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!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Experimenting with Split Chicken Breasts

Continuing with my theme of better meal planning and prepping ahead of time. I gave split chicken breasts a shot- for a few reasons
  1. Pure curiosity
  2. They were on sale for $0.99/lb
  3. I haven't found boneless skinless chicken breasts on sale in awhile
  4. You can make chicken broth by boiling the bones
So I got a bunch and the first batch - a few weeks ago - I just deboned by hand, used the chicken for various recipes and threw the bones in the freezer to make chicken broth later. It was surprisingly easy. Once I got the hang of it, all 6 split breasts went pretty quickly. I found it was easier to just look at the chicken as I was cutting and make it look the way it should. Reading other people's description of what they did, just made it more confusing, so just go with your gut.

So now, it's time to do some more cooking for this week, so I pulled 2 more packages of split chicken breasts out of the freezer, partially defrosted them by running them under cold water and tossed them in the crock pot. I needed shredded meat for this week, so I decided that by cooking the chicken in the crock pot {with chopped onion, oregano, garlic powder, salt, pepper, and water}, I could probably get some chicken broth out of the deal too! 

I let the split breasts go for about 3-4 hours on High before testing them- the meat shredded off perfectly and had a nice taste. The broth tasted pretty good too, but since we figured the longer the better, we left the broth going for about 6 hours total on High. Since I have a small crock pot, I could only do 1 package at a time (2 split breasts), so I did the whole process twice.

With the meat from the first package (~4.5 cups), I made Buffalo Chicken Taquitos. They are delicious, definitely a go-to meal around here! We had enough for dinner, a snack and lunch, plus about 5 that got tossed into the freezer. I also got about 4 cups of chicken broth after straining off the spices and bones!

Some of the homemade chicken broth
So for that one package it cost $2.58, which was about 2.6 lbs (including bones)-- I got more than 2 boneless skinless breasts worth of meat (since you also have 2 tenderloins in there), plus a container's worth of broth (~$2.99). It makes the whole process pretty cost effective since you get chicken and free broth. Especially since I haven't seen boneless skinless chicken breasts on sale under $3.99/lb in some time.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

First Attempt at Freezer Cooking

 EDIT: I actually wrote this post a while ago and never posted it. So this was all actually done on August 26th, and since we've eaten all but the Spinach Lasagna Rolls (dinner tonight), French Dip and the Sour Cream Enchiladas. Everything so far has been great! We're starting to plan our next freezer meal adventure now!

Command Central
After weeks {okay, fine months...} of saying I was going to try to do better at meal planning and prepping things ahead of time, I dove in this past weekend! Between Pinterest freezer cooking pins and some other recipes I've found over the past few months, I picked out my test recipes. Fortunately, Greg is wonderful and helped out with the shopping and prepping and cooking! Yeah, be jealous :)

As you can see in the picture above, Lion was being incredibly helpful. I think they enjoy watching while we slave away. Plus, he's not even supposed to be on the table to begin with!

We picked out 7 recipes {my sources are linked}:
Buffalo Chicken Taquitos -- Dinner Sunday & Lunch Monday (it was absolutely delicious!)
Pesto Chicken Stuffed Shells -- Dinner Monday & will there will be lunch leftovers
Skinny Sour Cream Enchiladas -- Freeze (one meal with leftovers)
Stuffed Bell Peppers -- Freeze (separated into two meals)
Baked Penne with Sausage and Ricotta -- Freeze (one meal with leftovers)
Lasagna Spinach Rolls -- Freeze (one meal with leftovers)
French Dip Sandwich with Au Jus -- Freeze (one slow cooker meal with leftovers)

We packed all the shopping, prep and cooking all into one afternoon after church {whew, it was a lot of work!}. We cooked for about 4 hours total! Fortunately, with 2 of us working it wasn't too bad and sometimes Greg did some cleaning while I was still putting things together.

We started by throwing about 6 chicken breasts into a big pot of water to boil. After about 25 minutes, we had a big bowl of shredded chicken for the 3 chicken recipes. We also had an almost constant pot of water boiling for pasta cooking {we had to do lasagna noodles, penne, and jumbo shells} in the beginning.
Boiling Chicken
Lots of pasta always cooking

Then we did some chopping & dicing prep. Onion and garlic were the most commonly called for ingredients, I realized that for the onion and had it all chopped. But for whatever reason, didn't do that with the garlic, so about halfway through, Greg minced a bunch of garlic since I kept asking for them one at a time!

At this point, it started to become easier to work on one at a time. So one recipe at a time, we started to put things together. We usually worked on one each separately, and sometimes had a third going in the background. The Baked Penne with Sausage and Ricotta had a 30 minute long simmer, so I was glad we started it in the middle, not at the end. The French Dip was super easy, since it was just put stuff into bag and freeze. I did the Taquitos and Sour Cream Enchiladas back-to-back since they are the same concept-
Filling for the Sour Cream Enchiladas

1. Make filling
2. Stuff filling and cheese into taco shell
3. Roll like burrito & place in pan
4. Add sauce (only for the enchiladas)

Unfortunately, I didn't take any pictures of the Buffalo Chicken Taquitos.... but we had them for dinner and they were delicious! And contrary to what a lot of people commented on the recipe, mine stayed together really well!
The lasagn rolls were the most time consuming for me. Well it was either that or they were last and I was exhausted by the time I was doing that, but nevertheless, we finished rolling and placing!

So overall, I would say it's a success! Next time, I think I would stick with 4 recipes and make double of each {which is what a lot of other bloggers have said}. But now we have a variety in the freezer, so if we continue we should be able to build up a reserve of delicious meals that we can quickly pull out and cook. Which will really help remove that temptation to stop by McDonald's on the way home from work {sorry Dad, but the new Mighty Wings are pretty good!}
Frozen Stuffed Ball Peppers (2 separate meals)

Baked Penne with Sausage and Ricotta
Pesto Chicken Stuffed Shells

I managed to miss a few meals in the pictures, but trust me, it was a hectic few hours. But we ended up with 7 separate recipes, and got 8 different meals out of it, with tons {and I mean tons} of leftovers!
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