Saturday, September 30, 2017

Back In the Kitchen Again

Well it's fall so I'm back in the kitchen again!  Ha-ha!  In the summer months I tend to grill or have a lot of salads because I'm too busy in the garden or out having fun to cook.  But once things slow down a bit in the fall, I start scouring Pinterest and Blogs for new recipes to try.  I've discovered something about myself recently:  I don't really enjoy cooking, but I love to try new recipes.  If I've made it a dozen times before, it's not fun;  but there is a sense of adventure in trying a new recipe.

If you read any of my recipe posts before, I don't create the recipe myself (sometimes I make modifications) I just make the recipe and tell you what my husband (the pickiest eater ever!) and I thought of it.  I always link back to the original recipe too!

The past two weeks I tried four new recipes.  We liked two of them, disliked one of them, and LOVED one recipe in particular!

Here is one recipe we liked:

This is a vegetarian recipe so I was really worried my meat-and-potatoes loving husband wouldn't like it.  But to my surprise, it was quite tasty and my husband liked it!  It's mostly just corn and black beans inside.  I never had a burrito or enchilada with corn inside before, but it tasted really good.  It's quite spicy, so if you don't like spicy foods you might want to give this one a pass.  We just ate ours with lots of sour cream and tortilla chips to offset the spiciness!  It was very easy to make too!  There was a suggestion on the website to add shredded chicken for the meat lovers in your family.  I think I will try that next time I make it!

Next up is a recipe we didn't like.

You're probably thinking "with a name like that, what's not to like?".  Well first of all, it was a lot of work.  I don't mind putting a lot of work into a recipe if it tastes amazing, but this one was just "eh".  We ate it, but the flavor just didn't thrill us.  I was surprised so many people on Pinterest liked this recipe and had nothing but wonderful things to say.  I couldn't figure out if it was a hot dish or a cold dish at first, so I tried it both ways.  It doesn't taste good cold at all.  You have to eat it as a hot dish.  I tried eating it cold for leftovers and let's just say it wasn't easy.  I wouldn't recommend this dish, but if you want to try it and don't mind all the work and all the dishes...go for it!  Everyone on Pinterest seemed to love it!

Now my next recipe was a huge hit, so much so that my husband ate all the leftovers!  That's always a good sign in my house cause he normally doesn't like to eat leftovers.

My husband took one bite of this dish and said "I have no idea what this is, but it tastes like pizza so I love it.  No, I take that back, it tastes better than pizza!".  He was so funny!  You should have seen him devour this dish.  It's super easy to make because it's cooked and baked in one pan.  I did make a couple of modifications.  I didn't have heavy cream, so I used half and half with a pat of melted butter.  I also added a lot more cheese to the top than the recipe called for.  This recipe was so good, it will be inducted into the Johnson Family Recipe book now and become a regular at the dinner table.

My final recipe we also loved a lot, but I made a lot of modifications to the original recipe.

This was absolutely delicious and another hit with my meat-and-potatoes husband.  I did make some modifications, which I think probably made it more delicious than the original recipe.  First of all, I used a meaty ham bone instead of just throwing diced ham in the pot.  I also used vegetable stock instead of water and chicken bouillon.  While I was busy dicing up all my vegetables, I cooked my ham bone in the vegetable stock (probably 20-30 minutes).  Then I added my vegetables (I also added two chopped up carrots which were not in the original recipe).  After the vegetables were tender, I pulled out the ham bone to cool.  While it was cooling I worked on the rue and the milk portion of the soup.  I used 2% milk because that is what I had on hand, plus, skim milk from my experience doesn't work well in cream soups.  I added the milk mixture to the soup and set it on low while I worked on cutting the ham meat off the bone.  I then added all the ham to the soup and scattered shredded cheese on top.  I did not add bacon because I didn't think it was necessary since I already had ham in the soup.  It was so, so good!  I think cooking with meat bones is just so important when making soups, they add so much flavor!  Most butcher shops sell meat bones for just a couple of dollars.  They are great ways to make inexpensive meals.

Let me know if you try any of these recipes.  I'd love to hear what you think!

Have a Great Day!  Amy

Linking Up with these Fabulous Blogs HERE.

Friday, September 29, 2017

How To Dress For A Heat Wave In Late September

"We're having a heat wave!  A tropical heat wave...."  anyone else been singing that song in their head the past few weeks?  Based on what I've been reading in Blog Land, a lot of us have not been able to wear any of our new fall clothes yet.  Bummer.  But, on the plus side, I did get to wear a few things that I didn't get a chance to wear this past summer because it was too cold.  Ha-ha!  Yes, you heard me right.  Too cold.  August was so cool this year I wore jeans and jackets most of the time.  But Mother Nature has a sense of humor, and brought the hottest temperatures of the year at the end of September.

By now, I've switched out my spring/summer closet to fall/winter.  I did keep some items like this short black skirt that works well for all seasons, and sleeveless tops that work well under cardigans.  The halter top I'm wearing in this post is one of those that I kept.  I bought it last year from JCPenney and wore it to my first blogger meet-up HERE.

The top has an interesting print, a keyhole back, and gold clasps on the straps.

For jewelry, I chose a black and gold bracelet and yellow/gold studs.  I carried a vintage straw bag.

  There's some great summer clearance sales going on right now.  I've had my eye on these shoes all summer but I really did not need another pair of black shoes so I resisted!  However, when JCPenney had a 50% off already reduced clearance sale, plus I could still use coupons, I got these beauties for only around $8.00.  I couldn't find this exact pair on-line, but THIS PAIR is very similar.

My skirt I bought years ago at Target.  It's probably my favorite skirt that I own and I wear it more than any other skirt too!

IF the temperatures were cooler, this summery outfit could easily transition into a fall one by adding a cardigan, jacket, or scarf.  I could also transition out the sandals for booties or tall boots.  But since the temps are still in the 90's, I will hold off on the layers, and just wear dark colors in summer clothing.

Someday soon I hope to have some fall outfits to show you!  My fashion posts are pictures of what I actually wore, and because of the heat, this is what I wore for a day of shopping.

Have a Great Day!  Amy

Linking Up with these Fabulous Blogs HERE!

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Celebrating Fall: A Fall Drive In Wisconsin

I will be taking a short break from my Missouri Travel Posts to cover our fall weekend adventures.

Fall is a popular season.  Most people look forward to the cooler weather, the fall fashion, the pumpkin lattes, and the fall leaves.  My husband and I love to celebrate Fall and we try to squeeze as much fun in as possible before winter.

Scene from the top of tower at Mt. Timm

In the fall my husband and I  take a drive every weekend to see the fall colors.  This past weekend we drove 300 miles in one day!  We left at 7:00 a.m. and arrived home at 7:00 p.m. covering two parks, one town, one fall garden shop, and two restaurants.

Our first stop was breakfast at a popular local restaurant called Norske Nook.  We both ordered French Toast with a side order of hash browns except I had raspberries on mine!  Mmm, delicious!

After breakfast we headed to Timm's Hill.  My husband read that it was the highest point in the state of Wisconsin.  After checking out the highest point in Missouri, we realized we had never been to Wisconsin's highest point!  So we thought it was time to change that and we began our 139 mile journey to get there.

On our way, we saw a beautiful fall garden shop along the highway called "Posey Patch Greenhouse".      Well, of course we had to stop!  Oh my, the flowers were amazing.  I saw these petunias and I couldn't figure out for the life of me how they got them to grow this big in Wisconsin!  And isn't the gazebo and pond so pretty?

For the ladies interested in what I wore, I wore activewear for I knew I would be hiking.  I chose one of my new activewear skorts, an exercise tank and sports bra, hiking sandals (for it was a really hot day in the nineties) and a black baseball hat (not shown in this picture).

Pumpkins and mums were everywhere we looked in this garden!

This is the little shop where they also sell seasonal gifts and produce from their farm.  I bought a couple of fall decorations for my home and some tomatoes.

 In the background is the owners home.  In the foreground are some of the many gorgeous fall mums and the unique and fun garden ornaments available for sale.

After our stop at the garden center, we then went on to our first destination:  Timm's Hill.  It was in a part of Wisconsin that we had never been to before.  This is the road to enter the park.  Can you believe how narrow it is?  At one point we stopped our car because we weren't sure if we were on a road or a trail.  I mean, how could a car coming from the opposite direction even pass?  We did not see any "one way" signs either.  Eventually, two cars going the same direction as us appeared, so we let out a sigh of relief that we were not on driving on a trail.  It sure was pretty.  So peaceful.

Timm's Hill is a county park, not a state park, so there is not a park office or a ranger;  BUT they did have a nice trail map and a well marked trail.  HOWEVER, either the map was wrong or the trail was marked wrong.  We hiked the trail marked in yellow on the map behind me.  But on the trail it was marked in orange.  Someone messed up!  

The first thing we did was head for the observation tower.  It's a short trail, only around 330 feet, but it is a steep climb.

Of course, once we watched the top we had to take a selfie!

From the top of the tower you can get a 30 mile view.  Below is one of two lakes in Timm's Hill.  The building is High Point Village Resort.

After we were done admiring the views from the top of the tower, we decided to walk on one of the trails.  We picked one of the trails that went around the lake.  We chose "Timm's Lake Trail" which is 1 1/4 long.

It was a very peaceful trail.  We only encountered two other hiking groups on this trail.  The lake views were stunning.

My husband spotted this cute little tree frog on our hike.

I really liked the wide hiking paths on this trail.  It was nice not having prickly weeds and brush grab me as I hiked by.

 I love how the fallen leaves covered the path.

After we finished our hike we headed to Tomahawk, Wisconsin for some lunch.  It was a 30 minute drive from the park. I had never been to Tomahawk before and I was surprised at it's charms.  We popped into a few stores before lunch.  They had a nice assortment of stores and restaurants.

This mercantile store had a lot of cute home and fashion items.

When we were walking down mainstream I saw a sign for a pizza buffet.  Pizza is my husband's favorite food so I asked him if he wanted to have lunch here.  Of course he was more than thrilled!

This was such a charming Italian diner.  This beautiful mural is the first thing you see when you walk in the door.

 The seating was a mix of hardwood vintage booths and tables and chairs.  The chairs were covered in red vinyl and all the tables had cute red checkered table cloths.

There was an old fashioned bar and cash register behind the main counter.  They also served ice cream here.


We chose one of the booths to eat in.  I love the clothes rack at the end of each post.  Did you notice the fun lanterns on top too?

Window bar seating is also offered at the front of the store.

The food was delicious!  The pizza bar was $7.99 and included all you can eat salad, soup, bread, pizza and pasta.

After lunch we got back into the car for the last destination of our journey:  Rib Mountain.  It was a 45 minute drive to get there from Tomahawk.  My whole life I had heard about Rib Mountain but I had never been there.  Isn't it funny how we often don't visit the most famous places in our state?  I knew Rib Mountain was known for it's skiing but I had no idea how much else this park had to offer!

Rib Mountain has a lot of beautiful trails, but it was already 4:00 p.m. when we got there so we only had time to go up their observation tower and hike one short trail.  I loved this park so much, I can't wait to go back and explore more!

This tower is only 60 feet high, but for some reason both my husband and I were a lot more nervous being on top of it than we were at Timm's Hill.  The reason is because Rib Mountain stands higher above the surrounding terrain, 670 feet, higher than any other hill in the state.

After we got down off the tower, we hopped on a nearby trail.  Some of the rock formations reminded us of Elephant Rock State Park in Missouri.

This trail had a nice asphalt path (no getting lost on this trail!) and took us past so many unique rock formations.

I honestly did not want to leave this park, there seemed so much more to explore;  but, we had a two and half hour drive home so I had to stay goodbye.   I did make my husband promise me we would return!  He said "Next Year".  "Next YEAR!!!"  I screamed,  "Why?".  He replied that he had all our fall trips planned out for the rest of this year.  So, Goodbye Rib Mountain...I'll see you next year!

I should also mention that the ski lifts were open so you could enjoy the ride and views.  It costs $11.00 per person.  We didn't do that this time, but plan to on our next visit.

So what about you?  Do you celebrate fall?  If so how?  Do you take long fall drives in your neck of the woods?  I'd love to hear from you!

Have a Great Day!  Amy

Linking Up with these Fabulous Blogs HERE!

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Two Month Old Baby Photo Shoot

On our fall vacation to Missouri, we started with a stop in Chicago to visit the kids for Labour Day weekend.  I took Alethea's Two Month Old pictures while I was there, and we did another "Grandma & Me" Photo Shoot....which I will show you next week Monday!

Ashley wanted to include herself and Jason in these pictures, so after coordinating the outfits, off we went to the Naperville River Walk.

This picture isn't perfect because Jason is slouching making Ashley appear larger, but I LOVE Alethea's big yawn.  She was so impressed with being the subject of the photo session wasn't she? :)

And here she was so impressed she just felt fast asleep.  Isn't she hysterical?  What a doll!  I just love her so much!

We used the same frame we did in the One Month Old Photo Shoot, but this time with the number "2".  We will keep this theme going for all her monthly photos.  I cut the numbers out with my Cricut Expression Machine out of card stock colors that will coordinate with Alethea's outfits.  This time we used two different colors of number "2"s layering one slightly off set of the other to create a shadow.

I also took a few pictures of just Mom and Baby too.

There's that adorable yawn again!  Such a sweetie!

 After our photo shoot we went for a walk along the river, but Alethea was not content in the stroller so dad had to hold her.  This is how she likes to be held.  Jason walked the entire river walk carrying Alethea like this.  She was so perfectly content, sleeping soundly the entire time.  Jason must have very strong arms, because I certainly couldn't hold her like this.

We had stopped walking briefly and I turned around and saw the light from the setting sun hitting Alethea so beautifully.  I said to Jason "Don't move!"  and snapped these beautiful shots.

Be sure to come back on Monday to link up your "Grandma and Me" post!

Have a Great Day!  Amy

Linking Up with these Fabulous Blogs HERE!