Happy Halloween !

Woo hoo, time is flying by – here it is Halloween already. One of my favorite holidays!

Happy Halloween pumpkin

We’re all set for the little ones to come by for goodies. Didn’t do as much as usual this year, somehow the holiday snuck up on us. So we don’t have the vibrating dead rat, or the huge ghost out front – but we do have creepies and crawlies, and our friendly Scary Witch on the front porch. My DH is probably going to wear his Headless Frankenstein Monster suit again. The kids love it 🙂

Have a happy, safe, fun Halloween!

Recipe – Mexican white bean soup

Okay, I’m not sure how “mexican” this soup is – though it did have chorizo in it, which is quite often mexican. But the recipe I started with was called “Mexican white bean soup”, so there ya go. I found it here – I think Better Homes and Gardens recipes are great starting points, though I don’t always stick precisely to a recipe. (My friends would be laughing right now if they were reading over my shoulder – “you don’t *usually* follow a recipe? Do you EVER follow a recipe”?”

Mexican white bean soup adapted from BHG recipe

So yes, I modified the original recipe quite a bit – I’m linking it there so you can compare and use more of their version if you want!

Here’s approximately what I did – I don’t measure, so everything is guesswork. But it’s also very forgiving.

Start with a quart or so of chicken or vegetable stock – I had some in the freezer (chicken bones, veggies, heavy on onions, carrots, zucchini bits, and some broccoli stems, which they say shouldn’t be in stock but oh well). To the stock I added 6 good-sized white potatoes, skins left on, diced into approx. 1/2″ pieces. Cook the potaties in the stock for about an hour or maybe more, till the potatoes are soft.

Meanwhile in another pan (iron skillet would be best) I add a cup or more of finely-diced carrots (shredded or grated – very small), some finely grated white cabbage, diced onions, and some shredded zucchini. Nobody knows those veggies are in there, except the carrots – they just add substance and more vitamins. Cook them all in a bit of olive oil till they’re very soft, then add to the potato/stock mixture.

When the potatoes are soft, add at least a couple cans, or up to a pound, of white beans – that are cooked through. There will be a *lot* of veggies in a relatively small amount of stock.

If you have an immersion blender, this is the time to start blending. I still don’t have one – so I took out my handy hand mixer. Using a sieve or slotted spoon, scoop a good portion of the the potato/bean mixture and place in a deep bowl. Then start mixing. No, it’s not as good as the blender – but it does a pretty good job. Keep adding more of the veggies from the soup pot, and pretty soon you’ve got a thick blend to put back in the pot. It’s not a fancy way to do it – but it works.

For seasoning, I took a hank of chorizo (maybe a half pound), removed the casing, and sauteed it on medium heat till it released most of the grease. Wipe some of that out of the skillet, then take the browned bits from the pan and scoop those into your soup. Add some Rotel-type spicy tomato mixture, or just add some diced tomatoes and jalapenos.

Let the soup cook a bit longer to give the flavors a chance to get acquainted – a half hour or more. See if it needs more seasoning.

Filling, cheap, healthy and tasty – this is a good recipe, to start from…!

Pansy earrings – the traditional first anniversary flower

This is something I hadn’t known till recently: pansies are considered the traditional “first anniversary” flower. I’ve always thought pansies were beautiful, with their wonderful variety and colorations. Now I have another reason to love them 🙂

And they’re probably the most popular flower in my shop, for earrings and necklaces – and now I know (another reason) why. Tradition. Wedding anniversaries. Pansy flowers. They go together like, well, love and marriage.

pansy earrings at Paper Jewels...with amethyst and Swarovski crystal elements

Plus: girly, pretty, and feminine. Just like flower earrings should be 😉

Pretty floral paper earrings – a first anniversary gift idea

I like to try new designs, and occasionally really big earrings, because with paper earrings they can still be comfy. But I tend to come back to more delicate shapes, and delicate florals are among my customer favorites. Like these:

red floral paper earrings at Paper Jewels

They’re just over 1″ long (big enough to have some presence, but still delicate and of course lightweight). And the little Swarovski crystal elements (accent beads) add just a bit of sparkle. They’re girly, when you’re in that sort of mood.

And – just saying – they are wonderful first anniverary gifts. You know: if you’re looking.

Saturday morning cartoons…

A day I never thought I’d see: Saturday, October 4, 2014, there were no Saturday morning cartoons.

I haven’t actually watched Saturday cartoons in decades. I won’t miss them or anything. And I think it’d be great if thousands of kids weren’t parked parked in front of the TV so they could absorb early-propoganda lessons about Stuff They Need To Buy. But I’m not that naive. There is still “children’s programming” and there are lots of commercials for those.

And handing your kid the iPad or tablet and letting them play on that for hours isn’t a big improvement over cartoons.

It’s just another name for “keeping the kids entertained”. And yeah there’s educational stuff available on the net. Oh yeah, kids are turning that on, right.

Kind of makes me miss the cartoons, actually.