Tuesday, March 10, 2015

A Change

The new blog format on the Boxshoppe.org website did not work out quite like we expected.  So we have decided to come back to the eBlogger work with a new blog called "At Home with John Newman."  You can follow us at www.athomewithjohnnewman.blogspot.com.  We will pick up there with all the same kind of projects as we had here.  We look forward to you following us at our new address.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Winding Down "Welcome to Crest Avenue"

As many of you know, Crest Avenue will soon be welcoming new owners.  Our intent is to list it on or about June 1, 2015.  I have already spoken to my friend Susan, who is a realtor (and my neighbor) and she has agreed to take the listing when we are ready.  "Where will you go?" you ask.  To the house on Dewey Street.  Our circumstances have changed over the years, as they do for everyone.  It is no longer practical to have two houses.  The time has come to sell Crest Avenue and to focus our efforts on Dewey Street.

Believe me, there are plenty of projects to keep us busy at Dewey Street, and I intend to continue blogging about those projects.  You can still follow me on a daily basis, but on a different site.  The new blog is called "Around the House, by John Newman."  It will have its own page on my new website, BoxShoppe.org (www.boxshoppe.org).  Just click on the "BLOG" button on the top menu and it will take you directly to the new blog.

It did not make sense to continue blogging under the "Welcome to Crest Avenue" banner when we no longer own Crest Avenue.  I didn't want to just replace "Crest Avenue" in the title with "Dewey Street and call it "Welcome to Dewey Street."  That seemed rather boring.  So I went with "Around the House." I like that.  And it is an accurate description of what the blog is all about.  That is, covering all the things we do, "around the house", and hopefully giving you some new ideas for how to get those things done.  We will still be in the garden and in the kitchen too.  So it will be the same blog, basically, with a different name and at a different location.

The next four months will be busy.  We will need to first empty Crest Avenue and then set about getting small and some not-so-small projects finished before we list it.  We will cover these projects here at Welcome to Crest Avenue.  Once it is listed, we will move over to the "Around the House" blog full-time.  Will there be posts everyday on Welcome to Crest Avenue as in the past.  Likely not. But we will be posting often to let you know how things are going.  We hope you will continue to follow us through this time of transition.  We love having you as loyal readers and we look forward to starting a new venture with you in the coming months.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Organizing the Sock Drawer

It's not too late to get started on your resolutions for 2015.  If you made them and time has gotten away from you, no problem.  Start today.  Or this weekend.  One of the things I resolved to get done in the new year was to bring organization to my sock drawer.  And I have been successful.  Read on to see what I did.

My existing attempt at keeping my socks organized had somehow gotten off-track over the years.  I was down to these two clear trays which were not nearly enough to house all of my socks. 

The overflow socks were folded and placed in another drawer of the dresser.  This drove me to absolute distraction.  Some socks in this drawer.  Some socks in that drawer.  Some organized in trays.  Some not.  Ugh!! So I was off to find some drawer organizers.  They had to be shallow since the top drawer of the dresser is very shallow. 

A few weeks ago, I was in the closet organization section at our local Walmart looking for large storage bins.  I found large gray fabric bins which I loved and they worked perfectly for storage in the basement.  When I went back to that department, I found these matching gray fabric drawer organizers from Better Homes and Gardens.

These three compartment fabric organizers were perfect for the job.

I bought two.  There seemed to be enough space in both of these for my sock collection.  The drawer could easily hold two of them, but not three.  So I set about getting them in place.

The next thing I knew, I had all my socks organized in one place.  Casual, weekend socks on the right top two trays.  Then, ankle socks to wear with sneakers and other casual shoes.    In the top tray on the right are Ike Behar dress socks and sock garters.  I only wear the sock garters if I am going to be at a special affair or a meeting where I will be sitting.  There is nothing worse than having your socks down around your ankles, especially in a formal setting.  Not a good look.  In the middle tray on the right are heavy dark, navy woolen socks for the winter months to be worn with boots.  One pair of brown socks.  (I am not a fan of brown socks.) Next to the brown socks is a pair from Brooks Brothers with marlins embroidered.  And the rest are everyday socks which could be worn in the office or casually.  You can see that I am a fan of Ralph Lauren Polo and Lacoste socks.

I didn't stop with just the two gray fabric organizers for the socks.  In the closet organization department they also had these four compartment drawer organizers.  My mind went to the nightstands on either side of the bed.  So I bought several of these organizers.

And look.  It fit perfectly in the drawer of my nightstand.  I could easily fit all of my essentials to include my DKNY nail kit, a remote, bottles of this and that and the Burt's Bees face cleansing cloths. Off topic for a minute, if you haven't tried the Burt's Bees face cleansing cloths, you don't know what you are missing.  They are not heavily perfumed, so they work for guys or gals.  Yes, guys faces get dirty too.  The cucumber and grapefruit scents are very nice.  And soothing.  Wipe down your face and neck just before getting comfortable in bed.  You will be asleep in no time.  Pick some up today. I bought these at CVS, but I'm certain you could get them at other similar stores.

So there you have it.  My attempt at organizing the sock drawer and the nightstand drawers.  I was successful and you can be too.  And remember, we found these drawer organizers at Walmart.  So you can organize and not spend an enormous amount of money.  Saving money and getting organized.  Does it get any better than that?

Monday, February 2, 2015

It Has Been a Busy Week!

When we last talked, on Monday of last week, we chatted about the Miracle-Gro seed pods.  After that post, things got really busy with BoxShoppe and the remainder of the week was spent working with various entities about the future of that venture.  We decided to go with a branding company called PrestoBox.  I had several conversations with the COO of that company and we are very pleased with how things are progressing.  Our logo has been designed and we are in the process of updating this blog and the website with the new logo.  New product has been photographed and added to the website.  We will soon transition "Welcome to Crest Avenue" to the blog page on the website.  And we will soon be in talks with new photographers for the products we will be selling on BoxShoppe.org.  So, ... our days have been busy.

One of the things we are most proud of is our new logo for BoxShoppe.

I thought this was just perfect.  Clean.  Uncluttered.  Minimal.  It makes a clear statement without being fussy or "in your face."

New business cards have been ordered.

So things are moving along nicely.  This week we will have some interesting posts for you to read. We will have a post on organizing the sock drawer.  We all like to get things organized in the new year and I found some great drawer organizers.  We made homemade chocolate ice cream, so there will be a post about that.  In our effort to minimize our consumption of factory processed foods, we made a delicious avocado-cilantro salad dressing which you will definitely want to make for yourself. And we made banana bread brownies with a beautiful glazed icing.  All of these things are coming up on Welcome to Crest Avenue this week.  So don't miss it!!!!

Monday, January 26, 2015

It's Time to Start Planting

As I was making my way through our local Wal-Mart over the weekend, I decided to wander back to the garden center.  I was pleased to see so many gardening items already out on the store shelves.  I was mostly interested in picking up some seed packets.  What I found instead was quite a nice surprise.  Bins and bins of biodegradable seed pods from Miracle-Gro.  Read on to find out more about this ingenious new idea.

The minds at Miracle-Gro have come up with this handy new way of getting your seeds in the ground by way of these peat pods.  They are called "Growables Seed Pods."  Each pod contains the seeds in a soil mixture and Miracle-Gro fertilizer. All you do is loosen the soil in your garden, insert the pod, bring the soil up to the top of the pod, and water.  I will be planting these in our Earth Boxes.

The selections were endless.

Lots of wonderful vegetables and melons.  And the price was right.  

I bought several of them.  Cucumber, spinach and cherry tomato.

Watermelon, Sweet Pepper, Globe Tomato, and Jalapeno Pepper.  I see some delicious homemade salsa in my future.  They also had herb seed pods and I bought three of those to plant in pots and keep in the kitchen.

I loved these cute clay pots with the glossy green bands of color at the top.  Since I had three herb seed pods, I needed three pots.  And saucers.  Don't forget the saucers when planting in clay pots.

I filled each pot with Miracle-Gro potting soil.  Then inserted one each of a different herb seed pod in each pot.

First, Cilantro.  This will be used in the salsa recipe.

Next, Dill.  I love dill, ... on most anything.  With sour cream on a baked potato.  Sprinkled in a salad. Over grilled or baked salmon.  I cannot wait to have my own fresh dill.

And finally, Basil.  Another favorite.  Delicious with tomato and sliced mozzarella on a sandwich. Or used to flavor homemade tomato sauce.

Here are all three pots with the seed pods ready to start growing.

I removed the paperwhites and the amaryllis from the window ledge in the kitchen.  Their time had come and gone.  They will be put away until next year.  In their place I set the herb pots.  They will receive lots of morning sun in this location.  Two on this side.

And one on other other side.  I cannot wait until we start to see these sprout.

You will note that I did not label each pot with the specific herb planted.  Since each of these herbs has a very specific leaf formation, it is not necessary for me to label them since I have worked with each herb many, many times over the years.  If you are just starting to work with herbs, you could easily label each pot with a small stick pushed into the soil with the name of the herb handwritten on the stick.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

We're Gearing Up for Valentine's Day

It's almost time for Cupid's arrow.  And we are quickly putting together our embossed favor boxes for sale on BOXSHOPPE.org.  Take a look.

We have some very cute boxes that we will be offering.  These boxes are two inch square and each is hand embossed with a different Valentine's Day theme.  We have "Flirt" boxes, "Kiss" boxes, "Happy Valentine's Day" boxes and "Fancy Heart" boxes.  Each design comes in either pink grapefruit or brilliant red, except the Fancy Heart.  That only comes in pink grapefruit.  The brilliant red just did not work for that design.  On the far right you will see that we have started some Easter boxes as well.  We are going to experiment with adding some additional colors to these, so they will be added to the site a little later.

The boxes will be sold in sets of five.

Each box comes with a hearty amount of excelsior, or crinkle-cut, to provide a cushion for whatever you desire to include in the box.  A delicious truffle, or two.  Some heart-shaped candies.  Maybe a little round lip-gloss or two.  Or, maybe a, ... ring?  Or a tennis bracelet or a pendant on a chain.

The top box has solid colored pink paper excelsior.  This box has a combination pink and ivory that is coarse, like a very thinly shaved balsa wood.  Either way, the boxes are very cute and a great way to present gifts or to use as place settings if you are having a dinner.  They also work on an entry table just inside the front door to be handed to guests as they leave as a parting gift.  You decide how you want to use them.  We are in the process of getting them photographed for the website, so check back in a few days and we'll have more news.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Someone Finished their Wedding Planner Course

Whose favorite blogger is now a certified Wedding Planner?  Why me, of course.  I finished the online course and received my certificate last week.

Will I actively seek clients looking for a Wedding Planner?  No.  I have my hands quite full enough with Welcome to Crest Avenue and BOXSHOPPE.  Not to mention other ventures.  I took the course so that I could fully understand all the aspects of wedding planning and what a Wedding Planner does.  It is quite an involved profession and not for someone who is easily rattled or who does not have good organizational skills.  I expect to work with Wedding Planners in the future when I receive orders for favor boxes for the wedding reception.

Next on my list of continuing education?  Event Planning/101.  I have already signed up for the course.  I just need to get started.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Another Lesson in the Importance of Details

As we have discussed previously, "it's all in the details."  Sometimes, indeed, most times how your projects turn out is based on how well you take care of the details.  We are going to talk today about just such a project I had over the Christmas season and I am going to share with you how I approached the issue and solved it with a minimum of time and money.

During my Christmas shopping this year, I found a gift for Bev in this Ellen Tracy Shimmering Eyes ensemble.  The package contained a melange of dusky eye shadows, eyeliners and I believe a lip gloss or lip liner.  I knew immediately I had to buy this as a Christmas gift for her.

The box was in perfect order, but as you can see above, the clear, round seal which held the box top in place was dirty and worn.  The gift itself was lovely.  But this unattractive clear seal just wouldn't do.  It detracted from the package.

After I got the box home, I set about removing the dirty and worn seal from the box top.  Some of these come off with great ease.  Some do not.  This seal was somewhere in the middle.  It took a little time and patience to remove it cleanly.  But in the end, I was the victor.

I keep in stock a sheet, or several sheets of gold and silver seals which are used on greeting card envelopes. Since the trim on this box was goldtone, I decided to use a gold seal for this project.

After the clear seal was removed, I simply replaced it with one of these gold seals.  Such an improvement.  This small upgrade gave the box a nice, clean, sophisticated look.

It matched the gold trim perfectly.  These gold and silver seals, at 1-1/4" in diameter, are larger than most of the clear seals which are used in packing these days.  You could probably get away with leaving the clear seal in place and placing one of these larger seals over top.  My suggestion - it is better to remove the clear seal if at all possible.  Take your time and try to remove it cleanly.  If it will not cooperate, then place your gold or silver seal over top.

Just remember - for the perfect presentation, ... it's all in the details!!!

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

And the Final Post on New Year's

As we continued to prepare for the evening, a few more dishes made their way to the serving counter. They are shared below.

In this crock was a delicious spinach and artichoke dip which was served warm.  Really magnificent. There was very little left over.  I enjoyed the left over heated, on crackers.  I need to get this recipe from Bev.

In this shot you see there is a glass pedestal of smoked turkey roll-ups with a dish of pico de gallo. Superb.  These were very good.  Again, I need to get this recipe.

Here, at the bottom, you see we added the crock of spinach and artichoke dip and sliced baguette which was brushed with olive oil and put under the broiler until just browned and then placed on a festive serving tray.

Finally, a boat of ham balls.  These were delicious too.  I could see these being served with a nice cucumber/dill sauce.  We served them plain and they were delicious like that.  I would make these again and serve them with the cucumber/dill sauce.

A festive and wonderful evening.  A great way to ring in the new year.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Some of the Dishes We Prepared for Our Celebration

Bev was instrumental in getting all the dishes prepared for New Year's.  Not only did she prepare them, but they were her recipes.  The only thing I provided was a pineapple cheese ball and a Winking Santa cake from Swiss Colony.  And the booze.  But more on that later.  Take a look at some of what she prepared.

This was the serving counter at first pass.  Starting center top, going clockwise, we have fried tortellini with hot mustard sauce, pineapple cheese ball with a cracker assortment, Alaskan steamed shrimp with cocktail sauce (from Bob and Bette), cheese straws with a pepper relish and Scoops chips.  That is someone's cocktail in the upper left corner.  Oh, wait.  That was mine!!!

This Winking Santa cake was ordered from Swiss Colony.  Their baked goods - in fact everything from them, is so delicious.  They have been around for a long time and I do not think you can ever go wrong by ordering any of their selections.  This was not only very cute, but incredibly delicious.

Another long shot of the serving counter.

And another.

This was a corn relish dip that was very tasty in the Scoops chips.  Or on anything.  And everything!

The fried tortellini was delicious also.  But they needed to be served with a condiment and the hot mustard fit that bill.

The pineapple cheese ball is always a hit and this one did not disappoint.  I think of all the cheese balls I make, this is my favorite.

Friday, January 9, 2015

And Finally, ...

One last post of New Year's Eve.  I thought these pictures were so beautiful and even more beautiful in black and white.  So I decided to go with black and white.

The mantel beautifully lit by candlelight.

A hearty fire in the fireplace.

Mr. and Mrs. Frosty D. Snowman adding some whimsy to the mix.

And finally, the sparkle and bling that is the season.  The new mercury glass Christmas trees a present from Bev this year.  Along with the votive holders in the center.

You can set your home like this too.  Take the decorations you have and make groupings.  Small, large, whatever works in the space.  Put together an eclectic grouping of things.  Even if you think they may not work together.  Try it anyway.  Then add to and take away as you see fit.  Decorating doesn't have to be strict or stringent.  In fact, it should not be.  Let your creative mind take you where it will.