Monday, February 27, 2017

two more days

My arthroscopic knee surgery is in two days. March 1st. I wish I could push a fast-forward button to March 2nd. My anxiety has been really bad today and I have a headache. I've tried everything: talking to friends, praying, yoga, telling myself positive thoughts. But those of you who also have anxiety know how well that goes (said sarcastically). It's like another entity takes over. *sigh*

In my heart, I know things will go well and that I'll be fine. I've had surgery before (two of them, as a matter of fact.) It's more fear of the unknown.

If you are inclined to pray, please do so for me, OK? I'll also take any good thoughts sent my way. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. I truly appreciate it. I will write a post-surgery post as soon as I can!

(Wish I could be as peaceful and calm as Monkey!)

Monday, February 20, 2017

eating my words, weekend fun, and monday at home

In my Valentine's Day post, I spoke about how I don't receive flowers on Valentine's Day anymore ~ but that it didn't matter because true love was more than that. Turns out, the joke was on me. Brian came home from work with roses! I was so surprised, I blurted out, "For me?!"

The weather here in northern Illinois has been gloriously and amazingly warm the past few days, with temperatures in the 60's and lots of sunshine. Normal temps this time of year are 30 degrees - and we usually have snow, too. Walking around the yard, I spied tiger lilies already coming out of the ground. A month early. Exciting, yes - but also scary, as this warm weather won't last, of course. I'm afraid the returning cold will kill the emerging plants.

The middle of February usually finds me, my mom and aunt taking our annual winter trek to the antique mall by my house. It's a great place to spend a fun day while escaping the winter doldrums. Instead, we spent the day in another town that we love to frequent in the nice weather. We spent hours outdoors, walking up and down the main street, popping into our favorite shops and then having lunch at our choice Mexican restaurant. Of course, everyone else had the same idea and the sidewalks were crowded with young and old alike - and a lot of friendly dogs, too. 

 (me and my mom)

(my aunt and my mom ~ sisters)

I bought a couple of inexpensive things while we were shopping ~ found this cute teapot in a resale shop.

And bought this little ceramic heart in another shop (not resale, but only a few dollars). 

Today was a full day spent at home. I was going to run a few errands and then I remembered the kids were home from school today as it's President's Day. I knew the stores would be crowded. So, I decided the errands could wait until tomorrow. I don't have many days where I'm home the entire day, so this was actually a treat. I got a lot done in the house today, including washing the living room windows inside and out, and then cleaning the wooden blinds that cover the windows, too. I also vacuumed, dusted, cleaned bathrooms, did laundry, baked mostly-healthy brownies, made a veggie stir-fry, loaded and emptied the dishwasher twice, and brushed all three cats outside. I also did my yoga practice and PT exercises for my knee. (I have a torn meniscus.) Speaking of my knee, I'm finally going through with the arthroscopic surgery on March 1st. I was originally going to have the surgery in November, and decided to wait 'til the end of winter. Only nine more days - yikes! Though I'm at the point where I just want to be past it and on my way to healing. 

I had to move the spider plants that were on the ledge in the pass-thru to a safer spot. Mr. Monkey - sleeping on left - decided spider plants were fun to chew on. I replaced the spider plants with two different ones. For whatever reason, Monkey doesn't bother these. I'm probably being too brave with putting glass candle holders in the middle. Crossing my fingers that the cats will be cautious if they jump up there.

While I was rearranging stuff, I changed the decor in the nook above the microwave. Keeping it real with the pans left on the stove.

With spring weather on my mind, I've picked up flowers at Trader Joe's the past two times I've been there.. I know I've said it before, but their flowers are the best. They're inexpensive and they last a long time. This little bunch is leftover from the original bouquet that was 1-1/2 weeks old. Still going strong.

And here's another bunch that's five days old. The Wintry Blend coffee hasn't been used much lately. ;-)

These are the mostly-healthy brownies I made. I tweaked Nigella Lawson's flourless brownie recipe seen here by using 3/4 cup organic pure maple syrup instead of processed sugar. Guess that was a mistake because even though these look good, they don't taste so great. They're very grainy because of the almond meal. I bet the almond meal would've broken down more by using the granulated sugar. However, I don't eat processed sugar (as much as possible) I put the brownies in the fridge and will eat one here and there if I have a chocolate or sweet craving. 

Wishing you a joy-full week!

Friday, February 17, 2017

book review ~ radical beauty

I've always found Deepak Chopra's theories on alternative medicine interesting, so I was excited to read and review this book. Dr. Chopra is an acclaimed advocate for integrative medicine, the founder of the Chopra Foundation and co-founder of the Chopra Center for Well-Being. He's also the author of more than 80 books and has been described by Time magazine as "one of the top 100 heroes and icons of the century".

Kimberly Snyder is a New York Times best-selling author, nutritionist, and beauty expert. She hosts the popular podcast, Beauty Inside Out.

This book was broken down into six parts, or "pilars":

 Internal Nourishment
 External Nourishment
 Peak Beauty Sleep
 Primal Beauty
 Beautiful Movement
 Spiritual Beauty

There's also an appendix of a few healthy recipes (salads, soups, entrees and desserts). I found the information in this book easy to understand, educational, and inspiring for taking care of yourself in a holistic and healthy way. I'd highly recommend this book.

I received "Radical Beauty" from Blogging for Books for my honest, personal opinion review.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

it's not all hearts and flowers

I have mixed emotions about Valentine's Day. I'm more of a realist instead of a romantic, so I don't get all gushy about this day. On the other hand, it's fun to have a special day in the middle of the February to give cards (and gifts, if that's your thing) and express your love to family and friends.

(Brian and I on a family vacation in Cancun, 2003)

I remember back to mine and Brian's dating and engagement days...I was working as a secretary at a major pharmaceutical company in the consumer sales division. It was Valentine's Day and Brian had a beautiful bouquet of flowers delivered to me at my desk. The older (i.e., more experienced) ladies I worked with were teasing me and saying, "Enjoy it now (meaning the flowers on Valentine's Day), because it won't last!" I was all indignant and retorted, "Oh, yes it will! We love each other!" Those wise women just laughed.

(Banner made by Connie of Crafty Home Cottage)

OK, so they were right. I don't receive flowers on Valentine's Day anymore. But, here it is 34 years later, and our love for each other has lasted. We truly do still love each other. Flowers may fade, but true love lasts forever. Oh crap, did I just make up a cheesy romantic saying? Or have I heard that somewhere before? It just popped into my head.

(Heart made by Carol of Art and Sand)

True love means picking up your husband's dirty socks and underwear off the floor and not bitching about it (OK, you're entitled once in awhile). True love means working your butt off for your family. True love means cleaning up vomit after your loved one is sick. True love means making healthy meals for your family so they are nourished. True love means getting up extra early and starting the other's car and letting it warm up in the frigid weather - so they don't have to. True love does mean saying you're sorry ~ despite what you might've heard from Love Story.

(Lefton heart trinket dish at top ~ a recent thrifting find)

Oh, I could go on and on. But you get the gist. True love is messy. And hard. It takes lots of work. A marriage is not 50-50. It is 100-100. 

(Brian and I on our wedding day in 1984 & by the Rock River in 2014)

Thus all said, I'll be making a big pan of baked ziti with homemade marinara, fresh mozzarella (we're not big fans of ricotta), and baby spinach and kale; plus a green salad with lots of fresh veggies for dinner tonight. And because we rarely eat bread and my husband and son love it, perhaps I'll make garlic bread, too. To up the ante, I just might break out the "good china" (our wedding china which we sadly rarely use) and light some candles.

Maybe I do still have a little touch of romanticism in me sometimes. ;-)
Happy Valentine's Day.

Friday, February 10, 2017

mantels and windows

Having never had a fireplace mantel until recently, I've been playing around with decor. Why didn't anyone tell me it's harder than it looks?! There's a lot involved - scale, layering, color, balance and symmetry. I can't tell you how many times I've changed this up. This shall do for now. The framed photograph in the middle is one of Tim's from his BFA art show last year. I know it's hard to tell from my photo, but it's a photograph of a staircase and entryway. The shadowing and textures in this photograph are amazing.

There's just one little problem that you don't see in the above photo - but you'll see below. The mantel juts right up to the window trim. (Yes, we need new windows and trim, and we hope that will be coming soon.) So, that leaves the problem of hanging curtains. We obviously can't do so now, as the mantel is in the way.

The window is actually a double one and the room looks harsh without a soft window treatment. We can't leave the windows bare (if they were pretty) because a neighbor's house is right outside this window. So...any ideas? I thought of fabric Roman shades, but I still don't think that will make the room look soft enough, especially when the shades are down at night. There IS room on the left side of the window for fabric to hang down. I have some gauzy sheers that I was thinking of draping over a curtain rod above the window and then just letting some hang down to the left. Tacky? Silly looking?

View from the you can see the left side of the double window.

We're not the only ones that like the new pass-thru. Clementine loves perching there. So far, my glass pieces have been fine. Clem's quite dainty and has never broken anything.

I still haven't decided on any art or decor for the living room or kitchen walls, but I am loving the light that we now get in both rooms.

Happy weekend, everyone!

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

how to combat cabin fever

Hello, February! We're one month closer to spring. If you live in a cold climate like me, where you're already tired of bitter cold temps, days on end of cloudy skies, perhaps lots of snow, then you know how cabin fever sets in once the holidays are over. Going to and from work or running errands just doesn't cut it for "getting out of the house". 

So, when the weekends roll around, I'm always looking for something to do ~ antique shopping, museums, a new restaurant ~ something, anything to keep the feeling of the four walls closing in around me.

A couple of weekends ago, me, Brian and my aunt went to Milwaukee, Wisconsin for the day. We love going to the Public Market - an indoor venue with different fresh food vendors, artisan markets, a couple of restaurants, and a wine bar. We had lunch there at a place called The Green Market. I had the most incredible salad of mixed greens and just about every kind of veggie you can think of - except for mushrooms and beets. Those are the only two veggies I can't tolerate. What's really cool is that it's build-your-own. You can pick and choose from 50 different vegetables and toppings! 

Across the street was a West Elm store. I was familiar with West Elm online, but I've never been in one of their on-site stores. It was ultra-modern with really loud music, so not my taste, but was fun to look around.

At least Brian found a comfortable chair to relax in!

On from West Elm, we took a walk around the neighborhood and all of a sudden, the fog rolled in from Lake Michigan. Was really cool to be walking around in the fog, but glad we weren't driving in it.

Loved the architecture of these buildings.

Our walk brought us to an Anthropologie store, so we just had to go in and look around. (Poor Brian. He's such a good sport.) I rarely buy anything from Anthro - overpriced and most things made in China - but the eye candy is fun. And they certainly have a knack for creating beautiful displays.

Later in the day, we stopped at our favorite Milwaukee coffee shop to relax and have a warm drink.

The inside is hip and painted in vibrant colors with local art, lots of plants, homemade treats, and wonderful coffee.

Speaking of art, last weekend a friend invited me to one of those painting classes that are so popular now. What was the first thing I noticed when we walked in? The decor, of course! We had time to linger before the actual start time, so I walked around and took some photos. Love this green sofa!

The little kitchen had an interesting backsplash - squares of wood.

This industrial style mirror was in the bathroom.

All set up and ready to go. We were painting coffee mugs with creamy coffee and a heart design in the middle. It was harder than it looked!

Here we are, all done. I'm standing by the window in the beige sweater. Don't look too closely at my masterpiece. ;-) I really messed up on the hearts and couldn't fix it. And I think my cup handle looks more like a bunny ear. 

Not sure what we're going to do this weekend, but I'm sure we'll find somewhere to go or something to do. We do have some home projects to work on, but we have to throw in a little fun, too, right? 
What fun things have you been doing lately on the weekends?