Monday, February 22, 2010

Bedroom Makeovers

Over the last few years, our master bedroom has undergone a few transformations.  Unfortunately, I don't have any pics of what it looked like when we first moved in.  Mainly because it was completely unspectacular. 

Originally, we decided we'd go for "Jamaican Sea."  As evidence that my taste has changed over the past 5+ years, I submit Exhibit A:

I loved the color then.  Now?  It hurts my eyes.  (Pretty awesome nightstands too, huh?)

We lived with the color for about two years then painted the room a much more subdued color, changed the bedding, removed some furniture and hung some art on the walls.  I find it's much more soothing now.

I love the mirror in the picture above, but I've never really found the right place for it in this house. The art on the wall were calendar pages and a greeting card that I had custom framed, in addition to some John Derian plates that Chris has given to me over the years.  The tray on the ottoman is a fabulous faux python tray from the equally fabulous Furbish Studio.

G-Money wanted a shout out

I'm going to miss this closet...

Moving on to the guest room...there's not much of a before and after.  Before it was a white box.  I tried faux painting the walls twice (twice!!!) and it looked horrible so I said "screw it" and just painted the room over in a neutral. 

My grandfather made the four-poster bed eons ago and it's gorgeous.  The dresser is from the 1800's and it, the bed, and the other dresser in the master bedroom all spent most of their lives in my grandfather's home in Montgomery, Alabama.  I'm really glad we were able to keep all of it in the family. 

Warning:  Ubiquitous "For Like Ever" poster up ahead:

So those are two of the bedrooms in the house.  I'll show the other one later this week.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Bathroom Remodel

Before we say goodbye to this house, I wanted to post some good before and after pictures, since everyone likes a good makeover.  When we first bought the house, the master bathroom looked like this:

Words cannot even begin to describe how bad it was.  Not only was it fugly beyond belief, it was very poorly done:  there was a plumbing leak behind the wall, rotten floorboards, and a piece of plywood in the crawlspace to hide all of it so it would pass inspection.  Nice, huh?  And on top of that, the former owner put the granite tile on top of the existing tile, so when we removed it we had twice as much material to get through (as seen below). 

To make things slightly less hideous, I removed the wallpaper shortly after moving in, then painted the walls purple, as evidenced in the third photo above.  We also replaced the ugly brass light fixture, installed a medicine cabinet, and removed the faux-granite painted cabinet (2nd photo above and OMG it was ugly).  All those cosmetic bits helped, but not for the long run.  We were in for a complete bathroom overhaul.

We tore out all the tile and stripped the walls behind the tile down to their studs.  We removed the tile on the floor, repaired the rotten floorboards, fixed the plumbing, and removed the bathtub and the vanity. 

Then everything went back in, in the exact opposite order it was removed:  tub, floor, vanity, tile.  Everything but the toilet got replaced.  We also repainted from the purple color to a taupe-y, putty-ish color.  It's the exact color of a Wendy's frosty.

Oh, and did I mention the entire process took a year and a half? (Since we had another full bath to use throughout, we took our sweet time.)

Still, I'd say the results were worth it.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Deep Breaths

Big news around these here parts!   

We're moving! 

Yup, the hubby and I decided that now's the time.  Why?  Well, our little (1,200 sq. ft.) house was always intended to be a "starter home" and we've actually lived in it far longer than I would have thought.  But between the tax credits, the interest rates, and the market, we figured now would be a good time to put it on the market and see what happens.  We'd done so much work on the house over the last 5+ years that the only things that needed to be done before putting it on the market were to seriously declutter and install new carpet.  (And oooh boy, does the new carpet make a difference!!!  As you can imagine, the 28 year-old carpet that we had had before was barf-inducing.)

So a few weeks ago we put the house on the market.  The listing went online on a Sunday night; by Wednesday we had an offer.  BEFORE the sign in the front yard even went up.  Obviously, we were SUPER excited, but totally unprepared for the house to sell so fast, since we hadn't even picked out a new house yet!  So, a few crazed, hectic weekends of frantic house-hunting later, we finally found what we think might be the perfect house for us.  Move-in date is March 26! 

Details of the new house will come in the next few weeks.  And prior to leaving our current house, I'm going to photograph it to death and post pics.  Hopefully (if I can find them on our variety of old computers) I'll dig up some good "before" pics to have some quality before-and-after-time.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Valentine's Cupcakes

My mom gave me this cupcake cookbook for Christmas and holy crap it is awesome.

I've been using every excuse to bake cupcakes lately--snow in the forecast?  stout cupcakes!--and Valentine's Day was no exception.  I opted to make Martha's "One-Bowl" Chocolate Cupcakes for Valentine's Day, and as the name suggests, they're super easy because they use...wait for bowl.

One-Bowl Chocolate Cupcakes

1.5 cups all-purpose flour
0.75 cups unsweetened cocoa powder
1.5 cups sugar
1.5 teaspoons baking soda
0.75 teaspoons baking powder
0.75 teaspoons salt
2 large eggs
0.75 cups buttermilk
3 tablespoons vegetable oil (I used apple sauce instead to cut some calories)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
0.75 cups warm water

  1. Preheat oven to 350
  2. Line muffin tins with paper liners
  3. Dump all the dry ingredients into a mixing bowl and combine
  4. Add the wet ingredients and mix until thoroughly combined
  5. Divide the batter among 18 lined cups
  6. Bake 10 minutes, then rotate the tins in the oven
  7. Bake another 10 minutes
  8. Let cool, then frost and decorate

I used a very basic frosting and then topped each one with a cherry.

Fluffy Vanilla Frosting

3 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
4 cups powdered sugar
0.5 teaspoons vanilla extract

I halved this recipe--the original recipe made 4 cups of frosting, which I thought was a little unnecessary.  Two cups worked just fine for 18 cupcakes. 
  1. Beat butter on medium-high speed until pale and creamy, about 2 minutes
  2. Reduce speed to medium, add powdered sugar 1/2 cup at a time.  After every 2 additions, raise speed to high and beat 10 seconds, then return to medium (this aerates it)
  3. Add vanilla and beat until smooth

The result?  Freakin' amazing.  The cupcakes were moist (even though I LOATHE that word) and delicious and the frosting was perfect--not to heavy, not sickeningly sweet, and just perfect.
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