Sunday, November 29, 2015

one holiday down ~ ready for the next?

We had a lovely Thanksgiving at my cousin's house. It was his first time hosting for this holiday, and he did a beautiful job. Hors d'oeuvres were set up in the living room...

and dinner was served in the dining room. Small group this year: my cousin and his friend who flew in from Alexandria, VA; me and my son (hubby had to work); my mom; and my sister, BIL, and two nieces.

We had so much food! We had a wonderful glazed ham, a turkey breast, my mom's homemade stuffing, corn souffle, maple-glazed carrots, green beans with pecans (I was the designated veggie person), sweet potatoes, roasted potatoes, homemade rolls (my mom and my cousin's friend both made batches), cranberry relish with dried cherries, and two pies. I was actually too full from dinner to even have any dessert - which is fine since I'm not supposed to be eating gluten and I'm avoiding sugar as much as possible. Though if my mom had've made her homemade pumpkin pie, all bets would've been off. 

Last week when I posted, I wrote about our first snowstorm of the season. All that snow is already melted due to higher temps and lots of rain (buh-bye, good riddance, adieu), but the day after the snowstorm, I took a walk down to the lake by my house and took some photos. I love the starkness of this photo and how the trees are reflected in the water. I'm definitely a warm weather and sunshine kind of girl, but once in awhile, I can find the beauty in the barren landscape. Tim and I were talking about that in the car on the way to my cousin's house ~ that if we lived somewhere where it's mostly warm and sunny year-round, would we get tired of it? Would we long for the change of seasons? Wouldn't it be weird to decorate for Christmas and celebrate it without the cold temperatures and hopefully, some snow? Would we be woefully singing, "I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas" while walking along the beach with the palm trees swaying in the background? I can only dream.

Speaking of Christmas, I am officially The Only Blogger Who Has Not Started Decorating For Christmas Yet. I did "de-fall" the living room and kitchen though, so it's a start. And I got a lot of online shopping done on Black Friday. In my pajamas. With no crowds to deal with. Great online discounts and free shipping, too. That's my kind of shopping.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

first snow of the season

 The white stuff started last night and kept falling 'til early this afternoon. Nothing like starting with a bang ~ our area got about a foot of snow. And it's wet and heavy: heart attack snow.
This is my front porch. Looks like big, puffy pillows, doesn't it?

 Don't think we'll be grilling or using the patio furniture tonight.

 The branches from our neighbor's tree are so heavy with snow, they're almost touching our patio. I noticed cracks in some of the heavier limbs.

Top of my birdbath!

The backyard (with my footprints all over).

 To add insult to injury, it's going down to 8 degrees tonight. Technically, it's still fall. Hard to keep that in mind with this kind of weather.

I don't think this snow will stick around too long though. It's supposed to be 50 degrees and raining on Thursday - Thanksgiving. At least we don't have to shovel rain, right?

Thursday, November 12, 2015

at home

 Today's the only day all week that I have completely at home.* And wouldn't you know it - I have a bad headache! Woke me up in the wee hours. I'm wondering if it's the's bleak. Cold, rainy, and very windy. No editing of the photo below - it really has been that gloomy all day.

 I love to make a big pot of soup in the colder months and then have plenty of leftovers to keep in the fridge. So easy to heat up for lunches or a quick dinner. Today I made a pot of veggie soup - with bacon. ;-) I added a little quinoa elbow pasta to make it more hearty and keep it gluten-free.

Speaking of healthy and gluten-free, I whip up these peanut butter cookies every so often when Brian and I have a hankering for something sweet. As I've mentioned, we gave up white sugar back in April. But, once in awhile, we still want something sweet. These are my go-to cookies because they're tasty, healthy, and amazingly simple to make. They're from the web site, My Whole Food Life. Believe it or not, they only have three ingredients: peanut butter (natural...please don't use/eat the cheap, unhealthy stuff with hydrogenated oil in it), pure maple syrup (again, use the real stuff - not the fake stuff that is nothing but water, corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, and chemicals) and salt. You can find the recipe here. The only downfall? If you use a standard cookie scoop, this recipe only makes seven cookies. You can tell which ones are mine...I stuck some dark chocolate chips on top of mine when I pulled them out of the oven. Yes, those do have sugar in them, but it's minimal because of the dark chocolate and I rarely eat chocolate chips. Once in a blue moon isn't going to kill me. ;-)

I know this photo doesn't have anything to do with my home - I wish it did! I was at a local coffee shop yesterday and was absolutely enamored with the decor. I tried that leather chair in the corner before I left and it was heavenly. I could've taken a nap in it. Now... you see the peek of the amazing blue sofa to your right?

This is it. I'm in love with it AND the coffee table. And the wall art and the lighting. I would've taken photos of the other side of the shop, but there were too many people sitting there. The windows in front of the shop are flanked with blue curtain panels that exactly match the color of the sofa. (Later edit: Brenda from Cozy Little House commented, "add books and I'd be in heaven!" Well, guess what? This place does indeed have books! There is a small bookshelf filled with books near the back of the shop. I don't know if they're just to read while there, or if people can borrow them. I'll have to find out next time I go - and take more pictures.)

Back to home. Think my kitties felt the bleakness of today, too? I threw this quilt on the couch and next thing I knew, they were all curled up and fast asleep in it. Except for Mr. Monkey. He knows when I'm taking his picture and has to look extra cute.

*Well, so much for staying at home all day today. My plans have been thwarted. We had to order some photography equipment for Tim and it was delivered to our house today. We didn't want it delivered to Tim's place at school because it was very expensive and we were afraid it'd get stolen. He needs the equipment ASAP, so we're going to meet up with him for dinner. Guess I'd better go and put on a little makeup and change out of my pajama pants. Happy Thursday, everyone.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

they call that a bargain

I just had to share my latest bargains with you all!

 As I've stated before, I don't go into thrift stores a lot anymore, as I've started getting rid of stuff and simplifying. I don't want to be dragging more stuff into the house. However, there are certain things I need - clothes being one of them. And particular household items. I haven't had much luck with clothes at Goodwill this year, but I finally managed to snag two beautiful brand-new tops that actually fit me at fantastic prices. I am so hard to fit! I am average-sized, but small through the shoulders with a large bust. If a top fits in the shoulders, it's usually too tight in the bust. Or, the opposite is true: fits in the bust; too big in the shoulders. 

Both these tops had the original store tags on them...snagged a Banana Republic blouse for only $5.99! The Price part of the tag was torn off, but from looking at their web site, their blouses run anywhere from $80 - $98. (Crazy.)

And found a Talbots blouse with a $60 price tag for only $6.99. :-) Both of these blouses are much prettier in person...hard to photograph clothes.

I'm trying not to bring anymore tchotchkes into the house, but I couldn't resist this Chicago bowl. It's made by a company called The Dish, LTD. They aren't listing this bowl anymore, but their large platter sells for $42, so I'm assuming this bowl was somewhere around that price. I got it for $3.99.

More Chicago scenes on the bowl...

 Lastly, I found this brand-new chair from Target for only $35! Retail price (as you can see from the link) - $180!! Total score on this find. It's pictured here in my bedroom, but turns out, there wasn't enough room. It's now in Tim's room/the guest room. Please ignore the fact that there's still no curtains on my bedroom window. (There are blinds, but they're pulled up.) Still looking for "just the right ones". I did find curtains I liked at Target (speaking of), but they were too short. I then looked online when I got home and couldn't find them! Must search again.

 Hope you're having a wonderful weekend!


Wednesday, November 4, 2015

the start of november

 We take a walk around the neighborhood most every late afternoon, marveling and relishing in the unusual warm weather we're having for the beginning of November. We pass kids wearing t-shirts and shorts, chasing soccer balls and riding bikes. Adults are in their yards, raking the seemingly-tons of fallen leaves, cleaning out roof gutters, and painting door trim. This is it - the last chance to finish outdoor work before next spring.

 By the time we're almost home, the sun is starting to set. With the time change, it gets dark at 5:00 now. I hate it. The evenings are so long and drawn out. I look at the clock, thinking it's almost bedtime and it's only 8:00.

With most of the trees bare now, you can clearly see the bird's nests nestled in the branches.

 Remember the movie, Groundhog Day? It was filmed in Woodstock, Illinois ~ a nearby suburb. While I was there today, I walked around the Square and took some photos. It was another beautiful day in the high 60's and the sun was trying so hard to poke through the clouds and fog.

The Woodstock Square is a charming place year-round, not only because of its beautiful park setting, but there's an independent bookstore, an upscale chocolate and coffee place, a small vegetarian restaurant that specializes in Middle-Eastern food, the Opera House, and a nice array of one-of-a-kind shops. Of course, there's also a Starbucks. Isn't there one on every street corner in America?

This is the famous gazebo in the Groundhog Day movie. Looks like the parks department was smart and hung the Christmas lights before it's too darn cold. I was amazed at all the color that was still on the bushes and in the surrounding trees.

The Woodstock Opera House is a historical venue for the performing arts. I've only been to a couple of performances here: a classical music (Mozart) concert and a bluegrass concert. Both fantastic. 

I know these warm days are fleeting and before we know it, we'll be wearing winter coats and making plans for Thanksgiving. I'm in no hurry.
"The month of November makes me feel that life is passing more quickly. In an effort to slow it down, I try to fill the hours more meaningfully." (Henry Rollins)