manchego’s new kitchen: that has got to go

ah, home renovations. everything takes longer than you think, right? we’ve spent the last few months doing our due diligence working through the city of sacramento’s permitting process. and now? now, there are honest to god contractors climbing all over my house. carefully taking off the 95 year old molding and woodwork, inspecting the electrical wires and pipes, looking super official with very large tool belts.

it’s awesome.

the house has really amazing bones. big closets. all that lovely built in wood. lots of natural light. but it needs a little help to be more of a modern house. the current kitchen? it’s two rooms. beyond retro. and completely closed off from the rest of the house. the second bathroom upstairs has a great cast iron tub . . . and the shower is in the second floor screened in porch. the back deck is an abomination. take a look.


i mean, i guess it could be worse. but it is just such a waste of a view from the back yard. we’re going to get rid of all the busy stairs. instead, there will be two stacked decks. the lower deck will be a bit bigger and hopefully feel like part of the new kitchen. plus, the new deck will be made of real wood, not sad and crumbling fake wood. winning.

speaking of the kitchen, it’s behind this wall. which is on the demo list. in its place, picture a lovely peninsula and an open view through the kitchen to the back yard.  yes.


can you see that second doorway? that leads to the old oven closet. or scullery? old houses had kitchens and sculleries, right? who knows. in any event, no one puts baby in the corner and no one should hide the cook in the scullery. 


yeah, we are going to demo that wall too. and that charming sliding door will get relocated, maybe to the new pantry around the corner. the pantry that will be approximately 500 times larger than my current food storage space. and which will hold so, so many rolls of paper towels. and probably oversized buckets of pretzels (i am kevin’s daughter, after all). jars upon jars of pb&j for the somm. it’ll be like i’m a prepper, but just this side of crazy.

to the right of this photo is the kitchen.

nice light. terrible floors. and don’t get me wrong. yellow is a great color for a kitchen. but that tile is intense.


dark red accents? why not. it’s clearly a timeless combination. plus it has this raised border on the edge of the counter . . . i’m guessing it is super easy to keep clean and germ-free. ahem.

those are pretty major projects. there are some smaller, more cosmetic ones that i’m trying to tackle without the contractors.

here is the purple carpet on the back stairs. in all its glory. i’m really hoping it was crazy on sale.

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know what is under that? perfectly lovely real wood stairs. i’m going to paint them and cover them with carpeting that doesn’t hurt my soul. i’m excited.

here’s the other project.


the last owner was meaning well, i am sure. the faux tiffany fixtures are remotely historically accurate. but they are also plastic. and also give off barely any light. also, i may have done some serious damage at the lumen’s sidewalk sale last week.

so fun. i can’t wait to go take pictures of giant holes in those walls. with that, i will leave you with a photo of our friendliest new neighbor.

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(PS: that screen door. totally needs a paint job. i may never go back to work!)

trick or treat

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it got spooktastic in manchego’s kitchen this weekend.  we ate a lot of sugar.  we got into the spirit of halloween.

perhaps some of us got a bit too into the spirit.

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this is the danger of hosting the halloween party.  cobwebs and spooky creatures everywhere.

shrunken heads in the cider.

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also, eyeballs.


and swamp creatures.  adorable swamp creatures.


have you heard of cake pops?  i hesitate to send you to this site, because, well, bakerella’s look legit.  let’s all just remember mine were made with love, ok?  and with some able assistance, not just from Duncan and Betty, but from one very sexy pumpkin.


yes, that is a cake pop landscape i crafted out of tin foil.  yes, i do enjoy using my glue gun at halloween.

but, let’s get serious here for a second.  i have some snacks for you that aren’t wearing halloween costumes.  they’re yummy just as is.

both snacks play off of the salty-sweet combo that you know i’m obsessed with.

this snack mix i made with pretzels, malted milk powder and jazzed up for halloween with candy corn and chopped up snickers – peanut butter and regular.  it was insanely, amazingly good.  it was also ridiculously un-photogenic.  so please just trust me.  it is super easy to make.  just be sure you have friends coming over – maybe for a marathon viewing of seven and riggins? – so you don’t put yourself in a food coma.

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this peanut butter caramel popcorn is just as good – and slightly less likely to give you a toothache.

it has that chewy goodness of caramel corn, but the peanut butter softens it and makes it much less likely to stick in your teeth.  plus, it’s just plain addictive.


Peanut Butter Caramel Popcorn

Adapted from Cooking Light

  • 1/2 cup popcorn kernels
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds, toasted if you’re feeling fancy
  • 2/3 cup dark brown sugar
  • 2/3 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter – I used chunky and liked it
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 & 1/2 tsp salt

Preheat your oven to 250 degrees, and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.  If you have one with sides – like a jellyroll pan – that is better cause you’re going to be tossing the corn around.  But I made a batch on a flat sheet and I was careful and it was ok.

Pop your popcorn!  You can do it on the stove with oil, or you can air pop it 1/4 cup at a time in a brown paper lunch bag.  Just put the kernels in the bag, fold it over a few times and then microwave for 2-3 minutes.  Magic!

Toast your almonds if you feel like it.  Toss them with the popcorn in the biggest bowl you’ve got.

On the stove, mix your sugar, corn syrup, butter and 1/2 tsp salt.  Bring to a boil and stir for about 3 minutes.  It’ll get foamy and kind of look like you’re making toffee, but we aren’t getting that fancy here.  Add the peanut butter and vanilla and mix it in.

Here, I gave the super hot caramel mix a minute to cool down because I was afraid it would melt the popcorn.

Then, have your OCD self pour the caramel over the popcorn and toss/stir it so that all the kernels get some coating.

Spread out on your cookie sheet(s).  Sprinkle with 1 tsp salt.  Bake for an hour, and every 15-20 minutes, pull the sheet(s) out and mix up the popcorn so it toasts evenly and doesn’t just turn into a giant slab of caramel popcorn.

Crumble into a bowl, and try not to eat it all in one sitting.