Before & After: We have a (Finished!) Coat Closet!

When we shared our laundry room before and afters, so many people wondered, well…what’s on the other side of the room? Oh you mean on the other side of this??


(See all the before and afters of the laundry room here) We conveniently left those pictures out, because, well, it looked like this:


Avert your poor eyes! But no longer! We had to move our laundry room before we started the kitchen, because a big part of the kitchen plans was adding a walk-in pantry. The pantry that I mentioned last week we were going to finish this weekend, but we decided to knock out the coat closet area instead. We just needed a shorter, faster, nearly mindless project I guess.

I want to rewind a little further in time, because although the above photo is what the other side of the new laundry room looked like earlier this summer, it originally looked like this when we moved in two years ago:


Behind me in this photo is the 4th bathroom that we tore out and converted to the laundry room. To the right leads to the garage (now the black door you see in the after photos) and that closet on the right might look like a coat closet, but it was actually just full of shelves like a linen closet would be. For the past two years, this space has been evolving. Below, you can see how over the past couple months everything finally took shape.


The recessed wall of the fridge became the perfect spot for Charly’s raised feeding bowls (check out the DIY here) and a mirror and the extra space behind it became the coat closet we’ve been pining for for two years.


Through the garage is where we normally enter the house so a spot for keys and a place to hang coats has been on our wish list for some time. Saturday, we tackled everything from adding baseboards, doorknob, painting the walls , and making the interior of the closet actually function.


With such a warm, but white, room we thought the closet would be such a fun and unexpected place to add some color. I had some paint left over from when we painted our bedroom the first timeValspar’s Flannel Gray from Ace, and it is the perfect moody blue.


I painted the shelf (and the little support boards we used to hang the shelf) all the same color since it is a small space and chopping it up with too many different finishes would look unsettled. We hung a simple oil rubbed bronze bar we picked up at Lowe’s and filled it with wooden hangers (also from Lowe’s) for warmth and to tie into the countertop on the laundry side of things.


We stashed three canvas bins (Lowe’s again) up top to hold our hats, scarves/gloves and bags respectively. We’re ready for you, cold weather! (not really)


The mirror and key holder are both from Target. A coat closet seems like such a simple thing, but this has made us feel so happy! We have a closet! We have a space to hang our keys. And Charly has a permanent place to chow down (we promise we won’t move it again, pup!). We always strive for our home to be as functional and practical as it is beautiful and this is another major step in that direction.


I’ll end with this photo of how the laundry room/garage entry correlates with the kitchen. I’m going to do better at trying to share more of these kinds of angles, because although it should be obvious to me, sometimes I forget that you all aren’t here and don’t necessarily understand how everything flows. I’m also have a video tour on deck for this fall, so look forward to that, too! This space is officially a wrap!

The First Recipe From Our New Kitchen – Fennel and Fig Roasted Chicken with Potatoes, Braised Cabbage and Lemon Pan Sauce

Our new kitchen is the greatest, non-living thing in my life right now. I can’t adequately express how much fun it is to cook in this space, on these Frigidaire Professional appliances, and I’m excited to share my first recipe that came from this new place! Well, this “recipe” is actually 4 recipes, which come together to make one awesome meal, so let’s get to it, shall we?

Fennel and Fig Roasted chicken with Potatoes, Braised Cabbage and Lemon Pan Sauce
Ok first, we prep.

Fennel and Fig Roasted Chicken

Here’s what you need for these recipes:
Roasted Chicken:
• 1 whole fryer chicken
• 1 bulb of fennel
• 5 garlic cloves
• 2-3 Tbsp cooking oil
• 1 handful dried figs
• 3-4 sprigs fresh thyme
• 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
• salt and pepper TT

Roasted Potatoes:
• 10-14 small red potatoes
• 1 Tbsp cooking oil
• 2 pinches each salt & pepper
• 2 sprigs fresh oregano

Braised Cabbage:
• 1/4 head of green cabbage
• 1/2 cup precooked bacon
• 1 small sweet onion
• 1/2 cup unsalted chicken stock
• 2 pinches each salt & pepper

Lemon Pan Sauce:
• pan the chicken was roasted in, along with drippings
• 1 Tbsp flour
• juice of 1 lemon
• 2 cups unsalted chicken stock
• salt and pepper TT

Now that all sounds like a lot, right? Well don’t worry, we’ll walk through it together and, even though having two ranges makes it a whoooooooole lot easier (not to rub it in, or anything), you can still do this with one oven. You just have to manage the timing and oven space.

So first, prep everything, by doing the following:
• Preheat the ovens, both to 400 degrees. If using only one oven, bump this up to 425, as you’ll need to crowd the oven a bit and bumping up the temperature makes up for that. Place a baking sheet into one of the ovens to preheat along with it.
Cooking Tip – our long-time readers are familiar with the phrase, “cold oil, hot pan.” that’s life’s little secret to preventing food from sticking to cooking surfaces. By preheating the baking sheet in the oven and coating the potatoes in a small amount of oil, once you slide the potatoes onto the hot pan, there will be no sticking. The pan should heat for 10 minutes after the oven reaches cooking temperature. The Frigidaire Professional Ranges have PowerPlus® Preheat technology, which gets that up to temperature in a few minutes. This is super handy, especially when combined with convection roasting, which also cuts cook time down.

Fennel and Fig Roasted Chicken
• Break down the chicken into its main parts – breasts, wings, thigh/leg quarters
Cooking Tip- white meat, like that from the breast and wings, is very lean and can dry out easily. It should be cooked to 163 degrees and allowed to rest for at least 10 minutes before serving. Dark meat, like that from the leg and thigh, contains more connective tissue which doesn’t start breaking down until a little warmer, around 175. The breaking down process also moistens the meat, so dark meat is best at this higher temperature. By breaking a whole chicken down to its main parts, you can use a meat thermometer in the white meat to monitor its temperature, remove it at 163, put the thermometer into the dark meat and continue cooking until it reaches 175. Something I love about our new Frigidaire Professional Ranges – they come with built in meat thermometers and you can just set the temperature you want to cook to, instead of guessing how long. Loooooove it.
• Fennel stalks can be saved to use in stocks and soups for flavoring, but if you use them that way be sure to remove them and throw them out before eating, because they are super fibrous. For this recipe, cut off the fronds (the tender, leafy parts of the stalks) and dice the bulb (the white, round part at the base). Place the fronds and bulb in separate bowls.
• Peel and roughly chop the garlic cloves.
• Wash and pat dry the red potatoes. Toss them with 1 Tbsp of oil and 2 pinches each of salt and pepper in a zip top bag until evenly coated.
• Roughly chop the cabbage into 2-3 inch pieces.
• Slice the sweet onion.
• Juice the lemon into a bowl and remove any seeds.
• Put the remaining ingredients in bowls and have them ready for when you need to use them.

Once you’ve prepped all your ingredients, now it’s time to get cooking. First, put a medium-sized dutch oven (or large sauté pan) on medium heat. Add 2 Tbsp cooking oil.
Sprinkle each piece of chicken with salt and pepper on both sides, and sear the chicken pieces, starting with the skin side down. Only do 2-3 pieces at a time, making sure they aren’t touching (otherwise they will trap steam in the pan and start boiling instead of searing).

Fennel and Fig Roasted Chicken

Once the chicken is seared, add another Tbsp of cooking oil to the pan and sauté the garlic, diced fennel bulb and figs on low heat for 2-3 minutes.

Add the chicken into the pan, avoiding overlap as much as possible, and sprinkle in the fresh thyme, rosemary, and fennel fronds.

Fennel and Fig Roasted Chicken

Fennel and Fig Roasted Chicken

Slide the chicken into the oven, insert the meat thermometer into the thickest part of one of the breast pieces and set the alarm for 163 (“done” is 165, but there will be carryover in cooking, so if you remove at 163, it should coast up to 165). For meat thermometers that go in increments of 5 degrees, I set mine to 160 and give it another couple minutes after the alarm sounds. For the chicken, since it was seared, you’re looking around 20 minutes or so until it’s done.

Open the other oven, with the preheated baking sheet, quickly remove the baking sheet and close the oven door to prevent heat loss. Slide the potatoes onto the baking sheet in a single layer, and slide the sheet back into the oven (again, quickly). Roast until tender in the center, about 30 minutes.

Fennel and Fig Roasted Chicken
Put a 5 qt stock pot on medium heat and add the precooked bacon to release some of the grease. Add the sliced onion and cook for 2-3 minutes. Remove the bacon and onion, add the cabbage, and sprinkle in the sale, pepper and chicken stock. Put the bacon and onion mix on top and cover. Return every 5 minutes to toss the cabbage around until it’s tender, cooked through, and the bacon/onion is evenly dispersed throughout. About 15 minutes. Once done, turn off the heat and keep the covered until ready to serve.

Once the chicken is done, remove it from the oven and place on a platter to cool, along with the figs, fennel and herb sprigs. Put the dutch oven on medium-low heat and whisk 1 Tbsp of flour into the drippings until it begins to brown and smell a bit like popcorn (this is called a “roux” and is used to thicken the sauce). Whisk the chicken stock in, 1/2 cup at a time, until the mix is smooth. Add the lemon juice, 1 Tbsp at a time until the sauce has a bright, clean flavor, but is not sour. Salt and pepper to taste.

At this time, the chicken should have rested for 10 minutes, and both the potatoes and cabbage should be done. Chop the leaves of the fresh oregano, discarding the stems, and toss the leaves with the potatoes. Plate with a small heap of the cabbage first, chicken on top with potatoes, fennel and fig to the side. Spoon a bit of the pan sauce over it and that’s it.

Fennel and Fig Roasted Chicken

The sauce is my favorite part of this dish. It’s so velvety and complements the chicken perfectly. This, of course, is the first of many dishes I hope to share with you from this kitchen. We’re heading into Fall and I have so many things I want to make, and I wish I could serve them to you all directly. Jules has made similar comments, and we really do mean it. But even though there may be a lot of geography between us, hopefully you can make this meal for you and your loved ones, and we can share a meal together that way.

Cheers, all. To many more meals in the future.

We’ll bob for apples in the toilet…and you’ll LIKE IT!!


At the beginning of October, we have a family tradition of finding some sort of costume around the house and taking a photo for our annual costume party invitations. Yesterday we did just that! It’s our 5th consecutaive year doing this and it’s so fun seeing Greta, errr Squints!, get more and more into it. This year’s costume was born completely around that (non-stretch! no stretch at all!) vintage bathing suit my mom had stashed in the dress up. Charly is wearing my shirt, and Smalls is killing me–Faye Faye, you nailed it. Tweaking a popular tagline from Sandlot, and we had our invites: We’ll bob for apples in the toilet…and you’ll LIKE IT!

Along with our invitations, we lay out (for us and you) what projects we want to get done before welcoming 150 guests into our home for the big party. We have been known to get dozens of projects done with that kind of pressure, but this year, coming off completing the kitchen–the largest project we have ever done!–we only have a couple projects on deck to check off before the costume party on the 24th.

1. The Pantry. Before we started the kitchen, we boxed up almost all of our kitchen stuff and brought it downstairs to a spare bedroom. It’s still almost all there because some of it really belongs in the pantry. Chris and I are starting the pantry tonight (date night to Lowe’s! Woot!) and hope to finish it this weekend?  How long could it take? We’ll see. We are still waiting for our big idea to hit, but maybe pantries don’t require any big ideas.

2. The Coat Closet. Opposite the washer and dryer in the new laundry area, and on the other side of the wall from the new pantry, we made a coat closet and there’s even a wall there for a mirror. This should be a pretty simple project, too, but an essential one. Idaho is going to be cold any minute!

3. The Yard/Exterior. Our poor yard has been neglected this summer due to the kitchen. It needs some weeding, mowing, edging. And the front door, which now is sporting two different hardware because our handle BROKE OFF one day, really could use some attention.

So that’s three projects we’re focusing on, and you can look forward to over the next 22 days. Have a great weekend and we’ll see you next week with pantry progress!

See last year’s invitation photo here