Monday, September 28, 2020

Last Weekend of September Recap

I truly don't know how it's the last weekend of September already.  Then again, my birthday was at the beginning of the month and that feels like eons ago.  This is like the fastest, slowest year ever.  

Remember last week or whenever when I said something like do you ever want to keep driving and figure crap out when you get there?  Well, I meant something more permanent but in this case, we just kept driving until we found ourselves in Michigan.  I could not be home one more minute and we knew there was the Grand Traverse Pie Company not too far over the border so if nothing else, there was pie.  

But first, we saw an orchard and decided to stop.  Apparently, these people don't know there's a pandemic going on so we got the hell out of the store and went to the pre-packaged counter out front and grabbed some road food including this caramel apple we split.

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I used to live for those as a kid come autumn and they're still good.  I need to commit to making some of my own because every time I taste something I always think "I could make that better."

Something told me we'd need our cooler and I'm glad we brought it because I spied a Plum Market which I knew carried our much loved Wow Bao's from Chicago in the freezer section.  But before we got those, we passed by the world's largest cauliflowers.

Use the large heads of broccoli for scale.  They're more impressive in person.

Because it was that kind of day, we ate dessert first at GT Pie company.

Their apple crumb is the shiznit and homegirl needs to be shown how to properly warm up a slice but I was just glad to have a taste of what feels like a second home during this crap fest.  It was really strange to be outside dining.  We weren't near anyone but it just felt weird to not be eating in our car.

Speaking of which, then it was time for dinner so I found a deep dish place up the street.

It looks huge but it's a small so we ate two pieces and threw the other two away.  It was good but I wished there was a little garlic and a small hit of sugar in the sauce since it leaned toward that strong tomato paste taste like Giordano's.  I was afraid it would give me heartburn but thankfully didn't.

I wanted to go to Frankenmuth since it was only 70 miles away but that would be 70 more miles to tack on to an already hellacious drive back so we didn't.  Regardless, it was nice to not be cooped up.  The Mr got right to rolling with The Stick when we got home since history has taught us long drives mean Charlie horse legs if we don't.

The Mr paid for it the next day though with the worst migraine of his life.  All of our usual tricks weren't helping so it was basically misery for him all day long.  I made a big brunch which we haven't done in a while hoping it would help.

Those Beyond breakfast sausages were not great.  I'm glad we didn't stock up on them in Michigan.  They aren't available around here but now I know we're not missing anything.  The French toast was good, I think.  I had a lot of morning congestion (normal) that wasn't budging so that was a bummer.  While he was in and out of consciousness, I went down and stained some wood for a project that I had to fix from a crappy Etsy purchase.  I'm getting really tired of having to fight for crap to be right in almost every aspect on the smallest to largest scale.  It's getting rather exhausting.  I just want this year to be over.  Not that things will magically get better then but yeah, I don't even know what I mean by that.  

Just mentally done.

When he was finally feeling about 75%, we went to the park at dusk and walked as the sun went down.

As we finished, we were walking in the dark.  Then we grabbed a few items from the grocery store and went home.

The Mr has his MRA today so if you could say a little prayer for hiiiiim.  At least we didn't have to wait until November. 

How was your weekend?  Anything planned for the week?

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Friday, September 25, 2020

What I'm Reading (and Eating) This Week #39

Howdy do all?  

(I like to write that because when the Mr. proofreads it, he reads it like Kevin McAlister's TalkBoy on slo-mo in Home Alone 2 making the reservation.  Watch, this will be the only time he doesn't.)  It's been another good week of meals around here.  

Sunday was the grilled cheese and tomato soup I showed Monday.  On Monday, we had a "quick microwave dinner."

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That is 10 month old turkey from the Food Saver which was just as tasty and moist as the day I sealed it baby!  So glad I found my final packet.  Also nuked some russets in the microwave and made a quick batch of mashed potatoes and I snapped some green beans we picked up from the farm market the day before.  The Mr laughed and said "your idea of "throwing a microwave meal together" is different from most people, I'm sure.  Lucky me!"

On Tuesday, it had been a long day and the meal I planned on us making together wasn't in the cards so I threw together a BBQ chicken pita pizza with Brussels.

Wednesday, was another day of fighting everything and everyone for the Mr and he didn't feel well.  So, I made this Pasta with Pumpkin Sauce.  Perfect fall dish!

Crispy sage...fancy pants.

Last night we had five TJ's Beef Bolognese ravioli and a salad 

I gave the Mr the week off from cooking since he'd been killing himself with the kitchen sink flange replacement and dealing with computer issues.  

Lets get to...

How To Politely Decline Social Invitations Amid The Pandemic  (So laughing in their face and saying "are you SERIOUS!?" is discouraged?)

The Best Cholesterol-Lowering Foods   (Yum! Pass the dark chocolate please.  Trader Joe's 72% pound plus bar is the best!)

This Is How You're Messing Up Your Metabolism   (I'm surprised breathing isn't on here.)

6 Ways to Calm Down an Out-of-Control Partner  (Good tips)

13 Lessons to Make You Really, Truly Happy. Maybe.  (Blissed monkeys and greased boars...oh my!)

How To Sew by Hand: 6 Basic Stitches  (I always find hand stitching relaxing.  Still don't know if the sewing machine I bought last year works.)

DIY French Recycled Tins/Containers  (Oooh, winter project!)
50 Thanksgiving Vegetables That Will Totally Steal the Show  (Screw Thanksgiving, I'm making these leading up to it!)

Dog Is Too Polite To Kick Occupant Out Of His Bed   ("Mom, you're the alpha here, get it out please!")

No leaf changes around yet so I'm sure we'll stick close to home.  Yay.

How was your week?  Anything going on this weekend?

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Wednesday, September 23, 2020

First Fall Hump Day Poll

I saw this gem from Cathy yesterday and lost it laughing!  

So that brings us to today's hump day poll question:  

What are some of your favorite Fall comfort foods?

I like soft, chewy cookies with fall flavors like maple, butterscotch, pumpkin and cinnamon.  I love apple crumb pie too.  I only like pumpkin pie with gingersnap crust on Thanksgiving but don't care one way or the other the rest of the season.  (Cool Whip or Cabot Whipped Cream) 

Savory dishes, I like a nice chowder like clam or corn.  Chili is always good as well as my favorite fall meal...grilled cheese and tomato soup.

How about you?

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Tuesday, September 22, 2020

20 Ways to Bring Fall Hygge to Your Life

Happy First Day of Fall!  It has been a year and if you turned your nose up at hygge articles as a 'trend' over the past few years, after this dumpster fire of a year, I'd say it's time to take a second look.  First off, what is hygge and how the heck do you pronounce it?!

Doesn't that sound lovely especially with the way the world is right now?   The Danes and I have been living this way our whole lives.  The Mr will vouch for me.  Before America latched onto this on Pinterest boards and blogs, some of us have lead our lives by that feeling even in the dead of summer.  (I never stop drinking hot tea or hot chocolate even if it's 95 degrees out.)   One key part of hygge is socializing with your family and friends.  I can't convey how my heart bursts with squee when people come into our home and say "your house is soooo cozy!" or "I feel so at home and relaxed here!"  The problem with this year in particular is that getting together in enclosed spaces isn't the best of ideas to keep everyone safe.  You can certainly do some alternatives and if you're interested in me sharing my idea for cozy time with others in a future post, let me know.

Let's say you're ready to dive in head first and embrace hygge for your household.  Let me welcome you to the club and offer you a (virtual) steaming cuppa to soothe your weary soul.  Fall is basically hygge season, hits its height at the holidays when everyone is down with all of the nostalgic feels.  Let me tell you, you can capture that feeling all year long and if you embrace it, it will definitely help you for winter.  These are my top 20 ideas or items to make sure you have a very hygge fall and beyond.

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Candles are the number one must have for hygge and the Danish burn 3.5kg (or almost 8 lbs) of candles per person!  Most light candles every single day as part of hygge and some to honor those who have passed.   These taper candles are unscented with a long burn time.  They look beautiful tucked in a vintage tin or a mason jar.  (Make sure they are on a surface that is sturdy and put a dish you don't mind getting a drip or two of wax on if you do this.)  


You don't have to do all unscented candles but the idea is not to have an overwhelming smell.  Some of my most loved long lasting candles are from Milkhouse Candles when I saw them in Vermont.  Sticky buns is one of my favorite scents and their fresh cut Fraser can't be beat for the holidays!  Don't believe me?  I have a whole stash at the ready for Fall and Winter!

The cool thing is after you burn Milkhouse candles, you can wash them out and use them for bud vases, fill them with stuff or make your own new candles to keep or give as gifts!  

If you're apprehensive about burning real candles either for environmental reasons, or want to leave some in unattended spaces like a bathroom, you cannot beat Luminara LED candles.  I have used two or three different kinds but Luminara are the only candles that are consistently mistaken for the real thing.  My aunt freaked out once because I had some about 3" away from the top of the armoire and she's like "your candles are going to set the wood on fire!" and the Mr and I laughed and said, "no, they're good."  She had to get right up on them and couldn't believe it.  This bundle is the best price and I know they're a little expensive but I have some that have lasted over 15 years so they are worth the extra for authenticity and quality.  They also have some specialty ones like pine cones which I am seriously in love with to put two on the mantel over the winter months.  If you dig colors, they have those too.

There is nothing like cozying up with a good blanket.  This one has been by our side ever since we got it last November.  

Super soft sherpa on one side and luxurious faux fur on the other that I will sometimes find myself "petting" because it's so friggin' soft!  They have a ton of colors to choose from too!  It's large enough for two people to get snuggled under or to just drown in its awesomeness for one.  Texture is also a big part of bringing hygge into your home and this has it in abundance.  If you don't have a ton of space to store big blankets, I found this guy on Etsy who makes blanket ladders with a reclaimed wood look to them and jumped on it.

It gave height to a space that needed something so it worked out perfectly.  The shipping time scared me but I think he actually has many pre-stained that he'll ship out because I had mine in a few days but he'll do custom colors as well.

I'm not a huge book reader but I have to say, is there no better time for dipping your toes into a mental retreat that reading brings?  These are two small reads that I highly recommend.

The Little Book of Hygge: Danish Secrets to Happy Living and The Art of Making Memories both by Meik Wiking are short but effective reads.  Meik is the CEO of the Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagan...yes, there is such a place!  The hygge book was at our vacation rental last year in the Berkshires in Massachusetts and I was hooked.  I sat on the cozy couch with a blanket with the sun streaming through the window on me as I read it and wanted it not only to recall that memory but as a great light read if I needed a mental break.  

You can obviously read whatever books you're into.  I tend to gravitate toward biographies and self improvement books.

I'm delving into The Mindful Self-Compassion Workbook over this winter and I read Driving Miss Norma last summer.

As I'm typing this,  I have on a random jazz cafe YouTube channel so I can concentrate.  Those stations tend to be our dinner music these days which keeps us mindful to what we're eating instead of scarfing it down and it can help you be mindful as you work or relax.  KCSM in San Francisco is always a great app to have on hand because it makes us feel like we're right back in Pacific Heights blissing out on our discovery of it.  One thing I learned from our stay in the Berkshires is that I should bring a bit of vinyl back into our life.   

The Mr did a lot of research because we wanted something Bluetooth that wasn't going to lose quality in translation.  After checking with an audiophile friend, he agreed this turntable was a good purchase.  We've been very happy with it and recommended it to one of my best friends and she and her husband are very happy with it and have really amped up their vinyl collection because of it.  One of the first vinyls we got was a Vince Guaraldi piece, the dude who scores Charlie Brown specials so you know I'm all about that.  Whether you choose to go vinyl or make a playlist and hit shuffle, the object is to go with old school classics.  Theolonius Monk, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin or those with velvety voices like Kenny Rogers, Nat King Cole or Marlon Williams.  Let's not forget those talented ladies!  Our absolute favorite is Diana Krall's When I Look In Your Eyes as well as Billie Holiday and Ella Fitzgerald, of course!

Part of hygge time is the act of making baked goods.  It's almost a calming ritual and it's a great way to involve others and spend time with them.  You could break out an old family recipe or make something fun to welcome the season.

Even if you're not a baker, there's no better time to try.  Do you know how many people started off 2020 not knowing how to bake a single thing and now they're churning stuff out with confidence?  All it takes is one recipe to get you started.  There are plenty of blogs and websites to get you started and the cool thing is you can make enough to share!  I don't know many people who wouldn't love to get a batch or fresh cookies or a loaf of bread dropped thoughtfully at their doorstep to let them know you were thinking of them when you can't be together!

Delicious hot beverages are a way to cozy up from the inside out and Fall is all about warming up in the cooler temps.  My favorite tea is Harney and Sons.  All of their teas are a nice, rich blend and most of them come in pretty tins you can reuse in different ways.  My favorite flavors are Royal English Breakfast, New England English Breakfast which has a hint of maple perfect for Fall and Vanilla Comoro is a nice one too.  They have a TON of them and if you ever find yourself near the Berkshires or Soho in the future, they have tea rooms you can visit.  Obviously tea isn't the only option.  You can make your own coffee and lattes in various flavors.  Hot chocolate is a hit with the whole family and there are some great mixes available.  Don't forget about hot apple cider or a hot toddy or hot mulled wine if it's been a day.

Not only are the beverages important, but sometimes what you make them in can be part of the ritual as well.

Could you put water in the microwave and nuke it?  Yes but nothing says you have to get as fancy as above.  I have this kettle and love it!  It lets you set the temperature depending on the type of tea or coffee you're having.  We had one in a rental in Montana last year and it totally sold me as a former microwave nuker since I got to try before I bought it.  There are some beautiful stove top versions that can double as decor when not in use or loose leaf minimalist designs.    

As you may have guessed by now, ritual is as much a part of hygge as anything.  Rituals can be soothing and so having a few favorite mugs on hand that make you smile or feel cozy can contribute to your happiness.  

There are a TON of mugs out there from those professing your thankfulness to Rae Dunn mugs to ones sure to make you laugh with your warm fuzzies and everything in between.  It could also be nice to have your favorite mugs at your fingertips if you have the luxury of a large kitchen.  A mug tree is the perfect way to have your favorite hygge mugs at the ready.

Even if you don't consider yourself a big journal type person, you really should consider it.  I don't mean open up a notepad and start typing, I mean old school.

Get a really beautiful, special journal.  Maybe something Eco-friendly like this cork bound one or this funky rustic one that you can write and doodle in.  Perhaps you need to ease your way in with something like this Five Minutes a Day journal.  It's also nice to get some unique pens to write with that aren't allowed in the junk drawer.  Glittery rose gold penGel pens?  Heck, go all colonial and bust out a quill.  You do you, boo.

This one is a personal favorite for me because it invokes happy memories from my childhood.  

We always burned it around Christmas time and the house would have a lingering scent of it well after it went out.  If you want to get technical, the ones I use now are these and they're fir but smell the same.  You can also get this adorable log cabin which I might get when we travel for the holidays but that little slice of wood is what I grew up with.  If you have any favorite scents from your childhood whether it's incense, a candle or your Grandma's perfume, infuse the air with nostalgia.

I am a fuzzy socks connoisseur.  I have rarely met a fuzzy sock I didn't like.  Typically, I used to get my supply from Old Navy but they've either pulled them altogether or have a couple of pairs until holiday time rolls around.  Those sherpa lined fuzzy slippers similar to the style above make a great treat for yourself or stocking stuffer come holiday time.  Sometimes a blankie isn't enough, you need to warm your tootsies with some comfy socks!

I think the mistake people make when they think of soft sheets, is they think high thread count which translates into mo' money.  I'm not about that.  These sheets are the same brand I've used for over 10 years, in multiple colors as I've changed my whims and they're under $20!!!   I'm talking I get these sheets, run them through the washer with some lavender wool balls and roll around on them.  You will be more than happy to crawl back into bed and read a chapter or two with a cup of Vanilla Caramel tea or your favorite brew.

Many hear the word fondue and think of it being a fondon't from the 70's.  I'm here to tell you there is no activity that is more hygge at meal time than fondue.  Truly.  Savoring salty and sweet bites with every course and it's perfect for starting good conversations that last well into the night.  This is the  model we have and we actually have two.  One for the cheese and one to cook the meats then we wash one out to get to the chocolate later in the evening.  If you want to dip your bread into a less expensive model, this one gets good reviews for half the price.  I am sad to say it's been far too long since we've done this and I'm determined to rectify it this Fall!

Oh's bath time baby and you know there's nothing more relaxing than a soak.  In addition to a cool bath tray, make sure you use some soothing Epsom salts like my favorite ginger and clay or lavender.  They really set the mood!  Don't forget the bubbles!  If you prefer to unwind with a glass of wine over a warm beverage, don't forget to use acrylic wine glasses so there's no shattering glass if it tips!

Here are some activities that are hygge inducing.

Whether you walk by yourself, with your significant other or your pet, getting out into nature is the essence of hygge.  Studies have shown our heart rate and stress levels go down by being outside.  Don't let rainy days stop you either, that's what umbrellas are for!   Nothing quite adds to the soundtrack than raindrops hitting the fabric!  If you're going on trails, make sure you do so safely during this time.

Remember pressing wildflowers and collecting beautiful leaves to iron between wax paper when you were a kid?   Revisit childhood by bringing the outdoors in!  You can also preserve leaves with glycerin too with a quick search.   These would be amazing projects to work on with your kids as part of home schooling and to get them out of the house for a break.

Not only are you creating a wonderful dish to enjoy with your family but you're creating memories.  Some of my best childhood memories are from Christmas cookie baking day and some of my best adult memories are cooking together with my husband.  There is a bonding that happens there that is calming and restorative.  Who cares if the recipe turns out exact?  Trying is half the fun.  So whip out your favorite cookbook and start cooking up some memories!

Depending on the vibe you're going for that night, it's time to do a game or movie night!  Game nights for us consist of some classics like Boggle, Uno, Sorry, Aggravation, Racko and Clue.  Just remember to keep it friendly!  

In the mood to snuggle up under the blanket and watch some hygge like movies?  Here's a list of some that bring me the warm fuzzies.  The Holiday, An American in Paris, Chocolat, Eat, Pray Love, Father of the Bride,  The Intern, Leap Year, Little Women, Moonstruck, Nights in Rodanthe, Sleepless in Seattle, Somewhere in Time, and The Sound of Music.  Remember the idea is a relaxing and maybe romantic movie.  While I've seen Steel Magnolias on lists, I can think of nothing worse than ending the night with Shelby's fate and ending up with bagel eyes the next morning.

If coloring sounds like child's play, you're darn right!  That's the point!  Hygge is about the simple pleasures in life and the ones we tend to ignore.  Get a set of your own crayons and find some coloring books that remind you of your youth or if you have the patience, an adult coloring book.  (Or if you need something a little more sweary, a truly adult coloring book!)

Puzzles are the quintessential hygge activity as it takes time and patience but is always rewarding when you finish!  There are so many themes you can go with that you'd be hard pressed to find one everyone in the house couldn't get into.  Puzzles of your favorite show.  (That's what she said.)  Or a place you hope to vacation when this is all over.  Or anything in between.  If you have a table big enough to keep coming back to it, that would be ideal.  If you don't, put it together on this mat so you can roll it up and continue it later.

I hope this has given you some ideas on how to celebrate this first day of Fall hygge style.  You truly will come out the other side of this with a deeper appreciation for the small things!

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