Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Christmas At Our House 2014

We have had our tree and decorations up for a few weeks, but have been busy with some medical appointments, so I'm just now showing my photos.

I didn't purchase anything new this year, except ribbon.  I wasn't sure if I would do something similar to last year or switch it up, but my mom asked if I would keep the look we had last year, so I did.

Birds, nests, snowflakes and natural items were what I used.  This year I didn't use anything breakable.  That meant leaving off my favorite glass pine cone collection that I always use.  I have two six month old kittens that hadn't seen a Christmas tree before, so that is always an unknown as to what they will bother on the tree.  I had to get a new tree this year, so I actually did buy something new, just not ornaments.  The tree we had was one of the first pre-lit trees, so it was pretty old.  I had trouble getting the mid-section to light the last two years, so when I came across a slimmer tree at Lowe's I got it.  It fits our tree space better and even though it's a slim tree it's more A lined than slim trees have been in the past.  When I brought it home, I set it up without decorations for about three weeks to get the kitten used to it being in the living room.  They have actually been very good about leaving it alone so far.

For the topper this year, I secured a large jingle bell in the bow, so I could hear if "anyone" started messing with the tree.  Again, so far, so good.

The last few years I haven't needed holiday decor in all corners of my house.  This year and last, just the tree, mantel and a few places with some favorite things.

A wreath with just lights and pine cones, adding in the same ribbon as on the tree. A little owl decided to take up residence there too.

A couple of favorite reindeer cookie jars on our coffee bar hold sugar free brownies and cocoa mix, along with our favorite Christmas coffee mugs.  We have our keurig set up on the buffet in our kitchen all the time.

Thanks for stopping by for a holiday visit!


Linking up to Cozy Little House, Joyful Homemaking and Saving 4 Six, Thrifty Decor Chick,
 The Scoop

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

A Special Birthday

At the end of this week, we have a very important birthday in our house.
Rocky will be 17 years old (in people years) on Halloween.  That's a really
old guy in dogs years, but with the good thoughts I asked for in a previous post
he has made it to his birthday this year.

We had a little crisis in the summer and ended up at the vet's office.  I thought I
probably wouldn't be bringing him home.  The vet said she could take care of the problem, but it meant a surgery.  I asked if she would do this for her own dog considering his age and she said she would.  She told me she would be honest about when it would be time to not prolong a life with no quality.  I had never been to this vet before, but her office was very close and it was some what of an emergency.  I ended up liking her very much and felt she was one of the most caring I had come across in many years.

The procedure went very well and he healed with great results.  He was much better in general than he had been in a couple of years.  The pain medication the vet put him on ended up being great for the arthritis in his front legs.  When he went back for his four week check up, the vet said we could just keep him on the pain medication at a lower dose and that she had done that for another elderly dog recently.

We ended up finding a wonderful vet for all our animals during this health scare for Rocky and it certainly did give him a better quality of life for a while longer.
He is a happy guy, and back to his strong willed self.  He enjoys his meals, walks in the backyard and barking with the other dog.  He walks well on his own power with the assistance of his medication.

We celebrate his birthday on Halloween, since we found him in the fall.   Not knowing his actual age when we took him in, we have had to guess how old he was.  Since we have had him for 15 years, and I know he was certainly two years old or older, that is how we have arrived at this age of 17.  I think he is the oldest of all the dogs we have had over so many years.  We count our blessings for every day we still have Rocky and that he is still enjoying life.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Sugar Free Oatmeal Cookies


1 box yellow cake mix (I used Pillsbury Sugar Free Yellow Cake Mix)
1 stick butter melted
2 eggs
1 cup five minute oats
1 cup raisins
1 cup nuts (I used pecans)


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Line cookie sheet with parchment paper.
Melt butter and pour in to a mixing bowl.
Add cake mix, oatmeal, and eggs.  Mix on low just until combined.
Stir in nuts and raisins.
Using an ice cream scoop, place scoops of cookie dough on to parchment lined backing sheet.
Bake for about 15 minutes or until bottoms are lightly golden.  Don't over bake.

These cookies will be soft and chewy.

Enjoy with a cold glass of milk, coffee or tea.

Have a great week.

Linking to Tweak It Tues at Cozy Little House

Saturday, August 30, 2014

King Ranch Chicken


 non-stick cooking spray
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup chopped red or yellow bell pepper
1/2 cup chopped yellow onion
1 can condensed cream of chicken soup
1 can condensed cream of mushroom soup
1 can Rotel diced tomatoes & green chilies, undrained
2 cups chopped cooked chicken breast
12 corn tortillas (6 inch), torn into bite-size pieces
2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese (2 cups = 8 oz)


Preheat oven to 325°F.
Spray 13x9-inch baking dish with cooking spray and set aside.
Melt butter in large saucepan over medium heat.
Add bell pepper and onion; cook and stir about 5 minutes or until tender.
Stir in both soups, undrained tomatoes and chicken.
Layer one-third each of tortillas, chicken mixture and cheese evenly in dish.
Repeat layers twice more.
Bake uncovered 40 minutes or until hot and bubbly.

Service with avocado or guacamole and sour cream.

I cut the recipe in half for just two people and we will still get two meals.
To avoid opening two cans of soup and only using half of each, I used one can
of cream of chicken with mushrooms and herbs and deleted the mushroom soup.

My photo didn't turn out well, but for some reason my draft showed up on a friends blog roll as a post, so I went ahead and published.  It really was delicious and very simple to make. 

Have a nice rest of your long weekend.


Thursday, August 21, 2014

Easiest and Best Pot Roast

I used to always have trouble making pot roast.  I could never figure out why mine wasn't tender.
I thought I was cooking it too long and it was coming out tough.  Turns out I wasn't cooking it LONG enough.   My favorite cut is a chuck roast.  I usually use a 2 and a half pound chuck roast.  For the two of us we get three meals.  The first day the roast with potatoes and carrots.  Second day we eat beef sandwiches on onion rolls with melted Swiss cheese and tomato.  The third day we make carne guisada with guacamole in soft flour tortillas.

I also use only three ingredients making my roast.  A packet of dry onion soup, undiluted mushroom soup and cracked black pepper.  That's it, except for carrots and potatoes if you wish.  I always cook mine in the crockpot on high for six to seven hours.  It comes out fork tender with the most wonderful gravy from the two soups.  Depending on your roast and crockpot, check half way through the cooking for liquid content.  Add a little water if the gravy is cooking down too much.  If it does cook down too much, at the end just whisk in a little milk, water or beef broth to make your gravy. I also put my carrots in during the last two hours of cooking, so they are mushy.   Everyone that I've served this roast to loves it.  It is truly no fail!

You can, of course, add potatoes in with your roast and I did this time since new potatoes was what I had at home.  I put them in half way through the cooking time and they came out perfectly.  But my family usually prefers mashed potatoes.  I have a faster way of making those also.  I bake my potatoes in the microwave as you would for baked potatoes.  Once they cool, I scoop them out of the skins in to a sauce pan.  On medium to low heat add your milk, butter, salt and pepper.  I use my hand mixer right in the pan.  They come out fluffy and wonderful and I didn't have to spend time peeling potatoes.  Not a fan of peeling potatoes. 

Have a good end to your week and great weekend.


Tuesday, August 12, 2014


Such sadness at the news of Robin Williams passing.   I will miss this truly original man.  My favorite movies of his tended to be his dramatic roles, although I loved his comedy also.  The Night Listener, Good Will Hunting, Patch Adams, Good Morning Vietnam and Awakenings are my favorites.  My thoughts are with his family today. 

Monday, July 21, 2014

The Best Banana Walnut Muffins

This recipe is one I saw Nigella Lawson make several years ago.  I've tried many banana muffin and banana bread recipes and I love this one the most, hands down.  These muffins have a lighter texture than most that I've tried and every one I've served them to agrees.

Banana Walnut Muffins

2 T butter
1/4 cup honey (I used 1/8 cup sugar and 1/8 cup splenda since we eat very low sugar.)
1/2 t vanilla
2 large, very ripe bananas
1 cup all purpose flour
1 heaping t baking powder
1/2 t baking soda
1/2 t cinnamon
health pinch of salt
big handful of walnut pieces
10 cup cake papers

Preheat over to 375

Melt butter and honey in a small sauce pan.  Add vanilla.

In a mixing bowl mash bananas, and stir in melted butter mixture.

Combine dry ingredients in a separate bowl.

Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and stir with a wooden spoon just until combined.

Don't beat with a mixer.

Stir in walnut pieces or if preferred mini chocolate chips.  I believe Nigella used the chocolate chips.

Line a muffin pan with 10 cup cake papers.

Spoon 2/3 full into muffin cups.

Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until tooth pick comes out clean.

This recipe will make 10 regular sized muffins.

Linking to Cozy Little House
Joyful Homemaking,  Saving 4 Six
Between Naps on the Porch

I hope you enjoy these as much as we do!

Have a great week.