Easy Cranberry, Almond Biscotti

As promised in a previous post, here’s a step-by-step of how to make Gale’s famous Cranberry, Almond Biscotti.

This is one of my favorite go-to snacks for my family. It’s not loaded down with sugar and shortening, it lasts nearly a week and it satisfies our sweet tooth.

As with most yummy things, start with butter, 4 tablespoons this time. It’s best if it’s at room temperature.

Add one cup of sugar.





Cream the two together.

Add two teaspoons of almond extract.

And 3 eggs.

Mix it all up.

In a separate bowl dump in 3 cups of flour.





Add in 2 teaspoons of baking powder,

and 1/2 teaspoon of salt.





Mix it up with a whisk.

Then add it to the wet mixture in three batches, mixing it up in between.

Until it looks like this:

Measure out 3/4 cup of dried cranberries,

and 3/4 cup of slivered almonds.



Wait, those aren’t slivered, those are whole almonds! I know. I’m cheap, I mean frugal. So I chopped them.

Add them to your batter and mix them up.





Sprinkle a clean surface with flour.

Drop the batter on the flour.

Smooth it out and cut it into two separate halves.

Then roll each half in into a 3″ by 12″ log.

Sprinkle with sugar, decorator’s sugar, if you have it. And gently press the sugar into the mixture.

Bake at 350 on a cookie sheet that is lined with parchment paper.

After about 25 minutes check them to see if they are ready. Your knife should come out clean. If not, put them back in a for a few minutes and check them again.

Once they are ready, put them on a cooling rack.





Once they are completely cool, cut them in 1″ slices.

Place them back on the lined cookie sheet and pop them back in the oven for 8 minutes. Then, take them out again, turn them over and put them back in for 8 more minutes.

That’s it! Biscotti’s that easy!

 

 

 



It’s all about the relationship

When our friends Curt and Erin offered to help, we told them “no.” After all, while we hope that this house makes an incredible new home for a family, the bottom line is we hope to make some money on it. We couldn’t dare take help from friends when we’re in it for the profit. We wouldn’t want to jeopardize that relationship.

“I’m confused,” she said. “We could spend an enjoyable evening or afternoon visiting with you while we work on the house.”

They showed up with pizza and gloves and set to work.



And it clicked. It wasn’t necessarily about the task at hand. It was all about relationship.

Relationship is why our friends Matt and Deb helped us install the floor in the home we live in. And it’s why we helped them with the floor in their old home. It’s why we made umpteen trips to Goodwill when they downsized and handed them the keys to our truck.

Relationship is why Curt tore out the tile in the bathroom for us. It’s why Todd and Matt painted all of those edges. They know I don’t do edges!

 

Relationship is why Lori picked up the wallpaper steamer and helped peel some for a little while. And it’s why we painted Lori’s bedroom three years ago.

Relationship is why Jen and Erin worked on that fireplace. And I still don’t know if I’m going to like this whitewashed looked. But, we’re only one coat in so we’ll see.

Relationship is why Crystal came out and took pictures, then asked her architect friend if we could tear out that wall.

It’s not about the money at all.

If you decide to take on a daunting task and you’re friends offer to help, say yes.  You may find more blessings than elbow grease.



Landscape tips to get the most out of selling your home

Editor’s note: We’re excited to have expert guest writer for this post!

By Joe Turpin, Fralich’s Landscape

For most homeowners, selling a home requires touching up the paint and minor cosmetic work inside the house.  What most homeowners don’t think about however is that the first thing any potential homebuyer sees is the exterior entrance to the house.

Here are some tips to help make your curb appeal, more appealing.

Clean-up

The easiest way to tidy up your curb appeal and maximize your dollars is by cleaning up the existing landscape.

Tidy up all plant material by pruning and cutting out any dead branches.

Power-wash decks and walks (just be careful that you don’t strip paint or gouge hardscape surfaces).

Putting down pre-emergent in early spring will help control weeds. Pre-emergent stops weeds from germinating.  Note: DO NOT USE IT if you’re trying to re-seed your lawn.

Remove any dead or overgrown plants. These will make the property look like it has been neglected.



Mulch, mulch, mulch. Fresh mulch has the same effect as new paint. It will liven and clean up your landscape beds.

Make sure you look up while cleaning, messy gutters and chipping paint can ruin the cleanest of landscapes.

Remove Yard Art

Keep your landscape as simple as possible.  Try to remove any yard decorations and novelties.  Buyers tend to go off of their first impression, what may be cute or chic to you may make your landscape look cluttered.

Draw the eye to the entry way

Having had several years in design, the first thing I think about when working on a front yard landscape is the direction of movement your eye takes to the front door.   Subconsciously, when the eye is drawn to the front door, the house seems more inviting.

The easiest method to achieve this is by using the plants from tall to short and repetitive plantings or hedges to move the eye to the door.  You can also use landscape lighting to highlight the front door at night. Yes, potential buyers will drive by your home at night. (See Landscape Lighting Below).

Add color and interest

Adding decorative pots with colorful annuals can really make an impact in the front yard without breaking the bank.  Be sure to give yourself enough time to allow plants to grow before listing.  Add a slow release fertilizer to the soil to increase plant size and remember to water regularly.

Lawn Maintenance

Make sure you keep the lawn mowed and somewhat weed free.  An unkempt lawn will give the appearance of a poorly maintained home.  The easiest method to remove weeds is to use a hose attachment pre-mixed lawn spray.  Most big box stores carry this and it is fairly simple to use.  Expect the weeds to start to disappear after a week.

If your yard is mostly weeds, be ready to grow grass.  Start by killing the weeds first.  You will want to wait at least a week to let the residual weed killer to wear off.



If you are near a rental store, a slice seeder is the best method to reseed your yard.  The slice seeder will put grooves into the yard and drop the seed.  This will keep you from needing to use straw.  Apply a turf starting fertilizer to push the new growth.

Pro-tip:  Most landscape companies use a mixture of bluegrass and rye grass.  Bluegrass takes 2 weeks to germinate so the rye grass is mixed in to establish a lawn faster until the bluegrass takes over.

Landscape Lighting

Adding exterior lighting to the landscape will give a sense of a security to your for potential buyers.  You can also use the lights to highlight the front door and draw buyers to the door at night.  Be sure to use low voltage lighting or led rather than bright fixtures.  The ultimate goal is to highlight the landscape not showcase it like a billboard.

Use landscape lights to highlight areas of interest such as ornamental trees, line pathways for visibility at night and add security by lighting dark areas around windows and back yard access.



Joseph R. Turpin is a student of Landscape Architecture with 10 years of design experience, 15 years of landscape experience and is a current designer for Fralich’s Landscape of Greenfield, Indiana.

Aaron Fralich is the owner of Fralich’s Landscape with 10 years experience in the landscape industry with a background in Agriculture

Connect with Fralich’s Landscape: www.fralichlandscape.com,  317-477-0405, www.facebook.com/fralichs

Connect with 317MulchIt: www.317mulchit.com, 317-685-2448, www.facebook.com/317mulchit

 

Picture Credits:  all pictures are free to use from the Pixabay website or stock photos from Fralich’s Landscape.




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.