Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Huzzah!! We have a building permit!

Wow, it has been a looooong time since I've actually had an update on the house. We've been waiting on the building permit for ages! We thought we'd have it in December at least, but after the first review, the county apparently had some major questions. Our builder resubmitted before the holidays, but then of course, nothing gets done over the holidays, then the county was backed up from the holidays allll through January. Lately, we've been pestering our builder, and our builder's been pestering the county, and today, finally, we got this in an email from our builder:

We celebrated with some champagne! I posted this on Vine - are you using Vine? If so, find me at Jess - Homevolution and I'll follow you back!


Ecstatic to be writing such a 'small'
check to the county for sewer fees

Turns out we celebrated just a little too early. When our builder went to get the permit, we found out we were already supposed to have paid our sewer fees and submitted the easement paperwork. And of course, they hadn't recorded the fact that we didn't need to pay an extra $15k fee - a surprise we discovered way, way back here. They wouldn't let the builder rep pick up the permit until we got all of that settled, but luckily it only took another couple of days, and we reconfirmed that the $15k fee wasn't needed (phew!).

So a few days after we thought we were getting it, we finally got this thing:

Even though we popped that champagne a little early, it turns out it wasn't a big deal and didn't hold us up too much at all. So once again - huzzah, we have a building permit!

Monday, January 28, 2013

DIY Valentine's Door Hanger

If you follow me on Instagram (@jdeares), you may have gotten a sneak peak of this project over the weekend. I submitted a pic of it for A Night Owl blog's #ANOweekend project since this weekend's theme was handmade. Check out A Night Owl's Instagram section if you're not familiar with the project - there's a new theme each weekend, and it's always a lot of fun!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Adventures in Bread Baking

I've never made bread before last night. Wait, scratch that - I tried to make bread once when I was in high school and failed. I tried to make some sort of special French Christmas bread that I thought would be perfect for my French class Christmas party - all I remember is that it took forever to make, required letting the dough sit overnight, and then it turned out as hard as a rock.

Ever since then, I've always thought of bread as a difficult and time consuming thing to make, and I haven't bothered trying to bake it again - until last night. I found a recipe from Alexandra's Kitchen that was labeled the best and easiest bread you will ever make - and I promise you, Alexandra wasn't kidding!

I made the bread in the evening, and it only took a few hours from start to finish - plus there's no kneading involved. Mine didn't exactly turn out perfect - I didn't have the proper kind of bowls to use, so for that reason (or possibly something else I screwed up) my bread didn't rise very high.

This is what mine looked like...

peasant loaf
And this is what it should have looked like (from the original post)
However, despite the puny appearance of my bread, it was DELICIOUS! I really think it is one of my favorite breads ever.

Apologies for the yellowish, blurry pictures in this post. I had no intention of posting about this initially, but since I am still mentally obsessing over this bread a day later, I figured I'd write up a quick post to recommend it, ugly phone pics and all!

A tasty slice!
Do you make homemade bread or are you as scared of it as I was? Either way, I seriously recommend giving this recipe a try!!

Friday, January 18, 2013

A little tropical escape from the winter

Bryan's company goes to the Caribbean every January. Each time, he goes off for a few days, then comes home all bronzed...or sometimes lobster-like. Either way, I am always extremely jealous that he gets to go off to a tropical paradise while I'm home alone in the cold. Not this year though!! This time, I finally got to tag along! The trip this year was to Secrets St. James in Montego Bay, Jamaica.

We had a great view from our balcony - especially at sunset.

We went on a catamaran excursion that included snorkeling and playing at Margaritaville.

We spent time at the beach...

...and the pools.

Did some activities like kayaking, volleyball, and bocce ball...

But mostly, we did a lot of drinking. All inclusive resort + huge group + very young company... really it's more like a college spring break trip than a company event. Lots of fun, even though it definitely makes me feel old at the ripe ol' age of 29.

Hooray, beer!
 Overall, not too shabby for a free trip!! :) Fingers crossed I get to go again next year...

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Dream Home: Kiawah Island Style

Have you looked at the HGTV Dream Home yet? And have you been entering to win the sweepstakes? I know there's about a one in a bazillion chance of winning, but I've still been entering us just about every day. Someone's gotta win it, right?? Maybe this is our year ;)

Although everything in the house isn't necessarily my style, there's no denying this is an absolutely amazing house. As I was going through all the photos on HGTV's website, I decided to include one photo from each space in this post to provide a quick way to glance through the whole house and share my thoughts. Get ready - there are a ton of photos (but this is only a tiny fraction of the ones on HGTV if this leaves you wanting more!).

Front porch - I love everything about it - the decking, the door, the simple greenery, the Greek key fabric on the chairs, even the siding (which is actually PVC made to look like cedar)

Entry - Built in seating always makes me feel all warm & fuzzy inside. How adorable is this seat in the entry area?
Great Room - If you've seen the floor plans for our house, you might have guessed that I have a major crush on high ceilings. I love that modern fireplace too, and all the windows looking out to the marshes.
Deck - In a place like Kiawah Island, you need a great deck. And this is a great deck.
Plunge Pool - Ok I failed at posting one pic per space since this is technically part of the deck, but I couldn't skip over this. This pool may be small, but I love the sleek look of it. Just imagine it all lit up at night!
Kitchen - The kitchen's not really my style, but I bet it would be a dream to cook in while staring out those windows.
Dining Room - All of the green that they've used widely through the house isn't really calling my name, but I'm still love the style of this room. And those light fixtures!
Pantry - In general, I'm not a big fan of fabric panels since I think they can look a little cheesy, but I like the fabric choice a lot, plus this is inside the pantry. You know, the space that looks like a closet in most houses (if you're lucky enough to have one)?? This one's pretty fancy. And it has a wine fridge. And doggie art. 
Laundry Room - The laundry room is fairly basic but has lots of space. 

Master Bedroom - This bedroom seems so cozy. I love the canopy bed and the rug.
Master Bathroom - I think the master bath is amazing. You can't even see the huge glass shower or the frosted glass toilet room in this pic. I would happily soak in that tub any day!

Powder Room - Is it bad that when I look at the powder room pics, it makes me think someone forgot to pull off the Frog Tape? Like I said, this green's not my hue of choice, but otherwise I think it's a nice space.

Bunk Niche - I'm not sure I'm totally sold on the idea of a bunk niche (seems like it's not closed off and the curtain just goes around the beds?), but I this this bright & beachy look is perfect for a kid's sleeping area in this house.  

Loft - One word: beams! Aren't they gorgeous?
Guest Suite Bedroom - I like the light and airy feel of the guest bedroom, and love the detail of the bed posters.

Guest Suite Bathroom - The guest bath is simple with clean lines and continues the light & airy feel of the guest bedroom. I like this space a lot.

Twin Suite Bedroom - I think this is a fun, beachy space for younger guests.
Twin Suite Bathroom - The beachy bathroom complements the twin bedroom well. I love the Carrera marble tile.
Garage - The garage is spacious & functional. And it has kayaks in it! (Yes, the kayaks excite me more than the GMC - I love the water and I'm much more a car girl than an SUV girl... but don't get me wrong, I wouldn't be opposed to winning an SUV too)

Playroom - What a great space to gather! I was expecting a young children's room since they call it the playroom, but this is plenty of fun for grown-ups too. I love the indoor-outdoor feel and the swinging mattress. Next to the ping pool table is a 60-in TV. 
Front Yard - I think this is such a beautiful beach house!
Side Yard - By the side yard is yet another place to gather, and this one has a nice view of the marsh. How awesome are those lanterns?

Around the Area  - I've never been to Kiawah Island, but from what I've heard it's a relaxing and family-friendly vacation area. Sounds nice to me - I love the beach!

What's your favorite part of the house?? I'm having a hard time deciding but think I have to go with the deck - such a great spot to relax in the evening or entertain friends (or go for a dip!). My least favorite room is the kitchen... but I'm sure I could get used to it ;)

Friday, January 4, 2013

Ahhh... gotta lose weight quick!

I'm in mega weight loss mode right now - gotta shed those extra holiday pounds asap! I'm going to Jamaica with Bryan's company in a week. I'm so excited that after Bryan's 6 years at the company, they're finally allowing some spouses on the annual Caribbean trip, but I wish it could've been at least a little further away from the holidays!
My weight has generally been in the same 10 lb(ish) range since I reached my adult height in middle school. I've only been out of my comfortable range a few brief times since then, and to do that, I need to be doing something seriously wrong (as in either practically not eating, or eating bucketloads of crap for an extended period of time). Well guess what - I've been eating bucketloads of crap for an extended period (like way too many of these and too much of this, for example). I am really not happy about my weight right now, and really not ready for a bathing suit next week!

We all know that crash diets and quick weight loss tricks are not good for you. We should take it slow and do it the healthy way. Knowing that, do you still try to lose weight quickly sometimes?? In the past I've done the Lemonade Diet/Master Cleanse, the 3-day Military Diet (this one is actually a reasonable amount of food), and the the eat as little as I possibly can diet. After having some weird vision issues due to low blood sugar when not eating enough, I've decided that eating next to nothing is no longer an option.

My go-to method now is to simply track what I eat. I love the MyNetDiary app - it's free and it makes tracking your food intake super simple. While I admit that I'm currently eating fewer calories than I should (tsk tsk), I'm definitely not starving myself and I know how much I'm eating. When we get back from the trip, I plan to bump up my calorie goal a bit but continue using it as a healthy weight loss method to lose the rest of those extra pounds.

Do you have any methods for quick weight loss? Or do you just stick to eating healthy and working out? What are your favorite health/fitness apps?

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Happy 2013!

Happy 2013 everyone! Did you make any resolutions? I have a number of things floating around in my head that I want to do, but haven't put together a formal list. I am pretty fond of this one I got in my email though!

New Year's resolutions
(Image via Paperless Post)

And just because I think these are amusing, here are the top search keywords leading to my site in 2012...
  1. diy dog paw print coaster (I made an ornament, not a coaster. Sorry to disappoint the Googlers looking for this one!)
  2. bina brianca
  3. chalkboard printables
  4. huge mansion layouts (umm I don't think our house layout exactly qualifies as a 'huge mansion')
  5. b w magazine photo of mirrors
  6. bina wrap diy
  7. cap'n crunch costume (I did mention this costume in one post, but I find it funny this keyword made the cut!)
  8. i love my husband (well I do love my husband, but I'm not sure how this search string leads to my blog!)
  9. scratch map
  10. dog paw print ornament

Hope you have a happy new year's day!