Monday, January 23, 2023

January Jumble



January Jumble

It is finally snowing here in my neck of the woods and I realize January is more than halfway over.   Here is a jumble of things that have been happening here at Our New Vista.

We drove a friend to the Philadelphia earlier in the month and stopped by The Container Store at King of Prussia.   I always enjoy finding something new at this store...and I think if I lived any closer I would be there all the time.
Here are some of the items I found on this trip...
These cable ties are useful all around the house.

I picked up some new travel containers since I always seem to lose ours!

I loved the look of this clear sink cushion, but when I got it home it did not line up with the drain in my double sink.   But, it does look great in the laundry room sink.

And this Vlogging Tripod was on the 75% off rack....so maybe I will try a vlog in the future !!!
We did not buy much else in the King of Prussia Mall...we usually just walk around and look.  But, this candle was 50% off and it is the perfect January scent...fresh and clean.
The next day was our 46th wedding anniversary !

After church we went to a restaurant in downtown Lancaster called The Imperial.   We had a lovely brunch...
and I had a great Bloody Mary!
A larger purchase I made was this Bissell steamer.  I had a steamer that was about 10 years old and it was not really working well.  Saw this one on HSN on a special and decided to try it out.

When my neighbors saw me bringing it in they wanted to know if I was getting a pet, too? NO!   

I like that this model lets you refill the tank while it is running...and it has two levels of steam...so I used the higher steam on the tile in bathroom on the floor and in the walk in shower.  Not shown here, but the mop part comes off with a tug and there are bristles and a steamer end, so you can really get into the grout.  It did an amazing job in the bathroom...the tile is so clean and there is no sticky residue.  I used the lower steam on the hardwood floors and ....

UGH !!!   I sweep every night after dinner and had cleaned the floor the week before with a damp mop, but this really got the floor clean...and looking wonderful!  The steamer came with two pads...one with more bristles that I used in the bathroom, and this one that is softer on the hardwood.  It also comes with an attachment to clean and refresh your carpets....and a little compartment where you can insert a "scent disk"...which made the whole place not only look clean, but smell wonderful.   Glad I bought this !
Do you have a steamer ?  Do you use it often ?  Let me know in the comments below. 
Thank you so much for stopping by Our New Vista...I love hearing from you!  Enjoy your day !

Wednesday, January 4, 2023

Happy New Year !

 

Happy New Year - 2023 !!!

The holidays are over and it's time to reset for a new year.  We had a great time visiting family, hosting friends, and joining friends to ring in the New Year.
As much as I love the holidays and will admit I "decorate heavy" for Christmas, I really love putting everything away and embracing a clean and pared down look for January.  
I was really tired after putting away Christmas this year...our tree that we have had for years had all the lights that were pre-wired not working.  I kept adding lights...and finally decided to take ALL of the pre-wired lights off of the tree and next time we put it up do all new lights.  Well, easier said than done....those lights were on the tree and knotted and wound around every branch.  I did not take a photo, but it took me over 3 hours with a wire cutter and filled two plastic grocery bags with wire and burned out lights.  I have plenty of time to decide what kind of lights I want...we won't be putting up the tree next year as we plan on being away for Christmas.  Yes, I could have just junked the entire tree and purchased a new one - but this tree is the perfect size and shape for our home. So, it was worth the effort.   It also took a bit longer to put away the decorations because I labeled one storage bin "BASIC CHRISTMAS".  Into this bin I put the things that I intend to use next year or any year we are away.  Just some greenery, a small ceramic tree, basic Nativity set, and a wreath.  That way I can just pull that out next year...and any year we travel.  I can't NOT decorate at all because we will be home for the first weeks of December.  Where are we going ?  Planning a big trip for my husband's big birthday next Christmas Eve!
Not put away was this great little book.  We bought it and met the author in 2013 when we visited Seneca Falls, NY for the It's A Wonderful Life weekend - where the whole town turns into Bedford Falls.  We met the author, Karolyn Grimes - who plays Zuzu, Donna Reed's daughter, ate a a restaurant that transformed into Martini's...and had a great time.

One of our goals for this year is to read on chapter of this each week this year  - 52 little lessons in the book!
Life is full of books around here...I am the librarian for our apartment building.  We have a lovely library on the first floor.  Most of the books are donated and I use a great little app called Libib to catalog everything.   You can find the free app here
Libib  and use it for your own books at home to keep track of what you own.
This is a photo of our library....so cozy and inviting.
I spent most of yesterday morning going through donations and getting books ready for the shelves...and packing up duplicates and older books to be donated to the local public library book sale.
We now have lots of great new books to keep everyone reading during the winter months.
Spending the rest of my days cleaning out closets and organizing for the New Year.  What is it about the New Year that makes us want to do that ?  A great, collective re-start!
And, taking the time to relax and read and enjoy the winter decorations.

Eagles snowman and football are on display to bring our team good luck.

Snowflake pillow I found at At Home a few years ago in the after holiday sales.

Found this little snowman plate at a thrift shop near where I do grocery shopping...50 cents !

This was a little ornament gift from a friend but I think it is perfect for January.



Dining room centerpiece is made of snowball ornaments I found at Lowe's in the after holiday sales...they look like snowballs.   I need a blue or silver candle....that would look better. I need to go shopping!


Little snowman plate is from Yankee Candle...and our wedding cake topper is on display - along with our champagne glasses from our wedding - because we will celebrate 46 years this week !!!

Foyer is simple...a snowman, candle, and a great print from Ann at On Sutton Place from her printable collection.  Here's a close up of the great sentiment...

Such a cozy thought!

And, when the Christmas wreath comes down, the snowman goes up.  Usually putting this on the front door brings snow, but it has been unseasonably warm here in Lancaster, PA....in the low 60's today.  But, cold and snow is on the way!
Do you make New Year's Resolutions?  I try to make ones I have a chance of sticking with   - this year, as always, I would like to eat better and exercise more.  Also want to get back to journaling each day.  And, made a goal to write one handwritten note to someone each week - family, friend, a thank you to a community member...just one note that may brighten someone's day.
Looking forward to a great year of reading, decorating, cooking, baking, travel, and blogging.  Thanks so much for visiting Our New Vista today.  Please leave a comment and let me know if you have your Christmas decorations put away yet, do you make resolutions, and what are you reading.   I hope to do a post about some of my favorite books from last year in the future.
Happy, Healthy New Year to everyone....may 2023 be filled with the richest of blessings for you and your family!

Thursday, December 22, 2022

Holiday Entertaining

 Holiday Entertaining



The week before Christmas and lots of holiday guests!  This week we had get togethers with friends we had not seen in a long time...and we had a wonderful visit.  

First up was brunch with retired teacher friends and their spouses.  We like to get together every few months, but due to that darn Covid it has been over a year since we gathered.  

I love to have guests for brunch...everyone likes brunch food and it is easy to prepare ahead of time.

Table for 6 set with Pfaltzgraff Christmas Heirloom - which is not discontinued but luckily I have LOTS of plates and accessories due to the Pfaltzgraff Outlet that used to be here in Lancaster and York, PA.  Sadly...those great stores are gone.

I used a little Santa ornament from Dollar Tree for each place setting and everyone was delighted to take the ornament home for their tree.

Centerpiece was a bowl and plate I found at a Goodwill several years ago - I just used some greens and ornaments to make it festive.

We used to have 12 of these matching glasses...over the years they became chipped or broken, so we are down to 7.  I am going to have to scour the thrift stores in the area for more as they are asking an high price for them on Ebay.
A mimosa station set up with both champagne and sparkling cider...

Cookies at the ready...


I like to set up a coffee and tea area as some people like something warm to drink when they arrive.
A simple menu...
I made French Toast Casserole, purchased the quiche from Costco, and made my favorite muffins.

This is the French Toast before I popped it into the oven.  I forgot to take photos of the process, but it is SUPER easy.
I have the recipe for years...in 1973 there was  book called 
The Total Woman. It was a "how to be a good wife" book and it was a hoot to read.  But...the author, Maribel Morgan, wrote another called The Total Woman Cookbook in 1980.  I was working in a library at the time and saw the book...and this recipe.  Been making it ever since!

French Toast Casserole  Serves 6  to 8
1 loaf of French or Italian bread
8 large eggs
3 cups milk ( I use milk and that sugar free sweet Italian creamer)
4 teaspoons of sugar ( when I use the creamer I do not use sugar)
3/4 teaspoons salt
1 Tablespoon vanilla
2 Tablespoons butter, cut in small pieces
Cinnamon
Grease a 13x9 pan.  Cut bread into 1 inch thick pieces and arrange in one layer on bottom of pan.  I cut as many as I can and try to squeeze them in without squeezing too much. Beat eggs with remaining ingredients except butter and cinnamon.  Pour over bread in pan.    Dot the top of each piece with butter and sprinkle with cinnamon.  Cover with foil and refrigerate 4 - 36 hours.  Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees for 45-50 minutes, until puffy and light brown.  Let stand for 5 minutes before serving.   Top with hot maple syrup and serve with bacon or sausage.

This is great for guests as you can make it way ahead of time!

The next day we had friends we had not seen for several years come for lunch.  I used the same dishes, but changed up the tablecloth to placemats and used different ornaments. I planned to use the rest of the fruit salad I served the day before, and made baked Monte Cristo sandwiches.  They were great...I will post the recipe the next time I make them and remember (???) to take some photos.

These little JOY ornaments are also from Dollar Tree and they were a big hit.  
Both days I used my "good stainless" - a wedding gift from my dear Aunt Mamie - I don't remember the name of the Oneida pattern, but she purchased service for 12, along with iced tea spoons, the extra serving pieces, and carving set.  

It was a JOY to have these friends as company...and we felt blessed to share the time together.
It has been a busy week with company, taking friends to the airport, and traveling to visit family....so now, I am dreaming of a white Christmas.  I don't think the white will run out, and today for lunch we will have leftovers  - including leftover mimosas!!!
And then...watching the weather.  Don't know if we will get snow, but it is going to be ugly everywhere.  I am still 4 books short of my 2022 Goodreads goal...so it's tea, cookies, mimosas, and a few good books.  Tomorrow we start to prepare for Christmas Eve.
To everyone who reads this...thank you for visiting Our New Vista.  Hope you are having a great time getting ready for the holidays...enjoy the process and the people.
Merry Christmas !


Sunday, December 11, 2022

Snowman Cookies

 


Snowman Cookies

I posted these cookies back in 2017...but thought there might be some people who did not see that post, so it was worth sharing again.  I have been making these snowman cookies since I found the recipe in a Better Homes and Gardens magazine in 1986.  They are a favorite of family and friends.

Recipe
3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup butter or margarine, softened
1 8 oz package cream cheese, softened
2 cups of sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon of almond extract
1/4 teaspoon of coconut extract

Hershey Kisses
Mini Reeses Peanut Butter Cups
Mini chocolate chips
Decorator icing ( I use a purchased tube)
Powdered sugar...for the SNOW!


In a medium mixing bowl stir together flour and baking powder.  Set aside.
In a large mixing bowl beat the butter, cream cheese with an electric mixer on medium speed for 30 seconds.





Add sugar and beat until fluffy.

Add egg, vanilla, almond, and coconut extract and beat well. 







Gradually add flour mixture to creamed mixture beating well after each addition.  


Cover, and chill overnight...or wrap well and freeze for up to 3 months.
For each snow person, shape the dough into 3 balls...one 1 inch, one 3/4 inch, and one 1/2 inch.   After a bit you get the feel for the size and it goes quickly.

Use the mini chocolate chips to make eyes and buttons...and push the three sections together slightly to make them bake together.  I also try to flatten the top of the head to make the candy caps easy to attach.
Bake in a 325 degree oven about 18 minutes until the edges are firm and the bottoms are light brown.  Cool one minute on cookie sheet then remove to rack.

With decorator icing add a cap to each snowman...kisses look like girls and the peanut butter cups look like boys ski caps.  I cut the peanut butter cups in half so they attach easily.
Then take the icing and make a scarf and a little pom-pom for each hat...and sprinkle with powdered sugar "snow".
I put them in airtight containers between layers of wax paper...and I freeze them, too.  You can make them early in December and freeze to take out when you need some.

People LOVE them....many friends tell me that they love biting the kiss or peanut butter cups off the top!

I am making these this afternoon....did the cut out cookies already.  They will be making some spritz, gingerbread people, and a few others.  I love to give cookies as a gift. And...my mother was a great baker and always made TONS of Christmas Cookies.  To me, it just is not the holidays with out some homemade cookies!
Are you making cookies this year ?  What is your favorite ?  Please leave a comment below - I love hearing from you !
Happy Baking !




January Jumble

January Jumble It is finally snowing here in my neck of the woods and I realize January is more than halfway over.   Here is a jumble of thi...