Monthly Archives: January 2016

{Kitchen Update} Help! Pendant Lights or Can Lights?

Welcome to the Our Fifth House readers who are stopping by today! I would love to hear if you have any design suggestions!

Guys. I have to make lighting decisions for our kitchen and I’m at a standstill. This feels like one of those big grown up decisions (you know, at the same level as signing a mortgage or making school decisions for your kids #not) and I don’t want to get it wrong. I was finally able to get a few pictures of the kitchen in the daylight, so here is  a before and after with the painting progress that’s been made.





There’s definitely room for improvement in my indoor photography skills, but we love the new bright crisp feeling the new paint provides. And yes, the hearts still need to go.


You might recall that I wanted to whitewash the island a kerry green or turquoise. Now, I’m thinking that will be the last decision. I’m not sure what to do with that island.

Ok, so back to the lighting. As I’ve complained about numerous times, there is NO overhead lighting in the kitchen. The only lights right now are an awful fluorescent strip over the sink, the hood vent lights over the stove and a fixture over the kitchen table. It’s unclear to me how people lived here for 30 years without overhead lighting. I took a stab at drawing where a few can lights might ago, a la Joanna Gaines, but you’ll need to use your imagination for my next round of ideas.


After consulting with TimTheFarmer, my electrician FIL, and the internets, here’s what the plan is currently. We’ll install recessed lights throughout the kitchen where we don’t have pendant lights. We’ll replace the circular kitchen table light fixture with 2 -3 pendant lights. We’ll install lighting over the kitchen island. But, there are two question marks:

1. Recessed lighting: we go back and forth about installing symmetrical rows of lights, which makes the minor case of OCD that I have feel better OR installing task lighting in the specific areas that aren’t covered by the table and island lighting. I think I’m leaning towards task lighting. But then…

2. Island lighting: I really like the idea of pendant lights over the island, but I worry about closing in the space in a kitchen/dining room that feels quite open now. I’ve been waffling on this and then my FIL informed me that you can fairly easily convert recessed light sockets to pendant fixtures. Sold! I love the idea of installing can lights and trying out the pendants. If they don’t work, we can just stick to the can lights and if they do, we’re all set.

Buuuuttt…this then messes with the rows of recessed lighting. Should the two island can lights line up with other lights or do they just do their own thang? Ughh. Grown-up decisions. 


The other thing that effects the lighting plan, is the removal of the wall between the kitchen and living room. Originally I’d planned to pull the whole thing down, but after living in the space for a few months AND being gifted this awesome long farm table, we’ve decided to keep at least some of the wall. I think the current plan is to pull the wall out to the light switch to bring in some light from the living room and open the space up a bit more, but still keep a dining nook. I expect the removal of that part of the wall will inform our can light placement and pendant/no pendant island lighting plans. 

So, the next step is to get that wall pulled down and then we’ll finalize the light plans. In the meantime, I’ve been perusing Houzz and Pinterest and Lighting Direct for ideas for fixtures. I seem to be drawn to the farmhouse-industrial lights. I’m leaning towards something in this family for the kitchen table.


And here are some islands with pendant lights that I love.

IslandInspiration  IslandInspiratio4 IslandInspiratio3  
IslandInspiratio2Source | Source | Source | Source

How gorgeous is this kitchen, by the way??

And, I particularly like how in that last photo, you barely notice the pendants.


As I was digging through Houzz, I discovered the above photo with these awesome corrugated tin pendant lights. Luckily the image lists the source materials and … wait for it …. the lights are from a company called Hudson Valley Lighting!! Coincidence?? I think not. I started digging though their site and found lots of great options. I’m a bit nervous to find out the price, but for now, I’ll use this as inspiration:


I’m liking the first three options for the island and kicking around the others for the table.

Do you have tips for can light placement? Or have any pendant light preferences? I’d love your input!

{Paleo Pantry} Cinnamon Bacon Braised Beef Stew

Hey Monday! Did you hear? The Broncos are going to the Super Bowl … yeehaw!*  That game was a good way for the weekend to make up for the storm that was indeed a heartbreaker. Not only did we not get two feet of snow, we didn’t get a single flake!?! We spent all day Saturday waiting for the storm to come. TimTheFarmer had the plow blade on the truck, I got my workout in early, the chicken fence came down, and I had the stew meat defrosted. See? Country song. While we didn’t get a storm, we did have some great stew.

I was feeling so dejected by the storm that I was having trouble putting any effort into dinner (I might like snowstorms more than really good food) and found a recipe that required 5 ingredients and barely any work #sold. The recipe called for 2 pounds of stew meat and I’d only defrosted one, and it called for cauliflower rice and I didn’t have any cauliflower. You can see why I chose it right? I decided to take inspiration from the recipe and work with what I had. It was a blizzard outside after all and getting to the store was out of the question. #not


In paleo, cauliflower rice is an awesome substitute for rice or a starch when you need something to soak up the sauce. Another great option is spaghetti squash. I had 8 spaghetti squash (I told you I was ready for the storm…or they were on sale), so I decided to use that as a base for the stew. Am I the only one for whom spaghetti squash is a mind blower? Every time I cook one, I find it absolutely amazing that you’ve got this ready made spaghetti shape from a squash. And, if you don’t overcook it, it can be a decent pasta substitution.


I also added in bacon to make up for the missing stew meat. As we all know, bacon makes everything better. 


Family consensus – delicious! The cinnamon with the beef, in a savory application, was totally unexpected, and really really tasty. Plus, the house smelled amazing. This is a super easy meal that we’ll definitely make again.


Cinnamon Bacon Braised Beef Stew with Spaghetti Squash
Serves 4
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Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
1 hr
Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
1 hr
  1. 1lb stew meat, cut into 1" chunks
  2. 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  3. 8 slices thick cut bacon, cut into 1/2" chunks
  4. 3 cinnamon sticks
  5. 4-6 cups beef broth
  6. Salt and pepper to taste
  7. 1 spaghetti squash, halved and seeded
  1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
  2. Heat large pot over medium heat and add bacon. Cook until almost crispy. Remove with slotted spoon to a paper towel. Set aside.
  3. While bacon cooks, pat beef dry and season with salt and pepper. Once bacon is cooked and removed from pot, add beef in single layer to pot. If there is not at least 2 tbsp of fat in pan from bacon, add coconut oil to get you to 2 tbsp. Cook over medium heat until all sides of beef cubes are browned. Remove to a plate with slotted spoon.
  4. Add onions to pan, again adding fat if below 1-2 tbsp. Sauté onions until soft.
  5. Add beef and cinnamon sticks to the onions and season with a pinch of salt and pepper. Mix together and cook for 2 minutes.
  6. Add 4 cups of beef broth, scraping the browned bits from the pan. Bring to a simmer and then turn heat down to low and simmer for 40-60 minutes until beef is fork tender. Keep an eye on the liquid and either cover the pot if the liquid is evaporating too quickly or add a bit more stock. You want the liquid to thicken to just cover the stew meat, but not burn off.
  7. When you add the beef broth, put the squash on a baking sheet, cut side down and cook for 30-40 minutes until a fork easily pierces the skin.** Remove from oven and let rest until stew is ready.
  8. When meat is fork tender, "fluff" the spaghetti squash by raking the flesh with a fork to remove from the skin.
  9. Serve the stew over a bed of spaghetti squash.
  1. **Be careful not to cook the squash until it's mushy as you'll lose the crisp spaghetti texture of the squash.
Adapted from Mediterranean Paleo
Adapted from Mediterranean Paleo
Isn't That Grand?
*Anyone who knows me will call me out on only caring about football in the post season. It’s true. I’ll own it. Just thought I should put that out there. Honesty is important.

{Friday Favorites} My Life is a Country Song Edition

It’s Friday and there’s a major winter storm approaching the East Coast and it’s looking like it’s going to be a heartbreaker. Two feet of snow is (do you say “is” or “are” here? my grammar skills are failing me here) forecasted for parts of the region, and we are forecasted to get a dusting. To be clear, I LOVE a significant weather event, particularly a blizzard, so to think we’re going to get bypassed is, in fact, heartbreaking to me. However, I am holding out a glimmer of hope. Hudson Valley Weather said the short range models are conflicting with all the long range models and calling for a significant weather event for our region. They should know more by mid-morning … I may or may not be refreshing their site every 10 minutes. Stay tuned. And fingers crossed!

Anywho, for today’s Friday Favorites, I thought I’d reflect on how I’m starting to feel like my life is a country song. Not the whiskey drinking (I prefer tequila) or cutoff shorts with bare feet on the dashboard (although maybe someday I’ll be able to pull off cutoffs #notlikely) or heartbreak (actually, we just covered how this storm is breaking my heart) or I Love ‘Merica kind of country song. The really redneck kind of country song.

She Thinks My Tractor’s Sexy

This conversation happened this week:

TimTheFarmer: “Hey Katie.”Tractor
Me: “Yes.”
T: “You should come do your admissions interviews at the office.”
Me: “Huh? What office?” 
T: “The one at the farm.”
Me: “Mmm. Why?” (that office is really really cold) 
T: “Then, you can watch me ride the tractor around.”

Yes. He actually said that. 

Front Porch Sittin’

Well, it’s not me who’s sitting on the front porch. Partially because it’s not big enough. Partially because it’s January. And partially because there’s chicken poop on it. I know, you want to come visit, now right? #keepitclassy


At our old house, our chickens were 2 acres away from us. I do realize acres aren’t units of distance, buuut that’s how I think about it. Here, they’re about 50 feet from our house. We have electric fencing up, but these chickens don’t realize it’s there for their protection and they fly out the minute you open the coop door. They’re taking free range seriously. It is kind of cool to see the chickens wandering around in the yard #frontyardchickens, but what’s not cool is that they really like to come up our front porch steps. And I must say, chicken manners are ghastly. What I’m trying to say is they poop on the porch. The nerve! We’ve had to put a baby gate up on the porch until we figure out the permanent solution. We’re really trying to drive home the redneck point.


I’m not exactly sure when or how it happened, but TimTheFarmer has amassed a serious collection of camouflage. He didn’t have any when I married him and now he has more pieces than I would care to admit. #didntsignupforthis AND, he wears it whenever he feels like it, not just for hunting. The Birkenstocks really take it to another level. #highfashion



We have a serious tick problem here in the Hudson Valley and live at the epicenter of the lyme disease epidemic. Because we had such a dry summer and warm fall/early winter, the ticks were out well into December. We’re always checking the pets and ourselves for ticks, which Brad Paisley would appreciate. 

Runnin’ On Empty or Fire and Gasoline or A Little Gasoline

Someone left my car on empty and I didn’t realize it when I turned it on and let it run to warm it up. And because gas stations are hard to come by out here in “the country,” I had to fill it up with our gas can, which has a no-spill feature, which translates into a no-pour feature, which translates into me dumping gas all over my work clothes. After cleaning off the gas with baby oil (things you learn when married to a farmer) and making my way to the gas station, I got sprayed again with gas when the filler-upper-thing didn’t automatically stop. To say I was unhappy was an understatement. I had to sit through a staff meeting reeking of gas.

Country Roads

The new farm where TimTheFarmer works has this amazing road leading into the orchard. Even though we’re only 100 miles from NYC, these dirt roads remind me of home and I love how remote it feels.

Country Roads