A Few Minor Changes

If you follow us on Instagram (and you should… we’re fun people!), you may have noticed a minor thing or two has changed around the Little House – nothing big though.

Nothing like having a baby, changing/quitting jobs, or putting the Little House up for rent, packing up, and moving 5,000 miles to another continent.  We’d have to be crazy to do any of those things… let alone all of them.

Oh wait. That’s us. Beals, party of three, all aboard the crazy train – or crazy plane – from sunny Dallas, Texas to a small town you’ve never heard of near Munich, Germany.  

The Little House up for rent!


  Shortly before our beautiful daughter, Isla Grace (pronounced Eye-la), was born, Kevin accepted a position at his company’s international headquarters in Freising, Germany. I’ve since left my job as a mechanical engineer to be a full time stay-at-home mom and semi-professional tourist (and sometimes blogger).  We rented out the Little House and boarded a plane on January 6 bound for Munich, Germany. 

Airplane Selfie! Taking off for Germany!

So far, it’s been an awesome, terrifying, humbling, and incredible experience.  Kevin and I still look at each other daily and wonder out loud how we found the courage to pull up the roots we’d so recently put down in Dallas and fulfill a shared life-long dream of living abroad.  It wasn’t a decision we took lightly; we prayed for weeks and had more late-night discussions that I can count.
In the end, we looked at it this way:  in twenty or thirty years, if we decided not to take this opportunity, would we look back and wish, for our sake and for Isla’s, that we had taken it?  Would we regret not taking the chance to let Isla learn a second language and experience a culture different from her own?  Would we miss the opportunities to travel and explore more than we’d miss the Little House?

The answer to all of this was a resounding “Yes.”  We would have so much regret if we never gave this a chance… so here we are, living out of boxes in a 900 square foot apartment built in the 15th century, waiting on our furniture to come by boat sometime in February.

The air shipment arrived!

We’ll be sharing more about our new apartment on Wednesday and about our new hometown, Freising, on Friday, so be sure to come back and check us out!  In the meantime, if you have any questions about expat life, getting back to blogging, Isla, or anything at all, leave a comment here or head over to our Instagram (@littlehousebigheart) or Twitter (@lilhousebgheart) feeds and ask away!

It’s so good to be back!

This entry was posted in Expat.

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.

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?

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?

[Shower] Curtain Call

Hey guys!  We’re going to start tiling on the bathroom tonight!  I’m so ridiculously, incredibly, little-kid-on-her-birthday excited.  Today is day 42 of the reno, so tiling feels like the light at the end of a way-longer-than-expected tunnel.

Tiling has got me thinking about the finishing touches in the bath.  I know were going to go with crisp white towels (hellllo bleachable linens), but I haven’t decided on a shower curtain yet.  Originally, we had planned on painting the walls a pale grey and going with the navy striped West Elm shower curtain we showed in our mood board.

Little House Big Heart Bathroom Mood Board Gray Navy

Now that we’ve painted the room a velvety navy, I don’t think that shower curtain will work out. I’ve found a few others I like, but can’t decide on which is my favorite.

I’m really in love with this navy Greek key shower curtain from Ballard Designs.  It’s $85 (which is pretty steep for a shower curtain), but I won a $50 gift card to Ballard Designs at haven, bringing my price down to a much more managable $35.  The more I look at this one, the more I think I could DIY it…

Ballard Designs Greek Key Shower Curtain

I also love this ruffly shower curtain from Anthropologie (let’s face it, I love everything from Anthro).  It’s so whimsical and feminine; I think it would contrast with our really geometrical tile and give it a little bit of softness.  They’re out of stock online, but most of their other shower curtain run in the $90 range.

Anthro Scallop Shower Curtain

I also really liked this West Elm Dotted Stripe shower curtain.  The pattern is subtle, but not so subtle you don’t see it.  I really like the texture in this option, too, and at $49 its price point isn’t out of the ballpark.

West Elm Dotted Stripe Shower Curtain

I’m really torn on which of these I like this most… and I haven’t even looked at Target or Home Goods yet. 

Which curtain would you choose? Does $100+ for a shower curtain seem a bit nutty to you, too? Would you check out some local stores before getting one of these?

A Little Bathroom Reno: How to Repair a Damaged Subfloor

It’s been a couple weeks since we shared anything on our bathroom renovation.  To be honest, we’ve been so busy working on it, we haven’t had time to write about it.  Like we’ve said before, not having a functioning bathroom in our house is a great motivator to do nothing but work every spare minute we have.

After demolition, the first step in putting everything back together was to start repairing the subfloor. When we demoed the floor we found old water damage (from leaks that were fixed long before we bought the house) in a couple places.  The Little House was built in 1940, so we were expecting something to be wrong with the subfloor.  The issues we found were relatively minor, so we knew we could fix them ourselves.

Little House Big Heart How to Repair A Damaged Subfloor Repairing a subfloor isn’t a task to take lightly; if not done well, it can cause big headaches down the road.  That being said, if you’re relatively handy (ie. you can use a tape measure, a drill, and a saw), repairing your own subfloor is a pretty easy job that you can definitely tackle yourself (we have faith in you).

Little House Big Heart Subfloor Damage


The first thing to do when finding subfloor damage is to determine the cause.  Was it termites? Are the little buggers still hanging around? You probably want to call an exterminator either way to make sure that the problem is under control.  If the damage was caused by water, make sure that the leak has been repaired.  If you’re not comfortable with checking out the plumbing yourself, have a plumber come out to make sure everything is hunky-dory.


Remove the damaged parts of the subfloor.  In our case, this meant just prying up the damaged planks.  If you have a plywood subfloor, you may need to get out a circular saw to remove all of the damaged wood.  Regardless of what type of subfloor you have, make sure you remove everything that looks damaged.  In the end, you should have a nice, clean hole in your floor.

Little House Big Heart How to Repair Subfloor Damage 2


Once you have your hold cleaned up, you can measure and cut your new wood to fit.  We used 1×6” planks since that was what our original subfloor was constructed out of, but if your floor was plywood, you’ll want to go back with that.  You may also have to “sister” your joists if they were damaged or if you don’t have a say to screw into them. This means you may have to bulk them up by screwing additional wood to their sides.

Little House Big Heart How to Repair Subfloor Damage 3


The last step is fastening your repairs.  You can use screws or nails, but if you’re repairing the subfloor in a wet location, be sure and use coated deck screws or deck nails.  This way, should the area ever get wet again, you fasteners won’t rust.

Little House Big Heart How to Repair Subfloor Damage 4

Depending on what you’re doing, you may be done at this point.  Because we needed to build up the original subfloor, we went a step farther and laid down 23/32” plywood (why they use such an arbitrary measurement, I have no idea) CDX exterior grade plywood.

Little House Big Heart How to Repair Subfloor Damage 5 

Little House Big Heart How to Repair Subfloor Damage 6

Sometimes it feels like we’re not getting anywhere, but we’ve come so far on the bathroom since we took these photos! In fact, we’re ready for tile!

Have you ever had to repair subfloor damage in your home? Did you do it yourself or call in the pros?

Bathroom Confessional

36 days.

That’s how long it’s been since there has been a functioning bathroom at the Little House. We put up the last (and I swear by all that is holy it IS the last) coat of mud on the drywall last night and are oh-so-close to the home stretch on this one… but we’re not there yet. Hold on folks, it’s about to get wordy.


Needless to say, not having a toilet in our house for 36 days is starting to get to us. We started this project thinking it would take three weeks, tops… but we forgot we still have a life to live. We have to take a night here and there and do laundry, to clean house.  We have church commitments and work commitments and blog commitments (Hellllo, Haven!).  Some nights, we’ve just taken off because if we had to stand in that tiny bathroom one more minute we’d scream.  At each other. Not quietly.

And that’s happened, more lately now than in the beginning.  We had no idea the inner demons that could be summoned forth by a little box of drywall mud, but trust me.  They’re there and they aren’t pretty.  A few nights ago we were so mad at each other we could barely see straight over a not-so-straight corner mud job and it hit me.  The drywall demons had us.  We were focusing on what was going wrong with the bathroom and forgetting all the good things we were getting out of it.

So I put my big girl pants on, apologized for letting the drywall demons get to me (and maybe for calling Kevin a name we can’t repeat on here), and suggested we make a list of all the great things we were getting out of remodeling our only bathroom (did I mention ONLY?).

In no particular order, here’s the things we came up with:

1. We’re doing it right, not fast.  Sure, it’s taking forever, but that’s because we’re making sure every little detail is done correctly and thoroughly.

2. By doing the work ourselves, we’re saving so. much. money. that we can use for, I don’t know, our next crazy around-the-world trip?

3. We’re learning new skills. Neither of us had done much by way of plumbing before, nor had we ever done much framing or drywalling.  We’re old pros at all of that now!

4. We’re getting to spend a lot of time together.  When this is all said and done and I have a gorgeous marble floor to sit on and reflect back on the project, I think what I’ll remember most is not driving each other mad (and we’ve done plenty of that), but talking for hours while we worked together. Solving problems together we didn’t think we could do ourselves.  Singing along to Disney radio on Pandora at the top of our lungs (through our respirators).


5. We’re getting a ton of new tools and renting a few more awesome ones.  Can anyone say Jackhammer? New 18V DeWalt jig saw?

6. We honest-to-goodness appreciate our western luxuries more.  Hands down one of the best parts of Haven was having a toilet and shower.  You don’t miss things like that until you don’t have that luxury anymore.

7. Although it’s definitely not why we started the reno, it does provide a lot of blogging material!

8. All of the difficulties we’ve encountered has given us a reason to plumb the depths of our dads’ knowledge.  And they know A LOT.

9. We can take pride in telling people we did it ourselves.  It may sound petty, but I can’t wait for the first person to say “No way!” when I tell them we did every single inch of the bathroom ourselves, from the plumbing to the electrical to the tiling to the decorating.

10. We’re learning about our ourselves. For example, we will never own another one bathroom house and drywall mudding brings out the worst in us.

11. We’re learning about construction materials and techniques which we’ll be able to use to help our friends and readers!  We never want to recommend something we haven’t personally used ourselves and know to be awesome!

12. We’re getting to put all of our fancy couponing and deal making skills to the test.  I won’t reveal how much we’ve saved so far, but it’s a pretty big number. As in 3 zeros big.  They don’t call us the Coupon Kids for nothing!

13. We’re increasing our home value and saleability.  The Little House is one of the few single bathroom homes in our neighborhood, so making sure it’s an awesome one will definitely help our saleability and home value in the long run.

14. We’re earning a ton of Home Depot Pro Rewards. We should probably have bought stock in the company before we started this reno, but pro rewards are the next best thing!

15. We’re going to have an awesome bathroom when we’re finished.  Seriously, guys.  I’m so excited.  It’s going to be classy and clean and GORGEOUS.

Everyone has told us that if our marriage can withstand home renovations, it will be able to withstand anything.  I don’t know how true that is, but if it is true, I expect I’ll be driving Mr. Beals up the wall for a long, long, long time to come.

Have you lived through your own home renovation? How did you stay sane through it? Any tips for us newbies?

Oh, Thank Haven [Recap 2014]

You know you had a good weekend when it’s Tuesday morning and you’re still sleepy and wondering where the heck the weekend went… and that’s pretty much where I’m at right now.  I spent this weekend at the Haven Conference in Atlanta brushing up on my blogging skills and meeting some amazing women.  I wish I’d taken more photos, but with all the sessions, swag, drinks, and dancing, I was just too busy to take any!

Everything kicked off with a fantastic keynote speech by Chip Wade (who I found out is a fellow mechanical engineer!). Seriously, any time he wants to come and make some Elbow Room in the Little House he is more than welcome.  I’m just kidding.  But seriously. Come convert our attic, Mr. Chip Wade.  We’ll give you carte blanche.


I attended some fantastic sessions that boosted my blogging confidence and helped me realize where I want LHBH to go.  The Blogging Trade Secrets session with Laura, Jen, Erin, and Dusty was AMAZING. I mean, mind-boggling good.


I also really loved the Working with Brands session with Brittany, Diane, and the awesomely funny Mandi.  Not only did I really enjoy this session, but one of the best moments of my weekend was Mandi dancing on me (and I mean on me) to get me on the dance floor Friday night.  Her fearless spirit is so infectious I was out on the dance floor in no time (hence the lack of sleep)!


Next year, I’d love a few classes on web design/Wordpress wrangling, the business side of blogging, and maybe a couple on how to grow your blog.

Another highlight of the weekend was meeting (and rooming with) one my long time blog besties, Ashley from Attempts at Domestication.  This girls is seriously so much fun! If it weren’t for her I might have spent the whole weekend hiding in my room.



I was also lucky enough to meet Kim from Newly Woodwards and Michelle from Decor and the Dog.  It was so fun to finally get to put names (and voices!) with faces!

Haven Picture

(photo from Ashley)

I met a TON of amazing women this weekend, including (but not limited to) Rachel (and her sweet little one), Amanda, Anna, and Kelly.  They (and their blogs) are amazing and definitely worth adding to your Bloglovin’ feed (and your Instagram and Twitter and whatever other social media you can follow them on).  We had some really great conversations and even started our own club, Oversharers [not] Anonymous.  Okay, not really. But we could have.


(photo by Amanda)


Moen Kitchen

(photo from Ashley)

I did get my hands dirty at the Ryobi power tool workshop.  For the most part though, I stuck to the blogging sessions – this girl is no stranger to power tools!

Ryobi Tool Workshop

I learned so much at Haven that I can’t wait to implement here on the blog!  Kevin and I are so excited about the changes we’re noodling on (yes, noodling is the technical term) and we can’t wait to share them with you.

What did you do this weekend? Have you ever met any of your internet friends? Are you a stranger to power tools?