Friday, January 29, 2016

Snow Day Chili...

I mentioned that when we had our Snowpocalypse last week, I decided we would have some chili to keep our bones warm.  It was cold and our bones definitely needed some warmth...from the inside as well as the outside.

After perusing the pantry, I saw that I didn't have all of my usual chili ingredients, so I decided to make do with what I had.   Isn't that what a true "snow day" is all about...."making do"?!

This is what I ended up with:

1 pound lean hamburger meat (cooked and drained)
1 can Hunt's Tomato Sauce
1 can Dark Red Kidney Beans
1 can Wolf Chili
1/2 packet McCormick's Hot Chili Seasoning
1/2 packet McCormick's Mild Chili Seasoning
2 tablespoons Easy Taco Seasoning (recipe found here)
2-3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa

Believe me, I know this combination sounds bizarre and who would ever put chili IN a chili recipe?!  This chick, that's who...cuz a girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do! 

I browned and drained the hamburger meat and then dumped it in a pot with the rest of the ingredients.  I let it simmer for about 30 minutes.

I love the deep, rich color of this chili.  I personally do not like a chili that has a strong tomato-y taste because I don't like tomatoes.  This recipe had a wonderful flavor....I believe part of that was due to the addition of the cocoa.

We would normally serve with cheese, onions, etc., but we didn't have any toppings on hand.  We did have some semi-stale crackers and a semi-fresh bag of tortilla chips, so we served it up with those.

It was a SNOW DAY and things never fall perfectly into place for a snow day, but eating this chili while watching the snow fall, just made my day!  Remind me to share my recipe for Homemade Hot Chocolate on the next snow's delicious too!

I may be kicking my regular chili recipe to the curb for this one!


Thursday, January 28, 2016

It's Been One Week....

....since my last blog post!  A lot has happened since then!  We had to travel for business, once again, and I'm playing catch up on writing and reading.

But isn't it always that way!  And of course, I had to share a song, because it's been "one week"! :-)  And no, I have no idea what this song means....the only words I seem to pick up on are "Chinese Chicken"...don't ask me why.

After my last post, one week ago, we had a snow storm, as did most of the eastern United States.

Now I know that's not a big deal for my friends who live up North, but here in the South, it's a really, really big deal.  Eight inches for the Nashville area.  You know what that means?  Life stops!  It comes to a screeching, grinding halt!  Why?  Because we always seem to get a layer of ice before the snowfall.

Snow is not the problem, the ice is the problem.  The salt trucks even had trouble staying on the roads.  Those things were slipping and sliding everywhere.  The hubster has a 4-wheel drive, but when ice is around, we steer clear of trying to get out.  So (just for you Edward), we stayed in and worked.  This was my office for the day....

I also caught up on some reading....

...and cleaned the house a little...but not too much, after all, it was a "snow day".

For lunch/dinner, I made what I call "Snow-Day Chili".

I didn't have all of the supplies I needed for my regular chili, so I had to make do with what I had.  I will share the recipe tomorrow!

I hope you all have been having a great week and that if you were in the snow storm, that you are safe and warm!  Our snow is gone, but I'm hoping for more before too long.  Everyone thought I was nuts because I wanted to listen to Christmas Carols and watch Christmas movies on our snow day...they do go with snow, right??!!


Thursday, January 21, 2016

Back To That Half-Bath...

The paint is dry, the light fixture is in place and the only thing remaining is to add the crown molding and hang my decor.  I'm going to go ahead and show you the semi-after photos anyway because I just love the Peppercorn color and am so excited that this bathroom is 99.9% finished.  The crown molding will go up this weekend, the wall decor will be added and we will be calling this room complete!

Just to recap, this is where we started...boring, boring, boring.

No pizzazz, poor lighting and no personality!

Add a new vanity, some chair rail molding, a new light fixture, some light paint, a little dark paint...and you have a totally different room!

I now totally love this room!  The Peppercorn paint was truly the icing on the cake.  That dark color coupled with the Sherwin Williams Cashmere paint made all the difference in the world.  This was the bathroom before adding the Peppercorn paint...

...and this was after.

See what I mean?

It really took no time to add the darker color.  I just queued up some motivating tunes and got to work.

Nothing like "Apache" by the Sugarhill Gang and "Bust A Move" by Young MC to get in the painting groove!  I did have to be careful to not sling paint everywhere while I was "busting a move" and shooting those arrows.

I will show some additional pics after the molding and decor!  LOVING that Peppercorn to see what else might look good in this color!


Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Creating Your Own Christmas...

I know, I know...Christmas has been long gone.  The decorations are tucked back into their containers and there is not a tree to be found. Well, actually there is one on the side of the road up the street, but I figured the hubster wouldn't appreciate me dragging it home last night.

Before I go too far into this post, I want to thank you all for your prayers and well wishes regarding my youngest son's surgery yesterday.  He had to have a cyst removed...he called it Herman.  He is glad Herman is gone.  :-)  He did very well during the surgery so it did not require an overnight stay and I was able to come home last night.

A little side note about my youngest son.  He has a rare syndrome called Loeys-Dietz.  It is similar to Marfan's, but is more rare.  It is a connective tissue disorder and affects the entire body.  His veins are primarily spiral in shape, so Loeys-Dietz patients are prone to aneurysms.  By the time he was 16, he had been through about 18 surgeries and has had a few more since then.  He's had an aortic root transplant, caused by an aneurysm, and has some valve problems that may require surgery in the future.   He has already had his aortic valve repaired.   He also has some other health issues...but we can discuss those another time.  Again, thank you all for your support, thoughts and are all too kind!!

Soooo, I needed to get home last night because we here in Tennessee were expecting some severe winter, sleet and snow.  Our first of the winter.

I was thrilled at the prospect of snow...a whole 3 inches was predicted for our area.  Now, you have to understand, this is the South...if you mention the "S" word, all kinds of pandemonium takes place.  I'm sure the lines at the grocery stores were out the doors, but we were going to have to live on what we had in the house for a WHOLE day.  I figured we would survive.

The first ice pellets started about 4:00 know, it is weird that the sound of ice falling wakes you up out of a dead sleep.  I was excited but fell back asleep quickly.  When we got up there was little to nothing on the ground (bummer), but after watching local news, we saw that more of the white stuff was headed our way and that the roadways were already a mess.  We decided to delay our trek to work and enjoy the downtime, so I created some goodies to celebrate our little "white" Christmas.  We deserved it given it was over 70 degrees on Christmas day! :-)  I'm glad I had planned ahead for just such a day!

The hubster installed our new master bath light fixture while I worked on our goodies.  I first dug out the packaged Christmas cookies I had been saving and popped those in the oven.

Simple enough, right?!  While the cookies were cooling, I brought out the pièce de résistance...the crown jewel that I had been saving for our first snow....EGGNOG!

When I purchased all of those cartons, I made sure the expiration dates were far in the future...this little carton doesn't expire until February!

After the light was installed, we had a nice fire and enjoyed our little piece of Christmas and watched the snow fall.  It was wonderful and relaxing.  The eggnog was great, the cookies were horrible...all was right with the world!

After our accumulation of 1/4 inch, we decided we would make our way to the office.

Not a big event, but enough of one to keep me excited about winter!  :-)  Our next winter storm threat is Friday...we will see what happens!


Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Bear With Me...

I just wanted to drop a little note to ask you all to bear with me on visiting your blogs and responding to comments.

I'm at the hospital with my son...he had surgery this morning.  I drove down to Alabama yesterday and am not sure how long I will be here.

I do have a photo update of that wonderful Peppercorn paint and can't wait to show you!  Maybe tomorrow! :-)

Have a wonderful day my sweet friends!!


Monday, January 18, 2016

Plan B...

I've been showing you some of my choices for a bed to go in our 2nd guest bedroom.  And while it is always good to have ideas in place, it is also good to have a backup plan...a Plan B.   Never go into a situation without a second option.

While our original idea is to have a bed with a few other embellishments in this room, the hubster and I have also discussed not making it a traditional bedroom, but using it as a multi-purpose room.  To make it a multi-purpose room - a bedroom and a place for him to sit to play guitar - we looked at sleeper sofas, along with a couple of chairs, a small table, etc.

If I decide to go with Plan B, I would step all the way outside of my box and go with a completely different look....

....similar to the one above.  Sort of a mid-century modern look.  I've always wanted to flip a mid-century modern house and stage it with all mid-century modern furniture.  Hey, I can dream, right?!

A sofa bed is a great compromise for this room.  It offers a place for guests to sleep, but also a place for them to sit and relax prior to bedtime.

I love the design of the sofa.  It is so sleek and modern with a retro flair!  The chairs are a nice compliment to the straight lines of the sofa.  The table is totally modern, but blends nicely with the other pieces.

The chandelier also has clean lines...pretty but is unobtrusive.  I like the grouping of frames for the wall.  The hubster's guitar and cigar humidor would provide a dark color contrast with the light colored furniture.

So there's an idea of my Plan B for the 2nd guest bedroom.  Decisions, decisions!!


Friday, January 15, 2016

Champagne Taste...Beer Budget...

Yesterday, I showed you photos of the #2 guest bedroom and made a reference to beer and champagne.  I don't know why I'm automatically drawn to the things I cannot afford for my house, thus the Champagne Taste and Beer Budget.

So, you've seen my starting point in this bedroom.

The biggest problem I'm having is making a a bed!  I've seen so many beds that I just love and as soon as I say I'm going to order it, the price changes (to something higher because I didn't purchase while it was on sale) or I find something I like better!  Why am I so indecisive when it comes to these purchases??!!  Well, for starters, it is a large purchase.  It's not like a small lamp that I can easily return if I decide I don't like it in the room.  It's a massive undertaking to return a large piece of furniture and I don't want to go through the hassle.  Secondly, I want to find it at a price I can afford.

So far, everything I really, really like and want to buy is over my budget for this room.  Now do you see why I'm starting work on the One Room Challenge for Spring now?  It will take me that long to make a decision about a bed and we don't even want to get started on my issues with choosing a paint color.  You've seen how long it took....27 make a final decision on a paint color for that small half-bath!

Because this bedroom is smaller, I've been tossing around the idea of a full-sized bed for this room.  This decision brings an additional problem....most of the beds I like only come in queen or king.  I can use a queen bed, but it will severely limit open floor space in this room.  Next question...does it really make any difference since it is just a guest room and we rarely have people in both guest rooms at the same time?

I found this bed from Wayfair that I really, really, really love....

....but it is waaaayyyy over the budget.  So my goal is to find something comparable that I will love just as much.  Thus, my commitment dilemma??!!

I also found this comfy, cushy, crinkly/wrinkly-looking bedding, also outside of the budget constraints...

I've been trying to find a name for the look I want to use in this bedroom and all I can think of is "bed-head"...a sleepy, squishy, casual, dreamy, rumpled look.

I've been trying to convince myself to hate this bed, but I love the lines and style.  And I've also been playing the "switcharoo" game in my know...if I get this, then I can sell that, move this over there, sell one of the children, and then paint this....all of it ending in complete frustration.  Am I the only one who torments myself over these things??!!  :-)  I think not...LOL

AND, just when I think I'm going to commit to something...a bed, bedding, wall color, etc., I see this....

...and it starts all over again.  Let me just tell you now...I love that mottled wall, that iron bed, those floors and this bedding...yes, I know it is just a photo set, but still....

The floor option will not be changing in this room...I can just see the look on the hubster's face when I announce I want brand new carpeting ripped out and hardwoods put in....LOL

*Sigh* I can't pick a paint color for the walls until I find the right bed.  Maybe if I pick a wall color it will force my hand on making a bed decision!  Have I mentioned I'm a little OCD??!!  And how would I ever be able to speak if you removed the word "love" from my vocabulary?!?!


Thursday, January 14, 2016

A Half-Bath Update And Another Challenge...

I am so pleased to announce that after 27 weeks, my Fall One-Room Challenge will be completed this weekend.  YAY!  I purchased the Peppercorn paint and plan to paint over the weekend to finish up this space.  I've made a few purchases for the countertop and wall decor and will reveal it all to you next week.  But in the meantime, here's a peak at how the vanity looks.

I just can't tell you how difficult this space is to photograph.  You can see in the photo above how narrow the space is and I am at the other end trying to take a picture.  Crazy small space.

The area above the chair rail will be painted that beautiful dark color, Peppercorn.  I purchased it from Sherwin Williams and chose their "Cashmere" paint as the base.  I cannot wait to see how it looks on the wall.  The wall decor I've purchased for this space is a mix of black and gold....two colors that will really make the Peppercorn pop!

Remember I told you that you would be surprised at the final choice for the mirror?  This is the original mirror and while it looked horrible with the pedestal sink, we are pleased with it for the new vanity.  I still want to find one that has a little more pizzazz, but for the time being, this mirror works and will look so much better once the Peppercorn paint is up.  I'm trying to stay under the budget I set for this room by using what I have.

I've also been searching for a new light fixture but haven't found "the one" yet.  When I find it, it will be installed and all will be right in this space.

Now, on to the beer and champagne.  The Spring One-Room Challenge is just around the corner and if I'm going to participate, I need to get a running head start.  In our new home we have two guest bedrooms.  We had furniture for one of those bedrooms, but the other bedroom has become a catch-all room for stray items in the house.  I am ready for it to be a true bedroom.

It is not a very large room, is on the back of the house and has one window.  I took these photos a while back...

This room will not only be a guest bedroom, but it will also house the hubster's cigar humidor and his music equipment.  The wall decor will be music related.

So there's my starting point.  You will have to visit tomorrow to see what ideas I'm tossing around for this room.


Sunday, January 10, 2016

Potato Soup...or Chowder...

It is a frigidly cold day here in the south.  Temps dropped to 15 degrees last night and our high today reached a whopping 29 degrees.  The sky is overcast, the wind is blowing and we have a light dusting of snow.  While I know this is nothing compared to what my northern friends experience during the winter months, for us, it's pretty darn cold.

One thing I love about winter is being able to cook all of the wonderful soup and stew recipes I've collected over the years.  I wish that you could be sitting with me in our home right now...homemade potato chowder on the stove, Grandmother Ruby's country cornbread baking in the oven, and a batch of freshly baked semi-homemade blueberry muffins cooling on the counter.

The aroma of warm comfort foods on a dreary winter's day is heavenly.  Add to that a warm fire burning in the fireplace and a cup of hot chocolate.  It truly doesn't get any better than this.  For me, the only thing missing is 2 feet of snow on the ground and a sweeping view of the Smoky Mountains.  I'm still trying to figure out how I ended up in the South when I have such a love affair with snow.  The hubster says the love affair would be over after my first shoveling of the driveway!  He lived in New Jersey for a short while and said that was enough snow to last a lifetime.  But I digress....

What I want to share with you is this wonderful recipe I have for homemade Potato Chowder.

For the longest, I have called this recipe Potato Soup.  But the hubster and I had a brief conversation about the differences between soups and chowders, which prompted us to consult Mr. Google to find out the difference.  After a brief bit of research, we determined this recipe definitely fell into the chowder category.   It is thick, chunky and has a creamy/cheese base.

My dear friend Cindy gave this recipe to me many years ago.  I make it regularly during the winter and occasionally during the spring, but after that, it is just too blamed hot.  I am going to give you the original recipe and then give you the changes I've made over the years.

3 cups uncooked potatoes, peeled and cubed
2 cups water
1 1/2 cups milk
1/2 pound Velveeta cheese
1 chicken bouillon cube
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 clove garlic, chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon parsley flakes
1/2 cup chopped celery (optional)

Mix potatoes, bouillon cube, onion, garlic, parsley and salt in water and boil until potatoes are soft.  Drain most of the water, but not all.  Mash potatoes to desired consistency (chunky or smooth).  Add milk and Velveeta cheese.  Stir well and cook on low until well blended and warmed through.  Serves 8.

Now, for the changes I make.  I like to use two types of potatoes....Russet and Yukon Gold.   The Yukon Gold potatoes add a little sweetness to the recipe.  I leave most of the skins on our potatoes.  I also add some Oregano and black pepper.  Instead of using Velveeta cheese, I use a can of Campbell's Cream of Cheese soup.  I do not mash our potatoes as the hubster likes the chowder pretty chunky and I do not add celery.   If you have fresh parsley, great.  If not, use the flakes.  Garnish with some grated cheese, parsley flakes, cornbread crumbles and chopped onion.

This chowder is delicious and I serve it with homemade cornbread.  YUM!  We finished up this meal with some blueberry muffins.

What a perfect way to spend a wintry day!


Friday, January 8, 2016

Plain Jane Bedroom...

I gave you a little photo snippet yesterday of our bedroom.  Not much to see in the photo.  Hey, it was a teaser! :-)

Before I share other photos, I will give you a warning.  You will not find designer styles or brands in our bedroom.  It is not an interior designer's dream bedroom or even a popular style.  But it is ours and we love it.

Our bed is black as are our night tables.  So is our chest-of-drawers.  So is the frame of the mirror propped against the wall (dang, I forgot to take a photo of that...LOL)  It is not a brightly lit bedroom as it is on the back of the house.  There is a thin line of trees that separates our yard from the neighbors behind us.  There is a door that leads to our screened porch and the dimness of the porch contributes to the lack of light in our bedroom.  It is the perfect place for sleeping in on those dreary, rainy Saturday mornings.

While there are no designer elements here, what you will find is a place where the hubster and I discuss the day's events before going to sleep...a place where we play silly word games on our phones....a place where we have our Elf "tickle fights"....a place where I cry over our children and discuss worries with the hubster.  You will find a place where we play chase after someone gets popped with a towel while he's brushing his teeth.

If you walked into our room during the night, you would find water bottles covering each night table.  We both awake during the night due to menopause...him, just because he's thirsty.

You will usually find books, as we sometimes like to read before going to sleep.  The hubster has read to me and I have read to, no, not at the same time.  :-)

You won't find clothing or shoes strewn about or a bed left unmade.  What you see in these photos is how I leave this room every single day...well, minus the food and drink.  Have I mentioned I'm wound a little tight and have an OCD problem? ;-)

I feel it is important to walk into our sanctuary, our place of solace, and not see a mess from earlier in the walk in and know that we can immediately relax and shake off the work day.

So, enough of that sappy stuff....

You will notice an empty frame on the photo ledge...a project will be going in there as soon as I pick out the one I like best.  My head is swimming with ideas, so for right now, it stays blank.  And what you can't see on the LOVE canvas, is the price tag.  I bought it on sale and am still not sure it will stay...I'm thinking on know, mulling it over.  The drop cloth curtains are still hanging in there...get it..."hanging" room.

This little set from yesterday's photo...

....was a find over the holidays.  I bought the vintage pitcher at a flea market, along with a creamer that looks very similar.  The two little gold mugs (one is hiding) were Target bargains.  Throw these things on a wood slice with a couple of voilà...a vignette is born!

Let me tell you...I tiptoed around this room while that hot chocolate was on the bed.  I would be in a straight jacket today if that pitcher had fallen over...LOL  Have I mentioned I'm wound a little tight and have an OCD problem? ;-)

So there you have room down.  I will post when I put something in that won't be much longer now because that empty frame is driving me crazy.

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