I’m Taking Credit for It – White Bean and Chocolate Chicken Chili

My friend is having a soup swap and if there’s one thing I know it’s to make the soup well in advance so it has sufficient time to completely freeze. (Almost frozen doesn’t make it, my friends.)

Six new washed and ready quart-size containers with screw-on lids.

Six new washed and ready quart-size containers with screw-on lids.

I decided to take a new tack and instead of creating my tried-and-true soup-swap soup I’m going to create a new recipe especially for the crowd attending. I made a good chicken stock  and cooled it in the refrigerator before assembling the soup.

Pan drippings reducing on the left -- stock pot ready for action on the right.

Pan drippings reducing on the left — stock pot ready for action on the right.

In a clean 8-quart stock pot I added diced bell peppers to my mirepoix and sautéed it in chicken fat skimmed from the broth.

Mirepoix - fine dice of onion, carrot, and celery. I added the weird pepper from our garden, too.

Mirepoix – fine dice of onion, carrot, and celery. I added the weird pepper from our garden, too.

The mirepoix is sautéing in schmaltz.

Mirepoix sautéing in schmaltz skimmed from the cooled stock.

I thickened the roux with a tablespoon of flour, a tablespoon of tomato paste, and 2 tablespoons of cocoa and sautéed until brown and aromatic .

Cocoa, tomato paste, and flour make a good tasting roux with chicken fat.

Cocoa, tomato paste, and flour make a good tasting roux with chicken fat.

Then I added warm stock, about half of a can of crushed Roma tomatoes I had pureed with 3 teaspoons of sugar, a tablespoon of chili powder and some sea salt (to taste).

I let this simmer on low for about an hour.

I let this simmer on low for about an hour.

When everything tasted really good to me I added 3 cans of cannellini beans and the chicken with skin and bones removed left over from the stock.  Thinking I wasn’t quite finished I added a can of creamed corn, another tablespoon of chili powder, and  some chopped parsley.

I made 6-perfect quarts minus one bowl. Yum.

I made 6-perfect quarts minus one bowl. Yum.

After dividing the white bean and chocolate chicken chili into six – 1 quart containers I added a generous spoonful of the reduced pan drippings to each jar. I know, gilding the lily.

After cooling for a night in the refrigerator I twisted the lids on tight and put the containers of soup in the freezer where they will remain until the soup swap.

After cooling for a night in the refrigerator I twisted the lids on tight and put the containers of soup in the freezer where they will remain until the soup swap.

Can’t wait to replace my one-of-a-kind soup with six unique varieties at the swap.

What kind of creativity are you taking credit for?

Decluttering the Bedroom

Our house is still torn apart except for a few rooms.  The bed has not yet been set up in the master bedroom so we’re still using the back bedroom so I’ll attack what I can in the 30 Day Decluttering Challenge.

The bedroom tasks include:

Day 5: Nightstand
Nightstands collect books, water bottles and electronics along with gobs of dust. Clear it off, wipe it down and leave only the bare minimum.

We've been sliding this bookshelf all over the second floor.

We’ve been sliding this bookshelf all over the second floor. Now I’m using it as a nightstand.

I’m just going to give you a before and after of the nightstand because it was a relatively easy project.

Before on the left and after on the right.

Before on the left and after on the right.

Day 6: Dresser 
Dressers can hide a lot in their drawers.

My dresser is the front one in the picture that I'm clearly using as a dust rag rack. Erggggh.

My dresser is the front one in the picture that I’m clearly using as a dust rag rack. Erggggh.

I opened every drawer and refolded messy clothes and even discarded a few items.

The top drawer is dedicated to scarves, hankies, and ladies gloves. I did what I could to organize them.

The top drawer is dedicated to scarves, hankies, and ladies gloves. I did what I could to organize them.

I was able to empty the bottom drawer and use it as a temporary linen closet for the master bedroom.

I did so much straightening I freed the bottom drawer for 4 king size sheet sets until the linen closet is built.

I did so much straightening I freed the bottom drawer for 4 king size sheet sets until the linen closet is built.

Day 7: Master Closet
Cleaning the master closet task means going through and tossing outdated and unworn clothing . Try not to let sentimentality get in the way of decluttering!

My closet in the Treetops room is stuffed to the gills but in good shape.  Our master closet is not finished yet.

My closet in the Treetops room is stuffed to the gills but in good shape. Our master closet is not finished yet.

I’ve been using a closet in the back bedroom so I decided to start on one of the floordrobe piles that were created when our master bedroom closets were removed.

Honestly -- how does it get like this.  See the improvement below from the same viewpoint.

Honestly — how does it get like this. See the improvement below from the same viewpoint.

We have plans for a fabulous new closet but until that time there’s really no place to put our clothes thus the piles on the floor.

This is the progress I made in here meanwhile clothes are in piles everywhere else.  It's a start.

This is the progress I made in here meanwhile clothes are in piles everywhere else. It’s a start.

Although I really did try I was a total failure at this particular task.

I’m not even halfway there. Sheesh!

What are working on?

I Jumped on the Bandwagon a Little Late

Once again I can’t remember where I read it but apparently the trend of chalkboard writing is “so last year”.  Too bad because I just thought of something I wanted to write.

A beautiful refurbished frame.

A beautiful refurbished frame.

Two years ago I refurbished the gold leaf frame above but I didn’t have anything to put in it and I’m not just going to hang it up empty.

I like this frame so much I used it at the center of the gallery wall in the hall from the mudroom to the kitchen.

I like this frame so much I used it at the center of the gallery wall in the hall from the mudroom to the kitchen.

So I thought I should put a chalkboard in it until a better solution came along.

The beginning of a poem by Arthur O'Shaughnessy.

A practice sketch of the beginning of a poem by Arthur O’Shaughnessy.

I picked the opening lines of a poem by Arthur O’Shaughnessy:

Ode from his book Music and Moonlight (1874):

We are the music makers,
And we are the dreamers of dreams,
Wandering by lone sea-breakers
And sitting by desolate streams;—
World-losers and world-forsakers,
On whom the pale moon gleams:
Yet we are the movers and shakers
Of the world for ever, it seems.

With wonderful deathless ditties,
we build up the world’s great cities.
And out of a fabulous story,
we fashion an empire’s glory.
One man, with a dream, at pleasure
can go forth and conquer a crown.
And three, with a new song’s measure
can trample an empire down.

We, in the ages lying,
in the buried past of the Earth,
built Nineveh with our sighing
and Babel itself with our mirth.
And o’erthrew them with prophesying
to the old of the New World’s worth.
For each age is a dream that is dying,
or one that is coming to birth.

I practiced the lettering on paper then tried it freehand on my makeshift chalkboard.

My chalkboard

My chalkboard

If a piece of real art that fits this frame comes along one day I’ll probably switch it out.

We're getting the gallery wall fleshed out at the same time.

We’re getting the gallery wall fleshed out at the same time.

But for now, I like it.

Do you have a favorite saying?

I Had to See It in Person

I discovered by reading someone’s blog (wish I could remember whose) that World Market is having a rug sale.  My dining room needs a rug.

The runner in the dining room is just temporary.

The runner in the dining room is just temporary.

I hopped right on their site to see if anything caught my eye and three items did. First the Kari Inspired Jute area rug — looks like old denim.  I wanted to see it in person and it’s out of stock online. I called the store to see if they had any in stock but, unfortunately, I had written down the names of the rugs and the store personnel needed a skew number.

This rug was very thin so I wouldn't want it in a high traffic area.

This rug was very thin so I wouldn’t want it in a high traffic area.

I decided to take my chance and drive 40 minutes to our nearest World Market to see it and maybe buy it.

Those are my fabric swatches on the rug -- they have little in common.

Those are my fabric swatches on the rug — they have little in common.

Not exactly what I had in mind and it didn’t really go with my fabrics and it was too small for the dining room. But for anyone interested they did have a few in stock.

The next rug came in 2 different colors and in a 9 by 12 size which it the size I need.

The dark blue hemp rug really is more of a dark charcoal grey.

The dark blue hemp rug really is more of a dark charcoal grey.

The blue grey Venora is more brown but went well with my fabric swatch.

The blue grey Venora is more brown but went well with my fabric swatch.

While I could see smaller versions of the rug at the store it really helped me decide the color.

The dark blue rug hanging. It's tricky to pick a rug that is hanging since it looks so different on the floor.

The dark blue rug hanging looks like the blue grey rug in the photos above. It’s tricky to pick a rug that is hanging since it looks so different on the floor.

Not the same in person.

It turns out this brownish rug which is called "blue gray" goes great with my fabrics.

It turns out this brownish rug which is called “blue grey” goes great with my fabrics.

The price was good and there would be free shipping except World Market was charging a $25 overweight fee. Wahhh?

Had I wanted a smaller rug World Market had a pretty good selection.

Had I wanted a smaller rug World Market had a pretty good selection.

Maybe I don’t want it that much.

I love this rug and it comes in a 9'-3" by 12'-6" size -- that would be perfect.

I love this rug and it comes in a 9′-3″ by 12′-6″ size — that would be perfect.

Finally I really like the light blue stained glass rug.  Even on sale it’s fairly expensive and has the same upcharge as the hemp rugs.

I was hoping this rug was it but when I looked back at the computer shot I realized it wasn't even close.

I was hoping this rug was it but when I looked back at the computer shot I realized it wasn’t even close.

Unfortunately WM didn’t have any size of The Stained Glass rug in the store so I thought it was a bit risky especially when I read a review that said it’s much lighter than the photo on the web. Then I saw this post by Steph at You Paid More Than Me where she compared the Preston rug to the Stained Glass Rug.

The Preston looks great and costs less but doesn't come it the 9 by 12 size.  Grrrr.

The Preston looks great and costs less but doesn’t come it the 9 by 12 size. Grrrr.

So I just walked away.

Do you get frustrated with surcharges and upcharges and fees and . . .?

Window Washing on Another Network

I’m hardly ever actually pictured in this blog: my blog and I take the pictures. Charlie is often the brunt of my photographic skills.

How hilarious is it that Charlie borrowed my tie-dye glasses to work on the details?

How hilarious is it that Charlie borrowed my tie-dye glasses to work on the details of a window?

But earlier this week I was contacted by HouseLogic.com because they wanted to use a photo of me washing windows.

Brush the dishwasher detergent and water mixture on the windows

Brush the dishwasher detergent and water mixture on the windows

I signed a release and here I am. Charlie actually took this picture.

Is this my better side, Mr. DeMille?

Is this my better side, Mr. DeMille?

The website that borrowed it flipped it. Maybe that’s my better side.

The windows in the laundry are in desperate need of washing. Let me get right on that.

The windows in the laundry are in desperate need of washing. Let me get right on that.

Thanks for the reminder that my windows really need cleaning, she said facetiously.

What fall chores are you totally not up for?

The Problem with Cleaning Up

I’m on Day 5 of a 30 Day Clutter Control project.  Day 1 and Day 2 are complete and in a good maintaining situation.

Before - Day 2: MAke-up Clean-up

Before – Day 3: Make-up Clean-up

Not a huge difference but, trust me, I purged.

After – Day 3: Not a huge difference but, trust me, I purged.

After finishing with the 3 projects in the bathroom I now know how luxurious it is to have an organized bathroom.

I call my little make-up chest the Chinese Charlie Chest which I decoupaged with Charlie's photo.  He hates it.

We’ll make this do until the real thing comes along.

I really can’t wait until our new, spacious master bath is finished.

The new master bathroom is 4 times the size of the pink one.

The new master bathroom is 4 times the size of the pink one.

Day 4 was supposed to be a bathroom event also — cleaning out the linen closet but we don’t have one. We use an old painted green hutch in the laundry room to hold towels and sheets.

Full to the brim it is.

Full to the brim it is.

It was here that I really realized the problem with cleaning up is that it’s difficult to isolate.

During the renovation we've been using the laundry room to stash almost everything we own of a fabric variety.

During the renovation we’ve been using the laundry room to stash almost everything we own of a fabric variety.

When one area gets clean the adjacent space looks atrocious. And what’s more during the renovation we had a mice problem and they even came up to the second floor and tried nesting in the laundry room. Although we put everything away clean and folded everything in the pile on the left needs to be washed again.

I've removed all items from the corner and was shock to find a floor which we haven't seen in a long time.

I’ve removed all items from the corner and was shock to find a floor which we haven’t seen in a long time.

The other issue is that we have an over-abundance of lovely things.  So I’m actually relegating sets of sheets to be stored in the room in which they are used.

Much better.

Much better.

I’m sure when our new bathroom is finished we’ll have much more linen storage space because we actually designed a linen closet right in the master suite.

The niche at the end of the hall in the maser suite has been drywalled and is slated to be a linen closet.

The niche at the end of the hall in the maser suite has been drywalled and is slated to be a linen closet.

Today’s task — Day 5: Nightstand or what I’m using for one at the moment.

I happen to be using this bookshelf as my temporary nightstand so I've got my work cut out.

I happen to be using this bookshelf as my temporary nightstand so I’ve got my work cut out.

Cleaning is a drag but having cleaned is awfully satisfying.

What do you find satisfying?

My Trader Joe’s Holiday List

Trader Jo (whoops) Joe sells seasonal items.  Some of them sell out pretty quickly so I’m making my list early and buying what I want as soon as it shows up.

Fresh cranberries – I love homemade cranberry sauce.

I buy both dried and fresh cranberries but you can only get fresh ones in season.

I buy both dried and fresh cranberries but you can only get fresh ones in season.

Cinnamon Broom – I give these as presents to anyone with a fire place.  Last year TJs also had Cinnamon whisks which I missed out on.  This year: Cinnamon whisks for everyone!

We still have our cinnamon broom from last year and it smells heavenly.

We still have our cinnamon broom from last year and it smells heavenly.

Perugina Baci – Last year I bought a half dozen gift boxes of Baci and even saved one for us.  More kisses this year.

Bacio -- kiss in Italian.

Bacio — kiss in Italian.

 

Rosemary tree – What cook wouldn’t like the smell of rosemary in the house in winter? And it’s not impossible to start some new plants from cuttings.

Rosemary trees - so fragrant.

Rosemary trees – so fragrant.

Panettone – I’m not crazy about Panettone personally but I know people who are and Trader Joe’s is one of the best.  One year I went to an Italian bakery in downtown Baltimore’s Little Italy to buy fresh baked panettone at $30 a loaf– it was a BIG flop.  The next year I tried  TJ’s at about $5 — home run. (And now there’s mini-panettone.)

Mini-panettone — so cute.

Caramels –  To be more specific tins of “Caramels Caught in a Blizzard” is a special little gift that’s really yummy and comes in a flat tin box, a treasure in a treasure box.

Caramels

About 16 in each box, they won’t last long.

I sure some other items will make their way into my cart  so watch out, I be shoppin’.

What’s on your shopping list? Did I forget something?