Monday, October 31, 2011

end of october thoughts

   Today loomed cool and overcast, but I was feeling edgy
and a bit "off" today. Wacky hormones? 
I also know that we're numbering the decent days to be outdoors.
And I need more exercise
especially since I sit at a desk all day, three days/week.
So, I headed to my favorite, peaceful walking place:
The State Park.

I actually didn't plan on walking so far, but the scenery was beautiful
and it felt so good to just

How long has it been since you experienced total silence?
To be somewhere were you could just...

Just you and your thoughts...
No ringing phones. No email.
No kids hanging on you.
No piles of laundry waiting to be done.
No work deadlines.

Out in nature, you are free to be anything you want to be.
There is no timetable, no judgment, no hurry.

Keep is everywhere.

Even in the worn out, old, and weathered.

Take time for yourself,
Beautiful Woman.
You deserve it!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

a glimpse of my peaceful sunday

 Sweet pussy cats sleeping away the afternoon...

Barley Minestrone soup simmering on the stove....
(Recipe at end of post)

And oatmeal cookies (standard Quaker Oats recipe) with 
dried cranberries and white chocolate chips, fresh out of the oven...

(From Fine Cooking)

2 T. extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 c. (about 1 oz.) finely diced pancetta (I used bacon)
2 c. large diced Savoy cabbage
1 c. medium diced yellow onion
1 c. sliced carrot
1/4 c. medium diced celery
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 quarts low-salt chicken broth
1 14-1/2 oz. can diced tomatoes, with their juices
1/2 c. pearl barley, rinsed
2 large sprigs fresh rosemary
2" square Parmigiano-reggiano rind (optional)
Kosher salt
1 c. rinsed & drained canned kidney beans
Fesh ground black pepper
Freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano for serving

Heat the oil in a heavy 6-qt. or larger pot over medium heat. Add the pancetta and cook, stirring frequently, until it becomes ever so slightly golden 2-3 min. Add the cabbage, onion, carrot, celery, and garlic. Cook, stirring frequently, until the vegetables begin to soften, about 6 min. Add the broth, the tomatoes with their juices, the barley, rosemary, Parmigiano rind (if using), 1/2 tsp. salt, and 1 c. water. Bring to a boil over high heat and then reduce the heat to a simmer and cook until the barley and vegetables are tender, about 20 min. Discard the rosemary springs and Parmigiano rind. Stir in the beans and season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve sprinkled with the grated Parmigiano.

Friday, October 21, 2011

new downstair decor

 As you might know from previous posts, our basement flooded in the spring of 2010
and we had to have it totally re-done. 
I decided to go with a completely different sort of look:

I also wanted to break out of my safe color rut, so I had the walls painted a pumpkin color,
and then chose a pale yellow for the stairway.
The TV stand, side table, sofa table, and floating wall shelves are black,
so I figured I wanted to hang things on the stairway walls that were black.

This black filigree "frame" used to be a mirror. I simply took the mirror out
and spray-painted the frame black. The empty frame with ribbon hanger - Goodwill.
And the cool, modern picture that matches the basement perfectly?
A friend's garage sale for just $5. I'm not digging the "Faith, Hope, Love" hanging though...
I think it looks too "country" for the downstairs decor.
Oh well, I change and play with decor all the time, so that will be changed out soon!

 You can see the painting better in this photo...

Another recent Goodwill find - these straw hangings (I have no idea what these are - any guesses?)
for only 49 cents each. I think they look really cool hanging on this narrow space
of wall near the utility room door.


Here's what I did to soften up the stark sofa table a bit - what do you all think?

I finally found the perfect rug from Home Depot for the sitting area.
It's very plush and wooly.

View of the sitting/TV area...

We found this picture at IKEA - I love how the orange in the picture "pops"
against the pumpkin colored walls. We also live in the Chicago 'burbs, 
so we happen to love this Chicago picture.

Thanks for visiting!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

sunny autumn days are even more beautiful with loved ones

On those rare autumn days when the sky is

It feels so good to take a walk through the woods, enjoying the crisp, cool air
and witnessing God's beautiful creation.
I especially loved sharing this beautiful day with my nieces and hubby...

I think I felt as light and carefree on the swings as my nieces did...

My Aunt Suzie joined us on this beautiful fall day, too.
We're very close and enjoy spending time together; can't you tell?

Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns.
~George Eliot

Monday, October 10, 2011

girlfriend getaway

I spent the weekend in Muskegon, Michigan with a couple of childhood friends.
We'd been talking about getting together for a weekend for two years. 
One girlfriend lives three hours south of me, and the other lives up in Ontario.
After another mutual friend of ours recently had a major stroke
- at age 50 -
we decided that life is too short to keep putting things off...
and to just do it.

The hotel we stayed in was gorgeous - right on Lake Muskegon.
Since it's off-season AND I get a government rate, we got a great price on our room.

We couldn't have asked for better weather - around 80F and sunny -
In Michigan.

We wandered around a Farmer's Market...
(That's one of my lovely friends in the striped shirt.)

Toured a winery and admired the gardens...
We especially loved this border made from glass jars.
I've been saving wine bottles to accomplish the same thing, though I like the jar idea even better. 
I especially love how they glued rocks and marbles to the tops of the jars.

We had lunch at a little bistro and bakery called, Mia & Grace. 
It's all organic, farm-to-table food. The pastry chef trained in France, so we indulged
in his buttermilk pie. It rocked.

Check out the unique menu board from Mia & Grace. So clever and creative!
I love places like this...artsy.

We hit some thrift shops, walked around a park and the lake, went to an artisan cheese shop and sampled a bunch of cheeses (bought some for our impromptu dinner), watched the sunset
over the lake...

And then went back to our hotel room for a girly dinner...
Artisan cheeses, crusty baguettes, chips and salsa, chocolate pretzels
and wine. All while reclining in bed with the balcony door open to feel the cool breeze
and watching Food Network and talking until we fell asleep.

On Sunday, we drove to Lake Michigan. I'm used to the Chicago beaches of Lake Michigan -
crowded, flat and unassuming, with dirty-ish water - so I was in awe of the beauty
of this part of Lake Michigan.
We had the whole beach to ourselves - what a gift.

The dune area of the beach is especially beautiful in the fall...

Another part of our walk on the lake shore had us admiring lighthouses and beautiful boats
that would pass by...

All too soon, we had to head back to our hotel area for lunch before we all left for home.
We sat outside in the sunshine (soaking up all we could) and toasted the weekend
and each other with mimosas. This is squinty me and my lovely Canadian friend.

What would we do without our girlfriends?
I am so thankful for them.

"There is nothing on this earth more to be prized than true friendship."
(Thomas Aquinas)

Sunday, October 2, 2011

guest room/office in the making

 This empty room used to be Phil's bedroom. We took down the mini blinds, gave the room a fresh coat of white paint, and tore up the old carpeting.

Within the past few weeks, we got new windows and hardwood flooring.
There is still so much work to be done in order to make this room into a
guest room and office. I need to paint that ugly, faux wood trim
around the windows before we get window treatments.
That little side table with the lamp isn't staying - I'm looking for a two-drawer small dresser 
that will also serve as a nightstand.

I found this gorgeous twin headboard many years ago in a garage sale. 
Phil actually used it for a few years until he decided it wasn't "cool" enough 
for a boy. It's been in the basement this entire time. 
I think it would look even prettier if it were painted, but that will be 
a project for the future.
In the meantime, we also have to shop for a twin bed.

This corner table was Phil's TV stand and we'll continue to use it as such.
Another item on the shopping list: A new TV.
The two plastic bins are filled with my scrapbooking stuff.
(Zippo had to poke his head in to see what I was doing. I think he's yawning - 
guess he wasn't impressed.)

We'll also be putting a desk in front of this window that looks out into the back yard.
The desk was originally Brian's from when he was growing up, then it was Phil's.
It's unattractive - very 70's looking with a dark brown finish and outdated hardware.
It's currently in the garage - I was going to sand, prime, and paint it - but time
has gotten away from me and now it is getting too cold to be doing all that work.
So, if I don't get to the desk really soon - it'll be going into this room as-is 
until next summer.

The projects just never end around the house, do they?