Monday, November 25, 2013

the easiest Thanksgiving centerpiece ever…



That’s what I’m in the mood for lately. After all this work getting the house ready to sell, this year’s Thanksgiving tablescape is all about ease. Hmm…let’s see….

a few pumpkins collected from around the house. Check.

a runner already on the table. Check.

sticks and leaves from a walk. Check.

Ok, do you see where I’m going with this post? In case you’re interested in a quick, easy centerpiece too… here’s what my table ended up looking like:


Placecards are made from two twigs and a leaf


fresh Eucalyptus from a vase in my kitchen


is laid down the center of the table


over a piece of paisley and gold flecked burlap


Creamy white pumpkins, fresh pomegranates, gilded pinecones, dried artichokes, and berries from the ground are piled around the leaves


mason jars that I sprinkled with gold glitter hold candles with blessings tied around them


DSC_0206 (2)

plain  grapevine wreaths around white napkins



and my inexpensive dishes from TJ Maxx look more special next to gold chargers




See how easy this centerpiece is?

You can use orange pumpkins if you like those better… I just didn’t have any around.

and you can exchange the pinecones with gourds



DSC_0211 (2)use

By the way, if you’re looking for a new dessert recipe for your Thanksgiving dinner I recently made this Pumpkin Cheesecake with Pecan- Praline topping and it was absolutely delicious!

Pumpkin-Pecan Cheesecake

In the meantime, I’m wishing you and your family a wonderful Thanksgiving.



DSC_0797 (4)use

And if you have college kids traveling the roads ( as I do) I know we will all breathe a sigh of relief gratitude when they walk in the door safe and sound.

DSC_0794 (2)






a love letter to My Body during the holidays…




My dear Body

This is long overdue, an apology of sorts. A moment of reaching out with an olive branch and bowing my head and yes, acknowledging my blatant insensitivity. The silent harshness that I seem to reserve for only you.

Will you hear me out? On behalf of my sisters everywhere?

Because we women are such paradoxical creatures, so capable of tremendous nurturing and care for others and yet when it comes to you, we have the ability to remain so frighteningly cold and detached;

with You we are different

we force food in

some of us force food out

we push you to the point of depletion

we malnourish you with excess sugars and processed foods

and ignore your quiet signals

we treat you as an object to be manipulated and changed, pinched and squeezed and ultimately branded with dissatisfaction. We view you as a project. A body that is never enough. Never thin enough, never firm enough, never quite ready enough to wear a bathing suit on the beach with unabashed self confidence

I am sorry for

standing you under ugly, florescent lights and demanding that you fit into clothing that hangs perfectly on bizarre looking mannequins with 12-year-old body types and enormous breasts.

and for shaming your tender, soft, parts when they struggle to fit into sizes that are mass produced and clearly do not recognize your specialness.  Your soft, fleshy hips that held my beautiful boys for years. Your strong legs that have carried me with unflinching dependability through all my life’s losses and joys only occasionally hinting, with sore knees, that it’s been a long journey. And still, I disparage these same legs with they are in skinny jeans.

Forgive me for my relentless, critical eye which views you through the lens of air-brushed celebrities and fashion magazines that celebrate body types only seen in less than ten percent of the female population.

I apologize for those weak moments when I succumb to this dishonest brand of female beauty.

A beauty without flaws. No smile lines or wiggly parts or signs of cellulite.

Because this affects my relationship with you. It makes me look into the mirror and focus immediately on your imperfect-ness instead of seeing the whole person. My complexity, my smarts, my creativity, my loud, goofy laugh.

And all the while you are still there. My friend and warrior against illness,

my one and only Body.

waiting patiently for a wisdom that comes from a deeper place.

So as the holidays approach I will strive to treat you better.

I pledge to slow down and listen to you. To wait until I hear the rumblings of emptiness that tell me you’re ready for food. I will choose to be grateful for the sensation of fullness instead of guilty.

I will work to recognize the difference between feeling stuffed with food and being stuffed with emotions.

And I will remember this simple truth; people put food into their mouths for two reasons, because they are hungry for food or because they are hungry for something else. And it is up to me to know what I am truly hungry for at any given moment.

In hurried times I pledge to feed you crunchy, raw foods that come from the earth not because I want to you to look a certain way but because I love you…

because I want you to be emboldened with energy and vitality and because

you, my dear Body are the container of all that is precious about me,

my feelings, my life story, my future, the essence of my Soul…

You are me and I am You

and it is impossible for me to be a confident woman without a deep, abiding bond with you.

We are life travelers you and I, so during the holidays let us be best friends

When life gets stressful I pledge to go into nature for a walk that has nothing to do with calories and everything to do with getting in touch with my feelings. I will remember that I cannot change my relationship with food until I change my relationship with others.

And when I’m engaging in mindless eating instead of feeling bad I will look for unrealistic expectations in my life. I will beware of the “shoulds” I may be imposing on myself. And the unspoken expectations I may have of others. I will say “No” without guilt. I will set limits that restore harmony to my daily life.

When I’m feeling overwhelmed, I will seek out ways to care for myself. I will use techniques such as this one: I will put my hand over my heart and use the power of my own touch to calm myself, because research tells us that human touch slows down our body’s stress response. And when accompanied by soothing self talk such as, “This is really difficult now, but this too shall pass,” I can choose serenity.

During the holidays I will banish “fat talk” from my surroundings and I will speak up when I hear a family member make comments about a person’s body or weight in my home.

I will exercise when it feels good and stop when it doesn’t

I will write down one thing my body did well each day and offer kindness in return,

(examples: stretching, yoga class, massage, lotions, hot bath)

I will examine my expectations of my child’s appearance and instead of body comments I will re-focus on their unique qualities and talents. Comments directed at their whole person.



I will be open to using helpful “tools” that move me toward self knowledge like this hunger chart.

I will seek out material that is grounded in reality

like this refreshing post: What People Really Look Like

And if things get too hard… and I find myself struggling with feelings of sadness and hopelessness I will immediately seek help from a professional. Because in case you’ve never been to a good therapist,

This is why therapy rocks

(I couldn’t have said it better)


Now here’s a question for you, my reader.

When was the last time you looked in the mirror

and thought, “I love my body.”



*This post is dedicated to all the courageous eating disorder women that I once worked with.



I’m sharing this post at these special places:



Monday, November 18, 2013

this is what I’ve been doing…


Last night I was laying in bed thinking about the blog title I should use for this post.

First I thought about My Fall Home Tour. Only I wonder if I’m too late for that post since I’m already hearing Christmas music in the stores

(Can you believe that? And it’s not even Thanksgiving yet! Please tell me.Whatever happened to enjoying each season?)

OK side rant finished.


I also thought this was a nice title: A few of my Favorite Changes.

Because I do have lots of updated house projects to show you and I really like how things are looking around here.



But somehow nothing captures these last crazy, whirlwind weeks. Maybe Nesting on Steroids? Hmm… too strange? Well the truth is, I still can’t believe it’s already been more than a month since we decided to move and do you know what?

I’ve still got my sleeves rolled up and I’m still checking off projects from my list. Yep.



(I found this toile fabric in the back of my cupboard and sewed these pillows. Kirsten- -a BFF  and our realtor-- told me I needed color on my couch)

De-cluttering, organizing, painting, fixing, sewing, hot gluing…It’s true that some of these projects are required for selling our home, but honestly, some of the styling and extra touches are simply because it’s me. It’s how I express myself… I guess I just like to make pretty rooms.


Magnolia leaves and oranges ( inside my old window box)

DSC_0807 (2)use

replacing the apples, berries and candles..


The funny thing is, even though I’m incredibly busy I’m not harried. Instead, I seem to be having a lot of contented moments while being immersed in my projects. The best part of this kind of busy work is that it allows me time for reflection.





I’m totally aware that this strange, transitional time happens to be my Life right now.

So I’m actually trying to relish it all. Even this in-between period with all its unknowns.

Now each day in my home feels special; I’m conscious of the warm, comfy feeling I have inside these walls because I know I’m leaving them soon.

“Letting go” of something does that. It transforms us from within. It’s like wiping our smudgy glasses and putting them back on; suddenly ordinary things in our life appear larger and colored with meaning as if our vision has been affected. But it’s really our hearts that have been changed.

I feel this way with my parents. All of a sudden, a mundane trip to Home Depot or a cup of coffee over my kitchen island feels like a tender, picture-worthy moment. So I’m taking more IPhone photos lately because it’s the simple things I don’t want to forget. Do you know what I mean?

When we look back on our time with our friends and family, have you noticed that it’s the tiny moments that stand out in our minds? A certain facial expression. Something that was uttered during a random conversation. A shared moment of laughter. The way someone said your name.

Whatever is happening in your life, I hope you try to be fully present in it because there’s a whole lot of special moments in both the good and the bad times--that offer us the chance to grow into something different. A slower, wiser version of who we are now.

“I’m just happy to be here.”  I saw this on a bumper sticker and it’s my new mantra. Bumper sticker wisdom. Isn’t it great?

My big regret lately is that I’ve been away from the computer for long stretches of time and it’s  hard to keep up with my blogging. And I miss it. I miss all of you.


How do you catch up with an old friend? Let’s see. If we were sitting over a steaming cup of coffee I could simply tell you what I’ve been doing but since we’re in front of a screen, how about I just show you what’s been keeping me busy?


Patrick’s old room updated.  Here’s the pillow I sewed after I fell in love with this fabric.




Yesterday I made this magnolia wreath to hang on the window since I don’t have curtains in here. I had no idea what I was doing….

but fresh Magnolia leaves + hot glue gun + old burlap wreath =



I love Magnolia leaves don’t you?


Here’s Michael’s old room-Before photo


After photo

I actually had those celadon green curtains folded in my linen drawer from another decorating phase of mine. I finally know what it means to “shop your home” for new stuff. It’s amazing what I’m finding.

For the other side of Michael’s room, I needed a lamp to go next to a chair

so I turned this old, yucky thing from this into this:


courtesy of a can of spray paint and a new shade



I gave these three walls a fresh new coat of touch up paint in the upstairs attic room.



I made this moss green letter “H”….


to get ready for Christmas…

( I promise to show you how I made this)


I stained this stool and plank wood a dark walnut to finish styling my Master bathroom. (I’ll show more photos later)



I planted my Paperwhites. Two entire packs of them in this metal container …


because I like this look.

The only problem is.. I hate tossing out old plants and since I still had a little ivy plant in my container  I decided to make a quick topiary with a clothes hanger.








my clothes hanger topiary…


Oh my goodness. I have SO much more to share but I’ve already put too many pictures in this post. I’ll be writing more now that I’m winding down on these house projects…Only a few more things and we’re ready to list it.


Right now I’m loving number seven on this list.

Which one is grabbing your attention?




I’m sharing this post with these friends:



Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Autumn bliss: home-made soup and book talk…


During the cooler months of Fall one of my favorite soups to make is with Roasted Butternut Squash. There’s so many wonderful recipes out there but this is one of my favorites because I like this soup with a dash of sweetness. Since this version uses fresh ginger, I like to drizzle brown sugar over my bowl before serving.

Are you in the mood for a pot of home-made soup? Here’s how I made mine:


two butternut squash

one leek, chopped

1 1/2 onions chopped

shredded ginger

one apple, peeled and finely chopped

4 cans of chicken broth; 14.5 ounce  cans

1 1/2 cups cream

4 tablespoons of good olive oil



  • Preheat to 400°F. Place squash on rimmed baking sheets and drizzle with brown sugar.  Roast until tender and slightly brown in spots.


  • Add olive oil in heavy large pot over medium heat. Add garlic, sliced leeks, onions, chopped apple and fresh shredded ginger, two tablespoons of brown sugar and sauté until it looks translucent and begins to soften, stirring frequently, 3 to 4 minutes. Add roasted squash, then broth. Increase heat and bring to boil; reduce heat to medium, cover, and simmer until vegetables are very tender, stirring occasionally, about 15-20 minutes. Cool slightly.


  • Working in batches, puree soup in processor until smooth. Return to pot.


  • Whisk 1 1/2 cup cream into soup. Season to taste with salt and pepper but taste first. I didn’t add any to this batch and liked it better. Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover soup and chill. Rewarm soup over medium-low heat, adding broth or cream to thin, if needed.





I think roses always look so pretty inside pumpkins, don’t you think?

And of course, you need a good book to sit and read while you eat your soup. One should always have their nose in a book while eating home-made soup, it adds to the flavor.

So tell me, what are you reading these days? I just pinned this on to my Books etc.. Pinterest board:


click HERE to find out if you’ve read these books yet.


click HERE to vote in the Good Reads Choice Awards for the Best Books of 2013

These are the categories:


Orphan Train A Tale for the Time Being A Constellation of Vital Phenomena

Mystery & Thriller

Unseen (Will Trent, #7) Ordinary Grace Touch & Go

Historical Fiction

Whistling Past the Graveyard TransAtlantic Burial Rites


The Republic of Thieves (Gentleman Bastard, #3) The Golem and the Jinni The River of No Return

Paranormal Fantasy

The Bone Season Fifth Grave Past the Light (Charley Davidson #5) Frost Burned (Mercy Thompson, #7)

Science Fiction

Lexicon Terms of Enlistment Earth Afire (The First Formic War, #2)


Fallen Too Far (Too Far, #1; Rosemary Beach, #1) Wait for You (Wait for You, #1) Losing Hope (Hopeless, #2)


Help for the Haunted The Resurrectionist: The Lost Work of Dr. Spencer Black NOS4A2

Memoir & Autobiography

Wave Waiting to Be Heard: A Memoir Sum It Up: 1,098 Victories, a Couple of Irrelevant Losses, and a Life in Perspective

History & Biography

Jim Henson: The Biography The Guns at Last Light: The War in Western Europe, 1944-1945 Manson: The Life and Times of Charles Manson


The Autistic Brain: Thinking Across the Spectrum Bad Pharma: How Drug Companies Mislead Doctors and Harm Patients Decisive: How to Make Better Choices in Life and Work

Food & Cookbooks

Tequila Mockingbird: Cocktails with a Literary Twist Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us Bread & Wine: A Love Letter to Life Around the Table, with Recipes


Adulting: How to Become a Grown-up in 468 Easy(ish) Steps Hyperbole and a Half: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things That Happened Bad Monkey

Graphic Novels & Comics

American Vampire, Vol. 5 Calling Dr. Laura: A Graphic Memoir Captain Marvel, Vol. 1: In Pursuit of Flight


Love, Dishonor, Marry, Die, Cherish, Perish Bough Down Incarnadine: Poems

Debut Goodreads Author

Letters from Skye The Ghost Bride Altered (Altered, #1)

Young Adult Fiction

Fangirl Dare You To (Pushing the Limits, #2) This Is What Happy Looks Like

Young Adult Fantasy

The Indigo Spell (Bloodlines, #3) Opal (Lux, #3) Prodigy (Legend, #2)

Middle Grade & Children's

The House of Hades (The Heroes of Olympus, #4) Doll Bones Chasing the Prophecy (Beyonders, #3)

Picture Books

The Dark Exclamation Mark A Little Book of Sloth



Right now in the midst of all this whirlwind packing and painting I’m returning back to my books more than ever. Reading like crazy because books are my soothing escape, always have been.


Tell me,

what books do you have next to your bed right now?







Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...