Monday, December 23, 2013
On Thanksgiving, I tried a Martha Stewart recipe for creamed greens that was simply spectacular! It was a major hit so we will be having it again on Christmas Day by request. Do you like greens? You know, turnip greens, kale, collard greens, mustard greens, spinach?
Growing up there was always a controversy in our house. My dad loved turnip greens and my mom didn't. Mom liked spinach and dad didn't. We were just confused. No kid can understand why anyone would like greens of any kind. Seriously? Yuck.
Things change when you get older - hopefully. I happen to love greens of all kinds, especially with some vinegar added and some hot sauce, braised with some bacon, ham, or fatback. Yummmmm!
Kale seems to be the new food darling right now and it is so good for you - full of antioxidants and nutrients. The only thing with kale is it is kind of chewy if not cut in really small pieces before cooking. Other greens wilt down a little more and are easier to chew. The upside is all greens are full of iron and vitamin B12 which are hard to get in most other foods. We benefit from eating as many greens as we can, unless you are on medications to thin your blood. Then you should consult your doctor.
Here is what you need to make this recipe:
2 large bunches turnip greens
1 large bunch kale
1 large bunch collard greens
6 TBSP butter
2 large shallots, peeled and thinly sliced
3 garlic cloves, minced (1 TBSP)
2 TBSP AP flour (I substituted 1 TBSP cornstarch for gluten free)
1 1/2 cups milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
pinch of nutmeg
pinch red pepper flakes
3/4 cup dry white wine or chicken stock
First, remove the stems from the collard greens and kale. Chop the leaves into bite sized pieces.
Heat a large saute pan over high heat (I used my electric skillet to saute the greens). Add kale, collard, and turnip greens, 1 tsp salt and wine or chicken stock. Cover and cook until greens wilt, about 2 minutes turning occasionally. (You will start with a huge mound of greens and will end up with what looks like a small amount. Don't be alarmed.) Reduce to medium and cook, turning greens until almost tender - about 15 minutes. I used long tongs to turn the greens. Remove cover and transfer greens to a bowl.
Add 4 TBSP butter to pan, melt on high heat. Add shallots and garlic. Saute until softened, about 3 minutes. Return greens to saute pan. Remove from heat.
Melt remaining 2 TBSP butter in a saucepan over medium high heat. Add flour (or cornstarch) and whisk to incorporate. Add milk and cream, slowly whisking until sauce thickens slightly and coats back of a spoon - about 2 minutes. Add nutmeg and red pepper flakes. Season with salt.
Stir sauce into greens and cook over medium heat until warmed through.
If not serving immediately, cool completely then refrigerate. Reheat over low heat before serving. Transfer to a bowl and serve. Double Delicious is all I can say.
A minor Christmas miracle occurred today. I actually have all my Christmas gifts wrapped before Christmas Eve for the first time EVER! Miracles do happen every day. Now, it's time to begin preparations for Christmas dinner.
We are having Cornish Game Hens and roast beef for the carnivores and spinach stuffed manicotti for the vegetarians. Sides are yet to be decided. I know there will be creamed greens and wild rice. Desserts are always a toss up. Have you set your menu yet?
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to you one and all. Thanks for reading my blog and I will return after Christmas. Let the fun begin.
Things to Remember:
It came upon a midnight clear,
That glorious song, of old
Of angels bending near the earth,
To touch their harps of gold.
Thursday, December 19, 2013
Our grandson will be 6 on Christmas Eve. He has the Darth Vader helmet, but did not have the costume. His mom told me he really would love a costume. Grandma Elf said she thought she could come up with something. There are no patterns for Darth, so it was all on a wing and a prayer.
Here are his up close details. I took about a gazillion pictures and none of the detail would really show.
This is Grandma Elf sewing away. Doesn't she look calm?
Grandma Elf really hopes a certain little 6 year old will be ever so happy with this Darth Vader costume! It was truly made with all the love she could put into each stitch.
Happy Birthday and Merry Christmas, Roman! Grandma loves you lots and lots. I can't wait to see a picture of you in full regalia.
Things to Remember:
It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas, everywhere you go..........
Wednesday, December 18, 2013
Today, I thought we would do a little Christmas, 2013, tour of the living room. You have seen most of it in bits and pieces in other posts with a few tutorials thrown in. Our living room is L shaped. The area we use for the television is probably supposed to be a dining area, but we use the whole room for living space. We just like it that way.
The big white star that hangs over the couch used to hang above our fireplace. This is the first time in almost 30 years we have not had a fireplace, so I had to "break my mold" so to speak and use things in some different ways. The white shutters that flank the star were a $5 purchase I made at the Habitat ReStore. I have a thing for shutters. Don't ask why. I couldn't tell you. I had them in my craft room for months, didn't know what I was going to do with them. As I was falling asleep one night right after Thanksgiving, it dawned on me that they would be the perfect thing to hang next to the star to fill out that wall. It had looked so blank to me, but I hadn't found anything I wanted to hang there. TaDa! Shutters. Perfect. For Christmas, I hung some of my rusty snowflakes that I have had for years and years on the long piece that moves the louvers. Super easy and it meant no more holes in the walls. Yay!
Well, it's crunch time and there is much to do, so I better get busy. Hope you enjoyed today's tour. Check out the tutorials. The Santa's Belly Candles are super cute and so inexpensive to make. Hope you are coping with the season and are on the downhill slide. I'm getting there.
Things to Remember:
Oh, you better watch out
You better not cry,
Better not pout, I'm tellin' you why
Santa Claus is coming to town.......
Tuesday, December 17, 2013
One of the most beautiful trees I ever saw was years ago when I was doing direct sales and was conducting a party in a home where their tree was a sapling that had been cut in the woods. The tree was totally wrapped in cotton so that it looked like a completely snow covered tree. There were lights and ornaments hanging from the limbs and lots of icicles. The sapling reached the ceiling and it was so beautiful I wish you could have seen it. The hostess told me this has been her family's tradition for as long as she could remember and she had continued it. I know it was a lot of work to do all the wrapping, but it was one beautiful tree.
One night I was about to doze off, when a vision of some burlap Christmas trees came into my head. It may sound strange to you, but things like that happen to me right before I go to sleep, or when I am in the shower and not thinking of any particular thing. The trees were simple and lovely. This is my interpretation of what I envisioned. They are very primitive which is something I really, really like.
I didn't know how I was going to make them because they needed a form - a support. So I went to Michael's and wandered around. I found some wooden squares in the craft section that were $1.00 each. I bought 3. Then I found some dowel rods for $.59 each. I bought two because I knew I could cut them to different lengths. I had a package of styrofoam cones at home that I thought could work to complete my "form." I found a package with cut dowel rods at Wal Mart that would make the final shape work. There were 8 in a package, so I bought two because I didn't know how many I would need. I used them all.
I hot glued the big dowel in each base. Then, I cut a styrofoam cone in thirds and placed a piece on the top of each dowel.
Now, you have a big circle of fabric that is open at the top and bottom. Using the needle and yarn, I gathered the top edge of the circle using the same running/gathering stitch pulling it as tight as I could get it until I reached the beginning stitching. I wrapped the yarn tightly around the gathered top several times to hold the "tree" shape and tied it. I then dropped the burlap over the wooden form. It was a big puff of fabric with a top knot.
To make the tree shape, I did an overhand whip stitch with the yarn by attaching the bottom few inches of the burlap to the wooden spoke, then continued the rest of the way up catching only the fabric. You will have as many seams as you have spokes as well as the two side seams. Now it looks like a primitive tree.
It took a little time, but it is so precious and worth every stitch. Charlie Brown's tree has nothing on this one.
The next tree was made by cutting strips of burlap and tying each piece to a spoke until the dowel was covered. Next, you progress to each additional spoke until they are all covered. Continue by cutting longer pieces of burlap and wrapping and tying it around the styrofoam cone. The last few pieces are hot glued to the top of the styrofoam so that it stand up like the top of a tree. I folded each strip in half and ran hot glue along the fold, then pushed it against the styrofoam. Remember, hot glue will come through the burlap, so I used a glue stick to push the burlap so I didn't burn my fingers.
Oh how I love this tree. Don't ask me why. It's kind of pathetic looking, but it has character and to me it is representational of our indomitable spirits. We are all beautiful in our own way.
The last tree was made with a piece of burlap ribbon. I hot glued it to the top of the styrofoam and just swirled it around the wooden dowel rods, adding a little hot glue in places to help it keep it's shape and not all fall to the bottom of the tree.
I am going to enjoy these trees for years to come and they will always be a reminder of inspiration, how it comes, and the result of such inspiration.
You could use colored burlap to make these trees or you could add some paint with a brush keeping the primitive look, spray snow, lights, whatever you wanted to make them "yours." I thought about wrapping lights under the trees and letting them shine through the burlap. Maybe I will do that next year for a different look. The options are endless.
Give this project a try and see what you can create. These could be made very small using toothpicks or as big as you want. Be creative. Use your imagination. Let me know if you make some of these trees. I would love to see pictures.
Things to Remember:
Monday, December 16, 2013
Our table is simple this year. I used the beautiful red chargers my friend Don gave me several years ago. The table runners are humble pieces of burlap that I cut and laid on the table. The centerpiece is made in a round silver tray we received as a wedding gift 44 years ago. I just laid some fresh greens in the tray, along with some pine cones I spray painted gold. Simple silver ornaments adorn the greens and a dark red candle in the middle is the finishing touch.
Things to Remember:
Christmas is coming, the geese are getting fat,
Won't you please put a penny in the old man's hat.
If you haven't got a penny, a ha'penny will do.
If you haven't got a ha'penny, God bless you.
Thursday, December 12, 2013
Today, I thought I would share the decorations on the kitchen island and the top of the cabinets at the end of the kitchen. I have these large mercury glass ornaments that I used to hang from the vaulted ceiling in our other house. We don't have a vaulted ceiling here, but I love, love, love these big ornaments and knew I wanted to use them somewhere - somewhere where little hands wouldn't think they were balls to play with. There is a large rusty pedestal bowl that I have had for years and I decided to put that in the center of the island and fill it with some of the ornaments. Silly me. It's not the little ones that turned out to the the issue. They can't reach them. It was the 10 year old.
We have ceramic tile floors in the kitchen and dining area and anything glass is a gonner if it's dropped. Instantly. Last week I broke a vintage milk glass dish that was given to me 40 years ago by a sweet neighbor. It had Christmas cookies on it and she told me to keep the dish which had been hers for years. The next day, Dan dropped a vintage mixing bowl that had been my mother's. Gone. Bye bye. Sadness. I know it's just stuff, but they were memories.
Here is how the island looks.
Back to the 10 year old. Saturday, we were expecting freezing rain in the evening, so all the local family came over for lunch. I was busy getting everything ready, turned around and the 10 year old was lifting the large gold mercury glass ornament out of the bowl. HOLY COW! Grandma almost fainted. This is when you have to stay calm. Hopefully. I quickly sidled up to H and said, ummm, please don't pick that up. It's glass. If you drop it, it will shatter.
I know it's bright and shiny and looked like it would be lots of fun to toss in the air. Bless his heart. He looked at me with complete innocence and said, oh, I thought it was plastic. Disaster averted (this time). I rearranged the bowl and hopefully, everything will stay where it is. Whew. Five grandsons can be a challenge. The New York grandson isn't here, otherwise it would be 6 under 10. They are 10, 7, 6, 3 & 3/4, 3 & 1/2, and 2 & 3/4. They are busy little fellas let me tell you. They keep Grandma and Pawpaw hopping, but they are so much fun to have around. We had a great time at lunch.
The cabinets at the end of the kitchen hold the other large, red, mercury ball. I put it in an old wooden box that my daughter gave me years ago. I filled it with greenery, laid the ornament in the box and tied some ribbon on the hanger.
Use what you have and look at it with new eyes. Simple greens, some ornaments, and pine cones can be beautiful. Think of new and different ways to combine and use the decorations you have without spending extra money. It's challenging, but lots of fun to come up with new looks.
This arrangement makes me smile every time I look at it. The bowl had been in the attic. It was a natural to use for this centerpiece. It took about 5 minutes to put it together. Then, I just wove a little burlap ribbon across the table runner that I purchased last year and added all the candles and ornaments. Easy peasy.
Hope this inspires you to try something new and different. You will be amazed at the way something this simple can change a room. Start looking around! Make some changes. Go!
Things to Remember:
Deck the Halls with boughs of holly, fa la la la la, la la la la.
Tis the season to be jolly, fa la la la la, la la la la.
Wednesday, December 11, 2013
Are you getting everything all decorated up for Christmas? Or are you treading water - or running behind? We got most of our decorating done right after Thanksgiving and I have been making some new things and adding to it each day. I am just that person. My children always made fun of me for my mad decorating at holiday time. There are trees in every room and decorations everywhere. That's the way I like it.
Do you decorate outside? We do. (If you ask Dan, he will say that I do and he is just the worker bee.) But he likes it too. He says so. Right, Dan? Anyway, since this is our first Christmas here, I was not quite sure what I was going to do for outdoor decorations. Dan put up lights around the doors and on the top of the patio fence. There are lights around the carport and our wooden snowman is sitting out to greet everyone who passes by.
We never use our front door, but the front of the condo is decorated too. Others in the neighborhood walk their dogs and pass by a lot and I wanted a cheery greeting for them all. I know, I know. Overkill. But, that is me.
My daughter called me after they had gone to Lowe's to get their Christmas tree and told me they were giving away all the greenery pieces they cut off the bottom of the trees. She said they had carts full of greenery. Free? Greenery? Yahoo! We are on a budget and I was very excited to hear this. All of our trees are artificial, but I love the smell of fresh greens in the house. We hopped in the car with our friends Tonya and Jeff and headed to Lowe's. Tonya and I loaded up on boughs of greenery and brought them home. Free is fabulous in my world.
I wanted to hang boughs on the patio doors. That would look festive. I had a couple of sacks of pine cones we had picked up under a big pine tree in the complex. I had "cooked" them to get rid of all the little critters and the pine sap so they wouldn't drip everywhere. Have you ever done that? All you do is line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and fill it with pinecones. Heat the oven at 200 degrees Fahrenheit and let them cook for about 30 minutes. The heat dries the sap and eliminates all the little critters that may come crawling out in your house. Yeah, that.
To decorate the doors, I tied a couple boughs of greenery together with some floral wire. The pine cones are connected with light weight floral wire and then wrapped around the stems of the greenery boughs. Simple velvet bows using outdoor ribbon complete the look. We used Command brand hooks to hang them since the doors are metal. You can't use nails.
This was a really inexpensive way to decorate our patio. We had the lights and the ribbon. The greenery and pine cones were free. That's the best kind of decorating. I will be really sad when it's time to take down all the festive decorations after the holidays. Everything seems so bleak and empty until spring starts to show it's lovely face. I am going to have to come up with an idea to decorate the patio until then. Something wintery and frosty. We'll see what happens. I think I have an idea formulating.
Things to Remember:
Christmas waves a magic wand over this world, and behold, everything is softer and more beautiful. Norman Vincent Peale