Insta Lately

by April on April 15, 2016

Like every good millennial, I take most of my photos on my iPhone (6). I used to haul my Canon Rebel around everywhere, but for one, it’s chunky and for two, it’s incredibly old and the standard lens on it is scratched from years of abuse. When I upgraded my iPhone last year, I got a special case with a camera hood that’s supposed to make the photos even better. I like to think it works.

rainbow of bell peppers

Walked into Earth Fare, saw this display, couldn’t resist. I’m a sucker for rainbow organization.

the republic of tea matcha tea powder

You know those Facebook videos that are everywhere these days? One from Huffington Post caught my eye recently on the topic of matcha tea. It claimed that matcha would work way better than coffee and give an extended energy release to combat the afternoon slumps, from which I suffer greatly.

On the same trip to Earth Fare where I took the bell pepper picture, I snagged a (very expensive) container of matcha powder by the Republic of Tea and brought it back to the office. Since I was lacking milk or a sweetener other than white sugar, I just heated up a mug of water and swirled in a spoonful of matcha. Uh, this stuff is grassy, ya’ll. I am definitely going to bring some almond milk next week to sweeten it up a bit. As for if it really did help perk me up, well… I did make it to yoga that afternoon!

southern twist organics sinus stick

I have the worst seasonal allergies and have been trying in vain for years to at least calm the symptoms if I can’t avoid the root of the problem, because there’s no way to destroy every oak tree in town. At the Cayce Festival of the Arts the other weekend, I perused April Stroud’s Southern Twist Organics booth while she petted my dog and saw this sinus stick.

It’s very strongly scented with herbal essential oils from eucalyptus to lavender and it really works. I’m not sure it would say, cure a sinus infection, but for the average everyday sinus clogs and sneezing fits, it makes them dissipate after about 10 minutes! I swipe mine to the sides of each nostril and let the mentholated tingles work their magic.

husbands 90s hemp necklace

Patrick recently brought home three tubs of childhood memories, including some that need to stay in the 90s where they belong. The incense is fine, but this hemp necklace which is actually nearly choking him here, definitely will not be making any more appearances. I did make sure to Snapchat it so hard though.

spearmint herb plant

Mint! My spearmint really took off this year which is good because I want plenty of ground cover in this area, as well as garnishes for cocktails and smoothies. In addition to this, I also have a few other varieties, all obtained from the Seven Oaks Plant Shop. From banana to lavender, they’ve got it.

Beyond that, I haven’t been up to too much other than my day job and writing for the Free Times Nibbles & Sips blog, which is where all of my Columbia/Lexington food and drink news goes now. If you want the freshest food details in town, that’s where you’ll find it.

What have you been up to?


Our Kitchen Renovation is Complete!

by April on April 13, 2016

We bought our house seven years ago this month, and since the first time I laid eyes on it I knew one thing- that the kitchen had to GO. Like all first time, starry-eyed homebuyers, we thought the kitchen would or could be redone with saving for two years, max. We were so wrong. For years I tried to save and failed and tried again. Well, in 2015 I got serious about it and saved all of my freelance checks, so I had a little cushion to start. Then I started looking into how much it would cost to get the actual work done, the one totally unknown number. So I interviewed a couple of contractors. Then the numbers seemed pretty doable, actually. I still didn’t have enough saved up or a big enough line of credit on my card, so through the magic of putting myself into some debt with a home equity line of credit and a new travel rewards credit card, I suddenly had enough and started the wheels in motion.

first photo of our 1950s kitchen

This is the first photo of the kitchen when we looked at it in March 2009. 

With Jim and Andrew Heath of DadNDad Remodeling lined up to come in late December, and my Ikea kitchen plan in place, I started on the demolition, which I did all myself to keep costs down. I started about two weeks before the holiday break and three weeks before the contractors were scheduled to arrive. The things that were mostly form and less function came off first- shoe and crown molding, cabinet doors, and door casing. Then some cabinets started coming down, but let me tell you- they built cabinets way differently back then. These weren’t cabinet boxes like I was about to have installed, these were built into the wall with thousands of nails. HUGE NAILS. Patrick and my dad helped with some of the last bits that were big 2x4s that were secured together by all of those huge nails.

kitchen demolition

kitchen demolition wood scraps

kitchen after drywall

Getting the pine out really lightened up the whole room! 

Since it rolled out in February 2015, I had my Sektion kitchen planned out in the new Ikea Kitchen planning tool. It took me a while and a lot of raging at it but I finally got the software to cooperate on my Mac, for the most part. After tweaks on it throughout the summer and fall, and up until the day before, we went to Ikea to put several thousands of dollars on my fresh credit card. I anticipated being there for several hours finishing up details, but the lady who helped me in the Charlotte, NC store was efficient and filled in some missing pieces for me, along with eyeballing the design for issues.

One thing I didn’t anticipate was needing filler pieces to cover up the white sides but she got my fixed up with extras too. In fact, because Charlotte is about an hour and a half away from my home near Columbia, SC, I told her to give me extra of things like fillers, crown molding, legs, and hinges. I didn’t want to have to rush up there for a piece as to not stop progress. Making a return trip after the fact seemed much better, and it was. I ended up returning over $600 worth of items, though I did accidentally order an entire extra cabinet thanks to the software hiding one below the floor.

ikea kitchen cabinet building

The Ikea building area aka our living room.

In my Pinterest dreams, I wanted a glowing white kitchen. In my reality, the white melamine pantry we had was grubby and I wasn’t the kind of person to wash my cabinet doors weekly. My husband wanted a dark, moody kitchen so the gray seemed like an excellent compromise, along with being both trendy right now and hopefully timeless down the road. Plus, with Ikea, if the gray isn’t timeless we can just switch the doors right out for another color!

The layout of the new kitchen is very similar to the old one for several reasons. One, to save money. Two, because the old one made sense, and three, I liked it. It just needed some additions. The first need I identified was an extra base cabinet to the right of the stove. We had our trash can out in plain sight there for years and recently the dogs decided to start playing in it. After nothing short of removing the can to the bathroom and closing it in during the day deterred them, the cabinet now is keeping us from the annoyance of coming home to trash strewn everywhere. Another need I had was more pantry space.

Along the wall opposite of the window is a nine foot recessed space that I saw dying for a bank of cabinets. I didn’t want a row of lower and upper cabinets though because it looked like it might be too boring and industrial so I put a 90″ tall pantry on each side and a bank of lower cabinets- like a buffet. I saw some cool shelves on Pinterest that “connected” two tall pantries like I had and knew I wanted to replicate the look with some help from my friend Dan who owns D2 Woodcrafting. If you’ve had a flight anywhere in South Carolina almost, you’ve probably handled one of the tasted paddles he’s created.

ikea sektion kitchen cabinets wood shelves d2 woodcrafting columbia sc

I made use of some of the interior drawer features in the Sektion kitchen because all the people I read about who put more drawers in their kitchens had no regrets. Some of the drawers hold my Pyrex casserole dishes so they are no longer in a precarious stack on a high shelf! Other drawers roll out for easy access to snacks, sauces, and my husband’s diabetic supplies. Mmm, diabetes. Other larger drawers hold pots and pans and OMG, it’s the best thing I’ve ever seen in my life. Again, no more wobbly stacks!

ikea sektion kitchen drawers for pots and pans

The upper cabinets are slightly deeper than the ones we had, which equals a ton more space. Like things can now live together instead of being scattered and causing multiple doors to need to be opened. I went for angled upper cabinets in the two corners with glass fronts for visual interest. I love how classy our barware and alcohol looks in it and it forces a little more neatness than might live behind the other doors.

ikea sektion kitchen cabinets

ikea sektion kitchen cabinets

We took a chance on the undercabinet lighting option from Ikea and bought about $800 worth of it after using the color changing plug in DIODER lights for several years. The UTRUSTA is way brighter and is also hardwired in the cabinets at three different points. We also had a few other outlets and recessed lights added while we were doing it all anyways.

ikea sektion kitchen undercabinet lighting

Looking for tiles on the Lowe’s website I came across this herringbone pattern as a design suggestion for a particular style I was eyeballing. I immediately saved that photo to Pinterest and knew I was going to splurge on that pattern. And when I showed it to Andrew and Jim they didn’t bat an eye. Despite all of the cuts this pattern required, they didn’t hate me and I still ended up taking a load of tile back for a refund. I have to say, the floor is my absolute favorite detail in the whole space.

herringbone tile floor wood look tile

Other favorite details include the granite windowsill, the cookie sheet/cutting board cabinet, and the custom made pendant light from One Eared Cow Glass here in Columbia.

granite windowsill in kitchen

cookie sheet cabinet ikea sektion kitchen


custom pendant blown glass one eared cow columbia sc


I discussed the beginning of the reno, some of the shiny things within, and how to eat during a full kitchen reno too!



Pelican’s Snoballs

March 29, 2016

Under the spring blue sky, the Midlands has been getting a little bluer itself, from Pelican’s Snoballs massive expansion all over town. The original Columbia location is on Rosewood Drive and while that’s not far at all from home and work, it was still a detour to go there. But they are popping up all over […]

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Kitchen Part 2 – The Shiny Stuff

March 3, 2016

Finally, let’s talk about the jewelry of the space, so to speak, the shiny things that your eye is drawn to. Initially we were going to keep our jumbo 42″ wide porcelain sink that was original to the house but did I mention my measuring technique? I didn’t factor the sink into the design. The […]

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Dressing Picks for Still Healthy, Non-Boring Salads

February 28, 2016

It’s still cold here in SC by ~my~ standards other than the glorious 70+ degree days that are sprinkled in here and there, but I am starting to crave lighter foods already. One of the easiest big-batch things for me to pre-make on a Sunday to dole out for lunches throughout the workweek is a […]

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On Doing

February 26, 2016

I’m lifting this doing meme from How Sweet It Is as a quick catch up session. I feel like I’ve just been dropping by and chunking up a food post and disappearing for a while. I don’t want to be like that to my little blog. Wishing: That it would warm up so I can […]

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Fake King Cake

February 9, 2016

Every year for the past four-ish years, I’ve made and brought a king cake to work to share with my coworkers. Because I’ve still got half full bottles of sanding sugar in purple, green, and yellow, I figured the tradition should continue… except after a spin class Monday evening I wasn’t feeling the extra steps […]

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Copper Horse Cream Chocolate Chip Cookies

February 5, 2016

Our fridge is way too full lately, with a hodgepodge of leftovers and bottled beverages and trays and trays of meat that Patrick buys on sale. So because I’m such a nice wife I offered to go through and clean out the fridge. One of the items that tragically got pushed way too far back […]

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Repost: Bringing Back Columbia’s Corn Sticks

February 3, 2016

Old school Columbians all have a story about Tapp’s department store and though I’m only 30 I have one too, though it’s fuzzy from it being so early in my life. Travel back in time to the very early 90s. I was about five or six, and I spent most of my waking hours in […]

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What You’ll Eat During A Kitchen Renovation

January 20, 2016

Like most people in these times, I turn to Google with questions. Medical ones, common sense but I forgot the answer ones, and ones I shouldn’t call people about at that time of day questions. So it only made sense that I asked Google what to eat during a kitchen renovation. What I found is […]

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