Living A Simplified Life!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Spotlighting House Plans from The House Plan Shop

Two Story Farmhouse
I want to show you some of the other wonderful houses from The House Plan Shop website that might give you some ideas about a house that you would like to either build or own some day. I will be doing some interior decorating hints on how to decorate these particular types of homes as each is individual in their style.

Of course first I wish to show you a lovely 2 story farm house, with its large front porch to enjoy. You will use casual type furnishings, harvest type tables, rocking chairs, overstuffed sofas and chairs in practical fabrics or leathers and in many cases often slip-covered. You can click on the picture above to be taken to their website to see the floor plan if you desire.

Craftsman Style home
You will notice the structure change in the posts and pillars, which are typical of the Craftsman design. Many people in the Midwest and East are familiar with this style of home. Typical decorating for this house is comfortable, usually dark wood and practical fabric on chairs and sofas. Usually very informal type of decorating is used. They have a very easy flowing floor plan that many people really like. Again, you may click on the house plan and it will take you to their website.

European Style
This style of home is usually very formal, both in interior decorating and in the exterior landscaping. Elegant fabrics are utilized in materials for furniture as well as in draperies. Chandeliers are at home in the entrance way and in the dining room. Bathrooms will have beautiful fancy tubs and sinks with elaborately styled faucets. Deep plush carpet, fancy marble and tile also abound in this home. You may click on the picture to go to their website.

The Mother In Law Quarters or Carriage House
This great little house can sit at the back of you property to house a mother in law or to be used as a rental property.Because the unit is small, utilize a lot of self-storage type furnishings, possibly some built-in's and smaller furniture. You will want to use at least one large piece of furniture as a focal point.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Grandma B's Potato Salad

10 lbs of Potatoes will make a big mixing bowl full! Probably feed 15-20 hungry people if you are lucky!
I don't measure anything (she never did either) I just go by intuition.
You are going to need
1 large stalk of celery - chopped
1 bag of carrots - cut up into round slices
2 medium sized or 1 large onion - I prefer the big Red or White over the yellow Spanish but you can use whatever you desire. Minced
1 small jar of yellow mustard and if you like a tang you might want to add some Dijon
Pickle relish, either sweet or dill depending on your family's preference
1 Bell Pepper your preference of green or red
Cider Vinegar and Horseradish are optional.

Wash your potatoes, cook them with the skins on and boil them until you can insert a fork and it comes out easily. Probably about 20-25 minutes to cook.
While your potatoes are cooking, get out a medium sized mixing bowl to put all of your cut up vegetables in.
Get out your largest mixing bowl for your potatoes.
Once potatoes are cooked, immediately pour off all the hot water and replace with cold water from the faucet and let it run over potatoes until they are just barely cool enough to pick up. Using the back side of your sharp paring knife, scrape off the potato skin. Drop them whole into the mixing bowl until you get all the potatoes skinned. This will help keep them all the same temperature which seems to be the magical formula for this recipe.
Now get them all cut into cube sized pieces.

Start with approximately 1/2 cup of Wesson Oil and pour over the top of the potatoes slowly, stirring continually coating the potatoes. You want enough oil to coat the potatoes with a small amount not mixing in on the bottom of the mixing bowl. Add contents of mixing bowl # 2 (all the cut up vegetables). Let them marinate together while you prepare the rest of your ingredients.

In a 3rd mixing bowl (your sauce)
Start with approximately 1/2 of that medium sized jar of Miracle Whip
Stir in enough of the mustard to make it golden yellow in color probably about 1/2 of the small jar of mustard
Add your pickle relish, again about 1/2 jar full
Salt and pepper to taste.
Taste your mixture. It should have a slight tang to it. If you wish it to be tangier, you can add 1-2 tablespoons of cider vinegar and a couple teaspoons of horseradish if you desire.

Pour the contents of mixing bowl #3 (your sauce) about 1/3 at a time, into the first bowl with all your other ingredients. Mix well as you go until you are comfortable with the coating of the potatoes and vegetables. We always like lots of the sauce so I end up using the entire bowl.

Once totally mixed, cover bowl and refrigerate until well chilled.

If you are lucky enough to have any left over, it is better the 2nd day....

Let me know if you try it and like it. If you have any questions, feel free to leave a post and I'll get back to you !


Life by the buttons on the microwave

What a strange title you say! Well, that was all I can think of when I looked at my microwave the other day.

I used to cook for a large family in my younger years. It was get the largest fry pan that I could find, a huge soup pot and dutch oven, big mixing bowls to use as serving bowls for a family of seven! Over the years the size of my family shrank and eventually I had just the two girls at home and then they went off and married and I was left alone with the bewilderment of cooking for one!

Do you have any idea how hard it is to cook for one person after you have cooked for a crowd all your life? As my mom would have said " It ain't easy McGee!" Even after having an empty nest now for going on 13 years now, I still have not learned how to cut things down to where I don't have leftovers or worse yet, the desire to cook at all. So I have been making an effort to get back into the habit of cooking again and eating healthier.

Several months ago, my old microwave of about 7 years gave up the ghost. One day it just started arching inside and spitting and fuming like no one's business. Needless to say, I hit the stop and yanked the cord really quick. After the initial shock of it dying on me, I carted it out to the trash.

For about a week I thought to myself, I can do without this wonderful piece of modern equipment and then I finally gave in and decided I couldn't. So off to Bed, Bath and Beyond I went with my unused Christmas Gift card of a year old ( I knew I saved it for some good reason) and purchased a new one. I decided on a little model that I really liked and when I got there, found that the floor model was the only one left so got an additional discount on it!

Now this little microwave has plastic over the top of the numbers on the touch pad. I realized the other day, that I've been using my fingernail rather than the pad of my finger to hit the numbers and that the plastic has broken through. I found it very interesting, because you can almost tell what I cook but the numbers that are worn.

Heating up coffee 1.00 minute
Heating up food 3.30 minutes
Cooking potatoes 6.00 to 8.00 minutes
Boiling hard boiled eggs 10-15 minutes

At least the buttons aren't worn where you would find for TV dinners so you can tell I do actually cook.

The crock pot has a permanent place on my counter top. I find that I use my crock pot a lot. I'll make up a big batch of beans or rice and then split it down after cooking into smaller portions to be frozen for later. I love to make lots of cooked vegetables in the crock pot and then add rice and seasonings for a meal. I'll take some of the beans and smash them up and make refried beans since I love Mexican food.

A place of honor is reserved on my counter for my bread machine. I will make a fresh loaf of bread several times a week. I will make one white and one wheat loaf. I enjoy toast in the morning with my coffee and will often eat sandwiches for both lunch and dinner. At dinner, I'll add a salad or a bowl of vegetables and rice and I am good to go!

I love homemade potato salad and this is really my downfall and with summer around the corner, look out..... I'll be making a lot of it. There is nothing like Grandma B's recipe so I am going to post it on here for all of you to try also.

Tying Up Loose Ends

Now before I get carried away on additional subjects here, I just want to make a quick observation here.Being a mother of four, raising them many years on my own and trying to do that balancing act between full time job, tending to two teenage boys and two little girls (there is 13 years between my oldest son and oldest daughter!) and tending to housework and preparing meals, there were many times I felt like a rubber band, stretched to my breaking point. Please, please, don't do that to yourself!

The world is not going to collapse if your house isn't spic and span clean and the floors sanitary enough to eat off of. Your children and your husband are your most important priority. Your time with them is what is important to them. Give to them your time and your love, let something go in the way of housework. Go ahead and do TV dinners now and again, you don't have to be "supermom" all the time. Take that time saved to read a bedtime story or take an extra few minutes to chat with your older children. Enjoy some one on one time with your spouse, he'll never care that you didn't do that last load of laundry you left in the dryer!