Thursday, February 26, 2015

HOMEMADE MASHED POTATO SOUP-SOUP FOR THE SOUL

With another winter storm coming our way today, it was time to get into the kitchen.  My family loves homemade potato soup.  Since I had all of them underfoot, I pulled out 10 potatoes and started peeling.  After dicing them into 1/4 inch pieces, I filled the 4 quart soup pot with water and put it on for a boil.
 

 
During the winter months, I always keep on hand the trinity.  For those of you who aren't familiar with this cooking term, the trinity includes:  celery, green or red peppers and onions(today I substituted green onions since I had them on hand.)
 
While the potatoes are  boiling, I cut these up.
I used 4 stalks of celery, one half of a large green pepper and 6 green onions.  If you have more or less of one of these, don't worry.  Just use what you have.  These 3 ingredients are all diced into similar sized pieces.
 


Another item that I always keep in my freezer is Polska Kielbasa.  I normally use the turkey version, however, on my last trip to the store, they didn't have it.  The turkey version tastes the same to me and has less fat.


After cutting each link in half, I then cut each link in half lengthwise and then dice.  Set aside.

 
 
Take 1/2 of a stick of butter(I'm a purist..I only use butter) and place it in a large skillet. 
 

Melt.

 
Once melted, I add the diced vegetables.

 
The only seasoning I use these days seems to be Cavender's-All Greek Seasoning.






Instead of using salt and pepper, this spice adds so much more with the addition of salt, pepper,  garlic and a flavor base.  I add 1 tablespoon to the vegetables.



Now with the lid back on, I let it simmer on low for about 5 minutes until the vegetables are wilted.


 Then add the diced kielbasa and simmer for 5 more minutes.  This will pull out more of the seasoning in the meat.


Turn the vegetable and meat mixture off.
 
By now the potatoes are cooked.  Drain and make your normal mashed potato recipe.  I have found that my family prefers white pepper and salt for seasoning.  The girls don't like 'black spots' in their potatoes.  Before adding the milk, I microwave it until hot.  This prevents the gluey mashed potatoes that I think are just unappetizing.  Using your hand beater, add the remaining 1/2 stick of butter and beat.  Salt and pepper to your own taste.
  
 
Now you have a large pot of mashed potatoes.  I always cut this quantity in half, freezing the one half for later.  I have found that if I place a sheet of parchment paper over the potatoes in the container,  it will cause  less moisture to crystalize on the top of the potatoes, so when they are thawed, they are not soupy.  Cover and freeze.
 



The other half of the potatoes are stirred into the vegetable/kielbasa mix in the skillet. 



Add milk to the mixture to achieve the thickness you would like.  I added 3 cups of cold milk.
 
Simmer on low for 10 minutes.  


    I can make this up to 2 days in advance because it keeps so well in the fridge.  In order to take up less room in the fridge, I store it in a 2 quart drink pitcher.
 
Before serving the soup later on, I butter whole wheat bread, top with fresh grated Parmesan and broil until toasted.  It adds a nice addition to your mashed potato soup.
 
Besides warming up your family's stomachs, it will take off that winter chill.
 
Soup's On!
 
When waking this morning, I glanced outside and found a winter wonderland.  This RARELY happens in the south.  No school again today.
 

The snow is beautiful. 
 
 


Sunday, February 22, 2015

DUNCAN PHYFE SQUARE TABLE

As luck would have it, I was dropping off one of my girls' friends and the Mom came out to the car.  She looked at me(At this point, she knows nothing about me) and asked if I was interested in any of the refuge from cleaning out her Mom's garage.  I told her thank you, but I was only interested in furniture.
 
Two hours later, my daughter showed me a picture on a cell phone message.  Her girlfriend wanted to know if I was interested in a junky piece of furniture.  Interested?????  And it was free!!  That was a bonus.  Feeling a bit guilty, I made a delicious cinnamon apple cake for her.  My sister, Karen gave me this recipe years ago.   It is my most favorite coffeecake.
 
  I will share it with you on another blog.  Ok, now back to my latest project.
 
 
It is a beautiful gently used Duncan Phyfe square table.  Sure it has some lose joints and maybe a major knick here and there, but it was gorgeous.  I  am sure that it is not an original, but even so, the distinct design lends itself to one.
 
 
Born Duncan Fife near Loch Fannich, Scotland, he emigrated with his family to Albany, New York in 1784 and served as a cabinetmaker’s apprentice.[2]
In 1791 he moved to New York City[2] and one year later is documented the earliest mention of him in the city, when he was elected to the General Society of Mechanics and Tradesmen, sponsored by Isaac Nichols and Seabury Champlin, either of whom may have trained him.


Shop and warehouse on 168-172 Fulton Street, New York city.
By the time of his marriage in 1793, he appears in the New York directories as a "joiner," but by 1794 he called himself "cabinetmaker" and had changed the spelling of his name to Phyfe. He opened his own business in 1794 and was listed as a cabinetmaker in the New York Directory and Register. From his first shop on 2 Broad Street, he later moved to Partition street (later renamed Fulton Street in 1817 in honor of Robert Fulton), where he stayed for the rest of his life.
A poor immigrant when he arrived in America from his native Scotland, Phyfe acquired wealth and fame through hard work, exceptional talent and the support of patrons. He would come to count among his clients some of the nation's wealthiest and most storied families. Throughout the first half of the nineteenth century he made Neoclassical furniture for the social and mercantile elite of New York, Philadelphia, and the American South where he was particularly popular. Known during his lifetime as the "United States Rage", to this day remains America's best-known cabinetmaker.[3] Establishing his reputation as a purveyor of luxury by designing high-quality furniture.
His personal style, characterized by superior proportions, balance, symmetry, and restraint, became the New York local style. Many apprentices and journeymen exposed to this distinctive style by serving a stint in the Phyfe shop or by copying the master cabinetmaker's designs helped to create and sustain this local school of cabinetmaking. Demand for Phyfe's work reached its peak between 1805 and 1820, although he remained a dominant figure in the trade until 1847, when he retired at the age of seventy-seven. Within the short span of a single generation, however, the work of the master was all but forgotten until the revival in the 1920s, when different furniture companies replicate his designs throughout several decades.
He became known as one of America's leading cabinetmakers by selling furniture at relatively low prices. Phyfe’s work encompassed a broad range of the period’s Neoclassical styles, starting from his earliest furniture— which bear the influence of his 18th-century British predecessors Thomas Sheraton and Thomas Hope— continuing with Regency, Federal, Empire and ending with his late simplified designs in the Grecian plain style.


James Duncan Phyfe, his second son.
Between 1837 and 1847, Duncan Phyfe took his two sons, Michael and James, as business partners and the firm went under the names D. Phyfe & Sons (1837–1840) and after Michael's premature death, D. Phyfe & Son (1840–1847). It was during the latter and final stages of the business’s history that perhaps the greatest challenge Phyfe ever faced emerged; how to cope with the new wave of historical revival styles. In 1840, one Southern planter who came to New York from Columbia, South Carolina, observed to his wife in a letter that the Phyfes were “as much behind the times in style as (they were) in price.” This is because the Phyfes always adhered to the classicist language until the end,[4] they never fully engaged with the emerging historical revival styles (e.g. Baroque, Gothic, Rococo, etc.) that began about 1840.
Because Phyfe's furniture was seldom signed,[3] yet widely imitated, it is sometimes difficult to determine with accuracy which works he actually made.
(/WICKIPEDIA)


What stands out to me is the violin-like embellishment that I have seen on many vintage pieces of furniture.  Many dining room chairs displayed this design in the back of the chair.  I believe my grandmother had a Duncan Phyfe dining room set and matching buffet.
 
 
 I don't have a plan yet, but I know that I will paint it.  You will just have to wait and see.
 


Thursday, February 19, 2015

RECYCLING VALENTINE BOUQUET INTO SPRING COFFEE TABLE 2015

I apologize for not posting yesterday!!


This was the scene I found on the library table Valentine's Day morning.  Mr. Thrifty has a very romantic side to him.  I told him that all I wanted for Valentine's Day was Dove dark chocolates.  Not to be outdone, he bought a spring floral bouquet to add to the surprise.
 

Let's come back to the flowers later.

I had an inspiration for getting rid of the never ending cold fronts that seem to be plaguing the south this winter.
 
I took out the whitewashed tray to use as my base for the Spring display.
 

I found this distressed round stool at a thrift store last year.  This piece set the stage for an elevated base.
 

One of my Grandmother's doilies softened the stool and gave it a subtle romantic feel.


A vintage small china cup that might have belonged to my Mom was placed onto the doily.  I like to think of it as a baby cup.  I love to use old vintage family artifacts in my decorating.  I think it brings the past into the present with a twist.


This next piece is one of my most favorite vases.  I have had it for what seems forever, but it always freshens up a space.  From the back, you can see the water receptacle.


From the front, it is a gorgeous live picture frame.  I plucked a few blooms out of my Valentine's Day vase to use for this spot.


Once the frame was placed on the tray, spring was welcome indoors once again.(at least in my imagination)


As I always like to give you the realistic use of the tray on the coffee table, the remotes are placed on the tray.


By changing the fresh flowers out, a whole new look can be had.  As spring comes closer, a grocery store bouquet can be pulled apart to freshen the frame.
 
With the winter that we have had, I am going to make sure that I have fresh flowers on the coffee table until the crocuses break ground.




Saturday, February 14, 2015

HAPPY VALENTINES DAY 2015

Well, its time to make my annual Valentine's Day card.
I had so much fun making the Valentine garland a few weeks back and I love all the cherub images that are out there now.
I found this precious image.  I cannot remember where I found this one.

After making multiple wallet sized images, they were cut and set aside.

Then I pulled out 2 sheets of scrapbook paper.  This is one of my favorite designs of all time.  Unfortunately, I don't think its available anymore.  It has such a romantic touch with the vines and roses.



Below you will see a felt type heart ribbon.  A perfect addition for the extra dimension that I was looking for.


I pulled one of my vintage books out and used them for the background of the card.  Then I traced a heart onto the back of the scrapbook paper and cut them out.  One heart was placed on top of the book page.


Using the red baker's twine, I cut a strand off.  The twine was stretched from the envelope to the felt heart.


There was just something not right.  I went upstairs to the craft room and picked up some fuchsia pink striped yarn.                            


Once the red Baker's twine was removed, it was replaced with the yarn. 

That was the punch that the card needed.





I better get busy.  I have 13 more cards to go.

HAPPY VALENTINES DAY



Tuesday, February 10, 2015

VALENTINES DAY COFFEE TABLE

In the past, I have used framed pictures to set the stage for a coffee table.  Walking by this picture on the wall sparked an idea.
 

 
Last winter, I picked up this red leather letter V at Michaels for 90% off the price.  That was the perfect addition to the Valentine display.


 
The coasters were placed in a silver plated footed candy dish.



As simplistic as this vignette is, it needs to be practical.  The remotes were added to the frame.

 
A little bit of  Valentine cheer warms the great room.                        

Friday, February 6, 2015

SHABBY CHIC PILLOW SHAMS

  I thought with just a tweak of exchanging the matelass√© shams would really bring a spring touch to the bedroom.  This large expanse of the headboard lends itself to decorating for any season.

Once the Christmas items are removed, the white matelass√© pillows shams leave the bed rather plain, but still looking fresh. 


Last fall, I purchased Shabby Chic pillow shams on sale at Target.  The great thing about these shams is that they are two sided.  Most pillow shams are only one sided.  Because these shams don't have a slit in the middle of the  back, both sides can be changed.

A soft bouquet of roses leaves a very tranquil look to the shams on one side.


They add a bit of spring to the bed.


 The front side is a collection of patchwork shabby fabrics.  Although soothing also, they add a bit more punch of color.


So, let's await the winter thaw and look forward to spring.


 I like the way the shams pull color in from the mosaic oval tray on the trunk in front of the bed.


One simple change switches out one season for the next.