Saturday, January 30, 2016

Happy 2016!!

If I am going to reach my New Year's resolution of blogging at least once a month, I better get going!

But before, I get into my 2016 resolutions, it's time to look back and be accountable!

I am actually quite surprised at all the house projects that got done especially with planning my daughter's wedding.

I found a new landscaper!  One who actually showed up did a beautiful job putting in pavers in my front, and back yard along with mulching, trimming the bushes, edging, planting a tree, etc.  I was so impressed with the "extra" things he did, because he "wanted to be proud of the job", I ended up hiring him for the weekly mowing.  And true to his word, he showed up each week and did a wonderful job.  My husband who usually mows the lawn, while I do the rest of the yard work, kept thanking me for hiring him!

I hired someone to power wash my house, the deck, the dock, driveway and sidewalks.
I also hired someone to paint my living room and outside atrium doors.

I wanted to carpet the lower level and the stairs, but instead decided to replace all my carpeting.  The smartest thing I did was pay the extra money for the men to move my large pieces of furniture and beds!  Definitely money well spend and my husband agreed!

And as far as the master bath, I decided to hold off on that since I am not sure what I want to do.

As far as my health goals, having the fit bit was great!  It kept me accountable and I hit my 10,000 steps every day.

My husband and I also stumbled upon a new sport called pickleball.  We had never heard of pickleball. So here is the backstory:  My husband and I are trying to build a park in our community.  As we got more into the project, we quickly realized that there was way to much learning curve to try to build a park ourselves, that we hired a firm that specialized in building parks to help us develop a conceptual plan. We gave him our ideas and had mentioned we wanted space for "court" activities.  We were thinking maybe basketball, boccie, corn hole.  He came back with a plan and put in "pickleball courts" and proceeded to tell us it's one the fastest growing sports.  We ended up having a public meeting to see if there was support for a park. There were a couple of pickleball supporters who mentioned they were thrilled to see potential courts in our community and invited us to come and play.  We got instantly hooked!  So for the past few months, we have been playing  3-4 times a week!  It is so much fun and very social, that you don't feel like you have been exercising for two hours at a time!  Plus it's good cardio!

Lastly, I wanted to find a way to serve more.  I was fortunate to be apart of  some great volunteer projects.  The first two matched groups of volunteers to non-profits for a half day of service.  We had hundreds of members of the the community donated their time!  The third was a food drop that had 1500 volunteers show up, pack semis and deliver food to 6,600 families in need.

As for 2016:
I plan to blog once a month.  I plan to continue exercising though walking, biking and playing pickleball. I plan to continue serving others by using my organizational and fundraising skills. And as for house projects, I would like to paint the trim on my house.  I would also like to possibly remodel my kitchen.  I worked with a company and they came back with an estimate of 77,569 dollars.  Yes, you read that correctly over seventy seven thousand dollars!  This is not a joke!  Instead a major disappointment.  I know I have a very,very large kitchen but honestly, that is just beyond ridiculous. What's even more ridiculous is that I was keeping my appliances and not doing anything to my hardwood floors.  Okay enough venting!  Here's to a happy and healthy 2016!

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Blue Cheese Crostini with Balsamic-Roasted Grapes

I love roasted vegetables!  Roastings brings out a nice sweet flavor. So when I saw this recipe in the February edition of Southern Living that included roasting a fruit, I was intrigued.  The roasting along with the balsamic vinegar makes a slight syrup and the grapes sweetness is enhanced.  The sweet grapes on top of the pungent blue cheese really compliments each other. This is a simple yet different take on your typical crostini.

Blue Cheese Crostini with Balsamic-Roasted Grapes

2 cups halved seedless red grapes
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 1/2 tablespoons minced shallot (I’ve made with and without, omitted here)
2 teaspoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon light brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
French bread baguette, cut into slices
3 tablespoons butter, softened
2 ounces crumbled blue cheese, softened
Chopped toasted pecans
Garnish: chopped fresh thyme

Combine the first 6 ingredients and roast at 425 for 15 minutes.
 Mix butter and blue cheese and spread on bread slices.
 Bake at 350 until cheese melts. 
Top with grapes, pecans and thyme.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

With the wedding fast approaching, I have kicked up the exercise and healthy eating.  My fitbit has been a great way to stay motivated and I am proud to say everyday this month, I have exceeded my 10,000 steps.  Our family has always been a big walking family, but having the fitbit certainly keeps me on track.
Here's a healthy salad option:

Avocado & Tomato, White Bean Salad with Vinaigrette

- 1 can white beans
- 1 avocado, chopped
- 1 Roma tomato, chopped
- 1/4 sweet onion chopped (or less or none if you're not a fan of onions)

That's the salad base and here's the vinaigrette:
- 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/4 cup lemon juice 
- dried basil to taste
- garlic powder to taste
- salt & pepper to taste
- 1 teaspoon mustard
Whisk vinaigrette ingredients together then pour over salad base and mix well. Refrigerate for a few hours before serving. 

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Potato Leek Soup

 Looking for a good way to warm up this winter?  Try this soup!

  1. In a large pot over medium heat, melt butter. Cook leeks in butter with salt and pepper until tender, stirring frequently, about 15 minutes.
  2. Stir cornstarch into broth and pour broth into pot. Add the potatoes and bring to a boil. Season with salt and pepper. Pour in the cream, reduce heat and simmer at least 30 minutes, until potatoes are tender. Season with salt and pepper before serving.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Happy 2015!

As for my 2014 resolutions:

We all know that blogging every month  was a major FAIL!!!  But I will try that one again!

So my simple project of taking down the wallpaper in the mudroom and laundry room, became not so simple.  It became affectionately referred to by both my husband and me as "the project from Hell:"  I don't even think I am being dramatic or sarcastic here.  This project lead to drywall repair, to priming the walls, to painting the walls, to painting the ceiling, to cleaning up paint spatters on the wood, to paint touch ups, to a misunderstanding on drilling holes for a key holder, to spackling, to priming, to another paint touch up, to changing the hardware on the coat hooks, to painting the key holder, to  removing baseboard that broke, to additional wall repair from the baseboard that broke, to a floor repair that was not simple, to washing the baseboard, to using a restorer on the baseboard, to finding similar baseboard to use for the broken baseboard, to staining baseboard, to finding new tile since the tile I wanted was discontinued, to new light fixtures.  I actually got to the point (where to my husbands delight) I said "shoot me if I want to do another home improvement project".

But for some unknown reason, I had a mental lapse and forgot all that!

I did go on as if nothing had every happened. Okay, maybe I am getting old and forgetful!

I finally, FINALLY found light fixtures that I love for my foyer and dining area, but even that did not turn out to be simple.  I knew my husband and I could install the 4 lower fixtures ourselves, but I did not want my husband on a ladder to install the foyer chandelier which has a 2 story ceiling.  My estimates from electricians were as high as $400 (yes for one light fixture!), so when I found a licensed electrician who said he would install it for $100 I quickly hired him. Sounds simple huh?  Of course not!  He showed up 3 times, each time late.  First he came without a ladder, then he came with a friend to help him but they got into an argument and left, and his third time he asked for more money (despite having a written estimate) and told me he couldn't be held responsible for any damage to the walls from using a ladder.  At that point I politely declined his services and found someone else.

I also changed out the faucet in the main level bathroom, even though I did this less than 3 years ago.  I had bought a copper one that turned green in places and looked terrible .

My "easy," "simple", and "inexpensive" landscaping project of a few plants and some pavers turned into an expensive removal of a tree  ($400) which was not part of the "simple just have the roots grinded" plan that the landscaper told me.  In the end the the landscaper never showed up to do the job after many calls.  I also was hoping for a reprieve of shaping and trimming  bushes, but that never happened.  Whoever designed 54 bushes for our landscaping should be shot or at least made to come and trim once a year!  So this in on the list for next year!

I did manage to finally find a towel bar and toilet  paper holder for our lower level bathroom which I was able to install myself.  I also found  a light fixture which I was able to install  by myself (okay with my husband coaching and insisting I could do this!)  I guess after the helping with the upstairs light fixtures, I gained some confidence!

My flooring was finally redone by someone else in our master bath, the girl's bath and the laundry room and mudroom after another "Yes, I will do it. " but don't show up installer.

So over all this has been a productive but very tiring year for home improvements!

But as for 2015--I am not sure of my home improvement projects.  I will definitely cut myself some slack this year as my daughter is getting married and that is the priority.  I would like to get new carpeting for our lower level and stairs.  I would like to do some additional landscaping with a landscaper, but the chances of one showing up is questionable and I am undecided on what to do with out master bath--a major renovation or a simple fix?  So, not sure and I have to admit, a little, no, a lot, burned out on home repair from last year! Again the wedding is the priority!

As far as my fitness plans I did well and plan to continue!  I exercise regularly and ate healthy.   I plan to do even better this year as I received a fit bit for Christmas.  No more "Google mapping" my walking to see if I reached my target goal!

As for my personal goals, I want to become a better person in many ways,  This is a continuation of the Rick Warren transformed Bible study I took this fall.  I also want to find more ways to serve others using my gifts,

So here is to a happy, healthy, and family by my side year!

Friday, July 4, 2014