Thursday, January 31, 2013

Patio Retaining Wall Ideas

Last year, when we had our new house built, we initially wanted a paver patio with a wall.  Then after further consderation, we opted not to have the builder install the patio.  We figured we would take some time and look around at patio flooring options.

We are so happy with our patio; the shape, size, type of paver used.  It looks like stone but is actually a paver.


We had the guys dig out an area completely around the patio so we could put in shrubs and other plants.  We still like that idea but now we are rethinking the wall.

In this first picture, I like the shape of the patio.  It resembles our patio shape a bit.  The wall around the outside is nice for additional seating and distinguishes the patio from the yard.

Patio with Seating Wall by Archadeck
Source


This next patio is nice with the vegetation on the inside of the wall.  This is nice since the patio opens onto the back yard but doesn't actually add additional seating.  This is something of what we were considering but maybe with stacked flat stones as a bit of a wall between the shrubs and the yard.
Patio by MacQueen Designs
Source


This resembles our patio floor so I can get a really good idea of what type of wall and top could be used.  Again, the vegetation on the inside of the wall really does look nice.  In fact, I like that some of the plants are on the inside while there is plenty of seating on the opposite wall.  It also looks like there is an entrance to the yard from the center.

The plants and wall are low enough to not block the view from the patio while sitting down.


Stone Wall Surrounding Stone Patio by Omni Stone Work
Source


What do you think of the pillars at the ends of the wall where the patio leads out to the back yard?  Doesn't it make for a nice entrance?  Another architectural feature are the pillars dividing up the wall.  I also like the use of the planters along the inside of the wall and natural plant area on the yard side of the patio.
Patio and Wall by Kiefer Landscaping
Source


Our patio has a real organic feel to it.  It isn't a typical kidney shape so I really like how this patio wall steps down.  Can the tiered end of the wall be close to the house and then use the pillars to go out to the yard in the center of the patio?  Notice that the grill is tucked up closer to the house and the seating is out towards the yard putting more emphasis on the entertaining and relaxing part rather than the cooking.  Plus with the grill closer to the house, fewer steps in and out to the kitchen.

The tier steps of the wall resemble a waterfall so we may need to have the pillars towards the house and the tier steps going out to the yard with some actual steps.  This way we can have a waterfall up by the house flowing out and down.  This might be more in line with the Feng Shui  principles and maybe -just maybe- we (I) can sneak in a small propane fire pit somewhere.

Patio by Jacksonville Backyard
Source


Whew! My brain is working overtime now.  Nice thing about living in the South is that we can start talking with a landscaper to build our wall.  Who knows, if we're quick enough and can get on their schedule, the wall will be up in time for spring planting.

What do you think about these wall ideas?  Do you have some suggestions or websites we should consider?  What about the materials to build the wall?




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Substance of Living

Thursday, January 24, 2013

What To Make with Eggnog

Are you looking at the Eggnog in your refrigerator or thinking about making/buying some?

Now that you have some eggnog, what can you do with it besides drink it with or without alcohol?

Kimberly at Poor Girl Eats Well came up with a delicious cheesecake that is perfect for parties.  Instead of drinking a shot of eggnog, how about eating one?
Spiced Eggnog Cheesecake Dessert by Poor Girl Eats Well
Spiced Eggnog Cheesecake Dessert Shots


Since we're eating our eggnog, over at Real Mom Kitchen, they are whipping up some eggnog french toast with some eggnog syrup?  Want to meet me over there for some breakfast?
Eggnog French Toast with Eggnog Syrup by Real Mom Kitchen
Eggnog French Toast with Eggnog Syrup


Nancy, over at A Recipe A Day came up with a delicious breakfast / snack / tea-time Cranberry Eggnog Streusel Muffins.  It may not be the proper thing to serve at a tea but I'd be happy to see it on the tiered plate.  How about you?
Cranberry Eggnog Streusel muffins by A Recipe A Day
Cranberry Eggnog Streusel Muffins


Oh wow!  Take a look at these Eggnog Marshmallows created by She Knows.  I don't know about you, but I'm a fanatic when it comes to homemade marshmallows.  In fact, one year, DH and I gave homemade marshmallows along with peppermint sticks and hot cocoa mix for holiday gifts.
Gourmet Eggnog Marshmallows by SheKnows
Gourmet Eggnog Marshmallows



Ruthie from What's Cooking with Ruthie shared her Eggnog Cookies over at Remodel Aholic.
Eggnog Cookies by What's Cooking with Ruthie on Remodel Aholic
Eggnog Cookies

What are some of your favorite ways of eating or drinking your eggnog?  Please share your ideas and recipes.




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Substance of Living

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Downton Abbey and Other British Films

Downton Abbey
Source

2013 is "The year of the Snake".  How will this impact our lives?  I don't have an answer and don't really know what that has to do with Downton Abbey or British movies in general.

Then again, I couldn't bring myself to starting with, "DH and I....".

Somehow, each year brings forth a new theme of movies for us in the Substance of Living household.  One year we were all about German movies, then Chinese, Japanese, Mysteries, Comedies and now we are engrossed in British films.

(Here it goes) DH and I started out this last fall watching Alfred Hitchcock Presents from the very beginning.  We are almost through the first season which actually has 39 shows.  Can you remember when a season used to run from around September until May or June?  Then we had the summer off to play before resuming the story.  Or we could catch up with reruns throughout the summer.

We had to take a bit of a break from Sir Hitchcock and found ourselves devouring P.D. James' movies based on her novels of Commander Adam Dalgliesh.  It seems that as soon as we get our teeth into something, we have exhausted the offerings and must move on.  So, we watched State of Mind with Niamh Cusack and Line of Duty.

Now we are watching Downton Abbey.  In fact, we are savoring the last episode in the second season,  Downton Abbey Christmas.  Although the third season has begun it is not yet available here in the United States until PBS releases for our viewing.  What are we going to do?

Here's a little secret; well, not that much of a secret, anyways.  DH and I gave up our long list of cable stations when we moved last summer.  Now we are avid #Netflix and #HuluPlus junkies.  Between the two subscriptions, we are able to watch just about anything we could want.  There are two pluses to dumping our extensive cable bill:
  1. The COST reduction - we went from around $200 a month to less than $25
  2. We can watch our programs when we want, without the additional cost of a DVR
The big question is how we are going to fill our time until season 3 airs?  Well, we do have other addictions such as:
  • #Revenge
  • #Scandal
  • #GCB
  • #Nashville
  • And of course we still have two more seasons of Alfred Hitchcock Presents
Some other fun shows to watch might be The Twilight Zone Series, Mad Men, Best Friends, Don't Trust the B in Apartment 23, and I don't know what else.  What would you recommend?  What is your favorite movie or TV series?

How do you watch your favorite movies and shows?


P.S., This was NOT a paid advertisement by Netflix or HuluPlus.  I have no affiliation with either company other than as a subscriber of their services.

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Substance of Living

Thursday, January 10, 2013

God's Blessings in Disguise

Today's post comes to us via an email received and I hope you enjoy the sweet story as much as I did.
 
A woman was at work when she received a phone call that her small daughter was very sick with a fever.  She left work and stopped by the pharmacy to get some medication.  She got back to her car and found that she had locked her keys in the car.

She didn't know what to do.  She called home and told the baby sitter what had happened.  The baby sitter told her that the fever was getting worse.  She said: "You might find a coat hanger and use that to open the door."

The woman looked around and found an old rusty coat hanger that had been left on the ground, possibly by someone else who at some time had locked their keys in their car.    She looked at the hanger and said: "I don't know how to use this."
She bowed her head and asked God to send her HELP.  Within five minutes a beat up old motorcycle pulled up ridden by a bearded man who was wearing an old biker skull rag on his head.   The woman thought: "This is what you sent to help me?"  However, she was desperate.  She was also very thankful!
The man got off of his cycle and asked if he could help.   She said: "Yes, my daughter is very sick.   stopped to get her some medication and I've locked my keys in my car. I must get home to her.  Please, can you use this hanger to unlock my car?"
He said: "Sure."  He walked over to the car, and in less than a minute the car was opened.    She hugged the man and through her tears she said: "Thank You SO Much!  You are a very nice man."
The man replied: "Lady, I am NOT a nice man.  I just got out of PRISON yesterday.   I was in prison for car theft."
 
The woman hugged the man again and with sobbing tears cried out loud: "Oh, thank you God! You even sent me a Professional!"
Is GOD good or what!!??

Isn't this cute scenario the truth?  Sometimes God answers our prayers in ways that you and I never would have imagined.  His timing and answers are always perfect.

Thank you M. for sending this email and allowing me to share. 

P.S., How has God answered your prayers lately?  Was His answer the one you were looking for or 100 times better?

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Substance of Living

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Welcome to 2013!

Happy New Year!

So much has happened in the past few months that DH and I didn't always know which way was up or in what direction we were going.  Did it feel like that to you as well?

Directional Guide in South Carolina

A quick recap of last year before moving on ...
  • Substance of Living was born out of necessity, sanity, and the longing to reach out and meet new friends.
  • DH and I moved into our dream home and neighborhood.
  • Parties were hosted.
  • Parties were attended.
  • Patio on our back yard was laid.
  • Holidays were enjoyed with family and friends.
We jumped right in and started meeting people next door as well as down the street and throughout our community.  We did this by inviting people into our home and attending activities.  We hosted a blind wine tasting; gathered friends one evening for dinner out, view Christmas lights, then back to our house for coffee and dessert.  We joined groups to go out to dinner; wine tasting; performing arts; themed events; and dances.

What we've (moreover, what I've) learned, and what we had longed to have in other neighborhoods (come to find out, we probably could have) was people want to meet their neighbors and do things as a community.  DH and I vowed that we would be proactive and put ourselves out there and meet people.  Even if that meant leaving an invitation on their front door to come over for an evening to get to know other neighbors.

Wow!

Moving forward and not necessarily making goals, but I'd like to see more of what we did last year become a part of this year.  I'd like to become more active within the community of our neighborhood and county.

This year, I'd like to ...
  • Host at least four parties in my home.
  • Become more active in the performing arts.
  • Plant bushes and flowers around the patio in the back yard.  Any suggestions?
  • Install an efficient lawn sprinkler.
  • Continue bringing you more of the items you've enjoyed the most here at Substance of Living.
  • Strengthen my friendships both face-to-face and across the miles, that includes those of you I've had the enjoyment to meet here.
DH and I wish you the most enjoyable year.  We hope you had a good 2012 and want 2013 to be so much better than you could imagine.

P.S.,  What do you have planned for this year?

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Substance of Living