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2012 in review…

30 Dec

I just received from WordPress.com the annual stats from my blog.  Check this out, pretty cool for my first time blogging!!

Here’s an excerpt:

The new Boeing 787 Dreamliner can carry about 250 passengers. This blog was viewed about 1,700 times in 2012. If it were a Dreamliner, it would take about 7 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Natural Christmas Decorations for the Front Entry

18 Dec

I have continued my battle with the deer and the flowerbeds but it is now time for me to concede – they have won!  I planted the front beds then the flower bed by the street and they have eaten everything.  I give up!  My husband found this product called ‘Deer Off’ that we are going to try, but at this point I’m delaying that experiment until spring planting.  I have spent all the money I’m going to on bedding plants only to have it end up as deer food.  The ‘Deer Off’ is supposedly what the neighborhood uses because their flowers are never touched at the entry way or at the clubhouse – they just come over to our yard to eat.  It is not harmful to the deer at all; it just gives off a scent that is not appealing.  Lesson learned, deer are very prevalent here and you can’t set out plants without some deterrent.  Today I cleaned out the last vestiges of pansies and kale and reluctantly covered the beds over with bark.  With company coming in Thursday for Christmas however, I did not want the front entry looking so sparse with no plants.  I decided to fill my planters with fresh-cut greenery from the yard (a mix of holly, juniper and berries) and spray painted pinecones silver and gold.  I arranged the greenery then interspersed it with the painted pinecones.  At least I have something that looks festive now and the deer should leave this alone!

Front Door Christmas GreeneryFront Door Christmas Greenery Closeup

Deer Buffet…

5 Nov

This weekend was so beautiful and warm so fall planting was on the schedule for first thing Saturday morning.  I had wanted to get a jump on things so I went to Home Depot on Friday night to get all the plants and soil.  Friday night is a perfect time to go – no one is there, and I knew Saturday morning would be chaos.  I selected beautiful flowering kale with matching purple and pink pansies to plant together in my planters and in the annual beds.  Saturday morning I’m all set to plant and I get the tools out, go around to the front flower beds and find that my beautiful pansies that were just bursting in vibrant blooms are all GONE!  Not one blasted bloom in sight.  The deer foiled my fall planting and chose to graze on the pansies.  They didn’t care for the kale!  I had four flats of pansies full of blooms and there was nothing left.  So I picked out the ones that at least still had a few leaves on them and planted them.  I don’t know if they’ll come back or not and I certainly don’t know what color they are.  The ones that were eaten down to basically no leaves I just am leaving out for the deer to keep snacking on.  Maybe it will keep them away from the poor remnants that I am trying to revive!  I don’t know if any of that spray deer repellant works on plants or not…anyway maybe they’ll eventually bloom, otherwise I’ll have just kale in the annual beds!

Forgotten Cookies

30 Oct

If you want a quick and easy go to cookie recipe for anytime, but especially during the busy holiday season, try my Forgotten Cookies!  My Mother got this recipe from a lady in our town when I was very young and she always made them.  I’ve been making them myself for years now and sometimes people will ask me if I’m going to make “those little white cookies”!  They are meringue cookies that you mix up, put in the oven and leave overnight, hence the word ‘Forgotten’.

2 egg whites
2/3 c sugar
1 c nuts
1 tsp vanilla
1 c chocolate chips
pinch of salt
 

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Let the egg whites reach room temperature then beat until foamy.  Add the sugar and pinch of salt and beat until stiff peaks form in the meringue.  Add vanilla flavoring.  Fold in nuts and chocolate chips.  Line two cookie sheets with foil.  Drop the meringue onto the cookie sheets.  Place into the oven and turn the oven OFF.  Leave in the oven 6 to 8 hours and when you pull them out they will have set.

Guest Baths Get a Makeover…Part 2

18 Sep

Our house has been officially ‘Warmed’ now!  I have been off-line lately preparing for our Housewarming party.  We had it this past Saturday so now our home has had its’ first gathering of friends and family en masse!  It is the first of many happy occasions that will be hosted here.  Blogging took a back seat however as I was cleaning, decorating and cooking for the party.  Now I can continue with some updated posts.  This guest bath was really a hodgepodge of color.  The original tile was white which was great, but then they put in an accent row of pink.  To compliment that they also had pink grout in the white floor tiles.  Nothing against pink, it’s a great color and there was a time when my house was filled with mauve and sea foam green.  Sometime recently they had painted over the wallpaper with a bright yellow color.  In preparing to repaint we found several layers of paper underneath and removing them was a nightmare because the paper had been installed without a primer base so it came off in teeny little pieces!  Our plan was to use the darker tiles in this bathroom.  It will probably get the least amount of use by guests so I wanted to use the darker color in here.  There is a skylight in the room so that you do get some bright natural light that helps.  I love this tile though!  I chose to bring out the blue-gray color for the wall paint and then go dark with hardware and cabinetry.

Guest Baths Get a Makeover…Part 1

28 Aug

One of the reasons we wanted a larger house was so that we’d have more room for company when they come to stay with us.  In our old house we had one guest bath so if  more than one set of company stayed at the same time they all ended up sharing the hall bathroom.  There are times when we have a lot of people staying here at once (both sides of the family) so we wanted each space to be unique and comfortable to allow people to feel like they have room to spread out and enjoy their stay.  I almost did the baths in the same tile, but since I found so many different tiles that I loved and had a hard time deciding among them, I thought I would just do each bath in a different style.  That way each could be different and people could choose which room they wanted to call theirs when they are here with us.  Guest bath #1.  The tile was in good shape but it was all just plain high gloss white, definitely what the builder had chosen for a 90s build out.  I chose to keep this room light but warmed it up just a bit with a creamy tile that has a little bit of tan mixed through it.  The counter had a weird angle cabinet that just didn’t work.  I know they were trying to maximize all space but I thought a furniture piece vanity would suit better in here.  I did keep the angled mirror though and my niece actually commented that she liked that because she could get a good view when she’s doing her hair!  We chose to completely demo the bathrooms not tile over the existing tile.  Our tile guy suggested we tile over but in a 20-year-old house there could always be plumbing surprises hiding so we wanted to mitigate anything like that by tearing it all out, inspecting all plumbing thoroughly, then going in with the new stuff.  I highly recommend that because in our master we had a wall completely give way during demo and if we’d tiled over that would have just been a problem lurking waiting to destroy all our new work eventually!!

As we Enter the House, Foyer and Hall…

26 Jul

The house originally had a travertine floor in the foyer and hall that we were going to keep until all the new tile that was installed really showed up the flaws in this floor.  I think it just looked good at the time compared to the rest of the house!  The travertine had not been professionally done and the cuts were uneven, grout lines too big and again uneven, so it was replaced with new travertine.  We still wanted that look, just wanted to spruce it up a little.  The old tile came out in chunks and the subfloor was awful and uneven and required leveling compound, which is why in the ‘Between’ pictures it looks like fresh concrete had been poured!   In the foyer we decided to add to the design by inlaying the wood in a diamond design to border the tiles.  The banisters were original and were white painted wood square balusters.  They were in good shape and were super sturdy, needless to say, very hard to remove!  This was a decision we vacillated on for a while, because they were still good and the look was fine, but a little dated.  We really wanted to go with wrought iron banisters.  After researching this for a while I happened upon a contractor who does beautiful work (See my preferred contractors on the Home Renovations tab).  He hand forges the material and custom makes the design.  We had several ideas in mind as to what look we wanted and as we met with him, he pulled out his spiral composition notebook and began to drawing it right there on the spot!  He said we could tweak it in any way as he was building the piece.  We decided to go with a flowing design rather than individual balusters.  We were very pleased with the product.  It is heavy and thick metal and should last a lifetime.  He is incorporating the same design into our new front door which is still in work.  Here are the pictures showing the progression from start to finish of the foyer and the front hall.

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