Friday, October 28, 2016

book review - in memory of bread

From - "When Paul Graham was suddenly diagnosed with celiac disease at the age of thirty-six, he was forced to say goodbye to traditional pasta, pizza, sandwiches, and more. Gone, too, were some of his favorite hobbies, including brewing beer with a buddy and gorging on his wife’s homemade breads. Struggling to understand why he and so many others had become allergic to wheat, barley, rye, oats, and other dietary staples, Graham researched the production of modern wheat and learned that not only has the grain been altered from ancestral varieties but it’s also commonly added to thousands of processed foods. "

Even though I don't have celiac disease, I found this book an intriguing read due to the sudden popularity in the US of gluten being our enemy. And although I'm not truly gluten-intolerant either, I do find myself bloated after I eat gluten, so it was interesting to find out why so many people like myself are experiencing "wheat belly". The author, Paul Graham not only writes about his physical and mental journey of foregoing gluten, but a couple of the chapters got into the history and science of gluten. Those chapters were a bit too detailed for me, but if I or a loved one had celiac disease, I'd definitely pay more attention to those chapters.

I received "In Memory of Bread" from Blogging for Books for my honest, personal opinion review.

Monday, October 24, 2016


Hard to believe we're nearing the end of October already. I've actually seen a couple of bloggers mentioning Christmas. That stopped me in my tracks. I still feel like we've barely gotten into fall. Christmas is the furthest thing from my mind right now. I know it's only two months away, but I hate the rush into the commercialism. I also prefer celebrating one holiday at a time. Thanksgiving seems to get pushed to the side.

This weekend we went to a friend's Halloween party. These are her two granddaughters. Aren't they just precious?

Brian held the little one for a few minutes. He looks pretty comfortable in his role as "grandpa". ;-)

The wonderful evening was topped off by our beloved Cubs winning the National League Championship! Brian's been a Cub's fan since he was a little boy. To see the Cubs now heading to the World Series is a dream come true for him.

I love October in Illinois. The weather is all over the place: it can be rainy and gloomy for several days in a row; warm and sunny with endless blue skies; or just downright cold. Most mornings I have to turn the heat on to get the chill out of the house, but a couple of hours later, the house will be warm from the sun, so the heat goes off and the windows get opened. We relish the warm, sunny days because we know they're fleeting. Sunday was one of those perfect days, so we took advantage of it and went for a walk in the State Park.

I love the way the gentle autumn light filters through the trees and casts a golden glow everywhere.

There's a lot of milkweed in the park and the pods have burst open and are scattering their feathery seeds.

 Our walk led us to a lake, where we sat on a bench for a little while, enjoying the peacefulness while we closed our eyes and turned our faces to the sun.

 The maple tree across the street is at its brilliant peak of color right now. Rain is moving in later this week, so I know by the end of the week, this beautiful tree will be bare. 

Walking around my yard today, I was surprised to see all the plants and flowers that are still hanging in there, despite some frosty mornings. Mums are still blooming...

and so is the mexican tarragon in the herb garden. Chives and mint to the left in the photo are still thriving, too. Though mint is practically indestructible. 

 Russian Sage still has its pretty purple flowers...

The clematis surprised us by giving us one last bloom a few days ago! 

Zinnias are hanging in there, too.

I did a big grocery shopping today and came home to make October Soup. Are you familiar with Alicia Paulsen's blog, Posie Gets Cozy? If not, prepare to be delighted with her blog if you go over there and take a look. Alicia made up this recipe and it looked and sounded good, so I gave it a try. Oh. My. Goodness! This is a must-make. My house tonight still smells like that wonderful, warm, heady concoction of simmering soup on the stove. The three of us loved this hearty soup. Brian and Tim raved about it and went for seconds. Enough said. You can find the recipe in this blog post. The only changes I made were to add a few stalks of celery in with the other sauteed vegetables, and I also cut the quantity of red lentils down to one cup. (The recipe called for two cups, but I didn't want the soup to be that thick. As you can tell by my photo, one cup was plenty. It's up to you!) Oh - and I also used nitrate-free kielbasa. 

"I'm so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers."

~ L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables

Monday, October 17, 2016

such a pretty house

I've always had a thing for beautiful houses. And by beautiful, I don't necessarily mean big. I actually prefer smaller, charming houses. Houses with character. A bonus for me is getting to see the inside of the house, too: the architectural and decorating details. I've been this way since I was a little girl. Sometimes my parents would take me and my sister with them to look at a model home. Do you remember when you were a kid and your parents would drag you somewhere with them (garage sales, the grocery store, the bank...model homes?!) and you'd moan and groan because those places were just so darn boring? Well, I actually enjoyed going to model homes. 

This weekend I went to an Open House where the owners were selling their homemade candles. They have a business making natural soy based candles crafted out of wine and beer bottles. There were other vendors there, too selling things such as handmade jewelry and pillow covers, framed art, and knitted scarves. The neighborhood itself was peaceful and lined with beautiful trees.

Unfortunately, I didn't get a photo of the outside of the house, but I did take a few of the inside. My disclaimer is that these pictures aren't the best because 1) there was a party going on and 2) I probably looked like a weirdo snapping all kinds of pictures inside their house, so I took the pictures in a hurry.

When you walk in the front door, you're in a separate entryway that's about 8x8'. There was a long coat hook rack on the left wall. What a great space to be able to take off all your winter gear and hang it up before you even enter the house! Or to welcome guests and have enough space for their coats, as well.

To the right of the entryway is a cool chest. This would be a perfect place to store mittens, hats and scarves. So easy to find and grab when you're going out the door. I'm sure the owners re-purposed this pieces themselves because they're both very creative.

When you step inside the house, the living room and dining room are one big open room. The hardwood floors and moldings were all gorgeous.

An iron chandelier hangs over the dining room table. One of the owners of the house was telling me her brother found this piece for her. I love how she put wine bottles in it.

Off the main living areas were several rooms, all flanked by french doors. One of the owners is a massage therapist so this room is used for her business.

Another room off the main living the beadboard ceiling and the windows.

A cozy nook for reading.

I wish there was a way I could get a good photo of the fireplace, but it was impossible with the vendors there. It's double-sided: this side was facing a small room off the dining room and the other side faces the kitchen.

The custom cabinetry in the kitchen uses lighter colored cabinets on top and darker cabinets on bottom. Love the built-in range and stovetop ~ and the deep red walls.

Details...original glass knobs on all the doors.

I didn't get a chance to see any of the bedrooms or bathrooms, but they're having another Open House right before Christmas. Maybe I can be more voyeuristic then, ha ha.

Some pretty details old iron gate and chair turned planter.

I did take a photo of the house next door because I particularly favored this one: cottage meets Craftsman.

Lest you think I only went to this Open House to take pictures...I did buy a few things. :-)

Framed art...

and one of the homeowner's "famous" candles. The scent is currant, which is one of my favorite candle scents. I'm very particular about scents and strong odors because of my allergies. I also won't use any kind of artificial, toxic scents in my home, so this candle is perfect. I also bought one other little thing, but it's a Christmas gift, so I can't show it. ;-)

Speaking of homes and lovely details, our contractor was here last week to give us a quote on doing some some work in the kitchen and finally getting a mantle for our fireplace. Details later! Have a beautiful week.

PS: Thanks for all your good thoughts and wishes about my knee surgery...but, I'm not having the surgery after all! At least, not just yet. The pain has greatly diminished for now and I'm also seeking a second opinion.

Monday, October 10, 2016

knee update and antiquing

Hello friends ~ so much day-to-day busyness going on here and doing my "homework" (research) on meniscus tears so that when I met up with my orthopedic doctor again today, I'd be prepared with questions. Long story short, my tear does indeed require surgery - unless I want things to get worse and develop osteoarthritis. (I was hoping I could get away with just physical therapy.) It's a degenerative lateral tear, meaning the tear is on the outside of the knee where there is no blood supply. This kind of tear is uncommon; the more common ones are medial tears - on the inside of the knee. Brian and I actually had a little chuckle about me having the uncommon kind. That's pretty much been the story of my life with my medical history. Anyway, the surgery scheduler will be calling me in the next few days to schedule surgery, so I'm hoping to have it by the end of the month. I'm admittedly scared, but I also want it over so I can move on to healing. I'm in a lot of pain right now.

On to better things. One of the great things about fall in my area is the abundance of activities and fests to choose from on the weekends. This past weekend, a couple of local antique stores were having a fall harvest sale. These little stores are only a 20 minute drive from my house, but yet I'd never been there. It's in an area that I never just pass through, so I always thought "some day". Brian and I met my aunt and uncle there for some treasure hunting. 

I loved this pumpkin planter, but priced at $35, I had to pass it up.

Not an antique, just a homemade planter, but charming nonetheless.

I spy some pretties...we need to go inside.

Stepping inside...I love antique stores like this, where there's so much to look at. I could go back over the same area a few times and find something I hadn't seen the first go-around.

Whaddya think ~ is this hat "me"? ;-)

Here's what came home with me (NOT the hat) ~

A vine and twig pumpkin...

A trio of crocheted acorns...

A couple of crocheted pumpkins...

and my favorite bargain, a pair of Le Creuset petite pumpkin cocottes!

 Before I sign off, my obligatory maple tree photo:

I think we can all use a little bit of peace and beauty in our lives right now.
Blessings to all.

Monday, October 3, 2016

october cozy

Thanks for all the help on my last post regarding the problems with Blogger. Guess I'll just have to wait and see if my blog roll reappears. Glad I'm not the only one this has happened to (not that I wish this on anyone!) and that Blogger is working on it.
(Update: I re-created my blog roll and put it back on my sidebar. Let's hope it stays there!)

The past four or five days have been nothing but dreary weather ~ cool temps, dampness interspersed with periods of rain, and endless gray skies. My favorite maple tree - the one across the street - is starting to put on its annual show. I love photographing the color change of this tree every year.

Despite the cool temps, some of my plants are still going strong, like this Boston fern. This is the first time I've ever had this plant and from what I've read, you can over-winter it indoors. I'm going to give it a try. 

This is the only potted annual I have left (Gerbera daisy) and a couple of days ago, even in the middle of all the rain, out popped a beautiful, bright pink bloom! I was really surprised for this time of year. 

Alongside the patio, there's still a lot of green. Another new-to-me plant this year was citronella, which is the monster potted plant on the left. I had no idea it'd grow that tall. The stalks kept falling over from the heaviness, so I had to prop it against the fence.

Inside, I've added snippets of fall decor in the living room...

The kitchen got a few autumn touches, as well...

We've been eating a lot of soup already, too. There's nothing better than a warm bowl of soup on a cold night for comfort and nourishment.

We tried this Creamy Vegetable Soup with Leek and it was absolutely delicious. A definite keeper! Easy to make, hearty and dairy-free.

Wouldn't you know it, no sooner than I started writing this blog post, than the sun came out! It's amazing how your mood can instantly pick up when the sun comes out after seemingly-endless days of dreariness. With that all said, I'm going to get a start on dinner in the Crockpot (tonight it's Butter Chicken) and then run some errands.

Happy October!