Monday, January 25, 2021

home talk

I started a big decluttering project this past weekend: cleaning out my bookcases. I easily have 500-600 books in my house, most of them housed in the bookcases in the basement family room. Some of my friends are downsizing now and moving into smaller dwellings. I've seen how much they've purged when moving. Inspiring, for sure! Not that we're planning on moving anytime soon. But sometimes I look around my basement - the family room and the storage area - and feel overwhelmed by all the stuff we've accumulated over the past 30+ years of living here. 

Most of my fiction books came from library book sales. Mind you, these are books I've never even read! (I don't keep fiction books after I read them.) I only keep non-fiction books if they're ones I will refer to again. Here's the piles I'm getting rid of: 135 books, so far! I am going to start by trying to sell them in bulk on Facebook Marketplace. If that doesn't work, I'm going to call a local used bookstore where the profits go to the Environmental Defenders group, and see if they want them. If not, I will donate to the Salvation Army.

These are the main bookshelves in the family room. You can see the cleared out spaces I have now. There are two more small bookcases in the family room - one with my non-fiction books and the other with children's books from my boy's childhood days. I worked on cleaning out the children's books today. I have about 50 of those books to either sell or donate. I'll be working on my non-fiction books and cookbooks next.

Speaking of Facebook Marketplace, I've been looking for a new piece of furniture for my large kitchen wall. I'd like to replace the tall, skinny hutch and vintage cart with a mid-sized hutch. I found a beautiful pine hutch just the other day that had glass double doors on top, a nice ledge space, then two big cupboards on the bottom. And it was only $50. It sold right away. I have emotional ties to this skinny hutch. Brian and I bought it when we were first married. It was our first quality, vintage piece of furniture we purchased in an antique store. But it doesn't serve us well anymore. I need more cupboard space for larger serving dishes, our wedding china, and smaller kitchen appliances such as the blender, food processor and Crockpot. My cookbooks (I have about 40-50, soon to be less!) could go in the upper portion like what I have now. I considered a buffet instead of a hutch, but then I wouldn't have display room for my cookbooks.

The nourishing comfort food continues...this is a soup I made a few days ago. This one started out with your basic onions, celery and garlic and then I added three sweet potatoes, one carrot, a can of tomatoes and broth. Baby spinach was stirred in at the end. You can also stir in a can of drained white beans. A reader in my last post asked if I would share my posole recipe. I don't have a "recipe"! I do sometimes follow recipes I find online or in my cookbooks, but I also make a lot of things just from the top of my head. That's why I like cooking better than baking...I feel more creative with cooking. I make up a lot of my own recipes and just go with the flow as I'm cooking. 

A winter storm is going to hit here anytime now. Depending on how it tracks, we should get 4-8" of snow by tomorrow morning. High winds will also make for blowing and drifting snow across the roadways. Brian's working until 11 PM tonight so of course, I worry about him driving home in this weather. I won't be able to go to bed until he's home safe and sound. In the meantime, I have a pot of chicken and veggie soup simmering on the stove. I added fresh garlic and ginger to the soup, as well as turmeric, rosemary and thyme. Anti-inflammatory, comforting and delicious! I wish you all could smell my house right now. 😃

Have a good week and stay well and safe.

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

not much, how about you?

It's been awhile since I posted. There's not a lot going on. Kind of like Groundhog Day around here. I thought I'd at least pop in and talk about some bits and bobs.

I think today was the millionth day in a row that was cloudy and dreary. First thing I do when I wake up is to turn up the heat. Then I walk around the house, raising all the blinds. The beautiful sunrise this morning as seen out the window of Brian's office brought a smile to my face and a silent "thank you".

I'm trying to find small ways of bringing cheer into these gloomy days.
Sunshiny flowers help.

So does some pretty nail polish.
Other ideas: Wear a pair of sparkly dangling earrings - even if you're staying home. Do it for yourself. Buy yourself a new, bright lipstick. Part your hair a different way or wear a cute headband. Try a new tea. Hang a brightly colored hand towel in your bathroom. Diffuse lemon essential oil for a fresh, clean scent in your home. Send a hand-written note in a pretty card to a loved one. It truly is the little things that can lift our spirits.


I used to be more of a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants dinner person. I've been consciously working on weekly dinner planning and have made some tasty dishes lately. Chicken pot pie in a cast iron skillet really hit the spot on a cold night.

I made a pork butt in the Crockpot one day, which gave us a ton of meat. With some of the leftovers, I made a pork posole...onions, garlic, white hominy, diced tomatoes, green chiles, salsa verde, chicken broth, chili powder, cumin and oregano thrown into a pot and simmered for a few hours. The rest of the shredded pork was put into freezer bags to use at another time.

Veggie cashew stir-fry over brown rice...

My Thanksgiving cactus is finally blooming. I always called this plant a Christmas cactus and then I read that there are different varieties: Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter.

I've never seen another one like mine with the coral blooms. I usually see varieties of pink.

My blogging friend, Claudia over at Mockingbird Hill Cottage mentioned Rosamunde Pilcher's book, Winter Solstice. I had the book on one of my bookshelves but had never read it. I figured January and February were the perfect time to read books with winter titles. Here's what I dug out from my bookshelves. Simple Abundance is a book I read every year. And that small Barbara Kingsolver book you see is her newest. It's a book of poetry ~ a new genre for her.

I see from our weather forecast that tomorrow will finally bring some sun. How perfect on the day that brings us a new President. I pray for peace for all of us...for an end to all this violence and the pandemic.


Thursday, January 7, 2021

seeking light

It's our New Year's day tradition to start the year by a walk in our nearby beautiful State Park. The park is closed on New Year's day, so no cars are allowed in. We park our car a half mile away on a residential street, then go in through one of the side walk-in entrances.

We bundled up in layers of clothing, heavy winter coats, hats, gloves, neck/face scarves, thick socks and boots. Winter armor.

We were the only humans in the Park as far as our eyes could see and the snow was gently falling. It was like we were in another Universe. I love how this park was formed by glaciers and is home to coyotes, fox, deer, mink, possum, racoons and 200 species of birds. 

I normally do not like winter. I've been saying for years that I'd love to live in California. (We can't afford to do so.) I love warm weather, lots of sun, and being surrounded by greenery and flowers. When I stopped to take a photo I turned to Brian and said, "Do you think we'd miss this? It is kind of nice to live where we experience the change in seasons."

On que, it started to sleet, putting a kibosh on the whole "missing the change of seasons" thing. Ice pellets were whipping at our faces as we hiked back to the entrance in our clunky winter boots.

Every day since then has been gray and dreary. Nary a sign of the sun. The lyrics of "California Dreamin" by The Mamas and The Papas are my theme song. 

"All the leaves are brown
and the sky is gray
I've been for a walk
on a winter's day
I'd be safe and warm
if I was in L.A.
California dreamin'
on such a winter's day"

As my friend, Lydia Green said on social media...

"By day 6, The Fog had settled completely into their bone marrow, and had begun its work of siphoning joy, hope, and vitamin D."

So, there's been some of this...

and a lot of cat snuggles.

Like all of you, I am feeling heartbroken and angry over what happened at our nation's Capitol building yesterday. There's been enough news and talk about it all over social media, so I have nothing to add. At the same time, on a personal level, I've been going through a stressful situation with our veterinarian's office and how I was treated there. It hasn't been a very good start to the New Year. 

I've been mostly cocooning...doing yoga, guided meditations, reading, trying new recipes, journaling, talking on the phone with a few of my trusted, loving friends. It all helps. 

What helps you get through dark days?