Hicks House

From Builder Basic to Beautiful


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Baked Eggplant Fries

Baked Eggplant Fries | Hicks House

This is one of my favorite side dishes in the history of the universe. The first time I tried eggplant fries it was at a local pizza restaurant, they were fried not baked and I fell in love. It sparked a mission to find a way to make them at home, and at least somewhat healthier as we refuse to buy a deep fryer.

Ingredients

  • One medium to large eggplant (dependent on how many fries you are looking to end up with)
  • Italian Seasoned Bread Crumbs
  • Olive Oil
  • 2-3 Eggs (We used the whole egg, you can substitute just egg whites if you are looking for a healthier alternative, however you may need extra eggs

Baked Eggplant Fries | Hicks House

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees. Put your breadcrumbs in a bowl (we don’t measure this, just go by eye and add more if we run out). Crack and whip your eggs in another bowl or in a Tupperware. Use a third bowl or Tupperware for your olive oil – again we don’t measure but 2-3 tablespoons to start should be good.

Cut the top and bottom off your eggplant then cut in half. Turn each half so the cut side is facing up and then cut into cross sections creating your “fries”.

Baked Eggplant Fries | Hicks House
Baked Eggplant Fries | Hicks House
Baked Eggplant Fries | Hicks House

Then begin your breading process. Coat the fries lightly with olive oil. Eggplant tends to soak up oil very fast so just do a couple at a time – remember we are baking not frying. Coat in the egg followed by the breadcrumbs making sure to fully coat all sides. Transfer to a baking sheet and continue until you have breaded all of your fries.

Baked Eggplant Fries | Hicks House

Spray lightly with some more olive oil – this helps to get the outsides crispy.

Baked Eggplant Fries | Hicks House

Bake for 7-10 minutes, flip and cook an additional 7-10 minutes. Your fries will be sizzling and bubbly but the outsides will still seem soft. Now here is the trick to crispy fries – flip a second time switch your oven to broil and cook for approximately 5-7 more minutes. WATCH THEM CLOSELY! They will brown quickly, you want a nice browned look to them but if they look like they are starting to burn take them out.

Serve with your favorite protein and dig in!

Baked Eggplant Fries | Hicks House


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The Grommet Conglomerate

After our initial foray into window treatments for the dining room we could no longer hold out for all the walls to be painted before adding in the curtains for some other rooms. It just added so much more personality to the room.

The first set of curtains I actually purchased were for the living room so despite not yet being painted (it’s literally half the first floor as its “one” with the kitchen – kind of intimidating) we were ready to finally hang them. As the window in this room is a large double window it was extra important to hang the curtains higher and wider than the dining room allowed (hello stupid door frame touching the window frame).

The high and wide sounded great in theory… however there was a slight problem. I had purchased 84-inch curtains these from Target and letting out the bottom hem like I did to lengthen the dining room curtains wasn’t going to get me the length I needed.

After some debate on how best to do this the options were:

  • Add a panel of solid coordinating fabric
  • Try and return the 84 inch panels to the store and order the 95 inch panels online then shorten them
  • Undo the top AND bottom hems and add grommets to the top

From the title of this post I’m sure you can guess which option we decided to go with. We also we’re really liking the look of the grommeted panels in the dining room and how they fold back and forth as opposed to the traditional rod pocket panels, so even if we went for option two we would want to grommet them anyway.

So I undid the top and bottom hems and resewed a 1/2 inch seam like I did here and ordered two sets of this grommet kit online.

Adding Grommets to Curtains | Hicks House

We then laid the panel out on the floor to have a flat work surface and followed marked evenly spaced dots across the panel about 2 inches down from the top. You have to leave enough space from the top to fit the entire grommet which is 2 3/8″ total diameter.

Adding Grommets to Curtains | Hicks House

The grommet kit came with a “hole” template. You simply line the center up with each of your dots and trace.

Adding Grommets to Curtains | Hicks House

It leaves circles down your panel that look like this:

Adding Grommets to Curtains | Hicks House

Take a pair of scissors then cut them out. The individual grommets come in two pieces, we you line one of the pieces up with the hole you cut…

Attaching Grommets | Hicks House

line the other piece up and press till it snaps on. I was super paranoid that I was going to press to hard and crack the grommet. Luckily for me they are either incredibly sturdy or I’m not nearly as super-human strong as I think I am. Actually it’s possible both of those statements are true.

Adding Grommets to Curtains | Hicks House

That’s it! Just hang them up and enjoy the more contemporary look the grommets provide.

Adding Grommets to Curtains | Hicks House
Adding Grommets to Curtains | Hicks House

It’s a great way to add a bit of customization to bargain curtains, while still being cheaper than total custom curtains.

 

What do you think?  Do you prefer the look and the way grommeted curtains hang or are you loving the more traditional rod pocket look?


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Chicken Broccoli & Cheese Pockets

I’ve had a couple special requests for this recipe, as it’s one of the go-to staples in our house and I rave about it all the time. You may remember the variation I posted utilizing Thanksgiving leftovers. Way back then I alluded to the fact that we generally make ours with chicken and broccoli, so after much ado here it is.

Chicken Broccoli and Cheese Pockets | Hicks House

Ingredients

  • 1 Large Breast of Cooked Chicken (either cubed or shredded)
  • 4 ounces low fat cream cheese – softened
  • 1 cup shredded reduced fat Mexican cheese
  • 1/4 cup diced onion
  • One medium head of broccoli – diced (I only use the tops and toss the stems)
  • Ground Black Pepper – to your liking
  • One package of seamless crescent dough

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix all of your ingredients with the exception of the dough and about 1/4 cup of shredded cheese in a bowl until well combined, ensuring a good coating of cream cheese over all of the ingredients.

Chicken Broccoli and Cheese Pockets | Hicks House

Cover a cookie sheet with aluminum foil and spray with cooking spray or a light coating of olive oil. Prepare your dough. Lay in the center of your cookie sheet and gently press out towards the edges with your fingers to elongate and thin the dough. Make sure you do not make any holes, if you accidentally rip the dough squish back together.

Once you have achieved a decent size, cut into two pieces down the middle. Portion your filling into each of your two halves and top with remaining cheese.

Chicken Broccoli and Cheese Pockets | Hicks House

Now fold it up like a Won-Ton – Ya know pinch all the edges together so the filling can’t squeak out. Ken and I each fold our own pockets, its always a competition as to whose is prettier and whose doesn’t crack open. Up to you whether you turn this into a cook-off or not – it may or may not make dinner prep more fun.

Bake for 15-20 minutes until golden brown.

Chicken Broccoli and Cheese Pockets | Hicks House

Then enjoy all the ooey gooey deliciousness that is the Pocket.

Chicken Broccoli and Cheese Pocket | Hicks House

One of the best things about this recipe is the versatility. You can literally put any kind of meat or veggie in here and its a great way to use up leftovers. Some varieties we’ve tried include:

      • Steak, Pepper and Onion
      • Buffalo Chicken with Blue Cheese
      • Chicken, Olive and Feta

Give it a shot and let me know what you think!
Hicks House


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Herringbone Woodshim Mirror

Herringbone Woodshim Mirror | Hicks House Finally! More than a year after starting my own blog, I have completed the project that originally inspired me write about our home journey and diy our own touches. Allison over at House of Hepworths originally made her own woodshim mirror back in March of 2013. An idea she originally got from Addicted 2 Decorating and their tutorial. I of course had to put my own spin on it. While I loved the idea of the mirror, I wanted my shims to be laid out in a different pattern. I’d been envisioning it in an awesome herringbone pattern – admittedly a much harder pattern than the square pattern Allison and Kristi used. (what can I say, I’m a glutton for punishment). And so began my longest DIY project to date. In order to not overwhelm this post (or crash your browser window) with the bazillion photos I took of this process over the last three months I’ve organized most of them into collages. Step one was to buy all of the materials. We purchased

  • three packs of cedar wood shims
  • a 4×4 square of 1/2 inch MDF board (we wanted our finished mirror to be 3.5 feet in diameter
  • and 3 tubes of liquid nails
  • IKEA KOLJA mirror

We figured out that if we cut the shims to 5 3/4 inches each we would have less shim waste, so Ken set up a jig on his saw to ensure all his cuts were the same and got to chopping all the shims. Some had quite a bit of splintering happening on the ends so gave those a quick pass with hand sanding block. Herringbone Woodshim Mirror | Hicks House What we ended up with was a big ole pile o’ shims. Herringbone Woodshim Mirror | Hicks House We then placed our MDF board on top of two sawhorses to create a sort of work table. We found the center of the board and drew an X. To make sure we had enough shims and that the pattern was working properly I laid them all out dry until the entire surface was covered. I then picked up the middle pieces so that Ken could drill a hole in the center that could later be used as an entry point for the jigsaw. (In retrospect this could have been done before the dry fit – but I was too excited to get started I couldn’t wait). I then picked the pieces up one by one, applied a good amount of Liquid Nails to the back of each piece and spread it out with an extra piece of shim and carefully put them back. Herringbone Woodshim Mirror | Hicks House After getting into a bit of a rhythm I found it easier to pick up two pieces at a time so that I only had to worry about butting it up to one side of shim. I worked from the center up then down in one row, then off to each side. Disclaimer: This part really sucks. If you are off even the teensiest amount it will throw each additional piece off that amount times 2 and when you get to the edge nothing will fit right. Go SLOW and line everything up. Don’t worry you can do it. The glue doesn’t adhere fully right away so if you happen to stick a piece wrong you can pull it up and try again. Try to be careful of getting glue on the side or top of any of the shims. If you plan on staining this later on the stain will not adhere to the glue. (This is an example of do as I say not as I do mmmkay?) I then let it dry for 48 hours 2 weeks. When we decided it was sufficiently dry we used the ole pen and string method to draw our inner and outer circles. The mirror had a diameter of 22 inches so we decided our inner circle would be 18 inches and hoped that was enough overlap to later attach the mirror from the back. As mentioned earlier our outer circle was 3.5 feet. and Ken used his brand new Jigsaw to cut along the lines we drew. Herringbone Woodshim Mirror | Hicks House I deliberated and wavered back and forth between painting and staining because I was starting to get nervous that it was going to look too Country and that wasn’t what I wanted. Eventually I threw out the idea of painting it metallic silver (although I still think that would have looked cool too) and went to town staining the whole thing a dark espresso. I started with the cheap paint brush shown in the photo below and quickly swapped out for a foam brush (sorry not pictured). I worked in sections letting it sit on the wood for about 5-10 minutes then wiping it off with a clean white rag. The MDF edges SOAKED up the stain and I had to continuously dab on at least 5 coats, with no wiping to get a similar color to the top. Herringbone Woodshim Mirror | Hicks House Just to be safe I let this dry for a couple of weeks too. These things shouldn’t be rushed. We then flipped it upside down and drew some marks 22 inches from the center to line our mirror up at. We propped the mirror up on some paint cans topped with cardboard -to not harm the fabulous stain job- and squeezed on a bunch more Liquid Nails in a circle trying not to get too close to the opening (don’t want glue oozing out the middle) and spread it out. Ken then very very carefully put one hand through the middle (hence the propped-upness) and lowered the mirror down. This was super nerve wracking because you essentially have only one shot at this step. One it was down we carefully took it off the paint cans, placed it back on the sawhorses and put a bunch of cans on top to press it firmly into the mirror frame. We also applied a security edge of Liquid Nails around the edge as it had a slight bevel to it. Herringbone Woodshim Mirror | Hicks House At this point we were getting pretty excited and really wanted the mirror finished and hung on the wall. so of course it actually did take several days to dry. After we adhered the mirror, we read the side of the Liquid Nails bottle – you know always best to read the instructions after you’re done – and it said “not for use on mirrors” uh oh. So of course I was panicking that it wouldn’t hold and we would get it mounted on the wall and the mirror would detach from the frame and come crashing down while we had company over or were sleeping and shatter EVERYWHERE. So we decided to take precautionary measures. We bough some metal mirror clips from Home Depot which seemed like the perfect solution,except they were slightly too high. In order to get them to fit Ken slammed them with a hammer and used pliers to bend them into shape. Perfecto! Herringbone Woodshim Mirror | Hicks House Then of course the next crisis – nothing ever is easy. The screws that came with the mirror clips were too long, so we bought 1/2 inch screws and just to be safe used a scrap piece of wood to test it out. Ken measured the screw against his drill bit and wrapped some masking tape around it to create a “poor man’s drill stop” to ensure the pre-drilled screw holes were not too deep. He them pre-drilled the holes and HAND SCREWED in the screws. This is very important, do not use a drill because it would be too powerful for the MDF and could weaken it or cause splinters. The test piece held up well and didn’t pierce through to the other side so we repeated the process on the actual mirror, attaching one clip at the top and two on the bottom. Herringbone Woodshim Mirror | Hicks House The next dilemma was how to hang this beast, it easily weighs 20-30lbs. We purchased some heavy-duty D-rings and used the same 1/2 inch screws, pre-drill, hand screw method to attach them to the top of the mirror. Herringbone Woodshim Mirror | Hicks House In the picture hanging section at Home Depot we found these Monkey Hooks, we liked it because it made only a small hole in the wall and was rated to hold up to 50 pounds. Since we had some extra drywall in the basement we tried them out and took this picture that shows how they are able to support so much weight. It goes in your wall and hooks around to rest on the drywall behind the wall. Herringbone Woodshim Mirror Hicks House We went upstairs to the dining room, measured out where we wanted the mirror, placed the hooks in the wall to line up with our D-rings and TA-DA its all done! Herringbone Woodshim Mirror | Hicks House So what do you think? I’m in LOVE. I am actually surprised how much I like the way the stain picked up the different tones of wood and think it plays well against the more contemporary elements of the dining room, not too Country at all! What do you think? I’d love to hear your opinions and if you’re planning on tackling any projects like this yourself. Just scroll ALL the way down to the bottom and leave it in the comments. (I’ve tried various things and cannot get this to move up, the field I was adding before was sending me emails instead of creating comments.) So thus concludes the longest post and project to date! Thanks for following along! Hicks House


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Yellow Door No More

Perhaps the most spectacular fail we’ve made since moving into our house was painting the door yellow. You may recall the house looking like this:

close up

One thing is for sure, if you’ve ever driven down our street you sure couldn’t miss the house. (Not sure if that’s a good thing?) Needless to say it didn’t stand out in a GOOD way. The plan pretty much since the yellow paint was still wet was to repaint. Unfortunately I made this blunder on the last somewhat warm fall day. So we lived with it, all winter.

Spring arrived and I was practically chomping at the bit to repaint, but what color? I didn’t want to choose wrong again. We were also having more and more problems with the door sealing, something we noticed when we first moved in but never had addressed. So we brought it up with the builder who came over with a brand new door.

He took the old door off…
Yellow Door No More | Hicks House

and put in a new door.

Yellow Door No More | Hicks House

When he asked if we had anymore yellow paint, so he could paint it Ken and I pretty unanimously agreed that “We had run out, don’t worry about it, we’ll paint it.” NO MORE BRIGHT YELLOW DOOR.

So now we have this

Yellow Door No More | Hicks House

Back to square one. Now the decisions start, do we want to stick with yellow but something more subdued like this (first photo) or this? Or are we too traumatized from the horror that was the first yellow?

The interior is much more geared towards gray and blue tones so maybe something light blue/teal like this, this or this, or this. There is also the gray option such as this, or this, but is that too ho-hum?

I’d love to know your thoughts! Please leave your color choice in the comments.

Hicks House

 


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How to Remove Stain from Vinyl Siding


How to Remove Deck Stain from Vinyl Siding | Hicks House

Yup you read that right, when we stained the deck, we also stained some sections of the house… oops. Sometimes despite the best preparation (we used plastic sheeting and tape to tape off the sections we thought would over spray) mistakes happen.

We obviously could not leave it like this. As its become summer we’re spending more and more time and eating more and more dinners out here and this was always taunting us:
How to remove stain from vinyl siding | Hicks House I asked several handy people how to get it off and the general answer was “It’s stain – the whole purpose of it is to NOT come off.” Well that’s just peachy. Some suggestions were to try acetone, or mineral oil.

Ken tried the mineral oil and after several minutes of severe scrubbing he got the splatters into more of a light brown smear. Wah Wah – not good enough.

There had to be better way. Then he found this stuff (affiliate link) Motsenbocker’s Lift-Off – No. 4 Spray Paint Graffiti Remover, 22 oz. Trigger Spray
:
How to remove stain from vinyl siding | Hicks House

So we picked up some scrubbers and a handled dish brush from the dollar store and Ken donned some gloves and tried again. The bottle said not to leave it on the applied area for too long because it can oxidize and strip the color UNDER what you were trying to remove so don’t spray too big an area at once.  Ken sprayed it down with the Liftoff and went over it with the scrubber.
How to remove stain from vinyl siding | Hicks House
For extra stubborn areas he used the plastic scrubber.
How to remove stain from vinyl siding | Hicks House
He didn’t even to press down or scrub that hard it just started coming off… almost like magic.

In order to wash it off after the scrubbing to ensure that it didn’t strip through our siding he then sprayed it down with Windex and wiped it off with a clean rag.

We were both in awe of how amazingly it worked. Not that I would recommend getting stain on your house but if it does happen at least there is a way to easily get it off.

How to Remove Deck Stain from Vinyl Siding | Hicks House

So what do you think? Are you as impressed as we were? I’d love to hear about your DIY oopsies.
Hicks House


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The Lawn War Rages On

After moving all the original grass seed that was planted by the builder was washed away and/or burnt to a crisp before we moved in, we decided to concentrate on moving in without worrying about the lawn for the first year. This year however, Ken has put a lot of time and effort into trying to whip the lawn into shape. However it seems like time and Mother Nature have not been on our side.

Back in April/May he spent just about every (non-rainy) night after work and all weekend digging up rocks and tilling the lawn to get it ready to be re-seeded. Everything looked like it was going good – the lawn looked like a big dust-bowl with no vegetation anywhere. Then we ran out of time and went on vacation for our one year anniversary and returned to crab grass/weed central. No lie, in that one week everything had taken root and grown like a foot high. “Sigh”

And if that wasn’t bad enough all the rain that came down while we gone (adding fuel to the weeds) also unearthed even MORE rocks. So Ken had to start all over de-rocking the lawn.
Lawn War | Hicks House

We also got a giant pile of top soil delivered to help even out some spots of the lawn that were less than flat – as well as fill in all the giant holes left behind from removing the rocks.
Lawn War | Hicks House

The topsoil itself was also riddled with rocks (are you noticing a never ending theme here?) so it didn’t make sense to fill in the holes with rock filled dirt. We’d just be trading big rocks for smaller rocks. So Ken built this handy screen to help sift through the topsoil.
Lawn War | Hicks House

It fit perfectly on top of his cart so he could pile dirt on top of the screen then shake it back and forth letting the dirt through the holes and catching all the rocks.
Lawn Wars | Hicks House
Lawn Wars | Hicks House

That’s a lot of rock! The result was what Ken called “the best topsoil EVER”
Lawn Wars | Hicks House

Chloe kept a watchful eye on the entire process – you know just to make sure he wasn’t slacking off out there. She’s a real control freak that one.
Lawn Wars | Hicks House

After the holes and low spots were all filled in we seeded the bare areas hoping to get at least some patches of “real” grass among the weeds.

Lawn Wars | Hicks House

After watering everyday for about a week (the neighbors must think we’re crazy – watering our weeds) we finally saw some GRASS!
Lawn Wars | Hicks House

One step closer to a real lawn. Ken has a plan of attack to get ahead of next spring so that the remaining weeds which still encompass about 80% of our property are gone and some grass comes back next spring.

All in all, this is taking WAY more work than either of us anticipated. We’ll be so excited when we finally have decent grass we may be out there laying in the lawn with Chloe

Hicks House