Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Pasta Fagioli

While waiting at the foot doctor's office yesterday, having forgotten to bring my knitting to pass the time, I was paging through a women's magazine. I found a very interesting recipe from Giada De Laurentiis of the Food Network for Pasta e Fagioli. My eldest enjoys cooking and loves Giada's show, so I thought it might be a good one to try. Since I was planning to go grocery shopping after my appointment, I jotted down the ingredients. I found everything I needed, including the fresh herbs the recipe calls for.

I made the recipe last night. It was so nice to smell the fresh herbs and to lovingly enclose them in the cheesecloth for simmering with the beans. The dish was incredibly flavorful. I never realized how much difference the fresh herbs can make. Incidentally, I made this dish in a vegetarian version that the magazine suggested, using vegetable broth instead of chicken, and letting the rind of the fresh parmesan cheese simmer in the broth along with the beans and herb sachet (the rind is discarded once the simmering is done).

The family loved it, and I was so pleased to have been able to include such a gourmet touch in the making of it.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

When Life Gives You Lemons...

...Make Lemonade!

Normally I am not the sort of person who would make homemade lemonade, which I will illustrate in a moment. Today I was trying a muffin recipe from the Sue Gregg Soups & Muffins Cookbook. It called for fresh lemon peel. I needed the peel from about five lemons. When I was all done I contemplated what to do with the lemons, since once they've been zested they tend to go bad very quickly. It took me longer than I care to admit to realize I could use my Bosch juicer attachment and juice them for lemonade (d-uh, see what I mean?!). I found a rather too sweet recipe on All Recipes. I had to add more water and lemon juice, but now I'll know for next time. My two homeschoolers and I enjoyed this treat with lunch.

As I grow older, I am slowly learning to apply this lemonade concept to everyday life. Living in an old, still-fixer-upper house provides many opportunities for this. I often would avoid trying to do anything pretty and special because certain areas of the house were not complete. It was as though I was waiting to beautify a room until it was all perfect (and seriously, when will any room in an old house ever be perfect?).

My kitchen is the same design and cabinets from about 50 years ago. The design is poorly laid out, especially for a tiny kitchen. The cabinets are quaint and rustic (a former owner built them himself), but not very roomy. One wall has hand built wainscotting that, while charming, makes it impossible to place cabinets above the counter, further limiting storage. A total kitchen remodel is out of the question financially, perhaps forever, so I am learning to "make lemonade" and be content with what I have. Things that help are cleanliness, flowers (which I promise myself to do more of), and fragrances from
Mrs. Meyer's. Keeping the counters as clear as possible also gives a free and airy feeling (which I am also promising myself to do more of!).

What is important is that the food that is prepared in this room is sprinkled with love (as I learned from Emilie Barnes), and that a clean, cheery feeling permeates the room.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Spring Cleaning!

I recently discovered, from a fellow blogger, these wonderful cleaning products from Mrs. Meyers Clean Day. I ordered this Spring Cleaning set a few weeks ago, and began using it this week. It has a wonderful honeysuckle scent. Today, she is having a free shipping sale in honor of Spring arriving. Order before midnight today for the free shipping!

I have never been a "spring cleaner" before now. Actually, I have not been much of a housekeeper in general until very recently. I struggled for many years with the idea of housework, looking at it as mere drudgery with no higher purpose. But for the past five years (through the miracle of the internet!), I have "met" other women who view housekeeping as a noble occupation, an expression of love for God and family, and a surprisingly creative activity. I have recently felt a glow of contentment when I made my home cleaner and more welcoming. What a difference that change in attitude makes!

I had no real plans for an actual Spring Cleaning, but this past weekend an opportunity for one for my upstairs just happened by and I took it gratefully, although with much exhaustion once we were done. It was sort of a perfect storm of things all culminating in a massive cleaning. It all started because we were looking for a bookcase for our middle daughter, Kristin. We went to a furniture store with no other view in mind, although hubby and I had been discussing someday getting a new bed, since the old one was not at its best. We also have a difficult storage problem since our eldest daughter and our grandson live with us. So there we were at the furniture store, when we saw a bed that had tremendous storage, in that it is a Captain's bed with six drawers underneath the bed on both of the sides. To make a long story short, we are now the happy owners of a new bed and dresser/mirror.

The spring cleaning occurred because we decided that rather than giving away our old dresser, we would give it to our son, Robert, and give away his small chest of drawers. Since the dresser is larger, we had to move his bookshelf. We purged, dusted, vacuumed, moved, and vacuumed again. We did this same procedure with a piece of furniture in our eldest daughter's room. Julie no longer wanted her computer desk, since she now has a laptop from when she was in college last year. We took hers because it was nicer than ours. More purging, dusting, vacuuming.... and all those computer cords! So, all three bedrooms are now clean (except we still have a lot of clothing waiting to be put into drawers).

Oh, and we did find a bookcase for Kristin!

Monday, March 19, 2007

Salad for Lunch

I have been trying to incorporate more fresh produce into our meals. Plus, I am trying to lose weight. I was heavier than I wanted to be in the first place; then, with my broken ankle, my workouts have been non-existent. I made a salad for lunch today, with lots of "stuff" in it, and I am looking forward to a nice sunny walk today (now that the doctor has given me the okay to walk in my Aircast boot) with grandson. I like salads best with a variety of ingredients (including bleu cheese, or in this case, Feta cheese), and Newman's Own Light Raspberry and Walnut dressing. I am more likely to eat salad and relish it under those conditions.

Friday, March 16, 2007

A Book for Baby

While browsing at my local Joann's store, I happened across a kit for making a quilted fabric baby book. There were three choices. Since my grandson has his nursery decorated in a Winnie the Pooh motif, I chose that kit. It made up very quickly. The only difficulty was stitching on the piping on the cover (an optional addition - one can simply leave it off if desired). I didn't realize piping was an option when I purchased the kit, but I took some pre-packaged bias binding I had on hand and some cording and made it myself. My grandson enjoyed chewing on his new book!

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Grandma's Tea Set

A darling friend sent me some Harney & Sons tea as a get-well gift after I broke my ankle. There were four different teas. I managed to try all four in the space of two days. I have several tea sets, and decided I would finally try, for the very first time, my grandmother's tea set which was given to me when my mother passed. It made for a lovely afternoon escape.

Welcome To My Blog!

I have been wanting to make a blog for some time now. In it, I would like to share my love of things old-fashioned, my love for my family, and thoughts I have on life in general. I named the blog "In the Garden in a White Dress" because this is the way I would like to spend my time! Out in nature, dressed in a clean white gown from yesteryear, soaking in the sun, wind, and flowers. Thanks for stopping by. Do have a cup of tea while you are visiting!