Manning Up with Flowers

Flower & Garden Show 2011
It has been awhile since I posted to our site, so I figured I would man it up with a “Flower & Garden Show” that we are going to today, however I would rather call it a “Landscape & Garden Show”.

Home Before Purchase
With our new home we had zero landscaping let alone grass. The grass we did get was contractor mix seed which basically grows the first year and dies the next. Compound that with a hard compact dirt, rock and sand mix as topsoil it has be a challenge this last second year with the lawn, but we survived quite well.
On the landscaping side we planted 12 trees and I don’t know how many shrubs, bushes and plants but we where busy.
All in all I have enjoyed the heavy amount of “landscaping and gardening” this last year very much and I think today’s venture should be helpful.
I am going to try and post a few things from the iPhone as we go.
Please post a comment below.

In 2011 I’m Looking Forward To . . .

Many of us make New Year’s Resolutions only to disappoint ourselves by not achieving what we set out to do therefore this year I’m taking a new angle and deciding on what it is I’m looking forward to and setting the plan into action.

1.  Study and improve my photo editing skills.  I’ve been working on my photography skills but I’m terrible with editing.  The first tutorial I’ll be taking was just released by Professional Photographer, Erin Cobb called clean color.  The photography community I circle myself in has been raving about this tutorial and it’s been a LONG wait for its release so I can’t wait to get started. The tutorial is for both Photoshop and Photoshop Elements and also offers a bundle for both versions .

2.  Taking a vacation.  It’s been three years since we’ve had a vacation and it is wearing on us.  We’re picking a place that is warm, has green grass and flowers, is full of life and fun things to do and experience, pretty much some place that has no snow and is full of all things summer.  Top place right now is the Florida Keys.  We also have The Grand Canyon, Yellowstone Park and Savannah Georgia on our list amongst many others but those are the top places that I’d choose from right now.  Just gotta compile some money, finalize how the business will function in our absence, and line up our pet sitter.

3.  A great year of boating and reconnecting with our “Summer” friends.  We so miss them this time of year :(.

4.  Boating, flip flops, bathing suits, tank tops, shorts, Mike T’s Margarita’s, hot sunny days, green grass, flowers and even the “GW” (that’s pretty bad for those who have been under that tent for any length of time LOL) – Oh and the list goes on for all things summer related.

5.  New Friendships and strengthening existing ones.

6.  Growing our business to the next level – well on our way and it’s very exciting!

7.  Improving my photography skills.

8.  Choosing a color and accessories for our mudroom and finishing it up.

9.  Throw rugs for the house – we have some but would like more.

10.  Focusing on the new path in both of our personal lives and careers.  Funny how the path you think is going to form is completely different in the end.  But life throwing curve balls like we’ve been thrown is good for our mind, spirit and our relationship.  Honestly it brings new things to the fore front that were never thought about or even realized to begin with and that in itself is positive and refreshing.

11.  Focusing in on my plethora of hobbies and cutting out the “stuff” I have for hobbies that I just don’t have time for.  This means selling off a bunch of “stuff” and taking that money to use on something useful instead of all this “stuff” sitting around collecting dust.  I’ve started this cleaning out, have been selling on Ebay.  Not only is it refreshing to reorganize and clean things up but it’s helping clear my mind on things.

2nd Snow Storm 2010 – 2011 Winter

Just when the snow from the first 15″ blizzard was melting away, we’re slammed with another 13″.  Oh the joys of winter in New England.

Our home –

Don’t you just love a storm with no wind?  All the snow sits so nicely on every single branch of the trees – gorgeous!

What does one do when stuck on an icy hillside in the snow?  Well just pull out the trusty winch and get r done.  There was all kinds of man testosterone in the air out there this morning.  My female advice and the “raised on a farm advice” was to put some chains on the tractors tires.  Chains will always save the day in any icy New England storm.  My dad’s farm didn’t function without em.

Ordinary Miracle

I felt the need to post about ordinary miracles today.  We had our 2nd large snow fall of the season yesterday amongst other ordinary things.  I snapped a picture about an hour or so into the storm.  Last night we took Scottie out for potty and was greeted by our neighbors dog who had gotten loose while clearing the snow from their driveway.  It was pitch dark and we live in the woods where bad things can happen to house pets running in the night so I leash him up and return the not even 1 year-old bouncing Tigger dog to its home.  He was all in his glory of having his rooming freedom and attention from new people…bouncy bouncy Tigger dog…for sure he thought this was all about play which gave me a good chuckle as our dog is a mature 13 years young and doesn’t bounce nearly as high as this pup!  So we trudge our way through the 13″+ of snow and arrive at my neighbors drive where they’re feverishly working at clearing the snow.   I could sense the frustration they had that their dog had gotten loose and inconvenienced me but quite the contrary, I was thankful to have found him and gave him a safe return home.  Just another ordinary miracle right?  This was no inconvenience to me, I feel a dogs life was saved, who knows what may have happened otherwise.  I’d like to think someone would return the favor.

I found this song entitled “Ordinary Miracle” by Sarah Mclachlan featured in Charlotte’s Web.  It’s a nice reflection on ordinary miracles.  Take a listen to it . . . all I can say is “beautifully put”!

How Is It . . .

While I love all seasons including Winter – Winter lacks in the area of green/flowery life.  Well, this year I decided why not grow some of those gorgeous paper whites and have a pot of them in the house all winter.  I just knew for sure that this would satisfy my need of green growth which it did however . . . how is it that this gorgeous flower yields such a foul scent?

Imagine my excitement of watering and watching my great pot of green stems growing and then the oh so awaited display of flowers appear to leave me wondering what the heck this foul smell was in the kitchen.  After standing there smelling the air for several minutes trying to identify what and where this smell is coming from, I realized the scent must be coming from our cat’s litter box which didn’t make sense because I had just scooped it so why would the smell be waffling all the way into the kitchen?  Gosh maybe my cat isn’t drinking enough water which is making her urine more pungent – oh gross!  To my surprise of arriving at the litter box it didn’t smell in that room – huh interesting – back to the kitchen to figure this out.  Now I’m feeling like Walter Matthau in the Grumpy Old Men movie where Jack Lemmon places a dead fish into Walter’s car and Walter goes to drive it and says “Shoe Wee what’s that smell…ohhhh man what’s that smell?”  LOL – Love that movie!  Well as you can figure it was the gorgeous paper whites permeating our home with this awful cat urine scent.   I still can’t figure out how it is that these gorgeous flowers yield this awful foul scent.

To make matters worse, I couldn’t part with this pot of stink that I put so much love and care into.  It became a daily discussion within the household.  Michael couldn’t understand how I could keep such stink in our house especially considering I have a real hang up with smells.  I couldn’t explain my rational other than they were so pretty, it gave me a daily reminder that spring will arrive, and I couldn’t part with this green life I had created.

I have 10 more bulbs in the fridge waiting to transform themselves into stinky life however I’m thinking I’ll wait and plant them in the spring and display them on our deck.

I’m Posting every week in 2011!

I’ve decided I want to blog more. Rather than just thinking about doing it, I’m starting right now.  I will be posting on this blog once a week for all of 2011.

I know it won’t be easy, but it might be fun, inspiring, awesome and wonderful. Therefore I’m promising to make use of The DailyPost, and the community of other bloggers with similiar goals, to help me along the way, including asking for help when I need it and encouraging others when I can.

If you already read my blog, I hope you’ll encourage me with comments and likes, and good will along the way.

Brandi

It’s Been Awhile . . .

Our lives have been such a whirlwind the last year that this blog came in very last place.  Mike and I started this blog as a way to share our lives with family and friends and personally for me it’s a nice way to journal our lives in a non-daunting format.

With the purchase of our new home and the ever expediently growing business we run, it’s left very little time for other things in our lives.  I’m always amazed at how God changes things in our lives when we least expect them and always for the better, even if you don’t think so at first.  With this preface, the following two major changes in our lives was the work of our creator of which both I personally put a fight up against at first.

OUR HOME

The final choice of our home is interesting in the way of it’s location within Shelton.  You see, there are four sections within the City of  Shelton and the section this house resides in is the furthest away from any sort of ease of convenience and because of that, White Hills was the last area in which we were willing to purchase (at first).  We actually drove past the home we now own in our early days of looking and we both said “hmmm….nope, it’s too plain and it’s too far away from everything.  I say that loosely speaking in the sense that we’re really “only” 15 minutes from many conveniences.   Well after months of looking and the timing coming right down to the last minute to find a home because our other home had sold, we reluctantly decided to look in the “ever so far away” White Hills section of Shelton.  We drove down our street to this home that we declined so many months before and on this day it was perfect in so many ways!  Our eyes and hearts had been opened this time around and I know for me that I really didn’t know what I wanted in a home or which location I wanted until that very day we walked back onto this property.  My, can I tell you what a perfect location this home is for us!  We’ve quickly come to love living this far out from the daily hub bub, beeping car horns and loudness that comes with busy downtown areas.  Instead of pesky cars and loud noises we now have beautiful deer, wild turkey and so many species of birds to look at and listen to.  On many days, I look around and am amazed that we actually own all of this abundance.  I never thought I’d actually own “woods” and it’s gorgeous walkable woods with a running brook, gigantic Connecticut rocks, and wild ferns.  We’ve been hard at work all this year too with landscaping the land around our home.

MY PERSONAL CAREER

Thought Out Company is doing so well that it requires both Michael and I full time.  Within the last year or so I was given the “clearance” by Michael to go full time for our business but I had such a struggle in actually leaving “my” career, the thing I’ve advanced at and have done so well with for my entire adult working life.  It has always been there for me, I depended on it, it kept my head above water and supported me through thick and thin, when I was alone and had noone but myself to depend on.  It was extremely hard for me to find it in my heart to actually “want” to leave my personal career.  I had fear of what will I do if if if if…..UGH well let me tell you it took this last year for me to go through my own internal process of finding my way through this huge career move.  I woke up one day over a month ago and finally realized and actually felt in my heart that I really am an essential part of the success of our personal business and with that exact moment I knew it was time to leave the medical field “my career” and take on this exciting move to assist in the advancement and full success of our business.  And so it was still with a heavy heart that I gave my notice to Orthopaedic Surgeons and not long after my position was filled by another body and I formally went full time for Thought Out on Friday, November 19th.  Within one weeks time of this change my personal whirl wind days have already changed, I have more time for things that have gotten pushed aside for far too long (years!).  I get giddy just thinking about it all, even sitting here typing to our blog is something I haven’t had time for in the last year.  I love waking up, getting ready for work at the Thought Out office knowing that every single thing I do is to benefit our family.  It’s truly an act of God, the patience of a supporting husband, and the flexibility of my heart that has allowed this abundant change in my personal career. I owe a great deal of gratitude to my husband for allowing all of this to unfold and come to reality.  He is one of a kind and a man that will make anything happen once he’s set his mind to it.  Love that man of mine!!!

The pictures featured today are from a family walk on Oct 30th at East Village Park.  This is a great park for all of us living in the White Hills section of Shelton.  I had interrupted him during one of his outdoor wood chipping or tree planting excursions to tag along with Scottie and I to the park for some play time.  Love him for being so tolerant of my spontaneous requests.  It’s a rarity that he says no to me which makes me love him even more.

Vintage Jewelry Class

Calling all jewelry loving girls!  I’m hosting my very first class where you’ll be making your very own vintage necklace to take home and wear.  They’re easy and include everything you need to complete a beautiful eclectic necklace from the fun and funky pendants to the jump rings, clasps, and chains.

SIGN-UP DEADLINE: Monday, May 17

WHEN: Saturday, June 5 @ 1PM

WHERE: My House (Email me if you need my address)

WHAT TO BRING: Jewelry Making Kit (round nose pliers, chain nose pliers, and a side cutter).

If you don’t already own a fancy jewelry making kit you may either purchase one for $10 below or you may share my set with everyone else that selects the sharing option.  No fighting or hitting each other when sharing though :).  I hope to host more of these classes so it may be in your best interest to have one of these kits on your hip and who knows you may leave this class loving how easy it is to make your own trendy jewelry that you’ll be whipping them up in your own home.

You may select from a choice of five different necklaces all of which must be pre-purchased by Monday 5/17.  Just select the one you want, click the buy now button and you’ll be directed to PayPal where you can pay with any credit card.  The kit will be waiting for you when you arrive at my home for the class.  If you’re feeling like you’re all that, you may purchase as many kits as you’d like and show us all up in class.  Think of all the trendy outfits you have just screaming for one of these vintage pieces.  I’m so excited and can’t wait to see everyone in class!


$18 Pendant Findings Kit

$18 Resin & Woven Flowers Kit
$18 Butterfly & Abalone Drop Kit
$18 Floral Mix Kit
$18 Abalone & Velvet Kit
$10 Tool Kit

The Talmadge’s New Christmas House

Merry Christmas! I will keep the text minimal and focus on the pictures which take you throughout the portions of our home we have decorated for the celebration of Christmas.

Entrance to my studio

A peek inside the studio

My mom gave these two reindeer’s to me years ago….LOVE them!

A sleepy dog in the studio OH and the stocking you see here is the stocking Michael was brought home in when he was a baby. For those of you who don’t already know this, Michael was born on Dec 22 (A Christmas Baby).

The living area

The stockings are very near and dear to me. They are handmade from my wedding dress. One of my most cherished Christmas decorations.

Love my white winter birds

A favorite ornament handmade by mua. It has a picture of my sister and I at our grammies house. Digg the jammies and our black slippers. Quite the fashion statement!

A little outdoors brought inside

The guest bath. This stocking holds memories for me as well. This one comes from my teenage years and was handmade by someone who was connected to a near and dear friend of mine.

And lastly don’t forget to smell the flowers and enjoy Christmas for it’s true meaning. Merry Christmas to all of our dear friends and family may God Bless you today and everyday throughout the year. More pictures to come of our Christmas Eve and Christmas Day celebration.

Awesome Almond Biscotti

Emm YUMMO!  I decided to bake one of Mike’s favorites today and thought I’d share the recipe and a quick picture guide in biscotti making.  I dare say the finished presentation looks pretty good but not nearly as good as they taste!  The recipe originated from a patient at my office.

So preheat that hot pot (oven) of yours to 350 degrees and lets get mixing ~  These are the only ingredients you’ll need.  Looks pretty easy right?  It really is!

This is how your dough should look once you’ve finished mixing it.  Go ahead and plop it on the counter like I have and give er a little log shape like I did.  The dough should be fairly easy to handle and should NOT stick to your fingers if it does add more flour a little at a time until it’s not sticky anymore.

Now cut your log in half and make two logs out of it.  Place both logs on your pre-greased and floured cookie sheet and shape like I did into about 2″ x 10″ logs.  Your logs should look something like this.

Now stick em in the hot pot for 25-30 minutes until golden.  Umm I must say this is the FANCIEST oven I’ve ever used much less owned in my entire life!  I mean I’m really just a chick from the sticks who is undoubtedly thrilled with this loaded appliance.  Amen for gas ranges and ovens that bake evenly!

Pull your logs out and they should look something like this

Lower oven temp to 300 degrees.  Let your logs cool for 10 minutes and then slice those babies up into 1/2″ slices

Place the slices back onto the cookie sheet(s).  Place your cookie sheet(s) back into your hot pot and bake 20 minutes longer, until surface is golden and crisp.  See those two lonely floating pieces?  Well those two are the heal of one log.  I have to admit that I LOVE these little guys . . . I will eat two of them at this stage and eat the other two once they’ve been baked for their final time.

Friends and family who’ve had these little pieces of almondie heaven leave droll on my counter tops.  So if you enjoy almond flavor you must give them a try.  You’ll notice in the recipe to follow that you can change the nuts and flavoring and use the basic dough to make ANY flavor biscotti you like.

ALMOND BISCOTTI

3 eggs

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1 cup granulated sugar

2-4 teaspoons almond extract

1/2 cup finely chopped almonds

3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

Preheat oven to 350 degrees; grease and flour cookie sheet.

In a large bowl, beat eggs with oil; add sugar and almond extract.  Continue beating about 5 minutes until mixture is thick and pale.  Fold in chopped almonds.

Sift flour with baking powder.  Stir into egg mixture using wooden spoon then hands, if necessary.

Shape dough into 2 logs about 2″ x 10″ each, and arrange on cookie sheet.  Using a wet spatula, flatten top, and smooth sides of logs. ***Note from Brandi:  I don’t use a wet spatula to shape my logs, I just use my hands and add a little bit of flour onto the log to give it a tiny bit of a floured surface and makes it easier to shape.

Bake 25 – 30 minutes until golden.  Remove from oven and lower oven temperature to 300 degrees.

Let logs cool on cookie sheet about 10 minutes.  Cut into 1/2″ slices using a serrated knife.  Lay slices flat on cookie sheet and bake 20 minutes longer, until surface is golden and crisp.

When done, transfer cookies to wire racks and let cool.  Store in airtight container.

Side Note:  You can change the nuts & flavoring.  Add dried orange flavored cranberries and orange extract.  Use this as a basic dough and add whatever you like.