Sunday, January 30, 2011

Sundays with Manning: Hair of the dog

Black labs love to shed and our little dog is no exception. The clogs in my vacuum can attest to his constant shedding. The clean freak in me could take it no longer. For a few weeks, I've been researching vacuums that would tackle pet hair better than our current Bissell. Today I finally bit the bullet on a new one. I just couldn't stand the thought of Little Miss Diva having to see all these hairballs...let alone me live with them any longer. We've already run the Eureka Pet Expert in our master and den with amazing results. Who knew dog could shed that much hair!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

I'm a baller

"I'm a baller, shot caller" After Christmas, I still had a few red and green M & M's surfing in the candy dish. Since I didn't want them to linger well passed Valentine's Day, I hit the net looking for a good M & M cookie recipe. My last attempt caused the colors to bleed and left me thinking the Keebler variety might just be better.

Thank goodness for the delicious tastings over at Beantown Baker. Her recipe is spot on. You really can't go wrong with all that butter and brown sugar. I made a batch and froze the rest as per her suggestion. Well the frozen batches never made it to the oven. Once Mr. Diva discovered that we had fresh cookie dough in the house, it became his go to dessert of choice.

Once the first batch was polished off, I did tweak it a bit to include Mr. Diva's favorite...Reese's Pieces. Now he's convinced I should be marketing this all over Nashville. In the meantime, start watching your waistlines because they tiny morsels are addictive!

Friday, January 28, 2011

Wasting Energy?

In Early January, TVA came out for an energy audit at Chez Diva. I wanted to get the heating/cooling issues resolved before Miss Petite Diva arrives as the heating/cooling upstairs is a bit spotty. The audit takes an hour or so for the inspector to go through the house and assesses places where you can save money and energy. Our independent inspector was terrific. He gave solid recommendations without getting into the trivial.

The recommendations included duct work repair and more insulation (most houses need more) amongst other things. The program gives you a list of preferred vendors to choose from. If you opt to do the larger recommendations, they will refund the cost of the audit plus up to $500 of the work cost. If you aren't in the TVA area, just check with your energy company to see if they are offering a similar program.

Our inspector suggested starting with the duct work repair, which should make the biggest difference. Last week, the folks at E3 Innovate came to repair our shabby ducts. It turns out that we had 3 spots where the ducts weren't even connected, which explains why all the good stuff was staying in the basement. While we still need to do a few more projects (insulation and install another ceiling fan) upstairs, the house is starting to feel better and hopefully, it will result in lower electric bills!

If you haven't done the audit, I highly recommend it. Plus, the federal tax credit for energy improvements has been extended into 2011!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Baking Fool!

I've been a baking fool lately. I blame little Miss Walker as she definitely has a sweet tooth, much to Mr. Diva's delight. Over the holidays, I made Martha's oatmeal cookies as I was on the prowl for a classic oatmeal cookie recipe. I had high hopes for this recipe since it called for golden raisin, which is an pantry essential here at Chez Diva. I opted to add a bit of crushed Heath Bar because I'm telling you this little girl loves her sweets. This is a nice recipe, but doesn't need the addition of the candy bar. Sad I know! I would suggest pulling these out of the oven at about 11-12 minutes to make these cookies soft and perfect. 14 was just a little too crunchy for me. Coming up: Mr. Diva's newest obsession...cookie dough balls!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Manning never misses a pass at baked goods!

A few months ago I made the always delicious Cypress Bran muffins. Imagine my surprise when the little Man ate 9 of 12 muffins. I was only clued in when I heard him whining that he couldn't reach the last 3! Well fast forward to this weekend, where I was testing a Jalapeno Beer Bread a friend had sent me. I had devoured a tasty slice before I hunkered down with a new book. A little while later Mr. Diva came upstairs to inform me that Manning had devoured 1/2 of my fresh loaf! It seems our little Man has a taste for the fresh baked goodness. With these cold temps, I could hardly blame him.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Sundays with Manning

I met the lovely Amy Miller back in October at a family wedding. As we were talking life, I discovered that she painted pet portraits. I immediately grabbed her card in hopes that she could do a portrait of Manning for Mr. Diva's Christmas present.

Well I couldn't be more thrilled! As you can see, Amy did an amazing job. The process was pain free and once complete, she sends the portrait with framing instructions. It really couldn't be any easier. While you're sitting there drinking your morning cup of tea, send her a few of your favorite pet pics and see what see can do!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Diva Delight: Wooden Spoons

A few weeks before Christmas, a friend blogged about these fabulous spoons. I'm always happy to toss out the plastic or non-stick anything, so they were a quick addition to my Christmas list. Of course, I've used wooden spoons for years, but they were more along cheap lines like this one. I hadn't really thought about expanding my collection to spatulas and scrapers.

Thankfully, there were 4 spoons waiting under the tree for me Christmas morning compliments of my fabulous sister. They were in assorted woods, which was even more fun. I was most excited to get the slotted spoon, especially since I had never really seen one quite like it. I've enjoyed cooking up lots of tasty fare with them over the past few weeks and suggest you do the same.
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