Guest Post by: Thanh Buswell
Happy Spring! Last Saturday, we kissed winter and the “Snowquester” goodbye with our first March weekend in the 60s. With the great weather came more outdoor projects in the neighborhood.
While sipping my morning coffee at half past seven, my ears perked at the familiar sound of a pressure washer from Neighbor-Across-the-Street. If you read my February guest post
, you know I am married to the owner of Cascade Services
, therefore I may have specially-tuned ears for this kind of noise. After a full day of errands and enjoying our Saturday with friends, we found Neighbor-Across-the-Street was still pressure washing his house 8 hours later
. What a day - but he was on the right track!
House Pressure Wash in Manassas VA by Cascade Services.
House Pressure Wash in Manassas VA by Cascade Services.
Pressure washing the exterior portion of your home is a great project to jump start your Spring Cleaning.
You would be surprised at the amount of mold, dirt, and mildew build up on your home. Even homeowners that tell us their house siding is in pretty clean shape are taken aback when we point out the little black mold spots everywhere. In addition, dirty siding is one of the top HOA violations and one of the simplest things you can do to instantly brighten your home.
Luckily for you, we are holding a Spring Giveaway hosted by the Real Housewives of Northern Virginia! This is the very first time Cascade Services has ever done a giveaway and we are pretty excited it’s for RHNOVA readers! The Cascade Spring Giveaway is for One Single Family House or Townhouse Pressure Wash Service (up to four sides at a value of up to $260).
Be sure to enter -- not only do you get a professionally pressure washed house exterior; you’ll also get back hours of your weekend! (Just ask my neighbor.)
And just in case you aren’t the lucky winner, please check out our website to find out more about our services and a few coupons and “Like” us on www.facebook.com/cascademe
to keep up-to-date with special deals throughout the year.
| || | Cascade Services, LLC is a professional pressure washing, sealing / staining, and carpet cleaning company based out of Gainesville, VA. Established in 2008 by Randy Buswell, a NOVA native with 15 years of experience learning from his own father’s business, Cascade has become a trusted and reliable contractor serving customers all over Northern Virginia. For more information, call (703) 915-2402 or visit us at www.cascademe.com and "Like" us on Facebook!
*sponsored content provided by Cascade Services, LLC
Power Wash and Stain by Cascade Services, LLC.
guest post by Thanh Buswell
Life just seems more grand in the Springtime and it gives all of us a little jolt of Martha Stewart-like prowess. (And we are less than a month away!) You want to get up earlier, you’re motivated to clean out your closet and even deep clean the baseboards. You’re ready to cook delicious, healthy meals, put fresh flowers on the patio table and invite friends over to enjoy a glass of wine, while dining al fresco in your lovely outdoor space.
While mulling over the perfect recipe, drinks, table décor and music to use, go take a quick look at your deck or patio – could it use some TLC? Now is the perfect time to think about getting your deck ready for Spring & Summer entertaining. The best way to prep your deck for the upcoming season:
1. Power wash the surface area to clean it of any mildew stains, dirt, debris or contaminates. I recommend hiring a pro to avoid this
2. Allow enough time for the deck to fully dry.
3. Choose a seal/stain product that is best for YOUR deck to protect the wood and give it a professional finish. (If you’re unsure of what the best product is, keep reading.)“So, what is the best sealing or staining product for my deck?”
This is one of the most common questions customers ask Randy, my husband and owner of Cascade Services
, when calling for help with maintaining their home. And it’s a great question – there are so many options available to use including toners, semi-transparent, semi-solids, or solids. How do you know which one is right for you?
Here is a quick cheat sheet listing the various types of sealing/staining options available. In general, the more opaque the product, the longer the life span of the product lasting due to blocking more UV rays. Sealant:
Clear, protects wood and preserves its natural color; sealants will last about 1 year (recommended)Toner:
Slightly pigmented, limited colors available, mainly natural colors; toners will last 2 – 3 years (recommended)Semi-Transparent:
Lightly pigmented, allows the wood grain to show through; lasts 2 – 3 years Semi-Solid:
More pigmented and almost completely hides natural wood grain and color; lasts 3 – 4 years.Solid:
Fully opaque and will cover older stains, many colors available; can last up to 4 or 5 years (recommended)
Unfortunately, there is not one type of product that takes the cake. The best product for your deck will depend on a number of factors specific to your deck.
- How old is your deck? What is the condition it is in?
- How much sunlight does your deck receive? How much shade does your deck receive?
- Does the deck have color on it from a previous stain or paint application?
- How natural of a look are you trying to achieve on your wood?
- How long do you want the product to last (i.e. what is more important to you - external appearance or lasting performance)?
When working with a deck cleaning professional, you should be asked a series of questions similar to what I mentioned above, and then some. He/she should take their time going through the options with you, answering your questions and provide an in-person walk-through and free estimate
Now are you thinking about getting your deck ready for Spring and need some professional advice? Get in touch with us. We’re happy to answer any of your questions and love helping other NOVA residents beautify their home! (P.S. Real Housewives of NOVA will be hosting a Cascade Services Spring Giveaway in March – be sure to keep up to date and "Like" us on Facebook so you don’t miss out!)
Cascade Services, LLC is a professional pressure washing, sealing / staining, and carpet cleaning company based out of Gainesville, VA. Established in 2008 by Randy Buswell, a NOVA native with 15 years of experience learning from his own father’s business, Cascade has become a trusted and reliable contractor serving customers all over Northern Virginia. For more information, call (703) 915-2402 or visit us at www.cascademe.com and "Like" us on Facebook! *sponsored post
by Jennifer Hemmick
It’s my birthday and I’ll bake if I want to!
Last weekend was my birthday and birthdays with my husband’s family are not birthdays without ice cream cake. Call me crazy, but ice cream cake is not my favorite; I’m a frosting and cake kinda gal (the thicker the frosting, the happier I am) and I decided that this year, I was going to bake myself some cupcakes.
A couple of months ago, my coworker mentioned she was going to make some salted caramel cupcakes that she found on Pinterest for her sweetie’s birthday. When the day came, she posted about them on Facebook and I was so jealous I wasn’t a part of the festivities. Knowing how sweet Ms. A is, I should’ve guessed she would save some to share
with her wonderful coworkers.
As soon as I tasted it, I was in heaven. The combination of salty and sweet was amazing and I was so sad when I ate that last bite that I vowed to find an excuse to make them ASAP. What better excuse than my very own birthday?
Ms. A shared the original recipe
with me, but told me she used yellow boxed cake mix instead of the written one. Hers were so good, that when I went to the store to stock up on baking supplies, I decided to just get the box. In my excitement, I ended up getting Sugar-free yellow cake mix and while looking up reviews on Amazon I found out that “excess consumption may cause a laxative effect.” I’m sorry, but diarrhea and birthdays don’t mix well in my opinion, so I ended up following the original recipe.
In full disclosure, these are time-consuming and use A LOT of sugar, but trust me, they are definitely worth it! You will also end up with a lot of leftover caramel and frosting, which, in the original poster’s opinion, “only matters if you’re an alien.” For an added treat Ms. A topped the cupcakes with a chocolate-covered pretzel, which I forgot to buy, but they were good
• 12 Tbsp butter
• 1 1/2 cups packed dark brown sugar
• 3/4 cup light brown sugar
• 3/4 cup whole milk
• 1 3/4 cup all purpose flour
• 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
• 1 tsp salt
• 12 Tbsp butter, room temperature
• 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
• 3 eggs
• 2 tsp vanilla
• 3/4 cup whole milk
• 3/4 cup reserved caramel sauce
• 3 cups powdered sugar
• 4 Tbsp butter, room temperature
• 2 Tbsp milk
• Sea Salt for topping
1. In a large saucepan over medium heat, melt butter and light and dark brown sugars, and milk together. Bring to a boil.
2. Let mixture boil for 3 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool.
3. Preheat oven to 350°
4. Line muffin tin with cupcake liners.
5. In a separate bowl combine flour, baking powder and salt. Whisk together.
6. In mixing bowl, beat butter and sugar over medium speed for 3 minutes. Add eggs and vanilla and continue beating
until combined, scraping the sides of the bowl when necessary.
7. Add the flour and the milk, beating on low speed until ingredients are just combined.
8. Fill each liner about 3/4 full, about 1/4 cup batter.
9. Bake approx 20 minutes until centers are set.
10. Transfer to wire rack and let cool for 10 minutes.
11. While cupcakes are cooling make your frosting. Combine butter, powdered sugar 3/4 cup prepared (and cooled) caramel sauce and milk in a mixing bowl. Beat ingredients together about 2 minutes until creamy. (Mine came out really thin, but it hardened once on the cupcakes)
12. After cupcakes have cooled for about 10 minutes, pierce tops of cupcakes with a sharp knife or skewer about 10 times. Pour about 1 tablespoon of caramel sauce on top of each cupcake, allowing it to absorb into the holes. (This step can get messy! I had the cupcakes on a cooling rack placed over wax paper for easy cleanup)
13. Let the cupcakes finish cooling completely and then frost with about 2 tablespoons of frosting on each. Lightly
sprinkle your cupcakes with (coarse or flaked) sea salt.
guest blog by Kylie Carey of Kylie's Pop Shop
Dorothy Jane is a family member on my mom’s side of the family. This recipe has been in the family for a very long time. Actually, the original recipe calls for “oleo” instead of butter! (That’s how old it is!)
Here's what you'll need:
2 sticks of salted butter
1 cup peanut butter
1 tbsp vanilla
1 box confectioners sugar
1 cup graham crackers
Chocolate for dipping
First, assemble your ingredients so that everything is handy.
Next, melt your butter in 30 second intervals in the microwave. While doing this, crush your graham crackers using a food processer. I find that about 3/4 of a sleeve of graham crackers = about 1 cup of crumbs.
Mix in a large bowl using a hand mixer: peanut butter, melted butter, and vanilla.
Use the lowest speed. Mix until creamy.
Add your dry ingredients all at once. DO NOT try to mix using the electric mixer.
My advice: put on some gloves and squish that buckeye dough by hand.
Here is my dough once it was thoroughly mixed and ready to roll!
By hand, roll each buckeye into the size ball you’d like. I made mine into 1 inch balls (the recipe yields about 70 balls!). I like to put my buckeyes on a cookie sheet after they’ve been rolled - it’s easier to put them in the freezer this way.
Put the cookie balls into the freezer for about 30 minutes, or until balls are firm.
Dorothy Jane’s original recipe says to keep them in the fridge for 6-7 hours - but who has time for that? Mine do just fine in the freezer!
Set a timer and do some clean up while they are hardening in the freezer. Get your chocolate melted down, and get ready to dip!
When the pops come out, dip each buckeye into the chocolate quickly and carefully. I like mine on sticks, but Dorothy Jane put hers on toothpicks and removed the tooth pick once the buckeye had dried. Leave the peanut butter showing at the top for the buckeye effect!
And VOILA! Buckeyes!
Please stop by my Facebook
page and check me out, as I am always creating new recipes and toying with classic recipes for new renditions!
by Kylie Hamaker
So, Kevin and I have been married for one whole year now. Since the first anniversary is supposed to be “the year of paper,” he got creative. Kevin wrote down 10 different places to visit and put them all into a box. He then blindfolded me, and had me pick out one. Whatever I picked would be what we did for our anniversary weekend. The first thing I pulled out was Apple Picking!
So………We went to Stribling Orchard in Markham, VA! It was a gorgeous day and so much fun to get out and enjoy the Fall weather with the hubby. It was the end of apple season, but there were still plenty of delicious apples to be picked. After picking, we bought apple butter & honey. We learned that the darkest honey had more of the apple flavor, so we thought we would give it a try. Everything we bought is delicious! We also tried a freshly dipped caramel apple and apple cider. AMAZING! I cannot wait until it is time to pick peaches at Stribling!
After the Orchard, we made our way to Hershey, PA so we could pretend we were kids again at Hershey Park in the Dark! (Because, of course, I ended up peaking at all 10 places after I picked the first piece of paper). While this is not NOVA, I thought I would still share a few pictures.
**Thanks to Dana for her comment on my first blog post about going to Stribling Orchard! It made for a wonderful afternoon and a great start to our Anniversary weekend.
My girlfriend Susan from my sorority's alum group made these AMAZING sweet treats -- and it's "SO EASY" that I just had to share!
Here is her secret recipe:
1. Into the wells of a muffin tin (or in cupcake papers) flatten a square of store-bought chocolate chip cookie dough.
2. Top that with a Reese peanut butter cup (or a mini).
3. Prepare box-mix brownie batter (as directed on the box) and spoon it over Reese-cookie dough, 3/4 full.
4. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes. VOILA!
Susan's claim of goodness: "Srsly: not costly, easy, and I have to hide them to keep husband and son from eating all of them tonight."
Doesn't that pic make you want to run to the grocery store right now and make them?
by Jenn Plant
What a beautiful day to travel to Millwood, Virginia for the Shenandoah Valley Wine and Music Festival. I fully expected a crisp autumn day but as the sun broke through the clouds, it warmed up nicely and ended up being absolutely perfect.
For our third date, David and I made our way to the fenced off area where the local wineries had set up their tents. There were ten Virginia wineries on location that day, none of which I had ever had the pleasure of drinking before. And was I in for a treat! David, being a chef, had already tried a few of the local wines, but most were new to him as well.
It was $20 for a commemorative glass and unlimited tastings. From super sweet whites to extra dry reds and every possibility in between. One winery had us try the “Kiss of the Devil” made from 30 varieties of peppers, including ghost chilies! They claim it’s “better for basting than tasting” - David and I tried it anyway. It was definitely hot and would be great in a chili recipe. We also discovered the beauty of mulled wine. Think hot apple cider and your favorite red wine. A few of the wineries had their own spin on the sensational drink, but all with the same basic ingredients.
Red Wine. Apple juice. Mulling spices. Keep on low in crock pot. Quick. Easy. Fantasticly delicious. Perfect for the upcoming holiday season. I plan on making large quantities of this and I may or may not share with my family.
After sampling most of the wines, David and I walked around the beautiful property at Long Branch. The paved walkway took us around the historic home and we found ourselves in one of the most beautiful and picturesque places we’d ever seen. Rolling hills, a small pond and horses running in the fields before us; it was absolutely gorgeous. We sat under a tree and simply enjoyed each other’s company and the scenery for almost two hours. Whether it’s another wine festival or maybe a tour of the historic home, I’m hoping that we will be able to visit Long Branch again very soon.
Here’s to an amazing third date and hopefully a fourth. Cheers!
A few of our favorites from the day:
Amissville, VAwww.unicornwinery.com We liked their Traminette 2011 and Chamboucin 2010
Barren Ridge Vineyards
Fishersville, VAwww.barrenridgevineyards.com We loved the 2011 Red Barren and 2010 Harmony
Gordonsville, VAwww.hvwine.com Mix their Chocolate and White Chocolate dessert wine for a bit of heaven in your mouth!
Peaks of Otter Winery
Bedford, VAwww.peaksofotterwinery.com If you dare – Try the Kiss The Devil Chili Pepper Wine
by Anola Trott
I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of the show “Kimchi Chronicles”, but it’s an eye-opener. It’s basically a documentary on Korean food and was one of my favorite shows when it was on -- the dishes they produce are incredible. True Korean food is so healthy, delicious, and unfortunately, very difficult to make.
I’ve been aching to make a Korean dish for a long time, but everything that looks or sounds yummy requires lots of ingredients (some are very uncommon) and even requires 2-3 days of prep time. No thanks!!! I found this super easy recipe on Pinterest and it was done. Here is the recipe for Korean Beef.
1 pound lean ground beef (the lean part is very important or it will become greasy)
1/4 - 1/2 cup brown sugar (I did just 1/4 because I wanted it to be more spicy)
1/4 cup soy sauce (I used low-sodium)
1 Tablespoon sesame oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon fresh ginger, minced
1/2 - 1 teaspoon crushed red peppers (to desired spiciness)
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 bunch green onions, diced (don't skip this!)
Heat a large skillet over medium heat and brown hamburger with garlic in the sesame oil. Drain most of the fat and add brown sugar, soy sauce, ginger, salt and pepper and red peppers. Simmer for a few minutes to blend the flavors. Stir in some of the green onions at the last minute and serve over steamed rice and top with the rest of the onions.
I served mine with a side of Kimchi...enjoy!!
by Dorie Howell
Let me say that I have a love/hate relationship with Pinterest
. It is a great place to find some wonderful things but it is also a HUGE time suck and it has a tendency to make some of us (ok, me) feel a bit inadequate. Spend a little time looking at all these great, beautiful posts and one can start to feel a bit overwhelmed at all the beautiful things others are making, sewing, developing or creating. For that reason I don't spend too much time there except for one thing . . . recipes. My favorite pinterest trick is to actually log out and look at the home page. That way I don't see only things my friends have pinned, I see things that have been pinned by people I don't know. That gives me a much broader idea of what is popular and what people are trying.
I decided to try Enchiladas
this week. If there is a picture of something cheesy, creamy and baked in a casserole dish - I am so going to want to try it. These were very easy. It did take me about an hour to make them but that includes the time for cooking the chicken breasts. If you use canned chicken or have chicken already cooked, these will come together in about 15 minutes.
I made the following changes: I did not use green onions
I only had pinto beans instead of black beans
I did not heat the tortillas in the microwave before filling them. I had them out at room temperature and they were fine.
I cooked them a little while longer than indicated and broiled them at the end to make sure the top was extra melty. yes, that is a word.
For the enchilada sauce:
1 tbsp. vegetable oil
1 onion, minced
1/2 tsp. Kosher salt
3 tbsp. chili powder
2 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
2 tsp. cumin
2 tsp. sugar
1 (15 oz.) can tomato sauce
3/4 cup water
Heat a 12-inch skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add the onion and salt, cook until softened, 5 minutes. Stir in the chili powder, garlic, cumin, and sugar. Cook until fragrant. Add in the tomato sauce and water and bring to a simmer. Cook until thickened, about 5 minutes. Season to taste.
For the enchiladas:
3 cups cooked chicken, shredded or diced
1 (8 oz.) package cream cheese, cut into cubes
1 bunch green onions, thinly sliced, more to garnish
1 (15 oz.) can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 (4.25 oz) can green chiles
1 (2.25 oz.) can sliced black olives, drained
1 batch enchilada sauce, divided
4 cups shredded cheese (cheddar and Monterrey Jack work well), divided
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Heat a medium saucepan over medium low heat. Add in cream cheese and stir to melt. Stir in green onions, 2 cups shredded cheese, drained black beans, and green chilis. Stir to combine and heat through, about 3 minutes. Stir in chicken and black olives and remove from heat. Add in 1 cup of enchilada sauce, stir to combine.
2. Heat tortillas in microwave, a few seconds at a time, so that they are soft and pliable. Spray a 9x13-inch baking side with cooking spray. Spread 1/4 of the enchilada sauce in the bottom of the pan. Spoon 1/4-1/3 cup chicken mixture into the center of a warm tortilla and roll tightly. Place in pan seam side down. Continue with remaining tortillas until pan is full. Pour 1 cup enchilada sauce over the prepared tortillas. Top with remaining 2 cups shredded cheese.
3. Cover with aluminum foil and bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes. Remove foil and continue to bake until bubbly and cheese begins to brown, 5-10 minutes more. Cool slightly before serving.
The result? These were so good. When I was making them I thought the chili powder would be overpowering but it isn't. I made them one afternoon on a whim and we have been enjoying them all week for lunch. They reheat beautifully and I am sure they would freeze just fine. They aren't authentic Mexican enchiladas but no one here seems to mind. If you like this type of casserole dish, I would definitely recommend you try it!
Dorie Howell is a mom and professional photographer in Vienna, VA. She is the mom to a beautiful 4 year old daughter and has a fabulous husband. She enjoys traveling, going to concerts, visiting with friends and capturing life with her camera. She believes there is nothing better than having all the laundry done and the entire house clean . . . all on the same day.
by Jenn Plant
With all of the upcoming fall festivals, there are so many exciting places to visit in this area. Apple picking, pumpkin patches, haunted houses and corn mazes are abundant this time of year. My daughter and I absolutely adore autumn and all the baking, cooking and decorating that goes along with it. In fact, we’ve already baked two apple pies and we are working on perfecting our white chicken chili recipe for the next cool night.
I would love to have someone to share this time of year of with so I signed up for an online dating account. It’s a free site that claims it’s the “best dating site on Earth” and the “Google of online dating”. I uploaded a few photos of myself, answered almost 600 of their personality questions (I answer them, a few at a time, while I’m lying in bed waiting for the insomnia to go away) and wrote a fairly cute and quite accurate self-summary. And then the waiting game begins. The site matches you with potential suitors according to your answers to the personality questions. And you can filter thru the matches based on age, location, etc. etc. etc. In the three weeks my account has been active; I’ve been contacted over 30 times.
It’s kind of exhilarating to open up the website and see your little inbox lit up in pink meaning you have new messages waiting to be read. Granted, a few of the messages were asking me what kind of panties I was wearing or if I’d be willing to stop by a complete strangers house for a quickie. Right…. Let me just get right on that. Honestly, do women fall into that trap? Does that actually work for some men?
I received a message from a guy (we’ll call him Forrest) whose message was so silly, I couldn’t help but respond. We have been talking via text and phone calls almost every day since he first contacted me. We are meeting next Saturday. Out of all the other men that have written to me on the site, I’m pretty excited about this one. He’s a father of two and the chef manager at a retirement community. That speaks volumes to me about his personality and demeanor. He’s also managed to dodge all of my absolute “deal-breakers”. Not to mention, he has incredible blue eyes, makes me laugh all the time and hello, did I mention he can cook? Oh and he’s kind of handy. What’s not like?
I am trying not to get too wrapped up in the excitement of meeting someone new. But the thought of spending a chilly afternoon up on Skyline Drive drinking warm apple cider gives me just a few butterflies in my belly. Who knows where next Saturday will take me? I’m really looking forward to finding out.
Jenn Plant is a full-time, semi-crunchy, single mother of one amazing little girl, an awesome adopted dog and four happy goldfish. Between toddler wrangling and work, Jennifer is a lover of nature, enjoys hiking in Shenandoah, day trips to DC and scouring thrift stores for great bargains.