Honey & Rosemary Balsamic Reduction Dressing

Honey & Rosemary Balsamic Reduction Dressing | PepperDesignBlog.com

We’ve been enjoying some yummy salads around here and one key ingredient is a balsamic reduction dressing. Reducing the vinegar helps with the bite, and makes for a really nice sauce straight on fresh peaches or grilled chicken, too.

Here’s how I make it:

I use a small 1.5 quart sauce pan and heat about 1/2″ balsamic vinegar (this is usually plenty for a meal + leftover dressing for the next day) over medium-low heat.

Gently simmer until the balsamic vinegar reduces by roughly 50% and holds tight to the back of a spoon. My 1/2″ is now 1/4″ inch (spoon test is also helpful here). When the vinegar begins to show bubbles across the top, it’s ready to pull from heat.

Honey & Rosemary Balsamic Reduction Dressing | PepperDesignBlog.com

Two hints: don’t use a fancy balsamic vinegar, a generic brand is just great! Mix in herbs for a delicious twist. I especially love rosemary chopped very finely.

Honey & Rosemary Balsamic Reduction Dressing | PepperDesignBlog.com

While still warm, I love to stir in two tablespoons of honey to offset the vinegar taste just a bit more.

For a creamier dressing, try adding 1/4 cup (or so) of mayo after the reduction has cooled down.

I sometimes mix this reduction with olive oil for salads or serve as-is with fresh mozzarella, basil and tomato slices. Sooooo delicious.

Master Bed & Bathroom Remodel: Week 14

Next to Christmas, Memorial Day weekend might be my favorite holiday. Most years my birthday falls on that Friday, Saturday, Sunday or Monday making it a full weekend of family activities. This weekend I turned 30 and Kevin surprised me with an amazing night out with all of our closest friends. I even had family that flew in to join in on the surprise! It was so great and so well thought out, and we had so much fun! (kudos, Kevin! seriously huge, heart-warming kudos to my better half.)

Yesterday we attended our neighborhood parade and spent most of the time cheering on local business floats and catching up with neighbors over adult beverages. It actually started to rain just as we were walking down to the route, but we didn’t let the wet weather rain on our parade ;), the sprinkle stopped just in time for festivities to begin.

Master Bathroom, Week 14 | PepperDesignBlog.com

Despite an amazing weekend, it almost pains me to type week 14 for our bathroom remodel in the title of this post since I had promised myself that this construction project would take ten weeks max (and maybe 12 if we were running behind or waiting on lead times for any products). But here we are in week 14 and we have at least three to go. All of the delays have been caused by our own indecisiveness – location/spacial planning decisions, tile decisions, fixture decisions, electrical decisions, plumbing decisions – you name it and we have flipped back and forth on the pros/cons about each and every item that came up for consideration. We also had a three week delay back when Kevin transitioned from full-time paternity to full-time back-to-work, that didn’t help.

It’s all okay though, so goes life and it’s so much better to wade our way through the decisions with confidence verses extreme compromising to stick to a calendar.

And today, today this bathroom is looking pretty good!

Week 1:

Master Bath/Bedroom Demo Day 1 | PepperDesignBlog.com

Week 2:

Master Bath/Bedroom Week 2 | PepperDesignBlog.com

Week 7 (after the temporary break):

Master Bath/Bedroom Week 7 | PepperDesignBlog.com

Week 8:

Master Bath/Bedroom Week 8 | PepperDesignBlog.com

Week 14:

Master Bathroom, Week 14 | PepperDesignBlog.com

Weeks 13-14 brought with it additions I’m head over heels about. The subfloor now has radiant heating and tile, the plumbing for the shower and vanity faucets has been finished (BIG job!), Hardibacker and Wonderboard now cover all open walls (with exception of the last bit of vanity plumbing), the window (west) wall has been tiled and the vanity (south) wall was started.

Master Bathroom, Week 14 | PepperDesignBlog.com

It’s thrilling to see tile choices become a reality. Watching the cement floor tiles go in was probably the highlight of my remodel month. The pattern was bold for our often play-it-safe choices, but the end result was right on target.

Master Bathroom, Week 14 | PepperDesignBlog.com

Same goes with the glass green wall. Even as it was being installed, Kevin wondered if we should have gone all white here. Once it was finished though, that vision that I’ve had working through my head came to fruition and it was better than I had imagined.

Master Bathroom, Week 14 | PepperDesignBlog.com

An area of concern (and one that brought MUCH agonizing over tile choices, causing even more delays) was how the glass tile would marry up with the ceramic white subway tile in the corner of the bathroom where the two would meet. The ceramic tile that I had fallen in love with was only 2.5 inches tall, a really odd size in the tile world. Finding a green glass subway that complimented that nicely took A LOT of digging, but when we settled on 4×9″ larger tiles and laid them out in completely different patterns (the glass in a brick – or 50/50 pattern – and the white subway in a 20-80 pattern), the two materials began to work seamlessly together and the corner of the bathroom was no longer a major concern..

Master Bathroom, Week 14 | PepperDesignBlog.com

We initially planned on tiling the floor of the shower space (this corner here) in a solid grey 2×2″ tile, but once we saw how amazing the patterned floor looked, we decided that carrying the tile through into the shower pan would be first choice. We worked with our contractor (our close friend) to make sure that the grade (2% at a minimum to allow for proper drainage) could be achieved for that zero floor look.

This is pre polishing, pre sealing, pre grouting…

Master Bathroom, Week 14 | PepperDesignBlog.com

When it came to finishing up the vanity plumbing, I took my question on vanity heights to Instagram and came back with some great answers. Kevin and I compromised on the standard 34″ vanity height (which doesn’t include the three inch vessel sink lift) since he’s so tall and I’m so short :). A short vanity countertop for me, taller sinks that hit at 37″ for him. Our contractor left this template up in the bathroom so that we could actually visualize where the mirror and faucets would hit at the heights we had decided on. This step was incredibly helpful to confirm that we were making the right choice!

Master Bathroom, Week 14 | PepperDesignBlog.com

Master Bathroom, Week 14 | PepperDesignBlog.com

 On to sealing and grouting the tile, next is plumbing the bathtub, installing the toilet and finishing the closet design. Kevin and our neighbor are building the vanity this next week as well, we’ve decided on walnut and it should be beautiful.

PS the renovation journey of this space found here.

30 Things That I’ve Learned By 30

30 Things I've Learned by the Age of 30 | PepperDesignBlog.com

Today is my 30th birthday. I don’t feel much older, but hearing that number roll out of my mouth feels as though I’m closing on a big chapter in my life.

I did a lot in my twenties – graduated college, was recruited for my first real job, got married, started and modified a career, had one baby, then two, and then three (!)… started a business, built a home from the inside out. I’ve had happy years, lots of sad moments, too many highs and lows to count. We’ve sacrificed, pressed on and somehow have made it through. We’ve traveled (seven countries this decade), created adventures, enjoyed late nights with friends over bottles of wine.

If you would have asked me ten years ago if I’d be where I am today, I would have said no way. But, where I am today is so worth it.

30 things that I’ve learned by 30:

Never ever judge a book by its cover.

It’s okay to put problem solving in the back seat and to just listen.

If you want to feel like you’re making a difference in the world, find an organization whose mission you believe in and support it. If you’re in a phase of your life where monetary support is not feasible, offer up a small percentage of what you do best to help that mission (bookkeeping, website design, reading books to children…).

A pedicure once every three weeks may just about save your sanity.

Your mom will always be your best friend (and on your team). Late night mom conversations happen when you’re 8, 18 and 28.

Invest in pieces that mean the most and don’t worry about the rest. You’re in it for the long haul. Clothes, shoes, furniture…

Your home is your haven and your happy space. build it, love on it.

Give everyone the benefit of the doubt.

When you’ve given up on finding time for books, don’t give up on books. Switch to books on tape (books on iPhone?) or podcasts and enjoy.

Subscribe to at least one magazine/journal/newspaper that makes you think. You might not get to read it daily/weekly/monthly, but there will come a moment where you’ll get to ‘catch up’ and your adult brain will thank you. ALSO, subscribe to your favorite indulgent magazine just because (not going anywhere crazy with this one, mine’s Better Homes & Gardens).

When you’re beyond frustrated, recognize it and take a long moment before you speak next (shelve a work email response, pause a conversation with your spouse, give your kiddos the ‘one minute’ hand gesture). Waves of emotion are a real thing.

It’s TOTALLY OKAY to let the sun go down on a fight. Everyone feels better in the morning.

Get away with your spouse, even if only for a day. Preferably to somewhere where someone else is bringing you drinks with those little umbrellas in them.

Save some of your money. Don’t be distracted, just do it.

Invest with your heart and your head. (And learn a thing or two about how the stock market works.)

Listen in on a lecture series at a local university. It’s a TED talk in real life and it’s just as awesome as it sounds. Organizations/groups/clubs host these sorts of events (my last was ‘conscious capitalism’) and if you’re passionate about certain topics, show up and soak it in.

Have fair expectations. I’ve always been disappointed that I was never great at one thing (not one). But I’ve embraced (and now love) that I’m okay at many things.

In school and at the start of your career, try anything and everything that you’re interested in. Learn what you don’t want to do.

Realize that your way is not the only way. (I’m really still working on this one…)

When faced with a mountain of a decision, take it one bite, one task, one goal at a time.

Celebrate the great moments! Capture them on camera and rejoice in them.

Acknowledge kid conversation. Even (especially) when you have a million things on your mind. Drop down to their eye-level and hold their hand so that they know you’re listening.

Stop looking for affirmation from everyone else. Being proud of yourself is the best thing you’ve got.

It’s okay to fail. You learn so much more. 

Find religion.

Practice yoga.

Let people know that you admire/are grateful for/appreciate them (especially your children). Say ‘thank you’ as often as possible.

Reach out of your shell and join an organization (better yet, join the board) that jives with your interests. You’re old enough now. PTA, Rotary, SPCA, a local museum, favorite nonprofit, neighborhood HOA… I’ve been a member of Women in Business for seven years and those awesome women are now a part of my net. It’s good to cast a wide net, you’ll meet great and inspiring people (and the opportunity to ‘know people’ in all sorts of fields).

Find a momma support group and embrace it.

Finally, never underestimate what a cup of coffee, a glass of wine or a chunk of milk chocolate can do for your mood or day. Give yourself a happy break every once in a while :).


And, for the record, things that I have not learned: how to be on time, how to tell a good joke, how to dance and how to throw caution to the wind. I’ve saved all of that for the next chapter.

Have a wonderfully AWESOME weekend!!

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