House Update & Halloween!

Sooooooooooo, been a while since I posted but that’s because there has been TONS going on! First and foremost, my PORCH!!!!

Anyone who has been with me a while knows that I have dreamed of a front porch. You can take a girl out of the South, but she will still want to sit on the porch, drink tea and chat with the neighbors!!

I first posted about my porch ideas just over a year ago here.

Just for perspective, here’s our house just after purchase last year:

I LOVE my house!!!! But, I didn’t love the ancient overgrown shrubs out front, including the awkward square guy right in front (I called it the brownie bush, because it’s totally square and flat like those box-o-brownies you can get at Sam’s or Costco and cut up to serve). It was also kind of awkward that the front door opened into the dining room. That basically meant no entryway and a squished dining table that the door almost bumped into!

So, we went through the craziness of getting a billion variances approved from the city (ok, not a billion, but it felt like it sometimes!), got a contractor, save up our pennies and now we have a porch!!!

Porch addition, pre-new door installation
Back of the house minus siding
New siding!

We are so excited to have new vinyl siding! We choose ‘oxford blue’ as the color and plan to add shutters, probably in the spring after we have time to shutter-shop.

We got to go shopping for a new front door, which was super exciting! There’s a lot to consider when buying a door that you don’t really think about until you have to shop for one. Seriously, I think it took us an hour to pick out new handle/locks! We went with the Blakely door from Jewlden:

Blakely door

It’s decorative, but not froo-froo. Perfect!

And all that got finished up just in time for us to do some super-last minute Halloween decorating yesterday!

First, we dug out the stump of the brownie bush (cut down by our contractor), and found something spooky:

Remnants of the brownie bush!

Then, we outlined a pathway to the door, since we don’t have a new sidewalk yet:

Walkway to the front door

And we couldn’t help but add some creepiness to that new door:

Hope you had fun decorating for Halloween, I sure did!!!!!

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My digital Christmas

Yes, we are taking the leap to the digital reading frenzy! I just ordered Terry and I each an Amazon Kindle 2 for Christmas. I have scoffed at these things since they came out, but I’m jumping on the bandwagon. Here’s why:

  1. Now that we commute on trains to work, we read A LOT! Seriously, I’m sure Barnes and Noble has seen a sales boost from us. While we will still have to pay for the electronic Kindle books, it is cheaper. New releases (i.e. ‘Hardbacks’) are $9.99 significantly less than the usual $25, even taking into account the ‘member’ discounts.
  2. Terry is tired of finishing a book on the train and then having nothing to read until we make a trip to the bookstore. We tend to ‘stock up’ at the bookstore, but we read a lot of series and if they are missing one book in the middle, you’re stuck until you find it. No more I say!!!
  3. It’s ‘Green’ YAY for saving a few trees!
  4. Less books around the house = less clutter/stuff to store = a ‘neat’ bookcase (something I have personally never had).

So there you have it, a few reasons why we decided the Kindle was a good purchase for us this Christmas. We’ll get them in before Christmas, so we’ll be able to take them on our trip home and give them a test run on the plane. Of course, I still have 2 paperbacks already purchased that I need to read first, so depending on how long that takes I may make the switch after.

So, does anyone out there Kindle? Do you like it??

Sha-Recipe Holiday Swap

This year I participated in the Holiday Super Swap for the Sha-Recipe Ravelry Group. In this group we do a recipe swap every month with a different theme, but then every so often, we do a ‘Super Swap’ where we share recipes, a fun kitchen gadget, and a handmade item. Well this weekend I received my surprise swap gift in the mail all the way from Australia!!!! Here is the awesome package my partner sent me:

Here is a list of all the goodies (clockwise from bottom left):

  • a set of tea towels
  • mixed jelly candies (these are SO GOOD!!) You can’t see the top of the bag in this picture….but it was already open 🙂
  • a snowflake cookie cutter
  • cafe style paper muffin wraps
  • silver and gold mini-muffin cups
  • the coolest ever little set of measuring cups that are magnetic! I’ve never seen any like this but they are awesome and nest inside each other to store!
  • cupcake and cake stencils. I can’t wait to try these out!!
  • Two (yes, count them TWO!) checkerboard-style pot holders in green/white and red/white. I LOVE LOVE LOVE these because they are cute and festive, but not overtly Christmassy, so I’ll use them all year 🙂
  • And on top of all that, some fabulous yarn!!! I nice mossy green color in a wool/bamboo/silk blend that is yummy and soft (I keep petting it!)

What a fabulous gift this was! I was just shocked at all the generosity when I opened it. My partner definitely went above and beyond the call of duty on this one, THANK YOU SO MUCH!!!!

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

Whew! I am STUFFED! Although we were home all alone this Thanksgiving, it was a great day! Last night we made a trip to Lowe’s and bought supplies for kitchen cabinet we are adding to the kitchen. Since it’s a long weekend for Terry (I have to work tomorrow) we thought this was the perfect weekend for tackling a project Weekend Warrior style! Today Terry worked on that while I cooked and baked! Here’s a little trip through our day:

I started my day off making our cheesecake, since it needed to chill a few hours and I didn’t get to make it last night. Here is the recipe I used (click on image to enlarge and print, or right click to copy and paste into your fav program to print your recipe card!):

This is my first ever cheesecake but it was really easy!!

Crumb mixture for crust
Ready for the oven!
The final product!

So yummy, I think this will definitely be on future holiday menus! The biggest problem now….this thing is going to be in my fridge until we eat it. Me and Terry. That’s it. Want to come help? My hips will thank you if you do!

I didn’t really have a Thanksgiving ‘menu’ or anything, but I did plan for green bean casserole and I got rolls and turkey tenderloins. A quick spin in the kitchen and we had this for dinner:

Mmmmm, dinner...

Outside of the kitchen, much was accomplished. Here is the current state of our future cabinet:

Cabinet (can you tell we were on a coffee break when this picture was taken?)

The tiles on top are not actually adhered yet, just there for our visual inspection. YES, we measured PERFECTLY!!!!!! Notice we are working in the office. This is how we DIY when the weather is crummy. Here is what it really looked like all day:

What a mess!

The hall and office are completely off-limits to the puppies, which means of course that they are more determined than ever to go back there! I can’t wait to see this done! Terry is blowing me away with his handiness and ideas!

Lastly I decorated my Christmas tree, YAY! We haven’t put up a tree the last two years so I was really jazzed! The puppies were REALLY into it, especially Jasper who kept stealing ornaments!

Jasper checking out the ornaments while I chat with my Mom
Ooooo, what's this Mommy?
I think Mickey takes after me with his love for coffee.

I hope everyone out there had a fabulous Thanksgiving!!!