Sunday, December 10, 2017

Sunday Night Reflections

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Sunday's Soup/Voodoo Hippie Chili

There was an episode of the television show, 'Friends,' where Phoebe wanted so badly to be Monica's maid of honor. But, of course, Rachel thought she should be the maid of honor. Realizing that she had lost the battle, Rachel said, "well, okay, let's see how Monica likes your Voodoo Hippie bridal shower." My quote isn't exactly perfect, but it was the Voodoo Hippie part that stuck in my mind as I thought it was hilarious! Now, I finally have a place where I can use the words!!!

I love chili. There's just something about a bowl of chili that warms my soul. My only problem with making chili is that I like it rather spicy. After setting many mouths on fire, I have learned to turn down the heat, and allow all to add their own level of fire! So, the only magical aspect of this chili is that it tastes great just as it is, and all can customize it for their own level of heat.

This is a super simple recipe, and can easily be made during the week when time is at a premium, especially during the holiday season . So no excuse not to have a nutritious, and delicious meal.  It's also FULL of protein, so it will leave you very satisfied :)    

Begin by sauteing the chopped onions in olive oil until tender. Add the chopped red and green bell peppers. It will look a little like Christmas in a pot :)

Add garlic, canned tomatoes, red lentils, garbanzo beans, pinto beans, bay leaves, oregano, dried cilantro, chili powder and vegetable broth. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and allow to simmer until lentils are tender, about 20-30 minutes. 
Serve and enjoy.

Voodoo Hippie Chili
printable recipe

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large yellow onion chopped
1 green bell pepper chopped
1 red bell pepper chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 25 oz.cans diced fire-roasted tomatoes
1 14.5 oz. can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
1 14.5 oz. can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
2 cups dried red lentils, rinsed
2 bay leaves
4 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon dried cilantro
8 cups vegetable broth
salt and black pepper to taste 

Heat oil in a large soup pot. Add onions and saute until tender. Add green and red peppers and saute about 10 minutes over a medium flame. Add garlic and saute another minute, being careful not to burn the garlic. 
*If you would like a non-vegetarian version, add meat or sausage of choice at this point. Brown until cooked through.   
Add lentils, diced tomatoes, bay leaves, oregano, chili powder, dried cilantro, and vegetable broth. Bring to a boil, and then reduce heat and cook until lentils are tender, about 20-30 minutes. 
Add salt and black pepper to taste.

Top with slices of jalapeno peppers, chopped green onion, grated cheddar cheese, sour cream, and/or sliced avocado. 

A great idea for a casual party is to make the chili and then have toppings available on a buffet so all of your guests can customize to their preference. 

Serve with a hot pan of cornbread and lots of butter ;) 

I've learned that entertaining doesn't need to be an elaborate meal. Something as simple as a pot of chili can bring people together and make the best of evenings. So in a way, I guess it is rather magical :)

Hope you will make a little magic of your own!

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Thursday, December 7, 2017

I'm Celebrating My Birthday!!!

I had a wonderful evening last night. I had the opportunity to attend the annual fashion show at Fleet Feet Sports here in Chicago. The store has a very inspiring history. In 1976, running was a male dominated sport, but 2 women, Sally Edwards, and Elizabeth Jansen, only 28 years old, both teachers, and best friends, decided to go against the odds and open a running store. They purchased a run down, old Victorian home in the poorest area of downtown Sacramento, CA and opened Fleet Feet Sports. This powerhouse combo began a lot of firsts in the area, the first marathon, the first fun run, and the first triathlon. It wasn't long until they opened a second location and people began to ask about opening their own Fleet Feet stores. Now it's a chain that spreads across the United States. Each store is locally owned and operated, and committed to enhancing the local running and walking communities. 

Saw lots of fun things last night. There was a jacket that was a combo jacket and vest. It was held together as a jacket with magnets, so just a matter of pulling the upper jacket portion away from the vest. There was a zippered back pocket for storing the upper portion of the jacket. Such a great idea for days when you begin the workout and it's cool and then you heat up and need to pair down. When the model pulled away the top of the jacket, she threw it to me, so I was able to take a closer look. Then she came back and had me push the piece into the back pocket. Fun! They also had a jacket that had a built-in piece that would go over the hand and act as a glove. I really loved that as I am always starting out with my sleeves pulled down over my hands until I begin to warm up.

The only negative part of the evening was that the store was so, so crowded after the show, rather claustrophobic actually. I'm planning to head back next week to take a closer look when things are not so chaotic. If you live in Chicago, you might want to check out the show. The cost is $20.00, but you come home with a great goodie bag, and a really nice store coupon. So between the bag and the coupon, the experience more than pays for itself. Hey!, and it's fun on top of it all :) 

It's that time of year...another day older, and thankfully, not deeper in debt!!! By all means, a good thing :)

My actual birthday is December 12th, so a few days away still. I always like to do a little something fun for my birthday, so this year I thought I would host a giveaway that you might enjoy. You may remember the sewing caddy I made HERE back in October. It has become my favorite sewing companion.

In case you missed it, I did a video on making 1 for yourself. 


The fun news is that I have 3 to give away. I will draw the first name on my actual birthday, Tuesday, December 12, 2017. The second on Wednesday the 13th, and the final on the 14th. 

If you would like the opportunity to win one of my little caddies, just leave a message on this post by Monday, December 11, 2017, 11:59 pm, CDT.

Good Luck!

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Wednesday, December 6, 2017

The Wednesday Showcase

Good Morning All :)
It's a bright, sunny day here in Chicago. Not too chilly, 30 degrees, and getting above freezing a little later today.   

I began the day with a task that made me just a little nervous. The vet who did the second surgery on Gracie told me that I could easily take the stitches out of her ear and remove the stays :/ I decided that rather than take it all out at once, I would just clip the stitches and then work on taking the stays off tomorrow. Well, best laid plans...I clipped the stitches and low and behold, the stay on the back side of her ear popped right up. The stay on the inside of her ear simply fell out. Over and done! Her ear looks amazing and I can see that she is thrilled to have all of that off, and...fingers crossed, over for good. Now I can add veterinarian assistant to my list of abilities ;) Probably not!!!

Last week I introduced you to Wendy of Fashion Over Fifty. She was our featured speaker at the Haute Couture Club of Chicago's Holiday Luncheon. I thought that you might like to take a look at the post she did. You can find it HERE

I also thought that I would highlight a few events of the day;

Wendy, on the right in the picture below is our membership chair, membership chair extraordinaire I might add. This year we recognized our long time members with a corsage. Oddly enough, a corsage never seems to go out of style :)
This sweet lady has been a member for over 50 years. And she is not the only one. There are more!!! From the look on her face, you can see just how touched she was to be remembered.

BTW, Wendy blogs at The Couture Counsellor. She's a lawyer by day, and an avid sewist by night. I introduced her to all of you sometime back, but if by chance you missed it, or have not checked out her blog, by all means do so, as I really think you'll enjoy getting to know her.  

This is sweet Miss Melba. She is a tiny little woman, but a fireball. She absolutely loves beautiful, well made garments. The coat she is wearing below is one that she made quite a few years ago, and it still looks brand new! I think it is such a wonderful testament to classic, well made garments that have been made using good quality fabric. They last!!! And, they never go out of style. She's a woman after my own heart...no boring linings in her clothes ;)

Andrea is another who loves great fabrics. The jacket she is holding is lined in a Dolce and Gabbana silk charmeuse. Absolutely stunning. I'm not sure where she purchased the fabric, maybe while on a vacation. She purchased the silk charmeuse to line the jacket, and the embroidered fabric for a dress. She had just a few bits left over, and of course wanted to use each and every scrap, so she made the shirt she is wearing below. The embroidery was used for the front panels of the shirt, and the silk chameuse for the collar and cuffs. She said that the dress won't be worn all that often, but now that she's made the shirt, she'll get lots of wear out of the jacket. Such a great use of her fabric! 

Back in September, we kicked off our year with our very own member, Miss Cennetta of The Mahogany Stylist who did a wonderful presentation on shirt making. Below are a few of her inspiring makes.

One of the things we enjoy doing at the Haute Couture Club is encouraging all to sew. We challenged the members to make shirts, and here are a few of the lovely makes...

The party was so much fun. The shirt challenge was quite the success. We had a wonderful show and tell time. The ladies really pulled out all the stops with their lovely makes. Just such an inspiring day. We even inspired Wendy of Fashion Over Fifty to learn to sew!!!

If by chance you are anywhere near Chicago on May 6, 2018, we would love to have you attend our annual fashion show. It's such an inspiring day. Great to see women who not only make their clothes, but value quality.
If you would like to check out our newsletter, Tailored Tales, you can find HERE.

Happy Wednesday!

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Tuesday, December 5, 2017

A New Dress For Christmas

Well, a sorta new dress for Christmas ;)

I love popping into a resale shop just to see what I can find. We were away over the Thanksgiving holiday, in a small little town up in the mountains. As small as the town is, they have a fabulous resale shop, in fact, I call it a department store as you can find just about anything you may need there.

On this recent trip, I went in and found this little dress, and for some reason it spoke to me.

I rather like the black lace trim along the bottom of the skirt. When I saw the dress, I thought, hmmm, I can do something with this, but it was marked at $15.00. Not that $15.00 is a lot of money, but it was just more than I wanted to pay for something I am going to tear apart. In the past, Mondays are half price clothing days, so I decided to wait. Monday finally rolled around, I happily went skipping back into the store thinking I would get my dress for $7.50, but was surprised to see that the clothing wasn't on sale. I asked, and I was told that they are no longer doing the Monday sale. 
Bummer :( But I decided that persistence can pay off, so I went back the next day. On that trip, I found a super cute belt that I can wear with my ski pants, and it was only a dollar...SCORE!!! But, no half-price clothing. So, I went back the next day, fingers crossed as it was my last chance before we left. No luck. I was so bummed that I just stood at the front of the store while my husband took a look around.

As I stood there, the lady behind the register looked at me and asked if I bought the belt there at the store. I said yes. She commented on how cute it was with my ski pants. Totally unlike me, I told her that we had come back that day as I was hoping that it was half price day as there were 2 pieces that I wanted. The first was a little cashmere sweater that was completely trashed as it had holes in it, but it has beautiful rhinestone buttons. When I told her that it had holes in it, she said that it shouldn't be on the rack and that I could have it for free. Wow! But I told her no, the buttons are well worth $2.00 to me, so I would pay the $2.00. She asked about the second piece. I showed her the dress. She said that it had been there for quite sometime and that she would mark it down to $5.00. WOW, again!     

When I purchased the dress, I thought I would take the top off and add a velvet bodice, but then I remembered that I have this piece of black stretch lace.

As I said, I initially thought that I would take the bodice off, but when I laid the dress down and threw the lace over it, I changed my mind. I think I may keep the bodice and cut the halter straps off, making it a bustier. I would like long lace sleeves and a lace overlay. So, I'll see how it turns out. I also plan to add more beads and sparkle to the lace along the hem, make it a little more festive. It'll be fun to see how it all comes together. I'll be working on this later today, so I should be able to share the finished dress on Thursday.   

As I stood at the register paying for my little treasures, I couldn't help but think about asking for what you want... 

Seek and you will find, ask and it will be given...even a little resale shop dress :)

Have a wonderful day!

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Sunday, December 3, 2017

Sunday Night Reflections

A small purple ribbon...and a flood of memories...

As I was leaving an evening mass service, a young woman, holding a basket of purple ribbons, reached out with one in her hand and cheerfully said, "This is to remember that October is domestic abuse month." Taking the ribbon in my hand, I looked at her and asked, "So...what does this mean?" She replied that it was just a reminder that it was domestic abuse month. I then asked, "But what does wearing a ribbon do? What is the action that is being taken? Is the church doing something?" At that point, she clearly didn't know how to respond. She just looked at me and said, "We're just asking that you wear the ribbon." 

As my husband and I drove home, I thought about a day not long after we began dating. A friend of mine who was in her senior year of dental school and needed to begin seeing patients had asked if I would like to come in. Dental coverage had just been added to my insurance plan, so why not? I had thought that it would be rather fun, I would go in, get my teeth cleaned, we would laugh a bit, and that would be the end of it. But, being a good dental student, she talked me in to having x-rays, and it was then that she discovered a mass in my lower left jaw. Nothing was said at that initial visit. She showed her findings to the head of the school who then saw me at my next visit. He told me of the mass and that it needed more examination, as it could be a cyst or a tumor. The news was shocking, it was a tumor. I left in a fog, not even knowing how to process what I had been told. My husband, whom I was dating at the time had taken the afternoon off so we could go canoeing. When I arrived, I laid back on the sofa, and said the words for the first time, "I have a tumor in my jaw and they won't know if it is cancerous until surgery is done." 

The next few weeks were a whirlwind of activity. Root canals were done in order to save my teeth, lots of x-rays taken, and consultations. In one consultation, the surgeon told me that this type of tumor is caused by severe trauma, and then asked, "Have you been in an accident, or suffered a severe blow to your face?" I lied, I lied and said no. 

The surgery was preformed, and happily, no cancer was found. But I was told that I would ultimately need reconstructive surgery, and that I would know when it was time. 

Fifteen years later, I began to have horrible headaches on an almost daily basis, and there was a small mass in my jaw. I was told when I had the surgery to remove the tumor, I had an 80% chance that it would return. My dentist sent me back to the school where the surgery had been performed. 

When the surgery had been done, I was told that in the history of that school, they had never seen a case like mine, and from that point forward, my case would be the final test for all graduating oral surgeons. 

So, now here I was, back again, nervous, not knowing what to expect. A lovely woman walked into the room, paused, smiled and said, "So, it was you." She had graduated from this school and had my case as a graduating oral surgeon." Now here she was, the head of the school and would have the opportunity to fix what the tumor and time had done. As we talked, I felt comfortable, but the fact that I had lied all those years ago was still nagging at me. So I said, "I need to tell you the truth. I was in a very abusive relationship where I suffered many blows to my head and body. When the tumor was found and I was asked, I just couldn't tell the truth." Tears welled in her eyes, and she whispered as if she was talking to herself, "The missing link, what you must have gone through." She said that she had wondered how this could have happened, but since I was only 23 years old at the time, she never would have imagined that I had experienced what I had. She then looked at me and asked, "And life now???" I smiled, "I am now married to a wonderful man who truly loves me. No comparison to what life was like so many years ago." 

Back in September, I saw this picture in a Yahoo article. Not a real bruise, makeup. The picture was posted by Diala Makki who was trying to bring attention to domestic violence, and she added the question. "How would you react if this was not makeup?"  

But, more often than not, it's a face like mine that represents the scars of domestic violence. Those who experience domestic violence do their best to cover their bruises, hide their pain, and like me, will lie. Not to protect the abuser, but to cover their shame, a shame that does not even belong to them.

What everyone sees is this,

But what lies beneath the smile is quite gruesome. Below, a picture of what can happen when someone either enjoys inflicting pain upon another, or who feels that they have the right to use their might to try and control. This x-ray was taken just after surgery, so the braces are still intact. But if you look above the teeth, you'll see plates on either side of my face, another just below my nose. There are plates and screws on either side of my nose that you can't see in this picture.  More screws and small plates can been seen along the lower jaw.     

What most want to know is why...how??? I've even been asked, "Didn't you know before hand?" That question is like putting the blame back on the victim. 

There are answers to why and how, of course, but for another day. The best part of the story is that I was able to escape, and when I did, I promised myself that this would never happen again. Not all share my story and many remain in abusive relationships for years upon end. They have no resources, no power, and then there may be children that makes escaping all the more difficult.

So, what would you do if you knew someone who was being abused? By all means, do more than just wear a ribbon, and please have compassion. 

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Sunday's Soup/Fiesta Fun Hominy, Tomatillo and Poblano Soup

There's little I love more than to go to the grocery store and allow what's there to inspire me. I also LOVE hominy. I grew up eating hominy with eggs and as a side dish. However it's given to me, I love it!

On a recent trip to the store, the tomatillos seemed to just jump right out at me. The poblano peppers also looked great, so I decided to try my hand at a little something different. 
Below you see the poblano peppers, fresh cilantro, and tomatillos.

If you've never used tomatillos before, they look like little green tomatoes in a paper thin husk.

I began by roasting the tomatillos and the poblano peppers on the grill. If you decide to give the soup a try, don't skip this part as the roasting gives the soup such a wonderful flavor. Just be sure that the grill is nice and hot before putting the vegetables on the grill.

Roast the tomatillos until they are brown and have softened. Place in a blender and blend well.

The poblano peppers should be roasted until they are really quite black on the outside.

Pull off the blackened skin and pull the seeds out of the peppers. Poblano peppers are not hot, so this is not a hot, spicy soup.

Chop the peppers and put aside.

Add oil to a large soup pot and add the chopped onions. Saute until tender. Add garlic and saute another minute to allow the garlic to release its flavor, but not burn.

Add the blended tomatillos, chopped peppers, and hominy, to the pot along with 4 to 6 cups of vegetable broth. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat. Add 1 cup of finely chopped cilantro, 1 teaspoon of coriander, 2 teaspoons of cumin, and salt and black pepper to taste. Allow to simmer for approximately 20 to 30 minutes, just giving the spices time to flavor the soup.

The final soup is absolutely delicious, low in calories, and yet the flavor is so robust that you'll feel you've sinned! I have loved every bite!!!

Fiesta Fun Hominy, Tomatillo, and Poblano Soup
printable recipe


12 tomatillos, husks removed
2 poblano peppers
1 bunch of fresh cilantro finely chopped
2 25 oz. cans hominy, drained and rinsed
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large yellow onion chopped
2 cloves garlic finely minced
6 cups vegetable broth
1 teaspoon corinader
 2 teaspoons cumin
salt and black pepper to taste

Place tomatillos and poblano peppers on a hot grill and roast until tomatillos are brown and have softened. Poblano peppers should be blackened.

Place tomatillos in a blender and blend until smooth. Remove blackened skin from peppers and remove the stem and seeds. Chop peppers and sit aside.

Heat oil in a large soup pot. Add onions and saute until tender. Add garlic and saute another minute to release flavor. Add tomatillos,  poblano peppers, hominy and vegetable broth. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to simmer. Begin with 4 cups of broth and add more as the hominy begins to thicken the soup. Add  cilantro, coriander, cumin, salt and black pepper to taste. Simmer for approximately 20 to 30 minutes.

If you would like, top the soup with crumbled chihauhau cheese and chopped green onions. Serve with tortilla chips or a hot pan of corn bread.  


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Thursday, November 30, 2017

Help Me Decide!

Once again, I would like to thank all of you for your kind wishes for my dog Gracie. We are a week out of the second surgery, and oh my, what a difference! She has started wanting to scratch her ear, so I think that's a good sign, a sign of healing. She was so funny last night, she was lying on the sofa beside me, and wanted so badly to scratch her ear. Her back paw would go up, but stop short, as if she was saying, "oh, but I really want to scratch." She has actually been quite good about keeping her foot out of her ear. The vet said that the stitches need to stay in for 14 days, so I think that if she has had this much improvement in a week, the next week should be all the better. And I will have a huge sigh of relief :)

Oh, and my toe is healing, not that it's such a big deal. I walked a little too much yesterday and paid the price last night. In time, this too shall pass :)

A few weeks ago I shared this coat that I have had forever. It's a faux fur coat that I really love. The fur is quite nice. While I won't wear it any longer as is, the fur can be saved, so I've decided to remake it. The coat is now apart, and I need to decide what to do with it.   

I have this trim which a friend gave me and I have been aching to use it. It may be a little difficult to see, but it has a lovely gold metallic thread that runs through it, and ruby beads in the center of the flowers. I have quite a bit, so there are lots of possibilities. 

I found this picture, and fell in love. I want a longer coat, so I thought I could do something to create a full skirt. I should actually have enough of the faux fur to create a great skirt.     

 Maybe something like this.

I really like this coat as well. I thought that I could use the fur and trim around the bottom of the coat and maybe mix it with a wool coating.

And then, OH MY GOODNESS, I love this coat!!! If I did this, I would forget the trim all together and mix the fur with a cotton velvet. 

All are quite dressy, so it's not a choice between something casual and something dressy. I would love your thoughts. 
Whatever I decide to do, it should be really pretty. 
Thanks for your thoughts!

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Wednesday, November 29, 2017

The Wednesday Showcase/On Being Fabulous!

Believe it or not, my most difficult birthday was when I turned 20. When I was a child, I dreamed of turning 13, it seemed to me a magical number. I would then be a teenager and my world would explode...parties, pretty dresses, driving, having a fabulous group of friends, even getting a job. The life I envisioned for my teenage years was very much out of a sitcom, Father Knows Best. Of course, no life is a television show, but what I got was far, far from what I dreamed. In fact, life was so difficult that I ended up with stomach ulcers at the age of 15. So when I turned 20, I mourned, I mourned for what I had dreamed, and what now would never be, at least that's what I thought at the time. 

One of my exchange students, being the cocky teenager that he was ;), asked,"Wouldn't you love to be 17 again?" He thought for sure that he had something on me, that I would love to once again be a teenager, like him! Since that 20th birthday, this was the first time that I actually thought about my age. As I thought, I realized that what I have now is SOOOO much better, and my answer was no. He was shocked! "But why, why wouldn't you want to be 17 again?" I replied that my teenage years were far from happy, but more importantly, what I have now, my life and what I can do, I wouldn't trade them for anything. And then I said, "Think about it, if I were 17 again, I wouldn't have you. You can be a challenge at times, but I wouldn't miss having had you come into my life just to go back in time." 

This student is now a grown man with a beautiful wife, a precious baby girl, and another baby on the way. In a recent conversation, we talked about that day, and I asked, "Do you understand now how I felt when you asked me if I would like to be 17 again? Would you possibly trade what you have now...for then?" There was a pause, and he said, "No, not for anything." 

A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to attend a brunch where Angela Missoni was the guest speaker. Talk about WOW!!! She was so lovely and such an inspiration. During the reception, I met a very interesting woman, Wendy Packer of Fashion Over Fifty. Her life story is quite interesting. She began life as a oncology nurse, became a lawyer, and then a mother. She began her blog as she has a passion for everyone, especially women to live life to its fullest. She feels that she has been "called to awaken every woman to the realization that she is full of wondrous beauty everyday she is alive." I love that! 

Since Wendy has had her blog, she has produced 3 fashion shows for Bloomingdale's, featuring models over 50. Her blog is full of wonderful tips, news on events, and fabulous ideas on dressing and pairing wonderful ensembles. 

I love this ensemble, especially the shorter pant style. I initially thought, Oh, I don't know...," 

But I really like how the shorter leg can showcase a great pair of shoes.

As I said, Wendy has produced 3 fashion shows for Bloomingdale's. Here she is in a great another great ensemble. Love the leather pants. Don't be afraid to wear a pair of leather pants!!! It's all about how you wear them and with what they are paired. The draped top softens the pants and adds movement.  

The pants she is wearing here remind me of the Marcy Tilton pattern, Vogue 9035. Love the inspiration of not being afraid to show a little shoulder!

One of the tips I found on Wendy's blog was how to walk the catwalk. Professional runway coach, Mark David Carter makes it look easy! The Haute Couture Club of Chicago will hold our annual show on Sunday May 6, 2018. Walking well is something that we can all do better ;) What struck me is how he takes his time. Take a look...

Now for the best part, at least for me, aaaand if you are a member of the Haute Couture Club of Chicago, and will be attending our holiday party, Wendy will be our featured speaker. She will be sharing her life story, her tips, and fashion encouragement. She is so very excited to be around women who sew. She wishes she could sew, so maybe we'll be able to inspire her a bit too! She would like for everyone to wear their handmade garments as she would like to do a special post on the Ladies of Haute Couture. How exciting is that?!!! 

Be sure to check out Wendy's blog, Fashion Over Fifty. I think you will find her to be quite inspiring. 

When her post is up on the Ladies of Haute Couture, I'll let you know.

Not Dead Yet Style is another blog that showcases women in their middle years. I'm sure most of you know about the blog, but just in case you don't, check it out, and be sure to check out her post, Visible Monday where you can broadcast to the world just how amazing you are!

True enough, my teenage years, and somewhat beyond, were not at all what I had hoped for. I love this quote from Desmond Tutu;

Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all the darkness.

Morning breaks, and light does come. Embrace who you are and where you are in life. It takes a lot of hard work to live a great life :)  

I will have a very special Sunday Night Reflection's post coming up on December 3rd where I will share a little of my life. I hope that it will be an inspiration.

Now go out and shine!!!!!

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Monday, November 27, 2017

Monday Morning Inspiration/Do It a Little Different, Collars

Whenever I have a dinner party, I like to break out my silverware. The pieces aren't sterling, so not worth much, but the table looks so pretty. Many of the pieces are mix-match as I find them in resale shops and antique stores. I have a set of individual butter knives, individual shrimp forks, and so on, all in different patterns. What's interesting to me is that when I decide to have a more casual evening and not use the silverware, my friends will actually comment on how much they miss the silver and all the individual pieces that I will put out. 

I have had so many tell me that they have lovely sets of china and silver that their families have no interest in. So if this applies to you, I have a question...
Have you only used the pieces for special occasions? 
Here's why I ask...

I love individual salt and pepper shakers. I have a set of little tiny etched glass shakers that were part of a set of Fiesta dishes that my great-grandmother had. These get used on a daily basis. My exchange students always loved having their own salt and pepper, probably because it is a little out of the norm. I remember one family dinner where my niece asked if the salt shaker was hers alone to use. When I said yes, she took the shaker, turned it upside down over her food and just let it pour!!! I decided that one meal of excess salt would not kill her and let her have her day ;) She was maybe four at the time.

After one of our exchange students married, we went for a visit and to my amazement, he and his new wife had purchased a set of individual salt and pepper shakers for their table. He told how much he enjoyed this special touch and wanted to duplicate it in his home. When he married, I asked if their was something of mine that he would like to have. To my surprise, he asked for my individual corn on the cob plates and the little corn spears. He loved that our meals were not just a meal, but an event. Dinner is special, a time for us to come together, enjoy the meal and share our day.

Sharing this story may seem a little out of kilter with a post on collars, but I thought of this story as I think that rather than holding on to the old way of doing everything, a little change can be refreshing.

A few days ago, I saw an article about the Smith family and how growing up with such famous parents can be really quite difficult. But what caught my eye was how Willow Smith was wearing the collar in the picture below. My first impression was, "How Cute!" Not at all traditional, but I thought it was rather refreshing paired with the little turtleneck tank. 

Don't ask me how, but I somehow came upon a site that sells these adorable collars. The designer is Cece Merkle. Like many of us, she is a fabric scrap hoarder, and loves to keep her hands busy.

Each collar features Cece's original artwork. Love how she displays her work. You can find her site HERE, and read more about Cece HERE. At just $30.00 apiece, I think her collars would make a fabulous gift!

Image of Peach Fern - Faux Collar (NEW girl size available) see options

If you would like to take a stab at making your own collar, here's a a little inspiration... 

This is just a simple shirt collar, minus the shirt with the addition of the fun decorative pieces.

Simple peter pan collars. Love the ants in the last picture.

Another simple peter pan collar paired with a shirt. Great idea for using fabric that would depict what the wearer loves.

The collars below are much more complicated, but what fun! You can find more Vivetta collars and fashion HERE

You can find all of these collars and more HERE on Pinterest.

Just goes to show that there's almost always a new way to do just about anything!

Have a fabulous week!

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Sunday, November 26, 2017

Sunday Night Reflections

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Sunday's Soup/Winter Root Vegetable Soup with Kale

Happy Sunday Everyone!!!

Thank you for all the wonderful comments that were left on my Grateful post. A couple of you had me laughing so hard with the idea of the antics of my girlfriend and I sounding like an episode of I Love Lucy!!! Like I said, we've been friends for 35 years, and have done some pretty crazy things. Yes, we could be our own comedy show ;) Thanks for the laughs, I really needed that. Nothing like a good laugh to cleanse the soul :) 

Have you ever heard of the Moosewood Cookbook? It's a funky, vegetarian cookbook that I absolutely love. In fact, the same friend from the Grateful post gave it to me over 30 years ago. My copy is now a very well worn book, loose pages and a taped together spine. 

One of the things that I especially enjoy, other than the recipes, are the cute little drawings that accompany each recipe. When I began putting the soup recipes together, my goal was to eventually publish a cookbook/soup book. I'm now working on the book(finally), and rather than photographs, I'm doing drawings that are similar to what you might find in the Moosewood Cookbook. 

I'm currently going through my recipes and testing/tweaking them just to make sure that when they are published, and tried, it will taste just like what I make. 

Back in 2013, I published a recipe for a Creamy Winter Root Vegetable Soup.   I love a good cream soup, but when I began to test the recipe, I decided to make it into a vegan version, and that's what I am going to share with you today. 

The ingredients are basically the same, potatoes, carrots, parsnips, onions, garlic and fresh basil.

No butter was used in this recipe, just olive oil. The onions were sauteed until tender in the olive oil, and then the vegetables were added, along with the vegetable broth.

Another change with this recipe is the addition of chopped kale, green pigeon peas (for protein), and dried rosemary. 

If you have never used green pigeon peas before, they are a lovely little pea that has a bit of substance to it, not at all mushy.

This is not a creamed version of the soup, just a nice hearty winter vegetable soup.

Winter Root Vegetable Soup with Kale

printable recipe


3 tablespoons of olive oil
4 parsnips sliced, about 3 pounds in total
4 Irish potatoes, chopped
4 carrots sliced
1 large yellow onion chopped
4 cloves of garlic minced
4 tablespoons of chopped fresh basil

2 cups finely chopped kale
1 14 oz. can Green Pigeon Peas drained and rinsed
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon dried rosemary 
10-12 cups of vegetable broth 
salt and black pepper to taste

Heat olive oil in a large, heavy soup pot. Add chopped onion and saute until tender. Add carrots, parsnips, potatoes, bay leaves, and garlic along with 8 cups of vegetable broth. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until vegetables are tender, 20-30 minutes. Add chopped fresh basil, chopped kale, pigeon peas, and rosemary. Adjust liquid. Depending upon the size of your vegetables, you may need to add up to 4 more cups of broth. If more broth has been added, bring to a boil once again, then reduce to simmer and cook for another 10 minutes, giving the herbs and kale time to flavor the soup.

Serve with warm crusty bread, or my favorite, a pan of fresh made cornbread. 

The recipe yields 8 hearty servings. 

If you give it a try, hope you enjoy it!

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Friday, November 24, 2017


Courtesies of a small and trivial character are the ones which strike deepest in the grateful and appreciating heart.  
                                                        Henry Clay

If you live here in the U.S., or if you don't, but enjoy celebrating a day of Thanksgiving, I hope that you have enjoyed a wonderful meal, and maybe some time spent with family and friends. 

For me, it has been a bit of a trying week. 

The surgery that my dog Gracie had for the broken blood vessel in her ear, it seems was not done correctly and caused a huge problem. We were out of town, but found a wonderful vet who ended up doing emergency surgery. Leaving her in the office, crying for me, absolutely broke my heart. When I got home, I sat down at the kitchen table, put my head in my arms and just cried. We were able to pick her up that evening, and she and I have not been apart since. I am so very grateful for such a kind, caring, and knowledgeable veterinarian.  

We had friends visit for Thanksgiving. I love to make special meals on holidays, so I began the day with Cottage Pancakes with Roasted Strawberries. My new oven evidently cooks at a very high heat as the strawberries boiled over the side of the pan and burned the bottom. It was an absolute mess. My girlfriend and I worked, and worked, and worked at trying to get the burned sugar off of the bottom of the oven. I was in a bit of a panic as I needed to cook the turkey and I didn't want to heat the oven and burn the sugar even more. She said, "No problem, we'll just cook the turkey on the grill." We ended up cooking the turkey, sweet potatoes, and the asparagus on the grill. OMG!!!! everything was soooo good. The only thing that was missing was the pie, but we were all very satisfied, so the pie really wasn't missed.

In the course of putting our dinner together, I managed to stop up the sink by putting potato skins down the disposal. Evidently you aren't supposed to put potato skins down a disposal. I had no idea! One thing that my husband absolutely hates is plumbing issues. When I saw the sink back up, I said, "Oh my, Carl is going to have a fit!" My girlfriend said that it might go down, so just leave it for a bit. We had managed to keep him out of the kitchen, but when we went out to check on the grill, I looked through the window and there he was at the sink. My heart sank. In 33 years of marriage, he has only lost his temper twice, and I thought for sure this would be the third time, but he kept his cool, and even took dishes down to the basement to wash until we could get something done with the kitchen drain. 

While he was in the basement washing dishes, my girlfriend and I began working on the drain, pouring in baking soda and vinegar, and plunging it. I worked and worked at it and then miracle of miracles, it suddenly went swoosh!, and it was over. My girlfriend and I looked at each other in disbelief, but we did it! But then, the thought occurred to me that all the plunging may have broken the pipe and everything was in the bottom of the cabinet. Nope, it had all gone through smoothly :) She and I have known each other for 35 years, and during that time have done some pretty crazy things. I told her that we can now add plumbers to our list of abilities ;) We are not available for hire!!!

During the course of everything, I managed to run into a cabinet and break a toe. That is more aggravating than anything. Hurts, but hardly the end of the world. 

The quote that I began this post with rings so true for me. A veterinarian that said, "I'm just doing my job." No, not just doing her job, she saved my dog and healed my heart. A friend who stays calm when everything seems to be going wrong, who treats my home with the same importance as if it was hers, and steps up to help when it really isn't her problem. A husband who realized that I was already upset and didn't want to add insult to injury, a blessing beyond measure. Yes, to the one who is giving, it may seem like a small, trivial act, but to the one who is receiving, the gifts really do strike deeply in the heart. And, I am so very grateful.

I have said it before, but gratitude can never be expressed enough...
A heartfelt thank you to all of you who take the time to stop by, read my words, maybe leave a message, or send a note. You warm my heart and remind me of the wonderful gift this life truly is.

Gracie and me :) After she came home, the incision in the middle of her ear began to bleed a bit. I put a band-aide over it and now she won't let me take it off as it's rather stuck to the stays that have been sewn into her ear. Oh well, I'll eventually get it off.       

May you too experience blessings that strike deeply in your heart.

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