ham, bean, cheese soup

The menu said “Fridge Food,” which usually means “open the fridge and see what you can find.” But the weather is cold and I wanted something nourishing and warm. After perusing the fridge, I decided to use the food I found to make soup. That was ham and leftover deer sausage. I had chicken stock, celery and carrots on hand, too, so it was easy to put something together. I’m putting the recipe down as I made it so I’ll be able to make it again.

Ham, beans, deer sausage, cheesy soup.

Here’s how it panned out…

Ham and Bean and Cheese Soup

  • 3 stalks celery, diced
  • 3 large carrots, diced
  • 4 c. chicken stock (homemade is way superior to store bought)
  • 1 cup ham, diced
  • 1 c. deer sausage (or other spicy sausage), diced
  • 1 T. dry onion
  • dash of garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. crushed dry basil
  • 1 tsp. celery seed
  • dash of ground cloves
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 15-oz cans white beans, undrained
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 3 T. butter
  • 3 T. flour
  • 2 c. milk
  • 8 oz. shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 c. chopped fresh parsley

Cook the celery and carrots in the microwave or in a little water on the stovetop until tender. No need to drain the water.

Pour the chicken stock into a large soup pot. Add the celery/carrot and the diced meats.

Add the spices and the beans. Stir and let it simmer while white sauce is prepared.

In a separate pot, make the cheese sauce. Melt the butter. Add the flour and whisk until smooth. Cook over medium heat for a few minutes. Add the milk and whisk until sauce thickens. Remove from the heat. Add the grated cheese and stir until melted.

Turn the heat off from under the soup pot. Add the cheese sauce and stir well. Add the parsley and stir. Enjoy!

Like many soups, exact measurements aren’t necessary. If you love carrots, add more. If you don’t like celery, leave it out. If you want to cook a diced onion with the veggies, do that instead of using dry onion. Or use diced green onions.

Diced cooked potatoes would be a good substitute for the beans.

If you’re not comfortable making a cheese sauce, use a jar of cheese spread or cheese dip, if you’re good with that.

I had deer sausage so used that with the ham. You could use just ham or you could use all sausage. Kielbasa would work fine.

What’s in your fridge?

~~Rhonda

menu plan monday ~ january 12, 2015

Winter. I am tired of it. I am looking forward to late February when the crocus will pop up in the backyard. Spring, please come soon!

Update on our new kitty, Ski. He is doing great! Such a sweet and friendly cat. He is very laid back and would love to play with the other cats in the house, but they are not interested. When he comes face to face with one of them, he sits down and looks at them. Doesn’t hiss, doesn’t puff up…just interested.

He’s chill.

Ski

My kitty Ski

I have been practicing the art of soldering this past week, using my collection of Christmas cards for the pictures. About 35 years ago (yikes!), I worked for a hearing aid company in the repair department. One of the things I did was solder circuit boards. I loved it then, and am enjoying relearning how to do it now.

Learning to solder

I’ve been sick and still feeling tired. Not much energy to do a lot. Hopefully, I will feel better by Wednesday when the menu will need some attention. I love to cook, but haven’t felt like doing it for a while. Some spring weather would help…I’m just sayin’.

Monday
Carry-out

Tuesday
Fridge Food

Wednesday
Skillet Cube Steak
Mashed Potatoes and Gravy
Oven Roasted Brussels Sprouts
Garden Salad

Thursday
Crock Pot Turkey Tetrazzini
Garlic Bread
Garden Salad

Friday
Pan Seared Tilapia
Crash Hot Potatoes
Asparagus

Saturday
Cheeseburgers on Homemade Buns
Broccoli Cauliflower Salad

Sunday
Baked Ziti
Roasted Garlic Lemon Broccoli
Toasted Cheese Bread

You’ll find more menu and recipe ideas at Menu Plan Monday. Is there anything interesting on your menu this week?

~~Rhonda

christmas tree countdown ~ snow tree

Yes, Christmas is past, but I made a promise to myself to blog about all our trees, so I’m still plugging away. I hope you don’t mind!

The Snow Tree can be found in the dining room. For years we decorated it with shredded plastic “snow,” but I can’t justify that. We try to avoid one-use plastic. So, so bad for our environment. We’ve even gone to paper punch and coffee cups for the Open House rather than use plastic and Styrofoam. In 2012, I looked for a viable alternative to the plastic snow and decided on cotton. My sister Genny and I covered the entire seven foot tree with bits of cotton on each and every branch. To put the tree in storage, the ornaments come off, the tree is covered with a large bag, and taken, still assembled, to the attic. The cotton has stayed on quite well.

Christmas Open House

The shredded snow was beautiful piled on the branches. And it stayed on the tree very well, surprisingly. It did have to be removed and thrown away after Christmas and that made a mess in the dining room. Nothing the vacuum cleaner couldn’t handle, though.

snow and snow balls

The cotton looks pretty good, too. Not the same, but not all snowfalls are the same, either. And I feel better about the use of cotton over plastic.

snow tree

A smaller snow tree sits on top the dining room cupboard.

dining room cupboard

The dining room windowsills are deep. Seems the decorations for the windowsills change every year. Here are two of my favorites.

dining room windowsills

dining room window sill

This year, Youngest Daughter used a chalk marker to draw snowflakes on the dining room windows. Very pretty!

snowflakes

Click this link to see how we prepare the table for the display of the snow tree. Setting up the Snow Tree

setting it up

Our ceilings are twelve feet. Placing the tree on the table gives it a lot of height and takes up less room than a nine foot tree would take. Much smaller footprint.

"snow tree" in the dining room

This tree goes up quickly and comes down quickly. Always a plus. And a big attic doesn’t hurt when it comes to storage!

~~Rhonda

menu plan monday ~ january 5, 2015

Here’s to a new year. Have you made any resolutions? I haven’t given it much thought yet. December is always so busy here. And I am still recuperating from it! But this week will be quieter and I plan to make some time to think about what I want to concentrate on this year. Write some ideas down. Plan some steps.

Right now, it is enough to think about the week’s menu. I skipped it last week and, again, found skipping the menu planning to be a bad idea. Means there are too few groceries available. No meal ingredients to work with. No idea of what to make. Asking the family doesn’t help, either. All they can think of for dinner is “I don’t know…” So, it is imperative that I make a menu!

Monday
Fried Oysters
Garlic Toast
Corn

fresh gulf oysters...

Tuesday
Tacoritos
Spicy Tortilla Wedges

tacoritos

Wednesday
Hamburgers
Homemade Buns
Cole Slaw
Grapes

burger

Thursday
Spicy Shredded Pork
Homemade Buns
Broccoli Cauliflower Salad

Friday
Fridge Food

Saturday
Sushi

Sunday
Baked Chicken
Mashed Potatoes
Steamed Green Beans
Green Salad

You’ll find more menu and recipe ideas at Menu Plan Monday.

~~Rhonda

Christmas is coming down

The decorations are coming down. Older Son and his lovely wife came yesterday morning, stayed overnight, and all day today to help.

Thanksgiving Day

DH, Middle Daughter and Grand-Daughter also helped. I appreciate it so much! They cleared the addition, which is the downstairs bedroom, the addition hall, the laundry and the downstairs bath.

Undecorating

They finished the music room, the front hall (including the banister), and the library with the exception of putting away the tree. The ornaments are stored away, though. About 35 boxes put away all together.

front hall boxes

I printed out the storage box list and they used that to pack the decorations in the correct boxes. Once it is done on paper, I will update the computer file and we’ll be ready to decorate for next Christmas.

making a list and checking it twice

Before the Garden Tree came down, Ski had to check it out. He has been here for just over a week and has been leaving the bedroom to explore the rest of the downstairs. Feeling right at home.

Ski checks out the garden tree

I have been sick with a recurring problem and have spent most of the last week in the recliner. I still had fun with the grands. I printed a house pattern from my computer and the girls cut them out and made paper houses. They had so much fun!

Making paper houses

Making. Paper houses

Most years I am not eager to see the Christmas decorations come down, but this year is the exception. I will be glad when they are down and put away. We got a good start on it this weekend and I am grateful to my family for all the help!

~~Rhonda

christmas tree countdown ~ craft room tree

My favorite room in the house is my craft room. We did a total remodel of the room in 2008. Down to the studs and back up again. The room had been a second story porch at one time, then turned into an enclosed room. The room below, on the first floor, is our kitchen. We had used the upstairs room for an extra bedroom. After our sons had gone to college, I used one end as a craft and scrapbooking area and the other end was left as a bedroom for a sleeping space when kids came back home to visit. I decided to put some cabinets in for crafting and the project got bigger and bigger, until we were remodeling the entire thing, including new siding for the two-story addition. Made a world of difference and gave me my own wonderful space!

Renovation pictures, with explanations of what is being done, can be seen on my flickr site. To go there, click this link: Scrapbook Renovation

The Christmas tree in this room is a slender seven foot tree. It displays the ornaments I have received from the Christmas Notebook exchange.

Christmas Notebook Christmas tree

I have ornaments on this tree dating back to 2000.

exchange ornament

exchange ornament

exchange ornament

This mitten is one of my favorites.

exchange ornament

The ornament tree is also in the craft room.

Christmas card ornaments

The ornaments are decoupaged, using pictures from Christmas cards.

decoupaged ornaments

decoupaged ornaments

To the right of the ornament tree is an old table that came from my parents’ home. The terrarium belonged to my mother. The painting was done by one of my mother’s cousins.

table in craft room

As you walk into the craft room from the upstairs hall, on the cabinet end to the right, hang vintage framed Santa and Mrs. Claus paper dolls that Older Son and his wife gave me a few years ago. I love these. So cute!

vintage Santa and Mrs. Santa paper dolls

Click this link for a free printable of the same paper dolls on Altered Artifacts. Santa and Mrs. Claus paper dolls

On the cabinet end to the left, as you enter the room, hangs a flower pounding that my friend Liz made for me. She pounded a fern leaf and decorated it as a Christmas tree. Beautiful! Learn more about flower pounding at this link: Hammered Leaf and Flower Prints

flower pounding

I don’t count this little tinsel tree as one of our decorated trees. It is usually on display in the craft room, though it has moved from place to place over the years. The Putz houses in the picture were made by my dear friend Marsha. We went to high school together, but didn’t get to know one another until we discovered we were attending the same college. Eventually became roommates and then life-long friends.

craft counter

On the counter you’ll find this vintage lighted, musical, Sears nativity. My sister Genny found it in a thrift shop. It is in pristine condition.

1970 Sears nativity

This picture was taken last year. And, no, my counters are not that clean most of the time!

after...much better

I’m sure you can see why this is my favorite room. I do crafting, scrapbooking and genealogy here. Also lots of blogging and other computer work. A fun place to spend my time and it has a wonderful view of our back yard.

snow's melting

I’ll be glad when that view includes daffodils and redbud trees blooming!

~~Rhonda

christmas tree countdown ~ the “glass” tree

My favorite tree in the house is the one we call the Glass Tree. It is a seven and a half foot tree, sitting on a two foot tall box. It is decorated with glass ornaments. Spun glass, blown glass, crystal, prisms, glass icicles, and glass bead chains from old chandeliers. Most of the ornaments are clear glass, but there are a few softly colored ornaments, as well, such as the pink flamingo, the green garden bench, and the pink flying pig.

Glass Christmas tree

I made a video of the tree a few months ago while the grands were enjoying it. It does it more justice than pictures do, but it is still much more beautiful in person. The video can be expanded to “full screen” for a closer look at the ornaments.

The topper is made of bows attached to skewers and stuck into the top of the tree. More of the same ribbon falls down the tree and is tucked into the branches here and there.

decorating the "glass tree"

the "glass" tree

This picture shows an ornament made of three Christmas trees. To the left is a vintage glass ornament of a bird. A friend brought that to me after she found it and a glass bird bath ornament in her mother-in-law’s garage sale items. Love both those ornaments! Thanks, Sherry! In the lower left corner of the picture, you can make out my lovely mermaid.

Glass Christmas tree

Three birds…

bird times three

My first glass ornament was a hand blown hummingbird from a vacation to Colorado in 1982. After I found that, I began seeing glass ornaments in other places we visited. The collection grew over time.

hummingbird

This rocking horse is one of my favorites. In the baby / childhood theme, I also have a pacifer, baby shoes, and a carriage.

decorating the "glass tree"

baby carriage

A dragon…

dragon

When pigs fly…

when pigs fly

A lovely lizard…

lizard

Noah’s Ark with a porpoise swimming by…

Noah's Ark

Candlestick and crystal…

decorating the "glass tree"

Joy…and more than 250 prisms decorate the tree.

Glass Christmas tree

A birdbath…

bird bath

Some of the ornaments have gold on them, and I do like those, but I prefer clear spun glass.

Christmas Open House

Reindeer are a recurring theme.

glass reindeer

And here’s one I found on Etsy. I thought it was hilarious! I don’t know if the Santa came with Dino or if someone glued him on some time in the past. He’s an exception to my “It has to be ALL glass” rule, but I love him! Youngest Daughter loves him, too, and has already claimed dibs on him.

found it on etsy.com

I wish you could see the tree in person. It is too pretty for pictures.

~~Rhonda

christmas tree countdown ~ upstairs hall

The upstairs hall has two trees. One slender six foot tall tree sits in a crock in the corner of the hall. It is decorated with pictures from Christmas past…both of our children and of our grandchildren.

Christmas Past tree

Many of the pictures are ones we used in our Christmas cards when our children were young. Many have the dates included on the front of the pictures.

Christmas Past tree

The other tree in the upstairs hall is a half tree. It was originally used in a small store as a display for ornaments they were selling. When the store was going out of business years ago, I bought the tree from them for $30, and have used it every year since then. I think I was with my Home Extension group at the time…not sure what we were doing… This tree was used in my Mother-in-Law’s room when she lived with us. She didn’t want a tree in her room, but was happy to have this half tree on her wall. At that time, we decorated it with cardinals and white doves.

wall tree

The wall tree is just outside the guest room door upstairs. This picture was taken from that doorway, looking into the hall, with the wall tree to the left and the Christmas Past tree in the corner just ahead. The kitty is Zilli. She was following Middle Daughter around as she took pictures for me. The closed door is the door to Youngest Daughter’s bedroom. Those lovely shiny floors are original to the house (built in 1867). Downstairs they are oak and walnut. Upstairs, we were told, they are heart pine.

Zilli and the upstairs hall trees

Standing in front of the half tree and looking over the staircase to the other end of the hall, you can see the cupboard a dear friend gave to us when she remodeled her home. This cupboard displays many of my Putz house creations. to the left is a peek into the craft room.

upstairs hall cupboard

And down on the floor to the right of the cupboard is the Mouse House. It usually sits on top the quarter round trim for Christmas, but didn’t get there this year. The woodwork is twelve inches high. The Mouse House is about six inches high. The two trees that decorate the front door of Mr. and Mrs. Mouse are lit by the battery pack wrapped as a gift.

The mouse house.

A tree, of sorts, hangs in the upstairs bathroom. It’s a tree mobile and hangs in front of the stained glass window in the bathroom.

Christmas tree mobile

My thanks to my friend Dana who took this picture of the ornaments on the mobile tree. I love this picture with the stained glass window in the background.

tree mobile

In the bathroom window sill, below the mobile, there is a small tree decorated with iridescent ornaments, to resemble soap bubbles. Personally, I don’t count these little trees that are barely decorated when I count how many Christmas trees we have, but I do want to show you a picture of it.

tree mobile

More trees to come.

Only 362 days until Christmas!

~~Rhonda :)

Christmas Day

When I walked into the kitchen for breakfast, the twins had already changed the chalkboard.

0 days until Christmas.

Our older son made the crust and our daughter-in-law made the quiche. That and apple cake with caramel rum sauce for breakfast. Delicious!

image

image

Our older son read the Biblical account of Christ’s birth from Luke 2:1-20, which we do each year before opening presents.

Luke 2:1-20

Picture time, then stocking time! Our three daughters on the left and our three grands on the right.

the stockings were hung on the staircase with care

stocking time

Years ago, I had made stocking for the four older kids, using double-sided quilted fabric. This year, I made one to match for our youngest daughter, who had been using a store-bought stocking all this time. I used that stocking for the cuff and the toe and also used the cord from the old stocking on the new one. Now her stocking finally matches her siblings’ stockings.

a new stocking

stocking toys included a little kaleidoscope.

My stocking stash…

stocking stuffings

Rose Red’s favorite crafting tool…tape! Lots of tape!

tape! lots of tape!

Both girls received piggy banks and Pa supplied them with a fistful of coins to put in their banks.

piggy banks for the twins

Snow White plans to be the first person on Mars.

astronaut

Twirling’s Rose Red’s favorite thing. Middle daughter found a couple of dress-ups for her after Halloween. She wore this one all day, breaking into impromptu dances and twirls.

twirling's my favorite

And back to the astronaut…such different personalities in the twins.

Space Encyclopedia

And Pa, history buff and trivia guru that he is, recieved a set of Presidential blocks. One side has the President’s picture, one side his term of office, one side has interesting facts and nickname, another side is part of a flag puzzle…how many sides is that?…

Presidential blocks for Pa

Pa gave Ma a roomba! He readied it for service and it works great!

roomba

Our younger son and his wife called while we were opening gifts. So good to hear from them! After exchanging gifts and watching the girls enjoy each and every moment, we had a late lunch. Our older son’s family left soon after cleaning up lunch and the rest of us enjoyed naps or explored our gifts. Thanks to my family for making the day so special!

My favorite gift, Ski, is becoming more relaxed and playful. He is still confined to the bedroom. When anyone visits him, he waits at the door, eager for company.

Ski is becoming more relaxed and playful.

We hope your day was merry and bright, and above all, lit with the light of Christ’s love!

Christmas 2014

Merry Christmas! ~~Rhonda

my new kitty, Ski

DH brought home a new kitty for me. His name is Ski. He has been raised at the Humane Shelter and is about six months old. He has been home for about an hour. I am still waiting for him to feel free to approach me, but I am having fun watching him play with his toys. Like a good Christmas kitty, the first things he checked out were the ornaments on the tree.

My  new kitty, Ski.

Before he arrived, Snow White and Rose Red helped me take the tinsel off the bottom part of the tree and we removed the tree skirt. If Ski finds the ornaments too much fun to bat around, we’ll take the tree down this evening, as the downstairs bedroom is his safe place for now. We’ll let him get comfortable in here before we introduce him to his house mates. Zilli is keeping an eye on him through the door, though. Ski has ignored her so far.

Zilli...checking out the new kitty.

He is busy exploring his new surroundings.

Ski

Watching you watching me…

Ski

Here’s to many more Christmases together.

~~Rhonda and Ski