Sunday, October 23, 2011

2 week hiatus

Y'all, I am taking a 2 week break from the blog to do a little refocusing. 

Hope you'll meet me back here in a couple of weeks - I've got lots to share with you!

See you soon!

Monday, October 17, 2011

a visit to my grandma's

Last week I packed up the baby birds and headed down for an overnight visit with my grandma.

We basically just relaxed and enjoyed spending time with "Ma" as we call her.  We did spend some time enjoying the outdoors.

Playing in the leaves:

Finding pinecones for our "collection"

And I spent time just soaking in the details of Ma's house.

My grandparents built this house in 1971.  It's the very last house on a dead end road, several miles out of town in the county.  When they built, I think they were the only house out here.

The house is very rustic on the outside.  Lots of stone and wood.

The property backs up to some woods, and if you walk through the woods, you are right on Green River Lake.  My grandfather loved to fish and at one time, my grandparents ran the county boat dock on the lake.  I vividly remember Granddaddy cleaning and scaling fish on the counter in Ma's kitchen.  She tolerated that better than I probably would have!  Although I guess instead of fish scales, I deal with cow crap.

It is so peaceful here, like a retreat.  Whenever I visit, I always feel a sense of calm and peace.  So many of my best childhood memories are here as well.  This is where I woke up every Christmas morning until I got married.  We also spent quite a bit of time here in the summer.  My grandfather would always raise a huge garden, and I remember picking beans, and helping my grandma make pickles.

Granddaddy liked roses.  I remember during the summer there was always a rose or two in a vase on the kitchen table.

I could go on and on, and maybe in another post I will.

I know you're reading this Ma, so thanks for letting us invade your house whenever we like!
I love you!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

adapted recipe

Are you an "always follow the recipe" kind of person, or do you like to improvise a bit when you cook?

My Mom and I laugh about this when we cook or sew together because she is such a rule follower.  She measures things exactly and generally plays by the rules.  She likes to sew from patterns, and follows the patterns exactly.  That's probably why she is such a good cook and wonderful seamstress!  It's kind of surprising though because my Mom is such a creative person, I would have guessed she would take more "liberties" when cooking or sewing.

I on the other hand do things differently.   I like to sew things that don't use patterns, and just "figure it out".  I like to pattern sew, but I'm ok with changing things up a bit as long as it doesn't affect the structural integrity of the finished product.  I rarely use measuring cups when I cook, only when I bake (you do have to be really exact then).  And I'm fine with substituting ingredients in a recipe with those I have on hand as long as the outcome is similar.

So I came across this  yummy sounding recipe for Queso Potato Chowder in my latest Southern Living.  Seriously?  Is this like queso dip crossed with potato soup?  Right up my alley.

I had some great looking poblano peppers and bell peppers from our CSA share this week, so they would work as the peppers in this soup.  I didn't, however have the refrigerated southwestern style hashbrowns the recipe called for.  I did have some regular potatoes in the pantry though, so I cubed them up and subbed them in.

I also didn't have the queso asedero cheese the recipe called for.  I wish I had because I bet it's super creamy like queso dip.  I did have some monterey jack cheese though, and that made a good substitution.

I had the milk and half-and-half, but I'm sure I could have used all milk to cut some calories, but who's cutting calories?

So here's the recipe.  I'm giving you the original, from this month's Southern Living Magazine, and I'm showing you my substitutions out to the side.

I guess my point with this post, besides sharing a really yummy recipe, is to say, don't be afraid of substituting ingredients!  It's ok to sub out similar veggies, cheeses, fruits and sometimes spices.  Make it your own, you may even find you like your own version better!

Queso Potato Chowder (from the October 2011 issue of Southern Living)

1/4 C butter
1 C finely chopped red bell pepper / I used a mix of orange and red
1 C finely chopped onion
3 poblano peppers, seeded and finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 (20 oz.) package refigerated southwestern-style hash browns / I used 5 good sized Idaho potatoes, peeled and diced.  Next time I'll grate them.
1/4 tsp. ground cumin / I used a bit more
2 (14 oz) cans low sodium fat-free chicken broth / I used 1 (32 oz) box
1/3 C flour / I didn't measure
1 1/2  C milk
1 C  half-and-half / you could just use all milk instead of the half-and-half
1 C (4 oz) freshly shredded asadero cheese / I used Monterey Jack
1 C (4 oz) freshly shredded sharp Cheddar cheese

1.  Melt butter in a dutch oven over medium-high heat; add bell pepper and next 3 ingredients, and saute 4-5 minutes or until tender.  Add potatoes and cumin, and saute 5 minutes or until browned and tender.  Gradually stir in broth, stirring to loosen particles from bottom of dutch oven.  Bring to a boil; cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer 25 minutes.
2.  Whisk together flour and next 2 ingredients.  Stir into potato mixture, and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, 5 minutes or until thickened.  Reduce heat to low.  At this point I mashed some of the potatoes in my soup with a potato masher to further thicken the soup.
3.  Add cheeses, and cook, stirring constantly, until cheeses melt and mixture is thoroughly heated.


Note: If anyone from Southern Living happens to read this post, I in no way meant that your recipe needed adapting!  I was just too lazy to go to the store to get your required ingredients.  I have read your magazine for as long as I can remember (seriously - probably not normal for a 16 year old to read Southern Living) and look forward to every issue.  Over and out.

Friday, October 7, 2011

basement update (finally)

We're painting!  Actually Daddy Bird is doing most of the painting and he's pretty much finished at this point, but the point is, the beast that was the drywall has been conquered and there is now paint on the wall!

Of course we had different opinions on the color we should use.  Daddy Bird wanted yellow (say what?!?!?!) and I wanted some boring shade of neutral.  Although I love color (and I do like yellow sometimes) I just really thought with the busy pattern of the slate in the bathroom and everything else we have going on in there, yellow just wasn't my choice.

So we compromised and went with :

This shade - Antique White.  It's about the shade of a stick of butter, so it's a little bit yellow, and a little bit boring, so, perfect, right?  And it looks good with the tile and the flooring.

Not sure if I've shown y'all what we chose for the flooring.  I love, love, the look of the really wide plank floors, and someday, in our dream home I will have them, but we chose this for the basement and I've fine with it.  It should be durable, I like the look, and it was fairly easy on the pocketbook as well.

The flooring will be the next thing to go in.

So here's the wall color in the room:

Have I told y'all about this desk?  I'll save that for another time.

We're going to need to make some more decisions soon.  I've got to come up with some lighting options and figure out what my options are as far as window coverings.

We're getting close to being finished!  I'm so excited to use this space!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

the fire pit

OK, let me clarify what I meant a couple of posts ago.  I don't hate fall.  I really don't.  It's just not my favorite season.  I'm trying really hard this year though.  I feel the love coming...

One thing I do love about fall is the chance to make a fire in our fire pit and roast marshmallows.

Daddy Bird (and I helped a little) built this great brick patio behind our house a couple of years ago.  We've just this summer been able to get some furniture out there and we added a fire pit as well.

From the time we built the patio I had envisioned some brightly colored adirondak chairs surrounding our fire pit.   Daddy Bird painted these for me!  I'm really loving them.

The other night we made a fire and taught the Boy Birdie the art of roasting marshmallows.

We all had a great time.  Daddy Bird likes building fires.

Why do men like fire so much?  The Boy Bird and Myself enjoyed toasting and eating the marshmallows.

Girlie Bird enjoyed just hanging out.

I ate so many marshmallows I almost made myself sick.  It was fantastic.

There is something so relaxing about a fire, and even better when it's in your own backyard!