Sunday, October 13, 2019

October Chill...Time for Soup!

Hi Friends - It has been awhile since I posted.  The days just keep flying past.  Seriously, when I retired I thought I would have ALL this time to do everything I felt I did not have time to do while working.  Hah!   I don't know how I found time to work?!?!   The days are so full with activities here at Willow Valley, and all the other things that fill up our days.   
This weekend the weather turned cooler and it seems like it will stay that way.  I love it !  I am ready for Pumpkin Muffins ( you can click on this for the link to the recipe) and cozy nights.   Today we had the first fire of the season while we read the Sunday newspaper and enjoyed some of those muffins and tea!
Fall is also the time for soup...and we just love good chicken noodle soup.  I come from a long line of good soup makers. While I never really knew my grandmother - or Baba, as she was called  - because she passed away when I was 11 months old - my mother always talked about the good soup she would make.   A family story goes that once she was ill and someone brought chicken soup and my Baba said "the only way this could be called chicken soup is if a chicken flew over the roof when the soup was on the stove!!".   My mother, Mary, and my aunts Annie and Katie were also great soup makers.   Annie and Katie were also famous for their home made noodles.   I have not attempted home made noodles, but it's on my list ! The heritage of soup comes along with the value of thrift my mother introduced to me.  A child of the Great Depression, she wasted nothing.  SO....fast forward to today.   We finally got a Costco membership and enjoy all the wonderful benefits - especially the rotisserie chicken!   
We get one each time we visit....and enjoy a nice chicken dinner with veggies the day we bring it home.  Then it goes into the refrigerator and we have it on a salad or a sandwich for lunch for the next day.

Then, I glean as much chicken as I can from the carcass and freeze to have on hand for recipes that call for cooked, cut up chicken.   And here is where the guilt kicks in.... I go to put the chicken bones into the garbage and I can hear and sometimes even feel my mother whispering in my ear "are you going to throw that out ?  That is such a waste - there is still a lot of good meat on there and it would make wonderful soup!"  And that is how a convenient, take home chicken makes it into soup....
I cut up an onion, celery, and carrots.  I prefer to use large carrots, but will use whatever I have on hand.
I throw all the veggies and the chicken into a large stock pot, fill the pot with water, then add garlic, parsley, salt, pepper, and poultry seasoning.


Bringing everything to a full boil, I then turn the pot down to simmer and let it go until the chicken bones fall apart....about an hour or so.  However long until it looks done.   I am doing this right now and it smells amazing!


OK...this looks awful.  But I take a slotted spoon and pull out all the bones and pick off any chicken meat I can find.

I divide the meat into quart freezer containers.  I bought a bunch of containers at Dollar Tree so that I always have some on hand for when the soup mood strikes.
I really can't tell you how much it makes...it varies from time to time.
I don't put the noodles in right away.  I purchase fine egg noodles at the grocery store and since I usually freeze the soup I then add the noodles when I re-heat it and cook until they are tender.   
This "I can't throw away the chicken" has become a blessing - several people in our community have been under the weather with surgeries, chemotherapy, radiation, etc.  If I know they are home and need a meal I put a nicer label on the soup ( also from Dollar Tree) and package up some noodles in a cellophane treat bag, tie it with a ribbon, and deliver it.  That way they can eat it right away, or freeze it for later.   Everyone returns the container...with the request for a refill when I make soup again!
And, it is so nice to have a freezer filled with soup - sometimes you just want a cozy supper with soup and bread, and a nice glass of white wine.  There is your meal, ready to enjoy.
I think my dear, departed mother would be happy that I am carrying on the soup tradition.  Whenever she would make one of her many amazing soups and we would sit down to enjoy it she would always say "Good Soup, Kid!"...which I think is another Great Depression reference.   Growing up they had boarders staying in the family home and she said one of them, a man, used to enjoy my grandmother's soup and would look at my mother after he tasted it and say that phrase. It is amazing...from a 4.99 chicken we get several meals and get to share home made goodness with our neighbors!
Is is getting cooler wherever you are ?  Do you make soup ?   I am so glad you stopped by Our New Vista today - please leave a comment below,and maybe share a soup recipe or memory.   Happy Fall!  

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Ready for Fall !




I am so ready for Fall here at Our New Vista!  Last week the weather turned cool and the crisp mornings were wonderful.  This week the heat and humidity has returned - but I don't care.  Due to an eye reaction from allergies I was prescribed a course of steroids.  I did not like taking the pills, but wow - I had so much nervous energy that my Fall decorating was completed in record time.  
Fall also means the return of football and my dear husband following the Philadelphia EAGLES!  He loves lasagna and I tend not to prepare it during the summer months so for the first game of the season I made a pan of his favorite dish and invited neighbors for dinner.   What better time to pull out the Fall decor for our table ?  
The easy centerpiece is a earthenware bowl made for me by my niece's husband.  I love the color and use it during all seasons.   The white candle is a staple, the little apples are from Dollar Tree a few years ago...I added some silk leaves, a tiny pumpkin, and some cinnamon sticks.  The place mat underneath the centerpiece is from Pottery Barn.  I found it last year in the clearance aisle...there was only one, but it is perfect in the middle of the table.
Silver chargers, our white "good " china ( a wedding gift from my sisters 42 years ago), and napkins I found at Kohl's on clearance.   I like the Fall colors with the white in there, too.   Perfect for early Fall.
Completed the table with crystal water and wine glasses.  It was a great dinner, and we had so much fun talking and laughing.   I did not take a photo of the lasagna or the peach crumb pie I made for dessert...too busy having fun.   After the lasagna we needed a break before the pie.  We decided to go up to the roof top deck in our building.  This is a great space with several fire pits, great cushy furniture, and wonderful views of the sunset.  Seemed only right to take our wine "up on the roof" and enjoy the sunset before we enjoyed the pie.   It was a wonderful evening....and made all the better by the EAGLES winning the season opener!

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Fast and Easy Table for Friends!



One of the great things about living in a retirement community is that friends are always available for a impromptu dinner.  That was the case this week.   We were hungry for a dish called Chicken Santa Fe - a great dish with black beans, corn, salsa.   The recipe is one I had for year and usually made in the slow cooker - but when hosting guests I wanted to make it in a nice 13 x 9 pan that could come to the table for everyone to serve themselves.   As I said, this was a quick dinner party and I did not take photos of the prep or finished product.  You can find the recipe here Santa Fe Baked Chicken.  I don't use the chilies, but along with the sour cream I serve avocado slices and a bowl of corn chips to sop up the salsa or crumble over the entire dish.  I served it with brown rice and a simple Lemon Ice Box Pie for dessert...as well as Strawberry Margaritas.   We live in an apartment building, so even though it was a rainy, thunderstorm kind of night - no worries.  Everyone was already in the building.   
I had the blue table cloth for years, and recently found the napkins on sale at Kohl's and they seems to fit the menu.  The china is our white wedding china, and also my "good" stainless.  The water goblets and coasters are from Dollar Tree.
Polish potter dishes held the sour cream, avocado, and chips.  I also served a simple salad as a first course and the little red pitcher held the dressing and made the table pop!   But, I was at a loss for a centerpiece.  I looked in my decorating closet and spied this silk magnolia and thought....I have an extra napkin - let's jazz this up!   Everyone commented on the pretty table, we had a great evening of good food and friendship, and it all came together quickly!   Love entertaining....when our guests commented the next day on the good time and "all that work" I laughed and said...that's my hobby.  Loved to "play house" as a little girl and adore doing it now "for real"! 

Thanks for stopping by Our New Vista !   Do you entertain on the spur of the moment ?  What are your favorite recipes or tips ?  Please leave a comment below...and have fun "playing house" !

Monday, June 3, 2019



It has been some time...welcome back to Our New Vista.   We have returned from our wonderful trip to Russia.   What a fascinating two weeks sailing on the Viking Ingvar from St. Petersburg to Moscow.   The sights, the sounds, the people...it was an amazing experience.

But as the saying goes..."East, West, Home is Best...and there is no place like home!" Summer has arrived and after a hot and humid period last week June arrived and it is perfect.   Warm, sunny, breezy, everything blooming!  And the stores have blueberries on sale...so it is time for muffins and pies.
A new Aldi location opened up near us and it is a beautiful store.   I like Aldi produce and the good prices on their produce and other items.   There is no ONE store where I can find everything I need, but I do find us doing and Aldi run about once a week.   And last week the blueberries were on sale for $1.69 a pint. I picked up 4 pints and made two batches of blueberry muffins.  Our freezer is now stocked with 48 wonderful muffins!   The other two pints I used to make a pie.   Usually making a pie is dangerous for just the two of us, but company was coming so blueberry pie seemed perfect.
Here is the recipe I use...you can see I printed it out from AllRecipes in 2010 and have it in a recipe binder.  I like a crumb topped pie...we enjoy the taste, texture, and I feel it is a little less calories - though when eating pie you should not be counting calories!
I rinsed and picked over the berries - 
Then rolled out the crust...in the past I made my own crust, but these were in the dairy case at Aldi and since I was in a hurry they worked just fine.
In a large bowl I mixed the flour and sugar...
Then grated the lemon rind over the mixture...
 Then squeezed the lemon juice over all.  I think the fresh lemon really gives the pie some zing!
I found that since living here in Our New Vista, where we have breakfast in our beautiful community dining area each day, I don't have much need for oatmeal - and I had none for this recipe.  I made a crumb topping using just flour instead.  Then used my pie guard so the crust would not burn!
And...here is is - a great blueberry pie to share with guests.   I served it with a dollop of whipped cream....YUM!
That is all from Our New Vista - seems like only yesterday we were cruising The Waterways of the Tsars and sipping champagne.  A wonderful trip, but it is good to be home!

Sunday, April 7, 2019



Spring Brunch

Feels like Spring is finally here...and it is time to get out my Spring and Easter decorations.   We had friends visit last week for Sunday Brunch and Bowling - we are lucky to have a bowling lane in our community.  Since it was a cold and windy Spring day we went bowling after brunch and everyone had a great time.
Table setting was simple and clean to celebrate the new season.   I used a gray filled with paper grass, Ukrainian eggs ( wooden pysanki) that belonged to my dear mother-in-law, and a silk pot of tulips for the center piece.   The little chicks are salt and pepper shakers.  The water glasses are monogrammed "A & J" glasses that were a wedding gift.   I found the little cork coasters at Ikea - I like the way they blend in with the wood and protect the table so I can enjoy the look of the table. The daffodil place mats were a gift made by my sister-in-law the first year we were married...so at 42 years they are "vintage".  She originally included yellow napkins, but they became discolored from use over the years.   I was lucky to find these pale green napkins at Kohl's on a super deal....
 6.99 each on sale for 69 cents!!!   And I am sure I had a coupon, too!   This is why I love to walk up and down the aisles at any store we visit, looking for bargains.  You never know what you will find!
Since we were eating soon after our guests arrived I did not fuss with any snacks...this is a bowl of nuts with some chocolate pieces and chocolate covered espresso beans.   A little lift to have with mimosas as I put the finishing touches on brunch.
Our main dish was baked Monte Cristo Sandwiches...very easy and everyone loves them.  You can find the recipe here - Monte Cristo Sandwiches  Chips and a simple salad with strawberries, pears, apples, mandarin oranges, and some cranberry almond mix rounded out the menu.
I set up a coffee and tea bar....but we were too full to enjoy it after the meal.   We bowled a few games then came back to enjoy coffee, tea, and dessert....
Very simple dessert set up - chocolates, M&M Easter Eggs, and Almond Joy Cookies.   These cookies are always a hit whenever I make them - 
I stumbled
across the recipe on Pinterest and found it on a blog called Mom On Timeout.   There are some wonderful recipes on that site.

Almond Joy Cookies - Just 4 Ingredients!

These easy Almond Joy Cookies take just four ingredients and don't even require a mixer! No beating, no chilling, just mix 'em up and throw 'em in the oven EASY! You're going to love these ooey gooey fabulous cookies!
 CourseDessert
 Prep Time5 minutes
 Cook Time12 minutes
 Total Time17 minutes
 Servings3 dozen
 AuthorTrish - Mom On Timeout

Ingredients

  • 1 14 oz bag sweetened coconut flakes
  • 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 2/3 cup chopped lightly salted almonds I used Blue Diamond Low Sodium Lightly Salted - light blue bag
  • 1 14 oz can sweetened condensed milk regular or fat-free works

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 325F.
  • Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
  • In a large bowl combine coconut, chocolate chips, almonds, and sweetened condensed milk.
  • Stir until combined.
  • Scoop out dough with a cookie scoop onto prepared baking sheet.
  • Moisten the tips of your fingers with water and shape into discs. Pat the tops flat.
  • Bake cookies for 12 to 14 minutes or until tips of coconut are just starting to turn golden brown.
  • Let cool on baking sheet.
  • Store cookies in an airtight container.

Notes

Parchment paper is critical for these cookies to turn out right. Silicone mats, waxed paper, etc. will yield a slightly different result.
I like to create a little take home bag for each guest...it's a nice way to end the visit!

Wishing everyone a wonderful Spring and Joyous Easter!  Do you decorate and entertain for Spring and Easter?   Please leave a comment below - and thank you so much for stopping by Our New Vista!

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Earring Organization






Love being organized and finding whatever I am looking for quickly.   This was a problem in my jewelry box....especially with earrings!
The lovely oak jewelry case was a gift from my dear husband many years ago...and I love it, and there was the perfect place for it in our new closet - but as I added more costume jewelry I ran out of space for necklaces.  I added the Command hooks you see above to hang and see all my things - one too many trips to Charming Charlie!   The sides of the case open to hold delicate chains and necklaces, but would not accommodate those chunky necklaces.  So, the Command hooks - there are three of them lined up in a row - did the trick.  Now I can see what I have when I am getting dressed and use the items more often.  The lid of the chest opens up and has a small area on one side for any kind of jewelry and a large portion with ring storage.   Ring storage in any kind of jewelry organize always made no sense to me - I don't have that many rings and don't intend to have many.  I wear my engagement and anniversary band every day...have one other ring that I wear on occasion and that is it.  SO...I always had all of my earring ( fine jewelry and costume) tucked in those ring holders.   It did not work....everything was always jumbled - and I should have take a before picture of this, but did not...was too excited to get the whole mess organized.  The ring holders were especially awful for the dangle earrings.   Just could not stay organized.  I checked out many stores to find an organized system, looked on Pinterest, and finally found a few ideas.   Luckily, I had just what I needed in my stash of ribbons and hooks.

I found this roll ribbon in my stash that was enough of an open weave to hold the wires of the earrings.   I found a clear Command hook...and 
folded over the top of a length of the ribbon - then attached the hook to the wall.  Since it is clear it almost disappeared and I hooked the ribbon onto it.



You can't see it here, but I cut the end of the ribbon into a decorative edge...and left it long enough to add more earrings as time goes on.
Then I just took all the dangling earrings and hooked them through the weave of the ribbon. I have been using this for about a week and the earrings are very easy to remove and then return to the ribbon holder.
I took all the little rubber or gold backings and put them in a little box.   
And...here is the finished product!  Now the only earrings resting in the former ring holder are studs or hoops.  The little brown box is where I keep the backs.  That brown box is from Barcelona, Spain...visited there in High School on a Spanish Trip in 1972 and bought Majorca pearl earrings.   Held onto the box all these years and how it is the perfect holder for the backs.   On the other side I keep my Pandora bracelet bangle that I wear almost daily, as well as a gold chain bracelet I wear a lot.   In the Pandora bag I keep my other Pandora items and this bag really keeps away the tarnish so the bracelets always look great.
 The drawers in the rest of the chest hold bracelets, pins, and my watches.  
That's it.... I love the way it looks and the way it works.  The whole process took less than 5 minutes and in the past few days I find myself wearing earrings I forgot I owned.
How do you organize your jewelry - fine and costume?   Do you have a special way to store and display your collection ?  I would love to hear about it - Please leave a comment below...and THANK YOU for visiting today at Our New Vista!


Tuesday, January 15, 2019







Cozy Wintertime !



Once the holidays are over I really enjoy the relaxing, cozy month of January.  The house always looks so clean and uncluttered once all the holiday decorations are packed away for another year.  I know I will be happy to see them all again in December, but for now...I love the winter theme.

This year I added a bit more to my winter decor...a dear friend gifted me the green house container with a candle arranged with holly and ivy.   I switched it out to blue/white/silver balls and snowflakes.   The white and blue picks are new this year...could not resist a sale at the Hobby Lobby in the week after Christmas.
Since I snapped these photos our beloved EAGLES are no longer in the playoffs...so all the football decor is back in storage.  But...wait till next year !
I love the clean look of this display for winter.  The silver bird reminds me of the many birds that flit past our windows as they flock to the neighbor's feeder the floor below us.
New pillow found in the after Christmas sales....at 80 percent off I could not resist.
Always love a little display in the kitchen...
A snowman to keep Alexa company...
and some more blue and white on the mantel.
With the Christmas dishes packed away I added more blue to the china closet...
Little snowflake dessert plates were also part of my after Christmas day sale trip...
and the dining room table looks crisp and clean.
Before some of our snowbird friends left for warmer climates we invited them for a soup supper - and the weather cooperated by being cold and windy.
I made potato soup...and forgot to take photos of the entire process, but here is the recipe - 

Crock Pot Potato Soup
6 potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 onion choppped
1 carrot, sliced
2 ribs of celery, chopped
1 Tablespoon of dried parsley
4 to 5 cups of chicken or vegetable broth
1 Tablespoon of salt
Pepper to taste
1/3 cup butter
1 can ( 13 oz ) evaporated milk

Toppings - bacon, cheddar cheese, green onions, sour cream

Combine all ingredients except milk and toppings in crock pot.  Cook on low for 10 - 12 hours or High for 3 - 4 hours.   Stir in can of milk for the last hour.  If desired, mash potatoes before serving. Top as desired.

***   My version - I don't peel the potatoes, then it tastes a bit more like a baked potato soup.   I use veggie broth and fat free milk... often use a potato or two more if I have them, then add a little more broth.   I mash the potatoes a bit and then use a hand held blender to make it smooth.  Leftovers freeze well and reheat in the microwave.

I wish I had taken a photo of the finished soup in a soup dish.  I serve the soup, then put all the toppings in little serving dishes on the table and people can use what they like.   This soup is always a big hit with guests.  Add salad and some crusty bread...and it is a great winter meal.
Here is my winter table...blue chargers bought years ago at Ross, white soup plates, clear salad plates, snowflake place mats and napkins ties with blue sparkle ribbon.   Everyday silverware, water glasses from Dollar Tree on sparkly coasters...also from Dollar Tree.

Dessert was a little piece ( we are all still recovering from holiday binges on cookies!) of coconut cake on warmed lemon curd withe whipped cream and strawberries.
As the sun set over Our New Vista we enjoyed this beautiful view...soon snow came and more is on the way.   Intending to make the most out of this wonderful, cozy January.  
Do you decorate for winter ?  Any special recipes you like to use during the winter months?  Please leave a message - and thank you for stopping by Our New Vista!


October Chill...Time for Soup! Hi Friends - It has been awhile since I posted.  The days just keep flying past.  Seriously, when I ret...