Entertaining, Food, Random

From the Kitchen

OK, you know the table is set so what’s for dinner?

I had in mind a chicken dish served over polenta, but Houston temperatures have been a little wintery which made me think of comfort food, something warm with crusty bread.  What eventually came from the kitchen was somewhere between a stew and a soup which one of the dinner guests cleverly suggested calling a “stoup”!

The dish proved to be a simple one that took little time to put together.  If you are like me, that’s always a plus and makes the recipe worth sharing, that is if I can remember all the ingredients.

Chicken Stoup

4 boneless chicken breasts, halved

flour, salt and pepper

1-2 T. olive oil

1 onion, coarsely chopped

10 garlic cloves, minced

diced tomatoes, 28 oz. can

carrots and mushrooms, sliced*

4-5 bay leaves

1/3 c. each white wine and chicken broth

1-2 t. red or white wine vinegar

*Use your own judgement as to how much.  I used a heaping handful of baby carrots and 1 c. of mushrooms.

Dredge the chicken breasts in flour seasoned with salt and pepper.  Brown in olive oil.  Remove chicken to a plate and add onion and garlic to pan.  Cook until onion is soft and lightly browned.  Add wine and broth and cook for a few minutes until liquid has been reduced by half.  Add remaining ingredients and place browned chicken on top.  Cover the pan and cook until chicken is tender.

Place the chicken in warmed bowls.  Add 1-2 t. wine vinegar to liquid and spoon over the chicken breasts.  To add a little color, embellish with coarsely chopped spinach leaves.  That was an afterthought since I didn’t have parsley or basil.

Serve with crusty bread and a simple green salad.  Makes 6 servings.

Whether for friends or family, Chicken Stoup will get moans of appreciation.

i so appreciate your visit and the comments you leave behind

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at home, Holiday Decor, Random

Coming Home

It was good news to hear that our daughter who lives away from Houston would be coming home to spend a few days with us before Christmas.  The last few months have not been easy for her, so my thought was to make her visit as warm and cozy as could be.

With its red walls, her old room is an easy one to make look season friendly.  A winter throw is tossed on the bed and Santa will watch over her.

Like so many other things I have, Santa has been around for a long time and has a wonderful memory attached.  I had gone to Oklahoma with a friend.  On the return to Houston we made a journey of several hours stretch into the night by stopping at any and every place that looked of interest.  If you guess that Santa came from one of those stops, you’d be right!

A few more little touches and the room is ready.  Greenery and berries add touches of color among the birdhouses.  

These two are part of my rather large collection but are too big to be displayed with the rest.  

That’s OK because they are right at home sitting on a quilt, one of many made by my grandmother.

Speaking of quilts, so many made by different family members have ended up with me.  Like with other textiles, I can’t bear to leave them wrapped in a closet and find ways to have them out.  Somehow I feel they are a significant part of my heritage.

Getting back to preparing the room, there is a present or two left on the bed in the hope there is something there that will brighten the daughter’s day.

i so appreciate your visit and the comments you leave behind

Joining

Diggin’ It & Dishin’ It

Holiday Decor, home, Random

Keeping It Simple

I like the holidays as much as anyone, but for the last several years I’ve enjoyed keeping the associated decor simple. From my still sizeable array of Christmas goodies, something different is brought out each year, and I delight in choosing what to feature. This time the focus is on nativities which are among my favorite things.

Our mantel is barely more than an architectural detail, but it proved to be just right for arranging a good part of the collection.

As each one went to its place, I took a moment to recall its story.

In the days when I participated in holiday shows I always had my eye open for a new nativity to add to a growing collection so many of them came from other vendors.

I particularly liked finding sets from another country that likely had been handmade.

This was the very first nativity I bought so it is years old. I laughed at the chewed wooden legs remembering our first dog. What a character he was and he left behind much evidence of his presence!

Flat surfaces are not abundant in our house, but there are enough to have a nativity on every one.

As each one came out of its box, I began to see a common thread.

Most are handmade and tend toward folk art.

The last to find a place is my favorite. I found these pieces a couple of years ago when we took a boat trip from Maine to Nova Scotia. I was blown away by their detail and the wonderful use of color. No matter where or how the set is displayed, it tells a wonderful story and I am so grateful to the hands that created it.

So there you have most of my holiday decorating and by keeping it simple, each and every one of these nativities invites a look.

I so appreciate your visit and the comments you leave behind

Holiday Decor, home, Random

Getting It On

I stubbornly wait until early December to begin decorating for the holidays.

ChandeliersNow I don’t have a chandelier to embellish

Christmas decoror a mantle to drape with greenery

IMG_1457or a bannister to festoon.

So, what is a girl to do?  First, I go to the closet and pull out the wreaths that I use year after year.  They suit the house, and as long as they hang together I see no reason to change them.   Looking at them, can you guess that the traditional reds and greens are not what you’ll find inside?  No, here the palette is slightly off but still reflective of the season.

Next is my favorite thing: creating a centerpiece for the dining room table.  I should tell you that these days I don’t buy much new but use favorite familiar pieces in different ways.  These metal holly leafed trees are a good place to start, and the cranberry table runner is a perfect background.  

What makes the runner special are the details at the ends.  I’m a sucker for tucks.

I was delighted to find the same color candles at Michael’s when I went there to pick up some gift boxes.  They are in brass candlesticks that were given us as a wedding present so many years ago. It took a little Brasso to get them gleaming again.  The ribbons were an afterthought, and not being able to decide which to use, I used them both.  How’s that for not being able to make up your mind?

I look for any opportunity to use bells from my extensive collection.  Most are clear glass and crystal with a few colored ones thrown in.  While the ones here are not the same color, they are close enough and I like their differing textures.

IMG_0081Well, this is the beginning.  Next I will choose a few more favorite things to sprinkle through the house.  I like the picking and choosing which makes everything seem new again.

i so appreciate your visit and the comments you leave behind

 

musings, Random

Who Am I?

question markSometimes you hear something that hits you right between the eyes.  Today it was a question asked by a spiritual teacher:  Who am I?

At first thought that didn’t seem like a difficult question to answer,  and immediately I began running off in my head all the things I know I am.

I am a wife, mother, grandmother, friend.  I am a weaver.  I am creative. I am a community volunteer.  I am curious which inspires me to ask questions, explore other cultures.  I am a blogger.  I am a reader. I am one who loves Maine, being on the water, eating lobster.  

As these images of myself darted across an invisible screen, I suddenly stopped because all those things tell something about me but I’m not sure they tell who I am.  Thus, the real question becomes who exists behind what I want people to see, who is the person hidden behind the descriptive words?

Wow, who am I is a much bigger question than it appears.  I suppose the answer will come as I dig beneath the layers.  I hope I like what is there.

How about you?  Do you know who you are?  If so, you are a lucky one; if not, I invite you to join me on a journey of discovery.

i so appreciate your visit and the comments you leave behind

Random, Travel

First Stop: Dehli

17,000,000….that’s a lot of people in India’s capital city. The noise and the crowds can be a bit overwhelming unless you open your eyes and pay attention to all the surrounding action. Then Dehli becomes quite fascinating as you take in the life on the streets.
Now travel can be a little scary as tuk tuks, cars, bicycles and foot traffic all vie for space.
Trying to capture it all is near impossible, but let me share with you some of what defined Dehli for me. People doing what they do holds such fascination whether they’re working the market,
moving goods from one place to another with sheer manpower,
sitting quietly catching up on the day’s news
or visiting a mosque for prayer.
All these energies combine to paint a picture of life in a new and unfamiliar place.
Of course, India is noted for its textiles, and those who work in the shops are only to anxious to show everything they have. As piece after piece is unfolded, it’s impossible to walk away without buying something if only to reward the patience of the person who must then refold it all and likely go through the process again and again.
If you know nothing else about India, you’re likely familiar with the name Mahatma Ghandi and his commitment to empowering the poor in his country.
His efforts led to his assassination and he is remembered in Dehli, where he was cremated, by a permanent memorial which made me think of the eternal flame honoring President Kennedy. Judging from the number of people who reverently circled the memorial, Ghandi is still revered.
In the days when India was under the British flag, a very plumb assignment for an English nobleman was to be named viceroy. The viceroy’s home in Dehli was a 340 room which today serves as home to India’s president. Needless to say, it must take quite a staff to manage such a place.
Starting an India adventure in Dehli is a quick introduction to a country of more than a billion people, and it will be interesting to see how it compares with the other areas of our journey. I hope you will enjoy the vicarious experience and that we will all learn from the experience.