Monday, November 05, 2012

It's All About the Kit-Kats

The grandkids wanted to trick-or-treat our neighborhood this year based on the fact that our neighbors give our Kit-Kats : )  ... and you know, it's true! They received quite a few of their favorite candy bars.
The day started out with showers but by evening it was perfect for a stroll around the neighborhood.
Colin dressed up as a Pokemon character and Calleigh was McKenna, an American Girl Doll (gymnast).

After making the loop through the neighborhood it was time to head back to the house and "inventory" the sweet treats. There were many generous neighbors who gave out regular size candy bars. What a treat!  We turned on our porch light and the kids enjoyed greeting trick-or-treaters at the door and handing them a variety of goodies. They found as much joy in giving as in receiving.
We ended the evening with dinner at Red Robin. The kids were able to stay out late due to not having school the next day. What fun making memories!

Tradition: Cookie Day

Even though we have a family tradition there are times when we shake things up a bit. Cookie day is an annual October event. We usually meet at the local pumpkin patch, enjoy a variety of soups for lunch and then decorate cookies together.
This year we made a few changes in the plan. We went approximately 108 days without measurable rain in our area. We thought it might hold out a little longer but heavy rain started falling a few days before our pre-planned family day. The ground was so dry that the pumpkin patch had standing water that canceled several events the grandkids enjoy. So, we skipped that part of the tradition this year.
 The second change was the food. This year I decided to go with a Hot Dog Bar ...something the grandkids would enjoy. I found a cookbook at the library, "Food Network Magazine 1,000 Easy Recipes -Super Fun Food for Every Day." They have great ideas and I think I will be buying a copy for future use. There were more than 35 hot dog types to choose from. I picked out ten that looked appealing: Southern Dog, Hot Diggity Dog, Thai Dog, German Dog, Polynesian Dog, Chicago Dog, BBQ Dog, Pizza Dog, Chili Cheese Dog, and Bruschetta Dog.
I created signs in Photoshop Elements listing what went on each dog. I used photo holders with a single clip that I found at Michael's last year on clearance for 90% off. We used them at the Rehearsal Dinner and they were just the right color for this event.
As usual, we created some very unusual cookie faces ... and enjoyed a few for dessert. They were delicious!
This was the first family event in our remodeled kitchen and the new peninsula worked out great for setting up the food display. It was nice to have everyone gathered around the kitchen while cooking and prepping food.
Sometimes it's good to make changes ...

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Autograph Please ...

In October we celebrated the release of Brian's new book, "The Pocket Small Business Owner's Guide to Taxes." This was a huge undertaking ... meeting deadlines, revisions and editing etc. and took nearly a year from start to publication.
It's amazing to see his name and book on Amazon : )  If you order a copy, I'm sure he'd be happy to autograph it for you! We are so proud of you, Brian!  Any sequels in the near future?

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Insufficient Energy?

Many have asked when the bathroom will be completed. Unlike this picture below the bathroom is enclosed and looks more like a tool storage shed. The jacuzzi tub sits alone until we put up walls  and tile around it, add tile flooring, install a new vanity, paint and decorate.

We joke about having insufficient funds but in all actuality ... it's insufficient energy! We need a break and with the holidays coming, life will get busy. Our plan is to tackle this project during the winter months and have it completed before Memorial Day weekend ... bringing us full-circle from when we started : ) Fortunately, we have three bathrooms so we can do this.
Right now, I'm going to get ideas on Pinterest and the blogs I follow. I'm sure we have been missed at Home Depot and Lowes and they are looking forward to our return.
"More Saving ... More Doing."

An Inviting Entrance

The last area of the kitchen remodel included painting our entryway. The walls are too tall for me to reach so this was a project both of us needed to be involved in. Once you start painting this area of the house there is no stopping. It includes the lower level entry as well.
We took down the lace curtains in the sidelight windows and since then I have not had time to sew replacements. We are kind of getting used to it ... it seems much larger and much brighter. We may leave it that way for awhile. However, I do not care to have solicitors at my door with the ability to have such a great view inside. Perhaps in November when I have more time off I will come up with something I like for that area. For now ... it's just not happenin'.
I am a bargain hunter by nature ... I love to seek out bargains on craigslist, Goodwill, thrift stores. The best buy of this entire project came with finding our entryway lighting fixture at ReStore in Beaverton. Well, it was actually "good news; bad news" ... we found the fixture we were planning to buy at Globe Lighting for almost $200 and there it was at ReStore for $35. The bad news ... next to it was our dining light fixture that we had installed a month earlier for the same price. Yikes! Kind of made me ill. But I was rejoicing all the way home with this new found beauty! I love this store and will continue to drop in now and then. It's one of those places you need to visit often.
Since the deck is now visible from the entryway ... it led to another project -staining the deck and handrails. We had to do this before the weather changed and we picked the last nice weekend in October. As I always say ... if you give a mouse a cookie ... : )

Better After

East side of kitchen

North side of kitchen
West side of dining area

South side of dining area

My favorite blogs are ones featuring a project with before and afters. The side-by-side photos above show how our kitchen/dining area was transformed by taking the wall down between the rooms and updating the space. It is now open and bright; large and enjoyable. It doesn't even look like the same house!

Reflecting Back ... Finishing Touches

August brought a month of finishing touches and a glimpse of a finished home remodeling project.
If the house wasn't torn up enough, I decided to paint and change-up the grandkids' playroom (see previous post). If you give a mouse a cookie ...
Between weddings, BBQs, parties etc. August was dedicated to getting the flooring finished. This project was not only physically draining but mentally as well. Selecting the right sized board, the right color ... it was like a giant jigsaw puzzle. We were so thankful for Flooring 101 instructions from Pierre.
We decided to go with cream colored subway tile for the backsplash. I wanted something timeless and simple. We both made many trips to various Home Depots in order to have enough inventory for the job. It must be very popular right now!
While Walt worked on tiling I spent an entire day with crowbar and hammer in hand pulling up the sub-floor in our long hallway. What a workout that was ... who needs a gym membership! Meanwhile, Walt cut tile on the upper deck to save steps to the kitchen. With the tile saw using water he was soaked after several cuts. No problem ... he just changed into his swim trunks and kept going.  Our electrician stopped by to work on the electrical while we were working away. When he saw the truck filled with particle board and the hallway torn up, he said we were now officially crazy! He's probably right : )
When we realized I would be heading back to work earlier than expected we asked our plumber to install all of the appliances. What would have taken us an entire weekend ... he had it finished in a matter of hours. We picked out a Bosch dishwasher -it's so quiet that the only way you know it's on is by a red light displayed on the floor when it's running. The garbage disposal is the quietest one available. The faucet is a Delta Touch 2O and we are LOVING the convenience in using it. It always seems to fascinate our guests. We also selected a deep black granite undermount sink and this has been one of the most surprising kitchen favorites.
We officially moved in to our new kitchen Labor Day weekend making our project timeline three months in the making. I'm so thankful we tackled this long overdue dream during my summer break. It would have taken double the time if I had been working.
We are L O V I N G this new living space. The first few weeks I felt like I was in someone else's home or a vacation rental. I didn't have my bearings at first ... I kept opening drawers when the silverware used to be etc ... and still do on occasion : )
This was definitely a taxing experience. Perhaps it should come with a warning: consult physician before attempting a remodel in your "fall season of life." We are so thankful for family and friends who walked through this with us ... giving a hand, providing a meal, keeping us in your prayers! I'm sure the restaurants in Tualatin have missed seeing us at dinner time : )

Reflecting Back ...Taking Shape

July was filled with dramatic changes in our kitchen project. Sub-contractors were in to do the plumbing, electrical, mechanical, sheetrocking. Inspectors stopped by with approvals. Ladders and paintbrushes became a part of my daily life. Cabinetry was hung/installed, measurements taken and granite countertops installed. Flooring was ordered, and in between all of that we took a week off camping at Wallowa Lake.
For Father's Day the boys gave Dad a gift of time and manpower. They took up the sub-floor in the dining room, hung sheetrock, and demo'd the main bathroom. What an amazing gift! The two of us could never have moved this project so far ahead without their help.

Here's a photo recap of the progress made during the month of July:

Reflecting Back ... Let's Get Started

Our fall SunRiver vacation is always a great time to "get away from it all" and allows for time to get to things that easily get bumped off the to-do list at home. We have been running at such a busy pace since spring so it has been nice to sit back and reflect on where life has taken us.
Memorial day weekend we demo'd our kitchen with the help of family. There was an abundance of flying sheetrock, particle board piles, appliances, cupboards and countertops, etc. making its way to the dumpster. Everyone got a turn to destroy the wall between the kitchen and dining room. It was very therapeutic! You only see these events on HGTV but to actually swing a hammer ... you just have to experience it. We even added some drawings to give the kids a better aim.
It was a long, exhausting day. The next morning I tiptoed into the "kitchen" to peek at the new look. You're either shocked and ask yourself, "What have we done?" or you are delighted with the outcome. I was thrilled with what I saw ... with the wall down there was natural light filling the entire room and it was nice to dream of what it would look like when completed.
While demoing the kitchen I noticed our main bathroom plumbing from the kitchen side. An idea slipped through my tongue and before I realized it Walt took the wall and studs down between the kitchen and bathroom. It was our only opportunity to remove the aging tub surround and move a jacuzzi tub in from the kitchen side. Cha-ching ... our first change order of the project. One thing always seems to lead to another!
And, this my friends, was only the beginning ...


Thursday, August 16, 2012

She's a Beauty ...

Things are rapidly coming together since the flooring was finished. The refrigerator arrived yesterday and she's a beauty!
We still need to install the stove, refrigerator, faucet/garbage disposal and tile the backsplash. We will then be able to "move" back in to our finished kitchen. Just in time to head back to work. I don't think I could have survived this if it had been scheduled during the school year. So thankful for employment that provides summers off.
This has been quite a journey ... what a ride!

And It's a Wrap

Our weekend was dedicated to getting the wood flooring installed since the refrigerator delivery was scheduled for Wednesday.
Pierre arrived bright and early Saturday morning and got us started on "Flooring 101." He stayed over eleven hours helping us with the hardest parts of the job. He is an amazing project manager!
Brian, Michelle and the kids stopped by to drop off the tiling saw and probably never expected to be flooring sorters, measuring and carrying wood pieces around the kitchen ... for many hours. We were so grateful for their help and it saved us countless hours and trips to the "stacks" to find just the right piece.
Installing flooring was a new learning experience for us but now we feel pretty good about it. We still have the landing and a L O N G hallway to finish but I'm confident we will get it done as quickly as possible.
We are so very thankful for this huge push in the construction schedule. We are getting so much closer ...

Friday, August 10, 2012

If You Give a Mouse a Cookie ...

Here we go again ... one room leads to another! I have had the grandkids's room on my to-do list for several summers. It just never seemed to get done BUT this year with most of our upstairs rooms torn up ... hey, why not? The more the mess ... the merrier : )
As the kids are now both in school, it was time to put many of the Fisher-Price toys back in the attic and bring down more Legos and Matchbox cars. Not to fear ... I am investing in some girlie things too!
It all started when I found a trundle bed on Craigslist. The toddler bed was getting even too small for Calleigh and I really didn't want to invest in a bunkbed set. The idea of a trundle bed would work great for grown-up guests too, so the wheels started turning and plans were put in motion.
When we moved here 23 years ago this room was darling ... for a GIRL. We had 3 young boys so the girlie wallpaper needed to come down just 36 hours before we moved in. The previous owners had sanded the texture off the walls and we didn't have time to repair it. So ... flash forward several decades ... I wanted to do it right. The first step was to patch the walls from all the sports posters and pendants hung over the years ... hhmmm ... that was really most of the room! We bought a tool to texture the walls and put on a coat of fresh paint. Next we found new bedding and accessories and ... WOW! it feels much larger now with a new configuration!
We also filled the desk with new art supplies, drawing and watercolor tablets, fresh playdoh and even a set of Barbie paperdolls. The grandkids love creativity, art projects and all-things-imagination. Hoping they find that when they come to visit Grandma and Grandpa's house!
O.K. ... now that's off the summer to-do list. I feel a sense of accomplishment!

Summer Gatherings with Former Co-Workers

Summer is always a fun time to get together with former co-workers. As soon as school ended, I met the Templeton ladies at La Provence for a fun breakfast. We used to eat lunch together every day and have continued to meet off and on since. Two ladies still work there, one has retired and I'm in another bldg. I always enjoy a time to get caught up with these ladies.
In early July the Media Assts. gathered at Rosemary's house for a mid-morning brunch. Most of us never worked in the same bldg but had contact through meetings, phone and email. Our initial gatherings were to support one another through our frustration with our employer and the unemployment process. Now we've "healed" from that and moved on to other jobs, interests, or retirement and find joy in our current life adventures, what we're reading etc. You always leave this group uplifted.

And recently I had the opportunity to be with the Sherwood "Lunch Ladies." We were the trio that managed the middle school cafeteria. Donna is still there after 18 years and Mary retired a few years ago. Good memories ...
Always fun to gather with those you share history and good times.
This afternoon I got an early recall to return to work in August. I have missed my current co-workers and look forward to hearing how their summer went.
I have been truly blessed over the years to work with so many wonderful ladies!

Mt. Pines Adventure Golf

Several years ago the Matterhorn Village sold and the new owners updated many things, including an 18-hole miniature golf course. Last year we watched the construction on this site as we licked our delicious Mt. Huckleberry waffle cones.
Now, miniature golfing is right up there with playing Pinochle ... a least favorite activity but I wanted to give this a try and found that I was delightfully entertained with the course. It's so nice to have this new activity added to our camping experience ... fun and affordable!
If you're ever in this area, give it a try!

Hiking Determination

I love to hike and for the past ten years we have attempted the Chief Joseph Trail (at Wallowa Lake) several times but with each adventure we were turned back without reaching the top. The reason this trail is so difficult is due to the 2003 BC Creek bridge washout. The U.S. Forest Service has of yet to replace the bridge and many have accessed this trail near the falls by navigating over a "log" bridge. (Note: Crossing the waterfall is life threatening until late in the fall. Then it is extremely dangerous and the Wallowa Lake Lodge does not recommend crossing). Due to these conditions, the best access to the trail is to climb up above Section A ... and I mean CLIMB ... straight up. In some areas we had to walk on all fours grabbing tree limbs to pull ourselves up.
We set out on our journey at 7 a.m. and it took awhile just to reach the trail above Section A. After Walt directed us on the wrong trail we had to backtrack to the correct trail, losing time and energy. Hardly anyone uses this trail so it is overgrown, hard to follow and steep ... but the views are amazing.
We made it to the open meadow and started toward what I call the "Oz" forest. It's usually dense and dark and many times this is where we have turned back due to time or weather. I was shocked to see the devastation ... it looked like Mt. St. Helens ... greyed trees forced to the ground. The entire forest GONE. We tried to continue on the trail through the devastation but finally turned back due to a large tree blocking the path. It was disappointing to not reach the top again but we were hot, tired and wanted one last day at the lake.
The next day while packing up to head home we realized how sore we were from the hike! Not good for a packing/traveling home day!
My goal is to train for a hike to Aneroid next year for my 60th birthday. It has been 18 years since we tackled that trail and I want to see it one more time!

59 is Fine @ Terminal Gravity

What a fun evening celebrating the last year of my 50's at the Terminal Gravity Brewery in Enterprise. I love the setting in their outdoor "dining room" ... a quaint farm house with a stream running through the property ... lots of trees and beautiful plants. The food was delicious. I ordered a Rancher's Steak Pita Sandwich (red and yellow onion, red and green peppers marinated in a spicy oil then seared with tri-tip steak and served on a grilled pita with melted jack cheese) that was the best I've tasted. Nancy recreated the recipe after we returned home and it's one of the first things I will cook in my new kitchen.
The best part of the evening was the story behind the cake Michelle ordered. She made many calls to this eastern corner of Oregon looking for a bakery or someone who decorates cakes. After ordering one, Michelle made a "cake deal" in the parking lot in town! We enjoyed a good laugh when she told us the cake story. I was so touched by how much time and energy she invested in making sure I had a birthday cake while camping at Wallowa. Thanks again, Michelle!

A I On Tour

We were late-comers to American Idol, but since we started watching, we have been loyal fans. We love following the contestants ... their music styles and stories.
This year we had many favorites and Phillip was one of them. I liked his unique style and sound.
We joined Don, Paula and Tim for dinner and the Rose Garden concert celebrating Tim's graduation. What a fun evening ... great music! This year the top ten were very talented and it was fun to see how they have grown as performers. We always enjoy a fun evening with the Petersons no matter what the venue!

Backing Up a Bit ...

Donna is such an amazing party planner. She coordinated the perfect birthday celebration. Our evening started at Otto and Anita's Schnitzel House This is a place we have been talking about trying for quite a few years. The food was delicious and we had to try the dill pickle soup ... fabulous!
Our next destination: Timber's game at Jeld-Wen field against LA Galaxy. What a treat to see Beckham play.
We completed our evening with dessert at Pix P√Ętisserie in Southeast Portland. It was close to midnight and the place was packed inside and out. While perusing the display case it was hard to make a decision on just one dessert. I ordered the Shazam! Rich and creamy caramel mousse, salted almonds, dense chocolate almond cake, and more caramel. It looked like a chocolate paper bag brimming with yummy goodness. They are moving to 22 and East Burnside if you ever want to experience dessert heaven : )
Thanks to Donna and Pierre for an extremely fun evening ... so many new and delicious experiences!

Moving Forward

It's been a month since I last posted and we have made drastic changes in our remodeling project. Despite taking a vacation and attending many social events we have managed to get to this point. Now it's time to dig in ...
install flooring
tile backsplash
beam, columns and molding up
have the electrical finished
... all the details before moving back in.
It has been a LONG eleven weeks but I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. I'm Type-A and it has been hard to live in chaos and dust for such a long period of time. I think it wouldn't bother me as much if I worked during the construction period, a chance to get away each day. I am so grateful we have been able to do this but, to be perfectly honest, it can wear on you after awhile. I am most looking forward to eating home cooked meals again : )
Tomorrow we start the flooring ... nice to be moving forward!

Monday, July 09, 2012


This afternoon I picked up a flooring sample to see how it looked with the kitchen. Love how it picked up the cinnamon in the cabinetry. Had to take pictures of it in the hallway and in the dining room. I wanted to see what it looked like in different lighting etc. I also included a photo of our delivered appliances. I am so ready to cook a tasty meal ... it's hard to remain patient with all these beauties in the room.

A Peek Through the Garden Gate

While we've been busy with the kitchen remodel we have also been trying to maintain the garden and yard. Yesterday Walt took a picture using the app AutoStitch Panorama. You can take several photos with your i-Phone and it stitches them together for a great panorama photo.
A few benefits of working in the yard/garden ... I can multi-task and listen to audiobooks at the same time. Makes time fly by and the work lighter! Also, I can get away from the chaos in the house. After 5 or 6 weeks of chaos ... it can start to make you a bit crazy : )

Coming Together

Things are really starting to come together in the kitchen. All the cabinetry is installed and the finishing touches are being added. What a huge difference the crown molding made. Each step makes a huge impact and I can only imagine what it will look like once we add the doors and pulls. The cupboards pictured will have glass fronts. It's hard to wait patiently ... I am so excited to hang them!
We are now down to making a final decision on flooring. We need to pick a lighter floor since we have so much dark cabinetry. We found one we liked at Lumber Liquidators but they were out of stock for 3-4 weeks and I'm not so sure we want hand-scraped finish. We decided to leave and give it some consideration. Later in the day we drove over to Stone Wood Outlet in Tigard. We are now considering 5-inch Acacia wood with a matte finish. It's a bit busy with various shades of wood so we are hoping to bring home a sample this evening to see how it looks with the entire "package."
This morning at 8 a.m. Lowe's made an unexpected delivery of our appliances. We only had room for the range and dishwasher so they will return later with our refrigerator. You can only imagine how exciting it is to see that shiny new REGULAR size range after cooking on a 27-inch drop-in for 23 years ... may it rest in peace! It makes this long awaited dream of a new kitchen a reality.
Measurements will be taken next week by Precision Countertops and they should be installed after Wallowa. It looks like we should be settled in our new kitchen before school starts! I am so looking forward to some home-cooked, nutritious meals again!

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

It's Starting to Look Like a Kitchen

Day Two of kitchen cabinetry installation. It makes the dream of a new kitchen more of a reality! Rick is doing a fabulous job and it's nice to see our drawings on paper come alive. I am especially impressed with all the lovely drawers waiting to be filled. Our old kitchen had such limited storage.
This stage of the remodel has been quite a workout. Walt and I moved a majority of the heavy cartons from the garage up two flights of stairs. Who needs a gym membership?!?!
As soon as we have all the lower cabinets in place, the granite guy will come in to take measurements. I think we'll have to wait 10-14 days for that install and then we will have the flooring, trim and details to complete this project. I don't see us settling in until mid-August or later. My only requested deadline for this remodel: I want to be moved in before heading back to work : )
I have been so grateful for each step in this process and for the amazing subcontractors and family who have joined us in this undertaking ...

Thursday, June 28, 2012

It's Miller Time ... Paint

After selecting our paint colors at Miller Paint we started the next phase of our remodel. We picked out Weaver's Tool for the living room, hallway and entry and a Devine color, Chicken for the dining/kitchen area. Our first step was to prime the new ceiling and walls. While that was drying I started in the living room Sunday. Monday and Tuesday I moved down our long hallway, and yesterday I painted the entire kitchen and dining area. Some days I had a paint brush in hand for 8 hours. The one thing that has kept me motivated: listening to audiobooks. I listened to The Litigators by John Grisham and I am several disks into Death Benefit by Robin Cook. These books by two of my favorite authors made the painting process fly by.
I love the new colors and I am now in the process of cleaning shreetrock dust off of everything and putting our living room and hallway back in place. It will be nice to see a semblance of "order" before moving on to the next phase: installing cabinetry. This will reveal the reality of a new kitchen! We are moving closer to our goal!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Surviving in "Chaos"

Hard to believe but we are rapidly moving forward with our remodel. The sheetrockers have one more session and then we can prime and paint both rooms. At this point there is not one "sane" room in our home. Even the playroom for the grandkids has a toilet in the middle of their play space. They are quite intrigued with this and we teasingly made sure they knew it was not a working fixture : )
The home chaos was o.k. when I went to work each day but now that I am on summer break the entire house disorder can start to wear on you. I think once we clean up the sheetrock dust and put a few rooms back together life will be a bit more orderly. This has got to be the toughest part of the remodel. Things will really be moving forward from this point on!
One good thing about the chaos is that it has forced me to read, relax, putter in the garden and get out for a walk each day. There's nothing to organize and "busy" myself with inside our home.
Maybe you've experienced this ... it's kind of strange when you change a pattern in life. I can't tell you how many times I've carried groceries or mail up to put on the kitchen counter ... that is no longer there. I remember years ago we had to switch our kitchen garbage can and recycle bin when we put in a new sink. It took years to switch my brain to open the correct door. I hope I am not alone in this : )
Well, I'm off to look at paint samples ... so many choices!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Father's Day Giving and Receiving

This will always be a Father's Day to remember! The guys and gals decided to give Dad a hand with our construction project.
First we enjoyed a tasty lunch prepared and provided by the kids. Of course, as always, our meal included much fun and laughter ... great stories around the patio!

Toolbelts, gloves, crowbars, hammers and goggles soon equipped our construction crew and it wasn't long before they had the dining room sub floor torn up, the sheetrock installed between the kitchen and bath, and the vanity pulled out and removed -- blue tile and all : ) Even Calleigh lent a hand to pulling out the staples left behind from the floor demo.
I can't think of a better day to be with family and how much was accomplished. Thanks to all of you for providing us with great food, fun, support and "muscle" in moving this project forward. It was truly the best gift you could give Dad!
Hopefully you are not too sore today from such backbreaking hard labor!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Three Months ...

Oh, my! It's been three months since my last post. I bet you have been quite bored looking at that lemon cake every time you stop by : ) Life has been in the fast lane with work, our home, our calendar ...
Today was my last day of work until September. While driving home I felt a huge burden lifted --the skies are blue, the sun is shining. I am ready for summer break!
On the home front ... or what's left of it ... we are making progress on our remodel which now includes 3 rooms and a long hallway. Melney has nicknamed our project for us, "If You Give A Mouse A Cookie." It seems like one thing leads to another; one purchase leads to another bank transaction; one demolished area leads to another "brilliant" idea. It's like living one of those HGTV episodes ... while this is torn up we might as well do this and that! Craziness! But the end result will be so worth the time, energy, and $$$. Attempting this at our age should come with a warning: Consult physician before proceeding with heavy demolition. I am amazed at what I can do with a crowbar and hammer : )
Every thing is coming together. We have completed the plumber/mechanical and electrician portion of the project and we are now in the sheetrocking phase. Our cabinetry arrived this week and our garage is filled to the brim. Each phase takes time but it's hard not to get impatient to see the finished product.
You'll now be hearing more from me. As I unwind, I feel more like writing. It's good to feel like "me" again. : )

Monday, March 19, 2012

Lemon Yogurt Cake

Even though we've had morning snowflakes, this cake makes me long for spring. It also makes me think of my favorite vacation spot, Italy!
I found this new blog featuring Weight Watcher - Low Calorie recipes on I bought the ingredients Saturday night and baked it yesterday afternoon. It's just the right blend of sweet and sour, yummy glaze and the calories have been reduced from Ina Garten's recipe to allow yourself a "sweet treat" without the guilt. Check out this blog and find something delicious yet light on the scales.
I found Laa Loosh through ZipList, a great free shopping list and recipe box app for my iPhone. It's a great place to find new recipes. When you add it to your recipe box and decide to try it, a grocery list is created and it sorts it by the different depts. in your store. It's something I always have with me ... better than carrying a list and with items sorted it makes my shopping trip much quicker. I can also pull up a recipe from my recipe box wherever I go. Love this app! I'm also trying some new dinner entrees this week. I'll let you know my review.
Don't have a smart phone? You can still browse the great recipe selection online Give it a try and let me know what you think!
In the meantime, try this lemon cake. It's like a taste of spring!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

A Taste of Peru

Sunday afternoon we celebrated Valentine's Day early with a meal at Andina Restaurant in The Pearl with Donna and Pierre. This was a new experience for all of us and the staff made us feel right at home. The menu was explained and "interpreted" along with sharing some great recommendations.
I love being adventurous in trying new things ... well, I have to admit that I was a bit timid about the octopus listed on the menu : )
Each dish served was a rich combination of tastes and aromas. From our beverage right down to the beautifully created desserts -you do not leave disappointed. We will definitely go back. The menu is full of an array of food and beverages waiting to be experienced. Check out this adventure of Peruvian cuisine and culture here. You'll be glad you did!

Thursday, February 09, 2012


Last week we enjoyed a Christmas gift treat. Tim and Rae gave us cooking classes at Sur la Table for Italian Family Favorites with Chef Ben Witten (thanks again!). This was a wonderful gift idea. Now I would like to take more classes. It's a great gift idea for empty-nesters and would be fun to take with family or a group of friends.
We worked in groups of four on a full Italian menu that included: Saffron Risotto, Sicilian Fennel Salad with Oranges and Arugula, Chicken Cacciatore, and Tiramisu for dessert. We also enjoyed bread with dipping oil, wine and brushetta. It was amazing!
Not only were we instructed in how to make these recipes but we learned about kitchen tools, ingredients and a few new ways to work in the kitchen. The bonus was the end product ... we got to enjoy the meal we prepared. Every recipe turned out so delicious but I was quite surprised to discover that I probably liked the fennel salad most of all. It's something I've been hesitant to try and it tasted amazing!
You have an opportunity to shop between prep and dining. Sur la Table includes a 10% discount for a week following class. I had a gift card (thanks, Brian and Michelle) and picked up several kitchen tools and accessories. You leave class with all of the recipes, a list of equipment and products used to prepare them.
Sur la Table has a calendar of classes available each month. Check it out at and grab a friend or family member to join you. We'd love to go again some time!
We still have a date night for an Italian dinner @ Bugatti's and a movie to look forward to ... thanks to Matt and Kathy. Oh, how I love Christmas gifts that keep on giving : )