Apricot and Bourbon Glazed Ham (aka. The Easter Piggy)

In honor of the holiday weekend, I thought I’d re-share my favorite Easter recipe: my Apricot and Bourbon Glazed Ham, known lovingly around the Beals household as The Easter Piggy.  I have made Mr. Piggy every Easter since we moved into the Little House (which was FOUR YEARS AGO as of yesterday!) and will probably continue to make him as long as Kroger puts hams on sale for Easter. Isn’t he beautiful? Give him a try this weekend.  I promise you won’t be disappointed!

apricot bourbon glazed ham



1 cooked bone-in ham (about 10-ish lbs, I prefer shank end)
1 1/2 c. water
1 c. apricot preserves (you could also use fig or apple)
1/2 c. Dijon mustard (the smooth kind, you don’t want mustard seed bits on your Piggy!)
1/2 c. apple cider vinegar
1/4 c. bourbon (more or less to taste, I prefer a local whiskey made in Ft. Worth (TX Blended Whiskey), but use what you have)


  1. Preheat your oven to 325 degrees. You want Mr. Piggy to be nice and toasty, but not too hot.
  2. Skin your piggy. More than likely, Mr. Piggy came with some nice, leathery skin attached. You want to remove the skin. Trust me when I say this though: LEAVE THE FAT. Yes, fat can be bad. Yes, you shouldn’t eat too much of it. Think of this as good fat. Good self-basting-piggy-goodness fat. If you go ahead and cut that fat off you’ll be left with a dry, sad Mr. Piggy and no one wants that.
  3. Score! The fat that is. Lightly run your knife across Mr. Piggy creating a diamond pattern in his fat. This will allow the glaze to penetrate into the meat. BE CAREFUL! Mr. Piggy can be slippery, so score carefully (that’s what she said??).
  4. Prepare the piggy sauna. Place Mr. Piggy (cut side down) in a roasting pan (a disposable foil one is just fine). Add the water and cover tightly with foil. Place in the oven and bake for 45 minutes.
  5. While Mr. Piggy is in the sauna oven, prepare your glaze. Add all the remaining ingredients to a sauce pan over medium-low heat. Let this come to a boil and simmer for about 5 minutes. Be sure to stir often! There is a lot of sugar in this glaze and it can burn/boil over easily. When in doubt, turn the heat down. When the glaze has thinned out and most of the alcohol has cooked out (you won’t smell it anymore), set aside about 1/4 cup of the glaze for later.
  6. After Mr. Piggy has finished his first stint in the sauna oven, remove him and apply the glaze. Be sure to get the glaze into all Mr. Piggy’s nooks and crannies. He likes it that way. Put him back into the oven (no foil this time).
  7. Baste with the glaze about every 10 minutes until Mr. Piggy’s internal temperature is 140 F (yeah, he’s hot). Do this with a probe thermometer. Don’t have one? Get one. They’re about $10 and worth every penny. Not only do then ensure that your food is a safe temperature, but people will marvel at your cooking skills when you serve them perfectly done meat. Did you go to culinary school? No. You can read a thermometer. (TIP: take meat off the heat about 5-10 degrees below the suggested temperature. It will continue to cook for several minutes after you remove it, so if you wait until the suggested temp, it will overcook before you can serve it).
  8. WAIT!!!! This is quite possibly the most important and hardest step in the whole recipe. Mr. Piggy has been through a lot today. He needs a rest. Give him 5-10 minutes under a foil blankie (you can reuse the foil from the sauna step). Resting the meat will allow it to reabsorb all of the tasty juices we’ve worked so hard to get in there. Cut Mr. Piggy right away and all that tasty goodness will run out all over your cutting board. I know he’s gorgeous. I know your kitchen smells like piggy heaven. But seriously, it’s worth it. Just wait.
  9. While you’re giving Mr. Piggy a rest, take a look at your baking pan. Chances are there are some yummy looking juices hanging out down there. Combine these juices and your reserved glaze in a pan and bring to a simmer, stirring often, until reduced by about half for a great gravy.
  10. Slice Mr. Piggy, serve with a couple sides, and Viola!

A good sized ham will feed an entire crowd if you’ve got one.  If you don’t, you can nosh on Mr. Piggy leftover for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Our quiche recipe is one of our favorite ways to use the leftover.  Just add some chunked ham in with the onions and spinach and enjoy!

Oh, and don’t throw out the bone! Wrap it in cellophane and foil and throw that bad boy in the freezer.  I’ll be sharing my red beans and rice recipe soon and you’ll need that bone to try it out!

Have a wonderful Easter!

He is Risen!


After the Baby Carriage…

…comes nursery planning!  I was going to put this post off a bit, but let’s be honest; I can’t wait to get started on Little Miss’ nursery!

The nursery will be in our (only) spare bedroom (we don’t call this the Little House for nothing).  It’s full of windows and sunshine and looks out on our backyard.  We never got around to officially decorating the spare room as a bedroom, so it’s basically a blank canvas.  It needs a little TLC: painting, changing out the light fixture (I loathe ceiling fans for some reason), caulking the gap between the crown molding and the ceiling, and maybe a window washing. Maybe.

LH Spare 11.11

Of course, the fun part is decorating.  Since this nursery will likely also house our next little one, we want it to be gender neutral enough to work were we to also have a boy someday, but not so neutral that it’s dull.  I was having a hard time finding what I had in mind until we went to Ljubljana, Slovenia back in February.  We had a drink before dinner in an artsy little pub/coffee shop and found a hand-painted watercolor calendar painted by a local Slovene artist.  Each month is represented by a colorful, slightly abstract animal.  Kev and I both fell in love with the illustrations and bought it (it was only $30!).  We plan on cutting out the animals and framing them and making a bit of a gallery wall of all twelve.

Ljubljana Nursery Inspiration

I’ve also fallen in love with this kelly green crib from Land of Nod (not so much the price tag, though).  I’m considering trying to paint a more affordable crib (like this one from Ikea), but I’m a little concerned about durability and making sure the paint is non-toxic for Baby Girl.

carousel-crib-kelly-greenWe still have a few projects to finish around the Little House before we’ll let ouselves officially start on the nursery (*cough* bathroom crown *cough*), but we’ll hopefully be finishing up those in the next few weeks so we can get busy on Baby Girl’s new digs!

Have you tried painting a crib before?  When did you start on your nursery?  Can you believe we’re STILL not 100% done with our bathroom reno (more on that soon)?!

This entry was posted in Nursery.

We Missed You!


Little House. Big Heart. is back!  Hurrah!  We’ve missed you, by the way. Really.

We’ve thought long and hard about whether or not we wanted to start blogging again. Life around the Little House has been a bit topsy-turvy since we last blogged. We’ve had some major life events—some great, some less so—that led us to the gradual decision to stop blogging for the time being.  At times, we didn’t think we’d blog again; it was so nice to do things without having the pressure of taking photos and writing up a blog post hanging over our heads.

At other times though, we’ve really missed blogging—and more than that, sharing our lives with you and hearing about yours in return.  We found ourselves still thinking like bloggers, remarking whenever we thought something would make a great post or when we realized we’d never got around to blogging about so-and-so.

Then around the holidays two things happened—things we wanted to share, felt compelled to share—that changed our minds for good.  We had to come back, if for nothing else than to talk about these two important events (and we will soon).

In the meantime, we’re working to revamp the both the site and our style.  While we previously considered ourselves to be a DIY/home blog, we’ve decided to move in a more eclectic direction… a little bit DIY, a little bit travel, a little bit family, with the occasional recipe, cocktail, and funny story thrown in on top of it all.  I’m not sure what genre that officially makes us, but to put it our way, we hope that we not only embrace the Little House, but more importantly, the Big Heart.

We have a ton of posts waiting in the wings, but since we live full lives at the the Little House we’re going to start out with 2-3 posts per week.  This will help us stay sane and keep our posts at their best for you.

We’re so excited to be back and can’t wait to get down to business! Let us know what you think of the new design (we’re still working to get everything changed over) and if you have any suggestions on what you’d like to see in the coming months, let us know in the comments below!

A Teaser And National Can it Forward Day

There’s something about August that always reminds me of watermelon, tomatoes, and plum jam.  There are a surprising number of watermelon farms in Indiana, where I grew up, and the melons would be at their sweetest in the late summer.  We’d always pick up a few from one of the roadside stands and have them cut up in the fridge for easy snacking.  This was also the time of year my mom and grandmother really got canning fever.  By August, my family’s garden was rolling in tomatoes (which we’d can for future pots of chili in the fall and winter) and the plum trees were dripping with fruit (which also got canned into golden, sweet, sticky plum jam).

Little House. Big Heart. | Easy Home Canned Tomato Juice

Late summers in Texas give a slightly different (but still familiar) picture.  Instead of plums in my parent’s back yard, we have a friend’s fig tree that is positively drooping with almost-ripe figs.  Our garden is scarce in tomatoes, but we have tons of peppers.  And then there’s the watermelon – Texan watermelon, instead of Hoosier.

What’s a girl (and her unwitting husband) to do with all this bounty?  I don’t know, maybe make Chili-Peach jam with some juicy Texas peaches?  Or maybe some fig jam perfect for a fancy cheese plate? Or maybe whip up a Watermelon-Basil gin fizz? Oh, the possibilities!  There might even be a giveaway or two…

All that (and more) is coming to the Little House soon. In the mean time (to whet you canning appetite) be sure to check out Ball Brand’s (of ubiquitous blue Ball jar fame) International Can-It-Forward day live stream here.  They’re mixing up some really great recipes that just might get you inspired!  I’m excited to be working with them on the recipes I mentioned about (hasn’t it been to long since I posted a recipe anyway?)!

International Can-It-Forward Day 2014

Have a great weekend!




Reality Check

Let’s be real here, folks.

Our bathroom reno has taken over EVERY portion of our lives.  We’re spending every spare waking minute working on that thing… which only leaves the sleeping minutes for writing stellar blog posts.  This is why we’ve recently brought you gems like Save our Maters (because we don’t have time to figure it out ourselves) and The List of Doom (we already have the list, why not post it?).  Writing when we should be sleeping just isn’t working out for us. Or for you.

We promise, promise, promise there are some wonderfully crafted, well thought out, Pin-worthy posts coming (DIY bubble chandelier? Free Laundry Printable? Fig Jam Recipes? Giant Bathroom Reveal Spectacular?!).  But for now, we don’t want to be posting just to be posting. We respect you guys to much to be putting out junk posts just because it’s Friday and Oh-My-Gosh-We-Don’t-Have-A-Post-Hurry-And-Come-Up-With-Something!

So in the coming weeks as we’re working to get a functioning bathroom back in the Little House (it’s been 57 days, folks), we may not have our usual three posts a week.  Stick with us though, because it’s about to get exciting around the Little House and we really, really want you to share it with us.

And to wrap things up… here’s some pictures from our last vacation that I never got around to sharing, because what’s a blog post without a couple pictures?

BKK Cooking Class 4 BW LHBH

A tuk-tuk driver navigates his way through one of Bangkok’s many open air markets.


Angthong 1 LHBH

Fishing boats sit anchored off Angthong National Park in Thailand


Koh Samui Sunset 2 LHBH

The sun sets over Bang Po Beach on Koh Samui, Thailand


Hanoi 2 LHBH

Telephone cables criss-cross a busy street in Hanoi, Vietnam


Save our Maters!

Hey guys!

Just take a second and look at how gorgeous our tomato plants are. They’re big, green, and….

Little House Big Heart - Save our Tomatoes 2

they haven’t produced a single tomato all summer.  Sure, they’ve produced a few blooms (but not many), but as far as fruit goes, it’s a big fat zero.

We need help.

Are you a green thumb guru? Do you talk tomato?  Give us some advice, please!  Our tomatoes continue to grow here in Dallas until November, so there’s plenty of time to get some fruit out of them!

Do you have any advice on how to get our tomatoes to fruit?  Have you ever had this happen?

The Warm Fuzzies

For the most part, whoever built the Little House did a fantastic job.  For a 74-year-old pier and beam house, it’s remarkably square.  Instead of traditional plaster, the original walls are Sheetrock, a product that wasn’t used extensively until about ten years after the LH was built.  And yet… there’s not a stitch of insulation in the walls.  In retrospect, this shouldn’t have surprised us; most homes built before WWII didn’t have wall insulation… but they need it.  Why?

Allow me to get on my engineer soapbox for a moment (feel free to skip this bit):  insulation increases the thermal resistance of your home’s walls, basically making it harder for heat to move through them. This means that in the summer, it’s harder for heat to get into your house.  In the winter, it’s harder for it to get out of your house (technically speaking, heat always travels from warm to cold, so in the winter it’s never the cold getting in – it’s the warm getting out).

Why does all that matter?  A well insulated home stays cool in the summer and warm in the winter, meaning you use less energy keeping the temperature where you want it.  It’s not worth tearing down walls to add insulation, but if you happen to have the drywall down anyway, throw some insulation in the walls.  It’s cheap, it’s efficient, and it’s easier to install than you think.

Little House Big Heart - How to Install Insulation

When installing insulation, the larger the R-value, the better.  You’ll also want to get the right sized insulation for both your stud spacing and stud size.  Our studs are 2x4s and are on (roughly) 15″ centers, so we bought the largest R-value insulation in that size that Home Depot carried.  Depending on your sizing, you can find insulation all the way up to R-30 (and above). In our case, that was R-13.  One roll set us back a whopping $12.80.

Little House Big Heart How to Install Insulation 1

A few notes on insulation safety: fiberglass can be nasty stuff. Be sure to wear long pants and sleeves, gloves, and even a mask when installing insulation (PS. I realize Kevin isn’t wearing long pants in the photos below… he got a stern talking to for it :) ).

Step 1:

Measure you walls and the insulation.  You want the insulation to go from ceiling to floor, so measure accordingly.

Little House Big Heart How to Install Insulation 2

Step 2:

Cut you insulation to size using a utility knife.  It’s helpful to use a board to compress the insulation so that you can cut through all the layers at once (ignore the scribbles on our board, we drew out plans and made cut lists on scraps of wood).

Little House Big Heart How to Install Insulation 3

Step 3:

Place your insulation in the wall and staple the flaps to the studs, being careful not to compress the insulation into the wall (you want to keep things fluffy).

Little House Big Heart How to Install Insulation 5

Step 4:

Repeat. It took less than an hour to insulate our entire bathroom (granted, it is tiny).

Little House Big Heart How to Install Insulation 6

The bathroom is on the west side of our house and gets full afternoon sun.  We can already tell that it’s staying cooler in there thanks to it’s new insulation.  For less than $13 and an hour, it’s a big difference.

Does your home have insulation? Have you ever installed it? Is your husband also too suborn to always wear the proper DIY-ing attire?

Venting My Frustration

For the most part, our bathroom has been surprisingly painless (knocking on every piece of wood I can find).  We’ve not found any water damage other than what we repaired on the subfloor, no termite damage, nothing, really, that we couldn’t handle 100% ourselves… that is until we unearthed the tub’s vent stack and thought we had to call a plumber.

Little House Big Heart How to Repair a Cast Iron Vent Stack 1

When our house was built in 1940, cast iron was a very common piping material.  However, at some point in the Little House history, there was a transition from cast iron to galvanized pipes…  not everywhere though; that would be too easy.  Someone decided to transition from cast iron to galvanized inside the wall between the kitchen and bathroom.  It required a coupling that looks like it should be on an episode of Doctor Who, not inside a wall.  However, the biggest problem with this coupling was that is stuck 2 inches past the wall stud, making it impossible to put our Hardibacker cement board up.

Little House Big Heart How to Repair a Cast Iron Vent Stack 2

So what is a vent stack anyway? A vent stack is a pipe that usually exits through your roof that allows for there always to be neutral (or atmospheric, if you like) air pressure behind the water in your drains, preventing it from backing up (which is a bad thing, I promise). They are completely necessary (have you ever seen Mike Holmes go crazy when he opens up a bathroom and doesn’t find a vent stack?!), so there was no way we could just rip that sucker out of the wall. The only solution was the flange/coupling had to be replaced by something a little slimmer and trimmer.

Unsure of what to do next, we turned to our dads (via text, of course).  Both came back with the same general consensus: we could do this ourselves. All we needed to do was to use our reciprocating saw to cut out the coupling and galvanized pipe, then replace them with new couplings and PVC.  We weren’t sure what type of coupling to use either – Should we put steel brackets on them?  Use a galvanized coupling? Use a black Fernco coupling? – but our dads had a solution for that one, too.  My dad let us know that black Fernco couplings would offer us the most flexibility, while still being strong enough to hold both pipes.  It also had the advantage of being the easiest of the three options to install… which is always a plus.

Once we had all our supplies, we headed home to cut the old pipe out of the wall. I personally enjoyed this because I got to put my reciprocating saw to the test.  Cutting through cast iron isn’t easy, and we went through three $7 blades on that one pipe.

Little House Big Heart How to Repair a Cast Iron Vent Stack 3

Things to remember if you have to cut cast iron:

1, Go full speed.  You won’t get through it if you don’t.

2. Have someone hold the pipe so it doesn’t shake.  Fortunately Jess did this for me.

3.  Don’t put a hole in the other side of the wall…more to come on that when we repair the kitchen wall.

Little House Big Heart How to Repair a Cast Iron Vent Stack 4

After cutting through the cast iron just below the bell flange, I went up in the attic and cut the galvanized pipe just below where it exited our roof. Then I replaced it with PVC and a Fernco coupling.  Jess had the fun job of removing the galvanized steel pipe through the bathroom and feeding the PVC back up to me  [WIFE EDIT: That sucker was HEAVY], then seating the PVC in the new 2”x1.5” Fernco reducing coupling.

Little House Big Heart How to Repair a Cast Iron Vent Stack 5

Little House Big Heart How to Repair a Cast Iron Vent Stack 6

It worked like a charm. The vent stack tucked perfectly into it’s spot in the wall and we were able to install our Hardiebacker over it (but that’s another post).

Little House Big Heart How to Repair a Cast Iron Vent Stack 7

In the end, the cost of what we used was:

2” to 1.5” Flexible PVC Coupling – $4.93

1.5” to 1.5” Flexible PVC Coupling – $3.84


10’ of 1.5” PVC – $5.13

1 and 1 half in pvc pipe


Total Cost: $14… much less than calling in a plumber!


Doing your own plumbing is not for everyone (and not all cities allow homeowners to do their own plumbing, so check that before you start), but if you’re willing (and allowed) to give it a go, it can really save you a lot of time and money spent on a plumber!
Have you had any plumbing surprises in a renovation?Is a pessimist’s blood type B-negative? Why does the Easter bunny carry eggs? Rabbits don’t lay eggs. Why does caregiver and caretaker mean the same thing?


The Little House and the List of Doom

Last night, Kevin and I sat down to make a list of everything left to finish on the bathroom.  Our thought was that because we’re so close to being finished, it would motivate us to see how short the to-do list is.

*cue the maniacal laughter*

The list is NOT short… not even a little short. If you made list of short things (like my attention span, Bruno Mars, and springtime in Texas), our to-do list would not be on it.  In fact, our to-do list probably wouldn’t even be allowed in the same room with the list of short things.


We have a plan, guys.  We’re going to break this bad boy into bite-sized chunks to make it seem a little more manageable (and to keep us from going nuts).  First bite needs to be small enough to create a snowball.  That way we get more and more motivated.  Also, crossing things off lists just motivates the heck out of me. I tried to get Kevin to put everything we’d already done on the list so we could cross it off and feel good about ourselves, but in the end we agreed that the list was long enough as it was.

So without any further ado… the list.

Little House Big Heart Bathroom To Do List

Told you it was a long list. Our new goal is to finish the bathroom by Labor Day. We have a camping trip planned for the beach then and don’t want to have the bathroom hanging over our heads while we’re playing Frisbee with the pups in the surf.

Are you a lister? Do you lists help you work better or overwhelm you? Do you think there’s any way in Heaven we can finish by Labor Day?