Sunday, November 29, 2015

Shifting Into the Christmas Season

Last night I made an awesome Shepherd's Pie with the leftover turkey, veggies, mashed potatoes and a pie crust....
I started with chopped onions that I let just start to caramelize in butter in the skillet, then added leftover chopped celery that I hadn't used in stuffing (but you can chop some...) and some finely chopped butternut squash...and let those get happy in the pan for a while.
Meanwhile, in a separate dish I made some cream sauce. For that I used butter and Pamela's baking mix (a gluten free all purpose mix) and added almond milk (really!). When the cream sauce was ready I added it to the veggie mix and then added the chopped turkey. (Now, that chopped turkey was turkey that had been cooked all night in crockpot to get the last of the meat off of the turkey carcass which is what I do every year to get a really awesome turkey stock...)
I then put the filling into the crust, that I had pre-cooked in the oven and cooled, and then I topped the filling with reheated mashed potatoes that I heated a bit adding a touch more milk to soften it so it can be spread on top. Top with a touch of butter and then bake at 350 degrees for about 30 mins or so until the potatoes get a touch of brown to them...
Yup, it was tasty!
I served with green beans that I had left in the freezer, but it would be awesome with a salad too....
Here it is three days after Thanksgiving, and I haven't even put out Christmas stuff. Usually, I've put all the Christmas stuff out, minus the tree, which has to be a fresh cut. (much to my nose's chagrin)
So, sitting here in the living room by the fire, I decided that it was time to put something out....
I went to the armoire and pulled out my red and white quilt I made a couple of years ago and the pillow covers I made....There! My extent of decorating for now....
I have one of those villages you can put up...the Dept. 56 villages...and I don't feel it this year either..that makes about three. I think I'm over it. I offered it to my daughter who just moved this year...it would be awesome on her counter and she always put it up anyway....
I may or may not put the red slipcovers on the chairs....
I will put up the Christmas flag....maybe today...
I will do something with the planters out front,just not sure what....I'd like to put Poinsettias in them, but they might be fake....
Otherwise, we'll see...it isn't even December yet, I've got time....
So, do you go all out decorating??
Let me know,
Nancy

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Post Thanksgiving

I have to tell you, I was so tired yesterday!
I did three loads of dishes in the dishwasher and lots (can't count) by hand. ( Not to mention all the washing in between to keep counter space open)...
Then one has to put it all away.
I spent much of the day lying on the couch in my jammies between loads of dishes. I was so tired.
But, boy, was Thanksgiving fun!
The day started early with the kids coming early so we could take a family photo. Our Son-in-law had to get to work for Black Friday, so he wasn't going to be able to join us for dinner. And, they still had to get to his parent's house for their Thanksgiving...so he and his darling little family came early to have breakfast. Our other daughter came with her boyfriend (who took the picture) and joined in for Breakfast. So, you can see, it made for lots of cooking all day long.....
After I had cleaned up from breakfast, I had to get started chopping and cooking for the big feast!
We had so much food!
My Hubby smoked a turkey (11 pounds) while I roasted a 20 pound bird in the roaster. Using the roaster doesn't get it brown and crispy (sadly) but it frees up the oven (should have put in two!) for all the other things one needs to make, including popovers!
It was a bit hectic in the kitchen, but our company was so wonderful...I'd do it all again!
 Here is Hubby's smoked turkey...very yummy as usual...and isn't it pretty??
Then there were sides....lots of them. What I wanted to show you was I have those old fashioned warmers....I have three (but couldn't find one) they saved the day as dishes were made they were put on the warmers....they kept everything hot and yummy for hours (after all I only have one stove)!
Then, there was the company....wonderful family and dear friends....and this guy....
Who pretty much stole the show....as usual...What a trooper! He did great considering he had maybe a 40 min nap at his other Grandma's....He missed his other nap. He loves a party and loves to eat, which he did all day. He has hollow legs! He eats almost as much as an adult, or would....
Here we are (well minus my daughter who took the picture)...all ten of us. I never realized how small my table is ....it was a bit cozy...but so much fun...lots of food on the table...
No one can say they were hungry...there was food galore...
Big thanks to all who came....
Hope your Thanksgiving was wonderful...
Nancy

Sunday, November 22, 2015

How to on the candles....

I've been asked...so here goes the very simple technique for making the candles that I showed.....
Find your container for candles, which needs to be heat resistant as you will be pouring hot melted wax into them.
Go to the craft store and buy candle making wax...I bought fragrance free soy wax...which is supposed to be safe to burn.
Also, I bought the little steel pot for melting wax in which looks a bit like a coffee pot...this was the most important purchase for me...as I do not have a microwave and was using the stove.
Place the wax (which I bought already in shredded pieces...if yours is not, you will have to shred it).
Place the pot in another pot of water...much like a double boiler....(which if you have a spare you could use)....
While wax is melting, set up your containers with wicks...I dipped my wick ends into the wax that had started to melt and placed them into the containers. (hint: I used the little bamboo skewers to help).
Let those wicks dry...use another bamboo skewer or pencil to hold the wick in place while you pour the wax that has by now melted.
The soy wax is so easy to use, totally fun.
Wait for the wax in the container to totally cool....takes about 1-2 hours depending on your containers. When it is cool, then trim your wicks....
It makes great gifts, especially if you use fund containers....
I hope that helps!
Nancy

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Change of my plans....

Well, I intended to clean from top to bottom. Really I did. But truth is, I got off on a tangent.
You see, when my friend and I got together, we were talking about Liming Wax. We even found the wax at Ace Hardware...the Amy Howard brand. No, I didn't buy it yesterday....ended up thinking about it and as soon as the fireplace guys were gone....so was I....to Ace...
I played with it quite a bit. At first, the wax is quite dry and gritty....I was expecting a wax like the AS clear wax....but it isn't. So, first I tried it on a candleholder....then I played with some black chairs that I brought in for Thanksgiving...then, I tried it on the mantle...to give it more depth....
Then, I got the little trays I am giving for Christmas...they needed paint. Then, they needed wax....first clear, then dark and then the liming wax.
My feeling about the liming wax is it adds a bit of dimension with the other two, without them it is a frustrating product....unless I got a bad can. It isn't soft or easy to use....but I kept at it. The little trays show it off way better, which means that it needs to be applied with the others I think.
The mantle looks a bit better...not much...
The black chairs...well, they are waxed...
The little candlestick...you'd never know it was there....
But the little trays....Now I'm getting there.....
 Here is the first little tray. It was just a plain new soft wood...
 This is the liming wax .....
 Here is the other tray...it too was just a little wood tray that you find at a craft store....
 These are soy candles that I created from salt tins and wine bottles that I cut myself....


I think they are pretty nice gifts...what do you think??
And as for the house...well, I managed three loads of laundry, cleaned the sink and tidied a few things including cleaning the hutch and redoing the way it is set up...so I did clean a little....
I hope you had a great day!
Nancy

Just a few days left and counting.....

So, let's see, I've been busy...some of it not for Thanksgiving....
For example...remember how I told you I was looking for white plates that match??
Yeah, I called my friend and asked her to come along...and really look...it works so much better with an extra set of eyes!
We looked in the all the "expensive" areas and stores....and I saw lots I really liked...but I just couldn't spend that kind of $$$.
We looked at Williams-Sonoma, Crate & Barrel, Pottery Barn, Macy's, Sur La Table, & Marshall's, but still nothing affordable and good looking. I didn't want stoneware...I was hoping for porcelain, but china would be ok....and I wanted 12 that match.
Three years ago, I collected odd plates in white....on purpose...and that worked for a while...but honestly, housing mismatch plates was getting to me....the footprint in the cupboard was too high. And now I wanted matching. I had given some to my daughter for her new place, and the really irregular ones to a thrift store, but it left me with 4 of one style, 5 of another....you know...still mismatch. So, yesterday was the day. I was determined.
But after checking, I was sure the only way was to give into a stock of "buffet" plates...that didn't make me terribly happy. (Those are heavy, large and kinda industrial if that makes sense....)
Then my friend said what about TJ Maxx? Oh, I said, I've been there there wasn't anything....
But...my friend reminded me that there was a different store a city over. So, sure I said, let's just see. There were some adorable plates....but only 4. See? I wanted 12.....
Then she saw a box. A thin box, labeled with 12! No way! Yup, there it was....we opened it up and inside perfectly packed was a really nice plate set...pure white...nice shape, small footprint for a shelf and ...... $19.99!! Yeah! I can do that math!! Then, she found a small box of matching salad/dessert plates...same pattern....$14.99! Yes! Now, those I didn't need...but they match!! How awesome is that??? Those all came home with me ....under budget and now washed and put away....and they look totally awesome with all my other china....now I can mix and match and it will work...everytime!! How perfect is that??

They are simple (I originally was looking for a bit of pattern), but really?? These are perfect...a bit of flare, soft looking and a stack of 12 is perfect in the cupboard.
Then, my daughter came for dinner last night and she and I brainstormed on Thanksgiving dinner with text messages to the other daughter on menu, shopping list, timing and place settings. She came up with three plans of seating depending of whether a couple of friends can come etc....
She even made place cards....


Aren't they cute?? Formal...but not....I love it. In years past, I'd get all the silver out etc...but this year I'm not in the mood for all the silver and what not. So, these are perfect. Perfectly imperfect!
Then, we got the extra chairs out of the garage, and the food warmers...
Remember these?? Yeah, I have three One big one, a medium one and a little one...really....They mostly came from my in-laws house...the little one I picked up for $3 a few years ago....I love them. They are perfect for warming plates and keeping the side dishes warm on Thanksgiving.....I use the little one during the cold months to warm our plates on a regular basis....
So, today, I am cleaning...Hubby is out of town and when he is gone I can really clean.
Oh, and our fireplace is getting a gas log set today! I'll show you that later....that is a whole other story for another time.....
Have a great day!!
Nancy



Wednesday, November 18, 2015

A New Look

While I was out "treasure hunting" with a friend yesterday, I found a cute simple little table.
It was one of those...."look at this" moments. You know, when on the way out you happen to mention, "I'd like a little table to put here".....
We found it at Savers....it was sad and lonely, dusty and neglected. I thought at the time it was going to be painted....but, actually, it looks really fine just the way it is, minus the dust of course.... and it needed a top....
So, I rummaged into my cupboard for the marble tile I had...and voila! A cute little table that is a perfect height to go under the mirror in the front hall! It will be totally perfect with a little Christmas tree......

Pretty darn cute...a touch of metal and marble.....
See?? Isn't going to be fun to play with seasonal decor?? The little bit of silver colored metal stands nicely next to the soft taupe grey I have on the walls....and looks nice with the wood floors too I think.
I hope you have a great day!
Nancy

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Putting Christmas Presents on Rush

I don't know about you, but suddenly, I am feeling the urgency of Christmas presents to get done.
I have a small twin bed in the craft room and it is full of projects all laid out...and many are for Christmas. Yikes! I have been busy playing with the "Orange Peel" quilt....



And this is NOT a Christmas gift (thank goodness)...but a baby quilt for a future someone, still unknown by me....
However, I bagged it up the other day, realizing that with Thanksgiving close at hand, the other gifts better take center stage....
So, with that done, I pulled out what needed doing....
I started on some linen pillowcases....
I tried a new to me stitch on my sewing machine...the ladder stitch...traditionally for joining two pieces of fabric with the ladder stitch and leaving gaps so to speak...but I am not so crafty as that.
I did however, create a hem piece to join to the main part of the pillowcase. Even though I am not an expert, it still looks totally cool. It gives a lovely decorative look that is awesome (well I think so).


Yes, that is the selvage, thank you for pointing it out. I kept it. I like the "rustic" feel of it and it gives a true line to work with...
Have you ever worked with Linen?? Yeah, it is difficult. It will look like you have a straight edge when you cut it, but then it is suddenly, frayed and no longer straight...., so being a beginner with the ladder stitch, I kept the selvage....I needed that extra durability and edge....
So, using a French seam, I made the pillowcases....they came out a bit narrow, but still fit a pillow....
I am going to make two more pillowcases. I have just enough linen. I bought this "luxury" linen and wanted to buy more, they are sold out....of course....
I will make the remaining linen work....
The ladder stitch doesn't show as well in the picture, but it is very cool...I think. It would be awesome  in a color too...very decorative....
Have you ever slept on linen?? It is definitely wonderful...and the more you wash it, the softer it gets! It is also resistant to bacteria and viruses, and resists the stains from Hubby's head when he sleeps...and believe it or not, he snores less, sleeps better (so do I) and wears like iron. I have antique sheets that I purchased off of Ebay that are still going strong. Eventually, with modern washing machines...they will wear out. I do try to hang to dry....dryers do beat them up....but still they wear like iron. I have become a sheet snob.....liking only linen to sleep.....
Ok, well, I am off to do more in the craft room....busy...busy...busy..
Have a great day!
Nancy

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Thanksgiving soon and Christmas too!

I am deep in planning mode for Thanksgiving as it will be at my house. I am expecting 8 1/2 (little grandson is the 1/2). I read the ads when they came in this week....and went looking at those turkey "deals"....Went to one store yesterday, the "2 for 1" didn't sit well with me in price or the size of the birds offered....so, I will be checking the other store that is offering them for 57 cents a pound....
And yesterday, after putting quilt projects aside, I created some projects and finished them as gifts for Christmas....and two are wrapped already! (I can't show them....they see this blog and I can't give away the surprise!)
So, 4 presents down and just a few more to go!
How are you doing with Christmas gift planning?? Are you a crafter?
Off to babysit....
Nancy

Monday, November 2, 2015

Bringing Home the Bacon

So, my Hubby is getting into smoking. NO, not that kind of smoking....the kind where you make yummy smoked food!!
It all started a few years ago, when we were watching lots of "Diner, Drive-ins, and Dives"....you know the show on TV....lots of smoking foods and BBQ in that show (which by the way we gave up and lost like 5 pounds!).
Anyway, for his birthday, I gave him a small smoker.
He used it once...it was long, hot and hard....with minimal success...and that was the last time he used it.
However, a couple of years ago, he read a recipe using his grill to smoke a turkey....and the rest is history....now every Thanksgiving he MUST smoke the bird (which is no more than 12 pounds so I roast a second one).
At Christmas this last year, I gave him a bacon "kit" that gave him 4 ways to make bacon....last week he started the process, with the full intent of using the smoker. But when the smoking time came, the smoker was in need of too much clean up, so he followed the recipe for the grill....
Now, I apologize for the lack of pictures....one camera just didn't do it....lost the pics of the beginning product.
But, I have the end product and boy, another slam dunk! This is terrific! Who knew that pork belly could be so yummy?
Here is the bacon sliced and on a pan with brown sugar/spice on top to go into the oven...(which was a good idea, however, it smokes up the oven quite a bit, but it was tres yummy!!!


 Yup, this is the bacon, sliced as thin as possible.....
Here is the bacon with french toast that he made....super yummy...
And yesterday we had that bacon with pancakes....
Yeah, no cholesterol testing for a while.....
In any case, it was super delicious and he vows that the smoker is going to get cleaned up and used for the next batch!
Oh, and just in case you were thinking you wanted to make bacon....just know, that chefs have made pork belly (which is what you use for bacon) very expensive....so making bacon is really a big deal...but totally worth the time and effort....the flavor is unlike anything you have tried.
And by the way, we chopped up a bunch to put on baked potatoes last night....tres tres yummy!!
Have a great day...
Nancy