Friday, January 11, 2019

Fresh Friday...Winter Comforts

For today's Fresh Friday finds I have something lovely for all of you knitter's
 and a recipe for one of my absolute favorite wintertime comfort foods.
I am excited because here in Central Illinois
 we have the possibility of snow, and lots of it, in our weekend forecast. 
Last winter we seemed to be constantly blanketed in white.
So I had high hopes once I began to see my breath again.
We were off to a good start by setting a record for the first snow
 being the earliest for many, many years,
getting my hopes built sky high. 
 However, since then,I've been doing a lot of watching the sky 
and hearing my grandchildren dreaming of snowmen.
...if only...
Instead… as I wait...
I carry on inside the house doing all the things that one does during this time
when cold winds blow us into the warmth of the snug, coziness of home.
A part of each day for me is always taken up with knitting.
Although that is true year round, it is different during the winter.
During these weeks of near hibernation, 
I love to work on more intricate patterns,
 especially involving lots of cabling.
They often require the use of several stitch markers.
It's best when the stitch markers are slightly different so I know
 exactly what part of the pattern they are marking.
Back in the Fall I found a fantastic Online Shop
 that I have purchased from a few times now.
 I love the gorgeous handmade snag free stitch markers 
and the small tins the sets come in. 
They also have beautiful yarns and patterns.
You can find them at
I love how smoothly the markers glide along
 and the beauty they add to my work in progress.
That fun piece with all the number beads and the 
intricate Swarovski crystal on the end
is a row counter that you attach to your needles
and move along as your're knitting!
There's a video on how to use the row counter right here
The smaller sized markers are perfect for tiny needle knitting with their
reverse tear drop shape. I really love the one with the smaller crystal 
while knitting the thumb stitches, as I find anything too large
 cumbersome, causing it to be in the way in such a small area.
Summing it up, I've made three purchases with this company
 and have been extremely satisfied each time.
 Their product is top quality and they are very personable.
They have excellent customer service and even shipped a birthday gift
with a special note directly to a dear friend for me.
 Let me know if you give them a try!

As for the Recipe...
I'm going to give it to you TWO WAYS.
First the actual way and then the GLUTEN FREE way.
The photo shows them when I baked them last weekend in the GF version.
Cornmeal Drop Buscuits

1 1/2 Cups All Purpose Flour
1 Cup Bob's Red Mill Coarse Grind Cornmeal
2 1/2 Teaspoons Baking Powder
1/2 Teaspoon Salt
2 Teaspoons of Sugar
1 Stick, Cold Unsalted Butter, cut into pieces
1 Cup plus 1 Tablespoon Skim Milk OR Vanilla Soymilk {my preference}

In medium bowl combine flour, cornmeal, baking powder, salt & sugar. 
Cut in butter till it looks like coarse crumbs.
Add milk; stir until just combined.
Line cookie sheet with parchment paper, if desired.
Spray with cooking spray.
Spoon 10 mounds, 1/2 cup each, onto greased sheet 1 inch apart.
Bake 20 minutes.
Cool on wire racks.
Serve warm.

Gluten Free Version

Simply substitute the All Purpose flour for Almond Flour. 
*But use 2 1/2 Cups Almond Flour {or as much needed}.
It takes more Almond Flour than All Purpose.
You can also make this recipe Vegan
by using Earth Balance Vegan Butter
in place of the butter.

However you choose to make these biscuits,
they are easy to mix up and delicious!
My entire family loves them in both versions.
They're delicious with big pots of homemade vegetable soup
or warmed up and drizzled with honey.
The perfect comfort food for a cold winter day!

Wherever you are,
no matter the weather,
may you always have 
the comforts of home
to warm your heart...
I'll be here...
 waiting for snow...
"Winter is the time for comfort, for good food and warmth,
for the touch of a friendly hand and for a talk beside the fire:
it is the time for home."
Edith Sitwell

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Winter Bliss

Now that another holiday season has been celebrated
 and the gift of a new year has been given,
holding its promise of secret surprises and wonders that lie before us,
 we still have the winter to settle into and savor. 
For many of us this is the time of year we find restful, 
reflective and sometimes quite productive inside our homes. 
Among the many other things I try to do, such as organize cabinets,
 tidy drawers and make note of projects that need doing in this beloved old house,
 I enjoy the hours spent inside this place I call home,
 with family bustling in and out, friends coming and going,
 and always another work in progress on my needles.
For Christmas I made a lot of chunky knitted items,
 which I really enjoyed.
As knitters, we all know they knit up quickly,
 bringing that instant sense of gratification we have to have sometimes, 
especially when time is of the essence.
However, my true love is for smaller stitches.
 Typically, I prefer patterns that require needles
 in the range of US size 1 to 5,
 with 7 or 8 being "Big" for me. 
Therefore, everything about these tiny Magical Fairy Mushrooms
 was completely enchanting.
 I loved watching as they came to life on my size 1{2.25 mm} needles,
 along with a very small cable needle.
Although I know how to knit cables without using a cable needle,
 having acquired a nice collection of them over the years,
 I actually enjoy using one.
However, for those of you who would like to try this technique
 but don't know how to,
 the best video I've found on YouTube for
 cabling without a cable needle is provided by Marly Bird.
I recommend you practice it on larger knitting needles until you get the hang of it.
The little pink tool in the picture with a hook on one end and a point 
on the other end is one of my favorite tools!
I use it to pick up dropped stitches or for picking up stitches 
when making socks or the thumbs of a mitten.
 This is the smallest of three different sizes.
You can find them at Hobby Lobby made by Susan Bates.
As for the whimsical mushrooms, 
if you are a knitter who wants to make some, 
use the link I've provided for the free pattern.
I would like to say how much I truly appreciate it when
a designer gives permission for the finished product of 
their pattern to be sold. It's an added bonus when the pattern is free.
If you would like to purchase some ready made you can find them
 for sale in sets of three on my shop...

I really do love tiny knits. I enjoy the process from start to finish. 
Here are my top three reasons:

1) They are slow and mindful, forcing me to take more time,
which causes me to feel more restful and peaceful. 
Therefore they have a more meditative or reflective quality about them.

2) The stitches are tiny and compact,
 making them aesthetically pleasing to the eye.
Stockinette stitches line up nice and tight.
Garter stitch rows pop in perfect ridges.
Cables are firm and stand out boldly.

3) There's a dreamy aspect of long ago childhood days
that washes over me when I hold
 anything miniature in the palm of my hand.
Sundrenched, cartwheeling, bicycle riding days
 followed by fire fly chasing evenings.
 Or winter afternoons spent 
lying on a snow covered lawn 
making angels with my best friend.

January seems to be a good time for my tiny needle knitting.
I usually find myself taking personal stock once again,
as so many of us do, at the beginning of each new year.
I believe anything that causes us to slow down 
while we're snugged up inside so that we can have
moments of introspection is a really good thing.
While the earth is having her time of rest, 
we can enter into our time of reflective thinking.
A time of contemplating our life; our experiences; 
our relationships with God, people and all of humanity
and how we can draw on all of these things
 to improve ourselves in the year ahead.

Another one of my Winter Bliss pleasures is
 the reading of and listening to many books.
My current read is this wonderful book 
that my daughter Hilary gave me for Christmas.
I start every new year, as odd as it may sound,
 reading a Christmas book.
It's been a long-standing tradition for Hilary
 to gift me a new Christmas book every year.
She goes on a hunt with great relish and I wait
 in even greater anticipation to open it.
If you are on Goodreads and would like to connect
 with me you can find me here.
I would love to see what you're reading.

As always, a blissful part of my daily life
 is to keep critters outside and inside fed and happy.
I love feeding my squirrels and am rewarded by some who eat from my hand.
And I'm thick in the throws of the antics of full blown "puppyhood" …
While I was in the kitchen, believing Percy to be napping in the living room, 
he was actually having a toilet paper party in said room.
 Just having turned six months old on December 26th,
 we have now entered into the toddler phase of life, it appears.
Whatever it is that brings happiness to the moments of your life
in these long winter months that are a fresh new beginning,
I pray you find them to be restful, restorative,
 peaceful and productive on an inward level,
and most of all deeply blissful.

"Life isn't about finding yourself.
Life is about creating yourself."
George Bernard Shaw

Friday, December 28, 2018

We Were Together ...

Once again we all find ourselves with another Christmas of magical memories
 tucked inside our hearts forevermore. 
The month of December started for me, as it has for the last few years,
 with our annual Christmas Open House Sale. 
It was a wonderful event as always.
 This year we had the pleasure of having Shay join us with the Runaway Rack.
She takes her lovely mobile clothing boutique, "Rosie",  all over for events
 and on December 1st she was parked in my driveway. 
This was the second event we have worked together,
 with our September Sale being the first. 
I made and sold countless knitted items all throughout the holiday season and I'm still filling custom orders. More than ever before my knitting needles seemed to be dashing through the days {and into the nights} with a speed all their own.
 I have all of you to Thank for that.
No words will ever convey how very much I truly appreciate
 your continued support of this business that fills my days,
 my life and my heart with great joy and happiness.
So...Thank You for being a part of my dream come true.
This Christmastide has been so full of fun and festivities, family and friends and moments of quiet reflection that I think it will be one of those years I hold close to me for all of my days.
There were photos with Santa...

And Santa and Mrs. Claus being played by my cousin and her husband.
Many of you know Kathy if you come to our sales events.
She and Mike had the honor of delighting
Chicago area children early in December,
 as they climbed upon Santa's lap,
 believing he could make all their wishes come true.
Amongst all the glitter and lights, the tinsel and bobbles, wrapping and gifts, family, friends and festive events that fill me up with the wonder of a child every time I begin to smell Christmas in the air...
There is one very special thing at the heart of it for me every December.
This year was extra special.
On December 17 Scott and I celebrated our 35th wedding anniversary.
All those years ago, on a very, very, cold Winter's night a nineteen year old girl gave her hand and her heart to a twenty-three year old young man to keep forever. Though the temperature dipped to twenty- one below zero and there was such a blizzard that it was truly a Winter Wonderland outside, the candlelit church was completely packed with our family and friends who had traveled near and far to bless us at the beginning of this beautiful journey...
And what a wonderful life it's been so far.
All the love that we've shared through the days and the years..
So many memories made and so many more to be made.
If you'd ask me I'd tell you that my very best Christmas gift every single year is My husband...
My marriage...
And all the blessings that have come from this bonding of two hearts as one.
Getting married at Christmastime just made it all seem a bit more magical to me.
I remember assuming when I was very young
 I would most definitely be a Summer bride.
Then suddenly I found myself getting married at
the most magical time of the year.
 Somehow it just seemed appropriate.
No matter when you plan a wedding, they are always beautiful and magical.
If you are currently planning one of your own the perfect place to shop online is
They offer free shipping with no minimum and right now
 they're having a fabulous sale!
No matter what season the wedding you're planning is for,
 they can make choosing your
bridesmaid dresses
the fun and memorable event you always hoped it would be
 with their gorgeous choices and unbelievable prices.

Some years also hold many weddings to attend.
We had a year like that just recently.
 Sometimes the circle of people overlap,
 requiring a new dress for each wedding you attend.
This can become rather costly.
Let Ever-Pretty help you with your wedding guest dresses
I promise you won't be disappointed!
You can show up for your next wedding wearing any of these lovely dresses for under $50.00 and they could easily be worn for so many more occasions.
We all love to get dressed up for something special from time to time.
Especially when Love is in the air!

This holiday season has been a most joyous one for me and my family.
God has blessed me throughout these last 35 years far beyond
the greatest imagination of that teenaged bride of all those years ago.
 My heart is continuously warmed by all the people and memories
 that have become dear to me over the course of this life so far.
I look back and marvel that it all began...
with two little words...
standing in front of a candlelit alter...
"I do."

"We were together. I forget the rest."
Walt Whitman

*This post is kindly sponsored by
All sentiments and events are my own.*

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Frosted Rooftops

I love waking up to an early December morning with frosted rooftops and bare branches dusted so lightly that just the slightest sparkle of sunshine sets them to dancing. The air all around is sometimes a beautiful, thick white presence with a life all its own. We've had days of big, fluffy snowflakes and other days that were cold, clear and bright. No matter the weather, I love it all.
 I know that once December comes back to us every year,
 She begins to work her magic...
Hearts come together for special events throughout the month of merriment.
My daughter Chelsea went with Julius to the Lyric Opera in Chicago
 for a night of fun filled culture.
As you know, special events call for the most beautiful dresses.
During the holidays, we love to slip into something special,
 add a touch of lipstick and maybe a bit of sparkle here and there...
If you're looking for a gorgeous dress to wear to your
 Christmas Party or Holiday Event of the year 
has absolutely gorgeous dresses
 at affordable prices and they keep their 
New Arrivals section continuously updated 
to meet the ever changing world of fashion.
that will take you to your Christmas Party, the Opera and even to the Ballet... 
Once again December found us at The Peoria Ballet's Nutcracker.
This year's performance was the most exquisite one I have seen yet,
 under the direction of Artistic Director, Jorge Laico.
His choreography, along with my favorite Tchaikovsky music being played so beautifully by the Heartland Festival Orchestra, created a magical fairyland that swept me away to a land of snowflakes, frost fairies
 and all the possibilities of dreams that really do come true...
 if only we believe...
Gabby had two roles this year.
One as a Maid, which was an acting part.
The other as a Polichinelle, her dancing part.
 The Polichinelle's are the colorful dancers
 who emerge from Mother Ginger's dress 
and dance all about her throughout the scene. 
A special highlight for Gabby was having her "dead" pointe shoes signed by 
the professional ballet dancers who performed as guest artists this year from 
Chicago's renowned Joffrey Ballet.
Victoria Jaiani and Temur Suluashvili were completely breathtaking as the 
Sugar Plum Fairy and the Cavalier.
There wasn't a single soul able to remain seated at the end of the ballet.
It was a truly magical night.
I look forward to it all year long...
Dressing up, settling into my seat in the theatre and then...
the thrill of the first strains of music floating through the air...

The whole of December always brings
 the wonderment of a child back to my spirit again.
With every tree I display, every twinkling light throughout my house and the ornaments that get placed just so, each day makes me feel just a little bit younger {at heart, at least} and makes me tingle all over with more and more excitement. It's almost as though I'm holding my breath along with millions of children across the world who are waiting for Santa's big night.
I hope it does the same for you, whether you're dashing off to 
a gala event in that gorgeous new evening dress
or staying tucked in the house with your family and mugs of hot cocoa.

May you have all the joy and wonder of a child inside your heart
at the beginning of each new day,
And remember when you peer out your
window on a cold December morning,
that frosted rooftops bring to life
the most magical moment.
Enjoy them all!
"The afternoon knows 
what the morning never suspected."
Robert Frost

*This post is kindly sponsored by
All sentiments and events are my own.*

Friday, November 2, 2018

Fresh Friday... You Are What You Eat


Here we are in November already.
I think it was just June yesterday...
I have to admit, albeit somewhat grudgingly,
 because I usually cling to summertime white knuckled,
that I am  loving every single beautiful thing
 about this multi-hued Autumn we are experiencing this year.
 The misty grey days provide an ethereal seeming background
 for the sheer profusion of color all of the trees and bushes are bursting with.
 Although I know this must happen all around me every single Fall,
 for some reason my senses are extremely heightened to it this time around.
 I feel as though I am soaking it in through all of my pores
 and every fiber straight into my soul.
These cooler days make me want to stay inside where it's warm
 with my tea kettle going, my doggies around me,
my knitting on the go and something warm and healthy on the stove.
I told you in the last post I would introduce you to my daughter Chelsea.
She's my youngest of two daughters.
My eldest daughter, Hilary, is a Librarian in our local library.
 Chelsea has a Cosmetology license,
 which she uses to specialize as an Aesthetician. 
She works for a dermatologist in a medical day spa.
 Both of my daughters are excellent cooks and healthy, clean eaters. 
Due to ongoing health issues of my own, 
when they were still in grade school and I was in my early thirties,
 I became a vegetarian and thus began my journey 
into grasping hold of the real truth of :
"You Are What You Eat"
Everybody has heard it and even said it at times
 but after years of suffering
 {and I mean truly suffering}
 from serious digestive issues, 
among various other ailments, 
I began the journey of taking hold of that one simple truth
 and what a difference it made and continues to make for me.
 Plus, I believe it made it easier for my girls to make healthier choices as adults.
Eating as healthy as I possibly can helps in my battle against
 two rheumatoid diseases, which cause digestive issues,
 inflammation throughout my entire system and a whole host of issues.
 I will admit right from the start that I am not a person who has a huge appetite and a lot of the recipes I share with you will be on the simple or light side.
 I don't tolerate "heavy" foods. 
Always bear in mind I do not eat the basic American diet and
 have not done so for more than 22 years.
 In the area of food, I have to travel lightly through this world.
Today's recipe is from Chelsea.
  The measurements provided are just enough for two servings.
It's perfect for lunch with a friend or spouse.
Chelsea and I enjoyed it together for lunch one day last week.

Thai Coconut Stir Fry

1 Cup Thai Coconut Broth
1/2 Cup Brown Rice
1 Tablespoon Coconut Oil
{Organic Virgin, Cold Pressed, Unrefined - if possible}
1 1/2 Tablespoons Liquid Aminos
1/2 Cup Snap Peas, broken in half
1/4 Cup Match Stick Carrots
1/4 Cup Red Peppers, sliced
1/2 Cup Tempeh, cubed

Cook Brown Rice in Thai Coconut Broth instead of water
 by simply substituting, using exact measurement. 
Saute' Tempeh in Coconut Oil on medium - low for approximately 3 minutes.
Add prepared vegetables and continue cooking until barely tender but still crisp.

This makes two nice sized bowls.
 The first delightful flavor that hits the tongue is coconut. 
It's very filling for lunch or supper for two.
 If you want to stretch it to accommodate more people 
just adjust the proportions and play around with seasonings and add ins.
It's healthy, warm and comforting on a cold day and looks like
 a bowl full of beautiful Fall colors to me!
 I just love it!
You can make it ahead and store it in individual containers
 for your busy work week ahead.
It reheats wonderfully and tastes just as good, if not better.
For those of you who have never used Liquid Aminos,
 this is what you are looking for:
If you like soy sauce you'll love it. This is a healthier alternative. It is gluten free, contains no preservatives, alcohol or fermentation and has 16 healthy amino acids. Also, it is lower in sodium than soy sauce. So run straight to your local grocery market and buy some {and chuck the soy sauce in the trash can}.
Here's what the Thai Coconut Broth looks like as well:

You know I can't leave you without showing at least one thing
 that's been on my needles recently.
In my next post,
which will focus on my current knitting projects at hand,
 I'll show you much more.
However here's a tiny sampling of some baby knits
 I worked on last week during my time at the coffee shop.
Just as I love for my food to be as wholesome,
 chemical free, organic and pure as possible,
I also prefer for the fibers I work with to be as natural as possible.
These cable knit baby ear flap hats and booties are knit on size 3 needles
 using divinely soft, soft, soft pure Baby Alpaca.
There is nothing like the feel of it gliding gently
 across my fingers like a mere whisper.
As I work with it, I daydream of and pray for
  the sweet baby that will be cozied up inside these snuggly little accessories
 in order to keep Winter chills far, far away from delicate fresh from heaven skin.
As most of you know, I am a die hard, constant tea drinker.
However, I occasionally enjoy coffee or a coffee latte like this one pictured.
It's the delicious Fall Signature drink at
 Thirty-Thirty Coffee Shop
in Peoria's Junction City.
 A lovely hot drink is just the perfect thing for an evening of knitting!
I typically choose tea because I actually love it so much more than coffee,
which is hard for the coffee drinkers of the world to even fathom.
Also, it is much easier on my sensitive digestive system.
Keeping myself less acidic is always the goal.
For a final note on today's recipe and any future recipe's I share...
Feel free to toss in some chicken in place of the Tempeh if you have to.
But I would like to encourage you to do two things...
If you are a meat eater, try to eat a meatless meal on occasion.
Also, always purchase the leanest, cleanest form of meat you can.
All of the food I share with you will be vegetarian.
This is what I have to do for my body.
You do what is best for yours.
In the meantime,
I hope you are all enjoying the beautiful Autumn
 if you live in an area where this is your season like it is mine.
"The heart of the home beats in the kitchen
and a healthy one beats three times a day."
Bangambiki Habyarimana
The Great Pearl of Wisdom

"Dear Friend,
 I pray that you may enjoy good health
and that all may go well with you,
even as your soul is getting along well."
3 John 1:2