a weekend in november

On my morning walk today

This is one of my favorite homes on my morning walk.  The elderly couple that live here are just so charming.  We had light rain overnight and it was enough to place a layer of leaves on their front walk that was so pretty.

By the time I got back Larry had made us french toast for breakfast 

alfresco lunch

another home on my walk that i love.

Every year this little house gets covered in creeping fig and I think it is beautiful


It really was a lovely weekend.


kayce hughes

Today there is another great giveaway going on in the blog world.  The gorgeous Kayce Hughes is giving away one of her women's dresses.  Have you read her blog or seen the clothes she creates?  Kayce used to work for Ralph Lauren and has amazing style.  Plus she is a mom to SEVEN, yes that's right, SEVEN kids, and I thought I was crazy.  I don't know how she does it all.  She and her husband have friday night date night and she posts her cute outfits too.  So go over and check out her blog and clothing designs and enter her contest.  Tell her I said hi.

house numbers

I first heard about these enameled house numbers from Steve at an Urban Cottage.  If you have not been to his blog, you really should go see how he is transforming his Greek Revival cottage.  It is gorgeous.  Then I saw that Deborah at Boxwood Terrace was actually having a giveaway featuring the house numbers.  I entered her contest but didn't win them.  Anyway, between the two of them I learned that the company, Ram Sign makes the most gorgeous enameled house numbers and house plaques that I've seen anywhere.  I need house numbers and I want a house plaque and coincidentally the company contacted me and asked if I'd like to have a giveaway too.  So I am!  All you have to do to enter is go to their website, take a look around and come back and tell me what style you like best.  I'll pick the winner next Wednesday.  So go check them out now, come back and leave a comment.

The day we bought this place.  You can see the green homemade house number thing that was made out of plumbing parts.

Same view, 3 years later.  I'd like an oval plaque that says The Gardeners Cottage
or house numbers to hang on the space between the front door and window.  Either one will be perfect.


happy thanksgiving

Though my gathering will be small, my blessings are many.
From my home to yours...happy thanksgiving! 


mushroom gravy*

I'm not sure how appetizing this picture of mashed potatoes and gravy is, brown and white food does not photograph well.  Anyway this is the mushroom gravy that I'll be serving on Thanksgiving.  It's thick and savory and delicious.   Several people asked for the recipe so here it is.  I hope you enjoy it.  And thank you to everyone for your well wishes, I'm feeling good again.  The secret to Magical Soup is the large amount of red pepper flakes that help numb the throat and unstuff a stuffy head and of course drinking the whole batch yourself really forces fluids, so give it a try next time you or someone you love is under the weather.

Mushroom Gravy

1/4 c earth balance margarine
1/3 c flour
3 c vegetable broth
1 package of mushrooms
1/4 c soymilk

On a sheet pan roast the mushrooms with a light drizzle of olive oil at 400 degrees for about 15-20 minutes.  Set aside.

In a saute pan
melt the earth balance
stir in flour, making roux
slowly stream in vegetable broth whisking away any lumps
bring to simmer and add mushrooms
stir in soymilk

*no animals were harmed making this gravy

magical soup*

I'm a bit under the weather today and I have the cure.  I call it Magical Soup.  I've been making this soup for a very long time, long before I became a vegan.  When one of my kids ever caught a cold or flu this is what I fed them.  So I just made myself a batch.  I'll sip the whole batch myself all day long.  And I'll be feeling a lot better tomorrow.  The recipe is easy and forgiving.

Magical Soup

1/2 onion diced
1 carrot  diced
1 celery rib diced
3-4 cups chopped broccoli, spinach or any other vegetables you have on hand
6 c vegetable broth
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes

saute onion, carrot and celery until soft
add remaining ingredients, bring to simmer, when vegetables are soft
puree in batches and sip

*no animals were harmed making this soup

a simple table

I'm thinking along these lines for Thanksgiving...


a vegan thanksgiving*

This is the soup I will be serving on Thanksgiving Day.  It is so good and so easy!  The rest of my menu is below the soup recipe.

Sweet Potato Soup w/Buttered Pecans

1 c chopped onion
2 cloves garlic minced
3 large sweet potatoes
1 large russet potato
1 c dry white wine
6 c vegetable broth
1 bay leaf
1 - 1 1/2 c water
1 c pecans

In a large soup pot, saute onion and garlic until soft.  Add peeled and chopped sweet potatoes and russet potato.  Add vegetable broth, water, wine and bay leaf.  Bring to simmer until vegetables are all soft.  Remove bay leaf and puree in batches in blender.
Garnish with buttered pecans

Buttered Pecans

2 T earth balance margarine
3/4 c pecans
salt and pepper

saute pecans in melted earth balance until lightly browned and crunchy.
sprinkle on top of soup for garnish

This soup has amazing flavor and is a snap to make.  It makes quite a bit so it's perfect for a large gathering.  Make it a day or two before and the flavors intensify.

*no animals were harmed making this soup

Thanksgiving Menu
Sweet Potato Soup with Buttered Pecans

Wild Rice Rissoles with Mushroom Gravy

Garden Lettuces with Dried Cranberries and Apple Vinaigrette

Creamy Mashed Potatoes

Green Beans

Cranberry Orange Relish

Homemade Bread

Apple Crumble

This is basically the same menu we had last year and we loved it.  Everything is delicious and has a real autumn flavor to it.  If you do nothing else, make the soup, it is incredible.  The whole menu is easy.  I prep the rissoles the day before so they have a chance to set before i brown them.  The recipe i use  from vegetarian times uses eggs but i use a little egg substitute and they are delicious.  I will post my mushroom gravy recipe in a day or so.  I hope this menu gives you some good ideas and if you have any questions, just ask. 

*no animals were harmed making any of these dishes.


holiday stress*

The holidays are right are upon us and the anxiety is already building in me. 
If you love the holidays and everything about them, then this post is not for you.  Also, know that I envy you greatly.  This post is for the rest of us...

I took the photo above for an apple recipe that I was going to post but realize it is better served here discussing holiday stress.  You see, I consider it a successful Thanksgiving if I haven't stabbed anyone by the end of the day.  Holidays in general bring out the worst in me, and I do it to myself.   It's not the holiday itself that makes me cranky but all the extra stuff that goes with it.  I'm talking about the over-commercialization, the high expectations, the over-decoration and the ideals of perfection that just kill me.   My holidays are often wrought with guilt, pressure and a desire to please everyone that often leads to insanity.  Thanksgiving alone is a monumental amount of work in the kitchen, house and garden.  And if you have to work the very next day...well, it's a lot.  This year I want things to be different.  I want to focus more on being relaxed as opposed to things looking perfect.  I think that in my effort to produce a beautiful day for everyone, I wind up killing myself.   And then the worst part is that I'm pissed because no one noticed the hard work that went into the day. Talk about passive/aggressive behavior.   Also, the pressure to appear happy when you are not is exhausting.  There is nothing like the holidays to amplify things that are not going well in your life.  Every image associated with the holidays shows happy families gathered together, laughing and having the time of their lives.  There are times in life that really don't make a pretty greeting card.   Can you just picture that card, I'd so buy it.  So my goal this year is to pretend it's just another day in the life.  There will be no turkey and no perfection.  For the first time in my adult life I'm going to try and not get wrapped up in the image.   We are going to be eating outside because I think it is more conducive to relaxing.  I will also post my menu and recipes this week in case you want any vegan ideas.  I'm starting to feel better already.  I would love to hear from you and how you handle the stress of the holidays.  Maybe we can all learn something here.  Comment anon if you have to, I understand and I'd love to hear your story.

*no animals or people were harmed in this post, fingers crossed.

creamy potato soup with rosemary*

This soup is for my friend Sarah in her Yellow House.  Stay Warm.

potato soup with rosemary


2 potatoes
1/2 c small dice onion
1 celery rib small dice
1 t finely minced fresh rosemary
2 c soymilk
2 c vegetable broth

cook 2 potatoes in microwave
while potatoes are cooking
saute onion and celery in small amount of olive oil until tender
add soymilk
when potatoes are done, remove skin and cut into small dice
add to soup mixture
bring to simmer and mash with potato masher right in pot
add vegetable broth to desired thickness

garnish with fresh cracked pepper

notes:  i love the flavor of fresh rosemary but not everyone does so be careful because it is strong.  if you want, you can add some more as garnish.

*no animals were harmed making this soup.


project 333

Yesterday Belinda at Wild Acre, wrote her post about Project 333.  I first heard about it from Meg at Minimalist Woman.  I was initially intrigued because the number 3 is my favorite number and I love projects.   Essentially Project 333 is about learning to love your clothes and to declutter and uncomplicate your wardrobe.  So basically, you pick 33 articles of clothing and accessories (excluding workout wear and underwear) and wear these same 33 items for 3 months beginning October 1st and ending December 31st.  It wasn't too hard for me to pick 33 pieces of clothing but admittedly I don't have a very exciting life.  So here we are in the middle of November and I haven't even worn all the 33 pieces yet.  God, I am boring!  The outfit above is what i basically live in. I'm with Alex and we are on our way to the new Conan O'Brien show that taped on monday.  You can't see them but I have on my red cowboy boots to honor Conan's musical guest and my boyfriend, Jack White.  But you can see that with a change of jacket or shirt or the addition of a pencil skirt it is quite versatile.  I'm not sure why I didn't post this at the beginning of October?  I think I had just done my fall wardrobe post so I didn't want to bore you with more of my clothing choices.  But now that some time has passed I am pretty fascinated by the results.  I am completely content with a really small wardrobe.  It is so cool knowing that everything hanging in my closet is something I love and it fits me and my life. It has really helped define my personal style.  I really encourage you to try this and see what results you come up with.

my 33

dark levis
not so dark levis
skinny black pants
black pencil skirt
black dress

chambray shirt
white shirt
rl red flannel
rl blue plaid shirt
red long sleeved t
black thermal
black v neck sweater
black turtleneck

black trenchcoat
cashmere coat
herrrigbone blazer
black belted blazer
blue plaid pendleton jacket

black loafers
brown oxfords
red cowboy boots
black boots
black kitten heels

pearl bracelet
vintage watch
2 turquoise cuffs
pearl necklace
burberry scarf
1 brown belt
1 black belt
1 brown handbag

apple cinnamon pancakes*

Another recipe, I know, I know! The weather is getting cold and when that happens I really like being in the kitchen.  Here is a great recipe that is easy and uses everyday ingredients.  I like to mix the batter up, take my morning walk, come back and put these on the griddle.  A cup of hot coffee goes well with them.

apple cinnamon pancakes

1/2 c all-purpose flour
1/2 c whole wheat flour
1 t baking powder
1 t baking soda
2 t cinnamon
1 c soymilk
1 T canola oil
1 medium peeled and grated tart apple
1/4 c walnuts

combine first 5 ingredients in bowl.  add soymilk and oil, mix and then fold in grated apple and walnuts.
let batter sit for at least 1/2 hour.  spoon onto hot oiled griddle.  flip when small bubbles appear on top.
drizzle with warm maple syrup.

*no animals were harmed making these pancakes


mushroom crostini*

While reading one of my favorite blogs of all time, I was compelled to steal this recipe and make this dish.  You do read Slim Paley don't you?  Her recipe is here.    I'm constantly inspired by her big, gorgeous photos that exemplify a well-lived life.  I enjoy trying to translate a lot of what i see there to my own life, in my own way. It isn't easy but that doesn't stop me from trying.   This recipe for instance - i veganized the hell out of it but it is still delicious.  I hope you will try either recipe as i'm sure it will become a staple for you.  I've already made it 3 times and like it better each time i eat it.  It's fresh, easy and delicious.  What more can you ask for out of a recipe?
Thanks Slim.

mushroom crostini

3-4 c organic mushrooms
salt, pepper and 2 t fresh thyme
2 thick slices of a whole wheat baguette
fresh arugula

2 T red wine vinegar
2 T vegenaise
1 T agave syrup
2 t fresh thyme

saute sliced mushrooms in a little olive oil, season w/salt, pepper and fresh thyme
toast baguette slices
arrange each plate with a toasted baguette slice
top each slice with a light smear of vegenaise and a handful of arugula
heap on the mushrooms
drizzle w/dressing

serves 2 for lunch or 1 for dinner

*no animals were harmed making this crostini


november garden

i adore ferns

i love artichokes too

hydrangeas.  who doesn't love them?

lambs ear

so soft

i don't know the name of this salvia


this hydrangea never bloomed



i do not remember the name of this


and i'm too lazy to look it up

it's giant


and makes nice arrangements



the meditation garden


i love my garden and i love blogging. yesterday a very, very special blog friend did me a very, very special favor.  i will be forever indebted to this beautiful woman. 

thank you my dear, sweet friend



the french laundry

My favorite cookbook of all time is The French Laundry.  It barely has a recipe in it that I, as a vegan can eat, but that doesn't stop me from devouring this cookbook page by page.  For me, it's the epitome of what cooking is all about.  Thomas Keller. When i say his name it is always followed by a deep sigh.  He is my idol and role model in the kitchen.  I adore everything about his approach to food, cooking and presentation.  You could say I have a small/large crush on him.   I have never eaten at the French Laundry, even though our oldest son attended college in the Napa Valley, which may explain why I could never afford to eat there.

There are many reasons to love Thomas Keller.  But for me, one of the biggest reasons is his love for his mother.  Given that I am the mother of 3 sons, his acknowledgement of his mothers influence on his life is what truly gets me.  Here is an excerpt from his book that helped me fall in love with him...

"My mom Betty, was and remains the biggest influence, if that's the word, in my life.  Long before she put me to work, she taught me how to clean our home.  Everything had to shine.  That standard of perfect cleanliness was its own gift, given the work I'd choose.  She was a focused, intense woman, the driving force of the family, and she taught through her own actions.  I honestly don't know who I'd be if I'd been raised by, and had grown up watching someone other than her."

How can you not adore this man?  So on top of that he is an amazing chef.  His attention to detail is staggering.  I often get goosebumps reading the details in his book.  The menus, recipes, photography, side stories are so fabulous that I have re-read this book dozens of times.  It reminds me to stay true to the food I am preparing, to honor it through careful preparation and presentation and to take my time and enjoy the whole process.  So while there are very few things that I can copy or translate to vegan, it remains my favorite cookbook of all time.

I'd love to know what your favorite cookbook is and why.

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