Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Fall Soup Recipe: Chicken and Veggie

     Raise your hand if you're ready for fall! I am usually ready for fall by the time the end of May rolls around, lol! I am not a heat seeker, but my town sees regular triple digits June - August. This hearty soup is perfect for the nights that are feeling a tiny chill on them, and will carry you right through winter.

     The really great thing about this soup (besides the warm, steamy goodness) is that it really stretches, which is fantastic if your food budget is feeling a tad lean. Here at my house, all of my recent work with animal rescue has had me spending more money than we were bringing in, and we are playing a massive game of catch-up, lol! Lean budgets are really good for getting creative in the kitchen. Since I am gluten and pasteurized dairy allergic, budget mac and cheese is not an option here.

     What I decided to work with were chicken thighs and veggies. I loooove chicken thighs. Bone in and skin on. They are the most budget friendly chicken and they are soooooo decadent. I seasoned 8 bone in/skin on chicken thighs with the Grill-Mates Montreal Chicken seasoning (whatever is your favorite seasoning works fine) and roasted at 375 degrees farenheit until the pieces plumped and the skin was crispy. I let the chicken rest while I sauteed green cabbage and riced cauliflower and made white rice. I used the pan drippings to make gravy. Gluten-free pro tip: make your roux using cornstarch instead of flour for gravy. It's yum!

     So, next day, I used my thigh bones to make broth. Just add your bones to water and simmer for a couple of hours to make yummy broth for your soup. I sautee chopped celery and onion in some olive oil and add spices to the veggies. I think that pre-cooking the celery and onion this way adds depth to the flavor of the soup. I chopped the meat from the leftover thighs (there were three left), added sliced carrots, and the left over gravy from the night before to the soup. Also added were left over roasted country potatoes from the weekend and the leftover sauteed cabbage/cauliflower. Season the soup to taste with freshly ground salt and pepper and you're good to go. It was amazing!

Chicken and veggie soup

Chicken and veggie soup

     Aaaaand, this morning, guess what? Breakfast! I heated up some soup and some leftover rice in a small saucepan. Once it began to boil, I dropped in two eggs and let it go for about three more minutes, gently stirring in order to keep the egg whites from sticking to the bottom of the pan.

     While making food with a limited budget can at times be frustrating, I've found that it really forces me to release my creativity and I enjoy the challenge, and satisfaction, of coming up with tasty and healthy meals.

     Here is a recipe for the soup. Disclaimer: I cook like my grandma did, just throwing together bits and pieces until I have what I want. These are approximate measurements.


  • Meat from 3-4 roasted chicken thighs, chopped
  • 3 celery stalks, chopped
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 6 large carrots, peeled and sliced
  • One can corn, drained
  • 4 medium baking potatoes, roasted "country style"
  • 1 teaspoon ground sage
  • 1 teaspoon ground oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried, ground onion
  • 2 cloves chopped or crushed garlic (I use pre-chopped from a jar)
  • 1 to 1.5 quarts chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons corn starch mixed in with 1/4 cup cold water (optional if you want a thicker broth)

If you are making your own broth, be sure to begin simmering the bones 2-24 hours before beginning the soup recipe. Or, just pick up some broth from the store ;). Sautee your chopped onion over medium to medium high heat with olive oil. Let the onion cook for 5 minutes, or so, then add garlic and celery. Cook for another 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until veggies are cooked to your liking. Add the dried spices and cook for another 3 minutes, or so. Add this mixture to your broth, along with the carrots, potatoes, canned corn, cornstarch mixture, and chicken. Bring soup to a light boil over medium-high heat, then reduce heat to simmer and cover. Let cook at least until carrots are tender. I like to let it simmer for an hour, or two, to let the flavors really come out. This recipe is better if you can start it earlier, but it also makes a fantastic quick meal, since most everything is already pre-cooked.

     If you are vegetarian, simply trade out the chicken broth for veggie broth and omit the chicken. Tofu, lentils, or beans added in would be amazing. This will make a hearty and tasty vegetarian soup.

    By the way, how freakin' CUTE is this Alice in Wonderland Cheshire Cat mug?? I may or may not have swiped it from my daughter. We've had it for several years, I think she may have brought it home from a trip to Disneyland.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

More Story Themed Items

     As I've been getting out and about this past summer, setting up at craft fairs and farmer's markets, I've been able to gain a feel for what you all are looking for. I cannot tell you how fun it has been to see the look of discovery on people's faces when they realize what my book page bracelets and pendant necklaces are (they are made from actual books!).

     I've spoken with lots of you who don't wear bracelets, who cannot stand the idea of cutting up a perfectly good book, or are looking for something more masculine.

     Since there are so many awesome ways to accessorize your personal book fandom, I've decided to add curated products to my website. My Etsy store will continue to carry only GVS handmade goodness, but is blowing up with fun, curated, book themed accessories.

     I hope you'll take a look around and let me know what you think!

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens

     So, there are two things on my mind right now: Christmas and wine. Now, wine needs no explanation, AMIRIGHT? Christmas, on Labor Day Weekend probably requires a small explanation.
When I used to work retail, waaaaayyyyyyyyy back when I was a 20 year old kid, we pretty much began planning for Christmas back in August. So, all these years later, this is where my mind is.

     What do you think of when you think of Christmas? Trees, caroling, food? My mind goes to Dickens. Of course, right? One of these days, I really need to go check out the Dickens Fair in San Francisco. It always seems to be such a production to drive into SF, but I'm sure this will be well worth it.

     If you need a little something to listen to during your commute, work, or whatever, check out this audiobook on Youtube. This is the link to the first of three recordings. I will have to grab a listen too :)

     So, how about pairing Dickens with wine?? A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens features a wine shop in the story, so I had to use this wine bottle charm for the A Tale of Two Cities bracelet.

     This first one is red/silver. I thought it was pretty. And, you know, red wine.

     This one is red/brown. The red, again, for wine, and the brown is to represent wine barrels. I do love the warm tones on this one.

Monday, September 3, 2018

Tarzan Bracelets

     Who here is a fan of Tarzan? I used to love all of the Disney movies with the animals <3

     Perfect for when you need a little piece of this jungle story close to you, I have two versions!

There is one with wooden beads and a tree charm:

And, another with a paler green color, and a tiger charm.

What is your preference?


Sunday, September 2, 2018

Game of Thrones Season 8 Release Date

      It is looking like Game of Thrones season 8 release date is set for April 21, 2019. It will be a long winter for GOT fans, considering it has already been over a year since the last episode of season 7.

     I got you while you wait out this long winter! Everyone needs a reminder of their favorite character now and then, why not wear yours? 

What house would you like to see represented?


Tuesday, August 28, 2018

S.S. Palo Alto aka The Cement Ship

     Sometimes, ya just gotta forget everything and get away for a beach day! This was yesterday - my daughter, my sister, and I escaped the valley and ran off to the beach for the afternoon. We hit our go-to beach in Aptos (a bit south of Santa Cruz). The weather was deliciously foggy, a relief from the relentless heat of the central California valley summer.

    The fog/water/sand combo would be perfect by itself, but this beach is home to the S.S. Palo Alto, a WWI era cement ship. This ship has always been fun for us to explore, although now we need to explore it from the beach. This ship began as a cement bottomed ship to be used in WWI, but the war was over by the time the production of the ship was completed. Rather than become a war ship, the S.S. Palo Alto was purchased as a beach amusement center. The ship was all decked out to be the ultimate party ship, with a ballroom, a restaurant, and a swimming pool! Legend has it that there was also gaming in the bottom, and the surrounding beach was used for bootlegging during prohibition.

     Here is this awesome ship when it was new.

Read the history of the S.S Palo Alto here

     Here is the S.S. Palo Alto, complete with her pier, entertaining guests in the early 1930's.

Read the history of the S.S. Palo Alto here

     This party boat was only in business for a couple of years before the business went bankrupt. The ship stayed and was used as a fishing dock for the next thirty or so years.

     Every few years, the Monterey Bay area sees some lively storms and this ship has been repeatedly battered. She is breaking apart and sinking now. I think it would have been fun to see her in her heyday. It is still fascinating to get to watch the deterioration process, though. The pier is no longer safe to walk the length, although the front half is still open for walking and fishing.

S.S. Palo Alto June 2013

S.S. Palo Alto June 2013

S.S. Palo Alto August 2018

S.S. Palo Alto August 2018
S.S. Palo Alto August 2018
Pelicans and gulls
     Of course, the afternoon was not all about the ship. My sister and I were having fun playing with our cameras while all three of us walked the beach. We actually walked about 6 miles!!

     We found a winged dragon weathervane on a beach house. How majestic is he??? Click on the caption link to see what he looks like new. This actually was not difficult to research, the weathervane was handmade by a local company. 

Dragon weathervane
      I love the hardiness of flowers growing in the sand. It seems so inhospitable to me, but look at how beautifully they are doing.

     My girl "helping" her auntie with some sandy action shots.

Throwing sand for photograph effect

Sand crab

Walking Seacliff State Beach

Cement ship Seacliff State Beach Aptos

Waves under the pier
      There were several painted pink driftwood logs. I have no idea why they were painted this way, but it looked cute and festive.

painted pink driftwood

   Here is Aptos Creek spilling into the Pacific Ocean. The mouth of the creek often changes course.

Aptos Creek spilling into the ocean
      The famous "Boat House". This majestic beauty is super fun to look at and looks to be even more fun to stay in. Raise your hand if you could live here! It is my dream to live on the beach and be able to grab my coffee and walk the beach for my daily morning exercise. Check this out: this house is an occasional VACATION RENTAL! Starting now, I am saving my dollars for this! Check it out here.

Boat House on Rio Del Mar beach

     I hope you enjoyed seeing our little adventure. All work and no play makes a very boring book jewelry maker, AMIRIGHT? Please, leave a link to your getaway adventures in the comments. I'd love to see what everyone else is up to.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 3??

Could there be a Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 3?? I am sure hoping so! Alexis Bledel teases us here on this clip with Jimmy Kimmel. 

Until this movie happens, we will have to be happy watching the first two. Here is something to keep Bridget, Carmen, Lena, and Tibby close to our hearts.

Here is the inspiration behind this first bracelet: Jeans!

This second bracelet was inspired by Carmen's ensemble. The pink pants and blue top are so cute on her and cute on this bracelet too!

What do you think? Would you go for something more neutral, or should I carry it further with other outfit inspirations??