Saturday, March 30, 2024

march update

It's been way too long since I've checked in. When I looked back in my journal to see what had happened since since the end of Feb when I last wrote, I noticed my life was filled with extraordinary moments: seeing friends and relatives that I hadn't seen in years; girlfriend get-togethers; making soup every week for a friend going through chemo; attending a wonderful poetry slam; getting an overdue massage; meals out with extended family; hunting for - and finally buying - new glasses. 

Best of all, Tim was here for a visit last week! Per his request, we spent an entire day in downtown Chicago. We found a cool bookstore filled with used books where the proceeds went to children's literacy programs in the city.

Bathroom walls in the bookstore...

Tim requested a visit to the new Guinness brewery...

The aesthetics were beautiful! The guys said the beer - some brewed at this Chicago location; others brewed in Dublin and shipped in - was fantastic. I wouldn't know, as I don't like beer.

Good food was definitely on our list, too. We decided to try beef bone marrow ~ supposedly a popular item at this restaurant. I didn't care for it at all. Brian and Tim loved it. I brought the bones home and saved one for my mom's dog and with the others, made a delicious stock.

The burgers were a different story though...holy yum! I'm not even much of a burger person, but with this one, all bets are off. Good thing it's only a once-in-a-blue-moon indulgence!

Another stop was a cool arcade filled with retro pinball and video games, air hockey, and pool. We got there when they first opened, so the place was empty. A few hours later, it was packed with tons of young people. My cousin had joined us by then. I told all of them that I felt like I was in a frat house. We decided it was a good time to leave. ;-)

We wound the night up by sharing a charcuterie plate and appetizers at this rather "interesting" restaurant. As you can see by the photo, the booths have solid doors! They were opened up for us, we slid into the booths, and then the doors were shut behind us. It was rather claustrophobic. And it made the serving of the food and refilling our water glasses by the servers awkward. The food was fantastic though. The meats and cheeses were all sourced from Illinois farms and the sourdough bread was made on premises.

Walking back to our car on the top floor of the parking garage, this was our view.

On the homefront with Tim, he made us the most delicious cabbage soup for dinner one evening. I admit: his soup (at least this one) is better than mine!

Tim's flight going back to California was delayed because of storms, so we spent some time wandering around the local antique mall.

And...that's a wrap. I hope by the next time that I post, it'll be about spring yard clean up and what's blooming. I can't wait! This last half of March has been cold and now we're having lots of rain. I'm longing for warmer days spent outside once on the front porch in the morning to start my day and working in the yard and planting flowers. 

For those of you who celebrate, Happy Easter! 

Monday, February 26, 2024

happy spring - kind of - and what i'm up to

February in Illinois usually isn't a kind month. It's typical to have cold weather and snow. This year is different. We've actually had a mild February, including some abnormally warm weather for this time of year. Today is 66F and sunny. Tomorrow we're supposed to reach 70F, then strong thunderstorms will move in (with potential for hail and tornadoes), with temps plummeting to 20F by night! Yes, a 50 degree difference in the same day. Wednesday will only be in the low 30's with snow. CRAZY!! 

This morning when I opened the blinds in the house, I saw two spring robins in the yard. The first sighting of the season! Usually I don't see them until mid-March. Walking around the yard, I saw Bleeding Heart poking out of the ground. That's definitely a few weeks early. And then when I went back in the house, I heard the beautiful sounds of Sandhill Cranes flying overhead. They're back from Mexico, Arizona and California! 

(Bleeding Heart emerging)

What I'm reading:

I can't say enough good things about this book. You can probably tell I'm finding nuggets of wisdom and information from all the page markers. If you're a woman 60+, you'll love this book. From Amazon ~

"Filled with unexpected good news about growing older, Winter’s Graces highlights eleven qualities that ripen with age―including audacious authenticity, creative ingenuity, necessary fierceness, self-transcending generosity, and a growing capacity to savor life and to ride its ups and downs with humor and grace. Decades of research have established that the catastrophic conditions often associated with late life, such as severe dementia and debilitating frailty, are the exception, not the rule. Still, the mistaken idea that aging equals devastating decline persists, causing enormous and unnecessary suffering, especially for women. Drawing on decades of experience as a psychology professor and psychotherapist, Susan Stewart, PhD, weaves together inspiring folk stories that illustrate the graces of winter and recent research that validates them, along with a wealth of user-friendly tools and practices for amplifying these graces and bringing them to life. Written primarily for women over 50 seeking good news about growing older, Winter’s Graces offers adults of all ages a compelling vision of aging that celebrates its many gifts, acknowledges its challenges, and reveals how the last season of life can be the most fulfilling of all."

What I'm listening to ~

Halah ~ Mazzy Star

What I'm watching on TV:

Curb Your Enthusiasm

(Honestly, I'm not much of a TV watcher. We're just now into Season 2 of this series and still think it's just "meh" even though it has good ratings and our son and some friends recommended it. We'll slog along for a little while longer. Have you watched this?)

What I'm cooking (making this tonight):

Creamy Parmesan Ranch Chicken 

What I'm working on:

This mess!

We have small closets in this house. This is the closet in my office/the guest room/what-used-to-be Philip's bedroom. I use it for hanging my sweaters and hoodies, purse storage, and for my art journaling and scrapbooking supplies. Not shown: the messy closet shelf. 

While on a walk around the neighborhood last week, I found this tall, slim dresser at the curb of a neighbor's house. I thought it'd be perfect for storage in the closet. Brian got the dresser in the car for me and brought it home. 

I took everything out of the closet including the Sterilite drawers, went through every little thing, and ended up with three bags of things for donation. 

And...the after, so far! I still have more organizing to do. And then I have to tackle all the stuff on the closet shelf.

Have a good week!

Wednesday, February 14, 2024

happy day of love

Happy Valentine's Day!

I've always liked Valentine's Day. It's a low-key holiday without any expectations (we don't exchange gifts), but a fun day to "celebrate" with extra love. 

I enjoy putting touches of heart decor around the house at this time of year, too. I think it adds some cheer to the usually dismal month of February. Though this year we've been lucky with a decent amount of sunshine and mild temps.

Do you remember the "Love is" comic strip? It was created in the 1960's by New Zealander, Kim Grove-Casali for her then-boyfriend and then appeared in newspapers in 1970. When Brian and I were dating (and maybe first married, too; I don't remember), we used to cut out the comic from the newspaper and give to each other if it pertained to us. 💗 I still have a bunch of them. 

I found this mug in an antique shop a few years ago and had to get it.

I like making a special dinner for Valentine's Day, too. When my kids were little, I'd make a heart-shaped meatloaf. Tonight for Brian and I, it's a lovely Bolognese sauce that I've had simmering on the stove all day ~ will boil some wide-tube pasta at the last minute; a tossed, green salad with various, crunchy veggies and a homemade Italian dressing; and a fresh baguette that I'll make into garlic bread. I also made one of Brian's favorite desserts: molasses cookies. Just pulled the cookies out of the oven and between the smell of those and the Bolognese sauce, my house smells amazing! 

Sending all of you LOVE.

Friday, February 9, 2024

simple pleasures

I came across an article from Cup of Jo on simple pleasures. It was a fun article to read, including the comment section where readers chimed in. 

Here are some of mine, off the top of my head:

Seeing blooms on my house plants.

Good chocolate ~ bean to bar, made in-house. 

The reassuring weight of Clementine curled up next to me at night as I'm sleeping.

Seeing the first pops of daffodils in the time between winter and spring. (It is way too early here to be seeing these, but we're having an unusual warm spell.)

Bouquets of Trader Joe's flowers around my house in the winter.

Little comforting book piles.

Some more simple pleasures, no photos:

That first cup of coffee in the morning.
Texts and phone calls from our son Tim, who lives 2000 miles away.
Snuggling with Brian on the couch while watching TV.
Clean sheets.
Playing Wordle every morning.
Lying in savasana after yoga practice.
Browsing in the library.
Getting a magazine in the mail. 

* * * * * * * * *

I could keep going on and on! How about you, what are some of your simple pleasures in life? Please share.

Monday, January 8, 2024

lights, blooms and staying cozy

Hello friends, and happy 2024! This first week of January has rushed by in a blur. But a good blur. Lots of friend time and some fun activities. Oh, and I'm happy to report that the plantar fasciitis that I had in my left foot right after Christmas (I mentioned it in my last post) only lasted a couple of days. I did a bunch of stretching exercises I found online, lots of massage and ice, and that all seemed to work. I've also learned I can't go shoeless in the house anymore like I used to - I need cushioning. I hate wearing shoes in the house ~ I've always been a barefoot girl. Getting older does some fun things to your body. 😉

Back to the new year: Our tradition on the first day of a new year is to take a hike in the nearby State Park.

We basically have the entire park to ourselves because it's closed on New Year's day. We park on a nearby side street and walk in through the side entrance. Talk about peaceful! We feel like we're the only people on earth. Just us, nature all around us, and the occasional bird chirping.

Here in northeast Illinois, we never know what kind of weather we're going to have on January 1st. A few years ago when we were about a mile into the park, we got pelted by an ice storm. Other years, we've had light snow on the ground.

This year, we got lucky with mild temps and no snow. We hiked about four miles. (And for the next two days, my shins were killing me!)

Here inside Comfy House, Christmas decor started coming down on December 26th. Those of you who've been with me for a long time, know this is my norm. I feel that Christmas is over and I get tired of the clutter. I enjoy starting over with a fresh, clean look for the new year. But because January and February are such gloomy months here, I like leaving up little lights and candles to add some warmth and coziness to the house.

I left some green bottle brush trees on the mantle too, and brought out a couple of snowmen.

I even left up little snowflake lights in the bathroom. Why not warm up that dark space, too?

I needed a new essential oil diffuser and decided on a glass and wood one. Glad I did because I love the way it looks. It seems to diffuse stronger than my previous plastic diffusers, too. You can change the color of the lights on this one, which lends a pretty glow in a room on an otherwise dreary day. A little PSA: please research which essential oils are OK to diffuse if you have pets. Some can be toxic to them!

Interesting how my plants that bloom are all all doing so right now: the shamrock plant (Oxalis)...

African violet...

and Christmas cactus. Maybe somehow they know that we need some color and cheer on these gray winter days.

We're expecting our first winter storm tonight into tomorrow evening, with 5-8" of wet, heavy snow and up to 40 mph winds. Then another winter storm bringing much of the same on Friday. After that, frigid air will move in and we'll be below zero (F) at night. THIS is the kind of weather I loathe. 

Clementine has the right idea with her heated cat bed. I have one, too. Not a cat bed, hee hee, a heated bed. We have an electric mattress pad which I turn on high an hour before we get in bed. Feels so good to slide into a warm bed on these cold nights. I then turn the heat off, but the bed stays warm long enough just to drift off into blissful sleep.

Maybe with all this snow and frigid air coming our way, it'll give me an excuse to stay home and get some organizing projects done, as well as working in my art journal again. Perhaps have more of a Sacred Day as my blogging friend, Jennifer talks about ~ something we all need.