Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The basement gets it's day in the sun

Did you catch us on Remodelaholic today? Because that's where our sweet little basement landed. We're, um, kind of a big deal online.

But you knew that.

In real life, we at Bigger, Better, Best also roll in the big time and as such, have declared it summer vacation 'round these parts. We're getting crazy doing things like mowing the monster lawn, skimming the redneck pool of debris and riding lots of dubious hot pink bikes.

Pardon our hiatus. Sometimes, a gal just needs a moment to get her mind right before painting 1/4 of her garage a rainbow of sherbert colors.

Yes. That's happening. Eventually.

Hazy summer days are made for moving slow and around here, we like to let the weather make our important decisions.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Let's make the house a little weirder

It's been a very busy week, but I wanted to let you know : I wasn't kidding about the garage mural project.
Published with Blogger-droid v1.6.9

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Do you see it, too?

This expanse of garage wall that faces our patio garden needs an autobiographical mural.
Published with Blogger-droid v1.6.9

Like father, like daughter

Happy Father's Day to any and all dads who read this blog.

I'm pretty sure there's just one and he's my very own pa, which is why I feel it fitting to mark today with the following confession:

I made and enjoy a Pandora station based on Jimmy Buffet.

Now you all know. I have the musical sensibilities of a man who, probably, has in his lifetime owned more than 30 pairs of Sperry's.

Have a good one!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Don't let that door hit you on the way out

 One of the first mini-projects since falling off the DIY wagon was to replace our janky bathroom door. Previous owners had put this poor thing through the ringer - painting it blue, installing a towel bar (did I mention this is your standard-issue hollow core door and therefore not suitable to bearing any weight?) and letting rusty hinge juice decorate the jamb.
 The towel bar did a real number on the poor door. It used to always fall out of the door, especially when we had guests who weren't used to the supreme ghettoness of our bathroom. In the picture below you can see the totally rockin' blue paint that used to cover not only the door, but the whole bathroom.
 So, we went off to Home Depot and bought a paneled door. Because our house is old and weird, the new door needed to be cut down a smidgey bit.
 Hubs and I got to get back into our respirators and goggles, which is a look I know I missed, so I'm guessing you missed this awesomeness in your daily blog visits, too, right?
How you doin'?

After some slicing and dicing, a little touch up paint, and a fancy new non-brass door knob, we couldn't help but fall breathless every time we caught a glimpse of the new bathroom door.

Cue the choir of angles!

In the spirit of easing back into DIY, we only did one of the three doors in our hallway. The two bedroom doors are still 50's slabs with brass door knobs and bad paint jobs.
In due time, bedroom doors. In due time.

I was really surprised how the panels made such a difference. the bathroom feels cottage-y and that slice of hallway feels new and bright. I'm officially in love with paneled doors.

Here's a really nerdy question: do you have a favorite type of door? I bet you do, nerd.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Scary stories

I'm not really a horror movie person. Minute 6 or so of this video really pushes my limits for a scary story, which is kindly - and dramatically - reenacted by this gentleman:

"He permed me!" Ahhhhh!

Anyway, it's been dark and stormy in my neck of the woods and I thought I'd tell you one of my scariest tales.

A few years ago, Hubs and I went to what was billed as a wine and cheese party at a friend's house. Now, we totally know thyselves and knew we were actually going to attend a block-of-Kraft-and-assorted-boozes party, which is fine and spooky. We're, like, very chill like this. I mean, one of my top ten favorite cheese of all time comes from an aerosol, but I balance that with knowing my French sheeps' milk from a Spanish cow's.

We chose to bring our very favorite cheese (also the top layer of our wedding cake) - a Pierre Robert. It's very brie-like, and spooky. Verrrrry spooky.

When we arrived, we set our cheese out to come to room temperature and began to schmooze and booze. I could sense something was not quite right with some of our fellow guests. They seemed...spooky.

It's important to note that I am an excellent eavesdropper. I'm known far and wide for this skill. I know this because I've heard people talking about it.

As we chat with our hosts, I overhear some of the more zombie-esque guests. I hear horrifying things.

"Oh, this is um, like, a brie?" says a fellow guest.

"Yeah - you're supposed to microwave it so it gets gooey inside," replies another.

Dear. God.

"That'd be so good with a  pretzelersumthin dipped in it!" said a third.

They're microwaving my precious cheese. Microwaving! My! Cheese!

I looked to Hubs, hoping he could intervene but as we both turned to tell the naughty guests that you don't microwave good cheese - it was too late.

The Pierre Robert was being wrenched from the microwave, bubbling and getting tackier by the second (ba dum ching!). Within minutes, it had hardened and was abandoned by all at the party. Spooky.

I'm telling you guys, it was horrible. Awful. A fate I wouldn't wish on my most hated cheese.

*Please look for this story to be retold when I write my business book, Who the Hell Microwaved My Good Cheese?

Monday, June 13, 2011

St. Louis in dessert form

Saturday was my little sister's birthday (happy birthday, yo!). When I asked my mom how they were celebrating, she said she was starting by making gooey butter cake for breakfast.

My brain seized up. Gooey butter cake! Gooey + butter + cake = excellent baking endeavor for a Saturday afternoon.

Luckily, I had snagged this local cookbook gem from my Nana not too long ago.
You really can't go too far wrong with a recipe book made from Midwestern moms' best dishes.

 The bottom layer was a shameful amount of Crisco (one stick!), melted, and combined with a box of yellow cake mix and three eggs.
Then, I mixed up a pound of powdered sugar,  a box of cream cheese (I used fat free, but I don't think it helped any. There's a stick of Crisco in this shizzle.) and two more eggs.

I spread the topping on the uncooked cake mix and popped it in the oven at 350 for 35 minutes.
As I admired my cooling GBC, I realized there was no butter in my Gooey Butter Cake. Shocking, right? I know. I was scandalized, but I was able to console myself with an iced tea and hefty hunk of Gooey Butter Cake.

Even Hubs, who hid his skepticism well, fell in love with the caramel-y crunch and rich ooze. It's a powerful force, this GBC.

What's your favorite hometown dessert?

Friday, June 10, 2011

Pants on fire

This morning, my mom sent me this picture of snow on the mountain giving her poor hostas the what-for.
So, I was wrong in yesterday's post. It seems snow on the mountain is the bully of the plant world.

Who knew?

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Ask the Randoms!

Welcome, friends, to my very first edition of -


(You guys did all shout that out with me like they do when Wheel of Fortune starts, right? RIGHT?!)

Ask the Randoms will be a segment I'll whip out when I am particularly tickled, intrigued or concerned about the search terms random internet folk have used to find this little slice of heaven we call Bigger, Better, Best.

Today's question is legit. It comes from a random internet searcher who found this ol' blog by searching "will hostas choke out snow on the mountain" on May 24. 

That poor soul landed on my answer-less post about The Pit, wherein I ramble about the woeful state of the southeast corner of my estate and devise a plan to choke out all weeds with a cunning combination of hostas, daylillies and snow on the mountain. 

This random's question peaked my interest. So, I set out to find an actual answer, should said random return.

The articles I found called snow on the mountain an invasive species, which is fine for Pit coverage, but The Pit is rather near our neighbors' yards, so whenever they decide they've had enough of Pit life, we might have some issues. From what I've read, clipping off the flowering parts will help reduce seeding and since the neighbors' yards all touch The Pit with mow-able grass, they'd probably kill all the snow on the mountain with the mower anyway.

This forum discussion had a good perspective on how it behaves locally and this forum of hosta-crazed gardeners included pictures of everything I hope The Pit to be - sans all the little bootie planters. I'm just not a bootie plantin' kinda gal, I s'pose.

The ultimate answer I have in all my non-authority for this Gardening Random is - NO. Based on second-hand stories, snow on the mountain not only won't gobble up your hostas, but will actually be contained by them if the shade is dense enough.

It's been real fun. Join us next time for Ask the Randoms!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Back in the saddle

Last weekend, my best bud Miss D and her boyfriend came up for a visit. It was the first time she'd seen my place since the basement was redone and since she's also in the process of snazzifying (hell yes) her home, we talked about projects a lot. You know, when we weren't sampling the best of Iowa wines at Swine Fest or enjoying the view from Mullets' rooftop patio (WHICH I must rant about. Mullets used to have fried crab claws and now they don't. And I'm pretty P.O.'d about it, man. You can't get crab claws anywhere else in this town and WHY WOULD YOU TAKE THEM AWAY FROM ME, Mullets? WHY?).

Anyway, all this project chit chat got my brain humming again. We'd taken a big break since the last piece of trim was painted in the basement and I'm itching to get my DIY on again. It's like when you don't work out all winter and then one day you decide to go to the gym because it sounds fun and you think, "Who am I? The gym sounds fun?" and you roll with it and do in fact have a good time.

So, we're tiptoeing back in with some small projects - our next big project will be finishing our walk-up attic, but that's a few years away still. We need time to forget how draining the basement was, financially and emotionally, before we get crazystupid with DIY again.

Here's the list of in-the-meantime projects:
  • Touch-up exterior paint
  • Finally putty holes in the wall from old curtain rods
  • Touch up bad interior paint jobs 
  • Paint all trim white
  • Try crown molding in the hall or bathroom - if it's not too bad, go all out
  • Paint the office
  • Get a new dining room light
  • Paint the kitchen
  • Retile the kitchen floor 
  • Look at getting kitchen doorway expanded
  • Tear up front walk and side walk
  • Put down paver bricks in those areas
  • Re-landscape the front yard
  • Double the size of the garden and convert to raised beds
  • Paint some furniture
  • Focus on getting stuff on the walls in the living room and basement
  • Paint the bathroom
I'm sure we'll come up with more little projects along the way, but this is a good list that doesn't involve too much heavy lifting. 

I'm curious who else has had DIY burnout. What project made you so crazy you needed a sabbatical from home improvements?

Monday, June 6, 2011

Slow Sunday

Last night, we finally had a creative dinner. We haven't had the energy to cook up the amazing and thoughtful dishes we were used to in our pre-basement days, but last night, we finally slowed back down and got cooking.

We kept it pretty simple - hummus and pitas - but it felt so good to be kneading bread and having something going in the slow cooker all afternoon.

For the pitas, we used Tyler Florence's recipe. The hummus was a Hubs creation, using garbanzo beans, home-made tahini (which is really just ground up sesame seeds and totally not worth the $7s a jar grocery stores charge), garlic and salt. We cooked the pitas on a pizza stone on the grill and were foodgeeking out over the fact that they really puffed and had pockets just like real, actual pitas.

As you can see, one recipe makes a boatload of pita bread and we totally overshot on our hummus needs.

The best part was the addition of zatar seasoning. It's a Middle Eastern blend of sumac, sesame seeds, thyme and salt that perks up anything it touches. We're seriously obsessed. There have been talks to a zatar seasoned burger with tzatiki or avocado. Gettin' pretty wild up in this kitchen.

Of course, after dinner, we acted like total nutsos and walked the cats around the patio. Niles loves the peonies almost as much as I do.

How was your weekend?

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Room with a view

Check out the view from our bedroom window. Summer is officially here the second that redneck pool is full.
Published with Blogger-droid v1.6.9
Blog Directory