Wednesday, August 28, 2013

On my bookshelf

So really, Satan must be wearing a parka this week.  Our local library system is a joke.  They don't carry enough copies of popular books.  When "The Help" was out I requested a hold and waited 6 months for my turn.  A bit ridiculous.  So when "Siege and Storm" was released June 4, imagine my surprise when I got it from the library last week.  And, double luck, I was able to get the first book in the series, "Shadow and Bone" with it so I could reread it to refresh my mind with details before reading the 2nd book.

Ya'll, I love love love this series.  It still shocks me that I am so into YA fantasy when as a rule I hated fantasy genre growing up.  Now it's my favorite thing.  Maybe because there is more of it and it's much better quality than what was available to me as a teen?  I don't know.  What I do know is that I love this story.  I love the plot and the characters (though, this one had one of those "just tell him!!!" moments and those I cannot stand, but really, I think it's a truth of human spirit that we distrust people and fear rejection that must get included in stories I suppose though it drives me nutso).  The third book is coming out at some point next year.  I rarely buy books but this little trilogy will probably be one that I want to own.

If you like fantasy stories and stories about good and evil and about the non-popular girl being chosen, oooo, do get your hands on this!  And if you want to send me a present in the mail, well, I'm just saying you have a good hint right here ;)

Friday, August 23, 2013

Top 5 Pinterest Recipes: Desserts

Really, I think Pinterest has been responsible for the last 5 pounds that I have gained.  I have plucked so many good recipes from there, most of the dessert variety.  My Pinterest dessert board is entitled "Cavities and Diabetes", appropriately so.  It was hard to narrow down, but here are my favorite five sweets recipes that I have discovered.

1.  Banana Caramel Pie (also called Banofee Pie)

My friend Eleanor who is an amazing cook had taught me about turning to condensed milk to caramel and making a pie out of it.  This little gemsimply added bananas.  Bam!  So stinkin good.  Diabetes inducing though...really rich and sweet.  Amazing.  The last one I made Dave and I sat down with it between us, each of us with a fork in hand.  

2.  Carmelitas

Oh man, scrumptious little suckers are to die for.  Good on so many levels I cannot even tell you.  Definitely the type of recipe that you don't want to make for company or get togethers 'cause you just don't wanna share.  

3.  Homemade Butterfinger Bars

Your life is about to be changed for the better. Butterfingers are ok but not my favorite.  Enter this amazing 3 ingredient recipe.  I made a tray of cookies and things for Dave's office for Christmas and this was the first thing to disappear.  So amazing I cannot even tell you.  Stock up on cheap candy corn after Halloween like I did (I still have 10 bags or so at home) and you can have these puppies year round.  No body better lay a finger on my (homemade) butterfinger!

4.  Easy blondies

Sometimes when you want something sweet you want it without having to go through a lot of effort.  I'm not too partial to break and bake cookies so I always love recipes for something homemade and sweet that are easy to throw together.  These tasty little guys certainly fit the bill.  I use white cake mix instead of yellow but I'm sure that would be just as good.  Yummo!

5.  Pumpkin Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

I am one of those people that starts a countdown in September for when Pumpkin Spice Lattes will come out at Starbucks.  Pumpkin is wonderful.  And this recipe is perfection.  Perfect for Fall, or any other time of year if you're like me and buy up Libby's pumpkin in bulk during the fall and stockpile it in your kitchen to last the rest of the year.  Cause let's be honest: pumpkin can be enjoyed at any time.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Basement Update

By far, the basement was the thing in our house that needed the most attention.  Water had been finding it's way in and the previous owners evidently didn't care and my stars, it was so bad down here. Mold coming out of the woodwork...literally.  Plus the previous owners had kept their dogs down there and according to the neighbors never let them out to use the bathroom. urine and mold are a fantastic combination of smells.

Now, I am happy to report, it looks completely different.  Thanks to a knowledgeable contractor with some mold remediation experience, it no longer smells like Satan's butt in our basement.

I don't have but two before pics because honestly it smelled so bad down there I didn't wanna go down there to do it.  Here are the only 2 before shots I have:

Standing water was in here when we first saw it.  As cool as an indoor swimming pool sounds, we decided we had best take care of it.  

I walked in here the first time and told Dave that I felt that I was on the set of "That 70's Show"

And here are the pics after:

All the mold is gone thanks to our fantastic contractor. And now we have nice new drywall, that is actually dry.

This is the downstairs bedroom which had visible mold growing up one wall...and in which a child was living while the mold was present.  What are people thinking???

Downstairs bathroom/laundry area

Oh so you noticed the wallpaper in the previous pic?  Here is a close up.  Classy does not even come close to describing.  I mean who wouldn't want toilet print wallpaper in their bathroom?

This girl, that's who.  This will be a room to address at a later time. 

When we first saw the house there were mushrooms growing in this little place under the stairs.  I'm telling you people, fixer upper is what we bought!  All gone now.  Again, our contractor is amazing!

I'm not really a fan of fireplaces, but we decided to keep this one just so Santa has a way to get into our house.

Monday, August 19, 2013

On My Bookshelf: August

I have a (short) list of authors who are so good I know I will like just about anything they write.  Jodi Picoult is one of them.  She has an amazing way of writing about controversial issues embedded in the best stories. Truly talented writer.  This is her latest book, The Storyteller, and it is really good.  Here is the synopsis from Jodi's website:

Sage Singer is a baker, a loner, until she befriends an old man who's particularly beloved in her community. Josef Weber is everyone's favorite retired teacher and Little League coach. One day he asks Sage for a favor: to kill him. Shocked, Sage refuses—and then he confesses his darkest secret – he deserves to die because he had been a Nazi SS guard. And Sage's grandmother is a Holocaust survivor. How do you react to evil living next door? Can someone who's committed truly heinous acts ever atone with subsequent good behavior? Should you offer forgiveness to someone if you aren't the party who was wronged? And, if Sage even considers the request, is it revenge…or justice?

The book weaves three different parts; the story of present day Sage Singer, the story of what her grandmother endured during the Holocaust, and the story her grandmother wrote while in the midst of such hell that kept her alive.  The book is so good not only because it is well written but because of the story it tells of a Jewish girl and what she endured during the Holocaust.  And while it is fiction, it certainly paints a very accurate picture of what those people endured.  Horrors that are hard to imagine and even harder to digest but ones that we as people must never, ever forget.  A great read on so many levels.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

My favorite Pinterest recipes

I've heard some girls talk about how they pin all these things on Pinterest but never actually make them or do anything with them.  Get with it women!  I have found some of the yummiest recipes on Pinterest!  I was going to do a top 5 overall but realized it was probably best to do a Top 5 dinner post and then a separate Top 5 dessert post.  So, to start, here are my top 5 Pinterest dinner recipes.

1.  Classic Lasagna

This lasagna recipe is the one of the best things I have ever made. I love lasagna but had never stumbled upon a recipe I really loved, even though I've tried oodles of them.  This one is fantastic; a bit labor intensive (I find it's easier if I mix up the sauces and brown the meat the day before so I don't feel so overwhelmed with it).  It's not a hard recipe, just a time consuming one but oh. so. worth. it.

2.  Spaghetti and Meatballs

I used to think you could have spaghetti without meatballs, but then I married a man who requires meat so I went on the hunt for a good meatball recipe.  I hate fatty meatballs that taste slimy and I hate frying them the way my mom did because they get all charred on the outside.  Enter this recipe.  Easy peasy and yummy meatballs.  Win.

3.  Baked sweet and sour chicken with fried rice

Usually I make a big batch of something to take to work on Mondays to last as my lunch all week long. I do salads a lot but thanks to some persnickety (yes, that's a word ya'll) gallstones I can't eat salad more than a couple weeks in a row, so I have to have a filler.  Enter this comfort food at it's best.  I have to be careful with this because of the soy sauce (I need to find some MSG free soy sauce...can we say migraine trigger?), but it is super easy to make and super tasty.  Don't let the "baked" fool you though; it's not that healthy.

4.  Maple Brown Sugar Ham

A Crockpot is practically a life necessity in my opinion.  This easy recipe is so good!  Great for Easter, Sunday dinners, Grandparent's Day, whatever!  Soooo yummy!  (side note:  make these rolls to go with it.  You will not be sorry).

5.  Lemon Garlic Chicken

Best marinade ever.   Five minutes to make, let it marinade overnight (at least).  Grill it up.  Perfection.  Better if you cut your chicken into strips...the smaller they are (not too small or they'll fall through the grill) the more they can soak up the marinade.

Happy eating!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Bathrooms and vents

The bathrooms have been my most recently painted rooms.  We have major renovations planned for the bathrooms long term, but for now our goal was to just "prettify" them.

Here is the main bath before:

Not bad, just a bright shade of blue with bright green trim and these little Nemo fish decals that I don't think were actually intended to be stuck to the tub because I tried everything short of fire to get those puppies (or should I say guppies...oooo bad joke) off of there.  Here is the main bathroom now:

I found a gallon of "oops" paint at Home Depot in a khaki-ish color for $7. As the color was normal (a lot of times they have purple or pink or something else really bizarre) and we don't care what color this room is, I snatched it up.

 It looks darker in these pics than it does in person.

The master bath was in the worst shape of any of the rooms on the main floor.  Here it is before:

Tiny, nasty, and bright bright red.  It also smells like a Marlboro factory.  Forget that it kills you, people shouldn't smoke because it makes your house reek.  We have a lot of work to do on this room but I got it painted and a shower curtain up and that helps it a ton:

I used leftover paint from our office that I love so much.  Please pardon my dirty clothes on the floor.  As none of them are underwear, I figured it was safe to show the world.

Here is the very attractive light fixture.  Sometimes I get into the whole Arabian Nights theme of it and sing "A Whole New World" with gusto while I dry my hair.  We have a new medicine cabinet going in here that has lights so eventually this baby will go.  As you can tell, we need to redo the ceiling, which hopefully will help with the horrendous smoke smell that I cannot get out of this room.

So those of you on Pinterest know how every blogger and her cousin's twin rave about Rustoleum Rubbed Bronze spray paint?  Well, they have a ton of other colors too.  Flat Burnished Amber is quite pretty too.  I used it to spray all of our vent registers--they look so good now!

I've always wanted a linen closet.  In college I remember a friend of mine saying how badly she wanted the doctor's lab coat and another that she wanted  corner office.  Me, a linen closet.  To each his own I suppose.  Enter joy here:

We are still on big projects and so not at the details part of our list yet, as seen by the stacks of picture frames and other decorative things that we are not ready for still stacked in our living room.

I searched for 20 minutes this past weekend for the rest of our towels, wondering where in the world they all could be.  Then it dawned on me that I had used them to wrap picture frames and other breakables in, and all of those things are still in boxes.  Planning fail.  We'll just drip dry for a few more weeks...

Monday, August 12, 2013

How boys are boys no matter their age

Here are examples of how a boy's thinking is universal no matter his age.

Last night I was babysitting 3 little boys and observed the following:

1.  The youngest who is 2 is being potty trained and had a stack of reading material he had placed beside his plastic potty chair.  I'm not sure what it is in male DNA that makes them sit and read while they are on the toilet, but evidently it is inherent and starts young.

2. During bath time, the 4 year old took a plastic bath toy in the shape of a star, stuck it on his, shall we say "manliness", then told me to look and boldly declared it is "favorite body part".  I wondered how many college age boys will utter the same exact phrase and give theirs a star this semester.

Could hardly contain myself.  Boys will be boys!

Friday, August 9, 2013

Adventures in Home Ownership

Want an idea of what it's like to move into a fixer upper?  Here you go!

(side note:  I have discovered that not everyone has the same definition of "fixer upper" that I do.  I've heard people refer to fixer uppers as houses that need granite counter tops put in and ones that need bathroom faucets changed out to something more attractive.  That is not a fixer upper.  That is a "make it what you want it".  I don't get how people don't understand this.  It's like girls who got married at 24 but who talk about how they remember how hard those "years of waiting" were.  Woman, please.  Get some perspective.)

Anywho....enough of that rabbit trail.  Here are some pics of the past month:

Holy Hole Patch Batman!  This is just one of many instances where we have asked of the previous owners, "What the heck were they doing?"

This is what happens to my face when I prime.  My husband was astounded at my ability to get paint and primer everywhere.  Interesting to note that oil based primer is not easily removed.  Best exfoliation I've ever had happened every night trying to get that stuff off of me.

I mean really, I'm not kidding.  Everywhere.  

We have a jungle for a front flower bed and there are blackberries in there.  So random.  

Carpet!!!  It's amazing how much carpet makes a house feel more like a home.  We splurged an extra $200 to get the memory foam floor pad.  Sooooo worth the money.

I will admit I made carpet angels the first night this was installed.

I had to paint my toenails to cover the white primer spots that did not come off.  Which prompted my husband to ask why in the world did I prime in flip flops?  To which my response was, if Jesus wore open toed shoes, so will I!  Actually, I didn't say that, but that would have been a good thing to say, yes?

Words cannot describe how nasty this house was.  Our master shower/tub was the worst thing in the house.  Here is the before.  
Here it is after.  You can't tell by this picture but trust me when I tell you it is much, much cleaner.  And disinfected.  About 6 times.  

Ah, the UT room.  Are we UT fans?  Not one bit.  So we went from this...

to this.  Behr's "Ionic Sky", which is an absolutely gorgeous shade of blue.  Love, love it.  

Cause when you need to boil water to clean out your drains and your stove isn't installed where you want it, you just move it close enough to a plug and improvise.  And take a pic of your hubs in a "witch's brew" pose.  Cannot wait to use this new stove by the way.  Where we rented had  a baby half-sized stove. This beauty will delight me to no end.
Bald head and late July sun are not a good combination so he improvised a head cover.  My stars, he's hot.  I get to be married to this fine male specimen.  A heart of gold and he looks that jealous.

Home sweet home!  So, so much to do still.  Our to-do list could fill a 3-ring binder.  But as jealous as I've been tempted to be of those who just pick out their new paint colors and move right in, there is something wholly satisfying about doing your own work on your own house.  Hope we continue to feel that way!

Monday, August 5, 2013

Moving Day

I have lived in the same place for 8 years.

I forgot how horrid moving can be.

We finally moved in this weekend, after working for 5 straight weeks to get the house ready to be moved into.  We got a good start Thursday night and Friday and Saturday got lots done with the help of some friends of ours.  We were feeling good because the only thing left in our old house was an assortment of odds and ends.

Silly us.

Those odds and ends mated and multiplied throughout the night because my stars it took FOREVER to get them all loaded.  We packed up our last load after 10 last night.

And you know what's not fun?  Realizing you don't have a shower curtain and having to run to Walmart at 9:30 at night.

On tax free weekend.

Sweet glory, I never pray for the second return of Jesus more than when I am waiting at the check out line of Walmart.  I made it out alive, and with two shower curtains, just to be safe.

So now all of our stuff is in the new house, though I have no idea where anything is.  We were in such a rush yesterday that all sorts of stuff got thrown together in unlabeled boxes.  So now we have oodles of boxes EVERYWHERE with no idea what's in them.  We don't have shelves in our closets or pantry and no closet rods put up, so when I say everything is everywhere, I mean it.  I am slightly type A (and by slightly I mean slightly in the same way Kim Kardashian is slightly obsessed with how she looks or how politicians are slightly liars).  I cannot handle having things everywhere.  Last night I couldn't get my brain to turn off so was lying awake at 3 am.  I would have gotten up to take Benadryl or something to help me sleep but then remembered that although I know we own Benadryl, I have no idea where it is.

One thing at a time is my new motto. There are so many things that are a priority right now and I'm so overwhelmed by all of it.  Bit by bit.  Hopefully by end of this week things look somewhat better and I am less likely to break out in hives at the sight of the mess.  And if I do, I pray I at least have found my Benadryl...