Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Ambers Black Rooster Cottage Blog, Christmas Giveaway

I have a Christmas cookie post to share with you, but gosh darn I'm just so busy and still haven't gotten the photos off my camera. But my blogging friend Amber is having a wonderful Christmas giveaway on her blog that will be ending soon, so I wanted to send out a quick post about that! I love the pillows that she is giving away and thought about a few of my readers as well when I saw them! So if you're interested, hop on over there and take a quick peek!
The picture is a link...;)

The winner will be chosen Christmas morning, so don't dawdle! (Sorry I'm so late sharing this info with you)

Sunday, December 12, 2010

First Snow

Let me start off by saying, as a rule of thumb, we don't get "measurable" snow on a regular basis around this area, so we tend to get a little excited over the white stuff! We do get snow every year, though seldom this early and it's always a surprise when it doesn't miss us! Well...It didn't MISS us this time! It is only around 2 1/2 inches but it's just stunning!! Beautifully white and fluffy, and the sort that you can just brush off your drive!

The birds are just going wacky and I just had to catch some of them in action! All of these photos were taken from inside because gosh darn it, it's COLD out there!

You think he spotted me? ;)

Althea's loving it!

Hope you all are having a most joyous day, whether you have some of the white stuff or not!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Christmas Time Mantel

Probably like the rest of you, I have been busy decorating the house for the season! I can remember in years gone by this time before Christmas just dragging by...s.l.o.w.l.y....!   Where did those days go?  Now days, time seems to fly right out the window.  I do tend to dawdle more now than I did when I was younger and perhaps that's it.  I really have slowed down and just seem to take so much more in.  In any case, I thought I would share some images of our Mantel this Christmas. Every year I do it up differently and this year is no exception. All of the photo's below will enlarge when clicked on.  I really had to resist posting them all BIG!

This guy has been in our family for years on end....I love him!
He plays soft Christmas tunes and his world globe spins slowly...

Jack has laid claim on all 5 of the stockings this year!

A hand painted gift from my son and his wife. This ornament was painted from the inside! Just stunning...

I love Christmas time and all the shiny things to go along with the love you can feel in the air!  I also really enjoy sharing with you my little place in the world, and how it looks and changes with each season.  Now all I need is some snow!  Can you hear my Santa?

Monday, November 29, 2010

Maybe Not So Daring...

Happy end to Holiday break Monday!!  Man, with Jack being off school since November 19th, it feels like it's been a really long Holiday Break!  Along with that holiday bird, came a nice case of a stomach virus for Jack. Not only Jack but a minimum of 4 people in attendance were sick by Saturday! Ahh, and so it goes...*g*

We did manage to get the tree up and decorated yesterday and we all had a wonderful time doing that!

I promised a peek at the new rug, which I called "daring" in my last post.  However, after living with it for a week or so, I've decided that probably no one else would consider it daring and that I have just become boring and non adventurous!

I really like how it looks, but best of all, it's not going to show those doggy foot prints
when he runs past me as I let him in from outside!

Here's another view. This is exciting eh? ;)
Sitting on the sofa is my awesome burlap pillow that I got from Ambers Black Rooster Cottage .  I love it!
I'm thinking she is in the process of re stocking her wares,
so their may not be anything available on line at the moment, but check often as she always has such special things! (Amber, I'm longing for that pendant to be offered! ;)

And for good measure, a bonus shot of the tree! The mantel nor the rest of the house is decorated yet, but Jack just had to get those stockings up!

Hope everyone enjoyed their family time, stayed well and are getting in the Christmas spirit!  I just LOVE this time of year and felt all sorts of excitement as I drove Jack to school this morning and made stops at the post office. It always feels like love is in the air this time of year!

Happy Monday!


Monday, November 22, 2010

Winters Winds Are Blowing In...Sort Of

Happy Monday before Thanksgiving Everyone!

Jack is already on holiday break!  It's so hard to believe that Thanksgiving is already here, with the Christmas season just beyond.  Where the heck did this year go? Anyway, today we were blessed with temps in the 70's but with the promise of thunderstorms dropping the temperatures to more seasonal levels overnight.  I thought what better time than now to get out and get the roses trimmed back so they won't be whipping in the wind as winter creeps in.  Of course I forgot to take the camera out while Jack and I were working, but I did run back out and take some photos so you guys could see what a difference Autumn makes around here.

btw...I already DID the leaves, several times actually. What's left is just gonna have to be left! :)

And of course the reason for being out there....

These are on their last leg, but I couldn't resist saving them to bring inside anyway. They smell heavenly!

Once we were back inside I had promised Jack that he could give his Chia Kung Fu Panda another go round.   This silly thing was a gift from one of his brothers last year.  After it died back, we set him and the extra seeds aside to re do it at a later time. So that was today!

Jack loves this thing!

Hope everyone is having fun getting ready for Thanksgiving dinner and precious time with family and friends!   We celebrate Thanksgiving at my sisters house, so I won't be having any Turkey recipes or photos to share on that matter, BUT...I did get a daring new area rug over the weekend and will be posting that this later this week!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Baked Lemon Tilapia with Sauteed Swiss Chard


Where have I been you ask?  Heavens if I know, and I'm just going to call it a mental vacation!  Actually I'm having a harder time getting back in the groove of being a "Mom" than I ever expected with Jack starting school.   It sounds silly I know after having already raised four, but boy am I ever out of practice with the whole school routine!  Not to mention the Stock Market part of my life keeping me on my toes this past month.

Now that Halloween has passed and we are officially entering the holiday season, I thought it was time I got back in the groove of things and climb back on this horse of mine.  Never easy for this sidetracked girl!

Jim and I were recently discussing my delima's with dinner planning and came to the conclusion that it's ok for me to repeat a meal.   I know most people have certain meals that they repeat over a couple of weeks, but I've never been one of them.  For instance, we love spaghetti, but I would never dream of making it more than once a month. Same goes for many of our favorites, and I need to get past that  if I am to stop making things so much harder on myself than they have to be. So, I am in the process of gathering up my favorite recipes and trying to create a repeatable menu. I might or might not share it with you when I finalize it, it all depends on whether it looks decent or embarrassing when I'm done!

I'm not terribly fond of fish, but am aware that it would be a good thing for it to be more prominent in our diet, so I went searching for fish recipes recently and came across this one from the Food Network.  It's a recipe adapted from Sunny Anderson that actually calls for Sole.  I had Tilapia though, and will more than likely never have Sole readily available, so I switched it up.  I'll tell you up front, the recipe was delicious and Jim and Jack both loved it, but as much as I love lemon, it was a bit much for me.   When next I make this, I will add half of the lemon juice while making the sauce, and taste and add as need be.  Hope you enjoy it as much as we did!  I'll post some images and then have the recipe follow.

Gather your Ingredients

Prepare you bread crumb topping then season the Tilapia and lay in a buttered baking dish.  Set aside while you make the sauce

In a small saucepan melt 4 tablespoons of butter and add the lemon juice and capers.

Pour butter mixture over fish, and sprinkle tops with bread crumb mixture. Bake uncovered for 15 to 20 minutes.
I also sprinkled just a very small amount on Panko bread crumbs over the top, just to ensure a crispy topping.

While your fish is baking, you want to prepare the Swiss Chard.
Add the olive oil to a large skillet over medium heat and saute the minced garlic.

Add the Swiss chard and saute until wilted, about 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Serve hot with the Tilapia.

Out of the oven!

Dang, I'm posting this at 11:30 am, having had no breakfast as of yet! This looks so yummy!

Picture is a bit blurry, but I wanted you to see how crunchy it was before I spooned the extra sauce from the baking dish over it.

So there you go!  Fast and easy and VERY flavorful!


Baked Lemon Tilapia with Sauteed Swiss Chard

For bread crumb mixture:

* 4 slices fresh white bread, crusts discarded and bread quartered
* 1 teaspoon lemon zest
* 1/4 cup walnut halves
* 1/4 cup grated Parmesan
* 2 tablespoons olive oil

For Tilapia:

* 4 Tilapia fillets, rinsed and patted dry
* Salt and freshly ground black pepper
* 4 tablespoons butter, plus extra for casserole
* 1/4 cup lemon juice 3 tablespoons capers 2 tablespoons olive oil
* 2 cloves garlic, minced
* 2 bunches Swiss chard, leaves removed and chopped


Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

In a food processor combine bread, lemon zest, walnuts and cheese. Pulse until almost uniform in texture. Continue pulsing while drizzling in the olive oil. Set aside.

Season fish with salt and pepper. Place 4 fillets in a single layer on a buttered 9 by 12-inch casserole. In a small saucepan melt 4 tablespoons of butter and add the lemon juice and capers. Pour butter mixture over fish, and sprinkle tops with bread crumb mixture. Bake uncovered for 15 to 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, add the olive oil to a large skillet over medium heat. Infuse the oil with minced garlic, then add the Swiss chard and saute until wilted, about 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Serve hot with the Tilapia.

Notes: Rinse the capers. It didn't say to, I didn't and should have. Taste as you add the lemon so as not to go too strong. I think different lemons have differing strengths of tartness. Obviously any vegetable would be wonderful with this. I actually didn't have enough swiss chard and threw some spinach into the pan to fill in.   Also, if your topping doesn't look crunch as you're approaching the end of cooking time, go ahead and turn the broiler on for the last 5 minutes or so, just watch it carefully.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Kitchen Pantry Re-Do

Happy Wednesday!  Let me start off by saying I am totally off schedule with my Houseworks Holiday Plan.  Last week was "Close to Home week" and if I had followed the plan, I would have been de-junking Jacks room, which I didn't, though Jack and Dad did go through some toys and we were able to gather a very large black trash bag full of toys to donate to the Vets.

I didn't stick to the plan because I had other things on my mind, namely my pantry which has been driving me bonkers!  This is a before picture...:/

Really, pretty embarrassing...

It reached a point that I couldn't find anything.
So I stopped by Wal-Mart on my way from dropping Jack at school to look for some storage containers.

I was thrilled when I ran across all of these! I bought a  variety along with picking up a couple of cases of canning  jars in a large and small size.

Next I loaded them all up and gave them a good wash.

I pulled everything out of the pantry and scrubbed the shelves down.  I almost stopped to paint (as is my side tracked way) but reminded myself that not only did I not have time to paint, but that's not what this job was about and that I would add "paint" pantry to my list of things to do in the future.  Once the jars were washed and dry I started transferring anything that I could into a glass jar.  I cut out cooking directions for cereals, tapioca's and such and put those in a small file box. My intentions are to copy those over to index cards and have them in the recipe box. I also cut out the name of the item, as in "Cream of Wheat" and taped them on the lid of the glass jars.  A label maker would have come in handy here, though if I had a label maker I would probably be out of either ink or labels anyway, so this worked just fine.  And here is the big Ta Da!

All in all I'm very happy with the outcome.   I feel way more organized and everything just looks better. I also think I've decided to just replace the 25 year old shelves with wire shelving in the future.  Next up will be the other kitchen pantry that's around the corner in the laundry room.

But not this week, this week is House Room Week....which I have switched with Me and Mine week because I worked on the guest bedroom last week because we had a guest come last Wed.  So this week I'm working on the Master Bedroom space. I haven't gotten to this yet as my guest just left Monday, I don't remember what I did yesterday and today I spent the whole morning backing up my blog because I was forced into finally doing the wordpress 3.01 update (that I didn't want to do out of fear) because my image uploader stopped working!!

Aughhhh! Anyway, I conquered the pantry and now have managed to get my blog software updated properly and will now push "publish" on this entry I started 4 1/2 hours ago!

Hope everyone is having a lovely, "non frustrating" Wednesday! Happy Pantry re-do to you!


Monday, September 20, 2010

Houseworks Holiday Plan ~ Week 3?

Ha! My intentions were so good, I promise they were.  I know what's going on, so I'll let you all in on it.  I am a bit of a rebel.   Not that I drive on the wrong side of the street or dye my hair pink. Nope, not that sort of rebel.  My rebellion is against myself.  For instance, my blog.  I love blogging but once it started feeling like an obligation of some sort I started "pushing" against it.  Avoiding it, staying busy with other things or convincing myself I just don't have time today even though all sorts of crazy stuff has been going on in my life to blog about.  I have the same problem doing anything on a regular basis.  Here is a short list of some of the things I have a problem following through on and consistently "push against"

  1. Taking Vitamins

  2. Exercising

  3. Skin Care

  4. Calling my Mom

  5. Calling anyone

  6. Laundry

  7. Any sort of household plan

So there you are!  I know there are others out there like me because I use to hang out at a place called "SHE'S In Touch".  A group of women on line that found each other thanks to a website put together at the time by Pam Young and Peggy Jones, who wrote the book Side Tracked Home Executives. The forums as they were, are long since gone and  replaced by "Flylady's" site, which I'm sure many of you are familiar with.  Anyway, I digress....

Today I am going to try to "right my ship" once again and get started, all be it 3 weeks late, on the Houseworks Holiday Plan.  I know I originally said I was going to do the Holiday Grand Plan, but I've diverted from that idea after reading all the organized plans that are out there.  I've decided that this one fits the bill perfectly for me.

I already put together my Holiday Notebook. Go HERE for the lowdown on this plan as well as links to all the print outs you would need if you wanted to play along.

I do happen to have  a copy of Cynthia Ewers House Works but I don't think you need it to follow this plan as she really does list most every step on line at her site "Organized Christmas". Also, I got a few print outs from the Holiday Grand Plan Yahoo group that I joined when I was planning on using that system.  I took some photos this morning of the Holiday planner I put together along with the pages I did print out.  I'll tell you right off the bat, that I pretty much printed what I thought I would use and tried not to go over board on this thing. Keep in mind I am starting three weeks late here, though the first week consisted mostly of putting your Holiday Notebook together, which I did complete. Basically I missed the week of working on my front porch and foyer and I think I can take care of this along the way. If I got the print outs anywhere other than Houseworks Holiday Plan, I will make note of it under the image.  And up front, I would like to thank Cynthia for putting together such a wonderful site over at Organized Christmas as well as Organized Home.  She has kept this site going for many years now, with little help and I'm next to certain, little money. And she does it for all of us out here that are Housework challenged! A noble mission I believe!  Ok, so on to the images...:)

This is a detailed list I printed off of the Yahoo "Holiday Grand Plan" Group.
You are required to become a member of this group to have access to these files.
This print out is the whole kit and caboodle, not necessary but I printed it for sort of a guide and something to refer to when I feel lost.

I printed these off to use for Jack and to give to my daughter in law to use with my Grandsons for both of us!

This is just a daily schedule that some wonderful woman at the Holiday Grand Plan Yahoo group made available to everyone.
I'm hoping she won't mind me sharing it with you. If you want it for yourself, once you have joined the group, it's available in the files section.
I made many copies of this to try to keep myself on some sort of schedule since I've been ignoring my box!
Shoot, I forgot to put "ignoring my SHE  box" and index cards to my opening list.  Just make that number 8!

This is a pocket that is in the back of the notebook. I intend to use this to hold receipts from Christmas Gift purchases.

So there you go! I hope this is of interest to someone besides me.  Having an organized home has always been important to me, but a struggle as well.  Just to catch you guys up on some other stuff that's been going on, this might become the Strega Nona of post!

Last week we bought a new refrigerator! It's totally awesome and very stylish. It's an LG French Door, with double freezer drawers on the bottom. I love, love, LOVE this thing not to mention the extra space I have now with having the old refrigerator in the garage.

The other big thing that's been going on in my life is that I finally watched the documentary movie "Food Inc" .  I knew about this movie well before it was released last year per an email campaign by one of my sister in laws.  I knew once I saw this movie I would be compelled to make major changes in our lives, so I ignored it....until now.  The resulting aftermath of viewing the film was my first trip to Whole Foods Market.  I fell in love with the store the minute I walked through the doors, and since giving up some "bad" habits lately, habits that cost me a lot of money, I've decided to apply that money saved towards feeding my family healthier food.  You guys don't know this about me, but I have a tendency to become a bit passionate ( obsessive) with anything that I truly believe in.  So this is my new kick.  Hopefully it never gets added to my "list" of things I don't keep up with!

Later this week, I'll start posting on my progress and the things I'm doing with the Houseworks Holiday Plan!  I'm reinvigorated and ready to get this show on the road!  PS....for all of you that have been asking about Jack and how he is liking/doing in school...He is just LOVING it!  And I mean really loving it.  When he goes to bed at night he is already excited for the next day!  Don't you just love when you know a decision you made turned out to be the right one?

Happy Monday to all of you!