Let’s get cooking. In honor of the upcoming Valentine’s Day holiday, I thought we could take to the kitchen for a sweet treat that could be shared as a nice Valentine’s Day gift. Do you like to give nice homemade gifts?
1 cup creamy peanut butter
½ cup nonfat plain greek yogurt
1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tablespoons of maple syrup
1 cup of dark chocolate chips
½ teaspoon coconut oil
In a medium mixing bowl, combine the peanut butter, yogurt, cocoa powder, and maple syrup. Use your hands to form into a dough. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
Shortly before the dough is fully chilled, combine the chocolate chips and the coconut oil in a medium microwave safe bowl. Microwave for about 1 minute, mixing halfway through. Microwave for another 45 seconds, mixing every 15 seconds until the chocolate is fully melted.
While the chocolate is melting, use a tablespoon measuring spoon to scoop the peanut butter dough and roll into balls.
Dunk each peanut butter ball into the melted chocolate one at a time and shake off excess chocolate. Place on the lined baking sheet. When all the peanut butter balls are coated, place the baking sheet into the refrigerator for at least 20 minutes until chocolate is hardened.
Store in the refrigerator or freezer.
You can bag or box your treats in cute Valentine’s Day themed packaging before heading out to spread the love of Valentine’s Day.
I hope that some of you try this recipe and let me know what you think. I’d love to see pictures too.
Today is National Thank A Mail Carrier Day (also known as Thank A Mailman Day).
My husband and I feel lucky to have such great relationships with our mailmen. We live in a small suburb neighborhood in York, PA called Old East York and our mail carrier walks their route each day to hand-deliver our mail. I have lived here long enough to see our first mailman, Scott, retire and move on to his next adventure in life. He had told us that his plan was to buy a boat and enjoy time on the water. I’ve now had the opportunity to get to know Mike, our current mailman and both my husband and I enjoy getting the opportunity to say hello and catch up with him when we can. Living here and having a mail carrier that walks their route has been a plus for us because it allowed us to get to know them.
In honor of National Thank A Mail Carrier Day, I thought I would share a few fun facts about the mail system.
The United States postal system was established on July 26, 1775, but the official United States Postal Service (USPS) wasn’t created until 1971.
It wasn’t until the Civil War in 1863 that mail was delivered to your home. Prior to that, each household would have to go to the post office to collect their mail. It was a postal clerk from Cleveland, Ohio, Joseph Briggs, that came up with the idea to deliver the mail to homes free of charge.
It wasn’t until 1923 that each home was made to have a mailbox or mail slot for mail delivery. Prior to this, the mail carrier was made to wait until they could hand-deliver the piece of mail to the intended customer, sometimes having to wait and wait and return to the home several times before being able to come in contact with the customer directly. I bet they were happy about this change.
The number of pieces of mail has diminished over the years. The peak was in 2006 with the number of pieces reaching 213 billion. The decrease has continued from year-to-year with USPS delivering 143 billion pieces of mail to 160 million addresses in 2019. This number continues to decrease.
There are approximately 58,622 mail carriers in the United States – 54% being male carriers and 43% being female carriers.
I am certainly thankful for our mail carriers who deliver our mail 6 days a week, 52 weeks a year during these cold icy days as well as the hot sweltering ones in the summer. I hope that many of you get an opportunity to say a quick thank you next time you see your mail carrier. Maybe even make a point to get to know them.
The new year often brings on new year’s resolutions and some may have added organization to their list. Are you thinking of organizing your house? Let’s tackle one of the most used rooms: the kitchen.
There are so many great products currently available to help you organize your kitchen. I know that I personally started tackling this last year and since have come across a lot of products.
Let’s start with the pantry: I organized my pantry using some items I already had on hand including my large mouth canning jars which came in handy for items like pasta, sugars, etc. I also purchased some inexpensive shoebox size plastic containers from the Dollar Tree to group similar items together so that I wouldn’t have to dig for items that may have previously gotten thrown in the back of the pantry and easily forgotten about. You can purchase many different sized food containers for cereals, snacks, flour, etc that allow you to easily stack for easy access.
Moving onto the refrigerator: Clear bins to organize the refrigerator are a great option. You can group similar items together to make it much easier to find what you are looking for and you can even label them to make it even easier.
Small kitchen appliances: I found a trick online for the cords. I always found myself trying to wrap the cord of the appliances around the appliance or trying to put it in the appliance, etc. Using a small cord bundler from Command does the trick nicely. You place it on the back or side of the appliance and then you can neatly wrap the cord and secure it with the Command cord bundler – It might just be me, but I had an aha moment when I discovered this tip.
Finally, cabinets: I like the idea of using cabinet racks. They make a variety of them to be used for stacking plates/mugs or stacking baskets that can be used for smaller items that slide right onto the shelf themself. Keeping similar items together is always helpful as well.
Only buy what you need. How many times have you purchased that extra can of tomato paste because you just didn’t realize you had the can that was hidden in the back of the pantry? Keeping your kitchen organized will help you know what you have and what you need. I also recommend utilizing a dry erase board or even an echo product like the echo dot or echo show to keep a list of items as you use the last of them. You can easily add the item to your need list.
So not only will your kitchen look great but you could even end up saving yourself some money. We can tackle another room of the house later this year. I’m always happy to hear from you with any great tricks or ideas you have come across.
As many of you may have noticed, energy costs have been rising. So what can you do about it? Here are some ideas for cutting some energy costs.
Check the seals on your exterior windows and doors – you may find that the caulking has deteriorated and can easily be scrapped and replaced. You can also purchase weather stripping to add
Update home appliances to newer energy efficient models – if this is not in your budget, check your seals on your current appliances and give your appliance a thorough cleaning to ensure it is running the best that it can be and adjust the temperatures of both your refrigerator and freezer (optimal temperatures you can adjust to are 38 degrees for your refrigerator and 0-5 degrees for your freezer)
Seal your home’s ductwork – some homes have leaky older ductwork and this can be easily fixed with a duct sealing tape (Lowe’s sells a 3M HVAC tape for $12.98 for 350 feet)
Fix any leaky faucets – even a small drip can put a burden on your wallet. Common issues causing a faucet to leak are mineral deposit build up or defective gaskets, o-rings or washers – all which you can easily fix without having to call a plumber
Adjust your thermostat and/or upgrade to a programmable thermostat
Adjust the temperature of your water heater (optimal temperature you can adjust to is 120 degrees)
Replace lightbulbs with energy efficient LED bulbs
Call your energy companies to ensure you are getting the best rate available
Have your energy company complete an energy audit of your home to see if there are any other ways to save on costs
These are just a few items that you could consider tackling this weekend to save some of your hard earned money.
What are some steps you’ve taken to save on your energy cost recently? I am sure that everyone would like to hear so that they too can consider taking advantage of them as well. Sharing is caring – pass on the knowledge you have, we’d love to hear from you.
Let’s get cooking. This New Year, we are back at it and have another recipe for you to try. Who doesn’t like a good brussel sprout recipe?
12 oz brussel sprouts with ends trimmed and any yellow leaves removed
2 tbsp of olive oil
¼ tsp salt
1 cup of pecans
4 slices of cooked bacon, chopped
½ cup dried cranberries
Instructions: Cook and prepare each part and then assemble
Roast Brussel Sprouts
Preheat oven to 400 degrees
Slice all brussel sprouts in half
In a medium bowl, combine halved brussel sprouts, 2 tbsp of olive oil, salt and toss to combine
Place brussel sprouts on baking sheet, cut side down
Roast in the oven for about 25 minutes. During the last 5-10 minutes of roasting, flip them over for even browning (cut side should be browned but not blackened)
You can cook using your preferred method (oven, stovetop, or airfryer)
Chop warm bacon into bite sized pieces
Reduce oven to 350 degrees
Line the baking sheet with parchment paper and add pecans in one layer
Toast the pecans for about 5 minutes until they have darkened
Prepare Dried Cranberries
Briefly soak the dried cranberries in hot water
Bring a small pot of water to a boil
Add dried cranberries to a medium bowl and pour the hot water over the cranberries. Soak them for about 10 minutes then drain
Assemble: In a large bowl, combine roasted brussel sprouts, warm chopped cooked bacon, toasted pecans and soaked dried cranberries. Toss everything together. The olive oil from the brussel sprouts and the fats from the warm cooked bacon should be enough to coat all ingredients. If desired, you can add 1 tbsp of olive oil to the mix.
Optional: Add a sauce to create even more flavor, like balsamic glaze, balsamic vinegar or your favorite balsamic vinaigrette based salad dressing.
I hope that some of you try this recipe and let me know what you think. I’d love to see pictures too.
November 26th is Cake Day! Those who are aware of this holiday and take the time to celebrate each year do so by, of course, eating cake.
Do you enjoy making your cake or do you prefer to purchase your cake? Ido enjoy making cakes and have tried many different recipes that I have found over the years but I love seeking out a great bakery in any new area I am in to try out the sweet treats. I have found one great location in Milford, Delaware and it has become my go-to place for cake. My Sister’s Fault is a cute small shop located in quaint downtown Milford.
This incredible shop is owned and run by two sisters, Angie and Rous. I recently had the opportunity to do a quick interview with these busy ladies. I asked them how this all began for them after moving to Delaware only 13 years ago. When getting settled in, they first worked at Perdue Farms. They found that they were often craving Puerto Rican desserts such as cake, quesitos, tres leches, flan, etc. but found that they could not find these in Delaware. This is when Rous started practicing recipes she found online and developed a passion for baking. She would take her new creations to share with co-workers and everyone began telling them that they needed to open a bakery. Both sister’s would daydream about the idea but never imagined being where they are today. Now 4 years later, they sell out most days and have an amazing following of many locals. They are very community-centered and often do events to help local people. Recently they held a dress sale to generate money to help a local mother with breast cancer. They are currently participating in Operation Christmas Child, where shoeboxes are filled with Christmas joy for children around the world in need. They have also had events like $5 Tres Leches French toast sales on Sunday (a day they are typically closed) and celebrated Valentine’s Day in July. They are constantly improving and renewing their ideas for their business.
Their typical week consists of about 60 hours of work and prep and even more during the holidays. Their kitchen operates every day even on the days they are closed just so that they can prepare for the busy schedule during their operating hours. This takes us to the best advice they received as new business owners as well as their best advice they can give for other dreamers: to train and delegate. This was difficult for them as it is for most people. They personally were so protective of their recipes and their overall business that they wanted to do it all. This led to very little time for family and self care. Once they took this advice and took the time to train their staff (which I must say as a customer, they have a pretty amazing staff) they could delegate more and create that better work/life balance. They emphasized the need for a good work/life balance. Working the amount of hours they originally were was just not sustainable and you lose too much time with your family. They really do not feel like this business is just the two of them, they believe they are a team with their staff. From an outsider looking in, they all seem like family and the love that this family has for eachother shows through the amazing foods they serve.
In my interviews, I always ask for a favorite customer experience and they, like others, found it hard to narrow their experience down to just one favorite. I guess that is like asking a parent which child is their favorite. They did bring up the “This is my happy place” sign located on the wall in the shop. This was brought to them by a customer letting them know that this was their happy place. They enjoy seeing that sign each day reminding them that they are not only living out their dream each day but they are creating a “happy place” for the people they serve.
Ok for those who have not experienced My Sister’s Fault….. It’s a very cute small place full of flavors. Primarily most orders are received online and are take-out but they do encourage you to drop in for a variety of sweet and savory items. Angie takes on the savory menu and Rous the sweet menu, each taking great pride in their dishes. They have a large variety of cakes and classic Puerto Rican pastries featuring new creations weekly. Their top selling items are the Ben & Jen cake, which is a chocolate lover’s favorite – this creation was actually a creation of their neighbors, the Lifecycle shop. The other favorites are the classics Flan, Tres Leches and Rum cake. They are open Wednesday – Friday 8am – 5:30pm and Saturdays 8am-3pm.
I personally made sure to set my alarm early on Valentine’s Day weekend this year just so I could purchase one of their cakes for my birthday/Valentine’s Day and did the same to take advantage of a Tres Leches French toast special event on a Sunday this year. I’ve never had a single item that I did not like.
This year I ask that you take the time to celebrate Cake Day with me and eat some cake today. hen you do if you get the chance to take a picture with your cake and post to your social media and #cakeday. Let’s flood social media with all of our cake eating pictures.
We meet many buyers and I love spending time with them learning what they desire in a home. One thing that a lot of people consider is their fur babies. What are some key features that pet owners are looking for in a future home?
Fenced yard – Do I need to say anything more on this? Of course they are looking for a safe place for their pet to run and play
Durable flooring – Many people think that means hardwood flooring. Yes, that is an option but what is also popular right now is a LVP Luxury Vinyl Plank flooring. We recently went with this flooring in our own home and it is very durable, water resistant and scratch resistant which are both good things to consider if you have pets
Pet friendly neighborhood – Is the neighborhood a good walking area, does it offer pet waste stations and how close is it to an actual dog park? These are all things that a pet owner takes into consideration
Central vacuum system – If you have a pet, you know that you will be dealing with the pet hair. What better way to do this than with a central vacuum system with hookups conveniently located throughout the house for quick easy clean up of the recurring pet hair saga
Pet bathing station – Not too many homes have had this feature but when they do, a pet owner gets even more excited. How nice would it be to wash your dog without all the mess of trying to do it in your own bathtub? A nice pet-sized walk-in shower/tub located in a mud room or garage with a shower hose head makes for a very easy fur baby clean up
These are the top five features I see pet owners looking for when they are looking for their furever home.
When you were shopping for your home, what was a key feature that sold you on the home? What makes your home stand out today if you were to sell it? Let’s talk if you are looking to buy or sell.
I am back with another DIY. We are heading outside this time. Did you know that today is National Bonfire Night? So let’s celebrate with a DIY fire pit.
I must admit I completed this project a few years back and I have never regretted it. You can go elaborate or simple. I, of course, went with a simple plan.
First Step: Prepare your area. Lay your retaining wall stones in a circle where you have decided to have your fire pit. If utilizing a fire ring insert, be sure to include this ring when placing your stones to ensure you have the correct sizing. Once laid, use your shovel to mark the ground all the way around the stones. You will then remove your stones andshave off the grass top, going under the roots. Make the area level – I used a 2×4 and large level for this process.
Second Step: Lay your stones. In alternating rows, place three layers of retaining wall stones in the circular pattern to create your fire pit. I found that some instructions included using glue to secure your stones. This is optional and I choose not to.
Final Step: Place your fire ring insert. I purchased a fire ring insert, which again is optional. Place the ring in the center of the stones and then you can either put a layer of sand or lava rock on the inside bottom of your fire pit. Enjoy!
I did say simple right? I don’t know if you had realized it could be this simple. Now, it’s time to roast some marshmallows and sip an adult beverage by the fire. If you had a good experience with a recent DIY, I’d love to hear from our followers. I’m looking for my next project, any suggestions?