Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween!

We got home from our trip to Michigan
Just in time to pass out candy to the Trick-or-Treaters
I wanted to wish all of you a Happy Halloween!
And promise that I will get back to blogging and reading soon.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Tea Time-Tablescape Thursday

     It is time for Tablescape Thursday. Please visit Susan @ Between Naps on the Porch to see all the beautiful table settings this week.

     My husband took me away for a few days to celebrate my birthday, so I am writing this in a hotel room. I didn't have a chance to set an entire table before we left home. I did have a picture that I was waiting to share and this seems like a perfect week to do so. On a recent trip to Florida we found a wonderful shop full of handcrafted items. One of my favorites was the Tea Chandelier.

It reminded me of a favorite teacup and saucer of my own. Care to join me?

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Corn and Chicken Chowder (Crockpot)

I love soup. I love it all year long, but the cooler temperatures make me want to have a pot simmering all the time. This chowder is one of our favorites. I'm not sure where I got the original recipe.


Boneless, skinless chicken tenders or breasts. I used 10 chicken tenders for this batch, about 3 large breasts would be about the same amount of chicken.
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup chopped carrots (I used baby carrots for this, I was in a hurry)
2 cups frozen corn
2 cans cream of potato soup
1 ½ cups chicken broth
1 tsp. dried dill weed (optional)
½ cup half and half (you could use milk, it would lower the calories and still be good)

     Put everything except the half and half into the crock-pot in the order listed and stir gently (it won't be pretty). I put my chicken in frozen. My slow cooker has a 4 hour setting, and that is what I used. I would suggest 4-6 hours depending on the style and settings for your slow cooker. Just before you are ready to serve the soup, take 2 forks and pull the chicken apart into bite size pieces and stir in the half and half. Enjoy!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Life Lessons Learned Along The Way

1. Being a parent brings with it the greatest joys and the greatest heartaches.

2. One should always carry a spare shirt/blouse/top when leaving home for the day.

3. It is acceptable to say no.

4. Ordering water with lemon in a restaurant will save a family of 4 approx. $10.00.

5. Getting those annual dental check ups will save you money in the long run.

6. Putting money into a 401K plan should be the first payment you make each month (even if you lost $$).

7. Hotel shampoo will substitute for laundry detergent if you need to rinse out something while traveling.

8. Rice Krispy Treats are still a favorite for all ages and easy to make.

9. I really am turning into my mother.

10. A spoonful of peanut butter will get rid of the hiccups.

11. Your children still need you no matter how old they are (my daughter suggested this one-sweet!).

12. Always take a heating pad and a thermometer with you when you travel.

13. A woman always starts her period on the first day of vacation.

14. If caught with wrinkled clothes and no iron, hang them in the bathroom and turn on a hot shower.

15. Cars with heated and air conditioned seats are worth the extra cost.

16. I really don’t have to do anything I don’t want to.

17. It really is harder to lose that 10 pounds as you get older.

18. Sometimes nothing tastes better than scrambled eggs.

19. Samples don’t have calories.

20. Life is short, mend all fences quickly-regret is something no one wants to live with.

21. I will never be rich.

22. Experiences are more valuable than things.

23. Sometimes it is okay to just be unhappy for no reason.

24. I never get tired of holding a baby.

25. Men should get tested for prostate cancer at 40 (or sooner if there is a family history), regardless of what your doctor says.

26. Someone will drop in on the one day I don’t pick up the house.

27. Never vacation anywhere without putting a pair of jeans in the suitcase.

28. Fashion is not important if you are at a zoo, theme park, or large mall…wear tennis shoes.

29. Always keep a bucket in the car for various types of emergencies.

30. A puppy will brighten any day.


Friday, October 23, 2009

I Did It! I Made The Soup From The Animal Kingdom Lodge!

     We spend quite a bit of time at Walt Disney World in Orlando. My daughter works there. We no longer get all that excited about riding the rides, as we’ve done them all many times over. We do love to eat at all of the interesting places both in the hotels and in the parks.

     One of my favorite places to eat is Boma in the Animal Kingdom Lodge. Boma serves an African themed buffet that is very unique and delicious. It can be difficult to get reservations, so plan ahead if you ever want to eat there. On our first visit, I had a Butternut Squash soup that I loved. It was unlike anything I’d had before. It was more sweet than savory and I could taste the nutmeg in it. On repeat visits, I go for the soup first and I have also found that they sell it in the food court at the Lodge. I have several Disney cookbooks, but the soup they listed as Butternut Squash from Boma was not the soup I had eaten. I could tell by reading the ingredient list. Recently, I tried again to find “the right” recipe and I was thrilled to see an undated version on I made it and it is so close to the original that I was thrilled. Remember this is a sweet, thick soup. It isn’t what you normally get when you order Butternut Squash Soup.

     Before starting this process, I washed a standard size butternut squash and pricked it with a knife a couple times. I put it in the microwave (whole) for about 4 minutes until it was soft enough that I could cut it in half, remove the seeds, peel it and cut it into chunks. I placed the chunks on a cookie sheet and followed the recipe. I also pureed the roasted squash with the water (in 2 batches) in the blender, before adding the puree to the pan to add the milk, cream, spices, cornstarch and cheese.


3 ounces Unsalted Butter
11 ounces Butternut Squash, cut in chunks (I used a whole squash, no idea what it weighed)
To taste Salt and Pepper
8 ounces Water
8 ounces Heavy Cream (I used half and half)
8 ounces Milk (I used 1 percent)
1 ounce Sugar, adjust if needed
1 teaspoon Ginger
1 teaspoon Nutmeg
1 teaspoon Cinnamon
1 teaspoon Coriander
1 tablespoon Cornstarch
3 ounces American Cheese (I used shredded American/Cheddar combination)

1. In a small pot, melt the butter and pour over the squash. Season squash with salt and pepper and roast in 325 oven for 45 minutes.

2. In a kettle, mix squash with water. Add heavy cream and milk and puree. Add sugar, ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon, and coriander.
3. Make a slurry with the cornstarch and add to the soup.
4. Add the American cheese and continue mixing until smooth.
5. Adjust seasoning.

     Please make sure you join our hostess, Michael @ Designs by Gollum, to see all of the other delicious recipes and foods.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Splish, Splash

Thanks to Stephanie @ A Fine House, I have the Splash Award. I've been told that this award was created to honor, "alluring, amusing, inspiring, bewitching and impressive" blogs. You will certainly find that Stephanie's blog is worthy of such praise. She shares her love of decorating, her diy projects and a touch of family life. One of the best things about receiving an award is that I can pass it along and share a few of my favorite bloggers with you.

The rules state that I must:

1) Post this award on my blog
2) Nominate up to 9 blogs
3) Let your nominees know they've won
4) Link back to the person who gives it to you

I would like to pass this award along to:

Yvonne@ StoneGable, Yvonne is an empty nester with a fabulous sense of style. She shares some of her beautiful decorating ideas and techniques, as well as stunning tablescapes on her blog.

Gigi@ The Magpie's Fancy, Gigi is a writer, living on an island for a while. She shares her appreciation of life, family and nature in a variety of ways.

Relyn@ Come Sit By My Fire, Relyn was one of the first blogs I read when I started this journey a few months ago. I always leave her blog feeling inspired, renewed and at peace.

If I have given this to anyone who doesn't accept awards, I'm sorry. At least I have been able to share my love for your blogs in this post.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Tablescape Thursday-Coffee With The Girls

It is another Tablescape Thursday. Please visit our hostess Susan @ Between Naps on the Porch to see all of the other beautiful tables this week.

It isn't always easy getting 4 women together at the same time. My friends still have young children and very busy lives. This morning we were able to make it work and enjoyed catching up over cofffee.

The plates and tray are Dept. 56 from several years ago. The mugs were a gift and I love how they look with the plates. I used my every day stainless, blue juice glasses, placemats from Kohls and white embroidered napkins.

I pulled out some antique serving pieces for the muffins, grapes and banana bread (the recipe will be on here soon).

We can have a good time with our coffee in foam cups and a donut on a paper plate, but it was nice to "fuss" a little bit over some very good friends.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Will You Please Make That Fruit Salad?

My kids request this all the time. I also take it to church dinners and potlucks. It takes so little time to prepare and is so affordable, I’m almost hate to call this a recipe.


2 or 3 bananas
1 large can fruit cocktail
1 large can mandarin oranges
1 can pineapple chunks
1 small package instant Jello pudding-lemon flavored

In a large bowl place the dry pudding mix. Add the juice (only) from the mandarin oranges and stir. It will be thick. Slice the bananas and stir them into the thickened lemon pudding. This will keep them from turning brown. Drain the remaining fruit and save the juice. Add the oranges, pineapple pieces and fruit cocktail and stir. If it seems very thick you can stir in a little of the reserved juice. I generally don’t add the extra juice. My husband usually just drinks it over ice. Place your salad in the refrigerator to thicken. People won’t be able to tell what you did differently. They always ask about the “sauce” which is really just the pudding. Enjoy.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Thank You...Passing Along The Love

     I started my blog on August 14th, with no idea what I was doing or if anyone would ever read a word of it. I came from 3 years of writing on a website with others and I was ready for a change. My daughter and I had an idea for a "mom" blog that wasn't about young children, but geared more towards anyone interested in some basic decorating ideas, recipes and helpful hints. It wasn't long after I started this blog that I knew I also wanted a place to discuss some of the fun and interesting things we found in our travels around our part of the country. Hidden Treasures of the Midwest was born on September 1st. I have been having a great time exploring Blogville and getting to know some of the other bloggers around here. I have "met" people younger than my kids and a few that are almost my parent's age and I enjoy every one of them. I have been re-energized to spruce up my fall decorations, try some new recipes and look everywhere for things that will set an interesting table. I have read things that have made me think, laugh and cry. In other words, I like it here. 

     Two of my favorite bloggers, Charisse and Holly @ Life Laugh Latte gave me my first award today, the Honest Scrap award. Say that three times fast and you will see why I'm thrilled with it. Charisse and Holly talk about anything and everything that women can relate to and guys would probably learn from. Their video conversations make you feel as if you are in the room with them. In fact, I often wish I could be there. If you haven't been to their blog, you simply must check it out.

One of the best parts about getting an award, is passing it on. So, I'm passing this award on to three women I would love to have coffee with.

Gloria @ Happy to Be who is celebrating her 1 year anniversary in Blogland this week. Gloria says what she thinks. She's a very spunky great-grandmother who enjoys telling a joke and sharing her love of antiques. She also was one of the first people to visit my blog and she keeps coming back.

Koralee @ Bluebird Notes who always makes me smile with her creative pictures and happy words. She is also one of my first visitors and I'm so glad our paths crossed here.

Carla @ botanicals and beginnings who lives in my second favorite state of Michigan. Her pictures of the area around Lake Michigan are beautiful, as is the jewelry she makes. She sells gorgeous beads and jewelry in her etsy shop and her blog is worth your visit.

Thank you Charisse, Holly and everyone who takes a moment to stop at "I Need Mom"!

I Have Baking Powder...Can I Use It Instead Of Baking Soda?

This was one of those calls from my daughter. She was baking something and I think she really knew the answer already. No! You can’t!

Baking soda and baking powder are both used as leavening agents when baking. In other words, they help batter rise. Baking powder actually contains baking soda, along with cream of tartar. Baking soda is actually Sodium Bicarbonate, a salty substance which reacts with acid in a batter causing bubbles that help with the rising process.

If you do not have baking powder, you can mix 1/4 teaspoon baking soda plus 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar to get 1 teaspoon baking powder.

If you do not have baking soda, there really is no substitute.

Did you know that baking soda can be used for various things.
  • I put a few spoonfuls in my kitchen drain and garbage disposal, then pour in a little vinegar. It will bubble up and clean out the drains.
  • You can use it on your toothbrush if you are out of toothpaste.
  • I mix it with salt and use it as a scrub for tea and coffee stains in coffee mugs.
  • Mix with a little water to make a paste and apply to bee stings or insect bites.
  • Put an open box in the refrigerator to absorb odors.
  • Pour some in your bath to soften skin.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Foodie Friday-Harvest Beef Stew

     I'm participating in my first Foodie Friday. Please visit Michael at Designs by Gollum to see all the delicious dishes.

     When the weather gets cold, I tend to want to create “homey” meals. Generally that means a lot of soups, chili and stews. We don’t eat a lot of red meat at our house, but my husband really loves beef. So, I decided to put together a fall meal that I could pop in the oven and have ready a few hours later. This actually could be done completely on top of the stove, and be done in a shorter period of time. I happen to like that slow cooked flavor and the smell of the spices in my house.


2 pounds stew meat or chuck roast cut into chunks
2 T. olive oil
Season salt or grill seasoning
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup carrots sliced (I prefer regular carrots, baby carrots would work)
1 cup chopped onion (optional-I don’t cook with onions, but most people like them)
1 large potato cut into chunks
1 small sweet potato, peeled and cut into chunks
½ tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. thyme
½ tsp. rosemary
½ tsp. basil
2 T. tomato paste (you can freeze the rest of the can in a container for later use)
2 ½-3 cups of beef broth (I always use low sodium)
2 bay leaves
2 tsp. sugar
2 T. balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper
1 cup frozen peas
2 T. cornstarch.

     Sprinkle the meat with a small amount of season salt or grill seasoning. In an oven safe pan (Dutch oven) on the stove, heat the oil and stir in the beef chunks. Stir until browned on all sides, remove from pan.

     To the pan juices add celery, carrots, onion, potato, sweet potato and stir. Cover and cook about 2 minutes, just to slightly soften the vegetables. Put the meat back in with the vegetables. Add garlic powder, oregano, thyme, rosemary, basil, tomato paste, beef broth, sugar, vinegar, a pinch of salt and pepper and stir. Add bay leaves.

    Put in oven at 350 degrees for 2 hours. Remove from oven, meat and vegetables should be very tender. Put pan back on stove burner and turn to medium high heat. Mix cornstarch with a 2 T. water and stir into stew. When the stew is thickened, add frozen peas and stir. It only takes about a minute for the peas to cook. If the stew is too thick, you can thin it with a little beef broth or water. Don’t forget to remove the bay leaves before serving.

I served ours with crusty bread and a fruit salad. The house smelled wonderful. Enjoy.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Tablescape Thursday-Happy Halloween!

     I don't know which is more fun, playing with my dishes and creating a table for Tablescape Thursday or visiting all the other blogs and seeing the gorgeous table settings. Please visit our host Susan at Between Naps on the Porch and check out some of the other participants. You won't be disappointed.

     This week I decided to have a little fun with my table. I set it for a simple Halloween dinner for four. I changed my table this week from my glass top Crate and Barrel table to my grandmother's antique oak table. I thought it looked "warmer" for winter. Now, if I can just remember where we put the leaves when we moved here 6 years ago.

     I am learning that having patio doors near the dining room table isn't great for pictures. Even on a gray day, it does strange things to the lighting.

     This was a simple way to get a Halloween look without spending a lot of money. The white dishes and the flatware are what I use every day. The black salad plates are from Walmart ($1.25) and I can already picture a black and white table coming in the future.  The "placemats" were made from inexpensive fabric that I simply cut into rectangles. The candy cups are great little sauce dishes that I got a few years ago at Crate and Barrel. My glassware I bought at Macy's. It is hard to see in the pictures, but there are black dots in the glass.

     For napkins, I used a package of "bar towels" that I found at TJ Maxx, tied with a bit of candy corn ribbon. I like the way the texture added to the casual setting.

     In the center of the table, a black placemat, a few gourds, some candy corn and pumpkin tealights cast a glow on my "not so spooky" pumpkin guy and some BOO blocks.

     I think it turned out fun, festive and affordable. I wish my kids were home to enjoy it!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Worth It!

I've been cleaning a home for many, many years. I've tried numerous products and some I stick with forever and sometimes I'm willing to try new things. Sometime last year I decided to try Scrubbing Bubbles Action Scrubber to clean our showers and tubs. I love this product. You buy a kit that has the green holder and a few pads. After the initial purchase you just buy the refills. Last week I ran out and had to use my regular household cleaner spray, it made me really appreciate these handy, dandy little scubber pads. I'm not getting paid for saying this. I didn't get anything free for the review. This product just happens to get my WORTH IT award.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Apple Cinnamon Cake-One Bowl, Great Smells...Yummy!

I had a request for a recipe for an Apple Spice Cake. I remembered that my mom had a recipe that she made often, so I searched my recipe box and found it. The great thing about this recipe is that you can eat it for dessert or for breakfast. You can dress it up with a dip of ice cream or whipped cream. It is really easy to prepare, all in one bowl and no mixer necessary.


2/3 cup vegetable oil
1 cup sugar
1 egg
2 cups chopped apples (notice I didn’t even peel the apples, simply core them)
1 ½ cups flour
¼ tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup chopped nuts (I used walnuts, but pecans or almonds would work)
3 T. sugar mixed with 1 ½ tsp. cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In large bowl put everything except the cinnamon/sugar mix. The batter will be very stiff and crumbly. Put it in a 9” pan. I used a small rectangular pan because someone has my 9” square.

Sprinkle the top with the cinnamon/sugar mixture. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. Enjoy!

Saturday, October 10, 2009


Some of you that read what I write here are too young to remember George Carlin's routine about "Stuff." Others will remember it quite well. It started like this:

     Actually this is just a place for my stuff, ya know? That's all, a little place for my stuff. That's all I want, that's all you need in life, is a little place for your stuff, ya know? I can see it on your table, everybody's got a little place for their stuff. This is my stuff, that's your stuff, that'll be his stuff over there. That's all you need in life, a little place for your stuff. That's all your house is: a place to keep your stuff. If you didn't have so much stuff, you wouldn't need a house. You could just walk around all the time.

     A house is just a pile of stuff with a cover on it. You can see that when you're taking off in an airplane. You look down, you see everybody's got a little pile of stuff. All the little piles of stuff. And when you leave your house, you gotta lock it up. Wouldn't want somebody to come by and take some of your stuff. They always take the good stuff. They never bother with that crap you're saving. All they want is the shiny stuff. That's what your house is, a place to keep your stuff while you go out and get...more stuff!

Today I got to clean out more stuff than I ever want to see again. Unfortunately, there will be many more hours of working on this particular "stuff." My father-in-law has been an antique dealer (as a hobby) for 45 years. He was responsible for finding, framing and selling many of the items you see across the country on the walls of a popular chain restaurant. A year ago he was involved in an accident, which at his age, was the end of his antiquing.

Today my husband, his sister and I (along with a couple of cousins that stopped to help for a few hours) attempted to clean out the 3 car garage that was his workshop. He has literally thousands of old magazines, old phones, typewriters, pictures, get the picture. We threw away a lot of stuff. We donated a lot of stuff. We still ended up with a completely full 3 car garage. He also has 2 storage spaces that I understand are full.

My father-in-law was there during this process, doing more than he should. He was telling us the stories behind the items, telling us that we really should take things home with us and telling us we couldn't get rid of this or that because "he needed it." My husband and I could barely stay awake to drive the hour or so home. We hurt everywhere.

My "mom hint" for all of you today, is try to control your "stuff." If you are young and just starting out, you probably don't have much yet. Your grandparents might need a little nudge to start getting rid of some things. If you are my age, you are probably still housing your kids "stuff" even if they don't live there anymore. I wonder if there will ever be a day when the Ninja Turtles and the baby dolls can go live at someone else's house. I have tried over the past few years to get things in tubs with labels. I'm not entirely successful, but I'm getting there.

If you happen to be the age of my in-laws, you are very cool to be blogging! You also need to organize, label and get rid of some of your "stuff" so that your middle-aged kids don't have to do what we did today. It was not only hard work, it was emotionally draining. I felt as if we were saying to my father-in-law, you can't do what you love are too old. It made me sad.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Which Fork Do I Use? (Tablescape Thursday)

I knew before I blogged my first post that I would write about table settings. It can be a bit confusing when you are setting a table, or when you go out to eat and don't know why there are two forks. Once I started blogging, I started seeing the "Tablescape Thursday" tables hosted by Susan at Between Naps On The Porch and I wanted to play along. I've always thought I had a lot of dishes and accessories, but the people that do tablescapes around here, really do them well. I can't begin to compete, but I can have fun sharing some tips and also playing with my dishes.

I found a fall tablecloth that I didn't remember I had, for a table that I no longer have. I don't have any charger plates, I've never really liked them. I am noticing how pretty they look on the tables of some of the other bloggers. I don't have them on this table, but they may show up on a future table.

*Mom hint-A charger plate is a large plate that goes under the dinner plate. You do not eat from it, it is simply to "dress up" the table.

I took a picture of the table at dusk. Everything looks better by candlelight. The candle was cinnamon cider, and the house smelled so good.

I had to take a picture of my new sparkly gourd/pumpkin...I'm not sure which it is. I bought it at HomeGoods while we were on our recent trip. It is sort of a bronze mosaic and it simply called my name. The flowers were from my yard, the tiny vase is from Crate and Barrel. The dark green dinner plates are from Walmart, the napkins and pumpkin plates are from HomeGoods. The wine glasses are antiques. The flatware is my everyday pattern.

Now, let's talk about those forks. When in doubt, always start with the silverware on the outside, and move in. This is an informal place setting. One of these days I will set a formal table for you. The fork on the far left is for salad, the fork near the dinner plate is for your main meal. The knife and spoon to the right of the plate are for obvious use, but you might have a second spoon to the right of the one here. It would be for soup. The spoon above the plate is for dessert (it might be a fork, depending on what is being served). When setting a table, the glasses (wine or water) go on the upper right. The napkin can go under the forks, in the center of the plate or in the wine goblet (not my favorite). I took some liberty with where I put the napkin because I wanted the pattern of the salad plate to show, and I wanted to dress up the napkin with a touch of ribbon, therefore it wouldn't fit under the forks. Some tables will have a bread and butter plate placed to the upper left of the dinner plate.

Hopefully, I accomplished my "mom" blogging, and took a baby step into "Tablescape Thursday" all at the same time.