Thursday, April 19, 2018

a little something for the kitchen wall

I think that spring is finally on its way! It did snow a bit overnight, but the sun is finally shining once again this morning. And looking at the extended forecast, I see temperatures in the 50's and low 60's. No more 30's or threats of snow - hooray!

(Sun on pachysandra this morning)

You might remember that back in January 2017, we had a pass-thru cut out in the wall between our living room and kitchen. To this day, on the kitchen side of the pass-thru, the wall has remained blank. I didn't want to hang just anything; I was waiting until I found exactly what I wanted. I tried various art work and even played with some plate arrangements (having Brian hold things up on the wall so I could stand back and see how it looked), but nothing ever looked "just right". I'm always amazed at those who can put together a room immediately.

I saw this wooden sign at Hobby Lobby and was immediately drawn to it. I thought this might finally be The One. I've also been wanting to incorporate this vintage iron shelf into the wall decor, so when I put the two of them together...

I think we have a winner!

You can see how this wall needs more though. And with the severe angles of the cut-out plus the rectangular wooden sign, it needs some softening up. So, my next step is going to put putting some plates - probably only three - above the cut-out.

Oh, hello Miss Clementine on the heat vent. By next week, she won't be doing that anymore. 🐱

~ Happy Thursday ~

Monday, April 16, 2018

spring has been cancelled

Someone needs to tell Susan Branch that there is no sun, nor lovely grass in April. At least not in my neck of the woods.


This is what it looked like here yesterday.

Today isn't much better. Woke up to a couple of inches of snow, with high winds that were blowing gusts of that nasty white stuff past my windows. Looked like something straight out of a Christmas scene. I know my friends further north are rolling their eyeballs and saying, "Big deal!" They are buried. But, snow, cold gloomy skies, and temps in the 30's in mid-April is just ridiculous. Forget the song that never ends. This is the winter that never ends. 

At least the inside of my house looks like spring, so I can pretend it's more like 60 degrees, which is the average temperature for this time of year.

Has spring truly arrived yet where you live?

Thursday, April 5, 2018

for today ~ april edition

Looking out my window ~
It doesn't look much different than March. It was only 28 degrees this morning, and you can't see it in this photo, but my butterfly garden is to the left and covered in a thin layer of icy snow. More snow is on the way tonight - not much, thank goodness - but just enough to remind us that winter-like weather isn't over yet. In fact, as I'm writing this evening, I can see fat, fluffy snowflakes falling from the sky.

I am thinking ~
that I'm hungry for a bowl of the navy bean soup I made this evening. It's cooling down right now.

I am thankful ~
for friends that message me and ask if I want to go out for coffee.

One of my favorite things ~
Cookbooks. Love Soup is my newest acquisition. I bought it used on amazon.

I am creating ~
an art journal. Nothing fancy - I can't draw or paint, but I do some collages and journal prompts.

I am wearing ~
A long-sleeved black shirt, a purple hoodie, and gray yoga pants.

I am reading ~
An American Marriage by Tayari Jones. It's just "ok"; nothing exceptional. Next I will be reading Kristin Hannah's latest book. I'm grateful for my local libraries.

I am listening to ~
The Man Who Saved the World by Nirvana, though the song was actually written by David Bowie.

I am hoping ~
for warmer weather.

I am learning ~
to practice guided meditations. Two of my favorite apps are Insight Timer and Stop, Breathe & Think.

In my kitchen ~
I soaked the dried navy beans for the Navy Bean Soup overnight, started the soup in the late afternoon, and now it's cooling down. The house smells so good! I used the ham bone from our Easter ham. This weekend, I'll be making Trisha Yearwood's Linguine with Braised Red Wine Short Rib Sauce. I saw her making it on TV this past week and it looked so good, I just had to try it for myself. 

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.)

I've been thinking about putting a hanging plant in the living room-kitchen pass-thru. I thought a macrame plant hanger with a wooden shelf would be cool - macrame is back in style (what's old is new again) and I think the texture of the macrame, wood, and greenery would be perfect for this empty space. There's a lot to choose from on etsy

Shared quote ~
Let the beauty we love be what we do. (Rumi)

A moment from my day ~
This morning, walking around my yard and filling the bird feeders. It was only 28 degrees, but with the sun shining and the sky so clear and blue, it was actually quite beautiful.

I'm going to dig into that delicious soup now. 
Until next time, be well, be happy, be peaceful.

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

Saturday, March 31, 2018

getting ready

 Where, oh where, is spring? There's still not many signs here in northern Illinois. I checked the 10-day weather forecast and we'll still be in the 30's and a few days in the low 40's. There might even be some snow showers here and there. I read somewhere that said it looks like the first half of April will have below-normal temps.

I did buy a pot of pansies for the front porch, but I've had to put them in the garage at night. In the meantime, I'm keeping things spring-like indoors with flowers from the store. (That's Clementine by the daffodils, by the way.)

It'll be a small gathering for Easter at my house tomorrow. Of course, it'll be us three, then my mom, aunt, and cousin. I spent all day cleaning the house and getting a lot of food ready ahead of time. Since we have a small house with limited space, I set up the buffet in the living room for the appetizers and wine. The three-bowl dish will hold olives and pistachios, and I will also put out Dill Pickle Dip (so addictive!) and pretzel sticks, and an eggplant-garlic-sweet red pepper spread (that's courtesy of Trader Joe's) with crackers.

Our small kitchen table that is perfect for the three of us got folded down and put in front of the fireplace. This will hold the desserts: lemon bars, French Silk Chocolate pie, and apple-pecan cake. All homemade, courtesy of me, my mom, and aunt. The tablecloth will go on the table tomorrow at the last minute. I have naughty pussy cats who think any available surface - especially if it's covered in some sort of material - is just for them.

Since we don't have a dining room - just an eat-in kitchen - Brian and Tim brought up the "banquet table" from the basement today and set it up in the kitchen. This will seat the six of us perfectly. Of course, this ugly table will get covered with a tablecloth, as well. You can see it hanging over the chair on the left, all ironed and ready.

All I have left to do tomorrow is the last-minute cleaning of the bathrooms, de-cat hairing the couch, setting the table, making the asparagus, and sticking the spiral ham in the oven.

And now I'm off to finally relax and watch a movie with Brian. Wishing you all a joyous Passover and/or Easter, whichever you celebrate.

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.