Lately Ben and I have been obsessed with building a new house.

Not that there’s anything wrong with our current house – it’s in great shape, serves its purpose very well, has tons of storage space and is…cute. Yeah, cute! It’s a nice starter home, but we’re ready to spread out. As much as we like them, we’re ready to not look 5 feet to the north, south, east and west and see our neighbors staring right back at us. Ready to not be in such a residential area. Ready to breathe in the sweet smell of SPACE! :D

The next home we buy will be the one we’re in for the long haul, so we’re being extra picky about picking one out. So picky that none of the homes for sale in our area seem to come close to meeting our search criteria, which is why we, at some point, would love to build our own home. Here’s our wish list:


  • Absolutely NO FENCES. Ben has a highly – highly – irrational hatred of fences. This won’t be an issue if we build – I just really wanted to share this fact with you. ;)
  • Separate, dedicated man structure. A large shed/space off the house where he can play his music as loud as he wants, brew beer without having to drag his equipment up and down the stairs, and do other…manly things?
  • Bedroom fit for a King. My man likes to sleep flat on his back, arms and legs spread as far as they’ll reach – ergo he wants a king-sized bed to stretch out on. (Personally I’d rather sleep in a smaller, more crowded Queen, like we do now as I can never seem to find him when we sleep in Kings at hotels. It’s so sad!)
  • Washer/Dryer in the bedroom closet. Obsessed. :)


  • Big, beautiful kitchen. No explanation needed!
  • Moderate sized home. Bigger home = more to clean. Pass!
  • Large, mature trees. One of the things I love most about my parent’s house is the large, shady maple, birch & ash trees in the front & backyards. I know the probability of finding an empty lot with established trees is close to zero, but a girl can dream, can’t she?
  • Gas fireplaces. Iowa winters demand cozy fires blazing in the family room, but Ben and I are both too lazy to trudge out in the snow and get logs to keep our wood-burning one going.
  • Big, covered front and/or back porch. Someplace where I can go to sip hot coffee in the mornings, and watch fireflies at night.


  • LAND. Sweet, sweet LAND! Open land where we don’t necessarily see our neighbors and there’s nothing out back but open fields. We aren’t freaks or anything, we just like our privacy!
  • Unique home design. Our current home is what you’d call a "cookie cutter" home (there’s 3 others like it on the block) so we’d love a design that’s original, unique and means something to us – like a double-gallery design a la the French Quarter in NOLA.

  • 3-4 car garage. I need space to not knock over 1,000 things in the garage as I take my 1,001 bags to the car every morning, and Ben needs a stall for his future Ferrari.
  • Separate bathrooms. Separate bathrooms is the key to a happy, joyful marriage if you ask us. If we built our dream home, we’d build TWO en suite bathrooms/walk-in closets off our master – MUWAHAHAHA!

Things we can do without:

  • Bathtubs. Just don’t get ’em.

*Edited to add – DUH – children need bathtubs. They stay!*

Ok, so now we just need about $500,000, a builder who won’t hate us for all of our ridiculous requirements (although the $500,000 should help ;) ) and someone who owns a majestic piece of rural property nearby to knock down their home and give us the land! For free!!

Like I said…a girl can dream. :(  Someday! :D

In other news, you know I’m a meat eater (I know, bad segue.) I’m pretty much always down for steaks, pulled pork, BBQ anything, brats, roasts, sausage – ok you get it – but I also adore vegetarian meals just as much as their meaty counterparts.

Dishes centered around veggies, tofu, eggs, squash, grains, pasta and other delicious things always leave me feeling super healthy after I’m done eating. Plus they’re just plain YUMMY.

One of my favorite vegetarian meals is Veggie Burgers (locals – Star Bars’ is to die!) so I was insanely excited (like, weirdly excited) to make it’s zippy cousin Spicy Black Bean Burgers from Jenna at Eat, Live, Run for dinner tonight!


These burgers are absolutely incredible and really easy to make, too. I followed Jenna’s recipe, except I used 4 teaspoons green Tabasco sauce instead of 1 jalapeno and only used 1 1/4 teaspoon cumin.


Oh and I made them ahead of time! Last night I mixed my burger mixture together, formed it into patties, then laid them on a foil-lined sheet pan to chill in the fridge overnight.

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This evening all I had to do was heat up vegetable oil in a skillet and cook the patties for 4 minutes a side ’til they were golden brown and crispy.


After a quick drain on a paper towel, I placed my black bean burgers on a squishy sesame-seed bun, laid a few slices of mellow avocado on top and took a big ol’ bite.


Oh. Mah. Gah. Crispy, creamy, just a touch spicy and SO flavorful.


I could eat the whole batch!


I served mango "fries" on the side as an homage to the traditional burger and fries. :)




Alright, I’m off to definitely NOT freak out about the amount of stuff that has been covering our living room floor for the better part of two days as Ben prepares for an upcoming camping trip.


Where’s a dedicated man structure when you need one?



"My dream home HAS to have ________."