Sunday, October 6, 2019

catching up ~ phil's anniversary date, fall stuff, a chili recipe

Hi friends, I know it's been awhile since I posted. The 10 year anniversary of Phil's passing was September 25th and I just haven't felt like posting anything. Maybe because ten years is considered a milestone in measuring time, this year hit me particularly hard. My beautiful boy had just turned 14 years old in this photo. We were celebrating his birthday at TGI Fridays. I love his sweet, shy smile in this photo.

I don't do much decorating for the different seasons anymore. Just little touches here and there. This is as far as I've gotten with fall decor on my front porch. I found these interesting pumpkins at Trader Joe's. I liked them better than the traditional pumpkins.

I still have hints of summer on the front porch - the hanging fern and pot of summer flowers are still going strong, despite temps dipping into the 40's at night. 

We've had way too much rain here in northeast Illinois though. It's one reason why the color change is late here this year. My poor arborvitae trees in the back yard have had standing water under them for a couple of weeks now. Neighbors around us in lower-lying areas have standing water in their front yards, and even worse, there's a couple of houses down the street that are surrounded by water because of the creek than runs behind their houses. 

Inside my home, small touches of fall decor in the living room...

The heavier throw came out...

Fall pillows on the couch...

Fabric pumpkins and fairy lights...

A few fall items grace the china cabinet in the kitchen...

Lots of cooking has been going on in the kitchen, too. I've been buying the last of the tomatoes at the local farm stand and roasting them in the oven on low with fresh thyme sprigs from my herb garden and olive oil, then putting the roasted, cooled tomatoes in freezer bags and sticking them in the freezer. That way I can use fresh, roasted tomatoes all fall and winter in soups, stews, spaghetti sauce and chili.

Speaking of chili, I made my first pot last week. Tim came over for dinner and the three of us devoured big bowls of this chili on an appropriately chilly evening, accompanied with beer bread. Brian and Tim said this was the best chili I've ever made. Maybe it was because it was the first pot of chili of the season, but who am I to argue. Recipe below. The great thing about making things like chili is that it's so adaptable. You can change up the peppers for whatever kind you like. Same with the beans and the spices. 

3 T butter or olive oil
1 onion, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 cubanelle pepper, diced
1 poblano pepper, diced
1 lb organic, grass-fed ground beef
1 lb organic ground pork
1 clove minced garlic
1 can diced tomatoes*
1 small can tomato sauce*
1 can black beans (do not drain!)
Vegetable broth, as needed for thinning
Couple of dashes of Worcestershire sauce
3 T chili powder
2 tsp cumin
Pinch red pepper flakes
1 T cocoa powder
Salt and pepper, to taste

In a Dutch oven, melt the butter or heat the olive oil over medium heat, then add the onion and peppers. Saute until just tender. Add the ground beef, pork and garlic. Cook until meat is browned. Drain fat. Add the diced tomatoes and tomato sauce. *How much you use of each is a personal preference. I prefer my chili to have less chunks of tomatoes and more sauce, but you might like the texture of diced tomatoes better. I ended up using more tomato sauce than the diced tomatoes. Add the black beans (or you can use kidney beans ~ or even a can of each; again, it's a personal preference...just remember, don't drain the beans!) Start to add vegetable broth to thin as the chili is simmering. Then add the seasonings, tasting and adjusting as you want. Pop the lid on the pot and let simmer on low for an hour. Your house will smell sooo good!

Happy October. 🍂


  1. Your son looked like a sweet guy. Addiction has robbed the world of so many wonderful human beings. I am sorry you and your family have to live without him.

  2. Dear, dear Melanie ~ once again, I am so sorry for the loss of your son Phil. The milestone anniversaries are had. Grieving the loss of a loved one is something we will deal with the rest of our lives.(((((Melanie)))))

    Your chili recipe looks and sounds delicious!!

    We need some rain down here, things are browning up, drying up. It keeps being predicted and we get zero. It does NOT feel like fall here at all, in the high 80's real feel low 90's. This whole month is predicted to be in the high 80's and next month doesn't look any cooler. At least, it's not as bad as it was during the summer.

    Your home looks lovely have a wonderful autumn.

  3. I don't go all out for fall anymore either. Not that I ever did. I used to do those little ghosts in the trees when the girls were little but now it is much more simple.

    I think of you often in regards to Phil.....sending you much love, my friend.

  4. Chili sounds good! I make turkey chili and freeze a bunch in small baggies for individual meals. Love your fall decor. This is the first year I did not do a darned thing to show the fall season in my home. Today is the coolest here it's been in ages.

  5. Thinking of you and your family Melanie. There really are no words to help you through this tough time or any other in regards to your son. Wishing you strength and peace.

  6. Dearest Melanie, I ache for you every single time I think about you and Brian having lost your beloved Phil. Of course the 10 year mark of his passing has been incredibly hard for you, and I know that even unexpected days it also rises up like cold water in the face all over again, moments when everything seems to be going fine and then it's not. I know there are moments too when sweet memories of him are there to bring comfort to your heart.

    I always like looking at pictures of your home, Melanie. It is so very crisp and well arranged with just the right objects, like a magazine spread really. And your touches of fall are lovely. That pot of chili is making me crave some! It will have to get a little cooler here before I make some. I usually make the first pot near the end of October. But then you get cold weather so much earlier than we do!

  7. Hi Melanie,
    You and your family are in my thoughts. I can see how this milestone anniversary would be particularly difficult in the grieving process. Gentle hugs being sent your way.
    I think you fall touches are just right. I have really simplified in that area too and don't miss it a bit. Just enough to make the house cozy and give a nod to the new season.
    In looking at your decorative touches, my eye went right to that pretty blue vase with the branches in it. Gorgeous!

  8. Sending you big hugs, Melanie...


Thank you for taking the time to leave a kind comment - I read and appreciate each one!