Sunday, December 10, 2017

Sunday's Soup/Voodoo Hippie Chili

There was an episode of the television show, 'Friends,' where Phoebe wanted so badly to be Monica's maid of honor. But, of course, Rachel thought she should be the maid of honor. Realizing that she had lost the battle, Rachel said, "well, okay, let's see how Monica likes your Voodoo Hippie bridal shower." My quote isn't exactly perfect, but it was the Voodoo Hippie part that stuck in my mind as I thought it was hilarious! Now, I finally have a place where I can use the words!!!

I love chili. There's just something about a bowl of chili that warms my soul. My only problem with making chili is that I like it rather spicy. After setting many mouths on fire, I have learned to turn down the heat, and allow all to add their own level of fire! So, the only magical aspect of this chili is that it tastes great just as it is, and all can customize it for their own level of heat.

This is a super simple recipe, and can easily be made during the week when time is at a premium, especially during the holiday season . So no excuse not to have a nutritious, and delicious meal.  It's also FULL of protein, so it will leave you very satisfied :)    

Begin by sauteing the chopped onions in olive oil until tender. Add the chopped red and green bell peppers. It will look a little like Christmas in a pot :)

Add garlic, canned tomatoes, red lentils, garbanzo beans, pinto beans, bay leaves, oregano, dried cilantro, chili powder and vegetable broth. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and allow to simmer until lentils are tender, about 20-30 minutes. 
Serve and enjoy.

Voodoo Hippie Chili
printable recipe

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large yellow onion chopped
1 green bell pepper chopped
1 red bell pepper chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 25 oz.cans diced fire-roasted tomatoes
1 14.5 oz. can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
1 14.5 oz. can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
2 cups dried red lentils, rinsed
2 bay leaves
4 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon dried cilantro
8 cups vegetable broth
salt and black pepper to taste 

Heat oil in a large soup pot. Add onions and saute until tender. Add green and red peppers and saute about 10 minutes over a medium flame. Add garlic and saute another minute, being careful not to burn the garlic. 
*If you would like a non-vegetarian version, add meat or sausage of choice at this point. Brown until cooked through.   
Add lentils, diced tomatoes, bay leaves, oregano, chili powder, dried cilantro, and vegetable broth. Bring to a boil, and then reduce heat and cook until lentils are tender, about 20-30 minutes. 
Add salt and black pepper to taste.

Top with slices of jalapeno peppers, chopped green onion, grated cheddar cheese, sour cream, and/or sliced avocado. 

A great idea for a casual party is to make the chili and then have toppings available on a buffet so all of your guests can customize to their preference. 

Serve with a hot pan of cornbread and lots of butter ;) 

I've learned that entertaining doesn't need to be an elaborate meal. Something as simple as a pot of chili can bring people together and make the best of evenings. So in a way, I guess it is rather magical :)

Hope you will make a little magic of your own!

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Thursday, December 7, 2017

I'm Celebrating My Birthday!!!

I had a wonderful evening last night. I had the opportunity to attend the annual fashion show at Fleet Feet Sports here in Chicago. The store has a very inspiring history. In 1976, running was a male dominated sport, but 2 women, Sally Edwards, and Elizabeth Jansen, only 28 years old, both teachers, and best friends, decided to go against the odds and open a running store. They purchased a run down, old Victorian home in the poorest area of downtown Sacramento, CA and opened Fleet Feet Sports. This powerhouse combo began a lot of firsts in the area, the first marathon, the first fun run, and the first triathlon. It wasn't long until they opened a second location and people began to ask about opening their own Fleet Feet stores. Now it's a chain that spreads across the United States. Each store is locally owned and operated, and committed to enhancing the local running and walking communities. 

Saw lots of fun things last night. There was a jacket that was a combo jacket and vest. It was held together as a jacket with magnets, so just a matter of pulling the upper jacket portion away from the vest. There was a zippered back pocket for storing the upper portion of the jacket. Such a great idea for days when you begin the workout and it's cool and then you heat up and need to pair down. When the model pulled away the top of the jacket, she threw it to me, so I was able to take a closer look. Then she came back and had me push the piece into the back pocket. Fun! They also had a jacket that had a built-in piece that would go over the hand and act as a glove. I really loved that as I am always starting out with my sleeves pulled down over my hands until I begin to warm up.

The only negative part of the evening was that the store was so, so crowded after the show, rather claustrophobic actually. I'm planning to head back next week to take a closer look when things are not so chaotic. If you live in Chicago, you might want to check out the show. The cost is $20.00, but you come home with a great goodie bag, and a really nice store coupon. So between the bag and the coupon, the experience more than pays for itself. Hey!, and it's fun on top of it all :) 

It's that time of year...another day older, and thankfully, not deeper in debt!!! By all means, a good thing :)

My actual birthday is December 12th, so a few days away still. I always like to do a little something fun for my birthday, so this year I thought I would host a giveaway that you might enjoy. You may remember the sewing caddy I made HERE back in October. It has become my favorite sewing companion.

In case you missed it, I did a video on making 1 for yourself. 


The fun news is that I have 3 to give away. I will draw the first name on my actual birthday, Tuesday, December 12, 2017. The second on Wednesday the 13th, and the final on the 14th. 

If you would like the opportunity to win one of my little caddies, just leave a message on this post by Monday, December 11, 2017, 11:59 pm, CDT.

Good Luck!

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Wednesday, December 6, 2017

The Wednesday Showcase

Good Morning All :)
It's a bright, sunny day here in Chicago. Not too chilly, 30 degrees, and getting above freezing a little later today.   

I began the day with a task that made me just a little nervous. The vet who did the second surgery on Gracie told me that I could easily take the stitches out of her ear and remove the stays :/ I decided that rather than take it all out at once, I would just clip the stitches and then work on taking the stays off tomorrow. Well, best laid plans...I clipped the stitches and low and behold, the stay on the back side of her ear popped right up. The stay on the inside of her ear simply fell out. Over and done! Her ear looks amazing and I can see that she is thrilled to have all of that off, and...fingers crossed, over for good. Now I can add veterinarian assistant to my list of abilities ;) Probably not!!!

Last week I introduced you to Wendy of Fashion Over Fifty. She was our featured speaker at the Haute Couture Club of Chicago's Holiday Luncheon. I thought that you might like to take a look at the post she did. You can find it HERE

I also thought that I would highlight a few events of the day;

Wendy, on the right in the picture below is our membership chair, membership chair extraordinaire I might add. This year we recognized our long time members with a corsage. Oddly enough, a corsage never seems to go out of style :)
This sweet lady has been a member for over 50 years. And she is not the only one. There are more!!! From the look on her face, you can see just how touched she was to be remembered.

BTW, Wendy blogs at The Couture Counsellor. She's a lawyer by day, and an avid sewist by night. I introduced her to all of you sometime back, but if by chance you missed it, or have not checked out her blog, by all means do so, as I really think you'll enjoy getting to know her.  

This is sweet Miss Melba. She is a tiny little woman, but a fireball. She absolutely loves beautiful, well made garments. The coat she is wearing below is one that she made quite a few years ago, and it still looks brand new! I think it is such a wonderful testament to classic, well made garments that have been made using good quality fabric. They last!!! And, they never go out of style. She's a woman after my own heart...no boring linings in her clothes ;)

Andrea is another who loves great fabrics. The jacket she is holding is lined in a Dolce and Gabbana silk charmeuse. Absolutely stunning. I'm not sure where she purchased the fabric, maybe while on a vacation. She purchased the silk charmeuse to line the jacket, and the embroidered fabric for a dress. She had just a few bits left over, and of course wanted to use each and every scrap, so she made the shirt she is wearing below. The embroidery was used for the front panels of the shirt, and the silk chameuse for the collar and cuffs. She said that the dress won't be worn all that often, but now that she's made the shirt, she'll get lots of wear out of the jacket. Such a great use of her fabric! 

Back in September, we kicked off our year with our very own member, Miss Cennetta of The Mahogany Stylist who did a wonderful presentation on shirt making. Below are a few of her inspiring makes.

One of the things we enjoy doing at the Haute Couture Club is encouraging all to sew. We challenged the members to make shirts, and here are a few of the lovely makes...

The party was so much fun. The shirt challenge was quite the success. We had a wonderful show and tell time. The ladies really pulled out all the stops with their lovely makes. Just such an inspiring day. We even inspired Wendy of Fashion Over Fifty to learn to sew!!!

If by chance you are anywhere near Chicago on May 6, 2018, we would love to have you attend our annual fashion show. It's such an inspiring day. Great to see women who not only make their clothes, but value quality.
If you would like to check out our newsletter, Tailored Tales, you can find HERE.

Happy Wednesday!

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Tuesday, December 5, 2017

A New Dress For Christmas

Well, a sorta new dress for Christmas ;)

I love popping into a resale shop just to see what I can find. We were away over the Thanksgiving holiday, in a small little town up in the mountains. As small as the town is, they have a fabulous resale shop, in fact, I call it a department store as you can find just about anything you may need there.

On this recent trip, I went in and found this little dress, and for some reason it spoke to me.

I rather like the black lace trim along the bottom of the skirt. When I saw the dress, I thought, hmmm, I can do something with this, but it was marked at $15.00. Not that $15.00 is a lot of money, but it was just more than I wanted to pay for something I am going to tear apart. In the past, Mondays are half price clothing days, so I decided to wait. Monday finally rolled around, I happily went skipping back into the store thinking I would get my dress for $7.50, but was surprised to see that the clothing wasn't on sale. I asked, and I was told that they are no longer doing the Monday sale. 
Bummer :( But I decided that persistence can pay off, so I went back the next day. On that trip, I found a super cute belt that I can wear with my ski pants, and it was only a dollar...SCORE!!! But, no half-price clothing. So, I went back the next day, fingers crossed as it was my last chance before we left. No luck. I was so bummed that I just stood at the front of the store while my husband took a look around.

As I stood there, the lady behind the register looked at me and asked if I bought the belt there at the store. I said yes. She commented on how cute it was with my ski pants. Totally unlike me, I told her that we had come back that day as I was hoping that it was half price day as there were 2 pieces that I wanted. The first was a little cashmere sweater that was completely trashed as it had holes in it, but it has beautiful rhinestone buttons. When I told her that it had holes in it, she said that it shouldn't be on the rack and that I could have it for free. Wow! But I told her no, the buttons are well worth $2.00 to me, so I would pay the $2.00. She asked about the second piece. I showed her the dress. She said that it had been there for quite sometime and that she would mark it down to $5.00. WOW, again!     

When I purchased the dress, I thought I would take the top off and add a velvet bodice, but then I remembered that I have this piece of black stretch lace.

As I said, I initially thought that I would take the bodice off, but when I laid the dress down and threw the lace over it, I changed my mind. I think I may keep the bodice and cut the halter straps off, making it a bustier. I would like long lace sleeves and a lace overlay. So, I'll see how it turns out. I also plan to add more beads and sparkle to the lace along the hem, make it a little more festive. It'll be fun to see how it all comes together. I'll be working on this later today, so I should be able to share the finished dress on Thursday.   

As I stood at the register paying for my little treasures, I couldn't help but think about asking for what you want... 

Seek and you will find, ask and it will be given...even a little resale shop dress :)

Have a wonderful day!

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Sunday, December 3, 2017

Sunday Night Reflections

A small purple ribbon...and a flood of memories...

As I was leaving an evening mass service, a young woman, holding a basket of purple ribbons, reached out with one in her hand and cheerfully said, "This is to remember that October is domestic abuse month." Taking the ribbon in my hand, I looked at her and asked, "So...what does this mean?" She replied that it was just a reminder that it was domestic abuse month. I then asked, "But what does wearing a ribbon do? What is the action that is being taken? Is the church doing something?" At that point, she clearly didn't know how to respond. She just looked at me and said, "We're just asking that you wear the ribbon." 

As my husband and I drove home, I thought about a day not long after we began dating. A friend of mine who was in her senior year of dental school and needed to begin seeing patients had asked if I would like to come in. Dental coverage had just been added to my insurance plan, so why not? I had thought that it would be rather fun, I would go in, get my teeth cleaned, we would laugh a bit, and that would be the end of it. But, being a good dental student, she talked me in to having x-rays, and it was then that she discovered a mass in my lower left jaw. Nothing was said at that initial visit. She showed her findings to the head of the school who then saw me at my next visit. He told me of the mass and that it needed more examination, as it could be a cyst or a tumor. The news was shocking, it was a tumor. I left in a fog, not even knowing how to process what I had been told. My husband, whom I was dating at the time had taken the afternoon off so we could go canoeing. When I arrived, I laid back on the sofa, and said the words for the first time, "I have a tumor in my jaw and they won't know if it is cancerous until surgery is done." 

The next few weeks were a whirlwind of activity. Root canals were done in order to save my teeth, lots of x-rays taken, and consultations. In one consultation, the surgeon told me that this type of tumor is caused by severe trauma, and then asked, "Have you been in an accident, or suffered a severe blow to your face?" I lied, I lied and said no. 

The surgery was preformed, and happily, no cancer was found. But I was told that I would ultimately need reconstructive surgery, and that I would know when it was time. 

Fifteen years later, I began to have horrible headaches on an almost daily basis, and there was a small mass in my jaw. I was told when I had the surgery to remove the tumor, I had an 80% chance that it would return. My dentist sent me back to the school where the surgery had been performed. 

When the surgery had been done, I was told that in the history of that school, they had never seen a case like mine, and from that point forward, my case would be the final test for all graduating oral surgeons. 

So, now here I was, back again, nervous, not knowing what to expect. A lovely woman walked into the room, paused, smiled and said, "So, it was you." She had graduated from this school and had my case as a graduating oral surgeon." Now here she was, the head of the school and would have the opportunity to fix what the tumor and time had done. As we talked, I felt comfortable, but the fact that I had lied all those years ago was still nagging at me. So I said, "I need to tell you the truth. I was in a very abusive relationship where I suffered many blows to my head and body. When the tumor was found and I was asked, I just couldn't tell the truth." Tears welled in her eyes, and she whispered as if she was talking to herself, "The missing link, what you must have gone through." She said that she had wondered how this could have happened, but since I was only 23 years old at the time, she never would have imagined that I had experienced what I had. She then looked at me and asked, "And life now???" I smiled, "I am now married to a wonderful man who truly loves me. No comparison to what life was like so many years ago." 

Back in September, I saw this picture in a Yahoo article. Not a real bruise, makeup. The picture was posted by Diala Makki who was trying to bring attention to domestic violence, and she added the question. "How would you react if this was not makeup?"  

But, more often than not, it's a face like mine that represents the scars of domestic violence. Those who experience domestic violence do their best to cover their bruises, hide their pain, and like me, will lie. Not to protect the abuser, but to cover their shame, a shame that does not even belong to them.

What everyone sees is this,

But what lies beneath the smile is quite gruesome. Below, a picture of what can happen when someone either enjoys inflicting pain upon another, or who feels that they have the right to use their might to try and control. This x-ray was taken just after surgery, so the braces are still intact. But if you look above the teeth, you'll see plates on either side of my face, another just below my nose. There are plates and screws on either side of my nose that you can't see in this picture.  More screws and small plates can been seen along the lower jaw.     

What most want to know is why...how??? I've even been asked, "Didn't you know before hand?" That question is like putting the blame back on the victim. 

There are answers to why and how, of course, but for another day. The best part of the story is that I was able to escape, and when I did, I promised myself that this would never happen again. Not all share my story and many remain in abusive relationships for years upon end. They have no resources, no power, and then there may be children that makes escaping all the more difficult.

So, what would you do if you knew someone who was being abused? By all means, do more than just wear a ribbon, and please have compassion. 

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Sunday's Soup/Fiesta Fun Hominy, Tomatillo and Poblano Soup

There's little I love more than to go to the grocery store and allow what's there to inspire me. I also LOVE hominy. I grew up eating hominy with eggs and as a side dish. However it's given to me, I love it!

On a recent trip to the store, the tomatillos seemed to just jump right out at me. The poblano peppers also looked great, so I decided to try my hand at a little something different. 
Below you see the poblano peppers, fresh cilantro, and tomatillos.

If you've never used tomatillos before, they look like little green tomatoes in a paper thin husk.

I began by roasting the tomatillos and the poblano peppers on the grill. If you decide to give the soup a try, don't skip this part as the roasting gives the soup such a wonderful flavor. Just be sure that the grill is nice and hot before putting the vegetables on the grill.

Roast the tomatillos until they are brown and have softened. Place in a blender and blend well.

The poblano peppers should be roasted until they are really quite black on the outside.

Pull off the blackened skin and pull the seeds out of the peppers. Poblano peppers are not hot, so this is not a hot, spicy soup.

Chop the peppers and put aside.

Add oil to a large soup pot and add the chopped onions. Saute until tender. Add garlic and saute another minute to allow the garlic to release its flavor, but not burn.

Add the blended tomatillos, chopped peppers, and hominy, to the pot along with 4 to 6 cups of vegetable broth. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat. Add 1 cup of finely chopped cilantro, 1 teaspoon of coriander, 2 teaspoons of cumin, and salt and black pepper to taste. Allow to simmer for approximately 20 to 30 minutes, just giving the spices time to flavor the soup.

The final soup is absolutely delicious, low in calories, and yet the flavor is so robust that you'll feel you've sinned! I have loved every bite!!!

Fiesta Fun Hominy, Tomatillo, and Poblano Soup
printable recipe


12 tomatillos, husks removed
2 poblano peppers
1 bunch of fresh cilantro finely chopped
2 25 oz. cans hominy, drained and rinsed
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large yellow onion chopped
2 cloves garlic finely minced
6 cups vegetable broth
1 teaspoon corinader
 2 teaspoons cumin
salt and black pepper to taste

Place tomatillos and poblano peppers on a hot grill and roast until tomatillos are brown and have softened. Poblano peppers should be blackened.

Place tomatillos in a blender and blend until smooth. Remove blackened skin from peppers and remove the stem and seeds. Chop peppers and sit aside.

Heat oil in a large soup pot. Add onions and saute until tender. Add garlic and saute another minute to release flavor. Add tomatillos,  poblano peppers, hominy and vegetable broth. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to simmer. Begin with 4 cups of broth and add more as the hominy begins to thicken the soup. Add  cilantro, coriander, cumin, salt and black pepper to taste. Simmer for approximately 20 to 30 minutes.

If you would like, top the soup with crumbled chihauhau cheese and chopped green onions. Serve with tortilla chips or a hot pan of corn bread.  


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Thursday, November 30, 2017

Help Me Decide!

Once again, I would like to thank all of you for your kind wishes for my dog Gracie. We are a week out of the second surgery, and oh my, what a difference! She has started wanting to scratch her ear, so I think that's a good sign, a sign of healing. She was so funny last night, she was lying on the sofa beside me, and wanted so badly to scratch her ear. Her back paw would go up, but stop short, as if she was saying, "oh, but I really want to scratch." She has actually been quite good about keeping her foot out of her ear. The vet said that the stitches need to stay in for 14 days, so I think that if she has had this much improvement in a week, the next week should be all the better. And I will have a huge sigh of relief :)

Oh, and my toe is healing, not that it's such a big deal. I walked a little too much yesterday and paid the price last night. In time, this too shall pass :)

A few weeks ago I shared this coat that I have had forever. It's a faux fur coat that I really love. The fur is quite nice. While I won't wear it any longer as is, the fur can be saved, so I've decided to remake it. The coat is now apart, and I need to decide what to do with it.   

I have this trim which a friend gave me and I have been aching to use it. It may be a little difficult to see, but it has a lovely gold metallic thread that runs through it, and ruby beads in the center of the flowers. I have quite a bit, so there are lots of possibilities. 

I found this picture, and fell in love. I want a longer coat, so I thought I could do something to create a full skirt. I should actually have enough of the faux fur to create a great skirt.     

 Maybe something like this.

I really like this coat as well. I thought that I could use the fur and trim around the bottom of the coat and maybe mix it with a wool coating.

And then, OH MY GOODNESS, I love this coat!!! If I did this, I would forget the trim all together and mix the fur with a cotton velvet. 

All are quite dressy, so it's not a choice between something casual and something dressy. I would love your thoughts. 
Whatever I decide to do, it should be really pretty. 
Thanks for your thoughts!

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