Tuesday, November 30, 2010

One Chore Leads to Another

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My efforts at the laborious job of packing for the move to the house in Hooterville continue but I got a little side-tracked again.  

With all the time we’ve spent renovating the Hooterville house and farm over the past 13 months, it’s been  a while since I’ve taken the time to  do any heavy-duty dusting  in My Cottage of Bliss. 

Apparently longer than I realized!

Dusting has never been my favorite housekeeping job anyway but when I started to wrap and box up the nick-nacks and collections, I was actually repulsed by how grimy everything felt. 


I couldn’t bring myself to pack it all up without washing it  first.  This is when I wish I didn’t have so many collections!

Pictured above are pieces of my grandmother’s milk glass which she gave to me through the years prior to her death 4 years ago at the age of 99.  I haven’t even gotten to my mom’s crystal pieces, my Precious Moments figurines, or the china cabinet yet! 

I’m just really ready to have this business of packing and moving DONE so it’s a pain to have to take the time to wash this stuff before I wrap and box it for the move.  I have to keep reminding myself that even though it’s slowing me down now,  it will save me time later.   It will be wonderful to  just unpack and immediately put my (clean) collections  away in their new home.

What’s your favorite and/or least favorite housekeeping job?

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Thanksgiving 2010

thanksgiving dinner 

This time last year we had just bought the house in Hooterville about 3 weeks before Thanksgiving and had a mile long list of  projects that needed to be accomplished by January 1, so we opted to save time in the kitchen by having our Thanksgiving dinner at a  buffet restaurant down the road.

We actually enjoyed the buffet’s offerings so much, we’ve decided to have our Thanksgiving meal there again this year.  My hubby’s family will be joining us.

How are you celebrating Thanksgiving this year?  Are you cooking at home, or eating out?

 Happy Thanksgiving from My Cottage of Bliss!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Improvements to the Craigslist Barn

The  house in Hooterville has not been the sole focus of our renovation projects.  For the last month  or so, a lot of work has been taking place on the partially built barn we bought off Craigslist in January.

One big project we have been working toward for many, many months was finally completed about 2 weeks ago.   Four  big trucks arrived to pour concrete down the center aisle of the barn.


Up to this point, the center aisle had  just been dirt, which always looked so messy and was…well….



Concrete made a world of difference and with the help of a leaf blower, it will be much easier to keep neat and clean.


Of course, for posterity’s sake, we had to write in the new concrete…

Windswept Farm      Est. 2010

My daughter also sunk one of Tango’s actual horseshoes into the concrete and her name was written inside the curve of it.  Tango the Movie Star now has her own tribute, just like the stars who have been immortalized at the Grauman's Chinese Theatre Hollywood Walk of Fame.  ;) 

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When we bought the Craigslist barn, it had  six  12 ft. x 12 ft. finished stalls and the space to add six more.  We just had two more 12 ft. x 12 ft. stalls built as well as a double-wide 24 ft. x 12 ft. broodmare stall for mother and baby (photo below) because my daughter wants to try to breed Tango again after the first of the year.  If at any point the larger stall is not needed, a partition can be built to turn it into two 12ft. x 12 ft. stalls, like the other stalls in the barn.



Two of the 12 x 12 areas intended for stalls were turned into wash racks (areas to bathe the horses).



This open area on one end of the barn was enclosed and went from this…


to this.  


It will be a tack room were our boarders can store their saddles, bridles and miscellaneous horse stuff. 

Within the next week or two, the red siding will also be finished on the upper portion of the barn.

Looking down the center aisle, the new  tack room is on the right.


On the left, directly across the aisle from the boarder’s tack room, will be my daughter’s own private tack room.  To the right of it, in the back portion of that alcove,  there will be a bathroom for the boarders.  Yeah! That has been a long awaited addition so the boarders won’t have to come up to the house to use the bathroom anymore.

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It looks like the designated painter (me!) will soon have more painting projects to work on…the tack room and bathroom  doors and trim!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Is It Pumpkin Bread? Or Pumpkin Cake? Both!

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    I think everybody has a favorite pumpkin bread recipe but in case you don’t, here’s a great one for you to try.  (Yes, two recipe posts in a row but I promise I’m not turning this into a cooking blog!)

    I’ve been making this recipe forever…so long that I can’t even remember where the recipe came from.  I love it because it’s not only quick, easy and tasty, but it’s versatile too.  The original recipe calls for cooking it in a Bundt pan but I’ve also made it as a sheet cake with the optional frosting recipe below.  Most of the time though, I cook it in loaf pans and leave it unfrosted, like pumpkin bread.

    It’s incredibly moist right out of the oven but after a couple days in the refrigerator (if it lasts that long!), it becomes so moist it just melts in your mouth.


  • 1 box yellow cake mix

  • 4 eggs

  • 3/4 cup sugar

  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil

  • 1/2 cup milk

  • 1 cup canned pumpkin (not canned pumpkin pie filling)  We like a stronger pumpkin taste so I usually use more like 1 1/2 cups...almost the whole small can

  • 1 large box vanilla instant pudding

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon

  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

Dump all ingredients into a bowl and mix well.  Pour into greased & floured pan and bake at 350 degrees.  Bundt pan takes about 1 hour, sheet cake about 25-30 minutes, loaf pans about 30-50 minutes, depending on size.  (One recipe will make at least two loaves, more if you are using smaller loaf pans).  

    Frosting (Optional)

  • 8 oz. package cream cheese

  • 1 stick of butter or margarine

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla  (I usually use more)

  • 1/2 to 3/4 box powdered sugar

  • 1-3 tablespoons milk if necessary to achieve desired consistency

    Beat until smooth and creamy.

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Tuesday, November 9, 2010

White Chicken Chili…Heaven in a Bowl!

Right up front I’m going to say, I am not fond of chili. 

I know, I know!  That’s almost un-American, isn’t it?  I can eat a few bites of it but after that……blech!

For some reason, I guess perhaps because I knew we were in store for some cooler weather  this past weekend, white chicken chili popped into my head last week.  I have never had the opportunity to try  it so I turned to the internet to investigate what ingredients go into it.  Not so surprising, there are many variations.  I printed out several different recipes and combined the ingredients I thought my family and I would like best.

Oh! My! 

Where have you been all my life white chicken chili???  

This wasn’t chili;  it was heaven in a bowl!  I’ll definitely be making this again! 

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If you don’t already have your own White Chicken Chili recipe, here’s what I came up with.



  • Skinless chicken breasts (about 1 ½ pounds)
  • Olive oil to cook chicken in
  • 1 stick of butter
  • ¼ cup all purpose flour
  • 8 oz. chicken broth (use a little less  if you want a thicker chili)
  • 2 cups fat free half & half
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 2 teaspoons hot sauce (Tabasco, Crystal etc.)
  • 1 ½ teaspoons chili powder (plus enough to season chicken before cooking)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • Salt to taste
  • Pepper to taste
  • 1 can (16 oz.) of Bush’s great northern beans, slightly drained
  • 1 can (4 oz) chopped mild green chilies, drained
  • 2 cans corn, drained
  • 1 cup  shredded Monterey Jack cheese


In a large skillet, heat a little olive oil over moderately high heat. Season chicken breasts with salt, pepper and a little chili powder. Cook in skillet until done and nicely browned. Remove chicken from skillet and when cool, chop or shred.

In the same skillet, cook chopped onion in 2 Tablespoons of butter until softened. Add minced garlic and set aside.

In a heavy pot large enough to hold all ingredients, melt 6 Tablespoons of butter over moderately low heat and whisk in flour. Add chicken broth and half & half. Continue whisking until thickened. Stir in hot sauce, chili powder, cumin, salt, pepper and cheese. Add onions, beans, chilies, chicken and corn. Cook over moderately low heat for about 20 minutes. (I skipped this step because I wasn’t serving it until the next day and planned to heat it in my crock pot for several hours instead.)

Thursday, November 4, 2010

A Little Purging…A Little Packing…A Little Playing

October 30th was one year  since we bought the house in Hooterville.   It’s hard for me to believe it has been a year already. 

The renovations to the new house are far from done but we’ve made enough progress that the formal move is imminent and it’s now time to start the dreaded chore of packing. 

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I’m quite sad about leaving My Cottage of Bliss.   Hubby and I have  lived here more than 35 years and  lots of memories have been made in this little house.   My childhood years were also spent  in this neighborhood…just 4 streets away. 

I’m attempting to lessen the  emotionality of it all  by taking baby steps and packing a little at a time but it’s still a challenge.

The first room to be significantly taken apart was my tiny, but cozy,  family room.   I have to tell you…

when it went from this…


to this…

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the reality of the move hit me…hard. 

I am also completely overwhelmed by the amount of stuff we have accumulated in the 35 years we’ve lived here.     Sheeeesh!  It’s unbelievable.  Some days I feel like  it’s going to take another year to empty out this house. 

Knowing I already have way too much stuff I have to either purge or pack has  been  good motivation for me to drastically cut back on  my thrifting trips to  Goodwill,  since that’s where I seem to find things I really don’t need. 

One thing I almost always find impossible to pass up at Goodwill are random china pieces with pink roses.

For example…

               this  round, domed butter dish I found recently. 

Five dollars.

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TOTALLY unnecessary but I ask you…

              for $5.00, how could I leave this beauty behind?


I’ve also developed a weakness for silver flatware, especially spoons.  I found these 7 Wm. Rogers & Son silver soup spoons at Goodwill for just $1.00. 

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The pattern is very simple but they are bigger than my everyday flatware soup spoons and have a deeper bowl on them, which I like.   For some reason,  cereal, oatmeal and soup seems to taste a lot better when eaten with one of these spoons.  :)

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 It was really dreary and rainy here today, which means cooler temperatures are finally on the way for us Floridians.  I had plans to start emptying  my china cabinet  today but I got a little side-tracked and did more playing than packing.   Just for fun, I plopped a few pretties (some of which were previous Goodwill finds) in my old childhood Easter basket and was so pleased with the results, now I don’t want to pack it up! 

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Next week, some major changes will be taking place at the farm on the Craigslist barn.

Also, the tile I ordered for the bathroom renovation has come  in and I finally made a decision on a vanity so that project should be getting underway soon. 

Meanwhile, I’m still trying to get the house in Hooterville kitchen  painted and the backsplash done!