Several months ago we closed on a very picturesque and historic house on the water.

This home is a second home for us, and our grand plan is to use it as a vacation/weekend retreat where we will be able to spend time with friends, family, and each other away from the very fast paced and close proximity lifestyle to which we've come accustom. But before we reach that idyllic setting of sipping drinks on the dock and paddling a kayak, we've got our work cut out for us by way of house projects.

As you may already know, we're not ones to shy away from a home renovation related challenge, and though any given project may take us exponentially longer than the average bear, we have some serious plans for this house before we're all said and done. As much as we want relaxation, our idea of relaxing is a bit different than many. We relax as much through working on the things that inspire us and we love. I guess what I'm trying to say is that we plan on doing a lot to this house, both inside and out.

The photos we've shared of the house thus far have really only shown what things looked like on day one (or maybe two and three). While everything may have looked "fine" on the surface, and perhaps like we really only needed a little "paint and paper" to get this place into shape, we have a much different outlook on everything now that we've owned the house for about three months.

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Comments 14

You know how little kids are overcome with joy and excitement at the thought of visiting Mickey Mouse and friends at the Magic Kingdom?

I've read that kids feel this urge to visit and joy when they enter due to a tremendous need to be immersed in the things they love that makes them feel creative. I'm sure the massive Disney advertising budget doesn't hurt either.

But truth be told, I've never been, and I've never really had that overwhelming desire to visit Disney World, it was just never my thing. But as an adult this desire to embrace my creativity in immersive ways finds outlet in my life in other ways, not the least of which is at a home decor outlet or design center.

Over the holidays I found what I believe to be a truly magical place, not much unlike that of Disney for kids, but my discovery is far less expensive in every way. And I found this in one of the most unlikely places, West Chester, Ohio.

While visiting family in the Cincinnati area I couldn't help but be excited for a little side trip we had planned with my cousin. You see, West Chester, Ohio is a major distribution location for a little home decor and accessories store I like called Ballard Designs. Maybe you've heard of it?

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Comments 11

If you've asked anyone for their opinion on a good video monitoring solution recently, the almost automatic answer seems to be "Get a Dropcam, they're great!"

But the question I've long had is simple, "Is the Dropcam really all it's cracked up to be, or should we look elsewhere for a more effective, flexible, and economical solution?"

We've actually been searching for a good monitoring/security camera for some time now. This search began around the same time Dropcam hit the market and started generating all of its buzz.

Incidentally, at about this same time the copper gutter downspout was stolen from the side of our house, kicking my desire for an improved security surveillance solution into higher gear. So the big question became, "what cameras should I use?"

While closed circuit analog cameras have been the historic standby in the security space, with the "Internet of Things" taking over every aspect of our lives, it seems like a web/network based IP camera is the way to go.

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We hope your holiday and New Year was a relaxing and non-strenuous one, spent with family, friends, and way too much food.

Wendy and I spent time with our parents and Christmas with Wendy's very large extended family, and with good friends for a low key New Years. But before we headed out of Alexandria, we noticed a little holiday magic had returned to our neighborhood.

If you're a long time reader, or you've stumbled through our archives, you may have be familiar with the Old Town Llamas. These two stuffed and fuzzy creatures periodically adorned a neighbor's front window, dressed in an outfit to celebrate an upcoming holiday or event. They've been disappointingly absent for the last few years, causing great sadness among all aware of their existence.

Well, I'm very happy to report that the Llamas have returned for this holiday season, complete with Christmas lights and a shiny red nose. You've not heard of Rudolph the Red Nosed Llama? That's a shame.

Whether they're on a comeback tour or this is their swan song, we're quite happy to see them again.

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Comments 10

Is anyone else in complete denial that tomorrow is the last day of 2014? I can't believe how fast this year has flown by, and in true fashion, I've been so focused on Christmas that I roll into new year's eve feeling generally unprepared and burned out. Even though hosting another party or cooking an extravagant meal is the furthest thing from my mind, I still like to put together a little something special to celebrate the new year. A nice bottle of bubbly and an appetizer or two are just the thing to casually enjoy at home or with a small group of friends in order to mark the passing of another year. 

One of my go to appetizers that looks elegant, tastes great, yet is relatively simple and easy to assemble is this recipe for walnut and goat cheese stuffed endives. It's great for gatherings at any time of year, and can be easily doubled to accommodate larger groups.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Coat a baking sheet with cooking spray. Combine walnuts and 1 tablespoon of the honey and spread in an even layer on the baking sheet. Bake at 350° for 10 minutes, stirring after 5 minutes, or until the walnuts turn golden brown.

While the walnuts are baking, combine the remaining tablespoon of honey, vinegar, and 3 tablespoons juice from the mandarin cup in a small saucepan. Bring mixture to a boil over high heat, and cook until reduced to 3 tablespoons (about 5 minutes).

Wash the endives and carefully peel the leaves, cutting off and discarding the core. Fill each endive leaf with 1 mandarin orange section. (Note: I've also made these with fresh cut orange sections and freshly squeezed juice. It's a great alternative and tastes better, but it's a lot more time consuming.) Top each section with 1 teaspoon goat cheese and 1 teaspoon walnuts; arrange on a plate. 

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