MIA - for a few reasons

Merry Post-Christmas, Seasons Greetings and Happy Almost-2010!

yes, I've been away from the blog-o-sphere for a while, and with good reason.

a) my computer harddrive apparently has bit the dust, according to Dell.  I'm still trying to figure out how to salvage my precious design programs (photoshop/revit/ autocad) without having to pay for new (and very expensive, non-student rate) licenses.  Any ideas?  Til then, Im on my hubby's computer, which I've learned doesn't like the way I type and therefore omits words, letters, etc.  Joy.

b) the house moving is coming down to the wire.  The "Big Stuff" is out of the apt, but we've still got a bunch of random piles of stuff that needs moving, plus some things  that we need to sell (a couch & chest of drawers).  I'm really over it and cannot wait to be done.  I've already had one of my first "I hate moving, This is awful! My home is a mess and therefore my life is a mess" breakdowns. Not good since my husband's job makes it so we'll be moving every 2-3 years.  I'm hoping it just gets easier w/ every move.  Ugh.  It also made it so we weren't really able to decorate anything for the holiday season (and Christmas is my all-time favorite holiday).  I did mange to hang a wreath on the door and hang two stockings on the mantle, but no Christmas tree, much to my dismay.  Our half-decorated mantle:

I think the hammer, the unhung mantle picture, the lego house next to the nativity and the boxes stacked up infront of the fireplace really add something to the festive holiday ambience of the entire space.  Lesson - DO NOT MOVE DURING THE HOLIDAYS.

c) We made the 7 hour trek to Alabama for Christmas.  It was very relaxing, casual and a perfect much needed escape from the moving insanity here.  Below is the hubby in his fave Christmas gift (I think)

Yup - its an Alabama Snuggie that his sister gave him.  Perfect for all of those frigid New Orleans nights.

As for me, my wonderful husband bought me a perfect Kate Spade handbag that I love. 
The sapphire blue makes it multi-seasonal, it's big enough to stash everything and its leather/fabric mix makes it very functional & practical.

(picture from amazon.com)

And thats the wrap up!   Back to finishing up moving and prepping for our New Years extravaganza (or just our little taste of our first NOLA NYE).  Tata til 2010!


Oh, what color can do!

Our new home (the one we will move into in the middle of the month) is wonderful and quaint. However, someone, along its 100-ish year history, decided to paint the walls an absolutely pukey dark khaki color (among other horrid decisions... commented on in a later post). It really is bad. Thankfully, our landlady is like me and LOVES color - and thus she offered to buy paint for us so we can liven up the atmosphere of this house.

So here is the master bedroom when we were first shown the house:Okay, the master bedroom is the only room that wasn't painted that nasty khaki, but stark white isn't much better either.

Starting out, I really wanted to make this room calm, peaceful, and reflective of the green leafy view we'll be seeing out of the bay window. So here's my scheme:
The steely blue was a little bit of a risk, since I was afraid it would turn out to be gray and just make the room depressing. The green would be the color of our coverlet for our down comforter, creating a tiny bit of color. But I like to call it "manly light blue" because we needed a light color for our small room that wasn't a lame baby blue but it needed to have the same "a man lives in this house too" feeling like navy. The compromise? The color "Ozone" by Behr.
After about 5 days of cleaning the house top to bottom (the house had about 15 years of dust in it) we then started to paint. I started out and went to town just painting painting painting. Here's how it looked by the end of day 1 painting:Yes, I do realize the paint job at this point looks only half done - Explaination: I'm short and terrified of heights - thus why the color only goes up about 9 feet. Our ladder is only 6 feet tall and I will NOT go farther than the second-to-top rung. My husband was needed to complete the taping of the crown molding and then painting a foot below it. Only then I was able to use the roller extender and finish the job!
After an initial panic of "Oh crud, I chose to paint my bedroom Battleship Gray!!,"all is well and here is the final result:

I love it and kind of get a beachy feel from the contrast of the blue and white - and the blue isn't too steel-y or to baby-ish.

One room down -- 3 more to go!! Next up, the kitchen, a mix of priming, painting trim and then painting walls. I shake my fist at you icky khaki color!


New Ventures

Big News -

Things are so crazy with the economy right now - especially in the specific industry I just happened to get a Master's degree in. I've decided that I am NOT happy not having a job, even though the flexibility associated with unemployment is quiet a perk. I've never ever seen myself as a registered architect or as a CAD monkey for years and I will never enjoy carrying out someone else's designs. So recently I have really been analyzing how I could use my talents and skills I learned during school and throughout my wedding design/planning process. I love creating - taking a basic canvas, whether a building or a simple piece of paper, and making it bright, lovely and something someone looks at and say "this is refreshing, simple and perfect!".

After a lot of prayer, thought, and urging by people I love & who know me very well, I'm taking a baby-step toward actually making a career out of creation. As you know, I designed all of the paper goods for my wedding, and I also have always enjoyed doing the presentation layout designs for my architecture projects. I designed Mr. Bama and my Christmas Cards, wedding thank you cards as well as a few for my friends for Christmas. I've received such great feedback as well as great pleasure in designing these small and simple pieces of paper. Also, as a granddaughter and niece of master printers, I kind of find this as an homage to my relatives as well!

So as of the New Year (and after the craziness of moving and the holidays are over) I will be launching a VERY small selection of stationary on an Etsy store. I've created a logo that reflects myself as well as a little pun on paper & printing terminology (hint - paper thickness is calculated by "pounds"). There will be 5 different designs that pull from nature, my home state (VA) and my husband's state (AL) as well as the spectacular city where we live now.

So in January 2010, keep your eye out on Etsy for the premiere of One Pound Design

(yes, a silly way to tie stationary terminology and my initials, L.B., together)


Christmas time is here!

I may not be able to decorate for Christmas (so sad) due to the painting, packing, moving and unpacking that is currently going on in the Bama household, but darn-it if I didn't make sure we got out our first official Christmas card as a married couple!

Here's a preview!
The arrived a few days ago from Vistaprint.com - a company that lets you upload your designs and then they print them for you for a relatively low price.

Don't you feel in the holiday spirit already!?


A Hole in the Wall

Let's begin with a little update: Mr. Bama and my's rent at our current apt complex is up at the end of December (thank heavens!), so we've been spending a ton of time on Craigslist looking for homes/condos to rent for the rest of the time we're in NOLA. One night, after visiting endless properties, we were driving down a street in an Uptown neighborhood and found THE house: a 2 BR, 2BA, late 19th -- early 20th century double shotgun that was converted in to single at some point, with a GIGANTIC kitchen. The rent's a little pricey, but it's in super safe area (a huge plus in NOLA), within walking distance from shops and restaurants and surrounded by gorgeous single family homes.
(a side view of the house - there are two mature trees in the front of the house, so getting a front view is nearly impossible)

The Landlady, a local artist who has her studio in the back 1/4 of the house and her actual residence next door, is incredibly friendly and has even offered to pay for new paint for the house (because right now the house is this icky dark khaki color)

We started the prep work to start painting the house on Dec 1 - which turned out to be a day of just constant, persistent rain here in NOLA. It was then that we noticed that in the guest bedroom, the drywall under the window sill was bulging out, an instant sign that something was rotting under it. Mr. Bama knocked on the wall to see where the studs were and his knuckle ended up going through the drywall! After showing the hole to the landlady (who was surprisingly very grateful that we showed her the problem) she gave us the go-ahead to do a quick patch as she contacted a company about fixing the root of the problem (a possible leak in the roof).

Here's the condition of the wall before we started the patch-job.

all of the wood (the lathes) you see were rotted through, and the drywall was a dark brown, black color - NOT good

Mr. Bama cutting the existing drywall hole into an even rectangle to fit the new piece of drywall.

the condition of the wall after cutting the hole. Note, the pieces of wood you see were in this condition when we opened up the wall, and shows just how disastrous moisture can be to the structure of a home.

The patched piece of wall before drywall tape and spackling were placed over the seams.

As we discovered during this process, at some point during the additions done to the house in the late 80s someone removed the actual plaster that covered the wood lathes and placed drywall on top. Pre-air conditioned homes such as this one were designed to breathe, to allow air from outside to circulate into and out of the house. Therefore, walls were constructed of breathable materials: wood siding, wood studs, wood lathe and organic plaster. When moisture would enter the inner structure of a wall, air would dry it out before it could create any major damage. However, as in the case of this house, when one of those breathable materials is removed and replaced with a modern, non-breathing material, such as gypsum dry-wall, moisture cannot escape from the inside of a wall. The result is catastrophic - the moisture sits in the wall and rots the structure, inviting termites, mold and other pests to nest and destroy the wood and the house. The rot shown above was just a preview of how extensive the damage is: we did a basic aesthetic fix, not an invasive one that actually examined the entirety of the damage. I shudder to think.

So the moral of the story is, when doing a renovation/adaptive reuse of a historic building, be careful what building materials you use to update the structure - you could be doing more harm than good.


Fun with Cabbage

My husband sometimes goes on day trips with his work and last week he went to Plaquemines Parrish in Southeast LA. He came back with a bunch of odd, yet tasty stuff, having stopped at a farmer's roadside stand on his way back. The primary piece of produce that he came home with? A HUGE head of green cabbage. My response when I saw it - "what the heck am I going to do with green cabbage?" I grew up in a red cabbage family, so this was totally a new area for me. So I scoured my cookbooks and the internet for cabbage recipes. To no true avail, I looked in my pantry and fridge and threw something together. And the result - Not half bad! This is not a rich or heavy meal, its a perfect, light, healthy and actually quite filling recipe.

Asian Chicken Slaw Salad - Serves 2

  • 2 chicken breasts
  • kosher salt
  • pepper
  • olive oil
  • 4 cups of sliced green cabbage
  • handful of salted peanuts
  • handful of green onions, sliced
  • handful of fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 2 TBSP sesame oil
  • 2 TBSP low sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tsp ginger, peeled and minced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 TBSP rice vinegar


  1. lightly brush chicken breasts with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Grill til opaque. Cut into strips once done and put to side.
  2. mix cabbage, peanuts, green onions and cilantro in large bowl
  3. in small bowl, mix sesame oil, soy sauce, ginger, garlic and vinegar. Set to side.
  4. add chicken to cabbage mix, then drizzle with oil mix and toss to coat.

This mix is also perfect for putting in a wrap!

Here's the final product (actually, this is after we had already helped ourselves to our serving.)

as you can see, nice, green and very tasty!



Every week I try to refresh the bouquet in our apartment -- with everything so stark and blah in this very run-of-the-mill apartment complex, I find fresh flowers to be a total breath of fresh air. However, last week I decided to take a break from buying flowers, mainly just for a break in our budget so we can save up for the up and coming holidays.

But then I walked into Whole Foods yesterday, saw these and just HAD to pick them up --

Can you blame me?


Adventures in Baking

I took a huge leap yesterday -- I baked. Yup, she who can screw up cut and bake cookies decided to bring the aromas and tastes of the holiday season to our abode. My lack of baking has also taken a toll on my husband, who grew up in a southern home full of baked breads, pies, cakes, cookies, etc. So while wandering around the grocery store last night, I decided to take a risk. I pulled out my handy dandy iPhone, went to my Whole Foods Recipes application, ,and found a recipe for Pie. Note: the Whole Foods recipe app is AMAZING - I've made many a "crud- it's-6:30pm-and-I-have-no-idea-what-to-make-for-dinner" last minute recipes using this app. If you have an iPhone and a healthy cooking/baking addiction, this app is worth the 20 seconds it takes to dowload it (because its free!!) Now, I LOVE Apple Pie - its really the only kind of pie I like and it reminds me of my grandmother and her amazing apple pies made from scratch. But last time i made an apple pie, it tasted like undercooked apple cinnamon soup (ick). But to be adventurous, I picked the Pumpkin Apple Pie recipe - my favorite pie mixed with a Thanksgiving favorite.

So off i went -- I had to go to three (yes three) different stores to get everything. But I eventually arrived home with my pie-making goodness and then off I went!

50 minutes later, My pie was done. I was a little nervous because at times when the directions would say "spoon the mix into the pie crust," I just poured it in because it was so liquid-y. Also, i wasnt sure if me using a pre-made pie crust instead of one from scratch would affect anything (me make a crust from scratch? let's not get ahead of ourselves now). However - this is the final result:
You can see the bits of apple peeking out above the pumpkin pie mix. Yes - i burnt the crust a little. Yes, i got impatient and started cutting the pie before it was cool and had set. But all in all, the pie was actually pretty good -- and my husband liked it. I dont know if he actually liked the pie or if he was just happy to be eating a baked good of some sort. Me - i was just happy it didnt tasted like pumpkin-apple soup and it gave me a reason to eat one of my grad school guilty pleasures: Blue Bell Homemade Vanilla ice cream, made 40 miles from Aggieland, in Brenham TX.
so Baking attempt number one as a married woman was a success! Lets hope the luck continues into the holiday season. And as for now, the apt smells like a field of spiced cinnamon spiked with apples and pumpkin. Joy!!


Itsa Pizza Pie!

Yesterday, in an effort to get in touch with my Italian roots and take advantage of the lovely Stand Mixer in our kitchen, I decided to make pizza dough from scratch. Seems, easy enough, but in our family, pizza dough has always been elusive. Even though my mom is 1/2 Italian, she was never given a family pizza dough recipe and had to find one on her own - talking to Italian restaurant owners, cooks and scouring magazines for a recipe that was tasty and healthy. She'd find one, make the dough, and much to her disappointment, it would either be too salty, too bland, etc, etc. So eventually she gave up and resorted to buying Boboli pre-cooked pizza crust.

However, when I got married I made a point to learn a dough recipe that was easy, healthy and very tasty! My parents gave us a cookbook for the wedding that has a number of a basic recipes for the newlywed home:

(image courtesy of Crate & Barrel)

Yeah, so it's a cookbook with a cheesy name, but it really is chalk-ful of great recipes. And yes, it has a recipe for basic pizza dough. I picked up what I needed and off I went making my dough:

Here's my dough being kneaded by the dough hook. I was a 1/4 cup short of whole wheat flour, so I had to substitute the rest with pancake mix flour. Turned out to make no difference.

still a little sticky, but coming along!

Once I got the dough to a point where it wasn't sticky anymore, I put the dough in a oiled bowl, covered it with a kitchen towel and left it on the counter to rise while I went out for a few hours to look at apartments.

My dough before it rose.

When i got back, my dough was ready to be kneaded and formed. I wanted to make 2 personal pies, so I cut the dough in half (I had made enough for 4 8-inch pies), wrapped it in plastic wrap and put in the freezer for another time. The other half I divided again and then rolled and stretched out into two 9-inch pies. I then sprinkled a baking sheet with cornmeal and put the dough out on the sheet. NOTE: If you follow the book's recipe, DO NOT use as much cornmeal as I used in this picture. I learned in the recipe that cornmeal burns easily. 15 hours later, our apartment still smells like burnt cornmeal.

Then I was off to making the pizza. I'm a big fan of the simple, classic and fresh taste of a Margarita pizza, so I started chopping and slicing away. My family's Margarita pizza ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp of olive oil
  • 1 or 2 medium sized tomatoes on the vine, sliced (I used the Creole Tomatoes that i bought that morning)
  • 2 balls of fresh "Ovaline" sized mozzarella, sliced
  • 1/4 cup fresh fresh basil, sliced.
  • Italian or Pizza seasoning with no salt
  • garlic salt
  1. preheat the oven to 500 degrees
  2. drizzle the olive oil over the top of the crust.
  3. slice the tomatoes and arrange in a single layer on the dough.
  4. slice the mozzarella and arrange on top of the tomatoes in a single layer
  5. sprinkle the basil on top of the mozzarella.
  6. dust the top of the pizza with the seasoning and the salt.
  7. drizzle some more olive oil around the crust edges.
  8. pop in the oven and bake for 12-15 mins.

take out and let cool. Then serve & enjoy!

My final product:

So did my first stab at made-from-scratch pizza dough work? A loud resounding YES! The crust was REALLY good and was a very nice & light, but still filling. My next goal? Figuring out a way to lower the amount of sugar and salt in the recipe and still keep it yummy. Any ideas?

Also, if you'd like the recipe for the dough, email me or pick up the cookbook The Bride and Groom First and Forever Cookbook . La buona fortuna e gode di!


A Fresh, Green Crescent City Morning

One thing I absolutely love about our new home is the Cresent City Farmer's Market - the pride and joy of New Orlean's fresh food. I'm used to only having access to fresh, local produce & dairy products on Saturdays during the summer. But the Crescent City Farmer's Market is every Saturday & Tuesday and year round!
Here's some of today's Fresh Produce bounty:

Some Creole Tomatoes, Kale (my newly discovered favorite green), Romaine and a freshly baked wheat loaf. I also picked up some potted herbs, lima beans and spinach fettucine. I usually grab some gulf Lousiana prawns and lump crab meat, but we already have a colony of little prawns sitting in our freezer, waiting to be eaten.

I also picked up a pretty fall bouquet - lillies and sunflowers!

But my absolute FAVORITE part of the Farmer's Market is the Smith Creamery truck. Located in Mount Hermon, LA, this dairy's milk and butter are wonderful -- but their chocolate milk is like drinking liquid dessert. It is sinfully delicious and my husband begs me to buy some every week. Their products are local, pasteurized (but non-homogenized, so it's super-creamy) and the milk is from grass-fed, happy, grazing cows (which equals more cortisol-fighting CSA, Omega 3 fatty acids, beta carotine, antioxitents, and CKA!). Its truly like milk from supercows.

So if you are ever in the New Orleans area on Saturdays or even during the week, be sure to stop by the Crescent City Farmer's Market. You will definitely be pleased and surprised with everything New Orleans has to offer!


reception visual candy

Ta da! Pictures from the reception. For fear of wedding overkill (it has been over a month!) I've posted some of the best photos that our wedding photog and some guests took. enjoy!

The Currituck Club in Corolla, where we had our Reception

cocktail hour!

if you have a reception at a golf club - you must have the driving range open!


a pretty day in september

Here's some of the gorgeous ceremony pictures that we received from our photographer:
If you're planning on getting married in Eastern North Carolina or Virginia, I highly recommend our wonderful photographer, Neil Thurston. You can also check out his website at http://www.neilgt.com/. He was wonderful, easy going, very professional, and as you can see, does absolutely stunning work!


Sir Mix-a-lot

My MIL and FIL are absolutely wonderful. They are so fun, incredibly easy to talk to and took me in as their Daughter in Law even before Bama Boy proposed. MIL is also a spectacular baker -- even owned a bakery at one point -- and taught her son how to bake as well. This is perfect, since I can barely make cut and bake cookies.

Not only did my In-Laws give us a spectacular rehearsal dinner for the wedding, but my MIL insisted that she purchase us the Kitchen-Aid Stand Mixer since she absolutely adores hers. Mil & FIL called it in to the store, we swang by to pick it up and lo-and-behold, we discover that they bought us the 90th anniversary Mixer. It is GORGEOUS!
So we put it to the test - whole wheat flour sugar cookies for dessert. I think my husband died and went to heaven when using this mixer -- he kept saying in his super-excited manner "this thing is amazing" and "the glass bowl is perfect, nothing sticks to it!" Here's my handsome husband being his normal self making cookie balls out of the dough:

Here's the final product of his labor:
Incredibly tasty and actually fairly healthy (in comparison with other sugar cookies). Now I'm on a mission to find Cooking recipes that require a mixer so I can join in on the stand-mixer fun. Feel free to share any mixer recipes, baking or cooking, that you may have!
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