One of my favorite things...

Bittersweet...courtesy of Janet at Housepeepers. It seems that what is scarce in this part of the country grows wild in Massachusetts. I love this stuff! Now I just need to find a little time to construct a wreath and some arrangements with this sure sign of autumn. Thank you, Janet!


Pink Saturday

Photo: Akron Zoo

This little (?) fellow is from the Akron Zoo. Quite proper, don't you think? I finally pulled out my sweaters for fall and winter this week, and I have a disproportionate amount of varying shades of pink sweaters. All styles, all shades. I obviously am attracted to the pink displays in clothing stores.
While bead shopping (Hobby Lobby sale this week !), I decided to focus on pink beads for earrings, bracelets and necklaces.
They may look spring-like, but at least now I can replace the stand-by pearls with some pink jewelry!


And this is just her kitchen...

Bunco in Newburgh at my friend Michelle's house...she lives in a beautiful log cabin out in a wooded area. She works part time at The Heart of Newburgh. These are just a few shots of her kitchen, decorated for Halloween. I love the Polka Dot witch (so much, that another friend at Bunco opened up the shop after our evening's festivities were over so that I could purchase Miss Polka Dot on my way out of town!).
Michelle's kitchen is huge--and she has so many charming vignettes scattered throughout the room. I left out one entire side of the are because there were people who did NOT want their picture taken standing there!
Black garland...a nice spooky touch.
The candelabra chandelier above the harvest table...decorated with old fashioned glass Halloween ornaments and black beads.
More Harvest/Halloween items, and a cross stitch made by Michelle.

The meal was wonderful. As an appetizer (as if we needed one), she served a really good apple dip consisting of cream cheese, brown sugar, caramel dip, topped by SKOR crunch. It was killer.


Thursday ramble

Photo: Country Home

It's Bunco Night in Newburgh this evening...unbelievable as it seems, if I wouldn't have read Michelle's blog last night I would have forgotten about it until sometime this afternoon. How could I forget an upcoming good meal that I don't have to shop for or cook? It's my turn in October, and I've been looking through recipes for months!

Oh...and guess what holiday is just three short months away?!?



Last Thursday Scott, our favorite volunteer, brought in roses for each of us...his Random Act of Kindness (sponsored by a local radio station). We all put them in a vase until the workday ended. Yesterday morning when I went in to work, there were three lone roses still in the vase, heads drooped. I snipped them off, thinking of drying them, or using them in a potpourri for color. Instead, I took pictures.

September seems to be flying by...I can't believe how quickly the year is coming to an end. Nesting instincts kick in around the first part of October for me and carry through the holiday season. There's no place like home.


Tuesday baking...

Monday evening at home was all that I hoped it would be...very relaxing. I kept putting off a little baking; a co-worker's birthday is today, and I'm bringing in a cake. I seem to do that a lot...put off the baking until early morning. The cake is a simple chocolate one, with a leaf imprint on top and merely sprinkled with powdered sugar. Just a hint of autumn.

Last week I met a friend at one of our favorite lunchtime hangouts--Coffee Cottage & Cafe. The special 'fresh from the oven' treat was the million dollar Pillsbury Bake-off peanut butter cookie. Absolutely outstanding. You can find the recipe here. Prep time vs. return---45 minutes for 24 cookies---but they are delicious!


Happy Monday...

Some weeks, Mondays aren't so bad. This is an "off week" for school...I love this program...school for 5 weeks (one class), off a week, then start all over again. The class coming up is Ethics & Jurisprudence...Law & Order, anyone?

Dinner is ready to pop into the oven at 5PM...Bruschetta Chicken Bake (our new most favorite recipe)..and a leisurely evening of reading, tea drinking, and relaxing is planned. Time to settle in for fall.


20 Little Things

If I could pick and choose my seasons and live through them year 'round, it would be six months of autumn followed by six months of spring. We'd forget about Old Man Winter and the Dog Days of Summer. Following the prompt from Melissa at The Inspired Room (and don't you just love her blog? Always inspiring (of course), and so chock full of great ideas), here are my 20 little things to treasure in autumn...

1. The colors of the season...mellow earth tones replacing the brights and bolds of summer.
2. Hot beverages...cider, tea, hot chocolate...I love them all.
3. Pumpkins and gourds in free-for-all displays
4. Stews and soups simmering in the crockpot.
5. The scents of autumn...cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, "pie spice"
6. Candle-lit evenings
7. Spare time spent in gift-making for the holidays.
8. Leaf sounds rustling underfoot.
9. The crisp scent of the air at night...with little hints of wood-burning fireplaces.
10. Bonfires, marshmallows, and storytelling around the fire.
11. Bread making and baking
12. Halloween...my favorite holiday
13. Sweaters
14. Pulling back on home heating..."free" (if you will) days from the power company.
15. Harvest meals
16. Wool socks
17. Quilts
18. Clear skies, sunshine, and NO humidity
19. Fall festivals
20. Family gatherings


Wine Fest/Loft & Condo Tour

We started out early...the Art, Wine & Jazz Fest began at 11:00 AM. In our minds, drinking on Main Street before noon sounded like the thing to do. There were just a few people out and about at that hour, so the big wine tent wasn't too crowded. Venders from local vineyards were in attendance...our favorite was the Oliver Winery.
We stopped at the new Wine & Dessert Bar (to be opening in early November). It's located in the lower level of a new condominium. While we were there sampling desserts (and they were very good), we spoke to the owner of the new complex. He took us on a tour of the penthouse (priced at just under a half million $$), and then on a tour of the more affordable (?) condos, priced at a mere quarter mil.
Megan fell in love with the condo...she now has a new feature to her five year plan...owning one of these.
The condos have wonderful decks and views...but some of the views aren't so great...you're overlooking a parking lot and a uniform supply shop in some cases.
We loved the circular staircase, but agreed that we wouldn't want to be carrying anything too cumbersome up (or down) the staircase.
The circular corrugated span conceals a half bath.
We both loved the built in display/book area and the library ladder.
Nice kitchen...complete with professional gas range, wine cooler, and french door refrigerator.
Murphy bed in the upstairs area.
The view from above...pretty nice.

Jazz, Wine & Arts Festival

Here's where I'll be today...a few blocks away on the Main Street Walkway...for the 1st Jazz, Wine & Arts Festival. The Walkway has undergone a massive renovation in the past year or so...they've renovated old buildings (former department stores and financial institutions), and turned them into galleries, loft apartments, and condos. I'll be taking my camera and heading out into a beautiful day.


Once again, around the corner...

Hurricane Ike moved through here yesterday morning with very high winds...trees and power lines are down all over the county (and many counties more), and thousands of homes are without power. No rain though. Many area schools are closed today. No damage at my place...just lots of 'thinned out' trees. The only positive...a cold front blew through, and the weather is wonderful this morning.


An idea for Sunday evening supper...

My Kraft Food & Family magazine arrived last week, and on the cover was this yummy looking casserole. It's quick and easy and so delicious...another wonderful casserole to put into the cooking rotation. Wish I had leftovers!
Bruschetta Chicken Bake

1 can (14-1/2 oz.) diced tomatoes, undrained
1 pkg. (6 oz.) STOVE TOP Stuffing Mix for Chicken
1/2 cup water
2 cloves garlic, minced
1-1/2 lb. boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-size pieces
1 tsp. dried basil leaves
1 cup KRAFT 2% Milk Shredded Reduced Fat Mozzarella Cheese

Make It

HEAT oven to 400°F. Mix tomatoes, stuffing mix, water and garlic just until stuffing mix is moistened.
LAYER chicken, basil, cheese and stuffing in 3-qt. or 13x9-inch baking dish. I topped my casserole with fresh sliced tomatoes.

BAKE 30 min. or until chicken is cooked through. Enjoy now or cover and refrigerate. To reheat, microwave each serving on HIGH 2 to 3 min.


BOLO-be on the lookout for...

Among other things plaguing me this week, I can't find the little Halloween Fairy pictured above...HF and a few other favorite Halloween items seem to have disappeared. Where could I have put them?
In other news, while doing a bit of puttering yesterday afternoon, I managed to fall off of a ladder--a pretty stunning event. No more ladder climbing...I didn't break anything, but I'm oh-so-sore today, and I have a huge crater on my right shin. Ouch.
My hopes and wishes for the next few days...Hurricane Ike being not as bad as 'he' looks on the radar map, finishing my presentation for Tuesday without panic, and finding those darn Halloween things!


The week begins...

The garden/outdoor plants are really looking a little neglected. I'm a spring and autumn gardener...during the heat of summer, outdoors is the last place you'll find me. This time of year though is perfect for having a cup of coffee out in little garden area. I've transplanted all of the surviving houseplants and tossed the poor neglected ones that didn't make it. After a few scares this summer, the shamrock plant is full of blooms.

I spent lots of time today working on projects for school. It is definitely more work than the undergrad courses from last year; I just have to keep plugging along.


They knew what they were talking about...

For many years, this was the season for spending lots of time in a hot kitchen canning tomatoes, making jams and jellies, and "putting up" fruits and vegetables to stock our pantry. An amazing feeling of satisfaction would come over me as I opened up cabinets and looked at the jewel-toned canning jars lining the shelves. So far this year, I've made some strawberry jam. In the next few weeks, I'll be making Rosemary Merlot jelly...a favorite among friends and family. Those jars are a great addition to a holiday gift basket. I'll share the recipe when I make the next batch.

Saturday in the neighborhood...

It's such a beautiful Saturday...and the weather is great! The angle of the sun is changing ever so slightly and I love the way it looks coming through the kitchen windows.

Not much on the agenda today...a little sewing, a little cleaning, and a lot of working on a presentation for class. My chosen topic--some aspect of Life Coaching. Perhaps because I could really use one...



We're all anxiously awaiting a little leftover rain from Gustav--it's so very cloudy and gloomy today; a great day to sleep in, putter around, and maybe do a little reading and tea drinking. Unfortunately, that's not on the agenda today. One can dream...

Is anyone else eager to get past the November elections and get on with life? Can change happen? Will it just be business as usual? Will the sniping end?


Wishing for crisp...

It's still hot and humid here--the daughter is wishing for cool, crisp weather so she can wear a blazer or sweater for the first day of school. Not seeing much hope for that in the 10-day forecast.

The good thing about the weather--it's contributed to a tomato "boom" in our area. My plants flourished early; changing light through the course of summer has left my plants too shaded to produce much. I'm glad I have friends who are tired of the tomato harvest by now--I've been reaping the benefits. Bruschetta last night for dinner--while watching the premiere of the household's latest guilty pleasure--Gossip Girl. I can't decide if the appeal of the show is based on the lack of anything to watch for the past several months, or if it's just time to indulge in 'trashy TV'. For whatever reason, we can't wait until next week's episode.


A little at a time...

So far I've pulled a few witches out, some tinsel, some garland, and a few other Halloween items. I'm slowly placing them around the house. The BOO letters came from the newly married Mika, Tina's daughter, at Cherry Hill Cottage. I love the vintagey-looking paper covering the letters. A friend made the papier-mache witch a few years ago. She's just a little scary...not too much.

I've spent most of the last two days just 'hanging out' with my daughter. We did a marathon viewing of season 1 of Gossip Girl on DVD; I'm haunted by the tag line "XOXO, Gossip Girl" that begins each episode...now that's scary! We did the mall thing, shopping for jeans and tops...it's so weird...her taste in clothing has changed so much in the past year or so...she's more career-wardrobe oriented and that's such a pleasant change.

Now if we'd just get some crisp, fall weather...Happy September!