DIY Project Finished

I finally finished my DIY project that I was working on a couple of weeks ago. My kitchen shelves.

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Before
shelf1
After

All are painted now and dried thoroughly. I put down my favorite shelf liner which is non-sticky and plastic so it wipes clean.

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I also brought down from my attic a box with beautiful crystal and milk glass pieces that have been stored up there for about a decade. They were my Granny’s and she had them on the very same shelves. They were packed away after she died and I decided to bring them out and showcase them again.

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Aren’t they beautiful? I am very please with how everything turned out. Now to make a curtain to hide the containers on the top shelf. Or maybe I could get new containers. Hmmm…  -MM

A Garden in a Pop Bottle, a 30 Day Challenge and Getting the Word out About my Work

Pop Bottle Greenhouse

Last Sunday I started a few basil seeds in my new mini ecosystem thingy which I mentioned in my last blog post. The idea is to use two 2-liter pop bottles to make an enclosed mini greenhouse. I planted and watered the seeds in on Sunday and placed the bottle on a warm radiator and by Wednesday tiny seedlings were popping up. Cool! So far this system is working great. I will continue to give updates and experiment with other seeds to see how they fare in this kind of environment.

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30 Day Challenge

A few months ago I challenged myself, my husband and my son to a 30 day challenge. We would not eat out, get take-out or go through the drive-thru for an entire month. Yeah. This was tough for us. I love to cook but by the time I get home some nights I have seen too much food and too many dishes and I would rather just order a pizza for dinner. This kind of eat out lifestyle had left me feeling very mediocre. I used to be the wife that would have a great meal on the table every night for my family. It was always balanced with a protein, a carb and two veggies.

After opening my bakery in 2010 and leaving my desk job as a legal secretary our home meals were rushed, quick and downright, yes, mediocre at best. After working a 12 hour day standing on my feet, I had no desire to stand even a second longer making dinner. My husband doesn’t cook but he is the best at ordering take-out.

Now that my self-employed career was done and I had a full time job again I was itching to get my mojo back when it came to cooking. We were spending a ton of money eating out and why should we eat out when my husband would say my cooking was better! What really got me into this challenge was having dinner at a local BBQ joint and it cost me over $85 for three of us to eat! Not cool! I knew I could do better and I knew it would be a lot cheaper if I cooked for us at home.

Now this was a self-imposed 30 day challenge. I came up with the idea myself so I made my own rules.

Here were my rules:

1. No eating out at a restaurant, ordering take-out from a restaurant or going through the fast food drive-thru.

2. No eating out at all including not just dinner but breakfast and lunch too.

3. No coffee out or fancy drinks like Lattes, Mochas or Frappes. Yes that meant no Starbucks, Dunkin Donuts, Tim Hortons or local coffee shops. We own three coffee machines so we would make our coffee from home.

4. Meals had to be made at home. They don’t have to be made from scratch either. I don’t care if you want to eat a bowl of cereal for dinner, just make it at home.

5. Farmers markets and grocery stores are your friends and should be your daily inspiration. If you have room to grow a veggie garden than all the better. Can’t get much healthier or more inexpensive than growing it yourself.

6. The only exceptions would be school lunches. (At only $1.40 a lunch I couldn’t pack a lunch less expensive than that) and if we had already planned a dinner out a month in advance we could still honor our previous commitment and go out that night.

I have to say we really enjoyed our month cooking at home. My son enjoying cooking with me. Our garden was still alive so we could harvest lettuce, carrots, swiss chard, cabbage and herbs. Working at the store was helpful because I was already there and I made myself stay and shop so there was no excuse for not wanted to go to the store. I also got my love for cooking back. I really missed it.

I did slip a couple of times. I was summoned to jury duty that month and it was pretty tough to bring a bag lunch even though I did stash some fruit and granola bars in my purse. Also once, we went to Subway on a night where I was completely wiped out and we figured that was the cheapest, healthiest way to enjoy a night out.

I might have to do the challenge again. I really didn’t like paying $30 for a small pizza and 12 wings yesterday. Would you try a 30 day challenge like this?

doug food
A meal our 13 year old made us
nanna
Naan flatbread pizza

My Work

Work at the store gets very slow this time of year. After the hustle and bustle of the holidays people tend to hibernate after December. Here in Western, NY we have been plagued by many snow storms including our November super-storm which brought national attention to southern Buffalo.

After such a slow week last week I decided to jump-start people and get them in the spring and summer event planning mood with a few pictures on my Facebook page. I posted 5 different categories of goods that would be perfect for baby and wedding showers, custom cut-outs, character cakes and small weddings.

If you have an event coming up in the spring or summer of this year it is best to start getting your thoughts together now while it’s quiet. Bakeries love to hear from people well in-advance of an upcoming event. This gives them enough time to order or hand make special decorations for a cake if needed and gives the person hosting the event the peace of mind that their wishes will be met correctly and their event will be perfect. What kind of event are you planning for the summer? -MM

tetrault cake anniv
50th Wedding Anniversary Cake

I Needed a Little “Garden Time”

workbench1

I was in a winter blues kind of mood yesterday. I was looking through my order book from 2014, before I took my job at the grocery store. Taxes have to be done to finish up closing my business books and I saw all of the people I had baked something for in March and I was kind of sad it was over. I needed something to get me out of my mood so I turned off the computer and got my grungies on and went in my basement to tackle cleaning off my potting workbench. 

I love gardening. It isn’t work for me. It is relaxation and creativity and a way for me to connect with myself and my surroundings. I feel at peace even if I am shoveling 50 lbs of topsoil or turning my compost pile.workbench2

In the winter I like to plan and dream of my spring garden. I get my seed catalogs out as soon as the new year arrives. I pour over them looking at what’s new for the season. Sometimes I order and other times I have seeds left over from last year.

This year I have a ton of seeds left over from 2014. Working at a grocery store has it’s perks and one day this last fall, I went to sit at the break table for lunch and there were two big boxes of seeds for us employees to take for FREE!

Apparently the grower didn’t want the packets back because they were last year’s seeds and it wasn’t worth it for them to pick them up. So management left a note on the boxes to take any that we wanted. SCORE!workbench3

I grabbed the carrots, beets and lettuce and let me tell you those lettuce packs were gigantic! We are going to be eating a lot of salads this summer and so is the rest of my family for that matter. Ha!

garden3

So I cleaned the heck out of my workbench which I love dearly. My grandfather built the workbench into the basement room with the most windows in it so he could start his seedlings in the sunniest spot in the house. It always makes me feel better when I work on it. Today was just cleaning, but I did plant a bit of basil in my new homemade ecosystem thingy that I will show you in another post if it works properly.

Iworkbench4 also got a nice chat in with my geraniums that I re-potted and brought in before our famous November snow storm. One day it was 50 and the next we had three feet of snow. Screwy NY weather. I re-potted 9 geraniums at the last possible second before they got hit with frost and brought them inside. They love it when there is a sunny day and the light streams in warming them.

I had a wonderful afternoon with my plants and fresh dirt and sunshine. Even on a cold wintery day it definitely chased my winter blues away. – MM

A New DIY Project and 12 Goals for 2015 Update

A New DIY Project

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We have a 1950s style house with LOTS of paneling. Little by little I have been painting the entire house as opposed to ripping out all of the paneling which can get messy.

I was itching to do a small project yesterday. I have been slowly working on my kitchen for the past three years, painting a section of it at a time. I decided that the shelves above my kitchen desk needed a makeover.

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We had some leftover paint from our living room project so I decided to use the same paint we used on the bookcases in that room. I choose a medium gray color for the living room bookcases because not only is it soft and comforting but it hides the dust!

After spending an hour or so scraping the old blue painters tape off that I had left on there since the last project (Note to self: don’t do that again!) and clearing the shelves of all of the junk on them and cleaning them and removing any of the screws and hooks attached to them, I got down to business.

DIY1

With three shelves, sides, tops and bottoms I got a first coat on everything. Then my shoulder ached so I figured that was enough for one day.

I plan on digging a few pieces of my Granny’s Milk Glass  out of the attic to display them on one of the shelves. Hopefully that will give me incentive to keep the shelves clean and organized.

I will post pics when the project is finished. What kind of projects are you working on right now?

12 Goals for 2015 Update

 Week Three

1. Renovate our only bathroom and replace the window in our son’s bedroom.

I am still in the “finding a contractor and getting a good quote” stage of my bathroom reno but rest assured we will have a new bathroom by the end of the year come heck or high water!

I did get our son’s window replaced in his bedroom last week though. Yippee! It was an old single paned window with a storm that was not pretty, especially with the big hole in it from a roll of quarters flying into it one day. (Gee I wonder how that happened?) It took all of an hour and a half to get the old window out and the new one in and at a cost of $396.00 including labor and tax I say that was pretty good!

2. Catch-up on and read my favorite daily blog – “Feed Your Family for $100 a Month” by Mavis Butterfield. Also catch-up on and read a really great e-magazine “From Scratch”.

Mavis Butterfield’s blog is a daily blog and if I don’t read it at least once a week to catch-up I tend to get way behind. I am so behind in fact that I am currently reading October blog posts from her. So I have a little catching up to do. I have gotten about 15 read this last week so I might get caught up by March. Maybe.

From Scratch is a bi-monthly e-magazine and currently I am 3 months behind. I guess I have some reading to do there too.

I could just delete all of the emails and start from scratch (no pun intended) but I would really miss out on some great information as well as deals that both publications offer.

3. Journal Daily

So far I am only one day behind and that is amazing for a person who has never consistently written in a journal. I will keep you updated.

4. Pay off one of our two credit cards

At first my goal was to pay off both of our credit cards but after thinking about it I knew I would struggle to pay off one much less two. I called the credit card company for my Old Navy Card (the one with the highest interest) and they would not budge on the interest rate. So I have a different plan and we will see how that goes in the coming months.

5. Organize our attic

I haven’t done anything yet

6. Exercise 3 times a week

So far I haven’t exercised yet this week but after painting yesterday I might just count that!

7. Read one book a month

ken follett

The book I am reading right now is Fall of Giants, by Ken Follett. It is an epic novel set during WWI. It sweeps over Russia, Germany, England and the US with a set of characters in each country. I have been listening to it on CD because it is such a long novel. With my schedule there are some books I would never get read if it weren’t recorded on CD. This book is a whopping 24 CDs long which is exactly why I chose it. I am on CD 15 and I have had it since before Christmas. I hope the library will let me renew it for a third time! What are you reading at the moment?

8. Send out birthday and anniversary cards each month

I have always wanted to be like my mom and mother-in-law in the way they have always been so good about sending cards out to everyone on their birthdays. So far in my life have failed miserably at it. I decided that this year would be different. I would get organized!

I have taken two different steps to make sure I get birthday and anniversary cards out to people in a timely manner.

One: I subscribed to Hallmark E-Cards. I set up an account online and for a small yearly fee you can input all of the recipients’ names with birth dates and when you would like the e-cards to be delivered. You can choose from many different styles and gender specific cards. The recipients receive a notification via email that they have a card to open. It was easy and affordable! Here is a link to their site https://www.hallmarkecards.com/ 

Two: I ordered a mess of paper cards from CURRENT Catalog. Our church used to use Current as a fundraiser when we were young and it has been years since I have ordered from them. I found them again on-line and I ordered a variety of cards. Some I ordered were for kids, some were for men, some for women, some for old and some for young. I purchased 48 cards for less than $35 including shipping and tax. Not bad! Current also carries wrapping paper and stationary and all kinds of other  fun stuff. Check out www.currentcatalog.com for more info.current catalog

I have January birthdays ready to go now I need to work on February’s.

9. Make copies of my Granny’s recipes and give a copy to each of our family members.

So far I have done nothing towards this goal but the year is young.

10. Digitize my Dad’s family’s photos and make photo books and give CD copies to each of our family members

I own and live in my dad’s parents’ house. In the attic are the family photos from my dad’s side of the family packed neatly away by his mother, my grandmother. Both sets of my grandparents have been gone for quite a long time now. I have really wanted to go through all of my family’s photos from both sides to digitize them. Since my dad’s family photos are in my attic I decided I would start on his side first. So far the photos I have found have started with photos from the 1940s during WWII.

On my day off which is Wednesday I have been taking batches of photos down to my local Walgreens to scan them and put them on a CD. I have to admit I had never done this before but it only took once to have someone guide me through the process and now I am a pro at it.

Last week I spent an hour and a half scanning in 36 photos and cropping and saving them.

Here are a couple of the photos I scanned.

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My dad is the one with the puss on his face in the photo on the left. He is turning 70 this year.

The CD has a 36 photo capacity and costs $5.99. After I scan in my photos and input my payment info the CD is ready to be picked up in less than two hours. You can also make prints of these photos and there are lots of other options. It’s a great gift idea at an affordable price.

It is so much fun to work on this project. I will show you some more photos as I progress with my project.

11. YouTube/Blog at least once a week

Originally I wanted to create YouTube videos of baking and cooking and canning but I am a little scared after my one and only attempt to make a video. For now I think I will just stick with getting the hang of blogging. I hope to post on Wednesday and Sundays but will have to see how that goes.

12. Read the Bible from cover to cover with my husband

I have never read the Bible from cover to cover. There are quite a few of my church family that have read it more than once so I figured this was the year I was finally ready to receive the words of the Bible and I wanted to do it with my husband.

I downloaded a book to my Kindle to help guide us in achieving this goal.

The Bible Challenge, Read the Bible in a Year, gives you a daily schedule of readings along with a short devotional and questions pertaining to the text you have read.

We really like our nightly readings. Instead of waiting until bedtime, we read right after dinner, at the dining room table, otherwise we get sleepy and tend to want to stop. My husband and I read aloud to each other sharing the reading. It has sparked some interesting conversations between us!

I feel good about my progress on my 2015 goals. Do you have goals? What are they and how are you doing on them? – MMR

Progressive Dinner

progressive dinner 2012too

Have you ever been part of a progressive dinner with a group of friends or family? I remember my parents having progressive dinners with their friends and as I have gotten older I have realized that these types of dinners are not just for our parents.

Progressive dinners are done exactly how their name suggests. A group of friends start out with hors d’oeuvres at one couple’s home, next they all progress to another friend’s home for the main course and finally they progress to another home for dessert.

Last night we entertained 12 friends, including my husband and I, at  our home for hors d’oeuvres and wine. I do have to say though I was not as organized as I usually am when it comes to entertaining. I had to work yesterday until 2:30pm and we were expecting guests at 5:00. My husband and son cleaned the house while I was at work but I had not planned a thing for the food and I had not shopped for any of it.

One of the many good things about working at a grocery store is that I can shop as soon as I clock out. I had in mind that I wanted four types of hors d’oeuvres. Over the summer I had experimented with making my own egg rolls as a way of using the beautiful purple cabbage I had grown in my garden. They turned out excellent and were so easy to make! I decided to make mini egg rolls for the party. I selected the ingredients and put them in my cart. Good that was one down. Three more to go. This group loves guacamole so that was an easy hors d’oeuvre to make. I selected those ingredients. Two down. Next I picked up some Kalamata olives from the deli and swung around to the meat department and grabbed a bag of frozen pre-cooked shrimp for shrimp cocktail. Three and four down.

By the time I checked out with my groceries it was 3:15 pm. Yikes!

I finally got home at 3:45 pm. I had an hour and 15 minutes to make the food and hop in the shower before guests started showing up.

Luckily the first guests didn’t arrive until about 10 minutes past 5 so that gave us the extra time we needed to get everything ready. What was even better was that my first course buddy brought the wine and added mini bite sized spanakopita to the mix of hors d’oeuvres. Perfect!

progressive dinner 2012also

We all had a fabulous time at each home. Progressive dinners are a wonderful excuse to get together. They are also economical because not just one couple is paying for the entire meal as well as preparing all of the food.

Good food, good wine, good friends, what could be better!

progressive dinner 2012

Photos Courtesy of our friend Steve Mayer

2015 Not Resolutions but Goals

2015 Not Resolutions but Goals

Happy New Year! Many people have resolutions they try to keep every year but I prefer the term “goals”. Goals seem more attainable. I have 12 goals for 2015. I wrote them all down and I refer to them almost every day. It helps me stay focused when there are so many things in my life that could distract me.

The twelve goals are:

1. Renovate our only bathroom and replace the window in our son’s bedroom.

2. Catch-up on and read my favorite daily blog – “Feed Your Family for $100 a Month” by Mavis Butterfield. Also Catch-up on and read a really great e-magazine “From Scratch”.

3. Journal daily

4. Pay off one of our two credit cards

5. Organize our attic

6. Exercise 3 times a week

7. Read one book a month

8. Send out birthday and anniversary cards each month

9. Make copies of my Granny’s recipes and give a copy to each of our family members.

10. Digitize my Dad’s family’s photos and make photo books and give CD copies to each of our family members

11. YouTube/Blog at least once a week

12. Read the Bible from cover to cover with my husband

Sounds like a lot huh? I am excited though. I really want to accomplish all of these goals this year. I think I can do them all too. Well I hope anyway.

A pic of my Grandfather Charles F. Yacuzzo during World War II

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