Sunday, October 10, 2010

Brushing elbows with HGTV for a weekend

This past spring, two months before our wedding, DH got an AMAZING opportunity.  He was selected to be one of the carpenters on an episode of "Battle on the Block" on HGTV! The first episode hadn't even aired yet so no one, myself included, had a clue what the show was even about.  And DH was able to remain calm as my questions became more and more probing as the first day of filming closed in: 

"Who's the host?"
"Exactly how much are you going to be on TV?"
"When is it gonna air?"
"Can I be on TV?"
"Who's the host???"

Unfortunately for me, Day One of filming was on a Friday and I had to work.  So most of my questions would remain unanswered until I spoke to DH.  But I didn't have to wait too long for at least one of my answers. DH was kind enough to drop this bombshell of a text on me later that afternoon:

Do you know some lady named Genevieve Gorder?  I guess she's gonna be the host.  I ate lunch across the table from her today.  She seems nice.  Is she famous?


Genevieve Gorder???!!!???  I have been following her since her days on "Trading Spaces" on TLC!!

Somehow my shaking hands managed to punch in a reply text that said something roughly on the lines of "come Hell or high water I will be fighting rush hour traffic to get there the second I am off the clock." 

When four o'clock hit, I all but flew past my coworkers (who, by this time, were happy to let me leave so I could shut-up about Genevieve) and accelerated out of the parking lot to face the oh-so-near reality that I was about to meet my decorating mentor.

Fast forward one hour.  I hate rush hour.

I parked my car once I reached Centro Ybor.  I decided hoofing it was going to be much easier.  Right.  

I was lost.  I had already been walking around aimlessly for about 30 minutes.  Thank God I was in scrubs, or I may have been mistaken for a hooker standing on a street corner in Ybor city, trying not to look lost.  DH wasn't answering his phone and I had no idea how to find the condo he was working at.  I decided to call my mom (who lives 12 hours away) in hopes of looking less pathetic standing there by myself.  At least I looked busy now.  

Mom:  "Did you meet her yet???"  (Mom, also, is a huge fan).
Me:  "No.  I'm lost, I'm tired, I'm hungry and I look like a hooker."
Mom:  "Oh.  OK.  Well, call me when you meet her." 

Thanks Mom.

After another 15 minutes, I FINALLY found the condo and DH.  But as luck would have it, he was extremely busy and only had a brief second to lean over the balcony and tell me that Genevieve had gone for the day and I should probably just go home.  Oh and by the way, he was going to be home late.

I'll just gloss over the HUMONGOUS hissy fit I had by myself on the hour long drive back home...

The next morning, Saturday, was full of promise.  DH said that I could come to the set that day and chances would be much greater that I could meet Genevieve.  

I called up DH's boss' wife, K, and we planned to meet up in Ybor together.  When we got there, we were able to tour the three homes that were competing on the show. It was kind of surreal to be on this side of things.  Cameras and people were crammed everywhere inside the homes, and everyone seemed like they were in a big hurry, bustling around.  But on the outside, nothing looked unusual.  The huge trailer full of the tools for the show and the RV (where my beloved Genevieve apparently hangs out once she's on set) were the only evidence of anything remotely out of the ordinary.

The little table between the RV and the trailer is where DH ate lunch across from Genevieve.  The whole crew ate together daily.

We got to meet Genevieve's assistant who was very nice.  She said that Genevieve loves meeting people (aka: mega fans like myself) and that she would be on set around one o'clock.  It was late morning by then, so we decided to check out the nearby outdoor Art Festival for a while.  

I found DH to tell him where we were headed and I snapped these pics of him in action:

At promptly one o'clock we returned, my hopes high, only to be told that Genevieve's arrival time had been moved up to about three o'clock.  K had to leave, so I was now on my own.  

I figured I would take advantage of the close proximity of Centro Ybor. I walked around for a bit, wandering past shops and restaurants, killing time.  I decided to stop inside a small bar on one of the busy street corners and have a glass of wine.  If there's one thing that can make time seem unimportant, alcohol is it!  Then the call came.  DH called to tell me that Genevieve was on her way!  I quickly drained the rest of my wine, slammed down a wad of money and bolted out the open door.  

I walked, half ran, back to the condo where DH was waiting for me outside of the closed front door.  She was filming just inside that door!  The workers had to go outside so that there was quiet (and space) for filming.  Here's the legal notice that was taped on all the doors:

And then it happened.  The door opened, a couple of people (production people, I'm assuming) came out, talking very quickly to each other, rushing past me without acknowledging me, and then there she was.  And my goodness, is she tall!

G: "Oh, hi!" (smiling)
Me: "Hi!  I've been waiting to meet you!  I am such a big fan!  I've been a fan of yours since Trading Spaces!" (mental note:  I need to stop talking in exclamation points)
G:  "Oh wow, are you even old enough to remember that? (laughs) So who are you here with?"
Me: "I'm his fiance" (beaming, grinning ear to ear, pointing to DH)
G:  "Awww!  He's so sweet!  When are you guys getting married?" (still smiling)
Me: (blank brain....think, think, think...oh yes, that's right) "Two months"
G:  "Wow!  That's soon!  Are you nervous yet?" 
Me: (not as nervous as I am right now!!) "Nope, I'm just excited."
G: (getting impatient stares from the production guys) "Well, it was really nice to meet you.  I have to go now to film at the next house." (being shuffled down the stairs)  "You should come over to that house!" (over her shoulder)
Me:  "OK.  Thanks!"

And in the very same instant I realized she was gone, I remembered my unused camera in my purse. 


It took all of half a second for me to make up my mind to walk to the next house.  When else am I ever going to meet Genevieve Gorder again??  I can't let her just go and not get a picture!  

For a girl who doesn't exercise, I had logged some serious miles today, and I was nearing the end of my journey.  I arrived, out of breath, at the last house and waited.  One of her assistants I had met earlier in the day was kind enough to talk with me while I stood in the middle of the dirt like an idiot, stalking waiting for Genevieve.  He told me she was just finishing a quick meal in the RV and would be coming right out.  After about five more agonizing minutes, she emerged.  And thank God she didn't pepper spray me for reappearing out of nowhere.  

I told her I forgot to ask before, but would she mind taking a picture with me?  

G:  "Of course!" (handing my camera to her assistant and putting her arm around me)  "I'm sorry if I smell like garlic, I just had a Greek salad" (fanning her open mouth)
Me: "That's okay, I smell like wine" (Awesome.  I sound like an alcoholic.)
G:  (laughing) "That sounds even better!  I wish I had that instead!"

As the assistant was sizing and centering us in the camera, we exchanged a quick conversation under our breath (wine and garlic united) through our posed smiles about age and height--apparently our stats are quite similar.  And here's the long-awaited picture:

After a quick check that the picture was acceptable to both of us (hey, she may be famous, but we are both women) we hugged and said good-bye.  

I walked back to my car, satisfied.  She was just as completely sweet and genuine as she seems on TV and I was thrilled to have met her.  


The anticipation to see the actual end product was so great and DH had been a great sport about my references to "My BFF, Genevieve" ever since I had met her. The episode actually aired while we were away on our honeymoon, so we had to DVR it.   We were excited to see how it all turned out.  After watching it, we just had to laugh.  Poor DH was just a momentary red blur in about four whole scenes of the entire episode.  We joked that it was like those photos of Bigfoot you see, just this big shape that resembles a body walking by in the background.  He had a real live 15 seconds of fame!  But it was an amazing opportunity and was so fun to experience from behind the scenes.  And who knows?  Maybe my BFF Genevieve will come back to the sunshine state and we can do lunch!  Salad and wine anyone?

Click here to watch the full episode on Hulu
Air date: 5/16/10
Season 1: Episode 6

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Custard Battered French Toast

When I ran across this recipe on Pottery Barn's Farmhouse Brunch Party Planner this summer, I knew I wanted to make it someday.  Unfortunately, I waited too long to print it out and now the season is over and it is no longer listed.  I was, however, able to find this video online and follow the recipe pretty easily.  I don't like exact measurements (hence my very limited baking skills) so winging it worked out well for me.  My custard didn't end up quite as thick as the one appears to be in the video, but it turned out delicious anyway!  I will list the approximate recipe below.  If anyone has the exact recipe, please feel free to share.  This made 4 large pieces of French toast with enough custard leftover for another batch tomorrow morning!


1 Loaf French bread
1/2 pint heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tblsp butter
1 tsp pure vanilla extract (or seeds from 1 vanilla bean)
2 egg yolks

1.  Slice the French bread on a diagonal to create large, one-inch thick slices.  Set the bread slices aside.

2.  In a medium saucepan, bring the cream, milk, sugar, butter and vanilla to a simmer.  Watch carefully, as it tends to boil over very quickly once it heats up.  Remove from heat.

3.  In a medium bowl, add the egg yolks and break lightly with a wisk.  To temper the egg yolks, whisk in a few tablespoons of the hot cream mixture, then add the rest of the cream to the tempered eggs VERY SLOWLY while whisking.  If you do this too quickly, you could scramble your eggs.

4.  Pour the custard back into the saucepan and place it on LOW heat, stirring constantly until thickened.  A good way to tell if it's thick enough is if the mixture coats the back of a wooden spoon.  DO NOT walk away from the pan, you may accidentally end up cooking the eggs.  Pour custard into a shallow dish.

5.  Place a non-stick skillet over medium heat and melt about one tablespoon of butter in the skillet.

6.  Take your bread slices and dunk each side into the custard for about three seconds and place in skillet. 

7.  The toast is ready to flip when the edges closest to the bottom of the pan are becoming brown and carmelized.  

8.  Cook the other side for about 4-5 minutes.  Remove from skillet.

I served mine with a little bit more butter, a light dusting of powdered sugar and warmed maple syrup.  

(We also had a side of scrambled eggs, adding the leftover egg whites from the custard recipe to 4 more whole eggs, and a generous splash of milk.  This made them very light and fluffy!  I almost always top my finished scrambled eggs with a sprinkling of some type of cheese.  This time I just used sharp cheddar cheese)

Goblet:  Pottery Barn
Plates:   IKEA
Urn:      Pottery Barn
Floral:   Target

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Oh look Honey, visitors!

When LDHB and I bought our house one year ago, one of the things that sold us was this incredible nature preserve in our own back yard.  No backyard neighbors, no noisy highway, just the quiet sounds of nature...

All of that was true until this summer.  All of a sudden, our peaceful oasis turned into the Florida Zoo! 

Some were cute.

Some were creepy, but harmless.

Teensy weensy garter snake that was desperately trying to escape DH's lawnmower!

Others were down right UNWELCOMED.

This friendly little visitor is a Florida Water Moccasin, a highly venomous, highly aggressive member of the pit viper family. We fondly named him "Denver" since that is exactly where our next door neighbors packed up and moved shortly after meeting him. He's staring at us as we were huddled up, open-mouthed at the bedroom window.  Everyone say "Hi Denver!"  He was kind enough to visit us TWICE.

So needless to say, we decided we needed to do something.  We couldn't exactly live in Florida and not ever get to go outdoors for fear of being EATEN.

Introducing our brand new screened-in lanai, just one day before lovebug season!

And if you don't know what a lovebug is, you'll never know how significant this screen has become...

PB & Joy

New Text Message:  "You got a new Pottery Barn catalog!"

My darling hubby may as well have just told me that we just won a seven-day, all expense paid trip to Tahiti.

Nothing gets my excitement level up more than the first glimpse of that marvelous, glossy cover.  I actually smell the catalog before I open it.  Don't judge me...

The cover is that sneak peek of all the delectable goodies that await for me on the inside.  From the perfectly set farmhouse table in a rustic, dark walnut wood finish, to the Pottery Barn title at the top printed in that trademark Pottery Barn font, it screams of good taste and perfectly planned comfort.

As if I were preparing for a romantic, secret rendezvous, I dive into the shower then into comfy pajamas, all but throw a plate of food in front of LB to ease the neglect that is sure to follow, and prepare my corner of the sectional for the night of "getting to know one another".

Perfectly fluffed, down-filled throw pillow (from Pottery Barn).  Check.

Cream-colored knit throw (from Target, but looks very much like a particular one from Pottery Barn).  Check.

Prescription glasses (hey, I have to see EVERY detail).  Check.

Mood lighting (if DH so much as bumps into the light switch, he's sleeping in the guest room).  Check.

Ahhh.  At last.  We are alone.  (Ok, so DH is watching baseball on his respective end of the recliner, but he's not bothering me and my precious PB so he doesn't count.)

I start slowly.  After all, this is our first time together.  I don't know it, it doesn't know me.  Hey, I have manners.  I take a mental inventory of the new layouts, usually seasonal in nature, along with the pages that are a repeat from the last catalog.  Now that we are acquainted and quite fond of one another, I get to know it a little better.  I feel much less bashful this time around, staring a bit longer at those smaller details I missed the first time ("Oh my goodness.  Look at those accessories.  Is that mercury glass??")  This goes on for at least five more complete viewings, until it's time to go to bed.

Oh.  You what?  You want to stay the night?  But we just met!

Fine.  But you are sleeping on the nightstand.

Ninja Secrets

So, DH and I don't fight often.  But when we do, let's just say I tend to have a flair for the theatrics.

Our most recent "disagreement" left me storming out of the bedroom, Scarlett O'Hara style, screaming something on the lines of "Fine!  I'm sleeping in the guest bedroom tonight!"  Blankie and purse in tow, I burst into our sparsely furnished guest bedroom and flung myself dramatically across the half-made queen-sized bed.

This certainly is NOT a Tempurpedic mattress, I thought, as I almost bounced right back off onto the floor.

First line of defense in fight:  Cry loudly.  Loudly enough that DH might fear that I am being tortured and come to my rescue with armfuls of apology...and maybe a snack.

When the tortured crying didn't do the trick, I had to turn to a new defense plan.  Maturity kicked in with the idea of going for a "little drive".  Since I had my purse with me, my car keys were readily accessible so I slipped into the garage like a sobbing stealthy ninja, opened the garage door and backed out into the night.

Halfway through the neighborhood it dawned on me that I had nowhere to go.  And I was wearing pajamas.  Great...  I decided on the Winn-Dixie parking lot about one whole whopping mile from our neighborhood.  I am such a mastermind.

Now what?

After about ten minutes of sitting under a buggy street light in my car ALONE, wallowing in self-pity (thanks to some depressing music, compliments of the "New Moon" soundtrack) DH and I began texting.  Apparently he actually did hear me leave.  So much for my ninja stealth mode.  But I wasn't quite finished making my point, whatever that may have been.  I wanted to make him wait it out.  To miss me darn it!  Yes, just wait.  My elaborate plan is working.  You are falling into the depths of despair without me by your side...

Oh crap.

I have to pee.  I have to pee and I'm in my PAJAMAS.

The thought of traipsing through a public grocery store in my PJ's with my hair standing on end and puffy bags under my eyes was not as appealing as my quickly growing bladder wished it could be.  I even resorted back to my childhood and sat in my empty car with my legs crossed as tightly as they would go.  Nope.  Not working.

So in the end, I was betrayed by my stupid bladder.  I went home.  To my sweet, happy-to-have-me-back-home husband.  And the potty.  We made up, of course, and I learned a few valuable lessons:

1.  Sometimes a large cup of juice with your dinner can save a marriage.

2.  Invest in a good mattress.  Not only in your master bedroom, but the spare bedroom also.  Just in case.

3.  Ninjas don't cry.