Thursday, August 7, 2014

Veggie Garden - Year 3

In our three years in our townhouse, we've realized some things....
  1. Our backyard is really shady
  2. No matter how hard we try to trim the giant trees, the leave still block most of the sun
  3. Tomato plants don't like shade
You probably sense a common theme, our attempt at gardening in the backyard has yielded sub-par results. This year, we almost didn't plant a vegetable garden since we can get organic veggies at the DeKalb Farmer's Market right down the road and since we've had sub-par results from our own attempts in the backyard. But last minute, we decided to try a few things in the front of our house in pots.

Our first large {ish} harvest from the garden:
Cubanelle peppers, Sun gold cherry tomatoes, Regular cherry tomato, and a Green Zebra tomato
We put together some yummy appetizers when my friend {and MOH} Ana Maria visited a few weeks ago.
That's two different types of crostini: Roasted heirloom tomatoes on goat cheese with a drizzle of honey, and pan fried cubanelle peppers on goat cheese. Both were delicious! When we made the cubannellle toasts again, we drizzled some honey on them too.

Our second harvest of tomatoes:
Green Zebra, Sun Golds, Cherry Tomatoes, and our first Black Cherry Tomato and Pink Thai tomato!

We made yummy flat breads for two nights out of those. Soooo delicious!
Tasty flatbread with our heirloom tomatoes, fresh mozzerella and
homemade french bread with a drizzle of balsamic vinegar
Soon we'll be harvesting our pimento pepper and trying to make pimento cheese for the first time! We've got a bunch of Cubanelles ready to harvest too, so we'll have to decide what to do with them this time. 

Monday, July 28, 2014

Meet our new sectional - Karl

Yep, we went with what seems to be the most popular choice for a well priced sectional among bloggers- the Karlstad sofa and chaise lounge from Ikea!

We've been planning to make this change for quite a while. Our old couches were nice and soft and still in good shape, but just too big for the space. So they'll likely go into storage until my brother graduates college (yay, hand-me-down furniture!).

We knew one thing going in with Karl was that we hated his legs. The light color just didn't work with the dark fabric (we went with Sivik Dark Grey) and he just felt too short with the 5 7/8" legs. So after a lot of research and seeing various failed methods of changing the legs, we went for it and ordered these 8" legs from Waldell Mfg.

 Well they are actually more like 7" legs, and the metal color is silver (unlike their picture that shows gold). But we decided to go for it anyways. I stained them with one coat of Kona stain and sealer, and we decided we were happy with that coat. I didn't bother spending time taping off the metal part since I knew I could scrap off the stain that got on there, but actually we decided it gives it an "antique-y" look similar to what our favorite store, Ballard Designs, does on a lot of furniture. So I'll likely go back and dab more stain on the metal to even it out.

Then on to assembly.... it took us about 2.5 hours, which includes the leg change, so not too bad. Here's how we made that change. First, we pried off the plastic black piece that goes between the leg and the couch frame to get a sturdy surface to attach the brackets for the legs.

Then we pre-drilled holes for the screws to make sure they went in straight and didn't split any wood.

Then simply screwing in the bracket. We used a combination of the provided screws and a few extra long ones mixed in, in case that gave it a little more bite into the wood.

Then screw in the legs and repeat for all 8 legs! It's pretty simple after you get the hang of it. The good news is the legs feel very very secure. So we'll be monitoring them to make sure they don't loosen up as the couch gets used. But we're pretty confident at this point!

We are very happy with the final product, just have to get some more pillows (not all of our old ones worked with the new color scheme), probably a garden stool or other small object to put next to the chaise to hold drinks, and of course a new coffee table!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Replica Wedding Cake Ornament

Since our wedding was not long before Christmas, I kept seeing people sharing pictures of Replica Wedding Cake Ornaments and thought it would be really cool to have one! So I looked up the company, and their ornaments were over $200, waayyyy too much for me to spend on an ornament! So I gave up on that idea.....
Fast forward a couple of months to February.... I saw someone post on a Brides Facebook group that they found a couple of Etsy sellers that make the Wedding Cake Ornaments! So I decided that I would send my picture to her for a quote, and it was super reasonable! At least considering the time put into making one. So I put in my order, and a few months later it arrived! It looks so great! My parents were amazed at the detail when I showed it to them.

Here's a side by side of my real cake and the mini ornament:

Pretty good, right? My dad refused to believe that the ornament wasn't just a picture of my real cake! I'm amazed at the amount of detail she puts into each one! But I would highly recommend her shop to anyone looking to get a Replica Cake Ornament:

Monday, June 30, 2014

Wedding DIY: BBQ Sauce Favors!

For our wedding favors, we wanted to do something fun, something 'us', and something guests wouldn't throw away the next day {i.e. food}. So we immediately thought of doing a canned BBQ sauce after I saw a similar concept on Pinterest.

Our final product - Sweet & Tangy Version

So we set off on an adventure to find the perfect barbeque sauce and discovered that we actually wanted to make 2 sauces- the Bride's sauce {sweet & tangy} and the Groom's sauce {mustard based}.

We found this great recipe for a 14 spice dry rub along with the sweet and tangy BBQ sauce over on The Yummy Life. Greg's a fan of the mustard based sauces, so he found this one on Just a Pinch. We made a small test batch, and they were both perfect!

We must of our ingredients from Costco since you could buy in bulk, and then got the spices fresh from the Farmer's Market. We didn't take many pictures during the cooking process, well, because it was really really messy, and cooking that much of anything isn't pretty!

After a full day of cooking and canning, we got them all laid out on the dining room table, and then waited for the cans to cool so we could see if they were all successfully canned. I think it was 2 that failed, so we put those two them in the fridge for us to enjoy. But hey, 2 out of 140 isn't bad in my opinion.

We did all of this in June 2013, because we knew the canned BBQ sauce would last for at least a year, so that would give our guests plenty of time to use it, and we didn't want to wait to long and stress ourselves out at the last minute. Though we did wait until September to put together the spice packets that we attached to the BBQ, since we knew that would harden much quicker.

If you are familiar with canning, you know that the ring on top is really only important during the canning process and you can actually take that off once the jar is successfully canned. So once I was ready to package the BBQ's to give out, I cut out square of fabric to put under the ring for a cute look and tied everything together with a small business card with the name of the sauce and some twine. Just to be extra fancy, the tags match the wedding invitations!

I also made this little chalkboard sign to go with the favors, but I'm guessing the wedding coordinator decided not to put it out, since it's missing from all of the pictures. But oh well.... it all still looked great!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Does the ceiling look weird to you?

Yeah, not a fun realization..... But that's what happened last week when we hung a picture in the entryway to the basement. I looked up and the ceiling looked like it was wet and sort of bubbly. So naturally, Greg grabbed a step ladder and reached to touch it, and went right through the ceiling.

Since it's directly below the toilet of the half-bath, we knew immediately that we had a problem. So after a moment of freaking out, we called our resident plumbing expert {Greg's dad}. He suggested that we cut into the ceiling and just look and see whats leaking.

Greg's dad said it would likely be one of two things- 1) the trap is leaking {not good, we would need a plumber} or 2) the toilet seal was leaking {we can fix}. So of course we were hoping for option 2.
It was still really hard to decide what was leaking, so after some Google searching, we decided to put some green dye in the toilet to see if the leak was coming from there.

Other than an interesting picture, it didn't really help us. But we did eventually decide that the leak was coming from the toilet seal, which meant a simple wax seal replacement, yay! Or so we thought....

Nope, still leaking. After a bunch of trial and error, we figured out that the previous owners had cut off the old flange when installing tile. Then they put down a cast iron flange extender and a plastic flange extender and a bunch of silicone, with 2 wax seals on top of that. So I guess that was their solution for the leaking toilet, and it lasted about 3 years or so.

The left picture is showing what we originally thought was a flange connected to the waste pipe, but then we removed it and found it was just a flange extender and there was another cast iron flange extender attached to the subfloor. In the right picture, you can see essentially two pipes inside each other: the inner pipe is the waste pipe, and the other pipe is what I assume was the original flange that was sawed off, likely when they added/replaced tile in this bathroom.
Note: It's good to stuff a towel in the waste pipe to prevent sewer gas from entering your house. Oh, also, sorry for the gross pictures, plumbing isn't pretty....

So we decided to fix the issue instead of continuing this ridiculous solution. So we bought a 3" diameter Push Tite flange, which easily pushes right down into the waste pipe. Then to raise the height of the flange, we added two 1/4" flange extenders (only because Home Depot didn't have any 1/2" extenders in stock), adding silicone between each extension. We let that dry for 24 hours per the silicone instructions, put the wax seal on, then the toilet and voila! No more leaking toilet!

Now onto patching that hole in the basement ceiling....

Monday, June 23, 2014

The Weekend in Food

We were in a bit of a culinary mood this weekend and made some tasty meals! Here's our fancy meals from this past weekend:

Saturday Lunch: Cheese Ravioli with Vodka Sauce, topped with fresh 
grated Parmesan and basil
 Fresh farmer's market ravioli paired with some simple sauce and toppings made for a quick and easy throw together lunch Saturday afternoon. Just for fun, we paired it with a glass of Carmenere red wine.

Sunday Brunch: Drop Biscuits with Fried Chicken and Chicken Gravy, 
topped with spicy basil and golden thyme
I had been looking forward to making Sunday brunch since last Wednesday when I saw this recipe on Serious Eats for drop biscuits with cheesy eggs. Their dish reminded me of a brunch I had recently at No. 246 in Decatur, so we decided to recreate that meal. It turned out absolutely perfect!

Sunday Dinner: Rotisserie Cornish Game Hen, Orange Thyme Pan Roasted 
Asparagus and Grilled Corn
After that hearty brunch, we skipped straight to a late dinner. We love using the rotisserie attachment for our grill and these Cornish Game Hens browned up nicely! We love the orange thyme asparagus from Cooks Illustrated and brushing some of the extra on the corn is delicious too!

All three meals were fantastic, but everyone's got a favorite, and this time we both agreed..... Sunday Brunch won the weekend food wars!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

....and we're back!

The Kiss- October 5, 2013 at the Avondale Lake House. Photos compliments of Holly Jones Photo
So now that our life has {somewhat} settled down, we thought we'd give blogging another shot. Just based on what our current interests are, I'm guessing we'll have some big DIY projects, some minor ones, some cooking, and some posts just about our lives. And probably some catch up posts to capture what we've been up to in the past {almost} 2 years!  

Here's what has developed into while we were absent: 
Personal Life- 
  • Get engaged 
  • Plan a wedding 
  • Get married 
  • Get back to home improvement and fun stuff {in progress!} 

Photo compliments of Holly Jones Photo

House {Outside}- 
  • Get a contractor to build an awning/arbor over our front door 
  • Get new lighting fixture for front door 
  • Get a new front door! (& hardware) 
  • Add flower boxes to the window 
  • Pressure wash driveway & stairs 
  • Repaint stairs 
  • Repair & repaint metal railings 
  • Pressure wash & re-stain deck 
  • Pressure wash & re-stain fence and bulkhead for garden 
  • Fix rain barrel 
  • Clean up & organize lower patio 
  • Make the yard prettier (add slate chips to "checkboard pattern" & grow grass on the other half) 
  • Turn old garden beds into a "cutting garden" (since we don't get enough sun for veggies) 
  • Plant herb garden and a few cherry tomatoes out front 
  • Plant tomatoes and other veggies out front 

House {Inside}- 
  • Paint kitchen cabinets (yeah, I know, we still haven't made a final decision there) 
  • Demo and redo half bath 
  • Get new living room furniture (couch, DIY a console?, 2 arm chairs, coffee table) 
  • Paint walls on main level (& both stairwells) 
  • Stain stair rails with a dark wood stain 
  • Pick out new dining room table + 4 chairs + 1 bench {wedding gift from Greg's parents} 
  • Wedding picture collage wall 
  • Decorate Master Bedroom/DIY some new furniture
  • Basement- Rearrange. Create a wine bar. Make a fly fishing area for Greg.  Decorate with art.

So with all of that said, we'll be back soon with more fun stuff about what's been happening in our lives, including DIY stuff, cooking, traveling, cats, and whatever else happens to happen!


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