house & home

Photo Walkthrough of Squirrel House

Ian and I first moved to Philadelphia in the summer of 2017.  We bought a fixer upper at around 1,200 sq ft in a quiet neighborhood, and got to work.  Over the last two years, we changed everything from painting the walls to swapping out flooring.  Needless to say, everything looks very different from when we first moved in.  I love looking back at the photos of when we first saw the place to see how far we’ve come.  It also is a good reminder of the power of paint and a little elbow grease go a LONG way.

It’s crazy to think, we were just two kids in our mid-20s with a few power tools and big dreams.  We did over 90% of the renovations ourselves and probably put in around $20,000 for renovations throughout these past 2 years.

It’s very bittersweet, since we are in the midst of renovating a new home in the suburbs which we’ll hopefully move into in the next few months.  But we’re excited to rent out our current home to tenants who will love it as much as we do.

Oh, and for those wondering, we call our house Squirrel House because our street name is squirrel-related and there just happened to be lots of squirrels running around the neighborhood.

Most of the before pictures are from the listing when we first bought the house.  Some of the before photos are taken when we first moved in.  All after photos are taken on my trusty little iPhone SE.

living room – previously, this space had really outdated (and damaged) laminate flooring.  we swapped out the flooring, painted everything, replaced baseboards, and built fun furniture like the art ledge and the tv console.

| B E F O R E |

6991027_7_0.jpg

6991027_8_0.jpg

| A F T E R |

6B4219A8-957D-4C9F-AE5B-924315CA3323.JPG

57CE4A4D-A408-41FA-8655-BCEE5DABF30A.JPG

3EB01B43-039E-4ABB-8A20-BDC57A8B866C.jpg

CC88FA2A-82EA-41FD-A0D7-3620759D7D25.JPG

79BEC51E-616C-4834-A336-74DCE1009754.jpg

wall color: simply white by benjamin moore, newburyport blue by benjamin moore

dining room – our dining room isn’t super big, but it’s a good size to fit a large dining table.  we built this table that seats 8-10 people, painted everything, new baseboards.  but our proudest accomplishment here is probably removing the little hats on the chandelier.  instead of an outdated chandelier, it’s actually quite chic.

| B E F O R E |

6991027_11_0.jpg

| A F T E R |

8B2D33E0-06AC-492A-879B-C86B4ED01F2A.jpg

wall color: simply white by benjamin moore

kitchen – the kitchen was super outdated, so really anything we did would’ve been an upgrade.  we decided to keep the range and refrigerator since they were in decent condition.  we opted for an ikea kitchen, since it was the most affordable for us at the time.  we tiled for the first time when we did the subway tile backsplash.  we built a floating shelf and painted (!) the existing tile floors.

| B E F O R E |

6991027_5_0.jpg6991027_4_0.jpg

| A F T E R |

F7112514-2863-4F43-9935-5F004E9155FE.jpg

IMG_4494.jpg

wall color: grey owl by benjamin moore

upstairs hallway – besides getting new flooring all throughout upstairs, the biggest change in the hallway is the faux shiplap wall treatment that we did throughout the length of the hallway.  it really does a good job brightening up the hallway and adding interest to the walls without adding pictures of artwork.

| B E F O R E |

IMG_3889.jpg

| A F T E R |

6E4E8DD4-F587-4BFB-95E4-B85E1639EC33.jpg

A5FDEEE2-0AF3-4ECF-8F75-943F158E4D62.jpg

wall color: polar bear by behr

bedroom 1 – the office.  for all the bedroom upstairs, we swapped out the floors, redid the baseboards, painted everything, and swapped out the eyesore boob lights and replaced them with stylish flush mount lights.

| B E F O R E |

6991027_16_0.jpg6991027_15_0.jpg

| A F T E R |

wall color: simply white by benjamin moore

bedroom 2 – guest room.  this room was by far the tiniest room in the house.  we are still unsure how the previous owners managed to put a full-size bed and a desk in this tiny room.  but since we are currently using it as a guest room, we just opted for a full fize bed and a small nightstand that we had on hand.

6991027_18_0.jpg6991027_17_0.jpg

| A F T E R |

AC316EAC-F142-4385-A89D-F4FAD23AB449.jpg

wall color: simply white by benjamin moore

bedroom 3 – master bedroom.  this room was one of the hardest rooms to renovate.  the layout the previous owners chose made us scratch our heads in confusion as to why they would position their furniture that way.  this room also had a significant amount of water damage in the ceiling and wall, so we had to get a plaster repair contractor out to fix that.

| B E F O R E |

6991027_14_0.jpg6991027_13_0.jpg

| A F T E R |

5CEE9412-7358-48F0-882C-9F8627E6F1FA.jpg

301BF1CB-F269-43A0-9F58-B58CFC41C1E6.jpg

6AC29E7F-53BD-4207-8EB5-B8617886A9E7.jpg

 

wall color: simply white by benjamin moore

bathroom – the funny thing is that we ended up finishing the bathroom within the first month of moving in.  mainly because i refused to take a full shower in the old bathroom (i opted for quick 2 min quick wash) since the shower was sooooo dingy.  the old bathroom was painted a color that did not do it any favors, so i painted it a light gray that has a coastal vibe.  by swapping out the pedestal sink for a regular vanity gives us a lot more storage.  but the biggest transformation is probably removing the old shower door and opting for shower curtains.  since the bathroom is so tiny, it really opened up the space and made it seem much bigger than before.

| B E F O R E |

6991027_20_0.jpg

| A F T E R |

88008C09-F287-4F2D-BF21-321E2D6ABC3C.jpg

BB418B6D-9E60-4CF2-BD4A-66D146868BFC.jpg

0F558534-D3B8-4D5E-B20D-63B1BF1FAA9F.jpgAE513FC0-4A77-4EF8-A1BC-B5C072FF7B03.jpg

wall color: grey owl by benjamin moore

basement – we hired a contractor to do the majority of the work in the basement.  we had the staircase completely rebuilt, took off the old paneling and framed out the entire basement.  we added stylish drop ceiling to brighten up the space (the basement is actually really low, only about 7 1/2 ft height).  lastly, i laid down peel and stick vinyl flooring which is really great to have in the basement since the basement door leads out to the garage/outside, so we do come through the basement entrance quite often, and the vinyl flooring is so good for the high traffic area.

| B E F O R E |

IMG_1002.jpg

IMG_1003.jpg

IMG_1004.jpg

| A F T E R |

FE44131F-75A1-4B2D-87EF-7BD9753A7F86.jpg

wall color: polar bear by behr

Advertisements
Food & Drink

Apple Butter Muffins

DSC_6413fullsizeoutput_5a48

Fall is here!  I absolutely adore fall and everything that comes with it.  The best part of fall, in my opinion, is all the apple things we get to eat.  One of my favorite activities each fall is making a huge batch of apple butter to can and give out to neighbors.  This year, I made close to a gallon (!!!) of apple butter!  While I am a fan of spreading apple butter on almost everything, my favorite thing to do with apple butter is bake with it.  I decided to convert a very simple muffin recipe into the moistest apple butter muffins.  It will fill your home with the smells of fall, and it comes together in less than an hour.  Score!

Apple Butter Muffins

  • Servings: 12
  • Print

Ingredients

Apple Butter Muffins

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 Tb baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 3/4 cup apple butter
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil

Apple Butter Buttercream

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 Tb milk
  • 1/4 cup apple butter

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F.  Line or grease standard muffin tins.  In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves.  In a separate bowl, whisk together egg, milk, apple butter, and vegetable oil.  Incorporate dry ingredients into wet ingredients in parts.  Stir with a spatula until well combined and no dry ingredients visible (little lumps are okay).
  2. Spoon batter into prepared muffin tins.  Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
  3. While muffins are baking, make the buttercream.  Beat butter until light and fluffy, about 8-10 minutes.  Slowly add powdered sugar until you get an airy texture.  Mix in apple butter and beat until desired consistency.

philly

Philadelphia Museum of Art

It’s hard to drive on the I-76 through Philadelphia and not miss the gargantuan building that is the Philadelphia Museum of Art.  This museum is seriously impressive, boasting two floors filled with various collections ranging from Impressionist paintings to arms & armors collection to a Japanese garden.

Full disclosure: as much as I love museums, I often take advantage of free/discount days.  Honestly, I don’t remember the last time I paid full admission price for a museum.  The awesome thing about the Philadelphia Museum of Art is every Wednesday night from 5pm – 8:45 pm and every first Sunday of the month is pay-as-you-wish admission. I asked one of the staff what’s the lowest you can pay, and they said “one penny”.  SERIOUSLY.  For one penny, you can have access to one of the best art collections.

Processed with VSCO with a6 presetProcessed with VSCO with a6 presetProcessed with VSCO with a6 presetProcessed with VSCO with a6 presetIMG_4156

Another amazing thing about the art museum is the views.  The views from inside the museum or outside on the steps are some of the best in the city.  If you’re feeling extra touristy, the Rocky statue awaits you down the steps.  It’s become my favorite summer evening activity – going there on Wednesday nights after work and watching the sunset.  It doesn’t get much better than this.

IMG_4323

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

For more information, visit – https://philamuseum.org/

philly

An afternoon in East Passyunk

I’m finally getting a slow week after a few weeks of work and hosting visitors.  Finally I’m able to look through the photos I took of the places I visited and compile them into a post.  Up first – East Passyunk.

Despite living in Philly for 2 years now, this was actually my first time venturing down to East Passyunk (or even South Philly in general).  I’m not sure why, but I always have found my sweet spot to be hovering around Center City & Old City.  I’m a creature of habit, I suppose.

But when my friend visiting from San Francisco told me that she has to visit this plant shop in Philly, lo and behold it was located in East Passyunk.  Honestly, I didn’t know what to expect.  But after spending the afternoon there on a sweltering July day, I love it. So much.  What I love about it is that despite it having so many cute shops, cafes, and restaurants (which are all ridiculously well-rated), it’s not overly crowded, it’s fairly easy to find parking, and it maintains the perfect combination of residential and “hey, there’s stuff to do here” vibe.

As we were walking towards East Passyunk, we were greeted by this mural outside of Bing Bing Dim Sum.  We already had dinner plans so we didn’t dine here, but I’m definitely coming back.  It has great reviews… and that cat.

IMG_4372

In my opinion, the Gritty mural alone is worth the trip.  We probably spent 20 minutes trying to get “the perfect profile pic” in front of Gritty.  The best part was this lady who lives directly across the street, taking pictures of us taking pictures with Gritty.

IMG_4374

Rival Bros. is one of my favorite coffee roasters here in town.  Granted, I always visit the location near Kimmel Center.  But this one in East Passyunk was just so darn cute.

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

The granddaddy of it all was visiting Urban Jungle.  It’s one of the best indoor plant shops I’ve been to.  Fair warning, there’s no AC inside and I was sweating like a beast.  Regardless, the employees were so knowledgeable and helpful, and I got a cutie little plant to add to my collection.  My friend also bought a plant and lugged it back to San Francisco.

IMG_4406IMG_4405

I suppose another reason why East Passyunk is known as the foodie hub of Philly is its close proximity to Italian Market.  It’s just a stone’s throw away.  So we ended up walking towards Italian Market, passing by the famous Pat’s and Geno’s.  In case you were wondering, I don’t favor one over the other.  I live in Roxborough, and my wallet is loyal to Dalessandro’s.

IMG_4397IMG_4398

Food & Drink

Lemon Sorbet

DSC_5574DSC_5578

Ahhh summer.  One dessert I can never get enough of is sorbet.  I love, love, love the perfect combination of cold and citrus on a hot day.  The best part is sorbet is super easy to make and only requires ingredients I always have on hand.

I like to serve the sorbet in the lemons that I hollowed out.  It’s such a cute way to serve this simple dessert.

DSC_5576

Lemon Sorbet

  • Servings: 6
  • Print

Ingredients

  • 3 lemons, zested and juiced
  • 1 cup water
  • 3/4 cup sugar

Method

  1. In a small saucepan, combine water and sugar over medium-low heat.  Cook until sugar is melted.  Stir in lemon zest and lemon juice.  Let mixture completely cool.
  2. Pour in ice cream maker and churn according to manufacturer’s instructions.

Food & Drink

No-Bake Mini Lemon Cheesecake Cups

DSC_5556

I LOOOOOOVE no-bake desserts.  Especially when the heat is high in the middle of summer, no-bake desserts are the best.  Lately, I’ve been on a citrus kick, and I’ve been experimenting with the jar of lemon curd I made a week ago.

Coincidentally, I’m also cleaning out my pantry at the moment, and I found a sleeve of graham crackers that I need to eat before it expires.  I started experimenting with combining the two to make a no-bake dessert.  After some brainstorming, I came up with a really simple, lemon cheesecake cup.

The base is just like a regular graham cracker crust.  It’s very buttery and has a lot of bite to it.  The filling is not as dense as a cheesecake, but it’s nice and fluffy, which will give you serious lemon meringue pie vibes.  I topped the whole thing with a generous layer of lemon curd and voila!

DSC_5555

No-Bake Mini Lemon Cheesecake Cups

  • Servings: 24
  • Print

Ingredients

  • 16 graham cracker sheets, crushed
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 8 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2/3 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup lemon curd

Method

  1. Line the 24 cavities of a mini-muffin tin with paper liners or grease with butter.  In a small bowl, combine crushed graham crackers and butter.  Stir together until it forms a crumbly mixture.  Divide and press evenly along the base and sides in mini muffin tins.
  2. In a medium bowl, whip cream cheese until light and fluffy.  In a separate bowl, beat heavy cream with granulated sugar until it reaches stiff peaks.  Fold in the whipped cream cheese until well-combined.  Spoon approximately 2 tsp of cream cheese mixture in each cup (leave a little room on top).
  3. Spread a thin layer of lemon curd on the top.  Refrigerate 2 hours before serving.

Food & Drink

Lemon Curd

DSC_5542DSC_5545DSC_5537

If you know me, you know that my favorite desserts come from the citrus family.  And because I love citrus things so much, when it comes to lemon curd, the more the merrier.  I like to spread lemon curd on basically anything – scones, crackers, I can even eat it by the spoonful.

But I think the thing I love the most about lemon curd is how easy and simple it is to make with ingredients you probably already have at home!  Lately, I find that a lot of my desserts that I’ve been experimenting either uses only egg whites or egg yolks.  So I end up having to shift my cooking based on what I have in my fridge.  Since I had an overage of egg yolks last week, I decided to whip up a quick batch of lemon curd.

Lemon Curd

  • Servings: 12 oz
  • Print

Ingredients

  • 2 egg yolks
  • 2 lemons, zested and juiced
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 Tbs butter
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Method

  1. In a double boiler over medium heat, combine all the ingredients.  Using a whisk, whisk the mixture gently until it thickens and can coat the back of a spoon, about 10 minutes.
  2. Pour mixture into a heatproof container and let it come to room temperature.  Refrigerate before serving.