Easy Ham and Bean Soup

The Blizzard of 2016! Wow!!!   I cannot get out the back door and I am literally begging for someone with a snow blower to come to my house!

So, since I was stuck in the house it was a fabulous time to make ham and bean soup. I made a huge pot too because both my sons are out plowing all weekend and I wanted them so have some as well.

This has to be one of my most favorite hearty soups as well as comfort food!

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I prefer to use a white bean, I usually buy the white navy beans but the market was out and I found a bag of just a small white bean. I sorted through the beans and picked out a few stones, eww, rinsed them and soaked them in water all night.

Since I wanted the soup to ready for the boys by early to midafternoon, I started cooking as soon as I got up, which was pretty early!!

I rinsed and drained the beans and set them aside.

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In my soup pot I heated olive oil and sautéed a chopped onion and diced carrots. Poured in 2 cartons of chicken stock, a ham hock, bay leaf, a little salt and lots of pepper. And that’s it.

I brought the soup to a very low simmer, covered the pot and left it do its magic.

I did check the soup quite often to make sure it wasn’t getting to a boil, stirred often too.

My house smelled so amazing!

Now, about an hour before I plan to serve the soup I pull out the ham hock and pull any ham off and toss that back into the soup, discard the bones and fat. This ham hock had a good bit of ham on it but I have had some that had very little so I always buy a small ham slice as a back up. I decided to use a little of the extra ham so I cooked it for a few minutes in my cast iron skillet, both sides.

The rest of the ham I will save for the boys for sandwiches. Or freeze for later.

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The ingredient list you need for the bean soup:

1 ham hock, maybe a small ham slice for extra ham

1 bag of your favorite beans, I like white beans, soak overnight

1 small to medium onion, chopped

1 large carrot, diced in small pieces (maybe about 1/3 cup, ½ cup at the most)

Bay leaf, salt and pepper to taste

Olive oil to saute the veggies

This soup is super easy and full of flavor! Live well!

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Girls Night for Christmas

I’m had a few girlfriends over for a Christmas get together.  So I needed to finish up with the final touches of decorating.

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My front porch is decorated simply with a crate of firewood and greenery.  It will welcome my friends and family, letting them know they are welcome in my home and will be surrounded with warmth and love.

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I set up a small nativity scene.  This has been in the family, it was my Dad’s and it may have been his parents.  I don’t have all the pieces, but I love it just the same!  My friends and I will know the true meaning of the season and our celebrating.

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I would love to find more pieces, if that’s even possible!  As you can see, I only have 2 Kings and they are ….. twins!

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I have my table set for a holiday meal.  My friends and I won’t be sitting here for our gathering, we will be all in the living room curled up with all my Christmas pillows.

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I’m providing the beverage, one of which is this specialty Christmas drink.  Found a recipe on Pinterest for a martini that I am sure the girls will love, the glasses are lined up and ready!

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When it is time to say good night, they will each be leaving with a small hand made gift.  These plates were so easy to make.  I was inspired by a pin I saw on Pinterest, found the plates at Target and the gold and silver leaf pens at Hobby Lobby.

  
Have a beautiful and wonderful Christmas week!

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Christmas Home Tour 2015

I must be crazy to want to do a Christmas Home Tour this year!  I am so nervous to show you my home but yet I am also excited to share my cozy little place with you!

I have admired so many Christmas home tours on blogs, the homes are gorgeous!  And I love the all the different styles of decorating, rustic, country, traditional, contemporary.  It’s all so beautiful!

I want to warn you that I have been in my home for less than a year.  I still don’t have things the way I want them.  I need to paint, and there are still a few pieces of furniture that I am looking for and I still need curtains.  My house certainly does not look like it is worthy of a home tour, but I love my home and I love decorating for Christmas.  I just want to share my little corner of the world, a little place that warms my heart and welcomes all the family and friends that I have!!

I have been planning my Christmas décor for months!    Let me tell you how I started….

I have lots of family heirlooms that have been carefully packed away.  I have quite a few antiques that I have collected over the years.  And, I just have a lot of STUFF!  So I have been trying to be creative in using so many of the pieces to decorate.

The first thing I did was to start with an empty slate, I emptied all table tops and counters.  Then I set out what I wanted to use from my collections, and unpacked all the Christmas décor I had packed away.

I used old and new together in the décor, but I tried keep all the silver pieces together, and all the gold together.  That said, I do like silver and gold decorations together, and I love a light blue thrown in with it, maybe next year….

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I keep at least one framed photo of my kids, grandkids and my parents on display.  My parents have passed on and I need to keep a picture of them out not only all the time BUT most definitely at Christmas. I have so many wonderful fond memories of my childhood Christmases, even though they are always in my heart, I still want their photo for all to see.

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Some of the Christmas balls are new, some are hand-made mercury glass, and some are from my very first tree when I became a single mom… so many years ago!  Here’s a close up of the handmade mercury glass.

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My Dad used to set up a platform train set when I was very small.  He was very detailed using black thread for telephone wire, he used mirror for ice on a pond, and there were train cars that actually functioned as if it were a real train.  The engine even blew smoke!  But sadly, Dad got rid of everything except a few of the trains.  But one of the things that I really loved were the little bottle brush trees!!  I can’t help myself!!

So I bought a few to set on my craft table.. Warms my heart when I look at them as it reminds me of that train platform so many years ago!

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I thought decorating the kitchen for Christmas would be difficult and I would just go light on the decor, but it turned out to be easier than I thought AND I was able to use some of the heirlooms!

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This cabinet I installed after I moved in, but I still haven’t decided on the type of counter tile I want, so I covered the plywood base with the shiny red cloth.

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Even the sink area has a little sugared faux fruit for decor.

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This corner is where I do all my cooking, and today, baking!  I left a few cookies our for visitors, and a little basket for tangerines and apples.

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I also set out the  makings for hot cocoa, the grandkids will love this!

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So, that’s it for now.  I didn’t get my nativity scene up yet, I’ll share that with you soon.

Merry Christmas friends!

A housecleaning schedule??

I have read, with excited interest, various pins on Pinterest regarding a cleaning schedule.

Monday do this, Tuesday do that.  I have even given it a try, it never works for me. It makes complete sense to block out time each day to do a few household chores. If we have a schedule, we will stick to it and chores will get done right?

Yea well not for me. I’ll get an invitation to dinner, or I’ll be too tired, or something…

I sit down Sunday evening with my planner and notebook and make a list of things that didn’t get done on the weekend and everything that needs done for the week. I love crossing off chores as they’re completed through the week.

Yea I still have an evening after work where I’m too tired or I meet someone for dinner but I just pick one thing from my list that needs done, finish that small chore and cross it off!!

Towards the end of the week, I usually have a small panic attach after reading over my list, and then I’ll start highlighting the most important chores. It’s my way of giving myself the evil eye and a warning that I better get moving or else!!!

And by Friday if I still have items on my list, which by the way…..I always do, I just save it for the weekend.

Now, I’m single living with just my pup, that does not shed by the way, I don’t have small children that live with me but I do have grandchildren. So yea it’s a little easier for me to keep things tidy.

Life is way to short to worry about cleaning that doesn’t get done! There are friends and family to hang out with, hobbies to enjoy, dogs to walk, yanno?  I still love a clean spotless house, my house is picked up and neat but it might not pass the white glove test…..and that’s okay with me.

If those cleaning schedules work for you, that’s great!  I’m envious that those planners work for you and wish they did for me.

Live healthy and happy!!!  Follow me on my Facebook , click on the link on the sidebar, you can also follow me on Instagram at kims_pictures.

I Found a Treasure Chest!

Many years ago, I completely decorated my home in antiques.  Some were family heirlooms with sentimental value and many were purchased at local antique shops.  Since then my taste has changed and I guess I’m more modern now although I love to see  mix of modern and antique.

So, I am still working on settling in and fixing up my new home.  I very badly wanted a chest of drawers in my living room to use as storage for photo albums and other living room items.  I am also very stingy with my money.  Okay honestly…I’m cheap.

After browsing online and hitting all the local stores, I was frustrated.  New furniture is built cheap, yes I know I am cheap but…the cheap furniture is also expensive.  You know what I mean!!!

After deciding to hit some of the local antique shops, I cautiously ventured through a store just around the corner of my house.  And I certainly was not expecting to find something my first time out, but I did!

  
It was very rustic, VERY rustic!!!  I usually don’t care for things THAT rustic, but it caught my eye for some reason.  Oh, and the fact that is was CHEAP may have had something to do with it!!!  Listed at $65, and as stingy as I am and some encouragement from a friend, I asked for a lower price and got it!!

  
The chest is oak, has had some repair over the years and has what I think are hand cut nails.  And I LOVE the unfinished look!  

  
I think that is glue residue, not sure how to remove that yet.

The drawer pulls are comical though! They are not the original pulls, and they don’t match AND some of them are attached upside down!!!  

  
I think it adds character LOL!

  
The drawers do not slide well but my Uncle who is a carpenter, will be stopping by to give me some advice.

  
The lamp on the chest belonged to my parents, I added a more updated shade (instead of the retro shade it had!!).  But I’m thinking I might want something like a mercury glass lamp on the chest, yanno…that mix of old and new?! Family photo’s adorn the top and YES I am ready for fall, I just brought all my autumn decor up from the basement!

Now I’m searching for a hutch of some sort, glass doors, where I can display all my family dishes that I have collected over the years!

Live well friends!

My Private Oasis

Remember how I mentioned in an earlier post how cheap I am?  Well, having a privacy fence installed is not so cheap.

I hated writing that check!  Hated it!  But I love my private yard!!!  And I am hoping that a privacy fence has not only made my home more appealing and beautiful, but has increased the value.  Maybe that’s just wishful thinking with this economy.

My yard is flat, sort of, well maybe in a few certain spots, so they had to ‘step down’ the sides and there is one spot where my pup can and has gotten out.  That will soon be fixed.


My back yard is now a blank canvas just waiting for me to splash it with colorful plants and flowers!!!  Unfortunately with my shoulder issues right now I won’t be the one to be digging up the grass and planting the shrubs.  Maybe that’s a good thing??


I have been scouring the internet researching the flowering shrubs and plants that I love, trying to figure out what I can plant where with sun and shade. I would imagine that it’s going to take quite a bit of time to get this finished but I plan to get at least 2 lilac’s planted this fall, along with a forsythia or two!!


I plan to put a shed down in the corner (that’s the box in the middle of the yard, it’s a plastic shed!).  I’m trying to find something to provide a little bit of shade because I get FULL sun all day in the back yard.  I’d like a raised garden next spring too and maybe some sort of a water feature back by the patio.

Thankfully a lot of my friends have offered to divide up some of there plants and share with me!  I think those plants will be my favorite and most treasured!

What do you have in your yard that is your favorite and why?

Live Well friends!

Busy Busy Busy

Wow! I can’t believe I haven’t posted since January and still have my winter snow photo up!!! My bad!  I’ll change the photo sometime this evening!

Since that post I moved, and for a 55 year old single girl (okay, grandma)with Fibro, that’s a challenge!!  I also had to move everything out of storage, got rid of the kitties I adopted last July, and then unexpectedly was asked to adopt an adorable little 4 year old bichon-pooodle!

I have been steadily settling in and making changes and updates to my new home.  I have hardly cooked at all!  My diet has been mostly fruit, veggies, cereal and peanut butter!!  Dealt with several fibro flares.  And had a few minor melt-downs….

Spray painted these plastic urns that I found on clearance last year at Joann Fabrics.

Here is one of my Pinterest finds that helped moving my clothes a little easier!

And here are my curtain rods that I hung by myself and it took several weekends to hang 9 rods!  I only have sheers up for now. See that blind on the chair? That’s the blind from HELL!!

Working on getting a patio put in the back yard, I can hardly wait to sit out in the evening my a fire in my new fire pit!  Pictures later!

With all of the unpacking of storage boxes, I found things like my Mom’s high school jacket, a uniform my Dad wore in a band, several OLD camera’s among several other sentimental things!

Unfortunately, my white Christmas tree may be ruined!  The top part of the tree wouldn’t fit back in the box so I put it in a white plastic bag and it is now discolored.  I have not used the tree for a few years because with the fibro, running to storage to drag my tree and all the decorations back to the condo, was a bit much.  I was thinking of spray painting a light mist of white paint on it, but that could be a fire hazard.

I have also planted a few pots of herbs and did my first cutting of all the plants last evening. I have a planter full of mint.  In a separate planter I have sage, chives, rosemary, parsley and basil.


So this weekend I WILL BE COOKING!!!  I’ll also be making dog treats for my special little furball.


Hope you are all well and able to enjoy the nice weather we FINALLY getting!!

Live well friends!!