Sunday, February 21, 2021

peaceful sunday

Hello and happy Sunday! If there's one positive thing I can say about early morning, it's that the sunrises through the bare tree branches are spectacular. They only last a few minutes, but at least it brings a smile to my face first thing in the morning as I raise the blinds and greet a new day.

I'm purposely having a peaceful day today, as this weekend was actually a little busy with errands, visiting with a friend (one in my COVID bubble), cooking and housework. And my next couple of days are busy with contractors coming to give estimates and taking Clem to the vet. (More on that later.) It was nice to enjoy a leisurely breakfast with the Sunday paper. I normally drink jasmine green tea in the morning, but once a week of so, I enjoy a cup of coffee. My tummy can't handle coffee every day anymore. Breakfast today was my usual: overnight oats with fresh fruit, toasted walnuts and pecans, raw pumpkin seeds, a little flax meal and hemp hearts, a smidgen of pure maple syrup, and a sprinkle of cinnamon. 

Yoga is part of my everyday routine, even if I only have time to just do a few stretches and poses. Otherwise, I enjoy doing Yoga with Adriene. She has so many choices, including gentle ones. I bring the video up on my phone and cast to the TV in the living room. Monkey loves when I do yoga, for whatever reason. See him waiting for me? He walks all around me, purring, rubbing up against me and sometimes even trying to climb on my body. Clementine's in one of her usual spots - lying on the heater vent under the table. Poor baby is always cold in the winter. I just ordered her a heated cat bed from Amazon.

A short journaling prompt for the's called 12-6-3-1 and was designed by my First Best Friend, Cin, who is a poet. Sit in a quiet place and take a few deep breaths. Maybe light a candle. Just let your mind and body relax. Write down 12 words that come to you. They can be any kind of you feel, what you see out the window, what is on your mind. You don't want to overthink this. When you have your 12 words, look them over and then whittle the list down to six of those words - whichever words jump out at you. Keep them in the order which you first wrote them. From the six words, choose three words that resonate with you. Again, in order which they were written. From those three words...choose one. What's behind that final word for the day?

I am still in love with this writer's medic bag from Galen Leather that Brian gave me for Christmas. The leather is so soft and buttery and gently worn, and the case unfolds to hold notebooks and journals and pens and all kinds of other materials a writer might need.

Even though it's a peaceful, relaxing day, general house upkeep has to be done. Seems like the laundry is never-ending around here, even with just the two of us. Brian produces a lot of laundry between his workout clothes, work uniforms, and everyday wear. This is just two days worth of laundry for us.

Clementine found her afternoon napping spot on top of some warm-from-the-dryer laundry. Speaking of her previously and taking her to the vet...I've mentioned in earlier posts that she has kidney disease. It's quite common in cats, especially as they get older. She is young to have it though. She was diagnosed over two years ago when she was 9-10 years old. Her illness has progressed to where she now goes to the vet twice/week for subcutaneous fluids. At her last visit, the vet detected what he called a "significant" heart murmur. She's having a chest x-ray tomorrow after her fluids. She also had blood tests done last week to check on the progression of her kidney disease. I have a feeling the news all around isn't going to be good. Fortunately, she doesn't act sick at all yet. She's still very spunky and playful as usual, eats all her food, and uses the litter box. Of course, if things change and she starts showing any signs of distress and/or suffering, we know we have to do the right thing and give her a compassionate end to her life. In the meantime, it breaks my heart to think about it and I am relishing every moment spent with her. When she cuddles in my lap and purrs, I let her stay there for as long as she wants.

Monkey has found his afternoon nap spot, too.

And so have I. The winds are howling, the sky is gray; the guest bed, a warm blanket, and a good book (Hamnet) beckons.

I hope that you're having a peaceful, relaxing Sunday, as well.

Thursday, February 11, 2021

new kitchen rug

Finding a rug that works in our eat-in kitchen isn't fun. It isn't like trying to find a rug for a formal dining room. It has to be casual, durable (more on that in a moment) and a solid color because of using different colored and patterned placemats, runners and tablecloths on the table. For several years, we've had this beige sisal rug in our kitchen and it worked good enough until it started getting stained (this is where the durable part comes in) from us walking in the garage-kitchen door and the cats choosing to use the rug as their vomit depository.

I searched online for a long time, trying to find another rug that met our criteria and didn't have any luck until I started looking at indoor-outdoor rugs. I found this blue one online at Target. We put it down a few days ago and I'm still trying to get used to it. Do I love it? No. But I don't hate it either. Brian really likes it, so there's that.

One thing I'm not crazy about is the dark shade of blue. It was much lighter online. I do like that you can't tell it's an indoor-outdoor rug from afar. You wouldn't know it until you're walking on it. It doesn't have any softness under your feet (another thing I don't like).

Monkey has already lovingly left me a gift on this rug and it cleaned right up and didn't stain, so that's a plus.

Here's the door in the kitchen that goes right into the attached garage. You can see what a tiny space we have to step into - directly in the kitchen - when we come in from the garage. I keep a folded towel by the back door to spread across the floor for extra coverage or to keep our wet shoes on. Oh, to have a house with a mud room! This time of year is especially messy and dirty with snow stuck to our boots or shoes when we walk in the door. This is why the previous beige rug got so dirty. Now with this darker indoor-outdoor rug, snow, water and mud wipe right up and don't leave stains.

Still looking for a chair for our living room. I thought I finally found one on FB Marketplace a few days ago, so we went to look at it in person. It was a leather chair from Article, but it wasn't what we were looking for. 

Have a good weekend...and happy Valentine's Day! 

Tuesday, February 2, 2021

the heart of winter

We got walloped by another snowstorm on Sunday. I's "nothing" compared to what the east coast just got. But we're making up for lost time here in Illinois, with January packing over 20" of snow. 

As much as I don't like winter, I have to admit, the fresh snow is pretty.

Even prettier, Mr. Cardinal peeking out of the snowy arborvitaes in our backyard. 

Looking down our street...

Pretty to look at - yes. Fun to shovel - no. Especially when the snow is wet and heavy like it was. I'm just thankful Brian had the day off of work.

The days after snowstorms aren't so pretty. Reality sets in. Cars are covered in road salt, the snow piles on the sides of the road are slushy and black from all the dirt, and even the bird feeders take a beating. I went outside and broke off these icicles for the poor little birdies.

So now it's February which brings Valentine's Day. One of my favorite holidays as it's no-frills, just cheery pops of red and pink in the middle of a dull, cold month. As a side note, this plant in the white pot is the newest to join my household. I found it at Trader Joe's ~ ceramic pot included. I believe it's English Ivy. The plant didn't have an ID tag. 

In Brian's office...

A vintage bowl on the table at the end of the hallway holds some handmade (not by me!) hearts.

Just a few heart touches on and in the china cabinet...

Speaking of china cabinets, in my last post I had talked about looking for a hutch for my kitchen and getting rid of the china cabinet. I explained that this skinny cabinet had sentimental value, as Brian and I bought it when we were first married. A few of you said that maybe I could find somewhere else in my house for it. 

Backtracking a moment, here is the hutch I saw on FB Marketplace that was listed for only $50. While I was thinking about it, it sold right away. 

Back to finding another place in my home where I could put my skinny cabinet...

Our house is small. The only place it could possibly go is the living room. There's no room in any of the small bedrooms. This corner and the wall to the right is currently a work-in-progress anyway. The cheap, ugly IKEA chair you partially see is just temporary. We desperately need a nice armchair for that wall. I've been looking for a deep blue velvet one. They're out there but wow, are they expensive! There are cheap ones, but we don't want a cheap one. We are looking for a quality piece of furniture that's going to last. Our second choice is leather. In the meantime, to fill in this space, I ordered that tall shelving unit from Target. It doesn't do a lot for me. This whole space is just "off". I'm leaving it alone until we find an armchair. Anywho...maybe the skinny hutch would indeed look good in this corner? Only time will tell. First things first: finding a new hutch for the kitchen and an armchair for the living room.

In the happy news department, Tim is flying in from California on Thursday for a quick visit. We're due for some more snow on Thursday, so I hope his plane isn't delayed. Of course, as a mom, these kinds of things worry me. And doesn't it just figure...we're in for an Arctic blast this weekend, with wind chills up to -30F! I'm sure he won't miss this weather one bit by the time he flies back to California. 

Stay well and safe. 💓

Monday, January 25, 2021

home talk

I started a big decluttering project this past weekend: cleaning out my bookcases. I easily have 500-600 books in my house, most of them housed in the bookcases in the basement family room. Some of my friends are downsizing now and moving into smaller dwellings. I've seen how much they've purged when moving. Inspiring, for sure! Not that we're planning on moving anytime soon. But sometimes I look around my basement - the family room and the storage area - and feel overwhelmed by all the stuff we've accumulated over the past 30+ years of living here. 

Most of my fiction books came from library book sales. Mind you, these are books I've never even read! (I don't keep fiction books after I read them.) I only keep non-fiction books if they're ones I will refer to again. Here's the piles I'm getting rid of: 135 books, so far! I am going to start by trying to sell them in bulk on Facebook Marketplace. If that doesn't work, I'm going to call a local used bookstore where the profits go to the Environmental Defenders group, and see if they want them. If not, I will donate to the Salvation Army.

These are the main bookshelves in the family room. You can see the cleared out spaces I have now. There are two more small bookcases in the family room - one with my non-fiction books and the other with children's books from my boy's childhood days. I worked on cleaning out the children's books today. I have about 50 of those books to either sell or donate. I'll be working on my non-fiction books and cookbooks next.

Speaking of Facebook Marketplace, I've been looking for a new piece of furniture for my large kitchen wall. I'd like to replace the tall, skinny hutch and vintage cart with a mid-sized hutch. I found a beautiful pine hutch just the other day that had glass double doors on top, a nice ledge space, then two big cupboards on the bottom. And it was only $50. It sold right away. I have emotional ties to this skinny hutch. Brian and I bought it when we were first married. It was our first quality, vintage piece of furniture we purchased in an antique store. But it doesn't serve us well anymore. I need more cupboard space for larger serving dishes, our wedding china, and smaller kitchen appliances such as the blender, food processor and Crockpot. My cookbooks (I have about 40-50, soon to be less!) could go in the upper portion like what I have now. I considered a buffet instead of a hutch, but then I wouldn't have display room for my cookbooks.

The nourishing comfort food continues...this is a soup I made a few days ago. This one started out with your basic onions, celery and garlic and then I added three sweet potatoes, one carrot, a can of tomatoes and broth. Baby spinach was stirred in at the end. You can also stir in a can of drained white beans. A reader in my last post asked if I would share my posole recipe. I don't have a "recipe"! I do sometimes follow recipes I find online or in my cookbooks, but I also make a lot of things just from the top of my head. That's why I like cooking better than baking...I feel more creative with cooking. I make up a lot of my own recipes and just go with the flow as I'm cooking. 

A winter storm is going to hit here anytime now. Depending on how it tracks, we should get 4-8" of snow by tomorrow morning. High winds will also make for blowing and drifting snow across the roadways. Brian's working until 11 PM tonight so of course, I worry about him driving home in this weather. I won't be able to go to bed until he's home safe and sound. In the meantime, I have a pot of chicken and veggie soup simmering on the stove. I added fresh garlic and ginger to the soup, as well as turmeric, rosemary and thyme. Anti-inflammatory, comforting and delicious! I wish you all could smell my house right now. 😃

Have a good week and stay well and safe.

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

not much, how about you?

It's been awhile since I posted. There's not a lot going on. Kind of like Groundhog Day around here. I thought I'd at least pop in and talk about some bits and bobs.

I think today was the millionth day in a row that was cloudy and dreary. First thing I do when I wake up is to turn up the heat. Then I walk around the house, raising all the blinds. The beautiful sunrise this morning as seen out the window of Brian's office brought a smile to my face and a silent "thank you".

I'm trying to find small ways of bringing cheer into these gloomy days.
Sunshiny flowers help.

So does some pretty nail polish.
Other ideas: Wear a pair of sparkly dangling earrings - even if you're staying home. Do it for yourself. Buy yourself a new, bright lipstick. Part your hair a different way or wear a cute headband. Try a new tea. Hang a brightly colored hand towel in your bathroom. Diffuse lemon essential oil for a fresh, clean scent in your home. Send a hand-written note in a pretty card to a loved one. It truly is the little things that can lift our spirits.


I used to be more of a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants dinner person. I've been consciously working on weekly dinner planning and have made some tasty dishes lately. Chicken pot pie in a cast iron skillet really hit the spot on a cold night.

I made a pork butt in the Crockpot one day, which gave us a ton of meat. With some of the leftovers, I made a pork posole...onions, garlic, white hominy, diced tomatoes, green chiles, salsa verde, chicken broth, chili powder, cumin and oregano thrown into a pot and simmered for a few hours. The rest of the shredded pork was put into freezer bags to use at another time.

Veggie cashew stir-fry over brown rice...

My Thanksgiving cactus is finally blooming. I always called this plant a Christmas cactus and then I read that there are different varieties: Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter.

I've never seen another one like mine with the coral blooms. I usually see varieties of pink.

My blogging friend, Claudia over at Mockingbird Hill Cottage mentioned Rosamunde Pilcher's book, Winter Solstice. I had the book on one of my bookshelves but had never read it. I figured January and February were the perfect time to read books with winter titles. Here's what I dug out from my bookshelves. Simple Abundance is a book I read every year. And that small Barbara Kingsolver book you see is her newest. It's a book of poetry ~ a new genre for her.

I see from our weather forecast that tomorrow will finally bring some sun. How perfect on the day that brings us a new President. I pray for peace for all of us...for an end to all this violence and the pandemic.


Thursday, January 7, 2021

seeking light

It's our New Year's day tradition to start the year by a walk in our nearby beautiful State Park. The park is closed on New Year's day, so no cars are allowed in. We park our car a half mile away on a residential street, then go in through one of the side walk-in entrances.

We bundled up in layers of clothing, heavy winter coats, hats, gloves, neck/face scarves, thick socks and boots. Winter armor.

We were the only humans in the Park as far as our eyes could see and the snow was gently falling. It was like we were in another Universe. I love how this park was formed by glaciers and is home to coyotes, fox, deer, mink, possum, racoons and 200 species of birds. 

I normally do not like winter. I've been saying for years that I'd love to live in California. (We can't afford to do so.) I love warm weather, lots of sun, and being surrounded by greenery and flowers. When I stopped to take a photo I turned to Brian and said, "Do you think we'd miss this? It is kind of nice to live where we experience the change in seasons."

On que, it started to sleet, putting a kibosh on the whole "missing the change of seasons" thing. Ice pellets were whipping at our faces as we hiked back to the entrance in our clunky winter boots.

Every day since then has been gray and dreary. Nary a sign of the sun. The lyrics of "California Dreamin" by The Mamas and The Papas are my theme song. 

"All the leaves are brown
and the sky is gray
I've been for a walk
on a winter's day
I'd be safe and warm
if I was in L.A.
California dreamin'
on such a winter's day"

As my friend, Lydia Green said on social media...

"By day 6, The Fog had settled completely into their bone marrow, and had begun its work of siphoning joy, hope, and vitamin D."

So, there's been some of this...

and a lot of cat snuggles.

Like all of you, I am feeling heartbroken and angry over what happened at our nation's Capitol building yesterday. There's been enough news and talk about it all over social media, so I have nothing to add. At the same time, on a personal level, I've been going through a stressful situation with our veterinarian's office and how I was treated there. It hasn't been a very good start to the New Year. 

I've been mostly cocooning...doing yoga, guided meditations, reading, trying new recipes, journaling, talking on the phone with a few of my trusted, loving friends. It all helps. 

What helps you get through dark days?