a few scenes from our saturday. a wonderfully lazy one.
1. i have been lighting candles every night. today was snowy and a bit grey which called for some afternoon candlelight.
2. i turned 41 this week. gifts from my sister are always my favorite.
3. today was a nachos kind of day. i pulled out a jar of pickled sweet and spicy peppers we canned this summer.
4. chris is away on retreat this weekend with my pop. nan came to stay with us.
5. i cannot get enough of pomegranates these days. i put the seeds in salads, oatmeal or just simply eat with a spoon.
how was your day?
It was time for a little sprucing up on the second floor.
Sometimes the upstairs gets a little neglected. I’m not sure why. But the truth of the matter is as a family we use every single room in our home to it’s fullest almost every single day. It’s easy to do in a not-so-big house. So I decided to enhance our second floor space with a few simple additions.
I buy flowers weekly during the winter months. They really cheer things up a bit.
But I realized that fresh flowers rarely make their way upstairs.
Why have I never had a bouquet of my favorites in my bedroom?
Silly i tell you! So I bought several bunches of tulips (on sale for $1.99 a bunch!) and scattered them about. I can’t tell you how happy they make me. My upstairs feels all fancy now.
Our bedroom got a little makeover with a new grey and white gingham quilt and some euro shams. My bed has been looking a little hodge-podge and floppy lately. I wanted a little more of a grown up and formal feel. I also bought 2 new white pottery lamps from Target. They have a great new household line called Threshhold that is both pretty and affordable . As much as I love to thrift, sometimes a few “new” things can make a space feel crisp and fresh.
I am in love with my new woven bench (believe it or not, also by Target!). It helps to define the little hallway space.
And the bathroom got some fresh new towels.
So let’s talk soup!
We eat a lot of it in the winter months and I can honestly say it’s one of my favorite meals.
I even eat it for breakfast.
I love the versatility of soup. I am not a rule follower and usually never refer to a recipe when making anything except baked goods.
I think that’s why i like soup so much. It’s a simple meal that allows for some creativity but there are no strict rules. Soup is pretty hard to get wrong. Especially if you follow a few simple guidelines.
I usually cook a whole chicken in the crock-pot once a week at this time of year. It provides us several meals including stock for soup. After we pick the meat off we immediately throw all of the bones and excess into a pot and cover with water to boil and then simmer for a few hours. We then strain the golden juice into a jar for the next batch of soup. Although I often use store bought chicken broth, there is nothing like homemade. It’s like liquid gold in any soup.
If you have a good quality broth, olive oil, onions, garlic and a few vegetables (especially those stragglers in the fridge that are a little past their prime) you are ready to make some soup!
a few simple soup tips…
:: Always have onions and garlic in the pantry. All other veggies can vary but these two will really enhance the flavors of the other veggies you use especially when sauteed all together in olive oil or butter.
:: Clean out your fridge. Yes, you can use rubbery carrots, limp parsnips and wilty greens. When cooked up with other ingredients they will still taste good. Soup is a great way to reduce waste in your kitchen.
:: Experiment with herbs and spices. I admit to being a curry-aholic and make a lot of curry based soups but there are so many herbs to choose from. Don’t be afraid to use fresh herbs too, especially sprinkled on top of individual bowls of soup. I love fresh chopped parsley or cilantro.
:: Condiments can add flavor. Things like ketchup, sriracha, worcestershire and soy sauce have made their way into many of my soups.
:: Tomato sauce, tomato paste and canned tomatoes are a soups best friend.
:: Add greens. Swiss chard, kale, collards, bok choy, spinach, turnip greens…. they all taste great in soup. I always have a sad looking bunch of greens sitting in my fridge that can quickly be rescued in to soup.
:: Broth heavy in roots and squashes can be pureed into a creamy flavorful soup. Save the last few cups of the batch and freeze to add to your next soup’s broth to provide a rich texture and flavor.
:: Boost your broth with a Parmesan rind. It will add substantial flavor to your soup.
:: If not adding meats to your soup, add lentils or beans for a boost of protein. Lentils can be directly added to simmering broth and other ingredients. Other hardier beans will need to be cooked ahead of time.
:: Taste, sip, sample while you cook. I am a big supporter of adding ingredients and then tasting. There is nothing more disappointing than making a meal without tasting as you go along to find that the is just too salty or spicy. Although there are a few tips to reverse these mistakes I still recommend getting out a spoon and sipping as you go.
:: If you have a husband like me who doesn’t accept soup as a meal unless bread is involved, try other alternatives to store bought. Homemade biscuits or cornbread are really simple to whip up and with a nice hunk of cheese you have a complete meal.
Next week I will offer a step by step guide to my weekly soup.
aquarians don’t like to be told what to do. that includes me telling myself what to do! not the best trait when it comes to monthly/weekly/daily regimens and routines. but i am not going to box myself and instead enjoy this process.
for the last five years i have made each of my girls a photo book re-capping the year.
i am hoping that these weekly photos (with a few words) will help to enhance this.
hannah: you love sweets and tea. not a week goes by where you don’t make us all a tea party. i surprised you with applesauce cake for breakfast. you thanked me at least ten times.
norah: you came down with a dress, stockings and maryjanes on. not your typical attire. i couldn’t stop looking at you all day. i saw who you will be in 5 years over and over.
yesterday i woke up and said “i’m going to invite a few people over”. it was last minute and i had a workshop to attend that would take half of my day so i decided on desserts and drinks.
i made a huge batch of chocolate covered strawberries and a chocolate almond torte from 3191Q issue 9 that i had been itching to try. there was some cheese and bread, wine and brew and a bouquet of yellow tulips.
we sat around the fire nibbling on sweets until midnight.
recipe for a simple, stress free, last minute dessert party.
:: don’t hesitate to bake something new when having guests over. but choose something with a few simple steps and ingredients to keep the stress level down.
:: serve something a little savory like cheese or spicy nuts to go along with the sweets.
:: serve some fruit like strawberries and clementines. easy, peasy and who doesn’t like fruit?
:: fancy up fruit by dipping in chocolate or break out the fondue pot and make it a fondue party!
:: if you aren’t a baker or have run out of time don’t cancel the party! buy a batch of cookies or cake at your local bakery. i don’t know what i would do without the selection of yummy sweets at trader joes.
:: keep a set of decorative paper napkins and tea lights tucked away to be ready for last minute gatherings.
:: say yes to guests who offer to bring something. a extra bottle of wine or snack can help with your budget and time.
:: offer a fun cocktail, punch or wine that pairs well with dessert. i like to serve drinks that align with the seasons. warm up your guests in the winter months with irish coffee, a hot toddy or mulled wine.
:: a bouquet of flowers and candles is all you need to spruce things up.
the weekend was rainy and gloomy, perfect for board games, applesauce making and organizing drawers and closets.
the weather has warmed up a bit which makes my long early morning walks a little more tolerable.
harry our dog has been such a gift in getting me outdoors. since we do not have a fenced in yard i have no choice but to take him out on walks in all sorts of weather. i thank him every day for that.
for those in the area, i am teaching a class on beauty and simplicity in the home.
i am rather excited about it.
back to snuggling with hannah.
i baked poppyseed cake and gingersnaps on monday and yesterday i baked a lemon bread for craft circle.
this recipe comes from my aunt patty and is very lemony and moist with a lemon/sugary glaze.
this bread has been made for many a shower, party and event and is perfect with tea.
i had not made it in a few years and after being gifted some lemons from a friend’s backyard tree in louisiana i immediately thought of this favorite.
aunt patty’s lemon bread
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup milk
1 rind lemon
1 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
preheat oven to 350 degrees
cream butter and sugar together. add eggs, milk and lemon rind.
sift together dry ingredients and add to butter mixture.
pour in to greased and floured loaf pan and bake for 45 minutes.
while bread bakes make a glaze of 1/2 cup sugar and juice of 1 lemon.
while bread is still warm, pop out of pan and spoon glaze over.
tonight we headed over to a friends for a birthday celebration and ended the evening with downton abbey.
did you watch? what did you think?
chris and i stumbled in to a new yarn store today while the girls were in sewing class.
he picked up some yarn to crochet himself a hat and i picked up a book of sweater patterns . first up, the basic round-yoke pullover. made with this yarn. not sure which color yet.
i have only knit a few sweaters in my lifetime but never one for myself. with the winter olympics and season four of downton abbey almost here i am looking forward to giving my needles a work out and donning a new sweater before winter ends.