Wednesday, April 22

Patio DIY

Spring is here, and we're ready to get out of this house. For a couple years I've been dreaming of extending our patio so we would have room for lounge seating, a dining area, and maybe even a fire pit. It's easier to take little boys outside to play if you have a comfy place to chill, right?

We built a comfy sectional and added a garden, but a patio was still on a long list of dreams for our little piece of the outdoors (you can see our dream list here).

The patio was pretty far down the list because, as it turns out, patios can be expensive. And we had at least a chunk of patio already. But last fall we stumbled across an opportunity too good to pass up - Husband's workplace was re-doing some pavement and dumped a pile of old pavers in the back of the parking lot. For free. First come, first served.

Wednesday, April 1

Kitchens Across America (and $100 Visa gift card giveaway!)

The kitchen has long been known around the world as the heart of the home. The place we gather, talk, laugh, share our dreams, raise our kids, and make the very food that sustains us. The hub of family life. And the American Kitchen is no exception. From coast to coast, it is the anchor of the home. It's where life happens. But I think the American Kitchen is unique in that its face is so diverse. It has changed so much over the decades, and continues to change in ways that reflect the diversity that is us. There is so much variance based on geographic location, economic background, and cultural roots. If we look in our own neighborhoods we can find a wide range of kitchen styles, cooking styles, and family styles.  Every family is unique with different needs, different history, and different culture.

When I think of the American Kitchen, my first thoughts go to the originals. Settlers coming to a new world and moving west, with minimal supplies, small homes, and only fireplaces or wood stoves to cook on. But that's not what it is anymore. We've come leaps and bounds with modern amenities from running water to refrigerators to microwaves to grocery stores. I have a Kitchen Inspirations board with some of my other favorite ideas for a modern American kitchen.

Even my own kitchen has evolved over the last seven years. It's gone from feeding two newlyweds to a family with two wild little boys. From boxed mac 'n' cheese three times a week to meals cooked from scratch. From a chilly rental proper to a cozy kitchen of our very own. It's where we've learned to bake bread, plant seeds, ice bruises, and parent our kids. What a journey these walls have seen.

Our kitchen three years ago in February 2011.

My idea of an American Kitchen now is a place that pulls our family together. We go about our days to work, to the park, to the store, but every night we all end up right back here. Together. We cook, work on projects, finger paint, and clean up spills. We fill our tummies with nourishing foods and hearts with laughter. We grow together.

Since 1905, GE Appliances has been a part of changing the way people live, play, cook, celebrate, and shape life at home in America. For 110 years they have been making products for the American people - for individuals and families whose unique needs, history, and culture give America its rich diversity.

This is why GE Appliances has started a documentary series called Our American Kitchen. It takes a peek into real homes across the country to see real families living life in their own kitchens. From an autistic boy who found a voice through cooking, to an injured athlete turned home chef. From a family with children adopted from around the world to a woman who started a cookie business out of her home kitchen. We'll see how different these kitchens can be, yet they still work in the same fundamental ways. This is the idea behind Our American Kitchen. You can see there first documentary here.

Time to give away a $100 Visa gift card to one lucky reader! Want a chance to win? Just leave a comment answering this question (and make sure we have a way to contact you if you win):
What does the American Kitchen mean to you?
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This giveaway is open to US Residents age 18 or older (or nineteen (19) years of age or older in Alabama and Nebraska). Winners will be selected via random draw, and will be notified by e-mail. The notification email will come directly from BlogHer via the sweeps@blogher email address. You will have 2 business days to respond; otherwise a new winner will be selected.
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