Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Second Floor Progress

I haven't been to the house this week so I made Ryan take some picutres for me.  Things are really coming together!  Hopefully Admiral and I can stop by and check it out on Friday on our way out of town.

We FINALLY got a "Purchased" sign on our lot sign. 

The second floor walls are going up!

And the gameroom...

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Happy Mardi Gras!

The past couple of years we have celebrated Mardi Gras Galveston Style with Suz and Brandon and various other friends. This year, we didn't make it down to the island so I decided to bring Mardi Gras to us as best as I could... Shrimp & Crawfish Gumbo and King Cake.
I am not posting a Gumbo recipe because I haven't gotten it just right.  I use my friend Margaret's mom's recipe and sometimes try to incorporate other recipes.  The roux is still my weakness I think, but with enough Tony's and other spices, its good enough to eat. 

And, my King Cake... Well as you can tell, I didn't really go for looks this year.  Its not ring shaped and I didn't make purple icing, just green and yellow.  Oh well, it still tastes good!   

Happy Mardi Gras!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Walking Upstairs

On Friday, the entire second floor subfloor had been laid and the framer was making the lines for where all the walls will go.  All of the walls and the stairs are complete on the first floor.  We were able to walk around on the upstairs which made me very nervous since there was no sort of railing to make sure I didn't fall.  The framers act like its no big deal.  Eek, made me very nervous, my heart was racing whenever I got close to the edge. 

Here are the pictures!
The stairs
View from second floor loft down into the two story dining room.
Second Floor
Looking down into the downstairs guest bedroom (for you, Mom)

View from the back of the house at the other house Ryan is building.
View of the Pond from one of the Upstairs Bedroom windows. 

Friday, February 20, 2009

Trying to Decide

I am trying to decide what I want for the backsplash in the kitchen, on the wall with the cooktop.  
This is my initial idea, using the liner and insert seen at the botton of the picture.  It would be in the oil-rubbed bronze color.  The main field tile would be 6x6, neutral color.  4x4 of the same tile, laid on the diagonal will go inside the box, with 2x2 dots.
The inspiration comes from some photo's like this:

 But with a border that's not quite so heavy... more like this.

This is the second option that I am liking.  It would be 6x6 tiles laid straight as the main field tile with 3 big 6x6 metal deco's in the middle.  Then, along the bottom would be 4x4 tiles laid on the diagonal with a metal liner above.

This is the closest picture I could find on the internet to what I am going for, but the tiles aren't exactly the same sizes.

Which do you like the best? I just can't decide.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

We have walls!!!

The framer decided to go ahead and start on our house on Thursday as there are several things on backorder at the other house he has been framing.  Thursday they came and drew all the lines and all the lumber was delivered.  By the end of the day Friday there was a skeleton of a house!

I went out Friday during lunch.  The neighborhood sign was up for our street.
And the good stuff!  This is what was done when I got there at noon (they started at 7am). 
These three big windows are in the family room.
This is the right side of the house, behind the garage.  I have highlighed the guest bedroom and utility room windows.
We went out again on Saturday (in the rain) to see what they finished Friday.  As you can see, there were much more walls up.  I suspect that by midweek I will be able to walk into each room on the first floor!

Moving right along now!

A Red Velvet Valentine's Day

Last week I posted about finding Bakerella's blog and making the Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Brownies.  Since then, I added Bakerella to my Google Reader so I can see what new goodies she posts.  This week, she posted a couple of different Valentine's treats.  One was a little above my skill level since I haven't moved to Fondant yet -- and to be honest, Fondant is not my favorite.  

Then she posted Easy and Easier Valentine Treat and I was sold -- Ryan likes red velvet cake, red is perfect for Valentine's, a cookie sandwich always wins me over.  And, the recipe used a box cake mix so I didn't have to buy much.  It was very easy and the ultimate reward... Ryan said it might be his new favorite cookie!!!  I think they will become a regular for "red holidays".

Red Velvet Sandwich Cookies
1 Box red velvet cake mix
1/2 Cup butter, softened to room temperature
2 Eggs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Mix ingredients until combined.
Roll spoonfuls of cookie dough into balls and place on baking sheet about two inches apart.
Bake for 10-12 minutes.


Cream Cheese Icing

1/2 Cup butter, softened to room temperature
1 8 oz. Package cream cheese, softened to room temperature
1 1lb. Box of confectioner's sugar
1 tsp Vanilla

In a mixer, cream butter, cream cheese and vanilla.
Gradually add sugar and mix until smooth.

Ice bottom of one cookie and place another cookie on top.

Since I didn't know how the cookies would turn out, I decided to split the cake mix in half and make half cookies, half cake.  I followed the cake mix directions (cut in half) and reduced the baking time by about 5 minutes.  I used the remaining cream cheese icing and sprinkled with red sprinkles. 

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Tile Selections

I took a day off work on Monday so we could do some interior decor selections.  The first design meeting was mostly related to the outside... stucco, stone, roof, etc.  We had previously picked out the main tile used for the Kitchen, Family and Dining rooms and the granite for the Kitchen and Master Bath.  This is the Kitchen Granite:

Monday's meeting was to pick tile, paint and the rest of the granite.  It was a successful day, but we still have so much to do.  Our friend Jennifer work's for Ryan's dad as their designer -- she and Ryan's mom accompanied us to the tile showroom and had lots of good ideas!

We nailed down three rooms tile selections -- Downstairs Guest and both of the Upstairs bathrooms.  One of the upstairs bathrooms is all a neutral tile.  That room has a shower so we will spice it up with shower curtains, towels, etc.

Here are the Downstairs Guest Bathroom selections.  The main floor and shower tile is the same as the rest of the downstairs and the granite will be the same as the Kitchen.  The shower will have a 6" liner of the mosaic tile all the way around.  This is the bedroom/bathroom designed to be my parents room when they visit so Mom, I hope you like our choices!

The other room we picked out was one of the bathrooms upstairs.  This is the bathroom that will serve the game room as well.  I had been planning to do slate on the game room counter instead of granite and Jennifer suggested we do slate in that shower.  We decided on the slate below (without all the funky deco pieces) for the bathroom and shower floor, and to use as a liner in the shower.  We will use a more neutral slate for the shower walls to try to keep it from being too dark.  I think it is going to look great and I love this slate.

What's left?  

We are trying to find some affordable metal accent tiles for my kitchen backsplash. I want to do something like this layout above the stove but with oil rubbed bronze dots and border.  

We are still looking for the right accent tile for the master bathroom floor and shower liner.  We hope to use the same tile in some of the transition areas between dining and family, etc as well. 

After all our tile selections, it was too late to go look at more granite for the secondary bathrooms.  Instead, we went back to the office to pick paint colors.  Nothing exciting there... we are waiting on the larger samples from the painter so we can make sure everything goes.  

That's all for now.  

Monday, February 9, 2009

Ready and Waiting

Sure is a pretty slab of concrete!  ;)

The last steps before framing were completed last week.  The lot was cleaned up and graded, the sewer was inspected and covered, the crushed concrete driveway was made and the final pieces of green fencing put up.  The dumpster should be delivered this week then we are ready for framing.  We don't think that will start until next Monday so it will be a long week of nothing as far as actual changes taking place.

Get out of My Pond!

A couple of weeks ago, we took Admiral out to the new house while we checked on the slab preparations.  After we did all the supervising we could do, we took a stroll around the pond that our house faces.  I think Admiral was trying to stake his claim to the pond and was not happy that someone (or something) was already taking up residence.

There is a old metal barrel a little over half way in the water.  I am not sure what Admiral thought this barrel was, but he was NOT happy to see it.  I wonder what he would have done had we let him off the leash?

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Chocolate Heaven

I love chocolate and in all honesty, I think people who don't like chocolate are C.R.A.Z.Y!!!  Last week someone posted the link to Bakerella's blog on a local message board.  It was definitely a bad idea for me to look at this blog.  She has some AMAZING baked goods on her blog.  As soon as I saw the first picture in "Thaaank You, Betty", I was hooked.  And to top it off, it was a super easy recipe...of the likes of Sandra Lee's "Semi-homemade" recipes.  

It is actually a recipe off the Betty Crocker Chocolate Chip Cookie Mix (the kind that comes in a bag).  Other than the mixes, all you need is butter, eggs, oil... things you probably keep on hand anyway.  I always have one of these cookie dough mixes in the pantry in case I get a craving and am amazed that I had not noticed this recipe yet.  Maybe because I don't keep brownie mix on hand?  

Anyway, Bakerella did not steer me wrong, this is an amazing treat... Brownies, Chocolate Chip Cookies and Chocolate Frosting all in one pan.  HEAVEN!

from Betty Crocker

1 Box Betty Crocker Original Supreme Brownie Mix
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup water
2 eggs

1 pouch Betty Crocker Chocolate Chip Cookie Mix
1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
1 egg

Chocolate Frosting of your choice

Heat oven to 350ºF. Grease bottom only of 13x9-inch pan. Make brownie mix as directed on box, using oil, water and 2 eggs. Spread in pan.

Make cookie mix as directed on pouch, using butter and 1 egg. 

Drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls evenly onto brownie batter; press down lightly.
Bake 35 to 40 minutes or until toothpick inserted 2 inches from side of pan comes out almost clean. Cool completely, about 1 hour. 
If you want to make your own frosting, do so while the brownies cool.  

I used Bakerella's recipe for Chocolate Ganache.
12 oz. semi-sweet chocolate morsels
3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
6 Tbsp butter

In a small saucepan, heat cream and butter until just before the boiling stage.
Pour over the chocolate morsels.
Let stand about 20 seconds and stir until smooth.
Pour over brownies and let set before cutting.
To make 48 brownies, cut into 8 rows by 6 rows.  I have a feeling this sized brownie will be too small for my sweet tooth family and coworkers! 

Monday, February 2, 2009

Super Bowl XLIII

Super Bowl Sunday Highlight:
  • Grown adults in paper glasses
  • 3D commercials
  • 4th quarter Safety
  • "Sleeper" victory in Football Squares Pool
  • Good friends
  • Good food
  • Game winning "Tippy Toe" Catch

Sunday, February 1, 2009

One Year Anniversary

Three posts in one day... but I have been planning to write this one for some time now.

Feb 1, 2008 was my first post on this blog. I wrote about making a King Cake and intended for this blog to be mostly about cooking. Ryan made a good bit of fun of me at the time, and still does sometimes in private. But he knows as much as I do that for at least my family and his family, this blog has been a good way for them to keep up with us. Over the year, there has been lots of cooking and eating written about here. I like to cook, we both like to eat, that's just how it goes.

But the blog has also had it's share of stories of our lifes and of late has transformed into a good place to post progress on our new house.

And, in all honesty, I didn't really think I would keep this up and be as regular at posting as I have been. I could be crowned the queen of starting things and not finishing them... like the cross stitch of the SAE coat of arms that I started in college and is 75% complete; or the wedding scrapbook that's barely been started; or the artwork I was going to make with Granddaddy's old license tags with his Ham Radio call sign on them; all the times I tried to start a journal. I guess there isn't a "finish" to this blog but I would have to say I really stuck with this and am proud of myself for it.

I enjoy writing when I can and it's nice to know there are a few "regulars" that read my blog... Hi Mom!! Thanks for reading.

Walking on the Slab

When I left the new house on Thursday to head to work, only about 1/4 of the slab was poured and of couse I couldn't walk on it. So on Saturday, Ryan and I went out to take a look and walk around. 

The first thing we saw when we approached our street was that the signs for our neighborhood and the Welcome Lodge have gone up.  They look really good!

Once we got to the house, we walked around a lot and tried to get a feel for everything.  It's hard for me to visualize things without the walls.  I could tell sizes pretty easily on the porces and showers because the slab is dropped there.  But the rooms are still so hard to get a good picture of.  But, it was exciting to see so much progress and to know that we are close to having walls. 

"Overhead" shot I took standing on a big pile of dirt, and posing in our entry/dining room!

Sitting on the front porch... and on the toilet in the guest room downstairs.

View from master bedroom into master bathroom, where Ryan pretends to take a shower.

Things will be a little slow for the next couple of weeks while we wait on the framing to start.  I'll continue to post updates as things happen. 

Houston Marathon 2009

A friend and former co-worker is the volunteer coordinator for the first sector of the Chevron Houston Marathon. This is the second year that I volunteered as a race monitor. It's a really early morning (5:45am) but is so neat to see all the people running through the streets of Houston.

My friend Natalie was running the marathon but unfortunately I never saw her! She finished right on her goal pace and we were all really excited for her.

The race started at 7 and not much later the first runners were passing my location.  They weren't even sweating yet. 

I can't imagine running this far, or doing the marathon in a wheelchair. Each year there are a few people that race the marathon in wheelchairs and it's amazing to see them zoom by.

The most inspirational part of the race was when I saw two men running against the outside of the street near where I was standing. They appeared to be tied together at the wrist and then I heard one of the men say to the other, "We are in a straight away now, the crowd is really picking up." That's when I realized the man closest to me was visually impaired and the other man was his guide. It of course brought tears to my eyes as I could tell that this man was part of the US Military and could only assume that he was injured in Iraq or Afghanistan. I found this article that explains who he is. An amazing story of the heroism of our military.

Here is a video of what the race looked like as the bigger pack of people came past my location, just before mile 5.  It was steady like this for a good 20 minutes.  Amazing!
I wish I could say "I'll run next year" but I think that is a little amitious for me at this point.  Maybe one day?  I dunno.

background image