Mindy Obenhaus
Renovating the Big House Part One – Out with the Old
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A couple of weeks ago I shared about our recent move from the suburbs of Dallas-Ft. Worth to our family ranch in south central Texas. Now that we’re officially transplanted, it’s time for phase two of the Obi’s big move to commence.

Renovating the big house.

Now I completely understand why Chip Gaines gets so excited about demo day.It’s gratifying in so many ways.

One swing of the sledgehammer and you know you’re on your way to bigger and better things.From the moment the thought entered our minds to renovate my in-laws’ house instead of building new, there were certain things my husband and I couldn’t wait to see gone. Such as this brick wall that not only kept things darker inside the house, it also blocked our view of the beautiful countryside.

When my in-laws  built the house in 1975, they wanted a Mexican-style hacienda, so the wall was there to create a courtyard that was once beautifully and lovingly landscaped by my mother-in-law.

But the lush foliage is long gone and we want an open Texas-style ranch house. So, where there once was a rather drab brick wall…  It’s now open and inviting. Best of all, we can watch the cattle and deer as they wander by.Next on our list of must-go’s was the 70’s era kitchen with it’s dark cabinets, dropped ceilings and orange countertops. We also wanted to remove the wall between the kitchen and dining room and vault the ceiling in the kitchen to match the den for one big open space.So with the help of our contractor and his crew…

Wow! These two rooms have been transformed already and we’ve barely gotten started. The third thing we wanted gone were the arches in the living room.While they may have worked in the Mexican-style hacienda, they aren’t quite right for a Texas ranch house. Besides, they, too, were blocking part of our view.

Now the space is wide open, save for the much-small support columns. And would you look at that view.The last and probably number one thing, next to the kitchen, that we couldn’t wait to change was the master bathroom. The already small space had been broken into two smaller rooms, so our goal was to open everything up and start fresh.

When we did, we discovered the backside of the fireplace. Just look at the perfectly good brick that’s been covered all these years. Okay, so it’s not that good looking and it doesn’t all match, but we can still paint it and add some great texture to the space. Not to mention removing the wall bought us an extra ten inches of space. That’s a snapshot of what’s happened so far. Flooring is still being removedAnd the sheetrock continues to come down.

But it’s all a part of the process.

Now it’s your turn. Have you ever tackled your own renovation/remodel? Or do you prefer to sit back and watch shows like Fixer Upper on TV? If you were going to redo one room in your home, what would it be?


A Gift for You – My Favorite Holiday Recipe
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Christmas is almost here. The tree is decorated, the presents are wrapped and cookies have been baked. I can hardly believe how this year has flown by.

This has been a busy writing year and I am happy to announce that Their Ranch Reunion, the first in my new series entitled Rocky Mountain Heroes will be out in August 2017, with the second yet-to-be-titled book releasing in December.

But as we approach this most blessed time of year, I wanted to take a moment to wish all of you the merriest of Christmases and give a you a very special gift. One of my all-time favorite holiday recipes that everyone around you can share in.

holiday-scentChristmas scent is so easy. Even if you rarely set foot in your kitchen, you can have your entire house smelling like the holidays.

Christmas scent consists of :

3 (4 inch) cinnamon sticks

3 bay leaves

1/4 cup whole cloves

half of a lemon

half of an orange

1 quart of water

Bring all ingredients to a boil; reduce heat and simmer as long as you like, adding more water as necessary. People will think you’ve been cooking up a storm. 🙂

MERRY CHRISTMAS!


How Does Your Garden Grow?
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I’m not much of a gardener. My thumb is definitely not green. Yet every spring, I get the urge to plant something. I mean, who can resist all those pretty flowers at the garden center. Not to mention the promise of veggies planted with care.

Over time, though, I have learned my limits. Flowers in the front yard are relatively easy. The sprinkler waters them and a hefty layer of mulch tends to keep the weeds away. And while I’m enamored with annuals, I also plant a lot of perennials that will bloom at different times of the year.flower bed

In the backyard, we tend to stick to container gardening. My husband loves hibiscus.Hibiscus

But I like herbs. Especially basil. basil(Confession time. This is my second round of basil this year. The first round died over spring break because no one was home to water them. Silly me, expecting it to rain in March. 🙂 )

Most herbs are relatively easy to grow. That is, assuming you actually  remember to water them. I always plant basil because I like to cook with it and caprese salad is a summer favorite. I also use it to make pesto, which I can freeze and use any time of year.

Now it’s your turn. I want to hear about your garden. Are you gardener extraordinaire? Does the thought of working the earth and growing your own food thrill you to no end? Or are you convinced you have a black thumb and that any plant you touch will die?


Round Top Antiques Fair Wrap-Up – Spring 2015
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Road to Round Top

Yes, it’s antiquing and junking time in Texas. Well, it was anyway. But if you missed it, don’t worry. Come late September/early October, we’ll be at it again.

In case you’re wondering, I’m talking about the biannual event that takes place in and around the tiny town of Round Top, Texas, population 90. People come from all across America–evidenced by the Saturday morning line of traffic above–to buy and sell wares during the week-and-a-half-long event.

My oldest daughter and I decided to make a long weekend of it, so on our way, we stopped at Magnolia in Waco, Texas. If you’re a fan of the HGTV show Fixer Upper, you know the place I’m talking about.MagnoliaThis place is awesome. And kind of crowded. Seems we’re not the only ones who love that show. Good thing Chip and Joanna Gaines will soon be moving to a larger location.

Finally, we made it to the main event.

Technically, we spent most of our time in Warrenton as opposed to Round Top. You see, this is ranching land. Which means there are lots of fields broken up by these little hamlets you’d likely miss the rest of year. Miles of fields are transformed into mega malls for treasure hunters.Vendor Tents at BridgeVendor Tents3Vendor Rows

You never know what you might find.

Need a grand centerpiece for a table?

Need a grand centerpiece for a table?

Or a unique chandelier?

Or a unique chandelier?

Antique furniture.

Some antique furniture, perhaps?

Maybe wall art is your thing.

Maybe wall art is your thing.

Or simply inspiration.

Whatever the case, you just–Display2Keep…Display4Looking.Zapp Hall2

You might even find some things you didn’t even know you needed.Blinged Out Hunting Trophy Jar of Wasp Nests

But that down-home hospitality will bring you back again and again. Round Top Street4Lawmen on HorsebackAre you into antiques or junking? Perhaps you like crafting or DIY projects and are always on the lookout for inspiration. Then antiques weekend in the place for you. You can learn more about Texas Antiques Weekend at http://www.antiqueweekend.com/indexmain.html.


Loaded Baked Potato Soup
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I know, last week I posted how to make homemade bread and now I’m sharing another recipe. Don’t worry, this is not turning into a cooking blog. But after posting a picture of this dish on Facebook earlier this week, I had a request for the recipe, so here it is.

This soup is definitely a crowd pleaser. It’s warm and hearty, not to mention delicious. Perfect for a cold winter’s day.

Here’s what you’ll need:5

  • 4 large baking potatoes
  • 2/3 cup butter
  • 2/3 cup all purpose flour
  • 6 cups milk
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 1 generous cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 10 bacon slices, cooked and chopped
  • 4 green onions, chopped
  • 1 – 8 oz. carton sour cream

 

1 We’ll start with the star of this dish, the potatoes. Gently scrub them, then prick several times with a fork and bake at 400 degrees for 40-60 minutes or until yielding when lightly squeezed.

When done, set aside and allow to cool.

**Here’s a tip: If you have leftover baked potatoes, this is the perfect way to use them up. Best of all, they’re already baked.

Now on with the show.

Melt butter in a Dutch oven over low heat. Once completely melted, add flour and stir until smooth.6Using a whisk will ensure there are no lumps.

Cook butter/flour mixture for one minute, stirring constantly, then gradually add your milk.7 Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until thickened and bubbly, 5-10 minutes.9Stir in potato, salt and pepper, cheese, bacon and 2 tablespoons green onions.11Cook over medium-low heat until heated through. Stir in sour cream and cook just until heated. Do not boil.12Sprinkle servings with additional cheese, bacon and green onions, if desired.13Yum! Just look at those chunks of potato.

Pretty easy, huh? Sure, it takes a little time, but the results are worth it. Bake your potatoes ahead of time, though, and you’re half way there. Cook your bacon in advance, and you’re even closer. By the way, I recommend using real, home-cooked bacon for this recipe. Jarred/bagged bacon bits simply aren’t the same.

Winter’s not over yet. But this soup might just make you wish it would stay a little longer.