Archive for March, 2010

29
Mar

I Heart

Sriracha!

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This hot sauce is amazing and makes everything more interesting!  I first had this when my husband introduced me to his favorite meal: Pho.  When we first met, I once asked him if he could only eat one thing for the rest of his life what would it be.  He told me he would choose pho.  I had no idea what this was.  He tried to explain that it was a Vietnamese noodle soup, but I didn’t really understand the appeal until I had my first bowl.  The broth has some of the most interesting flavors in it and when you add Sriracha it becomes amazing!  Pho is one thing I have never attempted to make and probably never will because I know I can drive a few minutes away and get a great bowl of pho. However, I will be posting two of my favorite recipes that use Sriracha very soon.

Category : I Heart... | Blog
27
Mar

Our Ghetto Bathroom Becomes Not So Ghetto

Our hall bathroom left a lot to be desired when we moved into our house…

Sink Before

Toilet Before

Shower Before

The to do list for our house was pretty long when we moved in, so we needed to fix the bathroom without breaking the bank.  We looked into getting the tub and tiles reglazed, but that was going to be $1,000!  We decided the turquoise was not so bad and refocused our energy on the rest of the bathroom.  The bathroom had many holes in the walls, it was dirty, and it was multiple colors.  The wax seal under the toilet also had to be replaced.  We started with the wax seal, and when I say we I mean David.  We removed the toilet, cleaned it while it was in pieces, put a new wax seal in the floor, discovered the toilet was not sitting properly on the floor thanks to some ingenious work done by a previous resident, got creative to solve the problem, and put the toilet back.  Next came the many holes – 18 to be exact.  I have definitely had many opportunities to perfect my spackling and sanding skills since we moved into our house, and the hall bathroom has provided most of those opportunities so far.  Once the spackling was done, a round of cleaning needed to happen.  I washed the walls, vacuumed the dust from the sanding, cleaned the fan in the ceiling, replaced the heat vent (the original was not salvageable – see below).

yucky vent

Next came the priming and painting.  And finally, the finishing touches: towels bars (see my amazon store), a toilet paper holder (see my amazon store), a curved shower rod (Costco), a cabinet for storage (target), a mirror, and a picture my husband took in Vermont that we had printed on canvas.  Take a look…

Before and After patching, painting, and hanging

Shower Before and After

After all the hard work, the finished product (for now :-) )

After Bathroom

When it was all done, we spent a grand total of $257.35 for our bathroom makeover.

Paint, spackle, primer, wax seal, and sandpaper     $25

Shower rod     $20

Mirror     $20

Towel bar, toilet paper holder, and towel ring     $42.35

New vent cover     $10

Cabinet     $140.00

Category : House Fixing | Blog
24
Mar

A little piece of heaven…

Strawberry Cupcake

Makes 1 dozen

Ingredients

Cupcakes

  • 2/3 cup whole fresh or frozen strawberries, thawed
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1/4 cup whole milk, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg, room temperature
  • 2 large egg whites, room temperature

Strawberry Puree

  • 20 oz. fresh or frozen strawberries
  • ¼ to 1/3 cup sugar

Frosting

  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 Tablespoon sugar
  • ½ cup strawberry puree

Directions

Cupcakes

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with cupcake liners; set aside.
  2. Place strawberries in a small food processor; process until pureed. You should have about 1/3 cup of puree, add a few more strawberries if necessary or save any extra puree for frosting; set aside.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside. In a small bowl, mix together milk, vanilla, and strawberry puree; set aside.
  4. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter on medium-high speed, until light and fluffy. Gradually add sugar and continue to beat until well combined and fluffy. Reduce the mixer speed to medium and slowly add egg and egg whites until just blended.
  5. With the mixer on low, slowly add half the flour mixture; mix until just blended. Add the milk mixture; mix until just blended. Slowly add remaining flour mixture, scraping down sides of the bowl with a spatula, as necessary, until just blended.
  6. Divide batter evenly among prepared muffin cups. Transfer muffin tin to oven and bake until tops are just dry to the touch, 22 to 25 minutes. Transfer muffin tin to a wire rack and let cupcakes cool completely in tin before icing.

Strawberry Puree

  1. Puree strawberries (thawed of frozen) in a food processor or blender
  2. Add sugar to taste and mix until dissolved

Frosting

  1. Whip the cream, vanilla, and sugar.
  2. Fold in ½ cup of strawberry puree
  3. Beat more if whipped cream is too runny.
  4. Put frosting into a pastry bag with star tip.  Pipe onto top of each cupcake.

ENJOY!

Category : Recipes | Blog
16
Mar

We tackle the field of fixin’ with a lot of help from some very wise homeowners.

First of all, I have to give a huge THANK YOU to all of the friends and family who helped us make our new house a home!  Many hours and days of blood, sweat, and tears were put into our house by the wonderful people in our lives.  Thank you to my sister for all your help painting!  Thank you to my mom for scrubbing things no human should have to scrub! Thank you to my dad for giving me doors that actually close and helping me with the intricacies of drywall.  Thank you to my brothers-in-law for suffering through the re-insulation of our attic and a million other repairs!  And the biggest thank you goes to David (our fixit superhero) for fixing every little (and not so little) problem on our inspection list!  We could not have faced our new homeownership nearly as well without all of these people.

Now down to business.  I will share our weeklong marathon of home fixin’ over the next several blog postings.  This time we will start with the laundry room.

Laundry Room

Problems:

Mold, leaks, a door that was too big to close, dirt, a floor with holes in it, no sink, and a dryer hose that was about 10 feet too long in a very small space.

Problem: Mold

Mold

Solution: Remove it

Drywall Removed

Put up new drywall. Here you can see the new mold resistant drywall going in on the left.

New Drywall

Problem: Leaks

When we moved in there were many leaky pipes in this house.  We got lucky because most of the leaks were easily resolved.  The laundry was impacted by leaks from the bathroom next door and the bathroom upstairs.

Solution: Seal and tighten the pipes.

The toilet above the laundry needed a new wax seal and the bathroom next door just needed the shower head to be tightened.  It is not the prettiest sight, but the leaks are no more.
Leaky Pipes

Problem: Large Door

The door to the laundry room wouldn’t close for two reasons.  First, it was bigger than the door frame.  Second, the dryer came out too far from the wall to allow the door to close.

Solution: Smaller Bifold Door

After weighing the options, we decided a bifold door was our best solution.  The challenges we ran into were the size of the door opening and the fact that it was not square.  The angles of the door opening made for some pretty tricky cuts when we were resizing the the opening to fit a standard door size. We also had to come up with some creative solutions to give the door a finished look since the door frame changed size so much from top to bottom.  Here is the final result:

New Laundry Room Door

Problem: No Sink

Solution: Add a sink

You can buy complete sink kits at home improvement stores.  It seemed easy enough, but it did take us a while to make all the pipe connections water tight and leak free.  The other issue is the pipe comes out farther than we would like and the legs weren’t long enough to reach the pipe connection in the wall.  We will save fixing these issue for another day.  For now we are just happy to have a sink in the laundry room.

Laundry Sink

Problem: Long Dryer Vent Hose

Solution: Cut it and Duct tape it

Our Laundry Room:

Before:

Laundry Room Before

After/In Progress:

Laundry Room

To Do:

Although we have come a long way from the moldy leaky mess, there is still a lot left to improve.  We want to finish the drywalling, put in a new floor, paint the door and new frame, paint the whole room, and just add a few more finishing touches.  Stay tuned for more home improvements…

Category : House Fixing | Blog
2
Mar

Tsukiji in Virginia!

Sushi Festival

Wegmans (my favorite grocery store of all time) recently had a sushi festival in their Fairfax, Virginia location.  Because I am such a huge fan of Wegmans, I am on their email list even though there isn’t a Wegmans close to us.  Last week I got an email announcing that they would be having a sushi festival including fresh fish flown straight from Tsukiji Fish Market in Tokyo (for those of you who don’t know, this is the biggest fish market in the world) and they would be bringing in their top sushi chefs.  Sadly, I am not very fond of eating sushi even though I really wish I was, but I love the art of sushi and my husband is a huge fan of eating sushi – so we were definitely going to be partaking in the festival.  We drove to Fairfax and arrived right when the festival was getting started.  It was so much fun and so beautiful.  They had all kinds of fish laid out and people preparing the fish.  They also had a sushi bar set up where they prepared the sushi as you ordered it.  And this is just one reason why I love Wegmans!  What other grocery store puts together things like this?

Category : Food and Drink | Blog