B.L.F.G.T.

You really can’t beat a good sandwich. And if you add pork products to that sandwich, all the better! That’s why a good B.L.T. is so satisfying. We’re also huge fans of one of Jarrett’s favorite southern foods from growing up in Tennessee: fried green tomatoes.

Yes, fried green tomatoes are more than just the stuff of books and movies. They’re really delicious when well-prepared and have a great salty and sweet flavor. For a recent dinner, we decided to put a spin on the B.L.T. and make B.L.F.G.T.s: Bacon Lettuce and Fried Green Tomato sandwiches. Here’s how it went down.

First, we picked some unripe but large green tomatoes from our garden, sliced them, laid them out on a plate, and salted them each pretty generously.

Green tomatoes are still pretty firm and need the salt to bring out the moisture in the tomato.

Next, we fried plenty of thick-cut bacon in an iron skillet. It’s important to reserve the grease from the bacon (as always!).

We mixed corn meal with a bit of salt and pepper and dredged each green tomato slice through the mixture and coated each well.

Then, we dropped each coated sliced tomato into the already hot bacon grease and fried them on each side for a couple of minutes.

Finally, we layered the bacon, some fresh lettuce (or spinach), fried green tomatoes, and a smear of mayo on toasted bread. A really great spin on a traditional treat.

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Bathroom Updates

Our current project is our basement bathroom. Little by little, we’re amassing all the things and completing all the projects it’ll take to finish the room off. One of the most important things we had to do was replace the nonfunctional sink:

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A few days ago, we told you about this great wall-mount sink we picked up from Jarrett’s parents:

Well, we finally got around to installing it. First task in the bathroom remodel done!

The sink definitely needed a bit of a cleanup before installing it. From the overflow valve, large chunks of rust were flaking off, so we first took it out in the yard and sprayed it with a good stream of water from the garden hose.

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That did a good job of setting loose all the chipped and flaking pieces.

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Next, we removed the drain, which was corroded and losing its chrome finish. To protect the drain for the future and to keep it looking shiny and new, we simply used a metallic Rust-Oleum and a sponge brush to slap on a new chrome finish.

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This sink came with a mounting bar. It was a bit rusty, but we just painted it with some Rust-Oleum, and it was as good as new. Using a level, I lined it up on the wall, attached it with several screws to be sure to hit a stud (this sink weighs about a hundred pounds), and finally slid the sink right in.

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Bingo! (Notice the fly on the lip of the sink. It was especially hot and buggy when I installed the sink, and that little guy was right by me the whole time). Now, we just need to clean it up a bit and caulk around the rim after painting the wall. Just a few projects more, and the bathroom will be done!

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My Go-To DIY Sources

When we tell people we’ve done the majority of the work on our house ourselves, they always ask, “How did you learn to do that stuff?”. First, I’m no expert on home repair by any means, but I grew up in a home that was under constant renovation all at the hands of my dad who is not a professional handyman. His theory was always, “if someone can do it, I can do it!,” and he worked at any needed projects until he figured it out. I picked up a lot of how-to from helping my dad on projects at the house I grew up in (running new electrical, roofing, and even finishing trim), but more importantly, I got from him that same attitude: “if it needs to be done, I’ll figure it out!”

And that’s pretty much what I do: figure it out! Figure it out, that is, with a lot of help from these favorite go-to sources:

1. Home Improvement 1-2-3

This little book from The Home Depot is my number one source for all things home improvement. It’s not an in-depth manual, by any means, and is no substitute for expert advice on many projects, but its broad subject range and step-by-step instructions make it the first place I turn when starting most new household projects. And, you can pick up an older version of this book on places like Amazon or Half.com for under a buck!

2. This Old House

 This Old House is really a tie for first when it comes to sources for DIY projects. Both the print magazine version (which we’ve subscribed to for a couple of years) and the website are always handy for detailed and clear instructions on most any home renovation or improvement project. I’ve used this for help on building our patio, painting the floor, and installing beadboard in our kitchen, among other things. I highly recommend bookmarking this site.

3. Ron Hazelton’s HouseCalls

 Another really great home improvement website that I find myself resourcing all the time. With everything from Doors & Windows (which we’ve done a lot of in this house) to Kitchens to Outdoor projects, this site will have your projects covered. And, HouseCalls has a ton of videos showing Ron actually doing the work, which for me is extremely helpful.

4. You Tube   

Not a DIY site exclusively, of course, and maybe a strange pick, but you’d be surprised by the wealth of home improvement knowledge that can be gleaned from You Tube. Here’s a small sampling of some of the projects you can tackle with a little video assistance from the many users of You Tube: install a carpet runner on stairs, add a skylight, replace a bathroom sink and faucet, even refinish your hardwood floors. Seriously, just go to You Tube, search for whatever project you’re tackling, and be amazed at the step-by-step video instructions you’ll find.

5. Blogs

Lame, I know, but if I were to list every blog I’ve used in home improvement projects, I’d need an entirely new blog just for that and a whole lot of time to recall them all. There’s a slew of home improvement blogs out there, many of which after they tackle a project are more than happy to share with readers exactly how they did it. Some our favorites are Young House Love, which has a whole “How To” tab with a lot of info on projects they’ve done around their house; Little Green Notebook if not for the mini blind/roman shade project alone; and Houseblogs.net, which is a community of home improvement blogs with great DIY advice and inspiration.

So, that’s about it. Any glaring holes I left? What are other favorite DIY and home improvement resources?

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Tiny Lemon

A tiny unripe lemon from our dwarf lemon tree.

Yeah, really tiny.

We had to pull it off early (that’s why it’s still green), because we were afraid it was keeping the tree from really growing.

In other gardening news, we’re getting plenty of tomatoes these days now. And zucchini, cucumbers, and beans!

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We’re Back!

After a nice break visiting family in Tennessee, we’re back! We enjoyed our time away and time spent with Jarrett’s parents and family, and we even managed to bring back a few great finds. One of those is a huge relief for us after our somewhat regrettable IKEA bathroom sink purchase.

Jarrett’s parents actually live in a beautiful old bungalow as well. Theirs was built in the 20’s, and it’s in Tennessee, so it’s a bit different than ours, but much of the beauty we love in bungalows is the same. They have beautiful old wood trim, handmade solid wood doors, and gleaming hardwoods throughout. They’ve also managed to accrue quite a collection of beautiful home features that are either in disrepair or had to be removed from their home when updates were made. Their loss is our gain! We scored this beautiful old cast iron wall-mount bathroom sink for our basement bathroom update:

It’s a little dirty, but is otherwise in great shape. The porcelain coat is still intact, and the faucets work wonderfully. There’s a bit of rust on the old soap dish (incorporated into the sink!), but it’s nothing a little elbow grease can’t clean up. We’re excited to finally have a solution to our bathroom sink debacle.

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A Little R & R

We’re leaving today for a short road trip. We’ll be away from our computers, too, so we won’t be updating the site for a few days. We’ll come back soon refreshed and ready to tackle new projects, though. See you next week!

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Garage Updates (some made, some needed)

I finally got around to replacing the bare light bulb hanging on the corner of our garage with this jelly jar light fixture we blogged about some time ago. Here’s the sad exposed bulb before:

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And now with a little protection.

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Simple change, no doubt, but needed. At least for safety reasons. Plus, I like the simple, timeless style of the jelly jar. And for under $10 at Ace, it was a definite upgrade.

Ignore for a moment the bare, badly trimmed garage door. For about a year, we were left with this solid wood door. (Picture from March of this year – wow, how the backyard has changed!)

Nice, but severely rotten. It had almost totally rotted off its hinges, and the bottom of the door only needed a swift kick to fall apart completely. So, a couple months back, when my dad was in town, we replaced the rotten door with this steel one. We bought the new door pre-hung, so we tore out the old door and framing and planned to pop this one in place. As with most projects around here, it didn’t go quite that smoothly. The garage wasn’t (of course) square at all. In fact, it leaned ever so slightly to the right as well as to the front. So, with much grunting, shimming, and sweat, we finally got this steel door securely in place.

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Now, though, the brick mould (trim around the door) doesn’t close off the gap. So, I’ll have to trim it out again soon to mask the leaning quality of the garage. But, at least we have some security in there and a door that works. Also, we have to paint it. We’re thinking of a bright, fun color, since it’s in the backyard and not visible from the street. Also, a bright color would go well with our somewhat bohemian backyard.

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What about turquoise?


(from hookedonhouses.net)

Or this pea green (or “grellow” as Meghan calls it), stolen from here?

They both look great with gray houses, which our garage is. The latter might not look great with our trim colors on our house, but maybe we should just treat the garage as a different beast entirely?

Either way, that project might not be happening for a while – we have lots to do!

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