Tuesday, January 31, 2012

David Justice

And this, my dear readers, is why I am the way that I am.  Hope you enjoy this little digression from spray paint and power tools!


"David Justice is here!"

I froze, dropping both Sabertooth and Wolverine onto the faux marble floor.  My aunt confirmed to my speechless brother and I that David Justice, the star right fielder for the Cleveland Indians, had just wandered by Kay-B-Toys. Without a word, my brother Cory raised his palm, silently requesting a pen and something from within the caverns of my aunt's purse to get signed -- be it a napkin, an envelope, anything.  I then tripped over Sabertooth's broken leg as Cory and I clamored out of the toy store and into the heart of the Cleveland mall, engulfed in our frenzy to meet David Justice.

My ticket stub to the seven o'clock game at Jacobs Field was grasped in my hand as I pursued after my older brother who conscientiously believed that baseball was life. If I had been born into another family, I might've cared less about the sport; in my case, it was sacrilegious not to love it.  I grew up on the bleachers of Cory's Little League games learning about Ted Williams, Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, and Lou Gehrig.

Lou Gehrig and Babe Ruth
Both my mom and Cory quizzed me about sacrifice bunts, balks, and the Baltimore chop during dinner; I studied batting averages rather than the times tables. At nine years old, and unlike the rest of my female classmates, I hoarded baseball guards, bobbleheads, and plastic player figurines instead of playing with Barbies.

In second grade, I punched a know-it-all classmate in the face when he claimed that Kirby Puckett, the Minnesota Twin who was forced to retire due to glaucoma in 1995, was receiving too much airtime on television.

Sure, I enjoyed other sports, but there was just something about baseball that I loved even more. The crack of the baseball bat.  The scrape-crunch of metal cleats abrading against asphalt.  The smell of the leather glove positioned in my hand.  All of those little things helped make baseball infinitely superior to any other sport.  Things that only baseball lovers would understand.

"Excuse us, sir -- may we have your autograph?" Cory politely asked when we finally approached David Justice, interrupting his stroll through the mall.  Dressed in khakis and a tight onyx T-shirt, David Justice's teeth shined almost as much as his buffed head when he turned to face us.

"Sure," he replied, taking Cory's ticket and a Sharpie.  "Season tickets, row AA, huh?  You two big fans?"

Cory shot a quick glance at me and smirked.

"Kinda.  We're here on vacation.  We're O's fans," he confessed.

"The Orioles?  Come on, now," David Justice scoffed as he handed Cory's ticket back and took mine.  "Well... I guess it could be worse.  Ya'll could be Yankees fans."

Those mere five seconds it took for him to sign my ticket stub was surreal.  This was the first time I had actually met a baseball player in the flesh, and it was glorious.  Had it been anyone else on the Cleveland Indians, the moment wouldn't have been as special, but David Justice was arguably the best player on the team at the time.  In those seconds, I came to the conclusion that not only did David Justice become my favorite baseball player, but one day, I'd also have to marry him.

Then, just as swiftly, casually, and gallantly as ever, David Justice handed back my newest, most prized possession, and patted the top of my baseball hat as he spoke:

"Here you go, little boy..." his voice trailed off as he leaned forwarded to take a closer look at my face.  He blushed with embarrassment and then chuckled slightly.  "Oh.  I mean... little girl."

Perhaps this David Justice wasn't as great as I had thought he was.

Linking up to My Life and Kids.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Dinner of the Week: Spicy Sweet Potato Mango Chicken

Sweet potatoes and  mangoes... two things that I absolutely adore.  I have made this recipe too many times to count.  You will not have any leftovers with this one -- it goes fast!  This recipe also tastes just as great vegetarian as it does with chicken... or with pineapple instead of mangoes.

Spicy Sweet Potato Mango Chicken
Courtesy of allrecipes.com

1/2 cup Jasmine rice
1 large sweet potato, peeled and cubed
2 ripe mangoes (or 2 bags frozen mangoes), peeled and cubed
1 pound chicken tenderloins, cleaned and cubed
1 clove garlic, minced
6 tablespoons Tamari soy sauce
3/4 cup water
3 tablespoons honey
3 tablespoons hot sauce, or to taste
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon warm water

Prepare the Jasmine rice in a rice cooker or on the stove.  While the rice is cooking, place the cubed sweet potatoes in a saucepan and fill with enough water to cover.

Simmer under medium-high heat for 15 minutes, or until the sweet potatoes can be easily pierced with a fork.  Once they are tender, drain the sweet potatoes and set them aside.

Meanwhile, heat a large skillet with some olive oil and cook the chicken over medium heat for approximately five minutes, or until they are no longer pink in the center.

Drain and set the chicken aside.

Add the minced garlic into the hot skillet until cook until it is fragrant.  Add soy sauce, 3/4 cup of water, honey, red pepper flakes, and your favorite hot sauce.  You can certainly use regular soy sauce instead of Tamari; however, if you haven't already tried Tamari before, I suggest giving it a shot (It has a much more bold flavor than ordinary soy sauce, and makes amazing fried rice). 

For the hot sauce, I recommend using either Sambal Oelek or Sriracha chili sauce; both of which can be found in any Asian market.  My mouth is watering just thinking of these two hot sauces.  I seriously have to control the amount I use for Evan's safety.  Obviously, you can eliminate both the hot sauce and red pepper flakes if you are faint of heart.

Add chicken, mangoes, and sweet potatoes to the skillet.  In a small glass, dissolve the cornstarch with a tablespoon of warm water, stirring once.  Add the cornstarch slurry to the skillet to thicken up the sauce.  Cook until hot.  

Serve over rice and enjoy!

It's spicy, it's sweet, and utterly delicious.  I hope you'll like it as much as we do.

Linking up to Not Just a Housewife's linky party, located here.

You will find me linking up at these fantastic parties:

Monday: Polish the StarsTuesday: Mommy By Day Crafter by NightNot Just a HousewifeToday's Creative BlogWednesday: Rae Gun RamblingsSomeday CraftsThursday: A Glimpse InsideHouse of HepworthsThe Shabby Creek CottageSomewhat SimpleFriday: The Answer is ChocolateCreation CornerMy Simple Home LifeSimply DesigningTatertots and Jello

Things That Shouldn't Fit into a Mustang

I own a 2000 Ford Mustang convertible that I pretend is large enough to fit the cargo load of a Ford F150.

Behold the number of oversized, bulky items that we have managed to fit into my car:

1.  A duo-burner Nexgrill gas and charcoal grill from Sears.

2.  A 60 gallon fish tank stand from Petsmart.

3.  A large window bench from Target.

5.  Pallets.

Or... in the backseat of Evan's 2008 Ford Mustang coupe:

4.  A 12 gallon Craftsman air compressor.

Imagine being smashed into the backseat of a convertible, hugging a giant cardboard box, and shamelessly singing on the top of your lungs while passersby in the left lane gape at the crazies who are driving with the top down in December.

I absolutely love my life.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

The Master Bedroom Reveal

I have an older brother, so I've always been relegated to the tiny bedroom.  This never bothered me because I didn't expect anything more than that.  It forced me to be organizationally creative.  That, or it was an excuse to let all of my stuffed animals take over the rest of the house.

I'm so sorry, Mom and Dad.
As a result, I felt -- and still do feel -- absolutely pampered having a large master bedroom.  I wasn't sure what I'd do with all the space!  The first night in our home, I leaped into the empty bedroom and performed a giddy and uncoordinated dance of jumping jacks, triple salchows, and cartwheels just because I could.  It was incredible knowing that I could prance around all I wanted without fearing about banging my knee or a Corgi into a dresser.

The Bedroom: Before Move In
The Bedroom: Before Move In
We took care of the problem of having a big room by buying some equally large grown up furniture.  Say what?  I felt ancient when we walked into Grand Home Furnishings with the intention to buy a king-sized bed (yeah, spoiled), mattress, two dressers, and maybe a nightstand.  Our college days of dumpster diving and finagling a discarded sheet of plywood and some old bookcases into a desk were officially over.  Bittersweet.  We ended up buying this bedroom set from Grand because we liked the color, its simplicity, and its price:

Afterward, we bought this Wamsutta 500 Damask duvet cover in Charcoal from Bed Bath and Beyond to go with it.  I thought the silver would go well with the nickel dresser handles, and didn't want to force Evan to live with a flowery bedspread.  

I painted our old apartment's bedroom with Olympic's "Teal Zeal," and adored it.  It was beautiful, bold, and was dark enough to make the room seem like a cave at night.  So, I painted our new bedroom the same color.  The previous homeowner had painted the walls and ceiling a light silver, so I kept the ceiling the same color, thinking that it'd be a great accent.

I also spray painted all of the electric outlet covers with Rustoleum's "Oil Rubbed Bronze."

Meanwhile, every bedroom and hallway in our house was blessed with one of these lovely brass flush-mount light fixtures:

Yeah.  It had to go.  We've always wanted a ceiling fan, so we bought a 44" Hunter Ridgefield New Bronze 5-minute Install Fan.  Five minutes, pshhhhh... it took Evan, my mom, and I more than an hour to install it.  Completely worth it.  Love the fan now.

And then... months passed.  I loved our bedroom, but there was still something missing.  It never quite felt finished.

I later thought, "why not install crown molding?" So we did.  Thanks to Evan and our good friend, Chandler, we now have crown molding (the tutorial and shenanigans that ensued will be written in another post).  But even after I puttied all of the nail holes, sealed the corners, and prettified the molding with three coats of white paint, something still seemed off.

That's when I realized that the molding blended into the ceiling.  They weren't noticeable at all. I figured that if we had spent the money and effort into installing beautiful crown molding, I was going to make sure that those darn things were going to pop.

So off I went to Lowe's.  I bought a gallon of Olympic's "Volcanic Ash" (I debated between that and "Dover Gray," and the cooler name won), as well as a pack of Valspar's silver paint crystals that I spotted in the paint aisle.

I had used these crystals before in my brother's first apartment, and loved them.  One of my decorating resolutions this year, too, was to find ways to add drama and character to ceilings, and I believed that these crystals would make it epic.

Therefore, I added the entire packet into the gallon of paint and mixed it thoroughly.

Which then resulted in a ceiling that looks like you're gazing into a night full of stars.

Wish I could've captured it better in a picture.  This's as best as I got!
As well as a master bedroom that looks something like this.

This bedroom has replaced the kitchen as my favorite room of the house.  It's my cozy little getaway.  It has also taught me to never fear bold and dark colors, to never leave ceilings out of the picture, and to always experiment with new concepts or materials.

I hope you like it, too!

You may find me linking up at these fantastic parties:

Monday: Boogieboard CottageBurlap and DenimC-R-A-F-TCraft-O-ManiacDIY Home Sweet Home,  Everything Under the MoonGet Outta My Head PleaseThe Girl CreativeThe Graphics FairyMad in CraftsMaking the World CuterOur Delightful HomePolish the StarsSew Can DoSew Happy GeekSkip to My LouThrifty Decor ChickToo Much Time on My HandsTuesday: A Bowl Full of LemonsCherished BlissCoastal CharmConfessions of a Stay at Home MommyFunky Polka Dot Giraffe,  I'm Topsy TurvyThe Kurtz CornerMommy By Day Crafter by NightNap Time CreationsNatural NestersNot Just a HousewifeSugar Bee Crafts,  Sweet Little GalsTip JunkieToday's Creative BlogWednesday: Free Pretty Things for YouGinger Snap CraftsJAQS StudioLet Birds FlyRae Gun RamblingsThe Sasse LifeSew Much AdoSew WoodsySomeday CraftsSouthern LovelyThursday: A Creative PrincessA Glimpse InsideCrafty, Scrappy, HappyHouse of HepworthsJust Winging ItMade in a DayThe Shabby Creek CottageSomewhat SimpleThrifty DecoratingYesterday on TuesdayFriday: 2805The Answer is ChocolateBacon Time with the Hungry HypoCreation CornerFinding FabulousFingerprints on the FridgeHappy-Go-LuckyMom 4 RealMy Simple Home LifeOne Artsy MamaPerfectly ImperfectThe Rooster and the HenSimply DesigningTatertots and JelloWhipperberryYoung and CraftySaturday: Be Different... Act NormalCandace CreationsFunky Junk InteriorsIt's So Very CheriNutmeg PlaceSunday: Embellishing Life with Homemade GoodnessFlamingo ToesG*RatedNifty Thrifty Things

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Guilt Trippin'

We've been leaving the dogs free while we're at work because I feel bad that they are locked up in their crates for 10+ hours each day.

Their dog crates, which we lovingly refer to as "boxes."
Every night when we arrive back home, Zubie and Crash are in their crates anyway.  We figure that they do this because they don't know how to interpret their freedom, and their boxes are considered a safe haven.  They do, however, come tearing around the corner once we open the kitchen door and call their names.

The other night, Crash doesn't respond to our calls.  I find him curled up in the corner of his box with guilt smeared across his face.  I figure that it was because he has to go to the bathroom and doesn't want to get excited.  He does this every time my brother visits.

Later that night, Evan and I are upstairs watching a movie.  I spot Crash sniffing something next to the wall.  It's a little turd.  Just one nugget.  How does that even happen?  So I clean it up; it's no big deal.

I return to the couch, and Crash is gone.  Meanwhile, Zubie happily gnaws on a Nylabone.

Evan suggests that Crash went downstairs for a drink of water.  The two Corgis had been chasing each other around the bonus room throughout the first half of our movie, so I agree.

An hour later, our movie ends.  There is still no sign of Crash.

A search ensues.  Zubie prances behind us as we go from room to room.  We check each bathroom, under all of the beds, in closets, and ultimately... find Crash hiding in his box with a look of utter horror on his pitiful face.

Kind of like this.
I try calling his name, bribing him with treats, tossing him a tennis ball.  Absolutely nothing I can do will lure him out of his box.  His expression remains the same.  He knows that he's done for.  He thinks that he has committed the worst crime in all of dog history.

Frustrated, I close the crate's door briefly, and it swings back open.

Crash leaps into my arms, smothering me with kisses, and wiggles his tail in pure joy.

I love that little guy.

Monday, January 23, 2012

My Crayola House

Just three months ago, the rooms in our house used to be beige, peach, white, off-white, pale yellow, and lilac.  Not anymore!  Each room has it's own unique surprise about it.  The bright, bold colors make me so happy!  To spread the cheer (or potential fright!), I wanted to give you a sneak peak of the colors that have turned my plain-Jane house into a Crayola factory.  The brand that I used for each room was either Olympic ONE Interior Paint or Olympic Premium Interior Paint from Lowe's.

Japanese Koi

Living Room
Georgian Leather

Dining Room


Hallways, Stairwell, and Mudroom

Guest Bathroom

Guest Bedroom #1
Smoke Blue

Guest Bedroom #2

Master Bedroom
Teal Zeal

Master Bathroom
Alpine Valley

Bonus Room
Merlot and Cracker Bitz

Bonus Room Bathroom

Red GumballBlack Magic, and Rustoleum's Hammered Silver

There's still a lot of work left, but I can't wait to share the final pictures of these rooms with you!  

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