Sunday, November 29, 2015

one holiday down ~ ready for the next?

We had a lovely Thanksgiving at my cousin's house. It was his first time hosting for this holiday, and he did a beautiful job. Hors d'oeuvres were set up in the living room...

and dinner was served in the dining room. Small group this year: my cousin and his friend who flew in from Alexandria, VA; me and my son (hubby had to work); my mom; and my sister, BIL, and two nieces.

We had so much food! We had a wonderful glazed ham, a turkey breast, my mom's homemade stuffing, corn souffle, maple-glazed carrots, green beans with pecans (I was the designated veggie person), sweet potatoes, roasted potatoes, homemade rolls (my mom and my cousin's friend both made batches), cranberry relish with dried cherries, and two pies. I was actually too full from dinner to even have any dessert - which is fine since I'm not supposed to be eating gluten and I'm avoiding sugar as much as possible. Though if my mom had've made her homemade pumpkin pie, all bets would've been off. 

Last week when I posted, I wrote about our first snowstorm of the season. All that snow is already melted due to higher temps and lots of rain (buh-bye, good riddance, adieu), but the day after the snowstorm, I took a walk down to the lake by my house and took some photos. I love the starkness of this photo and how the trees are reflected in the water. I'm definitely a warm weather and sunshine kind of girl, but once in awhile, I can find the beauty in the barren landscape. Tim and I were talking about that in the car on the way to my cousin's house ~ that if we lived somewhere where it's mostly warm and sunny year-round, would we get tired of it? Would we long for the change of seasons? Wouldn't it be weird to decorate for Christmas and celebrate it without the cold temperatures and hopefully, some snow? Would we be woefully singing, "I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas" while walking along the beach with the palm trees swaying in the background? I can only dream.

Speaking of Christmas, I am officially The Only Blogger Who Has Not Started Decorating For Christmas Yet. I did "de-fall" the living room and kitchen though, so it's a start. And I got a lot of online shopping done on Black Friday. In my pajamas. With no crowds to deal with. Great online discounts and free shipping, too. That's my kind of shopping.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

first snow of the season

 The white stuff started last night and kept falling 'til early this afternoon. Nothing like starting with a bang ~ our area got about a foot of snow. And it's wet and heavy: heart attack snow.
This is my front porch. Looks like big, puffy pillows, doesn't it?

 Don't think we'll be grilling or using the patio furniture tonight.

 The branches from our neighbor's tree are so heavy with snow, they're almost touching our patio. I noticed cracks in some of the heavier limbs.

Top of my birdbath!

The backyard (with my footprints all over).

 To add insult to injury, it's going down to 8 degrees tonight. Technically, it's still fall. Hard to keep that in mind with this kind of weather.

I don't think this snow will stick around too long though. It's supposed to be 50 degrees and raining on Thursday - Thanksgiving. At least we don't have to shovel rain, right?

Thursday, November 12, 2015

at home

 Today's the only day all week that I have completely at home.* And wouldn't you know it - I have a bad headache! Woke me up in the wee hours. I'm wondering if it's the's bleak. Cold, rainy, and very windy. No editing of the photo below - it really has been that gloomy all day.

 I love to make a big pot of soup in the colder months and then have plenty of leftovers to keep in the fridge. So easy to heat up for lunches or a quick dinner. Today I made a pot of veggie soup - with bacon. ;-) I added a little quinoa elbow pasta to make it more hearty and keep it gluten-free.

Speaking of healthy and gluten-free, I whip up these peanut butter cookies every so often when Brian and I have a hankering for something sweet. As I've mentioned, we gave up white sugar back in April. But, once in awhile, we still want something sweet. These are my go-to cookies because they're tasty, healthy, and amazingly simple to make. They're from the web site, My Whole Food Life. Believe it or not, they only have three ingredients: peanut butter (natural...please don't use/eat the cheap, unhealthy stuff with hydrogenated oil in it), pure maple syrup (again, use the real stuff - not the fake stuff that is nothing but water, corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, and chemicals) and salt. You can find the recipe here. The only downfall? If you use a standard cookie scoop, this recipe only makes seven cookies. You can tell which ones are mine...I stuck some dark chocolate chips on top of mine when I pulled them out of the oven. Yes, those do have sugar in them, but it's minimal because of the dark chocolate and I rarely eat chocolate chips. Once in a blue moon isn't going to kill me. ;-)

I know this photo doesn't have anything to do with my home - I wish it did! I was at a local coffee shop yesterday and was absolutely enamored with the decor. I tried that leather chair in the corner before I left and it was heavenly. I could've taken a nap in it. Now... you see the peek of the amazing blue sofa to your right?

This is it. I'm in love with it AND the coffee table. And the wall art and the lighting. I would've taken photos of the other side of the shop, but there were too many people sitting there. The windows in front of the shop are flanked with blue curtain panels that exactly match the color of the sofa. (Later edit: Brenda from Cozy Little House commented, "add books and I'd be in heaven!" Well, guess what? This place does indeed have books! There is a small bookshelf filled with books near the back of the shop. I don't know if they're just to read while there, or if people can borrow them. I'll have to find out next time I go - and take more pictures.)

Back to home. Think my kitties felt the bleakness of today, too? I threw this quilt on the couch and next thing I knew, they were all curled up and fast asleep in it. Except for Mr. Monkey. He knows when I'm taking his picture and has to look extra cute.

*Well, so much for staying at home all day today. My plans have been thwarted. We had to order some photography equipment for Tim and it was delivered to our house today. We didn't want it delivered to Tim's place at school because it was very expensive and we were afraid it'd get stolen. He needs the equipment ASAP, so we're going to meet up with him for dinner. Guess I'd better go and put on a little makeup and change out of my pajama pants. Happy Thursday, everyone.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

they call that a bargain

I just had to share my latest bargains with you all!

 As I've stated before, I don't go into thrift stores a lot anymore, as I've started getting rid of stuff and simplifying. I don't want to be dragging more stuff into the house. However, there are certain things I need - clothes being one of them. And particular household items. I haven't had much luck with clothes at Goodwill this year, but I finally managed to snag two beautiful brand-new tops that actually fit me at fantastic prices. I am so hard to fit! I am average-sized, but small through the shoulders with a large bust. If a top fits in the shoulders, it's usually too tight in the bust. Or, the opposite is true: fits in the bust; too big in the shoulders. 

Both these tops had the original store tags on them...snagged a Banana Republic blouse for only $5.99! The Price part of the tag was torn off, but from looking at their web site, their blouses run anywhere from $80 - $98. (Crazy.)

And found a Talbots blouse with a $60 price tag for only $6.99. :-) Both of these blouses are much prettier in person...hard to photograph clothes.

I'm trying not to bring anymore tchotchkes into the house, but I couldn't resist this Chicago bowl. It's made by a company called The Dish, LTD. They aren't listing this bowl anymore, but their large platter sells for $42, so I'm assuming this bowl was somewhere around that price. I got it for $3.99.

More Chicago scenes on the bowl...

 Lastly, I found this brand-new chair from Target for only $35! Retail price (as you can see from the link) - $180!! Total score on this find. It's pictured here in my bedroom, but turns out, there wasn't enough room. It's now in Tim's room/the guest room. Please ignore the fact that there's still no curtains on my bedroom window. (There are blinds, but they're pulled up.) Still looking for "just the right ones". I did find curtains I liked at Target (speaking of), but they were too short. I then looked online when I got home and couldn't find them! Must search again.

 Hope you're having a wonderful weekend!


Wednesday, November 4, 2015

the start of november

 We take a walk around the neighborhood most every late afternoon, marveling and relishing in the unusual warm weather we're having for the beginning of November. We pass kids wearing t-shirts and shorts, chasing soccer balls and riding bikes. Adults are in their yards, raking the seemingly-tons of fallen leaves, cleaning out roof gutters, and painting door trim. This is it - the last chance to finish outdoor work before next spring.

 By the time we're almost home, the sun is starting to set. With the time change, it gets dark at 5:00 now. I hate it. The evenings are so long and drawn out. I look at the clock, thinking it's almost bedtime and it's only 8:00.

With most of the trees bare now, you can clearly see the bird's nests nestled in the branches.

 Remember the movie, Groundhog Day? It was filmed in Woodstock, Illinois ~ a nearby suburb. While I was there today, I walked around the Square and took some photos. It was another beautiful day in the high 60's and the sun was trying so hard to poke through the clouds and fog.

The Woodstock Square is a charming place year-round, not only because of its beautiful park setting, but there's an independent bookstore, an upscale chocolate and coffee place, a small vegetarian restaurant that specializes in Middle-Eastern food, the Opera House, and a nice array of one-of-a-kind shops. Of course, there's also a Starbucks. Isn't there one on every street corner in America?

This is the famous gazebo in the Groundhog Day movie. Looks like the parks department was smart and hung the Christmas lights before it's too darn cold. I was amazed at all the color that was still on the bushes and in the surrounding trees.

The Woodstock Opera House is a historical venue for the performing arts. I've only been to a couple of performances here: a classical music (Mozart) concert and a bluegrass concert. Both fantastic. 

I know these warm days are fleeting and before we know it, we'll be wearing winter coats and making plans for Thanksgiving. I'm in no hurry.
"The month of November makes me feel that life is passing more quickly. In an effort to slow it down, I try to fill the hours more meaningfully." (Henry Rollins)


Friday, October 30, 2015

a little more health talk ~ and my reading stash

Good morning, friends! I've received some comments and emails from readers asking questions about intestinal problems and asking about different foods. Some people have said that they could "never give up beans". When you have an intestinal problem such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO), Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD), or Crohn's, there is no choice in giving up beans/legumes (among other particular foods) ~ unless you want to remain very sick. Beans contain indigestible saccharides. The dietary goal with treating IBS and other intestinal maladies is to eat foods that are easily digested. This way, most of the nutrients can be absorbed higher up in the intestine, away from bacteria that lives near the end of the small intestine. I love beans/legumes - I used to eat them all the time because I ate mostly vegetarian. Little did I know one of my most-loved foods was contributing to my gut problems. To give them up to feel well once again, not be in constant pain, not have my stomach be so bloated that I look five months pregnant and can't even button my jeans, and not be constantly running to the bathroom with diarrhea (sorry, but I have to be real here) is 100% worth it. Once the eight weeks of being on the FODMAP diet is up, I can then try adding in one of the higher FODMAP foods (beans, gluten, apples, pears, onions, garlic, etc...there's a long list!) one at a time, to see how my intestines react.*

  On to better things ~ reading! I am never just reading one book or one magazine. I like to have several different genres of things going at one time, because I choose depending on my mood. If I want light or quick reading, I will pick up a magazine. And I'm a magazine junkie! I don't spend much on magazines...there are several I get free (I signed up with Mercury Magazines several years ago and still get free subscriptions through them) and others that are passed down to me. I do have subscriptions to several of my favorites: Mother Earth Living, Better Homes and Gardens, Clean Eating, and Midwest Living. I love the British magazines such as Country Homes and Interiors, Country Living, and The Simple Things. Every so often, I'll go to Barnes and Noble and thumb through these...and once in a blue moon, I'll treat myself to one or two of them. This is my current stash. Sorry for the poor lighting quality. I took these photos at night when I had the lights on in my house.

Here's my current book - and other reading material - pile. A cookbook, a health/psychology book, a novel, and yes, a medical article on microbiomes (which is all about your gut flora). As you can tell, I am fascinated by medical issues, how our body works, and natural ways of healing. If you're interested in reading a little about microbiomes and how they control your health, click here to read an article from Dr. Mercola. There's also a video to a TED talk in this article.

Here's a great idea that I actually saw in a magazine (don't remember which one, so I can't give proper credit): use extra vintage Pyrex dishes to corral stuff around your house. In my case, I'm using one of my dishes to stash a couple of small notebooks, page tabs, note cards, and a pen. I keep this dish in the living room by my book pile. I can't tell you how many times I'd be reading something and then have to jump up to dig for a pen, a piece of paper to write on, or a Post-It note to mark a page.

What's in your reading pile right now?

This blog post pro­vides gen­eral infor­ma­tion about health and related sub­jects. The words and other con­tent pro­vided in this blog, and in any linked sites, are not intended and should not be con­strued as med­ical advice. If the reader or any other per­son has a med­ical con­cern, he or she should con­sult with their physician.
Never dis­re­gard pro­fes­sional med­ical advice or delay in seek­ing it because of some­thing you have read on this blog or in any linked sites.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

a whole lotta this and that

 This past weekend when hubby and I were out and about in one of our favorite towns, we stopped in a new french bakery. I thought it was really clever how they had vintage kitchen tools and milk bottles displayed in box frames on the wall.

Don't these croissants look delicious? I had a cup of coffee and...not a croissant, but an eclair. It was different from what we're accustomed to here in America. It was more of a skinny, dense pastry filled with the richest, creamy chocolate I'd ever tasted. Being on the FODMAP diet, I wasn't supposed to have this (gluten; milk chocolate). Silly me thought I'd be OK, especially since the eclair was small. (Justification.) It was delicious going down, but an hour later my stomach was in so much pain, I was almost doubled over. Boy, did I learn my lesson on that one. Definitely not worth it!

 We also stopped in one of our favorite vintage and "treasure" shops. It's a consignment shop that will buy your things right then and there and pay you cash. I didn't make a lot of money this go-around, but just enough that I was able to turn around and use that money to buy a few things in the shop. ;-) One of the things I bought was this beautiful necklace...

 and I also found a pure wool plaid blanket in perfect condition. I'm allergic to wool, so I can't use this blanket, but for now it looks nice hung over the chair in Tim's room/the guest room. I'll admire it for a little while, then pass it on to my mom. She was with us while we were shopping and really loved this blanket.

 Speaking of jewelry, Brian surprised me with these earrings the other day. We had been at a friend's Halloween party and her daughter had a bunch of her handmade jewelry there. I was looking through the stash and commented that I thought these earrings were pretty. The next morning when I got up and walked into the kitchen, these earrings were propped up next to my laptop on the kitchen table. I was super surprised because Brian usually doesn't do things like this. He's more of a gift giver for birthdays or Christmas.

 Isn't this a pitiful sight? Leaves all over the ground and patio furniture; hostas drying up. Patio weather is officially over. Cushions are now stored away in the garage and the furniture is bunched up against the house. We'll be covering it all with a tarp as soon as all the leaves are done falling. Brian cleaned out the gutters this weekend and I did a lot of sweeping and leaf-blowing. It's a never-ending job in the's like shoveling while it's still snowing.

Remember my neighbor's gorgeous maple tree that I've been documenting in photos all fall? This is it today. Almost bare. Another sad sight. And look at that gloomy sky. I think the sun will now be few and far between and gray skies and rain more the norm.

It's been a long time since I've had any red meat and I'm tired of chicken...and seeing I can't have legumes on the FODMAP diet (which I miss very much, especially since I ate mostly vegetarian), I decided to try a pot roast tonight. I smothered it in carrots, parsnips, celery and onion. Onion is another big no-no on FODMAP, but I'm hoping that with picking out the big chunks of onion and eating everything else, my tummy will be OK. The experts say not to even eat anything that's been cooked with onion - not even onion powder! - but I just couldn't see cooking a roast without it. Onion adds so much flavor. I had my meal about 1-1/2 hours ago and so far, I feel fine. 

 Thanks for visiting ~ have a wonderful week!