Weekend Toss

So, if you read my last post, just let me assure you that this week has been better, although there was a hairy stretch today while making soup.  Recipe below.

I have been busy finalizing shopping and what little bit of decorating I have done. There is a link-up next week I might join for a Tour of Christmas decorations hosted by the Nester, who gave us permission to Undecorate.  If I link up it will probably be either Monday or Tuesday.

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My Christmas Theme this year centers around Silent Night.  The words to that song have really been jumping out at me this year.  I plan to write more about that next week.  I really want to focus on the Holy Infant this year rather than all the hustle and bustle.  His tenderness , the love’s pure light.  So, join me next week as I take a day to reflect on this song and how it can impact your Christmas season.  Probably towards the end of the week.

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You may be interested in reading about Simple Gifts to Encourage The Soul by Emily over at Chatting at the Sky. Maybe some of them would be your favorites too!

Also, in the decor department you may want to check out Laura’s Kitchen renovation and Christmas Decor.  She has recently moved to a new home and has been sharing her renovations.  She has great taste and does everything on a budget, so we can all know that it’s not unrealistic to redo a room or two.  I think you will enjoy her style.

Speaking of decor, I finally painted the inside of my front door, which has sported various shades of sample paints for the past three years.  It is now all one color that may or may not last for the next three years.  Time will tell.  For now it works.  You may remember when I wrote about my Favorite Colors on Decor to Adore, that I mentioned my new favorite shade of Pink was Fruit Shake by Benjamin Moore and that pink might show up in my future decor.  Well, it has.  Not Fruit Shake though, but a color that is very close.

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It reads a little more sugary pink in this picture than it actually is.  In person it is what I call a grown-up, sophisticated pink.  I combined three samples I had – they were Glidden colors mixed with Olympic paint from Lowe’s.  The colors were: Pink Ballet Slipper (too pale), Deep Coral (too dark) and Red Grapefruit (Just right).  I didn’t want to buy a whole quart of the Red Grapefruit and by experimenting I found that mixing the three together was pretty close to the Red Grapefruit.  It was the shade my husband liked the best (my favorite too) so we went with it and now my door is all one color.

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I feel much better knowing this door has finally found it’s place in the world of color. In the above picture you can also see bits of my Christmas decor.  I put up a little four foot tree and decided that was just enough.

In other news, today, I made Cheeseburger soup which is going to be yummylicious. So, you will want to try this one.  I call it:

 TERESA’S YUMMY VARIATION ON EVERYBODY’S CHEESEBURGER SOUP

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You will need the following:

  • 2 pounds ground beef ( the leaner the better for your health)
  • 1 large sweet potato cubed 1- 1 ½ inch pieces
  • 5-6 med potatoes cubed 1- 1 ½ inch pieces
  • 1 med – lg onion chopped
  • 1 15 oz can of diced tomatoes – drained (optional)
  • 2-3 cups kale chopped, stems removed (optional)
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic (I used 4 cubes of Dorot frozen)
  • 3-4 cubes of frozen basil (I used Dorot) = 4 tsp
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1-2 T brown sugar (or honey, if you prefer)
  • Mustard, Ketchup and Worcestershire – a few squirts of each for a little added interest – I added these to my hamburger as it was browning – probably 1-2 T of mustard, ½ c of Ketchup and about 5-6 dashes of Worcestershire.
  • 8 cups of Chicken Broth
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 2 cups of any cheese you prefer ( I used a combination of Velveeta, cream cheese and cheddar – (approx. slightly less than ¼ box Velveeta, ½ block of cream cheese and ½ bag of shredded cheddar – so that may be a little more than two cups – you can’t go wrong with cheese – use as much or as little as you like).
  1. I chopped the potatoes and covered them with 4 cups of chicken broth and cooked long enough to make them firm tender – I added one cube of garlic and one of basil to add flavor and a little salt and pepper as they were cooking. When finished I transfer all, including liquid to my crock-pot.
  2. While the potatoes were cooking, I sautéd my onion in butter with 2 cubes of the garlic and 2 of the basil. When the onion was starting to get tender I transferred it to the crock-pot.
  3. I then used the same skillet to brown the beef – I added salt, pepper and all the condiments mentioned above and the brown sugar.  When the hamburger was almost done I added the diced tomatoes.  I then transferred this to the crock-pot.
  4. I then added another 4 cups of chicken broth.
  5. In the stockpot I used for my potatoes, I melted about 4 T of butter then added my chopped cheeses and the two cups of heavy cream. I started out on med heat and then turned to low, stirring almost constantly.  I also added a cup or two of my broth off the soup just for extra liquid to keep the cheese from sticking. I added the final garlic and basil cube to this mixture and some pepper.  Once the cheese was melted I added this to the crock-pot and gently stirred to blend all ingredients.
  6. I cooked on high for 1 ½ – 2 hours, then added the kale and turned to low and allowed to simmer on low for 2-3 hours. Once the Kale is tender and flavors are blended it is ready to eat.  But can be left on low for several hours until ready to serve.  Kale is similar to cabbage in flavor, but much milder – it is full of vitamins and adds a much better texture to soup than spinach – it holds together better and the taste is milder.  It really does not make the soup taste weird and it is a good way to add some vegetables.  So use it already!

I just kept checking and adjusting seasonings as I went, but pretty much following the above steps seemed to have a good balance on spice and flavor.

I plan to serve it with Mrs. Schubert’s Yeast Rolls.

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SOUP NOTES:  I doubled the recipe from what most called for, so that we could share with my parents and have leftovers.  I have a large (at least 6 qt crock-pot and it was full to the brim.  If you don’t have a large crock-pot, then just use a large stockpot and simmer on the stove.) If you don’t need this much, then just do half the ingredients more or less.

Also, you could chop the potatoes and add them to the crock-pot with the chicken broth and seasonings and cook them a few hours, then when they are tender, brown your meat and onions and add the other ingredients. (You could also do the onion and hamburger together.)  This would have saved me a lot of time and extra clean-up, but for some reason I like to make things hard on myself.

I would still recommend doing the cheese sauce separate and then adding it to the soup as it helps the cheese melt better.  Also, some people do a flour rue to help thicken the soup – I opted not to do this, as I don’t mind the broth being a little thin – it is so full of flavor that it doesn’t have to be thick.

I know I have a lot of notes etc, but this is really a very easy recipe and it would be hard to mess it up.  You can add or delete ingredients as you wish to suit what you have on hand and your taste.  Some people use carrots and celery; one recipe used corn.  As long as you are using the broth, beef, potatoes, cheese and seasonings, you’d have to be pretty incompetent to mess it up.  Cheese makes everything taste great.  I hope you try this soup and I hope you enjoy it!

I looked at several recipes online and Pinterest and then took elements from all of them to suit my taste and pantry. I found that they were all pretty much variations on each other.  Edie’s has the mustard, ketchup and Worcestershire and I thought they added interest.  I looked at Edie’s Cheeseburger in Paradise Soup, from Life in Grace, also Taste of Home and Buns in My Oven and Easy Cheeseburger Soup from Chocolate, Chocolate and More, which is the one I have pinned on Pinterest.

That is all for today – check back next week for more decorations and Silent Night reflections.

Savoring His Grace,

Teresa

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My True Colors

 

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When someone asks me my favorite anything – book, movie, historical period, food etc. – I have trouble narrowing down my choice to just one. I always have more than one favorite. Therefore, I can’t have just one favorite color.  I have a few.   When I was in school blue was everybody’s favorite color so I chose yellow because I wanted to be different.  Turns out yellow is not my favorite color.  Blue is.  Two shades to be exact. And about fifty shades of white.  And orange.  Yep. Orange. And pink has even crept onto the list over the past few years….

Today I am sharing some of my favorite paint colors over at Decor to Adore,  the blog home of Laura Ingalls Gunn.    I came across Laura’s blog a few years ago and have been a follower ever since.  She is charming, gracious and has wonderful home decor ideas.  I would love for you to join me over there today for the rest of the true colors story, and while you are there be sure to look around her blog, she may just become one of your favorite reads as well!

Sweeping colors in Grace,

Teresa

Pictures Worth Thousands of Words and Roads Less Traveled

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They say a picture is worth a thousand words.  For several weeks now my (non)posts have been missing about a thousand words each.

I have thought of things to write; I’ve even written a few posts in my head that never made it to paper or internet.  I have wanted to write, but the gumption just wasn’t there, or I was out of town, or sick, or busy….

So, I thought I’d catch you up on what has been going on and let the pictures tell the story (there may be some words, ok).

1.  The front porch received a much needed overhaul (this spanned April and May and included my brother. It is June and we still have a few tweaks to finish):

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New Porch ceiling being installed.  This also shows the general before shape of the porch.  (you can imagine the sagging vinyl that was over the original rot and sag boards.)
New Porch ceiling being installed. This also shows the general before shape of the porch. (you can imagine the sagging vinyl that was over the original rot and sag boards on the ceiling.)
Some of the old original ceiling boards after they were taken down.
Some of the old original ceiling boards after they were taken down. And a new board on top – not sure why.
My new blue porch ceiling.  I have wanted one for a long time. (The ladder is an indication that we also put in new gutters).
My new blue porch ceiling. I have wanted one for a long time. (The ladder is an indication that we also put in new gutters).
We also cleaned and scraped the porch wall and trim so we could paint.
We also cleaned and scraped the porch wall and trim so we could paint.
More cleaning prep before painting.
More cleaning prep before painting. Lucky my Dad has a pressure washer and is good at holding a board to protect the newly painted wall.
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In the midst of all the redoing (that began in April) my Iris’s bloomed. The underpinning to the porch will need some attention soon – the verdict is still out on exactly what will be done.
This view shows the newly painted ceiling, porch wall, trim and the new lights.
This view shows the newly painted ceiling (summer sky – Valspar), porch wall (puppy paws – Olympic), trim and the new lights. (And my neighbors porch that could use a redo).  The puppy paws would not have been my first (or second or third…) choice for the house, but since we are not going to do a major house repaint for awhile, we decided to just freshen up the porch wall, embrace our inner puppy and live with the color that the previous owner  chose.
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This shot shows the newly painted floor. It is called Handcast Pewter which is a Glidden color, however I had it mixed at Lowe’s in the Valspar Latex Porch and Floor – Satin finish. I love the color, but it is going to show dust and dirt really bad. In the background you can see my Oxford Garden Shorea wood furniture (love my swing) and the cushions and rug for my porch. It still needs to be staged and tweaked. Waiting on the rain to go away.

Proverbs 24:3-4 – applies to porches too, I would think:

By wisdom a house is built,
and through understanding it is established;
through knowledge its rooms are filled
with rare and beautiful treasures.

I'm so going to love my porch.  Once it is finally put together I'll do a post and show you the finished look and maybe give a few details etc.  Love my porch.  This little crooked house is the first time I've had a proper front porch in 29 years of marriage.
I’m so going to love my porch. Once it is finally put together I’ll do a post and show you the finished look and maybe give a few details etc. Love my porch. This little crooked house is the first time I’ve had a proper front porch in 29 years of marriage. Did I mention that I love my porch?

2.  We also took a vacation in April, but any posting I was doing that month was mostly on my other blog, Orange Comma, for the National Poetry Writing Month. Vacation was really a retreat.  We love to go to Fairhaven, which is in Roan Mountain, Tennessee, not too far from the North Carolina Border.  We love the peacefulness and we’re within an hour of several places that are touristy if we want that.  We mostly just soak in the peace and rest and read.  Here are a few pictures from this year:

They had added the sweetest little chapel since the last time we were there (October 2008).
They had added the sweetest little chapel since the last time we were there (October 2008). Psalm 122:1:

I WAS GLAD WHEN THEY SAID UNTO ME,      LET US GO INTO THE HOUSE OF THE LORD

The road leading to our Chalet - The Holly - you can see that the tress are just starting to spring up.  We were there the week of April 22 and it was still quite chilly.
The road leading to our Chalet – The Holly – you can see that the tress are just starting to spring up. We were there the week of April 22 and it was still quite chilly. Our chalet is on the left after the second curve just out of sight. We had a wonderful view of the mountain.
One day we drove over (up) to Blowing Rock, NC.  We had been there before, but had never actually paid to go see the Rock that made it so  famous.  You can see part of the Rock in this picture.  We were actually standing on the rock. Sort of.  It was nice, but there are other great views that are free, so I probably don't have to pay to see it again.
One day we drove over (up) to Blowing Rock, NC. We had been there before, but had never actually paid to go see the Rock that made it so famous. You can see part of the Rock in this picture. We were actually standing on the rock. Sort of. It was nice, but there are other great views that are free, so I probably don’t have to pay to see it again.
A group of very kind ladies offered to take our picture, since we had taken one of them.  So, for what it's worth here we are.
A group of very kind ladies offered to take our picture, since we had taken one of them. So, for what it’s worth here we are. I apparently don’t iron the hem of my sweater when I take it out of the dryer. The M on Mr Piano’s shirt is for Morhead State University, our Alma Mater. The mountains in the background are the view from the blowing rock.  I so love the mountains.  Give me a cabin in the mountains and some good books and I’m good to go.

3.  In the midst of traveling and redoing I took a week off to be sick.  No pictures available. Proverbs 17:22:

A joyful heart is good medicine

4.  The most exciting thing that happened while I was not writing a thousand words was that Mr Piano graduated.  He is now Doctor Mister Piano.  He received his DMA degree (Doctor of Musical Arts in piano performance) from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky on May 17.  WooHoo!  Finally!  Yea! We have some pictures to prove it:

Ready for rehearsal and the composite picture.
Ready for rehearsal and the composite picture.
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Here we are in Dr. Mohler’s extensive library. A reception was hosted for the graduates and it included a meet and greet at the Presidents home. The library is several rooms with over 46,000 volumes.
Diploma in hand.  We're ready for the next chapter.
Diploma in hand. We’re ready for the next chapter.  God has a plan.

Jeremiah 29:11:

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

5.  We celebrated 29 years of marriage on June 2.  It was Sunday and Mr. Piano had an afternoon rehearsal, so we went to a local Mexican restaurant for a meal and didn’t really do a major celebration.  We may take a day trip soon in honor of the event.  Either way every day with Mr. Piano is a celebration, so we’re all good.  Here is a picture or a few of the original event all those years ago:

da da da da....almost there, bride escorted by her father, Lowell Tackett
I was a true Southern Belle y’all – I have the dress to prove it.  Mr. Piano cried the whole time I was walking down the aisle.  True story.  They were happy tears.
Looking to the future!
We’ve only just begun to live, white lace and promises….
...a kiss for luck and we're on our way
…a kiss for luck and we’re on our way”.
Rocky was still crying...he was so happy
proof that there was crying by Mr. Piano – you can tell in this picture that there are some lingering tears. I think he is telling my mom how grateful he is for me 🙂
yellow fiat
“…so many roads to choose…”
We drove away in a little yellow Fiat. That car was responsible for our first married squabble, on our honeymoon, no less. I tried to drive it. On the interstate. It didn’t work out. I still can’t drive a stick shift. Needless to say, that car did not last long. That is not our little Fiat in the photo, nor is that couple us. I don’t seem to have any pictures of our car, so I found this one. Click on picture to take you to the source where I found it.

Ok, so I think this about sums up what I’ve been doing the past several weeks, you know, when I wasn’t writing.  If you already knew this stuff, then I apologize for boring you further.  I’ll try to come up with some fresh perspective to write about soon.

6.  Oh, I almost forgot.  I did visit several cemeteries on Memorial Day – one I had never been to before where several of my ancestors were buried, like my great great grandparents and uncles.  It was a peaceful, sweet little cemetery in the middle of a farm that is now privately owned:

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Two roads diverged in a wood and I — I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference

Doctor Mister Piano and I have always taken the road less traveled.  I have no regrets.  I’m excited to see what’s around the next bend.

Traveling in Grace,

Sadie