Wednesday, November 6, 2019

for today ~ november edition


I haven't done this series in a long time, so thought I'd give it a try again. I hope you enjoy this...and perhaps you'd like to join in if you have a blog.




Looking out my window ~

It's dark, gray, cold and gloomy. That's how November tends to roll around here. Add in the time change where it now gets dark at 4:30 and you have a nice recipe for Seasonal Affective Disorder. This photo was taken yesterday out my living room window when we actually had a rare day with a little bit of sun.


I am thinking ~

That I need to buy one of those light therapy lamps for SAD. On my to-do list!

I am thankful ~

for my yoga community. Not only do we have an amazing yoga teacher, but the people in this class (mostly women; two men) are down-to-earth, friendly, supportive, and humorous. We all talk before and after class, sometimes go out for coffee after class, and join together in community events.

One of my favorite things ~

I found this gorgeous, full-size, vintage quilt (at a bargain price!) this past weekend while treasure-hunting with a friend. I'm not going to be using it in our bedroom as shown in the photo, as it doesn't "go" in this room. Where I'm currently using it is coming up.


I am creating ~

Soup! It's a staple in our house all through fall and winter. Leek and Potato is a favorite and is sooo easy to make. It's incredible how something with just a few ingredients can taste absolutely delicious. Magic and nourishment before your eyes.

LEEK & POTATO SOUP
3 T. olive oil
3 large leeks, white & pale green parts only, halved lengthwise & thinly sliced
2 large organic Russet or Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled & diced
4-1/2 c. chicken or vegetable broth (if you're using veggie broth, be sure it doesn't contain
tomatoes, as it makes the soup look & taste weird)
2 T. chopped fresh chives, for topping

Heat oil in Dutch oven over medium heat. Add leeks; stir to coat with oil. Cover pot; cook until leeks are tender, stirring often, about 10 minutes. Add potatoes. Cover and cook until potatoes begin to soften, but do not brown, stirring often, about 10 min. Add broth. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer until veggie are tender, about 30 minutes. Puree soup with a hand blender or in a regular blender until smooth. Thin with additional broth if soup is too thick. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Optional: can stir in a little bit of cream. Garnish with chives and serve.


I am wearing ~

black leggings, turquoise and white striped shirt, gray vest.

I am reading ~

I just finished Olive Kitteridge and give it five stars. One of the best books I've read this year! It's hard to get into at first, and I wasn't sure where the story was going, but then it all came together and I couldn't put the book down. I feel like I personally know Olive (the sign of a great writer when the characters seem real!) and I want to know what's in store for her next. I'm so glad the author, Elizabeth Strout, just published the follow-up book, Olive, Again which I'll be starting tonight.



I am watching ~

The Amazon series, Modern Love

I am hoping ~

That my son's chronic tinnitus gets better. Anyone that has experience with this miserable condition have any suggestions that have worked for them? 

I am learning ~

That our problems are not unique. Sometimes when you're in the middle of something, you feel like you're the only one. But the more you talk to other people, the more you find that others are going through ~ or have gone through ~ the same things. It's all about connection and support.

In my kitchen ~

Like I mentioned before, there's been a lot of soup making going on around here! Yesterday, I made a pot of Minestrone. Tonight, I'm making my famous chili recipe.



Shared quote ~


A moment from my day ~

This room used to be Tim's bedroom. I'm slowly transforming it into an office for Brian. I love the way the sunlight was streaming in the window yesterday morning. (OK, so I'm a day off on this prompt.) That's mine and Brian's baby pictures on the wall. Phil and Tim's baby pictures are on the other side of the curtain. The "new" quilt is on the chair.


Post Script (add a favorite link that you would like to pass along. It can be someone else's website, etsy shop, Instagram feed, Facebook link, OR it can be your own) ~

If you've ever considered starting an art or junk journal, check out Art Journalist. Full of how-to's, free printables, painting and journaling tips, and all sorts of other helpful and creative tidbits.

If you would like to create your own daybook, check here for the guidelines and list of prompts.

Be well, be happy, be peaceful.
xoxo

Thursday, October 31, 2019

i wish this were a trick


This is what we woke up to this morning. The snow finally just stopped...wet, heavy, wind-whipped snow that dumped a few more inches on us. Wonder if we'll get any trick-or-treaters? We don't get many as it is.


Snow this early in the season is rare for us. Sure, it's almost November and we did cover up all the patio furniture last weekend (always makes me sad), but snow? A very cruel trick, Mother Nature.


Just a few days ago, we were still enjoying the beauty of the color change...



enjoying a bonfire in the back yard....


 and our usual walk down to the lake after dinner.



 I'm looking out my window at the poor leaves on the trees covered in snow; some branches so heavy that they're bent to the ground.

Happy Halloween ~ enjoy some treats!


Wednesday, October 23, 2019

decorating my front porch for halloween

With Halloween being right around the corner, I wanted to decorate my front porch in a simple way for the trick-or-treaters who come to our door. I didn't want anything elaborate or gory. Neither is my style.

(Disclaimer: As a member of the Wayfair Homemaker program, I have been compensated for this post. All ideas and opinions are completely my own.)

I gathered various pumpkins and a hay bale from the local farm stand for the basics and was wondering what I could incorporate for a fun, simple Halloween touch. Wayfair has all sorts of outdoor Halloween decor to choose from ~ anything from spooky to cute. When I saw these metal spooky cat pumpkin holders, I knew they were just what I was looking for.



I think these kitty pumpkin holders are the perfect touch for Halloween; decor that both children and adults enjoy.


These pumpkin holders couldn't be easier to use either: simply place the pumpkin into the round "body" and then stick the metal head and tail right into the pumpkin.


You could even use these cats indoors. The smaller one is the purrfect size for a side table or buffet.


 The best thing about these kitties is that their eyes light up! There's little switches on the back of the heads that make the eyes glow green from the LED lights.


These kitties will look extra cool ~ and a little spooky ~ on Halloween as it's getting dark and kids approach our house. I think they'll love it!


May your Halloween be filled with lots of treats ~ no tricks! 



Wednesday, October 16, 2019


I finally made it to a pumpkin farm yesterday. Well, it's a place that's more than that. It's actually a nursery. They have the most beautiful selection of plants and flowers in the spring and summer and great prices, too. I happened to see on Facebook that they had a huge selection of different kinds of pumpkins and gourds, so I'd been wanting to make a trip back to this place. A friend of mine said she'd been wanting to go too, so yesterday was the day. 

We spent an hour oohing and aahing over the variety of pumpkins and gourds...so many beautiful colors, shapes and textures! At one point we were laughing because at every turn we'd hold up another cool gourd or point to a pumpkin and exclaim about its unusual shape or curly stem or certain color pattern. "Who gets this much into gourds?!" We used the excuse that we're both very visual and artists. My arts consist more of decorating, cooking, writing, photography and a little art journaling and scrapbooking; my friend actually has a degree in art and is proficient in painting, jewelry and pottery making, photography and possibly other mediums I'm not aware of yet. She's a "newer" friend and I'm still getting to know her.









We each could've gone a little crazy and spent too much money, but we restrained ourselves. I came home with these gourds (I already had the mini orange pumpkins), plus a couple of pumpkins and another one of those big green gourds ~ which are outside. Brian picked up a hay bale for me today, so now I need to work on a display for the front porch.


This is my neighbor's maple tree across the street. I photograph it every fall because it's just so darn gorgeous. Once it starts changing color (it's late this year due to the excess rain we've had), the change goes quickly. It looks different every day. This was taken yesterday right before we left for the pumpkin farm/nursery.


More day trips coming up later this week!
Until next time...


Wednesday, October 9, 2019

weekend fun

This past Saturday, me, my mom and aunt hopped in the car and went to a barn sale out in the country. It was only half an hour from my house, but that half hour further west makes a lot of difference in the landscape as far as open land goes. 


The house and grounds were so beautiful. I could definitely live in a place like this.


Check out the cute shed!


Couldn't you picture relaxing around this fire pit on a cool October evening, talking and laughing with friends or family, having a glass of wine or beer and making s'mores? (No phones!) 


Just gazing around at all the beautiful, open land makes your blood pressure drop. I sure wouldn't mind this view from my back yard instead of neighbor's houses.


We were greeted at the entrance to the barn by a pair of turkeys.


Before I went into the barn, I went to the side where the turkeys started heading and I found more turkeys and some ducks. Pee-yew, was it smelly over there! And turkeys are noisy. I had no idea.


That did it for me - I headed quickly into the barn where I had a more pleasant greeting: free coffee and make-your-own Bloody Mary's!

 

The barn was filled with antique furniture and all kinds of vintage and antique treasures for the home.



This piece already had a sold sign on it. I wasn't surprised. I would love something like this in my kitchen instead of the tall, narrow china cabinet that's currently there.



Me, my aunt and my mom.


After the barn sale, we went to a couple of nearby shops in town to peruse more treasures. Here's a few things I came home with, both from the barn sale and the shops ~ a gorgeous made-in-England pitcher, antique french lace wooden pins, and a small piece of pottery. I also bought a vintage glass deep pie dish and a vintage blue and white speckled pottery mug (RRP Pottery, Roseville, OH) ~ not pictured. I love different coffee/tea mugs in general and have far too many, but my tastes change every so often and now it's leaning towards the pottery ones.


More fun on Sunday with going to see the Linda Ronstadt documentary ("The Sound of my Voice") with a couple of girlfriends. It was excellent! If you get a chance to see this movie, I highly recommend it if you were ~ and still are ~ a Linda Ronstadt fan.

Hope your week is off to a good start. We've had sunshine and temps near 70 so far this week, but rain moving in tomorrow night (which is the last thing we need) and then cold this weekend. Not ready for that!



Sunday, October 6, 2019

catching up ~ phil's anniversary date, fall stuff, a chili recipe

Hi friends, I know it's been awhile since I posted. The 10 year anniversary of Phil's passing was September 25th and I just haven't felt like posting anything. Maybe because ten years is considered a milestone in measuring time, this year hit me particularly hard. My beautiful boy had just turned 14 years old in this photo. We were celebrating his birthday at TGI Fridays. I love his sweet, shy smile in this photo.


I don't do much decorating for the different seasons anymore. Just little touches here and there. This is as far as I've gotten with fall decor on my front porch. I found these interesting pumpkins at Trader Joe's. I liked them better than the traditional pumpkins.


I still have hints of summer on the front porch - the hanging fern and pot of summer flowers are still going strong, despite temps dipping into the 40's at night. 


We've had way too much rain here in northeast Illinois though. It's one reason why the color change is late here this year. My poor arborvitae trees in the back yard have had standing water under them for a couple of weeks now. Neighbors around us in lower-lying areas have standing water in their front yards, and even worse, there's a couple of houses down the street that are surrounded by water because of the creek than runs behind their houses. 


Inside my home, small touches of fall decor in the living room...


The heavier throw came out...


Fall pillows on the couch...


Fabric pumpkins and fairy lights...



A few fall items grace the china cabinet in the kitchen...


Lots of cooking has been going on in the kitchen, too. I've been buying the last of the tomatoes at the local farm stand and roasting them in the oven on low with fresh thyme sprigs from my herb garden and olive oil, then putting the roasted, cooled tomatoes in freezer bags and sticking them in the freezer. That way I can use fresh, roasted tomatoes all fall and winter in soups, stews, spaghetti sauce and chili.


Speaking of chili, I made my first pot last week. Tim came over for dinner and the three of us devoured big bowls of this chili on an appropriately chilly evening, accompanied with beer bread. Brian and Tim said this was the best chili I've ever made. Maybe it was because it was the first pot of chili of the season, but who am I to argue. Recipe below. The great thing about making things like chili is that it's so adaptable. You can change up the peppers for whatever kind you like. Same with the beans and the spices. 


MELANIE'S BEST CHILI
3 T butter or olive oil
1 onion, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 cubanelle pepper, diced
1 poblano pepper, diced
1 lb organic, grass-fed ground beef
1 lb organic ground pork
1 clove minced garlic
1 can diced tomatoes*
1 small can tomato sauce*
1 can black beans (do not drain!)
Vegetable broth, as needed for thinning
Couple of dashes of Worcestershire sauce
3 T chili powder
2 tsp cumin
Pinch red pepper flakes
1 T cocoa powder
Salt and pepper, to taste

In a Dutch oven, melt the butter or heat the olive oil over medium heat, then add the onion and peppers. Saute until just tender. Add the ground beef, pork and garlic. Cook until meat is browned. Drain fat. Add the diced tomatoes and tomato sauce. *How much you use of each is a personal preference. I prefer my chili to have less chunks of tomatoes and more sauce, but you might like the texture of diced tomatoes better. I ended up using more tomato sauce than the diced tomatoes. Add the black beans (or you can use kidney beans ~ or even a can of each; again, it's a personal preference...just remember, don't drain the beans!) Start to add vegetable broth to thin as the chili is simmering. Then add the seasonings, tasting and adjusting as you want. Pop the lid on the pot and let simmer on low for an hour. Your house will smell sooo good!

Happy October. 🍂