Thursday, November 16, 2023

it's about time

Where to start when it's been seven weeks since I last posted? It's been a combination of things. Not in a blogging mood, having a busy (a "good" busy) fall, and feeling like I have nothing to say while at the same time, having too much to say. 

{my darling Clementine is still doing well!}

I at least wanted to say hello and check in with you all and see how you're doing. I know the world can be very heavy on our hearts at times. Personally, it's been a good fall for me except for September 25th, a day I always dread. That's the date of my oldest son, Philip's passing. It's been 14 years, which seems like forever ago. It's still a very difficult day for me and Brian and I know it will be until we take our last breath. It doesn't matter how many years have passed. When you lose a child, the jagged wound in your heart is irreparable. 

Otherwise, this fall has been full of farms and petting goats and walking along the beach (Lake Michigan); reconecting with my yoga and Reiki communities; trying new-to-me art mediums (watercolor); and lots of one-on-one time with my friends.

{rocks and beach glass found along the lake shore}

The absolute best thing this fall was Tim coming home for a visit! It had been a year since we'd seen our boy. His time was limited while he was home as he was standing up in a wedding, but we enjoyed a day in downtown Chicago; hanging out for a bit at a couple of his friend's houses (with one friend and his wife and kids, I'm like their bonus mom and grandma ~ and with Tim's other friends, I've known them since they were in their late teens); a visit with extended family; just hanging out together watching a couple of movies; and an evening where Tim made us carnitas for dinner. 

I haven't been reading as much as I'd like lately. (Goal: less time spent on social media!) How about you?

A trip to the library and the threat of cold weather moving in next week spurred me on. I'm nearing the end of Absolution by Alice McDermott. I have mixed feelings on this novel. McDermott is a wonderful storyteller and there's some compelling parts in this book, but it's also a bit dry. I'll take a break from fiction and dive into a non-fiction book next. 

Hard to believe Thanksgiving is only a week away. To my American friends, I hope your day is full of gratitude and love.


Saturday, September 23, 2023

first day of fall

Happy first day of fall! While summer is my favorite season, I do admit that fall can be beautiful. 

Fall gets a little depressing for me though because my oldest son, Philip passed away on September 25th (2009). My dad, grandpa and mother-in-law also all passed away in the fall. I also hate seeing all the flowers dying and perennials withering, packing away all the summer yard decor and covering up the patio furniture...all reminders that the dreaded winter is right around the corner. (Ignore the bag of potting soil, plant pots and gardening gloves lying on the porch. I repotted several houseplants today.)

But back to the good stuff: Brian bought wood and stained it, and built a raised bed in back of the house for an herb garden. I had herbs back there in the ground for years, including mint, which I was always having to prune and dig out. The little area served us well during the past years, but with the french drains being put in the ground a few months ago (you can see one of the drains behind Brian), the area was looking scraggly. And I was sick of taming the mint. So Brian dug out all the herbs except for what I wanted to save ~ chives and red veined sorrel. I'll plant other herbs next spring.

Some color still abounds around the yard. Black-eyed Susan in the butterfly garden is drying up, but still lovely.

Plenty of color on the north side of the house with hosta blooms, coleus and impatiens.

I picked the last of our tomatoes today ~ even the green ones ~ and roasted them until they were saucy. Added to my pot of chili for dinner.

Another snapshot of my day: Clementine is my loyal companion. She follows me all over the house. I was making dinner, so she had to supervise, of course.

Even though it was warm and sunny today, I was craving chili. I don't use a recipe. This is my own creation. I taste and add things as I go along, though I do use some basics: half ground turkey, half ground beef (organic, grass-fed), onions, red and orange bell pepper, poblano pepper, garlic, a can of black beans, tomato sauce, dark beer, a little chicken broth, seasonings (chili powder, cumin, Mexican oregano, salt, pepper, chipotle red pepper), a tablespoon of cocoa powder. I doubled my usual recipe so that I could bring a container to a friend whose Significant Other just got home from the hospital.

Whatever you choose to do this weekend to celebrate the Autumn Equinox, I hope it brings you joy.

PS ~ still having trouble with my blog header. Designed a simple graphic through a website (can't even remember which one now), but I can't get it to center. That's what I get for using a freebie site, I suppose. I'm still not wanting to pay for a photo editing site since I will rarely use it, but I might have to bite the bullet.

Saturday, September 2, 2023

it's still summer

Hello, friends! 

I know Labor Day weekend signifies the final hoorah of summer, but I like to keep in mind that we have another three more weeks of this beautiful season.

Give me all the days of warmth, sunshine, bright flowers, and patio sitting.

I would never get tired of spending Sunday mornings barefoot on the patio with my iced coffee and newspaper (it's the only day we get the paper).

My pots of veggies have been giving us beautiful tomatoes...

and I just harvested the first of our red onions. (Why are they called red onions if they're more purple? 🀷)

Evening walks to the lake to see the sunset are a bonus to living in this neighborhood, but the sunsets are getting earlier by the day. I hate having to close the blinds in the house at 7:30 now. Though in the throes of winter, I'll only be wishing the sunset were as late as 7:30. Aack, my mind can't even go there.

Our little town had their annual weekend fest in August, which always ends in a fabulous fireworks show over the lake. Thousands of people from all over come to see these fireworks. We stay home and watch them from our side yard. I don't like crowds or loud noises. Truth be told, I'm not a fan of fireworks in general because of the trauma from the noise to our veterans, cats and dogs who are usually terrified from the noise, and the terror and damage to wildlife. I saw online that some cities are choosing to do drone or laser light shows, and I'm all for that.

My birthday is in August, too and we spent the day in Chicago. One of the places I wanted to visit was St Michael Church in "Old Town". I'm not Catholic, but this place is rich in history and architecture, so I wanted to see it. It's one of the only handful of buildings that survived the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. 

The interior was breathtaking. I got goosebumps when I walked in and saw this view.

Two violinists and a celloist were playing soft music, as they were getting ready for a funeral service.

It's been so dry here in Illinois this summer. The leaves on the neighbor's maple tree are already turning red on the top. And this photo was taken at the end of August! Way too early, that's for sure. There's also dried leaves all over our property. Another sign of dryness. I love the low humidity, but we desperately need rain.

It's supposed to be in the 90's the next few days, so we'll be firing up the grill tomorrow. I'm going to make a mayo-free potato salad. Not sure which recipe but it's between this French potato salad or this dill pickle potato salad. Either of one of them perfect for summer.

PS: totally unrelated subject, but for those of you who do your own blog header, especially if it's photographs, what photo site do you use? I'm more interested in a free one, but haven't had any luck with a Google search. I used to love PicMonkey, but it's no longer free and I wouldn't really use it except to change my blog header once in awhile. Would that be worth it?Thanks for any suggestions.

Have a fantastic weekend!

Monday, July 31, 2023

end of july

Can't believe tomorrow is August 1st already. Where has the summer gone? It's my favorite season and it's far too short. My butterfly garden is in its glory; tomatoes, onions and peppers (trying purple ones this year) are almost ready; herbs are prolific (and I somehow got one lone petunia flower in the pot of basil and thyme...where it came from, I have no idea. I don't have petunias here this year. Love these little gifts from the Universe!).

Clementine is still doing fantastic despite her age and stage 4 kidney disease (and hyperthyroidism, high blood pressure and dental disease). You'd never know this sweet baby is so ill. She eats all her meals, uses her cat box, is very interactive with us, runs around, can still jump up to high places.

This month has been filled with various farmer's markets, sidewalk sales, and street fairs. I've been lucky to find some "treasures" at fantastic prices: a leather owl made in Italy; a vintage drinking vessel made in Israel; a stack of books and a CD for $3; a freezer Ball jar that I'm currently using as a vase; vintage pottery (those lines and colors!); a mini metal pitcher with a kitty on it...and then a splurge ~ a new mid-century modern style lamp for our basement family room. Found this beauty at Praha in Chicago. 

Phil would've been 35 years old on July 21st. I don't know when the photo of the two of us was taken, why both of our heads of hair look so dark, or who took the photo. But it looks like Phil was about 14-15 in this photo. How I miss my oldest son. 

And then we celebrated Brian's birthday in July, as well. We had a lovely day together, going out to a restaurant of his choice and seeing the movie, Oppenheimer. Brian liked the movie; I didn't care for it. You really need to know your WW2 history to get into this movie. I had a horrible history teacher in high school and it was a subject that didn't interest me. Plus, the movie was three hours long. We were squirming in our seats.

I know it's the height of summer when the local farmstands start selling their corn. There's nothing like Midwest corn! We had it for the first time this summer on the grill and agreed that next time, we are going for two ears each. Even better when it's eaten outside on the patio. 

If you've stuck around with me through this long post, thank you. I'm not sure what to think about blogging anymore. It's so much easier to keep up with Instagram. Are you following me there? I'm at @melaniescomfyhouse. My account is private, so you'll have to send me a follow request. Anyway, this is by no means goodbye. If I decide to formally stop my blog, I'll let you know. For right now, it's more of an explanation of why I don't post much anymore.