My “Fixer Upper” Style Remodeling Plan

My Fixer Upper-Style Remodeling PlanAs a realtor I spend a lot of time in other people’s houses, so my mind does a lot of mental redecorating and remodeling – it’s one of my favorite things about real estate. One house I’ve been trying to sell in particular has been sitting on the market a while which is bad news for houses – they are like the wallflowers at the dance, skimmed over and easily forgotten. This house is like that, like your plain Jane friend that you swear with just a little mascara, a curling iron and a better fitting pair of jeans, would be a total knockout.

Well, houses take a little more work and money than that, but I’d give anything for the budget to buy this baby and pull a “Fixer Upper” on it. Since I don’t, I’ve been having a little fun finding ideas that would work “a la Joanna Gaines” and I’m sharing them in this post! Ready to have a little fun?

Front Door – Before

The current front door has beautiful windows all around it, but the door itself is covered by an etched glass storm door and the actual door is just a basic black. Front Door Redo

After

I would remove the storm door and bring in a beautiful wood door like the one below with new black hardware for a clean classic look. (Welcome decal is by Custom Vinyl By Design on Etsy). Two urns with flowers would add a welcoming pop of color.

Front Door - After

Dining Room – Before 

This room has “beautiful bones” as they say. The light fixture is really formal, though, as is the wallpaper.

Dining Room - Before

After

It would just take a simple, soft rug (like this one from Waverly.com), a gorgeous French country dining table and a simplified, yet elegant light fixture – all from the playbook of our home girl Joanna Gaines.

Dining Room - After

The Kitchen – Before

This kitchen is big with tons of cabinets, a huge island and a window over the sink, but the stain on the cabinets is outdated as is the florescent light.

Kitchen - Before

After

Pulling more inspiration from Joanna Gaines, you could enlarge the island either using butcher block or change all the granite to a pretty gray marble if you had the budget. It would be easy to replace the florescent light with glass pendant lights, as well as add subway tile and paint the cabinets a creamy white.

Kitchen - After

Before – Sunroom

The sunroom is a bonus space the owners added on. It’s bright and light and only needs a little refreshing.
Sunroom - Before

After

I would remove the shelving around the top of the windows as well as the window treatments and paint a neutral taupe or gray. I think you could even reuse the furnishings, but just updated the seat seat cushions. Taking down the arbor over the patio would also allow in more light.

Sunroom -After

And if I had a pie in the sky budget I would replace the tile with beautiful brick in a herringbone pattern just like this.

Brick Floor

Before – Master Bedroom

The last thing I would tackle would be the master bedroom. It’s a clean slate, so you could really do anything with this space and the dark hardwood makes a beautiful backdrop.

Master Bedroom

After

The picture above doesn’t show it but there are two windows on the far left wall, so the bed could fit in between like the one below. I love the soft, luxe look of the bedding and chairs. A cozy rug, an elegant chandelier and soft drapery would complete the look.

Bedroom - After

I hope you enjoyed this little mental makeover! It’s fun to play Joanna Gaines and dream a little, get ideas so that maybe one day we’ll have the opportunity to do a real makeover for ourselves. If you like these looks, be sure to check out my Pinterest board A La Fixer Upper for more ideas and inspiration.

Blessings!

Susan

Daily Dish Weight Watchers Eating Plan

Hello and welcome to another Daily Dish! It’s another day of healthy eating today, though if I am honest, the chocolate has been calling my name today. Ugh! I think it’s the weather. Well, aside from that I feel pretty good about today and I’m about to embark on a 30 minute exercise video, so hopefully that will burn off some of those chocolate calories.

DAILY DISH

My meals today started with one of my standards – egg and toast with avocado. I wake up excited for this meal. I don’t know what it is… maybe the crispiness of the toast with the drippy egg and then the savory avocado. Yyyyyyummmm! And of course, hot tea on the side. It’s just the perfect hot breakfast for me.

Lunch was a tuna melt, albeit a skinny one. Then yes, there was some chocolate this afternoon. But dinner is the what I’m most excited for – Lasagna Soup! Skinnytaste.com has lots of delicious recipes and this is a family favorite. I also get a ton of ideas off of Skinnymom.com (are you seeing a theme here?). My husband has liked almost every recipe I’ve made from that site so far – they offer lightened versions of the things you might normally eat, so it satisfies him and allows me to stay on track.

So without further ado and because I’ve got to get to my workout before dinner, here’s today’s Daily Dish!

Breakfast
Fried egg cooked in olive oil cooking spray on a slice of toast with a tbs of avocado.

Total: 5 points

Snack
1 banana

Lunch
4 oz tuna mixed (1 point!) with 2 tbs Bolthouse avocado dressing (2 points) on a sandwich thin. I toasted it 3with a couple tomato slices and chopped up a lite string cheese to melt on top. Really good! The dressing was a perfect substitute for mayo and more flavorful.
1 apple

Total: 7 points

Snack
2 white cheddar rice cakes (2 points)
1 block Hershey’s Special Dark Chocolate bar (3 points)

Total: 5 points

Dinner
Lasagna Soup from Skinnytaste.com

Total: 9 points

I’ll have 4 points leftover for the day, so maybe I’ll spend them on chocolate or maybe a few white cheddar rice cakes or maybe for an extra scoop of ricotta cheese in my lasagna soup. I weigh in tomorrow and I’ve been doing pretty well with the eating, so I’m hoping for a good report. Till then, best of luck with your daily eating and thanks for taking the time to read the Daily Dish!

Blessings!

Susan

Daily Dish Weight Watchers Eating Plan

Welcome to my second Daily Dish, part of my accountability plan for weight loss this year, along with tracking my food and regular weigh ins at Weight Watchers.

DAILY DISH

I’ve been holding steady at the top of my weight range for about a year now and I finally set my goal a little higher (about 8 pounds) than my original Lifetime goal weight. I honestly just wanted to stop paying for maintaining and my leader said it was fine. But I’m tired of this weight and more importantly I think my body is tired of the weight, too – my knees are creakier and I don’t have as much energy. So this is the year I want to get back to my original goal weight and then some and I’m hoping writing down my goals (and posting them online for all to see!) in the Daily Dish will help me. I’d like to be able to run without my knees hurting and do some 5Ks. I’d also like this new muffin top thing I’ve got going on to go away – whoever said 40 was the new 30 was not really 40.

And that’s why I decided to do the Daily Dish of what I’m eating – to help myself and maybe others, too. So here’s what I dished up today:

Breakfast

1/4 cup oats, cooked with 14 chopped almonds, plus a chopped apple, cinnamon and some stevia. (4 points)
1 light cheese stick (1 point)
Green tea
Total: 5 points

Lunch

Chicken panini made with a sandwich thin (3 points), 3 oz chicken breast (2 points), 1 light cheese stick (1 point), 1 tbs pesto (2 points), sliced tomato and some spinach for some extra vitamins.
Weight Watchers zero point veggie soup (0 points)
1 orange
Green tea
Total: 8 points
Chicken Panini and Soup

Dinner

Philly Cheese steak made with thin sliced top sirloin from Aldi (if you don’t have an Aldi, a very lean beef cut or even lean roast beef from the deli would work) (4 points), 1 hoagie roll from Aldi (5 points), 1 slice provolone cheese (3 points), grilled onion and peppers.
Side of steamed broccoli
Probably green tea!
Total: 12 points

That leaves me 4 points leftover which I will likely use on a square of a Hershey’s Giant Special Dark Chocolate bar or if I’m not full at dinner, a little extra meat or cheese.

I wasn’t tempted do much snacking this afternoon, though the frozen yogurt in my freezer did call out my name after lunch. I resisted though – that stuff is 8 points for only half a cup! It’s delicious, but definitely only for when you have extra smart points left which I do not.

I kept pretty busy because my boys were all home today (snow day) and I really needed to straighten up downstairs and clean my kitchen. I’m planning on cleaning out my pantry tonight so that will hopefully cut back on any temptations to just sit and mindlessly munch while I watch TV, something I am notoriously guilty of. Tomorrow will be a busy day at the office (a few days a week I don my Realtor hat and sell real estate), so it will be pretty easy to stay on track.

I hope this helps someone out there – you can do it!

Blessings!

Susan

 

 

 

Daily Dish Weight Watchers Eating Plan

As part of my new year’s resolutions this year, I’ve decided to make myself more accountable with my eating by posting what I’m eating. So this is my very first Daily Dish Weight Watchers Eating Plan!

DAILY DISH

 

I’m doing these posts for two reasons… First, I’m a lifetime Weight Watchers member so I’m supposed to be a pro at tracking. The fact is I’m lazy about it. Or sometimes I know I’ve blown it and I just don’t want to know how bad.  But I do best when I’m accountable, so I’m going to post how I’m doing with occasional posts about what I’ve eaten.

The other reason is that as a lifetime member I have lots of ideas of how and what to eat. So hopefully these posts will help some of you trying to work the plan to give you some new “real food” options that help to keep you satisfied and enjoying the journey while also seeing some results.

So here’s today’s Daily Dish:

Breakfast – Sausage patty and French toast (8 points) The French toast is just a slice of bread dipped in one egg and cooked with a sprinkle of cinnamon. I used cooking spray for no fat. I topped it with strawberries with a little stevia and an orange on the side. And I love tea, so a cup of Aldi green tea, too.

Snack – 7 Almonds (1 points)

No lunch because I ate a late breakfast

Snack – 14 Almonds and one sf pudding cup (5 points)

Dinner – 1 cup beef chili topped with 1/4 cup avocado (10 points)

Dessert – 1 s’more with 1 square Hershey’s Special Dark Chocolate bar and 1 marshmallow (6 points)

Total Points: 29

Exercise: I didn’t really track this because we had a snow day today and just were out playing and walking in the snow. So probably a couple of points earned.

So I plan on posting the Daily Dish Weight Watchers Eating Plan a few times a week this year in hopes that it helps someone know what they can eat when on the plan (s’mores! Yay!) It really works and for me it works best when I fit in some treats along with filling foods like fruits, veggies beans and protein. Those are the things that keep me satisfied while the treats keep me happy. I would love know some of your meals and ideas for staying on plan or healthy eating in general, so feel free to leave a comment!

Blessings!

Susan

Cut-Your-Own Christmas Tree Farm Review

Christmas Tree Farms
A fun tradition of ours is hunting down the perfect Christmas tree at a North Carolina tree farm. Since our budget is tighter than usual this year, we decided to forgo the trip and shop at Lowes. But there is nothing quite like being out in the crisp mountain air amid the rows and rows of Christmas trees and coming upon the perfect one (like Chevy Chase in Christmas Vacation).

Most farms we’ve visited offer basically the same services – you hunt down your tree on your own and either cut it down yourself or wait for a helper to come cut it for you. They then haul it away, wrap it and tie it to your car. There are many within a few hours’ drive of Atlanta (our home base). Some are bare bones where you just find your tree and go, but others offer food, visits with Santa and more. Here are a few of the farms that my family has tried and enjoyed.

Boyd Mountain Christmas Tree Farm
www.boydmountainchristmastreefarm.com
Boyd Mountain Tree Farm offers a nice selection of trees and a fairly straight-forward operation. Though it was a long wait from cutting down our tree to being able to pick it up, our kiddos enjoyed the hot chocolate and visiting with Santa. Since it’s close to Waynesville, you can make a day of it by enjoying lunch in town before heading home.

Sandy Hollar Tree Farm
sandyhollarfarms.com
Sandy Hollar is a laid back operation and a little more rustic. You take a wagon ride through the farm up to the orchard and while they have some helpers to assist you in cutting your tree, most people use one of the provided hacksaws to avoid having to wait. They offer hot chocolate and snacks along with a small gift shop.

Tom Sawyer Tree Farm
http://www.tomsawyerchristmastreefarm.com/
Tom Sawyer has been our go-to for several years because it offers one of the most picturesque settings, as well as many activities. While the prices have increased in recent years, the kids have enjoyed the “Elf Village” where they can dress up as elves and enjoy face painting, crafts, stories, roasting marshmallows and a scavenger hunt ending with a personal visit with Santa. There is also a gift shop, snacks, horse-drawn carriage rides and more.

There are, of course, many more tree farms out there to try – visit http://www.ncchristmastrees.com/ for a comprehensive list. Some friends we know like to stick with the same one year after while other bounce from place to place. It’s an adventure no matter where you go, and where there are adventures, there are always memories to be made. Happy Christmas tree hunting!

Blessings!

Susan

(Mostly) Make-Ahead Thanksgiving Menu

mostlymakeaheadthanksgivingThanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays, but it can be stressful trying to get all those dishes prepared and on the table on time. So I put together an easy, (mostly) make-ahead menu to help you save time and stress less. And that’s something anyone can be thankful for!

Let’s dig in!

Make-Ahead Thanksgiving Dinner

Most of these dishes can be made in advance and some make use of a slow-cooker. If you don’t have one, consider borrowing one (or two) from a friend. Slow-cookers are indispensible for ensuring everything gets done on time and cutting down on stress.

Appetizer
I don’t put too much food out before the big meal, but offering a little something for guests to munch is always nice. Make the cheese portion of this Turkey Cheese Ball from Crafts a la Mode a day or two in advance and add crackers and pretzels the day of (a great job for the kiddos or guests that want to help). Pair with some olives and nuts and you’re guests can nosh while you get everything on the table.

turkey-cheese-ball

Turkey
Yes, you can go ahead and make your bird before the big day with this Make-ahead Turkey and Gravy from Taste of Home. Or if you’re determined to do your turkey the day of, I’m liking the looks of this Simple Garlic and Herb Roast Turkey from Neighborfoodblog.

roast turkey

Ham
I’m making this Crock-Pot Maple Brown Sugar Ham from Do you Smell That this week because is ham is on sale and it just sounds so darn tasty!

Stuffing
Here are two options: Mom’s Make-Ahead Classic Stuffing from eHow for a classic dish. Or if you have a spare crock pot (or can borrow one) I think this Slow-cooker Stuffing recipe from Nourishing Joy sounds amazing.

stuffing-slow-cooker

Side Dish
Carmen’s Crowd-Pleasing Crock Pot Mac-n-Cheese is fun to say as well as being a sure-fire crowd-pleaser.

Carmen’s Crowd-Pleasing Crock Pot Mac-n-Cheese

16 oz macaroni
12-oz can evaporated milk
2 1/4 cups whole milk
1/4 cup melted butter
1 tsp salt
Dash of pepper
2 large eggs, beaten
24-oz cheddar cheese (Carmen says to never buys pre-shredded, so grab a guest to help you grate or use your food processor)
Extra Cheese to sprinkle on top
Paprika

Coat inside of slow-cooker with cooking spray. Combine all ingredients (macaroni through cheese), except the extra cheese – save that for later. Cook on low heat for 3 hours and 15 minutes, stir, then top with extra cheese and cook an additional 15 minutes or until cheese is melted. Sprink;e with paprika.

Potatoes
Thanksgiving just isn’t complete without a sweet potato dish. I’m planning to try this make-ahead Sweet Potato Casserole from Melanie Makes.

make-ahead-sweet-potato-casserole-6-compressor

Veggie: Traditional green beans are kicked up a notch with Mom Advice’s make-ahead Green Bean Casserole

make_ahead_green_bean_casserole_header

Dessert: My friend Kim’s Pumpkin Trifle (recipe below). Make the day before to really let the flavors set. It’s amazing, different than you’re traditional pumpkin pie and absolutely delish!

Kim’s Pumpkin Trifle

14oz. can sweetened condensed milk
15 oz. can pumpkin puree
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground clove
1 tsp. ground ginger
5.1 oz. pkg. instant vanilla pudding mix
3 cups heavy cream
12 oz. box ginger snaps

In a medium mixing bowl, combine the sweetened condensed milk, pumpkin, spices, pudding mix, and a 1/4 cup water.  Using an electric mixer, beat everything together until smooth and thickened, about 2 minutes.  Set aside.

Whip the heavy cream with an electric mixer until stiff peaks form.  Gently fold the whipped cream into the pudding mixture until blended and no streaks of pudding remain.

To assemble, layer the cookies and pudding mixture in a serving dish in whatever fashion you like.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

Even if you cook your turkey the day of, having all of your side dishes, including your appetizer and dessert, either already made or bubbling away in a slow-cooker can only help you stress less and enjoy your time with loved ones. And isn’t that ultimately what Thanksgiving is all about?

Blessings to you and yours!

Susan