the show and we finished the night with ice cream and just hanging out at the apartment.

Untitled^^are we officially coffee drinkers? eeeeek!

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The next day we tried to pack as much as we could into one day. Whenever we travel to a new city, we love just walking all around and taking everything in. We started the day with breakfast at the Hungry Pigeon (thanks for the recommendation Julie). We headed over to Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell after that. I love how old the city feels- it’s so cool to think of who else was once walking those streets. I love history! From there we walked over to Franklin Square and let the kids play on the playground and ride the carousel. Feeling hungry, we walked over to Reading Terminal for lunch and to stroll up and down all the aisles looking at all the food. Rowan thought it was pretty neat in there. Next up was city hall, the fountains at Dilworth Park and then we headed to the Magic Gardens. That was top on my list of what I wanted to check out while we were there. I love all the mosaics you come across as you walk around the city. So beautiful! The Magic Gardens were so cool!! We had so much fun exploring and playing a great scavenger hunt game. Totally recommend it. Right across the street is a playground called Seger Park. We let the kids play there a little while before we took the walk back to where the car was. We ended up just walking a big ol’ circle around the city. We stopped at a Whole Foods on the way and grabbed some dinner because it was really the easiest option at that point with the kids. They love eating at Whole Foods and were starting to get pretty tired and whiney. We were trying to just push through and get to the car. They were overall good sports but of course a full day of walking around the city is a lot of little ones.

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Once we got back to the car, there was no way that we could leave without heading over to the Art museum and reenacting Rocky. Rocky is top on Kev’s list of favorite movies. He actually just watched all of them again when Orion was born. He would take the end of the evening shift with him when he was just born and give me some time to take a shower or whatnot. The girls were totally in to running up the stairs and jumping up and down. Hahah so funny.

Thanks Philly for being so fun! We loved ya! Can’t wait to come back.

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Random Thoughts By Jen

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Hey guys! I’m writing on the blog! Whoa now! What do you guys think? Are blogs on the way out? Do you enjoy reading blogs anymore? Other than a lot of food blogs and blogs of friends I’ve been reading forever, my feed reader is pretty sparse. Are you satisfied with just Instagram/Snapchat posts from people? I am not sure how I feel about it all. I love this blog, but definitely don’t come and sit at the computer to share like I used to. I don’t know why? I mean, I do and I don’t. There isn’t much time nowadays, but honestly that never stopped me in the past. I used to make time no matter what. So many bloggers have stopped blogging lately and I totally understand it. Not sure if I am ready to throw in the towel yet though. I would love to hear your thoughts on it all!

Everyone is sleeping in our house right now and I just sat down here at my laptop to share a few things. Like the old days. I never use my laptop anymore. We have an iMac on our desk that I always use, but it just took it’s final breath so… well, there’s that. Maybe this is good. Maybe having to use my laptop again will make me want to write more. Hahha maybe not, time will tell.

Sooooooo Orion ate a cigarette tonight. Mom of the year award over here. We were eating ice cream outside at the local Stewarts and Orion was playing on the ground. Kev noticed he had something in his mouth and yep, there is was… a dirty old cigarette. ACK! Gross! I kind of wanted to rinse his mouth out with hand sanitizer.

Finley has been sick lately. Not sure what is really going on with her- and it’s killing me that we don’t have a straight answer to make her feel better. It’s such a hard part of parenting. Seeing our kids in pain or discomfort and not being able to fix it right then for them. Praying we have some answers this week and we can move forward with a plan for her.

Rowan has been reading up a storm lately. It is sooooooo awesome to hear her up in her room with a book, sounding out all the words and reading to her self. I LOVE THIS STAGE. It is so fun!!

Can you believe summer is half over already. Ahhhhhh! I don’t want it to end. Everytime it’s summer I think to myself why don’t we live somewhere  where the weather is nicer more months of out the year. Where do you think is the best state for this? mild seasons, mostly warm, never deathly hot. I want to live there.

I came up with a ramen recipe about a month or so ago and I.CAN.NOT.STOP.EATING.IT. It’s pretty much the best thing I’ve ever made (patting myself on the back over here). I had to because I would sit here and day dream about Wagamama all day long and scheme up reason why we had to head back to Boston every week. Have you eaten there before? It’s my favorite.

I almost cut bangs last night. I had the scissors out and everything. Then I stopped to go get the mail. Random maybe but! BUT! There was a J.Crew catalog in there and ooooh thank you J.Crew model with your long, center parted hair to make me realize I do not want bangs again (well, not until next month). What I really want is to grow my hair out longer again.

I laid in bed last night figuring out how I can become a family travel blogger. hahahahahahahhaa But seriously, how can I do that? Like for real????!?!?!? Just putting it out there to the universe. Dear Universe, All I want to do is travel with my family, like to allllllllllll the places. I want to see everything and I want Kev and the kids to come with me. Let’s make this happen. I promise to take lots of pictures and write fun stories about our trips. I will love you forever and ever, XOXOX Jen.

Here are my thoughts on adult coloring books. Why are people just figuring out that coloring is fun now? Coloring has always been fun. The end.

I GOT A NEW CAMERA AND IT IS SO AWESOME IT NEEDS TO BE EXPLAINED IN ALL CAPS. HAVING 3 KIDS AND LUGGING AROUND A GIANT DSLR SUCKS. WE WENT MIRRORLESS AND WE ARE NEVER GOING BACK. TOTALLY GOT THIS CAMERA AND WE LOVE IT! IT’S SO TINY.

Ok. So ends this episode of random thoughts by Jen.
Night. Night.
xoxox

4th of July | Lake Placid

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We packed up the car on Saturday and headed 2 hours north to Lake Placid for the holiday weekend. We love Lake Placid and were all totally stoked to be up there camping for 3 days. It was Orion’s first camping experience and overall he did pretty good. One of my favorite things to do in Lake Placid is head up to the summit of Whiteface Mtn. It’s one of my most favorite spots. The view is just beautiful (like stunning!) and it’s easy enough to get up there with the kids. There’s a short hike once the road ends but totally doable (although a tiny bit nerve racking) with little ones. Finley loved climbing all the rocks to the top. They’re becoming such great hikers, I love it! We spent the morning hanging out on top of the mountain and then headed into town to watch the parade and fireworks. We feel so very lucky to live so close to the Adirondacks. I highly recommend everyone coming and checking out the area at least once in there lifetime. There is just so much to see and explore. New York is really a cool state. It took sometime to win me over when we first moved here but I have to say I am a total convert. New York you have my heart.

Untitled^^Daddy & Daughter cliff jumping

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and our little parade goers…
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Sweet Potato Pasta with Hemp Seed and Kale Pesto

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Hey Guys!

Anyone LOOOOVE pasta out there? I am a huge pasta fan. It’s for sure my comfort food. Until this year, I was really hesitant about the whole spirializer trend. I mean, a zucchini is no pasta dish, even if it’s in the shape of spaghetti. But then I ended up getting one and oh man! It’s a game changer. My favorite thing to turn into noodles is by far a sweet potato. It’s the perfect kind of al dente noodle. We have this recipe below at least once a week. It’s so easy and quick! Don’t be intimidated by making the pesto either- so quick & easy. You don’t have to worry about needing a food processor; a blender works great.

Sweet Potato Pasta with Hemp Seed and Kale Pesto
Serves: 2-4 | Prep Time: 20 mins | Cook Time: 10-15 mins

Ingredients:

1/2 cup hemp seeds
2 cloves of garlic
2-3 cups of chopped kale
3 tablespoons of lemon juice (about 1.5 lemons)
1/4 cup of olive oil
sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1/2 cup of non-dairy milk (I used plain, unsweetened almond milk)
2 large sweet potatoes
1 package of cherry tomatoes, halved
Optional: grated Parmesan cheese and chopped basil for garnish
Optional: Add some chicken for the meat eaters in your life

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Instructions:

1. Make the Pesto: In a blender, add the peeled garlic and hemp seeds and pulse together. Add kale and pulse again.
2. Add lemon juice, olive oil and generous amount of salt and pepper and pulse again.
3. Scrape sides and blend into a smooth paste
4. Transfer to a small pot and heat on cooktop over low heat. Add non-dairy milk a little at a time and whisk together until it’s your desired consistency. I like to thin out and make a creamier sauce.
5. Sweet Potato Noodles: With a spirializer, make noodles with your sweet potatoes. You could use a julienne peeler – it’s tedious, but it can be done.
6. Add noodles to a large skillet or wok. Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil and toss with tongs to coat. Continue to toss with the tongs every minute to prevent the potatoes from burning or becoming stuck on the bottom of the skillet. Do this for 5-10 minutes. The cooking time will depend on your preferred texture of the noodles. If you love a little crunch, cook for 5 minutes. If you like a softer noodle, cook for around 10.
7. When the noodles are at the desired texture add the pesto sauce and tomatoes. Toss to coat.
8. Serve in bowls and top with chopped basil, freshly grated parmesan and sprinkle with a few hemp seeds.
9. Enjoy!

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Cooking Tip: In a rush for dinner? Add a tiny bit of water to the pan when cooking the noodles. The high heat of the PowerPlus Burner on the Frigidaire Professional Cooktop will help steam the noodles and cook them in a jiffy.

This post was sponsored by Frigidaire Professional and Lowe’s. All opinions and pictures are my own.

8 tips For Creating Successful Open Shelving (and a pantry)

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We love our new open shelving and pantry! It’s everything we had hoped for! It totally opens up the kitchen and I love the modern look of it all. When I posted the picture of the kitchen reveal last week, I got a ton of questions about how to create open shelving, how to make it function well in your kitchen and what we did with the rest of our stuff! I decided it would be a good idea to go into the nitty gritty of it all so you can feel confident if you are thinking about making the switch in your own kitchen.

Materials:

Metal shelving brackets
Drywall/wall anchors
Screws
Drill
2”x10”x8’ wood cut to shelf lengths
Minwax Weathered Oak Stain
Foam brushes
Masonry drill bits
Level
Various glass jars/containers

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Directions:

1. Take all the measurements for how long you will need each shelf. When you don’t have all the tools, Lowe’s is there to help! They cut all our wood for us to the exact measurements we needed. I wanted a thicker shelf so we went with 2” thick wood.
2. Stain each of the shelves. We used a Weathered Oak stain and I love how it gives it a reclaimed wood type look without the hassle of finding reclaimed wood. It’s the perfect stain color.
3. Take measurements on your shelves where you want the brackets to go and screw in each bracket to the shelves. I decided on placing the brackets 7” in from each end of the wood.
4. For the pantry area, we used heavy-duty dry wall anchors. I didn’t like where the studs where in relation to where I wanted to place the brackets, so the anchors let me do whatever I wanted. TIP: Measure twice! Drill once. haha. Learned that lesson a few times.
5.With a level, measure out all your spacing for your shelves. For our pantry, the shelves are 16” apart and for the kitchen, they’re 12.”
6. Drilling into tile is intimidating!! We watched soooooooo maaaaaaaany YouTube videos (anyone watch the videos with Shannon?). What helped us the most was to get a masonry drill bit, make an “x” with masking tape to give some texture for the drill bit to stick to, and using a sponge, drip water on the drill bit while drilling into the tile. We used these anchors to hang the shelves over the tile.
7. Start organizing, styling and putting your new shelves to good use. You will love how open it makes your new kitchen!

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Tips for having open shelves and pantry:

1. Clean and purge! You will be surprised about how much you have when you empty your kitchen all out. I ended up donating about half of what we kept in our kitchen. I only kept the things we use everyday.
2. Find the balance between function and decoration. When you take your upper cabinets down, the shelves need to be functional, as well as look good. For us, we kept all our dishes a single color (white) or clear glass so it didn’t look messy or overwhelming.
3. Maximize the storage in bottom cabinets. Look into organizational items, like wire racks, that can really help organize every inch of space. It really makes a huge difference if you aren’t wasting space!
4. A closed-door pantry. We are lucky enough that we actually have a pantry with two doors. We moved the items that we didn’t want on the open shelves in there (i.e. kids plastic cups and plates). We also have our large bulk items from Costco in there. Everything else gets put into the glass jars on the open pantry shelves.
5. Dry goods. I love the bulk section at our local co-op. I get most of our dry goods from there and keep them in large mason jars on the shelves. It makes for a perfect open pantry – they all look so beautiful with their subtle colors and interesting textures. We keep an array of nuts, seeds, flours, sugars, oats, shredded coconut, cranberries, chocolate chips, etc… in our jars. We store our packaged snacks/food in cabinets to help keep an organized and minimal look.
6. Transfer all your spices to clear glass jars. I love these spice jars from Amazon and how they look on the shelf together.
7. Get creative, use hooks under the shelves to hang mugs, or try hanging bowls/baskets for fruit.
8. Have fun! That’s the best part of having open shelving. You get to rearrange and decorate anytime the mood strikes. Let your creative side go wild!

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This post is in partnership with Frigidaire Professional, but all words, opinions and styling are my own. A big huge thank you to Frigidaire Professional and Lowe’s for helping our kitchen dreams come true.

You can see the full kitchen reveal post here!

The Playoffs and a Marathon

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The past 2 weekends have been sort of a whirlwind (in the best possible way of course)! Last minute I decided to head up to Toronto with a friend to watch her husband (who plays for the Albany Devils) in the playoffs. They were playing the Toronto Marlies. Oh man was it fun! and stressful! but awesome!. They ended up losing in game 7 which was such a bummer, but I was so glad we got to be there to watch the final 2 games. It also meant we got to pop in and see family while we were up there for the weekend. I love when the kids get to see my Grandparents!! We also went to the yummiest little place with my cousins called The Cold Pressery where I had a delicious acai bowl and killer iced matcha latte. I/m pretty sure I also ate my weight in Canadian candies that I can’t seem to find in the states very often. The 7 hour trip always takes waaaaaay longer with kids in the car but we muscled through and all in all everyone did pretty well. Well except for the lady at the toll booth who was NOT impressed that we were paying a $12 toll with quarters. It provided Courtney and I some good amount of laughs after so totally worth it.

Last weekend we headed down to Brooklyn for the Airbnb Brooklyn Half Marathon. A friend (same friend as above- we love you Courtney!) have been training for this half for a few months now. We’ve been running 2-3 times a week together. During the week we run in the morning while Rowan is at school. Courtney pushes her son in her Bob and I push Finley and Orion in our double BOB. Goodness I love that stroller! And then the husbands watch the kids on the weekend for us to do the long run. Anyway, race day was Saturday morning. I guess this is the largest half in the whole country, there were over 27,000 people running! Which was cool and not cool all at the same time. Once the race stared, we didn’t cross the start line for 35 mins??!?!?!?! Crazy! There was a whole lot of weaving in and out of people which got kind of tiring after a few miles. It was a nice race though- through Prospect Park and down to Coney Island. We stayed over an extra night so I could go to the ErgoBaby event the next day. It was in the most beautiful location in Brooklyn! And I got to see Dani! Love that girl. The rest of the day we wandered (kids scooted) all around Brooklyn. We left convinced we should rent/sublet a place for an extended amount of time sometime soon. Brooklyn we love you!

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Hi, I'm Jen!

Welcome to my personal lifestyle blog. It features topics such as motherhood, family life, fashion, cooking, and all sorts of adventures. I hope you enjoy what you find!

Jen Loves Kev
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