Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Fish & Chips

I've always been a sucker for a good fish and chip dinner.  Maybe it's a memory hidden deep within my psyche carried over from when I was a little girl growing up in Scotland.  I don't remember eating fish and chips that young, I was only 5 when we came to America.  My first real memory of fish and chips was when I went back to visit Scotland when I was 21.  I went with my Aunt and we stayed in her childhood flat that she had recently purchased.  The sweet story behind that flat was that it was the place she grew up in as a young girl.  When we got there she told me the story of the bomb blowing up in the street right outside the window and laughed as she told the story.  My Grandmother was bathing my father in a tub by the fire and when the bomb exploded they all got blown from the flat out into the street and she said they all laughed when they found my Grandmother and father covered in soot from the fire.  Luckily no one was hurt but I always found it amazing that the memory of that day turned out to be a funny memory for my Aunt and my elderly relatives.  What a beautiful place Edinburgh is and I can't even imagine bombs blowing up in the town. 

But getting back to my fish and chips story.  While in Scotland my Aunt Joyce sent me out to the fish and chips shop around the corner.  All the little shops are down the street or around the corner in Edinburgh and you can't really get lost but I went with my cousin because I can get lost quite easily.  We picked up a few orders of the freshly fried fish and chips and they wrapped them in newspaper and then in brown paper.  It was amazing.  The breading was light and salty and lightly greasy and the fish was tender and light.  The chips (French fries) were perfectly fried to crispy on the outside but soft and fluffy on the inside.  I sprinkled some malt vinegar and it gave it a salty tangy taste.  Unforgettable.  I fell in love with fish and chips that day. 
It's hard to find a good fish and chip dinner in our area.  We have a little Irish restaurant that we go to occasionally that serves a good one but it's only on a Friday and is usually very crowded. 
But the other day I found this! 
We picked up some fresh cod and I mixed this with some pale Belgian ale beer called Matilda to make the beer batter.  The fish came out wonderful and fluffy and perfect.  I also made some of my homemade "tattie" soup and it was a wonderful Sunday dinner.  Soup is so perfect right now to get us through these cold days. 
And then that wonderful pale ale which was a perfect accompaniment to the fish and chips. It's so special they even bottle it in a fancy bottle.  I drank it in a wine glass.    They describe the color on the website as Golden Sunset. 
This meal isn't the healthiest and by no means was low calorie but I held myself in check and ate a small portion.  The best part is I have leftover soup for a week of lunches. It earned me a few extra trips to the health club this week but it was worth it!
Until next time

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

I Won't Ever.....no matter how many blogs and pins I see.....

Make a photo gallery wall.  They're so popular and look great in pictures, but I've seen them in person and in my opinion they look cluttered.  I just think it's over kill. 

Make ice cream from snow.  I know it's popular during winter and I see it all over Pinterest and Blogland but I own a dog and he has free reign in the yard, and because of acid rain, and because it's just not going to go over big in my house because nothing can replace good old fashioned ice cream.  Even when my children were small they never would have eaten ice cream made from snow.

Paint the fabric on furniture.  Another popular Pinterest and blogland creation.  This always stops me in my tracks.  Paint goes on walls and wood and steel so how can it honestly work on fabric? It's paint.  It dries stiff.  Especially paint mixed with Plaster of Paris.  I was recently in a little gallery that sells ASCP.  There was an antique couch in there that they painted and I'm sorry, it was just ugly. It looked like a couch meant to go in a garage for teens to hang out in.  I stopped, I touched and had no desire to sit on that couch.  I thought it was just my old fashioned out of date opinion but even my 22yo daughter turned her nose up at it.  I just don't understand the obsession with people who want to paint fabric furniture.  It's one of those crazy craft projects that look good and when friends come over they tell you how cool it is but when they leave they talk about how ugly it is and how crazy you are for painting furniture.  I won't ever try it.

Just my opinion on some of these trends.  Some people love it but I'll pass. 

But I will.....

Make these incredible peanut butter cookies that turned out fantastic and the recipe can be found here.

And I will make corned beef and cabbage at least once a week through the month of March.  Especially because it goes on sale!  I make my corned beef so many different ways, but for this one I coated the corned beef in brown sugar put in a roasting pan and poured a bottle and a half of Guinness beer over the roast, covered and cooked at 325 for about 3 hours or until fork tender.  I boiled some carrots, some cabbage and some potatoes and created a traditional St. Patty's day dinner.

And I will dress up my little kitty with a beaded candle wrap I found while cleaning my closest.  Doesn't he look happy?! 

And lastly, I will brace myself for the rainstorm heading it's way to Chicagoland.  We have mounds of snow everywhere, we're supposed to get temps close to 50 degrees and buckets of rain.  Combine the melting snow with the falling rain and I'll probably need a boat to get to work in the morning.

Where is all this snow going to go?

Until next time,

Tuesday, February 18, 2014


In my quest to lose a decent amount of weight before summer I realize I have to get my butt in gear and start hitting the gym.  It's not an easy thing for me, I have never been very athletic, I find running incredibly boring and when I am running all I can think about is being finished.   I'd honestly rather be sitting home browsing the internet, reading blogs, making crafts and playing on Pinterest.  I sit all day at work in front of a computer so you would think that the last thing I'd want to do after work is look at a computer, but that's not the case.  It would be Utopia if I could find a job where my work on the computer was actually comprised of fun stuff like recipes and decorating but that's not the case.  So, once I'm home and dinner is finished I can spend an entire evening just sitting with my laptop.

I had to find something that was going to make me want to get out and exercise and have some fun. I belong to two gyms so I have no real excuse.  I found Zumba!   It's been around for quite a while now and I kind of compare it to Jazzercise but with a Latin beat.  I love it.  I've been going off and on for a couple of years now, more off than on, but each time I go I have a great time.  Tonight I went to a class that lasted an hour and afterwards did Zumba Toning for another 25 minutes.  I had a smile on my face almost the entire time.  The music is fun, the moves are easy and I worked up a sweat.  It's like an hour of dancing without going to a club.

I highly recommend Zumba to anyone who wants to exercise and have fun at the same time.  They have DVD's available but I'd much rather go to the live classes.  Everyone has fun, the instructors mix it up all the time and it's rarely the same routine.  The classes are always a mixture of ages, fitness levels and shapes and sizes. 

Here is a link to the Zumba website.  I can't wait until Friday at lunch time....another Zumba class.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Another 6-8 Inches!

It's not unusual to get a big snow storm in February and it always seems to happen right around Valentines day.  Well, today was our day for another 6-8 inches of snowfall in the Chicagoland area and neighboring states.  So, I decided to make the best of it and take some pictures.  I want to pull these pictures out when the weather is swelteringly hot and I start to complain. 

Along with todays storm we had thunder and lightning.  I love thunder snow storms because it seems like it really should be thunder storming but it's just too darn cold and the rain turns to snowflakes.  As I was taking these pictures I thought it was funny that the ducks were just swimming along in the freezing cold water enjoying the snow.  All this snow creates a sound barrier around it and even though I took these pictures right around rush hour and near a major roadway the only sound I could hear was the quacking of these little ducks. 
We are supposed to start a little warm up over the next couple of days, a heatwave of sorts with tems climbing to the 30's and 40's.  Which makes me a little nervous about all this stuff melting too quickly and the water will have nowhere to go except our basements.  Keeping my fingers crossed on that one. 
I'm happy to report that despite all the snow on the roads I did not let that stop me from going to the YMCA tonight and getting in a much needed workout.  Afterwards I came home and enjoyed a daily serving of fruit.  OK, it was smashed grapes and can be poured into a wine glass, but it is a fruit, right?
Until tomorrow,

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Valentine crafts recap and a heart healthy smoothie.

I'm trying to focus more closely on losing weight so I've been starting my mornings out with a refreshing smoothie with very little calories.  It's a nice pick me up before I leave for the office.

It's a simple recipe:
1/4 cup frozen blueberries
1/4 cup or 3-4 frozen strawberries
1 handful spinach
1/2 banana
1/2 cup fat free milk
Blend until smooth.  The frozen fruit gives it the frostiness that ice would normally do but doesn't water it down. 
Just before Valentines day I picked up some fresh flowers to replace the ones eaten and left ragged by our little furry whiskered monster. The pinks and reds together seemed to be more in line with Valentine's day than the pink tulips did.
I had one that was broken in the bunch so I added it to a little silver vase.
I'm very happy with my new pom pom maker that I picked up at Hobby Lobby!  I made a valentine heart garland and strung it across the window in the living room. 
The snowy scene outside drains the color out of everything.  But the sun has begun to shine and soon all of that white stuff will be gone and hopefully not puddles of water in our basements.
I baked some sugar cookies for the family and for our Valentine celebration at the office.  I decided to use a sour cream sugar cookie recipe.  I thought I would have a hard time finding a recipe but the internet is loaded with them.  I decided on the recipe I found here and it was fantastic.  I used royal icing and sprinkles to decorate.  I also had to try this Cherry Bark posted on Shugary Sweets blog here.  It was incredibly simple and tasted wonderful.
Of course Valentines Day is not complete without conversation hearts.  So I put a few in some little vases, used some leftover flowers in another with some colored water and created a cute vignette. The red from the rooster blended well too. 
And today all of the pink and red for Valentine day décor has been taken down and soon will be replaced with the greens of St. Patrick's day.
In the meantime I'm thinking of ways to "spring" up the Saylor Street Cottage. 
Until next time,

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Superbowl Sunday

Mr. Saylor got suckered persuaded to host the guys poker game/Superbowl weekend this year.  Yes, the Super Bowl lasted an entire weekend at our house this year.  The guys had some fun but the Super Bowl game was Super Boring!  I was hoping the Broncos would win but in the end it didn't matter.  It's just another football game unless it is DA BEARS.

We had some fun goodies to eat: jalapeno poppers, deviled eggs, beef sandwiches and chili.  My son went hunting and brought home some goose breasts so I put a couple in the crock pot and made Mike Ditka pot roast nachos!  It came out fantastic.  I had never heard of pot roast nachos until someone mentioned that Mike Ditka has a restaurant where they serve them.  I tried them out and they are delicious.  Since Wild Goose tastes almost identical to beef, a very tough meat since they don't have any fat on them, hrowing it in a crock pot or a stew pot is probably the best thing I can do. They were perfect substituted in for the beef in the recipe. 

Here is my son with his catch of the day. 
His girlfriend made some awesome cupcakes.  It's funny because she had no idea what the numbers or lines meant.  She saw the design on Pinterest and decided to make them but I had to tell her that the lines and number meant yards on the field.  She picked up some chocolate covered almonds and decorated them like footballs.  My brother thought for sure they were store bought.  So that became the joke in our house.  He kept telling her he was going to stop at the store and pick some up.
We had a little Super Bowl celebration at the office and someone made home made tortilla chips.  I decided to try it myself.  It is incredibly easy and there are a bunch of Youtube videos to choose from which are all basically the same.  Hot oil and tortillas cut into triangles.  They tasted just like the ones in the Mexican restaurants.  I never would have guessed how easy they are to make!

I found these cute little bowls at Aldi.  I picked up three sets because for Christmas I think I'll make a salsa gift basket for a couple of people on my Christmas list.  I think they would look really cute in a basket with some different flavored Salsas and flavored chips, a Margarita mix and tequila, and a cute tray or whatever I find (on sale) between now and Christmas time. 
So January is finished and we still have six more weeks of winter.  Old Phil saw his shadow, but I think one way or the other we'd still have six weeks.  Our area is getting hit almost every other day with snow and the non-snow days are below zero temps.  It's crazy weather and I just can't wait to feel a little warm sunshine!  My daughter took a little selfie and sent it to me on her way to school.  She didn't expect it to be so cold.  I just love this picture, she crocheted the burgundy scarf and I think it's came out great.  She's getting quite good at crocheting and has made some awesome scarves and even some gloves.  I wish I looked this good in the freezing cold! 
Until next time,