Jan 20, 2013

The Small Things

I've had a little case of the doldrums lately, especially since it has rained for the past eight days straight and snowed.  But then the very best thing happened: the sun came out!  It reminds me to be thankful for the present, knowing it will pass.  So currently I am feeling very thankful for seemingly small things that really are not that small at all--except for the quantity in this year's Girl Scout cookie boxes (Seriously?!).

Accumulating snow!  In the South!

Girl Scout Cookies

The Sunshine [finally]

And this new project...
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Jan 13, 2013

Chicken and Dumplings from Scratch!

I try to plan 10 dinners to cook each time we go to the grocery store, and this week I just could not come up with the last one.  Phil decided on chicken and dumplings, which I kind of complained about eating.  It is just so bland and floury!  Honestly I have only eaten this the one time my mom made it in the crock pot. I was about eight or nine, and I remember not liking it.  Of course, Philip almost always orders this if we make a road-trip exit to Cracker Barrel. I found an easy recipe for it in my favorite cookbook:

We received this cookbook as a wedding gift four years ago, and I refer to it all the time!  Instead of using canned biscuits and rotisserie chicken, I made it "from scratch" the easy way.  Here is my adapted and halved  recipe that serves four.

Quick Chicken and Dumplings
2 chicken breasts
2 c. water
2 t. chicken broth base (I like Orrington Farms)
1/3 c. cream of chicken healthy substitute (recipe HERE)
1 1/4 c. cold water
1 t. seasoned pepper
1 bay leaf
1/3 c. milk
1 c. Pioneer baking mix

While chicken boils in a separate pot, bring two cups of water and broth base to a boil.  Mix cold water and cream of chicken mix in a separate bowl until smooth.  Add to broth mixture, stirring until it thickens.  If it is too watery, stir in two tablespoons of flour mixed with 1/4 cup cold water.  Add pepper and bay leaf.  In a separate bowl, mix milk and baking mix.  Roll into teaspoon-size balls and drop into boiling mixture.  Cook 5-8 minutes or until dumplings are done.  Shred chicken (I used my Kitchen Aid mixer--it is awesome for this!), add to dumplings, and serve hot. 

Cooking the chicken takes the longest--20 minutes.  I did this while I was working on the dumplings, and we were eating within 30 minutes.  This dish is very flavorful and hearty!

Jan 4, 2013

Favorite Things

Usually I find myself searching for inspiration to find the perfect gift (see post here).  This year I am looking back on my favorite gifts from the holidays after letting someone else do all the tough planning.  It really doesn't take much to please me, but a lot of people say I'm hard to shop for.  Agree to disagree.  Here are my faves:

I cannot wait to start the second book in this trilogy! Since it also has 1200 pages, it will probably last me until May.  Hooray!

 Ok, this is a gift to me, from me, and it is not so much my style, but I really love the hippie feel.

I received this watercolor painting already custom framed!  Margaret always gives the best gifts!

Technically a gift to myself...  Again, surprising to some, but this Navajo poncho from Orvis (I know!) is so awesome I don't want to take it off. Ever.

 My mother-in-law is the jewelry queen, and she is extra-careful in getting me small and delicate pieces.  I've worn this Shalla Wista triple wrap bracelet every single day.

Oops, not a present.  But it is a gift to have a day to myself to have absolutely nothing better to do than do loads of laundry, fold it, and put it away. And look at this little bear.

HANDS DOWN MY FAVORITE GIFT.  See... I told you I am easy to please!  Hot Booties are the bomb!  I am beyond obsessed, and I cannot get enough of their warm goodness. 

Of course, I loved all of my gifts.  My mother game me a Limoges jewelry tray from Paris that is beyond perfect for my dresser.  Ashleigh knows me so well--she got me a le Pen set and a personalized note pad.  My dad gave me an Army pen that is a "aircraft safe" weapon.  This was certainly Philip's favorite.  Of course.  However, I would not recommend flying with it since it delayed me 28 minutes!

Jan 1, 2013

DIY Decisions...

Every time the New Year comes around, I get excited to clean out the closets, organize under the beds, and start a new project.  After traveling for 10 of the 13 days of my winter break, I found myself daydreaming while I unpacked my suitcase again.  Two years ago, we started the year by renovating this little house (and here).  It took many months to get to this, and then one year ago we changed up the living room.  This year I am satisfied with the furniture, but I am looking to add a little charm.  Thanks to Pinterest, I cannot escape the DIY inspiration.  This is my latest project:

Board and batten in the hallway! I can't wait to add a little architectural detail to the house and an organized place to put photographs.

This is the hallway connecting two of the bedrooms.  I want to have two horizontal rows and a two-inch shelf on the top.  The hardest part is finding the best distance between the battens and the height of the top shelf.  The attic light and the thermostat won't be moved, so there are only a few ways to measure.  Right now the two horizontal strips of tape are at 5' and 4' high, and the "battens" are 15" apart.  I like that the photo frames will be seen from the living room if I don't make it much higher.  The decision part is not whether to go ahead with the project but if it should just be that one wall, the entire hall, or also doing the adjoining hallway.  What to do?