Thursday, November 30, 2017

Quinoa Blackbean Chili (vegetarian)

We are SO enjoying this fall
with the changing colors and cool temperatures.
Having been in Florida for the past forty plus autumns,
it's so refreshing to experience the world the way Nature intended it.

One of the best things about cool evenings is being able to eat 
warm, comforting foods.
Here's a twist on chili that I fixed last week.
Since I don't eat meat,
I often use beans as a stand-in for beef or poultry,
although you could certainly add those to this dish.
Rice is usually a staple with chili,
but this time it was paired with quinoa
and the results were fantastic!
We were out of of chili powder (how did that happen?),
so I substituted cayenne pepper instead.
Beans are cooked ahead and placed in the freezer
for just these types of meals.
Here's the way we do it.
This could easily be made in the crockpot,
but I cooked it in a soup pot on the stove and let it simmer for a while.
Mmmm, mmmmm!

Quinoa Blackbean Chili

1 C cooked black beans
2 t olive oil
4 carrots, sliced 
1/2 onion, diced
cayenne pepper
salt to taste
3-4 C homemade veggie stock
1/2 C quinoa 

On medium heat, drizzle olive oil in medium sauce pan.
Add veggies and saute about 5-6 minutes.
Add spices, then beans and stock.
Let simmer on low (mostly covered) for at least 30 minutes.
Add quinoa and continue simmering another 10-20 minutes.
(The longer the quinoa simmers, the thicker your stew will be.)
Adjust salt to taste.

Homemade Vegetable Broth
Easy Beans
Barbecued Lentils
White Bean Ragout
Ever Heard of Quinoa?

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Going Local-Lincolnton Christmas Parade

On Sunday afternoon,
our town had its annual Christmas parade.
This is our first Christmas here in Lincolnton,
and this small town event was just our speed.
Big K volunteered as part of his Ham Radio club
to help with traffic and assisting the police officers on duty.

The local Fire Departments were the first to make the scene,
with flashing lights and blaring sirens.
This was C's favorite part.

 Floats from various organizations
were handmade and quite creative.
This float focused on camping in the great outdoors.

A giant snowman made his way greeting spectators with his infectious smile.

 Each float was more colorful than the next.

These recumbent bicycle riders seemed to be enjoying the event
from their prone positions. 

 What a fun way to get some exercise
and do a bit of people watching as well.
We might need to add these to next year's Christmas wish list.

 A number of local high school bands
entertained us with a host of holiday music.

Old St. Nick brought up the rear
with his herd of friendly reindeer.
He looked nice and toasty in his sleigh,
keeping good company with Mrs. Claus.
After the parade, the mammoth tree was lit in the town square.

It feels great living in a small town,
where little things like parades are a big deal.
So many citizens working together
to bring the event to the townfolk.

How does your town celebrate the holidays?

Going Local Series:
The Mundy House 
Grier Truck Museum 
Mount Holly Community Garden

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Happy Thanksgiving!

"Gratitude can transform common days into Thanksgivings,
turn routine jobs into joy,
and change ordinary opportunities into blessings."
~William Arthur Ward

Wednesday, November 22, 2017


Image result for french flag photos 

My dear, sweet Mimi...
I love and miss you! 

"A mother is she who can take the place of all others,

but whose place no one else can take."

~Cardinal Mermillod

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Kitchen Sink, Organized

Small projects can make a big impact.
It's always rewarding to improve a spot in your home
that gets heavy use.
Sometimes just a simple tweak can make all the difference.

The area under the kitchen sink was annoying me.
It's not that it's jammed packed with stuff,
but I didn't like all the wasted space.
I found an easy solution.

Stacking bins can be used in so many places.
They use the vertical space available
and can be set in cupboards, on shelves or in closets.

This set of three stackable bins was perfect for my needs.

The handles on the sides of the bins fold out
so that the container on top can rest there.

If you decide to use these without the stacking feature,
the flap folds back and adds a bit more stability to the handles.

The first step was to clear out the cabinet.
I knew the fire extinguisher was going to stay put,
so I merely removed everything and wiped it all down,
then replaced the fire extinguisher.
Don't ask me what all the extra hoses are here.
(We plan to update our kitchen next year,
and this will include a new sink.)

Big K had previously installed this wire rack
to house our plastic bags, aluminum foil and parchment paper.
This way, they don't take up valuable drawer space,
but are still easily accessible. 
I dream of the day we don't need to use plastic food storage bags anymore,
but I will probably never be able to give up parchment paper.
At least it's biodegradable.

The cabinet already had this handy-dandy sliding trash bin holder.

Because the pipes were in the way,
the previous owner had cut off the corner of the trash can,
so that it fit properly in the space.
Clever, huh?

Here's the before and after.
The cleaning caddy on the right in the before picture
was relocated to the laundry closet.
The items remaining here are only the materials needed for the kitchen.
Trash bags, dishwasher tablets, nitrile gloves, sponges
and our homemade bug repellents all fit neatly in the bins.
The refill container for my cleaning solution
and the bulky vinegar bottle rest beside them.
I use these two things for most of my cleaning.
It feels so much more spacious, just by adding the stackables.
The more decluttering I do,
the better I feel. 
In a future post, I will feature the laundry closet makeover.

Little changes=big improvements.
The hardest part is getting started.

New House Series:
Moving Toward Bliss
A Fresh Look
Under the Spell of IKEA
Closet Project
Bad to the Bone Beadboard
Desk Top Project

Friday, November 17, 2017

Garden Friday

 As there isn't much to report with our veggie garden,
I thought I'd show off some of Mother Nature's handiwork in the neighborhood.

 We have this wooded area right behind our house
and it is filled with changing leaves and bare branches.
(This is the view from our neighbor's driveway,
the back of our house is just beyond the trees.)

 One of our closest neighbors has this spectacular Pampas grass
bordering his driveway.
It is such a dramatic plant, 
I'd love to find space for a few of these on our property.

A few folks have single trees in their front yards
that are screaming autumn!

The community is bespeckled with lovely shades
of amber and copper.

 Every day on my walk I get to witness the changes all around.

 Seeing nature making the transition from fall to winter
is a wonderous thing to behold.
I find that it keeps me centered and living in the moment.

 With an array of hues too numerous to list,
Mother Nature keeps me enchanted.

These stalwart trees are among my favorites.
Although they won't lose their leaves or change color,
they remind me that no matter what harshness may appear in the coming months,
we will stand tall and make it through.

Each day as the colors change and the leaves drop,
we get closer to another year's end.
Autumn is a time for slowing down before the mad rush of the holidays.

 "How beautifully leaves grow old.
How full of light and color are their last days."
~John Burroughs

 I hope you enjoyed the little tour of the neighborhood.
Every day, I feel so blessed to have eyes with which to see
the magic that surrounds us.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Happy Birthday Sweet Boy O' Mine


To the boy (won't be able to say that much longer)
who fills my heart with love.
You have always been an amazing human being,
and I am watching you grow into who you were meant to be.
Thank you for all of the joy you have brought into my life.
We are so glad you were born.
Happy 17th birthday, Boo!
Big love,

 "There are two great days in a person's life-
the day we are born
the day we discover why."
-William Barclay

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

The Benefits of Living in a Small House

Tiny homes are all the rage.
I have to admit, they are very appealing,
especially if you are young, single and interested in staying debt-free.
What a great way to start out your adult life.
A home is considered tiny if it measures under 1,000 feet.
Although we don't live in a tiny home,
at just over 1400 square feet, 
our new homestead is quite a bit smaller than our last home.

Here are some reasons why a small home might work for you:

~Lower Initial Cost and Monthly Expenses
Although we have more property than our last home in Florida,
this house initially cost us less than what we sold our home for.
We were able to pay cash for our home,
and keep our lives debt-free.
It varies from region to region,
but overall,
the smaller the home, the less it's going to cost.
We also save monthly on our utilities.
We've been pleasantly surprised by lower electric and water bills.
In fact, the monthly bill that costs us the most is our cable/internet/phone bill.
If your household needs to have these luxuries, 
the size of your home won't matter,
but the majority of your monthly expenses will be less. 

~Lower Taxes
For the most part,
the smaller the house,
the smaller the tax bill.
Less square footage equals more money in your pocket.

~Less Furnishings to Purchase
Since the house is on the wee side,
fewer provisions are needed.
This saves money on purchasing decorative items
and saves time on maintaining them.

~Better Energy Efficiency
With less square footage to heat or cool,
it just makes sense that smaller houses are more energy efficient.
Adding insulation or replacing windows to aid in efficiency
costs less because of the smaller footprint.

~Easier to Keep Clean
It takes me a fraction of the time I used to spend cleaning.
Within 30 minutes I can clean:
both bathrooms
the kitchen
dust and mop the entire house.
Ninety minutes.  Done.
That makes cleaning less of a chore and quite manageable.

~Additional Leisure Time
Because you're not spending all of your time cleaning, furnishing,
or working to pay for a small home,
there is more available time to do what you like.

~An Easier Move
Should you need to relocate sometime down the road,
you'll have less to pack up and keep track of.
Of course, should you decide to downsize even further,
a bit of purging will be required.

Once you've experienced life in a cozy little nest,
it's difficult to think of going back to anything larger.
If you are someone who enjoys simple living,
choosing a small home is the best way to live your truth.