Design Choices

The past two years have been rough. Between COVID, much more alone time than usual, and quite a bit of sickness and loss, I think we’re all really ready for some bright spots. Mine right now is definitely our new home.

I’ve been excited to move now that we have a place to go to, and can begin planning on how to make our home a nice little nest for our family. I’ve been working from home for a few years now, so am stoked to have a home office to make my own. I know many of you initially bookmarked my account to follow for my crazy dating stories or even later on for my relationship with Robert, but expect a lot of interior design in the coming months — along with some stories about love and life sprinkled in here and there.

The Design Studio

Going to choose everything for our home was so much fun. Robert is super easygoing, and I’m pretty sure he thinks I am basically an HGTV design star. We bought our home while he was still deployed, so I had to go make some of the decisions without him. This ended up being fine because he thought it would be more fun for my mom and I to go together and spend hours upon hours looking at tile, flooring, appliances, and literally every detail that goes in to creating a home together. Did I mention my mom went to school for interior design? Growing up we always had HGTV on somewhere in the house, and would tour dream homes just for fun. When I was a kid I would talk about how I loved my parents’ “French countryside” furniture, and always thought I would have a sweet farmhouse of my own when I grew up. As with many things in life, things change, and I am steering clear of the recently popular “modern farmhouse” look, but I still think it’s so special that I became interested in this so long ago and am now finding my own footing in designing my own home. Going to the studio with her was so special and reminded me of all the times I went to look at beautiful designs growing up. It was also hilarious because both she and the designer at the studio wouldn’t give me their opinions on anything until after I said my own. We all quickly noticed I have a hatred for beige and love of all things cool.

Each of these drawers had different tiny tile samples or stacks of carpet samples. There are hundreds of options and it was so fun sorting through it all!

The design studio was a blast. The first time I went, I really went after a lot of what the model home had. After all — if it’s not broken, why fix it? Here is the palette of some of the items I looked at that first visit:

I’m surprised at some of the warmth I am seeing here, knowing what I ended up with.
I initially said I wanted a bright and light floor, despite always loving the dramatic rich chocolate brown. I looked at these choices, and quickly nixed the bright white, but thought I might go with one of the other three.
These were the final 2 bathroom tiles I chose between. I ended up going with the gray vein, as opposed to the warmer tone, because that’s just more my vibe.
I also considered doing a wood porcelain wood tile in the bathroom, but ultimately decided to do white marble.
And here is how I changed my selections the second time I went to the design studio. I chose a frosty white countertop, white cabinets, brushed nickel hardware, and still was going with the light LVP floor choice.

The model home definitely has coastal California vibes — a style I absolutely love. The more I thought about it, though, the more it just didn’t sit right with me. We don’t live near a beach, and I have always loved dark, romantic wood floors. I feel like the two things that are super “in” right now are modern and beachy vibes. It’s hard choosing things you feel will be timeless because trends are forever changing. For example, green or blue cabinets are going to be increasingly popular in kitchens this year, but that’s not something I’m going to want even a few years down the road. So I chose white with brushed nickel hardware. It looks clean and crisp, and will hide in the background and let some of the blue accent pieces I want to get shine. I also chose a white subway tile with white grout for the backsplash because it will allow for bolder design choices outside of what is built inside the kitchen.

Back to the Lab Again

Robert did come to the design studio the second time, and we changed things up a bit. Let the record show that he was the one who decided I should get the pricier countertops since we were already paying for labor and materials, and they wouldn’t be that much more all wrapped up in a mortgage. I changed our kitchen from being a frost white to being white with gray veins, and we solidified the beautiful white marble for our master bath. I definitely am excited about the change, even though what we had in place before was beautiful too.

I couldn’t shake the flooring we had picked, though. I love a nice bright home, but I have always been drawn to the rich dark floors. When we were looking at established homes, I always got giddy over dark floors with bright kitchens. I went back to the studio, once again, and did a complete 180 on the bright gray floor I had picked before.

The floor wasn’t sitting right with me, so I went back to the studio a third time by myself and switched to one of the darkest browns. I feel really excited about this choice now that it’s locked in.

Our home is incredibly open concept, which will make hosting super fun. I can cook and heat up food without being far from all of the action in the living room or breakfast table. We are a huge fan of game nights, so I imagine this will be an easy way to refill appetizers during an intense game of Settlers of Catan. Maybe me being away from the table for a minute will give someone else a chance at winning for once. ūüėČ

I’ll give a good house tour as soon as our home is ready, but it takes awhile for the building process, so that won’t be until August or September. In the meantime I’m going to share pieces here and there, but am more excited to show the finished product all together.

Since I designed most of the inside, I wanted Robert to be able to do something fun — the exterior colors. I didn’t want to influence him too much, but definitely had some favorite color schemes. He ended up choosing one of my favorites, which was really exciting. It’s a really deep gray with sleek black shutters and a gorgeous bright red door. Here is a sample, and I can’t wait to finally show a picture of our actual home one day:

He did a great job picking this out, and I keep saying how beautiful an American flag is going to look out front.

There is still a lot to do, but this was a super fun (and long) part of the process. I can’t wait to be able to do a video tour of the first time we go in our house!

Sunday, Funday

Today is Sunday, but it feels like Saturday or Monday or Wednesday! Let’s face it — they all feel the same at this point.

Yesterday I decided I need to have a little more of a routine through all of this. I woke up at a reasonable hour today, and started my morning with some of the new assignments I have. I’m going to learn new skills in the kitchen a few times a week — two days ago I learned how to use the InstantPot, and tomorrow I’d like to learn how to make a quiche or other breakfast food involving spinach and eggs — and have a set workout routine that I must stick with. I decided to take up Pilates again, and found a good little YouTube video yesterday to begin. Something I really like about Pilates is that your workout just feels so dang good while you’re stretching. It’s composed of such tiny movements that Pilates work some muscles that you don’t even realize are there, and the next day you’re shocked with how sore some of your little muscles are.

Some things on my to do list this week are:

  • Finish cleaning out my closet, and find someone to donate all my clothing to.
  • Bake a healthy dessert that doesn’t taste healthy at all.
  • Find one new small business to support.
  • Spend 10 minutes/day refreshing my memory on some good, elementary US history.
  • Try a new food. This week I discovered that I do, in fact, like Caesar salads, despite refusing to try them for 29 years.
  • Call one friend or family member every day, just to catch up.

These are all super doable and will make some of the time spent indoors feel more productive. What are you doing to make your day feel worthwhile?

Crispy Pesto Salmon

One of my best friends, Nicole, called me from Trader Joe’s the other day because she knows how much of a TJ’s fan I am. She wanted to know about a few of the items there, and after chatting for awhile I decided she would probably love to try my crispy pesto salmon. It is absolutely delicious and has the perfect little crunch over a creamy basil pesto sauce. Hungry yet?

Gluten-free Crispy Pesto Crusted Salmon

Okay, so here are the ingredients:
-Wild Caught Salmon (Boneless)
-Pesto
-Mayonaise
-Lemon Juice
-Corn Flakes Crumbs
-Extra Virgin Olive Oil
-Sweet Potatoes
-Broccoli
-Salt
-Pepper

pesto salmon ingredients

Step 1:¬†Preheat oven to 400¬įF. I almost always do 400 because it’s just easy to remember and 50¬į above or below 350¬į and 450¬į, so I figure it works no matter what.

Step 2: Chop up the sweet potatoes and broccoli florets and put them on a cookie sheet. I always do the veggies first so I can use the same cutting board and knife for the meat. It makes cleanup so much easier having fewer dishes! I also always use aluminum foil because it’s easier to clean off a pan this way.

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Step 3:¬†Drizzle EVOO, salt, and pepper on the vegetables. Feel free to get crazy and add spices like cinnamon or turmeric to¬†them if you’d like! They’re known for regulating blood sugar and helping with inflammation.

Step 4:¬†Pat the salmon dry, and cut it into however many servings you’d like. It doesn’t matter how large or small the fillet is.

 

salmon raw
I cut each of these into 3 filets.

Step 5: Put the salmon on the same pan as the veggies. You can drizzle a little EVOO on the pan before placing it there, and then cover in salt and pepper.

Step 6:¬†Make the pesto sauce. Mix 4/5 parts pesto, 1/5 parts mayo. It doesn’t really matter how much mayonnaise you decide to use, but I always like the pesto to still have a very green color. It just looks a little more pale when you put the mayonnaise in. I should note that I¬†hate¬†mayo in everyday life, but it adds a good creaminess to this dish!

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Step 7:¬†Spread as much of the sauce as you’d like on top of the salmon filets. I usually make it a little thick so there’s more flavor, but if you want it super-crispy, be more conservative with the sauce. Then, sprinkle as much of the Corn Flakes as you’d like on top of the mixture on the salmon, and put it in the oven to cook.

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salmon sheet pan crispy.png

Step 8:¬†Bake until the salmon is ready (It depends on how well done you’d like it), and the vegetables begin to brown.

Step 9: While your food cooks, make the extra pesto sauce. Mix the same ratio of pesto and mayo, then add a few squeezes lemon juice, a pinch of salt, and a few pinches of pepper.

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Once everything is done cooking, take it out of the oven and top with as much of the extra pesto sauce as you’d like. Robert likes it on his veggies too, but I only eat it on the salmon because I think that’s kind of weird and I like the vegetables just the way they are.


Post a comment if you decide to try this how you like it! I didn’t post a picture of the end result because 1) I was too hungry and took a few bites before I realized I probably should have gotten a pretty picture and 2) I don’t know how to make brown things look appetizing. The end of this reminded me of Thanksgiving dinner — it tastes amazing but no matter how hard you try to make your plate look good, it never in a million years will.

Krista’s Kitchen: Coconut Curry Chicken

I took a survey on my Instagram last week, and found a lot of people were interested in having me write about what I cook. Let me begin with this: I am not a chef, and before Robert and I got married we joked about how he would be doing all the cooking since I couldn’t even make simple grilled chicken without completely burning it. Like, I would char it completely to make sure it was cooked thoroughly.¬†Now, though, I am all about creating recipes that are super easy, healthy, and tasty. I think cooking is fun, and I am surprisingly capable after learning more about different ingredients. I want to make recipes that literally anyone can do, and without all the work of measuring out ingredients and being hassled with following something exactly.

Today, I want to share my newest creation that I can actually take 100% credit for! I made it last night with some ingredients I picked out from the store, and I was actually anticipating to get a major fail blog post out of it. My coconut curry chicken is now Robert’s favorite dish I’ve ever made, though, and he said he gives it a 9.8 out of 10, which is the closest to perfect he’ll ever get. He said this was comparing it to restaurants and every kind of food he’s ever had. I asked if he’s ever had a dish that’s a 10 before, and he said no. Not to toot my own horn, but I am pretty proud that this was ranked as one of the best foods in his book!

Okay so it’s really easy to make, but before getting started I want to preface this post with something. I cook by eyeballing everything. I compare this to playing music by ear; you don’t need to have measuring cups or any sort of help reading exact numbers for my recipes. I’ll explain how I make everything based on ratios or describing how much flavor you want in a recipe. This, in my opinion, makes things a lot easier and more customizable from person to person. I typically make enough food for 2, so just add more however much you think you need when cooking for a bigger party. Here goes nothing!

Coconut Curry Chicken

Krista’s Coconut Curry Chicken

Ingredients: 
Chicken Breast
Ground Turmeric
Curry Powder
Chili Powder
Chopped Garlic Cloves
Lime Juice
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Salt
Pepper
Jasmine Rice
Coconut Milk
Carrots
Butter
Ground Cinnamon

Step 1:¬†Preheat oven to 400¬įF.

coconut rice.png
No, I don’t believe in measuring cups, but this was a good one to display the rice in.

Step 2: make the coconut rice.

Coconut rice is one of my favorite things and is so easy to make! Literally all you do is dump the coconut milk (I love the organic coco milk from Trader Joe’s) into a pot on the stove, cover, and heat until it begins to boil.

Coconut Milk.png

Just a heads-up, if you get the milk with a normal amount of fat in it, it might be partially solid. The first time I made this I threw out the milk because I thought it went bad since it was solid, but it’s supposed to be like this! It will melt into a liquid once it begins to boil.

Once the coconut milk is boiling, add a pinch of salt, and dump in about 3/4 the amount of rice as there was liquid. An easy way to do this is just measure it in the empty coconut milk can.

coconut measure.png

Once you pour the rice in the pot, re-cover it, turn the heat to “medium low,” and cook without stirring until the rice is fluffy and has absorbed all the liquid.

Now, let’s move on to the main dish while the rice cooks!

Step 3: Put the seasoning together.

Seasoning chicken is surprisingly easy. The only things I used were turmeric, curry, garlic, lime juice (sorry I put a photo with a lemon, but I changed my mind at the last minute and am not professional enough to retake the photo. Plus, using a lemon instead will not kill you, and is a fine substitute I’m sure), salt, and pepper.

seasoning.png

Start by putting three shakes of chili powder into a mixing bowl. Then, put in a very generous amount of curry powder. After all, the dish is called “chicken curry,” so we need this flavor to really stand out! Add about half the amount of ground turmeric as there is curry in the bowl. I just eyeballed all of this to be¬†more than¬†enough to season the chicken breast with, that way I didn’t have to make up a mixture again or have a naked chicken.

Add a few pinches of salt and pepper, then stir in enough EVOO to turn the mixture into a little bit of a liquid, but still smell primarily like curry. If it smells too much like EVOO, add more curry and turmeric until the marinade smells like seasoning again. Squirt in as much lime (or lemon) juice as you think seems good. I used one of those premade lime juices that you keep in the fridge, and put in about 6 drops.¬†Chop up a few garlic cloves and toss them in there, too. I really roughly chopped it, which is why you can clearly see chunks of garlic on my finished product. I bet you thought those were peanuts or some sort of fancy topping. Nope, just good ol’ garlic!

EVOO.png

Step 4: Prepare the chicken.

I always start off by patting the chicken breast dry with paper towels, and placing it on a cutting board. As I mentioned before, I don’t know a lot about cooking, so I probably hack off a little too much of the chicken. Are those white things veins that need to be gone, or fat that is chewy and gross? Or is it just part of the chicken breast? Regardless, the shape of my chicken sometimes isn’t very pretty because of my lack of knowledge.

chicken before.png
The chicken before I did a lot of unnecessary chopping

chicken after.png
Chicken after I got rid of the suspicious white stuff

Then, cover both sides with salt and pepper. This is a step I only take because I have watched enough of¬†The Food¬†Network¬†to know that it’s an incredibly professional move.

After that, throw the chicken into the sauce and cover it completely. I mixed all the chicken around a ton so it would be evenly coated. Put it on a baking sheet and cook until the chicken is white throughout. You can Google “How long do you bake chicken?” to find more answers on food safety and such. I don’t want to be responsible for any food poisoning, and honestly I just cook it until it seems ready, then cut into it to be sure that it is no longer pink.

sauce.png

Step 5: While the chicken is cooking, you can take care of the carrots. These are literally the easiest thing to make of all time.

Start by chopping up as many carrots as you’d like. I did four for two people, but they were enormous since they weren’t organic and were likely genetically modified. I don’t typically go this route, but the organic bag was way too big and heavy for me to carry, so here we are with these four foot long vegetables.

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Then, let some butter melt in a saucepan. Once again, put in as much as you’d like depending on how fattening you’d like this meal to be. You could also use EVOO or some other ingredient to saut√©. I don’t think it really matters.

Toss a bunch of cinnamon and a pinch of salt on the carrots. I love cinnamon, so I don’t think you can really have too much of it.

carrots cinnamon.png

Cook until soft, stirring on occasion. It takes maybe like, 5-7 minutes?

Step 6:¬†Cook everything until it’s all done, then put it all together on a plate. I don’t really know how else to end this, but I think you are capable enough to finish dinner on your own. I certainly have no idea what I’m doing and was able to execute it alright.

Final Product.png

I’d give this recipe an 8/10. I really liked it and am craving it again now that I’m writing about it and looking at all the photos. Minus the ones of the raw chicken — raw meat really grosses me out, which made me almost decide to not include those photos. I think they were necessary to break up the steps and make this an easy read, though.

Please let me know what you think of this if you decide to make it, and if you’d like to see more of this! Since I love to cook now I might be doing a few recipes each month, rather than a million Instagram stories that will disappear.