Friday, January 28, 2011

7 Quick Takes Friday

I've recently gotten into reading Jennifer Fulwiler's blog: She hosts (so to speak) "7 Quick Takes Friday" each week. I've been thinking about trying it out and decided I'd take the plunge this week. I make no promises about whether I'll keep up with this, but I'll try. Here we go :)

1) This past Sunday Will and I had a couple friends over for lunch. I cooked Chicken Tiki Masala (blog post coming soon!) - a recipe my Uncle Joe recently gave me. It's an Indian dish, and I had never had Indian food before (don't ask me how this happened), so I was a little nervous about making it but it turned out really well. After making that recipe I've decided I'm going to (try to) be more careful about which recipes I blog about and only post the best ones.

2) I went to the March for Life on Monday and joined somewhere between 300,000-350,000 people marching to protect life. Woohoo! It was ridiculously cold, but definitely worth it. My favorite chant/cheer that I heard while I was there went something like this:
"Hey O'bama, yo mama,
yo mama chose life!"
How true. I also learned the staggering statistic that 61% of all African American pregnancies in NYC end in abortion. And something like 40% of all pregnancies in NYC end in abortion. 
I also found it interesting that although I have seen them the past few years I didn't see any counter-protesters this year.
Here's to the over 53,000,000 (yes, that's 53 million) lives that have been lost since Roe v. Wade.

3) A friend recently asked me, "at what point are you no longer an amateur housewife." This is a good question, and I'm not sure I'll ever not be an amateur. Although, I guess I'll soon become a "stay-at-home mom" which may constitute grounds for my no longer being an amateur, but we'll see. Anyone have thoughts on this one?

4) This past Wednesday the DC area got a lot of snow. We knew the snow was coming, but weren't prepared for how it would affect the commute home - and by "we" I mean "me." I babysat Alexis as I usually do on Wednesdays so I actually had a commute to think about. It took me nearly 4 hours to get home when it should only take anywhere from 25 mins (when there isn't much traffic) to an hour (if it's rush hour). Alas, the snow slowed everyone down. And there were SO MANY cars stuck on the sides of the road. These were mostly of the "luxury" variety - Lexus, BMW, etc. My trusty little Mazda3 made it just fine until I got to our driveway...
you can't really see my car, but it got stuck at the end of the driveway (if you look closely it's at the end of that little path my husband dug out). It only made it about halfway onto the driveway - the rest of my car was sticking out in the street. Luckily, my husband came to the rescue and shoveled my half of the driveway (after making me an omelet for dinner!) so I could get in - mind you it was 10pm when he was doing all this shoveling. 
Even after he shoveled I had to make my car rock back and forth before it would finally get over the hump of snow it was already on. Thank goodness for stick shifts!

5) I just ate 2 bowls of ice cream after reading this post. It was delicious.

6) I went to my first official second trimester doctor's visit and baby Rayel seems to be doing well. I also scheduled our sonogram for finding out the sex of the baby - March 1 - mark it on your calendars :) Oh...and yes, we do plan on finding out the sex of the baby. I am way too much of a planner for all that "surprise" stuff.

7) Shortly after my doctor's appointment I bought my first pair of maternity pants. It was weird having the thighs of my pants "fit" again, since I'm now so used to wearing pants that are a size or two too large. I haven't yet brought myself to take the tags off, I'm debating if I really want to start wearing them yet...

Woohoo! I just finished my first "7 Quick Takes" ever!

Friday, January 21, 2011

The Bathroom Is Finished!

I recently posted pictures of our now-re-floored basement that our friend, Anne, did for us. As soon as she was finished with the basement she got to work on the main bathroom upstairs. I was so excited that this bathroom was getting re-done. The main reason for the update was to replace the enormous jet-tub that was too big for the tiny bathroom and a pain in the *you-know-what* to clean. It would also be impractical trying to bathe a baby/young child in that tub, and with a baby on the way it needed to be dealt with ASAP.
This tub was oversized in every sense of the word - it was really long, really wide and the worst part was that it was really tall. I tripped getting into it nearly every time - and I had to actually get in to clean the darn thing! Anyway, I'll stop ranting now and show you some "before" pictures then move on to the final results.

This is the view looking into the bathroom from the hallway.
The tub left barely enough room to use the toilet.
It was so wide it covered part of the floor vent.
Also notice the lovely faux-marble laminate flooring.

I also took some "during the transformation" pictures. We had to have the plumbing for the tub/shower moved over 4 inches so it would be centered with the new tub. That's what's happening in the picture below. I also took this opportunity while the walls were ripped out to have some extra storage added above the toilet.

The tub and wall have been removed.
See all that empty space back there? It's above the stairs, so it's
not practical for floor space, but works perfectly for shelving.
I sealed all the tiles. It took a while...
I had to lay out the tiles individually on the floor and spray them until they were saturated with the sealer. Here's what the last batch looked like (it was slightly smaller than the rest of the batches).

Now for the final product! My friend, Julie, helped me out again with the wall color. Thank goodness for her help otherwise who knows what our house would look like! I think you'll notice right away how much more spacious the bathroom feels, and we were able to add a shelf at the back of the bathtub which will be nice for putting bath toys once baby Rayel makes his/her appearance. This tub will also be much easier to bathe a child in because of the tub height. I can't even imagine what we would have done if we had kept the old tub! Anyway, on to the pictures...

View as you walk in from the hallway.
Notice the vent is no longer under the tub!
The shelf/ledge at the back of the tub.
We can use the toilet without being crammed next to the tub :)
Also notice the new floor - no more faux-marble laminate (in this bathroom anyway).
Extra storage space (yay!) above the toilet.
Overall, I am VERY pleased with the outcome. Hooray for a functional bathroom space!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Spinach Dip

Spinach dip is one of my favorite appetizers. I made it for our New Year's gathering, but before I could make it I needed a good recipe, and I knew just where to look - or rather, who to ask. My friend, Megan, used to make spinach dip all the time in high school and occasionally in college as well. It was DELICIOUS. The recipe is rumored to be the same recipe that Olive Garden uses, but we have no way to prove that. Regardless, it's the best spinach dip recipe that I know of.

Spinach Dip

1 8oz frozen box of chopped spinach
1 'brick' of creme cheese
6-7oz of shredded parmesean cheese
1 can of quartered artichoke hearts
garlic powder to taste
red pepper flakes to taste

Directions:  Cook spinach according to package directions.  Chop artichokes into smaller pieces and add to boiling spinach until heated through.  Drain spinach and artichokes.  Turn down heat and combine the two cheeses and the spinach and artichokes.  Stir until cheeses are melted through.  Add garlic powder and red pepper flakes to taste.  Serve in bread bowl for added oomph (whole wheat ritz crackers are divine with it as well).

I used to love this recipe because it was delicious (it still is). I now love this recipe because it's so easy to make! It's really only four ingredients plus a little seasoning. 
Here are some pictures from when my friend, Sarah, made the dip. She was so kind to take pictures for me because I meant to take pictures when I made it but forgot (thanks Sarah!).

Spinach and Artichokes being heated.

Both cheeses added.

Spinach dip ready to be "plated" (or "bowled" in this case :)

The hollowed out bread bowl (I used Sourdough).

Spinach dip ready for eating!

Sarah made the dip for work and everyone loved it. This is an appetizer that, in my experience, always goes over well. But maybe that's because I'm "that person" who stands by the dip all night and eats all of it :)

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The Basement Has Been Tiled

When Will and I bought our house we were very fortunate because we were able to find a house that was move-in ready. There were only minor details that we wanted to change. One "detail" that we were eventually planning on changing was the basement flooring. It was carpet when we first moved in. While the carpet was going to need to be changed out eventually - it had random stains from pets/teenagers from the previous owners - we didn't expect to have to change it this soon. But, a few water spills from our washer created a bit of a musty smell in the basement (that problem has since been fixed thank goodness). Then I noticed a little bit of mold on the baseboards because getting the carpet completely dry was really difficult even after we bought a dehumidifier (don't get me started on how expensive those things are!). The mold was the final straw. The carpet needed to be dealt with ASAP.

One of my friends suggested I consider tiling the basement instead of simply replacing the carpet. I liked the idea, and about a month later I had her help me pick out some tile for the basement. Here's a quick look at the before and after shots of the basement. Unfortunately I forgot to take pictures before the carpet was being taken up, so you'll have to use your imagination where the floor is bare :)

view as you come down the stairs

view as you come down the stairs

lovely pink couch and bag of carpet

This is the corner where the mold was starting. You can see a black
line at the bottom of the baseboards where the mold was.

Now for the after pictures. I am SOOOO happy with the results. It looks so nice. It looks like an entirely different room.

view as you come down the stairs

couch and former mold corner

YAY for beautiful new tile! I'd like to say thanks to my friend Julie for helping me choose the tile and Anne for installing it!

Sunday, January 9, 2011


For New Years Eve this year Will and I had a few people over. Neither of us is crazy about the holiday, but we (or do I mean I?) felt obligated to do SOMETHING to celebrate the holiday.
For this gathering I made 2 appetizers: guacamole and spinach dip. In this blog post I'll talk about the guacamole :) I love guacamole because it's easy to make, it's delicious and it's fairly healthy for you (in small quantities).
I didn't shop for any food until the day before New Years Eve (because I'm a bit of a procrastinator), so I wasn't sure what the avocado situation would be. Finding good, ripe avocado's is key to getting your guacamole to turn out well. Luckily, I was able to find a couple good avocados.

Below you'll find the list of ingredients I used in my guacamole. Note: these are all estimates, I didn't actually measure anything.

2 avocados
1/2 C chopped onion
1/3 C diced tomato
lime juice

To make the guacamole I cut the avocados in half, scooped out the avocado inside (I set aside the pit for later use) and mashed the avocado. Once the avocado had a chunky-mashed-potato like consistency I mixed in the onion, tomato and lime juice. I then transferred the finished product into a serving dish along with one of the avocado pits.
About a year ago I learned this sneaky trick: if you leave the avocado pit in the guacamole it helps keep it from browning. Weird, but it seemed to work.

Here's a picture of the finished product.

You can kind of see the pit in the middle there.

The guacamole went well on my "dip tray." Yumm!