Friday, December 31, 2010

The Big Reveal

I thought I better get this "little post" up before our "little man" arrives.  We've got just a little under two weeks until my due date!  We are excited and can't wait to meet him.

Here is his room:

Brian built an amazing pair of bookshelves that I absolutely love.  They are matching and have a large toy bin on the bottom... for tons of toys!  He also built the changing table top that sits on the dresser. The dresser was Brian's while he was a young kid all the way through college. We added some new hardware and the changing table top and voila, we have a great changing station!

And if you haven't figured it out already our baby's first name is Jack (hint- look at the numbers and letters on the wall!). I guess I would say we are ready, at least we have everything that those books tell us we need. Brian also just finished designing the baby announcements and the baby blog (yes, apparently our baby already has a blog).

I don't think, however, that we'll really know what we have gotten ourselves into until we bring Jack home!

You can find more pics at our gallery:

2010.12.17 - Baby Room

Friday, December 3, 2010

Anderson Household Updates

Wow, so the last time I posted was almost two months ago!  As usual, time is going by way too fast!  We've had so much going on that I think I'll just make a nice list of all the projects/activities we've completed.

One of the major and more time consuming projects we finished was remodeling the guest/baby bathroom.  This included tiling the floor, putting in new floor trim and crown molding, painting, replacing cheap hardware and replacing the 80s style light fixtures.  I love the tile and can't wait until we have time to re-do the master bath.

A very mini project that Brian helped me with was giving a gold lamp and mirror a makeover.  If you have any sort of lamps/vases/frames that you think are hideous, give them a few coats of satin nickel finish spray paint.  You'll get brand new furnishings for $6!

Another mini project Brian completed was tapping into an existing water line above the fish tank for easy tank fills and watering of the plants we bring inside during the winter.

During the last two months we also celebrated our three year anniversary by going out to eat at Justus Drugstore.  I can't say enough good things about this restaurant!  You must eat there.  Everything was amazing!

We also took our last camping trip of the year to Smithville.  We had a great, relaxing time.  Being so close to the end of the year, there were hardly any campers out, so it felt like we had the place to ourselves.  Monkey got a lot of swimming in and we got to take the canoe out for one last trip (who knows the next time we will be able to get in it together!).

Our friends hosted us an awesome Halloween themed baby shower.  They really went all out and did an amazing job.  Everyone came dressed up in costumes and we even had a pinata!  Thanks again for an awesome party everyone.

I've been busy stocking up our freezer for the day that baby arrives.  We currently have chili, enchiladas, stuffed chicken shells, lasagna, smoked and shredded chicken and pork, and 38 breakfast burritos.  I plan on making at least one more casserole dish and a few pans of the best cinnamon rolls ever (no seriously, make these cinnamon rolls now), but I will also be stocking up our pantry with staples like canned goods, dried pastas, and rice so we can eat for weeks without having to make trips to the grocery store.

I also attended a baby shower thrown by my aunts in Nebraska.  I had a wonderful time and got a lot of really nice presents (a lot of stuff from our registry).  I think we're getting close to having everything we need when the baby shows up.

We were able to take a break from all the projects when our friend Hogs and his girlfriend Nikki visited for the weekend.  We had a great time talking, hanging out, eating and watching movies.  You can't beat that!

Most recently we celebrated Thanksgiving with Brian's mom, sister and neice in Emporia.  I made my very first pecan and pumpkin pies from scratch, including the crust!  We also ate our very first Turducken, along with a stuffed pork roast and all the traditional Turkey Day sides.

The nursery is getting close to being finished as well.  Brian has done an amazing job building a few pieces of furniture for the room so I think I am going to leave that for a separate post.  Hopefully it won't be another two months!

Friday, October 8, 2010

We've been busy!

I haven't had time to do individual posts for each project or event, so I am doing one big post (mostly filled with pictures).

We installed crown molding in the office, guest room, and upstairs hallway (we already did the baby room).  Crown molding really finishes a room off and makes our house feel more "custom", and less like a cookie-cutter.  Brian does an amazing job at molding and we only had one communication breakdown during all of the installation!  It'll be nice to do the the downstairs, but it's going to take a significant amount of time as well as more money (we plan doing a larger molding, and possibly joining two pieces together), but it will get done!

We attended the Royals/Chiefs Monday Night Football game double-header with a group of friends.  We had a great time despite the rain during the Chiefs game (mostly thanks to me for breaking into a storage room and stealing two very large trash bags to use as ponchos).  Go Chiefs!!

I renovated the yard with aeration and overseeding.  This is a necessary evil that needs to be done every fall, and I may start aerating in the spring as well.  I hate clay soil and will never do bluegrass again.  Some of the seed has taken, but some areas have not because despite the cool weather, it has still been too dry.  I've had to break out the sprinklers again!  When is it going to be winter?!

We camped with our neighbors at Smithville Lake and had a great time despite the tornadic-like wind/rain/hail storm we had to suffer through.  It was so windy that one of the marinas on the lake was completely destroyed (as well as part of Gladstone near our house).  We hope to squeeze in one more weekend before October is over if the weather cooperates.

And last but not least, we attended the NASCAR races at Kansas Speedway  and the Deftones/Alice in Chains concert at Sandstone.  This may be our last year at Kansas Speedway for a while.  Who knows what next year will bring with a new addition to our family.  Hey, even if we don't buy tickets, we can always tailgate.  That's almost more fun than the race anyways!! Did I mention that obnoxious shirts are a prerequisite for NASCAR events?!

Despite all of these projects and activities we won't be giving ourselves a break.  We've got baby classes, my mom's birthday celebration (we get to eat at Jasper's again!), Louis C.K. at the Midland, possibly camping one more time, and a Halloween/Baby shower being thrown by our good friends at the end of October to look forward to!  Oh, and refinishing the guest bathroom, finishing the baby room (really just removing the tools and replacing them with furniture!), and building some new furniture for the little guy are also on our list of to-do's.  I wish there were more hours in the day!  Stay tuned.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Labor Day Weekend Activities

It must seem like we haven't been very busy this summer with the lack of blog posting, but quite the opposite has been true.  We've been so busy we haven't had time to blog!

This weekend we did some notable things, so I thought they deserved a blog post.

Friday while Brian was working, I painted the baby room.  I do not have a before picture, but you can imagine the same room with a tan/peach/ugly color on the walls.  There is a stripe running down the middle of each wall because that is where we are going to put chair rail, and we will also be putting in crown molding (you will see this later on in this post).

On Saturday Brian spent the morning painting all the molding we bought Friday night (enough to do the baby room and office) while I cleaned the house.

Saturday was a big day for someone else in my family.  It was my dad's 60th birthday celebration!

To celebrate he decided he wanted to go to Room 39 for dinner and then have dessert/open presents back at his house.  Room 39 was excellent, as I had heard from multiple people.  We shared an excellent appetizer of calamari, and we all got a salad before the main course.  My salad happened to have a chunk of fried goat cheese which was amazing.

For the main course I had the stuffed quail, Brian had the pork tenderloin, my mom had the salmon, my grandma had the rib eye, and my dad chose the flan.  All were excellent.  I think the only thing that wasn't tried on the menu was the seared tuna.  Their menu changes daily to use the fresh ingredients that are in season, so I don't know if I'll ever get to taste the tuna!

After dinner we went back to my parents' house to open presents.  Brian and I had a custom card and present made for my dad.  The card was made by my friend and coworker Jessica, and everyone raved about how awesome it was.  The present we got my dad was a custom metal ukulele with the words Ed's Music Room carved into it.  Brian designed the whole thing and the shop, Colorado Custom Metal, cut it and finished it to our specifications.  It turned out awesome!

We then ate homemade pie and cake (made be my grandma and mom respectively).  I ate too much because they were both too good to have just one piece!

We left my parents around 9:30 P.M. and somehow ended up driving right near Brian's work on our way home.  I had heard on NPR that one of the best views of the Plaza/Nelson area was from the top of the new UMKC student union, so we decided to stop by and see for ourselves.  The union happened to be closed at 10:30P.M., but because Brian is a powerful man at UMKC he is allowed access at all hours of the night!  Brian gave me a tour of the whole building (it is very, very modern and very, very cool) ending with the upper outdoor terrace.  It is a great view of The Nelson art museum, which is especially great when it is all lit up at night.

We finished off the evening with a movie- Date Night.  It was okay.  If Steve Carrell and Tina Fey hadn't been in it it would have been downright bad.

Sunday we got back to work and I spent part of the day outside weeding our landscaping and moving some ground cover around while Brian started in on putting up the chair rail in the baby room.

After the chair rail was done we quit working so we could go buy salads from Hy-Vee  and enjoy spending time on our patio with a fire in the Chiminea and watching Tony Stewart win the  NASCAR race.

Monday was the last day of our long weekend and we spent it putting up crown molding in the baby room and office.  I think crown really finishes a room off and I can't wait to put it in the rest of the house.

So that was what we did over our long holiday weekend.  We accomplished a lot which always feels good, and this upcoming weekend will only be a continuation of the past (more yard work, furniture building, more crown, etc., etc., etc.).  The weekend after that will be a bit more relaxing as we are going on a camping trip with our neighbors, but stay tuned for more projects and pictures!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Prairie Home Fair and The Farm

We recently had the pleasure of camping out near Boonville, Missouri at our friend Shanon's dad's family farm (180 acres in Prairie Home, MO).  He doesn't actually live on the farm, but their family goes out every year during the Prairie Home Fair and hunting season, and this year we were invited along.

Brian left for the farm before I did on a Friday evening (I was stuck at work).  It takes about 1.5 hours to get to the exit off of I-70, and then another 30 minutes to get to the farm.  The farm is pretty much in the middle of nowhere, and very secluded.

After setting up the camper and getting a tour of the house, barn, sheds and pond, Brian, Shanon and Jessica ventured to the fair to see the four-wheel competition until it was time to come pick me up at the I-70 exit.  The first time you go out to the farm it's a good idea to meet someone at the gas station near I-70 and follow them out because there's not an actual address for the farm you can put into a gps or Google map.

I met them at 11 P.M. and followed them out to the farm.  The turn onto the driveway is pretty hidden from all the trees and brush, so if you didn't know where you were going it could be easily missed!  I didn't get much of a tour since it was dark outside, but I did get a tour of the house.  It's basically a shell for sleeping.  We think the house is probably 100 years old, and hasn't had much maintenance in about the same time!  There is running water and electricity, but really not much else.  They have the place set up with a bunch of beds so people can crash in the house during hunting season, but I think people spend most of their time outdoors.  I've never really experienced anything like this house.  Too bad we didn't get any pictures.  :(

On Saturday morning we had breakfast at the Isle of Capri Casino in Boonville.  It was suprisingly good as Brian and I both had two rounds!  We then went on a tour of Boonville and into a Pawn Shop on the main drag.

By the time we got back to the farm, Shanon's family had arrived, so we chatted with them for a while and then took a two hour nap.  When we woke up we found Shanon and Jessica cleaning a bunch of fish they had caught at the pond and were excited to go fishing ourselves the next morning.

We went to eat dinner Saturday night at La Hacienda (you guessed it, Mexican!).  The food was good, but our waitress was the worst I'd ever seen.  We almost said something to her, it was that bad, but we just decided not to leave a tip instead.

Once stuffed on chips, salsa and fajitas we went to the fair.  Saturday night is the big horse show and we were able to see some of the beginning of it.  I guess the portion we saw was a costume contest, but unfortunately there was some sort of scheduling mix-up and neither the contestants, the announcer, nor the judges knew what was going on.

We grew tired of waiting for more horses so we decided to watch Shanon's niece ride the amusement rides and even decided to ride the ferris wheel ourselves.  It had been a very long time since I've ridden a carnival ride, let alone the ferris wheel.

After the fair we went back to the farm and started a bonfire- always our favorite part of camping!  Everyone was pretty worn out and we knew we wanted to get up early to go fishing in the morning so we turned in around midnight.

On Sunday we got up at 7am, got our fishing gear and headed to the pond.  Brian did all the fishing while I steered the canoe.  We enjoyed ourselves, except we didn't catch a single fish!!  Supposedly there are a ton of bass and crappy in the pond, but we sure didn't see any!

Shanon, Jessica and her dad caught a few fish, but apparently we bring the worst luck ever.  Usually people can fish for an hour and catch ten easily, but luck was not on our side.  Oh well, next time!  It just got us excited (ok, Brian got excited) to do some more fishing.

I think Shanon felt really bad for us because she gave us the fish they had caught on Saturday to take home and eat.  We really appreciated it because it made a great dinner on Sunday- thanks again guys!

The sky started to get cloudy so we decided to head home before the rain hit.  We didn't quite make it because we drove through an awesome electrical storm and then a torrential downpour that caused a lot of people to pull off the highway- it was just us and the semis trying to navigate through the rain.  We finally made it home, unpacked, vaccuumed, and took a nap.

We had a great time and hopefully we'll get invited back.  And we'll remember to take pictures of the inside of the house next time!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Mahi Mahi Skewers with Ham, Pineapple and Ginger-Soy Glaze, Macadamia Nut Couscous

It's been a long time since I've published a cooking post!  I really have been cooking a lot of new meals, but I just haven't been taking the time to photograph the evidence. I made this meal over the 4th of July, and it was the perfect meal to celebrate the holiday, and a great way to end a long day of getting things done.

1 1/2 pounds 3/4- to 1-inch thick mahi mahi fillet, cut into 20 cubes
1 t Old Bay seasoning
1/2 t five-spice powder
4 thin slices (about 6 ounces) black forest ham, cut into strips as wide as the fish cubes
1/2 fresh pineapple- peeled, quartered lengthwise and cut into 16 chunks
1 small red onion, cut into bite-size pieces
Vegetable oil, for brushing
1/4 cup tamari sauce
1/4 cup honey
Grated peel of 1 lime and juice of two limes
One 1-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and grated
1 T toasted sesame oil
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 T  butter
1 1/2 cups couscous
1/2 cup chopped macadamia nuts
2 scallions, sliced on an angle

1.  Preheat a grill to medium.  Season the fish cubes with the Old Bay seasoning and five-spice powder.  Wrap the ham strips around the fish.  Thread the fish alternately with the pineapple and onion onto skewers.  Brush the skewers with oil, place on the grill, cover and cook, turning ocassionaly, until the fish is cooked through, about 10 minutes.
2.  In a small saucepan, bring the tamari sauce, honey, lime peel, lime juice, ginger and sesame oil to a boil.  Cook until thickened, about 5 minutes.
3.  In a medium saucepan, bring the chicken broth and butter to a boil.  Stir in the couscous, cover, remove from the heat and let stand for 5 minutes.  Fluff with a fork and stir in the nuts and scallions.
4.  Serve the skewers on the couscous and drizzle with the ginger-soy glaze.

*Note- I doubled the ingredients for the ginger-soy glaze.  We like sauce!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Ed's Amplifier Restoration

My father-in-law Ed recently got a good deal on a used amplifier. The amplifier in question, the Shenandoah Stereo 60, retails for a hefty sum. Ed purchased his amplifier for under one third the price of a new one. The main reason Ed got such a good deal is that the exterior of his used cabinet had taken a beating. Not only was the vinyl torn and peeling, but the amplifier had been exposed to damp conditions and the metal components were showing signs of rust. Long story short, I offered to help restore the amplifier and he accepted!

Here is the amplifier before I started:

The first thing I had to do was remove the vinyl and strip the glue underneath. It was important to remove all of the old glue so that the new glue would have something to adhere to. Removing the vinyl proved to be easy, but the glue was another story. Here is a shot of the evil nasty glue:

At first I tried to sand the glue off, but the sandpaper had no effect- the glue was too gummy and tacky. After trying a number of things I ended up relying on Goo Gone. Goo Gone worked, but you can't let MDF get too wet, so timing was important and things were slow going. Eventually I got most of the glue removed and I was able to sand the remaining residue off.

Next I had to make a slight modification to the cabinet. Ed had chosen tweed over vinyl for the new covering. Tweed was used on many classic amps and it looks damn good. The only problem was that the current design of the cabinet had some curves that vinyl could stretch over but tweed could not. I ended up cutting out the offending section and replacing it. Here you can see the piece I cut out and the new section in place.

After routing the new edge I was ready to cover the box in tweed.

I could probably write a whole post on the tweed recovering. In short, you need 3M Super 77 spray adhesive, a bunch of really sharp razor blades, rollers for pressing the tweed in place, the ability to cut long clean lines, and a lot of patience and attention to detail. Since I was dealing with a spray adhesive, and you really don't want to move too fast, I also spent a fair amount of time masking areas to be sprayed (only to rip the tape off moments later to press tweed into place). Below are a few pics, but I invite you to check out the entire gallery on recovering to get a better idea on the process.

All that was left was to reattach the hardware and install the amplifier. I replaced the rusty washers and screws with stainless steel substitutes and scrubbed the remaining hardware with a scouring pad to remove any surface rust. How does it look now?

I think it looks amazing, and better than stock! Ed hasn't seen it yet in person, I hope he likes it. :)

The following galleries document the whole process: