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October wrap up!

Happy Halloween!  This was the last pumpkin to carve. It was getting mushy on the top and I waited until last night to do it.

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This pattern was kind of hard to do. It’s funny that they look like a jumble when carving them and then when the light is in then you see it.

Sometimes it seems like  a month will go by fast, but for some reason October seemed really long. We both commented on that today.

Anyway, I did make a few goals for October and this is the result:

1. Move.  Done and never again. Ever.  Still have a lot of boxes to unpack and rooms to finish, but the worst is over.  Now if only the old house would sell.

2. Get back to the gymI just got back this week, nothing like cutting it close :D , although I still need to get some kind of schedule going with it. It felt good to be lifting again and I wasn’t even sore the next day, which I think is because of all the physical work that we did on this house using all my muscles.

3. Get my eating back into some semblance of normal.  This is a work in progress. We are definitely cooking more, but I still have been snacking too much.

4. Finish the dining room. Done!  Other than hanging pictures.

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Next up is the living room LOL!  I promise on Sunday I will do the before and after of the kitchen, too.

 

Have a great weekend and safe Halloween!

 

Spinach Tomato Pasta

We tried this and liked it so much we made it twice! The first time we did it with cheese tortellini and the 2nd time with plain pasta.
Tomato Spinach Pasta

This recipe is from Damned Delicious. I didn’t want to use 1-1/2 cups of heavy cream, though – so I substituted 1 cup of evaporated milk for 1 cup of the cream and I think it was fine.  I think you could probably use all evaporated milk and do away with the cream all together if you wanted, but it sure tastes good!  I also left out the garlic. John and I are not big garlic fans, so go ahead and add some to the oil before the tomatoes and spinach if you want.

You might even have all of these ingredients on hand!

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  • 12 ounces tortellini or 8 ounces of dried non-filled pasta.
  • 1 cup evaporated milk.
  • 1/2 cup  cream
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 1 (15-ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained
  • Several handfuls of fresh baby spinach
  • 2 teaspoons dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan

Cook the pasta according to directions on package.  In a small bowl, whisk together the milk, cream and flour.  In a large saute pan, add the oil over medium high heat. Then add in the tomatoes, spinach and spices and cook for several minutes until the spinach has wilted down.

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Add in the milk/flour mixture and stir constantly while it comes to a boil.  

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 Cook for several minutes until the sauce thickens. Then stir in the pasta.  I wasn’t sure it would all fit in this pan LOL!

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Then serve!  It takes about 20 minutes from start to finish. Fast and easy.  I do like the tortellini version better, but you can eat more of the regular pasta since it has less calories.

Tomato Spinach Pasta

Pumpkin Party!

We got a chance to christen our dining room and kitchen with a pumpkin carving party on Monday night!  It’s a little early to be carving, but the only chance we had where all of us were free to do it. Look out newly done dining room and kitchen – the pumpkins have arrived!

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We all got busy carving:

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Pumpkin guts everywhere.  Thank goodness we don’t have carpet. It’s easy to clean pumpkin guts off the hardwood floor :D

I am usually the fastest carver, but I kept running out to the kitchen getting snacks and stuff ready. I still finished near the front, though.

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The nieces went freestyle on their pumpkins and decorated with some bling.

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As each pumpkin got finished, we set them on the inside stairs before going outside:

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Then we took them outside and admired our handiwork.

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I have one big pumpkin to carve on Thursday or Friday as it is starting to get soft on top and I didn’t want to cut it open until closer to Halloween so it doesn’t get mushy.

As my dad proclaimed “Another successful pumpkin party!”  :D  I didn’t even freak out over the mess everywhere in the house, either LOL!

Hicks Orchard!

Saturday the sun finally came out after days of dreariness.  I wanted to get out and do something other than working on Radiance Manor. While I do love doing all the things to the house, I don’t necessarily want to do it all the time, you know?  Besides – with gorgeous fall weather you just have to get out in it!

Hicks Orchard is kind of in the middle of nowhere, but it’s a pretty drive.

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Hicks has a U-pick, but they are done with that for the season, which is okay because we didn’t want that many apples LOL!

Move over pumpkin:

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Hicks has a store where they sell all kinds of local products, not just apples.

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There is a cider press:

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Golden wall of honey:

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Homemade cider donuts!

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We bought some critter food and went out to the goat pen.

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They have their own Habitrail, which is pretty cool:

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Of course, they see the cone and come running!

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Does anyone else thing goat eyes are really alien looking?

Nom, nom, nom:

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Hicks also has a hard cider winery.

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They were sampling hard ciders and I wanted to try some.

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There was ‘regular’ hard cider and sparkling hard cider, which I quite liked.  In fact, I bought a bottle to bring to our Thanksgiving dinner!

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Of course, there are just apples for sale with a chart on all the different kinds:

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We also bought a new to us kind of apple:

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And, of course, you knew we wouldn’t be leaving without a cider donut!

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Nothing like a fresh, fresh donut. Yummers!  The coffee was small though – tiny.

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Now we have a bunch of apples and apple products at home :D

It was just a gorgeous day to be outside and exploring!

 

Furnaces and furniture

Busy week house wise. We have had so many people in and out of the house this week!  The furnace people were in for 3 days. First was getting rid of what I called the behemoth:

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While it would have been nice to put off getting a new boiler for a year, this one was smelly and I was a little concerned about its safety, even though it checked out okay with the heating people. It seemed to work really hard, too.  It’s probably over 50 years old. The guys said it weighed 1200 pounds and it took 4 of them taking it out in pieces to remove it. 

Then the new one arrived and it took them a lot of time to set it up because they put in new water and electrical lines and made everything all new.  We were without heat for a couple days, but luckily the cement walls held in enough heat so that we weren’t freezing.

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We used 1-Hour Heating and I was really impressed with how professional and personable they were. Not to mention all the time they took. 

The chimney people also came this week as well to get a look at what the furnace people were doing so they could get ready to put in our chimney liner next week.  At least the house will be buttoned up and ready for winter and we will be safe.  I just wish the money could be spent on more ‘fun’ things...

 

There were fun things, though – our new furniture finally arrived!  We ordered from a small local shop and got a great price on these pieces, but the tradeoff was having to wait a month to get them in.

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I got my fainting couch!

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I was going to wait until November to do the wallpaper, but I am disliking it so much with our new furniture LOL!

Pixie approves of both pieces:

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We need to do a scale model of things and play around with the layout in the living room. It feels unorganized and we can’t agree where stuff should go.  I’ll have to post full pictures for some advice on placement.

Now for the pink item of the day:

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The Breast Cancer Site

After a super busy week with work and all this stuff, I want to spend some time doing fun fall things. We are hoping to get to an apple orchard or something festival-ish this weekend :D

Dining Room reveal and CocoVia winners!

First off, the winners of the CocoVia coconut water are:

 Carla!

you had me at ICY COLD since we are mooooving back to TEXAS.

And

Kim!

I’ve never tried coconut water, but I needed something to kick my ridiculous diet soda addiction.

Please email me at javaqueen01@yahoo.com with your address by Sunday  (10/26).

I know that I owe you kitchen pictures, but I have to get them organized as there are a lot more than for the dining room.  Finally finished the dining room and got it cleaned up.  It’s amazing how messy removing wallpaper and painting is. Ugh. More the wallpaper than anything else.  Anyway, this room had 4 loverly layers of wallpaper on the bottom half and there was so much wall prep to be done. After removing the paper, then I had to get the glue backer off, patch holes and then sand all the walls (talk about working up a sweat!).  This is what we were working with:

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This doesn’t look too bad in pictures, but there was a lot of damaged wallpaper. It’s just was a little stodgy looking and dated as well. (The last picture I had sanded and polyed the floor, so that looks nice).

I left the chair rail up. I like chair rails, particularly in the dining room.  It gives you options for paint colors!

Lots and lots of work on the walls. Wall prep is really the most time consuming thing, but good prep means better finished product.  I have been wanting to use a cranberry color for a long time and this room seemed perfect because with the chair rail – it wouldn’t be too overwhelming or make the room seem smaller.  The upper half of the room is done in Olympus Golden Mushroom.  It’s cream colored and not what I would call mushroom at all, but whatever.

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The bottom half is Olympus Merlot, which I looooove!

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My bargain china cabinet that I couldn’t wait to get into this house many months ago when I found it!

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I wish it was sunny out for this picture because it is such a bright room, but we have had rain for the last few days:

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We need to either thrift or build a buffet for in here. It’s sparse on furniture LOL!  The walls are cement, so it is going to take time for us to hang the art work. Our light frames we can use Command picture hangers, but the heavier items I don’t trust with that and we need to drill anchors. That means careful planning of where we want the photos since they won’t move for a while :D

Each room that we do in this house erases the neglect this house suffered for a while and makes it more ours.  I am going to take a break from wallpaper removal for the rest of October as we still have a ton of boxes to unpack and organize.  November will start the living room.

CocoZia review and giveaway!

You all know I have love for coconut water, so this was definitely a product I agreed to review.  Cocozia provided me with Organic Coconut Water for my opinion.

CocoZia

I don’t like sports gels or drinks. I don’t drink sweet anything. My coffee and lattes are unsweetened, my seltzer water is unsweetened and I don’t do diet drinks, and I rarely drink juice, so I am not used to having beverages be sweet.  I think that is part of the reason why I have trouble with sports drinks for rehydration.  Coconut water fits that bill perfectly instead. It has only the barest hint of sweet and a very mild flavor.

From the CocoZia website:

COCOZIA 100% Organic Coconut Water is fat-free and contains no processed ingredients of any kind. It’s 100% organic and it’s so good for you! COCOZIA contains fresh, pure water from inside a young green coconut. It’s a clear, naturally sweet liquid that has just 70 calories Make COCOZIA your go-to answer when you want easy-to-drink hydration, coupled with a natural abundance of potassium and magnesium, as well as other electrolytes.

This is the nutrition label:

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They point out on the website there are 70 calories in the coconut water and it looks (by my math) that is are 80 for the whole 16.9 ounce container.  Coconut water also has lots of potassium. The only thing missing is salt when replacing a lot of sweat. So, having a few pretzels or crackers with the coconut water is a good solution. This is organic coconut water, and truth be told it tastes the same as regular coconut water big grin

Cocozia offers 5 flavors: Original, Chocolate, Coffee (WHAT???? Gimmee), Pineapple and Mango. If you want something a little sweeter, the flavored coconut waters do seem to offer that, but still not super sweet.

Coconut water is best served icy cold, in my opinion. I like to pop a bottle in the freezer the night before a ride and that way you can have a slushy cold drink later in the ride when you need it. Some people find coconut water to be an acquired taste, and I understand that – especially if you are used to sports drinks, but it can grow on you – sort of like when you switch from sweetened yogurt to plain.  

Anyhoo – now for the good stuff. This came as a case of 12 to me, so I thought I would share the bounty with 2 people.  I will randomly choose 2 people to receive two  16 oz bottles of Cocozia to try!

 

Anyone can enter this – you don’t have to be in the US, since I will be sending them out!  Yay for all inclusive!! :D

All you have to do is comment below telling me if you have tried cocout water to be entered.  I will chose 2 winners on Thursday evening, so this will be a quick one.

 

**I was provided a case of CocoZia for my honest review. All opinions are my own.

Baked chocolate Bisquick donuts

I feel like we hae finally turned a corner as far as the craziness goes… I hope!  Getting back into routines and not shuttling back and forth between houses is nice.  

Work is just about complete on the dining room – we even got a picture up!:

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We will be getting our living room couch and chaise this week, finally!  We have had a trundle bed set up as a couch in the living room for now. Shades of dorm rooms LOL!  It’s beginning to feel more like our house now, little by little. 

Anyway, back to donuts – or getting to the donuts… I had bought a box of Bisquick for a recipe that I can’t recall now, but we needed to use of the rest before we moved and I found recipes for Bisquick donuts to use it up. We liked them so much and they were so easy that we bought another box after we moved LOL!

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Here is one of the recipes from the Betty Crocker website

This is a half recipe and it makes 6 or 7 small donuts.

Baked Chocolate Donuts

Makes 6 mini donuts.

Preheat oven to 425 F.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup (120 grams) of Bisquick Heart Smart
  • 1.5 tablespoons of sugar
  • 1.5 tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup of milk
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla

In a medium bowl, mix the Bisquick, sugar and cocoa powder to blend. In another small dish, beat the egg, add the milk and vanilla.  

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Then add this to the dry mix.  Mix until just moistened. Overmixing can make tough donuts, and you don’t want tough donuts :D

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Spray the donut pan with cooking spray and spoon into the pan.

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This is a little full, actually – so keep that in mind. I just didn’t feel like doing another pan for 1 donut (lazy).

Bake for 6-7 minutes.  Check with a toothpick if you want, but they will spring back to the touch.

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See how I got this pan just a little full? Turn over to the pretty side on a cooling rack :)

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Here are the stats for just the donuts:

Calories (per donut): 106, 2.7 grams of fat, 18.2 grams of carbs, 3.3 grams of protein, 0.4 grams of fiber.

Top with any glaze that you want.  This glaze is 1/3 cup of powdered sugar with a tablespoon of milk and 1/2 tablespoon of crunchy peanut butter.

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The donuts are not too sweet, which is nice and so easy and fast to make. You can have donuts in about 20 minutes from start to finish.

It’s funny how I bought a donut pan kind of on a whim and we actually use it fairly often.  John loves the baked donuts, as do I.

New boiler for our furnace tomorrow and the new furniture!  I also have a product review and giveaway for this week, so stay tuned!

Fall foliage

Fall is in the air! Other than being warm, of course.  The leaves have hit their peak now.

 

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So love the colors of fall.

Here are some photos on our walk today:

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Not exactly sure what is up with this squirrel. It’s not really a fall decoration and he is tied into the tree.  Weird.

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Here is one of my potted plants that rebloomed!

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A lot of our fall decorations are in a box somewhere, but I did manage to find my sign welcoming the trick-or-treaters:

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We need to check with the neighbors and see how many kids come for Halloween. We are a few blocks from the school, so it could be a lot.

I sure am glad it is Friday.  Gotta work some, though.  We got a tax bill for the new house already – eek!

 

Today’s pink picture:

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Click, click!

The Breast Cancer Site

As if I weren’t busy enough!

This has been some weather this week!  We hit 78 yesterday and the overnight low was around 60, so that meant biking for breakfast! 

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Happy bike face!! We haven’t been on the bikes in 2 weeks and it felt good.  Of course, we now live 1 mile from the coffee shop instead of 6, so we took a circuitous route there to add some miles.

 Fall plantings downtown:

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It’s so warm that it feels like summer around here.  Looks like fall, though:

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Work has been really busy, which is a good thing. For a while there, I was concerned about not enough work after losing my main account, but they gave me some more work and I think maybe a couple MTs left or something because there has been plenty of work lately. Feast or famine and I will have to feast as much as I can :D

My snack with my afternoon latte – Newman Ginger O’s:

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I have a good relationship with food now, but I still have those foods I don’t let in the house for fear of bingeing on them. Newman Ginger O’s are one of those foods. I have decided to bring those foods into the house and learn that I don’t have to eat them all at once.  Of course, I won’t be having them all here at the same time :D  I have been doing okay with these cookies.

Work is progressing on the dining room. Painting has begun (YAY!!!) and I finally chose a light fixture.

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I really struggled with this one as we wanted something Tiffany, but I was afraid the diffusion of the light wouldn’t be enough.  I had looked at this fixture and really liked it, but I thought it was too small for the room at 13 inches.  You are supposed to take the length of the room on the diagonal and that should be the size of your ceiling fixture in inches (according to experts). This room is 17.5 feet in diagonal, which means a 17 inch fixture. I finally decided to go ahead and get the light I liked since I kept coming back to it.  And you know – it fits just fine! Not too small and I love it.  Goes to show that the experts aren’t always right.

On top of all this, I got an email from my old soap client last week asking for more soap.  It’s always an ‘emergency’ for her (not sure why she cannot plan it better, but whatever).  I told her we had just moved and it would take some time to get them to her, but I just can’t turn the order down. It’s several hundred dollars and with the rehab and owning 2 houses, it is much needed $$$  :D

So, I had to find my molds and all the stuff in the pile of boxes and set myself up in the basement main room as I am *not* making soap in my brand new kitchen.

My alchemy station by the giant fireplace in the basement.

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Finished soap:

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I am about 3/4 done with the order. Just another couple days.  Then I am sure something else will crop up…

Today’s pink item?

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Random floral vase. This normally isn’t out – or wasn’t at our old place. Still finding homes for a ton of stuff :D

Click, click!
The Breast Cancer Site