Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Her Name is Lola...

Last Friday we got our new puppy Lola!

She is a 10 week old Chiweenie.  I have been a dachshund owner/lover for many years. Growing up my family had 3 (two chocolates and a black & tan), my grandma had 2 (black & tan and a red) and my aunt had one (black & tan)! 

Sadly after the last one passed away 2 years ago no one in my family had gotten a new puppy.

This is Mo playing in the snow of 2008.

We started talking about getting a dog soon after I purchased the house.  And things just all fell into place these last few weeks.  

We are working on potty and crate training.  And she also is biting/mouthing now because I think she will be losing her baby teeth.  If anyone has any advice on training please let us know!

Merry Christmas!
- Michael, Sarah and Lola

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Guest Bath

A few weeks ago we discovered a leak in my downstairs bath ceiling.  After ripping out a large portion of the ceiling we learned the leak was coming from the upstairs bath shower. (The leak is all fixed now!)

Thanks to this little leak we had an impromptu mini bathroom renovation!

When I first bought the house, this bathroom was a pink nightmare.

We ended up gutting the entire bathroom and starting over.  Since there was a lot of wasted space we added 2 closets, one for the bathroom and another for the hallway.  (One can never have enough closet space.)

One odd thing about this bathroom was the shower/tub.  Originally there was only a bath tub so after we added the shower, I had to find an 'L' shaped shower curtain rod.

I had never decorated or done much to the downstairs bath so this gave me the opportunity to do so.  Since we had to repaint (after sheet rocking the ceiling there was texture and mud on the walls) I decided to pick a new color.  Originally I had painted this bathroom yellow.  Now it's a fun apple green!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Laundry Room Complete!

After about 8 weekends of work (with a few other projects in between) my laundry room expansion is complete!

So incase you've forgotten what this laundry space was before, I'll link you to my first blog entry - It all comes out in the wash - to refresh your memory.

I have plenty of space for storage in the craigslist cabinets I got. And lots of space for doing laundry, I even moved a dresser in there for folding and even more storage!

I'm so pleased with our work!  We took a completely underutilized space (and a broken bathroom) and created a nearly 10' x 10' room!  This room is probably better made and insulated than the rest of my home!

Stay tuned for our next great outdoors project - vinyl siding!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Every Southern Girl needs a front porch

When I bought my house last year, I knew from the outside it would be ugly for a while.  The inside was my first priority, so I could move in and work on the exterior over time.

Finally, last weekend we started on the first project of the exterior:  My Front Porch.  Originally, the house just had cement stairs leading to the front door.  I think this cheapened the look of the home, it needed a decent front porch to help balance the house.

There wasn't much room to build a proper southern porch, but we created a nice landing and stairs.  We added two columns for balance and some railings.  

I have to wait 30 days for the lumber to acclimate to the weather before I can paint.  But eventually it will be navy blue and white.  I will have my address numbers on the left column.

We are all decorated for Halloween, so hopefully I will get many Trick-or-treators to try out my new porch!

Here is a side by side comparison before and after.

 I know it doesn't look like much now, but after we vinyl side the house things will be looking good.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

A is for Apples

This past weekend I was bit by the baking bug.  I just can't help it!  Fall is here and it's time to start perfecting some recipes for all the holidays!  Last year I was on a quest to find the perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie reciepe, and I've found a pretty good one.  

I decided to bake an apple cobbler this weekend.  I was hoping to find a quick and easy recipe using Bisquick so I would be able to make it often.  Since my dad is a diabetic, I used Splenda for baking in these recipes. Not only does this make them basically sugar free, but it also lowers the calories by a ton!

My first attempt was very easy, it had just a few ingredients.  It was basically like a pot pie with apples and cinnamon inside. 

While everyone said this was tastey, I was not impressed.  The topping was kinda soft and basically flavorless.  

In my second attempt, I decided to try an Apple Crisp.  I thought a crispy topping would taste better.  So I made Aunt Lillian's Apple Crisp Recipe.  Again I used both Splenda Blend and Splenda Brown Sugar for this.   


This was a hit!  Everyone loved it and it was gone in a day!  I can promise you it doesn't taste "sugar free" or "healtly".

Here is the Nutrition facts break down per serving (1/8 sized portions):

Calories 223
Carbs 40
Fat 7
Protein  2 
Fiber  3
Sodium  391

Monday, October 10, 2011

Fall Garden

The first weekend of October we planted our fall garden.  Since we did so well with our summer crops we decided to double our garden area.

We planted Cabbage, Brocolli, Cauliflower, Lettuce, Brussel Sprouts and Carrots.  I am so excited about these veggies, they are all so delicious and I could eat them everyday.  Hopefully they will yield as much as our summer garden did.

We started the Carrots from seed, and after a little over a week they have started sprouting!  I'm hoping this is a good sign!

I think most of these veggies will be ready for picking at the end of November, right in time for Thanksgiving! Hopefully I can cook some cabbage for New Years to instill some good luck for 2012!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Choosing the right grout color

I want to stress the importance of choosing the right grout color for your tile.  Don't rush in choosing grout, make sure you lay it out with the tiles in the room it will be in before you decide!

There are a few options when looking at grout colors.  You can:

  1. Blend the grout with the tiles, meaning you choose a grout that is nearly the same color as the tiles (such as white on white). This will create the appearance that the floor is one seamless color.
  2. Contrast the grout and tiles, meaning if the tiles are light than you choose a dark grout (or vice versa).  This creates a checkerboard appearance. 
  3. Accent the tile with grout, meaning if you have multiple colors in your tile you can choose one of those colors to accent in the grout.
When I first started my home renovations, I thought I preferred to blend my grout and tiles.  I thought this would make the rooms look larger.  

My downstairs bath has a beige tile with Oyster Gray Polyblend grout. I picked this tile because it was inexpensive and a neutral color for the bathroom.  The grout dried darker than I expected and it looks kinda dingy with the beige tiles. 

I had purchased too much of these tiles, so instead of returning them I kept them to use in my laundry room.  Since I didn't have much of the Oyster Gray grout left, I decided to use the Alabaster Polyblend Grout  that I had left over from my Master Bath. I didn't want to spend extra money on grout so I was hoping the colors would be tolerable together.  

It turns out that Alabaster Grout looks amazing with this tile!  It completely transformed the look and color of these boring beige tiles. I know it's hard to tell but these two images are the same tile just in two different rooms with different grout colors.  

Maybe down the road I will regrout the downstairs bath to help brighten up that dingy floor.  

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Parran's PoBoys and Creole Creamery

Since we had to drop my parents off at the airport over the weekend, Michael and I decided to treat ourselves to some yummy NOLA food.

(Warning the following blog contains images of extremely delicious foods, I am not responsible for any drooling or diet cheating this will cause.  Janel and Jeff, you have been warned.)

Michael was craving a po-boy so I asked my dad for restaurant recommendations and he suggested Parran's in Metairie.

Parran's was great!  It was very cute, and I would guess Mom and Pop owned. (Because I think Pop ran the register and Mom brought out our food.)

I got a side of Fried Pickles, and they were awesome.  They must be hand sliced from whole pickles because they were thick and crispy!  I didn't realize a side was going to be so huge!

Michael got a Shrimp Po-boy and fries and I got a Roast Beef Po-boy.

I think he enjoyed it!

About a year ago, Michael and I saw this episode of Kid in a Candy Store that featured The Creole Creamery. We had wanted to check them out and finally got a chance on Saturday.

OMG this is the best ice cream I have ever eaten.  It is so creamy, I would call it Cold Cream - there is nothing icy about it.  The prices are great too!  Cheaper than other chain ice cream places.  Just remember to bring CASH.

Michael really wanted to get the Cracked Pepper and Cream Corn ice cream (that was mentioned in the video) but sadly they did not have that flavor right now.  But his second choice was Lavender Honey.  I think he looks sleepy because he was in a yummy food coma.

I got the Salted Carmel in a waffle cone.  It was amazing!  I can't wait to go back and try more flavors!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Flying, not just for the birds

In my 26 years on Earth I have never been on a plane.  I guess I never went anywhere that required taking a plane.  Because of this, I was apprehensive about flying.  I don't like roller coasters and I get car sick, so I really didn't know what to expect.  When I found out I was going to have to fly to Dallas for work I got really anxious.

Michael knew how much this was bothering me (to the point of losing sleep laying awake worrying about it).  So he contacted his mom's boyfriend (Mr. Vaughn) who has a plane.  He graciously offered to take me for my first flight and teach me all about planes and flying.

When we pulled up to the airport and I saw this tin can (literally, it's made of aluminum) sized plane I started to panic.  But I had come this far so I had to do it.

After a 20 minute lesson on all the parts of the plane, why the plane flies and all the inside controls, it was time to get in.

This is a small plane that only seats 4, but its surprisingly not cramped inside.  But it is hot.  There is no a/c.

Smaller planes like this are steered on the ground using pedals.  Mr. Vaughn let me drive the plane to the runway.  This is incredibly difficult!  I was supposed to drive on a straight yellow line, but if there would have been police around, they would have pulled me over for drunk driving!

We got to the runway and tested the engine, checked the gas, controls etc.  Then it was time to take off!  This plane has to go at least 75mph before it will take flight.  So as we were going down the runway I began to brace myself.  While I was deciding if I should close my eyes when we went up, we were already in the air!  I had barely even noticed!  My ears started popping as we rose over the houses and trees.  But the sight was beautiful!  Everything looked like colorful geometric shapes. We flew over the Mississippi River and could see for miles!

Then, it was my turn to fly the plane!  It was so easy!  The plane basically flies itself.  There were a few bumps as we hit air pockets and clouds and such.  But the plane just leveled out naturally.  I flew around for 30 minutes, then we made two circles (which made me a little sick) and then landed.  It was an amazing experience!  I am so thankful to know that flying is not scary!

Mr. Vaughn said I was smiling the whole time.  And afterwards my face was sore!  I can now check 'fly in a plane and FLY a plane" off my to-do list.

Maybe next I'll learn how to swim.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Flying Solo

This weekend Michael and I will tackle our first big home renovation project alone!  Usually, we have my parents running the show, but he and I will be tiling the laundry room floor all by ourselves.

We had a quick lesson last night on how to lay tiles

  • Start in the center of the room
  • only use as much adhesive that you need for a few tiles
  • use the tile spacers
  • proper use of the tile cutter

Pretty much everything that DIY covers here.

Now that we are tile experts hopefully we can complete the tile and grout this weekend.  I don't think anything can go terribly wrong. 

But the real question is will this Home Renovation make or break our relationship?  I should video the process and submit it to Renovation Realities, I'm sure we will be quite entertaining!

I also scored a great deal on 6 wall cabinets for the laundry room.  I found them on Craigs List.  This was my first time using Craigs List and it was great!  The price I paid for these 6 cabinets (only 4 pictured below) is less than what one would cost at the store!

Here are the cabinets before we sand and paint them. I think we will just paint them white.  But maybe I'll get gutsy and try a dark bold color.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Laundry Room Update

It was a rainy weekend, thanks to TS Lee. But we were able to get a good bit of work done on the Laundry Room.

Here is what we completed -

  • Insulate the walls and ceiling.  DONE
  • Move hot water heater out of room and rerun pipes etc. for it.  DONE
This was a challenging process, but after like 7 times we had no leaks!
  • Run electricity for Dryer, Fridge and outlets. DONE
  • Hang sheet rock - float, sand repeat. - Almost all hung, I will be working on floating in the evenings after work this week.
  • Change out window. - Not Done - We will hopefully get to that one night this week.  
And we ran the A/C duct and vent so once the room is closed in we can connect it to the A/C system.  

Here is what the room looks like after the 3 day weekend.

I am very pleased with our progress, I can't wait to see the finished product!

Friday, September 2, 2011

Labor Day Laundry List

I thought I'd post pictures of where we are with the Laundry Room prior to the 3 day weekend, then we can track our progress. To see the before pictures of the space, please check out my previous blog It All Comes Out in the Wash.

This is a view from the kitchen into the new laundry room.  You can see that once we close in the room, you will now exit the kitchen into the laundry room, then exit through the side door to get into the garage.
The space is about 9ft x 9ft.  Which is at least double the size of the original garage bathroom.
There is still plenty of garage space all around the new laundry room.  You could easily fit a car in there, if my driveway/garage was accessible by car.  The area to the right (behind the wall of the new room) is where my washer and dryer is currently.

Here is our Labor Day Weekend "Laundry List" for the Laundry Room Expansion:

  • Insulate the walls and ceiling.
  • Move hot water heater out of room and rerun pipes etc. for it.
  • Run electricity for Dryer, Fridge and outlets.
  • Hang sheet rock - float, sand repeat.
  • Change out window.
I think this is a good starting point.  We'll see how much we actually get done because it's supposed to rain all weekend and that could put a kink in our plans.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

It all comes out in the wash

We spent the last 2 weekends working on the last "major" renovation inside my house. The Laundry Room.  Up until now, my washer and dryer were set up in the garage.  Not the ideal place for cleaning clothes.

Originally, we were going to turn the bathroom (that was inside my garage) into the laundry room.  But my dad came up with an even better idea!  Expand the bathroom to make an even larger laundry/storage room!

So here is what the "Garage Bathroom" looked like before.This bathroom was gross. The shower leaked and was causing the wall in between the kitchen and garage to rot.  We did a lot of repair initially after we demoed the bathroom.

The second image is taken from inside the garage.  You can see how the hot water heater was also in the "bathroom".

Also before when you exited from the kitchen you went down 3 stairs into the garage.  You can see the garage door in this image. (Behind my Dad.)

We will be working on the laundry room during the 3 day Labor Day weekend.  I'll post pics to show you our progress then!

Monday, August 22, 2011

A Royal Dessert

I decided to bake a Royal Blue Velvet Cake this weekend.  I saw the recipe in a Betty Crocker email, and the picture was just too pretty to ignore.  I figured I didn't need a special occasion to bake, especially when you are baking a Royal Cake.

The biggest challenge was finding the paste food color.  I decided to check out Michaels, and learned they carry Duff Goldman's (the Ace of Cakes guy)  line of baking products.  I got the jewel tone 4 pack which included a sapphire blue, yellow, teal and black.  These colors are amazing, very vivid and didn't stain my hands while preparing or my mouth while eating.

The cake is pretty basic, using a box white cake mix.  You use butter milk and a little cocoa powder to make it red velvet-like.

The best part of this recipe was the icing.  It was delicious!  By using the marshmallow fluff it makes regular powder sugar and butter icing super light and fluffy.  Also, I put the cake in my cake dome, and the icing didn't harden over night, like many store bought icings will do.  2 days later and the icing is still light and fluffy!  

This was a pretty successful cake baking, because in 2 days I only have 1 slice left!  I had intended on bringing the cake to work to share, but bringing just one piece didn't seem fair.

I am excited to experiment with the rest of the Duff Cake product line as I make more cakes and cupcakes.  I think I will make some teal cupcakes (think Tiffany Cupcakes) next!