Thursday, October 29, 2009

Bird Feeder

We have a bird feeder on our deck that I love to fill up in the fall and watch the birds go to town! They sing and chirp, it seems to make them so happy. I took a few pictures for you. It's hard to really capture the beauty of this sight with my camera, so you may have to imagine how cool it is on your own.

But here's the rub. We also have a local raccoon. A hungry, feisty, BOLD raccoon. A raccoon who likes to climb up on the deck, tip the feeder, hook a perch on the railing of the deck, and let the bird seed pour into his mouth...leaving none for the bird.

He does leave us something though. If seeing the tipped feeder isn't enough evidence that he's been around, there's frequently a small pile, left on the deck. It really just adds insult to injury.

I do not like that raccoon.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Easy Fridge Decor

While I'm on the subject of upgrading the house, I wanted to show off my refrigerator for those who haven't seen it in person. I sell Uppercase Living on the side, so I like to use it in my home for easy, temporary decorating. This is how I fancied up my fridge. Love it!

The vinyl is removable but not reusable, and comes in over 30 color choices. You can choose from the catalog, or create your own. If you want to check out some designs for your house visit my website at before I get kicked out for not meeting minimum sales for the quarter...which will probably be January 1st. LOL!

Friday, October 23, 2009

New Sink - Kitchen Upgrade

We've been trying to sell our house. It's a pain. One of the feedback notes we've heard is that there are other homes in the area with more upgrades....well yea, and they are priced a lot higher too! Regardless, we decided that it wouldn't hurt to take a critical eye to the house and see what we might be able to change. Ever since we moved in 4 years ago, I've hated the kitchen sink. So, I wanted to upgrade that sink from a crappy 11 year old stainless to something new and sleek. I got a great deal on an off-white Blanco sink from a local plumbing supply store, so off we went!

Unfortunately, the Blanco was accidentally damaged during the I ended up with an Elkay e-granite in white instead. Still, it's beautiful! Deep bowls, wire racks for the bottom, and even a cutting board. We added a new Kohler faucet that has a built-in sprayer that pulls out, and a new rim part for the disposal to complete the look.

You like?

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Meal Planning

For a while, I was making a meal plan for the entire month and somehow sticking to it! It was a joy to be able to look at my list in the morning and know what we would be having for dinner. Things were easy then...but somehow I got away from monthly meal planning. I started back up recently with weekly plans for a month, and then two days ago I totally pulled the trigger on making a meal plan for the rest of October and I am SO glad I did! It really makes things simple to be able to look at the list in the morning and not have to think about dinner as much. I think it's also cost effective because I'm able to plan ahead and use up a lot of the bargain meat I have in the freezer, instead of running out every couple days for meat. As a rule, I try to incorporate at least 2 crock pot meals each week, as well as at least one leftover day a week.

For those who want to start meal planning, the first step I use is to take an inventory of food/meals I have in the freezer, fridge and pantry. You have to know what you've got to work with...and if you're like me, chances are there are packages of frozen meat that have been lingering in the back of the freezer.

After taking an inventory, make another list of all the meals your family likes to eat. Even if it's things that you don't have ingredients for on-hand. You still need a master meal list to give you ideas of recipes for the month.

Finally, take a 3rd piece of paper (or use the computer if you I'm a pencil and paper kind of gal) and merge the two other lists. My advice is to work with what you have on-hand to create a month of meals that you know you and the family will eat. Also, remember to build in meals of leftovers every few days. And you can also plan to double, make a double batch of chili for week one and freeze half for another meal during week three. See how easy!!?

Here's the rest of my month, in order:

shrimp with tarragon pasta
homemade pizza
out to eat (if I'm lucky!)
ranch chicken
crock pot tostadas
italian beef
quesadillas (from left over beef)
quiche (to use up eggs and veggies from fridge)
fly to new orleans (yippee!)

Do you meal plan? Let me hear about it!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Apple Season

I love autumn. There are so many reasons why... the temperature drops (but not too low), we can fire up the fireplace, the colors change beautifully and apples are in season. My thoughts turn to the kitchen - applesauce, apple butter and baked goods of all varieties.

Today, I have applesauce on the stove and will later magically turn it into apple butter by cooking it low and slow with fragrant cinnamon, cloves and a bit of brown sugar. YUM!

I also have a new pie recipe in the oven. It's called Swedish Apple Pie and there is no bottom crust. Gotta love that! I hate pie crust. There, I'll admit it. I dislike pie crust. But this recipe intrigued me because you combine sugar, flour, egg, butter and spices to pour over the top of the apples in your pie pan before baking. Hmm, a cross between a pie and a cobbler perhaps? Or maybe a buckle? In any event, it's in the oven and when it's cooked and sampled, I'll report back with the recipe (with my modifications, cause you know I can't follow a recipe without making it my own by altering something or another!) and pictures.

Apple season rocks!

*Swedish Apple Pie*

1 1/2 pounds apples - peeled, cored and sliced

2 tablespoon sugar

1/2 cup white sugar

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 cup whole wheat flour

2 teaspoon cinnamon (divided)

3/4 cup melted butter

1 egg

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Toss apples with 2 tablespoons of sugar and 1 teaspoon cinnamon, and pour them into a pie plate. Thoroughly mix together brown and white sugar with the flour, remainder of cinnamon, butter, and egg. Spread this evenly over the top of the pie. Bake in preheated oven until the apples have cooked and the topping is golden brown, about 40 to 45 minutes.