Thursday, October 31, 2013

Chilly Weather Soup!

It's a chilly day today, and the leaves are falling quickly. So far the splendor of the usual Fall color has been a subtle change. Not like last years burst of loveliness. The burning bush and the Maple trees are just now beginning to show their beautiful color. I am waiting for that explosion that lights up our yard........soon, very soon!

Nothing says FALL like a nice bowl of soup! It feels like a soup day today. My favorites are the meatless soups full of veggies. On the other hand, my husband would like a nice chili or beef stew.
Maybe I will make that next week for him.

Today I had a butternut squash staring at me in my veggie basket, so I decided to make our favorite Curried Butternut Squash Soup, from Ellie Krieger. As usual with Ellie's recipes, it's a nice light soup, not calorie laden but packed full of butternut flavor and lots of nutrients. And has the added bonus of being quick and simple!

I am going to add my version of a Grilled Cheese sandwich with this for dinner tonight. Ron and I  both are quesadilla fans so I always have some whole wheat tortillas in the freezer. We experiment with all kinds of ingredients to change up the flavor.  Since it is fresh apple time right now, I layer a thinly sliced apple of any kind, and 2 slices of cheddar cheese in between the tortillas. I grill it just enough to make the cheese gooey and soft. It is so delish and easy, and what a quick dinner. A little twist on the Soup & Sandwich days.

Click on this link for the soup recipe:  http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ellie-krieger/curried-butternut-squash-soup-recipe/index.html



I hope you have enjoyed this quick Fall dinner idea. Our meals don't have to be complicated, costly or time consuming to eat healthy. Why not give this a try.
 
Wishing you a wonderful weekend.........and REMEMBER Daylight Savings Time Ends November 3rd and time falls back one hour...........wow an extra hour to do whatever makes you happy!


ENJOY!
K




Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Wishing you a Happy and Safe Halloween!

Well for the first year in many it was left to me to carve the pumpkin for the front porch. When the girls were little, and even into their teens, they all loved a little carving action. Ron and the girls would gather around the kitchen table and create..........and create they did, seeds, goop, mushy mess all over the table lined with newspaper. We never knew what they would end up looking like. They would come up with some crazy and sometime strikingly beautiful carvings. They got their talent from their Dad who has carved some award winning pumpkins through the years, unfortunately for you and me, he was traveling this year so the photo is my pumpkin face creation!

Before I do the unveiling of my creation I have a bit of Halloween Trivia to share with you.
Did you know that.........
  • Halloween traditions of trick-or-treating and jack-o-lanterns were brought to America in the 1840s by Irish escaping the Great Potato Famine. On Halloween, Irish peasants begged the rich for food and played practical jokes on those who refused. To avoid being tricked, the rich handed out cookies, candies, and fruit, a practice that turned into our present day trick-or-treating.  **Source Care 2 Make a Difference (Thank you!)
Have a wonderful evening!

Wishing you a Happy & Safe Halloween!

ENJOY!
K
 

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Our Sweet Beachy House!

 There is something so calming about pulling into the driveway, putting the key in the lock, and opening the door to our sweet little Florida house. It makes us smile and sigh, ahhhh-----little house here we are! We are ready to enjoy the special little retreat you have become for our family!

 For about "6" years  when the girls were much younger we traveled to Florida for Spring Break. We stayed at the same hotel every year. It was located on the beach and it became our home away from home.

Ron and I discussed the financial aspects of what we were spending to rent a hotel suite versus what it would cost to purchase a home. We decided to take the plunge and buy a small home. That was music to our girls ears! The next February, 2004, Ron and I flew to Florida for a long weekend. We were prepared to find a property, and purchase it that weekend.

We had been in touch with a realtor and expressed our desire to see as many properties as she could fit into two days for us. We narrowed our search to two cities ahead of time that fit our criteria prior to our arrival. We wanted to get a good feel for what was available in our price range in both places. Important requirements were proximity to the beach, lawn and landscape maintenance care included in the quarterly fees, a community that had a pool, tennis courts and clubhouse. Golf courses are everywhere in Florida so that wasn't even an obstacle as far as location.

We left that trip with signed contracts and closed within 3 weeks! We bought a new home that had been built for a lawyer's assistant that was getting a divorce......but they reconciled so she never moved in. The house was put on the market.......YAY for us, and we snatched it up!

 The fun part came after the closing. We rented a large truck, and with the guidance of our realtor bought furniture from reputable companies directly from the show rooms and warehouses. We quickly learned the directions to our favorite Wal-Mart for all of the household items like dishes, pots and pans, etc. All in one weekend! Those were the days and we were a lot younger!

 Welcome to our Sweet Florida House
The comfort creature that I am, I had to bring something to "Welcome" our new Florida friends to 
our home. Why not my special little piece of Carruth from Ohio. I have always said that those "3" little birds remind me of our "3" daughters! :)



I decorated our house in colors that reminded me of the beach. My Mom helped me paint just about every room in the house, while my Dad was content to watch Emeril on TV and the ducks in the lake. Memories.......good memories!
 The house is full of soft pastels that resemble  the colors of sea glass. When making selections I didn't want any furnishings that were fussy. Sand, bathing suits and towels are allowed.....

In 2005 we had all of the landscaping removed and re-populated with new plants. We had purchased a pie shaped lot so when we landscaped we made a complete courtyard  enclosure on both sides of the house with Viburnum hedges. The hedges spanned the entire lot and  grew to a height of 6 ft. We added Jasmine trees along the walk way and on the arbor, which exude a beautiful fragrance during the summer months and blossom with tiny white starlike flowers. The Ixora shrubs give us a burst of bright orange with an evergreen type leaf in the beds for color year round.
 
 Ron's Bird of Paradise Plants

 We extended our lanai another 10 ft x 17ft toward the lake. Which allows for some great parties. What you can't see in this photo is the L-shaped patio lounge with overstuffed cushions from Pottery Barn. ( to the left of this photo) It has become a great place for my girlfriends to join me on those beautifully balmy evenings that Florida is known for..........we may or may not have wine in hand as we watch the sunsets! OR for the "perfect" occasion when Ron and I are able to share it together!  MEMORIES!

Our Courtyard

 "The Perfect Storm"
This year our shrubs were hit with the "perfect storm" of insects! We started with white flies, and  aphids, which killed a large section of the shrubs and weakened others. We were just told a new bug called Chilli Thrips has now hit us. They are small insects that many times go undetected. They are native to southern Asia and were first detected in Florida and Houston, TX . (Of course the section hit the hardest was directly in front of our entrance door!)
 
Unfortunately, we have to replace about "10" diseased shrubs. As much as we felt "sick" about losing such a lovely wall of privacy, we are thankful that this hurricane season was a quiet one........there is always Miracle Grow for the hedges!

Remember Florida friends..........check your landscaping. If your leaves are a bit curly, get your landscaper on site right away to treat them. This year appears to be an insect "perfect storm" that has not occurred to this degree in quite some time.




I hope you all enjoyed visiting our little piece of paradise.

See you on Foodie Friday!

ENJOY!

Sunday, October 27, 2013

DIY--Tartan Holiday Pillow

We had a beautiful weekend! The sun was shining and the air had just the right amount of crispy cool to warrant being able to just wear a vest. My kind of weather.......I would be happy if our winters were just like this weekend. Wishful thinking!

My husband and I worked diligently this weekend. Checking off our outdoor list. The garage is cleaned and all of the patio furniture is in. The planters are emptied and stored. We even stacked the wood he ordered for the fireplace. Preparing for winter, yuck, but it is done and something else is checked off my list.

Speaking of lists, I have been gathering my list of DIY's for the upcoming holidays. I thought I would start this early while the selection is fresh and available in the stores. By doing so I can share with you and maybe even give you a nudge to start early too!

I have always loved Tartan plaids, but this year I am really inspired by them.  So inspired I am going to use them in my home decorating this year. I couldn't wait so I got a head start on a fun little project.

It just so happens that Tartan seems quite plentiful at the moment. I saw red, green and white plaids, with the red being my favorite. I did a bit of shopping today at Michaels and JoAnn Fabric. I was able to find spools of Tartan plaid ribbon in various sizes, one of them a flannel 1.5 inch from JoAnn Fabric is what you will see today in my DIY pillow project.

Last year my friend Sharon loved a Christmas pillow that I have on one of my sofas during the holidays. I had purchased it from Horchow a few years ago and it is beautiful, but expensive. When Sharon told me how much she loved it, I mentioned that I thought I could make a similar pillow myself if I just took the time to do it.

Although, it is not quite the same holiday design as my Horchow pillow, it is a festive pillow that cost a fraction of what mine did.

Materials you will need:

1--12 x 16 Pillow form ($4.50) (You may use loose stuffing instead also)
1- 14x16 inch piece of fabric (I used unbleached muslin-$2.78)
1-County Red Stencil Paint ($2.99)
1- spool Tartan Plaid Flannel Ribbon ($7.79)
1 set of stencils $6.99
1 set of small sponge spouncers (applicator for paint) 4.99
***I have plenty of ribbon, applicators, stencils, and paint left for other projects, so taking that into consideration the final cost of my pillow is approx. $15.00




 Directions:


1. Cut 2 pieces of 14"L x 18" W pieces of fabric. (Unbleached Muslin)
2.  Measure and locate the center of the fabric and mark. Place the letters to be stenciled evenly spaced across the material working from the center outward.
3. Tape the stencils in place to avoid shifting.
4.  Pour a small amount of paint into a shallow bowl and dip the sponge applicator coating the sponge with paint. Dab off a bit before applying it to the fabric. Apply as much or as little as you like.
5.  Let the paint dry completely. Then put the piece into the dryer for a few minutes to seal the paint.
6.  Trim one piece of tartan ribbon measuring from end to end of width of fabric.
7.  Stitch ribbon in place and press on reverse side.
8.  With right sides together stitch the perimeter of the pillow allowing a 1-inch side seams AND a 6-inch opening so that the pillow may be stuffed through the hole.
9. Cut corners on an angle before turning the fabric right side out. When turning the fabric right side   out, gently use the point of fabric scissors by pushing the point into the point of the corner of the pillowcase. This allows for a nice crisp point.
10. Press.
11. Stuff the form into the pillow case.
12. Blind stitch the opening closed....touch up with iron if necessary. YOU ARE FINISHED!



 I love my new Holiday Pillow.........
and I love the fact that I saved so much money!


I hope you are inspired to start making some of your upcoming holiday projects yourself. You truly can save alot of $$ by setting aside a bit of time and revving up those creative juices. The end result can be so rewarding!


Share your projects with us on our Facebook page The Lavender Bouquet. Please pass my link along to your friends too!

I would love to see what your ideas are for the upcoming holidays. See you Wednesday!


ENJOY!
K



Thursday, October 24, 2013

Flowers and China---DIY Centerpiece!

My thoughts are turning to Thanksgiving and all of the preparation. I am not a person to wait until the last minute. I make my lists, purchase as much as I can ahead of time and pack it neatly in boxes for the trek back home to visit family.

For many years we packed children, suitcases, gifts and goodies into the van and drove hours to enjoy our  family holiday. We also had those years we hopped planes for the holidays. In recent years our children fondly named our busy family weekend "Thanksmas." Because the distance makes the trek more difficult in the winter, our family celebrates Thanksgiving on Thursday and Christmas on Saturday. Our daughters, and my niece and her family, require a flight to get to Mago's instead of driving like my husband and I are now able to do. The airline's love our family at holiday time!

For "Thanksmas" I am in charge of  the tables and buffet decor. My girls decorate Mago's Christmas tree and mantle, and my husband and I take care of her outside lights and garland. My mother cooks her traditional meal on Thanksgiving and we have gravitated toward a more simple Christmas dinner on Saturday. It consists of Penne pasta, sauce and meatballs, green salad, garlic bread and Christmas cookies for dessert. We did this last year and it made things a lot more simple.  It works for us allowing us more time to spend with one another instead of at the stove or with extensive cleanup.

I have been thinking of trying a few new things this year and one is the Thanksgiving centerpiece.
After perusing for ideas I came across a very simple  creative use for my "white" serving dishes that I thought I would give a try. I have a beautiful Mikasa French Countryside soup tureen that I love, but hardly use. This year I am going to use it as a vase to hold a beautiful display of bright Fall colored flowers.



Mikasa French Countryside soup tureen.

By removing the lid, adding the center vase for height, an easy centerpiece is made from a lovely piece of china.
It is so easy to create. I started by buying two bouquets of assorted flowers from my supermarket. I placed a rectangular vase inside the soup tureen directly in the center. I cut the flowers for that vase a bit higher than those I was placing around the exterior part of the tureen. Add water with a touch of Chlorox  (my daughter the scientist taught me this--it keeps the water fresh and clear for days) and that's it! It was that simple.

Take a look and see what you think. On Thanksgiving I will add some gourds scattered around the tureen and  several pillar candles placed in short candlesticks. This will allow enough room for serving dishes to be placed on the table without making it too crowded.

Why not search your home for something out of the ordinary to use for your Thanksgiving vase. It's not too early to get started planning. Who knew it could be so simple and beautiful!

Cheers to a wonderful weekend!

Enjoy!
K



Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Yummy Cranberries

One of the things on my bucket list was to visit a cranberry farm in New Jersey. I was curious as to how cranberries were harvested. I love cranberries!

New Jersey is the third largest producing area of cranberries in the United States. My husband and I traveled to Burlington County to the Chatsworth Cranberry Festival in hopes of being able to tour some of the cranberry bogs. What an interesting afternoon it was!

The festival was jam packed with people and vendors with food, crafts, and cranberry everything. As we walked through the crowded streets we stopped to ask where where we were to go to sign up for the Cranberry Bog Tour. We were given directions to a quaint country church in this cute little town, just a few blocks from where we stood.

As we approached, a local school bus awaited us with three students from the area schools that would be our tour guides. The ride to the bogs was about 15 minutes from Chatsworth. During this time the students filled us with information about the bogs and the harvest process.

The first cranberry bogs were established around 1840. Ship merchants bought the fields and sold the cranberries to whalers. They were kept in barrels on ships for the sailors to eat. The antioxidants contained in the cranberries help ward off diseases.

It was not until later that Elizabeth Lee boiled some damaged berries and discovered the taste and loved it so much she started a business. This was the beginning of the Ocean Spray Company, still operating in New Jersey today. One of our tour guides was a young girl that happened to be from a seventh generation cranberry farmer family. Her mother's photo is featured on the Ocean Spray bottle.

New Jersey is the third largest cranberry producing area in the United States with approximately 3,600 acres. Burlington, Atlantic and Ocean counties are the primary cranberry growing areas.

Cranberries are usually harvested in September and October. They may be water harvested (as you see in the below photos) or they may be dry harvested which is combing the vines with a picking machine. The water harvested fruit becomes juice and sauce, the dry harvested is cleaned and packed as fresh fruit.

The following are a series of photos that will give you an idea of what the bogs look like and how a harvest takes place.



After purchasing these beautiful fresh cranberries I couldn't wait to get home and make something with them. The Cranberry Harvest Muffins below are an Ina recipe that is so delicious! They made so many the tray is off to the office with my husband. Think of all of those colleagues and how happy they will be to know the great antioxidant benefits of cranberries against heart disease, cancer, anti-aging, ulcers and urinary tract infections.

This is the link to Ina's recipe: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/barefoot-contessa/cranberry-harvest-muffins-recipe/index.html


I hope you enjoyed my blog on Cranberry Harvesting. Have a healthy day!

Enjoy!
K
 



Sunday, October 20, 2013

DIY-- Halloween Decor

As I was thinking about Halloween quickly approaching I thought I had better get busy, get my wreath made for the front door, and get my porch decorated. Oh gosh, I had just decorated it for FALL.....wasn't there a way I could do a presto-chango and have my Fall porch change to my Halloween porch?  Actually I started channeling Samantha from Bewitched for a little help and she obliged...........

This is my 2013 FALL WREATH.
   
  This is my 2013 Halloween Wreath.
I ran to JoAnn Fabric and picked up a paper mache' hat, ($1.59) spray painted it black, and stapled it
to the existing leaves on the wreath. I purchased THE WITCH IS IN placque ($3.89) from JoAnn also and attached it with a bit of wire to the bottom of the wreath. Everything was 70% off making my grand total to change my wreath less than $5.50!!

Adding my favorite Houston gauze ghost to the corn stalks worked well with the existing mums, pumpkins and gourds.


I added stick figure ghosts that I bought at a craft show many years ago in Ohio, on the other side....giving another touch for Halloween.

Last year in Home Depot I found black twigs with tiny purple battery operated lights on them. I stuck them into the existing planters on my porch and added a few leaves to the already planted baby cabbage plants in the pots. These little purple lights give an eerie look in the darkness on Halloween night. Last year my husband monogrammed the white pumpkin for me, and the real pumpkin on the right side my husband carves the night before Halloween. We still love the old fashioned carved pumpkin with a candle.......remember the smell of the candle burning the lid of the pumpkin?

My Halloween porch is finished. I added corn stalks and skeletons to the mix for some added spookiness! For just a few dollars and a little help from "Samantha" we are now ready for our little goblins!!

Happy Halloween to all..........

ENJOY!
K



Thursday, October 17, 2013

Foodie Friday--Shrimp Cocktail Shooters

Not everything for a party should require a lot of preparation. Pairing simple hors d'oeuvres with some that may be a bit more fussy helps balance your kitchen time.

We have never hosted a Cocktail Party with serving Shrimp Cocktail. It is easy to prepare and very well received from guests wherever we have lived.

About three years ago we hosted a Cocktail Party at our Florida home and I was tired of the same old shrimp cocktail platter. I prefer not to spend a lot of money on serving dishes, and wanted to look for something outside of the normal shrimp presentation. We happened to have a Big Lots store around the corner from our house so I checked it out and found these "crystal looking" shot glasses. This is when my Shrimp Cocktail Shooters were created.

RECIPE

1.  Add one tablespoon of Cocktail Sauce to the bottom of the shot glass. (or make your own if you wish)
2.  Hang two medium or large cooked shrimp over the edge of the glass.

3.   Garnish with Italian Parsley 

It is that easy. If the tray is passed I always have lemon wedges on the tray as well.




 Quick, easy, simple.............and your guests will be so impressed.

Have a wonderful weekend!

ENJOY!
K



Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Wednesday Roof Cleaning

It seems as though when you own a home there is always some sort of maintenance to be done. You may catch a bit of a break on a newer home, but if you want to protect  your investment there is always something to fix or maintain.

When we bought our house 2 years ago we had a list of To Do's. Of course there was a certain order that things needed to be completed. Before painting the house, the entire roof and house were pressure washed and cleaned. In our case the landscaping removal was necessary also before we started any outdoor projects, it had become severely overgrown in most areas.

This was the first time we had purchased a home of this age. We learned from our realtor that in New Jersey there is a staining process that occurs over time on roofs. Since this was the oldest homee we had ever purchased we weren't quite as experienced with the maintenance of a roof, especially with the staining issues. In our case, the roof had not been properly maintained, and cleaning was vital. The black stain occurs as a result of algae, fungus and mold growth. It had built up over time and caused the roof to have black streaks and actual moss growing in some areas.

We hired Advanced Roof Cleaners from New Jersey who used a special cleaning process that was environmentally friendly and would take care of the problem without using bleach.
Roof Before




You can see the yellow/black staining.

 CLEANING PROCESS

After Roof Cleaned  FALL 2011


The results were amazing. Not only is the appearance so beautiful, but our investment has now been given a bit of a longevity boost.

What does your roof look like? Home maintenance..........the necessary evil! Now go take a look at your roof before Winter arrives!

ENJOY!

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Marvelous Monday--Pumpkin Dip!!

I love weekends when we can just relax. I always look forward to the days I can spend with my husband. The weeks are always so jam packed anymore, it is nice when it is just the two of us with no set schedule to follow.....anything goes!

As promised after the Cocktail party blog was published, I am going to start posting some of the recipes that I used that evening. Today I am featuring the---


 Harvest Fruit Skewers and Pumpkin Dip


Fall can be a bit difficult when considering the fruit that will withstand a few hours on a platter without turning brown or getting mushy. I was lucky enough to be able to take advantage of strawberries, mangoes and dark seedless grapes.

My middle daughter found these adorable, and very convenient little hors d'oeuvre forks that worked perfectly for me.
The fork is wider and shorter than a BBQ skewer so the fruit did not fall off before making it to the guests mouth! 

You may find them on Amazon:
http://www.amazon.com/Norpro-190-72-Pack-BamboParty/dp/B000OXH0GK/ref=pd_sim_sbs_k_2

The Pumpkin Dip is an old recipe that I ran across in my recipe box from years ago. It is so delicious my husband heard one lady guest say, (with her mouth full of dip and mango), "OMG---this is wonderful!" At least that is what he thought she was saying with her mouth full! He said it was hilarious.

PUMPKIN DIP

16 oz. Cool Whip
3- small boxes of instant vanilla pudding (dry mix only)
1- small can of pumpkin 
Pumpkin Pie Spice--to taste

Directions
Mix everything together and then sprinkle with Pumpkin Pie Spice to taste. I made this
the day ahead.

You can serve this with graham crackers and/or fruit. Just a warning........you may find yourself licking the spoon when you are finished making it. It is that delicious!

****NOTE---This recipe makes a huge amount of dip. You may want to cut  the
recipe in half if you have #20 or less people.

I hope you enjoy this simple easy Fall dip!! Drop me a comment if you make this. I am interested what you think about it and would love  to hear what your guests have to say!! 
ENJOY!
   K




















Thursday, October 10, 2013

Foodie Friday-----The Sweet Taste of Fall

Welcome to Fall folks!  Yesterday there was a chill in the air and today the temps were still chilly and darn, it has rained all day. It is always a bit sad when the leaves start falling to the ground, as the trees always look so bare and vulnerable to the winter ahead.

Fall days remind me of so many yummy smells and tastes. I love the scents of cinnamon, pumpkin,  and apples that permeate the kitchen.What could be more delightful than the sweet tastes of Fall?

Our oldest daughter was driving in to NJ on a business trip today, and she called to tell us that she was going to take a bit of a detour and spend Friday and Saturday with us. She really wanted to go to the apple farm on Saturday to pick up fresh apples so that she could make applesauce when she got home. All she had to do is mention applesauce, and I couldn't get it out of my mind. Unfortunately, she had a flat tire (thankfully she is fine) and was unable to make the trip, but that didn't stop me from running to pick up the apples to make our favorite applesauce.

The Barefoot Contessa, Ina Garten has the most delicious recipe for applesauce. It has some interesting ingredients that give it a new twist, and does not use any sugar. My youngest daughter is just crazy about my mother, Mago's applesauce. Mom spoils my daughter every year, making it ahead of time and freezing it so that my daughter will not miss her applesauce on Thanksgiving day! Now that's a good Mago!

The prep time for Ina's recipe takes a bit of time because of the 6 lbs. of apples that require peeling. I am sure you will forget about the prep time once you taste it. I have taken a series of photos as I prepared the applesauce to kind of give you an idea of how very easy it really is.

 The recipe link may be found at the end of the photos.

The ingredients are so different I am sure you will LOVE the flavors as they meld together!

Zest and juice the oranges and the lemon.

Pour the liquid over the peeled apples.

Pour the apples into a non-reactive Dutch oven or enameled iron pot.

Spread them in a fairly even layer.

Add remaining ingredients, brown sugar, butter, and spices.

I have a very hot oven so it takes me just about one hour instead of the l 1/2 hrs. that is recommended. You may want to watch this step carefully the first time you make it.

Whisking the applesauce in the pan takes out the lumps. My family prefers it to have a few chunks of apples in it. Whisk according to your own final  preferences.

Cut and paste this link to Ina's Homemade Applesauce Recipe:
http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ina-garten/homemade-applesauce-recipe/index.html

I hope your family enjoys this applesauce as much as mine does!

Have a wonderful weekend---------

ENJOY!
K
 









Wednesday, October 9, 2013

The Lavender Bouquet: Why Not Wednesday--Kitchen Renovation

The Lavender Bouquet: Why Not Wednesday--Kitchen Renovation: Buying a new home can be such a daunting experience. Through the years we have learned so many things about home buying. No matter how many ...

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Why Not Wednesday--Kitchen Renovation

Buying a new home can be such a daunting experience. Through the years we have learned so many things about home buying. No matter how many times we go through this process there is certain criteria that we never waiver from:

1. Stay within our budget. Of course with the new much stricter rules in the area of what homeowners qualify for, your higher end price range is pretty much dictated by your income, debt and investments.

2. Location, location, location--no matter how much less the house may priced, ie. with that water tower  in the back yard......the truth of the matter is, if you have to sell down the road, or very quickly, it most likely will be impossible to re-coup the hard-earned money that you have used to purchase this home, let alone what you have put into it.  Making a profit is what we all want in the end. One rule of thumb for us that has worked is to buy in an area where the public schools Report Card is excellent. This not only entices many families with children to seek out the area for their children to attend the best schools, it has been a good sound investment to those like us, empty nesters. Good resale!!!

3. If contracting to build, before signing any contracts, we specifically state our selections, changes, etc. and never sign final paperwork until the home is completed to our satisfaction. Some builders
will try and strong arm you to sign, stating timing of your moving in may be affected, etc., the facts are this is our decision. They don't get paid until we release the money. We always check with our lawyer in these situations if necessary.

On to the fun stuff---Renovating!!

Our current house has a great floor plan for the kitchen, but it was a bit tired, and in need of updating. There are a few photos below from the renovation.....some before we took possession and some after ....they sure brought back memories!

 BEFORE THE KITCHEN RENOVATION

 TV shelf and backsplash. (Photo from previous owner)

Built-in oven and microwave cabinet.

Two-tiered island with gas cooktop.
The gas range was in need of replacement. I like all of the burners to work!

Front island.
OUR KITCHEN RENOVATION PROJECT


We had the walls, ceiling, pantries--inside and out and all woodwork including doors and trim painted. This gave everything a fresh new look and smell.

Two can lights were removed over the island and replaced with three pendants. We also had a matching chandelier installed above the kitchen table.

Demolition of the old island resulted in us being able to add an additional 2 feet to the length of the new island footprint giving us a great work/entertaining space.
 
AFTER--New island installation of Electrolux 30" Induction Cooktop and downdraft fan. Giallo Ornamental granite was installed on top. Granite compliments the existing black granite exterior perimeter already in place. During this process the placement of the existing ductwork below for the downdraft fan dictated what size cooktop we were able to install.. These are all things during renovating that sometimes arise and as a result I had to make a concession. I would have loved a larger cooktop, but it wasn't meant to be. Oh well.........not a show stopper.
                           
               FINISHED KITCHEN RENOVATION

I was able to re-design the kitchen valance that I had used in the Houston house and use the same carpet runner too! Recycle--re-purpose!
The existing cabinet was cut to fit the Designer Icon Electrolux Oven and Microwave that I had chosen. The existing doors had to be removed to accommodate the new appliances which left a nice space above allowing me to display my cookbooks. I usually have a double oven, but the footprint of this kitchen did not allow for it. Instead, the microwave I chose bakes Convection as well as performs just like our regular microwave. That with the additional convection oven below---enabled me to have two ovens......how great is that?

A new french door Kitchen Aid refrigerator and Bosch dishwasher were installed. New island cabinetry-- Cherry wood (Mahogany stained) was added to compliment the existing Maple exterior cabinets. I chose deep drawers making it easy to grab items quickly. The base cabinets contain roll out shelves for pots and pans. The walls were painted Benjamin Moore HC-35 Powell Buff
 The ceiling, trim and pantries are my tried and true, Benjamin Moore Super White 02.


Remember that Old TV shelf? Well we transformed it into a beautiful display area for my china. By using some of the left-over cherry wood from island, it now looks like this. It also brings the two different color woods together for a more cohesive look in the perimeter. Lighting was added for night display. The backsplash tile is sealed cultured marble subway style---3x6 Aventino.
Under cabinet lighting was installed under all of the cabinets--it may be adjusted to be very bright or just a dim mood lighting. 


I chose 3 larger corbels for under the island overhang. This gives the front of the island a little more of an elegant look. I also used a thicker base trim to achieve the same affect.The ceramic tile floor was professionally cleaned, grout was colored to match the tile and sealed. The bar stools are from Frontgate. They swivel and are very comfortable for conversation at the island.
The extra length (2 ft.) added to the end of the island allows  for more work space and entertaining area. Drapery on slider door is from Restoration Hardware, Textured Belgian Linen, color is straw. Rod is from Pottery Barn.

This is the final result of our kitchen renovation!


 I hope you have enjoyed our labors of love and are inspired to tackle a kitchen renovation of your own!

ENJOY!
     K