Monday, November 13, 2017

Fall Update

Hello! Sorry I have neglecting the blog as of late. How can it possibly be November 13! Time is flying by so quickly. Christmas will be here before we know it (and I do have to admit, I've already started listening to Christmas music!). 

Paul and I made a trip to Ikea yesterday. It was only our second visit to Ikea. I have to be honest, it's not my favorite place to shop. I know, I know. I'm in the minority. But I find it hard to navigate and there's so much stuff! However, we went with a specific purpose: to purchase a Magnarp floor lamp (below) for our studio.
Unfortunately, the store's online stock status was incorrect, and all the boxes of Magnarps were gone from the shelves. So frustrating! And the store won't sell one of their 12 floor models either! So we ended up buying the Grono glass table lamp instead (below).
Its small size works well on the little dresser in our studio and it puts out a good amount of light. I'll plug it into a digital timer and program it to come on when it gets dark. The goal is to lessen the stress that our 15-year-old beagle, Ella, is experiencing. She is losing her eyesight and has become very stressed at night when it's dark outside and we're not home. It's becoming quite a problem. Whenever we are out at night, we come home only to find her barking continuously, to the point that she's getting hoarse. It's so sad, and makes us feel like we can't be away from home at night. I'm hoping that by lighting the studio, one of the two rooms where she and Henry tend to stay when we're not home, she may be a little less anxious.

On another note, our weather now feels like fall -- actually, more like winter! Morning temperatures the past few days have been in the upper 20s, which is shocking after having rather warm weather until recently. The cold snap has put me in the mood to break out the fall decorations. I updated the dining table using an assortment of real and faux objects: miniature pine cones and faux gourds, pumpkins and red pears.

For Thanksgiving, I will add my favorite amber-colored glass turkey mini taper holders to the table, as I do each year (see this post). I've also learned a new way to fold cloth napkins, thanks to an old issue of Martha Stewart Living. I will try to find the time to post a "how-to" on folding an envelope-style napkin prior to the holidays.

How are you getting your home ready for Thanksgiving? What's on your holiday menu this year? Do share! I love to hear from you. As always, thanks for visiting My Little Bungalow.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Vegetarian Chili with Fire-roasted Tomatoes

One of my favorite things to make and eat on an autumn day is a bowl of spicy chili. There are so many variations of chili. I usually make mine without following a recipe. I like to throw in what I have on hand, trying different combinations each time. Once upon a time, before I followed gave up meat (except fish), I made chili with ground beef or ground turkey as the base. Later I moved on to a beans-only chili. Then I spied in the freezer section of Whole Foods this product: Beyond Meat Beefy Crumbles, a soy-free, gluten-free vegetarian meat substitute. Made from pea protein, Beyond Meat Beefy Crumbles is high is protein and low in fat. It is very tasty and, in my opinion, quite similar to beef (my husband agrees, and he's an occasional meat eater). We also use this product to make delicious tacos; we season the crumbles with Simply Organic brand gluten-free taco seasoning.

In the chili recipe I'm sharing today, I tried a new ingredient: Fire-roasted tomatoes. Wow! Something about the fire-roasted/meat flavors combined together makes this quite possibly my favorite chili ever. Since I wanted to repeat this recipe again, as well as share it here on the blog, I wrote down the ingredients and approximate measurements (I don't usually measure my seasonings, except for chili powder) while they were fresh in my head.

Of course, if you're not into vegetarian chili, you can use ground beef or turkey in place of the meat substitute. Or, if you don't care for the taste of meat, you can certainly make it with beans only. If you give this original recipe of mine a try, please let me know what you think by leaving a comment.

Vegetarian Chili with Fire-roasted Tomatoes
4 servings

2 to 3 tsp. oil (I use avocado oil, but olive or canola will also work)
1 small yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 can (14.25 to 15 oz.) fire-roasted diced tomatoes
1 can (15 oz.) crushed tomato
1 can (15 oz.) black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can (15 oz.) dark red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 can (15 oz.) pinto beans, drained and rinsed
2 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. cumin powder
8 to 12 drops hot sauce, such as Tobasco brand
Half a package of frozen vegetarian "beef" crumbles, optional
Salt and pepper to taste

1) In a Dutch oven, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and garlic, season with coarse salt and saute until onion is soft.

2) Add the fire-roasted diced tomatoes and the crushed tomato. Fill the can the crushed tomato came in with water, stir to loosen any remaining sauce, and add the water to the pot. Add the beans, chili powder, cumin and hot sauce. Season with freshly ground pepper and more salt, to taste. Let simmer about 15 minutes. Add the frozen veggie "beef," stir and bring back to a simmer. Cook for another 15 to 20 minutes. Serve topped with shredded cheddar cheese. We enjoyed our meal on the front porch on a warm, end-of-October evening with a delicious glass of Oak Ridge Ancient Vine Zinfandel (2015, Lodi).

This is not a sponsored post.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

A Fun Outing

I snapped a photo of this house while on a home tour a few weeks ago. It was a beautiful, warm day, and we took advantage of the free rental bikes the tour was offering. Since we were biking from house to house, instead of driving, it wasn't easy to take photos of cute houses in the neighborhood. We were having fun riding through the neighborhood, so I didn't want to keep stopping to take photos. And trying to do it while in motion is just plain hazardous. But when I saw this Tudor-style house at an intersection where we had to stop anyway, I pulled out my phone for a quick shot. It's kind of shadowy, but do you see the bench by the sidewalk, to the right of the steps? What a cute feature! While I don't usually gravitate toward Tudor-style homes (I'm more of a bungalow gal), I thought this one was really nice.

After the tour, we ate lunch at my favorite vegan restaurant; everything is organic and 100% plant based. I had mock tuna salad (walnuts, sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds, veggies, dulse and cashew mayo) on gluten-free bread with my favorite side, broccoli Waldorf salad (broccoli, apple, celery, walnuts, raisins and red onion tossed in a cashew mayo). Yum! My husband had a living burrito (sunflower seed "refried beans," cauliflower rice, sprouts, pico de gallo guacamole and cashew sour cream) wrapped in a collard leaf served with hot sauce, and a salad on the side. For dessert we shared a turtle pie made with chocolate, caramel, coconut and cashews in a nut crust. I can't get enough of this kind of food. It's delicious and much healthier than typical restaurant food. I wish we had this restaurant near us. Then again, maybe it's a good thing we don't -- it's pricey!


Friday, October 6, 2017

Gluten-free Pancakes

I made pancakes for breakfast last Sunday (before going on a 17.5-mile bike ride, which I think burned off some of the calories from breakfast!). I used a new-to-me brand of gluten-free pancake mix by King Arthur Flour. The pancakes were fantastic -- moist and delicious! My husband, who does not have to follow a GF diet like I do, really liked them too. I added a splash (probably a teaspoon's worth) of pure vanilla extract. Otherwise, I followed the directions on the box, using melted butter and 1% milk. You can make them vegan by using oil and non-dairy milk such as cashew or almond milk.

My husband is a fan of nuts, and loves for me to add pecan pieces to his pancakes. I sometimes add a few chocolate chips to mine (so decadent), but didn't this time. I wanted to see how the pancakes from this new mix tasted without anything else but maple syrup. I like Bushwick Kitchen's cinnamon maple syrup. 

King Arthur Flour gluten-free pancake mix will now be my go-to brand when I'm craving pancakes.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Wool Mattress Pad

Last year, I purchased this wool mattress pad from The Company Store for our bed. I thought it would be a nice addition for the cold winter months, but as it turns out, this mattress pad has been great to have on the bed year-round. It adds warmth in the winter and keeps you cool in the summer, while providing a layer of softness. I love it, so I thought I'd share my experience with you.

The Imperial Wool Mattress Pad features:
  • Plush, 1.25" thick 100% American virgin Merino wool; virgin wool has never been processed, meaning it's supremely soft, but is not moth-proof.
  • Wicks moisture away from your body on hot nights while acting as a natural insulator on cold nights.
  • Hypoallergenic and repels allergens and dust mites.
  • Wide elastic straps stretch to firmly grip any mattress.
  • Machine wash/dry. 
This is not a sponsored post, but a product I am recommending after purchasing it and using it over the past year.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Early Autumn Farmers Market

The weather is turning just a bit cooler, with temperatures in the low 60s in the mornings and highs in the low 70s ... at least until the weather turns warm again! We visited our favorite farmers market this morning to revel in the gorgeous weather, and enjoyed taking in the sights and petting all the dogs (it's a very dog-friendly market). There were a few floral vendors with pretty dahlias. I didn't buy any because ours are prolific right now; I have vases of them all over the house!

We bought okra which we will broil (it's less "slimy" when prepared that way), some Italian purple beans, fresh organic eggs, aged goat cheese, poblano peppers, baby greens, butternut squash for making soup and some muscadine grapes, a variety native to the Southeast that my husband likes, but I don't. We drank coffee from a local roaster, and I savored a delicious, gluten-free chocolate cake doughnut with cinnamon-sugar coating, while Paul enjoyed a gluten-free spinach-cheese pastry. It's funny to me that he chooses the gluten-free stuff even though he doesn't have to (like I do). If I could, I'd be eating a pain au chocolate! But both our GF treats were really delicious. 

These Italian purple beans are called Trionfo violetto, which translates to purple triumph. The farmer gave us a sample to taste. They are delicious raw! We may cut up some and add them to a salad using the baby greens we bought. 

There was a vendor who sold only peppers -- lots and lots of them. The red and yellow ones below are the hottest of the hot, the grower told me. I bought several poblano peppers (not shown here) and will make stuffed poblanos with them. I posted the recipe here

Last night we enjoyed a free music concert at a park downtown. There were three bands, lots of food trucks, and many folks with dogs! The weather was perfect for it. Tomorrow I think I'll go for a bike ride along the Greenway. Biking has become my second favorite form of exercise, after swimming. Last year I didn't use my bike at all (such a shame), but I have gotten back into it this year, and am so glad! It's a nice way to get exercise while enjoying the outdoors.

How are you enjoying these early days of fall?

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Open House

Hello there! I wanted to share with you a look inside a house in my neighborhood that is for sale -- a 1924 bungalow that's been renovated by the current owner, who is also a realtor. I asked permission to take photos and post them here for you to enjoy. Come in and take a look around!

The house, at approximately 1,400 square feet, has just two bedrooms and one bath. Listed at $240,000, it would be ideal for a single person or a couple without kids. The outside is covered in white vinyl siding, which, in my opinion, is a shame. The house's original wood siding would have so much more charm. But I get the convenience of not having to paint -- believe me, I do. Personally, though, I prefer the historical accuracy of wood siding, even if it's expensive to maintain. If I bought this house, I'd remove the vinyl.

The owner consulted with a decorator who suggested the pink door and trim color for the small attic windows. Apparently, pink is a favorite color of millennials. However, the people at the open house were Gen Xers like me. I'm not sure what's up with the radiator cover on the porch above. I imagine the house once had radiators, but has been updated with gas heat.

Inside, the house has beautiful, original hardwood floors (both oak and pine), an original coal-burning fireplace and tons of large, gorgeous original windows. Lord, I hope the new owners don't replace those windows. They, along with the large, wrap-around porch, are what sold me on this house.

Another set of pink doors, below, leads from the living room out to the wrap-around porch.

The bedroom in the back of the house, shown below, has six windows! I love their four-over-one configuration. Between this bedroom and the kitchen is a small room (not shown) that could serve as a media room, study or cozy library. It has no closet, so it can't be considered a bedroom.

The dining room features three of the same beautiful windows, as well as the original double French doors. The light fixture is new, obviously. The owner spent a good bit of money on all the fixtures, which can be risky because fixtures are such a personal preference. This one is nice, but if I bought this home, I'd replace it with something more appropriate to the period of the house. 

The kitchen is nicely renovated with new stainless appliances, bright white subway tile, granite counters and white-painted maple cabinets.

There is a cute pantry and small laundry/mudroom off the kitchen, which leads out to a small deck. The owner paid attention to details, using the same light fixture in the pantry as over the kitchen sink, the same floor tile in the laundry room as in the bathroom, and the same schoolhouse light fixtures on the front porch, side porch and laundry room.

Just look at this side porch! I could decorate the heck out of this space.

The bathroom, though there is only one, is very cute. I love the large shower. The "glass" block window, however, is a solid piece of plastic made to look like glass block. I'd have to replace that, too, if I were to buy this house. Otherwise, I think the bathroom is well done. 

The house features its original door knobs and hardware, which I just adore. And that uneven paint texture on the door? That's years of history. 

Here's a super cool feature. In the hallway, between the front bedroom and bathroom, is not only the original telephone nook and cabinet above to hold a phone book, but a fold-out seat below. How unique! My husband asked me if it would really hold a person's weight. I didn't ask, and I certainly didn't test it out.

I hope you enjoyed this tour. Take a moment and let me know what you like (or don't like) about this house. Thanks for visiting My Little Bungalow!

Friday, September 8, 2017

Spectacular End-of-Summer Dahlias

Our dahlias love this time of year. There's still plenty of sun, but the days are a little cooler and more forgiving. Look at how beautiful these two varieties of dahlias are! I picked a few other varieties, too, and am enjoying them in little vases placed around the house.

Please pray for those in the path of Hurricane Irma. I'm so worried about those in Florida, including some cousins of mine who live there. For a while, it looked like some of us in North Carolina would be feeling the effects of this strong hurricane, but now it's tracking more to the west. I know damage in Florida and elsewhere will be extensive. I pray that no lives will be lost. 

To make matters worse, Jose is not far behind! How much more can we take? The financial impact alone is staggering. Please support the organizations that help people and animals in need after natural disasters. There are many good organizations, but beware the scammers. I research charities on Charity Navigator before making a donation. Please keep everyone in the Southeast in your thoughts and prayers!

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Favorite Eye Makeup Products

Hello, friends! Sorry for my absence. Where did the month of August go? Honestly, it flew by! Before I continue on, I must say that my prayers are with all those in flood-ravaged Texas and Louisiana. My heart just breaks for everyone affected. I cannot even imagine what they are going through.

Due to the hurricane news, other troubling world news (North Korea, for example) and being very busy at work, I just haven't had the motivation or inspiration to post anything. Blogging can seem so superficial, and when times are hard, it just doesn't feel right. I have also wondered if maybe I'm coming to the end of my blogging days. Or maybe I'm just in a slump. We'll see.

August can also be an odd month for me. The weather is usually oppressively hot and humid. Even so, the realization that summer is winding down makes me sad. The older I get, the more I love summer. I don't embrace fall like I used to. Once the weather gets cooler, I adapt fairly quickly. I do love fall clothes and fall decorating, but there's nothing like the feeling of bare feet, bare legs, short sleeves and the sun on my skin.

In thinking about what to write, I thought I'd take a different tack, away from home and food, and write a series of posts about my favorite beauty products, starting here with my favorite eye makeup (pretty superficial, I know).

I'm a Bobbi Brown fan. Her eye shadows are amazing. The colors are wonderful and rich, and it only takes a little to get a dramatic effect. This means the product lasts longer, which is good because Bobbi Brown isn't cheap.

I start by covering my entire lid with eye shadow in Ivory, shown above. This color is a good base for my skin tone. I use a Bobbi Brown eye shadow brush, as well as her loose powder and blush brushes; I also have another brush that's great for applying color to my eyebrows. All her brushes are excellent quality!

On my lids and in the outer corners below my lower lashes I use the Grey shadow pictured above. I also have a "greige" palette of eight shadows (it was part of a special offer -- normally I would not purchase such a thing). The colors are, top row, left to right: Ivory, Brown Haze Shimmer Wash, Twinkle Sparkle and Slate; bottom row, left to right: Greystone, Earth Metal, Greige and Fog. I like Fog for lining my upper and lower lashes. I also frequently use Slate. Twinkle Sparkle is a subtle metallic, nice for daytime or evening use. As a rule, I prefer matte shadows.

I finish with Bobbi Brown's Smokey Eye Mascara in black. It's pricey, but worth it. Recently, I tried two different drug store brands and they irritated my eyes terribly. My eyes were red and burning all day. I switched back to BB and no problems! The Smokey Eye mascara goes on easily, and comes off easily. I use Almay oil-free liquid eye makeup remover. More on my skin care cleansing routine and other makeup favorites in future posts! 

What are your favorite eye makeup and beauty products?

Please note, this is not a sponsored post. All the opinions are my own and I have received no compensation for this post.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

A Simple, Greek-inspired Supper

We visited Trader Joe's after church today, and I spied these canned stuffed grape leaves, which gave me an idea for a simple, Greek-inspired supper. One that would help use up many of the cherry tomatoes I've been harvesting daily -- our one little tomato plant has been providing us with a plethora of little gems! Every day I pick a dozen or more. 

I'd never had Trader Joe's dolmas before, and they are excellent! Well priced, too! I combined them with a Mediterranean-style chickpea, tomato and feta salad (recipe here), and some cucumber spears. Delicious, simple and healthy!

I hope you're enjoying the summer. It's not over yet -- not until mid-September! I see some lake swimming in our future, and perhaps another trip to the beach. Are you one of those people who can't stand to see summer come to an end, or are you someone who can't wait for fall?
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