Saturday, October 21, 2023

Small Things - The Cozy October Edition

"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.

I've been making my own room sprays for about a year now, and I love them! Just yesterday I walked through the house after I'd finished cleaning it and spritzed every room with the delightful scent of Snickerdoodle Cookies! One thing I would let you know is that the scent doesn't last very long, but probably not a lot less time than commercially purchased air fresheners and without the harmful added chemicals! I like that it's clean and that there are so many variations of scents I can try by adding different essential oils.

Now that the temps are dropping into the 40's and they are calling for our first frost this week, I've been making myself a warm cup of tea most afternoons. In the past I've kept a number of store bought brands on hand in this season, and right now I have a box of Yogi Pumpkin Spice Tea. But recently I've noticed that several of my favorite influencers across social media, mix up their own blends and I've been considering trying out a few recipes myself. Wouldn't it be nice, rather than having a dozen bags of the same flavor, to have a nice selection of herbs and loose leaf teas to mix up a number of different flavors? I'm excited to see how it turns out!

The Seasonal Table is a lovely account that I follow on Instagram. I always enjoy their posts, but one of the things I like most are their season supplements. They are offered for free if you provide them with your email, and the autumn edition is due to arrive tomorrow! Hop on over and sign up to get a copy!

4. Cozy Autumn Illustrations
Another thing I love about Instagram are all the cozy autumn scenes that begin to pop up in my feed from the various illustrators I follow. One of my favorites is @robinelisedraws. If you like cozy seasonal depictions, be sure to check out here works.

5. Dedication To A Fire Place
Ahh, a fire place! It's something I've longed for since childhood but so far have only had in one house I've lived in.  Our current house had one when we moved in, but it wasn't a true fire place. I detest fake logs and push button flames! So we took it out. We do have a chimney, though, so maybe someday I'll get the wood stove I've always dreamed of to warm us. But regardless of the type of fireplace you may have in your home, I came across this cute little poem and added it to Autumn/Winter commplace book.

This hearth was built for thy delight, 
For thee the logs were sawn, 
For thee the largest chair, at night, 
Is to the chimney drawn. 

For thee, dear lass, the match was lit 
To yield the ruddy blaze- 
May Jack Frost give us joy of it 
For many, many days.


6. Vintage You Tube Autumn Playlists
And finally, my husband and I purchased an old antique radio last weekend. It doesn't work, but it's a lovely piece, and we loved it from the first moment we laid eyes on it! We both enjoy listening to oldies music from the 1940's - 60's and we decided that since it didn't work, we would simply place our blue tooth speaker inside the cabinet and stream music from our phone.  We've sat and enjoyed it several times already this week, including some old radio shows we found, as well!  Here are a few of our favorites.

And there you have it friends, I hope you've enjoyed this edition of Small Things! I'll visit with you here again soon!

Monday, October 16, 2023

Autumn Rituals

Elizabeth wrote a post over at her blog a few days ago, in which she listed some of her Autumn rituals. I enjoyed reading it so much that I thought I might share some of mine, as well.

Like Elizabeth, I am a decidedly seasonal soul, and of those autumn and winter are my favorites, hands down! They are simply the coziest, and while I strive to give our home a cozy feel all year round, there is just nothing like decorating for autumn and Christmas to warm things up.

Being a seasonal soul, there are a number of rituals and traditions that I keep, and that I look forward to all year long! Here are some of my favorites.

I enjoy cooking and baking year round, but there is nothing like an overcast, balmy autumn sky with grey pillowy clouds that sets my heart to make up something warm to eat! Our family simply loves chili, and just last week I made up a pot using a recipe I'd never tried before, Turkey Pumpkin White Bean Chili, and it was delicious! Definitely one that I will make again before the end of the season, and even into winter. I've never made anything but desserts with pumpkin, and I wasn't entirely convinced that you wouldn't be able to taste it, but if I hadn't made it myself I would have never known that pumpkin was one of the ingredients. It's a keeper!

Almost every year I make my pumpkin dip that I serve with store bought snickerdoodles.  I made up a bowl of it over the weekend and I'm still munching it. I halved the recipe, but it still made quite a bit and since I'm about the only one who eats it, I think next time I might need to make even less. I'll share the recipe here soon.

Not only do I love all the wonderful autumn meals and desserts that we enjoy this time of year, I also love the way they make the kitchen smell!  There is nothing better than a warm kitchen on a cool day and the smell of baked goods in the oven, or the sound of a pot of soup slowly simmering away on the stove! In my opinion, there are few better ways to spend a day!

I get so excited ever year when the calendar turns to September and I know it won't be long before it's time to bring out all my favorite clothes! I've managed to curate a wardrobe I like year round, but my absolute favorite pieces are the clothes I wear in autumn and winter. I adore flannel shirts, layered with t-shirts and a soft pair of jeans. Leggings are always nice to wear this time of year, as well, and with a cute sweatshirt and a scarf you can put together some really cute outfits! And my boots! I have a pair of Sperry boots that I got for Christmas a few years ago. I think this is my fifth season wearing them, and they are still in excellent condition. I also have a pair of black ankle boots that I like to dress things up a bit. I really want to add a pair of Blundstones, and I've been setting aside a little money here and there to be able to buy a pair. I probably won't purchase them until after the first of the year, a belated Christmas gift to myself, perhaps?

Although I cross-stitch and crochet year round, I really begin to feel the urge to create this time of year! Over the past few years that has been primarily because we decided to make most of our gifts by hand. I really enjoy deciding on what to make and lovingly crafting gifts for my family. For me, it's just so much more meaningful! I also enjoy make seasonal decorations for our home, and there are so many to consider and choose from in this season! I find most of my ideas and inspiration on Pinterest and Instagram. I've saved and bookmarked literally hundreds of them, so many that I'll never be able to do them all. But as odd as it sounds, collecting ideas is almost as fun as making them, at least it is for me!

We are so blessed to live close to the Blue Ridge Parkway, about a 10 minute drive from our front door, and in this season we visit it often. The colors in the mountains this time of year are simply breathtaking, and I'm sure I'll be sharing some pictures here very soon. We will most likely be taking a drive up to the mountains one day this week. We are probably less than a week from peak, and I don't want to miss it. Everywhere you drive around here this time of year is simply beaufiul. 

Another place we like to go in this season is the local apple orchard to pick apples, although to be honest, I usually just purchase them already picked. We went this past weekend to a festival they were hosting, but the rain kept most of the vendors away and the conditions were not favorable for a hay ride, maybe next year will be better. But we did pick up some cider, and I think later on tonight I might heat up a cup and enjoy it!

And with that, I think I think I'll wrapt this post up. You can begin to feel the sun setting much earlier in the day now, which I love, signaling that it's almost time to transition over to the evening. We're having chicken and rice casserole with a side of green beans for dinner. My husband is watching football tonight. not my favorite thing, so I'll busy myself working on Christmas gifts. It will be here before we know it!

Saturday, October 14, 2023

October Days

One of the things I love best about autumn are the crunching leaves underfoot. A lot of the leaves in our front yard have already fallen this year, I suspect because of all the rain we got over the summer. That usually makes for less color in the fall. The leaves turn brown and fall to the ground. But autumn in Virginia, even in a less colorful year, still rivals anything I ever knew growing up in Texas.

Because of this, we took a drive up the Blue Ridge Parkway to a higher elevation this week to make sure we hadn't missed peak!  We watch the graphs and predictions for our area every year, and while they are usually right, every now and then it sneaks up on you. Oddly enough, the higher we got in elevation the less color there seemed to be. There is color, but we are probably still a good 7-10 days from peak foilage. We determined it must be the type of trees we have in our yard. We do have a number of dogwoods and they always seem to change early.  At any rater, I'm glad we didn't miss it and we plan to go back soon for the show! It is dazzingly!

We've been working on a number of projects around the house this week. We picked up a free chicken coop a month or so ago and it is so cute! We're going to use it as a little gardening shed, and this week my husband built a new base for it as some of the original boards were rotting, and we got it set in place.  I'll take some pictures soon to share with you. I spent most of my time placing all the cute pieces that we picked up last weekend at the 100 mile yard sale, my favorite being this little antique chalkboard. I got several of the old books, the little stacking boxes and the white speckled pots and pans shown in the picture at the sale, as well. My plan for the pots is to plant some houseplants in them, but for now I just sat the little pumpkin atop it! The little black stool is a recent yard sale find, as well. Since this is the first thing you see when you walk in our front door, I wanted it to be warm and welcoming and I think I achieved that!

I've decided on my hand-made gifts for Christmas for our family this year, and I'm going to be getting started on making those this week. I'm so excited about it and I hope they turn out as lovely as I envision them in my mind!

Other than that, we enjoyed some favorite seasonal movies this week, Practical Magic and Arsenic and Old Lace! I just LOVE those Brewster Sisters! Aside from the poisoning and the bodies in the cellar, I would love to befriend two little ladies just like them! If you've never watched Arsenic and Old Lace, it's an oldie, from 1944, I HIGHLY recommend it! 

There are several festivals in the area today, so my husband and I are planning on checking out a few of them. They are calling for scattered showers, but I don't think that will deter us much. There is something about a rainy autumn day, just before the weather turns too cold. With the gray skies overhead and the golden carpet beneath your feet. It is simply delicious!

I hope you have a lovely autumn day today, and I'll be back here to visit with you again soon!

Thursday, October 5, 2023

Favorite Poems - Poems of Home

Pumpkin patch in Delaware, Autumn 2018

I have loved poetry most of my life, and with each changing season there have been poems and poets that have resonated with me for various reasons. But poems of hearth and home are the ones I love best, and the poem I am sharing below is one of my favorites.  

I first came across it some years back in a little book I picked up at a used book store, Poems That Touch The Heart. (It's available to borrow from Internet Archives, just click the link.). She also has a collection of poems she wrote herself, The First To Kneel, though I haven't been able to find it online. But this little poem so beautifully captures my own thoughts of home, and I wanted to share it here with you today.  I hope you will enjoy it.

Let there be within these phantom walls
Beauty where the hearth fire's shadow falls . . .
Quiet pictures, books, and welcoming chairs . . .
Music that the very silence shares. . .
Kitchen windows curtained blue and white . . .
Shelves and cupboards built for my delight . . .
Little things that lure and beckon me
With their tranquil joy, and let there be
Lilt of laughter-swift forgotten tears
Woven through the fabric of the years. . .
Strength to guard me, eyes to answer mine
Mutely clear. And though without may shine
Stars of dawn or sunset's wistful glow,
All of life and love my house shall show.

~ Catherine Parmenter Newell

Wednesday, October 4, 2023

Savoring The Lovely Days of October

Elizabeth over at Ponderings From the Inglenook is hosting an October blog series, Cozy Reveries! It began on October 1, and even though I'm a few days late, I've decided to join in the fun. I'm not sure if I will post every day in October, but I am going to try to post as much as I can.

Autumn and winter are by far my favorite seasons of the year, and of those October is my favorite month! There is just something about the mix of the warm but still cooler days that gradually fade to into the dark, colder days that I find so enchanting! Living in within the boundaries lines of George Washington National Forest, and less than ten minutes from the Blue Ridge Parkway makes this time of year even more spectacular! We are literally surrounded by beauty, especially in Autumn!

Our porch is decorated with mums (my favorite color in the picture above) and pumpkins, and just this week we had our first chili, Frito Pie to be exact, which is a traditional dinner choice every year when we watch October Sky. October Sky is hands down my absolute favorite movie of all time! It is so inspiring, and definitely one that I believe everyone should watch! The movie is based on the book Rocket Boys by Homer Hickam. I learned recently that they are actually considering a second installment, December Sky, and I am so excited! Our family actually traveled to Coalwood, West Virginia and attended a Rocket Boys festival there one year. There isn't much left of the town, but we got to see the house where Homer grew up, and the remains of the high school he attended. It was a memorable trip!

As for Frito Pie, for Halloween each year I have a favorite chili recipe that I make from scratch (I'll share the recipe soon, because it is SOOOO good!), but on a whim and to save some time I picked up a package of William's Original Chili Mix, and rather than using stew meat (which my recipe calls for), I just browned up some ground chuck, and my was it good! I love my recipe, but it takes a lot more time to get the stew meat nice and tender, but is so worth it! But for occassions when I'm short on time, I am going to start keeping several packages of William's on hand. We eat a LOT of chili this time of year!

I made an apple crisp for dessert, which I had been intending to make all of September, but it simply flew by and before I knew it October had arrived! I typically try to make several yummy desserts using apples in September and save all things pumpkin for October, but it looks like this year I'll be combining them, which is fine.

I've really been enjoying perusing Instragram recently, probably too much, if I'm honest! I get so lost in all the lovely images and recipes, and the talented women of several of the accounts I follow have become sweet friends!

I follow several illustrators and absolutely LOVE some of their recent offerings! The one above is from @chimneysmokeart and I loved it so much I made it my wallpaper on my phone! It just makes me so happy! There are a lot of stone walls that trail across the landscape of Virginia. I would love to have one on our property, but coming up with that many stones in this day and age would be rather expensive. Sometimes you see people post things like, "Free fence, just come and dig it up!" (which we've done). So if anyone ever offers the chance to dismantle a stone wall, I'm on it!

There is a 100 Mile Yardsale happening this weekend, and it begins about fiftteen minutes from our front door! We have acquired so many wonderful pieces for our homestead from yard sales and through Facebook Marketplace, although Marketplace can often be frustrating. So we plan to go tomorrow, which is opening day, and we may go again on Friday. Our daughter wants to go on Saturday and try to pick up some things she needs for setting up household, so we'll be going then, as well, in case anything she finds would require our trailer to haul it home. We don't have anything specific in mind, and we look for deals which may be in shorter supply at an event of this magnitude, but you never know. It's our first time attending so we don't really know what to expect. We even considered setting up shop with some of our own junk somewhere along the route, but since we've never been, we decided to check it out first and then we may well do it again in May. They do it twice a year, so if we think it lives up to the hype, maybe we will? I kind of hate the thought of sitting on all that stuff until May, but since our location isn't prime for a yard sale here at the house, I may have to. I am on the lookout for some pretty plates for the season. I came across this picture in a magazine recently and I just love this pattern! I have it saved to my phone for reference in case I come across them or something similar.

In the coming days I'll share some more lovely images, and hopefully some lovely finds I come across over the weekend, as well as some of my favorite seasonal dishes, including my chili recipe which we'll be having for our All Hallows Eve celebration! Until then I'll leave you with one of my favorite quotes for the season;

“Listen! The wind is rising, and the air is wild with leaves,
We have had our summer evenings, now for October eves!” 


I hope your October is off to a lovely start, feel free to share some of your favorite things about this season in the comments!

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, an age I have now surpassed, yet I don't feel as old as she seemed to me as a child.

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!