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,