My Sweet Valentine!

Hey everyone!  Happy Monday to ya'll!  I hope everyone had a great weekend and persevered through whatever kind of weather Dear Mother Nature presented you with.  Our "gift" was RAIN -- like bucketsful!  Not what we are used to, but our January weather has been everything except the norm.  Oh well, it is what it is, right?

I've been working on some sewing projects this past week.  Some were new ideas and others were from my "some day" stash.  Do ya'll have "some day" projects?  I much prefer to label them this way rather than the "stuff I haven't gotten 'round to yet."  LOL!  Anyway, just thought I'd share some of what I've gotten completed.  This is all happening in our breakfast room.


Working With What You've Got

Hey everyone!  I hope all of you are having a wonderful week, staying healthy and enjoying your families and friends.   For those sweet ones of you who always read my posts, you know that my "resolve" for this year is to be more "authentic" and to follow the  encouragement of the book I'm reading daily, 'Simple Abundance' by Sarah Ban Breathnach.  Since this is a book written as a "daily reading," I thought I would occasionally share some thoughts about what I'm learning about life and myself.
Simple Abundance: A Daybook of  Comfort and Joy

The title of this post is rather catchy and timely, I think.  Since packing away all of the Christmas glitz, I knew I wanted a more calm and simple environment for The Man and I. 

 Life often times throws you curves, and you have no control to stop them.  What you can control is how you react.  My daily read from this book today is titled "Working With What You've Got," and seems so appropriate for how I want to live.

It is so easy to get caught up in the "rat race" of life and circumstances and allow all of those outside forces to control how we live.  I've been there, too, many times.  You find yourself saying over and over again, "When this gets done" or "If only we had a bigger paycheck" or "When the children are all in school," then I can do this, work on that or begin to live my dreams.  Well, guess what?  Life is constantly changing and adding circumstances beyond our control.

You can decide to sit in the backseat with a limited view and be totally driven by life's circumstances and chaos, or you can move to the driver's seat and begin to set your own pace and enjoy a different view.  Even in dark times there can be hope and abundance, we just have to be more creative and open, and more willing to dig a bit deeper to find our happiness.

Look for some simple things you can do today to lift your spirits -- wear a pretty scarf with your jeans and tee-shirt, use a spritz of that perfume you save for special occasions, put together a soup or stew that will fill your home with its wonderful aroma, call and chat with a friend who might need some positive encouragement, use your best china for dinner tonight, or add a votive to a recycled jar with a ribbon around the neck & sit it somewhere you can enjoy while you work.  

Remember, happiness comes from within and cannot be bought with any amount of money.  Embrace and bless your circumstances.  Do not allow them to control and define who you really are.  You deserve better than that.

Thank you so much for stopping by.  I hope you have a wonderful weekend!
I am happy to be joining Ricki Jill at Art @ Home for 


Some "Fluffing & Love" for the Kitchen!

Hey everyone!  Hope ya'll had a wonderful weekend.  We finally had weather more indicative of the normal 75ish degree range for this time of year for us, so doors and windows were open and walking in and out without the need of a coat was much enjoyed!  While The Man was outside mowing the very brown grass (his absolute favorite thing - NOT), I was inside "fluffing our nest" and doing some sewing.


The 'Simple Abundance' Path!

Hey everyone!  I cannot believe it's already Friday -- where has this week gone?  Some times, in the flurry of activities, I get stressed.  I'm much more of a "home-body" than The Man.  I have quite a lengthy list of projects (some are for him), and a mind that functions much better on routines and order; so being spontaneous, simply relaxing and "going with flow," is very difficult for me.  That's why, every couple of years, I reach for my treasured copy of 'Simple Abundance,' by Sarah Ban Breathnach.    This wonderful book was first released in November 1995.  I'm not much of a daytime TV person, but I occasionally watched Oprah (kind of miss her show) and just happened to tune in the day she was interviewing Sarah about her new release of this book.  I was intrigued and began talking about how much I'd love to have this book; so The Man gave me a copy for Christmas that year.

It was very difficult for me to read it as a daily journal, just one entry per day when I wanted to devour the entire book in a day, but I did it.  I even bought several copies throughout the year and gave them to some friends the following Christmas.  This is the fourth or fifth time I've read this book and gain new insight into who I truly want to be and who I am right now each time I read it.  It's really a book of guidance to help you understand what's really important in your life.

I decided this past December that I wanted to read this book again, and I am so glad I did.  After having chosen "authentic" as my word for the year, I'v been pleasantly surprised at how being "authentic" is a truly common thread in this book.  I find it to be a wonderful way to start my day.  I will probably share more about this book over the year, because there are simple things that the author asks you to do to help feed your soul.  I just start a "Gratitude Journal," which is one of those simple things that can have  huge impact if you open yourself up to it.  In case you can't tell, I love this book!  
Simple Abundance: A Daybook of  Comfort and Joy

This is the excerpt from Amazon:

Simple Abundance is a book of 366 evocative essays-one for every day of your year-written for women who wish to live by their own lights. In the past a woman's spirituality has been separated from her lifestyle. Simple Abundance shows you how your daily life can be an expression of your authentic self ... as you choose the tastiest vegetables from your garden, search for treasures at flea markets, establish a sacred space in your home for meditation, and follow the rhythm of the seasons and the year. Here, for the first time, the mystical alchemy of style and Spirit is celebrated. Every day, your own true path leads you to a happier, more fulfilling and contented way of life-the state of grace known as...simple abundance.  Embrace its gentle lessons, savor its sublime common sense, dare to live its passionate truth, and share its extraordinary and exhilarating gift with every woman you encounter: the authentic self is the Soul made visible.

It isn't too late to add this book to your reading list; even though it's already January 18th, it wouldn't take you very long to catch up and would be so worth the effort!

I am happily joining Ricki Jill at Art at Home for Literary Friday.

Hope ya'll have a wonderful weekend!


Cozying Up the Dining Room

Hey everyone!  Happy Monday, and I hope this is the start of a great week for all of us.  It's another super-chilly day here in the 20's, with mid-40's for the high.  I have to say, though, that I've been enjoying wearing the sweaters, scarves and mittens that I didn't even touch last year.  This weather has certainly had me concentrating on keeping our home cozy, not just heat-wise, but the overall look.  One of the areas that tends to look a bit formal is our dining room, so I've tried to tone down the formality and make it more inviting.  I'll let you be the judge on how I did.


A Yummy Warm Sipper!

Hey everyone!  Just got back from seeing the movie "Lincoln."  Will Mr. Lewis win yet another Oscar?  I don't know, but he was very believable as the great Mr. Lincoln.  Anyway, weather here in the Arizona desert has been rather frigid -- seriously, anything below 45 degrees is really cold to us "desert rats," and we have been having below freezing for the last couple of days.  I'm talking 26* yesterday and 21* this morning -- we are really into layers of clothing and warm cups of yumminess to sip.

My new favorite warm beverage of choice lately (after a couple of cups of my favorite coffee, of course) has been Russian Tea.  This is a homemade brew, and one that I used to make many years ago when my kiddos were, well little kiddos!  The original version had lots of sugar in the form of sugary Tang, and sugar-sweetened lemonade mix plus the instant tea.  Well, a few weeks ago I went on a hunt for a sugar-free version.  I found several recipes that sounded okay, but not quite what I wanted, so I just started combining bits and pieces from here and there and came up with the following.  Hope you enjoy!

Russian Tea Mix -- "Sugar-Free" Version

What you will need:
1 packet sugar-free Crystal Light Lemonade ( Walmart's brand is what I use)
1 packet sugar-free Crystal Light Orange (Walmart's brand is called Orange Early Rise)
1 cup unsweetened instant tea (any brand)
1 to 1 1/2 cups Splenda (or your sweetener of choice)
1 heaping teaspoon of cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves (I'm generous with this amount because I like cloves)
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice (generous as above)

Simply mix everything together, and even add some cinnamon sticks if you like -- I do.  Add 1 to 2 tablespoons of mix, depending on the size of your cup, and fill with almost boiling water.  If you let the water boil, you have to wait for it to cool a bit before you can begin to enjoy this yumminess -- just sayin'.  I like to add one of the cinnamon sticks to mine for a little added flavor.  This was my "go-to" beverage a few days ago when I was feeling "poorly" and nothing much tasted good, except this!  I do hope you will give it a try; and if you are lucky enough not to be watching your "waistline," then simply substitute all the sugar-laden ingredients.

Hope everyone has a wonderful week ahead, and for goodness sake, try to stay healthy!

What I'm Reading

Hey everyone!  I'm trying to mix things up a bit here on my blog, and add in a few things other than home decor.  My home and how I decorate is absolutely a great passion of mine, but my "authentic" self wants to have more balance in my life.  Ricki Jill at Art @ Home is one of my "besties."  She's very talented as an artist, is an avid reader and does the best book reviews on her Literary Fridays linky party.  I think I would find myself in such a "rut" without people like Ricki Jill to add some "class and sophistication" into my life.  I've even added a Pinterest board just for books I want to read, many of those selections are a direct result of Ricki Jill's recommendations.  Anyway, this is my attempt at broadening my horizons and sharing what I've been reading.  Just to preface, I'm a very slow reader, so linking up every Friday is probably not going to happen.....lol!


What Do You Need When You're Sick?

Hey everyone!  Sniff, sniff, cough, cough, ah-choooo!  Yep, that would be me right now......lol!  What are your basic needs when you are sick?  Well, since I seem to have some time on my hands, I thought I'd share what my needs are.  Ah-choo, ah-choo!  Jeez, please remind me to sanitize this keyboard when I start feeling better -- yuk!

First and foremost, my BFF!
Nyquil or Walmart's way cheaper version.  Which shall it be, The Daytime No-Drowsey version or 
The NiteTime, liquor-induced coma version?  I'm going for the "liquor" -- heck, I'm not driving!

Plenty of these -- thanks Costco for having such pretty boxes!

Ahhh......hot Russian Tea, all citrusy and cinnamony!

Thanks, Santa, for my warm Isotoners!

Gotta have my phone just incase someone calls and I can sound all sicky and pathetic.

Laptop - check!  I can do lots of blogging -- well, at least I can blog until I fall into that
Nyquil "coma!"

Take care, dear friends, and don't get sick!



New Looks from Old Stuff

Hey everyone!  Happy Monday of the first normal week of "2013!"  School starts here today, and I look forward to watching from my blogging spot as the children walk, skateboard, bike & scooter their way to school.  It's a chilly morning here in the Arizona desert, 37 degrees, so I'm glad I can watch from the cozy warmth inside my home!


My "2013" Plan and Word!

Hey everyone!  I hope the first week of 2013 has gotten off to a good start for all of you.  I really do like to start a new year with goals and plans for all areas of my life, including "Blogging," so I thought I would share a few of my ideas and clear up something that has had a few people confused.

Let's start with that, shall we --the CAS vs. Carol name-thing.  When I first started blogging, I was a bit reserved about putting myself out there in this foreign-to-me territory, so I thought I wanted to maintain a bit of anonymity.  Hey, I didn't know what a wonderful and nice bunch of people I had stumbled upon.   CAS is simply my initials, and I kind of liked it.  As time went on, and I got to know some of you a whole lot better, I would use my given name of Carol.  Then, because I'm older and forgetful, I would forget which name I was using with whom.....lol!  I know, pitiful.  So anyway, a few months ago I just started signing off everything with Carol, and it feels better, less confusing -- much more "authentic."

That brings us to a big part of my New Year plan -- the word.  I have been choosing a word for several years now that has significance and meaning to me.  Some of my passed years' words have been Cherish, Adore, Family, Unconditionally -- well, you get the picture.  Whatever my word is for the year, I try to incorporate it into the way I live my life and be aware of it every day.  Sometimes my word has come easily, other times it has taken a while to choose.  This year's word came very easily and holds a great deal of meaning for me.  My "2013" word is Authentic, meaning good, just, real, true, legit, actual, trusty, certain, factual, genuine, accurate, credible, faithful, realistic, believable, dependable. The words I've highlighted hold the most meaning for me. As you probably noticed, I added my "word" to my blog header and will also be adding it to other places of significance around my home as an added daily reminder.  

Now that you know about my word, I'd like to share my plan for my blog this year.  As many of us lament on a daily basis, we tend to spend a lot of time on our blogs, and I am definitely "guilty."  My blog is purely for pleasure, I do not advertise or have sponsors.  I just enjoy visiting and seeing what ya'll have to share and then sharing with all of you.  After setting my project goals for the year, I realize I will have to curtail my blogging a bit or I will not get much accomplished.  I absolutely adore all of you and would visit each one of you every day if time permitted, but that cannot happen.  I have to be "authentic" to myself and set some guidelines and hope that no one is offended.  So here goes:

  1.   If you have "word verification," I won't be visiting -- sorry, but it has gotten ever more difficult &
      takes too long to read those silly letters and numbers.

  2.   If your comments come through my email, but you are a "no reply blogger," I will only respond to 
      your comments in the "Comment" section of my post. 

  3.   I'm going to limit myself to just one "party post" a week and limit the number of parties that I 
      join.  I truly love the parties, but I don't feel I can be a realistic participant if I've joined too many.

  4.   I will do some random posts throughout the week, as time permits, to share a recipe or something
      fun, but I won't be linking these to a party.

  5.   I really am going to try to cut back on "picture overload."  Stop laughing!  I'm REALLY going to

  6.   If you've become a follower, please leave a comment so that I can return the favor or at least
      thank you.

  7.   I definitely try to visit and comment as much as possible, but if you have left me a comment, I will
      ALWAYS reciprocate.

  8.   If you are feeling left out and that I haven't visited you in awhile, then leave me a comment and
      tell me.

  9.   I want to be a good blog friend, but it is a 2-way street!

10.   I believe in what my Grandmother always said, "If you don't have something kind to say, then      
      don't say anything." I've never had an issue with negative comments on any of my posts, but I have     
      read a few here and there on other blogs.  Let's just respect one another.

I kind of feel like the teacher in me has surfaced here, but I just needed to share my "vision" for this wonderful new year as far as Blogging is concerned.  I hope all of you have as much fun with this craziness as I do, and I hope that we can all glean lots and lots of inspiration and wonderful ideas from each other.  I hope I can be a truly "authentic" person in 2013!



Sharing a Recipe!

Hey everyone!  I've been busy, busy "re-dressing" my home after the Christmas take-down.  Whew, it took me a few days of "deer in the headlights" staring before I even started getting any ideas of what I wanted to do.  Does that happen to ya'll?  Finally the ideas started coming, and I quickly started writing them down so I didn't forget my game plan before I could carry it out.  Ya know, I'm older, so those memory-lapses happen more often than I'd care to admit.....lol!

Anyway, things are coming together, but I'm not quite ready to share any of that; but I would like to share a recipe.

This was one of the desserts I made for our family's Christmas Eve celebration -- Banana Bread.  I know you are probably thinking that you've read and tried like a gazillion banana bread recipes, but this one is sooooo good!  I've been making this same recipe for almost twenty years, and it's always a crowd pleaser.  So, without further ado, here is the recipe:

6 mashed bananas
1 1/3 cups veg. oil
1 cup sour cream
4 eggs
4 cups sugar
4 cups flour
2 Tbsp. vanilla
2 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 tsp. salt

Lightly beat the eggs, and then mix with oil, sugar, sour cream and vanilla.  Add mashed bananas.
Sift together flour, baking soda and salt.
Gradually add flour mixture to egg/sugar mixture, and blend well.

I like to use my Pampered Chef Stoneware Mini-Loaf Pan, plus a regular-size loaf pan.  Yes, this recipe makes a large quantity.  I just spray all the pans with Pam.  Bake at 325 degrees -- about 1 hour for the regular-size pan and 45 minutes for the stoneware 4-loaf pan.  These rise quite a bit and then get a beautiful split across the top and brown to a rich dark golden brown.  When I remove them from the oven, I sprinkle them with some sugar-cinnamon and cover with a clean tea towel for a few minutes before I remove them from the pans.  This bread freezes extremely well, which is why I don't mind having a couple to toss in the freezer for unexpected guests.  Top each slice with some whipped cream or cool whip -- great dessert!  I hope you'll give it a try!

Thanks so much for stopping by and allowing me to share one of our favorite recipes with all of you!  I'll be back soon to share some of my winter decor.  I sincerely hope "2013" has gotten off to a great start for each of you!

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