Wednesday, October 24, 2018

wine and cheese party

Can you believe Thanksgiving and Christmas are right around the corner? Funny how those holidays just seem to sneak up on us. So begins the season of entertaining.

I have a small house with an eat-in kitchen, not a separate dining room. However, my small kitchen table is the perfect place to have a few friends over for a wine and cheese party.

As a member of the Wayfair Homemaker program, I have been compensated for this post. All ideas and opinions are completely my own.

My entertaining style is casual, though I do prefer real plates, glasses and napkins over disposable items. These pretty cheese plates are originally from Crate and Barrel, but I found them at Goodwill a couple of years ago.

I start out with a good red wine. My current favorite is Hess Select Treo 2014. It's a northern California wine, soft on the tannins, so it's very smooth. If you're a red wine drinker, you've gotta give this one a try. 

I enjoy making a simple charcuterie board with a couple of different cheeses (in this case, I used an Australian extra sharp cheddar and a pepper jack cheese), uncured genoa salami slices, an olive tapenade served in a mini Le Creuset pumpkin cocotte, mixed nuts, and crackers. If you wanted to add a fruit element, apple slices, fresh grapes, or even some dried fruit would be lovely additions for a fall board.

Of course, having a beautiful board to set up your charcuterie goodies adds to the ambiance of your party. I chose this stoneware (80% marble) and wood board from Wayfair. They have many to choose from, depending on what material, size and shape you want.

Light the candles and your wine and cheese party is ready!

Are you ready for holiday entertaining? 
Do you keep it small and simple or do you entertain large crowds?

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

fall nesting

This has been a strange October for Illinois. First we had a ton of rain, and now it's just plain cold. We went from temps in the 80's straight to the 40's in 24 hours. No in-between. Me no-likey. I'm a warm weather, lots-of-sun person. I know many people love fall and are all like, "Yay, pumpkin spice lattes and hoodies and boots and scarves!" And then there's me..."Gimme my iced tea, t-shirts and bare feet!" I need to live in California. Don't get me wrong, I think the color change is beautiful and sometimes crisp, cool air feels good, but when October goes from summer to almost-winter overnight, I get a little cranky. Don't even talk to me about how early it gets dark now...and will only get worse with the time change.

Such is the time of nesting though, and the kitties are pros; snuggling together and always curled up in blankets. Or in Clementine's case, lying on the heater vent to keep warm.

And it's definitely comfort food weather. I do enjoy cooking more in the cooler weather. There's been chicken noodle soup with matzo balls (sorry, no recipe for this one. I make up a lot of my own soups and just go with the flow. Though I didn't make the matzo balls. Those were straight from the Jewish deli); roasted veggies (add some black beans for a complete meal - you can stuff this concoction in a pita or tortilla, if you wish);  Ragu Bolognese (this recipe is one where you need several hours...I didn't catch that in time and ended up having a late dinner...I also made my own modifications...didn't use veal {we don't eat veal}, added a little garlic and oregano, and used half and half instead of whole milk); and there's been a little baking thrown in, too. I picked the last of my rhubarb, bought a carton of strawberries, and came up with a crumble. I found a recipe for the filling that used pure maple syrup instead of processed sugar, but I made my own topping with oats, flour, a little brown sugar, butter, coconut oil, and cinnamon.

If you're looking for an easy, delicious chili recipe, give this one a try. We had it for dinner tonight and topped it with chopped onions and shredded cheddar cheese. It really hit the spot on a cold night.

Talk to you the meantime, stay warm and snuggly. 💗

Saturday, October 6, 2018

the yin and yang of fall

 We've had just a few sunny days in-between a ton of gloomy, rainy ones. On one of those rare, sunny days we took a hike in the nearby State Park.

The one thing we forgot is that the mosquitoes have been extra bad this year. We have a contract service that sprays for mosquitoes around our property every three weeks, so it was easy to forget that they'd be in abundance in the park. We had to walk with our shirts up around our necks to avoid the blood suckers. Other people passing us had their hoodies up over their heads, though with the sun beating down, it was hot. We were a sweaty mess by the time we got back to our car.

 This might've been a better idea to keep the skeeters off our heads.

I'm not big into mums, but I do buy one big bunch every fall for my front porch. I think they look pretty in this galvanized tub. I just plopped the entire pot down in there; I didn't replant them in the tub.

This big summer pot of annuals is still somehow going strong on my porch, too. Must be the combination of morning sun and all the rain we've had.

Otherwise, this is what the patio side of the house looks like right now: a tad dismal. We haven't been able to keep the patio furniture cushions out because of all the rain. Will we ever get to use the patio again before it's too cold? 🙁 It's been buried in wet leaves, too. This was after I used the leaf blower to clear off the patio and the furniture.

As I do every fall, I've been taking photos of the neighbor's glorious maple tree. A few days ago when we had a little bit of sun, the colors of the sky and tree were absolute perfection.

The gray, gloomy mornings call for candlelight on the mantel...

And little touches of fall around the house...I added some fall cheer to the small china cabinet in my kitchen by putting scrapbook paper on the back of the middle shelf.

I needed a new pillow for the living room couch. A trip to HomeGoods yielded this beauty. A saleslady who saw me looking at this pillow said it was her favorite - and the last one left. I love the colors and textures.

And it's reversible!

Homemade soups are back in my cooking repertoire again. A simple vegetable soup with a sprinkle of fresh Parmesan cheese hits the spot on cool days.

It's rainy here (surprise, surprise), so we went to the movies today to see A Star is Born. It was phenomenal. I can't say enough good things about this movie. Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga blew me away. We were going to go to a fall fest tomorrow, but with all the rain, I'm sure it'll be cancelled. We need to do things like look for new eye glasses for Brian and check out washing machines and dishwashers (yes, we need both at once - ugh) at Home Depot.

Have a great weekend!