Archive | October, 2015

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Halloween Crockpot Meal

Whether you are heading out to trick or treat with your little ones, or you are just answering the door to the trick or treaters showing up on your doorstep, Halloween is one of those days where an easy meal is necessary.  However, you also want the meal to be a little fun, because it is Halloween after all.  We did not do anything theme-related here but instead just made a favorite recipe of Chicken Tacos in the crockpot.

This recipe is super easy and can be made early in the day, then dinner is already done as your afternoon starts to get busy.  Put out a variety of toppings, and everyone will be happy with their dinner before they dig into the Halloween candy.

Chicken Tacos

Ingredients

  • Taco Seasoning (we made our own taco seasoning for this recipe.  The packets that can be bought at the store often contain sugar and MSG.  It is easy to put your own seasoning together and it can be customized depending on how spicy you like it.)
  • 1-2 pounds of boneless chicken breasts or chicken thighs
  • 1/2 cup of chicken broth or water
  • Soft flour or corn tortillas

Toppings (suggested)

  • Grated cheese
  • Chopped Tomatoes
  • Black Olives
  • Guacamole
  • Sour Cream
  • Green Onions

To make the taco seasoning combine the following:

  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt (if you are using chicken broth I suggest you only use 1/2 teaspoon)

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Mix taco seasoning ingredients in a small bowl.

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Add the small bowl of taco seasonings to the chicken broth or water and combine.  Put chicken in crockpot and pour liquid mixture over top.

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Cover crockpot and cook on low for 5-6 hours.

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When crockpot is done shred chicken, warm tortillas in the microwave for 30 seconds wrapped in a paper towel, and serve together along with other toppings.

Have a Happy Halloween!  May you have lots of treats and no tricks.  –May and June

 

 

 

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The Comfort of Home

My husband and I have been travelling quite a bit in the past couple of months.  Most of it has been for various family events and while we are always excited about going, there is just something about coming and staying home for awhile.

I think that for the most part I am a bit of a homebody.  I have always loved to be home.  That’s not to say that I do not like to go out and do fun things, go to parties, see new things and hang out with friends, but I am almost always happy to just be home.  As a kid I never really liked sleepovers at other people’s houses.  And living in a dorm room was torture for me because there was no place to just hang out and relax.

When I come home from a long weekend away there are many things I appreciate including:

  • my bed
  • my shower
  • Gatsby (he does not usually travel with us because he gets car sick)

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  • making coffee
  • my couch and almost sole possession of the remote control (I do have to share with my husband)
  • my closet and all of its contents
  • my weekend routine of yoga class and errands and reading the Sunday paper
  • wearing my lounge clothes around the house
  • Friday night pizza, a movie and falling asleep on the couch
  • being able to be quiet and still

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How about you, are you happy to come home after a trip away?  As Dorothy said, “There is no place like home.” –June

 

 

 

 

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The Quiet Bliss of Yin Yoga

I began my yoga journey in 1992. I was going through a challenging time in my life, and a friend suggested I accompany her to a yoga class. Honestly, I wasn’t sure I would like it. I was an avid runner and enjoyed pushing my body to its limits. I felt yoga would be too slow for me and I would be, well, bored. The class was held in a home studio with large windows overlooking a beautiful backyard.  There was soft music playing and after an hour of slowly moving and twisting my body through various postures, I was definitely interested in learning more about this ancient practice. The class challenged my body, but it also did something for my soul. I realized for that hour, I wasn’t worrying or dwelling on what may or may not happen in my life, I was at peace. Obviously the practice stayed with me, because I became a yoga instructor within five years of that first class, and I continue to teach to this day.
Over the years I’ve attended numerous yoga conferences and workshops, experiencing many of the different styles of yoga and weaving them into the classes I teach. Lately, however, I’ve been craving a quiet, more contemplative practice. Yin Yoga is a slower paced style of yoga that mainly consists of floor postures, which can be held from three to five minutes, or even longer.  I don’t know, maybe it’s the fall weather making me feel a little more introspective, the stress of the upcoming holidays, or maybe a little bit of both, but my body is telling me to slow down a bit. If there’s one thing yoga has taught me, it’s to listen. Yin Yoga isn’t quite as popular here in the U.S., where the power and constant movement of say an Ashtanga or Bikram practice is often preferred. Yin Yoga focuses on the ligaments, bones, and joints of the body that aren’t targeted quite the same as they are with a more active style. I find it to be a more meditative approach to yoga.  Since you’re holding postures for a longer period of time, you’re able to still the mind by simply focusing on the breath, releasing tension in the body as you exhale. I find it to be a very calming practice and a great way to maintain flexibility, especially since our bodies tend to tighten up with age.
A few years ago, I did a Yin Yoga workshop with Paul Grilley, a well known proponent of Yin Yoga. I recently took his book off my shelf and have been incorporating more of this style into my personal practice, as well as my teaching.  It still challenges my body, but in a slightly different way and it’s a wonderful practice at the end of a long day.
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 Alyssa demonstrating butterfly pose
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Forward bends

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Child’s Pose

I encourage you to give yoga a chance, if you haven’t already, and if you’ve already established a regular yoga practice in your life, don’t be afraid to experiment with different styles. Yin Yoga is a great option for those of you wanting something more than physically moving from posture to posture. I find it to be a deeper, more spiritual experience and it’s great to do in preparation for meditation.

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Namaste

You can find Paul Grilley’s book on Yin Yoga on Amazon.

http://www.amazon.com/Yin-Yoga-Outline-Quiet-Practice-ebook/dp/B002ZRQ6QI/ref=sr_1_6?ie=UTF8&qid=1445632938&sr=8-6&keywords=paul+grilley+yin+yoga

~May

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Pretty Baby

October Monthly Book Club

It’s time again for our monthly book picks.  This month we have a fun light read, There’s Cake in my Future by Kim Gruenenfelder, the first book to a recently released sequel, Me Before You by Jojo Moyes and a thriller, Pretty Baby by Mary Kubica.

There's Cake in My Future

From Amazon:

After listening to her closest friends’ latest travails in love, parenting, and careers, superstitious bride-to-be Nicole (Nic) believes she has the perfect recipe for everyone’s happiness: a bridal shower “cake pull” in which each ribboned silver charm planted in her cake will bring its recipient the magical assistance she needs to change her destiny. Melissa (Mel), still ringless after dating the same man for six years, deserves the engagement ring charm. The red hot chili pepper would be perfect for Seema, who is in love with her best male friend Scott, but can’t seem to make their relationship more than platonic. And recently laid off journalist Nic wants the shovel, which symbolizes hard work, to help her get her career back on track. Nic does everything she can to control who gets which silver keepsake – as well as the future it represents. But when the charmed cake is mysteriously shifted from the place settings Nic arranged around it, no one gets the charm she chose for them. And when the other party guests’ fortunes begin coming true, Mel, Seema, and Nic can’t help but wonder…. Is the cake trying to tell them something?

May’s Review: This was a fun light read about three friends in their late 20’s (Nicole, Seema, Melissa), one week before Nicole’s wedding. The book was a little reminiscent of a Sex in the City episode. I enjoyed how each of their stories were woven into their friendship and how sometimes, you just have to leave things up to fate.

June’s Review:  This was a fun cute read.  I always like a book where the characters have different stories but they all intersect in an interesting way.  The story shows how sometimes what we want is not we we really need.

 

Me Before You

From Amazon:

They had nothing in common until love gave them everything to lose . . .

Louisa Clark is an ordinary girl living an exceedingly ordinary life—steady boyfriend, close family—who has barely been farther afield than their tiny village. She takes a badly needed job working for ex–Master of the Universe Will Traynor, who is wheelchair bound after an accident. Will has always lived a huge life—big deals, extreme sports, worldwide travel—and now he’s pretty sure he cannot live the way he is.

Will is acerbic, moody, bossy—but Lou refuses to treat him with kid gloves, and soon his happiness means more to her than she expected. When she learns that Will has shocking plans of his own, she sets out to show him that life is still worth living.

A Love Story for this generation, Me Before You brings to life two people who couldn’t have less in common—a heartbreakingly romantic novel that asks, What do you do when making the person you love happy also means breaking your own heart?

May’s Review: This is my favorite book by Jojo Moyes. I loved the character of Louisa Clark and although this was a heartbreaking novel, there were many laugh out loud moments as well. I am very excited to read the sequel to this story.

June’s Review:  This was the first book I read by Jojo Moyes.  Because I liked it so much I went on to read her other books.  This is not my favorite by her (that would be The Girl We Left Behind) but I really did like it.  This one involves the tough subject of assisted suicide and what you would do for someone that you love.  I liked seeing how Lou grew as a person during the story and it ended with you happy that she changed.  This book requires a box of tissues.  I just started reading the sequel After You.  I hope the sequel does not ruin this book for me.

Pretty Baby

From Amazon:

A chance encounter sparks an unrelenting web of lies in this stunning new psychological thriller from the New York Times bestselling author of The Good Girl, Mary Kubica 

She sees the teenage girl on the train platform, standing in the pouring rain, clutching an infant in her arms. She boards a train and is whisked away. But she can’t get the girl out of her head… 

Heidi Wood has always been a charitable woman: she works for a nonprofit, takes in stray cats. Still, her husband and daughter are horrified when Heidi returns home one day with a young woman named Willow and her four-month-old baby in tow. Disheveled and apparently homeless, this girl could be a criminal—or worse. But despite her family’s objections, Heidi invites Willow and the baby to take refuge in their home. 

Heidi spends the next few days helping Willow get back on her feet, but as clues into Willow’s past begin to surface, Heidi is forced to decide how far she’s willing to go to help a stranger. What starts as an act of kindness quickly spirals into a story far more twisted than anyone could have anticipated.

Don’t miss this thrilling follow-up to The Good Girl by master of suspense, Mary Kubica.

May’s Review:  I just finished this book a few days ago. I thought it was  a great psychological thriller and I was truly surprised by the ending. (That doesn’t happen very often.) The chapters revolved around the characters Heidi, Willow, and Chris, with each sharing their own experience about their past and present situation.  The story kept its momentum up to the last page.  I also enjoyed that the story takes place in Chicago where I recognized the different locations.

June’s Review:  This story involves a chance encounter that changes Heidi’s life.  Because it was set in Chicago, I liked that I recognized many of the locations in the book.  I figured out the book before it was over but it still held my interest to the end.

Happy Weekend Reading! – May and June

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Twinkle Lights

There is nothing in life that gives me inordinate joy quite like twinkle or fairy lights.  They just make me happy, and if I could somehow figure out how to put them in every room of my house without looking like a complete crazy lady, I would.

I love that these lights are no longer limited to just Christmas (I do use Christmas as the chance to bedeck my house with twinkle lights although not Griswold style).  The light from twinkle lights is soft and easy and warm.  Everyone looks good when the twinkle lights are on.

Twinkle lights are everywhere you look.  They are used at parties, weddings and outdoor patios.  They are also used in bedrooms to create that nice warm look.  A little peruse through Pinterest (my twinkle light Pinterest board) gives you a thousand ideas of what to do with twinkle lights.  I got married in pre-Pinterest times (it was only 8 years ago it is amazing how things have changed), but even then I knew I wanted twinkle lights at our reception.  I think we picked our reception location partially based on the fact that the chandelier was all made up of twinkling lights and there were a few trees in the corners of the room that were festooned with twinkle lights.

These are some of the ways I have used twinkle lights at home.

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On my screened in porch

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In a bedroom.

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Around our basement fireplace.  We do keep these up year-round.  They add a little cozy festive feel to our family room.

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Some orange pumpkin lights outside for Halloween.

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I always put some type of twinkle lights around my kitchen window.  These dancing skeleton lights make me laugh every time I plug them in.

As you can see I love twinkle lights.  It is fun to decorate your home with something that you truly love and makes you smile.  With Christmas just around the corner, I will have to come up with some other ways to incorporate twinkle lights into my home.

Do you have any decorating item that bring you joy?  –June

 

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Pumpkin Creamer for your Morning Cup

We are definitely in the thick of fall here in the midwest.  The days are getting shorter with cold nights and crisp early mornings. (I had to break out the gloves for my morning walk.) As I write this, the sunlight is dappling through the tree outside my window, showing off its gorgeous golden splendor. I so love this time of year.

Last weekend I cleaned out my pantry.  I do a lot of cooking and baking during the holidays and wanted to get it organized and ready to go. I’m always amazed at how much stuff I’m able to squeeze in there, and came across several cans of pumpkin purée.  Have you noticed how popular pumpkin has become? We incorporate it into our lattes, breads, soups, cookies, teas, and of course, the traditional pumpkin pie. Trader Joe’s has a whole display devoted to the pumpkin.

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Although I love pumpkin, it is definitely an acquired taste. It also has many wonderful health benefits. Pumpkin is dense in vitamins A, C, and E, and it also has a host of minerals promoting a healthy body. I love that it’s low in fat and calories. Pumpkin is the best known source of beta-carotene, a powerful anti-oxidant.

Since I had so many cans of purée, I decided to do a little experiment and made some pumpkin spiced creamer. I enjoy pumpkin lattes, but find them to be overly sweet. The same goes for the store bought creamers, plus they are loaded with unhealthy chemicals and preservatives. The following recipe is quick, easy, and only has a few ingredients. Feel free to adjust it to your own taste buds.

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1 1/2 cups plain creamer or whole milk (I use almond creamer)

1/3 cup pumpkin puree (make sure it’s purée, not pumpkin pie filling)

1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1-2 Tablespoons coconut sugar or vanilla syrup, agave, maple syrup, or plain old sugar. Whatever sweetener your prefer.

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Place all ingredients into a saucepan and heat on medium until the mixture begins to boil. Turn off heat and whisk occasionally for one minute. Let cool in pan for five minutes.  You can store the creamer in a blender  bottle in the refrigerator for up to five days, and always shake well before using.

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Blender Bottle from Amazon 

 The leftover puree can also go in the fridge to be used later.  I like to mix the purée into soups, smoothies, and homemade muffins. Pumpkin also has wonderful health benefits for our canine family members, so Sawyer gets a little pumpkin mixed into his food as well.

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Enjoy!  Do you have any great pumpkin recipes?

~May

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Enjoying the spirit of Halloween

Can you believe it’s October 16th? It seems like yesterday we were enjoying margaritas by the pool, soaking up the warm days and celebrating summer. Halloween is just around the corner everyone.  It’s the season of candy, tricks, haunted houses, and everything scary.  May and June have observed pumpkins, skeletons, witches, graveyards, and lots of orange twinkle lights adorning the porches and front lawns of their neighborhoods. We are both impressed at the effort that’s put into decorating this scariest of holidays.  Although May loves the fall season, she hasn’t put a whole lot of effort into decorating for Halloween since her boys were young. June feels the same way about the decorating. What can we say other than it’s just not our thing?? We know we’re not alone because for every decorated house, there’s one with nothing, not even a pumpkin on the porch. As a child, May loved to plan her costume and prepare for the big event. There would be children everywhere and there wasn’t the early curfew that we have now. The only downside was that it was usually cold outside, and May’s mother would have her so bundled up no one could see her costume. June, on the other hand, wasn’t into the trick or treating so much. She enjoyed opening the door and handing out candy to all the little ghosts and goblins.

We thought it would be fun to show those of you who like us, are just not that into Halloween, a few “tricks” to bring some fun (and scary) touches into your home. Since we already have a few fall themed items  added to our decor, we really just needed a couple of things specific to the holiday. Homegoods is a great place to shop for holiday decorating. Mantles always provide the perfect setting for seasonal displays and since May and June both have a fireplace,  we’d like to show you what we’ve done with them.

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June’s Halloween Mantle

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A close-up of a few details.  Candy corn vase filler, a Halloween sign and some pumpkins.

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May’s Halloween Mantle.

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A close-up of a few details.  Black cat sculpture, original pumpkin watercolor and an owl.

We also added a few items throughout our homes.  It took very little time plus once Halloween is over, you can put the ghosts, skeletons, and witches away until next year, but still enjoy your fall decor through Thanksgiving.

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Dia de los Muertes sugar skull

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Fall foliage and jack o’lanterns

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Emoji jack o’lantern wishing you Happy Halloween decorating!  Have a good weekend. –May and June

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Barefoot Prayers

This post has been running around my brain for awhile and before the season gets away from us, I wanted to post it.  A holistic health care practitioner told me once that I should walk around barefoot in the yard and say my prayers.  The barefoot walking is a concept called  “grounding” or “earthing.”  It sounds a little out there, but generally the concept is that as humans we are part of the earth and in today’s modern society we really do not spend any time connecting with the earth.  So as a result our bodies are off kilter.  If you want to read the technical explanation you can read it here   http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2012/11/04/why-does-walking-barefoot-on-the-earth-make-you-feel-better.aspx.  The claims are that grounding helps to strengthen our immune system, helps circulation, and reduces inflammation.

While the science behind it may be scant, I know I always feel happy and energized after a walk on the beach or when I have a nice barefoot walk in the grass.  So this concept was presented to me as a time for reflection, and simply walking barefoot in the grass and saying my prayers.

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I get two benefits.  I have the benefit of connecting myself to the earth (even if the claims are unfounded it can’t hurt me and it feels good) and I make time to pray and meditate.

Unfortunately, the season for doing this is short-lived. I don’t think I will get the same benefits if my toes suffer from frostbite.  I find this to be a moving meditative practice, and I notice things while walking barefoot in my yard that I might otherwise overlook.

A few weeks ago it was a perfect summer day.  It was warm, but not humid, and the sky was bright blue with wispy white clouds.  I was outside watering my plants and decided to take a stroll around my backyard, look at my garden and pray.  I had a lot on my mind.  I had a recent job change, my husband and I are in the midst of an adoption home study, and of course there are the multitude of little worries that prey on my mind regularly.

On my stroll I noticed that the ground was dry and the grass prickly.  Sometimes it even hurt my feet.  We were in need of some rain.  But I also noticed that my summer flowers were in bloom, there was a nice breeze and the leaves on the trees were still very green.

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Flowers blooming in my yard

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I stood and looked up at our very tall oak tree and felt very small.  And I simply breathed, dug my toes in the grass and just listened.  I listened with my ears to the sounds around me, the children playing in a nearby yard, the birds singing and the leaves rustling.  But I also took this opportunity to listen with my heart.   I found that after a few minutes,  my worries had dissipated and I felt more peaceful.

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I was not alone in my prayers.  This is always a nice moment that quiets and stills my heart and mind.  Even if you do not have a nice backyard to walk in you can reconnect with the earth and have a prayerful moment sitting on a park bench, digging in some dirt (even if its in a pot) or pruning and arranging some flowers.  How do you find time to reconnect with nature and with your own heart?    –June

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Embracing Your Inner Artist

As a child, I loved to draw, paint, and color. I had a whole box filled with coloring books, Crayola Crayons (I had the big box with 64 colors and the sharpener), markers, colored pencils, and remember paint by number sets? Yup, I had those too. Every Sunday, our newspaper had an advertisement for a drawing contest. (Those of you who are of a certain age will remember this.) They showed a drawing of a pirate and a turtle which you had to sketch free hand, and if you won you were invited to attend their “prestigious” art school.  I did send in my picture…..   Remember these?

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My mom is a talented artist and I used to love watching her draw and paint, and sometimes she even let me help. She painted cute pictures for our bedrooms, sketched our portraits, and did beautiful landscapes using oil paints. Even as an adult, I always enjoyed coloring with my kids and took a few art classes at our local community college. Recently, I was looking at some fall inspired prints for my mantle but nothing really interested me, and everything was a little too pricey to be displayed for such a short period of time. I saw that Michael’s was having a huge sale on their art supplies and was inspired to create something on my own. These days, it’s easy to bring out your inner artist. Craft stores such as Michael’s, Hobby Lobby, and JoAnn’s have reasonably priced art and craft supplies that are also regularly on sale. I found a canvas and replenished a few other things that I needed. (A canvas is nice because you don’t need to frame it.) Anyone can make a great work of art with just a few simple instructions which you can easily obtain on the internet. My mom and I collaborated on this particular painting on a beautiful fall day a few weeks ago. We chose to paint with water color.  Once you decide on what kind of art you want to create, it’s always a good idea to have a basic picture that you can use as a guide.  Something with simple lines is best if you’re a novice. I found a picture of a basic pumpkin online. It was large and not too detailed which allowed me to add some personal touches to make it my own.

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Begin by lightly sketching your picture onto your canvas with a pencil. The sketch is a great guide for your paintbrush, plus you can erase if you make a mistake.

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Next, you want to paint the larger areas, working your way down to the more detailed parts of your painting.

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Make sure to mix colors and add water to give your painting more depth and texture. We used paintbrushes for our pumpkin, but you can also use sponges which will give your artwork a completely different look.  We lightly sprayed our canvas with water to give the painting a little more fluidity.

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We used water colors for this painting, but you can also use acrylics, oils, pastels, chalk, charcoal, and even oil based crayons.  It’s fun to play and experiment with different mediums. We had a fun afternoon together which I’m reminded of every time I walk past my painting, and I look forward to creating my next “masterpiece”. Art is such a wonderful way to express oneself. You’re not bound by rules or perfection and it’s a wonderful way to stimulate your creativity. We’re all so consumed by routine and the mundane that we forget to let our inner child out to play. Art is not limited to the confines that are imposed upon us by the structure of our day to day lives. Art is meant to be an uninhibited expression of the self. When we allow ourselves to disconnect from the mind and express from the heart, we find healing and true contentment. It’s not about perfection, it’s about authenticity. How will you embrace your inner artist?

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~May

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Happy Hour Friday

October is here and fall is in full swing.  Today we thought we would celebrate Happy Hour Friday using some of the flavors of fall including apple, ginger, and cinnamon.  We’ve included a non-alcoholic beverage as well and of course, some yummy appetizers.

First up we have our mocktail of Apple Ginger Sparklers:IMG_1773

Equal parts of the following:

Ginger syrup (see below)

Sparkling apple cider

Club soda or sparkling water

Garnish of candied ginger and a cinnamon stick

To make the ginger syrup combine 1 cup of sugar with 1 cup of water in a saucepan over low heat.  Add 1 inch of grated or minced fresh ginger.  Simmer for at least an hour until ginger flavor is strong and sugar is dissolved.  Allow to cool.  Strain the ginger syrup to remove the pieces of ginger.

For the mocktail simply combine equal parts of the ginger syrup, sparkling apple cider and club soda or sparkling water in a cocktail glass with ice.  Garnish with a slice of candied ginger and a cinnamon stick.

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For the Apple, Ginger and Cranberry Cocktail

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Makes 2 servings:

1 cup of apple juice

1 cup of cranberry juice

1 1/2 shots of vodka

1 cup of ginger ale

Shake the apple juice, cranberry juice and vodka in a cocktail shaker.  Pour in a glass over ice until halfway full and add ginger ale to top off.  Add a slice of candied ginger for garnish.

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IMG_2887And for our appetizer we enjoyed some Goat Cheese Fig Crostini:

1 baguette

Soft goat cheese

Fig Jam

Proscuitto (optional)

Preheat broiler.  Slice the baguette in thin slices.  Spread a layer of goat cheese on each slice of bread and top with a teaspoon of fig jam.  If you desire, you can also put a slice of proscuitto on top.  Put the topped slices of bread under the broiler for about 2 minutes or until lightly browned.

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Our spread

Even though we were thinking fall with our cocktails, it was such a nice day out that we got to enjoy one last Happy Hour on the back porch.  And check out our special guest!

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Have a great weekend! –May and June

 

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It’s A Dog’s Life

I just spent 20 hours in the car this past weekend and returned home on Monday evening.  The weekend was busy and fun but back at work today I realize just how tired I am. I started thinking about the phrase “it’s a dog’s life.”  The phrase “it’s a dog’s life” means something that you say which means life is hard or unpleasant.  When I scrolled through my phone I found these pictures of Gatsby’s life:

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If this is a dog’s life I think I’ll take it any day of the week and twice on Sundays.  The good news is that today is Wednesday, halfway through the week.  Have a good one.  –June

 

 

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Fall and Winter Layers

Over the years, I’ve always enjoyed accessorizing our home according to each season.  I don’t invest a ton of time and money, but I do like to freshen the rooms up a bit. For instance, as the warm days of summer approach,  I like to keep our home simple, light, and airy, especially since we spend so much of our time outside.  A few couch pillows and bed linens made from lightweight fabrics and vases of flowers from the garden are enough to bring a touch of summer into the house. However, once the cool crisp days of autumn arrive, I’m all about layering our home with cozy throws, arrays of pillows in warm soft textures, the aroma of vanilla scented candles, and a furniture arrangement that keeps us warm by the fireplace. I’m a total nester in the fall and winter, so I like our rooms to be warm and inviting to get me through the long cold months.

I always enjoy cozy-ing up the bedrooms this time of year by putting flannel sheets on the beds and adding a few extra fleecy blankets.  Our summer bed, however, is usually a few light layers of blankets, with summery printed shams and pillows, and that’s it.  Casual and simple.

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Sawyer enjoying the summer bed.

Our bedroom is cold during the winter months, so as soon as the weather changes, the thick duvet comes out of storage along with the fall and winter pillows and throws.  This year, I decided to purchase a new duvet cover.  The current one has been around for a while (and frequently used by two napping dogs), and I just felt it was time for a replacement. I hate to spend full price on anything and let’s face it, bedding can be quite pricey.  I began my search by checking out the clearance  section of different stores I like.  I found a king size duvet cover plus two shams, all in flannel at The Company Store. It was a great price with free shipping. It doesn’t get much better than that.  I’m sure it was a leftover from last season, but it looked great and was perfect for the room. My total purchase price was $75.00 where most of the regular priced items would have brought me closer to $300.00. Sometimes it takes a little patience if you’re looking for a good buy, but it’s well worth it.  Even if there’s a regular priced item that you really want, if you wait a bit the store is bound to have a sale and along with that, free shipping. Don’t let the prospect of changing your home with each season overwhelm you, because it can be easy and affordable.

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The new duvet cover and shams

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A fresh new winter look. The polar bear came from Z Gallerie. Had to have him.

If you’re like me and find yourself taking a long winter’s nap in your home, why not take a little time to create a cozy and inviting space for you and your family? A few extra blankets and pillows can bring the warmth of the season into any space.IMG_2912             Sawyer settling in for a snooze on the cozy winter bed. (He sat next to the bed and watched me make it up with the new blankets. I barely had time to put the throw on, and there he was.)

~May

 

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Lucky Junk

We both independently love vintage finds because you know each and every object has a story.  We also love when someone has the courage and ability to to create a business largely based on the encouragement of others. Janet McCarthy is that someone.

We were very excited when almost two years ago a store opened nearby that sells all things vintage, called Lucky Junk.  Lucky Junk is an occasional store, meaning that it is only open two weekends a month, while the owner devotes much of the other days to searching for finds.

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We stopped in recently on one of the open dates to see what was new and also take some pictures and speak to Janet, the owner.

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We were very interested in the story of how the store came to be.  Apparently, Janet started with a single yard sale at her home selling vintage finds she had collected, because she always loved vintage and shabby chic.  The first yard sale was so successful that it became a bi-annual event that she hosted, along with having a full-time job.  As Janet said, “The sale exploded” and people kept asking for more.  So she took the plunge and opened a bricks and mortar store and left her full-time job.

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In the last two years, Lucky Junk has grown.  In addition to vintage finds, Janet also carries original artisan goods all with a vintage feel.  Both May and June have purchased several treasures, both for their homes and for personal wear (like jewelry and scarves).  In addition, the store hosts chalk paint classes and other art classes.

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More inspiring then our finds, is the way that Janet took a leap of faith and turned her hobby into her new profession.  This is a good lesson for all of us to listen to others, as well as our own hearts, about our own talents and gifts. –May and June

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Lucky Junk is open the second and fourth weekends of the month and is located at 405 S. Arlington Heights Road, Arlington Heights, Illinois.

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