Sunday, February 23, 2020

Chicken Noodle Soup Recipe

Roger loves the whole roasted cooked chickens that you can buy for 5 bucks at Sam's Club, Costco, and Kroger.  There is always a lot of small pieces of chicken left over on the carcass after we slice off large pieces for our dinner.  So rather than throw it in the trash, I throw the small pieces of chicken into a pot along with whatever else I have in the fridge.
The recipe changes from batch to batch but generally this is the recipe.

Leftover chicken pieces. Pull apart larger pieces so they are spoon size.
2 cartons of chicken broth (I prefer low sodium but you use what you like best)
2 chicken bouillon cubes to pump up the chicken flavor
celery stalks, cut lengthwise and then diced
carrots fresh, cut in diagonal thin slices or use frozen or small can (drain before using)
small can whole kernel corn (drained)
1/2 C frozen peas not can peas. Can peas are too soft
1/2 C frozen lima beans
small can of mushrooms (Roger likes this)
2 cups or 3 handfuls of large size (dumpling) egg noodles
Season to taste.  I also add just before serving, a shake or two of dill weed.  Also had salt and pepper to taste.
In a large pot pour 1 1/2 cartons of broth (save the 1/2 carton for adding to bowls of soup when you re warm the soup because the noodles will soak up a lot of broth while in the fridge). Add the 2 bouillon cubes and heat at med high.

While the broth comes up to temp add your chicken pieces, carrots, corn, lima beans, peas, celery, even green beans.  Once it comes to a boil, turn down the heat to low medium and cover.

Cook your noodles in a large sauce pan.  Once they are cooked, drain, and add to the soup.  Never add uncooked noodles to your soup because the noodles will absorb all the broth.  At this point I add the mushrooms, cover, and turn the heat down to low for 1 hour.

You can adjust this recipe depending on what your family likes and how much soup you are making.

We prefer the large dumpling size noodles but you can also use the smaller egg noodles.

When reheating the soup in individual bowls, add some of the leftover chicken broth if the broth has absorbed into the noodles.

Store in fridge in a covered container so that the noodles do not dry out.

always remember
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Saturday, February 22, 2020

Installing the Nest Gen 3 Learning Thermostat Part 1

Our electric and natural gas supplier, Consumers Energy, offered a special on the Nest Learning Thermostat.  We needed a new stat because the one we have now is white and white plastic always turns yellow after a couple of years. It was nasty looking.
There are several outside ring color combinations to choose from when you place your order.  I ordered the black shiny ring version.  They say the grey ring version picks up the color of the wall.....I would have to see that in person....I'm skeptical like that.  You can also pick from several other colors.  But I stuck with basic black and shiny.

 One of the stipulations of buying the thermostat at a discounted price is that you allow the utility to monitor your stat and raise the temperature during the summer during peak hours when you have your AC running.  In return you also get a slight decrease in your rate.  You will need WiFi for the stat to work remotely.
 Let's start the installation.  Turn off the furnace at the thermostat.  It will take a minute or so for the furnace to actually turn off. Once the furnace is no longer running you can flip the furnace circuit breaker in the breaker box to the off position.  If it is summer and daylight then you can just flip the main circuit breaker to the off position.  But since it was 5PM and dark and winter I chose to just flip the circuit breaker. 
 Take a photo of the wires and the terminals that they are hooked to currently on the old thermostat. 
 The Nest Gen 3 Learning thermostat has a backing plate (where you will attach your wires) and the front display part.
Remove the display part of the thermostat from the box.  In the bottom of the box you will find the new backing plate, 2 screws, and the correct size screwdriver for the screws.
 Remove the wires from the terminals on the old backing plate and then remove the screws holding the old backing plate to the wall.  Marvel at the discoloration of your walls and comment to your spouse that you can no longer live in such filth.  Seriously, ewwwwww.  Roger said he had nothing to do with that dirt and dust.
 Pull the wires through the opening of the new backing plate.
 At the top of the new backing plate you should see a little blue area.  Look closely at's a bubble level so that when you install the backing plate you can check to make sure that it is level.  Of course you can install it in an un level fashion but then the display will be crooked. If you have OCD when it comes to level things like I do, then make sure the backing plate is level before installing the screws 
Straighten out the wires and cut off the exposed copper wire leaving only 1/4  of an inch exposed.  Refer back to your photo of the old backing plate to locate the correct connections for the wires.  EX the white wire went to W1.  So I pressed on the W1 terminal and slide the white wire into the hole until the wire bottomed out.  I then released my finger and gave the wire a little tug to make sure it was clamped in place and then moved on to the next wire.  

The only difficulty that I had was with the red wire which is the power wire.  My old backing plate only had an R terminal.  This backing plate has Rc and Rh.  When in doubt go to the Internet.  After reading around for a minute I found out that I needed to put it in the Rc location.  

When I installed a new WiFi Honeywell stat in my mother's condo before I sold it, the R wire was located in the same location as the old backing plate but I had to move a wire inside the furnace itself.  

Before attaching the display unit you will need to install the batteries.  These are rechargeable batteries and they will recharge using the power wire in the thermostat. Now attach the display part being careful to have the connectors lined up.  Do not force it on.

  Go to the breaker box and turn the power back on. It will take a moment for the furnace to come back on (if winter or in summer the AC).  If you are not running the heat or AC then you will need to set the stat to turn on whichever one you chose so you can check to make that the installation was done correctly. 
The display will show black if it isn't triggered by a person close by.  If nothing is running it will show the ambient temperature (like the photo above) of the room.  If the furnace is running it will display an orange background and the set temperature and the current temperature.  If the AC is running the background will be blue.
If you wish to see the outside temperature and weather condition just press the bottom portion of the screen.
To change the mode just turn the outside ring.  In the above photo it shows that it is in heat mode because it is orange.  The leaf is the Eco mode, next is the fan mode, next at the bottom right is the calendar where you set the date, next is time, where you set the current time and time zone, the gear symbol is for settings, and the arrow is back to the home screen.

The installation time was 40 minutes from start to finish. This included removing the old stat, install the Nest thermostat, set the mode (heat) and the desired temperature, and then finally making sure that everything was running.  This was my second WiFi programmable stat install so I knew what to expect.  Roger does not like doing this kind of work at all, so I am the designated stat installer in the house.

Tomorrow I will cover syncing up the stat to the WiFi and then setting it up so that the utility company can control our AC during peak hours in the summer.  This was a little more difficult because the pass code/PIN on the modem was sooo  tiny that I could hardly read it with a magnifying glass.  

This stat is suppose save you money by learning your habits and lowering your furnace setting when you are sleeping or away from the house.  The same for the AC. The instructions said it can take between 30 and 60 days to learn your patterns. Also with the Nest thermostat the yearly battery replacement is a thing of the past because of the rechargeable batteries.  Now if they could just make a furnace that changes it's own filter.

We keep our furnace temp fairly low already.  I studied Public Health in college and read about a study done on soldiers that compared the occurrence of head colds between the soldiers who slept in new air tight (higher temps) barracks and those who slept in old drafty (colder temps) barracks.  The occurrence of head colds were higher in the soldiers who slept in the new air tight (warmer) barracks. Our temp is set at 67 degrees in the winter. I also read an article that said you burn more calories if you sleep in colder temperatures.  I wonder just how cold the temps have to be to lose weight?  Obviously it is not 67 degrees.

FYI... I haven't suffered a cold in 9 yrs and my husband hasn't had one in about 5 yrs.  I probably just jinxed myself.

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Wednesday, February 19, 2020

What YouTube Channels That I'm Digging Part 2

Part 2

99 Carpet  This is probably the strangest channel I watch.  There isn't any talking, just the sound of cleaning a dirty rug.  It is addictive.  Now I wonder if my rugs are that dirty. 

Brian Christopher Slots  Brian travels all over the US playing slot machines.  He also sets up group slot pulls where 20 people all put in a 1000 bucks each. They put the $20,000 in a high dollar slot machine and each player gets about 20 pulls each.  Then when everyone has had their 20 pulls they cash out and divvy up the money.  Sometimes it's less than their original $1000 and sometimes it is a little more than a 1000 bucks.  The purpose of this is to try and hit a big bonus on the slot machine that has a progressive bonus payout. This channel is fun to watch and informative for those who play slot machines at casinos.  

Post 10 This YouTuber ventures out in the rain and snow to unclog storm drains and culverts.  You will never look at a storm drain the same way again after viewing his vlogs.  

Baumgarter Restoration  This YouTuber restores old and priceless oil paintings.  Very skillful and I find this channel to be very relaxing.

Jeremy Fragrance and Fragrance Bros   Here are two YouTubers who cover everything you need to know about selecting and buying perfumes for both men and women.  There are many more but I feel that these two guys are very knowledgeable when it comes to the art of picking a scent.  Jeremy is a little out there and some days I can't get entirely through his video but he knows what he is talking about.  

Emmy made in Japan  This chick needs her own show on the Create channel.  She is based in Rhode Island and she finds weird recipes and tries to makes them.  Like ketchup ice cream.  She also buys kitchen gadgets and uses them to see if they really work.  

Nicola White Mudlark and Si-finds Thames Mudlark and Lucy's Larking Adventures and Northants Magnet Fishing  These are UK YouTubers who mudlark.  Mudlarkers search the shores of Thames for old coins, artifacts, or bits and bobs (as they say in the UK) to make original pieces of art.  Very interesting.  The magnet fishermen search the waterways leading to the Thames using powerful magnets.  They find motorcycles, bikes, trolleys (UK shopping carts), guns, WWI and WWII ammo, safes, and coins.  They take what they want and pile the scrap metal for the scrappers to come and pick it all up.  

Helen Wyatt  This sweet lady from Georgia makes some of the prettiest yard art.  Her vlogs are always uplifting and she is amazingly talented.  

Glasshoppa and Glassfusing  These are glass fusing vloggers and there are many more.  Did you know that you can fuse small pieces of glass in your microwave?    

Hydraulic Press Channel  This channel crushes everyday items in a hydraulic press.  Very interesting to watch in slow motion.

Gavin Hunyady 187 My son's racing channel.  He is currently remodeling a horse barn into his race shop.  You can follow that on his Instagram channel HighintheDirt.  The new race shop has heated floors and will have a hoist and other interesting trinkets.

Part 1 if you haven't read that one.

and always
remember to 
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Monday, February 17, 2020

Easy Potato Soup Recipe + Bonus Recipe

This is the easiest and most inexpensive potato soup recipe.  I can't remember where I found it but when I run across that info I will add it to this post.
5 medium size yellow potatoes (Yukon Gold)
1 lg can of creamed corn
1 lg can of evaporated milk
1/2 lb of bacon (try to get thick sliced and smoked for added flavor)
1/4 to 1/2 of a sweet onion diced into 1/2 inch cubes
Save 2 tablespoons of the bacon grease
Pre cut your bacon before you fry it.  It is much easier and you will get a more uniform size of bacon bits.  When the bacon is almost cooked, remove the bits and place on folded paper towel to remove excess grease.  Do NOT compress the paper towel to remove all the grease.  The grease has flavor.  Save 2 tablespoons of the grease.
Peel and wash your potatoes.  Cut each potato into 4 pieces to speed up the cooking process.

Add enough cold water to cover your potatoes pieces by 2 inches.  Use the pot that you are going to cook your soup in.  Cook your potatoes (med to med high) until a fork can easily go into the potato.  Do not over cook your potatoes or they will fall apart. Drain the water and remove the potatoes to cool so that you can dice them.  Cut the potatoes into 3/4 inch cubes once the potatoes have cooled slightly.  If you try to cut too soon the potatoes will fall apart. 

Into the EMPTY pot that you just used to cook the potatoes, add the evaporated milk, 2 tablespoons of the bacon grease, diced bacon, 1 can of creamed corn, diced onions, and the cubed potatoes.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Remember that the bacon will already have salt.  Better to go lightly with pepper.  You can always add more later.  Cook for at least 1 hr on low to low medium heat in a COVERED pot.


I made this without the bacon grease the first time.  The first time I really compressed my paper towel to remove all the grease.  This caused the soup to hardly have any bacon flavor.  The second time that I made the soup I did not compress the paper towel and I just let any excess grease collect in the paper towel.  I also added the 2 tablespoons of bacon grease when I made it the second time.  It didn't make the soup greasy but did add a lot of flavor.

Try to use a Vidalia onion if you can find one, if not make sure it is a sweet onion or the onion taste will overpower the potatoes.  

I like to dice my ingredients so I could theoretically I could get a piece of potato, bacon, and onion onto a soup spoon at the same time.  

I find that soups always taste better the next day.  So either make the soup early in the morning and then put in the fridge until time to rewarm or make it a day ahead of time.

The next time I make it I might add a small can of whole corn to get more of a corn taste. 

My husband really liked this soup and I liked how easy it was to make.

We added garlic and herb croutons just before eating.  

Below is my sister's potato soup recipe and basically everything that she cooks is good, no wait....really good.  She uses apple smoked, thick sliced bacon and oh my goodness is it good.  You can see by the recipe that this might have more calories....LOL  She also cooks her soup in a crock pot so there is no need to precook your potatoes. My recipe could also work in a crock pot.
Try these recipes and let me know what you think.
always remember to
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Saturday, February 15, 2020

What YouTube Channels I'm Digging Part 1

YouTube has been around for some time but as with everything I am the last to jump on the bandwagon.  In the past, I used YouTube just for information.  Basically searching out solutions to problems or for techniques.  

I never considered watching YouTube just for entertainment.  Since the Fall of 2019, I have been filling my evenings with YouTube in place of conventional TV watching.  I'm not a reality TV show watcher nor CSI anything.  Roger and I do enough CSI every time we open up a wall or remove anything not original to the house. And don't get me started on the quality of shows that are currently on network television.  I lost 33% of my TV watching when Big Bang Theory finished their run last year 

I like comedies, watching 'How To' videos, cats and dogs doing cute stuff, and the biggest surprise was that I found out that I love watching mundane videos. Below I've linked to some of the YouTube channels that I have been watching.  Enjoy.

This is Part 1

Dog, cats, and other animal channels

Suri Noel Korean family with 5 Scottish Fold cats.  The cats are adorable.

I_am_puma  Russian couple who rescued an unhealthy puma and now it is like a HUGE house cat.  They recently adopted a cheetah from a circus.  The cheetah was shunned by the other cheetahs which caused the large cat to be withdrawn and underweight.  

Lilo the husky  This channel is about a family with huskies and a rescue kitty, Rosie, who thinks she is a husky, too.

Tucker Budzyn  Tucker, the golden retriever, is so cute and funny.  

Oliver the Beagle I'm partial to beagles because we had one when I was a child.  Oliver is a very smart beagle who lives a busy, full beagle life in Chicago.

How to videos

Cheese52  How to make cheese.  My sister, niece, and I took in a cheese making class, plus I love cheese.  After watching these videos you will want to run out and buy a case of rennin and start making your own cheese.  I know I do.

GavinWebber  Another cheese maker and he has the same first name as my son.  

FoodWishes  Cooking channel that makes me think that even I can cook.

CookingTree  Korean cooking channel.  No speaking just food making sounds.  Beautiful desserts and surprisingly relaxing to watch.

Hercules Candy  Family owned candy store.  I've tasted their candy and it's very very good.  Their grape jelly ribbon candy with a peanut butter filling is soooo good.

Lofty Pursuits  Another candy store who makes their hard candies using vintage equipment.

Miscellaneous channels

Cole the Cornstar  Twenty two year old, third or fourth generation Iowa farmer, who just graduated from college and is getting stuff done.  Informative, funny, and just plain interesting.

Trenton and Heath Shoe repair.  Yes, shoe repair but it is so interesting to see how the cobbler repairs the shoes. You can also see how good leather shoes can be repaired, unlike newer cheaper shoes. On a side note....for the last few years whenever I have purchased a new pair of shoes I have added heel and toe protectors before I even wear them.  The heel protectors are great if you tend to wear down one side of your heel.  By installing protectors to the bottom of the heel, the heel protector wears down and not the actual heel.  Go to Amazon and you can buy an entire sheet of rubber protectors for 5 bucks.  These are attached with small headed nails/brads.  Might do a shoe post.  I have a pair of Chanel shoes that need a small repair on the heel and I want them dyed.  Might be an interesting before and after post.

Michael Oliver  Not to be confused with the beagle named Oliver.  Michael Oliver is an Australian metal detector/diver who finds people's lost rings etc on beaches and in the water.  Very interesting if you enjoy aquatic life and finding old coins in the water.

The Hoover Boys and Green Mountain Metal Detecting  Two channels of metal detecting.  They primarily hunt for old coins and artifacts from the Revolutionary and Civil Wars.  Amazing how many coins are dropped on the ground.  They find gold and silver coins. I am thrilled that I find a penny on the ground when I fill my vehicle with fuel at the Speedway station Find a penny, Pick It Up, and All Day Long, You'll Have Good Luck.  

This is getting long so I am going to divide this into 2 parts.

Let me know if there is a YouTube channel that I need to check out.

and always remember 
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Friday, February 14, 2020

Grandmother's Tuna Salad Recipe and Update

My paternal grandmother made the best tuna salad and she always served it in a hobnail moonstone bowl.  Reminder to the Internet for 'The Bowl'.  For years we have been trying to crack the recipe and I think I have finally done it.  
My daughter in law came very close in the winter of 2018.  But I think that it was just one ingredient off and that one ingredient was Miracle Whip instead of mayo.  I always felt like the tuna salads we were making looked too yellow.

  My grandmother's philosophy was that there was nothing that couldn't taste better with a little sour cream added.  AND if it was something sweet she was of the mind that peanut butter could make it better.  Her peanut butter Rice Krispies  treats were very tasty.

But back to sour cream, Miracle Whip, and tuna salad.  We are a Hellman's household and there isn't a jar of Miracle Whip in the house but one day it dawned on me that Miracle Whip was the cat's meow in the 50-60's. AND Miracle Whip is WHITER than mayo.  So last week I tried the recipe again with Miracle Whip and it looks and taste like my grandmother's.

Grandma Brunette's Tuna Salad Recipe

2 cans of chunk tuna in oil NOT water. Must be chunk and in oil, drained (do not rinse). 

shell pasta approximately 1 1/2 cups uncooked (the photo shows shell and elbow because I ran out of shell) 

celery 2 or 3 stalks sliced lengthwise and then diced into 1/2 inch pieces.  Any bigger and you start getting those celery strings caught in your teeth.  

1/4 to 1/2 white sweet onion diced into 1/2 inch pieces, must be sweet onion or the onion taste will over power the other ingredients

frozen peas 1/2 to 3/4 cup

1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon salt, we always salt lightly

Miracle Whip

sour cream

OPTIONAL dill weed just a dash or two

Garnish with paprika.  She ALWAYS garnished everything with paprika.

Cook the pasta until al dente.   Drain and rinse with cold water.  If you do not rinse the shells they will stack inside each other (been there, done that). Drain and place in a large covered bowl,  and put in fridge to get cold.

While cooking the pasta you can dice your celery, onion, and thaw out your peas.  

Don't mix together any of the ingredients until everything is cold.  Add the drained tuna to the pasta and break apart the chucks into flakes and mix into the pasta.  Now add the rest of the ingredients and look for any shells that might be sticking together and separate them.

In a small bowl mix 1/4 cup Miracle Whip, 1/4 cup sour cream, and salt.  If you are adding dill weed this is the time to add it to the dressing mix. 
Add half the dressing and mix lightly so that the tuna doesn't fall apart.  If salad is too dry then add more dressing.  The photo above is how I like my tuna salad.  If you want more dressing then add more.  Just don't add it all in the beginning.  It is much easier to get to the correct amount of dressing by slowly adding.  Once you have made the salad a couple of times you will know the correct amount to add right from the beginning.

Garnish with a couple of light shakes of the paprika jar.  This is just for looks and was always how my grandmother presented her tuna salad at the table.

Now comes the most important part.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place in the fridge for 12 hrs.  I have found that if you don't wait, the tuna flavor will be too strong.  I don't know why, but it is.  

Oh and while I am talking about tuna, do not buy tuna in water or tuna pieces.  It is tasteless and the pieces are so small that it is more like tuna slime and not tuna flakes. 


Update....we haven't embarked on any interesting projects of late.  But we have a long list to start on when the weather breaks.

  We did a massive tree trimming and shrub removal at the Torrey Road house in preparation for when we put it on the market.  

We installed a 3rd gen Nest thermostat in the Torrey Road house and I will do a tutorial in the coming weeks.

I also made a great potato soup recipe the other day and I will do a post about that recipe along with my sister's crock pot potato soup recipe which is to die for.  

I am also planning on writing a blog post about how we sold 2 properties (FSBO) without an agent.  One property sold for 10K under asking but 40K more than properties adjacent to it.  The other sold for asking on the second day even after the first buyer's agent told me to lower the price.  The property sold for 35K over identical other properties and it is still the highest selling condo in the area.

I am thinking about writing a post on my fave YouTube channels.  I watch some unusual ones that if someone told me I would watch these in 2020, I would have to say 'No way'. Hint there are kitties involved and maybe a dog or two.  

If any of these future posts sound like something you are interested in, just subscribe to my Instagram account where I will post whenever there is a new post on the blog.  

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