He Asked for Samosas

We love Samosas.  However, they are deep fried.  That doesn't work so well with eating nutritarian.

We had some friends from Ty's work over, it was my first time meeting them.  I wanted to make something good and have plenty of whole food things to make, but Ty really really wanted samosas.  So that's what was on the menu.  I also made Red Lentil Curry and heated up some naan from New Seasons that was probably the best store-bought naan I've ever had!

The samosas were good, although after not eating oil with our diet change, they were definitely a little heavy.  But as usual, the tamarind dipping sauce that I make for them is really the reason you eat the fried part.  Go HERE to see both recipes.  I need to use the sauce with other dishes just so I have an excuse to make it!

If you've never tried making samosas, I do think they are a lot of fun to make and serve.

In all, the night was a lot of fun.  I'm excited about our new friends!  Thanks to grad school for another connection to cool people.  I'm looking forward to our next dinner adventure together.
**I did try baking some of these the next day and they turned out awful!  I used egg roll wrappers, but a homemade pie dough or puff pastry might work better...if anyone has healthy versions of either of those, send them my way!

We Buy Our Kids' Halloween Candy

The build up to Halloween, the costumes, decorations, and anticipation by little kids, is half the fun of the holiday.  However, Halloween trick-or-treating is the real activity that peaks the celebration.  Looking at all our kids' candy, we cringe at all our efforts to be healthy being tossed away in a single neighborhood sweep.  

That being said, we also give out candy, it's what you do.  Sure I could hand out bouncy balls or boxes of raisins, but that would cost so much more money that I'd rather spend on my own family.  

So we compromise. 

We left the bowl of candy on our doorstep and went together for family trick-or-treating.  The kids had a blast (thank you to those neighbors who decorated the outside of their houses!).  As we are trick-or-treating, the kids might eat one or two pieces of candy.

When we get home, they already know the drill.  

Pick any 5 pieces of candy, whatever size you want, and the rest we buy from you.  

Last year we gave a price per piece of candy.  To make it even, and to cut out the work for us (but would work really well once the kids are a little older), we gave an overhead price for the lot.  We told the kids we could go pick out a toy, book, or craft that they wanted at the store for $10-15.  

Maybe this is trading one problem for another, but I still like it.  The kids do have candy and really enjoy it.  They totally feel like they are a part of the holiday and don't feel like they are getting ripped off by us buying their candy.  But then they aren't begging for candy, there's no tummy aches, and there's a bonus of some entertainment with something new to do or play with.  Then we can move back into the routine of apples and peanut butter for a snack, rather than sweet tarts.

I've heard of someone doing a point system for candy as well, with different prizes worth different point amounts.  Sounds like a great idea.

Does anyone else do something creative with curbing the candy?  (Hiding the chocolate in your own stash is not the correct answer.)  :)

Fresh Banana Muffins

This is exactly why these muffins disappear quickly at our house.  One-year-olds are very fast!

I don't know about you, but I have notes jotted down for about three different banana breads.  I've finally made this one so many times that I have an exact ingredient list that is amazing!  Sure, they have sugar in them.  You can play with a natural sugar like honey or syrup.  Next time I make them I'm going to try totally sugarless with added craisins.  The recipe as is tastes really good with 1/4 cup golden raisins in it as well.
Fresh Banana Muffins
Makes 24 muffins

3 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup almond meal
2 cups oatmeal
2 tsp baking soda
3 tsp baking powder
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup sugar
2 flax eggs (if you are wondering what these are, go to this Huffington Post article)
2 tsp vanilla
3/4 - 1 cup applesauce (add 3/4 and see if the batter needs more liquid before adding the other 1/4)
6 bananas

Preheat oven to 350.  I mix this in my kitchen aid mixer with my cookie beater attachment, but sometimes I use my hand beaters.  Add all ingredients in the bowl, mix until well combined, fill lightly oiled or lined muffin tins.  Cook 15-20 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean or with dry crumbs.

*This is also good with 1/2 cup golden raisins.
**If you don't have almond meal, then add another 1 cup of whole wheat flour.

Falling into Reading

"Falling" into reading, you know...since it's fall...  Okay.  I'm painfully punny.  I live with a man that is always so quick-witted and I'm so not.  Most jokes that I try are just awkward or lame.  But because of that, I guess they are funny in their own way.  Maybe??

Okay, moving on.  I have been on such a reading kick recently!  Anyone else?  This is the stack on my desk right now.  

This pile is missing 2 books that I already read this past month, "Once a Witch" by Carolyn MacCullough and "These is my Words" by Nancy Turner.  "Once a Witch" is a quick young adult read that I thought would be appropriate for October.  I enjoyed it's plot, love interest, and magic.  The witch characters each have a different power (think the show Heros).  I want to read the sequel "Always a Witch" as well.  The other book by Nancy Turner was so good!  I think it will be one of my all-time favorites.  It's set in 1881 in the Arizona Territory, told journal style from the narrator's point of view.  It portrays the roughness of the west, yet the love story is so beautiful.  

From this pile I've read "Hiding in the Spotlight" by Greg Dawson.  His mother was a Jewish Ukrainian survivor of the Holocaust.  He didn't find out until later in life and then wrote this story of his mother and aunt's life as they "hid" among the Nazis as pianists.  It was moving and inspiring.  

It seems like this pile is growing taller rather than shorter right now, but I've got to keep reading to beat the library due dates!  I'm in the beginning of "Good bones. Great pieces." and I'm excited to keep reading.  

I'm also reading "The Happiness Project" by Gretchen Rubin and thoroughly enjoying myself.  After looking up on her site, I'm really interested in doing a Happiness Project with a group!  There are templates to print out and instructions for groups on happiness-project.com.  The author realized that she didn't feel as happy as she could and divided a year into different focus months, with corresponding goals for each month's theme.  I'm in chapter 5 right now and already feel like a better person for reading the book...and I already want to re-read it!  Anyone else want to join a happiness project?  Anyone else read the book?

And at the bottom of the stack is "Mother Teresa: The Life and Works of a Modern Saint."  I put it down several times in the Target isle, but then couldn't resist a 3rd time.  She's too inspiring to stand by.  As I'm reading through this, I already see ways I can simplify and love more.  She was amazing.  This will be one thing that always remains on our book shelves.  

What's in your pile?

Kale Soup

I don't know very many good tasting recipes for kale, but this soup is one that I do happen to have up my sleeve.  This is perfect for the current fall weather!

Kale Soup
adapted from Rachael Ray

2 carrots, thinly sliced crosswise
1 onion, finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic
1/2 bunch (8 oz) kale, stemmed and coarsely chopped
1 can (15 oz) cannellini beans
1 can (14.5 oz) petite diced tomatoes
1 Tbsp flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
1-2 cups cooked brown rice
Salt and pepper to taste

Water saute* carrots and onions until tender.  Add garlic and saute with carrots and onion for 1-2 minutes.  Stir in the kale and about 1 cup water.  Cover the pot and cook until wilted, about 10 minutes.

You might want to check that enough water remains in the pot so the kale doesn't burn (one drawback to not using oil...but not a deal breaker).

Stir in cannellini beans and their liquid, tomatoes and their juices, the parsley and crushed red pepper.  Lower the heat, cover partially and gently simmer for 10 minutes.

Add brown rice and 3-4 cups of water (more or less of each according to what you want).  Season with salt and pepper.  Simmer for 10 minutes.

*If you don't want to/know how to water saute, then use oil as you regularly would.

Whole Wheat Bread

Remember how I was talking about my kids eating "Healthy Peanut Lettuce Wraps"?  They were so excited about eating them...and now it seems this past week has been pulling teeth to get them to even taste some things!  Granted my beet soup last night left something to be desired (the original recipe was good, but with my healthy changes, not so much), it takes one bite to qualify that you've tasted it.  You would have thought I asked them to eat some fuzzy moldy cheese.  The mission was accomplished, but with SO much complaining.

These are the times that we have to stick to our guns.  These are the times they will test if we are serious.  I know kids ebb and flow with attitude and I hope the flow returns quickly.

That being said, they put up no complaints gobbling this bread down!  There was a local deal at our Great Harvest of buy one get one free on Monday and Tuesday mornings, but then they decided to discontinue it.  It's not worth it for me to shell out over $10 for 2 loaves of bread.  I decided to try my hand at baking it, something I've wanted to do for a while.
Before this I was overwhelmed with the bread making idea.  It all sounded super time consuming and involved lots of hands-on.

Thanks to a friend, I have a recipe that requires no hand kneading, does not use a bread machine, and will be done it about 2 hours without any intense labor on your part.  Plus it tastes awesome!

I have really enjoyed making this at least once a week (sometimes more if I'm giving some away).

I've tried this with and without added gluten (thanks to Winco bulk section).  The gluten does make it airier but the non-gluten version doesn't make it a brick either.  So pick your version.  :)
Whole Wheat Bread
from Sierra Abel

1/2 cup warm water
4 1/2 tsp yeast (or 2 packets)

2 cups hot water
1 Tbsp salt
1/4 cup honey
1/3 cup oil
6 cups flour, divided
6 Tbsp gluten (1 per cup of whole wheat flour - omit this if using white flour)

Put 1/2 cup warm water and yeast in a bowl.  Stir lightly and let dissolve.  This mixture will not poof.  

Mix 2 cups hot water, salt, honey, oil, 3 cups flour, and gluten in a mixing bowl and combine until smooth.  Mix in yeast mixture until smooth.  Add the additional 3 cups of flour.  Turn on your mixture (dough hook) and add additional flour until it reaches the right consistency (the sides of the bowl should clean themselves but the dough should still have moisture to it).  

Once the dough ball is the right consistency, turn off your mixture (leaving dough hook, dough, etc. right where it was) and cover the bowl with a towel.  Set a timer for 10 minutes.  When the timer goes off, remove the towel and turn the mixer on long enough to disturb/punch the dough down (5-10 seconds).  Replace the towel and set the timer for another 10 minutes.  Repeat this process until you have set the timer 5 times.  

This could also be done by hand with a wooden spoon, leaving the spoon in the dough until completely done mixing.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Divide the dough into 2 loaves and place in bread pans that have been sprayed with oil.  Let rise 20-60 minutes, or until doubled.  Bake for 15-20 minutes (depending on your oven hotness...mine cooks a little hotter so I cook mine about 15).  

Once cooked, remove from pans to prevent further cooking on the sides of the bread.  Cool on cooling rack.

**I make this with 100% whole what flour.  My friend has done lots of combos with whole wheat and white flour with great results.  If you are looking for a non-honey recipes, you could sub 3 Tbsp sugar.

(The picture above is a loaf without added gluten, the one above that is with it.)

Green Veggie Curry

This is a dish that never grows old.  I've made it probably 4 times, each little different, and enjoyed it in all ways.  Thanks to my foodie neighbor Carrie for this one!

Green Curry
Adapted from Martha Stewart Everyday Foods

1 onion
8 oz frozen/fresh green beans
8 oz asparagus
16 oz mixed frozen/fresh veggie mix
(use whatever veggies you like)
1-2 Tbsp green curry paste (I found mine at New Seasons)
2 cups chicken broth, divided
1 can (14.5 oz) coconut milk
1 Tbsp cornstarch or flour
2 Tbsp lime juice (from 1 lime)
Salt to taste
Cooked brown rice

Saute onions and fresh veggies in a water saute until they begin to soften.  Add the green curry paste, I like to add the full 2 Tbsp.  It doesn't add heat to the dish, but flavor.  Use 1/2 cup chicken broth whisked with the cornstarch/flour, set aside.  Saute veggies with the paste for a couple minutes, then add the remaining chicken broth, coconut milk, and cornstarch/flour chicken broth mix.  Simmer until veggies are tender and sauce thickens.  Add lime juice and season with salt.  Serve with brown rice.

*You can adjust the amount of veggies you want and may have to add/take away the amount of broth you use.  I prefer my dish a little saucier.  :)

My Closet Revamp

Our coat closet and office closet were two spaces that were driving me crazy!  I felt like they were crazy "dump zones" that I tried to not look at.  I'd open the doors to get something out or put something in and then quickly close them up again.  I finally decided that things needed to change.  

First, they were still painted brown like the original house color when we moved in.  They needed to be painted white (the trim color Dover White from Sherwin Williams).  And on top of that, they needed to have more function.  

The problems with the coat closet: too crowded, being used as kid's crafting storage, needed space to store backpacks, coats, and shoes for kids.

The problems with the office closet: too crowded, unused space because off small bookshelf, and couldn't reach things without unloading 15 others first.

The Before and After of the Coat Closet

The Before and After of the Office Closet

I love the results!  I'm still storing the same things in them that I was before (although some of it has swapped closets), but the space is used soooo much better!

In the office closet I added shelves: screwing the wood supports into the studs, caulking around all edges, and painting the whole closet white.  Then I put in the shelves and metal support rod.

In the coat closet I screwed support beams into the studs, caulked, painted everything white, and then positioned the coat hooks where I wanted.  I put 7 along the back wall and 3 along the wall to the right.

I don't know why I didn't do this sooner!  Every time I open the closets I sigh with relief.  Function usually always wins with me.

Will Your Kids Eat Healthy Asian Peanut Lettuce Wraps?

Okay, this is for my own benefit, but I just want to clear the air.  We are not crazy.  We do not have a crazy diet.  We do eat green and healthy and actually really enjoy it.  I do not feel deprived and don't crave meat.  So often I hear people say, "so I hear you are on a crazy diet?"  No, we're not on a diet, but we have changed our diet.  Phew...now that's done.

This being said, last night we were invited to Tyler's co-worker's house for dinner.  This friend's family has two kids and another couple that came had three kids.  Did they serve bbq chicken and chocolate peanut butter salted caramel pretzel bars (yum)?  Yes, I did have some of each.  That's how we do it.  We eat a certain way at home, but do not expect others to cook they way we do. We happily enjoy whatever food is served graciously.

The point here though, is my kids.  The table had bbq chicken, salad, a sauteed snap peas, edamame, mushrooms, and roasted red peppers side, and guacamole with chips.  I hadn't realized how far we'd come with having our kids eat healthy.  The other children at the table were told "you won't like this, let me get something you like."  I used to do that.  Maybe you find yourself doing the same.

I was the person who would make separate or just slightly different dinners for adults and kids.  I wouldn't offer them new things, because I knew they weren't going to like it.  I would bring mac and cheese to other people's house, just to make sure my kids would have something to eat.  If they wanted a snack, I went straight to something from a box or package.  Veggies, well, we would encourage, but not require.

Last night, my kids ate all the food served and enjoyed it.  The other children at the table were given granola bars, yogurt, and sliced grapes (which they didn't eat).  I'm writing this to not pat myself on the back...quite the contrary...but to give you a new perspective of eating for your children.  And all of this goes in baby steps.

We realized that we were helping our kids be picky.  We catered to our now 6-year-old and his aversion for trying anything new or retrying something he didn't like the time before.  When we realized that our other child actually liked things he didn't, which I did not offer either of them, we knew we needed to change.

So if you are finding yourself saying "my kids will never do that" or feeling frustrated about the eating habits in your house, here's what we did.

We began with making one dinner.

And at dinner, everyone must have some of everything, including parents.  Even if it's something someone has decided they don't like, they have to try one bite again.  Explain that sometimes it can take 20 or more tries to like something!  The key is, you have to make it fun.  As adults, we are the example for our children.  Even if it is just a teaspoon of a taste, it counts as trying something new. As adults, we do have some things that we don't like very much, but does my husband still try an olive every time they are offered, swallow a spoonful of sweet potatoes, and silently palate other creations...yes.  His willingness to try something new/again is a huge example for our kids.

It was amazing how fast the excitement of this experiment unified us.  It gave us something to talk about.  We talked about "sometimes foods" and "always foods."  Sometimes we make weird faces when we try things, that makes it funny!

This didn't mean I was cooking crazy recipes just to make everyone try something.  You'd be surprised what can be new or repeated every day.  In my recipe searching, I just make what looks good, so we often have new meals.  The kids don't throw fits.  And if it's really something they don't want, which has happened before, then they are free to not eat it.  The stipulation is that there will be no other eating afterwards. (Keeping in mind there is the required 1 bite.)

Before this, I was afraid of sending my precious babies to bed without a full tummy.  They can handle it and pick up in the morning like it didn't happen.  I would suggest not bringing it back up either.  Let it stay in the moment it happened.  It's important to know that it's not a punishment to not get more food.  They were given food and they choose not to eat it.  We have to give them some power.

Gradually, your family will be excited about this and it becomes the game of dinner.  I attribute our kids' adjustment to our eating style now, to us having made dinner fun previously.  There isn't anything I won't try to cook that I would be afraid to feed my kids now.  It has been a long process getting here, having started off on the wrong foot, but it's here now.

This doesn't mean we're perfect and all we eat are carrot sticks.  But we aim high and if we hit just below, we're still doing good.  Saying all this, we need to be patient with each other.  We are all dealing with our own battles and are at different places on this life ladder.  It's okay.  We're here to help each other.  No one is here to judge anyone else.

I hope this has inspired someone. It's tricky and a lot of work. I know I still have more work to do. If you have a story to share, then feel free to comment below. As parents, we're in the business of trial and error.

And now for the recipe.

I saw the baby lettuce heads at costco and knew that this recipe was calling to me (please ignore awful pictures).  So I worked some "healthy" magic on it and came up with a killer recipe that has to be a new staple.  The original recipe comes from A Feathered Nest.  The kids loved it!  It was a new way to eat with the little lettuce boats.
Asian Peanut Lettuce Wraps

2 large carrots, shredded
32 ounces mushrooms, small dice
3 green onions, small dice
2 red bell peppers, small dice
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 zucchini, small dice
1-2 tsp sesame oil (add to taste)
1 head butter lettuce, leaves washed, separated, and dried (or the cute mini from costco)

For sauce:
1/4 - 1/2 bottle Bangkok Padang Peanut Sauce (This is spicy!  Add to taste for kids.  We set on the table to add more for adults.)
1/3 cup Asian Toasted Sesame dressing (I used the lite version)
3-4 dashes soy sauce
1 tsp dried ginger
1 Tbsp rice vinegar

Add finely diced mushrooms, onions, peppers, garlic, and zucchini to pan.  Add 8-16 ounces of water to cook.  (We don't use oil).  If you find yourself needing more water, add more.  After about 5 minutes, add sauce ingredients.  Bring to a boil and simmer for about 15 minutes until liquid is reduced and is almost gone and vegetables are soft and well blended.  Stir in grated carrot.  Salt to taste if needed.

You could add sunflower seeds on top if you want.  Serve with brown rice and lettuce leaves.

Bean Guacamole

Today was a busy day!  Phew.  It's almost over now (after I type this up for you).  :)  I was finishing the last couple things for a care package for my MIL.  She is having neck surgery, for the 2nd time, and is super nervous about it.  I think/hope everything will go smoothly.  But on the happy note, I don't know if I've ever been so excited to send someone a package before!  (This is where I do the happy clapping...I'm a dork).

Back to beans: this is one of my new favorites!  Make your favorite recipe (or mine below) for guacamole and add a can of beans (your personal choice) to the mixture.  I've used white beans and garbanzo beans and both taste great.  I'm sure black would be good too, but they would make your mixture not quite as bright green.

Bean Guacamole
1 Avocado
1/4 - 1/2 cup cilantro (I like a lot)
1 can of white or garbanzo beans
salt and pepper to taste
garlic powder to taste
1 tsp of lime or lemon juice (adjust to taste)
water, if needed

I LOVE my food processor!  Have I said I love my food processor yet?  I recently got this and don't know what I did before.  Anyway, mix these together.  If the mixture is too thick, add a little water.  It's nice to have a dip with your veggies or salad that actually feels like it fills you at the same time as tasting good.

Whole Wheat Pancakes

Breakfast is the hardest meal of the day for me.  Anyone else??  I never know what to eat.  Tyler is on a soymilk and grapenuts kick right now.  I think it's good, especially with cut up banana and peaches in it.  He also eats oatmeal.  For me, between getting the kids off to school, getting the morning dishes rolling, etc, etc, etc, I just would rather skip breakfast and get to brunch.

However, when my mill is full of flour (yes, I've been grinding my wheat in my blendtec flour mill and quite enjoying it), I'll make some whole wheat pancakes.  Honey flavors them just enough, but putting on some natural peanut butter is good too.  Albiet a carby (is that a word?) breakfast, they are healthy for you.
Whole Wheat Pancakes

2 cups whole wheat flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 flax egg (1 Tbsp flax mixed with 3 Tbsp water)
2 cups water
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
1 banana
Honey to taste

Mix all ingredients together.  Make sure the banana gets mixed well by your beaters into the batter, no chunks remaining.  Cook on your favorite pancake pan.  Eat and feel good.  :)

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

What, I'm making cookies??  Yes, and you'll never guess what these have in them.  Wait for it...wait for it...garbanzo beans!!  After making my Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Hummus, I went for the cookies. Personally, I like the cookie version better.  The difference in textures hits it right for me.  Thanks to Texanerin Baking, I found this recipe.

While I was wary of the taste, they are delicious and you would never guess the secret ingredient.  It's a cookie that gives some protein with less sugar, carbs, and oil!

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies
from Texanerin Baking

1 1/4 cups canned chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained and rinsed
2 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup + 2 Tbsp natural peanut butter
1/4 cup honey
1 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
1/2 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350.  Combine everything but chocolate chips in food processor until smooth.  Scrape the sides of the food processor as you go.  Add chocolate chips and pulse a couple times or stir in.  The mixture will be thick and sticky.  Make balls (I used my cookie scoop) and press down to resemble cookie form.  They will not spread or rise upon baking.  I found them easier to form, and less sticky, if they were slightly chilled.  Bake 10-14 minutes, depending on your desired outside texture.  Personally, I cooked mine about 14 minutes.  Best if eaten the day of cooking, the outside texture goes soft if stored longer.

DIY I-Beam Dining Table: Rustic and Industrial

It's here.  The day finally arrived when the table we envisioned, is now sitting in our house.  It was worth every the hour it took to build and is exactly what we were hoping for in the outcome!  It has a steel I-beam base and wood plank top, all weighing about 500 lbs. together.  Yes, it is a beast.  Final measurements are 8.5 ft long and 45 inches wide.  The top is 3 inches thick.

There is a story behind this table.  

About 3 months ago when my parents were visiting, we watched an episode of The Kitchen Cousins, one of my favorite HGTV shows.  In that episode, they made a table (the Steel City Table) from reclaimed barn wood and metal.  It was gorgeous and we watched the table building part probably 5 times (thank to DVR). I've always wanted to try our hand at making a table, that episode sent us into it for real...getting my husband on board as well.  Now he can't walk by the table without touching it; he might be more excited about the table than buying our house!

The other inspiration for this table came from our google search for "cool table legs."  Or whatever we put in the search bar.  :)  I came across Brandner Design and loved their I-Beam table.  They are based in Montana (home of my childhood), but we weren't able to purchase a table from them...there's no shipping this thing across the country!  But after showing the picture to my Dad, he responded that we could make one like it.  So thank you to Brandner Design for inspiring the design of this table.  They have amazing things and just knowing what went into this table, they do awesome work.  

So yes, thanks goes to Kitchen Cousins for kicking our butts in gear, Brandner Design for inspiring the base, and then my Dad and Uncle who spent countless hours on the base, making everything work together just right!  Oh, yah, and my hubby for being so muscular.  I was kinda weak for the lifting involved in this project.  :)

I had posted about our table progress a couple of weeks ago, you can find that post HERE

In our garage, we continued to work on the table top.  Thanks to friends and neighbors, we had the tools to complete it.  Ty is about to do the first cut in making it the correct length.  It was fun to see the raw edge of the wood.  We knew this was going to look good.  

After we coated the ENTIRE garage with layers of sawdust (now we have another project to do), I began staining.  I stained the entire table in the Natural stain color and then went back over it with Dark Walnut.

When I did the Dark Walnut, I used a rag in one hand for putting the color on and a rag in the other hand for wiping in quickly off.  We wanted the veins to stand out, but didn't want the entire table to be too dark.  It took a little while, but turned out like we wanted.

In my Uncle Beau's garage, they were also having a party.  This really was a family table and we could not be enjoying the table now without them!  (Some of these picture are from our time in Montana a month ago, but were never posted).

 This machine drills the holes for the thread.

My parents came to visit and brought the I-beam base with them.  All Saturday was spent making last tweeks, metal grinding, spray painting, adhering felt to the bottom, leveling, and in general, carrying lots of heavy things.

And I debated, should I really post this crazy garage picture.  Well, here it is.  If you too have sawdust covering your garage from your most recent project, maybe we should be friends.  :)  The table top is finished with 5 coats of water-based polyurethane.  I've used the water-based before and it works well.  Oil-based would have worked just as well.  Really, I haven't done enough projects for multiple uses to recommend one over the other.

Once the base was inside the house, it was time to put it together.  The cool thing about the table is that it works like a puzzle.  The bottom is held by the huge threads and bolts.  Then the table is attached to the base by screws on the bottom.

This was attaching some of the last screws.  Exciting moment!

We love it!  Seriously.  The 2nd board in from the right is my favorite one.  I think it calls out to my love of animal print (zebra anyone?).  It looks rustic, which makes any and all imperfections work quite well.  Our whole great room atmosphere feels more put together with this.

I love the look of the bolts!  If you notice from Brandner Design, we have a couple extra bolts than they do.  After placing the very heavy top (about 350 lbs.), even with the steel plates that had been welded to the middle I-beam, there was some wiggling movement.  Tyler's brillant idea was to get some large bolts and nuts to add under the table top to stabilize it.  I think they work perfect and add to the design.

The chairs.  We still need 2 more to match these ones (which I will continue to scour craigslist for...or eventually go to ikea to collect).  For everyday use, there will be 4 chairs to a side, none on the ends.  With the current 6, it looks better this way.  I'm on the prowl for end chairs, but I'm still debating their design and color.

We choose these chairs because, "wait, are there chairs in this picture?"  Yes, they are see-through.  We want the table to be the highlight and if the chairs are solid, it would take away from the legs.  At least for now that's what I think.

And in case you were wondering how it looked from other parts of our space, this is the view from the office.

And this is the view from the entry.

In the end we loved the project.  It was fun to build something with Tyler that we were so excited about.  And it was also fun to have the input and help from so many friends and family.  It's beautiful!

I think my salad for lunch today looked even tastier while sitting on the table!

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