We are getting there with this guest bathroom project on Auburn. With the shiplap finished and painted and the tile hung in the shower over the weekend, it’s starting to fill up with the pretty and look like what we’ve been planning since we finished the other bathroom 2 years ago. The floors are waiting; the grout is next; and with the shower door and toilet waiting patiently to be installed, I’ll be ready for guests sooner rather than later.

Let’s let the pictures tell the story instead of me. Take a look!

I love carbs. They are wonderful things that do awful things. But delicious, YES!

While I lived in the Delta, I came across a love for pasta salad that I had never really explored before. Most of the pasta salad recipes I had before college were of the rotini variety and doused in Italian dressing. In Cleveland, Mississippi, each lunch spot had its own recipe for pasta salad that made it hard for me to pick a destination for lunches outside of the campus cafeteria. Whether the lighter version from Crave, the walnut-studded tortellinis from A La Carte, or the tastiest thing I’ve ever eaten from The Warehouse, I left satisfied and wishing for a to-go container for my mini fridge.

 

While still living in Cleveland, I decided to break down that pasta salad recipe from The Warehouse and create my own version to make at home for the roommates. Once we figured out how simple it was, I put my own twist on it and made it almost weekly. It made for a quick and easy lunch between class and my graduate assistantship on campus. Now, I whip out this recipe every now and then for a trip down memory lane for my tummy.

Tortellini Pasta Salad 

2 packages Buitoni tortellini pasta

1/2 bag baby spinach, chiffonaded

1/2 bottle Ken’s caesar dressing

Parmesan cheese

Salt and pepper to taste

Bring pasta to a boil, brain, and cool. Chiffonade the spinach, add to large bowl with the pasta. Toss together with dressing, cheese, salt, and pepper. Refrigerate overnight and toss again with more dressing before serving.

 

So, I’ve been taking a break from podcasting to listen to some audio book versions of actual books on my shelves. While I love an actual hard-back book with actual pages to flip, I haven’t quite figured the safest way to read and drive to Baton Rouge on Mondays. So, through my stereo will have to work for now.

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Mrs. Kennedy and Me by Clint Hill

This one has been on my Kennedy-designated book shelf for years. I keep overlooking it and finally decided to give it a download when I had a free credit on Audible. Written by Jackie Kennedy’s secret service agent while in the White House, Mrs. Kennedy and Me tells the deep and dark of the Kennedy tragedy and also the brighter moments the family shared while living in Washington. I learned a lot about my first born’s namesake and found myself extremely sad by the ending. Even though I knew it was coming, it just didn’t seem right; and it made me hate history. Give it a listen or read; it’s nice to see another side of Jackie O.

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Man Repeller by Leandra Medine Cohen

Now this one I happened across because I follow the Man Repeller account on Instagram and didn’t really know its back story. However, anytime that a blurb about a book involves fashion, blogging, and a 20-something, I’m probably going to like it. It’s kind of funny I started this one right after a Jackie Kennedy biography of sorts, but they kind of fit together perfectly. Maybe Leandra is a modern-day Jackie with style that catches on and no one knows why. Maybe it’s like another version of He’s Just Not That Into You, and all women can equate singledom with what’s in our closets. Whatever the connection, I loved this book. She tells it like it is and has experienced some of the exact same issues I’ve faced over the past ten to fifteen years while in high school, college, and the beginnings of the working world. Hey, if blogging about what made her single worked for her, why can’t it work for me?

 

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We recently celebrated our inaugural edition of “Press Day Potluck” at the Country Roads office, and I decided to get industrious. I went for it with a recipe for baked Lemon-Blueberry Doughnuts. They were a hit. I haven’t tried again because, frankly, I think it will be a bad move for my waistline; but they are semi-easy and scrumptious. They came from a cute little blogger called “The Recipe Rebel.” She goes into detail about donut vs. doughnut, which I appreciated, and even included a video.

Baked Lemon-Blueberry Doughnuts

For dough:

1/4 cup unsalted butter melted

1/4 cup canola or vegetable oil

3/4 cup granulated sugar

2 large eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 – 2 teaspoons grated lemon zest, depending on your tastes

1 cup buttermilk or substitute regular milk

2 2/3 all-purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup fresh blueberries

For glaze:

2 cups powdered icing sugar

1 – 2 teaspoons lemon zest

7 – 8 tablespoons fresh lemon juice or milk

Preheat oven to 425 degrees, and grease your doughnut pans with butter or non-stick spray. In a large bowl, combine butter, oil and sugar and whisk until smooth and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add in eggs, vanilla, lemon zest and buttermilk and whisk until smooth. Add flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt, and whisk just until combined. Stir in blueberries. Batter will be thick. Spoon batter into a large disposable piping bag or freezer bag. Pipe batter once around each doughnut hole – the batter shouldn’t quite fill the hole as they’ll expand and rise. Bake for 7 to 8 minutes until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Let cool 10 minutes before removing from the doughnut pan to cool completely.

For the glaze, in a medium bowl (not too deep as you’ll want to be able to dip your doughnuts), combine sugar, zest, and 6 tablespoons of juice or milk. Add an additional 1 to 2 tablespoons of liquid if needed. You want your glaze to be thin enough to evenly coat your doughnuts, but thick enough that it will set and become dry to the touch. When doughnuts are completely cool, dip tops of doughnuts into the glaze and overturn so the glaze runs down the sides. Set aside for the glaze to set.

It’s a sad day in my world. Fixer Upper’s series finale airs, and I just don’t know what I’m going to do. I’ve been a faithful follower from the beginning and was actually tipped off on the series long before it showed up on HGTV. A producer for High Noon Entertainment was doing some research in Natchez after recently finding and signing the Waco power couple to their series. She told us to be on the look out for it; and sure enough, there they were on prime-time design TV. Ever since, I’ve been glued to every episode, followed Jo’s blog, read her magazine cover to cover, and been a regular shopper on their e-commerce site for Magnolia Market. I guess I’ll just have to venture to Waco soon and get a full sensory overload at the Silos and the new diner, Magnolia Table. Who’s going with me?

In the mean time, my owner fixer upper project is moving right along. With the plumbing finishing up and the new can lights installed last week, we are moving quickly through the shiplapping process. Our version of shiplap isn’t the typical type you see on the show, however. I’m on a budget remember and can’t afford the tongue-and-groove version you can buy new at the hardware store or the antiqued version you can find from pickers. What we do is very simple, and I applaud ole Paulie for coming up with this solution. We simply use a router tool to create a “faux” tongue-and-groove effect on the edges of each board. When butted together and nailed in place, you get the same exact look for less. After a couple of layers of Kilz and another couple of layers of “New York City Winter” by Valspar, we have shiplap!

I also strongly believe that this is not a fad that will go out of style anytime soon; but I’m sure when I’m dead, gone, and the newest owner has moved in, my shiplap and subway tiles may be history. So, I left a couple of hate notes under the shiplap and backer board for those idiots of the future.

FINALLY! We are finished up another Lenten Season; and I have to tell you — I made it a whole 3 weeks before giving up on my Lenten promise. You try going to New Orleans and have a fresh, hot loaf of bread placed in front of you and say no to it. That’s what I thought. However, we did get inventive with the fish Fridays. Here is another way we used some of the Red Stick Spice ingredients I’ve been collecting.

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Grilled White Perch

10 – 12 white perch fillets

Ya-Ya’s Seasoning Blend

Blood Orange Avocado Oil

Non-stick spray

Salt to taste

Warm your griddle over medium heat. Spray with non-stick spray and lightly drizzle with avocado oil. Season and salt each fillet on one side, and place that side down onto the griddle. Sear for 2 to 3 minutes or until each fillet looks halfway cooked through. While cooking, season and salt the other side of the fillet. Gently flip the fillets and good through. Serve warm over rice.

It’s on to round 2 of bathroom demolition, and we were off to a good start on Monday. With almost all of the old shower surround, lauan paneling (If you don’t know what I’m talking about, look here.), and sheetrock removed, we will be moving towards filling in the gaps with new lighting and (if I can contain my excitement) shiplap in no time.

I think I’ve mentioned before that patience is not a virtue for me, so waiting to get to the pretty part of renovation work in my house is difficult. However, we came across some interesting finds.

First, my bathrooms have the original wall-mount porcelain sinks. They are very unique and in perfect condition. They are definitely something I will not be replacing in my lifetime. Now, these sinks are not light by any means. I can’t lift them, and I’m sure Dad shouldn’t have carried it out of the house my himself. BUT, what we did learn is that this particular sink in this guest bath was just kind of hanging onto the lauan paneling and not firmly anchored into a stud. It’s a miracle that thing was still attached or even still exists!

Next, after removing a large amount of sheetrock that was under the paneling, Mom and I came across a little creature who had been spending his or her eternal life within my bathroom walls. Poor Jackie O; she’s always wanted to catch a squirrel.

Lastly, we came across a shipping sticker on the back of a piece of lauan paneling that wasn’t dated but still interesting. The paneling was shipped to Natchez from a hardware store in New Orleans called Tulane Hardwood Lumber Company to R. Scudamore, Jr. AND it was written in pencil. It was like when we demo-ed the “master bath” and found that the toilet was the original from 1953.

Don’t worry. I’ll keep you posted on how things are going as we get further along.