Monday, January 18, 2016

warmth and cheer

 These past few days have been brutally cold, with wind chills as low as -25F. I always know that when I see the little igloo icon on my phone's weather app, that we're in trouble. Brian had the weekend off, but the cold didn't keep us indoors. We had a lot of errands to run, so off we went. On Sunday, we visited a friend in the hospital which is in a town that we haven't been to in years. This town has a few of my favorite shops, so despite the cold, we braved a few more stops. I can never resist browsing in an independent bookstore.

We also ducked into Sur La Table. A cook's paradise! They even had a kitchen in back of their store where you can take cooking classes. I'm a good cook and can both follow a recipe and make dishes up on my own. But there's still a few things I've never tried and think it'd be cool to learn, such as making pasta and Asian dishes.

How would you like to own your own little coffee-shop-in-one-machine? I nearly fell over when I saw the price. Sheesh, this thing had better give you a back rub, too!

That coffee machine isn't going home with me anytime soon (OK, how about never - not that I'd even want that in my house), but the red ceramic utensil holder on clearance for $8 was doable.

Speaking of cooking, I also stopped in Penzeys, which is a spice shop. I only needed two spices: the Italian Herb Mix and saffron. The jar of air-dried shallots was free, as I had a coupon from a promotional email. They have high-quality spices and herbs and the prices are good, too. 

Back at home...spring-like flowers bring warmth and cheer to my living room. I also have a bouquet on the kitchen table. A budget buy at $3.99 for a bouquet at Trader Joes.

New towels were needed in the main bath, so sticking with cheery, I chose a hot pink hand towel to "pop" against the gray. The wall art is from Hobby Lobby from several years ago.

To warm and fill up our tummies, I've been making a lot of homemade soups. I try to keep a container of soup in the fridge all the time, as it makes for a perfect quick lunch (for me at home, or for Brian to take to work) or light dinner.

But, the other day I wanted to make something different and also wanted to use what I had on-hand. I had a few organic russet potatoes that needed to be used up, as well as some leftover meatloaf in the freezer. So, I made a Shepherd's Pie. It was easy and so delicious! I started put by putting frozen veggies in the bottom of a greased baking dish. All I had was green beans, peas and corn, but you can use whatever you have. Carrots would be delicious in this dish. I then layered on big chunks of defrosted meatloaf and sprinkled the meat and veggies with a little beef broth. I made a pot of mashed potatoes and smoothed them over the meat. Then I sprinkled the top with shredded cheddar cheese. Into the oven the dish went for about 1/2 hour at 350F. 

Brian and I were both saying we weren't very hungry that night, but when this dish came out of the oven, lust of the eyes and flesh took over and we dove in.

We ended up eating almost half the pie. ;-)


  1. I lost my comment!!

    The bookstore looks so great, I miss the big ones and the independent. I would have had a field day there although I'm trying to hold back on buying books.

    So sad the coffee machine is so high priced. I've wanted a mandolin for a long time but the prices are ridiculous.

    Your Shepard pie sounds fantastic. Our fajitas were so good--I use low carb fajitas. I make grains like quinoa once a eek or so for a treat as they have more carbs than I want.

    Stay warm---this weather is brutal!


  2. That flowers are adorable. Talking about coffee machine. I'm a great coffee lover so I do really want to have such one machine at home. But I can't afford it. But there is one positive moment . I have such a machine at my office and I can do myself different coffee at work. So it is not so bad)

  3. Oh my I haven't had Shepherd's Pie since my Dear Dad passed... so the Imagery of yours brought back a lot of Memories of this delicious dish! Indy Bookstores are also Favs of mine and harder to find around here. Blessings from the Arizona Desert... Dawn... The Bohemian

  4. I try to make at least one soup every week so that my husband can take the leftovers for his lunches at work. The work cafeteria is so expensive and the choices are mostly unhealthy. There is a salad bar, but he tells me it costs around $6 a pound. Jeez. I can send him with three days of lunch for that kind of money. I have always wanted to go to a Sur La Table store. I've only seen their catalogs (and website) and it looks great. We just got a Penzeys store here but I haven't tried it yet. I'm glad you like it, it makes me want to go. It's right down the street too, I might be going a lot. Hope you're having a good week so far, Melanie. :)

  5. I love having homemade soup on hand. On Saturday I made a pot using the sauce made from tomatoes and basil from our garden. Then I tossed in a handful of tortellini. I've been eating it for lunch each day since.
    The Sur la Table store looks like so much fun! It's probably a good thing there isn't one anywhere near here.

  6. The cost of the saffron alone can break you!

  7. We're finally having winter temperatures here fact snow is in the forecast for Friday. There's nothing better than homemade soup this time of year!!
    Mary Alice

  8. Its been brutal cold hasn't it and the wind is a killer. Ginger is confused why we're not going for walks. Its funny she came out of SC and loves the snow, every morning she runs outside to rub her face in the snow and rolls around. Gosh did I ever do that at 15? I love bookstores too, but I try to get most mine at the library which is so close to me. I do have ton of cookbooks! Stay Warm!

  9. Book stores are my weakness, I could get lost in them for hours. There's nothing like the old independents. They are few and far between, but I love them. It's about 16 blustery degrees here and I am frozen. I cannot even imagine your temps! Stay warm! :)

  10. I really enjoyed this post -- bookstore, cooking store, flowers, food! All my favorites:)

  11. I am sitting here freezing and it is 35 degrees! What would I do with your temperatures??
    Oh for the love an old fashioned bookstore-you know, I just have to have a real book to hold onto to read. The smell, touch, texture and the characters leaping off the pages-thats my way of reading.
    Stay safe and warm!

  12. OH does your Shepherd's Pie look delicious, and so do all of those books! We have been experiencing the same cold here / hard to get used to after our mild December! :)

  13. Nice post darling. That Shepard's Pie looks delicious. I used to make that when you were little, but didn't call it Shepard's pie, it was hamburger pie. And I never used leftover meatloaf, just plain ole hamburger. I'm sure the meatloaf was tastier.
    xo Mom

  14. Yum! Your pie looks delish! I've been making lots of soups during the cold stretch, too. It's so nice to come home from work and just heat up the soup! Looks like you had a fun shopping day, too!

  15. I love love this post. It looks like a dream day filled with decor shopping and books and all things good in life! I found your blog through my moms ( mountain mama) and my sisters (the good things comin) and love it!

  16. Love Penzey's. We also go to the Spice House in Geneva. Nothing like really fresh spices. Where is that bookstore? There used to be a great independent book store here in town when we came here, but it is long gone. Even the chains moved out!


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