Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The Be Golden Movement

Lent is upon us and I have decided that instead of just giving up sugar yet again, I am undertaking a bigger task – spread happiness one person at a time. It's called the Be Golden Movement and encourages everyone to do one good thing for someone else every day.

I've created a new blog exclusively for Be Golden so we can share stories and inspire ideas.

I hope you'll join me!

Monday, February 27, 2012

little mrs. fix it...

I am feeling very proud of myself today. I accomplished my first homeowner fix-it project. A few weeks after moving in, I noticed a water spot on the ceiling near our front door. It wasn't something that was noticed during inspection, and in all fairness to our inspector, it could have been mistaken for a paint splotch. Whoever did the paint touch ups did not have a steady hand.

But anyway, I called our inspector and he agreed to come look at it. He thought it was an old spot, but did find the source – a small tear in the membrane of the roof of our front porch.

Luckily, the fix was easy. Fill in the tear with roofing sealant. That meant buying a caulking gun. So now I'm armed and dangerous.

After a bit of a dog and pony show trying to figure out how to use the darn thing, I was ready for action.
I removed the screen and got to work.

I was so excited to use the gun, I forgot to take a picture of the tear. But here I am simulating how I fixed the rip. The tear was located on the right side of an already reinforced square area close to the house. So I just popped my head out the window and started sealing.

I reinforced the entire square because it looked like the old sealant was starting to come apart.

To make sure I got it all, I stuck the gun underneath the siding to make sure I didn't miss any of the tear. Looks like I got some of the siding too.

This is the final product. Looks like I went a little overboard with the sealant, but honestly, it was so hard to pull the trigger on the caulking gun, that I just sort of glopped it on in three layers. The tear was along the right side of the square and was not nearly as big as the cover-up. But better safe than sorry, right?

Now only time will tell if it works, but as of right now, I am pretty proud of my handiwork.

Monday, February 20, 2012

new homeowner issues...

we couldn't be more blessed to have a wonderful new home. a big home. bigger than we have furniture for.  and there in lies my problem. I don't know where to start on this house. In my apartments it was easy, there were only two rooms, but I have so many ideas, I just can't figure out where to start. We have enough furniture for our family room, but that's about it. We are looking pretty empty around here.

So that leaves:
  • our bedroom
  • living/dining room 
  • my office 
  • guest bedroom  
  • loft family room/man cave

My office was first on the list. But I can't find the right credenza, so until then it's on hold. 

Let's be honest, this is not really a problem. Seriously, I waited my whole life to have these problems. But I would love to know how other homeowners dealt with this issue.

Where do you start? 

Thursday, February 16, 2012

valentine's with a cherry on top...

as promised, here is part two of my Valentine's post. For dessert, I made a Red Velvet Cherry Cake.

I made two cakes. A two-tier cake for Ryan and I and a mini cake for my parents. The ingredients are pretty simple. As you can see above, all you need is Red Velvet Cake Mix, Comstock Cherry Pie Filling and the frosting of your choice. I chose Cream Cheese, but if I make this again, I will definitely try to make my own frosting. The Duncan Hines Cream Cheese was too rich for me. I really would have preferred just layering it with whip cream. Hmmmm.... maybe I will do that and keep it refrigerated next time.

Anyway, for the two-tier cake, I baked the cake, let it cool and then split it in two. I then covered the bottom layer with frosting.I had two cans on hand and for the entire recipes I used a can and a 1/4. Just judge by how much frosting you prefer. There is no required amount.

After it was frosted, I added a layer of the cherry pie filling, about 3/4 of the can. 

Then I put the top cake layer on and frosted it until the top was covered. I am not the kind of person who can gracefully frost the entire cake, even around the sides, so I didn't even attempt it. 

I didn't take a picture of this next step, but I made a little circle in the center of the frosting, removing he frosting that was in there, creating a little cavern. I filled that in with the remaining cherries (except for what I sat and ate straight out of the can with a spoon - but that doesn't count.) Since the cherry sauce is a bit runny, creating the cavern helps keep the cherries in the center of the cake. 
The combination of the Red Velvet Cake and the cherries was great. Like I said, I am not a fan of sweet frostings, so the Cream Cheese as a little much for me. But if you like sweet, you'll love it. That being said however, it hasn't stopped me from having a piece for breakfast today. 

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

a valentine's menu...

most everything in our household revolves around food. so why should Valentine's Day be any different? last year, I made my then-fiance heart-shaped pizza. this year's menu I ramped it up a bit for my now-husband:
  • Heart-shaped, individual turkey meatloaves
  • Roasted potatoes
  • Peas
  • Red velvet cherry cake

The turkey meatloaf recipe is my tried and true recipe with a few additions.
1/2 cup plain panko bread crumbs
1/3 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
2 eggs, at room temperature, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons milk
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
1 1/2 teaspoons  salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 pound ground turkey

  1. Place an oven rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Spray a 9 by 5-inch loaf pan with cooking spray.
  3. In a large bowl, stir together the bread crumbs, parsley, garlic, onion powder, eggs, milk, feta, salt, and pepper. Add the turkey and gently stir to combine.
  4. Carefully pack the ½ of the meat mixture into a ball and then shape into a heart. Do the same with the remaining mixture.
  5. Top with a mixture of tomato paste, Worcestershire, BBQ sauce, salt, pepper, onion powder and garlic salt. Mix it to taste.
  6. Bake for 45 minutes or until completely cooked through.

I love roasted potatoes and this recipe was inspired by one I found on What's Gaby Cooking.

4 cups cubed Yukon Gold or regular baking potatoes
5 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp garlic salt
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp rosemary
1 tsp pepper
4 tbsp Parmesan cheese

  1. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Spray a baking dish with cooking spray.
  3. In a bowl mix the olive oil, garlic salt, salt, onion powder, rosemary, pepper and Parmesan cheese.
  4. Slowly add the cubed potatoes to the mixture, stirring as you add. Be sure that all of the potatoes are thoroughly coated.
  5. Transfer the coated potatoes to your baking dish.
  6. Place in the oven and bake for 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and toss the potatoes with a pair of tongs. Put the baking dish back into the oven and bake for about 15 – 25 minutes more until they are golden and crispy.
  7. Top with salt, pepper and Parmesan if desired. 
The peas were from a can. I just added butter and salt and pepper. Just keeping it real. :)

Here is the finished meal.

And my Valentine. 

Hope you had a wonderful Valentine's Day and were surrounded by the ones you love. 

Tomorrow I'll share my Red Velvet Cherry Cake recipe....

Friday, February 10, 2012

smoothest gift in town...

I want to preface this entry by saying I LOVE everything we got for our wedding. Everyone was so generous and the gifts have all been put to good use. But the one I am most amazed with is our Cuisinart Compact Smoothie Blender.
It's a mini-blender that comes with four travel cups. You just fill the travel cups with your desired ingredients, twist the blade base to the top of the travel cup, flip over and place directly on the blender. Blend, remove the blade base, replace with a travel lid and VOILA! you have a great smoothie in mere minutes.

I've gone hog-wild buying fruit at the grocery store lately, so I've been loading mine up with blueberries, bananas and strawberries. Then I add some low-fat vanilla yogurt, a scoop of protein powder and some OJ. It's a great go-to breakfast or shake before the gym.

It's easy to use and easy to clean up. A match made in smoothie heaven.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

second half of mantel makeover...

My recent mantel makeover consisted of rearranging and repurposing pieces that I already had. Now that I had the mantel in order, it was time to tackle what to do with the remaining pieces. To refresh your memory, here is the old mantel setup:

And here is the mantel afterward: 

I removed the green vase as well as the green and pink flowers that were previously in the white vase. So where did they go? 

On the console table behind our couch. 

This is what it looked like before. 
It was just a catch-all for stuff I didn't have a home for. 

It wasn't a huge change, but just enough to make an impact. Now it fits perfectly with the rest of the room. I exchanged the damask green vase for the plain green vase to make the table less busy. Then I added the green and pink flowers in the yellow and green vase. I removed the wedding frame and cleared off the table.

It's simple, clean and adds to the room without being distracting.

By repurposing existing accents, I have created two new vignettes that give our family room personality. It's a great way to refresh the look of your home without spending money. And as a new homeowner, saving money is the name of the game!

 What have you repurposed lately?

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

a cheery cherry morning....

I recently discovered the best way to brighten my mornings: Michigan Cherry Coffee from Meijer.
You can select and grind your own beans right in the store. I cut it with one scoop of Maxwell House Breakfast Blend so it's not too sweet. But mix it with some Coffee-mate Natural Bliss Vanilla and it's like cherry pie with whip cream with a kick!

It's the way I start every morning and it brings a smile to my face! I hope you have a cheery cherry morning too!