Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Scruffy Hospitality!

This is a simple copy and paste of an article I really needed to read. It can be found at the Style Bueprint and I am linking the article here just in case thee are issues. I hope it will transmit so that each of you can gather some wisdom from it, that is ,if you are like me and need it.  Maybe we can indeed have the best Christmas ever!  Peace!

Scruffy Hospitality? During the Holidays?! Yes!

Liza Graves

‘Tis the season for the picture-perfect home, the picture-perfect meals and the enviable holiday party where again, everything is just perfect.

What’s up with our need to make everything so PERFECT? I know, I know. I am not the first person to ask this and I won’t be the last. But, during the holiday season, from Thanksgiving through New Year’s, this need for detailed perfection is at its annual peak. Maybe that is why so many people hibernate in January. It’s not the cold weather. It’s recuperation from all that perfection that we tried so hard to maintain for the previous six weeks. Don’t get me wrong, there are people who excel and are energized by all of this planning and doing. But it excludes the rest of us who feel that if we can’t compete, why even try?

A scruffy Thanksgiving.

My own Thanksgiving meal this year took place in a kitchen missing upper cabinets, with drywall showing and food was served straight out of aluminum baking pans … there was no centerpiece on the table, but I found two candles. The feedback? The best, least stressful Thanksgiving ever.

And I’m not even going to pretend that StyleBlueprint doesn’t add to the frenzy. We’ve curated beautiful tablescapes, recipes, cocktail ideas, holiday homes and ideas for great gifts. But, let’s all remember that those tablescapes were made for a photo shoot. Those recipes? They were captured in perfect lighting and were likely the only thing being cooked at the time. Those cocktails? Well, let’s be real … if you want to make a gathering easier, just serve beer and wine, as hard as it is for this cocktail lover to admit. Those holiday homes? They have been fretted over for days to get them ready to shoot. Many had designers involved. The photos are likely edited to make them even more … perfect. Just like a runway model, where you see something to inspire your look, take those same cues from these homes … get ideas, but don’t think your house has to live up to them … unless that is your thing, and then go for it! And the gifts? If you are losing your mind, just get a food/beverage gift for everyone … they’ll use it or be happy to have it to pass on to someone else. Buy a case of wine or some coffee, or order brownies or oranges for everyone. We can take this down a few notches. Let’s remember that.

Which brings me to the topic of “scruffy hospitality.” I’m not talking about planning a nice party and having people over to your home that you haven’t cleaned up at all because you’re trying to “be real.” If you plan a party, clean up your house and prep, sure. Show people you care and wanted to make them feel special. But, what about the Friday night where you get home and think I’d really like to see some friends, and you text a few people and they are free too. Let’s leave time and space in our calendars and hearts for these impromptu gatherings. And, by all means, straighten up a tiny bit … wipe down your counters and maybe empty your sink. Make sure there is toilet paper and soap in the powder room … but otherwise? Order a pizza and have everyone else bring wine or whatever. Leave the backpacks by the back door and the mail on the counter. All those giveaway clothes you’ve had in bags to get to your car? It’s okay if your friends see them. Maybe those bags will encourage them to purge some items as well.

If you haven’t heard the term “scruffy hospitality” before, it was coined by a Knoxville, TN, Anglican priest, Jack King, in a sermon that he wrote a blog post about here. Here is an excerpt:

“Scruffy hospitality means you’re not waiting for everything in your house to be in order before you host and serve friends in your home. Scruffy hospitality means you hunger more for good conversation and serving a simple meal of what you have, not what you don’t have. Scruffy hospitality means you’re more interested in quality conversation than the impression your home or lawn makes. If we only share meals with friends when we’re excellent, we aren’t truly sharing life together.

Don’t allow a to-do list to disqualify you from an evening with people you’re called to love in friendship. Scheduling is hard enough in our world. If it’s eating with kind, welcoming people in a less than perfect house versus eating alone, what do you think someone would choose? We tell our guests ‘come as you are,’ perhaps we should tell ourselves ‘host as you are.’” — Jack King

You know that political statement we hear, “It’s the economy, stupid?” I feel like we need to say “It’s the relationships, stupid!” to ourselves every now and then as a reminder. Don’t let your own need for perfection outweigh your soul’s need to be real and connect with your friends and family. Invite people over. Tell them, “My wrapping paper is piled in the corner, and I’m wearing yoga pants. My plant is dead, but it’s too heavy to carry outside. All that said, I’d love to see you and share a pizza and catch up during this crazy time.” It’s probably exactly what they wanted and the permission slip they needed to be real, as well. Can you imagine receiving that text? You’d probably know you were in for the best night of the whole season.

Have you been waiting for your new furniture to arrive to invite people over? Don’t wait. That hole in the wall to be repaired? Put a frame around the hole and make a joke out of it … you’re friends will love you all the more for it. If I’ve learned only one thing in the past few years it’s that we really don’t know what tomorrow will bring, and who cares if your plates don’t match because you’ve broken too many? Who cares that having a perfectly tidy and organized house is just not your talent? You can run to the olive bar at the grocery store, add some cheese, grab some sparkling cider and wine and say “Welcome.”

And that goes both ways … be the guest with a gracious and nonjudgmental heart. If your friend invites you over and everything is not “just so,” be grateful for the invite even if you are the type who CAN do it all. Got it?!

Cheers to great parties and Christmas trees that are over-the-top beautiful. Cheers to the families who can pull off the gorgeous holiday cards, hand addressed in beautiful calligraphy. But cheers as well to deep breaths, messy desks, car trunks that still have summer’s goggles in them and a few piles of papers that you just can’t seem to file away. It’s okay. Deep down, we care far more about everything else. Let’s talk about it. Tonight. My house, or yours?

Monday, November 28, 2016

Christmas Card Swap and Giveaway

Hey y'all!  Since I have been a virtual friend to so many of you and shared your lives this past year I thought it might be fun to have a card swap among anyone who wants to participate.  The rules are so simple that there are no real rules.  Simply email me  I will literally put everyones name in a hat and randomly draw 3 people for you to send a card.  Then I will randomly give 3 people your name.  In the end we will have 3 cards to send and receive. Buy them, make them, bake them__whatever you want your greeting to be. I figured 3 was a doable number for anyone.   The only real rule is to email me in the next few days.  That will give me plenty of time to sort it out and get back to each of you with your 3.   So if you are so inclined, or even remotely inclined, join in. It is a low cost way to bridge the distance between the virtual and 3-d worlds we occupy.

As an aside while I have been doing this major cleaning and purging I found several copies of a fundraiser cookbook I bought a few years ago.  It is a book of recipes sent from chef's across the country. I gave some to Goodwill but kept one copy to use as a giveaway.
Following a variation of
Sluggy"s rules, comment "enter me" in the comment section for 1 entry.  Post it in your blog with a link to this page for another entry.  Then everyday you post it on your blog with a link here is another entry.  Simple enough.
There are 218 pages of recipes, some from nationally known chefs and some from very generous restaurant owners who were more than willing to help.
All entries are due by December 9 with a drawing on the 10th.

Delayed Festive Friday Post

Today's post is in no way shape or form intended to be the ultimate gift from the kitchen, but simply a very inexpensive way to reuse some things you have in your house anyway to give a gift from the kitchen a little more oomph. After all it's all about the presentation, right?

I had originally planned on using this box to show 3 different gifts from the kitchen using the same container with very different looks, but time and tide wait for no one and I have been about as busy as I can be.  Since I skipped Festive Friday last week I thought I would go ahead and show you and trust that your imaginations are large enough to see other ways to use this.

Begin with an old Christmas card box, You know the kind with the clear plastic lids on them, right? Use enough wrapping paper and make sure you have enough to have a 3 inch border beyond all four sides of the box. The remaining tools are pretty basic.  I used a pair of scissors and a glue stick.  I am sure there are more complicated tools and directions but I am a simpleton at heart and almost always use the K.I.S.S*. method of doing things.

Turn the box bottom upside down and place the paper on the bottom of the box.  I will confess I used a smear of the glue stick to anchor the paper in place. Fold the long sides first, creasing the bottom and top edges, then do the same for the short sides. Now turn the box over so you can begin the folding and gluing part.

Fold the edges over the top edges of the long sides of the box, then fold about half or it under the first fold to make a nice smooth edge.  Glue the folded under edge to the paper much like hemming a skirt. Next, run the glue stick down the entire top edge of the inside of the box and glue the paper to the long sides of the box. On the short sides of the box, fold the ends like you are wrapping a present, then "hem" those edges also.  Run the glue stick down the inner edges of the box and glue the "hemmed" ends to it.  Since you are making those wrapping end folds you might need to glue down every fold.  I didn't, but again K.I.S.S. This is how it looks completely covered.

Before you do anything else, wash the card box lid thoroughly in warm soapy water, rinse well and dry with a lint free cloth. (I am talking seriously dry here, not like I do when I dry my hand washed dishes. Oh, who am I kidding? I usually let them air dry)

The next step is to make something homemade to put into the box.  As fate would have it, Son3 was returning to NYC this afternoon so I made him some peanut butter fudge to take back, but I confiscated a dozen pieces before I packed his to go.  This would look nice with truffles, turtles, buckeyes, chocolate fudge, divinity.  The sky and your imagination are the only limits!

Grab a few candy paper frills and line the bottom of the box. (Mine held a dozen. Mini cupcake liners would also work just as well.) Then set a piece of candy in each frill.
If you are putting cookies in the box,  line the box with enough white tissue paper to overlap all the cookies.  Cut a piece of white parchment paper to go on top of the tissue in the bottom of the pan, fill the box with cookies.  Place another sheet of parchment paper on top of the cookies and fold the tissue over the parchment.

The last step is to put the lid on the box then slide a ribbon underneath the box bring it around to the top of the box and tie a bow.  If Son3 had not been walking out the door to catch a flight, I would have put some tiny ornament in the middle of the bow, but he was ready to leave and I was in a hurry.  Oh well, imagine something really cute attached to the bow. Now go make a list of everyone you want to have something that looks really cute for and get busy wrapping leftover card boxes.

Speaking of cards, If any of you want to be involved with a Christmas card swap email me your address to  I read all of your blogs daily, even if I am living in chaos and don't have time to respond.  I would love to send holiday greetings to you and would even organize a blogging card swap for anyone interested.

K.I.S.S. Keep It Simple Stupid!

Friday, November 18, 2016

Finding What Is Important

If you read my blog you may have been seeing my posts about trying to make everything appear perfect in the house.  I had planned on having everything completed by noon today with the remainder of the day for cooking and decorating. As happens so often, when we carefully plan, life makes other arrangements.

Wednesday I got a phone call that a friend of our oldest son had died in a wreck.  We had been close friends with his family since the kids were little fellas but had lost touch lately except through FaceBook.  We are still close friends with his father  in law and mother in law, and see them every few weeks and it would never occur to us to not acknowledge his passing.  So last night I stopped cleaning to make some food to help with their extended family  lunch today and this afternoon I went to a funeral for a young man who died too soon and leaving a young widow and 2 young daughters and a broken hearted mom, dad, brother and sister. While I was going through the receiving line at the visitation before the services his dad hugged me, told me old friends are the greatest friends, and said nothing mattered but hugging my boys.

On the way home I was getting cranked up because I was sitting at a dead stop on the interstate, making a mental list of things I had not finished yet. In the middle of the stand still I mentally heard Bob's voice saying again, nothing mattered except hugging my boys.  The frenzy I had been feeling was gone and replaced by an internal peace, because life is uncertain and nothing matters except hugging my sons, dil and of course granddaughter.  The house is pretty darn clean and it might not be  exactly what I envisioned, but instead of seeing something askew  or not quite perfect I am going to heed Bob's advice and know that nothing matters except hugging them and enjoying our time together. Because  Nothing. Else. Matters

I know his entire family would give anything in this world to have Thanksgiving in a crappy dirty house all together instead of facing the empty place at the table. So I am now ashamed that I believed for even one moment that this Herculean cleaning frenzy was necessary.  We will be together and laugh and enjoy each other, and eat too much, and since I have sons will have some toilet humor, loud sounds and unseemly fragrances and it will be enough and it will be good!

Thursday, November 17, 2016

And the Moral Is

Once upon a time there was a woman (who shall remain nameless) who could easily live in a less than perfect state of being.  Her home would pass an inspection by the Health Department (well most days anyway) and she ascribed to the old adage that a home should be clean enough to be healthy but dirty enough to be happy. Since she had tendencies to be obsessive about things it was probably a good thing for her family that cleaning has never been one of her obsessions.

 Life was pretty easy, she kept their clothes clean (most of the time), she kept the house tidy (most of the time) and she cooked them delicious food. (except for the days when she served so-so stuff or they went out to eat) Yes life was pretty easy, and then, one day, she decided to make a complete list of everything that needed to be done before company would be there.

In the hands of normal people a list might just be a handy tool or a guide to stay on task, but when you a list like this in front of one of those "other kinds" of people, something as simple as cleaning out a powder room vanity cabinet takes on epic proportions and no longer will cleaning the cabinet do.  It then needs a new coat of paint and the rug in the powder room needs to be cleaned and while getting the steam cleaner to clean the run in the powder room, the upstairs closet has to be completely torn apart and put back together, but not before finding a picture one of the kids drew when they were in elementary school, which has to be framed, but who can frame kid artwork without first cutting a mat for it, then while looking for the exacto knife finding 2 tubes of watercolors that were out of place, which means cleaning all the art supplies and reconditioning the brushes before putting them back in the jar that holds them, but the jar had spots on it and needed to be cleaned....

Which brings me to her latest less than sane moment. After quick shining the hardwoods (and they do look lovely now) she decided the gourds she had dried a few years ago and still uses as autumn decorations looked "flat" against the fresh shine on the floors.  And because the world does not have enough idiots, she pulled out some medium gloss varnish ( I mean she wouldn't want to be garish) and painted it on the gourds which now have a lovely low luster and will be perfect on the foyer floor. Well almost perfect, she still has to run to Hobby Lobby and snag some fall colored plaid ribbon because she just decided they would look nicer in a big basket and a big basket requires a bow right?

And all of this chaos because of a stupid list!

Which brings me to the moral of this little tale.  Before the youngest graduates from college sell your home and move into a 1 bedroom condo.  That way when holidays are near and people come to visit you can put them up in a nearby hotel and eat in restaurants and everyone stays sane!

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Clock is Ticking and I'm Still Cleaning

I fell behind this week. Time is fleeing, but I still couldn't get motivated, so now I am hurrying like crazy to try and finish everthing I have not yet done.  I would love to have Friday free and clear to do the last minute touches and also do some baking. (Who wants to visit home without a taste of their childhood on the table?)  Better still I would love to be like Samantha and just twitch my nose and have everything do itself, but I am pretty sure that is not going to happen.

Barring unexpected magic, I will be scurrying like a hampster on a wheel, so I can finish by Thursday night. That will leave me all day Saturday to catch my breath, enjoy some coffee on the deck, run the vacuum, dust one last time, cook something delicious, light the candles and get ready for their arrival at 9:30.

Week 2:
 1. Clean music room
 2. Deep clean guest room bathroom, Waiting for Friday right before they come
 3. Deep clean Son3's bathroom, Waiting for Friday before he gets home
 4. Gussie up the deck and screened porch
 5. Deep clean Master bedroom
 6. Deep clean Master bath  Deep clean dressing room
 7. Wash summer comforter and put away did this week 1
 8. Air winter comforter and shams and put on bed did this week 1
 9. Whatever else I think of this week to add to this list
10. Paint corner cabinets in the dining room paying to have this done today, best  money spent ever
Carry overs
Quick shine hardwood floors in foyer/lr and dr
Create a bedroom for Pip from my former office work in progress,  over 2/3 finished
Deep clean dressing room
Deep clean laundry room
Deep clean butler's pantry
Clean oven  doing a tad more baking before I clean it

Extras if I get to them, if not carry over to week 3 or possibly forget about entirely
 1. Wax cabinet fronts and doors
 2. Re-do kitchen table top Not going to happen.  Tablecloth right?
 3. Shampoo den carpet   decided a thorough vacuum and spot cleaning would work fine
 4. Take breakfast nook rug outside and wash it
 5. Get a few Thanksgiving decorations in place

Friday, November 11, 2016

Festive Friday

Finally, I am here on a Friday as I set out to do each time, but as we know, life sometimes kicks us in the rear and we have to adjust everything.  This week has been a fairly low keyed. I think I only had to do things for Mom 3 days this week and she had no non-emergency, "emergencies"so I call it a fabulous week.

As I said in previous posts, My Beloved Sister and I give each other a lot of Christmas gifts so we have to make some of them just to keep it affordable. (Yeah, I know we could just give each other 1 gift, but what fun would that be?) So once again, y'all get a peek at one of her presents.  I am really lucky she does not do social media, so she will never see this post.

She has an incredible complexion and does a wonderful job babying her skin. She is also one of those people who regularly exfoliates her legs and arms, so this sugar scrub will be a great consumable gift for her. In addition, she loves, loves, loves chocolate so that makes today's gift a no brainer.

Chocolate Sugar Scrub

1 cup packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1/2 cup solid coconut oil
2 tablespoons almond oil
few drops coconut essential oil (optional)

In a medium bowl mix the brown sugar and cocoa powder.  Add the coconut oil and cream it with the sugar/ cocoa mix. Add the almond oil and stir well to blend.

Spoon into a jar, and make it as fancy or plain as you wish. When I cleaned out the refrigerator I found a jar with about 2 tablespoons of jelly.  The jelly was incorporated into a glaze for some chicken.  Since I really did like the shape of the jar, I simply removed the label, washed it and the lid, then painted the lid with gold paint.  I have some small olive wood demitasse spoons, so I will tie one of those with a ribbon along with a tag letting her know what the gift is, and a warning to be careful when using it in the tub or shower because the oils can make the surface a little slippery.

Fortunately for me there is a little left that would not fit into the jar, so I have about 3 tablespoons of scrub to use on me. I massaged a little on my hands, left it on for a couple of minutes then rinsed it off. Oh my, and it left them feeling so soft and smooth!  I can't wait to try this on dry winter legs and feet. (Well, if winter ever comes here again! I am still wearing flip flops everywhere.) Smells great and leaves me silky.  Sounds like a winner to me!

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Chicken Crack

This past weekend we were at the lake for a workday/football watching day.  I have been using up freezer items and wanted dinner to be easy and to use something from storage, so I pulled out 2 packs of chicken breasts (roughly 2 pounds) and did a google search using the words easy crockpot chicken. I was blitzed by something called Chicken Crack or Crack Chicken and 1 other name for it but I have already forgotten what it was.  It was simple, easy and since I had to stop at the store on the way to the lake anyway I decided to try it.

2  pounds boneless chicken breasts
2  8 ounce packages of cream cheese (I used the lower fat kind and it worked fine)
2  packs ranch dressing mix
1  pound bacon (I took the bacon out of the freezer but decided not to use it. )

Dump the chicken, ranch dressing mix and cream cheese in the crock pot in that order.  Put the lid on it and cook it on low for 8 hours. The directions also said you could cook it on high for 4 hours, but I had all day so I opted for the 8 hour low cooking thing.  When it is done the cream cheese will mainly be on top of the chicken, so use 2 forks to shred the chicken while mixing in the cream cheese.  If you decide to use the bacon, cook it nice and crispy.  I bought a soft Italian bread and sliced it about 1 1/2 inches thick.  Put it on the plate and spooned the chicken on top of it.  It looks pretty bad with nothing on the top of it, so sprinkle the top with bacon or roasted chopped red pepper.  This was insanely tasty and made enough for another dinner plus 2 lunches.  I plan on doing this one night when everyone is here because it cooks itself and I am all in favor of a one pot dump meal.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Decent progress but not finished!
This week:
 1.Create a bedroom for Pip from my former office work in progress, but over half finished
 2. Wash sheets and towels for guest room.
 3. Vacuum ceilings, wall corners, and crown moulding in foyer, l.r. and d.r.
 4. Wash all woodwork in the foyer, dining room, living room
 5. Quick shine hardwood floors in foyer/lr and dr
 6. Wash windows in foyer/lr and dr
 7. Deep clean laundry room/studio (I don't want to even begin this) Still don't want to do this
 8. Deep clean pool bath
 9. Deep clean dressing room
10. Re-arrange freezer foods to make room for a turkey or 2
11. Deep clean butlers pantry
12. Deep clean all kitchen cabinets, drawers and shelves
13. Clean oven (Understand the oven is self cleaning but I forget to do it)
14. Deep clean refrigerator
15. Wash all woodwork in breakfast nook
16. Wash breakfast nook windows
17. Vacuum ceilings, corners and crown moulding in den
18. Clean  den woodwork
19. Wash den windows
20. Wash breakfast room chandelier globes
21. Clean drawers and shelves breakfast room sideboard.
22. Create some Thanksgiving art

Extras if I get to them, if not carry over to week 2
 1. Wax cabinet fronts and doors
 2. Re-do kitchen table top
 3. Shampoo den carpet
 4. Take breakfast nook rug outside and wash it
 5. Get a few Thanksgiving decorations in place

I am keeping this week's list shorter on purpose.  I have commitments Tuesday, all day, Wednesday half a day and Friday until about noon. If I do get everything on this list done then the house will be ready for guests, and I will have the entire following week for finishing touches, advance cooking and shopping and Thanksgiving decorations. If I don't get it finished I will be working with my back against a wall__as usual!

Week 2:
 1. Clean music room
 2. Deep clean guest room bathroom
 3. Deep clean Son3's bathroom
 4. Gussie up the deck and screened porch
 5. Deep clean Master bedroom
 6. Deep clean Master bath Deep clean dressing room
7. Wash summer comforter and put away did this week 1
 8. Air winter comforter and shams and put on bed did this week 1
 9. Whatever else I think of this week to add to this list
Carry overs
Quick shine hardwood floors in foyer/lr and dr
Create a bedroom for Pip from my former office work in progress, but over half finished
Deep clean dressing room
Deep clean laundry room
Deep clean butler's pantry
Clean oven

Extras if I get to them, if not carry over to week 3 or possibly forget about entirely
 1. Wax cabinet fronts and doors
 2. Re-do kitchen table top
 3. Shampoo den carpet
 4. Take breakfast nook rug outside and wash it
 5. Get a few Thanksgiving decorations in place

Monday, November 7, 2016

Week 3 on the attempted use it up freezer/pantry challenge

Once again I am only listing days and meals that used foods from my food storage, and once again I have not used enough.

 Have any of you tried these bags yet?  I really do like them

Dinner  hot dogs with trimmings, cole slaw, Fritos, chili (for dipping said Fritos in of course)
used 1 pack hot dogs (f) 1 small container kraut (p) 1 can bean less chili (p)

Breakfast: blt salad
Dinner: guava/spinach stuffed chicken, steamed vegetables, sliced tomatoes
used: 2 slices bacon (f) 1 pack chicken (f) bag broccoli/ cauliflower/ carrot mix (f) 1/2 bag chopped spinach (f) 1/2 pack guava paste ( p)

Dinner: bbq pork sandwiches, corn on the cob, coleslaw
used: 1 pack pulled smoked pork (f) corn (f)

Breakfast/lunch: smoked sausage, apple, coffee
Dinner: skillet meal, ground beef, leftover smoked sausage, potatoes, onions and squash. Thought Son2 was going to eat with us so I padded the meal with the sausage. He didn't, so leftovers!
used: smoked sausage (f) small pack ground beef (f) pack squash ( f)

Breakfast: egg bake using leftovers from Thursday dinner with spinach added, kiwi
Lunch: pizza, sliced tomatoes, sliced cucumbers
Dinner: crack chicken, tossed salad, French bread
used: 1/2 bag spinach ( f) chicken pizza (f) 2 packs chicken (f)

Breakfast: bacon, eggs, toast
Dinner: tacos with all the fixings
used: bacon (f) 2 small packs ground beef (f)

Now on to week 4 and a hopeful clearing frenzy!

Friday, November 4, 2016

Festive Friday

I fully understand how lame this is, but it is part of a compilation gift for My Beloved Sister.  We only had each other as siblings while growing up and we are just 19 months apart so we have always been extremely close.  When we became adults we decided we would give each other 52 Christmas presents each year (one fore each week) but most of them were very small to zero cost items.  A free sample of detergent was wrapped and given, or some swag key chain or ball point pens.  It didn't matter as long as at the end we had about 52 wrapped presents. Over the years (we have gotten old and lazy) the number decreased and now we only do 15-20.  We usually give each other a couple of "real" gifts and fill in with the fun things we pick up . (I found a great set of vampire teeth after Halloween for a quarter.  She will love them!)

One of the "real" presents she wants for this year is a small colander. I was a reviewer for Amazon items for a brief while and would occasionally get free or small fee items to review.  One of them was a collapsable colander so after reviewing it (Yes Beloved Sister, you are getting a colander than has been messed with) I tossed it in her gift pile.  I couldn't figure exactly how to present it, because with cheap crap presentation is everything, so I decided to stick a bag of BOGO croutons and some salad dressing then wrap the whole thing in an Ikea dish towel (.79).  By my count that would be 4 gifts in one.

Today While I was cleaning out some of the kitchen cabinets, I found an old magnum bottle from champagne we got in a gift basket last Christmas. So now, instead of having to buy a bottle of salad dressing I have a much cuter item to stick in the colander.

Basil Infused Wine Vinegar

This is a very technical process so pay careful attention, ok!

Take a cup and a half of wine vinegar and heat it to where it is just about to boil.  Add 1 tablespoon of dried basil, remove it from the heat and let it sit for about an hour.  Strain it through a sieve to remove all the basil bits.  I used a pyrex measuring cup to strain it into because it has a pour spout.  Rinse the sieve and pour the vinegar into the bottle through the sieve once more.  Easy Peasy!

If I had used a clear bottle rather than the green champagne one I probably would have dried a stem of fresh basil to stick into it for looks, but it would not show through the green glass so I figured there was no need t worry about it.

This also would work well using champagne vinegar and would actually be prettier in the bottle but I had none and was not inclined to go to the store today.

Now My beloved Sister will have the beginnings of a very nice oil and vinegar dressing for the lettuce she can wash in her colander.  Nice cheap present plus I had every component on hand!

You can try your hand at this using any herbs you have on hand, but dry them before you infuse them.  I don't exactly know why but it is something about bacteria on fresh herbs, shelf life and food safety.  Even though I made this today, I will most likely put it in another container and use it myself, re-wash the champagne bottle and make her more closer to Christmas just for the food safety because I don't want to take up refrigerator shelf space just to insure it's safe at Christmas. Another option would be to process it in a Mason jar and 10 minute water bath, but that is way too much trouble for one container of infused vinegar.

Anyway if you have a sister who asked for a colander for Christmas you might want to try this.  It also might be good with a nice olive oil and a pair of salad hands or tongs for a salad loving friend.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

November Joy List

October came and went in a flash while I was waiting for it to happen. One day it was October 1 and then I blinked and it was Halloween.  I guess I am fairly content with what I knocked off the list.  I could have done more, but I honestly don't know where the time went
So here is the wrap up and then I move to November. (Or November snuck up on me and beat me over the head announcing it was here)

October Joy List
 1. Pray for the entire world
 2. Volunteer at Independence Place
 3. Volunteer with a food pantry
 4. Learn a piano jazz tune
 5. Find and enjoy some free music  +party across the lake with a live band+
 6. Mentor someone using SNAP
 7. Reconnect with an old friend
 8. No TV at least one night per week (read and listen to music)
 9. Read 4 books
10. Try a new food
11. Cocktail Night each week (try a seasonal cocktail on the deck, weekly) 
12. Go to a play or opera
13. Have a small dinner party
14. Create some art 
15. Maintain the daily joy journal
16. Take food to someone having a hard time
17. Be intentional about gratitude
18. Burn a scented candle daily
19. Make at least 1 Christmas gift
20. Meet SIL and BIL for dinner (meet halfway in Tuscaloosa)
21. Take Mom to see Uncle Bob  *Not going to do this. U.B.'s wife is now critical*
22. Visit a small town in Alabama
23. Start Thanksgiving preparations
24. Do the Halloween decoration thing
25. Buy a pot of mums for the front door
26. Buy some mums for someone who can't buy their own
27. Spend a restful weekend at the lake place
28. Work on the family cookbook
29. Work on the lake cookbook
30. Go to a local lecture
31. Have Mom up to eat weekly. She does not want to come here, so I am taking dinner to her house and eating
32. Take Mom out at night at least 3 times.  *Tried but she is somewhat reluctant*
33. Sit on the deck and listen to crickets
34. Do something totally out of character for me (no idea what yet) Sang in front of others (I never do this)
35. Look for the good in every person I encounter (even if it means looking hard)
36. Mend 2 squares on "Nana's" quilt

November Joy List

There will be no actual list this month.  Since I will have houseguests for 2 weeks my list is simply to get things ready for them and enjoy having all my family together. I addition, we are doing the big Thanksgiving meal with my extended family, so we should have roughly 50 people for lunch.  I plan on a November of cleaning followed by much fun, laughter, and love. If that is not an ample joy list I don't know what is!

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

And the Countdown Begins

I don't know about the rest of you but November 1 begins my countdown to the holiday season.  This year we are having the entire family here for an extended Thanksgiving visit, so I am having to get my rear in super gear earlier than normal.  Son1 and his family will be here the 19th and Son3 and guest arrive the 22nd. I have a million things to do before they get here, along with a few obligations along the way, so I have decided to start me a weekly list, post it here and see if the fear of public humiliation will keep me in check. (Probably not since I have a really thick hide, but hope springs eternal) So I implore anyone who reads this to please hold me accountable to my list.  Left to my own devices, I will find any and all reasons to half ass my plans.

I am listing this as a weekly adventure rather than daily.  Mom is my wildcard, so I try very hard not to make this a daily thing since my day can change at the drop of a hat based on her needs/wants/demands.

This week:
 1.Create a bedroom for Pip from my former office work in progress, but over half finished
 2. Wash sheets and towels for guest room.
 3. Vacuum ceilings, wall corners, and crown moulding in foyer, l.r. and d.r.
 4. Wash all woodwork in the foyer, dining room, living room
 5. Quick shine hardwood floors in foyer/lr and dr
 6. Wash windows in foyer/lr and dr
 7. Deep clean laundry room/studio (I don't want to even begin this)
 8. Deep clean pool bath
 9. Deep clean dressing room
10. Re-arrange freezer foods to make room for a turkey or 2
11. Deep clean butlers pantry
12. Deep clean all kitchen cabinets, drawers and shelves
13. Clean oven (Understand the oven is self cleaning but I forget to do it)
14. Deep clean refrigerator
15. Wash all woodwork in breakfast nook
16. Wash breakfast nook windows
17. Vacuum ceilings, corners and crown moulding in den
18. Clean  den woodwork
19. Wash den windows
20. Wash breakfast room chandelier globes
21. Clean drawers and shelves breakfast room sideboard.
22. Create some Thanksgiving art

Extras if I get to them, if not carry over to week 2
 1. Wax cabinet fronts and doors
 2. Re-do kitchen table top
 3. Shampoo den carpet
 4. Take breakfast nook rug outside and wash it
 5. Get a few Thanksgiving decorations in place

Week 2:
 1. Clean music room
 2. Deep clean guest room bathroom
 3. Deep clean Son3's bathroom
 4. Gussie up the deck and screened porch
 5. Deep clean Master bedroom
 6. Deep clean Master bath
 7. Wash summer comforter and put away
 8. Air winter comforter and shams and put on bed
 9. Whatever else I think of this week to add to this list

This makes me tired, because I really don't want to do all this! I need a maid named Hazel who lives in the house, cooks, cleans and calls me Missy. Since that is not happening I need to crank up some loud fast music, get off the computer and get crackin'.