Why does my food never look good? I made chicken noodle soup last night to use up the overabundance of veggies I had in the fridge. It always turns out different depending on the herbs and spices I use. This came out quite good with some cumin for depth and thyme because it goes so well with chicken, and of course, a bay leaf. One must always have a bay leaf in soup or stew. Says me. Since I started my healthy eating plan back in early September (which I haven't spoke of very much as I keep ruining it with sugar), I have been buying naan. it's similar to pita bread but much softer. I brown it just a bit in a skillet with a drop of olive oil...crisp on the outside and soft and moist on the inside. So it was a nice, comforting dinner for the onset of the cold weather.
I was on a roll posting about twice a week. Then my computer died and while I wait for The Husband to find me a laptop that meets all of his picky criteria, I am using his. You know how that is, everything feels slightly "off". And I don't want to load pictures in his. Sigh. So I'm just winging it today.
I've had a lot of fun these past few days. Emily and I had our weekly outing last Thursday. She wanted me to ride with her to a suburb about 40 minutes south of here. She belongs to a Facebook group where people buy and sell things. She found a vintage sled for $25.00. She's doing an arrangement on her front porch for Christmas with the sled and ice skates, etc. I was so surprised when we pulled up at this house in a beautiful neighborhood of big, newer homes. This is what the porch looked like. The owner wasn't home and said to just leave the money in the coffee pot. Wow!
See the red sled to the left? And he had two!! I just don't have much of a porch if you've seen my house in previous posts (and very little room inside). We had a great time looking. See the shutter in the background? And the crates? He had at least 10 windows lined up along his house but the rational Jane knows that the two vintage windows she has is more than she has room for. And who knows what we'll think about windows in ten years? That we were nuts?
On our way there we spotted a big shopping center just off the interstate, so on our way back we hit Homegoods and Kohls. Not much damage was made. I wanted some sparkly candles and I found a few large ones for about $4.99. Great bargain. Emily found a large black lantern with a battery operated candle in it for her front porch. And at Kohls I bought a welcome mat with a snowman on it. We had a ball as usual!
I was reading an article in Real Simple magazine last night about how stores and shops manipulate us into spending. None of this is really new to anyone and I take total responsibility for what I do when I'm in a store. They were talking about the music and the decorations (the sparkly stuff really grabs us whether we know it or not, it signifies luxury), the scent of pine and cinnamon wafting through the air via electronic aromatherapy diffusers. All of this makes us nostalgic and we buy things in an effort to recreate our past or at least our vision of the past. I found this article to be so true. But you know what? I love how I feel when I'm in a store that's seducing and enticing me with all of that stuff...something for all 5 senses. And I really, really enjoy shopping with Emily as she creates her very first Christmas of her own with Mike in their new home. I'm not crazy about the "hustle and bustle" that starts after Thanksgiving, I'm a little weird with crowds, but lately it hasn't been too bad, maybe with the online shopping advantage.
Here's my usual spot on the bed for reading. Nice of the pups to give me some room. Layla does this thing where she sits up like a gopher (with perfect balance I might add) when she wants her tummy scratched. The Husband and I actually watched three Christmas movies on Saturday! They are now on 24/7 on the Hallmark channel. Since I last wrote I devoured 2 books, I was literally flying through the housework every day so I could grab my book! Ahhh...just one of the pleasures the impending cold winter will bring!
I suppose some of you have heard of the storms and the tornado they spawned in Illinois this past Sunday. I thought it was very odd that it was so warm outside when I got up that morning. It was like an August day with bad weather coming. And sure enough, by 11:00, the local news was breaking in on the television shows to tell us that a tornado was on the ground just north of central Illinois and from the Stormtracker, it was heading right in our direction. I really didn't think much because it was so far off and anything could cause it to die out or go in another direction. But it was coming on a straight path, not leaving the ground, at 65 miles an hour. In the meantime there were all sorts of storms around us. The wind was gusting and the rain made everything around us invisible. The Husband had started watching the Bears game and when they took the players off the field and started evacuating the stands, he decided we should set up camp downstairs. So he, Abby and I grabbed flashlights, candles, our phones and her IPad and sat in the laundry room. My first worry was Emily, who was at work She, too, was in the path just southwest of us. The Husband didn't want me to call or text her in case I frightened her, but I thought that was crazy. We were able to follow the storm on the IPad and by the grace of God, that tornado veered northeast and headed south of us toward Lake Michigan. We got a group text going and Emily was fine. She and her co-workers took shelter in the bathroom. Her hubby Mike texted and asked if it was okay to go back upstairs and put his chicken wings back in the oven.
A small town where the tornado originated was leveled. It's heartbreaking to see. Three people were killed but it could have been so many more. A friend on Facebook wrote, "It was 70 degrees and I was out running. An hour later I was hiding in my basement." It was all very frightening. I think we can all praise the weather people on TV in Chicago for their coverage and for constantly instructing people how to take shelter. Good job.
Other than the garage (which I just have one more heavy load to get to the curb in order to be done with), I had plans to clean out and organize our office and this hall closet which has been the bane of my existence for so long. Here's the deal. When we had our kitchen renovated about 15 years ago, a wall was knocked out to make it bigger. Our once large hall closet was minimized to this and as you can see by the coats jutting out, it was not deep enough. It wasn't long after that the bi fold doors came off the track. Is this not the worse "before" picture you have ever seen? One afternoon last week I had a light bulb moment. And you always wonder why you never thought of it before. If we couldn't make the closet bigger, we had to do the opposite. I decided to eliminate the bar and instead use hooks along the back wall. Not only are there 10,000 coats in here (85% of them The Husbands, honest!), but we stored enough light bulbs on the top shelf to illuminate Michigan Avenue. The floor was a menagerie of totebags, boots, essentials like toilet paper, napkins and paper towels bought in bulk. The Husband had also saved every box from every electronic device we have ever bought (laptops, phones, cameras, speakers) in the event we had to return them.
It took me over an hour to clean it all out, make bags for Goodwill, and relocate a lot of stuff to the basement.
And here we go before a good scrubbing. I'm going to remove the bar and the top shelf, I think that's only going to invite storage and storage means organization and that's a job always left up to me. And I resent it. That little shelf midway down on the left side is perfect for a basket to hold our hats, scarves and gloves. After I scrub away, I have almost a full gallon of gray paint from our bedroom job. I'm going to do the trim in white. And then I'm going to have a long piece of wood cut, attach it to the wall about 3/4 of the way up and then add about 10 double hooks to it. This will keep me busy for the rest of the week. I have a bench in the garage that I found at a thrift store years ago. I'd like to bring that in and paint it, but I'm afraid if I use it in this closet, it will become a catch all, and as you can see, I'm trying to get away from that.
Now, I have a question. I was going to have the doors put back on, but of all people, my son, Jeff, suggested that I leave the doors off and go for a "mudroom" closet sort of look. I was really surprised. I thought that was something that I would have come up with and of course, been vetoed out. I'd love for you to weigh in.
Do you have your Thanksgiving menu planned? Have any of you started Christmas shopping or decorating? I just love all the excitement I see on the blogs. Sometimes I'll be ripping recipes out of magazines or jotting down ideas and I forget if I'm thinking of Thanksgiving or Christmas! We will be having 9 for dinner on Thanksgiving and then I have been hosting dessert for the past several years and we will have about 15 more.
The Husband and I have been tossing around the idea of going to a Christmas tree farm and cutting down our own tree. I happened to be emailing back and forth with a guy in North Carolina that grows and ships trees and he told me that the ones you find in nurseries or temporarily in parking lots, are most likely cut over a month before. A fresh cut tree can last 2 months. That's why I'm always scrambling around in mid December because a live tree would never make it until Christmas if we bought it any sooner. So we are planning to go to the lake after Thanksgiving and see what they have in that area. I also remembered that I left the cushions and pillows on the furniture on the front porch. Gawd! And The Husband doesn't remember if he put away all my pots and little garden doodads. He and Jeff seemed to have just taken care of the big stuff on their trip last month. It would make for a nice 3 day weekend.
Okay, I have a trip to Home Depot in the works but I am waiting for a person that The Husband came up with to come and clean our gutters. At this rate he is going to be doing it by moonlight. Let me have your thoughts on that closet and also, how do you feel about holiday shopping? Do you avoid it? Dread it? Love it? Get it done early, late or pretty much go with the flow. And most of all...are you in the holiday spirit? I am. I'm just loving it all.