Friday, December 31, 2010

The Best Chicken Noodle Soup EVER!!!!

My sister-in-law, Linda, passed this recipe along to me.  It is a keeper... in fact, this one is going to be a favorite! I have tried to make homemade chicken noodle soups before.  The last time, it seemed a bit bland - much more trouble than it was worth.  But not this one!  OH. MY. GOSH! 

Linda cooked it a few days ago for her son, Daniel, and (almost) daughter-in-law, Denise (we have 3 Denise's in the family - none related by blood).   The almost DIL was under the weather and Linda made it for her.  Linda said she got the recipe from her friend and previous co-worker, Gwen.  Gwen got it from the magazine, Taste of HomeI looked on the Taste of Home site and saw several recipes for Chicken Noodle Soup. None were like this one.  Most looked similar to the one I had that was so bland. I looked on other recipe sites with no luck - this one doesn't seem to be out there.  And this one is surely the best of all!


Linda says this is a "recipe that can be adjusted without fear of failure".  I did do some adjusting according to what I had on hand.  So did Linda.  My modifications and comments are in red.


1-2 TBS butter/margarine
1 large onion,chopped
- I omitted this
3 cups chopped cooked chicken
3  14 1/2 oz cans chicken broth
- I used one container of Imagine organic broth
1 can cream of mushroom soup,undiluted - I used Pacific organic cream of mushroom soup
1 can cream of chicken soup,undiluted - I used Pacific organic cream of chicken soup
8 ounce pkg spaghetti broken into 1" pieces - I started with approx 8 oz, but added more later in the cooking at my hubby's request.  I ended up using the whole pkg - 14oz, which was probably a little too much.  If you add too much, you'll need to add more liquid!
7 celery ribs, diced
6 med carrots, diced
- I used a pkg of shredded carrots
2 cups milk  - From Linda: I think any milk you have on hand would be fine. I happened to have a can of evaporated milk and used that with a little of my regular milk added to bring it up to 2 cups. - I used 1 cup of almond milk and 1 cup of heavy whipping cream left over from a Christmas recipe 

STOVETOP METHOD:

Melt butter over medium heat, add onion and saute until tender.  Stir in chicken and the rest of ingredients. Simmer. It's done when celery and noodles are ready.

CROCKPOT METHOD:
 
Linda cooked hers in the crock pot and I did, too.  I love putting something on in the morning when I have plenty of energy. 
Melt butter over medium heat,add onion and saute until tender.  Put everything in the crockpot.  Cook on low. It's done when carrots, celery, and noodles are ready. I had mine ready in about 4 hours. I cooked it part of the time on high and most of the time on low.  The carrots were the last thing to get done.

As you can see, there are lots of things you can change to suit your tastes.  

One thing is a must - use some kind of milk.  The recipes that use only water are too bland.  If you have an issue with dairy, use a milk substitute - I cook with Almond milk all the time and it always tastes great.  Having the whipping cream on hand was a fluke.  I buy that maybe once a year.  I was happy to be able to use up what I had left.


The noodles could easily be changed to suit you, as well.  You might prefer thicker noodles.  And you decide how much to use based on whether you like your soups thick or thin.  While I was searching for similar recipes, I saw several that included homemade noodles.  That would be fun to try  - one day when there's not so much on my To-Do list. 

I didn't think to take photos til after everything was done and we had finished eating.  My pictures just don't do it justice. In fact, they are so bad that my computer crashed while trying to upload them.  So be warned.

 Truly, the recipe is soupier than this looks, even though I did use too many noodles.


I hope these unappetizing pictures don't keep you from trying this recipe.  It really is divine!  Oh, and I almost forgot - after it's been cooking a little while, it smells wonderful.  


Check out my RECIPES page for more of my favorites!

Be sure to check out   the latest RE- Party!
We RE-do, RE-decorate, RE-organize, RE-pair,  RE-upholster,     
RE-member, RE-finish, RE-purpose, and of course, we love to RE-lax!   
This party celebrates ALL the RE-'s in our lives!  

I'm linking this post with  -

    Tuesday, December 28, 2010

    Cydney's Alley in Senoia

    A couple of week's before Christmas, I went shopping on Main Street in Senoia.  If you remember, Senoia is where the latest Southern Living House was located.  I did a number of posts about my tour of The Southern Living House.

    They have lots of cute little shops there, but one I focused on was Cydney's Alley.  It's a cute little shop with a mix on new and vintage items. Her blog is not updated very often, but it's still worth a look - it has lots of photos of pieces that are swoon-worthy.  In reading the blog, I also noticed that the name of the shop comes from the name of the owners' (Scott and Liz Barnett) daughters - Cydney and Alley.  How cute!
       
    Inside the shop, one thing in particular caught my eye.  It was a little sign with four birds and the words, Friends living in the sunshine.  I am drawn to bird things and signs on boards and chippy things, so this sign was right up my alley (not just Cydney's).


     Once I took a closer look, I became very curious about what steps might be involved in creating the original sign from scratch.  The actual sign was most likely a print.  I saw a couple of other similar sign in her shop and then some more in another Senoia shop.  But the original process....   Hmmmm...

    How Did They Do It???

    Here's my guess - Dark brown paint.  A little crackle finish in select spots. Cream paint. Paint the birds. Stencil the words.  Glaze over top with wood graining tool.  A couple of travel stamps. More glaze or stain around the edges to make it look aged. Top coat of something non-shiny.  Is that how you think it might have been created?  I wouldn't dare try to copy this.  One reason is out of respect for the artist and the shop.  Even if I had no scruples, there's another reason that would stop me - I know my talent limitations.

    I tried to find out who made it, where it came from or something so I could give credit.  The owner's mom was working that day and she didn't know.  


    Be sure to check out   the latest RE- Party!
    We RE-do, RE-decorate, RE-organize, RE-pair,  RE-upholster,     
    RE-member, RE-finish, RE-purpose, and of course, we love to RE-lax!   
    This party celebrates ALL the RE-'s in our lives!  

    I'm linking this post with 

    Monday, December 27, 2010

    Chicken Pot Pie... for the Soul

    Baby, it's cold outside!  It's a perfect time of year for some warm, homemade comfort food. I have just the thing for you - Homemade Chicken Pot Pie!  I got the recipe from my friend, Judy.  I have no idea where she found the recipe. I assure you, this is one of those recipes you'll want to put in your family favorites file!



    Chicken Pot Pie

    Ingredients:
    • cooked chicken - amount depends on your preference.  I usually cook a whole chicken and can use the meat for about 3 or 4 different recipes.  I use one portion for the first recipe and put the remainder into 2 or 3 freezer containers for recipes to be made later.  We don't use a lot of meat in our recipes.  You may want more.
    • Assorted steamed vegetables (carrots, peas, potatoes, green beans, etc)
    • 1 can Cream of Chicken soup 
    • ½ cup chicken broth
    • 1 cup milk
    • 1 ½ cups self-rising flour (see step 4 for substituting regular flour)
    • 1 stick butter, softened
    • 1 ½ cups milk (can use half kefir or buttermilk)
    Directions:

    1 -  Cut up chicken. Place in bottom of casserole dish.  I usually cook the chicken in the crock pot earlier in the day. 

    2  - Cover with steamed vegetables. Use any vegetables you prefer.  Do note, however, that the quality of your vegetables is one of the main things that determines just how wonderful this recipe will be.  That said, I do occasionally use the inexpensive mixed bag veggies from the freezer section. It's still yummy, but doesn't come close to using fresh.  That's probably no surprise to anyone.

    3 -  Mix soup and broth & soup together & pour on top. This step is a lot more fun if you use a vintage beater!  I was amazed at how much better everything mixed up, too!  If you don't have one of these, you should definitely put it on your list to get.



    4 -  Cut in flour & butter (like you’re making biscuits). Mix in milk. Pour flour mixture over casserole.  Once again, the tools you use make cooking a lot more fun.  A fun vintage bowl and my grandmother's old measuring cup certainly added to my cooking entertainment!




          NOTE: Instead of self rising flour, you can use:
    • 1 ½ cups all purpose flour
    • 1 ½ tsp baking powder
    • ¾ tsp salt

    5 -  Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour until brown in a PRETTY casserole dish.
      I have prettier casserole dishes.   I should have grabbed one of those since I was taking photos and then I could have shot from a better angle!  In fact, I should always grab the pretty ones first!  I should be living in style!  I may work that into my New Year's resolution.




    6 - ENJOY!!!


    Check out my RECIPES page for more of my favorites!


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    Sunday, December 26, 2010

    White Christmas in Georgia!!! + RE Party

    This Christmas was amazing!  I had a wonderful time at all the family get-togethers and then to top it all off, it snowed.  We saw flurries here and there during the day and then around 5 yesterday afternoon, it began snowing in earnest!  

    I am so happy that I learned how to take blue hour photos - photos taken when it is ust before the sun rises or just after it sets.  I knew how to adjust my shutter speed so that it would stay open for quite a while.  I grabbed my tripod and went out for a night stroll in the snow.  It was very quiet and peaceful.  The wind wasn't blowing last night so it was quite pleasant.  
     Even though I left the shutter open for up to 15 seconds, my photos were still pretty dark.  It was a little past the blue light hour. 

    I used the flash for this photo of my car.

    Today, some of the snow is gone.  It's been incredibly windy - howling, in fact! This morning, I took a stroll and took more photos.  The dogs came along this time.  We all froze! The wind makes such a difference.






    The dogs had a great time.

    Jack loves to run in wide circles at full speed when he gets excited.  Buddy barks at him the whole time.
      


    Update: 1:30 pm - It's snowing again!!!

    Be sure to check out   the latest RE- Party!
    We RE-do, RE-decorate, RE-organize, RE-pair,  RE-upholster,    
    RE-member, RE-finish, RE-purpose, and of course, we love to RE-lax!   
    This party celebrates ALL the RE-'s in our lives!  



    I'm linking this post with  -
    Seasonal Sundays at The Tablescaper

    Friday, December 24, 2010

    Calloway Gardens Fantasy in Lights

    Last night I went to Callaway Gardens to see the Fantasy in Lights show.   It was wonderful!



    Doug was our enthusiastic chauffeur. 
    Pam, Trish, Sarah and I were his guests.

    Doug does a lot of driving for his job and his car is outfitted with all sorts of gadgets.  A navigator, satellite radio and telephone were close at hand, and I must say none interfered with driving.  Sarah had control of the phone for game playing purposes.  The navigator told him about upcoming turns and made the drive a breeze. I think the navigator may be one of the best gadgets to have!  I really think I'm going to have to get one for my dear hubby.


    If you are from Georgia or Alabama, you probably already know about Callaway Gardens.

    For those who don't know, I'll try to explain. Callaway Gardens has been famous in Georgia for as long as I can remember. It's a big place that where you can stay overnight or go for a day trip.  It has miles and miles of trails to walk or drive or ride bikes through.  It's stunningly beautiful every season of the year. The gardens are legendary. There are huge lakes for swimming or boating.  There are specialty buildings like the  butterfly conservatory, which is magical. In spring, it's a must see - it has the world's largest azalea garden.  There are always special events going on.  The hot air balloon show is one that I'm dying to go see.  This was my first time to see the Fantasy in Lights.


    Tickets are bought ahead for certain time slots.  When you get there, it's all very organized and set up in a way that gets people through the show quite smoothly. You drive through the Gardens and everywhere you go there are different themed light displays.  It took us about 45 minutes to see everything.


    I took a zillion photos hoping some would turn out.  I had a few challenges other than light.  The car was moving pretty much constantly so I had many blurred shots.  My back seat car window was having issues and couldn't be rolled down.  My camera view was limited. Every now and then I took shots by sticking my arms up through the sunroof.  Considering all of that, I am quite pleased with the shots I got.  
    There were lots of animated displays.

    These were from the Twelve Days of Christmas them area.

    Rows of soldiers were on both sides of the road in one section.

    Fairies were everywhere in the Enchanted Rainbow Forest.

    The butterflies were in Firefly Cove.  I used photo editing to put them with the flowers.

    There were lots of places where you felt enveloped by lights. 

    There were quite a few elaborate drive-under light displays.


    There were some blurry photos that turned out to be pretty interesting.  
    They look a little artsy. Here are two favs-



    My favorite area of all was Snowflake Valley.  None of my photos captured how magical it was.  Even the photo of it from Callaway's site doesn't do it justice.  Honestly, I think it's a place that would be hard to capture in a photo. 
    from Callaway's site
    The show runs through December 30th.  If you're in the area and have never seen it, go!!!  It's best to buy tickets ahead.


    Merry Christmas to All!
     
    Be sure to check out the latest RE- Party!
    We RE-do, RE-decorate, RE-organize, RE-pair,  RE-upholster,     
    RE-member, RE-finish, RE-purpose, and of course, we love to RE-lax!   
    This party celebrates ALL the RE-'s in our lives!  

    I'm linking this post with  -

    Thursday, December 23, 2010

    Traveling Toy Vignette

    For the last month, I don't think my house has stayed the same from one day to the next.  I have moved entire vignettes from one spot to another.  I have experimented with different pieces and different colors and different styles. 

    One vignette that has gone through several moves this month, is the toy vignette.  I have a bunch of toys from when I was little - most are about half a century old!  I enjoy getting them out each Christmas and setting them up to look a bit festive. They would look at home under the old fashioned tree I set up for my darling hubby, but they would be at risk of becoming a chew toy at the paws of our furry family members.  So I try to find them a safe spot up high.  The tree, by the way, was improved a little by being put in a big washtub - see this post.

    This year, the toys started out on top of an old wardrobe in out family room.

    For a little extra color, I included a painting I'd done years ago.  It was supposed to look all folk-arty and colorful.  My darling husband has no appreciation for my fine artistic talents.  He thinks it looks like some sort of racing sign.  He cracks jokes about it every time he sees it.  The jokes can be pretty funny, but don't tell him that.  Even my mother's old doll disapproves of my display.  She keeled over in disgust.

    The folk-art tree painting got packed away  when I had the brilliant idea to incorporate a pair of shutters I had stashed away.  Alas! (said with great drama)... they were all wrong with the toys.

    At this point, I no longer am enjoying seeing the toys.  I had become completely smitten by silver and white and burlap.   Those shutters may not work with the toys, but I suspected they'd look wonderful with the silver-white-burlap things!  The toys had to be moved.  The perfect new spot would be in the foyer on top of the Hoosier.  But what could I use as the background piece?
    Before moving in the toys, a screen door picture was there along with a few other things I moved before thinking about taking photos.  My first thought was to use a wonderful old beveled mirror in a great frame I had in the attic.  It's super heavy, but I lugged it down and heaved it up on the Hoosier.  It didn't look right and even worse, it seemed like an accident waiting to happen. Finally, a better idea came to mind - our old carom board.  It belongs with toys.

    With every move, I swear, all the dolls were giving me disapproving looks. 
    Is it just me or do Barbies all seem to look a little disdainful?

    The grainy photo above shows the toys in their final location. I should have gone back to take more photos when the light was better.  I also should have gone back and tweaked the arrangement. But truthfully --- I am tired of these toys!  They'll be the first thing I pack up this year.  I may not even get them out next year - maybe they need a year or two off.  Time off for bad behavior.

    The silver look was more fun to play with, but I wasn't any more successful arranging them.  I already posted about playing with the silver setup on my kitchen counter. I enjoyed seeing the sparkle in the evenings when I turned on the lights, but they really didn't belong there.

    Once the toys were moved off the wardrobe, I decided that would be a good spot to arrange the silver - in front of the white shutters I was dying to make work.

    It's OK, but not swoon-worthy at all.   This display is fairly near to my hubby's old fashioned colorful tree. The mix of the two very different styles in the same room is all wrong.  Maybe next year, I just need to go all out with the colorful look for my hubby.  He can have December, but the other 11 months of decor will be mine.  Better yet, maybe I need to take the colorful tree and set it up in his barn!  Oh, I like that idea!!!
    Finally, the Christmas Decor Shuffle game is over.  The next move these decorations will make will be when they are packed away!


    Be sure to check out the latest RE- Party!
    We RE-do, RE-decorate, RE-organize, RE-pair,  RE-upholster, 
    RE-member, RE-finish, RE-purpose, and of course, we love to RE-lax!   
    This party celebrates ALL the RE-'s in our lives!  

    I'm linking this post with 

    Wednesday, December 22, 2010

    Christmas Trees All Over

    I already posted about how our main tree this year would be a four foot tabletop version. I am tired of heavy, cumbersome trees that I can't handle by myself.  I have several small trees.  The four footer is the largest.  I also have a 3 footer and a two footer and I added a few skinny trees to the collection this year.   I've scattered them throughout the house and on the porch.  


    I decided to try out a change on the main tree. I had it on a table, with a pretty skirt, surrounded by Christmas tins to ward off curious kitties.  


    Yesterday afternoon, I put it in a large washtub.  When I asked my supportive hubby what he thought about the change, he said it looked kind of stupid, but if I liked it, it was fine with him. If the judge is female, I should make parole quickly.


    I know.  The washtub is a bit large, but I had to use something really big to hold the large green tree holder.  I think it makes for a neater appearance.  


    While I was raiding my husband's galvanized collection, I borrowed a bucket to hold this tall, skinny flocked tree. 
    This tree was purchased from Rockin' B recently. I'll be using it for brunch decor at my parents house.  For now, it's on the porch in hopes that lots of the messy white stuff will blow off.  When I took this to the counter to purchase, I was wearing a black coat.  Little white flecks got all over me.  I looked like I had a horrid case of dandruff! Oh, the dangers of decorating!


    Here's another tree.  This one is in the foyer. This one is 3 feet tall.

    I threw this one together really fast.  It's simple, but it works.  The green pot was something to make do with, but I kind of like the color there.  I love the gold birds.  I had thought about painting them something less flashy, but they really are nice in gold at Christmas. 


    Hey!  I forgot to take a photo of my two foot tree!  It's done up in silver.  Oh well.  I'm tired of writing about trees now anyway.  I'm ready to go relax with a mug of eggnog!  

     
    Be sure to check out   the latest RE- Party!
    We RE-do, RE-decorate, RE-organize, RE-pair,  RE-upholster,   
    RE-member, RE-finish, RE-purpose, and of course, we love to RE-lax!   
    This party celebrates ALL the RE-'s in our lives!  

    I'm linking this post with  -

    Stylish Blogger Award

    My goodness!  Erin from It's a Wannabe Decorator's Life has passed along an award --- to me and my blog!  Golly!   

    I have been smitten with Erin's blog for awhile now.  I'm afraid I've been committing some fairly serious sins (in the coveting category) where her house is concerned.  For instance, I want her dining room chairs.  You've just got to see them on her breakfast room before and after post.
    Also -

    Back to the award.  As part of the award, I'm supposed to share 7 things about myself.  Oh dear.  Erin's list was far more entertaining than mine will be.  For instance, she was a former Dallas Maverick dancer!  

    OK.  This is hard.  I really hate telling anything important about myself.  You're going to have to settle for some weird and silly things.

    1. I'm allergic to dust.  I see this as evidence that God has a wonderful sense of humor.  

    2. I love watching Jeopardy.

    3. I'm convinced I'm going to win the lottery one day.  The only problem is, I hardly ever buy tickets.

    4.  I love old movies. Preferably romantic comedies. Philadelphia Story (Hepburn, Grant, Stewart) is one that comes to mind, but I could name dozens of others.  I love the style and the speech and the wit.

    5. I love Jane Austin movies and books.  I have several on DVD and can watch them over and over. 

    6. I'm afraid of heights and going fast in a car.  Riding through Atlanta with my husband (who has a lead foot and no fear) is torture.  Riding around narrow cliff roads in Hawaii with my friend Susan behind the wheel is another form of torture.  Though if I'm going to careen to my death, Hawaii would be a nice place to do it.  My niece once talked me into going up in the parachute ride at Six Flags.  I pep-talked myself into using mind over matter to overcome my silly fear of height.  The ride got stuck.  We dangled up at the top for over half an hour - long enough to come to a clear understanding that maybe I wasn't meant to overcome my fear.


    7.  Oh thank Goodness.  The last one.  Every night I go for a moonlight swim in the buff. It's wonderfully meditative! I swim in my heated pool by the sea a minimum of 45 minutes, which is how I keep my svelte figure.  Then I sit in our sauna and purify. The truth?  No pool.  No sauna. No svelte figure.  Very active imagination!

    That's all.  Now, I'll go pass this award along to some wonderful bloggers!

    Thank you, Erin!!!
     
    Be sure to check out the latest RE- Party!
    We RE-do, RE-decorate, RE-organize, RE-pair,  RE-upholster,     
    RE-member, RE-finish, RE-purpose, and of course, we love to RE-lax!   
    This party celebrates ALL the RE-'s in our lives!  

    Tuesday, December 21, 2010

    Inspired By... Hutch Before and Afters

    Just before I did the makeover on my hutch, I looked at a number of hutch pictures for inspiration.  I came across a few before and afters that are well worth sharing.  

    Take a look and see if you don't think,  
    Wow!  What a difference!
    
    Frosted Gardner
    White as Linen
    Much To Do With Nothing
    Chair Up
    Scarlett Sashes


    The hutch photos below are not before and after's - just some pretty painted hutches.
       
    Cynthia's Cottage Design
    From Folded Gingham - Her dad built the middle section to raise the top part up from the base.

    Here's a hutch top with the back painted to better show off white dishes -
    Sunset
    Confessions of a Plate Addict
    I love the color of the hutch in the photo above. I have been wanting to paint some furniture a taupe-gray or gray-blue for some time.  I almost painted my auction hutch in a simlar color, but I was afraid the color would look all wrong in our booth.


    Red is another interesting color for hutches.  I have a healthy respect for red paint.  It can be fabulous or horribly wrong.  I've had experience with horribly wrong.  One day, I hope to have an experience with fabulous.  Below are two red hutches I like.  They are from Rosie's Whimsy and The Black Hutch Company.

     If you are considering painting a hutch, I highly recommend doing an image search in colors you are considering. I've found that seeing the ones that didn't turn out so well is just as important as finding the ones you like.  Look closely at the ones that aren't quite right and try to figure out why they aren't right.  By doing that, I found that with hutches painted a strong color, I prefer the backboard and or "counter" top to be painted a different color - just to break up the look a bit.

    That's enough. I need to go do something productive now.

    Be sure to check out the latest RE- Party!
    We RE-do, RE-decorate, RE-organize, RE-pair,  RE-upholster, 
    RE-furbish, RE-finish, RE-purpose,  and of course, we love to RE-lax! 
    This party celebrates the RE-'s in our lives! 


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