Merry Christmas To All!

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Hello, dear friends. It’s been quite awhile since I last posted and I have missed you all so much.
I experienced a few health issues over the last few months and after many tests, it was determined that I needed a particular course of treatment that began right before Thanksgiving and ended last week. For the past three weeks I haven’t had my usual energy so it feels like I’ve been doing everything in slow motion – wrapping a few gifts each day, decorating the house for Christmas in one hour spurts and making pancakes and French toast and freezing it for Christmas morning breakfast.

Anyway, I’m feeling better everyday and I’m anticipating that I’ll feel like my old self again in another 2-3 weeks. In the meantime, I plan on enjoying every minute of the holidays! Christmas Eve and Christmas Day spent with family, eating all the foods I don’t usually eat (oh, yes, anything and everything containing sugar) and maybe some walks through the neighborhood enjoying the warm weather we’ve been experiencing. It’s actually going up to 70 today, 12/24/15 , in upstate NY! I’m looking forward to it all.

And to you, my friends, I wish you and your families a very Merry Christmas. May the peace, beauty and joy of this season bless all of you.

With love,

Susan
XOXO

This and That

Well, Thanksgiving weekend has come to a close – the leftovers have all been eaten, the sweet treats have magically disappeared and I’m getting excited to slide into the next season. The outdoor furniture has been covered and most activities are taking place indoors on these chilly days.

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I’ve actually started my Christmas shopping – trying to do everything either locally or online. I’d like to finish up and get the wrapping going so there’s not a mad dash at the end. I’ve been diligently working on a few gifts that I’m making and I’m planning on making cookie dough and breads to freeze.

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Of course, we’ll be baking our classic holiday cookies this year but I wanted to try out a few healthier versions – light or no sugar, gluten free. I’ll let you know if any of them are worthy of passing on.

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Look what I found at the thrift store for just $1.50 – what a find! I love Ina and all the tasty dishes she makes so I just couldn’t resist.

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I’m usually not much of a shopper but I love white bowls and pitchers.

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When I found this beauty at HomeGoods recently, I couldn’t resist.

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Well, after a marathon of pie, cake, stuffing and gravy, I'm looking toward good, home-cooked healthy meals again. I found this fabulous spinach at the last outdoor farmer's market

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and made a pot of delicious chicken soup with wild rice and spinach. Simple but, oh so good!

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And what plans have you been making for the upcoming month? Have you started your shopping yet or will you be making a lot of your gifts this year? I think people love getting something made by hand or home baked, don’t you?

Wishing you all a lovely week and as always, thanks so much for visiting me.

Susan
xoxo

Thanksgiving Blessings

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As always, at this time of year I find myself taking time to reflect on all the things I’ve been blessed with.

My family – There really are no words to describe how it feels to love and be loved by them.

My friends – Old and new – they have all blessed me in more ways than I can count.

And you, dear readers, fellow bloggers and friends. You have made my life so much richer with your kind words and all the creative ideas that you share.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours and may your holiday be blessed with love and abundance.

With love,

Susan
XOXO

Eating Well

I’m so glad to have my kitchen mojo back. I’ve been making lots of good, old fashioned, cold weather comfort food – chicken parmigiano, flounder stuffed with crabmeat and spicy chili loaded with veggies.
The house always smells so good when you put on a pot of sauce and let it simmer on the back burner for a few hours.

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And, what a quick simple dinner we had when I brought home some crabmeat stuffed flounder that just had to be baked in the oven for 20 minutes.

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Baked with a pat of butter, a sprinkle of garlic powder, salt and pepper and a squeeze of lemon, it comes out of the oven moist and delicious.

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Add a few potatoes and broccoli and yum!

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And one of my cold weather favorites – chili.

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A pile of veggies…

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ground beef or turkey, beans, crushed tomatoes and spices…

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Of course, I have to add some crushed red pepper, a bit of cheese and a swirl of olive oil. Perfect on those cold, rainy evenings we’ve been having.

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Next week the kitchen will be filled with the wonderful fragrances of Thanksgiving. And, oh, the baking! Grandmas’ apple turnovers, pumpkin cupcakes and a couple of pies – I’m really looking forward to it.

What’s been going on in your kitchen this week? I hope you’re enjoying the deliciousness of the season as much as I am.

Thank you all so much for your comments. I really enjoy reading each and everyone of them.

Susan
xoxo

A Nod To November

It’s been warm and it’s been cold, it’s been sunny and we’ve had rain, but through it all, I have enjoyed every (well, almost every) moment of this time of year.  I looked out my bedroom window recently and marveled that the leaves had fallen off all but one beautiful tree.

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When I looked out again, just a few days later, this tree was bare too.

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I honestly don’t mind spending more time indoors on the cold rainy days. I’ve been quite happy puttering around the kitchen, crocheting and reading. No, I don’t have a cleaning service coming in to clean the toilets and wash the floors, but I relegate all these fun chores to early morning, or skip them altogether when the mood strikes. Yes, I make my bed every day and I don’t usually have any dishes in my sink, but on those cloudy mornings it’s very hard to notice the tumbleweed floating across the floors or the dust on the tables.

I’ve had time to wade through some wonderful magazines. Taproot from Amanda Soule is always inspiring.

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This month there was a feature on making bowls out of clothesline. She made a pile over the summer that she dyed first and they were all fabulous.

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She made it look so easy that I may have to give it a try. I also made it half way through Stampington’s latest issue of Where Women Create.

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I love peeking into these womens’lovely studios and seeing what they’re making.

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One of my new faves is called Prairie Style.

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The warm cozy homes featured on these pages are right up my alley. Nothing too fancy, just plain comfortable and lived in.

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There’s been a bit of catalogue perusing taking place these days too, as well as some list making. I’m getting a nice head start on my Christmas shopping.

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Of course, there’s the beginnings of a couple of hand made gifts too. I had a few request so I thought I’d better get moving. I enjoy working on these projects in the evenings while I watch any one of the many Real Housewives shows that, for some reason, I am hooked on.

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And look who else likes getting cozy this time of year. She hops into our bed at around 7 and warms it up for us.

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I’ve been doing lots of cooking lately. Of course, most things I make are simple. I wouldn’t have it any other way. How about a baked potato topped with sautéed onions and peppers or any other veggies I have on hand. It’s really so delicious, healthy and filling.

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And, I love a quick supper of pasta with oil, garlic, shrimp and spinach. I add a bit of red pepper flakes to add a real pop of flavor and it can all be done in the time the pasta takes to cook.

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Though things may get hectic around here at times, as it does in everyones life, I really do enjoy the down time. Reading or craft projects or trying a new recipe are simple pleasures that really bring me joy.

What have you been up to? Planning your menu and shopping for Thanksgiving – working on Christmas gifts? Whatever it is, I hope you’re enjoying yourself.

As always, thanks so much for stopping by.

Love,
Susan xoxo

Cranberry Heaven

I LOVE CRANBERRIES!!!  Cranberry everything.  When they finally arrived at the grocery store, I bought several bags and the wheels started turning.

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I started off with some cranberry sauce to complement the turkey we were having for dinner. I put the cranberries in the pan with a bit of water and waited for them to start popping.

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Next, I added some agave nectar to sweeten things up a bit – honey or sugar works fine too.

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And then I added orange zest – I can’t help myself – I add it to everything involving cranberries.

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Yum, time to smash some of the berries against the side of the pan, leaving lots of chunks, and it’s done. All this cranberry deliciousness only takes a couple of minutes and Voila!

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This sauce works well with so many things. It’s delicious on pancakes and waffles. And, for an easy seasonal dessert, I like to put a scoop of vanilla ice cream on a slice of gingerbread or spice cake, drizzle warm cranberry sauce and add a dollop or two of whipped cream on top. Because we know everything tastes better with whipped cream. And we all know two dollops are better than one.

I also made some “cheater’s” cranberry orange bran muffins.

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This was a box of Hodgson Mills bran muffins to which i added 1/2 cup of cranberries, a dash of orange zest and a sprinkle of cinnamon. They’re delicious served warm with a bit of fruit.

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And, one more of my favorites – can you guess?

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Yup, chicken salad with cranberries. I just make a simple chicken salad of chicken, celery, mayo and salt and pepper and throw some of those beautiful red gems in. I boiled them in a bit of water until they just popped and let them cool and then added them to the salad. I added a bit of agave nectar to balance the tartness of the berries.

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And at the last minute, I had to do it….

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I had to add a smidge of orange zest. I really love that combination! And it made delicious sandwiches with a bit of greens on toasted multigrain bread. Paired with a cup of soup, it makes a great lunch or dinner.

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Of course, I make cranberry walnut bread every fall.

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You can find my recipe for that here.  It’s one of our favorites.  I have a few more things I’d still like to try – oatmeal cranberry cookies, brussel sprouts with walnuts and cranberries and I just saw a recipe for shortbread cookies with cranberries and walnuts.  What do you think?  Sounds good, doesn’t it.

What’s going on in your kitchen this time of year?  I hope you’re enjoying the bounty of this season as much as I am.

Thanks so much for stopping by.  Happy cooking!

Susan
xoxo