Monday Madness: What’s For Supper?

Welcome to a new week, dear Readers! Well, it’s Monday…and if your household is anything like mine, things are busy on Mondays.  We usually like to do something easy for supper, and we try to avoid eating out when we can.  Which prompts this blog entry where I ask you all for your participation!  Yay…I love audience participation!

I would love to hear simple weeknight supper ideas from my readers! Please chime in with your favorite one or two easy meals (We’ll call them Fast Favorites!) that you fix for your family on nights when you cannot spend forever in the kitchen! If you have a blog, please leave that link, and I will update the entry with everyone’s meal ideas and link back to you as well!

Here is one of my family’s Fast Favorites…Nicolas calls it “The Orange Soup That Mom Makes”. It is more appropriately entitled, “The Orange Soup that Tom Thumb Makes to Help Mom Look Good in the Kitchen on Busy Nights”!

This is our family’s favorite tomato basil bisque…..the version that Tom Thumb sells is SO thick and SO strong-tasting that we prefer it with some additions. It tastes better and stretches further!

Pour two of these (24 oz each, bought in the deli section of TomThumb/Randalls):

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into a nice-sized saucepan.

Re-use your empty soup container by filling it to the brim with this:

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or whatever % milk you have on hand. I usually use a mixture of regular or fat-free half and half plus 1% milk.

Add the 24oz. of milk mixture to your pan.

Re-use your container again by filling it with 24oz. of this:

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Stir into your pan.

Those of you who know me well are aware that I will use any excuse to add wine to what I am cooking. This soup is no exception. If you have a few ounces of a white wine close at hand, toss some in to your soup…you won’t be sorry. Stir the mixture, heating till close to boiling…and you are done!

Serve with this (I usually use Costco’s delicious sourdough loaf):

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And some fresh fruit and/or a salad.

And……Voila! You have a meal worthy of La Madeleine!

Bon Appetit!

(But….before you “Bon Appetit”, please chime in with one or two of your own Fast Favorites!  I am looking forward to all your great ideas! Thanks!)

If Hearing About the Acorn Grubs Two Posts Ago Bothered You…

then take my advice and just SKIP this bloggy entry, m’kay friends?

You’d think on the Sabbath I’d have something uplifting and spiritually encouraging to share with you. Not today, readers, so sorry!

This morning I stayed home from church with a little boy whose tummy hurt him. After spending some time with him, I turned my attentions to tidying up a bit. That’s when I remembered those pillar candles and the hurricanes which still needed to be cleaned out.

The other day when I tossed the “grubby” acorns (into a sealed bag for my FIL who may just find a use for the disgusting little creatures), I left the candles and hurricanes as they were. This morning I figured I’d wash them out. When I went back to look at them, I was surprised at how much loose powdery wax was at the bottom of the hurricanes.  I had assumed maybe all the acorns in the container had somehow loosened little bits of wax from the outsides of the candles. I was wrong.

Picking up a pillar candle and examining it, I was horrified to see little holes all around the base, and a tiny creature inhabiting each hole. Evidently our acorn grubs liked the idea of setting up house inside the vanilla scented candles, for they had created a small apartment complex for them to nest in. Housekeeping was already set up and they were in the process of decorating for the holidays.

I spent almost an hour extracting these disgusting little things from each candle base, all the while telling myself not to puke over the ickiness of it all. And then after all that work, I asked myself the obvious question: why in the world I had bothered? Did I really want to put these particular pillar candles back on my dining room table?? Hmmm??

Once again I find myself thinking it would have been wise to have just bought those Pottery Barn acorns in the first place. Because tomorrow I will spend yet more $$ as I venture back to Hobby Lobby for some grub-free candles.

A “New” Mantel

Back in 2006, when we purchased our current house, the living room liked this (small boy not included):

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After some wood floors, paint, and a bit of furniture were added to the scene, it looked like this:

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We have loved the transformation, but have lacked a mantel over the fireplace. This year, I began to get very nostalgic for a place to hang our stockings. So today I dragged, er accompanied Jay down to a salvage store in town.  If you’ve never heard of a salvage store before, it’s a place that buys up items from homes which are about to be demo’d, and then sells them to folks who can use them in their current homes. Great model for re-using perfectly good things all the way from light fixtures to mantels to hardwood floors to doors.

It was great fun poking around the salvage store, and because a sweet friend watched all four of our kiddos while we shopped (thank you, Jennifer!) we were able to focus in on what we were looking for. We brought home a very simple mantel shelf which cost very little, whose width perfectly fits our brick fireplace.   My job is to sand and restain the wood till it is the color we’d like, and then my hunk of a home improvement guy will mount it to the brick fireplace surround.

Here is what the living room looks like now, with the mantel shelf leaning against the brick, patiently awaiting its new look.

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When it Pays to Spend $14

Some time ago I was window shopping at Pottery Barn during a rare outing all by my lonesome. The store was decorated for fall, and I admired all the beautiful harvest decor and various displays the store employees had put together.  I especially paid attention to the dining table arrangements in hopes of snagging a cool idea or two to use at home in my humble casa.  That’s when I saw these

filler

And these

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I loved the way they used filler like leaves and acorns around a pillar candle set inside a simple glass hurricane, and resolved to replicate the idea on my own dining room table.  But, being the cheap, er frugal gal I like to be, I couldn’t imagine why in the world I would want to pay a precious $14 for their cheap, plasticky acorns to “harvest up” my house when I have two perfectly good oak trees growing in my yard.

The next day I snagged a willing helper and we stepped out front. It was raining, but it didn’t matter: we were on a mission. Jonathan willingly held my basket as I stripped as many acorns as I could off the lower branches of our little oak out front. He was thrilled to be gathering acorns, and I was thrilled at how clever I was at saving money.

I purchased some inexpensive white candles to put in some large glass hurricanes, piled my fresh acorns around the bases of the pillars and was pleased with the effect. After a few more simple decorations, our dining room felt more harvesty; nowhere near the magnificence of the grand PB displays, but also nowhere near the cost (again, please pardon the blur on my photos):

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Jay arrived home, praised my little decorations, and we settled into fall enjoying the orangey fun of pumpkins, the cinnamony scent of pinecones and the excitement of anticipating some trick-r-treating in a few weeks.

And then one morning in October while my 5th grader sat in the sunny dining room working on her math assignment, she uttered a disgusted cry and called, “Mom! Come quick!”

I ran into the dining room, saw her panicked face, and looked at where she was pointing. And there, inside my harvest hurricane was one of the more disgusting sights I’ve witnessed inside the comforts of my home (you can just stop reading here if you are easily grossed out):

A small army of white grubs crawled in and around my acorns, adding a dimension I had not counted on to these particular harvest decorations. They looked exactly like little maggots, and even my nature girl, Abigail was repulsed by the sight of them. It was especially awful the way the glass magnified their presence and movement…YUCK!

You may thank me for not providing you a photo of this nature moment for your enjoyment. We saw grubs in only one hurricane, so outside it went, we cleaned it out, popped fresh acorns inside, and hoped that was the last of our tiny friends.  But a few days later, Jonathan spotted some of their distant cousins crawling around in the other hurricane…

So apparently our little oak tree’s acorns have grubs in them. Does this impact the vitality of the tree? Should we be concerned?? Are any arborists reading this blog? If so, I’d love your two cents.

Regardless, yesterday morning, credit card in hand, I called Pottery Barn’s catalog division…and ordered me a set of these.

tinyac

Here’s hoping they are the grub-free variety!

Puppy Cut!

Shasha went to the beauty parlor yesterday for her quarterly ‘do. Since welcoming her to the family we have tried both long and short hair for our pup, and shorter seems to work best for everyone! She still needs to be brushed frequently, but it is a much simpler task! And she looks so cute in her puppy cut: like a fluffy little pom-pom!

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Soup Du Jour!

Last Friday the children and I took some homemade chicken noodle soup to my very sick MIL. Well, it was mostly homemade; as I was leaving our house with soup in hand, I managed to drop the bag which was holding the container of soup. The plastic container holding the soup shattered when it hit the concrete floor of the garage, and alas! almost every drop of the precious broth I had coaxed from those chicken bones and vegetables was lost. I replaced the liquid which had drained out with some canned stuff I had on hand, and meekly took what was left of my “get well soup” over to my in-laws’.

In exchange for my rather meager offering, Grammy Ruth bequeathed two lovely squashes to me. For a couple of days I pondered what to do with my pretty acorn and butternut squashes, and after a bit of online searching I was inspired to cook a soup I have never before tried.

Here is the recipe I drew from, though as usual I tinkered significantly with both the ingredients and the method of preparation.

As suggested, I first sauteed an onion and a carrot in butter and olive oil. For my base I used 1 acorn squash, 1 butternut squash, 3 sweet potatoes and 1 granny smith apple.

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The recipe suggests boiling all vegetables until tender and then pureeing them in a blender along with chicken or vegetable broth. Given I broke our blender a month or so ago while making pesto (and yes, this has made preparing margaritas somewhat challenging!), I decided to roast the vegetables in the oven and then mash them. In addition to adding a lot of chicken broth, I tossed in some white wine and a good amount of half ‘n’ half.  For spice, I added cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, pepper, and paprika along with fresh parsley.

We enjoyed the pumpkin-colored soup topped with homemade garlic/asiago croutons which added a nice flavor to the dish.

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I assumed that Jonathan, my resident soup-hater would taste one spoonful of this concoction and look woefully at me as if to say “Do I really have to eat this?”, as he often does at the supper table when I’ve served soup. When the soup is potato based he frankly looks more nauseated than pleading. To my surprise and delight, he loved my creation, and finished every drop in his bowl…miraculous!

Oh, and Mommy Ruth, if you are reading this entry, (and I know you are!)  you will be happy to know that my squash/potato mixture made so much soup base that I froze a nice portion for you to use someday when you are feeling more like squash soup.  I assure you that I will do my best this time to not drop it on the garage floor on my way to your house!

Deja Vu Doggie

It was spring, not fall…

Josiah was two years old, not four (sniff, sniff)…

Her name was Dixie, not Lucy…

And hey, we’ve added a cushy rug to the living room…

But the scene yesterday was much the same as it was that day. The exuberant lab stepped out of character, and forsook all other activity to lay by the side of a little boy with a sick tummy.  Such devotion!

That was then…

lucy

This is now…

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Pumpkin Carving

For whatever reason, we neglected to carve a “jackety-lantern” (Nicolasism) last year for Halloween. We made up for it this year by creating two! I am not the most artistic when it comes to pumpkin-carving, but I branched out and added eyebrows to one pumkin’s face for the first time ever. Oh, I know, I am a crazy girl!

I had two assistants: one who diligently removed all the stringy mess and seeds from inside the pumpkins, and one who alternated between cheering on our efforts and proclaiming how disgusting the insides of the pumpkins smelled to him! I’ll let you decide who did which job.

Pumpkin carving and removing of the pumpkin innards:

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I call this pumpkin “Scarface”:

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I guess the pics sorta give away who did which parts of the “work” of pumpkin carving.

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Here’s the one we called “Happy Jack”:
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And finally my two little helpers on our front porch:

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One note: Lately, for whatever reason, when we export pictures to the hard drive to drop into blog posts, they sometimes “fuzz out”…become very blurry in comparison to the original shot. Despite fiddling with them to try to compensate, I have not completely corrected the problem, so I will ask my techie guy to see if he can solve this issue soon…for now please accept my apologies for the fuzzy pictures!

NaBloPoMo

Well, that title is certainly a mouthful…it took me three tries to manage to spell it correctly, and I am still stumbling over the pronunciation like it’s a tongue-twister.

Hat-tip to Leslie over at Esperanza del Alma for the idea to try to get back into the spirit of blogging after a pretty long hiatus.  I’ve decided to give

november

a go! If I am successful, 30 posts in 30 days will be some sort of record for us, especially given the dearth of posts around House of Horne the past few months. I don’t know that I will have much of interest to share with the two readers we still have, but I hope that just the discipline of regular posting will help us stay up with the old blog a bit better.

If you are still a visitor here at House of Horne, God bless you for your faithfulness!  Here’s to more frequent posting from here on out. Or at least for the next 30 days.

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