Guest Blogging!

Exciting stuff!  My daughter, Erin, is a Blogger over at Fit 4 All.  She is passionate about health, fitness, and helping others.  I’m very proud of her and of the good work she does.

Her contributions to the Fit 4 All blog primarily center around healthy, thrifty food, or “Affordable Fuel.”  She asked me to contribute our favorite chili recipe!  And although this was posted last week(I’m a bit behind), I am so thrilled for this happy honor.😃

Without further delay, here it is:

Mom’s Chili (Inspired by  the recipe for “Pantry Raid Chili” in “Fresh from the Vegan Slow Cooker” by Robin Robertson(See link below)

Notes – I’ve made this in the slow cooker or atop the stove.  It can take 30 minutes on the stove top, or up to 6 hours on a low setting in the slow cooker.  I do not cook with salt for health reasons, but you can add salt if that is your preference.

1 (24-oz) jar tomato salsa – any kind, I like the chunkier varieties best

2 Tablespoons chili powder

1 teaspoon dried marjoram

½ teaspoon ground cumin

1 Cup (or a little more) water

3 cups cooked beans, or 2(15-oz) cans beans, rinsed and drained.  I mix and match.  I find that black beans plus kidney or pinto beans are an especially nice combination.

1 tablespoon Bragg Liquid Aminos

Freshly ground black pepper

Optional seasonings – salt, a dash of cayenne and/or red pepper flakes(depending on your spiciness preference)

2 Cups frozen corn kernels

Garnishes – avocado, onion, (vegan)sour cream, (vegan) shredded cheese, fresh cilantro

-Combine salsa, chili powder, marjoram, cumin, and water in the slow cooker or soup pot.  Stir to combine.  Add beans and soy sauce, season to taste with pepper and optional seasonings, if using.  Cover – if slow cooking, set on low for 4-6 hours; if stove top, medium/simmer for ½ hour, stirring often.

-The original recipe says to thaw the corn kernels and add to the pot and cook for 10 more minutes.  I’ve done it this way, or just added them frozen at the beginning with the other ingredients and had equally excellent results.  Serve hot, garnish to your liking.  This freezes well and is a wonderful go-to meal all year round.  Add your favorite salad plus some cornbread or tortilla chips for a very satisfying meal.

You can read the full post here.  If you are interested in the cookbook from which my inspiration was derived, you can find it here.  And, find out ways you can help support Fit 4 All here.

It’s snowy up here in the Northeast.  Keep your long johns on!  I’m knitting a blanket right now.  That keeps my lap warm.


Dreaming of summertime and the GARDEN!




Happy Monday

Happy Monday!  If you are in my part of the world, I hope you are warm and cozy.

I thought I would share a bit of closet organization.  When it is this cold, inspiration strikes and I like to work on putting things in order.  I have a bit of costume jewelry and some scarves.  My new closet at our new Town Mouse residence is not nearly as big as my old one, so I have to be clever.

Farmer Joel attached some window screen to the back of an old window frame we found in the barn.  It makes a perfect earring-hanger!  I borrowed this idea from a friend, Pauline, who hand-crafts and sells her very own line of jewelry.  Her company is the “Pearls of Pauline.”  Isn’t that cute?



See the necklaces to the left and the top of the hanger below?  Here they are a little closer:


You can find the scarf hanger here.

Just for fun, I thought I’d include a view from my Country Mouse House kitchen window:



When the sun shines, the chickadees come around chirping and singing.  This is a lilac bush, which a favorite nest-building spot!




Happy Tuezday!

Since we moved to a different Town Mouse House, our views have changed.  We literally went North, “up the river,” for those of you who get the joke! (ahem)

It has been a TRUE WINTER this year;  more so than in quite a long time.  The view of the river is still breathtaking and spectacular.  Here is the view out of my living room window:


Do you see all of those trees?  They will be covered with leaves sooner than we think.  The trade-off is, we will no longer see as much of the river!  Hmmm….food for thought.  I wonder if we will be complaining about the heat and the mosquitoes, too?

Stay warm.  If you have to go outside in our neck of the woods, at least the sun is shining today!  Remember to breathe deeply.  The cold air can be very invigorating.



Well, at still-freezing temperatures, it isn’t looking too good for this gardener to get started.  I brought my little greenhouse into Town Mouse House, only to discover that all my seeds are in the fridge up at Country Mouse House!  Grrrrr…….

So much for being organized.

At any rate, I wanted to post something since I have not in awhile.  Things are, as many of you know, still rather all-consuming in Wenz World at this time.  As with any stressful time in life, I know “this too shall pass,” but I still need to devote much time and energy to situations at hand.

Meanwhile, the Big Gig is tomorrow night!  Led Zeppelin tribute!  After that, I am going to put my energies back into plants…..I wonder if may passion for gardening was “planted” because of the man, Robert PLANT, himself?  I know, corny, right?  Sorry for the garden puns, I just can’t help myself sometimes……

There is much to be said, though, for working in and among the earth.  ‘Tis very therapeutic.

Sorry, no pics this time.  Hopefully next week.  The crocus’ came up, but it remains to be seen what will happen next.  I think I caught a glimpse of daffodil shoots…..:)

Have a lovely day!  Even though it is freezing and windy, the sun is shining!  That is good news!



Snow Song

My front porch at Country Mouse House:


Here is my GARDEN:

photo 4 (2)

What a contrast to the growing season, eh?


Pretty amazing!  Hey, check out these icicles:

photo 1 (12)

Now you have to take a look at the VERY LONG ICICLE  on the left side of the house(you have to look very closely):

photo 2 (10)

And the barn that is adorned by daylilies in the summer:

photo 1 (10)

“I’ve felt the coldness of my winter.  I never thought it would ever go.  I cursed the gloom it set upon us, but I know that I love you so.”

—The Rain Song by Led Zeppelin

(It should be the “Snow Song”)

Stay warm, healthy and dry – Spring is almost here.



Wenz Day

Well, just when we were enjoying a break in the cold, snowy weather… we go again!  The snow was predicted to begin at noon today, but it has been going strong since 8 this morning, and it is sticking on the ground, yada yada yada….

So, what do we Seasoned Storm Survivors do?  We make sure we get to the grocery store as soon as it opens so they will still be stocked with milk and bread.  We get any last-minute errands taken care of (as if this will be the last chance to do it in our lifetime!).  For me, this meant dropping off a package with an item to return at the UPS store.  Thankfully, it was a couple of storefronts down from the grocery store, so that made it relatively painless.  Next, the bank – we know that a power failure could affect the use of ATM’s, so have a little cash on hand.  And, finally, the gas station – make sure the tank is full, or at LEAST half-full.  Post-Sandy gas lines are still fresh in my mind, anyway.  Have the car backed into the driveway to facilitate a quick exit, if necessary, and if the car is going to be sitting outside, pop the windshield wipers up off the windshield.  Keep the cell phone charged.

When Joel gets in, he’ll fire up the snowblower and make sure our little portable generator is accessible – JUST IN CASE!

Here is my backyard as of 1 p.m.:

photo (29)

We probably should have covered up the patio furniture.  Whoops.

And here is what Finn has to say about it:

image (16)

Well, that settles it, then!  It’s a great day to do a little bit of organizing.  Here is my spice cupboard (not too bad, but not too good, either):

photo 2 (9)

Here is a closer look at just the 2 bottom shelves:

photo 1 (9)


I wanted to swap out the 2 bottom shelves because I’m not very tall, and I use a lot of herbs and spices when I cook.  I need them to be on the lowest shelf simply because I need to reach them.

I cleared out the very bottom shelf first:

photo 2 (7)

photo 3 (5)

(It helps to keep a table or other large surface free and clear for this purpose.)

Putting it all back together:

photo 3 (6)

It looks much better now, I think.  Don’t you?  I am going to start digging into other areas.  Then it will be time for a hot cup of tea.  Stay warm and dry today.  Enjoy!


The Weather Stick

We have this item we purchased quite some time ago called a “Weather Stick”.  Supposedly, it is an ancient way of  letting us know what the weather will be like. It is made of balsam fir or birch.  I bought it just for fun several years ago in a local shop benefitting the Humane Society.  We could not believe how well it works.  The history of the Weather Stick is: Joel likes to call it the “Happy Stick.”  When it is “happy,” it points up.  This, of course, means that the sun is shining, or the weather is otherwise rather nice. CIMG2247





If  you look at the clouds in the background, you can see how quickly the “happy” stick becomes “sad.”


photo (9)                                                                    CIMG2199 Most people are skeptical, but it really works!  We don’t know how or why, but it just does.  (We placed it next to the thermometer for the full report, though)

Have a “Happy Stick” kind of day!