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.

I Render our Tuscan Kitchen…

1 Oct

The kitchen was my favorite part of the renovation even though it required a lot more planning and design.  It was awesome having a clean slate and building it back.  Everything that was lacking in the previous kitchen I wanted to remedy here, namely cabinet and counter space, even though I think you can never truly have enough.  Even now I have almost filled the new cabinets back up!  I love to cook and entertain, so the kitchen to me was very important.  I wanted it to be functional and I wanted it to be beautiful, because everyone always ends up in your kitchen right?  I wanted to have plenty of room to spread out so that several of us could be in the kitchen cooking on holidays, namely my sister, niece and me!  A large island gives plenty of work space and a prep sink was added by the range as a secondary work area.  I planned a five foot walkway between the island and the range and the island and the refrigerator wall.  Standard is three feet, but I didn’t want to be crowded or not be able to open the refrigerator door and dishwasher door at the same time.  We wanted the Old World Tuscan flare that is so warm so we chose the dark wood cabinets but contrasted those with the lighter granite color.  For the island we decided to do a laminate edge which has an extra thick border around the counter and gives it a dressier look since it’s really the focal point of the kitchen.  Copper sinks were in keeping with the Tuscan look as well as copper accent tiles in the backsplash.  The microwave, dishwasher and wine chiller are built into the island.  My preference was for a one piece range with double ovens.  When you’re trying to finish the turkey on Thanksgiving and still cook the dressing and sweet potato casserole two ovens will be great!  Also one can serve as a warming oven for parties.  I don’t like a lot of things out on the counter tops so during my design phase I planned for two appliance garages, one for the mixer and one for the coffee service.  I love my big Kitchen Aid mixer but hated heaving the 50 lb thing out of a cabinet when I was ready to use it, but I also don’t want it just out all the time.  With the garage it and all its’ attachments stay concealed and when I want to use it I only have to move it a few inches and I’m ready to mix.  Electrical outlets are in the back of each garage.  Same for the coffee maker.  That is used daily, of course, but when we’re through with our morning coffee, the pot, along with the grinder, cream and sugar containers are neatly stored away in the appliance garage.  There is no wasted space with this either because they would be out on the counter anyway!  So here we go, from yellowed white cabinetry, L-shaped counter setup, to demo and construction, to the final finished kitchen!

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!!

Some of the Upstairs Rooms…

25 Aug

I haven’t really focused on telling you much about the upstairs once we finished installing the hardwood floors, but let me circle back to that for a minute.  Like the other rooms I want to show you clean ‘After’ pictures without furnishings to see the difference.  I’ll later post furnished and decorated pics.  I have two before pictures –  the first is of the upstairs landing and the other is one of the guest rooms.  This particular guest bedroom had built-in furniture including a desk, headboard for the beds and the twin bed frames.  It was really horrible!  Formica built-in furniture, does that not remind you of a hospital or worse?  These things were built to last a lifetime however, because they were tough to demo.  Once the built-in furniture was torn out some patching on the walls was necessary where they were damaged from the removal.  The landing was updated with the same wrought iron balusters that are on the stairways.  The biggest improvement upstairs was painting the rooms a nice, soothing color (no more peachy/orange) and of course the hard wood floors throughout the second floor.

Master Bathroom Done…

16 Aug

When we were looking at the house initially we loved the floor plan of the master bathroom; it was spacious with large closets for each of us.  The vanities were evenly sized.  My husband complained that a lot of houses had bathrooms that catered to the women, meaning that one of the closets and one of the vanities was usually larger and somehow that one always ended up belonging to the wife!  In this house they’re equally sized.  We had a lot of work to do here though because the bathroom needed major updating.  The shower was large but the door to it was small and just did nothing for the look.  We were limited in being able to enlarge the door because there was plumbing for the dual shower heads on the vanity side which precluded us from doing a glass wall there and electrical for the closet on the other side so we were not able to glass anything but just the door.  We raised and widened the door opening by about a foot.  That’s all we could eke out, but at least it was something.  All the white tile was replaced with travertine and the shower was accented with a border of brown marble.  We put dark brown granite on the vanities so that it would pick up the brown vein in the travertine.  After the blog voting, the high-tech tub was ruled out and we went with a classic white jacuzzi bath (I do think that was the right decision!).  We replaced the light that was above the bath tub with a vintage chandelier that had been in my home where I grew up.  The matching one to this is in our butler’s pantry.  These chandeliers have been in my family for about three generations or so and hung in my childhood home, our previous house and now this house!  Here are the before and after pictures.

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