Sunday, October 31, 2010

Black Bean Pico Dip

I so wish I had been the one that came up with this's just like something I'd make...but it was a co-worker who wrote it down on a scrap of paper and gave it to me to try and I am so glad I did!  Delish!  This is a very filling dip - it could be lunch with a few tortilla chips, or even served as a side dish.
I started out with black beans from my crock pot - cheaper than canned.  (Plus, I have a Salsa Chicken with black bean soup I wanted to try and beans are sooo easy in the crock pot.)
I added in 1 large diced avocado, some fresh mild pico de gallo (store bought), and about a third cup of Raspberry Chipotle marinade.  Just stir it all together gently.  The marinade was a splurge at around $3.50, but I have most of the bottle left over so I can make this again a few times.  I guess I could have also made my own pico de gallo, but sadly, I have no food processor and am feeling too lazy to do all that chopping...
I "taste tested" it right away and it's wonderful, but chilling it for an hour or two helps the flavors develop.
This will go great with the enchilada dinner we are having tonight to celebrate Scout's Halloween birthday. Cupcakes and Halloween haul for desert!
Thank you, Elizabeth!  I love swapping recipes (:

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Friday, October 29, 2010

Sewing nostalgia

I dug this pattern out today from my collection of two patterns...yes, I sew, but I just don't hold on to patterns for some reason...
But this one has sentimental value, as I have made it several times.  It belonged to my mother, who also made several of the dogs, and at least one of the "mouse". 
It is circa 1966...yes, I was 6 years old when this pattern came out!
My little prego friend is having a boy, and I thought I would make a soft doggie for her sweet baby.  I found the flannel at JoAnn's and had the rest of the supplies at home...soft fuzzy fabric to line the ears, leftover from a blanket I made my niece;  buttons from my old baby food jar of buttons, scraps for the nose and the "bags" of the hound-dog eyes; a piece of satin ribbon for a collar.....
He found a home in a $1 basket from Dollar Tree with a couple of smallish baby toys and lots of tissue.  I tucked in a sweet card, too.  I hope she loves her baby's new puppy dog!  It was a labor of love and a sweet way to spend an hour or two on a quiet afternoon. (:

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Thursday, October 28, 2010

China cabinet spiffing

I did what I always do when I don't want to leave the house for a day - justify if by cleaning the hell out of something!  Yesterday, I walked by the dusty china cabinet for the billionth time, thinking it really needed to be cleaned top to bottom with space made for my growing collection of table linens and practical storage for actual dining-related items...
A rather large collection of  decorative things that were clogging it up went to live in a large plastic storage bin in the laundry area.  Then I removed everything, and I mean everything, out of the cabinet and cleaned the inside of it with Orange Glo furniture oil.  It smelled great and the wood looked instantly more beautiful!   I removed the knobs and gave them a fresh coat of Rustoleum silver spray paint for metal.  I think the silver is what they were originally - hard to tell.  But the china has silver edging, and there are silver things in there, so it all looks nice together. 
I even took off the glass doors and windexed them;  the crystal and candle sconces, too. And I polished up the silver bases - pretty~!
I replaced an old framed photo with a different old framed photo - Ha! The other one had water damage from a long time ago...and this one might not stay but for now, I'm OK with it.
 I cleaned and pressed the doilies that are in there - I think they are old fashion-y and so pretty...
 Then I re-organized the shelves down below - one houses extra serving pieces that match the china, and the other has table linens, votives, S&P shakers, and coasters.
 In the drawers I am storing placements in one, candles and trivets in the other. 
This china cabinet was handed down to hubby from his mother - it is circa late 40's by Drexel.  As with most of the other furniture we inherited, I cannot bear to ever paint it.  It's retro and beautiful, 
and now, clean and ready for the holidays!

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Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Halloween Snack Mix

On The Hot Mess Express, the ever-entertaining Lindsey has a recipe for a fun Halloween snack she says her kids won't touch.  I really find that intriguing - why should all the fun snacks be kid-oriented?  Mamas need their some-somes's, too.  So, I made her candy corn/peanut mix with two notable additions, just because I love monkey-ing with recipes and making them my own....dark chocolate m&m's, and pretzels.  Oh, sweet and salty deliciousness.  Now I need a name for it...
Can I call it a healthy snack?  It's got pretzels which are a low-fat snack, dark chocolate candy - high in anti-oxidants; peanuts...healthy, right?  OK, the candy corn is a wash in the nutrition department, but I find it I must add it in.  Plus, it adds the right seasonal touch.  Martha would agree it is a "good thing".
I'm going to set the bowl out and see what happens.  If I notice people stealing all the corns away I will have to hide it.  And I think I'll make a big batch of it for Halloween night to go with the pumpkin spice latte from A Year of Slow Cooking.  Which we plan on drinking as we sit around the fire pit in the driveway, playing scary muzak and handing out candy.....don't you just love Halloween?
It's even fun for the grown folk!

Go check it out!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Taking a call

Scout recently had a spot of trouble with grades - four failing ones that sent his mom and dad into conniptions and required us taking up his iPod and PSP.  We let him keep his phone as it is a means for him to communicate with us about band practice, staying after school, etc.  And we didn't want to take everything away;  it would be mean-spirited as he is having a rough time.  He knows, though, that if there isn't a marked improvement in grades this six weeks, the phone will have to go.  We often tell him the phone is a tool, not a toy, and I want him  to have it handy for safety and security reasons.   But he uses it a lot to keep up with his friends.  Which is why at the pumpkin patch, when he took a call, and it was about a school assignment it made my heart glad!
Then I checked on Gradespeed, and his grades are coming up!  Good for you, son!  But more importantly, he was making plans to help a friend out with an assignment which was nice of him to do on his day off.  He has kept his head up and not given into to worry and despair over school
and he is back on the right track.  My hope for him is that he has learned what he needs to do now to stay on top of things.  And I'm proud of him for taking school seriously and turning things around. (:

Monday, October 25, 2010

Halloween Decor for free

I wanted to dress up the front door area for Halloween and not spend any money.  I had these items: a straw wreath that had mold on it and had seen better days, an almost used up can of spray paint, some of that mylar garland stuff (what do you call that stuff?) and some decor items from years and years ago...I figured I could re-purpose it all one last time, sooo...
 I spray painted the wreath black - yeah, good-bye mold - and wound the mylar stuff round it.  Then I took the bent up wire hanger off the witch hanging I bought at Tarjay about 15 years ago, and put some florist's wire in it's place so I could attach it to the wreath.
ta da.  
The wreath and the mylar stuff will go into the dumpster on Nov. 1st, but for now, it makes the door a little more Halloween-y.  This will thrill Scout as he is my "Halloween Baby".
The other little wire shapes went into the pot by the front door.  I will add a few pumpkins and we will probably string up some cobwebs...and that's about it for the front door area.  Halloween night hubby will stage his yearly scare scene in the driveway.  He usually uses stuff we already have and it always fun - a disco, a restaurant, crime scene - the adults look forward to coming by and gawking at the display.  I plan on making a fun snack mix and Pumpkin Lattes for the neighbors who share their fire pit next door.  And we will have a fun dinner and cupcakes for our new 15 Year Old.
Bring on Halloween - I'm ready!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Fall Honey Butter

Another recipe from a co-worker, this one is from Dani at The Good Life , who found it in her bloggy travels.  We will be slathering this on biscuits, muffins, and bagels this Fall.  I made a double recipe.
Fall Honey Butter
2 sticks butter, at room temp
1/2 c. powdered sugar
1/2 honey (from my mom's bees in Brenham!)
2 t. pumpkin pie spice
 Whip well using whisk attachment in mixer; or just use your muscle!
 I am storing mine in a little lidded container for the fridge.
Most of it is destined for this:
 Pumpkin bread!
I have no idea how long this keeps, but I would guess a couple of weeks, which is a laugh because it will get eaten up much sooner than that at my house!  And it occurred to me that you could do a Christmas version with cinnamon and cloves...yuuuum.  An Easter one with finely grated orange and lemon peel, too.  Maybe one with finely ground nuts....

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Wednesday, October 20, 2010

I don't feel like to

This is what my youngest used to say he was 3ish.  Cute, and so true for a variety of situations.  I still say it. Here is my number one reason why:
Yuck, ironing. 
Yes I am aware of what century this is.  Yes, I realize I could buy polyester and knits so I could skip this.  Yes, I procrastinate which is why the pile is so big.  My iron automatically cuts off after 30 minutes, though, so I figure once a week for 30 minutes I can listen to my iPod, or talk on the phone and git 'er done- but that doesn't always happen.  It's actually nice for hubby to have pressed shirts; he's a professional and needs to dress the part.  But dry cleaning is not affordable or practical for us.  And I myself like to have neat-looking scrubs and things to wear during the week that don't look like I slept in them.  I can't live in tee shirts and jeans all the time, you know...gee, that pile isn't getting smaller. 
And no, I don't feel like to...

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Pumpkin Love

I took the boys to the pumpkin patch at a local church.
They were out of school and we just needed a break from the grind...
They had a massive amount of pumpkins and decorative gourds all around the playscape...
And a lot of handmade signs welcoming you, but also warning you not to sit on the pumpkins, pull on the stems, etc.  My 15 year old is still indulging me when I point the camera at him - must be his sweet personality since teenagers aren't prone to being cooperative unless there's something in it for them..
Bubbie helped me pick out some pretty gourds for our table on the back patio.
I really love all these colors...
I let each of them pick out their own pumpkin to decorate however they want - but usually they just leave them plain on put them on their bedroom dressers.  They refuse to toss them until they rot - sometimes they last until the end of the next summer...
It was hard to chose and they consulted each other often for opinions...
Some of them have weird bumps or varigated stripes, which are unusual, but still beautiful.  I got a large green  "swan's neck gourd and several small colorful ones, 
and we really loved the variety of shapes and colors.
 It was fun to gather some fall beauty for our home.
Afterwards, we grabbed lunch out and enjoyed the rest of our mental health break together - a nice fall day!


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