Saturday, October 30, 2021

Small Things - October 30, 2021

"Life is not, for most of us, a pageant of splendor, but is made up of many small things, rather like an old fashioned piecework quilt. No two people have the same, but we all have our own, whether it be listening to Beethoven's fifth with a beloved friend, or seeing a neighbor at the back door with a basket of white dahlias. Or after a long, hard day, having the family say, "That was a good supper."


In no particular order, here are six small things that inspired me this week.

1. Simmer pot season is in full swing here!  On the burner this week is Cranberry Spice!
- Whole cranberries
- Cinnamon sticks
- Orange Slices
- Rosemary (fresh is better but I used what I had on hand!)
- Ginger

Place all ingredients in a pan filled with water or apple or orange juice for added aroma.  Bring to a low boil then reduce heat to simmer.  Keep an eye on the liquid level so it doesn't burn away, which I've done a time or three! This will make your house smell AMAZING!

2. I made Black Magic cupcakes for our weekend Halloween treat yesterday! In my opinion this is hands down THE BEST chocolate cake on the planet! Here's the recipe.

3. I would really love to learn to make my own incense, and I'm thinking about trying after the first of the year.  Here's a tutorial if its something that interests you, as well.

4. Yesterday as I was listening to the Vintage Halloween Music, I noticed that a lot of the images were of vintage magazine covers and there were a few I'd never heard of.  So I googled "Vintage Women's Magazines Online" and found this website! I haven't had a chance to peruse it, but I'm looking forward to seeing what they offer. I did see Godey's Lady's Book, and Colliers, which I recall my grandmother reading!

5. I enjoyed this article. I've been considering doing something similar in my bedroom, a "mental health corner", perhaps. 

6. I came across this recipe for Conifer Infused Oil and I'm considering making some this coming week, as well as my Holiday Spice All Purpose Cleaner. I'll post the recipe soon!

Friday, October 29, 2021

Vintage Halloween Playlists & Kiddie Records

With Halloween just around the corner, today I thought I'd share some vintage halloween playlists and kiddie records with you! Perfect to help set the party atmosphere, or just to enjoy with your family over the weekend!

I'm probably dating myself here again, but no matter, because the older I get the more I appreciate growing up in the 60's and 70's and especially the nostalgia of it that I thankful the internet still allows me to enjoy and share today, like Kiddie Records!

I fondly recall my little turntable and my small collection of Kiddie Records, in particular a little song about Katie the Kangaroo which has stuck with me all of my life!  So I was delighted to come across this website, Kiddie Records Weekly,  many years ago, and to be able to share some of these gems with my children. They have a few seasonal selections, in fact there's an entire page devoted to Christmas. The entire website is filled with gems, so I'd encourage you to peruse it, especially if you have littles in your life. There are a number of stories they would enjoy, but here's one with a Halloween theme. 

composed and narrated by Lionel Barrymore

I thought I recalled this website having more than this, but I was able to pull up a few that I recall us listening to and a few new-to-me ones, as well!

And finally, here are two other playlists that I found that contain 45 minutes of not so scary but still fun Halloween songs that would be fun for a party, or again, just to play during the day to set a fun mood.

So if you celebrate Halloween and are looking to add some fun ambiance to your celebrations, hopefully one or more of these will do the trick. Yesterday was a busy day for me, so today find's me playing catch up on some household tasks and my daughter and I are actually celebrating Halloween tonight since she has to work on Sunday, so there's lots to do. I'll still do a few things just for a little fun for myself on the actual day, including watching The Wizard of Oz! With that, here's wishing you all a Happy Halloweekend!

Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Beginning Next Week!
Tuesday Afternoon Tea: A Cozy Gathering With Friends!

As I mentioned in my post on Monday, beginning next week, Tuesday, November 2, I'm going to host a regular post and tea time right here at my blog! I thought for awhile about what to call this, and though it's hardly original, for now I've settled on TUESDAY AFTERNOON TEA: A Cozy Gathering With Friends!

It's pretty simple, really. Every Tuesday afternoon around 2:00 p.m. I'll post my entry for the week, which will always feature three things.

1. What tea cup or mug I've chosen to drink my tea from.

2. The flavor of tea I'm drinking.

3. What special tea-time treat I'm enjoying.

I'll post a picture, just as I've done above as an example, and share a link to the tea I'm drinking as well as a link or recipe for my chosen treat.  

In addition, each week will feature three topics for tea-time discussion, which will spark some cozy, seasonal conversation throughout the upcoming holiday season.

To participate, simply leave a comment and share what tea and/or treat you're enjoying and you can also choose to discuss any or all of the proposed subjects for discussion. If you have a blog, feel free to write up a post and link it, or if you have a picture you can email it to me at


and I'll share it with everyone in a future post.  Also, if you don't care for tea any beverage of choice will suffice! :)

And here's the fun part! Every person who participate and leaves a comment that includes the three things mentioned above; 1.) What tea cup your using. 2.) What tea your drinking and 3.) What treat your enjoying as well as your thoughts on at least one of the topics for discussion, will get 1 entry to win a COZY WINTER WELLNESS KIT which I'll be mailing out mid-January of 2022! And, if you have a blog and write a post and link it, OR send me an email with a picture of your tea cup and treats you'll get two chances to win! The teatimes and contest begins November 2 and lasts through December 28, so that you gives you nine chances to enter your name in the drawing, and double that if you write a post or send a picture by email.

I know the holidays are busy time, but we could all do with a little pause in our week for tea, right? I've had so much fun planning this and coming up with the subjects for discussion each week, and I hope you'll enjoy these posts just as much. I'm going to be slowly curating the COZY WINTER WELLNESS KIT! I'll be keeping track of all your entries and enter each one into the drawing which will be held on Tuesday, January 4. I'll announce the winner here at the blog on that day and get it mailed out the following week.

And now for the topics for discussion for each week;

November 2 - Getting to Know You * Pumpkins * Falling Leaves and Fading Light
- Share a little about yourself, one of your favorite pumpkin recipes, and your thoughts, or perhaps a poem that speaks to the falling leaves and fading light that are so symbolic of this time of year!

November 9 - First Frost Cranberries * Autumn Apothecary and Self Care
Have you had your first frost yet? Know a lovely poems about frost? What are some of your favorite recipes featuring cranberries? What are some of your best autumn wellness and self care rituals and recipes?

November 16 - Thankful Hearts * Apples * Home Blessing
What are some ways that you are intentional about focusing on being thankful in this season? What's you're favorite apple based craft or recipe? In the weeks before Thanksgiving each year I like to give my home a good cleaning, a blessing if you will, before the holidays officially begin. What are some of your best home keeping / home blessing tips?

November 23 - Over the River: Thanksgiving Memories * Family Recipes * Traditions
What are some of your fondest memories of Thanksgiving? Have a special family recipe that you always make this time of year and don't mind sharing? What are your favorite Thanksgiving traditions?

November 30 - A Homemade Christmas * Oranges * Pleasant Pastimes
Every year I make at least few new decorations or treats for Christmas, what are you making this year? I love recipes and crafts featuring oranges this time of year, have one to share? If you've followed me for very long then you know that Cross-Stitching is my favorite hobby. Do you have a favorite hobby or pleasant pastime?

December 7 - Cozy Homes * Warming Spices * The Movies and Music of Christmas
Have you decorated for Christmas yet? Post a picture! Share your favorite recipes that include warming, cozy spices like cinnamon, allspice, ginger, and nutmeg! What are your favorite songs and movies that celebrate the season?

December 14 - Winter Solstice * Gingerbread * Grandma's Kitchen
Winter is on its way! Share your favorite traditions for celebrating the Solstice! Gingerbread is one of my favorite treats this time of year, so let's share our favorite recipes! Have a favorite memory of Grandma or a recipe she passed down to you that you can share?

December 21 - All Hearts Come Home for Christmas: Christmas Memories * Family Recipes * Traditions
What are your fondest memories of Christmas? Have a favorite Christmas recipe to share? What are some traditions you and your family enjoy at Christmas?

December 28 - A Bright New Year * Following the Bear (Home Hibernating) * Winter Apothecary & Self Care
What are your hopes and dreams for the New Year, how do you ring it in with your family? Now that winter is upon up, it's time to nestle in and enjoy cozy warm evenings by the fire, what is your favorite way to hibernate? What are some of your best winter wellness and self care rituals and recipes?

Wow! That's a lot of thoughts for discussion, right? But remember, you don't have to discuss every topic, just choose one and leave it in the comments along with the three other required elements to qualify for the drawing, but you're welcome to discuss them all, if you want to! 

Also, if you have a blog and want to write a post and link it, I've made up this cute graphic you can download to include in your post!

Right click and save image to your computer. Upload it in your tea time post!

I've added it to my left side bar at the top of the blog to easily access all the related posts going forward!

And so my friends, he fun begins next week, Tuesday, November 2 when we'll take tea and discuss . . .

Getting to Know You * Pumpkins * Falling Leaves and Fading Light

And don't worry, I'll leave a link to this post each week to remind you how to participate and at the bottom of each weeks post I'll remind you of the topics for the next weeks discussion. I can't wait for our first tea time and hope to see you there!

Monday, October 25, 2021

My Weekend

If the dollar spot at Target doesn't stop I may be broke by December! Don't you just love this pine tree lantern? Maybe it's just me, but I'm in love! I went back this afternoon while I was running errands to see if they had another because I'd really like two, but no luck . . . yet, I'll keep trying! **UPDATE** - My daughter found a second! 

I had a lovely weekend, doing the things I love, watching old movies and cross stitching. I'm working on some new curtains for the kitchen but they are slow going, mostly because I am a hand sewer. I had a bad experience with a sewing machine in home ec. in middle school, and my teacher wasn't the most patient, so I haven't tried again. I really should just devote myself to finishing them because I really do want them finished for the holidays and at the rate I'm going it might be next Christmas.

On Sunday afternoon I watched Arsenic and Old Lace, one of the movies I traditionally watch this time of year, and on Saturday I recreated a wonderful line up that used to be featured on Nick at Nite, back in the day. I found Make Room For Daddy, which is one I haven't seen in some time and always loved, The Donna Reed Show, The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis, Bewitched, Car 54 Where Are You?  and The Patty Duke Show. I had to switch between a couple of channels, but all of them were free to watch with various apps you can download with the Fire Stick. These old sitcoms, most from my childhood and before, are my absolute favorites. For me they beat anything you can find on television these days and I just love the nostalgia! I even miss old commercials, and have found a number of them as well, on You Tube! So if you ever want to take a little trip down memory lane!

Last night my family in Texas and I had a family watch party featuring It's The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown . It was so much fun!  We did this a few weekends ago and watched Hocus Pocus, and this coming weekend we are watching The Goonies, which I haven't seen in YEARS! We're planning on watching some during Christmas as well. It's been so much fun, and so easy, we just start the movie as close to the same time as possible, I set up a group chat, and we watch it together and chat. I found some fun trivia questions when we watched Hocus Pocus and we all took an online test to find out which witch we were. It really helped to span the miles and made us feel close! So it was a fairly tv filled weekend, but I don't mind, it was fun.  

I decided today that I need to sit down and really plan out everything I want to do in November and December, and I'm sure there's no way I'll get ALL of it done, but without a plan it definitely won't. I'm going to make a list this evening and then go through and prioritize things to make sure that the most important things happen and then most likely some of it will get pushed back to the first of the year, which is fine. I'm still in "hibernating mode" well into February and looking for homey, cozy, crafty ideas to fill my days.

One thing I did want to share with you is that I've decided to host a Tuesday Afternoon Tea every week from now until the end of the year, and possibly beyond. I'll be posting about it with more details later in the week, but the first tea is going to be on Tuesday, November 2 so mark your calendars if you want to join me and be looking for future posts explaining how it will work.

So, I guess I'll close for now. I'm alone this evening as my daughter and her boyfriend are out of town for the night to celebrate his birthday, I'm going to be diligent and work on my curtains, and they're calling for storms with some possible high winds, so fingers crossed we don't lose power! Now to decide what to watch, which will most likely be some more of those sitcoms. I really do enjoy them! I'd love to hear how you spent the weekend, and if you enjoy old sitcoms like I do and have a favorite, be sure to let me know! 

Saturday, October 23, 2021

Small Things - October 23, 2021

 "Life is not, for most of us, a pageant of splendor, but is made up of many small things, rather like an old fashioned piecework quilt. No two people have the same, but we all have our own, whether it be listening to Beethoven's fifth with a beloved friend, or seeing a neighbor at the back door with a basket of white dahlias. Or after a long, hard day, having the family say, "That was a good supper."


In no particular order, here are six small things that inspired me this week.

1. Does anyone remember the Ideals seasonal and holiday publications? My grandmother had many copies, but as a child they didn't really hold a lot of interest for me.  There are a number of them available at The Archives, and I've been reading through the Thanksgiving editions this week. I've copied down several of the sweetest poems and read some delightful essays. If you're looking for something warm and cozy to read on a cool, rainy afternoon, I'd suggest spending some time in them.

2. If you've been hanging around here long enough, then you know I have a fondness for cartoons. They are a comfort to me at times, beckoning me back to the days when Saturday mornings from 8-12 were a reprieve from the world.  While I do subscribe to Boomerang through my Prime membership, there are some lovely cartoons to be found on You Tube as well. If you have littles in your life, pour some warm milk and maybe some freshly baked cookies and and enjoy!

Guess How Much I Love You
Based on the book by Sam McBratney, this cartoon is one of my favorites!  The beautiful illustrations come to live on the screen, and are just so sweet and lovely!

- Autumn's Here
- Autumn Warmth
Playing in the Autumn Leaves

3. And if you enjoyed those, here are a few others.  

Little Bear
Based upon the Little Bear books by Elsa Homeland Minarik, another beautiful children's book, come to life!

Clever Cricket / Leaves / Big Bad Broom
The Rain Dance Play / Your Friend, Little Bear / Fall Dream

4. I made these Chocolate Cayenne Cookies on Thursday and I absolutely LOVE them! I will tell you that I opted for 3/4 tsp. of cayenne, but something I've noticed is that they get a bit spicier the longer they sit. So I'd suggest 1/2 tsp. the first time. I've got my eye on these next, Maple Bacon Cookies, perhaps I'll make them today!

5. After coming to the conclusion some months ago that my coffee creamer was what was causing some of my gastro-intestinal problems, I've been looking for alternatives.  I've been making some simple syrups, and while they taste wonderful they are loaded with sugar! Then this week I came across this recipes for Snickerdoodle Coffee Creamer and I'm going to give it a try! I also found several other recipes, including Pumpkin Spice Coffee Creamer, here.

6. This time last year my husband and I were in the van and traveling the east coast.  We were in Woodstock, Vermont around this time, truly one of the most beautiful little towns I've ever visited. I came across this book, Hill Song, A Country Journal at the Archives this week.  It is set on a farm in Vermont and I'm looking forward to reading it.

Friday, October 22, 2021

My 2021 Thanksgiving Planner


Yesterday, on a whim, I made up a little THANKSGIVING PLANNER and I thought I would share it here with you! You can find the link, here

Please note that on the Thanksgiving Meal planner page there is a space labled "served on". That is where you can list what serving pieces you want to use on your table. I find it helps as I'm planning my menu to inventory my serving pieces and decide ahead of time which ones I'm going to use! 


Thursday, October 21, 2021

Early Preparations

In my entire life history of purchasing mugs,(and there have been many!), this one may most accurately embody me. If there was such a thing as a "spirit mug", you're looking at it. My favorite shade of green, pine trees and "homebody". It doesn't get more reflective than that. Only five dollars at the dollar spot at Target, which my daughter frequently reminds me is now known as "Bullseye", probably because most of the things you'll find there are now more in the $3.00-$5.00 range. No bother, $5.00 for two mugs is still a good price. The other mug that came with it is cute as well, black and covered with stars, another color and shape I like, so it was a win/win. I love it so much I almost bought two of them, and I may still. But something I've learned over the years is that even when something we love gets broken, it just makes room for the new. So I try to love and appreciate things in their season and while they last. 

There are only a few things I regret not holding on to throughout my lifetime, and one of them is, oddly, my Francie doll from my childhood. She was my most cherished doll and I sincerely wish I had kept her, but a as teenager who naturally believed that dolls were no longer "cool", I did away with such things and sold them all in a yard sale. It never occurred me then that years later I might still want to bring out such things and reminisce. I had a Liddle Kiddle that I loved, as well. I'm probably showing my age here, but maybe a few of you can relate! 

Other than mourning my lost childhood, I suppose, :), I don't have a lot to share today, and in fact from now until the end of the year I thought I might just write and share about the things that fill my days. I have ideas for posts I'd like to write, an entire notebook of them, in fact. But when blogging first began it was more like a journal, do you remember? You just documented your days and every now and then you'd share an idea or a recipe that others really liked. It was simpler then, warm and inviting. I've never lost that vision for this space, and I've never cared about numbers or algorithms. I tried all that, several times, and after this last attempt I've decided I'm done. My writings will attract who they attract, and bless who they bless, and even if that's only one soul then I will consider it a worthwhile investment of my time.

So I hope you'll stick around an join me as we move closer into the loveliest of seasons, the "Ember Days", as I now affectionately refer to November and December.  Two lights to lead us into the new year.  My days this time of year are filled with the warmest and coziest traditions, and I can't wait to share them with you. In fact, I did a thing yesterday and actually put up our tree. It's the earliest I've ever put it up, beating my previous record of November 1. I know it doesn't suit a lot of people, but I won't apologize. I needed it a little earlier this year, and for now it's just the lights, the wooden star atop, and tree skirt below.  I'll save the rest until November, but for now I'm warmed and filled by its lovely glow. 

And speaking of tree skirts, I realized when I pulled ours out yesterday that I made this tree skirt six years ago, which seems impossible to me, but it's true. I recall that it was late in the season, just two weeks before Christmas, when I saw a similar picture on Pinterest and I just had to have it. Thankfully I already had all of the materials, and so I immediately set to work and I finished it in a day. Since I was short on time I didn't stitch the pieces to the skirt but opted for fabric glue instead, promising myself that after the first of the year I'd finish it properly. Well, as I said, it's been six years, and I still haven't finished it. Up until now it's held up well, but yesterday I had to glue a few pieces of snow back down at the edges, so I'm thinking if I want this to last, then this is the year. I had always planned a few more embellishments, anyway, like little wreaths on the door, finishing off the windows to make them look more like window panes with little candles to light them, so there's still lots to do

Well, I feel like I'm beginning to ramble, so I'll close for now. When do you put up your tree? I'm sure it's much later than I do, especially this year! But I know I'm not the only one, it was actually two or three friends on FB, one who's had her entire house decorated since September, than inspired to go with my heart and do what makes me happy. I can' control the madness in the world, nor would I want to, but I do have some say regarding the atmosphere in our home, and a Christmas tree is warmth and self-care at its finest! That's what I'm going with, anyway!

Monday, October 18, 2021

Monday Musings

A cup of tea 
A quiet nook 
A cookie and 
A picture book 
A lump of sugar 
On my spoon, 
Now that's a PERFECT afternoon. 


 I had the loveliest weekend, filled with lots of movies, crafting and cross-stitching!

If the piece at the top looks familiar, it's because I've posted it before, or at least, sort of. The original picture shows these two pieces together, but the second one was, at the time, unfinished. When I ran across the picture, it occurred to me that I needed to finish it, but for one reason or the other I couldn't find it anywhere. I also discovered some noticeable errors in the original, and since it was no where to be found, I started it again from scratch early last week and finally finished it this weekend. I love how both pieces are similar and yet not the same. The original (with the coral house) has a spot in the family room and I'm thinking the other will make its way into my bedroom, which could do with a few embellishments.

The pieces in the bottom photo were all finished over the weekend, while re-watching Cranford. I also enjoyed watching Charley and the Angel (an old favorite!), and I watched Moon Spinners for the first time, though I fell asleep towards the end and still need to finish it. I didn't care for it as much, although it was nice to watch something I'd never seen before. I've also recently been taking in episodes of The Brady Bunch during my lunch hour. There are few sitcoms from the 70's that transport me right back to childhood like The Brady Bunch. It was my Friday night line-up, along with The Partridge Family, but I tried watching re-runs of it and I just can't stomach it.

I mentioned on Saturday that I was going to make an apple pie, and I did manage to get that done early Saturday morning. I've heard so many wonderful reviews on this recipe, so I was anxious to try it. But I'm sad to say, I didn't like it. I think it's the granny smith apples, which I've never cared for, so I might try it again with something sweeter. I ate one piece, and since my daughter is allergic to apples, the rest is still sitting in the pie plate. :/ I think next year I'll stick to my apple crisp!

I also made the chocolate salt dough that I linked in my post on Saturday as well. I have plans to make some cute little salt box house shaped buttons to adorn some future cross-stitching projects, but I was so busy actually cross-stitching over the weekend, that I didn't get around to it.  I have the dough keeping in an air-tight container and I'll be making them up some time this week.

The best thing about the weekend was that the temperatures finally dipped into the 40's and stayed below 70! I had the windows open, and still do! I had hoped to make up a big pot of vegetable beef stew, but I'm waiting for my friend to post her recipe. Instead I made One Pot Chili Mac and Cheese from Damn Delicious. Normally I love her recipes, but this one, in my opinion, was just "eh".  It got a lot of good reviews, but my guess those are homes with young children because I can see where they would like this. It's not bad, just not for me.

On the food side it might appear as if the weekend was a total disaster, but it didn't feel that way!  I think all the projects I was able to complete more than made up for it! So what fun things did you do this weekend? Have you tried any new recipes, read a good book or watched a good movie lately? Share in the comments!

Saturday, October 16, 2021

Small Things - October 16, 2021

"Life is not, for most of us, a pageant of splendor, but is made up of many small things, rather like an old fashioned piecework quilt. No two people have the same, but we all have our own, whether it be listening to Beethoven's fifth with a beloved friend, or seeing a neighbor at the back door with a basket of white dahlias. Or after a long, hard day, having the family say, "That was a good supper."


In no particular order, here are six small things that inspired me this week.

1. This Country Christmas Tea sounds so good! A friend of mine posted about it on her Instagram account and I bookmarked it immediately!  I'm hoping to purchase some at the end of the month and I'll be sure to write a review.

2. And speaking of Christmas, I'm planning on making some tiny salt dough ornaments this weekend, as well.  But rather than just plain salt dough, I found a recipe for cinnamon and chocolate dough! I can't wait to give them both a try!

3. And now back to tea! Drinking a cup of tea in the afternoon is a regular part of my daily rhythm, although I do tend to fall away from it in late spring and summer. But I'm especially fond of it this time of year. If "tea time" is something you'd like to incorporate into the natural flow of your days, you might want to read this article.

4. Meagan's blog, in general is so lovely and packed with lots of cozy, autumn offerings, such as; Cozy Autumn: A Seasonal Autumn Playlist,  4 Autumn Essential Oil Blends To Give You All The Autumn Feels, Embracing The Season of Autumn, and there are several others. I've added her blog to my list of Kindred Spirits in the right side bar, in case you want to visit with her again!

5.. I've seen so many posts raving about this apple pie. I bought all the ingredients to make it this weekend, so I'll let you know what I think!

6. Have you ever made a sourdough starter? It's on my list of things I want to master. I'm hoping maybe this article will guide me a little, so that I can then make this bread!

Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Grammy's Cabbage Soup

Yesterday I shared that I made up a pot of this delicious soup over the weekend, but it's just so good that I think it deserves its own post. I've shared the recipe before because we often make it when celebrating The Winter Solstice. But I don't want it to get lost and make it difficult to find, so I'm re-posting it here today. We've been making this soup for years now and its become a family favorite! The thing I love about it most is how easy it is to make while still delivering that delicious flavor!  I encourage you to give it a try and consider adding it to your seasonal rotation! 

Also, if you are ever looking for a recipe, just scroll through the links in the right side bar to "Come To The Table", you'll find the links to my most recently posted recipes under that heading, and there is a link at the bottom that will take to you to all of the posts with that label! That being said, if you're ever looking for something and having trouble finding it, just leave me a message! That's how this recipe got its own post! :)

1-2 pounds of pork, roast or loin
4 medium carrots, cut into 1/4-inch slices (2 cups)
2 medium stalks celery, chopped (1 cup)
1 medium potato, peeled and cubed
1 medium onion, chopped (1/2 cup)
4 cups chopped cabbage (about 1 medium head)
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
4 cups water
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper (you can use less if you don't like it too spicy!)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
4 chicken bouillon cubes
1 can (28 ounces) crushed tomatoes, undrained

Mix all ingredients in 3 1/2- to 6-quart *slow cooker. Cover and cook on low heat setting 8 to 9 hours (or high heat setting 4 to 5 hours) or until pork and vegetables are tender. 

 *My original recipe was made in the crock pot, which you are welcome to do, but these days I typically place the pork roast, onions and water in a large pot. I think bring it to a boil and then reduce the heat and let it simmer for about an hour to make a rich broth. Then I add the remaining ingredients and just let it hang out on the burner for several more hours to let the flavors meld and until the pork pulls apart easily with a fork. Check the water often to make sure the broth isn't cooking away. Add more as needed (I add chicken broth to maintain the flavor). Taste before serving and season as needed.

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Savoring Sunday
And My Favorite Adaptation of Little Women

This past Sunday was a lovely day. It was overcast and cloudy, and even though the temperatures are still too hot for my liking, the cloudy skies made for a perfectly cozy day.

I belong to a wonderful online community of women, Hearth and Home, and our founder, Heather, is encouraging us to savor these October Sundays, and share about it. Savoring Sunday has been a long standing tradition in our home, so it wasn't hard for me to participate or come up with a plan for what to do, but I do appreciate the reminder to be especially mindful now that we're into October and the scenery is changing.

So on Sunday I put together one of our family favorites, Grammy's Cabbage Soup, early in the day and let it hang out on the back burner most of the morning and into the early afternoon. Thanks to Heather's inspiration as well, I had already "Blessed The Weekend" on the previous Friday, and as such, had a full tin of snickerdoodles to carry us through as a treat. I don't know what it is about this cookie, but I always associate it with autumn and make them around this time every year. Then I made up a cozy spot on the couch, gathered my cross stitching and craft supplies, and set upon deciding what to watch.

I've been working my way though a stack of movies that we watch annually, but on this particular day I decided I wanted to watch a period piece and that led me to Little Women. I first watched the most recent adaptation because I do truly love Saoirse Ronan's portrayal of this most beloved character, but once I was finished, the PBS Masterpiece version came up as a suggestion and since it had been awhile since I'd watched it, I made that my next choice.  Before this, the 1994 adaptation with Winona Ryder had long been my favorite. And while it still remains dearer to my heart than the most recent offering, after watching this adaptation again, it may now have won my heart.

To begin with, I'm not sure there has ever been a more perfect casting than that of Maya Hawke as Jo, and I was blown away when I discovered that this film was her acting debut. Saoirse Ronan did an excellent job in the most recent adaptation, but there is just something about Maya's offering that is more balanced. Just the right amount of grit and gumption, coupled with the soulful and sweet. And speaking of Jo, there  casting of  Jonah Hauer-King in the role of Laurie, was, in a word, perfection! The casting of Laurie is one I have long been critical of, second only to Amy, which we'll get to in a minute. But I have to say that one of my great disappointments with Greta Gerwig's offering was the choice of Timothée Chalamet to portray Laurie. Maybe in a few years when he's aged a little, but at least in my opinion, he looked like the "little" boy next door.

As for the casting of Marmee, once again I believe the PBS version hit the nail on the head with Emily Watson. In a discussion of the various versions of Little Women at Hearth and Home, one of the other members commented that she didn't care for the 1994 adaptation because it just felt like Winona Ryder pretending to be Jo. But I actually found that portrayal a bit more believable than Susan Sarandon, and most definitely, Laura Dern, as Marmee! Emily Watson, who I have loved since Miss Potter, was perfectly cast in this role and brought new life to the character, as well. Her presence at Beth's bedside while she lay dying was particularly moving.

And while we're on the subject of Watson, another horrible casting in the most recent version was that of Emma Watson as Meg. And don't get me wrong, I love Emma Watson! I just don't think period pieces are her forte, or perhaps it was just this particular piece. I absolutely loved her in all of the Harry Potter movies and especially in Beauty and the Beast, talk about making a character step off of the pages! But as Meg, not so much. Perhaps it was the writing, but she seemed merely a shadow behind Saoirse Ronan and Florence Pugh. In contrast, I found Willa Fitzgerald's portray of Meg in the PBS Masterpiece adaptation, divine!

And then there is Beth (pictured below, right). With Beth's character I'm not sure I'd say I've ever disliked the portrayal or found it miscast, at least, not in the three versions I've mentioned. But I'm going to be honest here and say that the three adaptations I've mentioned are the only ones I've ever watched.  I just can't abide the thought of Katherine Hepburn as Jo or Elizabeth Taylor as a blonde Amy, but to be fair, I probably should at least watch them? But with the PBS Masterpiece version, one of the things that I did love was how much the they all looked like they really could be sisters. I mean, just look at that picture at the top of this post? If you didn't know it was a movie still you could honestly believe they were a family.

In this adaptation, the writer's gave the character of Beth more depth. No longer just the sickly sister withering away in the shadows, but a beautifully talented musician who struggles with social anxiety and is afraid to leave home. As someone who struggles with this on varying levels myself, this endeared her to me even more. Annes Elwy did a beautiful job in this role!

And as for Amy, who is portrayed by Kathryn Newton (pictured in the group photo at top), I will say this. The four sisters looked close enough in age that I found Amy's brattiness a little easier to bear and a bit more believable. Prior to this I had always felt that the 1994 adaptation got it right when they cast two actresses in the role of Amy, but Kathryn is the only actress who made the portrayal of Amy almost seamless.

And finally, Aunt Jo, and again I am going to tip my hat once again to PBS and Angela Lansbury. While I did fine Meryl Streep's portrayal amusing, something about her just didn't set right with me. I also loved Mary Wickes portrayal in the 1994 version. She has been a favorite of mine, especially as the busy body housekeeper in White Christmas. Prior to this role I wasn't much of a Lansbury, fan, but as Aunt Jo I thought she did an excellent job!

I'm sure many of you have read or watched Little Women and you probably have a favorite adaptation, too. But if you've never seen this particular version I would encourage you to watch it. If you have Prime it's available to watch at no additional cost. I'd love to hear your take on your favorite adaptation, character? This is at the top of my list of favorite books and movies and I love discussing it! Pour yourself a cup of tea and join me in the conversation, won't you?

Monday, October 11, 2021

From the Archives: Santa Fe Chicken Tortilla Soup

Today I am pulling a recipe from the archives, one that I posted back in 2019.  As soon as the weather turns just the slightest bit cooler, this soup is one of the first that I make! It's a long standing family favorite, and it's so good!

Santa Fe Chicken Tortilla Soup, is a recipe that has been in our family for a L-O-N-G time and is a family favorite. My mom made this recipe for years, though I am not sure where she found it originally.  She had a number of those self published church cook books, and most of the recipes you find in them are top notch!  So perhaps it was in one of those. At any rate, this is my go to chicken soup recipe. Just enough spice to give it flavor, but not so much that it's too spicy for those with a more sensitive palette.  In fact, I usually throw in a splash of cayenne when I make up a batch.

I've been nursing a head cold (allergies), most of the week, and while I love this recipe, it's the perfect remedy if you're under the weather, especially with a cold or the flu.  I like to make up a big batch and then freeze them in individual portions to have on hand in the event that one of us comes down with something, especially this time of year.  In addition to being flavorful, it's also SUPER easy, which is a great thing if you are feeling a little less than your best but still need to put dinner on the table!

So without further delay, here is the recipe!

Santa Fe Chicken Tortilla Soup
2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 medium green bell pepper, chopped
1 medium red bell pepper, chopped
4 carrots, cut matchstick style
1 medium onion, chopped
3 whole boneless chicken beasts, cut into bite size pieces
1 can Rotel tomatoes
1 1/2 tsp. cumin
1 1/2 c. frozen corn
6 c. chicken broth (3 cans)
Tortilla Chips, broken

Put oil, vegetables, except corn, and chicken into a large soup pot. Cook over medium heat until chicken is done; reduce heat to medium-low and add tomatoes. Cook for 5 minutes. Add cumin, corn and broth; raise heat. Bring to a boil uncovered; reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Stir in juice of one lime just before serving. Serve with broken tortilla chips and lime wedges.

I encourage you to put this one on your rotation this fall and winter!  Once you've tried it, you'll be hooked!

~ Enjoy

Saturday, October 9, 2021

Small Things - October 9, 2021

"Life is not, for most of us, a pageant of splendor, but is made up of many small things, rather like an old fashioned piecework quilt. No two people have the same, but we all have our own, whether it be listening to Beethoven's fifth with a beloved friend, or seeing a neighbor at the back door with a basket of white dahlias. Or after a long, hard day, having the family say, "That was a good supper."


In no particular order, here are six small things that have inspired me this week!

1. Your Autumn Hygge List, and the website in general, That Scandinavian Feeling.

2. Pumpkin Pie Pop Tarts. I was never a big pop tart fan, but I might be tempted to try these.  Also, if don't know Lisa, get to know her! I love EVERYTHING about her and her blog. EVERY-THING!

3. I love this idea for keeping a Dinner Diary. I think it could come in really handy, especially for people like me who often try a recipe, love it, and then proceed to never make it again, or years later when I recall that I made that before and loved it. But maybe it's just me! :)

4. 24 Ways To Have A Cozy Autumn, and the website, Cozy, Simple, Calm. I haven't had a lot of time to peruse it, but come one, the name alone?

5. The Cozy Burrow, another "cozy corner" of the web that I discovered this week. I particularly enjoyed her posts on "Stillness", which is her word of the year. I hope to spend more time here soon and have added her to my always growing, seemingly never ending list of Kindred Spirits. If you ever get bored, here, just click on one of those links. They are all wonderful!

6. And it was because of Kate, that I discovered Your One Word, which I now plan to devour and put to use in January when I choose my word for the year.  I've already begun to pray about it and I'm thinking I'm going to stick with my word for 2021, which is SEEK. I just don't think God is done with that one yet, but then I felt the same way last year about my word for 2020, which was DWELL. So maybe I'll contemplate both of them for 2022? At any rate, I love what I'm seeing at this site and I'll definitely be spending some time here over the next month. 

Thursday, October 7, 2021

On My Autumn To Do List
- Caramel Apple Butter

Whew! How is it Thursday already? Anyone else? October is hands down my favorite month of the entire year and I'm trying hard to slow down time a little and savor every minute of it, but this week it's been a little difficult.  But today I pulled out my list of things I want to do during Autumn and moved on to the next thing on the list Crock Pot Caramel Apple Butter. It sounds so good and fingers crossed it tastes the same! I fourthed the recipe because my daughter is allergic to apples so I'm likely the only one who will be eating it. Have you ever made apple butter before? I love just about anything I can throw in the crock pot and leave it to work its magic!

Other than that, there's really not a lot else going on today, and for that I am thankful! I have a number of other things on my Autumn To-Do List, including finishing up a few things like straining my fire cider!  I've had a bit of an earache/sore throat (typical this time of year) for the past few days and I think it's time to benefit from my efforts! 

I'm also excited about a package that is due to be delivered today, Snowbound with Betsy and Merry Christmas from Betsy, which if you recall, were the only two books in the series I hadn't read.  Well, as luck would have it, last week I finally found two paperback copies for a decent price and ordered them immediately! I would have much preferred hardcover like the other books in the series, but I'm just not willing to pay the prices that people are asking. In the end I decided that a paperback copy and being able to read the complete series was better than not having them at all. That does mean that I'll be putting the copy you so graciously loaned me earlier this year back in the mail very soon, Pam! Once I realized I was now going to be able to read the entire series from start to finish, I quickly began re-reading the rest of the books from the beginning. I'm currently on Betsy and the Boys, trying to time it so that Snowbound and Merry Christmas will actually fall close to Christmas, but we'll see. They are very quick reads, so it may be much sooner!

It's been overcast and cloudy this week, which I actually LOVE because of the way it makes our little apartment feel so cozy! Now if those darn temps and humidity would take a hike and it actually felt like Autumn, that would be lovely! I try not to fuss much, and remind myself that come February/March I'll be wishing for days like today!

What are some traditional recipes you make this time of year? Anything on your Autumn To Do List, and what are you currently reading?  Let's chat in the comments and savor this lovely season together!

Monday, October 4, 2021

Twelve Things In Tribute To My Grandmother On Her Birthday

My paternal grandmother, Irene Hooper Hutsell, was born on this day in 1902, and to honor her I thought I would share twelve things about her.

1. Her family once owned a significant amount of land in Keller, Texas and what is now South Lake. But when her father died when she was eight years old, her mother sold most of it to support herself and her three children. 

2. She did not have a middle name. 

3. She grayed very early in life (attributed to scarlet fever) and always seemed old to me. By the time I was born she had a full head of silvery white hair. She was 59 the year I was born, the same age I am now. 

4. She could grow anything, and had beautiful vegetable and flower gardens. A trait that sadly, did not pass on to me 

5. She lived her entire life in Keller, Texas. The house she lived in throughout my lifetime is now the parking lot of a Baptist Church. But at the back of the property where the house used to stand, is a patch of grass that was never disturbed, and every time I visit Texas I make that trip, take off my shoes and bury my toes deep into that soil. 

6. She had false teeth that never fit right and were prone to slipping out of her mouth. Because of that, she would grit her teeth in public when she spoke, giving her a stern demeanor. But the minute she got home, she would take them out and her entire composure changed. She had a soft, wrinkly smile and wild hair. That’s the way I prefer to remember her.

7. She never learned to drive.

8. She was an excellent cook and I have several of her recipes. I will never be as good as her, but that’s a trait that did pass on to me. 

9. She never had much and her house was very old, but I learned how to make any home inviting by her example. Her home was always cozy, and warm. 

10. I was born on my grandparent's 39th wedding anniversary, November 11, 1961.

11. She LOVED magazines and always had several on the coffee table that she was perusing. She cut out the Betsy McCall paper doll from McCall's magazine every month and would have it waiting for me to play with when we came to visit!

12. She was a devout member of the Church of Christ and “disowned” me in 1982 when I married a Baptist. She didn’t have anything, so she basically never spoke to me again. I’m a lot like her in many ways, and just as stubborn, so I told myself I didn’t care and went on with my life. When she died I found out that she kept a picture of me in my wedding dress beside her bed. I also learned a few years ago that her grandfather was a Baptist preacher and her own mother (his daughter), was raised a Baptist. I often wonder how her grandfather felt about his daughter leaving the Baptist church, maybe he disowned her, too? At any rate, if I allowed myself to linger long in regret, not mending that relationship would be one. She’s one of the first people I hope to see again in heaven. We have a lot of time to make up for!

Happy Heavenly Birthday, Grandma!

Saturday, October 2, 2021

Small Things - October 2, 2021

 "Life is not, for most of us, a pageant of splendor, but is made up of many small things, rather like an old fashioned piecework quilt. No two people have the same, but we all have our own, whether it be listening to Beethoven's fifth with a beloved friend, or seeing a neighbor at the back door with a basket of white dahlias. Or after a long, hard day, having the family say, "That was a good supper."


In no particular order, here are six small things that inspired me this week!

1. If you enjoyed the Brambly Hedge videos I shared with you yesterday, I found more!

2. I love this recipe for Hot Apple Cider Cinnamon Spice Mix, it's wonderful with apple cider or plain apple juice! Perfect for this time of year! She has a recipe for Gingerbread Spice Mix, as well!

3. Here's another recipe that sounds so good, Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal! It's like dessert for breakfast!

4. I realize that not all of my readers celebrate Halloween, but if you do I found some wonderful books at the Archives to give you lots of ideas! 

5. I love so much about Calico and Twine, but particularly enjoyed this article, filled with suggestions for simple ways to savor this lovely season!

6. Frond & Feather is another lovely blog and the photography alone is worth perusing! But this week I happened across this lovely article and knew immediately that it would make the list of small things this week!

Also, see that little coffee cup in the picture above? I found another one exactly like it at a thrift shop this week for $1, so now I have a set! **SWOOON**!

Friday, October 1, 2021

The Books of My Childhood - For The Love of Cozy Homes

I finished reading A Nest for Celeste: A Story About Art, Inspiration and the Meaning of Home by Henry Cole, on Thursday.  It's a lovely book about a little mouse that lives in a great house on a plantation and befriends a young boy who carries her around in his pocket. Celeste faces several trials and adventures in the story, but has a gift for curating a safe and cozy home wherever she finds herself. At one point in the story she ventures up into the attic and comes across a doll house, just fit for a mouse, and temporarily makes it her home.  Here's a passage from the chapter that I think is just lovely!

"Celeste began straightaway to clean and make order of her new home. Now that the house was bright and cheery, and its contents easy to see, she could open drawers, explore cabinets, shake out linens, polish brass, shine crockery and sweep floors.

And that she did. She made a small broom using feathers from. the old mattresses, and a rag from a bit of mattress ticking. Soon the floors and the walnut staircase glowed. She dusted and polished the chandelier and glass cabinet doors.

An inventory of the dining room cabinet revealed a lace tablecloth, four china plates with matching cups and saucers, and a china serving platter. In one drawer, Celeste found several tiny serving candles, partially melted from the summer heat in the attic.

She pulled one of the chairs from the living room out on to the windowsill. The missing pane afforded her the chance of catching a passing breeze, and from her perch she could see the comings and goings of the plantation below.

Celeste felt contented after days of hard work. She straightened one last picture, fluffed up a sofa cushion, and then at last made her way to her bedroom."

- A Nest for Celeste
by Henry Cole

I don't know about you, but being a lover of homekeeping and creating cozy spaces for myself and my family, this just speaks to my soul! I could envision myself stepping right into that scene and helping Celeste set everything to right. I thrive on bringing order to chaos! This particular book was one that I discovered while homeschooling my girls, but the book that began it all was one I received when I was probably about six years old.

It all started with  Miss Suzy, which is the tale of little gray squirrel "who lives all by herself in the tip tip top of a tall oak tree." To this day I dream of living in a tree house, and I'm apparently not alone (I like #15 and #28). Like Celeste, Miss Suzy was forced for a time to take up residence in an attic doll house, where she discovers a small box of wooden soldiers who come to her aide in recovering her lovely tree top home. I don't want to give too much away in case you've never read it.

"Miss Suzy liked to cook, she liked to clean, and she liked to sing while she worked. Every morning Miss Suzy made herself a bowl of acorn pudding. And as she stirred it around she sang, "Oh I love to cook, I love to bake, I guess I'll make an acorn cake". After that she swept her moss carpet with a little broom she made from acorn twigs. Then she dusted her firefly lamps and rinsed her acorn cups and put her whole house in order."

- Miss Suzy
by Miriam Young

Reading those words is like coming home, so precious and familiar. They sweep me right back to the tiny bedroom in the north west corner of my childhood home where I first discovered this delightful story. If i could point to a moment when my love for all things homey and cozy was first instilled in my heart, it was upon reading this delightful little story. If you've never read it and don't want to bother with purchasing a copy or finding one at the library, I found a lovely reading of it, here.

I have many fond memories from my childhood of seeking out small spaces, which for a time was a corner of our garage, and transforming them into the most magical places. I recall when Cinderella was banished to the attic, and Rapunzel to the top of the tall tower, how lucky they were to be able to make a home in these more secluded, rustic spaces, and to keep company with the field mice and the birds. Though quiet honestly, on the few occasions when a mouse did make its way into our home, I was not welcoming! For a time, I did have a desire to keep a tiny mouse in a cage complete with a teacup, but as I've grown older I'm more content to imagine the adventurous lives they lead in the forest.

There were other books throughout my childhood, and in raising my girls that I've loved for their cozy depictions of home and coziness. Farmer Boy, by Laura Ingalls Wilder, in my opinion is one of the most descriptive of the series when it comes to painting the scene of coziness.

"There were slabs of tempting cheese, there was a plate of quivering head cheese, there were glass dishes of jams and jellies  and preserves and a tall pitcher of milk, and a steaming pan of baked beans with a crisp bit of fat pork in the crumbling brown crust.

Almonzo ate the sweet, mellow baked beans. He ate the bit of salt pork that melted like cream in his mouth. He ate mealy boiled potatoes, with brown ham gravy. He ate the ham. He bit deep into velvety bread spread thick with butter, and he ate the crisp golden crust. He demolished a small heap of pale mashed turnips, and a hill of stewed yellow pumpkin. Then he sighed and tucked his napkin deeper into the neck back of his red waist. And he ate plum preserves and strawberry jam, and grape jelly, and spiced watermelon rind pickles. He felt very comfortable inside Slowly he ate a piece of pumpkin pie.

- from Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder
Chapter 2 - Winter Evening

That passage makes me hungry just reading it!

Some of my daughter's favorite books that likewise depict cozy scenes of home is the Brambly Hedge series by Jill Barklem.

Which tells the story of the seasonal adventures of a community of mice who live in a little township called Brambly Hedge. I think I may have shared these links before, but they were made into a tv series in the UK, and you can find them on You Tube, Winter Story, Spring Story, Summer Story, Autumn Story.
I'm planning on watching Autumn Story over the weekend! I don't know if any of you are cartoon lovers in your adult years, but as with so many of the things I love, including old movies and old sit-coms, cartoons evoke that simpler time of my life as a child and in raising my children. And while I don't live in or dwell too much on the past, in this day and age, with how quickly the world is changing, there is just something about watching them that is like pulling up a soft warm blanket to shelter and cover me from the cold world.

And finally, I want to end by sharing another of my daughter's favorite cozy home books from her childhood,  TumTum and Nutmeg: Adventures Beyond Nutmouse Hall by Emily Bearn. Here's a passage from the opening chapter.

"Once there were two married mice called Mr. & Mrs. Nutmouse, and they lived in great style. They had a big rambling house with a ballroom, and a billiards room, and a banqueting room, and a butler's pantry and just about every other sort of room a married couple might want. (There were thirty-six rooms in all.)

The house was called Nutmouse House, and it was situated in the broom cupboard of a small home dwelling called Rose Cottage. A broom cupboard might not sound like a very grand place for a home, but this broom cupboard was special. It had creamy white walls, mottled red tiles on the floor and a tiny sash window hidden behind a curtain of honeysuckle."

- TumTum and Nutmeg: Adventures Beyond Nutmouse Hall
by Emily Bearn

And I'll simply leave you with that little morsel to wet your appetite for more! The book is filled with such depictions as it whisks you away on Mr. and Mrs. Nutmouse's adventures. It was one of the last books that I recall from Kate's childhood. She was eleven years old when it was first published and we discovered it one day on a trip to Target. I fondly recall reading it together under the big oak tree that stood at the side of our little farmhouse, images of a real cozy home where we lived happily for many years.

Our apartment today, while an apartment in a larger city, is perhaps not equally as cozy, but cozy just the same, and these books are the inspiration for it all! Are you a cozy home keeper, and are there any books from your childhood or even today, that inspire you with their words and sweet scenes of home? I'd love for you to share if you have one or two to recommend. I'm always eager to learn of a new book I might not be aware of yet, and I love to find kindred spirits who've lingered long over the pages of their favorites! Let me know if any of the titles I've mentioned are ones that are familiar to you, and if not, then if you enjoy reading children's literature for yourself or to share with your children or grand children, I can't recommend any of these titles enough! They are a sweet balm for the soul, and I hope you will find delight in them!

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