Sabbath and Biscotti

So, when we decided to buy this home we made a pact. We would not, I repeat, would not work on Sundays!

Everyone needs a Sabbath.

That would be our full day off from all things House. Unless that was the only day we could get help, then we’d switch our Sabbath day to Saturday. But we would take one day off per week.

So far, so good.

We also want to eat healthy during the week. By healthy we mean we won’t eat the following for dinner:

• Fast food

• Popcorn

• Peanut butter sandwiches

And, we strive to get the Mister to eat something other than just meat and bread.

During the last three weeks we’ve prepared a meal on Sunday that would last us a few days and then midweek we’d do another one. And we’ve made a batch of biscotti to satisfy our sweet tooth cravings throughout the week.

Again, so far, so good.



About that biscotti, my dear friend Gale taught me how to make it. Actually, she’s taught me how to make several things over the last few years. Not only is she a fantastic cook and teacher, she’s a great friend. When I came back from a mission trip in Haiti last summer she came over to my house and listened to me prattle on about it, non-stop for I don’t know how long. She didn’t even look at her watch or her phone one time! And she asked questions. Squirrel! Back to the biscotti.

About two weeks before we closed on the house she invited me over to learn all about the biscotti and of course to catch up. We made two batches: Apricot, Pistachio, Rosemary and Chocolate Hazelnut. When I took them home I didn’t expect the Mister would like them. They’re kind of a hard, cookie without a bunch of sugar. Boy, was I wrong! He devoured them. So I decided to make a batch each Sunday.

 The biscotti I made with Gale!

The first batch was Apricot, Pistachio, Rosemary. It was really good! But I forgot to sprinkle sugar on top. No biggie. The next week I made the Chocolate. But I didn’t have hazelnuts. Gale said I could sub in any kind of nuts. So, in went walnuts and almonds. Yummy! And I sprinkled regular sugar on one and  Haitian sugar on the other. The Haitian sugar tasted good but looked kind of gross as it ‘s brownish.

Cranberry, Almond!

Last night was the best so far! Cranberry, Almond. My tastebuds were dancing I tell you, dancing! Gale said I could share the recipe so here it is:

Cream together 4T butter and 1 cup sugar, add 2t almond extract + 3 eggs. In a separate bowl mix 3 cups flour, 2t baking power, 1/2 t salt. Then add it to the wet mixture in three batches. Once that’s mixed up add 3/4 cup slivered almonds (I used chopped because that’s what I had) and 3/4 cup cranberries. Mix it in. Roll out it out into two logs about 3′ by 12″, sprinkle with sugar. Decorator’s sugar is best if you can find it. Bake on parchment lined sheet at 350 for 25-28 minutes. Cool completely and cut in 1″ slices. Lay them on their sides and back 8 minutes. Pull them out, flip them over and put them back in for 8 minutes. And that’s it!

Check back next week for step-by-step recipe with pictures!

Oh, and for dinner, we had Black Bean and Beef Enchilada Casserole. It was awesome! We subbed out the peppers for an extra 1/2 pound of ground beef and four for corn tortillas.





What do you do to make cooking through the week easier? I’d love to see your tips. Please, comment below.

 

 

 

What classic 80s song is perfect for remodeling a home?

You gotta have great tunes when doing home improvement!  Everybody knows, hard work, like remodeling your home is just no fun without music.

So, what 80s rocker is perfect for playing when you go into demo mode?

I’ll give you a hint, he’s a Hoosier native. Give up? Watch this!

You get extra points if you can tell me what song opens and interrupts this video.

Comment below for a gold star.

 




Bet you’ve never seen this in your shower!

Just on a fluke I turned on the shower yesterday and this is what I found!

What a crazy shower head!

We have to know, have you seen one of these before?

Do you have one?

Where did you get it?

Tell us in the comment section below!

 



Finding a great deal while on a tight budget

On a tight budget and looking for a deal? Here’s how I found some of my best deals.

The Habitat for Humanity Restore

This is by far my favorite! The Restore is a place were people can donate their unneeded building supplies, items they’ve taken out during a remodel, or just things they don’t need anymore. It’s kind of like Goodwill for remodelers.

The money raised supports Habitat for Humanity. It saves items being tossed into a land fill. And, you get things cheap. Literally, EVERYBODY WINS! 

Lucky for us there’s one near my day job and one near my home. There’s also two more within driving distance. We found some amazing tile for our backsplash there. You know those sheets at the big box stores that go for around $14 a square foot? Well we found them for $3!!! We also found subway tile for 20 cents a tile. Yup, 20 cents.  And I found this $250 raincoat shower head for $20!

Auctions

My second favorite is auctions! In our neighboring town there’s a monthly liquidators auction. They have everything, and I mean everything. Tools, flooring, doors, faucets, lighting, vanities, bathtubs, gas grills, dog crates, hammocks, cabinets. I could go on. BUT, pay attention here, BUT THERE’S A 15% BUYER’S PREMIUM attached to each sale. That means, whatever you buy, add 15% to the price. So, something that you get for $10 is going to cost you $11.50 plus tax. Your $100 item will cost you $115 plus tax. So, shop around and know the price of things before you go. Not all auctions have buyer’s premiums.

Online garage sales, marketplaces, apps

A lot of communities have online garage sale pages on Facebook. I know of at least four in my small community alone, and that doesn’t include all the towns in my county.  Facebook’s Marketplace is another place to look.

I’ve also found items on the app OfferUp which sells things locally. On there people list what they’d like to have for the item and you can either pay full price or offer them less. Sometimes they’ll deal, sometimes they won’t.




Shop the big box stores

I hate to say it, but shopping the big box stores can save you money. I know, I hate them too. But sometimes you can’t beat the prices. Often they will price match and then give you additional money off. At least one of them will offer you 5% off if you use their card.  But make sure you PAY THE CARD OFF when it’s due or you’ll be paying MORE! If you’re doing a flip, you can do 6 months or 12 months same as cash.

Don’t just shop the circulars, go into the stores. You’ll find things on clearance that are not advertised. Also, sign up for their rewards programs. They will often send you coupons. And sometimes you’ll find coupons in your junk mail.

Oh, and you can bring your dog.

Don’t be afraid to ask for a discount

You’d be surprised at how much autonomy clerks have at some stores. Don’t be afraid to ask for money off, especially if you’re buying in bulk, buying the display model or if the only one they have left is a little damaged.




Ask around

Ask your friends and family if you they know anyone selling what you’re looking for. Put it out there on social media. You’d be surprised by the results. I was talking to the woman who sold us our house about a week before the closing. I mentioned that we were going to a big box store and buy a vanity to replace the one in the master bath. I’d seen one on sale the day before and they only had a couple left. She told me of a local store that was having a huge sale the following weekend. This is a store that typically doesn’t sell vanities and was a very rare deal. We went over there that day and talked to the sales man who made us a great deal, in advance of the sale! I mean, we got a $300 vanity for $75!  It’s going to look amazing in the new bathroom! And it came with the sink!

Your turn

Tell me how you find your deals on home improvement items.




9 Tips for removing wallpaper

I’m going to say it. I hate wallpaper. It’s too permanent for my tastes. It’s hard to put on, it’s hard to take off. It dates a house after just a few years. The flipper house has two whole rooms of wallpaper. The dining room and family room. And the people who put it up were very good at it! Here’s my tips for removing wallpaper.

1 Buy a scoring tool. This tool is used to put tiny cuts into the paper so when you apply the water, steam, or chemical to the outside it can get between the paper and the wall to loosen the paper. We’ve had the red one, made by Zinsser, for about a dozen years. And it still works great! Now, we haven’t used it every year but we’ve used it about half a dozen times and it’s still cutting like new.

The orange one, made by WP Chomp, we bought for this job. It lasted about three swirls around. It was junk. We returned it. Spend the extra 12 cents and go with the Zinsser.

2 Buy a scraper. Previously I used a putty knife because I’m so cheap. This week the Mister went behind my back and bought a scraper. And boy am I glad he did. It had a more ergonomic handle than my old putty knife and my hands were very thankful.

3 Rent a steamer. I thought we could get by without one, remember, I’m a cheap skate. But I’m so glad we got our hands on one. It made our work go so much faster! To save on the time we had it, we used it just to get the outside layer off. Sunbelt Rentals is my go-to rental place. They have everything there! And the experts there are super knowledgeable! Be careful with the steamer, follow all the directions carefully. It gets very HOT. I know, Mr. Obvious. 

4 Skip the chemicals and make your own remover solution. I mix hot water and cheap fabric softner together and put it in a spray bottle. I’ve seen some posts that use vinegar. Spray an area, wait about 4-5 minutes, then spray the next area and scrap the first area. Repeat. The recipe I use varies. Usually it’s 1:1 fabric softner and water. As I start to run out of softner the ratio shifts and it still works.



5 Use a drop cloth. Live and learn, you can see we didn’t. We left the tack strips in because we plan to install carpet in this room. It made a huge mess, and this picture was taken after I swept up!

6 Protect your trim. If you don’t cover it, be sure to wipe it down as you work. The water or chemicals can ruin it.

7 Protect yourself. One of my besties was over helping me and she took one look at the walls and said, “you have to wear rubber gloves.” Our walls are heavily tobacco stained. She sited a recent case of a man who was restoring a bar and ended up in the hospital with nicotine poisoning. She’s a doc so it wasn’t some fake news story she read somewhere. It was legit.

8 Speaking of besties. Ask your friends for help. It’s always more fun working with a team than alone. And believe it or not, pealing wallpaper can be somewhat soothing.




9 Gotta have the tunes playing. The old CD player filled the rooms with Michael Martin Murphey’s Cowboy Songs; Mary Mary’s The Sound; Don Henley’s Building the Perfect Beast; and a mix tape featuring old school Newsboys our son made for me. I ventured away from memory lane for a bit to treat my ears to some new AA Sound of the Saints. That’s an incredible record! Their title track features images from their trip to Haiti. It just touches my heart so much. I love and miss our Haitian family.  Perhaps I’ll more about that another time.

What tip did I leave out? I’d love to hear from you!





 

 

 

I have a confession to make.

I remove wallpaper like I mow my lawn.

We have an awesomely big, zero-turn radius riding mower. It literally cut our mowing time in half when we bought it however many years ago. It’s wide, so it cuts a lot of grass at a time, and it’s fast, so you, well, you get to go fast! My personality is that I don’t do things slow, I go fast.

I’d rather barrel race than pleasure ride.  

I’d rather wakeboard than kayak.

I’d rather snorkel than sunbathe. 

I’d rather TobyMac than Hillsong.

The fast isn’t the issue, the issue is the wide. With a wide mower is it’s hard to take care of the tight spots or get close to the edges. For example, it doesn’t fit between the tree and the fence on both sides of our yard. And, it doesn’t do well around the frame that holds up our bench swing. So, I just do the middle and leave the edging to the Mister.


I found myself doing the same thing with the wallpaper removal. I was fine taking down the big middle parts, but those tight spaces between the window trim and the ceiling? Forget it. And don’t even talk to me about the space between the security system and the door frame. No way. I haven’t broken the news to the Mister yet. But I’m sure in, his heart of hearts, he already knows he’ll have to do the wallpaper edges for me. I’m thankful he’s a patient man. Bless his heart.

Now it’s your turn, which would you rather?

Coming soon: Tips for wallpaper removal.