Home Tour: HGTV Urban Oasis 2015

Have you entered for a chance to win this year’s HGTV Urban Oasis home yet? If not, get on that so we can be Asheville buddies!!

Kiwi and Peach: My Trip to the 2015 HGTV Urban Oasis House
A couple weeks ago, I got a chance to check out the 2015 HGTV Urban Oasis home in west Asheville and have a chat with the folks who made it happen. To say I was pumped was an understatement. When home planner Jack Thomasson found this 1920’s bungalow it had a long way to go. Very similar to lots of older homes in Asheville, including the house that Z and I rented when we first moved here, the home had a number of tiny, closed-off rooms, weird layouts and no flow. That said, it was in the ideal location. (Seriously, that was our ideal neighborhood on our house hunt, but it was a bit too rich for our bank account!)

Kiwi and Peach: My Trip to the 2015 HGTV Urban Oasis House

It’s on a quiet street, but comfortable walking distance to the main drag of West Asheville. The Hop’s vegan ice cream, West End Bakery’s freshly baked bread, and, most importantly Biscuit Head‘s cat head sized biscuits and jam bar are literally at your doorstep! But I digress…

They had a lot of work to do to make the house and amazing as its location. Jack contracted with Jody Guokas from JAG Construction and Calder and Aaron Wilson from Wilson Architects to totally blow out the floor plan creating an open layout for the main floor. Working with pretty much the same square footage, they turned it into a home that works for the modern family. Having lived in one of these little bungalows, I was really impressed with the flow that they achieved. I absolutely loved great room with its cozy sitting area, functional dining space, sweet loft space, and ah-mazing kitchen. Its clearly the hub of the house.

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Kiwi and Peach: My Trip to the 2015 HGTV Urban Oasis House

Kiwi and Peach: My Trip to the 2015 HGTV Urban Oasis House

Bryan Flynn worked hard to create a design that was as uniquely Asheville as the house. The house is bright, colorful, and full of art from Asheville artists. Most impressive to me is how well he balanced using old antiques from estate sales with new furniture, rugs, and accessories from Overstock. Also impressive was his use of panelling to make the bedrooms seem bigger. Its such a nice architectural touch that is so unique and lovely.

Kiwi and Peach: My Trip to the 2015 HGTV Urban Oasis House

Kiwi and Peach: My Trip to the 2015 HGTV Urban Oasis House

Kiwi and Peach: My Trip to the 2015 HGTV Urban Oasis House
Clearly I’m smitten with this house. While I have to admit that I’m not-so-secretly crossing my fingers for my parents to win it so we can have in town babysitters whenever the seedlings come along, you should totally enter. Not only do you win the house and all the furnishings in it, you also win a 2016 Acura TLX and $50,000!! Get to entering!!

Kiwi and Peach: My Trip to the 2015 HGTV Urban Oasis House

Kiwi and Peach: My Trip to the 2015 HGTV Urban Oasis House

Kiwi and Peach: My Trip to the 2015 HGTV Urban Oasis House

Kiwi and Peach: My Trip to the 2015 HGTV Urban Oasis House

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On Work/Life Balance + Low Country Boil

I’ve been hesitant to jump back into the blog because I have been a total hypocrite and I knew I’d have to fess up. I have some ‘splainin’ to do about the not so homemade meals we came to rely on when I went back to work. You see, when you start your first year teaching, work a part time job as well, buy a house, and plan a wedding in the same year, there is very little time to think about anything other than the task at hand and how very, very exhausted you are. I’m totally making excuses here.

When I read back through old posts and see sentences like “it only takes an extra couple of minutes,” I cringe. Please girl! Extra twenty minutes?! Those words were clearly written by a lady who has too much time on her hands. Those couple of extra minutes it takes to make stuff by hand is just not happening on a week night because that’s an extra couple of minutes that I could be getting my never ending work done (or giving thought to exercising but then crashing on the sofa instead.)

I don’t have any radical ideas on finding balance between my domestic and professional life. While it’s something that I think most women struggle with at some point or another, everyone is in a different situation. When my professional life was on hold, I threw my energy into the domestic life–exploring cool, new food, testing my skills in the kitchen, putting a house together–as a form of self preservation. Look, see, I accomplished something today. Even if it only benefited my boyfriend/fiance/husband, I created something I can be proud of.

Then, quite suddenly, I had other work to do. I couldn’t concentrate on that stuff any more for far more pressing matters like teaching kids that mac and cheese wasn’t a vegetable. Zane always bragged about the variety of dinners I made, that he never got bored because I was always coming up with something new and I took a lot of pride in that. However between meal planning, grocery list making, grocery shopping, and cooking, I couldn’t keep up. I felt like I was letting not only him, but you guys down as well if I couldn’t keep the fresh new dishes flowing. So I stopped blogging…

Kiwi and Peach: Low Country Boil

…and life went on. Our priorities shifted and we started to find that balance. Zane cooked more. We discovered the wonders of utilizing our freezer. We started working smarter, not harder. We ate good food.

But I’ve missed sharing it with you guys and hearing and learning from you…

Like that time we tried Blue Apron, I wanted to talk about it. To chat about the awesome recipes and abhorring amount of packaging. (Seriously, what are you supposed to do with 4 huge icepacks every week?!)

Or those times when the event company our venue used couldn’t keep a wedding planner so we had 4 different wedding planners over the course of a year. (How do you stay organized through that?!)

Or that time we threw a bonfire the night before our wedding complete with a s’mores bar and things were crazy but it ended up being almost as much fun as the wedding itself.

Or each of those times we figured out how to get dinner on the table in under 30 minutes, when you know you’ve nailed it, and you feel like “We are the Champions” should be playing in the background.

I’ve missed chatting with you guys.

So I’m just going to leave this here for you. Have you ever done a low country boil? There was a sorority at uni that hosted a big low country boil every year as one of their fundraisers. It was always a huge hit, but I had never thought to try and make it myself. I tried it for the first time earlier this summer after seeing Joy the Baker’s post and it has become one of our favorites. There is next to no prep. You just throw things in and 30 min later you have dinner. It’s messy to eat, but that’s half the fun. It’s also super easy to scale up or down if you want to make some to eat on for lunched during the week or if you’re having folks over.

Kiwi and Peach: Low Country Boil

Low Country Boil

{serves 2}

4 cups chicken stock
4 cloves of garlic
1/2 of a red onion
juice of 1 lemon
3 sprigs of thyme
1/4 cup creole spice or any cajun spice
3 tbsp salt
1 pound baby potatoes
2 ears of corn
1/2 pound of raw shrimp
2 links of andouille sausage
2 Tbsp melted butter
3 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
salt, pepper, and paprika for sprinkling

In a large pot bring the stock, garlic, red onion, lemon juice, thyme, salt and spice to a boil. Add the potatoes then reduce to a simmer. Cook 15 minutes then add the corn. Cook 5 more minutes. Add the shrimp and sausage and cook 5 more minutes. Remove from the heat and let sit for 5 minutes.

Use a slotted spoon to transfer the potatoes, corn, shrimp and sausage to a serving bowl along with about a 1/2 cup of the broth. Pour the melted butter over the top and sprinkle with the parsley, paprika, salt, and pepper.

Turn on “We are the Champions” and serve.