In a bowl, mix the butter and sugar together for about 2 minutes.
Add egg, peppermint extract and beat well, until light and fluffy.
Sift flour, salt, cocoa powder, baking soda and powder gradually over the wet ingredients, mixing as you go, until well combined.
Add chocolate chips and lightly stir in with a mixing spoon.
Chill the dough in the freezer for 10 minutes while the oven finishes heating.
Form the dough into small balls (heaping 1 Tbsp) and place 1.5 inches apart on an un-greased or parchment-lined baking sheet. Press the tops down and then top with a few more chocolate chips for more flavor.
Bake for about 10 minutes. The edges should start to dry but the tops should still be slightly soft looking.
Set on the cookie sheet for a few minutes more but sprinkle crushed candy cane on right away.
Transfer to a cooling rack to rest until completely cooled.
Store in an airtight container to keep fresh for up to a few days or freeze for several weeks.
1/2 cup unsalted butter
3/4 cup sugar
1 large egg
1/4 tsp natural peppermint extract
1 1/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
1 candy cane, finely crushed
1/3 cup dark, bittersweet or semisweet chocolate chips
First warm days of season are upon us, and with this, it feels good just going outside after long months of cabin fever.
Take a walk around your house, backyard, and garden, and check on everything after the winter season. This is the perfect time to make take care of small maintenance tasks and catch problems before they affect value of your home and turn into expensive fixes.
How much of a house do you need? When you start looking for your place, the first question you need to answer is how many bedrooms and bathrooms do you want or need. The question sounds simply only on the surface. There are few philosophies you can use to help you to the final number.
Now and in the future
One approach is very logical, but requires planning ahead. Consider how many years you plan to stay in the house? Will your kids still live at home at that time? Will you have more children? Can siblings share a room? Will you parents would want to move in, to help take care of the kids – or be taken care of? This should give you a good idea how many bedrooms do you need. Add a guest bedroom or an office if you plan to work from home or host relatives dropping by with a visit.
Each one their own
Another approach asks you to do simple math. Count a room per person you expect to live in the house, and add one bedroom for guests. This risks too many spaces (it counts for example two bedrooms for a couple) and paying to heat and light unused space – it will also add to your property tax. However, it will come handy if the house you select will not have a dedicated space for a home office, typically located off the main entrance – or a non-conforming bedroom to be turned into an office. A non-conforming bedroom is a room without a closet and window or with window that is higher than 4 feet high above the floor.
The third one considers resale value, and essentially suggests to get a so called “cookie-cutter” house of 3 bedrooms and 2.5 bathrooms. Those houses are also easier to rent if you decide to turn it into source of income in the future. Above 4 bedrooms, it’s considered luxury home, which might be harder to sell in the future.
A bit about bathrooms
That is a whole topic by itself. It all boils down to personal preference, where you want to have bathrooms, and how many you think your family lifestyle will require. If you entertain often, half bathroom by the living room is extremely useful. It provides privacy for the rest of the house and is convenient for the whole family.
At least one bathroom per livable level is a must. At the same time, if a level contains only family or living room-kitchen area, half bath will do. Beyond that, the decision is really down to your personal preference. It becomes popular for each bedroom to have its own bathroom. Sometimes you have cute Jack-and-Jill bathrooms for adjoining bedroom, very practical solution. Again, typical house will have 2.5 bath, and for most families, it should be perfect.
Next, the number of rooms itself does not determine the size of the house. The rooms can be bigger, a good idea if you want siblings of similar age share the room. If the bedrooms are smaller, each kid can have its own space without adding too much to the whole house.
Make a decision based on what you think appropriate number of rooms will serve you best – and than consider the square footage you can actually afford. For affordability, use the rule of thumb for value of the house to be at 3 time your annual household income. Depending on the average prices of square footage in the area you are moving to (check our Community pages for prices around Madison, WI), you should be able to quickly calculate what you can afford. With that, give us a call or send us an email (click here for contact information), we can take it from here!
First warm days of season are upon us, and with this, it feels good just going outside after long months of cabin fever (particularly if you live up North). It is a good time to take a walk around your house, backyard, and garden, and check on everything after the winter season. Even if you live in an apartment, there are things you can do, so please continue reading our tips collected from around the Internet.
On your balcony or deck
Clean patio furniture. Soapy water and soft brush or sponge will do the trick for most types of materials.
Wash the pillows and outdoor rugs. Check the manufacturer’s instruction if fabrics can be washed in the washing machine.
Give your grill thorough scrub. Long-handled stiff-wire brush works on all types of grates.
Refill propane tank for grill to be ready for first grilling of the season (we already started ours!)
Check the deck surface: does it need any repairs? Maybe fresh coat of paint is in order this year?
Consider planting containers with ornamental plants, maybe even vegetables or herbs. Particularly if you do not have a big yard or live in condo, few containers will add life to your outdoor space.
Around the outside of your house
Wash your windows, from outside and inside. You will see so much more light coming in. My recently discovered quick tip – glass cleaner and squeegee.
Replace any used exterior light bulbs, on house walls, in the walkways, on the deck.
Check and clean gutters and spouts, make repairs if needed.
Hose down or power wash home exterior.
Check your roof for any obvious problems.
Check your fence if you have one: does it need any repairs? Is it in need of fresh coat of paint?
Lawn and backyard
Clean your lawn: brush back all remaining fall leaves and remove fallen branches. Pick up litter and any pet waste.
Identify bold spots in your lawn. Mix seeds with fresh soil and fertilizer and seed fresh grass. Remember to keep it moist until it starts growing!
Prune all shrubs and trees – it will encourage new growth
Check water hoses for cracks and leaks. Make any needed repairs – or buy new parts.
In the garden (or container garden)
Remove winter layer of mulch if you had any placed to cover plants from freezing
Add new layer of mulch around trees and shrubs
Cut majority of stalks of ornamental grasses to have them come back fresh
Pull any dead annuals. Consider replacing them new ones?
Remove dead growth of perennials, they will come back fresh and strong.
Take an inventory of plants you already have – and start planing what you want to add when time comes. Make shopping list of seeds or plants.
Build new vegetable beds if you need more/new ones. They will be ready when you need them!
Now it is also good time to seed cold-loving vegetables, for example salad greens or radishes. You will be able to enjoy them in no time.