Wednesday, March 14, 2018

mid-march around comfy house

The sunrises this time of year have been glorious. Our front door faces east and has a beveled glass window, so when the sun comes up, it casts interesting shadows in the living room.

It's still cold here with scattered snow showers. No new signs of spring since I last reported seeing lilies and daffodils coming out of the ground. If you don't find spring outside, you can always bring it in.

I had my annual physical this morning and afterwards grabbed a souffle and coffee for breakfast at the nearby Panera. While driving in the back of the building, I could see the Norge Ski Jump sticking way up above the houses, so I decided to drive a few blocks to see the entire jump. I have a friend who lives in this area and she took me to see the jump a few years ago, but I wanted to experience it again. Of course, a photograph doesn't do it justice. It's amazing to see in person. It's huge! One hundred sixty feet into the air, to be precise. This year, the Norge Ski Jump was home to three members of the US Olympic ski jumping team.

I tried my hand at making biscuits this afternoon. I found the recipe in the Cook's Illustrated All-Time Best Spring Recipes magazine. As most of you know, I love to cook and bake, but confession time: I'm not that great with making things such as biscuits, breads, and pie crusts. These didn't rise very high, but I don't think they were supposed to since they were cream biscuits. I wasn't too sure about them when I first saw how they turned out, but I had one with some raspberry jam and - my goodness! - it was delicious.

 When I saw beautiful light purple flowers used in vignettes around Mary Alice's beautiful home, I found out they were Statice - a very popular "filler" flower that also make great dried arrangements. I found a darker variety at Trader Joe's and divided them up in various places around my house. I love that they are inexpensive and will still be pretty when they dry out.

I was surprised to see the bunch in the spare room developing little white blooms. Guess it's because they're by a sunny window. It made me smile to discover the new blooms when I walked into the room. Sometimes it's the small things that make life a little sweeter.

Well, this crazy Jade plant sure isn't a little thing! I'm glad it was so healthy, but it obviously was in need of a good pruning for aesthetic reasons. Some of the limbs were so heavy, they were falling over.I looked up information online, plus watched a few youtube videos, but I was still nervous. A few days ago, I decided just bite the bullet and do it.

Ta-da! Much healthier and bonsai-looking, which is what I wanted. 

And I now have six Ball jars filled with jade plant cuttings. I am waiting until the weather gets warm enough where I can go outside and plant these cuttings in little pots of soil. 

Since Daylight Savings time is here and it now doesn't start getting dark until 7 PM (hallelujah!), it's nice to be able to take a walk after dinner while the sun is still out. Passing by the creek down the street, we were happy to see Mr. and Mrs. Duck and a pair of Canada geese both taking a swim.

Until next time, have a lovely rest of the week!

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

for today ~ march edition

Looking out my window ~
It's cloudy, cold, and snowy. March is a fickle month around here. It can be anywhere from cold and snowy, to lots of rain, to some rare warmth and sunshine. It's one of my least-favorite months, to be honest.

I am thinking ~
of all the things I have to do today. Plus, wondering what to make for dinner.

I am thankful ~
for friendship. My elderly friend, Gladys whom I'd known since my early 20's, passed away February 23rd. I met "Gladiola" (my nickname for her ~ for indeed, she was as sweet and beautiful as a flower) when we were working at G.D. Searle around 1983. She would always come to me for help on the Wang Word Processor. Anyone remember this machine?! Gladys and I kept in touch via visits and cards and letters over the years. She was a wonderful writer and would always sign her letters with "Love and Cheer, Gladiola". Her smile lit up her face, her family was her life, her favorite color was pink, and she played the harmonica. 

(RIP my dear friend, Gladys)

One of my favorite things ~
This facial cream.

I am creating ~
I'm just starting to de-winter the buffet and create a spring vignette.

I am wearing ~
Three layers of clothing: black and gray striped tank, long-sleeved purple cotton top, gray fuzzy well as jeans and purple socks.

I am reading ~
Empty, Empty, Happy Happy by Bhante Sujatha/Tyler Lewke and a book a poetry called Winter Morning Walks by Ted Kooser.

I am listening to ~
Wildfire by Mandolin Orange. If you don't have Spotify, give them a listen here live on youtube:

I am hoping ~
for sunshine.

I am learning ~
to practice short meditations every day. I went to a workshop last week given by Bhante Sujatha. At the end, he gave us some homework. This may sound overly-simple, but it's harder than you think. Every day for seven days, in the morning and at night, close your eyes for just two minutes. Repeat the words as you take conscious deep breaths, "I am well. I am happy. I am peaceful." He claims you will feel better after seven straight days of doing this. And no, you don't have to be Buddhist or even "believe" in Buddhism to do this.

In my kitchen ~
I whipped up a last-minute bechamel sauce the other night. It was so good, I've been putting it on everything, including eggs and toast. Kind of like eggs benedict, I suppose. I used mostly almond milk and a little half and half. I stirred in a bit of Dijon mustard and lots of herbs to give it flavor.

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.)

Shared Quote ~
(share a favorite quote)
"We can do no great things; just small things with great love."
(Mother Teresa)

A moment from my day ~
(share a picture with us of your daily-ness)
My sweet girl, Clementine caught mid-yawn as I was folding laundry in the bedroom this morning.

If you're interested in participating in doing a post for The Simple Woman's Daybook, see the guidelines here.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

rise and shine

Now that it's almost spring, we are closer to more sunshine and longer daylight hours. Can I get a hallelujah on that one? I find I naturally wake earlier in the sunnier, warmer months, how about you?

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

The first thing I do when I wake up is start brewing my coffee and getting the cats fed. I'm not one to eat a big breakfast right away, but I do have a Lara bar with my coffee. In the late morning, I'll then usually have a fruit and veggie smoothie or gluten-free toast with almond butter and sliced banana on top.
However, on a weekend when Brian's off work, I sometimes make a breakfast casserole. These are easy to assemble the night before and then just pop in the oven in the morning. This recipe would also be perfect for overnight company. What's great about breakfast casseroles is not only are they easy to make and assemble, but the recipe is simple to adjust to anyone's taste. Don't like peppers? Leave them out. Prefer mushrooms? Add them in. Vegetarian? Leave out the meat. You get the idea.

I chose this beautiful Le Creuset stoneware baking dish from Wayfair to bake my breakfast casserole. Wayfair has a wonderful variety of baking and casserole dishes to choose from, which you can find here

It's the perfect size and depth for any kind of casseroles or even a small roast.

4 cups peeled Yukon Gold potatoes, diced
7 slices bacon, cooked (or substitute cooked breakfast sausage or ham)
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
1/2 green bell pepper, diced
1/2 medium sized onion, diced
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil or avocado oil
8 large eggs
1/2 cup milk (I used almond milk)
Salt and pepper, to taste
Sprinkle of paprika
2 cups shredded cheese, divided (I used 1 cup Colby Jack & 1 cup Gruyere)

Preheat oven to 375F.

Boil diced potatoes for 5 minutes, then drain & let cool slightly.  

While potatoes are boiling, saute the peppers and onion in 1 T oil until slightly softened, about 5 minutes.

Place cooked potatoes and vegetables into a greased 13x9" baking dish. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste, then gently mix. 

In a large measuring cup, whisk the eggs, milk, salt and pepper, and paprika until eggs are thoroughly mixed. Add 1/2 cup of the shredded cheese into the egg mixture and gently stir.

Pour egg mixture over the potatoes and vegetables in the baking dish.

Sprinkle with remaining 1-1/2 cups shredded cheese.

Cover the casserole dish with foil and bake for 20 minutes. Take casserole out of oven, remove the foil, and continue baking for another 15-30 minutes, depending on the depth of your pan. The casserole should be set - not watery - in the middle. I found with this deeper Le Creuset dish, I needed the longer baking time.

Bring the beautiful casserole dish to the table...

Uncover and get ready to dig in!

Cut casserole into squares and serve with fruit for a delicious and healthy breakfast.

Maybe this breakfast casserole will inspire you to get out of bed earlier!
Have a wonderful week.

Friday, February 23, 2018

purifying houseplants

Several people have asked me to write about houseplants and which ones purify the air in your house. Since I'm a plant lover, I was more than happy to do a little research and oblige.

Unfortunately, many of the things in our home ~ particle board, paneling, printing ink, paint, paint varnish and remover, paper napkins and facial tissue, furniture wax, floor waxes, synthetic fibers and plastics ~ are filled with toxins such as trichloroethylene, formaldehyde, benzene and ammonia. Some of the side effects of these toxins on humans can include headaches, dizziness, nausea and vomiting, irritation of the nose, mouth and throat, drowsiness, increased heart rate, confusion, and liver and kidney damage. Of course, this all depends on factors such as the amount you are exposed to, and the amount of time you're exposed.

Some of the more common and easy-to-care-for plants that help purify the air are:

Spider plant


(Source: Home Depot)


(Source: Gardening Know How)

Peace Lily

(Source: Walmart)

Snake Plant

The tall plant in the large white pot in front of the fireplace is Snake Plant, also known as Mother-in-Law's Tongue.

This is also a Snake Plant, but a much smaller version. I found this one at IKEA.

Bamboo Palm

(Source: Gardening Know How)


As with any houseplants, if you have pets that might eat these, please check before you buy to make sure the plant isn't poisonous to pets.

Happy weekend!

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

no more slippery rugs

We have a ranch style house and so our entire first floor encompasses most of our living space. All the rooms except the two bathrooms have hardwood floors. So it goes without saying that we have rugs in every room. Some of our rugs have a backing that prevents them from slipping. Others don't. Or else, the backing is cheap and has become worn, so the rug now slips.

Such is the case with the hallway rug. I got this at Target years ago (not available anymore). Since the original backing wasn't strong enough to grip the hardwood floors, I initially bought one of those off-the-shelf cheap plastic pads that go underneath rugs. That worked fine for maybe a year, but I always worried about the damage it might cause to the finish on my hardwood floor. I also didn't like the fact that these cheap rug pads are made overseas and are filled with toxins. However, I didn't know I had a choice!

Enter RugPadUSA. When they reached out to me to do a blog post on one of their rug pads with my honest opinion, I took a look at their web site and was impressed by the facts that their pads are made in the USA; are made from rubber instead of plastic; the materials used won't mar any floor finish; the pads don't include any phthalates; and because they use fewer and high quality ingredients in their pads, they last longer. 

I was also impressed that there was a variety of pads to choose from, depending on floor type (hardwood, laminate, stone or tile and even carpet), material (there's even felt pads!) and function. And, these pads are not a "one size fits all". They're custom cut depending on the measurement of your rug. No more buying standard size and then having to trim a pad yourself to fit.

Since my hallway rug was constantly slipping ~ especially when the cats tore down the hallway in a crazy game of chase ~ I chose the anchor grip, as this was one of the choices for "exceptional traction". It even has a 20-year warranty!

We've had this pad in place for about two weeks now and the rug has not budged one iota. Not with all the foot traffic or crazy cats chasing each other down the hallway.

We are so impressed by the quality and function of this rug pad (not to mention the attributes mentioned at the beginning of this post), that I will be ordering a pad to go underneath the slippery, non-padded rug in the spare room...

and another for the slippery, vintage rug by my back kitchen door.

RugPadUSA is kindly offering my readers another 5% off the already marked-down 15-20% off pads until March 14, 2018 using the coupon code COMFYHOUSE at checkout. I hope you will take advantage of this offer and try out a rug pad for your own home!

Disclaimer: I received a rug pad from RugPadUSA in exchange for my honest, personal opinion.

Monday, February 19, 2018

natural ways to keep your home healthy

At first I was going to talk about how to keep your home healthy this winter, but then realized not only is winter almost over (whew!), but it doesn't matter what season it is ~ a healthy home is important year-round. 

One way to keep your home healthy is to diffuse essential oils. Just make sure you're buying pure, quality oils - not fragrance oils. Some recommended brands are NOW, doTERRA, Young Living, Edens Garden, Rocky Mountain Oils, and Mountain Rose Herbs. (Disclaimer: Consult with your veterinarian before diffusing essential oils in any household with pets.)

To purify the air with antiseptic and antibacterial properties, make your own combination of Thieves Oil using clove, lemon, cinnamon, eucalyptus, and rosemary oils. You can find a variation of recipes here, as well as the history of Thieves Oil. You can also use these recipes as a disinfectant spray or a massage oil.

This is my box of essential oils, so far. I'm building my collection! I love this wooden box ~ it holds my 1 oz bottles perfectly and is very sturdy. It also comes with labels for the tops of the bottles, which is very helpful. This isn't a sponsored post; it's just something I love and thought I'd share. You can find this box and labels here

 I have a diffuser in the spare room where I'm often on my laptop or doing yoga. I know this diffuser isn't particularly pretty, but I got it for free (in exchange for a honest online review) a couple of years ago, so I can't complain. ;-) 

Wiping down all the surfaces in your house that get dirty and where germs collect ~ countertops, sinks, faucet handles, refrigerator handle and doorknobs ~ is an important task to do every day to keep your home (and yourself) healthy. Please do not use disinfectant wipes such as Clorox or Lysol. They are simply loaded with chemicals which are not only bad for your own health, but the environment. See the list of ingredients from The Environmental Working Group and more information on the ingredients and dangers of these wipes at Women's Voices

It's best (and easy!) to make your own natural disinfecting spray using essential oils, or to buy a brand with the most natural ingredients, such as Dr. Bronner's, Aussan Natural, Eco-Me, or Better Life. One of my go-to homemade disinfecting sprays takes less than two minutes to make. You can use this cleaner on kitchen counters, stove, appliances, floors, mirrors, and in the bathroom. At first, I was skeptical about using this cleaner on mirrors, but I can attest to the fact that it cleans better than Windex ~ which is another cleaner that's full of chemicals. Just make sure you don't use this cleaner on granite or marble as these surfaces are porous and can be damaged with vinegar:

1 cup purified or distilled water
1 cup white vinegar

1/4 cup witch hazel
20 drops essential lemon oil

Instructions: Using a funnel, pour all ingredients into a spray bottle. Shake before using.

More easy disinfecting spray recipes:

Of course, one of the most important things you can do in order to keep your home healthy in the first place, is to wash your hands with plain soap and water frequently, especially after being out in public or around sick people. Skip the antibacterial soap as they contain harmful ingredients and help create drug-resistant mutant germs. Click here - ABC News for just one of the many news or medical articles out there on this subject.

If you have other ways you help keep your home naturally healthy, please share with us!