So Close Now…

The walls are painted; the floors are down; the doors are back on their hinges. Our nursery is coming together! Mr. Gray has done such a wonderful job helping me get things just where I want them. We haven’t put the crib together yet, but that will come. I don’t want to have all of it done too early–then what will I do with my time? 
Here are a few sneak previews of the nursery so far: 
This little corner isn’t quite finished, but it’s close. We’re not sold on the color of the recliner, so we’ll probably get a new slip cover for it. The crib will be to the left of the recliner on the striped wall. Baby Gray already has books on his bookshelf! I can’t wait to read to him! Nonna made him the quilt on the recliner, and it’ll be on his toddler bed later. 
These stars are from one of my favorite booths at Wimberley’s Market Days. They’re hand-cut out of tin. Mr. Gray helped make this vision work. I had no idea how to pull it off, I just knew what I wanted–he’s the power behind my visions.
Pops & Nonna gave us the dresser/changing table. Mr. Gray put it together, and I’ve already started filling it with Baby Gray’s things! The little buckets on top were a Target dollar spot find! They’re primary colors with stars all over them; I love them! 
All in all, it’s getting close to ready for the shower. Of course, after the shower, I get to work on it some more! I can’t wait for our little guy to be here and enjoy his room. 
We’re off to Rhode Island for the weekend; my cousin is getting married. We’re taking an extra couple of days to just hang out and relax before Baby Gray gets here. Expect to hear all about it!

The Fourth and Fifth

For the Fourth, we headed to Buck’s Poolside with a few things in tow: Pork ‘n Bean Salad, watermelon stars, and Jolie Blonde Brownies. Recipes and photos are below. 

Pork ‘n Bean Salad (I forgot the photo. It looks like a bean salad.)

1 can Pork ‘n Beanas, drained & rinsed
1 white onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 yellow bell pepper, chopped
Dill pickles, chopped (to taste)
Mayonnaise (to taste)
Salt & pepper (to taste)

  • Mix all ingredients and refrigerate. 

 Jolie Blonde Brownies

1 stick butter (room temperature)
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1 large egg
1 cup flour
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup malted milk powder (more or less to taste)
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp baking soda
Pinch salt
Nuts, baking morsels or chips, or both (optional)

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  • Cream together butter & brown sugar
  • Add egg and mix until well blended
  • Stir in flour completely
  • Add vanilla, malted milk powder, baking powder, baking soda, & salt
  • Mix well
  • If desired, add your choice of nuts or baking chips
  • Spread into a greased (I flour mine, too) 9″ x 13″ pan
  • Bake for 16-20 minutes or until golden brown and slightly sunken in the center

This time, I did not add anything to the brownies when baking. Instead, I used buttercream frosting and sprinkles to decorate for the Fourth of July. I only got to taste one I scrounged around and found–they went fast!

Mr. Gray also sliced a watermelon for me (at my insistence, of course) so I could make watermelon stars. I just had him slice the watermelon cookie-cutter thick and cut the stars out with cookie cutters. I stuck them in the freezer to help them hold their shape, but I’m afraid they might get soggy if they sit out too long after freezing. Only freeze them if you can serve pretty quickly. I sprinkled blueberries around for color as well.

We had a great time at the Couchs’ with good food and friends. Mr. Gray has been sore today from the adult football game, but he loved every minute of it, I know. Next year, Fabby can teach Baby Gray to swim while we’re there (right, Bean?).

Today we worked on the nursery some more. Mr. Gray did the finishing touches on the floor, and I covered nail holes in the moulding (in the office, too). We got the changer/dresser put together and into its place. The curtain rod, curtain, and decorative stars are up as well. We’ll get the crib done tomorrow. all we need now is the shower and a baby! 

We got the office/art room put back together; it looks different, but good! Some furniture that was displaced from the guest room will make a permanent home in there, and another piece or two was repurposed and put to use. We’re waiting to find a day bed to put in there for guests as well.

The best news? I have my living room back! YAY! No more clutter and craziness! The worst news? I’m not feeling like uploading photos of either room, sorry. 

Baby Steps

Mr. Gray has been working hard on getting the nursery and the office ready for the floor to go down all week. If I see another concrete dust footprint I might scream!  He got it done, though, and today, Uncle Jay, Ty, Luke, T-Paw, and Pops all came (each in their own separate white truck, I might add) to work on the floors. They got to our house about 2:00 and started on the underlayment. By the time I got home a little before 4:00, they were all diligently working to get Baby Gray’s floor laid. 
There they are, all six of them, crammed in Baby Gray’s room. Please notice Uncle Jay’s knee pads (he needs those because he turned 40 in June). They were really working a lot harder than this photo gives credit for; each of them had a job to do.
The only thing I didn’t get on camera was the white truck convention in the street outside our house. They worked until after 10:00, and they had all the floor laid in both rooms at that point. Now we just lack the shoe mold and the final finishing touches. A few baby steps are missing before we run full blast into the nursery decorating part of this deal; the closet and entry doors from both the office and Baby Gray’s room are scattered throughout the living room, and that pile of furniture and closet stuffings (see photo from previous post) are still in the dining area as well. I did break down and sweep; I couldn’t stand the dust on my feet!
Overall, I love the color we chose. It looks great with both the yellow in the nursery and the khaki in the office. I can’t wait for it to all be complete–until then, here’s a sneak preview! 
Now I’m off to finish baking my Blond Brownies for the Fourth! I’ll decorate them and post photos and recipes tomorrow! (A hint: malted milk was involved!)

Baby Gray’s Room is Coming Together!

I don’t know how on earth people remodel their whole home while living in it. We’re replacing the floor in the two rooms we use the least, and it’s making me crazy! When we moved in, we thought we were going to keep the guest room and move the nursery into the office when the time came. However, Mr. Gray has been focusing on his art a lot more lately, and the office turned into a studio of sorts somewhere along the way. We decided to add a day bed to the office and lose the guest room instead. So what started as this: 
Is now turning into this: 
Obviously this photo was taken before Mr. Gray finished the stripes. They’re completed now, and, I have to say, I’m pretty impressed. He used a laser level and did the edges by hand. (Paint tape feathers edges on our textured sheet rock.) 
Once the walls were done, Mr. Gray was ready to start ripping out carpet and scraping the padding off the floor. However, he couldn’t do that with furniture on top of the carpet, now could he?

Why, yes, that is all the furniture from both rooms and closets in our living area. Thanks for asking! (See why I can’t imagine doing a whole house…) Luckily, it doesn’t have to be like this for long.

We’ve been wanting to put down laminate in those rooms, so we brought  home a sample to test out. This is the look we’re hoping to achieve when T-Paw and Uncle Jay come help us get the floor installed (this picture is from the samples and some creative photo cropping): 

I can’t wait to get Baby Gray’s furniture all assembled and into the room! We’ll get started on that when the floor is down. It’s all coming together!

Cheater Chip Cookies Save the Day!

I’m always up for trying new recipes and baking new things… today I decided I wanted to try to make homemade brownies (I’m a sucker for Duncan Hines Chewy Fudge, so this was a big deal for me). Mostly, I didn’t have a box of brownies, and I had all the stuff to make them from scratch, so it sounded like a good combination. I pulled out the ol’ Methodist Cookbook (you can’t go wrong there), and got to work. After I added the baker’s chocolate, though, the batter wasn’t turning the dark chocolately brown it should ave.

I was slightly concerned, so I called my mom. She said as long as I was following the recipe it should be fine. So, of course, I tasted the batter (only a tad so Baby Gray didn’t get Salmonella). You could tell the chocolate was there, but it wasn’t like it should have been. Since baker’s chocolate wasn’t the answer the first time, I added a little cocoa. That didn’t do much. So then I added some meltaway center Hershey’s Kisses. I figured at least they’d add a little chocolate in some places.

This is what I got:

A pan full of beautifully textured, perfect, non-chocolate brownies! They were the most perfect brownies I have ever seen (with the exception of the off-color from the missing chocolate). I cut into them to taste and be sure they were not good. They weren’t.

I still needed a dessert for this afternoon (I wanted to take one, anyay; I didn’t need one). I had a box of cake mix and about 30 minutes, so I pulled out my Lookie, Lookie It’s a Cookie cookbook and got started tweaking a recipe to fit what I had. I decided I wanted oatmeal chocolate chip cookies, and it looked do-able based on the recipes in the book and the white cake mix I had.

This time, my results were much better:

These were the perfect density and texture; the only thing I would have done differently is add a little more oatmeal. (Too bad I didn’t measure so I know how much that is… ) They were a hit at dinner!

Cheater Chip (+Oatmeal) Cookies

1 box white cake mix
2 eggs
1/2 cup oil
1/2 package semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/4-1/2 cup (or so) minute oatmeal

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  • Combine cake mix, eggs, and oil
  • Mix well
  • Add chocolate chips and oatmeal until well blended
  • Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls onto cookie sheet (I didn’t grease mine)
  • Bake 10 minutes
  • Makes about 45 cookies


This week has not been a good week for my luck with electronics! Pre-orders for the iPhone 4 started yesterday, and after fighting the systems to get it to tell me I could order the iPhone for the contract price, then I found out I could not pre-order a white one. Ugh. I like white. So I debated buying a black one for now and giving it to Mr. Gray when the white ones came out, but I think I am just going to wait on the white ones to launch. That sort of ruined an hour or so of my afternoon.

Today, I was driving home after my math class, and my Sirius radio stopped working. I knew I had waited a long time to pay for it, but everyone told me they take forever to turn it off. Plus, I had already talked to them and told them my payment was on the way. So I called them, and after a 25 minute phone call, I still had no radio. The Sirius representative said that in 15 minutes max it would be working. I was meeting a friend for lunch, so I left it at that and went to eat.

We ate and talked for almost three hours. When I got back to the car, I still had no radio. I called back and spoke with another representative who was going to put me on hold for “two to three minutes” while I was transferred to a representative from tech support. I was on hold for about 19 minutes when the call was disconnected. I called back again. Finally, I was transferred to technical support successfully, and the technician was able to tell me how to reset the radio so it would work again. Trust me, this took skill. I had to:

1. Turn on the car
2. Turn on the radio
3. Turn off the radio
4. Turn off the car
5. Open the driver’s side door
6. Leave it open for 30 seconds
7. Leave the door open and turn the car back on
8. Turn the radio on
9. Wait for the screen to begin showing updates

Siriusly? It was ridiculous! I’m just glad it works now.

Two Thumbs Way Down

Mr. Gray and I had a great Sunday being productive, and we thought we’d end the weekend with a movie date. I picked the movie last time (The Killers) and suggested we go see Get Him to the Greek since Mr. Gray wanted to see it instead previously.

We got our tickets, popcorn, candy, and drink and headed into the theater. Once the movie started, we just kept looking at each other as if to say, “This is so stupid.” I kept thinking surely we could just get up and leave, but I thought maybe Mr. Gray was starting to enjoy it a little more. As soon as the movie ended, we both shared sentiments of how horrible the movie was; it wasn’t funny or entertaining at all. Mr. Gray told me as we drove home that he didn’t think he had ever walked out of a movie before, but he certainly considered it this afternoon.

Get Him to the Greek was definitely a “two thumbs down” movie, and neither of us would recommend it to a friend (in case anyone asks).

Four & Many More

This Thursday, Mr. Gray & I celebrated our fourth anniversary. We have done so much in such a short amount of time! We got married, moved to College Station, I got my first “real” job, we got our Rooster dog, Mr. Gray got a bachelor’s degree from A&M, I got a master’s degree from A&M, Mr. Gray got his first “real” job, we bought a house, we met tons of new wonderful friends, now we’re expecting Baby Gray, and so much more I haven’t even mentioned!

Friday Mr. Gray took me to the Driskill to stay for our anniversary. He planned it all himself, and found a great restaurant for us to go for dinner. After he booked the trip, we found out it was ROT Rally in Austin this weekend–it made for a louder 6th Street than usual! We loved looking at all the bikes around downtown. Some of the roads were blocked off downtown for the Rally, so we had to take a pedicab to Paggi House. It turned out to be an awesome ride with a very nice driver. He took us over Town Lake on the pedicab–so pretty!

After dinner, we met up with our aforementioned wonderful friends for a birthday celebration. We hung out and danced a little on the rooftop at Speakeasy, and then headed back to the Driskill. Mr. Gray, who has been attempting to grow a mustache, went to make an ice run after we got back, and met up with some other Aggies on the elevator. They were Class of ’10, and Mr. Gray loved visiting with them on the way back from the ice machine. The incident he loved most while speaking with these Aggies was when one of them told him his new mustache looked “rapey.” He was still laughing about that this morning.

We had a great breakfast at the 1886 Cafe this morning. (We got in too late for 1886 dessert last night–NO!) There was a girl at the table behind us drinking a mimosa, and the glass slipped out of her hand and shattered. It was crazy! I’ve never seen such a thing. She was so embarrassed, but the waitress was very helpful and understanding.

Our trip was amazing, overall. I am so thankful each and every day for Mr. Gray and our marriage. God has blessed us in incredible ways–I can’t even begin to encompass everything He has done for us. I’ve loved the past four years, and I can’t wait to enjoy many more!

Pac 32 (give or take)

Big 12, Pac 10, Big East, SEC, it’s all a big debate. Where do we go? What do we do? Who do we play? Do the rivalries stay together? Most importantly, where would we like to take a weekend trip sometime in the neighborhood of September to November? (SEC has Florida; Pac 10 has California… it’s a toss up!) Mr. Gray votes SEC (however, I happen to like California in the fall).

In the midst of all this talk of schools changing conferences and football being all shaken up, I was talking to Mr. Gray about a portion of the book The Blind Side that refers to land grant schools as subordinates of their respective state schools. Of course, as alumni of the land grant school in Texas, we absolutely do not believe that Texas A&M is a subordinate to t.u. As a matter of fact, A&M was established prior to t.u.‘s development. If anything, they’re subordinate to A&M. I think I’ll be writing a letter to Michael Lewis to let him know how The Grays (Class of ’08) feel about his reference.

Additionally, I received an email from my father-in-law today that referred to our conference play in the “Pac 32” and laughed harder than I can remember laughing in a long time. Was it really that funny? Probably not, but as seriously as this family can take Aggie Football, his joke must have caught me off guard. He sent photos of the new construction on West Campus along with his wittiness:

What’s for Dinner?

Beef… It’s what’s for dinner!

Most of the time, at our house, this is true. Sometimes, though, I can sneak in a meat-free dinner every couple of weeks. Last night was one of those nights. I scoured my cookbooks for something lighter and a little more summer feeling than our standard steak & potatoes. I decided to try making a magherita pizza. It was both simple and wonderful. Mr. Gray didn’t even complain about the missing meat!

Magherita (+ Mushroom!) Pizza

1 can Pillsbury refrigerated pizza dough (yes, I cheated a little)
1 handful fresh basil leaves, rinsed & torn

10-15 grape tomatoes, rinsed

4-5 button mushrooms, sliced & rinsed

olive oil

4-6 oz. grated mozzarella cheese

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees
  • Coat a perforated pizza pan lightly with olive oil and shape dough to fit
  • Pre-bake dough approximately 4 minutes
  • Meanwhile, place basil, tomatoes, & mushrooms in a small container and add a small amount of olive oil
  • Shake to coat
  • Remove dough from oven
  • Arrange basil, tomatoes, & mushrooms on the dough
  • Cover dough and veggies with mozzarella cheese
  • Bake 11 minutes

The pizza cools quickly, so it’s best when served immediately. We used crushed red pepper with olive oil for dipping!

Even sans meat, Mr. Gray asked me to make it again sometime.