Coffee Chat – Peonies, Hansi, capsule wardrobes & a forgotten blogiversary

This morning I decided to drink my coffee outside after I got Happily Mr. of to work.  The weather here has been hot for May, which is crazy as 3 weeks ago we had snow and very cold temps.

I enjoyed waking up to my beautiful peony bush.  Its doing great this year.

Let me take you in for a closer look at these beautiful blooms.

Now, I would like to introduce you to a little guy I have a very big crush on, my cute garden gnome, Hansi.

I think he likes hanging out by my lavender which is coming in nicely as well.  Everyone names their garden gnomes, don’t they?

What else, oh yes,  I missed celebrating my blogiversary here on WordPress.  It was the twenty-fifth to be exact, also my brother’s birthday.  At least I remembered to wish him a happy birthday!  I cannot believe I have been here one year already.  So thankyou my friends, for coming back time after time to hang out with me.  It means so much to me and I appreciate all of you!! xx

One final thing I thought I would mention is how my capsule wardrobe is going.  I believe I talked about wanting to have one in a post quite a ways back.  I am happy to say, I have accomplished it.  In fact, I believe I can fit it all into a carry-on suitcase,  I’m going to try that later today.

Interesting to me, as this summer it contains more dresses and a skirt even.  I find I am so much more comfortable in a dress and am happy to announce I have no problem riding my bike wearing one either.  I think I will go into more detail  & share my 10 item wardrobe in a separate post later this week.  This has turned into a snowball effect of sorts as I have decided to do a “No-Shopping” thing for the rest of this year and you know what?  I am okay with that.  In a funny way, I feel relieved!    This also ties in with  my “Fifties Housewife” experiment.  Which again, I’ll be updating you on in the next few weeks.

Okay…. as always this coffee chat was longer than I planned.  Why am I always so chatty?!  Probably because I enjoy having coffee and chatting with you all!

x

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Betty Crocker’s potato salad & what we ate for dinner

There are hundreds of different variations to potato salad but today I’ll be sharing one specifically from my Betty Crocker Picture Cookbook; part of the cooking-through challenge.

Interestingly enough, the French Dressing I just happened to try a few weeks ago, so it was quite easy to whip up a batch.

Potato salad is such an easy make ahead dish and a great accompaniment to those summer barbeques.

As you know, I am trying to stay true to the ways things were done in that decade, so I went to my number one source, my Mom who was married in 1950, to find out if I am supposed to peel the potatoes after boiling or before.  I had vague memories of her peeling them after.  She confirmed that is how she did it, but it was no big deal to peel them before.

Potatoes are a much softer, floury consistency and the skins are quite thin here in Germany, I found it was easier to peel them before boiling.

Here is a picture of the potatoes  after mixing in the French Dressing.  I then let them chill in the refrigerator for 2 hours, like the recipe states.  They really don’t look “cubed” to me, I probably could have done a better job there but I was in a bit of a hurry.

I then added the salad dressing and eggs just before serving and of course garnished it with some parsley.

This particular evening I needed a quick dinner so I just served it up with some mini würtschen(frankfurters) and this is what our light, evening meal looked like.

Keep or Toss? Happily Mr. said definitely a keeper.

My Thoughts?  It had a nice creamy texture and the taste was very mild which is a switch from the vinegar taste of many potato salads in our region.

Thats it for this week!  Be sure to pop back in next week as I am going to attempt one of the more difficult salads in this cookbook.

Have a wonderful weekend!

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Is there really such a thing as Salad Etiquette?

Why, yes there is!

If you have been following along this month,  you  might remember  that Salad is the category as we make our way through the Cooking-Through Challenge.

In the spirit of the 1950’s housewife, I am immersing myself into many aspects of this era.  As promised, it’s time to share with you a few of my favorite questions and answers according to  Mrs. Crocker’s thoughts on Salad Etiquette.

Q. Is a salad fork always necessary? 

A.  A dinner salad may be eaten with the same fork as the main course.

Q. How should I serve a bowl of mixed salad or a platter of salad?

A.  It may be passed; but he individual serving should be easy to remove.  Or the hostess may serve it onto salad plates and pass them around the table.

Q.  Should dressing always be passed?

A.  Some salads are served without dressing so that their beauty of arrangement will not be marred; these require the passing of dressing.

Just one more…

Q.  Should one eat the salad green?

A.  Yes, it is a part of the salad and is intended to be eaten.

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Whats coming up next on the blog? Well, last night I tried creating another new dish in the salad category that doesn’t have anything to do with lettuce.  I’ll be sharing that with you friday, so make sure to stop by to find out if my husband gave it a thumbs up or not.  😉

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Five easy cleaning tips for a happier home

 

I know, it’s a cheesy title but I am “Happily Mrs.” and those that know me, know that I like to clean.  For many, I know it is not something that you may enjoy at all and that’s okay.  Today, I want to share my top five tips that may be able to get you on your way if this is an area you really would like to “clean up”.

Funny that my number one tip has nothing to do with cleaning, but I feel it is the most important before starting the cleaning process.

  1.  Tidy (or straighten up) before cleaning.  Don’t confuse “tidying up” with cleaning.  They really aren’t the same thing.  I found personally that cleaning is actually enjoyable if we aren’t trying to dust around old newspapers lying around (or tablets and chargers tangled up), blankets crumpled on a couch or last nights snack remnants reminding me that I really should not have eaten that before bed.
  2. Assign one cleaning task a day.  I know that sometimes we just don’t have time in our busy lives for a designated “cleaning day” or that something of importance comes up on that cleaning day. Or, we are just overwhelmed with the idea of cleaning.  I have certain days assigned for dusting, vacuuming, bathrooms, floors, mirrors and glass, etc.  Honestly, it only takes 10 to 20 minutes a day. I only do them monday through friday.  I am just too busy on the weekends.  Another thing I do, if I will be gone most of the day or out-of-town, I will double up and do two tasks the day before, than I don’t feel behind or overwhelmed when I am back home.
  3. Clean by task, not by room.  Cleaning is so much quicker and easier when you pick up your dust cloth (and polish, if you choose) and start at one end of the house and only dust.  This is so much easier than toting a pail of products and tools around the house and cleaning everything room by room.  Same on the days I vacuum, it seems so much easier and quicker to do the whole house at once.  I always make the last room the one where I store the cleaning item or tool.  It really does save time, I find.
  4. Don’t overload on cleaning products.  You do not need as many as you think.  I used to buy every product and tool under the sun thinking I could clean better with designated products for designated areas.    These days with multi-purpose sprays and micro fiber cloths, it really is that simple. You may be surprised at the small amount of products I use for a person who enjoys cleaning.
  5. Clean-up and put things away right after you use something.  For example, it really only takes 15 to 30 seconds to hang up the towel and  wipe the bathroom mirror and sink after you are done getting ready in the morning.  Wash the dishes or put them in the dishwasher right after eating.  If you are consistent with doing these things, your home will always look clean.  Remember the words of Lucy Ricardo – “A place for everything and everything in its place.”

I realize I could go into so much detail about cleaning, routines and organizing.  I am by no means perfect at it I just love the outcome.  There are times my house is a bit messy and that’s okay, I just don’t let it pile up.

If we start small and dig deep to find the discipline to keep doing these formerly dreaded tasks, they will become a habit.  Set a timer for 10 minutes and see how much you can get done.  It may surprise you just as it surprised me.  I have actually found I have more time to do and enjoy hobbies I had forgotten about.

One last thing that could help, if you have children, make cleaning time fun.  Set a timer, hand them a cloth and let them follow you around the house dusting.   Or set the timer for a tidy-up time, they pick up their toys while you tidy up your things. They love doing this, it makes them feel grown up and a help to mom or dad!  Not only is it a huge help to you, it sets a good example and forms a good habit.

Do you have a cleaning tip or hack that works for you?  I would love to hear about it. Am I the only one who really does enjoy cleaning? Is that weird?

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The perfect salad topper – It’s as simple as French Dressing!

Last week, for the cooking-through challenge, I shared Betty’s version of the basic green salad.

Of course every salad needs a dressing and as I was looking through this section of the Betty Crocker Picture Cookbook (my book for the challenge), I thought, why not try the recipe on page 335 for French Dressing.  Typically, I am not a fan of it but… I felt like trying it this time.

My guess as to why I like it now, because it is a basic key recipe.  Nothing extra added to tweak it and most likely I don’t care for the taste of those “tweaks”?  I don’t know, I am making this up as I go along and it sounds right to me.

Anyways, on with the ingredients needed.

Sugar, salt, paprika, mustard, pepper, lemon juice, salad oil and onion juice.  I have a glass jar that I always use for dressings.  Funny thing, a creamy french dressing came in it and we didnt’ care for it, but I liked the jar.

Mix everything together and shake and voila!

You have a really tasty salad dressing!

Keep or Toss?  Another keeper!

My Thoughts?  I  definitely could have found a better way to photograph the dressing for you, now that I think about it!

Be sure to stop by Mary’s blog to see what recipes she is cooking up during this month.  She is using the Better Homes and Gardens cookbook. 

 

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A really quick coffee chat & tortes from Salzburg

Hello my friends… I know I haven’t shared anything yet this week.  Well… I had a quick visit with family from the U.S. & we were in Austria.  Salzburg to be exact.  My favorite city in all of Europe.  We headed down to Salzburg over the weekend to meet up with my cousin.  Had a whirlwind of a great time.

Here are a few of my favorite things.  (Yes, keep reading and you may see a theme here.)

The most delicious tortes and incredible coffee  at Cafe Tomaselli.

Yeah, I know I should have pulled the wrapping down so you could truly see all the layers, and probably used my camera instead of my phone, but at least I thought of you all for a moment while I was away.  🙂

For those of you who enjoy a certain movie that was filmed in Salzburg, you may recognize this house.

A hint, it is where “the hills are alive”.

with the Sound of Music.  We did the incredible sound of music bike tour (which I highly recommend if you are a fan), where we stopped at important spots and sang songs from the movie.  Yes, we really did that.  Also, learned alot from the movie we didn’t know and saw parts of Salzburg, I never would have gotten to see.  It was awesome!  I even felt inspired to find some “confidence” and climb the gate like Maria did in the movie.

The home is now a dormitary for music students.

So, that is why I have been a little m.i.a.  I still have to find some sort of organization and balance with blogging as we do travel now and then.  I don’t care to or even have time to lug a laptop around. The 6 or 7 hours I have back at our hotel, I usually can only pass out!

I’ll be back tomorrow to share what my next recipe is in the cooking through challenge though.   No worries.

I have to run now, while I have a mountain of laundry to do and all that fun stuff that accumulates when you are away from home.

xo

 

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Basic Green Salad – “There can always be a salad!”

As I am cooking my way through the “Salads” category this month, I thought why not go back to the basics.  Today I am preparing a  green salad just as Betty Crocker suggests.  Although she states, “There can always be a salad”, meaning just by glancing in your refrigerator, cupboard, or garden, will convince you that you will always have the available ingredients.  Of course she is very considerate and gives the housewife a general plan on how to use what you happen to have on hand.

For this salad though, I took the amounts suggested for 3 people and used only the ingredients mentioned in the Amounts for Green Salads section, found on page 339 of the Betty Crocker Picture Cookbook.

Since I am trying to stay true to the recipes for this challenge, I used romaine and a little spinach.  Those were on the list of  “A Variety of Salad Greens gives interest to salads” list, found on page 337.

Before I show you my result, can I just add, I thought it was interesting that onion was not mentioned in the vegetable amounts for green salads and have never added celery before either.   I am learning so much  this month, even the proper way to wash and prepare lettuce, add the dressing and so much more.  Yes, I did say we will be discussing salad etiquette and don’t worry, we will as manners and etiquette are a favorite subject of mine.  Okay… I know, I can get chatty when I talk about something I enjoy.

Here is my very basic, Green Salad.

I chose to make French dressing to go on it and I will happily be sharing that adventure with you next week!

Funny thing, I can’t find my salad tongs anywhere!

I’m curious… Do you put onion in your green salad?  Or celery for that matter?

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How to remove stains from white dishes

I finally discovered a way to remove dark stains and scratches from some old white dishes that I inherited.  They weren’t dirty, just marked from years of use.

I tried to photograph the stains, but the camera did not seem to want to focus on it.  This plate in particular was quite bad, brown stain over most of the plate.  I always kept this one on the bottom of the stack, although I only own five.

First I sprinkled some baking soda on the plate.

Rubbed fairly gently with a damp cloth.

The stains on this plate were so bad that I needed a little reinforcement, so I added just a dab of vinegar.

I’m not sure if this would be recommended, but I rubbed this plate again and it took the stains off and even some of the scratches.

Only one of the five plates needed this treatment, the rest came clean with a bit of baking soda and some gentle elbow grease.

I don’t know if this process would work on all white dishware.  These are about 30 years old and were made in West Germany.  It is good solid porcelain, so if you do attempt this way to remove stains from your dishes, do try a small area first.

I am so glad I decided to try this.  I didn’t want to have to buy new plates, just because these were stained, but I couldn’t keep using them when I had company over.

Sometimes, it’s just the simple things that make such a big difference.

In case you live in Germany and wonder what the equivalent to baking soda is – the proper translated word is Natron and you can find it sold in little packets in any grocery store and in a larger box (like Arm and Hammer baking soda size) in your local drug store.

 

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