Breakfast Casserole: The Monte Cristo Edition

Food for Grownups
monte cristo breakfast casserole

The world is full of brilliant people.

Marie Curie, Albert Einstein, Sir Issac Newton, Wendell Berry, Edith Wharton, and Stephen Sondheim are a small sampling of the famous names I feel should be included on any list of brilliant individuals. 

But what about the not-so-famous brilliant people? The unsung heroes whose contributions, large and small, make the world better? For example, the person who invented the breakfast casserole? 

monte cristo breakfast casserole

Scoff if you will but, in my opinion, the brilliance of whoever came up with the idea of a hearty and delicious breakfast that can feed a crowd, be prepared the night before, and simply popped in the oven the next morning, borders on genius.  They’re so good and they make entertaining so much easier.

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It’s Time to Stop Believing These Time Management Myths

Grow in Wisdom
time management myths

“How do you do all the things you do?  Don’t you ever sleep?”

People ask me this a lot. Usually, the question is delivered in a teasing tone but sometimes they seem entirely serious. While I have long wished I could get by on less (imagine how many more quilts I could stitch or books I could write with an extra couple of hours each day!), I absolutely require eight hours of sleep a night. Anything less and I’m a wreck.

Even so, I do manage to get a lot done in the time I have. Not always as much as I’d like to, but a lot, and probably more than most people.  The truth is, I’m pretty good at time management. But I wasn’t born this way.

There are people who seem to have solid organizational and time management sense baked in from birth. In my experience, those people tend to be math-loving, science-geeky, engineer-in-training, left-brained types, the people who find beauty in long columns of numbers that add up every time. continue reading

Easy Weeknight Dinner: My Three Can Pasta

Food for Grownups

At long last, here it is! The recipe intended to share with you two weeks ago (and then one week ago) before the wheels unexpectedly came off the bus of my life. Once, then I borrowed another car and the wheels fell off of that too. But I’ve probably belabored that metaphor so let’s move on.

By the way, I am thrilled and relieved to report that the wheels are, once again, going round and round and my life is a little more settled now. It’s lovely to be tucked up in my office with my coffee at hand and my dog at my feet, getting back to work. However, with all the drama of multiple family crises, cancelled contracts, cancelled flights, lost luggage, and busted cell phones, I have a LOT of catching up to do.

Which means this is the perfect week to make Three Can Pasta.

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Financial Planning Checklist for the End of the Year

Finances
financial planning checklist

I’m thrilled to welcome back my fierce friend, Peggy Doviak, to share her wisdom on end of year financial planning tasks to set us up for success next year.

Peggy is the author of 52 Weeks to Prosperity along with other blogs posts you can find on Fierce Beyond 50 like: paying for college, advice about prosperity vs. money, setting financial goals, saving for retirement and curbing your holiday spending. She has a wealth of advice and we’re all better served by having a professional like Peggy in our corner!

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Children’s Books My Grandkids Love

Books

It’s no secret that I love reading. It’s also no secret that I absolutely adore my grand-darlings. All six of them. While I don’t get to see them as often as I would like, I always enjoy walking in the door and being (lovingly) attacked by hugs, cries of “Grammy!” and snuggles.

There are so many activities I love doing with them – we make homemade slime, we’ve made homemade ravioli, sometimes I send them Grammy’s Craft of the Month Club when I’ll be away for a while – but my favorite thing is reading with those children. It develops the strongest bonds for us. Even at their different stages, they all love curling up in my lap and diving into a story together.

Why Reading to Your Grandchildren (Or Your Kids!) is so Important

I’m probably fairly loud about my belief that my grand-darlings are very advanced for their ages. Of course, I may be a teeny bit biased but I’m also sure I’m exactly right. But really, they are so stinking smart (sometimes, too much for their own good). Both sets of parents enjoy reading with their littles and I’m so very proud of them for taking the time. Especially in a world of screen time overload and chronic busyness, it’s so precious to see families reading together. Someone told me not too long ago that there’s no app to replace your lap and you better believe I shared it with my boys and their families about five seconds later. continue reading

Fall Fashion 2019: Must-Haves for a Fierce Closet

Beauty and Fashion
fall fashion 2019

Every year, when the leaves start to show their colors and the temperatures dip (or plummet), there is a ceremonious changing of the guard at my house. Summer flavors are replaced by savory comfort food, pumpkin spice lattes rule the world once again, and my wardrobe is cleaned out (Praise the Lord for Marie Kondo) and spruced up. I certainly don’t buy a new wardrobe every season, but I take inventory of what I have, what works well together, what fits, what doesn’t.

I replace, repair, and give away what I’m not wearing anymore. It’s a ritual that I hold fast; for a couple of weeks, my closet is pristine as a couture showroom and my drawers are all origami-folded like artwork in a museum.

My general operating procedure for this process is 1) if I haven’t worn it in a year, give it away, 2) if it doesn’t fit anymore, give it away (I reached my goal weight not too long ago so this is a good problem to have!), 3) if it needs a little TLC, send it to the tailor or repair it, and 4) if it doesn’t spark joy, as Marie Kondo says, thank the clothing item for its service to you and send it on its way.

Why is it important to get rid of things? It’s like a detox – you feel great afterwards. Plus, if you’re anything like me, my closet isn’t the size of an ancient labyrinth and I run into space issues ever so often. It’s hard to cram more in after shopping if you haven’t cleaned the closet out first.

So, take this as a friendly reminder to clean out your closet!

And now, for the good stuff. Here are the fall fashion 2019 trends that I am loving!

Fall Fashion 2019: What to Wear Right Now

In Central Oregon, sweater weather is in full swing – with a parka on top and warm winter boots. Basically, it’s freezing. My focus this year was making sure I have some comfy, warm basics that I can throw on in the morning and wear while I walk Showgirl around the block, get my work done, and meet girlfriends for lunch.

I like to go with high quality and timeless, mixing in fun new colors and textures.

Buffalo Check

Oh, how I love a good, classic buffalo check. I even used a pretty taupe and cream buffalo check for our dining nook at our new home and I found these adorable check pajamas for my grandkids in a similar pattern! It’s fun and bold without being too loud. This season, it seems to be springing up everywhere! Here are a few of my favorite looks to incorporate it.

Sweaters to Match the Autumn Leaves

Did you ever “get your colors done” when you were younger? You know, someone sits down with you, stares at your face like they’re reading your soul, pensively holds up colored paper to your face, and then tells you what to wear? (If you haven’t, you are really missing out). Even if you haven’t had your colors “professionally” done, most of us probably know by now what colors complement our coloring and which ones make us look pale or washed out. My colors are true to my heritage; a Scotch-Irish twist of (almost) porcelain skin and auburn hair. When I told my daughter in love that my best colors were a pumpkin spice rainbow of curry, copper, saffron, nutmeg, and cinnamon stick, she quickly pointed out that no, those colors aren’t for everyone. My daughter in love has about the opposite coloring as I do, with olive skin, blond hair and blue eyes. The pumpkin spice palette does not, in fact, make her colors “pop.” My point is, find the autumn hue that works for you!

Here are a few cozy, oversized sweaters with colors to match the leaves.

Leggings to go over those long sweaters

I know what you’re thinking. Leggings? Are you serious, Marie? 

Let me back up a moment. Leggings as pants are probably a sin; leggings as layers are actually fashion miracles. Wondering what the distinction is? If you choose to wear a short top with leggings, all anyone will notice is that your derriere is on prominent display, for better or for worse. This isn’t my favorite look, to put it politely. But, layer leggings with a flowy, long tunic or an oversized sweater and you’ve got a great, comfortable look that is good for all ages.

Another great thing about leggings? They come in high waisted, control top, and all sorts of fun patterns designed for slimming effects. Spanx – yes, the shaping undergarment company that holds in the jiggles and the rolls – has their own line of super flattering leggings and let me tell you, they are amazing.

Here are a few pairs that would look great with those sweaters I mentioned earlier.

 

Fierce Boots

This one is slightly more utilitarian than most; I need a boot that keeps my feet warm and dry. I’m trying to be very outdoorsy, because that is the way of life in Central Oregon, but it can just get so dreadfully cold. These boots all fit the bill, plus, they are oh so fierce.

Mini-Bags

I always think that ladies with small purses must really be organized. My purse, on the other hand, typically lands somewhere on the spectrum of army duffel bag and weekender bag. I want my latest crafts, at least three books, my laptop, an assortment of lipsticks, snacks and refreshments with me at all times. But where do I think I’m going that I need all of these things? I’m not about to endure a several-hour international layover; I’m simply going to grab coffee or pick up groceries. That’s what’s so great about the mini-bag trend. You have to decide what matters most and your back will probably be thanking you. Here are a few adorable options.

What are your favorite fall fashion 2019 looks?

Baby Quilt Made With Love, With An Iron I Love Just As Much

Creativity and Crafts
baby quilt pink black white

I am a big believer in the importance that creativity plays in crafting a happy, meaningful, and fierce life. In my opinion, creative expression ranks very high on the list of human necessity, not very far after air, water, food, and shelter. 

When I’m talking about creative expression, I mean creating something original, something that comes from your own brain and heart and soul. When it comes to crafting, I consider originality the ideal.

But sometimes the ideal is out of reach. Sometimes life simply bowls you over with a whole avalanche of crazy you never saw coming. Forget originality, you’re just fighting your way to the top of the mess and so you can breathe! That’s where I’ve been for the last few weeks, tumbling along with the avalanche and feeling overwhelmed. 

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Fall Charcuterie Board Ideas for Your Autumn Gatherings

Food for Grownups
fall charcuterie board

A very fierce, red-headed girl once said, “I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.” That girl was Anne of Green Gables and that girl was right on the money.

I’d like to build upon her wisdom, if I may. Here’s another true statement, “I’m so glad I live in a world with charcuterie boards.”

There, I said it. Charcuterie boards are amazing entertaining tools. They have transformed my interest and ability to have friends over last minute and to actually enjoy my own parties instead of working myself to the bone. continue reading

Fall Craft Ideas: Easy, Fun Ideas for your Home

Home Matters

If you’ve been around here long, you’ll know that I love all things fall. And all things arts and crafts. That’s why this post on Fall Craft Ideas is basically my theme song.

I make it a point to bless my home with the appropriate autumnal decor. I’m not talking a total redo of my decorations, but before I get the actual holiday decorations out, I make time to really soak in those Fall hues of crimson, gold, and auburn.

While my husband might not completely understand this, why would I approach a new season without the appropriate sense of decorum? To help him understand, I always make sure he knows that I make my own seasonal swag. Between you and me, the do-it-yourself route can actually be more expensive than just buying something from the store, but where’s the fun in that?

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Walking The Cotswolds, Part 2

Adventure and Travel

(This post is part 2 of of a series, Walking The Cotswolds – part 1 can be found here)

Before I continue my earlier post about our walking holiday in the Cotswolds, I thought It would be a good idea to talk about equipment you’ll need for a cross country walking tour.

Because the Cotswolds Walks company booked our rooms and arranged for luggage transfers from one hotel to the next, we did not have to carry heavy backpacks. This made our walks easier and much more fun. However, as we were walking an average of eight miles per day, we did need some equipment for safety and comfort.

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