Wednesday, December 6, 2017

touches of christmas at comfy house

Now that the focus is all about Christmas, it seems like Thanksgiving was months ago, doesn't it? Since I haven't posted since before Thanksgiving - which, hard to believe was just two weeks ago - I had to share at least one Thanksgiving photo with you. I didn't take many photos this year, but this was one of my favorites: My sister and brother-in-law's new rescue pup, Piper eyeballing the ham that my brother-in-law and Brian were carving.

So, here we all are getting ready for Christmas (or any other December holiday you celebrate). Every year I tell myself I'm not going to do as much as I did the year before and yes, I have been pretty good about this. But somehow it still gets a little crazy. This year, one of the things I cut back on was the decorating. I dragged out all my decorations, went through everything, and ended up using half of what I had. Even with our little Christmas tree, I went minimal with the ornaments.

Bits of Christmas cheer in the kitchen...

In the living room, a vintage sleigh and mouse grace the entry table.

We don't put up a large tree anymore. Haven't done so ever since Phil passed away. None of us have the desire for a big tree and now we feel like it's too much work. Instead, we put up this tabletop tree on the buffet and adorn it with a few ornaments from Phil and Tim's childhoods. I kept the area beside the tree sparse, as this is where I'll put the presents after I wrap them.

Dig my new kitty runner! I couldn't resist when I saw this at HomeGoods last week. 

A small tree by the bookcase...

On the bookcase, a silver _______ (what would you call this?) I found it years ago at Goodwill, still in its original box. I don't think it's an angel. I guess I should see if the box tells what it is, but I certainly don't feel like digging through storage boxes again until it's time to box the decorations back up.

This photo collage of the boys when they were little comes out every Christmas.

Looking from the kitchen into the living room...

This is my first Christmas decorating a mantel. It probably needs garland of some sort, but maybe next year.

Not Christmasy on top of the end table, but I wanted to show you two recent purchases. There's a couple of women from my former yoga class that have a small local business where they make hand-poured soy wax candles from recycled wine and beer bottles. This is my latest purchase of one of their creations. I really liked this wine bottle label. (And yes, I have bought wine just because of a cool label.) The scent is really nice, too. It's called Harvest, so it smells like pumpkin, cinnamon and cloves, with a hint of sweetness. The felted wool coasters are from another local business where the owner travels all over the world and brings back artisan treasures. These were handmade in Mexico.

My aunt made this ceramic reindeer and sleigh many years ago and gifted it to me. It's one Christmas decoration that will have a place of honor every year. This little nook is at the end of the hallway.

And thus ends the tour of Christmasy Comfy House. I don't decorate our bedroom or my office/yoga room (formerly Phil's bedroom) except for a couple of tchotckes.

How's your holiday decorating/shopping/wrapping/baking/partying going?

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

thanksgiving food prep, a pretty little store, and gratefulness

I am not hosting Thanksgiving this year; my sister is. But, of course, me and my mom help out by cooking and bringing food. This year I'm making cranberry relish (made with maple syrup and orange juice); corn pudding casserole; green bean casserole (not the one made with cream of mushroom soup and canned fried onions; I avoid prepared foods with artificial ingredients whenever possible...I found a recipe on the internet where you make your own creamy sauce and crunchy onion topping); glazed carrots with maple syrup, orange juice, and rosemary; and for an appetizer - dill pickle dip. You gotta try this dip. It's incredibly addicting.

I prepared and chopped so many vegetables today, my hand was actually sore. This is two pounds of green beans that I snapped and then cut in half for the green bean casserole.

Here's something that wasn't part of my food prep plans. This is what happens when you're not being mindful and rushing around. I went outside onto my front porch to throw the carrot scraps to the birds and squirrels. I lost my footing and started to fall. The wooden railing scraped the underside of my arm when I was falling. Could've been much worse, so I'm grateful this was my only injury. 

Even though I don't decorate my house for Christmas until after Thanksgiving, I do enjoy looking at the Christmas decor in stores around this time. For those of you who live in the area, there's a new store in East Dundee, IL called Midwest Retro. I ended up buying a pair of handmade lined wool mittens (not pictured) that are so warm! I really needed them. All I had was a couple of pairs of cheap, not-warm-enough gloves.

 I am grateful for those of you out there who take the time to read my little blog, leave comments, and email me. I am so blessed by your friendship.
Thank you. 💗

Thursday, November 9, 2017

herbs and leaves

The temps finally dipped enough two nights ago where we had a hard freeze. I was amazed to find yesterday that the parsley, sage, rosemary and not thyme, but chives, were still intact and actually looking vibrant.

I know these fresh herbs aren't going to last much longer, especially with tonight's temps going down to 16F, so I gathered what I could.

I froze the herbs using an easy method from Cathy at My 1929 Charmer. Click here for instructions. I know you can finely chop herbs and then put them in ice cube trays with water, but that limits what you can do with the herbs. Sure, it's easy to drop an ice cube into a pot of stew or soup, but what about when I want fresh rosemary for roasted potatoes? Now I can just reach into a freezer bag and pick off what I need, no water involved.

Even the parsley flower buds were put to use...I love the lacey look in an old milk bottle.

The hard freeze made all the difference for the trees. Just a couple of days ago, Brian and I were marveling at all the leaves still clinging to the trees, and yesterday the leaves were fluttering to the ground like raindrops. The huge maple tree across the street is now completely bare, but it sure left a colorful carpet on the ground.

I had put all my leftover baby pumpkins and gourds on a bench in my side yard for the squirrels and with the falling leaves, nature made this beautiful vignette. 

Brian had the day off work a couple of days ago and we took one of our little day trips. We took a walk in our favorite park along Lake Michigan. See how beautiful the trees still were?

And then there's last night's waning light through the now-bare trees, which has a haunting beauty all its own.

It always makes me a little sad to see the bare trees, but then I read somewhere that said we can now see more sky. I try to look for the positives.

It's a cloudy, windy day but I'm bundling up and heading out to the grocery store. I need fresh veggies to make a pot of vegetable soup this afternoon. There's nothing like the aroma of a pot of soup simmering on the stove on these blustery days. And now I'll be able to reach in my freezer and get fresh herbs to use in my soup, too. Doesn't get much better than that.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

so much autumn goodness

Sorry the long delay in my posts. I've missed you all.

It is just now starting to get cold here. We've been lucky. My coleus, herb garden and even some annuals are still going strong. We had our first frost warning last night, but it didn't happen. Will definitely happen this weekend though - it's going down to 28 degrees Saturday night. I'm going to bring those geraniums inside and hope for the best with over-wintering them.

I celebrated the fall equinox (belated) at my First Best Friend's house. She has dinners to celebrate the start of every season. It's always the same small (anywhere from 5-10) group of ladies, all of whom have become very dear to me over the years. I just wish I lived closer to these women. They all live in Chicago, which is over an hour's drive from my house. Most of them still have kids at home; some work outside the home; a couple of others are single moms. Everyone is busy! These dinner gatherings are the perfect time for all of us to put our busyness aside for a few hours and take deep breaths, relax, and truly enjoy each other's company. We talk, laugh and cry late into the night.

Another slice of fall joy...spending time with my mom and aunt at the Autumn Drive. An annual fest held out in the country, we walked around to different farms and explored antiques and crafts and tons of pumpkins and squash and petted sweet dogs that rescue groups were walking around. 

Library book sales are going on in full force around here this time of year. You might recall that I cleaned out hundreds of books this past April. So now if I even go to a library book sale, all I look for is certain cookbooks, particular decorating books, and authors whose work I'm looking for in fiction and non-fiction. I don't bring any books home just because they look like a good read. As soon as I'm done looking through the cookbooks, I will pass them on.

This past weekend, I took a class at a neighboring Buddhist Temple. The building is 150 years old and so beautiful. I loved the monument outside where on one side it said, "Let Peace Prevail on Earth" and on the other, "May Peace Be in Our Communities." Interestingly enough, the upstairs sanctuary has stained glass windows with Jesus, Mary and an angel depicted on them. I'm not sure if the windows were there when the building previously belonged to a Unitarian Church, but the monk has said (and I'm quoting from an article in The Northwest Herald dated July 24, 2015), "The windows make some of the temple visitors more comfortable with meditation." And, "In this building, we are not teaching religions. We are teaching meditation, how to be happy. How to calm down. And Jesus and Buddha they are both very spiritual teachers." What a beautiful, loving philosophy! 

Some last minute antique shopping today. Me, my mom and aunt were texting this morning and those bad women asked to meet up for lunch and a quick trip to one of our favorite shops. Even though I was going to run some errands today, had a ton of laundry to do, was in the middle of writing this blog post, and was planning on making a pot of homemade soup this afternoon, I was off and running. ;-)

Just like with books, I am pretty judicious about what I bring into the house nowadays. It has to be something I can truly use, or else be so pretty that I can't pass it up. I found this Rowe Pottery plant pot for only $8. Found completed listings on eBay for $30 - $35. And I did need this plant pot. I have a plant in my office/yoga room that is still sitting in its original crappy plastic pot. I've been wanting to repot this plant, but couldn't find a small plant pot that I liked. Until today.

(Image found here)

'Til next time...