Sunday, July 29, 2012

BM in the Master Bath

Ha!  I'm punny.  BM = Benjamin Moore paint!

The master bathroom is the last room in the house to get any attention.  All the other rooms have been painted and decorated, but this one has remained builder's beige all over since we moved in.  I decided that needed to change this summer.

It all started when I saw some gray bathrooms emerge on the internets, like this:

Source: via Bunny on Pinterest

...and this:

The gray doesn't make them dreary or gloomy, and I love how sophisticated and clean they all look!  So I set out on a search for the perfect gray and the perfect shower curtain to match.  I we recently got new linens in the bedroom that have a feminine edge, so I thought I'd throw Dave a bone and make the bathroom more masculine.  We found this shower curtain at Ikea, and it fit the bill:
But after I thought about it for a while, I had second thoughts.  I like it, but don't love it.  So into the yard sale pile it went (it had been too long to return it, plus is $10 worth driving 160 miles round trip to return it?  Nope.)

So the search continued.  I found this lovely at World Market - it's not masculine at all, but beautiful and could be less girly with the gray paint. Dave vetoed it.

He said it was grandma-ish?  Yeah, if your grandma is stylish as hell!

Oh well.

Then I went to Kohl's and found this.  Hello, lover:

Not too girly, perfect gray accents, and I love the blue!  I texted a picture of it to Dave and he responded something not negative, so I bought it! :)  I didn't get anything else to match it in case he hated it in person, but I just noticed those 3-toned matching rugs behind it, and the fact that the entire collection is on sale this week!  Might need to corral some Kohl's coupons STAT!

So with the shower curtain chosen, I moved on to paint.  And the winner is:
Benjamin Moore's Revere Pewter!

Hence "BM in the bathroom."  I'm hilarious.

I bought a test pot a few days ago to make sure it was the one, even though the entire internets told me it's the best bathroom greige.  I painted a swatch on every plane in the bathroom other than the ceiling. At first I was a little scared because it was very beige.  But once it dried, I got this beauty:

Someone please teach me how to take a photo?  Kthx.

I haven't actually painted the room yet, so stay tuned to watch the paint dry. :)

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Summer Bucket List: Go to an Outdoor Concert

While we were walking through the streets of Brooklyn last spring, Maureen casually mentioned that I might like the Avett Brothers.  She was so right!  I downloaded their latest live album on the way home from that trip, and fell in love with them!  Folky sound, guys with guitars - just my taste!

When I saw that they were coming to Innsbrook After Hours this summer I jumped on the opportunity to see them live!

Dave and I went to the venue right after work (he could have walked from his office) and hung out with 1000 of our closest friends Richmonders to see the show. :)

Also joining us were these clouds:

Luckily other than a few drizzles we stayed pretty dry through the concert, which was AWESOME!  They played all my favorites, some I hadn't heard, and some upcoming tunes.  My favorite will always be The Ballad of Love and Hate!

They have a new album coming on in September, featuring this gem - so excited!

What's for Dinner - Week of 7/22

Three out of five isn't bad, right?  That's how we did last week with sticking to our meal plan.  Monday and Tuesday we cooked at home, tried new recipes, and didn't eat dinner until at least 8pm.  That's not cool.  Dave forgot to take the ribs out of the freezer so we ate out Wednesday, and Thursday he went out with some friends and I'm not cooking just for me.  :)  That leaves Friday, and we planned on eating concert food anyways, so there you go.


But that's two less times eating out than normal weeks, so I'm convinced it's a teeny bit of progress.

This week we're dreaming a little smaller and sticking mostly to recipes we know and love, rather than trying 4 new recipes in one week.  Here's hoping we're more successful!

Here's what's for dinner:

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Summer Bucket List: Update 1

It's been about 2 weeks since I published my Summer Bucket List, and I thought I'd post an update on the status.  So far I've completed 3 of the 10 items - admittedly the easiest 3, but I'll take it! :)

Here's our progress:

  • Bonnie and I worked on an almost-fail Pinterest project - a bird feeder.  After some patience and Gorilla Glue, the fail turned into a success:
  • Dave and I went to Carter Mountain Orchard to pick peaches, but the orchard was closed for the day.  We picked up peaches that had been picked by their employees, so we're calling this one done!  With the half peck of peaches we got, I made a peach pie:
  • Bonnie and I started our batches of homemade vanilla extract - it will need 90 days or sue to ferment, but so far it's looking good!  Already starting to smell like vanilla extract instead of 750mL of vodka:

3 down, 7 more to go!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Marv's 75th Birthday!

Dave's dad, Marv, turned 75 this weekend, so we took him out to a fancy schmancy dinner to celebrate!

I wanted to take him somewhere he'd never choose for himself, along with a place that would allow us to spoil him a little without breaking the bank - the winner:  The Boathouse at Sunday Park in Brandermill!  Dave showed Bonnie and I this place once when we first moved here, as part of his tour o'Richmond, but we have never had dinner there so it was a treat for us too. :)

Marv splurged for himself and ordered a nice bottle of Gew├╝rztraminer to go with his meal, and we all got dessert, along with some coffee after dinner.  We had a great time catching up [last time we were together was Father's Day, which was also the same time I saw my parents - gotta remedy that! :)] and Ann even brought me a gift from their recent trip to PA Amish country!

We perfectly timed the end of our dinner with this spectacular sunset over the lake just outside the restaurant:

Here's the birthday boy:

Happy 75th, Marv - here's to many more! :)

Monday, July 16, 2012

What's for Dinner - Week of 7/15

Sometime last year, Dave and I started planning meals for each week together and kept to it for a while. It saved *so* much money at the grocery store because we were buying things with purpose rather than just choosing chicken, chili pepper, triscuits, and red solo cups. What the heck are we supposed to do with that combination?  Nothing, that's what.

Then there was a hurricane, we lost everything in the fridge, and had to buy all the staples again which somehow threw us off-course money-wise and we got out of the habit of planning meals. That's not an excuse, because it's not logical, but it's just what happened.

So we need to get back in the routine - and I feel like publishing the plan each week will help keep me accountable to planning the work/working the plan, as the great Franklin Roberts would say. So all 3 2 of you who read this, please hold me to this!

Here's the plan for this week:

All four of these recipes came from my Pinterest recipe board, so we're trying all new things this week! Also, I was apparently hungry for chicken and/or broccoli while picking out recipes! :)

Friday night we're going to see the Avett Brothers at Innsbrook After Hours, so we'll pig out on $9 hot dogs or some shit like that. FUN!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Herb #FAIL

I tried to grow some herbs, and failed miserably.  I saw this cute idea to grow herbs in Ball jars, and thought it was too cute not to try!

I picked up some jars:

Painted some tongue depressors with chalkboard paint:

Filled the jars with potting soil and seeds - and placed them on the window sill and watered them almost-daily:

I started out watering them daily, but sine there's nowhere for the water to drain out of the jar, I started waiting until all that water had soaked in before watering them again.  Perhaps that was my mistake.  Or maybe this spot doesn't get as much sun as I thought - or at least, doesn't get enough sun to start the herbs from seeds?  Who knows.

It's been 9 weeks, and all I got were a couple oregano sprouts and 1 long cilantro sprig - but neither continued to grow or thrive.  RIP herbs.

It's a fail.  But I tried! :)

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Summer Bucket List: DIY Vanilla Extract

Another project for our most recent BFF day was to start a batch of vanilla extract. Robin, of Our Semi-Organic Life, prompted my interest in doing this and to be honest, before I read her first post about it I had no idea that vanilla extract is just vanilla beans soaked in alcohol.  Did you know that?

Have I been living under a rock?

Bonnie had been thinking about the same thing after seeing some posts on Pinterest where people were making cute bottles for theirs and going them out as gifts:

So we decided to tackle this - it seems (still) too easy to work, but the internets has never been wrong before, right?

We'll see.

All you need to make the extract are some whole vanilla beans and a bottle of vodka.  The ratio of beans to vodka is where the confusion starts.  When I started doing research to determine how much alcohol we'd need, I found that every website had a different ratio, and when I finally settled on one ratio that I saw more than once (2 beans for every 12 ounces of alcohol), Dave and I headed to the liquor store to pick up some vodka.

The problem?  Every bottle of vodka was measured/labeled in milliliters instead of ounces.  Wop wop.  So I was the nerd in the liquor store looked up a measurement conversion calculator on my phone, blocking half the aisle.  The verdict:  750 mL = ~24 ounces.  Perfect!

We got our vanilla beans from Penzeys in Carytown - 3 beans for $9.35, and they come in this awesome test tube:
Yes, I'm on Facebook at work :)

We also picked up 4 amber bottles from Elwood Thompson's to hold our vanilla once it's ready!

Cost breakdown:
  • $12.47 for 4 vanilla beans
  • $5.84 for 4 amber bottles
  • $15 for a 24oz./750mL bottle of Smirnoff
  • Total: $33.31 or $1.39 per ounce
That's pretty awesome compared to what we pay at the grocery store for a 2oz. bottle!  Penzeys sells 8oz. for $21.39!

We sliced the vanilla beans in half lengthwise and just dropped them in the bottle:

Within minutes we could already see specks of vanilla floating around!

And here's how it looks on day 7:

I'm going to shake it up every few days, and smell it after 30 to see if it's already starting to smell like vanilla extract - for now it still smells more like vodka than vanilla :)!  After 90 days it should be ready to strain and bottle! FUN!

Summer Bucket List: DIY Bird Feeder

Bonnie came down last weekend for another BFF day, and among many other things, we tackled a DIY bird feeder. We initially wrote it off as a fail, but I think things are looking up!

Here's the inspiration, from Pinterest:

I recognized the plates immediately because I had seen them at Target in the garden section, and after perusing the tutorial and supply list, it seemed easy enough.  

Here's what you'll need, in addition to a melamine plate and bowl set:
  • Carriage bolt - I got 10 inches long and 3/8 in diameter
  • Washers (4) and nuts (2) to fit the size bolt you buy
  • 2 feet of nylon string (not pictured)
  • **make sure you have a drill bit the same size as your carriage bolt

You'll notice I bought way more washers and nuts than I needed, because:
  • I didn't read the directions in detail before buying them
  • There was a limited selection of 3/8 in. of both - it was either buy 10 or only 1, which wouldn't have been enough
  • We planned on making 2 bird feeders

Good news - both of these bags only cost like $1.57 or some insanely low amount like it!  So add that to the melamine bowl+plate and this is a <$10 project!

First, drill a whole through the center of the plate and bowl.  This is where the fail started - I bought 2 plate/bowl sets, and the drill went through one like butter [I realize the holes aren't centered, but they're close enough for me :)]:

...but the other one was not nearly as cooperative - they're made of the same material, are the same thickness, and I used the same drill bit, but for some reason we just couldn't make it work:

Who knows - so we gave up on the pretty turquoise one.

Once you have your holes drilled, it's time to assemble it.  I'm not even going to try to explain how we did it - I'll let Erin explain it, since she's the source of the project!

Here's the finished product - we had an issue with the bowl being wobbly, but it was nothing another coat of Gorilla Glue couldn't cure, and now it's solid as a rock:

Hope the birdies like it! ;)

Not Yo Mama's Banana Pudding

In early June, just after we delivered our final global citizenship presentations (my group did a scathing review of the Wikileaks/Bank of America case), some classmates came over for an end of the school year cookout!  We are officially halfway through our curriculum, and college seniors!  Who thought I'd be proud to be a college senior at 33 years old?  Not this girl.  But I'll take it.

Dave and I supplied the burgers, dogs, and condiments, and I asked everyone to bring either a side dish or dessert to share with the group.  We ended up with a good spread! :)  But the dish that earned the most accolades, by far, was the banana pudding Lisa brought!

It is a Paula Deen recipe with no butter - can you believe it?

The hilarious name of this recipe is Not Yo' Mama's Banana Pudding.  I wonder whether Paula Deen came up with that or it's the reaction people most often have after tasting it?

I love this pudding so much that I decided to make it for a cookout we had with some friends a few weekends later - and it was a hit!

Here's what you'll need:

  • 2 bags Pepperidge Farm Chessmen cookies
  • 6-8 bananas, sliced
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 5oz. box of French Vanilla instant pudding
  • 1 9oz. package of cream cheese
  • 1 14oz. can of sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 12oz. container of Cool Whip or equal amount of actual whipped cream
Now let's assemble!  First, line the bottom of a 9x13 casserole dish or cake pan with Chessmen cookies:

Then a layer of sliced bananas - I sliced them chunky and really packed them in there, but you can do as you please based on your level of love for the banana :):

Now it's time to mix up the liquids:
In a bowl, combine the milk and pudding mix and blend well using a handheld electric mixer. Using another bowl, combine the cream cheese and condensed milk together and mix until smooth. Fold the whipped topping into the cream cheese mixture. Add the cream cheese mixture to the pudding mixture and stir until well blended. 

I may have fudged the liquid part a bit - I don't have the patience to fold anything into anything else, so I just sorta dumped it.  Lisa's was much fluffier, but the taste is the same!

Pour it on top of the bananas:

Once you have an even layer of pudding mix, add another round of Chessmen, and you're done!

With 8 people eating this, it didn't last long, and I brought none home!  It is SO tasty!  Sure, you could substitute just about everything in the ingredient list with low-fat, low-sugar stuff, but I chose not to.

Go big or go home, right?  Enjoy!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Welcome [Back] to Virginia!

My parents recently moved back to Virginia!  They moved to Florida about 11 years ago after they retired, but now that they have a grand-baby they wanted to come back to be closer to him.  Although they'll pretend it's to be closer to me and my brother. :)

To welcome them back, I put together a gift full of products that were either made in or representative of Virginia:

I originally planned on including some maps, a list of my favorite places, and some funny news stories, but since my mom was good about keeping up with their old stomping grounds from Florida, and had lived here for decades, I figured that was overkill.  Plus it takes the fun out of them exploring new roads and stores, right?

I decided to keep it simple, and included...
  • Virginia peanuts and pumpkin butter from the Virginia Diner Shoppe
  • A postcard, featuring our state flower and bird, to write a welcome home message
  • Virginia is for Lovers pen
  • Virginia garden flag
...and a little something for their cat, Tigger:

I tried to fit these things neatly into a basket, and thought about trying to find some Virginia fabric to line it, but the awkward shapes of the items didn't really fit into that plan.  So I DIY'ed my own Virginia packaging.  

I am no artiste, but I did a Google image search to find a simple map of Virginia, and then just tried to draw something that sort of resembled what I was looking at.  You can probably see some dots within the outline of the state - I made marks for the major twists and turns so I didn't go all'll do. :)