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The Dollhouse Kit Arrived!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Every year, we have a silent auction fundraiser to raise scholarship money for our school. This year is our school's 90th anniversary, so we are having an extravaganza silent auction with dinner and entertainment. Comedienne Julia Sweeney, known for Pat on Saturday Night Live, will perform and food will be catered in. Last year I had thought I would build a dollhouse for this year's auction, but when plans were made for this event, I wasn't so certain that one of my dollhouses would fit the venue. I ran my idea of putting in a handmade dollhouse past the development coordinator and she thought it would be a wonderful addition.

I ordered The Buttercup which a really sweet little dollhouse, with the intent of building it to be reminiscent of the cottages in Oak Bluffs, Martha's Vineyard.

The kit arrived yesterday afternoon - Yay!

First thing I did was to label all of the pieces, bag the small pieces according to the sheet they came from, and go to Hobby Lobby for paint, wallpaper, and flooring. It was fun at Hobby Lobby because I ran into one of my students and his little sister there. I ran a few color ideas past his sister and got her 2nd grade stamp of approval on my color choices. It will be lavender with blue trim and white trim, with purple detailing. Because it is a painted lady, I plan to add a tiny bit of brick red as contrast on the window and door trims. I'll have to see how that turns out.

The next step was to dry fit the dollhouse to make certain all of the pieces fit right, and to work out schematics.

Kitties love dollhouses, it seems without exception. As soon as I laid all the pieces out, Vash thought he should roll in them, and as soon as I dry fit the Buttercup, Luna had to try to fit herself into it. Fortunately, I taped it together pretty strongly.

Today I plan to mark where the floors meet the walls then take it apart to sand and prime. With luck, I'll have time to paint the exterior this evening.

My other goals for the day are:

~ to get two hours of practice time in, not counting the part I'll be doing in my head. My assignment this week is to begin a flamenco arrangement of my own.

~ to get at least one long poodle walk in.

~ to work on writing my article for our professional journal, a task I have been avoiding like the plague. For as much as I enjoy doing what I do in terms of teaching, I really do not enjoy writing about it.

Here's to a pleasant, restful, productive, lovely Sunday!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

IUHRYTR 2/16/2012 4:12PM

    Chris, I so enjoyed following your progress on the fairy house and look forward to also watching the work on this one as well. I admire your creativity. -- Lou

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BADASSBLONDIE 2/15/2012 2:29PM


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1HAPPYWOMAN 2/12/2012 11:24PM

    I love your colour choices! It's going to be so PRETTY! emoticon

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KOMAL53 2/12/2012 10:40PM

    Now I can't wait to see how it progresses!!!It's very intriguing but I'm looking forward to being a part of the process!!! emoticon emoticon

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MARY1313 2/12/2012 8:06PM

    I know you are going to enjoy this doll house as much as you did the first! I can't wait to be walked through the construction!!!


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ASTABETH 2/12/2012 7:28PM

    How exciting - that looks like fun. Can't wait to see how it turns out!

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0309COOKIE 2/12/2012 5:08PM

    Love the idea of the dollhouse. Luna looks so cool peeking out of there, lol.

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OLDERDANDRT 2/12/2012 4:29PM

    Hope you get all your "to do's" done and esp. the long poodle walk! Stella must have her beauty exercise!!! hehe

Love the doll house! You'll do a beautiful job on it, I know! And the kitty says she wants you to make her a castle of her own!!!! emoticon

Have a great day!!

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BECCABOO127 2/12/2012 2:53PM

    You are speaking my language! I love dollhouses!

Great blog...great pics...really like to see how it is coming along.

I especially like the pic with the cat peeking through--classic!

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GUITARWOMAN 2/12/2012 2:27PM

    What a busy weekend!

I am sure the dollhouse will turn out to be lovely, please give us some pictures when it it finished!


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FIFIFRIZZLE 2/12/2012 2:18PM

    How charming! What a fun thing to do.

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MCGS62 2/12/2012 1:55PM

    WOW!!! you are ultra busy-- hey I think Luna deserves a doll house she looks good in there!

would that be a "cat house"? emoticon groan

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_RAMONA 2/12/2012 12:52PM

    What a lovely way to spend a Sunday... I look forward to the progress!

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JLITT62 2/12/2012 11:42AM

    You are very talented! Afraid it hasn't been a restful weekend, but at least I'm getting a way overdue haircut today.

Curiosity killed the cat.,

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FABBYMAY 2/12/2012 11:15AM

    Oooooo, I can't wait to see the progress on this one!! The color scheme sounds wonderful!

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    This is so amazing and wonderful! Totally OUT of my talent area, and those are the ones that I appreciate the most because it just seems so, well, like I said, AMAZING! emoticon

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BD3269PM 2/12/2012 8:56AM

    What a great project and for a wonderful cause..kudos to you. I am sure that it will be well reeived. Enjoy your weekend emoticon

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DDOORN 2/12/2012 8:50AM

    Nice stretch of practice...! Your lovely playing reflects it!

One of our cats always loves to be in the thick of things...usually resulting in *something* falling on the floor and one of us speaking for the cat saying: "I help....?" :-)


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Saturday, Delicious Saturday

Saturday, February 11, 2012

What a glorious Saturday!

I spent the morning making enough whole wheat/flax/blueberry waffles for next week's breakfasts and froze them, and prepared a bean casserole which is simmering away in the slow cooker.

Next, I tackled polishing and restringing my guitar. It looks great and the strings sound fresh and clear, although with the nylon strings, it will need constant tuning for a few days.

The fire is glowing in the fireplace and sun is shining through the window, a delightful nook to spend time playing.

It is cold and February-like today, with a fresh blanket of snow and bright blue skies. It is a perfect day to cozy up to the fireplace.

Even Stella is enjoying a relaxing day.

Even though I have already put in well over my 35 miles this week, I do need to take her for at least one walk this afternoon. She does adore the snow and I enjoy a good walk. But right now, back to my music.

I hope you are having the perfect Saturday as well.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

IUHRYTR 2/16/2012 4:13PM

    Nice pictures. Love you, Stella. -- Lou

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MARY1313 2/12/2012 8:03PM

    Great pictures! Love that you have that great little place to enjoy your guitar! Mood is everything!


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MCGS62 2/12/2012 1:50PM

    Sounds like a good day to me.. Hey I tune new strings to F or Gb on the 1st and 6th strings and set the guitar down over night . it sppeds thing up a little.

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    I wish we had nice snow, oh well. 35 miles? I feel so eclipsed!

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KOMAL53 2/12/2012 7:51AM

    Loved the Pictures!!!A Perfect Day is truly a Blessing!!!Thank You for a slice of your wonderful day!!! emoticon emoticon emoticon

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    I guess we were both into taking photos today! Your pictures are great, and it made me feel like I was right there! So glad you're enjoying your music! emoticon

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PINETREEGIRL 2/11/2012 11:04PM

    What a great weekend. Glad you found a perfect day of respite.

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DDOORN 2/11/2012 8:46PM

    What a relaxing, yet productive day! Savor! :-)


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WATERMELLEN 2/11/2012 6:01PM

    Peace, tranquillity, and a contented pooch: life doesn't get better!

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CAROLYN1ALASKA 2/11/2012 5:40PM

    What a wonderful Saturday!
After shoveling snow for an hour, I'm having a great time being cosy indoors and knitting... another wonderful kind of Saturday!

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FABBYMAY 2/11/2012 5:17PM

    Looks like a yummy Saturday, I wish I could join you there! I have never made the waffles from scratch - is that a SP recipe? I buy Flax/Blueberry waffles frozen. On of my favorite breakfasts is one of them topped with greek yogiurt and berries (whatever I have).

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CHALLENGER15 2/11/2012 5:06PM

    Stella looks like she she is enjoying her Saturday immensely!

What a very nice Saturday all the way around.

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0309COOKIE 2/11/2012 4:24PM

    Glad you are enjoying your day. I am too. I had lunch with a friend.

Stella looks like she is enjoying herself. Punky, not so much this morning. He had the groomer pay him a visit, lol. But now he looks and smells fresh and clean.

Hope you enjoy the rest of your weekend.

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JLITT62 2/11/2012 3:28PM

    My sat has been f from perfect, but I'm happy our snow is already gone!

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FIFIFRIZZLE 2/11/2012 2:17PM

    I do admire the way you know how to take care of yourself and how you appreciate your now. Keep on showing us the way to relish our weekends

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_RAMONA 2/11/2012 1:53PM

    What a lovely day! Mine is very similar... just more urban, SIGH.

Have a blessed weekend!

{{{{{{{{{{{ HUGS }}}}}}}}}}}

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SMILIN_ZEPHIE 2/11/2012 1:49PM

    Wow, sounds like a nice Saturday :) It's gorgeous outside too. There's nothing like the sound of a Classical guitar. Have a good one :)

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A Photo Blog of Monday's Nature Hike

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

This has been a remarkably mild winter. A bit too mild for my taste; I love living where there are four solid seasons, a spring of colorful blooms and singing birds, a verdant summer with lazy swimmin' hole days, an autumn of glowing reds, oranges, and golds, and a snow blanketed winter. This past winter has had only a dusting of snow, but also has been freakishly warm. I'm not exactly complaining; it has been pleasant for hikes and driving hasn't been hazardous. While that silly groundhog prognosticated six more weeks of winter, the past few weeks of this particular winter have felt like spring anyways.

Our Monday nature walk was truly lovely.

The sky was a bright blue instead of winter gray, and the water was cold and clear.

It was amazing to see water striders out already. As we looked through the water at the water bugs and little fish, one of my students excitedly called me over. He had found an exceptionally large crayfish. A couple of children tried to catch it for a closer look, but were intimidated by his large front claws, so he made a rather effortless escape.

The light filtering into the woods was incredible, as was the play of light and shade. Most amazing was the intensity of green, especially for February.


I like the light pouring through the limestone formations,

And the way the tree trunks grow around the rocks.

We all took time for a ten minute meditation. I selected a log over the river, but this little fellow chose to nestle into the hollow of an old tree - a veritable wood elf.

I am grateful to be able to teach where I can take two hour nature hikes with my students once a week; time to explore, write, draw, and reflect. It is time so well spent. This week's hike was extraordinary.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

IUHRYTR 2/16/2012 4:15PM

    What a great, relaxing place to walk with such exciting views. -- Lou

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BADASSBLONDIE 2/15/2012 2:23PM

    So pretty!!! Man, I need to go on a hike in the near future. :D

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MARY1313 2/12/2012 7:57PM

    Just lovely!!!


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BECCABOO127 2/12/2012 2:55PM

    Fabulous pics! It felt like I took a walk through nature, too, so thank you for that.

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SHARJOPAUL 2/10/2012 8:51AM

Great Pix

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1HAPPYWOMAN 2/10/2012 1:08AM

    Your photos awakened me to the realization that I am not getting enough time in nature. I also just read a Spark 'Healthy Reflection' about regularly spending time doing things that make your heart sing. Thanks for the wake-up call! emoticon

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LJR4HEALTH 2/9/2012 9:26PM

    Wow awesome nature walk you had looks so peaceful

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    Nice walk. I like the photo of the green log on the ground, so pretty!

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OLDERDANDRT 2/9/2012 5:18PM

    What a beautiful place to enjoy nature. And that Crayfish........looks like a lobster!!! Wow!! I'd be leary of those claws, too!! Great pics, my friend. You do have a photography talent!! emoticon emoticon

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TRULYVISIBLE 2/9/2012 3:31PM

  Boy can your school teach public school a thing or two. Two hour nature walks are great for the kids. Great for adults as well. Yes, you are lucky to work in such an environment. Thanks for sharing the beautiful pictures.

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GUITARWOMAN 2/9/2012 12:47PM



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PENNYAN45 2/9/2012 12:39PM

    A weekly two-hour nature hike with meditation is an unusual part of the curriculum - and your students are so fortunate to have the experience, and to have you as their teacher to lead them through this exercise.

The photos are beautiful.

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MCGS62 2/9/2012 10:21AM

    You always have such nice nature photo's!!!
I particularly like the limestone formation and th fresh water shrimp!!

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DDOORN 2/9/2012 8:45AM

    Oh my what gorgeous, gentle and beautiful lessons you are treating your students to, courtesy of Mother Nature...!



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ONESPOTLEFT 2/9/2012 6:24AM

    I enjoyed the walk with you even though I only looked at the photos, very calming

love the woods and the lack of civilization in the photos

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FIFIFRIZZLE 2/9/2012 5:41AM

    I feel like I've been for an end of winter walk, thanks, Pudle.

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    I wonder what kids think about when meditating, or comtemplating life while on a hike.
If anything like my brother and me in those young years we would have scared each other silly in advance about bears, spiders and such. It would have been awesome to snuggle in a tree cave or stone hollow. I fear I would have been playing before the 10 minutes were up!
Looks like a great time, Chris. Good luck with the crawfish. In our neck of the woods it's salamanders that we find.

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CAROLYN1ALASKA 2/8/2012 11:51PM

    Thanks for sharing your photos.
It was nice for me to see something that is NOT white, with all the snow we have had this winter.

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KOMAL53 2/8/2012 9:05PM

    Simply beautiful!!!You're lucky to live in such a beautiful place---we have to travel plenty of miles to reach such serene surroundings!!!Thank You for posting a visual treat!!! emoticon emoticon emoticon

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W5VEOTX 2/8/2012 8:19PM

    Great photos - thanks for sharing !

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LUNADRAGON 2/8/2012 8:04PM

    That looks so nice! I wish I could see that and walk it too.

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CHALLENGER15 2/8/2012 8:00PM

    Those lucky students! How wonderful for them to be able to go to school there and to have you for a teacher!

I loved the pictures and I always really enjoy your blogs.

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MOTIVATED@LAST 2/8/2012 7:51PM

    What an awesome place to take a walk. Great pix!

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    Oh, my word! When I go for a walk, all I see is flat dirt everywhere! I envy you being able to step out into that beauty! emoticon emoticon

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BUELLRIDER 2/8/2012 6:54PM

    I enjoyed the pictures. I love nature and hiking. emoticon

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_RAMONA 2/8/2012 6:27PM

    I, too, am not entirely comfortable with the weather this winter (I'm in Central Cananda). While I marvel at the beauty of unusual light, and green where there should be none, I also worry about how it might affect things... I've noticed birds behaving differently.

"I am grateful to be able to teach where I can take two hour nature hikes with my students once a week; time to explore, write, draw, and reflect."

It would be a better world if every teacher could do this with students. Thank you for sharing!

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DREMARGRL 2/8/2012 6:22PM

    Wow.....I LOVED THAT YOU SHARED YOUR WALK! GREAT PICS! You are such a lucky girl. xo Have a good night. I'm off to Haley's 1st game of the Regional. MaryAnn emoticon emoticon

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DOR2BFIT 2/8/2012 6:09PM

    Wonderful! emoticon
I don't know how that happened! Feel free to delete the extras-can't seem to do it on this end!

Comment edited on: 2/8/2012 6:11:29 PM

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DOR2BFIT 2/8/2012 6:09PM

    Wonderful! emoticon

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CO-CREATOR 2/8/2012 6:07PM

    Lovely pictures. Thank you for sharing. I enjoy the four seasons somewhat, but I wouldn't mind living somewhere that skips harsh winters.

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FABBYMAY 2/8/2012 5:55PM

    I wish I could go on a two hour nature hike in the Glen once a week!

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Spark Cookbook Recipe Review - Three Cheese Macaroni and Cheese

Monday, February 06, 2012

I love mac and cheese, but haven't made it for quite a few years. I never cared for the boxed kind, made from scratch is the only way to go for the true comfort food that mac and cheese is. The Spark Cookbook recipe calls for whole wheat pasta, which is delicious. The three cheeses are low fat swiss, cheddar which go into the cheese sauce, and parmesan which is added to the whole wheat bread crumbs for the crunchy crust.

This is a very tasty version of mac and cheese and a pretty healthy way to get the benefits of comfort food.

Before I started preparing the cheese sauce and boiling the macaroni, I preheated the oven to 400 degrees, and peeled and quartered some organic golden beets. I tossed the beets in some olive oil, placed them in a baking pan, and put them in to bake while I prepared the mac and cheese recipe.

While the macaroni and cheese, and the beets were baking, I steamed the beet greens. Right before taking the roasted beets out of the oven, I lightly salted them, then placed them on a bed of beet greens and drizzled some balsamic vinegar over them. They were a wonderful complement to the casserole.

Another delicious and healthy meal. So far, I have been happy with all of the Spark Cookbook recipes I have tried out.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

MARY1313 2/12/2012 7:52PM

    Yum! I love whole wheat pasta!

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CHALLENGER15 2/7/2012 8:02PM

    This looks delicious! I love beet greens - just tried them for the first time this fall - but have never had golden beets.

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    This sounds so delicious! I wish I could get Drex to like cheese! emoticon

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MILLISMA 2/7/2012 3:26PM

    Yummy. Thanks for sharing. That is one of the recipes I have marked to try.


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MCGS62 2/7/2012 3:17PM

    I never had golden beets only red beets which I love and are high in iron
And the mac and cheese sounds good !!!!

(the human garbage disposal)

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HYDR0GEN 2/7/2012 1:17PM

    Great review. I think I will try this tonight with the beets too! emoticon

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DDOORN 2/7/2012 10:30AM

    We have tried so many successful shares at SparkRecipes.com, I'm sure the book must be jam-packed with keepers!


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    I haven't eaten beet greens. Saddly, I always toss them! Are they bitter like kale or closer to spinach?

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PINETREEGIRL 2/7/2012 12:49AM

    Oh yum!! That looks like a great dinner

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1HAPPYWOMAN 2/7/2012 12:25AM

    Yummy! You're inspiring me to try some new recipes!

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    I really liked the Mac & cheese, too!

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WATERMELLEN 2/6/2012 8:01PM

    Love the way you prepared your beets . . . I've not done that (roasted, served on steamed greens) and will try it!!

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SCOOTER4263 2/6/2012 7:52PM

    I really enjoy your recipe reviews - and you make it sound so simple! emoticon

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OLDERDANDRT 2/6/2012 7:45PM

    I really love hearing about your healthy meals that you prepare, whether from SP or just your head or where ever!!! Wish we had smell & taste - vision here sometimes!!! Sounds soooo good!

(My love to the critters, esp the Diva, precious Stella!! Woof!)

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FABBYMAY 2/6/2012 6:14PM

    Did you buy the SP Cookbook or are you just trying the recipes they have online? The Mac and Cheese looks yummy!

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Creamy Broccoli-Cheese Soup Review

Saturday, February 04, 2012

I made the Creamy Broccoli-Cheese Soup (page 161) from the Spark Cookbook for tonight's dinner. I did make a couple of substitutions; I used a purchased organic chicken broth instead of preparing my own broth from scratch and substituted rutabaga for the potato.

First I sauteed the onion in butter until it was clear, then I added the broth, chopped rutabaga, and chopped broccoli, letting it simmer for twenty minutes. After it simmered, I separated out a few of the broccoli florets, and pureed the rest of the soup in my blender.

The blended mix was placed back in the sauce pan. The condensed milk and pepper were added and cooked just long enough to heat the milk.

Right before serving, I added the sharp cheddar cheese and the broccoli florets I had saved aside.

A multigrain roll with goat brie and a baby greens salad with avocado and Annie's Goddess Dressing were the sides.

The soup was delicious! Both my husband and I loved the whole meal. I would make a change the next time I make this soup though, either less broth or more broccoli and rutabaga. I like a creamier soup than this turned out. In spite of being a little on the thin side, the flavors were perfect.

The whole meal was delicious and nutritious. It could be made vegetarian by using vegetable broth instead of chicken broth, and vegan by substituting vegetable broth instead of chicken broth, soy, almond, or rice milk instead of the condensed milk, and using hummus or peanut butter instead of brie in a vegan roll.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

MCGS62 2/6/2012 4:28PM

    ooooooooooooo!! looks good!!!!

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BILLTMAN 2/6/2012 8:42AM

    It really looks good. I especially like the avocado on the side, one of my favorites. Avocado is a great complement to this particular soup. I'll have to try the recipe, heck, I'll do the whole meal just as you've pictured it. Thanks for the post


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KOMAL53 2/5/2012 10:59PM

    I love Soup---can literally live on it!!!This really looks DELICIOUS and I'm going to try it out as soon as possible!!!Thank You for those lovely Pictures---I'm drooling as I type!!! emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

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W82GOWHEE 2/5/2012 9:16PM

    Can I come over? emoticon emoticon

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MARY1313 2/5/2012 6:14PM

    wow that looks yummy!

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FIFIFRIZZLE 2/5/2012 5:38PM

    Mmmm looks good!

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CHALLENGER15 2/5/2012 9:36AM

    Yum, yum, yum!

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JLITT62 2/5/2012 4:58AM

    That whole meal looks delicious!

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    Looks and sounds good. If only we had smellavision!

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DABLUECAT 2/4/2012 6:51PM

    Mmmm must try!

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0309COOKIE 2/4/2012 6:36PM

    Your meal looks healthy and delicious.

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JUDYAMK 2/4/2012 6:33PM

    Looks real good I must try this one as I am a soup lover. Check out my blogs with the Squash soup *&the one with the Minestrone soup. Take care

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