Sunday, December 8, 2013

Christmas In The City

Living and working in the suburbs of Chicago can make the city seem like it's a million miles away. On a clear traffic day I'm only about 25 minutes from downtown Chicago.   If there is traffic well, then we're talking an hours drive and it's not pretty.  I've got two major expressways that can get me into the city and on any given day they can be backed up for miles for really no apparent reason, just too many people going in the same direction.

Now that my daughter moved to the Wrigleyville area I find myself spending more time downtown.  I'm either down there watching her play a rugby game for school or dropping her off after a visit home. 

Yesterday we decided that we wanted to visit Lincoln Park Zoo because they set up a holiday lights display.  My friend also wanted to head down to the Loop because she wanted to check out the grand opening of a new gourmet shop Eataly Chicago.  My friend is 100% Italian and loves specialty Italian shops.  She's a fantastic cook and gourmet shops like this place are like a trip to Disney for her. 

We decided to combine our trips.  Head over to Eataly first and then head to the zoo and wait for the lights to come on. 

Eataly was amazing but was so crowded it was nearly impossible to get through the place.  From the minute we stepped through the winding doors we slammed into a sea of people.  It was probably because they had only opened this past Monday and probably because it's the holiday time and a Saturday.  A perfect storm for a not so great shopping experience.  My daughter and I found the brewery right away and I tasted a glass of sour beer made with Raspberries.  HOLY COW it was disgusting but the bar area was fantastic and you could order food there and hang out.  We moved on to the wine bar right away and ordered our wine so we could walk around with it.  Now that was some good shopping, walking around with a wine glass while checking out the meats and cheeses of Italy.  We didn't buy a thing except for our wine and then some amazing desserts on the way out.  My friend bought a few things to take home to surprise her father.   I live near several specialty stores and the taxes are much lower in my county then in Cook County where Chicago is.  So, being the cheapskate I am I would rather wait and buy it in my own area because honestly most of the stuff there may be unique but I'm not that much of a foodie to notice the difference.  We plan on going again when the weather warms up and the crowds die down.

My daughter hanging out with her wine.  Behind her is the beer brewery area.

My friend with her Moscato D'Asti sparkling wine. This wine was amazing. 

A quick shot of us enjoying our pastries.  I think I died and went to chocolate Heaven with my chocolate covered sponge cake with apricot filling.  I just love chocolate and apricot together.

Just a random shot of the place in the front.  The down escalator was broken so it was a little rough in that area.  I can't wait to get back and check it out again.  I saw someone sitting in one of the restaurants eating oysters on the half shell.  Yum! 
Our next stop was Lincoln Park Zoo.  We got there fairly early and decided to wander around waiting for the lights.  Oh my was it cold alongside the lakefront.  I was layered up with clothes so I didn't feel it too bad but my daughter and friend forgot their gloves.  We went and visited a few animal exhibits and then headed over to the café.  Man, the zoo has certainly changed from when I took my children.  They have a nice food court and even serve beer and warm spiced wine!  I passed but we did get some hot chocolate and some Nachos.  Which is really funny considering we came from a gourmet eatery and end up eating Nachos at the zoo. 
When the lights finally came on we went outside and my daughter was so excited. She said "Wow, I'm really glad we came now!"  She was starting to fade inside and was thinking it would be lame.  At 23 years old it's hard to be impressed with a bunch of Christmas lights, but the Zoo didn't disappoint.

And today it's freezing cold and snowing and the roads are scary.  I'm not looking forward to my morning commute to work. I am thankful that it's only a ten minute drive away.  I love Christmas in Chicago but at times like this when the weather is dangerous I'd love to be living in a warm place.   
Until next time,

Christmas Decorating Begins

Last year I fell in love with the ice skate door décor I saw on line.  I fell in love with it AFTER the Christmas season but I knew I wanted it for my door this year. 

Earlier this year my daughter and I were in an antique store in LaGrange, IL and we found a pair of ice skates for $11.  I was pretty excited because they were small and the price wasn't too bad. They laid around my bedroom closet all year until a few weeks ago when I ran out and bought some greenery and a couple sparkly picks at Hobby Lobby for 50% off.  I glittered the skates and added a fresh green swag behind it.  I love it and probably spend over all less than $20 to make my door decoration. forward to a couple of weekends ago and the thrift stores are filled with ice skates priced around $3 to $5.  So, I over paid a little for those old skates but I'm ok with it because I do love the way they turned out. 

I recently picked up a little dollar store village house.  They're so poorly painted you just have to change them up.  Yes, they are only a dollar and I don't expect good quality.  It brings to light the fact that someone in another country is sitting in some factory or some warehouse and is just slapping paint on a bunch of little houses for pennies on the dollar all day, every day so we can buy it for $1.  Makes me much more thankful for my own job in a warm comfy office with a stocked coffee room, right!?  Phew, how did I get that deep over a little Christmas Village house?! 
Anyway, I picked up the little house, painted it white and glittered it with some pink glitter.  It came out cute and I paired it with a couple of little white bottle brush trees. 
I also purchased a white Nativity set from Ebay last year with the full intention of glittering it up.  I wanted a white Nativity set. I glittered it only lightly because I wanted it to look magical but not glitzy.  I do think it needs a cloche to cover it so I'll be on the look out for one at the after Christmas sales or when I have a really good discount coupon available. 

The completed white area of the living room.  I added a couple of decorated hurricanes for height.  I've got some additional ideas for next year for my glittery white area. 
Until next time,

Sunday, November 17, 2013

November Storms

Today was a dangerous storm day here in Chicagoland.  So bad that they even had to suspend the Bears game for around a hour and a half.  I watched the skies grow dark and the clouds roll in and then the hail and rain.  We've had much heavier storms blow through in the past so it really wasn't that bad however the sad end to the storm was that a tornado touched down in a small town about a hour or so away and some people lost their lives and many lost their homes.  What a tough time to go through such a tragedy, just before the holidays.  In one way it would make me thankful for getting out alive but on the other hand I'd question why it happened in the first place.  Strange thing about life, in one part of the state people are moaning and groaning because the football game was on hold (which is what was going on in our house) and just an hours drive away people are facing the reality of having no home to sleep in.  I pray that God will bless all of these people and help them rebuild their lives.

A friend stopped by to watch the game and my son wanted chicken pot pies for dinner.  I obliged with two very tasty pies.  An extremely easy recipe too.

Chicken Pot Pie
This recipe should make two pot pies
1 whole chicken
1 can cream of potato soup
1 can cream of celery soup
1 onion cut in half
2 or 3 garlic cloves
2 celery stalks
2 or 3 TBS butter
1 bag frozen peas and carrots
1 tsp sage
1 tsp thyme
salt and pepper
few drops Red Hot Sauce (optional and to taste) 
2 ready made frozen deep dish pie crusts
Clean chicken thoroughly and place in a pot with 1/2 the onion cut in chunks and garlic cloves.  Simmer the chicken in the boiling water until done.  Remove from the water and set aside.*  Discard the onion and garlic.  This step can also be done the night before.  (I have also used the pre-roasted chickens from the grocery store to save time.)
Chop up the other half of the onion and slice the celery. Melt the butter in a skillet and sauté the onion and celery until soft.
Mix the cut up chicken with the two cans of soup.  Add the seasonings, the salt and pepper and hot sauce.  Mix in the celery, onion and peas and carrots. 
Put the chicken mixture in the pie shells. Remove the crimped edges from the second pie crust and place on top of the bottom filled crust.  It should collapse onto the bottom crust as it defrosts.  (you should also see these instructions on the packaging). Crimp the edges together. 
Bake in a preheated 375 degree oven for about 45 minutes or until the crust is a golden brown color. 
* You can reserve the water after you take out the chicken and use for soup.  Or freeze in ice cube trays and keep for when a recipe calls for chicken broth. 

Monday, November 11, 2013

Simple Change equals a simple impact

It's funny how a simple change doesn't have to make a big impact to be good.  Sure sometimes a little change can make a big impact but that seems to me to be rare.  Even a simple color change in a room can be a big time investment so a subtle change like a window blind in a bathroom can be just enough.

After I painted my bathroom window on this post  I ran out to get the bamboo window blind I wanted.  I picked up a cheap one to start with because I wasn't sure if I'd like it.  I ran to Menards because they had blinds for $15.  Turns out I'm very happy and I'll be upgrading to a more custom look after the holidays when I have extra cash to spend on the house. 

So far everyone at Saylor Street has given me the thumbs up which is a good thing because they're all quite critical about my decorating choices.  The most critical is my son of all people.  He likes home improvement and he has an eye for color and texture.  I am sure that when he gets his own home it's going to beautiful but I feel sorry for the woman he marries.  Some men don't worry about the décor of a home but my son will probably want to be a part of every choice.  It's nice though because as he has gotten older I do value his opinion except when I don't agree, then I pull the MOM card, lol.  You know "it's my house, I pay the mortgage, I can paint the room whatever color I want." 

Anyway he approved of the blind and I'm quite happy too.  However, I think I want a valance for the top.  Again, not going expensive just in case I don't like it.

Yesterday I read the story about what Martha Stewart said about bloggers.  She made a comment about how some bloggers don't test the recipes in test kitchens and may even be copying recipes that the magazine test kitchens published.  I find that a load of bunk and it got me thinking.  Those test kitchen recipes that are published in magazines are usually just reworked recipes from other people right? I mean really, where do recipes come from in the first place?  There are billions of cookbooks out there and they can't all be unique recipes.  How many ways can you alter a chocolate chip cookie recipe?  Or even a sugar cookie recipe?  Some people have been making the recipes for so many generations that the original could have come from a magazine or a book.  How do we know where they came from and if they are even any good until we make them ourselves?   It's like when I watch the cooking shows, how do we know they really taste good?  If we make them ourselves and they don't turn out is it because we're bad cooks or is it because they didn't taste good in the first place?  All I know is that Martha is wrong.  I'd much rather make a recipe I found on a blog than from a magazine.  Usually if I find it on a blog I never have a problem with how the recipe turns out.
On Saturday I had a special treat because my daughter came home for the weekend and we did our Saturday morning scavenger shopping trip.  We stopped at a little consignment shop in town and I picked up an adorable Christmas decoration.  It's a little wooden gift tag that the person decoupaged a print of a post card on to.  I can't wait to hang it for Christmas.  Then we went to the Goodwill but didn't find anything that caught our attention.   I'm just happy with my little wooden gift tag.
My son came home from a three day hunting trip.  I am happy to report that no deer were harmed in this trip even though he and his buddies were sure they'd be bringing one home.  I am okay with him hunting for food and not for sport.  We will be graced with some duck sausage in a couple of weeks.  Just in time for Thanksgiving. 
Until next time,

Thursday, November 7, 2013

A painted window

Well, I don't have the pictures to show it but I painted my bathroom window.  Actually Mr. Saylor said he would paint it.  I thought that was pretty nice of him because my son wanted me to go to the pet store with him. 

Unfortunately I over estimated Mr. Saylor's painting abilities or shall I call it what it really is?  His usual half-assed home improvement habits.  After 23 years of marriage you'd think I'd have learned never to let him do home decorating. He is not a perfectionist but he's perfect at doing things the easy way, you know the "it's good enough" mentality.  So, I came home from the pet store and he was painting the window, but he didn't even tape over the glass.  The best part is he didn't even remove the little clips for the window blinds.  So, I made him take off the clips, then I taped the glass and I finished painting. 

I made him do the clean up!

One chore checked off the list.  Next up a new window blind.  I want an inexpensive bamboo window blind. 

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Thanksgiving To Do list

I've got a few things I need/want to get done before the thanksgiving holidays, not big things but things that are easy to check off the list:

  1. I want to find a cute ceramic turkey. 
  2. I will paint the bathroom window
  3. Replace the window blinds
  4. Paint or replace the bathroom mirror
  5. Replace a piece of broken tile in the main bathroom
  6. Rework a thanksgiving wreath
  7. Bake and freeze a holiday cheesecake
  8. Scrub the carpet on the stairs
  9. Find a small round table
  10. Find a replacement coffee table
  11. Clean the basement
Lot's to do and I'll find more as I go. 

No pictures today but plenty after I complete my list.

Until next time,

Sunday, November 3, 2013

A Lazy Fall Behind Sunday

My Sunday started out slow and quiet.  No one was home and the day started out very lazy.  With having to turn the clocks back I took advantage of my extra hour by doing nothing for most of the morning.

But lazy mornings can only last so long.  I have far too many projects to do to get ready for the holidays that I had to start making things happen. 

Earlier in the year I wanted to change up my bedroom a bit.  A few years ago I painted the room all one color including the ceiling.  It feels like a big golden box in my bedroom.  I just didn't have the desire to repaint.  Lately I have been thinking that it's time to change up the color.  I am not sure what I'll pick but I'm going to start looking at various samples. 

This summer I bought a matelassé blanket from someone on Craigslist.  Those blankets are expensive and I just didn't want to pay top dollar for something I might not like.  I held on to it for a while and decided that today would be a good time to put change out my bedding.  I have a cute fall colored wool throw I wanted to use as well and thought it would look nice on the foot of the bed. 

So I'm embarrassed to post this pic but what the heck.  This is the before.

I used to have a down comforter but took it off because we just got too hot.  I never replaced it and Mr. Saylor and I just use a couple of old throws as blankets.  We each get one so we're never fighting over a blanket.  But it's very ugly! 
And after..... 
I just love the new look with the Matelassé blanket and pillow shams.  Mr. Saylor has already been told that those pillows are never to be used.  I even bought a couple of new ones to replace them so they will stay in the shams. 
This is just the start.  My next project will be to find some matching nightstands.  I'm also going to make additional throw pillows to add more color.  I love the color red and will be looking for some red accents that will work for Christmas but will stay throughout the year. 
I also need to add something to the windows.  All I have up there are shears at the moment.  Drapes on either side will cozy up this space.
This bed has been in my family for over 30 years.  My parents bought it from a man that made them in his garage for $150.  It's a heavy solid bed and while I'd love to change it up I just don't have the heart to get rid of it.
So my day started out slow but I got a few more things done.  I scrubbed down some interior doors with TSP and then made homemade sweet and sour chicken for dinner.  After dinner I went for a 3 mile walk and when I got home I washed down the kitchen cabinets with TSP.  Things are coming along nicely for the holidays.  Our next projects will be painting some trim around the house and I plan to paint a window in my main bathroom this week as well.
I love doing little home improvements because sometimes the small things can make a big difference.  While my bed makeover isn't that exciting it certainly cleaned up my bedroom a bit. 
 Sometimes I feel like Willy Wonka when he says "so little time, so much to do".  Then I remind myself that it all gets done in time.
Until tomorrow,

Friday, November 1, 2013

Warm soup for a cold day

On Wednesday night before we went to bed I put some beef shanks and the duck breast and duck legs in my crockpot covered it with water and added an onion.  In the morning I left for work and forgot it was on.  By the time I got home on Thursday evening that crock pot had been cooking for almost 17 hours!  I turned of the crock pot and let the soup stock cool down.  Then I put it in the refrigerator.  I cut up three carrots, a leak, 2 celery stalks and a turnip and put that in the fridge as well.  This morning before I left for work I pulled out the crock pot and veggies from the fridge.  I mixed the veggies in with the stock and turned on the crock pot to low.
When I got home I could not believe that the carrots and turnip were still a bit hard.  So, I cut up 4 potatoes added it to the soup and poured everything into a soup pot and cooked it on the stove until the potatoes and veggies were tender.   It turned out awesome.  Very flavorful and filling.  We had it for dinner with some crusty bread. 

I love my crock pot because I can cook just about anything in there.  Soup, Chili, Pasta Sauce and stews.  I've even cooked lasagna and a meat loaf in there but I will admit it wasn't as good as the regular way.

After dinner I spent most of this evening taking down the Halloween decorations.  I plan to get those out to the garage on Saturday.  Now it's time to cozy the house up for Thanksgiving.  I want to make some fall themed vases and a little vignette on the back of my organ.  I'm looking forward to Christmas decorating but I want to savor the Fall colors just a little more.

One project I want to tackle before Christmas is to make a fake fireplace.  It shouldn't be too hard and my son can help me because Mr. Saylor isn't very handy.   I don't know where it will go but I think it will look adorable in the living room.  I picked up a couple of Nativity sets over the summer at Goodwill.  I can't wait to display them. 

Since today was Friday I really wasn't in the mood to tackle any big house cleaning projects.  Tomorrow I'm going to scrub down my kitchen cabinets and plan some painting projects. 

Until Tomorrow,

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Final Post for the 31 Day Blogger Challenge

Well, I made it.  I made a daily post for the last 31 days.  Now some bloggers may not think that's a big accomplishment but for me it definitely is. 

I took on the challenge because I needed something to jump start my blog.  I started this blog to put me back on track with decorating my home.  I work full time and as I've gotten older I just don't have the energy I use to have to do fun things around the house when I get home from the office.  I try to cram everything in during the weekend but something always comes along to take up those days and I just get further and further behind. 

I decided that my 31 day challenge would be 31 days of Fall inspiration.  It worked.  At one point my son said "it looks like fall around here, it hasn't looked this nice in a long time".  I think part of the reason for my lack of interest in the décor is our house.  This is our second home and it's never quite felt like it belonged to us the way our first home did. 

We sold our first home to a builder and they knocked it down and put up a mini-mansion on the lot.  I think that was a good thing because we have no home to drive past now and get melancholy.   Our first house was old and needed a lot of work.  It had old paneling and old windows and old floors, it was only two bedrooms and one bathroom but had a full walk up attic and a large old kitchen.  The kids were babies when we moved in, my son was only 7 months and my daughter was just turning 2.  Their childhood memories were created in that house and even though it was old and worn it was a cozy and safe place with warmth and love. 

When we moved into this house we thought it would be only temporary.  We bought when the market was high so we got a lot less house for our money.  This house was smaller than our old house but was newer and in much better shape.  It has two bathrooms and 4 bedrooms, it has a finished basement and large garage.  But the kitchen is small, too small and the dining room is small and when I have people over I always feel like we're climbing over one another.  I wanted a cape cod style home because of their quaint look but I didn't realize that it would feel cramped and it just hasn't won my heart. 

The 31 day challenge helped me turn that around.  Now I'm looking for ways to decorate, it has motivated me to think about painting and changing some things like window moldings and interior doors. 

So, I'm going to continue the blogger challenge into November with 31 days of cleaning and organizing for the holidays.  I'm also adding another topic, so I'll be blogging on two topics per day in November.

Topic number two will be 31 days to a better body.  I've been over weight most of my life and I think that by blogging some successes each day it will force me to get on and stay on track.

In recapping October I'm happy to say I've gotten quite a lot accomplished.  I made some cute Fall and Halloween decorations, I had an Operation Christmas Child gathering, I've made some wonderful fall inspired recipes and I've rekindled my love of home décor. 

I can't wait to see how successful my November blogging will be!

A little fall wrap up in pictures leading the way in to a November Thanksgiving preparations, with a little Christmas slipped in now and then.
Until Tomorrow,

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Gruesome Cupcakes

Another late night at the office but I still had time to make a few cupcakes to take in tomorrow for our Halloween party!

I found these little knife cake decorations made by Wilton at Joanne Fabric's.  They were on sale and I grabbed the last two boxes because they are just too cute.

Since I got home so late today I wasn't in the mood to take the time to bake from scratch so I'll be honest and admit I had to use a box mix.  However, I had a package of cream cheese in the fridge and some powdered sugar so I made homemade icing.  The red jelly is cherry pie filling. 

I can't wait to share them tomorrow.

We are supposed to get rain all night tonight and during the day tomorrow so I have a feeling we won't see many trick or treaters.  We've got plenty of kids on the block but the rain will keep everyone in.  I don't want to buy too much candy because I really hate having leftovers.  I have no willpower when it comes to chocolate candy. 

Until tomorrow,

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Pumpkin Cookies and Decoupage Pumpkins

I've never been a person who enjoys too much quiet in my life.  I like things to be busy and hectic.  I don't follow routines, I don't make detailed plans for my days, I don't plan out my weekends but somehow I manage to get what needs to be done complete.  Sometimes plans have to change but it doesn't matter because the necessary things will get done and the little things can always wait. 

I've taken on a new position at work and it's forever changing.  Each day brings new challenges and learning opportunities.  I absolutely love it.  I love being a part of something big and challenging.  On the flip side there isn't much room for failure and every minute counts so it can be very exhausting by the end of the day. 

Today I came home to a fun surprise.  My daughter came home today because she brought back her car.  She lives in the city and there isn't really any need for her to have a car down there but she had an interview for a possible internship and needed the car for a couple of days. 

Since she was home she wanted to make some Pumpkin and Butterscotch cookies.  I don't know what recipe she used but the cookies came out great.  They were a moist and cakey kind of cookie.  Very good.
She was sweet enough to leave a few for us.  If they are still there in the morning I'm taking one for breakfast.
A couple of weeks ago I started a decoupage project on some dollar store pumpkins I picked up.  I set them in a little basket and surrounded them with some orange lights.  I'm going to display this for Thanksgiving.  I think it will be pretty to build a vignette around it. 
I took some fabric to Kinkos and made some copies.  I used the paper to decoupage the pumpkins.  I just love making homemade decorations.  
I can't believe the 31 Day Blogger Challenge is almost over.  I also have to say that it has definitely been a lot of fun blogging each and every day.  It helped spark some interest in decorating and trying to keep organized for the holiday.
Until tomorrow,

Monday, October 28, 2013

Day Twenty Eight - Give Thanks

I seem to keep stumbling upon blogs and news articles about people who are sick and people who have lost loved ones.  It scares me a bit because it's just so many stories of personal tragedy.  Even one of our local newscasters that I follow on FB just posted she is about to start chemo.   It all started the other day when I heard a story about a woman dying of ALS and how she went skydiving because that was one of the things she wanted to do before it was too late.  Maybe that story opened my eyes to the preciousness of life.  I don't want to dwell on them too much because I don't want to invite such sadness in to my own life.  I will pray for these people and their sadness. 

I've started making a little banner for the house that will say "Give Thanks" because I want to be thankful for all the little things in life and share that with family when they come over for Thanksgiving.  The stories I've read or heard on TV make me want to run outside and breath in the fresh air, smile more, enjoy my family and just be thankful.

Today for dinner we made something light.  We found the it in a Guy Fieri cookbook.  Grilled Romaine with Blue Cheese and bacon.  OK, I know I said light, but believe me after a weekend of fresh ground sirloin burgers and deer meat pot pie, I welcomed this "lighter" fare.  The recipe can be found here: Grilled Romaine.

Mr. Saylor loves his Guy Fieri cookbook and this is one of his favorite recipes.  I like when he makes it but he is a messy cook, there was grease and balsamic vinegar all over the stove.  Why do men use every pot in the house to make a simple meal?  Why do they seem to use a new spoon for each addition of an ingredient?   No rinse and re-use for that guy.

I'm not going to complain because it's life and life can be messy, and I am thankful for a messy kitchen and dirty pots and pans that help create interesting meals, like grilled lettuce.

Until tomorrow,

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Deer Meat Pot Pie and Apple Pie

I've posted a couple of times that my son has recently begun hunting.  So far it's just water fowl, duck and goose.  One of my top rules is that I do not want him to hunt anything just for the sport.  So, I've had to learn how to cook duck and goose rather quickly.  I have come to find that those birds are tough and most of my recipes involve some type of slow cooking.  Yesterday he went hunting with a friend of ours and brought home a duck and a little surprise.  Deer!  He didn't hunt the deer but our friend did recently and gave him some of the meat.  I wasn't sure what to do with it but a quick check of the internet gave me somewhat of an idea.  I knew it had to be slow cooked so I popped it in the crock pot.  Since it would slow cook for most of the day I decided to make it into a pot pie.  My son loves homemade chicken pot pie so I didn't see any reason why he wouldn't like deer pot pie.  It came out great and my son was quite happy.

So for those of you who may end up with a pound or two of deer meat here is my recipe.

2 lbs deer meet trimmed and chopped into large pieces
2 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp onion powder
2 tsp dried rosemary
2 tsp dried basil
1 Tbs Better Than Bouillon
salt and pepper
combine the above in a crock pot and cover with water and stir.  Cook on high 6 - 8 hours or until the meat is tender.  Once cooked remove from crock pot and set aside.

4 deep dish pie crusts
1 cup frozen corn
1 cup frozen peas and carrots
3-4 diced and cooked potatoes
2 cans Campbell's Golden Cream of Mushroom Soup
1 egg beaten with 1 tsp water or milk

Mix corn, peas and carrots and cooked potatoes in a bowl.  Add the soup and stir.  Stir in the deer meat.  Put the mixture in to two pie crusts and cover with the other two crusts.  Seal and crimp the edges.  Brush with the egg wash.  Cut slits for steam and put in a 375 degree oven for about 35 minutes.

For desert tonight we decided to use up the rest of the apples that the kids brought home from apple picking.  I made an apple pie.  I will admit it was a bit of pie crust over load but the ice cream we served with the pie was quite good.  I made a simple apple pie recipe I found here.  Apple Pie Recipe

My crust was a bit jenky because I used store bought pie crusts and the top wouldn't come out of the pan so I pieced it together.  It was very good. 
I love my little apple peeler corer slicer from Pampered Chef.  This little gadget is probably 15 years old and I've probably only used it four times, two times being within the last month.  I think it will become a fall and winter utensil around here because I'm beginning to enjoy making pies.

I think the rest of the week will be light meals because last night and tonight were heavy meals.  Last nights burgers were fantastic and ground fresh here at home, the pot pies were heavy and the apple pie was a dense desert. 
Now we're heading into Halloween.  I haven't even gotten any candy yet.  It's supposed to rain so we probably won't see too many kids.  Which can be good and bad.  Good because I don't have to buy too much candy, but bad because if I have candy left we'll all eat it and we definitely don't need it. 
I just hate having all that chocolate lying around because I'm such a chocoholic.  If I have left overs I'm going to cut up the candy and pop them in the center of some cupcakes.  Can't go wrong!
Until tomorrow,

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Countdown to Halloween

Today was a very busy day but I'm thankful that I got so much done.  We went to watch my daughter play a Rugby game in the city along the lakefront and it was COLD.  The city is so pretty but they can keep the traffic.  Once we finally got home we made stopped at the store to pick up a chuck roast and then we ground the meat and made some yummy blue cheese burgers. 

I finished up a project last night but had to wait for the polyurethane to dry.  It's another scrap wood project I wanted to make with some leftover scrap book paper.  It's cute but I need to add something to hang it with. 
I'm also working on some decoupage pumpkins.  You can see a bit of one in the pic.
I think it's time to stop taking pictures with my phone.  The quality is just not there.
I hate to see the weekend go so quickly. 
Until tomorrow,

Friday, October 25, 2013

Updated Halloween Wreath

A few days ago I posted about my monogrammed Halloween wreath.  It looked bare to me so I thought I'd jazz it up a little bit.  I'm still not 100% crazy about it but I think it looks a little better. 

I found these little scrap book stickers on sale at Joanne Fabrics. 
I might add something different but for now these little paper guys will work.  Maybe just a simple vine of flowers or some little flowers or leaves tucked in here and there.  It's just not giving me the wow factor.
The best part about these things is that they can always be changed.
Until tomorrow,

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Round Steak Dinner and Pumpkin Bread

When I was a kid my mother used to make round steak with cream of mushroom soup.  I absolutely hated it.  I don't know why but it just didn't seem appetizing to me.  The other day I was at the store and saw that round steak was on sale.  I grabbed some and decided to make it in the crock pot.
This morning in a frenzy to get out the door for work I cut up the round steak in chunks, mixed up two cans of cream of mushroom soup and a cup of milk together and poured that in the crock pot, then I added a packet of onion soup mix.  It cooked all day and I served it over some wide egg noodles with sour cream. It turned out great but isn't the most attractive dinner I've made.  Looks like slop in the crock pot but believe me, it was good.
Here is my dinner in my vintage crock pot.  The problem in this house is that they start eating dinner before I can set up a nice looking plate for a decent picture.  It's ugly but it's good.

Last week when I had the girls over for my Operation Christmas Party get together I bought a box of pumpkin bread that I never baked.  Tonight I decided to make it so we can have it for breakfast tomorrow morning.  Being that I absolutely love to bake I've come to find that box mixes can taste chemically and this bread tasted just like that.  There is nothing like a good loaf of banana bread or pumpkin bread made from scratch.  I can really taste the difference.  We'll still eat this bread because it wasn't horrible but I probably won't make it again. Unlike my dinner that tasted a lot better than it looks, this bread doesn't taste as good as it looks.  No more box mixes for me.

This is my platter that I bought a few weeks ago at Goodwill.  I'm glad I only paid $4 for it because note the chip already!  Had I paid top dollar for a pumpkin platter I would have really been annoyed.  I can't blame anyone in this house for it but myself.  I knocked against it with a bottle last week.

Today I dug out an awesome fall colored wool plaid blanket I have.  I'm also looking for a red one I bought last year and a blue one that I think is in my car.  I hate when I pack things away and then can't find them.  I plan to use them to decorate for Fall and carry me into Christmas.  I cannot wait to get my bedroom done but I would really love to give it a coat of paint.  We'll see.

Until tomorrow,

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Getting the bedroom ready for fall

Today was a no nonsense day today.  No fun projects to present just good old fashioned cleaning. 
I have been working so hard and having so much fun creating Fall and Halloween inspired projects for the 31 day challenge over at The Nesting Place but in my quest to create some fun things I've created a complete mess in my family room and bedroom.  All my ribbons and paint and extra fabric were in little boxes all over the place.  It was getting so bad I almost thought I could be called in for an episode of Hoarders!

In addition to the fall and Halloween material I've been picking up little Christmas things here and there.  I have a pair of ice skates and a package of bottle brush Christmas trees, a few plates and TWO Nativity sets. 

Tonight after work we had a quick dinner of homemade pizza.  Mr. Saylor took some fresh sliced roast beef from the deli and put that on a pizza crust with some pizza sauce and some mild Giardiniera and cheese.  He also made one with green, red and yellow peppers, onions and mushrooms and cheese.  Both were very good. 

After dinner I went to work on my bedroom.  Cleaned out my closet that I want to use as a craft closet.  It's a small closet under the eave of the roof in a little corner.  I'm going to leave the door on it but plant to take out the bar and install some racks and little bins on the walls.  It also needs a light installed.  There is no electricity in there so I'll have to be creative with lighting.  I've got too many other projects to get finished in the house before I'll pay for an electrician to install a light in my closet.  Mr. Saylor is just not that handy. 

I found this image on Pinterest.  I like the pegboard on the door.  I'm going to use this as some inspiration.  I'll probably use more wicker baskets since I've picked up a few along the way.

Something that inspired me today was a story about a young woman who made a dream sky diving trip two days before her 31st birthday.  The uniqueness of the story is that she has ALS disease and her doctors told her she has less than a year to live.  Her mother died of the disease when she was a young girl.  On the interview she told the reporter that she lives one day at a time and loves every minute of every day.  Her story made me realize how precious life can be.  How important it is to never take things for granted.
I have decided that I will enjoy cleaning my bedroom and organizing my craft closet.  Every day is precious and it's the little things that matter.  I look forward to tomorrow when I can continue my closet project. 
Until tomorrow,

Snow Today and a Halloween Project in production

You can never tell what kind of weather to expect this time of year in Chicago.  I can remember fall days when we were still wearing shorts and t-shirts and fall days when we were bundled up like Eskimos.  Today was an Eskimo day with snow flurries and a cold wind blowing enough to chill you through to your bones and remind us that winter is not too far off.  My body just isn't ready for this cold weather, I'm still hoping for a couple of warm fronts to push through to distract me from the reality that soon snow will cover the ground. 

I started another Halloween project today that needs some final touches.  A few weeks ago I was in Hobby Lobby and they had all of their wood letters on sale so I bought an F.  I wanted to make a monogramed wreath for the front door.  Then I wandered over to the Halloween section to pick up some ribbon.  I changed my mind when I saw the prices.  Even with a coupon it wasn't worth it to me.  So, I went over to the fabric section and just picked out some spools of orange and black.  I don't need pumpkins on my ribbon to make it a Halloween theme, the black and orange and white of the ribbon work just as well, plus they were on sale.

This is the work in progress.  It needs a little more flair but I do love my F. I think I will run to Micheal's and pick up some Halloween trinkets and glue them to the wreath.  But for now here is a sneak peak.

I've got some black roses but I also think a black cat or black crow, maybe a couple of cute ghosts would finish it up. 
I also put one more coat of polyurethane on my wood platter.  I'm really loving it.  I cannot wait to use it during the holidays. 
I'm really happy to be a part of the 31 day blogger challenge but I will admit I spend a lot of time after work playing around with projects so much so that my bedroom has become a complete disaster.  There is craft stuff all over the place and I am beginning to feel like a hoarder! 
I was wondering what to do with my bedroom for the fall season and I think that it is going to become my next Fall inspired project to be completed by the end of this week.  I've got plenty of ideas and I don't think Mr. Saylor will be happy to hear that I would like to repaint the room and add new wood molding and window trim.   It probably won't happen before Christmas but I can at least get this room cleaned and organized.
Today while reading one of the blogs I follow I was linked to another blogger with amazing taste in decorating.  English country style is one of my favorite styles and this blogger is so talented that her home is being featured in Midwest Living magazine.  The blog is called The Polo House

Monday, October 21, 2013

French Wood Platter

Now that we're in to the thick of the fall season, especially because we're heading down to freezing temps tonight, I decided to do a little project I plan to use at Thanksgiving and beyond. 

On one of my recent trips to Goodwill I found a wood piece with a picture of a cowboy looking out over a canyon.  I think it must have been a wall hanging.  I grabbed it because I wanted a wood piece to use as a platter for deserts.  I've been tempted to buy one from Michaels but they're so expensive.  Honestly I'd rather just buy a nice ceramic one for the same price. 

Yesterday I sanded it down to get the gloss off and painted it white.  Next I printed out a French picture from The Graphics Fairy.  I ran to Micheal's to pick up some supplies to transfer to the wood piece.  I wasn't completely sure what to use so I just decided to use some Mod Podge. 

Now, I didn't follow the Mod Podge directions on the Graphics Fairy website and didn't transfer or print out on card stock because I printed the piece out at work on a laser printer.  So I just cut out around the picture and decoupaged it to my wood piece. 

The white background of the paper stuck out against the cream color on the painted wood.  So after everything was dry I washed it with a little watered down brown paint to give it a tea stained look.  Then I coated it with some polyurethane. 

I think it came out pretty good and I can't wait to serve some cute little petit fours and chocolates on it during the holidays. 

This is how it started out.  
Here is my new wood platter. 

This is my first try with Graphics Fairy and I loved it.  I think I've found a new obsession. 
Until tomorrow

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Warm Beef Stew and Dumplings on a cold Fall Day.

Today was a quiet day at the Saylor Street Cottage.  We were a little disappointed in our Chicago Bears losing but they gave it a good fight. 

After Friday and Saturday busy days I wasn't in any mood to be busy today.  I did however want to use up some beef stew meat I defrosted on Saturday. Fall is such the season for hot stews. 

I was going to throw it all in the crock pot but since I was home I decided to just cook it up in a pot.
I will say and Mr. Saylor said it too that it was one of the best stews I've made.  I also added some dumplings with some grated cheese. 

We were all satisfied with a tasty hot Sunday Stew.

Sunday Stew Recipe
3 lbs stew meat
1/4 olive oil
1 cup red wine
3 cloves minced garlic
2 yellow onions cut into chunks
1 Large Turnip (Rutabaga) cut into chunks
5 large potatoes cut in to chunks
2 carrots cut up
1 stalk celery sliced
3 cups water
2 TBS Better Than Bouillon Beef Base'
1/2 tsp dried Rosemary
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp Thyme
1/2 tsp dried parsley flakes
Salt and Pepper to taste*
Bisquick Dumplings:
2 cups Bisquick
2/3 cups milk
1. Heat up the oil in a pan.  When hot add the beef stew and brown on all sides.  Add salt and pepper. (*the bouillon base is salty so you may want to add salt near the end of cooking).  When the meat is  browned on all sides remove from the pan.
2. Lower the heat to med-low and add the onions and sauté for a 3-5 minutes. Then add the garlic and continue to sauté for another 3 minutes.
3.  Add the flour and continue to cook for 2 more minutes stirring constantly.
4.  Stir in the red wine and deglaze the pot.  The flour will thicken the wine.
5.  Simmer for just a few minutes and then add the water and Better Than Bouillon Beef  Base.  I like to use this product because it gives the stew a rich flavor.  Stir in the herbs and beef.
6.  Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat and simmer for 1 hour. 
7.  Add cut up vegetables and continue to cook for another 30 minutes to an hour.  I gently simmer my stew for at least 2 to 3 hours but the meat and veggies are ready when everything is fork tender.
8.  Make the dumplings by combining the Bisquick and Milk in a bowl. Drop by tablespoonful on top of the stew and cover.  Let simmer for about 20 minutes or until dumplings are done.
9.  We sometimes serve our stew over white rice or egg noodles.  When I do I forgo on the dumplings. 
10.  Enjoy!
Until Tomorrow,


Saturday, October 19, 2013

Day 19 - Rugby Season

We have always been a football family here at the Saylor Street Cottage.  Each fall we get excited for the first Chicago Bears game.  We have been involved in football most of my son's life as he has played all through his early school years and into high school.  He wants to be able to play for college as well but that is on hold for now. 
Last year my daughter decided she would try playing rugby for her college.  She had never played before so I was a little worried for her.  It's a very physical sport and can be a bit dangerous.  After three years of braces one of my concerns was her teeth!  She has a very good mouth guard. 

Now, when fall begins we anticipate both American Football and Rugby season!  Today was one of her games and so I headed down into the city to watch.   First we stopped and picked up a few things she needed for the after party and then we went down to the lakefront where her game was planned.  We got there early because he coach plays on a team and that team was playing first. 

It was a cold day down at the lake.  When the sun came out it warmed us up but not by much.  Thank goodness for the warm blankets we brought along. 

An action shot!  I love the skyline. 
Those girls play hard!
The leaves are turning but there is still a lot of green out there. 
Chicago is a lovely city.  I grew up on the south side and love the city.  It's such a change to go from the suburbs and into the area around Wrigley Field.  It's so compact and crowded.  I love the hustle and bustle but I really hate driving down there. No where to park, people EVERYWHERE and bikes all over the place usually being ridden by people who somehow have lost the sense that a car is approximately 2000 lbs and is going to hurt if you ride in it's path!  Thankfully I didn't hit any of them.  When I finally got home I felt a real sense of calm while driving down our quiet streets. 
Until tomorrow,