Saturday, March 31, 2018

getting ready

 Where, oh where, is spring? There's still not many signs here in northern Illinois. I checked the 10-day weather forecast and we'll still be in the 30's and a few days in the low 40's. There might even be some snow showers here and there. I read somewhere that said it looks like the first half of April will have below-normal temps.

I did buy a pot of pansies for the front porch, but I've had to put them in the garage at night. In the meantime, I'm keeping things spring-like indoors with flowers from the store. (That's Clementine by the daffodils, by the way.)

It'll be a small gathering for Easter at my house tomorrow. Of course, it'll be us three, then my mom, aunt, and cousin. I spent all day cleaning the house and getting a lot of food ready ahead of time. Since we have a small house with limited space, I set up the buffet in the living room for the appetizers and wine. The three-bowl dish will hold olives and pistachios, and I will also put out Dill Pickle Dip (so addictive!) and pretzel sticks, and an eggplant-garlic-sweet red pepper spread (that's courtesy of Trader Joe's) with crackers.

Our small kitchen table that is perfect for the three of us got folded down and put in front of the fireplace. This will hold the desserts: lemon bars, French Silk Chocolate pie, and apple-pecan cake. All homemade, courtesy of me, my mom, and aunt. The tablecloth will go on the table tomorrow at the last minute. I have naughty pussy cats who think any available surface - especially if it's covered in some sort of material - is just for them.

Since we don't have a dining room - just an eat-in kitchen - Brian and Tim brought up the "banquet table" from the basement today and set it up in the kitchen. This will seat the six of us perfectly. Of course, this ugly table will get covered with a tablecloth, as well. You can see it hanging over the chair on the left, all ironed and ready.

All I have left to do tomorrow is the last-minute cleaning of the bathrooms, de-cat hairing the couch, setting the table, making the asparagus, and sticking the spiral ham in the oven.

And now I'm off to finally relax and watch a movie with Brian. Wishing you all a joyous Passover and/or Easter, whichever you celebrate.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

mid-march around comfy house

The sunrises this time of year have been glorious. Our front door faces east and has a beveled glass window, so when the sun comes up, it casts interesting shadows in the living room.

It's still cold here with scattered snow showers. No new signs of spring since I last reported seeing lilies and daffodils coming out of the ground. If you don't find spring outside, you can always bring it in.

I had my annual physical this morning and afterwards grabbed a souffle and coffee for breakfast at the nearby Panera. While driving in the back of the building, I could see the Norge Ski Jump sticking way up above the houses, so I decided to drive a few blocks to see the entire jump. I have a friend who lives in this area and she took me to see the jump a few years ago, but I wanted to experience it again. Of course, a photograph doesn't do it justice. It's amazing to see in person. It's huge! One hundred sixty feet into the air, to be precise. This year, the Norge Ski Jump was home to three members of the US Olympic ski jumping team.

I tried my hand at making biscuits this afternoon. I found the recipe in the Cook's Illustrated All-Time Best Spring Recipes magazine. As most of you know, I love to cook and bake, but confession time: I'm not that great with making things such as biscuits, breads, and pie crusts. These didn't rise very high, but I don't think they were supposed to since they were cream biscuits. I wasn't too sure about them when I first saw how they turned out, but I had one with some raspberry jam and - my goodness! - it was delicious.

 When I saw beautiful light purple flowers used in vignettes around Mary Alice's beautiful home, I found out they were Statice - a very popular "filler" flower that also make great dried arrangements. I found a darker variety at Trader Joe's and divided them up in various places around my house. I love that they are inexpensive and will still be pretty when they dry out.

I was surprised to see the bunch in the spare room developing little white blooms. Guess it's because they're by a sunny window. It made me smile to discover the new blooms when I walked into the room. Sometimes it's the small things that make life a little sweeter.

Well, this crazy Jade plant sure isn't a little thing! I'm glad it was so healthy, but it obviously was in need of a good pruning for aesthetic reasons. Some of the limbs were so heavy, they were falling over.I looked up information online, plus watched a few youtube videos, but I was still nervous. A few days ago, I decided just bite the bullet and do it.

Ta-da! Much healthier and bonsai-looking, which is what I wanted. 

And I now have six Ball jars filled with jade plant cuttings. I am waiting until the weather gets warm enough where I can go outside and plant these cuttings in little pots of soil. 

Since Daylight Savings time is here and it now doesn't start getting dark until 7 PM (hallelujah!), it's nice to be able to take a walk after dinner while the sun is still out. Passing by the creek down the street, we were happy to see Mr. and Mrs. Duck and a pair of Canada geese both taking a swim.

Until next time, have a lovely rest of the week!

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

for today ~ march edition

Looking out my window ~
It's cloudy, cold, and snowy. March is a fickle month around here. It can be anywhere from cold and snowy, to lots of rain, to some rare warmth and sunshine. It's one of my least-favorite months, to be honest.

I am thinking ~
of all the things I have to do today. Plus, wondering what to make for dinner.

I am thankful ~
for friendship. My elderly friend, Gladys whom I'd known since my early 20's, passed away February 23rd. I met "Gladiola" (my nickname for her ~ for indeed, she was as sweet and beautiful as a flower) when we were working at G.D. Searle around 1983. She would always come to me for help on the Wang Word Processor. Anyone remember this machine?! Gladys and I kept in touch via visits and cards and letters over the years. She was a wonderful writer and would always sign her letters with "Love and Cheer, Gladiola". Her smile lit up her face, her family was her life, her favorite color was pink, and she played the harmonica. 

(RIP my dear friend, Gladys)

One of my favorite things ~
This facial cream.

I am creating ~
I'm just starting to de-winter the buffet and create a spring vignette.

I am wearing ~
Three layers of clothing: black and gray striped tank, long-sleeved purple cotton top, gray fuzzy well as jeans and purple socks.

I am reading ~
Empty, Empty, Happy Happy by Bhante Sujatha/Tyler Lewke and a book a poetry called Winter Morning Walks by Ted Kooser.

I am listening to ~
Wildfire by Mandolin Orange. If you don't have Spotify, give them a listen here live on youtube:

I am hoping ~
for sunshine.

I am learning ~
to practice short meditations every day. I went to a workshop last week given by Bhante Sujatha. At the end, he gave us some homework. This may sound overly-simple, but it's harder than you think. Every day for seven days, in the morning and at night, close your eyes for just two minutes. Repeat the words as you take conscious deep breaths, "I am well. I am happy. I am peaceful." He claims you will feel better after seven straight days of doing this. And no, you don't have to be Buddhist or even "believe" in Buddhism to do this.

In my kitchen ~
I whipped up a last-minute bechamel sauce the other night. It was so good, I've been putting it on everything, including eggs and toast. Kind of like eggs benedict, I suppose. I used mostly almond milk and a little half and half. I stirred in a bit of Dijon mustard and lots of herbs to give it flavor.

Post-Script ~
(Add a favorite link that you would like to pass along. It can be someone else's website, etsy shop, Instagram feed, Facebook link, OR it can be your own.)

Shared Quote ~
(share a favorite quote)
"We can do no great things; just small things with great love."
(Mother Teresa)

A moment from my day ~
(share a picture with us of your daily-ness)
My sweet girl, Clementine caught mid-yawn as I was folding laundry in the bedroom this morning.

If you're interested in participating in doing a post for The Simple Woman's Daybook, see the guidelines here.