Thanksgiving Day Hacks

We all know Thanksgiving Day can be kind of hectic. We have Turkey bowls, Turkey Trots, and the Thanksgiving Day parade in the morning, then we get to the kitchen only to leave it when dinner is ready and go right back in afterwards to do the dishes. How can we make it so the day goes smoother and you don’t feel the aches in your back and feet with all the standing you do? Well, we had an amazing event at our model home for the community. We called it our “Thanksgiving Day Hacks Event”, we taught everyone how easy frying a turkey is, and showed some simple, easy and delicious sides and pies. We had Heather Fujikawa of Habitat Studio teach us how to create a beautiful tablescape perfect for Thanksgiving and something that the kids can help out with.

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Stunning right? Heather is our new interior designer and she was gracious enough to help us out with our event. Her main points for the tablescape were, recycling things around the house from Halloween (pumpkins), having the kids find things around the yard or on a walk (acorns, leaves, etc) and going for more of the eclectic vibe by mix matching silverware and drinking glasses. She also touched on how greenery can really make the table decor come together. Her favorite greenery is eucalyptus because of the incredible smell and it dries really nicely as well, making it something that you can save for years to come. Keeping it simple is something that will help your day go smoother and give the kids something that they can do and be proud of.

The owner of Newport Homebuilders, Kent LeSueur, taught everyone that frying a turkey is not some daunting task but is actually a lot easier than everyone thinks, just as long as you have the right equipment and the turkey is thawed. Kent has been frying turkeys for years now and that is the only way that his family will eat it. It is still incredibly tender and flavorful.IMG-3719 (1)

Some easy and delicious sides included the III Forks creamed corn, butterfly rolls and homemade gluten free stuffing (can be substituted for regular bread). The LeSueur Family has been making the III Forks creamed corn for at least 15 years and it is a staple at any family holiday. It is honestly the best creamed corn I have ever had. What is amazing about this recipe too is that you can make it with gluten free flour for those who have a gluten allergy or just keep it as is, but it tastes the exact same either way. Once I have the recipe I will attach it so you can start adding it to your recipe list.

Now when it comes to rolls, this is by far the easiest recipe I have ever used and it turns out EVERY. SINGLE. TIME! There is 8 ingredients and the hardest thing about it is waiting for it to rise, and it really isn’t that hard. Rolls are something that you can make the day before, and pop back in the oven for a couple minutes to warm them up so there is one less thing to make the day of. My grandma has been making this recipe since before I was born and in my family if there aren’t these butterfly rolls it isn’t really Thanksgiving. My favorite Thanksgiving day memory with these rolls is having my grandma come to my aunts house where we were to eat dinner with 6 white trash bags full of these rolls, only to have the rolls last that dinner and through lunch the next day, because they are sooo good!

Recipe: 2 cups boiling water, 1/2 cup sugar, 1 cup butter (softened or room temperature), 2 eggs, 2 Tablespoons yeast (2 packets), 7-8 cups flour, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon baking powder.

  1. In a large bowl, mix together boiling water, sugar and butter until combined.
  2. Add yeast and eggs, beat well.
  3. Add flour, salt and baking powder. Mix well and beat with a wooden spoon.
  4. Cover with a towel and let rise. (I let it rise for a few hours, if I need it to rise quicker I preheat the oven to 350 degrees, place the bowl in front of it and turn off the oven)
  5. Shape and let rise again on a pan. (Think crescent rolls when shaping them, cut into skinny triangles and roll them)
  6. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes. Until golden brown on top.

Like I said, this is a simple and delicious recipe and it makes delicious sandwiches with all the left over turkey.

Growing up stuffing was always the item that was left off of the dinner table, because my mom didn’t like it and so we did not like it. My first year hosting Thanksgiving I wanted to have a classic dinner spread and decided to try out a homemade stuffing recipe (because everything is better homemade right?), I came across this stuffing recipe, and it was truly life-changing and now I make it every year. I have Celiac disease and wanted to make sure that I could eat every item that was on the table. This recipe is something that I can prepare ahead of time by chopping all the vegetables, and bread (make sure to cut it and leave it out to dry for a couple days before making this recipe), and placing into a ziploc bag until I am ready to cook it.

Recipe: 1 1/2 lbs sausage, 4 Tablespoons butter, 1 onion (finely diced), 4 stalks celery (diced), 2 apples (peeled and diced), 3 cloves garlic (minced), 10 cups bread cubes, 3 teaspoons parsley (fresh or dried), 2 teaspoons poultry seasoning, 1 teaspoon ground sage, salt and pepper to taste

  1. Dry bread cubes for at least 24-48 hours before making this
  2. Place sausage in a large, deep skillet. Cook over medium high heat until crumbled and evenly brown. Drain and set aside.
  3. In same skillet, add butter, onion, celery, apples and garlic. Cook until soft.
  4. In a large bowl, combine sausage, onion mixture and bread cubes. Toss together.
  5. Add the parsley, poultry seasoning, sage, salt and pepper. Toss to combine.
  6. This can either be used to stuff a turkey or eaten by itself (we tend to eat it by itself)
  7. To eat by itself, grease a 13×9 casserole dish. Put stuffing into dish, cover with lid or foil. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes, uncover and bake for another 15 minutes.

This recipe has the perfect texture, not too crispy but not soggy either. The sausage gives it a little bit of a spice but overall it tastes delicious and has become something that even the stuffing haters will eat.

Now, everyone’s favorite part of Thanksgiving…the pies! The most tragic thing about Thanksgiving day is that most of the time we eat too much of the food and don’t save room for the dessert!!! In my family we would spend all day baking pies, and go over to my aunts house for the food, but we always prioritize desserts. I know other families who have a night specifically for pie, which I think is wonderful as well.

I made three pies that are simple and easy so you don’t have another stress of making something perfect, it turns out delicious every time.

The first is called an “Arizona Sunshine Lemon Pie” you literally blend all the ingredients together and pour it into the pie crust. I found the recipe here: https://recipe-me.com/arizona-sunshine-lemon-pie/

Ingredients: 1 large lemon, 4 large eggs, ½ cup butter, melted, 1 teaspoon vanilla, 1½ cups sugar, 1 (9 inch) piecrust, unbaked (I used a frozen deep dish)

Topping (optional) 1 cup whipping cream, 2 Tablespoons sugar

  1. Take your pie crust out of the freezer or make your own. I used a frozen deep dish pie crust and it worked perfect. I placed it on a cookie sheet because the metal pan was not that strong but if using a glass pie plate you won’t need to do this.
  2.  Preheat your oven to 350 degrees
  3.  Wash your lemon then cut up and remove all the seeds. (Don’t peel it, you will blend the whole lemon!) Place in your high powdered blender (such as a Vitamix).
  4.  Add the eggs, butter, vanilla and sugar. Blend till smooth. I started at power 5 then moved up to 10.
  5. Pour the mixture into your piecrust. Bake for about 40 minutes or until set.
  6. Let cool then chill in the fridge.
  7. For the topping: Place your mixing bowl and beaters in the freezer for about 20 minutes. Add your whipping cream and sugar. Whip till peaks form.
  8. Slice pie and serve chilled with a dollop of the whip cream on top. This can be enjoyed warm (is just won’t be as firm) or room temperature but we preferred it chilled.

This tastes like lemon bars, and it is seriously the easiest pie I have ever made. I did not use whipped cream on top, I just dusted powdered sugar and it was delicious.

The next pie is my absolute favorite and since we discovered it 15 years ago we make it every chance we get. It is a brown paper bag apple pie. Like I said earlier, I substitute all flour for gluten free flour. In this crust I have also substituted almond flour and it turned out delicious as well.

Ingredients: CRUST: 1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour, 3/4 teaspoon salt, 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar, 1/2 cup high quality oil (olive or vegetable), 2 tablespoons milk                                 FILLING: 6 Granny Smith apples (almost 3 pounds), 2 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/2 cup granulated sugar, 1/2 cup brown sugar, 4 tablespoons flour, 2 teaspoon almond extract (I recommend almond emulsion, the almond flavoring doesn’t bake out as easily and it is a  great compliment to the apple)                                                                                                            TOPPING: 1/2 cup flour, 3/4 cup sugar, 1/2 cup salted butter

Instructions:

  1. Adjust oven rack to the lowest position and preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. In a 9- or 9.5-inch pie pan, mix together the flour, sugar, and salt with a fork. Mix the milk into the oil. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the oil mixture. Mix with a fork until the dough come together and ingredients are evenly combined. Flatten and press the dough into the pie pan to form a pie shell. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, mix together the cinnamon, sugars, flour, and extract. Set aside.
  4. Peel, core, and cut the apples into thin slices. Then add the apple slices to the bowl with the cinnamon mixture and toss to coat. Dump the apples, mounding in the center, into the unbaked pie crust.
  5. For the crumb topping, add flour and sugar to a medium bowl, then use a pastry blender to cut the cold butter in until the mixture is crumbly. Cover the pie filling with the crumb topping.
  6. Place the pie in a large brown paper grocery bag. Fold the open end of the bag and staple it shut. Place the bagged pie in the oven and bake for 90 minutes.
  7. Let cool for 15 minutes before opening bag, and be careful when doing so not to burn yourself.

The crumb topping comes out so perfect, and nothing burns this way. The pie pan will more than likely be stuck to the paper bag, but you can get it off pretty easily with water once it cools down. This is incredible with vanilla ice cream, whipped cream or just by itself. Thinking about it makes me want to make it tonight….maybe I will…I have all the ingredients I need. After all, pie is always a great idea.

Hope you are able to enjoy some of these recipes this holiday season! IMG-2743 (1)

 

7 Maintenance Tips for Fall

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Fall is in full force here in North Texas! As the weather starts to cool down it is the perfect time to get things done around the house before the winter weather hits. We want to make sure that our home owners are prepared for it by sharing some tips that will help keep each home running as it should.

1. Check your fireplace.

Wood burning and gas fireplaces are commonly used during the winter. Make sure that you do a visual inspection of your fireplace to assure that it is in good working order. We also recommend doing a test run during the fall, before it gets too cold, to make sure that it works properly and will keep you warm during the winter.

2. Clean your water heater.

Cleaning your water heater is simple and easy! You can clean it by draining it, allowing all of the water to come out. This gets rid of any build up and will prevent it from building up during the winter. It is recommended to clean it every 1-3 years, but because it is so easy it does not hurt cleaning it every year! Follow these links for a step by step how to on draining your water heater.

How to Flush Your Hot Water Heater

How To Clean and Flush a Water Heater

3. Clean your heating and air conditioning.

We recommend having your air conditioning and heating units cleaned twice a year, during spring and fall. This will help your family stay healthy and increase the life of your units. Getting it professionally cleaned is inexpensive and takes a short amount of time.

4. Check your roof.

When checking your home for maintenance, it is important to start from the bottom up. Take a look at your roof, starting on the ground, and see if there are any missing shingles or holes in the roof. And of course make sure that your gutters are clear of leaves and debris!

5. Check windows and doors.

Check all windows and doors to make sure that there are no cracks, leaks or air coming through the window sills or door frames. This is the easiest way to save on winter energy bills and keep your house nice and warm during winter.

6. Protect your hose.

To keep your hose from cracking, freezing and getting destroyed by the colder temperatures, make sure you completely empty and disconnect the hose from the spigot. If you choose, you can also bring the hose inside to keep it in pristine condition.

7. Clean out the garage.

Lastly, make sure that all unused gas in any equipment (lawn mowers, leaf blowers, edgers, etc) is removed and stored properly. This is something that can be easily forgotten, but by allowing the gas to sit in the fuel tanks, sediment can occur in the tank and potentially ruin it. Since it will not be used for months, fall is the best time to do this.

 

We hope that you have learned something new from these tips. Enjoy the brisk fall weather and stay warm this winter!

Seasonal Allergies? There’s Hope.

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Your Seasonal Allergies Checklist

Suffering from seasonal allergies? You definitely aren’t alone. Spring and fall are beautiful. But if you have hay fever, all the pollen in the air can make you want to stay inside until you can go out without the sneezing, runny nose, and itchiness in your nose, throat, and eyes.

Even when the pollen count is high, you can still take steps to curb the symptoms of your seasonal allergies.

Start with these nine simple tips we found on WebMD.

1. Go shoeless at home.

After you’ve been outside, take your shoes off at the door so you track less pollen in. Got a dog? Wipe down his coat before he comes inside, too, because those allergens cling to fur.

2. Wash your hair before bed.

That way, pollen that collected on your ‘do during the day won’t rub off on your pillow.

3. Close up.

The fresh air feels great. But it carries in the sneezy, yellow stuff you’re trying to avoid. So close windows and outside doors, especially on high-pollen days, and turn on the heat or the air-conditioning.

4. “Recirculate” in the car.

Keep the windows and sunroofs closed, and recirculate the air instead of using the vent, which lets in pollen. Use the air conditioner and adjust the temperature to your comfort.

5. Switch out filters in your furnace and air conditioner.

Change them as often as the maker recommends, or more often if it seems to help.

6. Adjust your indoor humidity level.

If spores from mold cause your allergies, aim for a humidity level of less than 60%. Consider buying a digital thermometer with a humidity gauge, available for about $20 or less.

You may need a dehumidifier to get a level lower than 50%. Set it up on the main living level of your home if it’s got more than one story.

7. Check the pollen count and plan your day accordingly.

You’ll probably hear it on your forecast. Or you can check the website of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology’s National Allergy Bureau. You can sign up to get daily emails with that info, too.

the predicted pollen count is high, try to plan your schedule around it. Delay errands and outdoor exercise until later in the day if possible, when pollen counts are often lower. Wear sunglasses, which can help keep the yellow stuff out of your eyes.

Pollen counts are usually highest between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.

Weather conditions also play a role. Pollen sticks around in moderate temperatures with low humidity and a gentle breeze. Rain washes it away.

The wind carries pollen, so a still day will usually have lower airborne levels.

8. Manage your plants.

If you know the exact tree, grass, and weed pollens that affect you, you can try to remove them and replant types that you don’t react to. But it’s not a perfect fix, because airborne pollens can travel hundreds of miles from where they came from.

If you can get someone else to mow the lawn or hire it out, do so. It stirs up pollens. And don’t sit outdoors around freshly cut grass.

9. Dry your clothes inside.

Pollen can collect easily on clothing or bed linens left outside.

Hopefully these ideas help reduce your allergy troubles this spring. They are worth a shot, at least!

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New Year’s Eve Fun Facts

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As you are preparing for your NYE festivities, we thought we’d share some fun facts through numbers about New Year’s Eve that were compiled from a study conducted by WalletHub.com.

    • About 83 percent of Americans spend less than $200 on NYE celebrations.
    • The average cost for a couple to enjoy dinner and a show in New York on NYE is $1,160 or more.
    • About 48 percent of Americans plan to celebrate NYE at home, about 20 percent plan to celebrate at a friend’s house and about 22 percent don’t plan to celebrate at all.
    • About 30 percent of American fall asleep before midnight on NYE.
    • About 20 percent of all charitable donations are made in the final 48 hours of the year.
    • About 61 percent of Americans say a prayer on New Year’s Eve.
    • The most popular NYE destinations are Orlando, Florida; New York City, New York; and Honolulu, Hawaii.
    • More than 100.5 million people will travel at least 30 miles from home for New Year’s.
    • More than one million people attend the NYE celebration in Times Square of New York City.
    • 175 million people in U.S. watch the ball drop on television; more than one billion worldwide.
    • One ton of confetti is dropped in Time Square on NYE.
    • There will be 360 million glasses of sparkling wine consumed on NYE.

We hope you have a fabulous New Year’s Eve and a happy and prosperous 2017. Be safe out there!

New Year’s Resolutions 101

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As the dawn of 2017 is upon us, it is time to start making those annual new year’s resolutions we tend to make at the start of each new year.

But if you’re having trouble deciding what to select as a New Year’s resolution, an article by Daring to Live Fully entitled “29 New Year’s Resolutions Ideas” includes a range of resolution ideas ranging from simple to more involved.

Some of these ideas include: Learn something new each day, pick up a hobby, write a business plan, read more books, spend more time in nature, start doing planks every day (core strengthening), become more confident, keep a journal, travel, volunteer and much more.

Once you’ve picked that resolution it can be difficult to stick with it, in fact, about half of American will make a resolution but only about eight percent will actually succeed in meeting their goals.

A study done by WalletHub showed that 49 percent of people will make weight loss/more exercise resolutions, 33 percent financial resolutions, 26 percent education/career goal resolutions and 16 percent habit changing (stop smoking, drink less) resolutions.

According to psychology professor Peter Herman – in an article Psychology Today – one reason behind failure to achieve is what they’ve identified as “false hope syndrome.”

“Which means their resolution is significantly unrealistic and out of alignment with their internal view of themselves,” the article states. “When you make positive affirmations about yourself that you don’t really believe, the positive affirmations not only don’t work, they can be damaging to your self-worth.”

So here are some helpful tips from Psychology Today on making your resolutions a success.

1. Focus on one resolution, rather than several, and set realistic, specific goals. Losing weight is not a specific goal. Losing 10 pounds in 90 days would be.

2. Take small steps. Many people quit because the goal is too big requiring too much effort and action all at once.

3. Have an accountability buddy. Someone who can help you on your journey.

4. Celebrate your success between milestones and don’t wait until the end result.

5. Focus on the present. Something you can achieve today towards your goal.

6. Focus on new behaviors and thought patterns.

7. Be mindful. Become physically, emotionally and mentally aware of your inner state as each external event happens, rather than living in the past or future.

8. Don’t take yourself so seriously.

“Have fun and laugh at yourself when you slip, but don’t let the slip hold you back from working at your goal,” the article states.

Good luck making (and sticking to) those new year’s resolutions for 2017!

Thanksgiving Traditions

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Traditions are what Thanksgiving is all about. Source

With Thanksgiving upon us, we scoured the web to come up with a few fun Thanksgiving Traditions we thought would be fun to give a try. Here’s what we came up with:

  1. Take time for yourself to reflect and meditate before spending time with the family.
  2. Start the day with an indulgent and relaxing breakfast.
  3. Watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in the morning.
  4. Make sure to include family recipes in the dinner, and explain the history and significance of the dishes to those who may not know.
  5. Have a butcher paper tablecloth as part of your spread and have everyone cover it with their thanks.
  6. Have a Thanksgiving book of thanks and have your guests write their thanks inside each year.
  7. Stay connected with family members far away by doing a video call during the dinner and/or for the giving thanks portion of the evening.
  8. Let everyone make a toast at the dinner, even the littles!
  9. Take a long walk together after dinner and before dessert.
  10. Have the kids serve dessert.
  11. Clean up the kitchen and dining room together as a family so no one has to do it all alone.
  12. Play a game together as a family after all the food is eaten and the kitchen cleaned up.

What are your Thanksgiving day traditions? What traditions have you kept from your own upbringing? What traditions have you started? We hope you have the happiest of Thanksgivings, surrounded by those you love most.

Vote!

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Just a friendly reminder to make sure to take a break from your duties today to go #VOTE! We are so grateful for this country and for the freedoms we enjoy, which includes this right to vote. No matter your political leanings, please get out there to make your voice heard.

Here are a few suggestions on the best way to to vote today:

Find out if you’re eligible to vote:

The first question you should ask yourself before heading to the polls: Can I vote?

There are at least 4 requirements you need to follow in order to vote:

  1. You have to be a U.S. citizen
  2. You have to meet your state’s residency requirements
  3. You must be 18 years or older on Election Day
  4. You must register to vote by your state’s voter registration deadline

To find out if you’re registered, go online and click on “check your registration info,” select your state and plug in the required information. If the site can’t find any matches based on your information, contact your local board of elections.

Where to vote on Election Day:

Polling locations are assigned according to your residential address. If you’ve moved recently, you may want to double check that the address change has been updated on your voter registration.

To find out your assigned polling place, check online through USA.gov or through local officials.

Through the Voting Info Project website, residents are able to plug in their registered voting address in a search bar to determine the location and hours of their assigned polling location.

When to vote on Election Day:

The opening and closing times of polling places vary from state to state.

Polls in most areas open at either 6 a.m. or 7 a.m., while poll closing times range from 6 p.m. to as late as 9 p.m. local time.

Check the polling place hours in your home state to make sure you’re in line in time.

How to vote:

Once you know you assigned polling location, what time it’s open, and whether you’re registered to vote, you’re ready to head to the polls, but before you walk out the door, make sure you have proper identification.

Go online to see voter ID requirements by state.

At your polling station, there will be poll workers to assist you with the process. They will direct you to the check-in counters and point out which booth to enter once you’re checked in.

Do some research ahead of time. Vote.org can give you a peek at your ballot so you know what to expect before you go behind the curtain.

Get out there and make a difference today!

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Welcome

Welcome to our blog. We are a family-owned and operated custom home builder in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. We have been in business since 2004 and are passionate about building our buyers the home of their dreams.

We are starting this blog to provide design inspiration, home maintenance tips, and anything else we find interesting or timely. If you have feedback of things you would like to know more about or see more of, please don’t hesitate to leave us a comment letting us know. Happy home ownership!