Saturday, June 23, 2012

Hallelujah! We finally painted something!!

We bought our first home in September last year and have done nothing with it. In our defense, however, my husband went to sea four days after we moved in and was gone for five weeks, then was home for a month, then deployed for six months. So really, *he* has only lived here about two months. So I believe that means we're right on schedule!

We have big plans for each and every room in the house, but because we haven't settled his next set of orders we've been a little hesitant to do anything permanent until we know whether or not we'll actually be living here next year. [insert a very large sigh here] However, when frustrations got high we buckled and decided to tackle the room that seemed to be easiest to pass off to a future renter with a bold color: the dining room.

Its a small room, about 8'x10' and, with only one full wall, we figured it would be an inexpensive start. Admittedly, we picked the paint on a whim while standing, frustrated and feeling down, in the middle of Lowe's with the new lighting fixture we had picked out for the same room. (I went six months without a light in the dining room while he was on deployment, so it was high time we fixed it!) 

We found a photo that we liked in one of the Valspar color sample brochures on their paint color display wall and purchased a sample of the orangey color Tropical Nut. Even though orange is my favorite color, I hadn't really pictured it in that room as anything more than an accent, so we got a sample of a dark brick red color and a white color for the ceiling. We painted a couple of small squares next to the large poster we have hanging on the one full wall (which has been my color inspiration for the dining room). After just a couple of days, we decided the red was too dark for the small room and found we had grown really fond of the orange color. A surprisingly easy decision. 

We planned to paint the following weekend and figured we could get it done with one coat, one gallon, in one day. Heh heh. Uh-huh.

Hubbs got home from work early on Friday, rushed out to get the paint and supplies, moved everything out of the dining room and began taping off the walls.  This was a little bit of a chore considering that there is only one full wall. The other three have the large doorway into the kitchen, the doorway into the living room, and a window a work around.

We had a really good time painting together, and did get the first coat done in just a few hours. He rolled the walls while I cut around the ceiling and edges. 

Since this was my first time painting, I didn't really know what I was doing. I was quite proud of myself for going around the corners with nice little narrow lines... then hubbs informed me that I needed to widen them so he could meet them with the roller (which you can see in the upper right above). Whoops.

About half way through the day, we realized that the paint he we bought did not have the primer already in it - and sure enough we could still see the small patch of red test paint we had put on the wall. We had to suck it up and do a second coat. The problem with that, however, was that he had duty the following day (Sunday - Father's Day) and we had invited his parents and Chela to come for a belated Father's Day bbq on Monday. So I got to do the second coat all by me onsies...
I did, and it was no big deal. Fun, actually. I broke out some old CDs that I hadn't listened to in ages and went on about my day annoying the neighbors with my off-key singing.

I broke down and went to the orange box to buy a paint roller-on-a-stick, though, because the hand held one we used the previous day had broken. It killed my wrist and I spent the rest of the day with my brace on.

While the roller-on-a-stick was extremely helpful and much easier on my wrist than the hand-held, I was sincerely frustrated at its crap quality. There were only two to choose from: a long yellow one with a squishy handle or this black one that was adjustable. I opted for the adjustable one because, well, it was adjustable and that seemed like a key feature to me. You simply turn the black handle to allow the silver rod to extend, and turn it back to tighten it into place. Problem is, that depending on how you put pressure on the roller the damn thing loosens up again while you are using it. I just couldn't seem to tighten it enough to keep it from slamming short on me.

I finished the frustrating yet enjoyable day with a Dr. Pepper spiked with whipped cream vodka and a Skype with my family in Phoenix. After just a couple of hours, I was able to move the furniture back into place and rescue the living room from chaos. The cats were not happy with the temporary reshuffling of their food, and Azreal slept on the dining room's curtains in protest. We've since got the large framed poster back up on the wall (not pictured above) and have a new project in the works (hint: it will replace the wine rack and the green cart pictured in the lower right photo above and will be super awesome!). We'll tell you all about it when it's done!

We still have crown molding to put up and eventually want to replace the table with a round one (to open up the space a little more), but that all depends on the orders we pin down for our next enlistment period. So much up in the air, but for now this is the one room in the house that really feels "homey". We're actually eating at the table more often these days and I'm not complaining one bit :)

xo, ~h

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Pinterest Noms Challenge: Strawberry Shortcake Cookies

Since I've joined Pinterest, I've been simply obsessed with recipes. That's right: Noms. Crockpot recipes. Cookie recipes. Muffin recipes. Cookie recipes. Cake recipes. Drink recipes. Casserole recipes. Cookie recipes. Cookie recipes, and more cookie recipes. I figure, its about time I start actually making them! So, here it is - my first official Pinterest Noms Challenge.

I admit, I tried this recipe a couple of weeks ago and am just now getting around to posting this. You can see that my priorities have been in eating cookies and pinning more recipes rather than sharing my joys with the rest of you. My apologies.

Strawberries were fresh in season and on the cheap, so I picked this divine little recipe to do up some strawberry shortcake cookies as found here, via Pinterest. 

Chop up the berries and toss them with the lemon juice and sugar. Easy peasy.

Things got a little complicated along the way, but I learned a few things as I went!

First: Get the right tools. Cutting butter into a dry mix was a first for me and I must admit that trying to do it with two butter knives is a lot more difficult to a newb' than people might admit. Cutting up the butter into chunks is helpful, but using a pastry cutter is really the easiest way to cut it into the dry mix (in my opinion). 

Second: Dont panic and add water - the strawberries will add all the moisture you'll need! When I mixed the ingredients together, it seemed so dry, I thought there'd be no way in H-e-double-hocky sticks that this would ever make a cookie. So I added a little water until the batter seemed cookie-ish. When I mixed in the strawberries, however, I realized that moisture from the berries was all I would have needed... d'oh. But it wasn't so moist that it all fell apart, so it worked out ok in the end.

Third: flick some flour onto the stove. That's not really something I learned. I was already good at it. It makes cleaning up so much more interesting. ..sigh..

Fourth: I do not recommend using a silicon baking mat for these cookies as I found that places where the strawberries ended up on the bottom burned to the mat so badly that I couldn't clean them off.

But when its all done, the cookies are divine. Soft, fluffy and seriously taste like strawberry shortcake. I'll be digging around Kelsey's blog a little more to see what other goodies she's cooked up! I recommend keeping them refrigerated...if they last more than one day ;)

 And, I admit I will be a little less hesitant to try new recipes found on Pinterest from now on!