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Friday, January 29, 2016

a recipe (Italian Sausage Soup) & some helpful tips

I thank you for your condolences on the loss of our friend.  Your kind, thoughtful words were very comforting.  You are all so dear.

When I asked for ideas/suggestions for posts many of you said you would like to see recipes.  So, I thought I would oblige with some of my go-to recipes.  You might remember from one of my kitchen drawer posts that I showed a draw with folders of recipes  HERE;  several people asked to know what was in my "go-to" folder.

(By the way... I loved that so many of you mentioned the kitchen drawers as some of your favorite posts!  Loved!  I still adore the quote from Barbara Barry's beautiful book Around Beauty where she writes...
 "As much as I love the part of my work that is all about what is seen when we walk into a room, I also love the part of my work that is about what is not seen.  Or at least not by everyone- the inside of the cabinets, the full refrigerator, the silver drawer, and the well-stocked pantry; they too can be things of beauty, artfully arranged to inspire when given a cursory glance."

 I have had a number of people tell me that because of my posts they organized their own kitchen drawers using pretty baskets and containers and feel a sense of calm and happiness when they open them.  Proof that it really is the simple, little things in life that bring us daily joy, yes?!)

Back to recipes.... several weeks ago I made this recipe (which I have been making/tweaking for 11 years now per the date stamp on the original printed copy) and was told again how wonderful it was and how much comfort it brought.  I am always amazed when I look at the ingredients and how simple the recipe is to make that it becomes this wonderful, delicious soup.  I hope you will try it and let me know how you like it.  In the recipe I've included in italics how I make the recipe.  We like spicy/pepper hot, but if you don't, or have children, I would suggest you make it with sweet Italian sausage.)

Italian Sausage Soup


1 lb. Italian Sausage (sweet/hot/mixture of sweet&hot. I use hot) casings removed and sausage broken up
4 cloves minced garlic
32 oz. Beef Broth (l carton) (I use Trader Joe's Organic)
1 (14.5 oz.) can Italian-Style stewed tomatoes 
1 cup sliced carrots (approx. 2 carrots)
2 (14.5 oz.) cans Great Northern Beans, UNDRAINED (I use Trader Joe's Organic)
2 small/medium zucchini, diced/cubed
2-4 cups FRESH baby spinach- rinsed, torn and packed into a measuring cup (I use a whole small plastic-box of the pre-washed organic baby spinach)
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt


In a stockpot or Dutch oven, brown the sausage.  After sausage is brown add garlic for one minute until fragrant.  (If needed,  drain sausage well to remove any grease)  Stir in broth, tomatoes, carrots, and season with salt and pepper.
Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 15 minutes.
Stir in beans WITH liquid and zucchini.  Cover and simmer another 15 minutes.
Remove from heat and add spinach, pushing it down into the hot broth.  
Replace the lid, allowing the heat from the soup to cook the spinach leaves.  
Soup is ready to serve 5 minutes after adding the spinach.

(Soup freezes well) 
(Recipe adapted from Allrecipes.com) 

Last weekend, at the celebration of my friend at her house, a catered chili was served.  The chili had a rather soup-like consistency, so I shared with the sweet teenage girl who offered to serve the chili a tip on how to keep the ladle from dripping when serving. 
After filling the ladle to the desired amount and before taking it out of the pot, reinsert the bottom half of the ladle back into the soup then serve to your bowl/cup. The ladle will come out without any drips!  Magic ;)

Another tip (learned on Instagram, but can not remember from whom;  I think it was their grandmother's tip)  came in handy when my friend and I were de-constructing flowers from the memorial into smaller arrangements.  
Place hydrangeas in HOT, even boiling water.  The water will help open the woody stems and allow water in.  I tried it on some very wilted hydrangeas- dipping the stem into a pot of boiled water and they came back perfectly!

Wishing you a wonderful weekend!

Monday, January 25, 2016

intentions and reality

I had every intention of starting the year off by posting more often. Your suggestions in the comment section of my last post have been wonderful, inspiring and some, very funny ;) I thank you so much for every one.  You have given me some great ideas for things to "talk" about with you.  
Thank you. 

But, as life is known to do, even with the best of intentions things do not always work out as planned.  A dear friend of ours died suddenly several weeks ago.  Myself along with two other women have helped her husband plan her memorial, her reception, and a private celebration for 75 close friends and family at their home .
She and her husband moved into the neighborhood several years ago; they hired me to help them renovate their kitchen/gathering room and sun room in their gorgeous 18th century home.  During this process which has been going on for almost a year now they have both become very dear friends of ours.  

My friend was a joy in my life, as a friend and as a client.  She never missed an opportunity to tell me how much she loved her new kitchen and about all the compliments that she received on it and she never missed an opportunity to tell me she loved me.  
I can still hear her saying "Joan will make it beautiful" which she said many times over the course of the renovation whenever there was an issue or a problem.  It was always such a gift to me to hear as it meant she trusted me and knew I would fight hard to make it right and make her house her dream which only made me want to work that much harder.  It was my honor and truly my pleasure to turn her vision into a space that she loved.  Her husbands response to all final decisions was "Whatever makes my wife happy!"  I had the honor of planning the private reception at her home in the kitchen that we designed together using my antique and vintage hotel silver, vintage cake stands, antique white English ironstone along with gorgeous flowers brought from the church reception.  I desperately wanted to make it beautiful, one last time, for my dear friend who trusted me so much.  Her husband and several lovely people have told me that she would have loved the reception, so my heart is full.
She was a very special person and I am grateful to have called her my friend.  I will carry the joy that she gave to me in my heart forever.  Love you Marcie...

Her memorial was the past weekend and I wanted to write this post so you would know the reason for my absence here and also to remind you (as we all need the reminder sometimes) to tell your wife/husband/partner just how much you love and appreciate them.  And to contact a friend, maybe a lost friend, and let them know how much you love them and how much they have meant in your life. 
Life is short and getting shorter with each passing day, so don't miss an opportunity to tell those you love how much they mean to you.

Last night one of the other two women and I were back in our friend's beautiful kitchen to deconstruct several of the large flower arrangements from the church/reception into smaller bouquets.  Several large arrangements were left at the church, many others were taken to a nursing home, but two large arrangements remained.  While our husbands and her husband watched the Patriots play in the sun room my friend and I stood in the kitchen drinking wine, making individual arrangements (the husband did not want the flowers.)  We both decided it was such a special, therapeutic gift of time together as we quietly talked about our friend and the events of the past several days and all the new people we had met from their past. We each took several arrangements home.  I wanted to share the idea with you-  it was so nice to see none of the flowers go to waste and to see them remade into smaller, yet meaningful displays that will allow us to hold her in celebration for a few more days.  

For those in the area, the flowers were done by Apotheca in Goffstown, New Hampshire.  
Apotheca was wonderful to work with and all the arrangements were stunning.  

Thank you sweet Dan.... I could not have done this without all of your help, love and support.
Thank you and love to my dear friend Sara and my new bff ;) Sorrell- 
you are both, quite simply, amazing.  xxo

Monday, January 4, 2016

Happy New Year 2016 and Thank you !

Happy, Merry New Year to you!!!

I wish you health, love, joy and peace in 2016.
I hope that every single day you.....

Write it on your heart that every day is the best day in the year.

Thank you, thank you, thank you for your sweet, kind, wonderful, thoughtful comments on my Christmas "please leave your calling card" post.  Dan and I read each one- smiling, laughing, tearing up (me;), googling your towns, and just overall so genuinely touched by all the comments.

(I have tried to "reply" personally under each comment, but they do not show up.  I really want to respond to each one, but I can't.  If anyone knows how I can fix this blogger issue please leave a comment below or email me at: fortheloveofahouse@comcast.net.  I would greatly appreciate any help:)

Thank you for all the well wishes for a speedy recovery for Dan.  He is doing great and is off the crutches and is starting physical therapy today, for a couple of weeks, and then should be back to work.
 I am so thankful that you one, read the blog, and two, so many of you are still here after all these years- still interested in the goings on around the farmhouse and in our lives, and for all the new followers/faces.    
Thank you.

Since I have been writing the blog all these years now, I can struggle with what to write about.  Dan's comment to me after reading the comments from the Christmas post and on Instagram was that he noticed so many of you wished I would post more often.  I tend to only post when I think something has "meat" to it, and there are a lot of photographs, so as to not inundate your email box.  But maybe simple posts are okay??  In trying to figure out what it is you would like to see/hear/read about I realized that the best person to answer that is YOU!  What would you be interested in seeing on the blog in the upcoming year??!   I would love to hear from you- your suggestions for posts, requests, ideas, topics...  what you would like to see or have me write about or photograph.    
I actually do have a nice list of posts to do for the next month or so, (and a big surprise or two :) but sometimes finding (taking) the time to write/post is difficult to do.  I greatly appreciate so many of you acknowledging the time/energy it takes to write the blog.  That meant so much.
Again, thank you.

Please talk amongst yourselves;) and let me know your suggestions, ideas, requests, etc!!  Okay?!!!!
Can't wait to hear from you!


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