7.22.2014

Don't Lose Your Marble(s) - Bathroom Counter Top

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Other bathroom remodel posts:

It's official: we are over the hump. The worst is over, the tub is back in place, and the walls are painted, beadboarded, and caulked.

But then there is that nasty countertop...


It actually looks inoffensive with the rest of the bathroom finished, but let me give you a reminder of what that baby looks like up close.


Have you ever tried to clean a tile-and-grout countertop? What about after putting on bronzer and blush powder, which unavoidably spills a bit and ends up - you guessed it - on the grout.

Bust out that toothbrush, my friend. You're gonna be scrubbing.

When we finished the rest of the bathroom, we decided to save the old vanity but replace the countertop with something that fit the room better and made it feel more upscale. 


We looked at marble composites, granite, solid surface, and regular marble. In the end, we liked a honed (i.e. not shiny) carrara marble that is white and gray, and pulls from the whites in the floor tile.

The first step in getting this bad boy in place was to remove the existing countertop. For the most part, this wasn't too difficult. Just a process of pounding upward until it broke free.


You may notice, however, that there are some gaps in the beadboard because we cut it to fit around the old counter. Thankfully, because the wall is beadboard behind and next to the sink, we knew we would be putting in a backsplash, which would cover the gap.


The counter top came pre-cut with the hole for the under-mount sink, which was separate. First, the countertop was glued onto the vanity, and then the back splashes were installed as well. We had free installation from Duca Tile, so they took care of gluing it down and caulking the corners.



They also used a two-part epoxy glue to mount the sink underneath the countertop.


Here is a close up of how the marble backsplash looks next to the beadboard we installed.


And here is a farther away shot that includes the sink along with the beadboard, trim, and mirror


And now for the fun part... before-and-afters! 


And another angle...


We still have a few tiny projects left - like replacing the beige outlets (we replaced the outlet plates, but the outlets themselves are still a darker color) and installing the hardware for the vanity. But, the big pieces of this bathroom are finally finished.

WHAT DO YOU THINK?
  • Would you use marble for a bathroom sink, or a different surface?
  • Have you ever remodeled a bathroom? Where did you splurge vs save?

7.10.2014

Paleo Cinnamon Roll Almond Butter

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I've been in the Vitamix club for almost a year now. I've done smoothies and ice creams galore, but I haven't been particularly adventurous until now.

Then again, is almond butter adventurous at all? It seems a lot of people have already done this.

BUT DID THEY MAKE IT TASTE LIKE A CINNAMON ROLL?


I got the pro tip from my friend Diane. She suggested freezing the almonds before blending, so that they are cold when you start. Since the Vitamix has such a powerful blade, it can overheat and turn itself off if things get too hot. So, freeze I did. And it worked like a charm.



I also added coconut oil to this recipe. I don't think it is necessary, and I have seen many, many recipes that do not use any oil at all (because nuts have a natural oil of their own that is released during blending). So, if you're not a fan, feel free to omit.




But, including it in this recipe will make your almond butter creamier and smoother, and shoot, it will just taste awesome. Not to mention that coconut oil has some crazy good benefits for your digestive system and skin. The only reason not to include it is if you are limiting your calories and fat. But, let's be real, if that's the case, why on earth are you eating nut butter?!?!?!

[This coming from a paleo afficionado... take it with a grain of salt]



^Speaking of salt, there is a sprinkle of sea salt in this recipe. Another thing you can omit, if you are limiting sodium (which I generally encourage, so go right ahead). It is a very small amount, though, and it truly does bring out the sweetness and flavor.


DID I MENTION HOW CREAMY THIS STUFF IS? It was so difficult to exercise self control as I scooped it out of the vitamix and into a jar. Thankfully, there were a few tablespoons that didn't quite fit into the jar...

Well, you know what happened to those ones ;-)


Paleo Cinnamon Roll Almond Butter

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups of almonds, frozen beforehand
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil (I used Carrington Farms)
  • 1 dropper full of Vanilla Stevia Drops (or 1/2 tsp vanilla extract and a sprinkle of sugar or stevia)
  • 1/8 tsp salt (just a sprinkle!)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon

Directions:

  1. Before starting, melt coconut oil in a microwave-safe container, so that it is in liquid form instead of solid. It should take about 30-40 seconds.
  2. Place almonds in the blender. If you are using a vitamix, follow these steps: (1) Turn the vitamix on, on level one. (2) Immediately turn the dial all the way up to 10. (3) Then quickly turn it onto high. (Doing this quickly will help it from overheating - thanks again to Diane for the tip!)
  3. Use the tamper (like a long stick - or if you don't have one, use a sturdy plastic spoon/spatula) to help push the almonds down as they quickly turn from nuts into a meal/flour and eventually into a buttery paste. It took me about 3 minutes.
  4. It will start to look like thick almond butter. At this point, add the coconut oil, vanilla, salt, and cinnamon, and then turn the blender back on and continue to tamp/mix it for another minute or two.
  5. Turn the blender off. Taste test and adjust sweetness/cinnamon/salt to your preferences.
  6. Use a spatula to scrape the almond butter out and into a jar.

Notes:

  • As far as I can tell from reading around online, this should last about two to three months if kept in the fridge. Good luck keeping it around for that long, though...
  • This fit almost perfectly into a 12 ounce mason jar, with just a few tablespoons left over for you to use on something as a reward for your hard work :)
  • Special ingredients used in this recipe: NuNaturals Vanilla Stevia Drops (these are amazing in baked goods, smoothies, coffee, you name it!) and Carrington Farms Coconut Oil.
  • If you don't have a tamper, get one here for only 14 bucks! It makes such a difference!



WHAT ABOUT YOU?
  • Do you have a special nut butter concoction you make? Any other secret ingredients? I am dying to try one with raw cacao powder, but I am worried it would be too rich for me to enjoy! 
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