Thursday, October 5, 2017

what happens when you go to target for jeans

Last weekend while at my cousin's house, she mentioned that she went shopping for jeans and found that Mom Jeans were coming back into style. All us women had the same reaction: Hellll no! Though we then lamented the perils of lower-cut jeans, which lead to muffin top. Another cousin said forget the muffin top; he had an entire Bundt cake! 

(My kind of muffin top) source

On Sunday when I was looking through the Chicago Tribune, I noticed the Target flyer was advertising that they were having a "buy one, get another one 50% off" jeans sale. The models on the front of the flyer were wearing different colored jeans - not Mom Jeans! -  and it looked like they had some nice colors for fall. I need a couple of pairs of new jeans, so I headed to Target.

This is what ended up in my cart.

Notice you don't see any jeans. More on that in a minute.

Ooh, hello pretty fall placemats and wooden bread bowl and pillar candle holder. And Target is no dummy with that cute little dollar section the minute you walk in the door. That's where I found the pumpkin string lights ($3) and the recipe box ($5).

 

When I got home from shopping and unloaded my wares onto the kitchen table, Clementine immediately claimed the bread bowl and Monkey, the Trader Joe's flyer.

 Loafers.


I ended up using the placemats as a runner. My kitchen table is small, so store-bought standard sized runners are way too long. The bread bowl makes a nice centerpiece and I'm currently using it to hold cloth napkins and the hurricane lamp with a flameless candle. I might change it up later with a grouping of mini pumpkins and apples. Lots of possibilities with this bread bowl.


The recipe box on top of the fridge...


and the pumpkin lights strung across the fireplace mantle.

Notice anything else new on the mantle?


We love our new mirror! It's the IKEA Stockholm mirror.


I had been looking for a big mirror for the mantle and when I saw this photo on Instagram, it was my inspiration.



Back to the jeans at Target:

I could not find any colored jeans for women; only typical blue jeans. And the only styles they had were skinny jeans - which, to me, are only attractive on super skinny women...and I'm not one of them - or boot cut. Where these colored, "normal-fitting" jeans were that I saw in the ad was beyond me. I even asked a salesgirl in the women's section and she said all she knew of was the colored cotton chino-type pants.

Maybe I'll have better luck at Kohls. 

At least I'm not tempted by their housewares section. ;-)

Sunday, October 1, 2017

beautiful weather and a few delicious autumn meals

Yesterday we spent the day in central Illinois with extended relatives and we couldn't have asked for a more lovely day...sun, 70 degrees, hanging out on the patio talking, and playing cornhole/bags (whichever you want to call it) in my cousin's beautiful back yard. Pretty much the entire month of September was perfect, weather-wise. I don't remember a September where the skies were this blue and cloudless every day, though we now desperately need rain. We barely have a color change here yet. Most trees are still green, but the leaves that are falling are brown and crispy.


The sunsets have been amazing every night, too. This one was taken on our evening walk tonight.


Today was back to reality with lots of work around the house and laundry, but that's OK, because we got a lot accomplished. I made a hearty dinner: a sheet pan with apple gouda chicken sausages, potatoes, sweet potatoes and onions - which were roasted in the oven; a pot of quinoa; and fried apples (fried in coconut oil, sprinkled with cinnamon, and sweetened with a drizzle of pure maple syrup).

Speaking of delicious food, I have a few other fall dinner ideas for you.

We're all familiar with spaghetti with meat sauce, but when I came across this simple way of making it, I had to give it a try. (I can't remember what magazine I cut this recipe out of, but I think it was Real Simple.) I was dubious about cooking the noodles right in the sauce, but it turned out perfect! I used brown rice spaghetti noodles and organic, grass-fed beef. If you make this, be aware that it makes a lot. I think we got about 7-8 servings from this dish. And the leftovers thicken after being stored in the fridge, so when I heated up the leftovers in a pot on the stove, I added more water and a little bottled organic marinara sauce.



This is one of our favorite soups. It's simple but yet has deep flavor and is easy to make. I always double this recipe. We had the leftovers for lunch today.



Stuffed zucchini is another easy-to-make, yummy and healthy dish. Preheat oven to 350F. Trim ends from zucchini and cut in half lengthwise, then scoop out the pulp and seeds with a spoon. Spray the insides of the zucchini with olive oil cooking spray or brush lightly with olive oil. Bake zucchini shells for 15-20 minutes or until slightly tender. Remove from oven and stuff with filling of your choice. There are so many possibilities, depending on what flavors you're in the mood for. You can basically stuff with any kind of cooked meats (or not) and veggies, sprinkle with shredded cheese (or not), and bake another 20 minutes. This filling was diced cooked chicken with enchilada sauce, corn, and cheese. When it came out of the oven, I topped with chopped fresh tomato and cilantro.


Hope you all had a great weekend and were blessed to also have enough good food to eat and share with loved ones. Even if it was just yourself, you are a loved one, too. Treat yourself as such.

Monday, September 25, 2017

eight years ago today

Eight years ago today, our world as we knew it came to a stop. 
RIP, my precious son. We forever love and miss you.
Philip Thomas Riley 07.21.88 - 09.25.09

"I am not without hope, and I know I will see him again someday. But who knows when that day will come, so I've had to learn a lot about grief in these years - or at least learn a lot about how I grieve. I've learned that you don't get to practice how you'll handle something like this....
I've learned that life can be fun again, and I can laugh and enjoy it. At the same time, grief is like a giant block of granite: The sharp edges may have softened with the passing years, but it remains as hard and as heavy as it was the day it first crashed into my life. But I've discovered that sorrow has its own beauty. It brings depth and context to all the blessings in my life."
(Matthew Wahlberg, "What 9 Years Since my Son's Death Have Taught" Chicago Tribune, Sept 27, 2015)

(Phil on his 14th birthday, 2002)


Tuesday, September 19, 2017

seasons changing

Last week, it was cool enough where I was thinking fall foods ~ chili, soup, squash. Have you ever had delicata squash? It looks like this:


It's simple to prepare, and so delicious. Brian and I ate this entire pan in one sitting. Scrub the squash, then poke holes all over it with a fork, put in the microwave on high for two minutes to soften up enough to slice, then let it cool down. Slice into rings and place on a baking sheet. Some of the rings will have some pulp and seeds, but they're easy to scrape out with a spoon. In a small bowl, combine extra-virgin olive oil, salt, pepper & fresh chopped rosemary. Use a pastry brush to brush the infused oil on top of the squash rings. Bake at 400 degrees F. for about 20 minutes, or until tender. Eat! Yes, you can eat the skin, too. This squash is high in fiber and iron, vitamins A and C, potassium, calcium, magnesium, and a host of other vitamins.


I know my time with fresh tomatoes is limited, so I've been running up to the local farm stand a couple of times a week and buying a ton of tomatoes. I cut them up and roast them with extra-virgin olive oil, salt and pepper, let them cool down, and then put them in food storage bags. Easy-peasy and will be so wonderful to have fresh tomatoes in my homemade soups, stew, chili, and spaghetti sauce this winter.



Now we're back to warm weather. It's been 80+ the past few days and will climb to 91 by Friday. That's how the weather goes here when seasons are changing. The color change has started and driving down the roads I've noticed the landscaping seems to be bathed in a soft golden glow. We desperately need rain though ~ it's so dry. My yard is littered with crunchy leaves.


Sunsets have been anywhere from gentle and soft...


to strong and fiery.


 I know fall doesn't truly start for a couple more days and I hate pushing seasons (except for winter 😛), but I brought the fall stuff out a few days ago and started playing around with decor. Just going for a transitioning look; nothing Autumn Overkill. This is just the emptying of the storage box to see what I had. I didn't use much and even donated some of it.


"By all these lovely tokens September days are here, with summer's best of weather and autumn's best of cheer." ~ Helen Hunt Jackson



Saturday, September 16, 2017

wedding day x 33

Thirty-three years ago yesterday, just one month after I turned 22, I said "I do" to Brian.


We were so young!


Weren't my parents a beautiful couple? Their 56th wedding anniversary would've been today. My dad passed away almost 19 years ago. They only had 37 years together. Not that much longer than Brian and I have been married.


And this is Brian's parents. His mom had cancer and was near the end. She held on for our wedding. I love the way Brian's dad is holding on to her arm so gently and looking at her with love and concern. She passed away just six weeks after our wedding. So Brian's parents only had 26 years together. Now that I'm in my 50's and have been married 33 years, I realize how short time together really is. 

 

We usually go on an overnight trip for our anniversary, but we stayed home this year due to two of our cats being on medication. Yes, Tim could've taken care of the cats, but his schedule is too erratic, so we couldn't rely on him. It was fine though ~ we don't mind staying at home. We always say, "As long as we're together." We did go out to a nice dinner to celebrate. We were going to go out to a movie afterwards, but the one we wanted to see (Brad's Status) wasn't playing in any of the nearby theaters. Because we're such party animals, we instead stopped at some stores on the way home.


We're in the market for a new couch, but haven't done much looking yet. We went into Crate and Barrel to look around and I really liked this couch. It was firm and comfortable, the slipcovers are washable, and it's only 83" long instead of your standard 90". That would give us more room on either side of the couch, which is a plus for us since our living room is small. A 90" couch is a three-seater, but in reality, who sits three people to a couch? This 83" sofa is a two-seater, but is very generous. And still long enough where one could lay down on it to read or take a nap.

I was looking at this photo and realized how wrinkled the material gets. Do I want this ultra-casual look in my living room, or do I want more tailored? Hmm. Decisions, decisions. Well, like I said, we've just started looking, so we have a long way to go.


As long as I get to spend at least another 33 years with this guy, it's all good.


Happy weekend!

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

a gentler way to start your day

I haven't posted since last week because I've had a lot on my mind. Between my own busyness and happenings and then all the tragedy going on in the world at once ~ Hurricane Harvey, the earthquake in Mexico, and now Hurricane Irma ~ I've felt unsettled. As an introvert and someone who also has anxiety, I tend to ruminate and over-think things. So when I'm feeling like the world is simply too much, I purposely try and create more calmness and peace in my life.


 During this time I was scrolling through Instagram and Jennifer at The Cottage Nest wrote that she was making time to start her day off on a positive, technology free note. She said, "there's stretching, gratitude journaling, encouraging reading and aromatherapy all before I even roll out of bed - a much gentler way to begin my days."

Interestingly enough, I had been thinking along the same lines for awhile now - but not taking action. Seeing Jennifer's post gave me the little push that I needed. While I do have to get out of bed right away when I wake up as I'm the one who feeds the cats, I've first been taking a minute to at least stretch my body before I start opening the blinds around the house and heading to the kitchen.


My morning routine after feeding the cats and making coffee was that I opened the front door to let the sun in (a good thing!), but then opened my laptop and read my email and looked through social media. (By the way, that's a cat toy in the sunbeam, not a dead mouse. 😉)


The past few days instead of turning on my laptop, I've been reading something light and positive. Whether you choose to read poetry, an uplifting book, your Bible, etc., it sure beats starting out your day being bombarded by email and social media. Sometimes I light a grapefruit-scented candle that I have on my coffee table.


I then roll out my yoga mat in the sunbeam (the cats get miffed - they love the morning sunbeam, too!) and do gentle stretches for my back and knee and a few rounds of sun salutations. 


Of course, I'm not able to do this slow, gentle routine every morning. Sometimes there's appointments where I need to rush and get out the door. Maybe you work outside the home and are also rushed with your morning routine. However, anyone (even me - who hates getting up any earlier than I have to) can get up just a mere five minutes earlier and at least stretch a little and then maybe sit and be still and set some positive affirmations for the day.


I have found that this slower paced, gentle way of starting the day has already made a difference in my mood and starts my day off on a positive note. 

 

Once you've gently started your day and are ready for breakfast, it's important to fuel your body with something healthy. Your body has fasted 10-12+ hours, so breakfast is a must. Most mornings, my breakfast is a nutritious smoothie, which only takes a couple of minutes to make. Simply layer in the blender: water or milk (I use Silk Almond-Coconut milk), frozen fruit (I like a berry blend), a banana (or 1/2 avocado), a few fresh strawberries or small handful of blueberries or raspberries, a sprinkling of turmeric, 1 T. of hemp hearts, a big spoon of plain Greek yogurt (don't use the flavored yogurts which are loaded with sugar or artificial sweeteners), and a big handful of baby spinach. Use organic ingredients with the fruits, veggies and cow's milk, if that's what you're using for liquid.


Drink up! 


I'd love to hear your thoughts...

How do you start your day? 
Do you need to be kinder and gentler with yourself? 
What ideas would work for you?


Monday, September 4, 2017

labor day weekend

This long weekend included a little bit of everything.

Having lunch on the deck of a local restaurant...


Antique shopping...





Cleaning out our very messy and dirty garage...




Now it's decluttered, organized and clean...
(Well, as clean as a garage can get.)




A simple and delicious pasta salad...dressed it with extra-virgin olive oil, red wine vinegar, a teeny bit of cane sugar (all organic), Dijon mustard, fresh herbs, pink Himalayan salt, and freshly ground pepper. It was a perfect side dish for grilled burgers. Leftover pasta salad can be tossed with Wild Planet tuna the next day for a healthy lunch...


And baking strawberry oatmeal muffins. I added some bittersweet chocolate chips to some of them. And yes, some of the muffins are wearing spring tulip wrappers. Use what you have left in the cabinet, right? I haven't baked muffins in a long time. You can find the recipe here


What were you up to on this Labor Day weekend?