Chicken Pot Pie

I’m back on a food network kick and it seems everyone is making chicken pot pie these days.  This dish has never held much appeal for me but the more I watched Barefoot Contessa, The Pioneer Woman and Trisha Yearwood prepare it, the more I wanted to make it.  It just seems like a hug in a dish.  A highly-caloric hug.

I reviewed a couple of recipes and made up a hybrid of sorts.  I pulled out some chicken breasts from the freezer, an onion, the remaining celery from some lentils I had made early in the week, white wine, half and half, and some butter.  I needed only a couple of things from the store: fresh thyme, carrots, chicken bouillon cubes and refrigerated pie dough.  I didn’t make my own crust because I couldn’t stand to think about all of the shortening and butter atop this already cream-based dish and I didn’t feel like pulling out and cleaning my 49lb food processor.   If I don’t have to measure out the fat, it doesn’t exist as far as I’m concerned.

Now, as I was thinking about making this dish, I realized that I didn’t have any ramekins or personal-sized soufflé dishes.  I decided to swing by the home section at Marshalls to see if they had anything inexpensive.  All they had were miniature Le Crueset square baking dishes in red.  While they were reasonably priced, I have mustard-colored Le Crueset and my OCD self would not let me purchase a non-matching color.

I headed over to Big Lots.  On my way into the store, I caught a renegade shopping cart that started careening down the parking lot and towards an unassuming parked vehicle.  I stopped the cart about a foot shy of a big old dent in the side of this car.  As I neared the door to the store, a man waiting in a truck rolled down his window and yelled, “Nice save!”  For my good Samaritan efforts, I thought maybe the baking dish gods would reward me by having the right ramekins in this store.  Nope.  At least I worked off a few calories in the high-speed cart chase.

I recalled Kroger had a nice selection of well-priced baking pans and dishes so I ran in there quickly.  Sold out in the size I needed.  Of course!  I was about to bite the bullet and hit up William Sonoma when I remembered Pier 1.  They had just the thing at just the right price.  Success!

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I primarily used The Pioneer Woman’s recipe from her first cookbook, substituting half and half for heavy cream and fresh thyme for dried.  I also added in peas because they’re cute and tasty and a little cayenne pepper for a kick.  I was pleased with the result but I might consider adding a little bit of dry mustard next time or perhaps some curry powder.  I might also consider a smaller ramekin next time because I feel like I just ate a rock.  Back to Pier 1!

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I did use some smaller disposable pans so I could stick the rest of the recipe in the freezer. Aren’t they precious?

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Y’all eat up,

Sugarlump

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P.S. I sprinkled these dough scraps with cinnamon and sugar and put them in the oven to bake with my pot pie.  It was a sweet little snack!

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Tax Avoidance (Not Evasion)

It’s funny how, when faced with doing your taxes, vacuuming the sofa and ironing your socks become wildly appealing activities.  Suddenly, tackling that oil painting for my living room that I’ve been putting off since I moved in 11 months ago seems very urgent.  Brushing the cats’ teeth and cleaning out that “catch-all” basket of receipts, screw-drivers, lotion samples, paperclips and nail polish is just too hard to resist.

Doing my taxes really isn’t all that bad.  Because I own a business, I have an accountant who sends me a really nice tax organizer that makes the experience as painless and straight-forward as possible.  Every year, after I complete the document to return to her, I remark on how surprisingly simple it was.  And every year, I put off doing my taxes because something about it makes me want to do just about anything else.  I can’t explain it.

Today, instead of doing my taxes, I’ve done 4 loads of laundry and 1 load of dishes.  I’ve vacuumed, changed the sheets on my bed, rearranged the furniture and cleaned out the refrigerator.  Then I happened to find myself at Homegoods where I purchased 2 mirrors that were not the size I needed, but I had to have them.  Consequently, I have spent the last hour re-hanging everything on the walls in my apartment to accommodate said purchases.

At least I will have a fresh environment in which to do my taxes…whenever that may be.

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Off to French-braid Scarlett’s fur.  Doesn’t she look excited.

Y’all be responsible,

Sugarlump

A Very Costly 46 Cents

I’d like to start by saying that I pay most of my bills online as this is my preference for the sake of efficiency, peace of mind and instant gratification.  Two of my utility companies, however, are stuck in the previous century and charge a fee of roughly 10% of my bill to accept payment electronically.  I refuse to pay this outrageous fee given it is significantly higher than the cost of a stamp (even though postage has gone up).

As I went to pay my two paper bills by check (quick poll: how long do you think before checks are obsolete?), I realized I only had one stamp.  No problem, I would stop at the mail center store just down the road from my apartment when I was out running errands.

I pulled into the parking lot for the mail center store toward the end of the day only to find that the store had gone out of business in the month since I had been there last.  If only I had to pay more bills by mail so I could have kept them in business.  It sure was a handy location.

The bills sat in my car for the next few days as a reminder to buy stamps at a less convenient location.

On my lunch break a few days ago, I headed out to McDonald’s for some McNuggets.  I’d had McDonald’s on the brain ever since one of my coworkers ate a sausage biscuit in front of me as my stomach growled, unsatisfied with the oatmeal and blueberries I’d had for breakfast.  Feeling slightly guilty for straying from my healthy choices, I asked if anyone else wanted anything from McDonald’s.  My pregnant boss asked for a medium order of fries.

I went through the drive-thru and headed back toward the office.  When I was almost there, I happened to glance down and notice my bills in the center console.  I figured I might as well stop off and get some stamps while I was out, so I made a U-turn and drove to Fedex Kinko’s.  I waited at the counter for about 5 minutes as the 3 employees decided not to pay attention to me.  When one finally came over, he told me that they don’t sell stamps but the Walgreens across the street does.  So I hopped back in the car and drove over to Walgreens.

I arrived at Walgreens to utter chaos. There were two checkout lines, both manned by people who seemed to have the opposite of a sense of urgency despite the fact that there were about 10 people in line.  I waited in line for nearly 10 minutes as the cashier studied each of the purchases of the people ahead of me.  I was delighted to wait in line on this dreary, raw day as the young boy in front of me, wearing basketball shorts and no coat, proceeded to cough up a lung.

I finally made it through the line and asked the cashier where the nearest mailbox was.  The woman behind me in line suggested I take my bills to Fedex Kinko’s just across the street.

So I headed BACK to Fedex Kinko’s.  A line had formed and the staff seemed flustered.   Seeing a box that said “outgoing packages,” I walked up to the desk and asked one of the employees if she would kindly just toss my bills in the “outgoing packages” box.  She proceeded to tell me that they don’t take regular mail, but there is a mailbox in the shopping center down the road.  Just fabulous.

I headed down the road to the mailbox and dropped off my very irritating bills. I probably wasted at least a gallon of gas and 30 minutes on this adventure for a stamp.  And by the time I got back to work, I had only room temperature French fries to present to a pregnant lady.  It might have been worth that online fee after all.

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Continuing my brilliant success at life, yesterday, I vacuumed up my phone charger.

Y’all be smart,

Sugarlump

Oh Christmas Tree

It’s been so long since a fresh post.  Too long really.

It’s so annoying how life gets in the way of blogging about my life.

I’ve been up to a lot of things as the holiday season picks up speed, namely getting my apartment ready to host my immediate family Christmas.

The first order of business was a tree.  I wrangled a live 8 foot Frasier fir into my jeep and then up 2 flights of stairs to my apartment.

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All by myself, thank you very much.

I just flung that puppy over my shoulder and never looked back.

I was very impressed by my achievement as I went to put the stand on the tree and realized I had no tree stand.  What a buzz kill.

What happened was that I saw a tree stand at Lowe’s where they didn’t have any garland so I decided I would just get the tree stand wherever I found garland and save myself a holiday madness check out experience.  I found garland at Home Depot and plumb forgot about that there tree stand thing.

It’s a miracle that I can make it to work with matching shoes on a regular basis.

So glad that my efforts toward time efficiency had paid off, I trudged out to my car and drove to Home Depot.  I parked my car and grabbed for my wallet in my purse.  No wallet.  Man, that day was really shaping up to be a good one.

Thoroughly frustrated by myself, I drove back to my apartment, went and grabbed my wallet and set off for my FOURTH journey for that dang tree stand.

Even though I never got out of the car at Home Depot, my pride would not allow me to drive back there for the third time in 2 hours.  So I found myself at Lowe’s, purchasing the tree stand that I had opted out of purchasing just hours earlier so I could save myself some time.

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BAH, HUMBUG, y’all,

Sugarlump

Showing Cattle

Yet another gem from the childhood summer adventures of cousins Lauren and Emily, here we have documentation of our days showing cattle.

In preparation for our debut at the fair, Granny took us to the big city of Bowling Green to get some matching outfits.  We landed on these precious denim vests, black shorts and black boots. Naturally, we chose to coordinate our socks with our t-shirts.  And in case you missed them, we were wearing gigantic black bows.  We kind of had a double layer Oreo thing going with the black and white.  Granny added a nice touch by sewing little sunflower patches onto our vests.  I think they really pulled the look together.

Here we are posing with our trophy cow. She was just thrilled to have a couple of little girls around.

This young lady certainly wasn’t going anywhere with all of us anchoring her rope.  We were so much help.  For all I know, this cow might have been a young man.

That’s my dad in the red cap.

I can’t help but notice that this calf and I have nearly the same leg shape: knobby.

Man was I happy to be there.

We don’t seem to have any pictures of me and Lauren showing our calves individually.  Poor cousin Lauren got a wild one and I think he stepped on her foot a time or two.  She persevered.

Granny and Eugene cheered us on from the stands as we won a few ribbons for our efforts.   The event concluded with a celebratory Sippy cup of apple juice.

Today, cousin Lauren turned 22.  In the 17 years since these photos were taken, she has learned a tremendous amount about cattle and showing them.  Regrettably, the same cannot be said for me.  Maybe someday we’ll get back out there in our sunflower vests and cousin Lauren can give me a few pointers.

Happy Birthday, Lauren!  I will always treasure our summer adventures.

Y’all hurry back,

Sugarlump

Mugged

Yesterday, I was mugged at Homegoods.  Mugged by coffee mugs, that is. I have been mugless since I moved to Tennessee.  The set of dishes I inherited came with teacups, but no coffee mugs.  I knew I wanted something interesting … Continue reading

New Drapes

I had another one of those serendipitous shopping moments last week.   I think, after a while of coming up empty-handed and discouraged, you build up good shopping karma and exactly what you have been looking for everywhere appears right before your eyes.  I had this moment in Bed Bath and Beyond.  I had looked a couple months back and there was nothing that excited me as I searched for drapery panels for my main living area.  My ceilings are 9 feet tall so I needed 108” length panels because I wanted them to puddle slightly at the bottom.  You almost never see this length available in the store.  Normally they have the 84” and 95” stocked and then the “extended lengths” are available for order online. 

Having given up on finding something readymade in the textured woven oatmeal-ish genre, I looked into custom drapes, which would likely be 3-4 times as expensive and take 3-4 times as long to arrive.  I just wasn’t sure I wanted to spend that kind of money on drapes for an apartment that is likely temporary and full of abnormally large windows.  I also wasn’t sure I would have a use for 7 long panels of something very specific.  And I’m impatient. 

My solution to this whole dilemma was to ignore it for a while.

It was very effective.   Except when I was in my apartment and able to see my naked windows.

Then, one fateful day last week, I stepped foot in Bed Bath and Beyond for the first time in months with low expectations and a glimmer of hope.  I didn’t even grab a cart or a basket as I sped toward the drapery department.  I walked through the first isle and saw nothing but dreadful polyester in 84” length panels.  I headed down the second isle, sure that my drapeless fate was sealed.  I reached the end of the isle and saw some drapes that had a nice, chunky woven texture like I had been searching for.   And they even had a color that could work: a sandy, oatmeal-y, taupe-ish color.  I figured I would have to order them online, but as I pulled back the sample curtain, there lay at least a dozen of the panels in the color I wanted in 108” length!  I nearly fainted.  Then the adrenaline kicked in and I sprinted (almost) around to the front of the store to grab a cart.  I tore around the corner on two wheels in the direction of the drapery section.  Thankfully, no one had scooped up all of the panels in the 13.4 seconds I was gone.  I quickly pulled out 7 packages and violently threw them into my cart like I was on Supermarket Sweep and headed for the registers. 

I only had 1 coupon with me and it was for 20% off one full-priced item.   The nice lady at the register asked me if I had any more because I could “save a bundle.”  I had had other coupons, but they had expired and I was pretty sure I’d recycled them already.  One lady behind me in line had a handful of coupons and offered me a couple of hers.  It was so sweet of her but I told her I couldn’t take her coupons from her.  The cashier said if I found any more coupons that I should come back and get my receipt adjusted.  Wouldn’t you know that I dug around in my car for my coupon folder (I have to have this otherwise I always leave my coupons either a) in my house or b) in a different purse that I am not carrying that day) and found a coupon for 20% off my ENTIRE PURCHASE (read: $84 plus tax in savings). The only issue was that the coupon had expired at the end of July and it was now the first week of September.   I know some stores will still take coupons after they have “expired” so I went back into the store and played dumb like I couldn’t read the large print indicating that my coupon had expired on 7/31/12.

It surely was a fateful day because instead of the surly, gum-chewing 20-something woman at customer service, I was called over for service at the register of a nice young man.  I gave him the coupon and my receipt from earlier in the day, telling him that I had found my 20% off my ENTIRE PURCHASE coupon I had meant to bring in when I made my purchase.  No problem.  He was going to take care of that for me right away.  And he did.  

And I got exactly the drapes I had been looking for, for ¼ the price I had considered spending, in the correct length and color, AND I was able to drive straight home and put them up in 30 minutes.

To say I was/am pleased would hardly cover it.

To say Gus and Scarlet are pleased would hardly cover it.  Though it took them weeks to warm up to their new, plush cat beds, they took to the drapes immediately, even before I had them hung on the rods.

If you need me at any point in time for the next few years of my life, I will be lint-rolling and vacuuming these drapes.  

 But at least I have drapes.

I mean, Scarlett has drapes.

If you need Scarlett, she’ll be snuggling with/guarding the drapes.

Y’all come back,

Sugarlump

Inspection Misconception

Yesterday morning, I set out bright and early/at 10:45 after sleeping in and went to get my Jeep inspected because the Massachusetts sticker on my windshield indicated that my inspection was due by the end of August and it was now … Continue reading

A Woman of My Word

I talked to dear little Eugene on Skype today.  We discussed many things about her first week in Paris, the most important of those being the shopping of course.  She showed me her latest finds, one of which was a pair of shoes.  Men’s style, smoking slippers in cheetah print.  They will look adorable on her because she has narrow feet and a high arch so even though they are based on a men’s style shoe, her feet won’t look manly in them.  Seeing my favorable reaction, Eugene asked me if I might want a pair.  I had considered this a while back when this style starting appearing in stores here and had come to the conclusion that my less narrow and less-arch-y feet might not look so cute in these shoes, but instead rather manly.  Eeek.

So I told Eugene that I would be passing on smoking slippers, but to let me know if she found any pretty blouses.  Surely those won’t look masculine on me.

Not two hours later, I was at the mall shopping for some black pants for work when I somehow found myself in the 65% off shoe racks at Dillards.  I really have no idea how these things happen.  I think it has something to do with a gravitational pull.   Some sort of fundamental law of physics pertaining to women and shoes.  I believe it’s called Prada’s law.

 

Anyway, I was circling the 7/7.5 rack like a lioness on the hunt for food for her cubs, when I ran across these little smoking slipper gems.  I had seen them when they first hit stores a few months back.  I had picked them up, swooned, considered the manliness factor, decided they might not be so bad due to their colorfulness, sequins, and hint of animal print, and then I put them back on the display because I couldn’t justify such a novelty purchase when I needed more basic and versatile shoes for work.  

When I came across them again this evening, I was still on the hunt for practical shoes for work, but these shoes were much more enticing and justifiable at 65% off.  I put them on with my black yoga pants.  They didn’t look half-bad.  I shook my head, telling myself that these were superfluous.  Very fun, but certainly not what I need right now.  I put them back on the shelf and walked around trying to find some basic black wedges, which have proven to be impossible to find this year. 

 

Black wedge-less, I kept finding myself in front of the semi-manly, awesome shoes and I kept telling myself that I really didn’t need them.

But it didn’t matter.  Because you just can’t say no to fabulous.  

 

Precisely two hours and fifteen minutes after telling my sister that I didn’t want any smoking slippers, I purchased smoking slippers.  

Clearly, I’m a woman of my word.

I can’t wait until Eugene reads this.  I predict a lot of head-shaking.

Y’all stay fabulous,

Sugarlump

Bon Voyage

After even MORE packing, Eugene and I ventured out on our last day together until she returns from Paris. I can hardly type that without tearing up.  I’ll have to make some jokes to cheer myself up. Surprise, surprise, we … Continue reading