Thursday, January 31, 2013

Poor Richard's Almanac: Food Storage Friendly Fiesta Chicken Soup

"Eat few suppers, and you'll need few medicines." 
~ Benjamin Franklin, Poor Richard's Almanack

With all due respect to Mr. Franklin's quote above, eating "few" suppers is what nightmares are made of.  

At least mine are.

That's why I've earnestly tried to make sure that our family always has an emergency dinner supply waiting for us, whatever comes our way.  That doesn't mean that I've got a cellar full of beef bourguignon and Waldorf salad.  It's more like a toddler cafeteria with all of its Kraft Macaroni and Cheese, Spaghettios, pudding, and Oreos.

(Wait.  Strike the Oreos.  I finished off the last package on Wednesday.)

But then I stumbled across this gem-of-a-recipe and realized that EVERY ingredient can be kept in long-term food storage.  And the best part:  

It tastes great.

(Believe me . . . you can't say that about every food storage offering.  Just ask Miriam about her pinto bean brownie experiment.)

 We eat this soup on a regular basis, and not just when hurricanes, blizzards, and unemployment come to town.  It's a crowd pleaser of a meal that tastes great any time of year.

Here is what you'll need.

Fiesta Chicken Soup

4 cups chicken broth
10 oz can chicken breast
1 can tomatoes with green chiles
1 can diced tomatoes
1 can black beans
1 can chili beans (or ranch style beans)
1 can corn
1 can diced green chiles
2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon garlic
3 tablespoons of cornstarch mixed with 1/2 cup water

Mix together.  Simmer for 20 minutes and serve with chips or tortillas, cheese and sour cream.

It isn't like this house is prepared for any and every eventuality---especially if it might require toilet paper, Scotch tape, or dog food.  We are fresh out.

But, if you are looking for a tasty dinner in an emergency, then my house is the place to be.  

Unless, of course, you're hoping for some Oreos, too.  Then, I'm afraid, you're out of luck.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Poor Richard's Almanac: Ironstone Envy

"Good sense is a thing all need, few have, and none think they want."
~Benjamin Franklin, Poor Richard's Almanack

Blast this blogosphere!  A pox on the internet!  It seems as though every nook and cranny of cyberspace is TAUNTING me with beautiful ironstone collections like this one . . .

{via Country Living}

and like this one . . .

{via Pinterest}

and like this one.

{via Frog Goes to Market}

The only serving collection I own is a pile of mismatched Ziploc and Rubbermaid containers.  And just when I think I'm getting really classy by whipping out the Tupperware for special occasions, I think back on these perfectly styled shelves with their perfectly aged ironstone and creamware and realize that my kitchen has been weighed in the balance and found wanting.

But so has my bank account.

So what to do when you have ironstone envy?

Well, as good old Benjamin Franklin would advise, you simply make do or do without.

Today, I choose to make do.

I dug through my cupboards and discovered that I had a small and humble collection of lovely white dishes and accessories.  No ironstone here.  Nothing antique.  Just a few of my favorite gifts and bargain store finds.

But where to put them?  I'd like to say that I have a perfectly chippy French armoire just waiting to be filled my with faux ironstone collection.

But I don't.

What I DO have is a library bookshelf.  I know it may sound odd to put teapots and scalloped plates in a library instead of a dining room or kitchen, but teapots and books go perfectly together in my mind.

Don't you think?

I love rich the wood looks against the clean white accessories . . .

and how fresh the dishes look against the warm backdrop.

My faux ironstone collection isn't going to attract any collectors or wow any antique lovers  . . .

 but at least it is a step above showcasing Tupperware.

Sharing at . . .

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Poor Richard's Almanac: Waste not, want not

Have you something to do tomorrow? Do it today.
-Poor Richard's Almanac

 This week is so lovely and sunny here, but last week told a different story. When I moved here, it made me laugh to see everyone cover their trees and plants with blankets when temps hit 32 degrees, but now I have my own yard, and I get it. SAVE THE PLANTS!! Everything here dies when we hit 32 degrees, because everything that grows here survives 120 degree temps in the summer. You can't have it both ways. So as we headed into a week of freezing temps, I headed out and covered the precious plant life in our yard, and set about harvesting two trees worth of lemons, and a full tree of pomegranates. 

What to do, what to do...

It's delicious. I love lemon sorbet, but the pomegranate seems to mellow out the zing a little bit, so it's even better. Plus, I love the color.

And look how cute it is served in egg cups :)

Lemon Pomegranate Sorbet

2 C Water
2 C Sugar
1 C Lemon Juice (These were ripe lemons. You may need to use less if yours are more tart)
1 C Pomegranate Arils

Heat the water and sugar just to a boil, and remove from heat. Add lemon juice. Use a food processor or food chopper to break down the pomegranate arils into a juicy paste, and strain through a mesh sieve into the lemon mixture. Now freeze!

You don't even need an ice cream mixer for this---I didn't feel like pulling mine out, so I just froze it in a bowl and took the bowl out of the freezer and stirred it every once in a while to break up the ice crystals as they were forming. The result? Soft, tangy, perfect sorbet. 


Sunday, January 13, 2013

Poor Richard's Almanack: Collection Love

"If you desire many things, many things seem but few."
 ~Benjamin Franklin, Poor Richard's Almanack

I live in extremes.  I'm all or nothing, hot or cold, standing still or going a million miles an hour.  I don't usually see this aspect of myself as a vice---until I want to start a collection.  Just ask my ebay account.  Once a collecting bee gets in my bonnet, I let it buzz and buzz instead of just finding the nearest swatter.

Alas, this is supposed to be a month of prudence and provident living.  31 days of bee-in-bonnet swatting.  So good-bye Ebay account.  Good-bye antique boutiques.  Good-bye Home Goods.

(Cue pouting.)

Luckily, I can live vicariously through adorable houses like this one down the road with all of its fabulous "collections" . . .

Like this grouping of wire pendant lights in the entry . . .

Or these frames and mirrors in the hallway . . .

Or these punchy floral pillows on the great room couch . . .

Or these deliciously red leather bar stools in the kitchen . . .

Or this fun collection of plates on the dining room wall . . .

Or these funky floral platters in the master bedroom . . .

Or the chunky rustic furniture in every corner of the living room.

I guess you could say I've become a "collector" of collection photos.  Sigh.

It's a hard habit to break, I tell ya.

(Interior Design by Four Chairs Furniture)

What do you collect?  We'd love to hear!

Sharing at . . .

Between Naps on the Porch 
My Uncommon Slice of Suburbia
Homestories A to Z
Jennifer Rizzo
No Minimalist Here
Common Ground
From My Front Porch to Yours   
French Country Cottage 
At the Picket Fence
Stuff and Nonsense 
Savvy Southern Style 
Somewhat Simple 

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Poor Richard's Almanac: Cleanliness is next to Godliness

On the Virtue of Cleanliness:
Tolerate no uncleanliness in body, clothes, or habitation.
-Poor Richard's Almanack

Cleanliness is a luxury we cannot afford this week in my house. We seem more prone to filth of every kind. I woke up today to the scents of old trash, and other lovely things, as my kids have caught a fun little bug, and are sharing it amongst one another. But this was good timing! because THIS was ready:

I know. It looks like one of those formaldehyde jars from middle school science lab. But it's SO much more awesome.

It's a jar of vinegar soaked citrus peels. You simply fill a jar with peels (Any kind of citrus will do,) and fill it to the top with white distilled vinegar. Now leave it in the back of your pantry for a couple of weeks until it looks super gross, like the top pic. Now you have a lovely citrus scented vinegar ready to make the best homemade deodorizer/disinfectant ever. You will never have to buy the store bought stuff again. The cost? $0.12- $0.30 per bottle. Yep, I know. Awesome. It now holds a special place in this cheapskate's heart; right next to the Lavender Laundry Soap.

For a deodorizing/disinfecting room spray, dilute your citrus vinegar with water in a 1:1 ratio. Optionally, you can also add tea tree oil (which is really cheap at Wal Mart in the vitamin section. Wahoo!) Spray ALL OVER your house. Hard surfaces, soft surfaces, every room you watched a kid sneeze in. There are no nasty chemicals to worry about!

For a hard surface cleaner, dilute the citrus vinegar with water in a 1 part vinegar to 2 parts water ratio. Just spray on, leave a minute and wipe off.

For an All Purpose cleaner, you can use the hard surface cleaner, but I like to add a tablespoon of ammonia to the bottle and about 1/3 cup of rubbing alcohol. This makes it great for cleaning glass surfaces without streaking. 

If you want to see some scientific backing to all this, click here and check out all the studies on vinegar :)

I like cleaning with cute products. I know that's dumb, but it motivates me. So here's a printable label for anyone who has the same cleaning issues that I do. I printed it on pre-sticky mailing labels you can pick up at Walmart. Avery 48126 to be exact.

Why not use just regular vinegar to keep your home clean? You CAN! But this smells better. A lot of people don't like the smell of vinegar, but when you use the citrus peel vinegar, it's much more mild, and then when it dries, the scent is gone, leaving behind a lovely orange citrus scent.

It beats the old trash, believe me. :)

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Poor Richard's Almanac: Date Night in Black and White

"Keep your eyes wide open before marriage, half shut afterwards."
~from Poor Richard's Alamanac by Benjamin Franklin

When my husband and I started dating, we believed in doing things like rock climbing, and night picnicking, and star-gazing, and grooming.

Things have changed a bit since then.

Now we are just happy if we can go to the grocery store together without having to corral five kids and push a sticky race car shopping cart with skiwampus wheels.

In an effort to recover financially from Christmas (and to live more providently this month) my hubby and I bypassed the nice restaurant and the movie theater and the sticky race car cart last night for a date night at home "in black and white."

And it was FABULOUS!

Here are some ideas for recreating your very own 

Date Night in Black and White . . .

Hubs and I started the evening with a viewing of The Artist.  At first I was hesitant to see this because I couldn't imagine a silent film about a silent film being riveting.  But it was!  This is an absolutely beautiful film.  It is no wonder it won several Academy awards.  

And the best part:  IT IS ON NETFLIX!  Wahoo!

No movie would be complete without a good bowl of popcorn.   

Or you could even create your very own black and white inspired concession stand!  I stocked this one with hors d'oeuvres skewers featuring olives, tomatoes and mozzarella.  (The concessions sign is a picture frame with chalkboard paint.  I added a little flower made from sticky-backed felt for fun.)

And as a sweet end to your date night, serve up a tray of these darling little striped cake pops.  

(Use your favorite recipe for the inside of the pops and then dip the outsides in white chocolate.  Let the pops cool in the fridge until the white coating is hard.  Next, melt some chocolate chips in the microwave.  Put the melted chips in a baggie, snip off one of the corners of the baggie to create a makeshift frosting bag, and start swirling!)

I realize that a night spent at home in front of the TV while cuddling cake pops and popcorn isn't everyone's idea of dream date, but it sure beats a cleanup on aisle 9 caused by an unwieldy race cart.

So here's to your perfect date night this week . . . wherever it may be!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Poor Richard's Almanac: Provident Living

He that is rich need not live sparingly, 
and he that can live sparingly, need not be rich.

~ from Poor Richard's Almanac 
by Benjamin Franklin

On New Year's Day last year, I made the resolution to eat more cookies.  

I am happy to say that I did SO well on that resolution that I am now the newest member of an online weight loss program.  

(And by the way, eating cookies is a much funner resolution than having to burn them from my thighs with leg lifts and saddle squats . . .)

As Miriam and I considered our own New Year's resolutions and our theme for January, we decided to turn to that King of Quips and provident advice: Benjamin Franklin.  His Poor Richard's Almanac, published in 1732, is full of famous phrases that have continued to permeate our culture.  For example: "Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise."  Sound familiar?

And so we tip our tri-cornered hat to Mr. Franklin and his pithy wisdom.  

This month we want to do more on less, do better with what we have, and enjoy the provident and practical ride. 

As a kick-off to our penny-pinching month, I thought I'd share some snapshots I took while enjoying one of my favorite and least-expensive hobbies: model home snooping!  These come from a bedroom in an Ivory home model in Salt Lake City.  The best part is that this adorable room has hints of colonial America in its decor!  Yes, Ben Franklin.  This one's for you.

I would have never thought that corals and blues and greens could go so well together, but this combo is scrumptious!  (Or maybe I'm just starving.  A pox on this diet!)

I'm smitten with the nailhead trim on the velvet headboard.  What a fun shape!

And what should I see hanging on the wall in this delightful room, but two colonial prints of children's rhymes!

And even Ben Franklin himself would have to love this classic chair with the whimsical "political' addition of a "possibilitarian" pillow.

So off we go this month---from this model home back to our own homes---where Miriam and I hope we can prove ourselves to be staunch, flaming, dyed-in-the-wool . . .


Happy New Year to you all!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

A Year of Great Reads

2012 was our first whole year as a blog, and it's been such a fun experience. We are so glad we have been able to share our great love of books and home with you all. Here's our little highlight reel:

We pretty much started 2012 with our all time favorite lady: Jane Austen.

We honored Irish Authors for St. Patty's Day...

Took a walk in the garden with Beatrix Potter...

We spent the spring in the garden, sharing some raspberry cordial with our favorite redheaded heroine: Anne of Green Gables

In Summer we headed out to the Little House on the Prairie...

Then we jumped across the pond to have a Midsummer Night's Dream with Mr. Shakespeare,
and spend some time with the fairies...

We sailed down the Mississippi with Huckleberry Finn, and put the wash out on the line (Or in the newly remodeled laundry/mud room)...

We spent fall reading poetry...

And Halloween with Edgar Allan Poe...

We celebrated an Alcott Autumn...

and finished the year with the Christmas Carols...

It's been an amazing year, and we've been so lucky to share it with our readers. Every comment you have made has brightened our day, and we are so grateful. Here's to an amazing 2013!

We'll be starting the year off with Benjamin Franklin's "Poor Richard's Almanac"

See you soon!
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