Monday, October 31, 2016

A Halloween Weekend

Hola, and happy Halloween! Look what Ella is sporting for the holiday! I purchased this very cute "Amigo" dog costume at half price over the weekend. She doesn't mind the poncho, but she may not be so wild about the sombrero. She was a good sport, though, and wore it long enough for a photo shoot (I admit, a few treats were involved). Now she's ready to greet tonight's trick-or-treaters.



Yesterday, on an incredibly warm day for the end of October, we visited a vineyard with my husband's family. What a lovely place! Their wines were good, too. We left with a bottle of pinot gris. There are two tasting rooms: one on a patio outdoors and one inside the barn, which is beautifully decorated. When I walked in, I thought, "I'd love to have a lake house that's decorated like this!"










All the Halloween and autumn decorations were so tastefully done! I really like the black pillar candles and the crows.

And of course we enjoyed throwing the ball for the vineyard's mascot, Enzo, a shelter rescue.


So what are your Halloween plans? Did you dress up and attend any parties over the weekend? If you blog about Halloween, click on "Comments" below and share the name of your blog so I can visit!

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Pumpkin Pancakes -- Gluten-free!


When I'm in the mood for pancakes and don't feel like spending time measuring a bunch of ingredients, I reach for Trader Joe's gluten-free pumpkin pancake mix. These pancakes are delicious with a perfect amount of spice -- just right for fall!

I'm a bit late to the Trader Joe's party. Our town got its first store only a few years ago. I do like a lot of their products, including their orchid plants, which are reasonably priced and can last a really long time. The plant I have now was purchased in September and the flowers still look great.

What are your favorite Trader Joe's products? Click on "Comments" below and share your favorites!


Stay tuned for a special Halloween post tomorrow featuring miss Ella in her new costume. Totally cute!

This is not a sponsored post.
 

Monday, October 24, 2016

Our 21st Wedding Anniversary

Last week was supposed to be our vacation at the beach, but then Hurricane Matthew hit and changed everything. Our beloved Edisto Beach was hard hit. They had no power or water, roads were flooded and covered with sand and debris, trees were down and at least one house was completely destroyed. We had no choice but to cancel our plans. While we were deeply disappointed, we were also heartsick for the thousands of people along the coast, from Florida to North Carolina and Virginia, whose lives were impacted by the storm. Flooding in North Carolina continued well after the hurricane moved on. And in Haiti, so many lives were lost. Terrible! My thoughts and prayers are with everyone affected. I thank God it was only vacation plans we lost.

I decided to keep my week off from work to enjoy a "staycation." My husband took one day off: our 21st wedding anniversary. We decided to celebrate by staying in a boutique hotel right in our town -- one that accepts dogs, which means we brought Ella and Henry with us, of course!

The hotel gave us a bottle of French sparkling wine and some treats as well as a sweet handwritten card wishing us a happy anniversary. They even supplied dog beds for the pups. We had an amazing dinner and our server, who we just adored, brought us glasses of bubbly on the house. It was a great celebration.




Our suite had a living room and bedroom with king-size bed. The bathroom was gorgeous. Henry and Ella had to check out the huge walk-in shower. That bathtub was amazing!


There's a wonderful general store within walking distance of the hotel that is dog friendly. Henry and Ella loved it! They got so much attention; all the employees wanted to know their names, ages and their stories. We had a blast, and the dogs eventually wore out, as seen below. They were so well behaved! I was a proud mama.



Earlier in the week, Paul and I went to a nearby lake for some canoeing and swimming! The water was chilly, but refreshing once we got used to it (Paul guessed the water temp was about 78 degrees). How two water-loving people ended up with two water-hating dogs is beyond me, but we lured them in with treats and then gave them baths. We wanted them to be squeaky clean for their stay at the fancy hotel!








Our excursion to the lake was honestly one of the best times I've had in a long time. It was quiet (we only saw a few boats off in the distance), it was warm (especially for late October), the water was invigorating, and the dogs had fun exploring the little island. It's times like this when I realize how blessed I am to be married to such a wonderful man. I can hardly believe it's been 21 years! Where has the time gone? Here's to the next 21.



Friday, October 21, 2016

Favorite Fall Wines and a Request


My husband and I enjoy wine. I guess you could say it's a little bit of a hobby. We don't invest in expensive wines, and we're not sticklers about storing wines for a particular length of time before opening them. We don't take our wine hobby that seriously. But we do enjoy drinking a variety of good wines at reasonable prices. Some of the best wines we've had are in the $10 to $15 range, and there are good wines under $10 a bottle. 

Part of the "hobby" involves trips to wine shops on the weekends when they have free tastings. If you're just starting to drink wine, tastings are a great way to experiment with different wines. They also help you develop your taste buds

One night this week we attended a zinfandel extravaganza at a neighborhood wine shop. There were five tasting tables, 25 wines total. Some were 100% zins, others were blends. All were very different. Years ago I may not have noticed the differences, but after years of tasting my palate has become quite developed. I can now taste elements like smoke, black pepper -- even leather -- that, years ago, I used to laugh at when reading wine descriptions. I now know what I like and what I don't. I don't care for most Chardonnays, especially those aged in oak barrels. I also don't care for most Spanish wines, which can be very earthy. Not a favorite of my taste buds, though I know many people who love it.

So, with all this said, I thought it would be fun to share with you three wines that are among our current favorites: two reds, one white, each from a different country.

The first is 19 Crimes Red Blend, a very easy-to-drink and well priced wine from Australia. I bought several bottles at the grocery store recently for less than $9 each. It's a good "house wine." Check out their fun website to learn more and to read a list of the 19 crimes that turned criminals into colonists. Pretty interesting stuff. The guy on the label, John Boyle O'Reilly, was a real criminal who wrote poems during his harrowing transportation to Australia. Each variety of 19 Crimes wine features a different criminal on the label.


The next wine, 1000 Stories, is a new find for us and runs about $17 a bottle. It's a California zinfandel aged in bourbon barrels. You can detect a subtle hint of bourbon. Read about the new trend of aging wine in whiskey and bourbon barrels in this Chicago Tribune article and also a brief description of 1000 Stories. I immediately liked this wine. It's one we'll keep on hand through the winter.

At the mega zinfandel tasting this week we tried a red blend called Protest (syrah, malbec, zin) that is aged in whiskey barrels. The flavor was amazing. Everyone was commenting on how unique it was. You could really taste the whiskey.


The last wine, Urban Riesling, is from the Mosel wine region of Germany. Rieslings can vary from dry to very sweet. We prefer the off-dry to sweeter Rieslings, but not cloyingly sweet. Urban Riesling is excellent paired with spicy Asian foods. It is also well priced at about $12 a bottle.

    
Before you go ... I have a request. Would you please let me know if this type of blog post is of interest to you? Would you like to see more posts about wine, or is this a topic you don't care much about? Please click on "comment" below and leave your honest opinion. I want this blog to be a place you come back to for information and inspiration, so let me know what interests you. Without feedback, I can't make this a fun and relevant place for you to visit. As always, thank you for visiting My Little Bungalow.

P.S. Happy anniversary to my sweet hubby of 21 years! I hope to share a post with you next week of our special weekend plans.
 

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Flowers

Flowers lift your spirits, don't they? I find it's the simplest pleasures of all that make me feel happy and content. I hope these photos will bring a smile to your face as they do mine.

First up, dahlias from our garden. They're loving the slightly cooler temps we've been having lately. During the brutal heat of summer, our dahlias are pitiful, but they bounce back once the weather turns cooler.




And here are some pretty white hydrangeas that I bought at Trader Joe's a few weeks ago. They're long gone, but I wanted to capture the way the light hit them as it streamed through the dining room window. So pretty. I wish I could have hydrangeas on the table year-round.

For more inspiration, see my flowers PInterest board.


Sunday, October 16, 2016

Chunky Roasted Tomato Sauce


Rarely do I make tomato sauce from scratch. There are so many good-quality pasta sauces at the grocery, it just seems like too much effort to make it from scratch. But something compelled me last month to give this recipe a try, and I'm glad I did. It's easy and very delicious. It was so worth the effort, I made it again this weekend. This time I'm freezing it for future use. My husband really liked it, too. Give it a try! The only down side is that it really stinks up the house. My clothes, my hair ... everything smells like roasted veggies afterward.

Chunky Roasted Tomato Sauce

Ingredients:
3 lbs. fresh beefsteak tomatoes
1 medium onion, halved and sliced 1/4-inch thick
3 small to medium carrots, sliced into 1/4-inch rounds
4 garlic cloves, peeled
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
2 tablespoons olive or avocado oil
coarse salt and freshly ground pepper

Directions:
1) Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Using a sharp knife, core the tomatoes, then cut then in half. Place them cut side down on a rimmed baking sheet (I like to line the sheet with foil for easy clean up). Add the garlic, carrots and onion. Sprinkle with thyme and basil.



2) Drizzle vegetables with oil. Season generously with salt and pepper. Roast until tender, 45 minutes to 1 hour. If vegetables begin to brown too quickly, push them toward the center of the sheet. Remove from oven and let cool slightly.


3) Using tongs or your fingers, peel off tomato skins and discard. Transfer vegetables, including juices, to a blender container. Pulse several times until chunky. Taste; season with salt and pepper as needed.


4) Let cool completely before transferring to an airtight container. Refrigerate up to 1 week or freeze up to 3 months.


 
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