A picture is worth a thousand words.
Or, maybe, a picture is worth just a few more words than that….
Happy Valentine’s Day y'all.
I want you to think of love.
I post to you each Monday and each Friday.
And today is Friday.
And as I do each and every week, I had been working all week on a post for today.
Sometimes, I write to you immediately after an experience - such as right after the Key West Half Marathon, or after Sea & Sky Jax Weekend, or Beaches for Australia, or my visit to the Southern Living Idea House, or lots of other events I attend and write about immediately thereafter...
And sometimes, what you receive from me is something else entirely. It’s something that I work at for a very long time. And it’s something that builds into what you eventually receive for publication when I deem it complete and ready.
Just like paint brought to a canvas…
I paint two ways. Sometimes, I paint long, and slow, and detailed, in many layers. And the painting builds and builds and builds over time. Over time equals hours, days, weeks, or months. Many, many months. Until I have a complete story displayed on canvas and ready for eyes to view it. To read the story of the painting itself.
But, sometimes, this idea, my story - my painting - comes to me immediately, in the blink of an eye. Literally. And I paint it, immediately. Quickly. Fast. I have to get it onto the canvas or my brain will burst from the passion coming forth.
Today, your post was going to be a completely different post than the one you are receiving and now reading. I had been diligently working and preparing the post as I always do over a matter of time. And then…
THEN, Valentine’s Day EVE came. Valentine's Day very late night EVE actually arrived.
And everything about that EVE - that YESTERDAY, and that TODAY - changed.
And EVERYTHING - means EVERYTHING.
In the blink of an eye. In the click of the camera. In the sight of a photo. Everything changed. And I had a new story to tell. A new story to write. Quick! Need to get the paint onto canvas. Brain is bursting and overflowing! Right. Now.
So today’s post that you are now reading is completely different - world’s away from the one I had planned to publish today for your reading pleasure and enjoyment.
On Valentine’s Eve, after coming home and entering my very cozy, and my very small, and my very basic, and my very, very perfect little apartment, I instantly changed once again. Merely because the LOVE I feel inside me grew bigger in that one second. That one moment in time.
I came home and received love and happiness. Something I am met with every night, the only difference is last night we took a photo of it.
I came home to my own Valentine love nest, and received love in return.
Valentine love nest.
Are you picturing two cute little feathery birdies yet? If you are not imagining birdies. Go ahead right now and queue up bird imagery in your head..
Will now proceed.
Imagine a nest.
A nest with cute little adorable birdies sitting inside it.
Maybe some red birdies? Or brown birdies? Maybe those birdies are sitting in an evergreen tree? They are sitting in their nest on a branch, and they are looking down on the world right now.
Or maybe that soft and cute and cuddly and quite feathery little birdie isn’t even an actual bird by the way.
Maybe the birdie is really a doggie.
Or maybe our little, figurative, and way too cute birdie is your spouse.
Your significant other.
Your furry critter.
Your friend - who lives many states away. Your friend you just had to say goodbye to. Your friend who hopped on a train to ride the rails to a far off land. That friend - who just visited you at work. Your workplace being her final stop. Her final stop on a very important visit to a very important place. And she came to your work to say goodbye to you upon her departure. And as you hugged each other. As you took one last selfie. And as she walked away to go drive to the train station…. you both yelled out “I LOVE YOU!” In front of a million strangers. But neither of you cared. Because your love for each other and the experiences you’ve shared together matter more than what any stranger could ever think of you shouting out your expression of love. Of one another. And of life itself.
Maybe, you came home last night from work, and you were met with love. That love from your turtle. Your guinea pig. That love from your critter. The love from another. The love from yourself. The love from God himself.
Love in all its forms.
Maybe, the love from our dearly departed filled your home. Maybe they were watching you eat dinner. And you felt their presence inside your warm house. Knowing full well they are always with you.
Maybe you came home to your dog who missed you dearly while you were away for nine hours.
Maybe you sat down with your doggie and hubby and you watched Blue Bloods and ate a quick late night dinner from Wendys. A burger with no mayo at 510 calories. Maybe you watched Danny Reagan kick a few butts. And maybe you watched Jamie Reagan change the word in 42 minutes and 30 seconds flat, as he tends to do every episode. Maybe you watched Danny Reagan eat his Sunday dinner while you ate your Thursday night dinner.
Maybe Danny Reagan had to say goodbye to his eldest son, who was leaving to go off to college in Season 9.
Maybe the Reagan family opened their home to the newest member of the family.
Maybe while the Reagan’s had to say goodbye to Jack, they said hello to Eddie. And Eddie now eats dinner with the Reagan’s each Sunday. An empty seat is filled by another. Love all around. Love in the air.
So, getting back to our love nest. And the cute birdies sitting in the tree in their own nest.
Because that’s what happened to me last night. I went home. And I was met by my own birdies in my own nest.
I came home, after a long and wonderful and blessed day, and I was met with the birdies who share that nest with me.
My birdie was brown!
It was a SHE!
Oh wait… and a HE!
My birdies in my very own nest were my very own brown doggie. And my husband.
I came home to them both - and it was Valentine's EVE.
I had a great, and a long, and a fabulous day yesterday. As I do each and every day. I told you each day is the best day of my life, right?
I worked all day. Then. My husband picked me up. He had a load of groceries in the back seat, by the way.
And we went home.
And at this home, it had been a very long day for a little doggie to be parted from her Mama as usual.
Upon walking in the door, my precious little doggie greeted me as she always does.
But one thing was different about that greeting last night. That one thing is the reason you are now reading this story instead of another one.
I sat down on the kitchen floor.
To receive the love from my dog straight on. And at her height level.
And we cuddled as usual.
But it was just so very cute.
And I became so very curious?........
I asked my husband to take a photo of my doggie.
My doggie was giving me a big hug. And I always wonder. How does my little birdie in her nest look out at the world beyond me when she is hugging me? I can’t see behind me, of course. I want to know what all that love she gives me looks like from behind?
And my husband was standing in our kitchen with me and our little birdie angel. He was unloading the groceries he had brought home. Loading them onto the counter top, behind Me…. And I said to my husband… What does our little doggie angel look like when she hugs me? Here - take a photo for me would you please?
I reached into my stuffed pockets. From my heavy and thick and full and very dirty work pants.
I grabbed my iPhone out of the big pocket. And handed my phone to my hubby to take a photo.
And he did just that.
And that photo is why you are receiving this post today instead of something that’s been since erased.
Happy Valentine’s Day WORLD.
Today, I want you to love yourself. I want you to love others. I want you to love your Valentine. Love those who live in your love nest with you. Better yet, love those who live in other love nests that surround yours - all the nests sitting in the very same tree, but just sitting and resting upon different branches. Or merely different twigs.
And, maybe your nest has more than one birdie sitting inside it. Just like mine does.
After I got home. And after I received the unconditional love from a dog hug. After my husband snapped a digital picture. And after a story came to me in a flash. In the blink of an eye. There was one more surprise waiting for me at the end of the night last night.
I was gone from home yesterday all day. I was very messy and I was very dirty. I felt love and life and God himself inside me though.
So as I sat on the kitchen floor.
And as my brown doggie greeted me and hugged me.
And after husband took that photo that I requested… He said...
“Happy Valentine’s Day”
And, all three of us turned to face each other. Me. Husband. Dog.
And Hubby handed me a bouquet of beautiful pink tulips.
Flowers for HIS own Valentine Birdie. I guess I’m a bird too? I instantly grabbed the flowers. And I cried of happiness.
So there we all sat.
On the kitchen floor, of the nest, in our second story tree house villa.
Brown Birdie was hugging Mama Birdie.
Husband Birdie was handing Mama Birdie some flowers.
Mama Birdie was very hot, very messy, and very sweaty. Spills and stains and hours of that sweat all over her dirty clothes. With hugs and flowers. And lots of happiness. And lots of endless love.
And Husband Birdie took the picture.
The picture worth a thousand words… Or, 1661 words to be exact.
Happy Valentine’s Day, from my nest, to your nest. And to all birdies, and all the eggs, in all the nests, resting on all the branches, in all the trees, in all the World.~
What do you love the most about Valentines Day? I’d love to know. Tell me with a comment down below:
And. By the way… Here’s some more STUFF for y’all:
2] 3 Wow’s Plus 1 Piece Of Magic I Experienced At Jacksonville, Florida’s Cummer Museum Of Art & Gardens
11] Eleven South Bistro & Bar ~~ Supper Club Of The South
18] Sea & Sky Jax Weekend ~ Fun In The Florida Sun, Sea, Sky & Sand
21] Cinotti’s ~ And Why Life Is Too Short To Not Eat Donuts
23] Faith ~ And Life Lessons Learned Living With Wild & Untamable Hair
24] In Real Life ~ My First Visit To A Southern Living Idea House
26] Deck The Chairs ~ BE THAT CHANGE YOU WISH TO SEE IN THIS OUR VERY OWN AND SHAREABLE WORLD
28] The Scent of Christmas in the Air
34] Merry Christmas ~ And How To Buy For That Person On Your List Who Saved Your Life ~
36] The End Of A Decade & My New Year’s Wish To You ~
48] Love & Donuts In The Air @ Beaches For Australia
It’s winter y’all. And while it’s still pretty darn warm here in Florida at the moment, I’ve become so acclimated to the intense and fire-breathing dragon which is our summer heat, that right now it might as well be winter in Chicago. Any drop on the thermometer, even a pinch, and I’m absolutely freezing!
No joke. Like, for real.
And, I never enjoyed wearing sweaters. One year, many Christmases ago now, and after I was married, I received all sweaters for Christmas. All sweaters, and nothing more. Everybody who gave me a gift that holiday gave me a sweater. By the end of the evening on Christmas Day, I was literally drowning in sweaters sitting upon my lap.
I didn’t even ask for sweaters.
But sweaters I did get.
And to make matters even worse, my husband received all sweaters as well.
My mother-in-law correctly deemed it... ‘The Year Of The Sweater’ … and she really was absolutely right.
It remains to this day, one of the funniest things she ever told me, and it was all just so very true.
I’m not sure if anyone else on Earth has ever received as many sweaters for gifts as my husband and I both did that holiday a long time ago.
And for years afterward, I could not even look at a sweater without thinking of The Year Of The Sweater. I basically hated and despised sweaters since that infamous day of unwrapping all that extremely itchy wool I was then surrounded by and being suffocated from.
I mean, it could be well below zero outside, and I could be driving in a car with the windows rolled down, and I still would not succumb to the temptation of a nice and beautiful looking sweater that happened to be sitting next to me on the car seat. If it was a sweater, I was NOT wearing it.
Fast forward to today.
Living in Florida.
It’s beautiful. All year round. No joke. It’s perfection. I feel like I’m living in a paradise, or Heaven, or some combination thereof. I'm so used to the perfect weather that when the temperature takes a dip, I wear more layers than I’ve worn in my entire life, combined.
I could very easily be teleported to the Arctic tundra, and Santa Claus would hire me on the spot to work for him in his outdoor garden, simply because he wouldn’t need to buy me the standard uniform that would need to be worn in the elements. I’d already be wearing it. I’m ready for the cold.
So, yes, finally, at long last, the sweater has come back into my life. And it sits there and laughs at me with every breath I take.
It could be 69 degrees out here in Jax Beach, and I’m frozen solid.
And this winter is the worst yet - in terms of clothing. I’m in my third year living in The Sunshine State, and I was so desperate when the temperature took a slight dip that I had to go out and buy a big winter down puffy coat to get through the coldest days and nights.
And now, I’ve resorted to complete and total desperation while at home.
I currently take perfectly clean and dry sweaters, put them into the dryer, simply to get them feeling nice and toasty - steamy ... hot.
I RUN to the dryer the instant it buzzes me, and I wisk open the door of the magical appliance. I grab for the hot sweater, and hurl it around me. And then, what the heck, I might even throw on another layer. Then, finally, I can get back to work in my art studio, and I can actually concentrate. I’m from Illinois - and I’m now in Florida sitting under layers of blankets and sweaters with palm trees and perfect blue skies outside my window - I’m absolutely pathetic.
So naturally, while wearing sweaters, long pants and slippers, what does one eat when it’s a cold and frigid 70 degrees outside?
Soup. Of course. Minestrone Soup.
Today, I’m very happy to share with you my minestrone recipe that I have been making for years and years. It’s probably one of my favorite recipes that my husband and I both make together. It’s reliable, it’s consistent and tastes the same every time, it’s easy, and it’s very healthy.
I would say this recipe is a combination of my mother’s minestrone recipe, the internet’s soup, and our soup - rolling all those ideas into one perfect pot. We’ve tweaked it many times, and the recipe below is the one that is deemed perfection by my taste buds. So, we finally never waiver from this, our very perfect Minestrone Soup.
Also, I’ve done the calculations on MyFitnessPal, and at only 239 calories making 8 servings, it's not even heavy on the calories. And did I mention that it’s very healthy?
When we lived in Illinois, we tended to make this soup more so only in the winter months, as we tended to grill out every chance we’d get throughout the entire summer period.
But it IS winter in Florida, y’all.
So, as I freeze under fleece blankets and heavy sweaters, we desperately needed a hot soup to eat. We proceeded with the task, and dug out our biggest pot on New Year’s Day. Sometimes we make a big pot of chili on New Year’s, but this year, I needed soup. It called to me as much as I needed the warmth of a sweater straight from the dryer.
And I tend to think the best thing about this recipe is the week full of leftovers it will leave you with. (In our two person and one furry creature household, we have the first main dinner, and then about three nights of leftovers, both eating one bowl per night).
And I always recommend making a pot of soup on a Sunday. It’s the best day of the week for soup. On Sunday’s while you tend to your chores around the house, you can enjoy the scent of the long, slow simmer on the stovetop. But better than that, you have leftovers for the work-week ahead of you. So Sunday it is for us. Or New Year’s Day.
So this year, cold as we were, we enjoyed a nice, leisurely New Year’s holiday at home. Our little sous-chef helped us out in the kitchen…. It’s really important and vital to the entire kitchen operation that you hire such a chef. Your soup might not turn out correctly without one on staff.
And as our soup simmered long, and slow, and low atop the stove, we went through the annual routine of packing up and storing away all our holiday decor for the season.
I’m a huge fan of leaving everything up through the new year holiday if we can help it. So barring any trips or scheduling issues that would prevent us, we always take down the tree and pack everything up for the season on New Year’s Day.
We used to be completely dependent on the weather in Chicago as to when all our outdoor decor came down. If given a window of ‘nice’ weather, we had to go outside and take everything in before the world froze up again. Otherwise, we could be so unlucky as to potentially have everything sit out there until March or some other crazy date. So now I absolutely love that living here in the South the weather is not a factor to anything in terms of my household schedule.
I also took every item out of my plastic storage bins, and gave each bin a deep clean. By the time I was done with the entire process, my storage bins were clean enough to slap a pizza on top and eat right off of the plastic if one wanted. Clean AND organized, on New Year’s Day. Such a bonus.
We also purged a few older items, donating them to charity. Out with the old, in with the new. I try not to let clutter pile up until it’s unmanageable.
Overall, we had a very relaxing and productive New Year’s holiday. The soup made the day though. And as we sat down to dinner that holiday evening, watching Blue Bloods Season Eight on DVD, I was sitting under layers of blankets to keep warm during our Florida winter. And as I watched NYPD PC Frank Reagan sit at the head of his dining room table during one of the infamous Reagan family Sunday dinner scenes, surrounded by all of his kids and grandkids, including my favorite television character of all time, Danny Reagan, I couldn’t help but notice that Frank tends to almost always wear the same straw colored, button-down, cable-knit sweater to family dinner each Sunday. ~
Bean’s Minestrone Soup Recipe
For more of Bean’s recipes - click below:
~ Bean’s Soulful Southern Chili ~
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