Today I want to share a link for a post from another blog that I go to frequently. This lady's style is super inspiring to me and her most recent post is thought provoking...to the point I think other's may like it to. So, without further ado, here it is:
Monday, December 13, 2010
No matter where you live right now it's just down-right chilly! Time for some serious warm beverage consumption...which, in my humble opinion, is the ONLY good thing about cold weather. I have told God many, many times over the years that I am a Beach Bunny and totally not a Snow Bunny. However, being one to never pass up a good cup of java no matter what the temp is outside I do have to admit it tastes better when it is used to warm the body on a cold winter's day. Like today. Like last week. Which brings me to this post and wanting to share a yummy recipe for Spiced Coffee from the current issue of "Health" magazine. We made it last week for the first time and it's a keeper! Spiced decaf in the afternoon will soon be a staple in the Richardson Household. Well, at least during the winter months, that is.
Here's how it is made:
Ingredients for the syrup:
1 c sugar
1/2 c water
1 1/2 tsp ground allspice
1 3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp ground ginger
Heat sugar and water in a small saucepan over medium heat; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low; add spices. Simmer until sugar is dissolved (about 5 minutes); remove pan from heat and cool. Once cool, the syrup can be put into a container and stored in the fridge.
To use the syrup we added 1 tbsp of the spiced syrup to a cup of coffee (have to note here that we use large coffee mugs), mixed well and added heavy cream to our personal taste. Now we like our coffee strong so if you prefer something milder (or use standard size coffee cups) you may consider cutting the tbsp of syrup in half. We also found that the syrup added enough sweetness so that additional sugar was not required. Again, everyone's taste is different, though, so experiment until you find the right combination of coffee/syrup for you. For an extra special touch the cup of coffee can also be topped off by a dollop of whipped heavy cream and then dusted with ground cinnamon. And then, the best part...ENJOY!
Friday, December 10, 2010
Anything that makes my life in the kitchen easier excites me beyond belief. Couple convenience with frugality and we have a real winner...and this post is about just that...
Before I go on, have you ever come across an idea that sounded good, the blogger claimed it works, only to discover she must have some secret knowledge that you don't after you tried it? Being skeptical and not wanting to waste my time and resources keep me from jumping right on in with every cool idea under the sun. But this one had my interest so I gave it a shot and it totally worked and is something I will be doing from now on. This idea I've peaked your interest about is making stock at home as found here: http://www.econobusters.com/2010/09/guest-postkelly-the-culinarians-homemade-stock/
Per Kelly's instructions I faithfully saved a baggie full of 'junk' and once that baggie was full I dedicated a day for this project. I pulled out the largest pot I own and filled it:
After letting it cook and then cool, I strained it per Kelly's instructions:
And then finished cooking it down...which I did not take photos of the finished product. Oh, and did this process make the house smell heavenly! It should come with a disclaimer: "Warning! Doing this will make you hungry!" Yeah, it smells that good while cooking!
After sitting in the fridge over night I put the stock into freezer containers in 2 cup increments (it yielded 12 cups for me) and then used them in everything from brown rice to soups and casseroles. It was such a nice variation from adding plain water and so much tastier than store-bought stock or bouillon cubes. When using the stock I simply took it directly from the freezer...no need to defrost it if you are putting the stock directly into a hot dish. If you've mixing it into a casserole to go into the oven you'll want to defrost it first then.
One of the dishes I used this homemade stock in was Chinese Spaghetti:
This simple dish was born out of the need to use a little this-and-that from the fridge one night at my house. Now, keep in mind I do not have actual measurements as this is done to my family's taste and honestly each time there's a little variation as what I have on hand varies. With that being said here's the generalities of the dish:
1 box whole wheat spaghetti, cooked
Left-over turkey or chicken -chopped or shredded
Veggies to suit your family's taste
Dry mustard, ground ginger, soy sauce, corn startch
1 can chunk pineapples in juice -optional-
2 cups homemade stock
While the spaghetti is cooking -break the spaghetti up as you put it into the pot of boiling water, stir-fry whatever fresh veggies you have on hand in an electric skillet with a tiny bit of olive oil (just enough to keep the veggies from sticking to the skillet). Some options are: onions, garlic, peppers, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, celery, etc. Just use veggies to suit your family's taste. There are times when I have frozen, not fresh broccoli, so I'll throw that in. Other times I have used green beans. On occasion I'll even through in a spoon full of left over veggies directly from the fridge.
Once your veggies are tender-crisp (or well-done if that's what your family prefers) you will add the dry mustard, ground ginger, and soy sauce to your family's taste. Some people like a more robust flavor, some like just a hint. Stir well. Then add the stock and meat. Heat thoroughly.
In the meantime, drain the can of pineapples, reserving the liquid in a small bowl. Add the pineapples to the skillet. Mix well. Add cornstartch to the pineapple juice (usually heaping tablespoon is enough) and mix well then set aside for a few minutes.
By this time the spaghetti noodles should be done and drained. Before adding the noodles, add the reserved pineapple juice containing the cornstartch. Stir until the liquid in the skillet is slightly thickened. At this point add the cooked noodles and stir well, making sure the dish is heated through. Once it is, enjoy!
Now, if your family does not like pineapples (my husband does not so I omit them when he's here for supper), no worries...omit them and use some of the stock, or a little bit of water, to disolve the cornstartch in. Over-all, just play around with the ingredients until you find a winning combination for your family. There really is no right or wrong way to make this dish!
Thursday, December 9, 2010
With the Christmas season upon us our homes are in the process of being transformed into works of art in celebration of this time of year. What better way to do so than to continue to surround yourself and your family with the things you love? Today will give you, Dear Reader, a sneak peek into my home and some of the things I love...first, do you remember these boots? They held fall leaves up until a few days ago and looked like this:
With a few simple changes using some yard sale finds the boots are ready to serve a dual purpose...first as a Christmas decoration and then, with the removal of the poinsettias after Dec. 25 they're ready for the rest of the winter. Making this change was super easy and only cost a few dollars. Then it was on to decorating the rest of the house. Now honestly I have to admit I love indoor Christmas deocrations but hate to take them down at the end of the season. The house is left feeling drab and boring without them. So this year I decided to do a few things that will stay out throughout the winter. I was also on the hunt for *new* decorations this year. Something different. Something shiny and rustic all at the same time. Here's what I rustled up from the stash of things I love:
The two above photos are part of a vingette that will stay on my table top all winter:
Here's a cool new idea I borrowed this year came from Martha Stewart. She used these to make candles, I just used them for funky decorations on the lanai:
Yes, these are simply spray painted seashells. And what an excuse to take a walk on the beach, right? Oh, and talk about super, duper simple to do. A few minutes and couple cans of metallic spray paint and wa-la! Done! I like them so much I added some to a hurricane and regular vase for the bathroom:
Sorry the picture quality is not so great...had these sitting on the counter when I snapped the pic. And yes, that most certainly is a stuffed flamingo wearing a Santa hat in the background. She is one of my most prized possessions!
While thinking about what you love to surround yourself with at home, don't be afraid to mix styles. Like I said earlier I like rustic and I like shiny. So combining the two on the front porch to complete decorating for Christmas fit the bill for me:
In years past our Christmas tree has been a palm tree on the lanai. After one too many summers worth of sun and the elements it had grown tired looking and the metal base had rusted. So to palm tree heaven it was sent and we picked up a small fake tree at a yard sale. All was going well with the *new* tree until we took it out of the box and discovered WHY it as sold super inexpensively at a yard sale. The base was gone. Lost. Never to be returned. So I looked at it leaned against the wall for a day and racked my brain. After-all I HAD to put it up since I had purchased brand-new "bulbs" to go on it and I totally was NOT going to purchase a tree this time of year and pay full price! Since necessity is the mother of invention, into my stash of loved things I went and came out with this new base:
The base is simply and old crock filled partially with sand sitting on a barstool (I sawed the legs down for this) covered by a tablecloth. Only the "bulbs" and berries came brand-new from a store, the rest, again, are yard sale finds. Yeah, I know the top of the tree is bare...maybe I'll get motivated to figure something out for it, maybe not. Sometimes I'm crazy that way. Okay, sometimes I'm lazy that way. And the table sitting next to it is kinda bare...still haven't figured that one out, either. There's always a project in progress around my home...
So as December marches faithfully forward and time seems to slip through the cracks, sometimes making for stressful days, remember to surround yourself with things as uniquely beautiful as you are. With things that just make you smile. Doing so helps to make this time of year more joyful. Really, who can stress when enjoying something beautiful while sipping hot chocolate, or herb tea, or better yet...coffee? By taking good care of yourself you are able to take better care of your family and those you love.
Friday, December 3, 2010
Good morning y'all! Hope this finds everyone well, warm and getting along in being ready for Christmas! Around here we are warm (staying inside) and Christmas plans are coming along. Just yesterday all the indoor decorations were put up so that leaves the outside for the husband and kids to do this weekend. A few more presents to make on my end and I'm totally done.
Before I start rambling on I want to share a resource that my friend Pam sent me. It is super cool! The entire Bible (NIV) can be found on one page here: http://www.jrsbible.info/bible.htm
Getting to a specific verse, book, or chapter couldn't be easier. Thanks, Pam, for sharing this!
Oh, this was added to the Bible resource page here on the blog.
Now to ramble...
Along with the busy-ness this time of year brings we've faced some tough mental things the past few weeks. It started with a tremendous praise report...which, of couse, is not tough mentally...my father-in-law has been healed by God! (He had lung cancer.) Right on the heals of getting this awesome report and praising God we find out my husband will need back surgery to fix a herniated disc. Disappointment at the MRI result is an understatement. God is faithful and we fully believe Jesus already bore stripes on His back for my husband's healing two thousand years ago! So we've been seeking God for answers to tough questions regarding this and some of the questions He's answered and some He is just wanting us to trust Him instead of giving clear cut answers. My husband's first appointment with the surgeon is early February so we'll just be going from there as to when the next step takes place for him.
On top of this I personally am facing one of the hardest times as a Mom that I've faced to date. My youngest bundle of joy has decided to start to make her own way in the world by going to public high school for the rest of her 10th grade year and on through until the end. The school God has chosen for her is a charter public high school located on the campus of a local state college. This is a huge, positive step for her. Not only will she graduate with a high school diploma she will graduate with her AA. Right now she's working on finishing up the first semester here at home and is all ready to start there in January. It was a painless process over-all. The doors to this opened and we stepped effortlessly through them. With all that positive stuff said...here's the kicker...MY emotions. Before I go on I must say that homeschooling has been one of the greatest joys of my life. I thoroughly LOVE IT! Love everything about it! I strongly believe in it, especially in the young, formulative years. We've spent eleven years doing this and in this time I have taught my girls to be strong women and independant thinkers. Backing up even further...for the past twenty-one years of my life I have not made a single decision about how to spend my day/time without taking into consideration how it will effect my girls. For the past eleven of those years schooling has been first and foremost in my mind on daily activities/choices. Now abruptly that all ends. The only consideration I will now need to make is what time to drop her off at school and to make sure I'm there to pick her up. As this realization hit I have grieved over the loss of homeschooling. I have shed a few tears along the way while talking to God and asking Him "So now what do I do with myself since I still do not know what I want to be when I grow up?" I have struggled with feeling useless...though thankfully that struggle did not last long. God spoke very clearly and very quickly and straightened my attitude right on out. Though that thought tries to creep back into my mind I have to cast it out and replace it with the knowledge that I always knew this day would come...it is as it should be for kids to grow up and move on with their lives...and that God is not through with me yet and the sweetest years with Him are yet to come. So I have been working through some serious emotional ups and downs and felt I needed to receive more from God than I have had to give to anyone else...thus the reason for neglecting the blog lately. With all this behind me now I can begin to move forward again. Yeah, I'm sure there'll be some more sadness when reality sets in again as I drop my baby off at school in January...and then watch my other baby head out for her first day of college a few days later. But you know something? Seriously...all my junky feelings aside...it really is with great pride and joy that I watch my girls step out into their own lives with God. He can take so much better care of them than I ever could/can. And now, on a selfish personal note, it will be with great expectancy that I wait to see where this journey leads me next...