Saturday, January 28, 2017

A Few New Things From Bambu

I landed on the Bambu website recently, and was intrigued by several of their reasonably priced items. I ended up on their website because I was looking for a new pouch to contain little necessities inside my purse. It had to be large enough to hold the things I keep on hand: eye drops, nail file, cough drops, pill box, hand lotion, bandages, tissues and hand sanitizer (see this post for my new favorite lemon-coconut scented gel sanitizer). But it couldn't be too large, and I wanted it to be soft and flexible. I found the striped one above on another site, but it was out of stock. So I made my way to Bambu's site and found not only the striped pouch with a solid denim lining, but a smaller cork pouch too, which I couldn't resist. Aren't they cute? The large pouch, at $14, measures 8" x 5" and the small pouch is 6" x 4" and sells for $12. They also come in hemp denim.

While I was on their site, I checked out their bamboo cutting boards since I was in the market for a large one for the kitchen. Bamboo is so durable. This cutting board has a nice feature: "undercut" sides that are easy to grasp, making it a good serving board too. The largest size board -- the one I bought -- measures 17" x 12".

Then I saw the cute, organic cotton kitchen towel above for $11 and decided to get one of those too. The fabric is a bit stiff for my liking, but it should soften after several washings.

Some other items that caught my eye were a cork iPad case and cork beverage sleeve (both currently on sale), bamboo reversible candle holders (one end holds a tea light, the other a taper) and artisan cutting board.


This is not a sponsored post. All opinions are my own. Last four photos:

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Lemon-Rosemary Simmering Potpourri

For Christmas we received a gift of simmering potpourri mix. It contained cinnamon sticks, cloves and other spices, a bag of fresh cranberries and an orange. Instructions for using the potpourri were included. Rather than slice the orange, though, I used a vegetable peeler and made wide strips of zest -- then I ate the orange!

Would you believe we simmered that potpourri on an off for at least a couple of weeks? We just added water and additional spices as needed. We thoroughly enjoyed the wonderful holiday scent as it filled the house!

Recently, I found a simmering potpourri recipe on Pinterest that uses rosemary, lemon and vanilla, so I thought I'd give it a try. One source described it as a great springtime scent. If you like the smell of rosemary, you'll love this recipe.

Slice a lemon, snip some fresh rosemary from the garden (or buy fresh rosemary from the grocery) and add one to two teaspoons of vanilla extract to some water in a saucepan. Bring to a simmer on the stove top and reduce the heat to very low adding water as needed. Do not leave unattended for any period of time, and be sure to turn off the heat before you leave the house!

As this potpourri was simmering, I added some ground cinnamon and ginger to give it a bit of spice. This recipe is nice, but it didn't fill the house with aroma the way the Christmas potpourri did, so I wouldn't say it's my favorite.

Even though the holidays are over, I am going to enjoy another round of Christmas simmering potpourri. I'll use cranberries that I have in the freezer, and are probably past their prime anyway, plus cinnamon sticks, cloves, sliced fresh ginger and nutmeg.

Have you tried stovetop potpourri? What's your favorite scent combination?

Saturday, January 21, 2017

White Bean, Tomato and Kale Soup

Hello there! It's still winter, even though it's not very cold where I live. The wonderful snow we got the first week of January was gone in a matter of days. We actually had temperatures in the 60s just days after the snowfall and days when it didn't get above freezing. Crazy southern weather! The poor snow didn't have a chance. Even so, it's technically still winter and it's cold in many parts of the world, so here's a nice, hearty soup recipe for those who need a bit of warming up.

White Bean, Tomato and Kale Soup

2 cans (15 oz. each) navy beans, drained and rinsed
1 can (28 oz.) crushed tomato
6 cups vegetable broth (if you avoid gluten, look for gluten-free on the label)
2 tablespoons olive or avocado oil
1 bunch kale, stems removed and torn into bite-sized pieces (about 7 cups)
1 small to medium yellow onion, diced
3 carrots, peeled and sliced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 cup gluten-free (or regular) elbow macaroni

1) Heat oil in large pot over medium heat. Add onion and saute for 5 minutes. Add carrot, garlic, oregano, salt and pepper and saute for another 5 to 8 minutes. Add kale and cook, stirring, until it begins to wilt, about 5 minutes.

2) Add the tomato puree, vegetable broth, beans and red pepper flakes. Bring to boil. 

3) Reduce heat to a simmer and cook an additional 10 to 15 minutes. Meanwhile, in a separate pot, boil water and cook elbow macaroni according to package directions. Drain pasta, add it to the soup and serve.


Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Black Hibiscus Candle by India Hicks

In late November, one of my favorite bloggers, Joan, who writes the beautiful blog For the Love of a House, offered a giveaway, and I was the lucky recipient of this elegant India Hicks candle! I'm one of those gals who rarely wins anything, so I was pretty excited, not to mention I am a candle addict

I would like to thank Joan and Patricia Van Essche of PVE Design, a director at India Hicks who provided the candle for the giveaway.

I chose the black hibiscus scent, partly because the description sounded great ("England in the tropics, captured by the suggestion of sea air, oranges and Earl Grey tea") and partly because of the black glass jar and gold lid. So luxurious!

 Second photo credit: India Hicks

Monday, January 9, 2017

Winter Essentials

Every season has its essentials. Two essentials of mine in the winter months are hand sanitizer and warm socks. The hand sanitizer I'm liking now is Everyone gel sanitizer in coconut + lemon. I'm not a germaphobe, but I taught myself years ago not to touch my eyes, nose or mouth to cut down on germ transmission, and this technique really helps. I get maybe one cold a year. That being said, I sometimes use hand sanitizer after being in public places, or in church after we exchange the sign of peace -- when we shake hands with those around us. It is a lovely moment during Mass but not always practical during cold and flu season when people have been sneezing, coughing and blowing their noses! 

This product smells really good, not the typical alcohol sanitizer. It actually smells like dessert! I bought it at Whole Foods, but you can also purchase it online. Besides the pleasant scent, I like that this product line is certified non-GMO, gluten-free, cruelty free and uses no synthetic fragrances. The company website also has an informative "green glossary" guide to the ingredients in their products.

Warm, cozy socks are another winter essential for me, as my toes always seem to be cold (so does my nose, but so far I haven't come across a product for keeping it warm). Last year, or the year before, I discovered socks by World's Softest, an American company in Niota, TN, founded more than 100 years ago (two of their lines are still US made). 

I bought a pair last year and loved them, so I bought more this year: three pairs of ragg crew socks and the pair below (I don't recall the style). They were buy three, get one free at a local retail store. These socks are true to their name -- incredibly soft, comfortable and warm. A promotion on their website runs through January: save 20% when you spend $30 or more.

What are the essentials that help you get through these cold winter months? Let us know by sharing your comments below (click on "comments"). Thanks for visiting! Always nice to have you at the bungalow!   

While winter is certainly not my favorite season, I do adore winter scene photographs. Check out my Winter board on Pinterest for some very beautiful images that will make you want to get outdoors and enjoy the snow -- or curl up inside by the fire!

Please note, this is not a sponsored post. I simply like sharing things I find to be good and useful products, ones that you might also enjoy using.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

A Good Snowfall

Oh how happy I am when we get at least one good snowfall here in the Southeast. Especially when it happens over a weekend!

I am a homebody by nature, and snow days call for nesting and being indoors, for reading and game playing, for soup-making and snuggling with doggies -- and even for house cleaning, which I plan to do (at some point) today.

Snow days are perfect for time outdoors, too. The world is so much quieter when there's a blanket of snow on the ground. Birds and squirrels are plentiful at the feeders. Watching birds in the winter is one of my favorite things to do. They are so active and easy to spot in the snow. The cardinals are especially pretty.

If you're having a snowy weekend, I hope you are enjoying it. Stay safe and warm!

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

New Year, New Goals

Happy New Year, folks! I hope your new year is off to a great start. Do you make new year's resolutions? I don't really, but I think the new year is a great time for a fresh start, for setting goals, making plans and contemplating the previous year.

One of my goals for 2017 is to blog more often. I'm sad to say that in 2016 I created fewer than 50 posts. Compare that to 2011, the first full year in which I was blogging, when I created 74 posts. Blogging is a pastime I enjoy, but to be honest, sometimes I stress over it. What should I blog about? Will people care enough to leave comments? How much (or how little) should I write? How can I find the time? I don't want this hobby to become a chore. It's also hard not to feel pressure when there are so many great blogs out there with exciting stories of travel and home renovations -- with amazing photographs to boot. 

The blogs I find most enjoyable are those that feature real lives. Blogs like Jones Design Company; For the Love of a House; Nine & Sixteen and Posie Gets Cozy, to name just a few (see the sidebar for links to more of my favorites). These blogs feature real stories, great photos and personal details. Even though we haven't met, I feel like I know these folks. I would like for my blog to provide that same feeling. Real, honest and personal. So in 2017, I'm going to attempt to post more to my blog and worry less about creating the perfect posts (and how many comments they will or won't generate). I need to remember that I have many readers who don't leave comments, but who enjoy my posts. For this I am very thankful.

Another goal for 2017 is to read more books. Do you know about Goodreads? It's a great place to keep lists of books I've read and those I'd like to read, as well as read member reviews and get recommendations based on books I like. 

Last year I set a reading goal (I'm not even going to share with you the pitifully low number of books I aimed to read) ... needless to say, I didn't meet my goal. Not even close. This year, I have a new reading goal (the number's even higher!), and I am off to a good start already. Yesterday I began reading an Alice Hoffmann novel called Blackbird House, and so far I love it. I read 73 pages in one sitting, which is really good for me, considering that reading almost always puts me to sleep in 20 minutes or less. That's probably one reason I didn't meet my 2016 reading goal. Ha!

A third goal for 2017 is to exercise more. I'm an avid swimmer, and have been lap swimming regularly since 2015. But I slip into periods when I don't work out for a week or more. And a week can easily turn into two weeks or three. It's really hard to get up at 5:00 on a cold winter morning, pull on a swimsuit and get into a cold car to drive oneself to the gym. Then there's getting into the chilly pool ... There are too many reasons to stay in a warm bed snuggling with my hubby until 6:15! But swimming is the best thing for me physically and mentally, so I need to make it a priority. It takes diligence. But I can do it, if I just remind myself of the benefits, like the 5 pounds I lost this past year and how good I feel after a 30-minute swim.

So what resolutions, goals or plans do you have for 2017? If you'd like to share -- and I hope you will -- just click on "Comments" below. I look forward to hearing from you. Thanks, as always, for following My Little Bungalow. Here's to a great year ahead.
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