Tuesday, March 18, 2014

spring cleaning and cooking


Lots of busyness around Comfy House lately ~ handyman stuff, picking up the 
hardwood flooring for Tim's room, cleaning out closets, running a lot of errands,
making appointments, and today - starting to do a little cleaning in the garage.
It was a little warmer again today - about 50F - so I got out the leaf blower and went
to work on blowing all the dirt and crud out of the garage. It's amazing how filthy
 a garage floor gets over the winter. It was covered in dirt, dead leaves, and road salt. 
 In the meantime, I opened up the back window in the house and let the cats enjoy 
the hint of spring air. You can see the snow that's still on the ground. 


I had to run into Joann Fabric a few days ago and thought I'd pass along
this cute find to you all ~ Mason jar "jewelry"!  There were several different
items to transform your jars, but I liked the frog lid inserts and the jar toppers
the best. I didn't buy anything this time, but think I'll go back for the frog lid inserts
later. I can picture Mason jars full of flowers from my garden this summer.

 

One of the more yummy dinners I made this past week was beef stew in the
Crockpot. As I tell people who are dubious or new to cooking, you really can't 
go wrong with food that you throw in a slow cooker. Sometimes I don't even
follow a recipe. For instance, this was just beef stew meat, carrots, onions,
celery, and potatoes - throw it all in your slower cooker and then add the 
ingredients for the gravy: beef broth, a little red wine, tomato paste, fresh garlic,
salt, pepper, some oregano and parsley. In the last half hour of cooking, mix up
3T. flour with enough water to make a thin paste, then add to the stew and stir.
Pop the lid back on and let it go for another half hour. The flour mixture thickens
up the gravy. 


I made mini Irish soda breads for St. Patrick's day yesterday. I find them more
like a drop biscuit with raisins in them. Good on their own (with butter!) with a cup
of tea or coffee, or would be a good accompaniment for soup or stew. They
were so easy to make, too. You can find the recipe here.


Still looking for those elusive robins...


37 comments:

  1. It sounds like you've had a very productive day! I love that photo of the cats, it looks like it should be an ad for cat food or something. Three buddies! I make my beef stew in the slowcooker too and I agree, it's so easy and good. Your mini soda breads are so cute, thanks for sharing the recipe.

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    1. It's not easy to get a photo of all three cats together, but once I open a window - all three of them come running. I don't blame them after being cooped up all winter - animals like fresh air, too!

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  2. Your little mini soda breads are so cute!! I love the way they look, just right for a single serving. I hope that you find the robins soon!! xx

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    Replies
    1. They were really good, but more like a biscuit instead of traditional Irish soda bread.

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  3. Yummy looking biscuits. The cats sure do love to smell the fresh air. They are waiting here, too, for the windows to open up. Not yet, though. :(

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    Replies
    1. Yep - it's really cold here again. :-(

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  4. You have me hungry now. And those jar inserts are so sweet; I'm gonna keep my eyes peeled for these.

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    Replies
    1. I'll probably go back and get some, too. There's always coupons for Joann Fabrics, so the price would be great.

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  5. I finally saw my first robin last weekend - yea! Of course, we had a mini-blizzard last night, but the snow should be gone by late afternoon, then 70° tomorrow.
    I love the jar "jewelry". I have some hardware cloth in the garage I could use make my own frog lid insert. I'll have to dig it out later and see what I can do.
    Max has been sitting in the open windows, too. He gets pretty excited about the birds at the feeders. LOL.

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    Replies
    1. Snow and then 70...doesn't that figure? This weather is nuts. My cats love to watch the birds, too - I love how their tails bat back and forth when they're bird watching, lol.

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  6. Spring cleaning amid the sunshine makes everything look extra shiny and bright! Nothing like slow cooking stew in a crock pot while you're busy flying all over the house with busyness! And after all that exercise, it's such a treat to sit down to a meal that has cooked itself! Looks delish!

    Poppy

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    Replies
    1. Thanks, Poppy. Too bad the spring cleaning isn't making warmer weather appear, lol.

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  7. I couldn't find the jar lids at Jo-Ann's but Michael's had them. I love the cat pictures. - Elaine from Luray

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    1. Huh! You'd think they'd be consistent with stores around the country. I haven't been in Michaels in a long time.

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  8. Oh my gosh I have to stop by and get a package of those polka dots lids!! Those are so cute! I see someone mentioned they have them at Michael's - I'll try there first they're closer.

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  9. I love the picture of your kitties. Today is the first day of spring. WOO HOO!

    Debbi

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  10. P. S. Melanie, Come and see me. We have lots of Robins in our yard right now. :-)

    Debbi

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  11. Those jar lids are wonderful as are the frogs. The slow cooker is my best friend in the kitchen. It's a big one, so that I can freeze meals to have later.
    Have a great spring,
    Balisha

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    Replies
    1. My slow cooker is a large one, too. I put the leftovers in the freezer as well. It's nice to either take out a cooked freezer meal once in awhile or have home-cooked food for Tim when we see him.

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  12. The pictures of the three cats humming the Spring air is absolutely priceless! Enjoy Spring as it comes!

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  13. Mmmm, looks like you're a great cook, Melanie!! I need to move next door to you. :-))
    Mary Alice

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    Replies
    1. I love to cook, Mary Alice. I'm thinking of starting a separate cooking blog.

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  14. The picture of all of your cats looking out the window is priceless. I bet it feels good to open the windows and let some fresh air in. I don't often follow recipes. I know what I like and how to blend spices to my taste so I often just use a recipe as a guideline and then throw in all the extras as I see fit. :) Wishing you a wonderful weekend. Tammy

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    Replies
    1. I can't wait until the weather gets warmer where I can have the windows open all the time! I'm so tired of the stale indoor air. I do the same sort of cooking as you do - use a recipe as a mere guideline, then add my own ingredients and/or spices to it.

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  15. I agree with Tammy, these kitty cats of yours are delightful! How on earth did you capture them in such a darling pose!
    Totally a greeting card in the making-great way to start my day!
    Have a great weekend,
    Jemma

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    Replies
    1. Only way I can catch all three of them at once like that is to open that back window! My desk is right in front of the window, so they have a nice perch.

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  16. Your robins are in central Texas.....about 25 of them feasted on earthworms in our back lot!!!! They were smackin' their lips!
    Last night a cloud of Cedar Waxwings moved in for the night. We have running water in a couple of spots in the back yard/back lot. They had a powerful thirst and were fighting over "rim rights" on the various pans. I don't know where they came in from, but it must have been a DRY trip!!
    Love your kitties....we have one who looks similar to your Clementine!
    Now, I gotta' get out of here and go check out Joann's. I really need a couple of those lids with the wire grid, for flower arranging.
    Have a great weekend, and blessings to you,
    J

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    Replies
    1. Tell some of those robins to fly north! Though one of the flooring guys that's in my house right now was joking around that if the robins here tried to get bugs or worms out of the ground right now, they'd break their beaks!

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  17. The stew looks delicious and I love the mason jar accessories!

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  18. I was at Joann's and found green Ball jars, but I didn't see the frog lids. I found cute daisy lids on Etsy.

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    Replies
    1. I wonder if they're only in certain areas. Elaine (above) said the same thing.

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  19. You are making me so hungry with that beef stew. It's one of my favorites! I love how cats crowd into the first open window. So adorable!

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    1. We don't eat beef stew often, as I'm not much of a red meat fan, but I make it to keep Brian and Tim happy. And I admit - it was pretty darn good! ;-)

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