Sunday, October 25, 2015

House Progress: How to Install Smart Tiles

After being in our house for a year and a half, I was itching to do something in our kitchen. One day we hope to rip everything out and start over, but in the meantime we wanted to freshen things up. My best friend had recently used Smart Tiles in her kitchen and it looked incredible. She and her husband she us home with a few of their extra sheets to try out.

I had been wanting white subway tile in our kitchen and I was happy to find white subway tile in the Smart Tile brand. After a little stalking on Wayfair over a few weeks, the price per sheet dropped one day to $2.99. Considering it usually sells for $4.99-6.99, depending on the day, I snatched it up. I ordered 45 sheets and our total for the project was only $135.

A word to the wise - measure twice and then still order more than you need. We barely made it by after a few mistakes and discarded tiles!

First, clean the surfaces really well (we used Biokleen) and start in a corner and work your way out.  

One of our biggest hurdles was keeping everything level, especially in this one area where the backsplash dipped below the countertop. Having a light to spotlight where our "grout lines" were overlapping was key to making it look seamless.

We did this project over two days, about four hours each day. As you can see, Paul took the role of cutting and laying down the tiles, while I'd be there with the next tile partially peeled and ready to go. Once he had laid a tile, I would go back and make sure everything was straight. This worked really well for us.

Some of our cuts weren't exactly even on the top and our countertop is not completely level on the bottom, so we knew we'd have to caulk everything to seal it in the end. (You can see this in the image below)

Here we are after caulking. We LOVE the look of the backsplash. Did it take a good bit of time and patience? Yes. Would be recommend this to friends and family? In a heart beat.

Now the question is - should be resurface the countertops while we are at it? I've been looking at different options and have one in mind that makes countertops look like concrete. I'll keep you updated on what we decide to do!

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Cooler Weather

We're coming into my favorite time of year - fall. I'm so glad that temperatures are cooling off a little bit. Now if only we could get some rain! We've had a really terrible drought this year.

I always know it's turning to fall when Symphony at Sunset happens at the Cedars. People bring their chairs and picnics and listens to the symphony.

This year was special because the Cedars is 175 years old this year! It's the oldest surviving residential structure in Jackson (and also where we had our wedding reception).

This is also the time that Target brings out all the stops with Halloween costumes. It's so tempting to try things on, isn't it? We first stumbled upon wolf costumes, a rarity. There's always fox items, not wolves.

Paul also gathered a crowd trying on this get up. I sent mom a picture asking, "Does this make my butt look big?"

Next up on the list, fall camping next weekend!

Monday, September 7, 2015

Labor Day Trip: Fairhope

Wow. Paul and I just got back from an amazing trip to Fairhope, Alabama. We fell in love with this town. On our way back from Gulf Shores this year, we decided to drive through the towns on the eastern shore of Mobile Bay and were amazed to find this town. It was much like our neighborhood - only an established city - not just a neighborhood. We immediately came home and booked a trip for Labor Day.

We started off the trip with lunch in Hattiesburg at Leatha's. If you've never been before, it's the gold standard to which I hold all other BBQ.

I got the lunch rib plate and it was by far the best thing on the menu. Paul's pulled pork was good, but the ribs had so much flavor and fell off the bone. We sat their in awe.

We made our way through the Mobile tunnel traffic and finally made it that evening to Fairhope. One of the things we were really excited about was being there during First Friday. Having First Thursday here in Fondren, we wondered how it would compare. At first, we thought there weren't many people out, but by the end we were really impressed with the charm of it. It's by no means as packed as ours, but we really appreciated the feel of it. 

This is one of their main streets that they close off for the event. They have tons of art galleries and a large art center that were full of people. We popped into an art gallery and frame shop that was a owned by a friend of Jill Conner Browne's. She told us we had to stop in and introduce ourselves and mention her name. When we did, his face lit up and he immediately pulled out a town newsletter that had photos of their wedding reception in his shop. It was a fun connection to make.

I loved this little Italian "village" of restaurants that we walked through. 

After sorting through restaurant reviews, we settled on R Bistro and Pastry. Paul thought his crawfish beignet was rather large...

The food was good and we had a great time rehashing our day. We were on a high after seeing how precious this town was.

The next morning we woke up and headed across the street to a local breakfast joint called Buck's Diner. One of their claims to fame is their donuts, a spin on donut holes and beignets. They were served with a lemon wedge and we were encouraged to squeeze just a little lemon on top to soak into the powdered sugar. So good!

Because it had been so packed the night before, we went back down to the Eastern Shore Art Center to check out the exhibits and see the rooms we missed. Their spaces are pretty incredible.

Our friend and Jackson brewery owner Chip told us we had to check out the tap room at Fairhope Brewing Company while we were there. To try the most beers to see what we liked, we split a flight.

The two on the end, a cider and a watermelon wheat, were my two favorites.

It was mid-afternoon and we both weren't that hungry, but I knew I wanted to try out this place called Old 27 Grill. The menu looked too good.

I sent this photo back to my mom and sister. Crab stuffed jalapeños? I have to try those next time.

Paul and I split a hot dog and a small order of chili cheese fries. It hit the spot.

This photo doesn't capture it well, but this place is very reminiscent of the atmosphere at The Shed in Ocean Springs. To the left of the "main house" is plenty of outdoor seating in structures made out of old windows and scraps. It was a very neat set up!

That afternoon we took the quick trip over to Foley to visit the outlet mall. Nothing special to write home about. The whole way there and back we couldn't stop talking about how special this place was to us.

We made our way back to Fairhope and decided to walk the municipal pier as the sun was setting.

The interesting thing about Fairhope is that no one, for the most part, lives on the water. The city is built up on a bluff and water is accessed by piers and public beaches. Since it's the bay, the water is brackish and the sand is much more akin to what you'd see on the Mississippi coast. So, when you're in the town, you're not exactly on the water.

We knew we wanted to try to eat near the water, if possible, and found rave reviews about Sunset Pointe, which sits on a marina. I'm not a big pasta person, but I decided to try a shrimp pasta dish (sautéed shrimp, fettucini, rosemary, lemon spicy tomato cream sauce). This was absolutely, by far, the best pasta dish I've ever had. The flavor was so interesting. Both of us couldn't get over it.

These desserts were also incredible. The key lime curd pudding had us speechless. This place was incredible.

Our last morning we woke up, had breakfast at the hotel and took a walk around town.

Public art

Beautiful homes

On the way out we followed the eastern shoreline and stopped at one of the many piers/small beaches. How beautiful is this?

Fairhope has a special place in our heart. We're already planning our next trip!

Sunday, August 16, 2015

My Day Off

Last weekend I was talking with mom and after just a little prodding (I had been whining that she and some other family members were doing fun things without me), she convinced me to take this Friday off work. It was the last Friday before college kids come back to campus and things are just a blur for a little while.

I needed at oil change and after being sick for a few weeks, I had not gotten to enjoy the full potential of my last half Fridays in the summer. So, a plan was hatched.

First up, drop off car. Mom chauffeurs me away to the pool.

I even had my own sign inspired by Ferris Bueler's Day Off.

There was a pretty incredible spread of marinated mushrooms, cocktail shrimp, tuna salad, hummus, olives and pimento cheese.

And, of course, a nice beverage.

It was a very great day. I wish I had more pictures but I was too busy enjoying. We had a sushi lunch and a great visit with Mamaw.

On the spur of the moment, Paul and I hustled to Caet for our favorite happy hour right before it ended. It's been so hot (over 30 days of over 95 degrees) and no rain for 6 weeks, but we finally had a little bit of humidity and heat relief so we couldn't pass up sitting outside. Margarita for me, adult Coke slushie for him.

Saturday morning always means breakfast with our little crew at Sneaky Beans. One of our friends has a new black pug puppy that I adore. The other dog in his family had gone with her husband out of town and he actually seemed super sad about it!

Saturday night was Bright Lights Belhaven Nights. We had so much fun, though this time most of it was spent under the Pizza Shack tent! We helped them gather money and sling out pizza slices to the crowd. We had a lot of fun and couldn't believe it when the pizza was almost gone and it was 9 o'clock. 

Hope you guys have a great weekend!

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Couch Saturday

How has everyone's week been? We've seen a little relief from the heat (read: 90 instead of 105) and it's been so nice to be outside for a little bit. 

Friday morning is was only in the mid-70s, so I took my laptop and worked from one of our outdoor spaces for a few hours. It was nice to be able to break up my work day and enjoy the weather (especially before all the students are back on campus!). It was my last half Friday for the summer, so I tried to soak it all in this week.

That afternoon I did a little bit of thrifting. I was really, really tempted to find a home for this chair. How crazy is this?

Saturday was deemed Couch Day Saturday. I had told my mom and sister this week that I wanted a Saturday to sit on the couch and hang out with them. I miss seeing them all the time! MG was cooking a Boston Butt for 8 hours, so she had no where to go. We all piled in at her house and helped a little to get their house together for a evening get together.

Being the nice sister she is, Paul and I were invited!

She had a great appetizer spread and bar set out. There is nothing better than spinach dip and King's Hawaiian bread.

I'm sorry I don't have a picture of her glorious barbecue, because it was amazing. We were all so full at the end, but we made room for hot fudge pudding I made. There's still a little in my refrigerator that I'm tempted to eat for breakfast...

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Always Catching Up

Woof. I always look at my blog and wished I blogged so much more! My excuse? "I'm too busy." I need to get better!

What have we been up to lately? A whole lot and yet nothing really to report all at the same time.

Here's a few fun pictures from the past week:

For one, farmer's market zinnias. These flowers always make me think of the Riverwood home, Mamaw.

Summer parties. 

Iced coffee... because it's too hot for anything else.

And a picture of KT, because. If I were here, I'd be so hot in this heat. Thankful our a/c can semi-keep up!

Sunday, July 12, 2015

House Progress: Grout Renew

Ever since we bought our house, our kitchen floors have not been my favorite. I've tried every trick possible to clean the grout - baking soda and vinegar, acid, swiffer mops - everything! Nothing seems to look like they were cleaning or lightening the grout like I wanted.


I remembered a post from Young House Love about a product called Grout Renew that is essentially painted on the grout line. I was willing to give it a try.

While it said to use a toothbrush, I found that a small paint brush worked best. It took two days and many hours - there were plenty of times I wanted to quit.


But, ahhh, it was so worth it in the end. Our kitchen (and tile) looks completely new.

Before and after:

I hope I don't have to do this for a long time, but it was worth it for a quick kitchen makeover!


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