Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Taste of China

Remember that I told you I was doing a lot more cooking?  Besides cooking up recipes from my magazines, I am learning to cook a full meal from a different country each month.  Through the month I will cook different recipes that when combined are a meal.  

For January I chose to do China because of Chinese New Year and because we love Chinese food.  For the rest of the year I will work on a meal from a country I have visited.

A LONG time ago when I was basically a new homemaker, I took a semester of Chinese cooking classes.  Somewhere along the line I misplaced my recipes and only recently found them.  So I decided to revisit those recipes.  Wow.  I was such a novice cook I didn't realize how poorly the recipes were written up.  So while I will normally have the recipes with my blog post, this time I'll have to  rewrite the recipes a bit later and update this post.

But until then, here is the photo journal of my month of Chinese:

Pork Egg Rolls

Won Ton Soup

Beef and Broccoli Stir Fry

Fried Rice
(Lu didn't want to teach this recipe to the class.  She said it was "just leftovers!"

Napa with Black Mushrooms

Monday, January 30, 2017


Wishing my Chinese friends a belated Happy New Year.  

This is a wonderful video celebrating the traditions of Chinese New Year.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Persia's New Watch Tower

My final monthly challenge is a "do-it-yourself" home improvement.  Each month a different material is drawn and we have the month to make some functional for our homes using that item.

January was rope or cording.

It took me forever to decide what I needed to put together.  Then I saw cat hair on my computer...

The little monkey has been jumping onto my desk when we are gone so she can see out the window.  She has the big to-the-floor windows in the living room but all she can see is the deck.  From the bedroom she can see out into the yard.

So I pulled out of the shed a bar stool I got at Hobby Lobby for about $7.00 on clearance.  It is very heavy duty and quite stable.

A few hours of weaving some sisal rope (oh my poor hands!) and I now have a kitty watch tower!

That is 100 feet of uncut sisal rope...

So now Princess Persia has her very own perch to look into the yard.  She can glare at the neighbor's cat Chandler as he goes 'moling'.

Or she can watch the birds as the swoop past from grabbing a bit to eat from the deck.

And when she feels like it, she can give her claws a workout with on the leg or the weaving.

Purrfect for a kitty!

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Art and Craft in January

January has been a great start for my creative New Year of 2017!  I've been cooking, doing makeovers, and working on my KonMari project. I've also raised the bar on my creative arts and crafts.  Classes, workshops, challenge groups, and fun in my studio all play part.

I did a canvas painting workshop with the 'Red, White, and Blue' group.  My painting is called "Northern Lights over the Koyukuk River".

And a short time later I did another night sky at a free painting class at Michaels' craft store.  It's called "Blue Moon Over The Mountains".

I played around sketching copies of the rooster off my grandmother's "Poppy Cock" plates.  I did four them on backgrounds with Chinese writing.  I call the series "Year of the Red Rooster".

I had some fun with a post card swap with the theme of "snowman".

And I attended an interesting workshop on making bath salts (or scrubs) using essential oils.  The salts smell SO good!

I think I've gotten my routines pretty well in place this month so I'm looking forward to being able to add more creativity next month!

Friday, January 27, 2017

Pumpkin Pie Spice Cauliflower Casserole

One of the things I'm doing this year is cooking a lot more new recipes.  I'm specifically going to do one recipe from each magazine I get that does recipes (provided I find one I actually like).

In a back issue of Rachel Raye (a magazine I did not order but was a bait-and-switch slam from the publisher.  And I am not getting it anymore.) I found a recipe called "Pumpkin Spice Cauliflower Casserole".  

Pumpkin Pie Spice Cauliflower Casserole

1 head (2 pounds) cauliflower, cut into florets
3 T butter
3 T flour
1.5 C whole milk
1.5 C grated white cheddar (I used Colby Jack because it's what I had)
1/2 t pumpkin pie spice (I used 3/4 t. and will go up to 1 t next time)**
1/2 cup fresh bread crumbs (I used Panko.  No measurements...just covered the top)
1/2 cup grated Parmesan

Preheat the oven to 425*F.

In a large pot of water, cook the cauliflower until barely tender, about 5 mins.  Drain.

In a large skillet, melt the butter over medium heat.  Add the flour and cook, stirring often, until the mixture is light golden, about 1 to 2 minutes.  While stirring constantly, add the milk, cheese, and pumpkin spice.*  Stir until the cheese melts and the sauce thickens, about 2 minutes.

Transfer the mixture to a medium (2 qt) baking dish.  In a small bowl mix the bread crumbs and Parmesan *; sprinkle over the cauliflower.

Bake until the casserole is golden brown and bubbly, 20 to 25 minutes.

* Upon the direction to "add...cheese..." I added both the grated Cheddar (Colby Jack) AND the Parmesan.  At the bottom of the recipe I realized that it should have specified which cheese.  Whatever.  It was great mixed together.  However the panko was a bit dry because of this change.  Next time I'll still mix the cheeses and will add to the panko melted butter so it browns up nice. 

**Homemade Pumpkin Pie Spice: 
3 tablespoons ground cinnamon, 2 teaspoons ground ginger, 2 teaspoons ground nutmeg, 1 ½ teaspoons ground allspice and 1 ½ teaspoons ground cloves. Mix the spices together in a small.

This recipe is an absolute winner.  Himself said he could have eaten the entire pan.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Home Kits - The Computer

I'm leading another challenge on a FB group (A Creative and Simple Life) where each month we are going to put together a 'kit' to make our lives more simple.  

January was "Computer Kit".

The challenge started with an action... back up your files and download photos off of phones!  Himself and I each have a terabyte external hard drive to back up with.

The next thing after I backed up my drive was to make a 'kit' for computer related items.  A place to keep that hard drive, thumb drives, manual/discs that are needed, cleaning things, and so on.  

I decided to use this book case for my computer kit.  Earlier I had doodled on it to give it some style.  The outer pocket is perfect for holding my thumb drives.  It's easy to get to them.

Inside the case...

The left side holds both external drives perfectly.

The right side has a pouch where I put my USB light and as soon as I find it, my USB vacuum/blower tool.  Pockets behind the pouch have screen cleaner pads.

The kit will stay in a drawer near my computer, for easy use (to keep the computer clean and backed up) and easy grab in an emergency.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Itching to be Stitching

There's a day for almost everything it seems...and today is National Visit a Local Quilt Store Day.  

Yes, really...it is.

My favorite quilt shop is "Quilt and Sew at Golden Threads" in Trenton, KY.

It's a very nice shop with all sorts of fun and unique items.  When my quilting friend Carol was down we made a trip over.

There are so many fabrics to pick from.  Aren't these blues beautiful?

There is a great selection of novelty fabrics too.  Want a Pokemon?  This is your place!

They also work with the Honor Quilt program for veterans.

There are kits to do, classes to take, clubs to join!

Poor Himself!  It was just too much for him.  He had a nice nap in 'the man chair'.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Haiku for January

I have always enjoyed poetry in many different forms, particularly the Japanese haiku.  So this year I am working my way through an instruction book to learn the subtle nuances of the art.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Improv Cooking: Broiled Pork Steaks with Lemon-Rosemary Gravy

Broiled Pork Steaks with Lemon-Rosemary Gravy

(Be warned... this is a typical Teri recipe where I’ve stood at the stove and cooked up something new.)

I took 3 large pork steaks seasoned to taste with salt, pepper, and garlic powder.  They were placed in an oven pan that had the bottom lined with sliced lemons and 6 large sprigs of rosemary. 

Broil until the top is browning and the fat is crisping.  Turn the pork steaks and broil until done.  When I turned them, I removed the rosemary.  Place the cooked pork steaks on a hot plate to keep warm.

In a skillet, heat about a Tablespoon of oil.  Add 3 rosemary sprigs that are about 3” long.  Sautee on medium until oil in fragrant.  While the rosemary oil is heating deglaze the oven pan with a cup and a half of 50/50 lemon juice & white wine mix, scraping to loosen the bits.   

Once the oil smells wonderful, remove the rosemary sprigs.  Carefully pour in the contents of the oven pan... don’t let any lemon pips fall into the skillet.  Stir and reduce by half. 

Add to the reduction about 1 cup sour cream (low fat is great).  Stir until bubbly.  Ladle into a gravy boat to pour over your steaks at the table.


Saturday, January 21, 2017

Marble Stone Stand

One of the grand things about having my studio functional is all the unfinished projects (UFOs) that I can now get to.  And to give myself an extra push I issued a challenge to the members of the Facebook crafting group ("Whimsy and Cozy Craft Club") that I belong to.  

Each at the beginning of each month we select a "UFO" project and finish it that month.  Then on the end the month we each share what we finished.

For my first project I did one of my easier UFOs while I'm still getting in my 2017 rhythm.  

I found about 10 small marble and granite slabs at the ReStore for almost nothing.  A few of them became table tops for on my deck.  

I've been wanting to make a small one to put on my dresser to set my heart-shaped stones on.

After a good scrubbing all I had to do was to use some 220 grit sand paper to remove the old adhesive and some surface stains.  Then I wiped it down with a damp paper towel.  

After drying I measured and marked where I wanted to place the legs (in this case, some drawer pulls).  I used E6000 to make sure they stayed right where I put them.

Once the glue set up, I gave them a quick spray of clear coat.

With that I was done!  And I am wondering why it took me so long to do it in the first place...

Friday, January 20, 2017

Homemade Candied Orange Peel

One of my favorite treats from candy shops is candied orange peel...especially if it has been dipped in dark chocolate.  Yummy!

Not long ago I found an easy looking recipe at "Closet Cooking" http://www.closetcooking.com/2011/02/candied-orange-peel.html   So when some beautiful oranges were juiced at the Whole Foods class we worked, I grabbed up the leftover rinds before they could be thrown away.

I followed the recipe and soon had my own treats.  And better than the shops!

Next batch I will be more careful on draining the peels as I got a bit of sugar clumping due to the excess moisture.  And I will do much longer slices for dipping in dark chocolate.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017


Taking a moment to brag!

I'm taking part in the year long challenge held by Marisa at "Food in Jars" (you'll be hearing more on this a bit later) and I just have to show off my first ever marmalade!

On the right is Cara Cara Orange Marmalade and on the left is Orange Vanilla Marmalade.

Monday, January 16, 2017

You Know You Live In The South When...

... Snowmen have rakes instead of snow shovels!

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Happy Birthday Persia

Our little fur-face is two years old today.  

So what can you do for a kitty's birthday?

We made sure her kibble bowl was FULL.  She likes that.

And we turned on the "Bird TV".  (We feed birds on the deck and she watches them from under the chair).  She gets so excited she 'chitters' and lashes her tail.

The birds care not.

Then we realized what else we could do for her...

Since we got her, she has spent her nights in her 'bedroom'... a large cage that looks just like the one above.  While she is not put in the cage when we leave the house (she has proven herself trust worthy), we don't let her run at night.  We are concerned that if she gets in bed with us and tickles one of our faces with her whiskers that we might be startled and smack her without meaning to.

So she 'goes to bed' at night...usually complaining all the way.

We decided that it was time for her to have a 'big kitty room'.  And so we thoroughly cleaned out the laundry room to make it safe for her.  We installed her bed, cat pan, water bowl and food bowl.  There's a night light so she can see a bit with the main light off.

She seems quite happy with the set up...

...even tho she still complains about going to bed!

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Christmas Tour... Just a Wee Bit Late

Tho very late, here is our Christmas home tour.  The reason it's late is on December 7th we had a bit of an issue...that being the popcorn ceiling fell off!  You'll hear more on that story a bit later but let me assure you it was a HUGE mess.

Decorating came to a screeching halt and resumed AFTER the New Year.

Yep, I was determined to finish.

The last time you saw our tree it was naked.  It's now dressed up - minus the glass ornaments.  It's Persia's first Christmas tree and we didn't know how she was going to act.  As usual, she was very good and left it alone.

Just a few of our ornaments.

Our main decoration for Christmas are our nativities.

This Bethlehem village is on our hearth.

A Magi coming in past an inn that is full.

A carpenter's shop.

A temple with a teacher holding a scroll of the Law.

A seller of goods.

The stable.  I love the Magi who is running towards the Holy Family.  There's some shepherds hanging out too.

The manger scene.

On the mantel is our multitude of Heavenly Hosts.

The rest of our nativities are scattered throughout the house...

That's most of them.

On Himself's piano we have our Christmas tree collection.  It was started with the little ceramic light up tree on the far right.  It was a gift from a friend - Himself's 1st grade teacher.

We have a collection of Snoopy too.  (There's also a Charlie Brown but he didn't make the photo shoot.)

Himself's toy truck now holds our Christmas cards.

And accent all through the house are poinsettia... real and silk.

Hope you enjoyed the tour.  Next year there will be more as I will have the outside decorated too (NO home projects after 31 October!!).