Sunday, May 31, 2009

Planning to bake...

This will be my next baking challenge. Ryan and his brothers are all pretty big cheesecake fans. I think I'll make some for Eric's graduation weekend and hope they survive the plane ride.

Cheesecake Pops

Saturday, May 30, 2009

It felt like home

Over Memorial Day weekend, Ryan and I flew to Nashville for my dear friend Ross's wedding.
The wedding was beautiful and the reception was a blast. It was great to have the gang from Murrah back together again. Not much had changed!

As I left the reception tears welled up in my eyes. I exchanged hugs and "I Love You's" with Ross, his parents, Ann and Taylor. Something just hit me about how much I do love those people, how much we had been through together and how hard it was to leave them all again. We don't see each other much since we all live in different cities but when we do, its just like old times. They are my family. The friends I was always myself with, the friends that always made me laugh. Their families opened their homes to me on soooo many occasions (as my family did for them.) And oh, the stories we have shared. I think it just hit me how hard it is to "grow up", to move away from home, to leave the people who lived through the events of my life that made me ... me. Its part of life... we move away, we get jobs, we get married... but man, do I miss you guys. Ah... I'm crying again.

Back to the wedding... Here are the few pictures I did take. As I said, it was a beautiful wedding. The food was great. The cake was awesome and the band played all night.

Ryan and Ann at the Kids Table. He really fit in that chair! :)
Ross playing a couple of songs (with his band, Telephant)
Congratulations Ross and Mandy!

A weekend with the girls!

One of my college sorority sisters, Amanda, got married a couple of weekends ago in Clarksdale, MS. I flew home solo to go to the wedding and several of my other sisters came without their husbands as well. It was great to see everyone again and so fun to party with all the girls.

Chi Omega's

How many people can sit on Lanier?
(Lanier, Jennifer, Leslie, me and Amanda)

Barb, Jessica, Mary Emrey, me, Leslie and Jennifer

Jessica, Ashley, Leslie and me

The reception was held at the Hopson Plantation. There are several buildings on the property including houses that can be rented. All the wedding party and lots of the guests stayed in these houses and I crashed with some of the bridesmaids in this big house. There were interesting things all over the house from signs to mannequins to furniture. I am sure some of it is worth some good money. Definitely years and years of history in these buildings.

And the "stuff" was not limited to the insides of the houses. There was plenty of yard art to go along with it.
A random pile of water skiis...

Cutout shadows on the wall (that were extra creepy in the dark)

And a unique bowling ball / wheel sculpture.

It was the perfect setup for a wedding, especially one where most of the guests were from out of town. We partied late, did lots of catching up and made the most of our short weekend back together.

Congratulations Amanda and Peyton! Thanks for the great reunion!! :)

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Trim Work Has Started

The trim carpenter has been in the house for almost a week now hanging doors, installing baseboards, and most recently building cabinets. Ryan just sent me this picture of the built in for the Family Room.

PS: Jennifer H... Hope this is update makes you happy! Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Garage Doors

My awesome husband just sent me this picture!  EEK!  How pretty??!!!??. 
All the wood on the house (columns, corbels, shutters, garage doors) will be stained a darker color.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Staging for sell...

One of the blogs I like to read is The Nesting Place. The Nester writes about all kinds of home decorating related things. Recently she said something that really struck a chord with me and I have said it several times.

"Staging, every home for sale can benefit from being staged. And before you think you'll skip this series because your home isn't for sale, think again. The one complaint heard after people stage their home for sale is, "Why didn't I do some of this stuff years ago so I could enjoy it?" Yes, there are some things that you might do only when you put your house on the market but, for the most part, if you keep your home up over time, you will enjoy it more and it will be market ready just in case you ever need to sell." - The Nester's Staging Series

This question in bold has been my mantra lately. Our house is for sale since we are building the new one. Ryan bought our current house his first year out of college and the house was already completed, so he didn't get to pick any of the finishings. Over the years, we have done some upgrades. Ryan had the whole house painted so it's not longer "builder beige". Most of the house is Sherwin Williams "Tony Taupe" which is a great all over wall color. He had some cabinets built in the living room and master bath to add some much needed storage. And, of course the floor upgrades (Carpet and Laminate) we were forced to do when the AC leaked.

The biggest complaint we have had has been about the Kitchen. It's very functional but it's the one place in the house that we have done no work and it shows. White tile floors, white counter tops, white appliances, light wood cabinets. OK, I take back that nothing was done to the kitchen... Ryan did add lovely nickel hardware to all the doors. Anyway, I've never loved all the white and especially hate the white counters. Everything stains them and any crumb shows up.

If you read this blog regularly, you know I spend a lot of time in the kitchen. So, after seeing the complaints (that we agree with) about the kitchen, we considered offering some upgrades in the kitchen... new granite, new appliances, etc... with an acceptable offer. As we put this package together, I was just kicking myself for not doing these sort of upgrades the day I moved in this house. How much I would have enjoyed a Gas Range and Granite Counters. Sigh. "Why didn't I do some of this stuff years ago so I could enjoy it?"

We have not actually done any upgrades to the kitchen, but we have been doing some staging. The extra desk was removed from the study and replaced with an old couch we borrowed from Ryan's parents. This was in hopes to show the study off as more of a flex room that could be a study, sitting room, nursery, exercise room, etc.

This couch has great shape and is pretty comfy....
It just needed a little face lift. We got a cheap slip cover and some pillows from Target. I am now considering how much it would cost for a professional to re-upholster the couch and add some cute little feet to the bottom for use in our game room or media room. Ryan's parents have another one just like it.
We also did a little bit of work in the backyard. Okay, by "we" I mean Ryan called his landscaper and he brought some guys to fix things up. Spending all day in the yard in this heat is just not on my agenda. We only had the one tree in the back corner and now we have this. It looks great and again... "Why didn't I do some of this stuff years ago so I could enjoy it?"

I guess all this is just to say that I have learned that I shouldn't wait to fix things up around my house. I regret not fixing up the kitchen and now that I see how pretty the yard is, wish we had done something there too (of course, Admiral would have destroyed the yard as a puppy). So, as The Nester reminds us, don't wait until you are selling to get your house like you always wanted it!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Stone and Stucco

Ryan just sent me these pictures, what a good husband! I'm testing out the blog email updater to post these. If you are reading this, I guess it worked.

You can see the stucco color on some of the window trims and then, of course, the progress on the stone!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Almost Molten Lava Cake

Happy Mother's Day! Today Ryan's brother and wife hosted both families at their house for a Mother's Day cookout. Kevin and Stephanie just got married in March so this was the first holiday we spent at their house. I am sure there will be many more to come! They were fabulous hosts and their newly remodeled house and yard looked awesome. Though it is Mother's Day and I could go ON and ON about all the wonderful mother's in my life, I will instead write about food!

I volunteered to bring dessert but decided not to try anything new. Instead, I worked on presentation of a new found favorite -- Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Brownies. These brownies are always a mess to server with the gooey chocolate icing. So, I decided to make them like cupcakes so there would be individual servings. This is how I did it...
  • Preheat oven to 350.
  • Place paper liners in muffin tins.
  • Prepare the brownies and cookie dough as directed.
  • Spoon brownie mix into muffin tin, no more than 1/3 full.
  • Drop one spoonful of cookie dough.
  • Bake for 20 minutes or until toothpick stuck in the brownie part comes out fairly clean (I like a little gooey-ness)
  • Prepare Chocolate Icing as directed.
  • When mostly cool, remove paper liners from cupcakes and turn over on a pan.
  • Spoon a tablespoon (not the measuring kind, the kind you eat cereal with) of icing on top, letting it drip down the sides. Use more or less to your liking.
  • Enjoy!
I say these are almost lava cakes because they look like a lava cake but there is no gooey goodness inside. You still get the surpise of the chocolate chip cookie inside but it's not quite a lava cake!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Tilapia with Crawfish Champagne Cream Sauce

Our friends the Hebert's are Houston "transplants" from Lake Charles, LA. Just this weekend they opened a crawfish to go store, Hebert's Hot Tails. I went by on Sunday and bought 10 pounds of crawfish. Ryan was on his way back from New Hampshire and I thought it would be a good dinner for us. Since Ryan got home so late, we didn't eat as much as we normally would so I had a good 3 or 4 pounds leftover. I really wanted to find something to use the leftovers in other than gumbo or etouffee so I thought some sort of cream sauce over fish would be yummy.

I asked for some suggestions on a local message board that I participate in and one of the girls suggested this Champagne Cream Sauce adapted from one by Emeril Lagasse. As she notes, champagne, cream and butter are a perfect combination.

Crawfish Champagne Cream Sauce
adapted from Emeril Lagasse

1/4 cup chopped shallots
1/2 cup Champagne
3/4 cups heavy cream
2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon Champagne vinegar
1/2 cup cooked crawfish, peeled

In a saucepan, combine the shallots and Champagne. Bring to a boil and cook until almost all liquid evaporates, about 6 minutes.

Add the heavy cream, bring to a boil and simmer until cream thickens and coats the back of a spoon, and is reduced by nearly 50 percent in volume, about 3 minutes.
Whisk in the butter until smooth and strain the sauce through a fine mesh strainer, pressing on the solids to extract as much liquid as possible.

Add Crawfish. Season, to taste, with salt, pepper, and vinegar and serve immediately over fish or shellfish.

Note: If sauce is made in advance, keep warm in a bain marie over barely simmering water. I used a "homemade" double boiler to keep it warm while I waited for the potatoes to cook.

For the fish, I used the Sauteed Fish recipe minus the cajun seasoning, then topped with the crawfish cream sauce.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Sheetrock and Exterior Update

I never did find my old camera so I never got pictures of the house over the weekend. I went to the house today during lunch and boy had things changed. 80% of the house was sheetrocked and the whole thing should be done by the end of Wednesday!!! It was amazing to see how the rooms REALLY look. Some of them felt way bigger with sheetrock than before. I've very exited. Here are a few pictures
Master Bathroom

Ryan's closet

My Closet

Master Bedroom

Master Bedroom



View of gameroom from top of stairs

Media Room

Game Room

And, here are some exterior pictures since the stucco and stone prep has started. They metal mesh has been installed all the way around the house and the first phases of stucco are underway.


Mesh Closeup

Box of stone waiting to be installed

Friday, May 1, 2009

What are you doing Sunday night?

Do you have plans between 7 and 9 central time? If not.... you do now.

Go to, 99 Rock. My little brother ("in-law") will be featured on the radio station's Homebrew segment. Click the "Listen Live" link at the top right.

Eric was interviewed this week and they will be playing 5 of his songs along with the interview. He had a couple of songs played two weeks ago and they sounded AWESOME over the Internet. I hope you will check it out. I think this will all be closer to 8 but it wouldn't hurt to tune in early. And, if you like what you hear, got to to hear more of Eric.

And while you are checking out Eric's website, pay attention to the artwork by our friend Justin. He rocks! Look at this drawing of my favorite big man, Yao Ming.

Stone/Stucco Prep, Insulation and Some Sheetrock

Ryan is out of town this weekend with the camera. I have another camera around here somewhere but I can't find it.

I went out to the house tonight with my friends Ashley and Steve to show them the progress. I had not seen the house all week and it was really amazing. The sound insulation between rooms was in place and the sheetrock was starting to go up. The bonus room and master closets were sheetrocked. My closet is gonna rock!

The exterior crew is prepping the house for stone and stucco! It's definitely the start of the messy stages with lots of scaffolding and big piles of sheetrock.

Hopefully I'll have some pictures to post tomorrow or Sunday... IF I can find my old camera!

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