- Our 15-year basement waterproofing warranty
- Our 10-year structural warranty
- Our 5-year workmanship/craftsmanship warranty
- Organize stuff. Always a “go-to” project at this time of year, organizing is a great way to kick off the new year. Whether you clean out closets, sort through books, or finally categorize your printed or digital photos, pulling order from chaos will make you feel amazing.
- Put up picture shelves. Now that you’ve sorted the photos, you can frame the ones you want to hang. No gallery wall? No problem! Get the look of a picture wall without the headache of figuring out how to hang all those frames by putting up long horizontal shelves. You’ll be able to use different size frames and switch them around without having to drive nails into the walls!
- Paint the bathroom or powder room. Whether you’re tired of white or have been waffling on a color switch, just go ahead and paint. It’s a small room and if you don’t like it, you can re-paint. While you’re at it, replace the cabinet hardware for a quick facelift.
- Install a kitchen backsplash. There are so many options – colors, styles, sizes, materials – you can really make a dramatic transformation. Choose something that reflects your taste but isn’t too trendy. You want to like it – and not have it to look outdated – for years to come.
- Insulate the attic – or basement or crawlspace. Not an especially fun project, but it doesn’t take long. And it has immediate, long-lasting, and money-saving results.
Cherry, Almond and Herb Salad (Food Network, Aida Mollencamp)
INGREDIENTS 1/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted 1/4 cup roughly chopped fresh mint leaves 2 tablespoons roughly chopped fresh cilantro leaves 5 ounces washed and dried lamb’s lettuce, stemmed
2 tablespoons olive oil 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt 1/4 teaspoon black pepper 1/4 cup dried tart cherries
DIRECTIONS In a small skillet, toast the sliced almonds until just browned; set aside. Combine the herbs and lettuce in a bowl and toss to combine; set aside. In a separate bowl, whisk together oil and vinegar and season well with salt and pepper. Drizzle dressing over salad and toss to coat. Taste, adjust seasoning as needed. Top with the cherries and almonds and serve immediately.2.) Break out the slow cooker. From chili to brisket, you can double whatever recipe you’re making to feed a crowd or to have another meal ready and waiting in the freezer for the following week.
Pulled Pork in the Slow Cooker
Makes 16 servings (about 4 pounds of cooked meat)
2 tablespoons kosher salt, preferably smoked 2 tablespoons packed dark brown sugar 2 tablespoons paprika 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper 1 tablespoon chili powder 1 tablespoon smoked paprika 2 teaspoons dry mustard 2 teaspoons garlic powder (no salt) 2 teaspoons onion powder (no salt) 1 teaspoon cornstarch 1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper 1/2 teaspoon celery seed 1 pork shoulder or pork butt (7 to 8 lbs with bone, 6 to 7 lbs if boneless) 2 medium onions, quartered 1 1/2 cups cane-sweetened cola (not diet) 1 cup apple cider vinegar 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
DIRECTIONS Heat the oven: Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat to 500°F. (Use convection if you have it.) Fit a wire rack inside a rimmed baking sheet lined with aluminum foil.
Make the rub: Place the salt, brown sugar, paprika, black pepper, chili powder, smoked paprika, dry mustard, garlic powder, onion powder, cornstarch, cayenne, and celery seed in a small bowl and mix to combine.
Roast the pork: Pat the pork dry with paper towels. Evenly coat the meat with rub. Reserve the remaining rub. Place the meat on the wire rack fat-side up if possible. Roast until the meat is sizzling with a bit of char on the edges, about 10 minutes, but don’t let the spices burn and turn acrid.
Prep the slow cooker: Meanwhile, place the onions in a 6-quart or larger slow cooker. Sprinkle with the reserved rub. Pour in the cola, vinegar, and Worcestershire.
Add the meat: Carefully transfer the meat to the slow cooker. (Try stabbing a fork into each end to use as handles.) Cover and cook on LOW until the meat is soft enough to pull apart with a spoon, 14 to 16 hours.
Shred the meat: Transfer the meat to a large bowl and let stand until cool enough to handle. Pull the meat apart into large chunks or shred with a fork, discarding any bone, connective tissue, and large clumps of fat.
Strain the liquid: Pour the cooking liquid through a fine-mesh strainer set over a medium bowl and discard the solids. If you are serving immediately, spoon off as much fat as possible from the surface. For best results, refrigerate until the fat solidifies and collects on top, then scrape off and discard the fat (keep the meat covered and refrigerated during this time).
Moisten the meat: Toss the meat with enough defatted cooking liquid to moisten. Serve the meat warm, or let cool, cover, and refrigerate to use in other recipes.
Make ahead: The spice rub can be made ahead and stored in an airtight container at room temperature for a few months.
Storage: Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days or frozen for up to 3 months.3.) And of course, there must be dessert! The holidays call for decadent confections of all kinds. Here’s one of our favorites!
Festive Red Velvet Cake
Makes: 12 to 16 servings
Prep 50 mins
2-layer size package German chocolate cake mix 8 ounce container dairy sour cream 3/4 cup water 1/3 cup cooking oil 3 eggs Red food coloring (2 tablespoons) White Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting (recipe follows) 1 1/2 cups coconut shards, purchased coconut chips or flaked coconut, toasted Sugared cranberries (optional)
DIRECTIONS Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour two 9×1-1/2-inch round cake pans or two 8x8x2-inch square baking pans or coat with nonstick spray for baking; set aside.
In a large bowl, beat cake mix, sour cream, water, oil, eggs, and food coloring with an electric mixer on low speed for 30 seconds. Scrape down sides of bowl. Beat mixture on medium speed for beat 2 minutes more, scraping down the sides again if needed. Spread batter evenly into prepared pans.
Bake cakes for 25 to 30 minutes for 9-inch pans or 30 to 35 minutes for square pans or until a toothpick inserted near centers comes out clean. Cool cakes in pans on wire racks for 10 minutes. Remove cakes from pans. Cool thoroughly on wire racks.
Spread White Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting between layers and over sides and top of cake. Sprinkle with toasted coconut. Cover and chill cake to store. If you like, garnish with sugared cranberries. Makes 12 to 16 servings.
White Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting
4 ounces white baking chocolate 1/3 cup butter, softened 1/2 8 – ounce package cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla 1 tablespoon milk 4 cups powdered sugar
In a small saucepan, melt white baking chocolate over low heat, stirring frequently; cool 10 minutes. Meanwhile, in a very large mixing bowl, beat butter, softened; cream cheese, softened; and vanilla with an electric mixer on medium speed for 30 seconds or until smooth. Gradually beat in 2 cups powdered sugar. Beat in 1 tablespoon milk. Gradually beat in an additional 2 cups powdered sugar. Beat in melted white chocolate until well combined. If needed, beat in additional milk, 1 teaspoon at a time, to make frosting spreading consistency. Makes about 2-2/3 cups.4.) Don’t forget the kiddies!
Quick kid-friendly “gingerbread” houses
1 box of graham crackers
3 egg whites, room temperature
4 cups of powdered sugar
1/2 tsp. of cream of tartar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Assorted candies for decorating
- Start with a stiff cardboard base covered with aluminum foil for your “lot.”
- Out of the graham crackers, cut two long pieces and two short pieces, each with points on the end.
- Make “glue” (royal icing) by beating egg whites, sugar, cream of tartar, and vanilla for 7-10 minutes, or until very stiff.
- Glue two whole graham crackers on top for roof after gluing the four pieces above together to form base of the house.
- Use glue to attach gumdrops, peppermint drops, chocolate sandwich cookies, M&Ms, etc.
- For a shingled roof, add rows of vanilla wafers or dried banana chips.
- Make a front porch with additional graham crackers and candy canes as posts.
- Licorice works well for trim, and you can add a dusting of snow with coconut.
- Figure out what size of home will best suit your family.
Sprawling estate home or cozy two-bedroom bungalow? Choosing a floor plan should start with how large a home you need to fit your lifestyle. How many bedrooms and bathrooms are enough for you and visiting guests?
- Choose a floor plan based on your design style.
Everyone family has their own style and choosing a floor plan that meets your needs is essential. Are you more traditional and prefer a compartmentalized floor plan where walls separate rooms or do you have a more modern style where an open floor plan concept would suit your needs better?
- Know your home styles.
At David James, we offer 5 home styles – ranch, cape cod, bi-level, split-level and 2-story. We also offer Craftsman style exteriors that can be incorporated into any of these 5 home styles. Each style has its pros and cons.
Ranch-style homes typically have a long, low profile and large windows. These simple, rectangular homes usually feature one-level living, so they are considered excellent age-in-place designs. Ranch homes will work on any type of lot, but a down-sloping lot gives the advantage of having a “daylight basement”. Cape Cod homes have great visual appeal, with high roof lines and attractive dormers. They are usually designed with one or more bedrooms on the first floor, with possible additional bedrooms on the second floor. Capes are best suited to level or down-sloping lots.
Bi-level homes are popular because they offer plenty of space for expansion in the future. The finished area in the lower level is much more comfortable than typical finished basements because it has full windows just like upstairs. The foundation walls are half concrete and half framed, making it easier to finish. Bi-levels are well-suited to a level or up-sloping lot.
Split-level homes give the advantage of traditional 2-story living with fewer steps to the upper level. Like the bi-levels, they offer room for expansion in the lower level with full windows. Split-levels work well on a level lot, or one that slopes from side to side.
2-story homes have the lowest price per square foot. To take advantage of the lower square foot price, we have 2-story homes with first floor masters that give the convenience of single level living, with the economy of a 2-story. Two story homes are suited to any type lot.
- Trust your instincts on what “feels” right when choosing a floor plan
All of us know when a space feels comfortable. Take these instincts into consideration when looking at different floor plans. A family with small children may love that the master bedroom is up with the other bedrooms. On the other hand, a family with teenagers might prefer for the master bedroom to be separated from the other bedrooms by public spaces instead.
- Be honest about your needs and lifestyle. Lifestyles and family needs differ depending on what stage of life you are in. Features that young couples look for in a home are vastly different from the characteristics that a retired couple might find important. Before choosing a house design, ask yourself… Are you newly married? Do you have plans to start a family? How many children do you plan to have? Is there room in your plan for expansion as your family grows? Will you need guest rooms for overnight guests? What about additional living space in the future to possibly care for elderly parents or grandchildren? How do you plan to entertain? Do you want a formal dining room and traditional living room, or do you prefer small, relaxed get-togethers?
- Don’t forget “work space” considerations. Where would you prefer the laundry room to be located – downstairs or upstairs? Do you have any hobbies or special interests that might require special rooms to enjoy them? Do you enjoy gardening? You may want to include a mudroom or utility room for easy cleanup. Are you a “pack-rat” who needs lots of attic or storage space to store your treasures?
- Before you purchase your lot, make sure it’s large enough for the house that you want to build. Check with the local building department prior to purchase to determine what restrictions might be in place for the lot. There may be code restrictions limiting the precise location upon which the actual house can be built. And if your chosen house plan necessitates a particular side or location for a driveway or garage, you need to determine how much space you will need for clearance and turn space and allow for adequate distance on one of the sides.
- Take a hard look at your budget. Take stock of your finances: net worth, income, expenses, investments, and debt before you meet with your builder. Determine how much you can afford to spend based on the down payment you have saved, and the monthly payment (based on current interest rates). If you are not a 100% comfortable with an amount that will allow you to build your dream home, then find ways to cut your budget, lower your debt, etc.
- Visit other homes. You think you know what you want your dream home to be, but do you really? Drive around and visit other homes. Take pictures, make notes about what you like about them, what you don’t like, and how you feel about the construction. Deciding to change things halfway through is the single most expensive mistake most people make.
- Think long-term. Do you have children? Do you have aging parents? If so, you’ll need to think about accommodating family members in different scenarios, such as returning college students, visiting grandchildren and/or grandparents, caring for elderly parents. Will you be working from home? You’ll need an office. Are you less likely to drive to the gym in bad weather? Plan for a fitness room. Flexible spaces are a good long-term solution for our ever-changing lives.
- Prioritize. Once you brainstorm your “wish list”, start prioritizing. Custom home design can easily exceed a budget if you let things run amok. With so many amenities to choose from, it’s important to prioritize the most important items on the list.
- Know what you want. Start looking through design magazines and websites to get inspiration. You will not only be picking your appliances, but designing the cabinetry around them. You’ll have to choose the trim, the paint colors, the floors, even the doorknobs. Do you have a style you like? Are there definitely things you don’t like? If you have some ideas when you come in for your concept and design meetings, the process may be less overwhelming.
- Embrace the opportunity. It’s a rare thing to be able to design something that is truly the only one of its kind. A custom home is a personal, special opportunity. It’s built from scratch just for your family. Make sure you work in some unique elements or features that are distinctively yours. At David James, we will build whatever you want.
- Have a game plan.
- Invite early.
- Be organized.
- Plan your menu sooner rather than later.
- Spruce up guest rooms and public spaces.
- Cook in advance.
- Make sure the house is well-lit – inside and out.
- Set the table(s) in advance.
- Offer snacks before dinner.
- Keep the kids busy.
- Store mowers and prep snow removers.
- Store summer tools and prep winter ones.
- Put away patio tables and chairs, grills, and kids’ toys.
- Damaged walkways, driveways or steps can be dangerous in icy weather. Fixing crumbling asphalt or cracked cement now can prevent expensive headaches later.
- Check for window and roof leaks. Seal gaps and cracks around windows and doors with weather-stripping and caulk. Repair any damaged roof shingles.
- Cut trees and shrubs away from your home, especially if snowfall might cause them to bend and rub against the house.
- Clean the gutters. This is crucial for surviving freezing and thawing cycles.
- Remove garden hose from all outside faucets. If not removed, water will lay and freeze.
- Turn off outside faucet and sprinklers. Close shut-off valves, then open the outside faucet to drain the line.
- Have the furnace inspected by a professional. Replace all filters.
- Get the chimney cleaned. Make sure all fireplaces or wood stoves are thoroughly inspected.
- Get an emergency kit ready. Include items you may need in the event of an emergency: water, flash lights and batteries, first aid kit, whistles to signal for help, basic tools, manual can opener, small supply of food, radio, candles, lighter, blankets and rope.