Bathroom Renovations Part I

One of the bathroom sinks was leaking into the kitchen.

I’m so glad we noticed before I repainted the bathroom. Jesse and his dad had to take out the sink, the vanity, and part of the wall behind it to repair the leak.

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And things can never be as simple as they seem. Just when they thought they fixed it, they realized that one of the previous owners had hammered a nail for the paneling through a stud and through the pipe. Then the pipe cracked.

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This leak had been many years in the making and we had no idea. The downside to home-ownership is having to use your own resources to fix anything that breaks. Out with the old…

…In with the new! On top of fixing the pipe, the Lane men replaced the vanity and faucet and installed my medicine cabinet. All it cost me was a few homemade meals.

Now that things are back in working order, I am ready to paint!

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Things Are Looking Up

As always, when things get bad, they always get better.

Friday, I had my follow up appointment with my OB/GYN. She let me know that I am healthy and should have no problems having children. She believes that I miscarried because of a problem in DNA replication. The chances of that happening again are only 4 percent. Since I am healthy, she said we do not have to wait to start trying to get pregnant.

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This is the best news we could have gotten and we couldn’t be happier. We will let everyone know when we have Baby Lane on the way.

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My First Sewing Project

This weekend, I completed my first sewing project. I made a small zippered bag, as shown on Melly Sews. Since I was learning not only how to make the pouch, but also how to use my sewing machine, it took me more than 15 minutes…probably closer to 6 hours.

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The most difficult thing was learning how to thread the needle on my sewing machine. Once I got that part down, the rest was pretty simple. Sewing is very tedious work, but not too extremely challenging.

Before I put together the pouch, I embroidered my initials onto one of the outer pieces of fabric. I have hand sewn before, but was pretty rusty. I used the backstitch and found an easy to follow diagram on Sublime Stitching.

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Next, I sewed my zipper to my outer pieces of fabric. I did not have to adjust my zipper, since it was already 9 inches. Then, I sewed the zipper to the inner pieces of fabric, which would make up the lining of my bag. As you can tell, my lines were horribly crooked. I need some practice making straight lines.

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When I topstitched the outer fabric to the zipper, I accidentally stitched into the zipper and had to undo those stitches. This caused my zipper to get stuck at the end of my project. After undoing those few stitches, I handstitched them so that I wouldn’t mess up the rest of that line.

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I matched the outer pieces of fabric and the inner pieces of fabric to sew the bag together. While doing this part, the pouch is actually inside out. As the tutorial shows, you sew a border all the way around the fabric, leaving a small gap in the middle-bottom section of the inner fabric. This opening is used to turn the bag right side out. I forgot to take pictures of this part, but Melly’s blog has great photos and videos that explain it well.

The section that was left unsewn must be handstitched when the bag is right-side out. You can use a topstitch or a blindstitch to do this. I attempted the blindstitch for the first time and was pretty happy with the results. A blindstitch ensures that your stitch is not seen, hints the name.

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And the finished product…

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I really need to work on making my lines straighter, but overall I’m pretty pleased. This first project really taught me how little I know about sewing. There are so many different parts, needles, stitches, and terms that I had to look up as I worked. I definitely won’t get bored with this hobby anytime soon. Next, I’m wanting to make some headbands, similar to the trendy running headbands I’m seeing everywhere now. Hopefully, I can accomplish that in under 6 hours.

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At a Loss

Friday, I miscarried our first pregnancy. We were only 5 weeks along and had only known we were pregnant for a week. I hate to share sad news, but I want everyone to know that Jesse and I have appreciated all of the love and support we have gotten the past few days. It has been a sad time for us, but we are hopeful that things will work out better in the future.

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Turning Over a New Leaf

For my birthday, my sweet husband got me a never before used 1970 sewing machine.

It’s the same one my grandma still uses!

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For years, I’ve been planning on learning to sew and now I’ve decided to quit putting it off. I know the basics, such as cross-stitching and attaching a button. I would like to be able to make clothes, blankets, stuffed animals, etc.

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Here are a few of the projects I would like to conquer:

Wish me luck!

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The Hard Lives of Our Dogs

Sadly, our neighborhood has a tick problem. As soon as the weather gets nice again, we have to start treating the dogs pretty heavily to keep the ticks away. Usually, we bath the dogs in flea and tick shampoo every two weeks, squeeze a few drops of Hartz UltraGuard between their shoulders, and sprinkle tick repellent in the yard.

I’m not particular about the shampoo I buy because it all seems to work, but I won’t buy anything besides Hartz UltraGuard drops. Hartz is only about $4 for a pack of three bottles and it works just like the expensive medicine. We tend to buy the package for the large dogs and get two uses out of each bottle for each dog.

We treat the yard with either Sevin spray, granules, or dust. This helps us keep ticks out of the yard, so they are less likely to find the dogs. We only have to do this about once a month and each container can last us a couple treatments.

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Even though this treatment takes a lot of work and some money, I don’t mind because I love having healthy dogs who can come in the house all the time. What I hate, though, is how pitiful they act when they get baths. We usually give the dogs their baths outside so we don’t have a lot of clean up. They hunker down when they hear the water hose and act like it’s the end of the world. Then, as soon as it’s over, they run laps and roll in the dirt.

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Poor babies.

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Earth Laughs in Flowers

“Earth laughs in flowers.” -Ralph Waldo Emerson

We worked on the flower beds a few days ago, but it’s been a busy week and I had a bad case of writer’s block. Without further delay, here’s what we did with the flower beds this year…

We kept the white rocks from last spring, but chose some different plants.

For our green plant, we chose the corkscrew rush. This plant does well in heat and sun, except in extreme conditions and is a semi-evergreen. Corkscrew rushes do best when they have lots of water, though, so we will have to make sure to water it everyday.

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For color, we planted Dianthus, basically a smaller carnation. We wanted something that would last at least until winter. This plant is pretty versatile and easy to maintain and multiplies easily.

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For a separate planter I have on the porch, we bought some Magellan Zinnia. Like our other choices, these should last until winter and won’t take much care. I love the color variety. These may be my new favorite.

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Since we didn’t have to completely start from scratch this year, the flower beds cost us half of what they did last year. It was about the same amount of labor, though. A lot of leaves from the pecan tree had accumulated in the flower beds over the winter, so we had to clear those out. It was tedious work picking the leaves out the rocks.

There were also a lot of weeds growing up through the rocks which had to be pulled. I picked weeds a few days before we started our project and new weeds popped up just a few days later.

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Something I’ve learned over the past year is that it takes work and time to maintain a yard. This year, we’re going to try to do a little every few days so the yard isn’t such a chore. What we have now is pretty basic, but eventually I hope our yard looks something like what you see in Better Homes and Gardens.

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Chicken and Vegetable Spaghetti

Chicken and vegetable spaghetti is one of my go-to’s. It’s full of flavor and simple to make.

Ingredients:

  • chicken breasts
  • olive oil
  • bell peppers
  • red onion
  • spaghetti noodles
  • spaghetti sauce (your preference)
  • salt
  • pepper
  • basil
  • minced garlic

First, boil water for the spaghetti noodles. When the water is boiling, place noodles in the water.

While waiting for the water to boil, chop the onion and bell peppers. Place the chopped vegetables in a skillet with olive oil on a low temperature.

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Chop the chicken breasts into bite-size pieces. Add the chicken to the skillet along with the vegetables. Season with salt, pepper, basil, and minced garlic to taste. Add more olive oil if needed and increase the temperature to a medium heat.

In a sauce pan, pour in spaghetti sauce on a low heat. Season with salt, pepper, basil, and garlic cloves to taste.

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Stir chicken and vegetables often to make sure everything gets cooked evenly. Stir the sauce occasionally to prevent burning or sticking.

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When everything is ready, combine ingredients on your plate and enjoy!

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Springing Into Action

We planted a few flower pots today to pre-game for the flower beds this weekend.

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We’re going to keep the same layout as last spring, but try some different plants. (To see our work from last year, view Flower Bed Makeover.) More pictures to come!

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A Few New Recipes

I have been trying a few new recipes lately and I want to share them with you.

First, I made blackened chicken with an avocado cream sauce. The great thing about this recipe is that the cream sauce is made with non-fat Greek yogurt, so it’s healthy! I did add some chili powder to the seasoning I used on the chicken. Very tasty and very easy to throw together.

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Next, I made rosemary garlic butter steaks. Simple, but take a little longer to perfect. Some of the seasoning fell off the steaks will cooking, so I will have to work on that next time.

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I also made some tasty fried chicken. The first time I made this a few weeks ago, I did fry the chicken in the oven as instructed. This time, though, we were crunched for time (The Walking Dead was about to start), so I fried the chicken in a skillet. Jesse loved it. The buttermilk is great for keeping the chicken tender. I may play around with the seasoning next time to get it a little spicier.

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My favorite new recipe was chicken breasts in a lemon cream sauce. I love pasta and lemons so this was right up my alley. I served my chicken and sauce over thin spaghetti noodles. I wish I could have gotten the sauce a little thicker, but the flavor was great.

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All four of these new recipes are very simple and full of flavor and I will certainly be making them again.

My list of recipes to try seems to be ever-growing, including hundreds on my Yum! Pinterest board. Over the next few weeks, my goal is to try some homemade Asian dishes, like this honey sesame baked chicken. I’ll be sure to share that will y’all also.

Until then, happy spring!

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