Dec 1, 2016

Tis the Season - December 1

WHAT'S HAPPENING: I am happy to say my son and his family will be flying in from Dallas the day after Christmas, and we will have family Christmas with ALL the grandchildren on the 27th! I am so excited, and, of course, I want to make this an extra special Christmas, because we aren't always together.

I'm a little reluctant to admit that I'm done with my Christmas shopping, with the exception of my husband's stocking - which I like shopping for just a week or so before Christmas simply to take in the Christmas shopping ambience. I do a lot of my shopping online, but also hit some local artisan stores for gifts.

So while the shopping is done, that still leaves so much to do!! For some strange reason, I have decided now is a good time to completely re-arrange our downstairs. I don't just mean move Chair A to the left of the sofa, I mean we are switching entire rooms around! What is now our dining room -  previously the formal living room - and the adjoining room that we now call "The Den" -  will all become one big living room. What was our family room - adjacent to the kitchen - will become the new dining room, complete with cozy fireplace and built in cupboards and shelves for dish storage. Switching these rooms will give us so much more room when all the family is here, plus it just makes sense to have the dining room closer to the kitchen.  I'll take some before and after photos to post once we're done.

And yes, I want to paint all the rooms while we're at it. I'm not sure that's going to happen, but it needs to be done desperately!

And then there's the wrapping and baking and cooking and decorating inside and out to be done.

So... it's time for a plan! (betcha didn't see that one coming)

WHAT'S THE PLAN: Here it is - My Plan for the month of December.

Mondays - Big Cleaning Day (as always)
Tuesdays - Sewing days (I have some small gifts and decorations to sew)
Wednesdays - Baking and cooking for the week and for the freezer
Thursdays - Shopping - grocery and gifts, as needed. Also Errand Day (post office, bank, etc.)
Fridays - Minor cleaning, wrapping gifts
Saturdays - Put up tree, decorating inside and out (a little at a time is fine!)
Sundays - OFF - That's right. A day off. No cooking, cleaning, baking, wrapping or stressing. Everyone needs a day off each week.

The exception to the above is THIS weekend, when we will be moving all the furniture around. Hopefully, we can do it in one day, but we do have a lot to move.

And of course, it being the busiest season of the year, my husband will be going back to work for the next two weeks. (He's retired, but works for the same company in the same job when they need him.)

The Wednesday baking will include Christmas cookies and bars that I can freeze, extra bread for the freezer, and some freezer meals for easy dinners on the busiest of days. I will also be making a few quiches and lasagnas for the freezer, to feed us during the actual holiday when we have family here.

If I stick to the plan, everything will get done and there will be no reason to get stressed. I probably will stress out anyway, but there's no reason for it!


This little frame sits in my kitchen near my phone. It reminds me of every one of my grandchildren.

Nov 28, 2016

Leftovers Soup

WHAT'S COOKING: Every year I make Turkey Soup from the turkey carcass. It's usually a simple vegetable based soup - celery, onion, garlic, carrots - cooked in turkey broth and with bits of turkey meat added. But this year simply by a chance leftover cup of sweet potatoes from making a sweet potato pie, I came up with what may well be the best soup I've ever made. Warm, hearty, rich but still light in calories. And, of course, with a twist!


8 cups turkey broth
1/2 onion, diced
2 large carrots, chopped
2 stalks celery, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp olive oil
1 cup mashed sweet potatoes (plain)
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 tsp Thyme (I used fresh)
1/2 tsp Poultry Seasoning
1/2 tsp cumin
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
Salt and pepper to taste

Put olive oil in a large pot and add vegetables, cook until onion is translucent.

Add turkey broth, thyme, poultry seasoning. Bring to a simmer and simmer for a few hours until carrots are soft and tender.

Add mashed sweet potatoes (I think pumpkin puree would work here too). Using blender (hold cloth over top when blending hot ingredients!) or immersion blender, blend soup mixture until smooth. Add heavy cream, cumin, cayenne, salt and pepper, and stir well.

Now here's the twist
(optional, but we really enjoyed the addition). I added about 8 frozen ravioli (2 per serving). I cooked them in boiling water per bag instructions, drained, then added them directly to the soup. I happened to use beef, but either beef or cheese would be great. You could also use a cheese stuffed tortellini, or any other stuffed pasta you have.

I'm so sorry there's no picture but it wasn't until we sat down to eat that I realized how extraordinary this soup is! It was gone before I thought to take pictures. I'll be making it again soon and will add pics then!

If you make turkey broth from your turkey carcass, this soup is truly frugal. I estimate the cost to be about $1.75 for the entire pot of soup, including ravioli! That's about .44 cents per serving! Serve it with either a batch of cornbread or a pan of biscuits, and it's a wonderful, hardy cold weather meal.

WHAT'S THE PLAN: Well, whatever the plan was this week has gone down the tubes with the arrival of a serious winter cold. I'll be down and out for at least two days (that's probably wishful thinking but that's what I'm hoping for). Since it's Cyber Monday, I'll spend the day on the computer seeing what deals are out there. I only have a few things left to get, so it would be nice to find deals on those items. I also want to get to a few local stores this week to do some shopping.

WHAT I LOVE: I mentioned an Immersion Blender or Hand Blender in my soup recipe above. Do you have one of these? I absolutely love mine! I use it mostly for soups - to make them smooth and creamy just using vegetables. We eat a LOT of soup here in the winter so I use this hand blender frequently. I've also used it to make baby food, to smooth out applesauce, in ham and lentil soup, for a quick small amount of whipped cream, and more. It's really a handy gadget! Here's the one I have:

Nov 21, 2016

Thanksgiving Planning

This is a busy week for me with Thanksgiving preparation going on all week. Our Thanksgiving table will be blessed with our daughter and her family - for a total of seven people. Every year I wish more of our family could be here with us, but that's the drawback to living so far from where you grew up and having family spread out all over the country.

WHAT'S THE PLAN: Of course there's a plan!! I don't know how people get everything done without lists!

My first list is our Thanksgiving Menu. We do a very traditional Thanksgiving meal - turkey and all the trimmings.
Thanksgiving Menu

Roast Turkey
Stuffing (in bird and extra dish)
Mashed potatoes
Oven-Roasted Brussel Sprouts
Fried Corn
Pearl Onions in Cream Sauce
Green Bean Casserole
Cranberry Sauce
Rolls, butter

Apple Pie
Sweet Potato Pie
Vanilla Ice Cream

Coffee, Tea
Box drinks or juice for kids
Diet Coke, Iced Tea

Next list is what I need to prep the house and the food for Thanksgiving.


  • Create menu, print
  • Grocery list
  • Clean out fridge
  • Wash dining table linens and napkins
  • Wash holiday dishes, silverware, serving utensils
  • Match serving dishes/utensils to food list
  • Clean guest bathroom
  • Insert dining room table extension
  • Open up kitchen table

  • Pick up turkey
  • Grocery shopping
  • Cook sweet potatoes
  • From basement: Cranberry sauce, turkey broth
  • From the basement: crock pots, turkey roaster, turkey platter
  • From basement: High chair
  • Remove pans from warming drawer, wipe

  • Make pies – apple, sweet potato
  • Make vanilla ice cream
  • Peel, cook and mash potatoes
  • Make rolls
  • Make stuffing
  • Cranberry sauce to serving dish, fridge
  • Drinks into fridge

Thanksgiving Day
  • Prepare turkey, in oven around 10am
  • Extra dish of stuffing into oven around 12:00
    Vac downstairs (Jeff)
  • Make onions in cream sauce
  • Potatoes into crock pot
  • wrap rolls, put in warming drawer around 1pm
  • Make fried corn, warming drawer
  • Make pot of coffee
  • Make gravy

Nov 20, 2016

Baby, it's cold outside/this week's menu

Here in southwest Ohio, we've gone from a bright sunny 78 degree day yesterday, to 39 degrees and sleet and freezing rain today. I guess cold weather had to happen sooner or later, but it would have been nice for Mother Nature to give us a bit of segue between the two!

WHAT'S THE PLAN: My thoughts this morning are on cold weather meals, Thanksgiving preparation and Christmas. I have been collecting Christmas presents all year long and stashing them away in an upstairs closet. It's time to break open the vault and see what is in there and plan what else I need to buy. I'm pretty sure the grandchildren are all done, but this year I'm finding it extremely difficult to think of gifts for the adult kids and husband. Plenty of time for that after Thanksgiving.

I did end up buying a few groceries last week. $52 in all. I bought orange juice and box drinks (grandkid drinks - flavored water). Butter was on sale (finally!) for $1.99 a pound (it's been $3.49 - $4.29 for at least six months)! I bought 15 pounds of butter, brought it home and put 12 of them in the freezer. That should last us between 3 and 4 months. Sweet potatoes and acorn squash were on sale for $.49 lb, so I bought some of each. I also had to buy nutmeg for upcoming holiday baking. And I bought a pound of American Cheese.

My Menu for the Week:

Chicken Noodle Soup (c)
Note: Noodles are added when heating. It's unsafe to can noodles.
Grilled Cheese sandwiches w/
homemade bread (h/m)

Breakfast for Dinner
Pancakes (h/m)
Peaches (c) in Yogurt

Oven-baked Cod (f)
w/pesto/bread crumb topping
Fried Potatoes (c)
Swiss Chard (g)

Beef Stew (c)
Biscuits (h/m)

Jeff cooks or Take Out

Thanksgiving Dinner

Turkey and

(c)= Home Canned
(f) = Freezer
(h/m) = home made or made from scratch

(g) = fresh from the garden

WHAT I LOVE: Grandchild #3, 2 1/2 year old Riley, spent the day with me on Thursday this week. What a precious child he is! This guy is willing to do ANYTHING you ask of him. Want to bake? Sure! Want to help stack wood? Sure! Want to do a craft? Sure! Want to go grocery shopping? Sure! From what I'm told, he can be a real active little hellion at home, but not here. He's sweet, quiet, well behaved and cooperative. Truly one of the benefits of being a grandmother. We made banana bread (he follows instructions beautifully), and once it was baked and he had a sample, I asked him how he liked it. This is his "thumbs up"! LOL