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.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Crockpot Black Bean Chili

With cooler temperatures recently visiting our area,
the craving for warm, belly-filling food hit.
A favorite dish during these brisk fall days is chili
and I fashioned a vegetarian version that's practically hands-free!

The crockpot is one of the best tools in the kitchen.
In the warmer season, it is useful when the cook 
doesn't want to spend long hours in a hot kitchen.
In the autumn and winter months,
it's a simple way to prepare hot, delicious meals with very little effort.
This recipe can be altered to include meat, if desired,
but it certainly does the job of satisfying all on its own.

Crockpot Black Bean Chili

1 C dried black beans
(soaked overnight)
1 small can or 3 medium fresh tomatoes, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 large onion, diced
3 medium carrots, diced
2 t cumin
1 t salt
1 T chili powder

Place all ingredients in crockpot
and cook on low for 4-6 hours.
Serve over pasta, rice or homemade rolls.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Crafty Weekend

On Saturday,
there were two craft shows that I wanted to catch.
The first was at a local church, right around the corner
St. Luke's Lutheran Church.
Thankfully, it opened early so that I could visit before meeting Sister for the second event.

I have to say, that I was so impressed with the quality of the crafts at this show.
The vendors are all folks who attend this church
and there are some mighty talented parishioners. 
There were needle crafted treasures, like these baby quilts.

The wood working figures were superbly done
and very festive.
I'll be saving my pennies for next year,
so that one can come home with me to display on our front porch.

 Look at the creativity here!
These vibrantly painted decorations
are actually concrete borders that can be found at a nursery or hardware store.

 Another craft fashioned from garden materials,
this cute snowman is merely several terra cotta pots and saucers
that are brilliantly painted.

 I'm not sure what the material used here was,
but I could imagine doing this with gourds that you grow yourself!
Again, the expressiveness of the figures was so captivating!

 This craft show offered so many wonderful gift ideas.
I'll be sure to add it to my list for next year.

Of course, a table full of goodies tempted me on the way out.
I ended up picking up some delicious lemon pound cake to bring home.
What a treat the morning was!


The event I attended with Sister in the afternoon
was the Working Fingers Craft Show.
It was held in Mooresville and all of the items were required to be handmade.
Wherever possible,
I am including contact information by adding links to the artists.
(Just click on the highlighted words.)

 The first table we stopped to admire was Polly Wells' Bread Clay Folk Art.
Neither of us had ever seen anything like it.
After speaking with the artist for a bit,
we came to appreciate the painstaking work involved in this type of craft work.

These unique wooden creations were amazing.
Just look at this exquisite hat.

 These items were displayed by 
PhDs located in nearby Troutman.
Take a look at their website
where they offer a multitude of customizable gifts.

Specialties Woodcrafts offered a large selection of holiday ornaments.
They can be reached at 704-649-4947.

 These flip flop ornaments caught my eye
as I have a friend back in Florida for whom they'd be perfect.
She is a beach lover and lives in flip flops most of the year.
These were created by Brenda's Intarsia Creations and More.

Kathy Miller of Messy Girl Pottery
presented her  wonderful and sometimes whimsical crafts.
Her contact number is 828-478-2091.

Laurie Clavette of The Felted Goat showcased her delightful felted creations.

 She was kind enough to explain some of the techniques she uses
in crafting her light-hearted figures.
For more information about her items, call her at 828-551-0590.

 Harig's Harbor featured their holiday decorations
using lighted glass blocks.
What a fantastic way to illuminate a mantel or front porch!
Their facebook page can be found here.

Sister and I fell in love with a couple of the sign booths we spied.
Such a selection!
There's sure to be one for everyone on your holiday list!

This was my favorite from 7th Street Haven.

 Tracybug Designs had her own set of adorable signs and other decor.
I love that her business card says, "Thank you for having great taste!"
Go to her facebook page to see more about her imaginative designs.

 Although these folks weren't an official business,
I had to take a shot of these unbelievable matchstick buildings.
The patience involved must be monumental!

I saved this display for the end because it is very special indeed.
This is a frame used to construct dulcimers.

 Mr. Thomas Gillian has been crafting these beautiful instruments for some time.
He was not only kind enough to share his story with us,
but he even gave Sister and I a lesson on how to play one of these unique and enchanting pieces of artwork.
What a thrill for me.
I never thought I would get the chance to play a dulcimer,
although I've admired their sound for years.
After sitting down and strumming through a song with Mr. Thomas,
it became clear that I was thoroughly enamored.
I will soon be the new owner of one of these gorgeous instruments.

There are moments in your life that are life changing.
This was one of those moments.
I can hardly wait to get started learning this new skill.
What a gift.
Mr. Thomas Gillian can be reached at 828-294-3052.

The autumn calendar is filled with craft shows and church bazaars.
It's one type of shopping that I don't mind doing.
The creativity encountered by so many talented people
who are just doing what they love to do,
is motivating, inspirational and downright heart-warming.
Getting to spend the day with one of my favorite people on the planet
was the icing on the cake.