April 25, 2009

Leftovers, Socks, Fennel and Bling

I am always in a state of decluttering. We live in a small house for the number of us and stuff would crowd us out if I didn't. Spring is a major decluttering spell and we are going at it full tilt. Yesterday I attacked the laundry room and kitchen. Every fall and spring I pull the rubber maids out of the attic and pull out clothes for each person for the upcoming season. That means a deep cleaning of each closet and drawer.

Every item is considered for fit, condition and usefullness and put in the appropriate place: Rubbermaid for next season, younger child's closet, good will, mending pile or the trash. This is not my favorite job as it takes about a week and creates a ton of laundry and ironing. I am always thrilled to have all the closets and drawers in order, though.

A few times during the year this cleaning frenzy extends to my grocery stores. Sometimes, I do it to save money. Sometimes, I know I will need the room for a special occassion. Sometimes, I just like to use up all the little bits of odd things that aren't enough for a meal or that I bought to try and forgot about. Before I stock up again, I give the cupboards and fridge and freezers a good scrub down and enjoy refilling it with all fresh. I have found we can easily go two weeks like this without being hungry. I will say, we do eat some odd combinations by the last day or two but it is so much fun trying to see what I can do with what is on hand.

This is is one such week. The family was working in the yard all day and I needed to make something fast. In the fridge I had some fresh steamed broccoli leftover from lunch. There was half and onion in the crisper. Ham in the freezer. And my favorite baby red potatoes. I roasted the potatoes with some olive oil and salt and pepper, garlic and paprika.

After mixing the chopped onion, broccoli and diced ham together I couldn't figure out what to do with it to make it a casserole.

I usually mix cream of mushroom soup, sour cream and cheese but I was out of soup and cheese. So I opened the fridge and starting pulling stuff off the door. I mixed together some sour cream, mayonaise, 2 packages of Chic-fil-A Roasted Honey BBQ sauce, honey dijon sauce I had made for a fish dish and a puree of olive oil, garlic and herbs left from pizza night. It was so good! My family was impressed, too, except for Sam (who doesn't like anything but chocolate milk and peanut butter sandwhiches which he is allergic to).

So, I was wondering...do any of you do that? And what have you come up with that leaves you thinking, "I wish I'd written that down?"

Speaking of cleaning out cupboards...when I was doing that this afternoon...you will not believe what I found! Yes, you guessed it...another jar of fennel! Go figure. You all had some great ideas. When I mentioned it to Allen over breakfast he said, "In case you want to use it more than once." If you don't get that joke watch My Blue Heaven.

Then he said, "You were probably looking at a recipe and asked the kids if we have any fennel and they looked and said no and so you bought more." In their defense, KK said, remember Aunt Diann gave us all her herbs when she moved to Italy last year. She had me convinced for a few minutes but that still doesn't explain the third jar.

So what about fennel recipes. Does anyone have any killer dishes that happen to use fennel?

Last evening, I was folding laundry when my hubby came in and said, "That's a lot of socks." I am so glad that engineering degree is paying off so nicely for us. While we are on the topic...let's talk about folding socks. Is there anyone else who loves folding socks. I think it is so relaxing. I love gathering them all into one pile and matching them and throwing them into the basket.

Do you ever pray for your family members as you fold their socks? I like to just speak to God as I touch each pair. "Lord, here are Ellie socks. Today would you be raising up a boy to become a man who will love you and serve you and be a worthy husband and leader to her?" And here are Sam's favorite dump truck socks. "Father, you know I need to be better at helping him learn to obey. Will you make me a better mother today?"

Don't they look so pretty when they are lined up in the drawers? It is by far my favorite part of doing laundry. Well, that and hanging laundry on the clothesline on a spring morning.

OK. So, out of curiosity we counted and there were 67 pairs. I guess that is a lot of socks.

Most of my weekend will be spent in a state of anxiety as I attempt to find time to study for a final on Monday night. I have never been a confident test taker. I usually do well in the end but I panic so bad ahead of time that I have been known to get sick on my stomach. When I was a full time college student I used it to my advantage by studying more. But these days I have far less time to study. When we signed up for this class (my hubby, 17 year old KK and I) I said I was going to audit because I didn't want to have to go through all the anxiety. However, somehow here we are 3 days before the test (I know this because it says so on the wipe board in our kitchen) and I am wondering what I was thinking?

Since this post is so boring... (Although, I did find it extremely therapeutic to rid my brain of the test overload deal) here are some shots of my little Bling baby. That is what we call Elisabeth because she loves all things shiny. Bling was one of her very first words.

She has been wearing pearls daily since she was a few weeks old. Ellie's official statement on Pearls is that they are for any occassion...like circle time.

Bath time...

Play time...

When entertaining...

And yes, even when vacuuming in her jammies.

In fact she loves neck bling so much she will pick anything up and put it over her head like a necklace...scarves, ties, knee socks and even the boxer shorts that Sam gave his Pa for Christmas.

She loves to open my jewelry box and carry my bracelets around. So as the adoring and bling loving mama I am, I had to get her some ARM BLING of her own...which she wears all the time in large quantities.

This afternoon her brothers' were playing under the cherry tree when they brought her some HAIR BLING...

Can you tell she has a cold? And don't you LOVE the rice cake stuck to her chin? The other night she was playing in my jewelry box when she discovered LEG BLING

And now that warmer days and bare feet are here...we added some TOE BLING for good measure.


  1. That was not boring at all!!! I love your idea of praying for the person as you fold socks. I finally got the bottom of my ironing piles this weekend and had so many odd socks throughout that I had SO many socks for the small amount of people here... it was ridiculous. Now everyone suddenly has plenty of socks in their drawers, although they haven't needed them the last few days because of the gorgeous weather. :)
    I love all of Ellie's bling... she's so adorable!

  2. I have to admit that I do not fold socks. I hated that job when I was a kid. So, I have a basket for socks on a shelf in each persons closet. I will just have to pray for them while hanging their clothes. (LOVE this idea!)
    Your Ellie makes me want another baby so badly! She is so beautiful and those sweet wrists and feet. (my favorite baby parts)
    As for fennel, the only recipe I have ever used it in is stuffed shells. So my 1 bottle will set in my cupboard for years!
    Have a great Monday!

  3. I love the baby with her bling! SOOO cute. And the sock thing... They drive me crazy. I need to have a better attitude about them, but I am usually just so happy for summer and then I only have socks for hubby and me to manage. Oh, what a relief that is.
    And fennel.... I don't even have any in my cupboard. Maybe you could have a contest and the prize could be your third bottle of it!

  4. Ellie is SOOOOOO cute!!!

  5. I don't know of any fennel recipes, but I did a google search and this is what I came up with. I hope they are of some use to you!

    1)Baked Salmon with Mushrooms and Seafood Recipe
    Prep Time: 5 minutes
    Cook Time: 30 minutes
    •2 salmon steaks, 1-1/2 inches thick
    •1/2 pound mushrooms, sliced
    •4 Tablespoons butter
    •1/2 pound shrimp, finely chopped
    •Freshly ground pepper
    •Fennel or tarragon
    •1 teaspoon salt
    •1 pint sour cream
    Brush the salmon9 well with oil and place one steak on the bottom of a baking dish. Saute the mushrooms10 in butter until just soft, add the chopped shrimp11, and let the mixture cook for 1 minute. Spread it on the steak in the pan, salt and pepper to taste, and top with the second steak. Mix the fennel or tarragon12 and 1 teaspoon of salt with the sour cream13 and pour it over the fish. Bake 20 minutes at 450 degrees F.
    Yield: 2 to 4 servings

    2)Fennel Chicken and Rice Recipe
    Prep Time: 10 minutes
    Cook Time: 1 hours,
    •2 cups raw white rice
    •1 medium onion, diced
    •2 Tablespoons butter, melted
    •4 chicken leg quarters (thigh and leg connected)
    •5 cups chicken broth
    •2 Tablespoons fennel seed
    •Kosher salt and fresh-ground pepper
    •1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
    •Chopped parsley for garnish, optional
    Preheat oven to 300 F.
    Combine rice7, onion, and butter in a covered roaster or casserole8 large enough to hold the chicken. Place chicken9 on top of rice mixture. Sprinkle with fennel seeds, salt, and pepper. Top with Parmesan cheese10.
    Cover and bake for 1 hour until chicken is done (170 F. internal temperature) and rice is cooked through. Sprinkle with chopped parsley to serve.
    Yield: 4 servings

    3)Mustard Horseradish Potato Salad Recipe
    Plan on 1 hour refrigeration time.
    Prep Time: 15 minutes
    Cook Time: 10 minutes
    •2 pounds red new potatoes, cut into eighths
    •1/4 cup olive oil
    •1/4 cup red wine vinegar
    •1 clove garlic, chopped
    •2 Tablespoons sour cream
    •1-1/2 teaspoons spicy brown mustard
    •1-1/2 teaspoons bottled horseradish
    •1 teaspoon sugar
    •1/4 teaspoon salt
    •1/8 teaspoon black pepper
    •2 pounds fresh fennel or celery, trimmed and diced (about 3 cups)
    •1/2 bunch green onions (about 3), trimmed and thinly sliced
    Cook potatoes8 in boiling lightly salted water until tender, about 20 minutes. Drain; refrigerate 1 hour. Whisk olive oil9, wine vinegar10, garlic11, sour cream12, mustard13, horseradish14, sugar, salt, and pepper in a large bowl.
    When potatoes are cool, add to dressing15 along with fennel and green onions16. Toss to combine.
    Yield: 6 servings
    per serving: 198 calories, 4 g protein, 10 g fat, 23 g carbohydrates, 121 mg sodium, 2 mg cholesterol

  6. I wouldn't make a meal if I didn't have a recipe. I think that makes you a REAL cook if you can do that. she is so darling with all that bling! So cute.

  7. Baby ellie is so cute:) maybe finger bling will be next...

  8. Oh my gosh... how cute is your little bling bling girl. I love how she wears the pearls all the time and the little painted toesies!!

    So sweet!