An Afternoon Chat

Relaxing at home with messy hair and no makeup has been the look of the day for far too long.

The girlfriend cardigan certainly got a lot of use this winter. I’ll link to similar items since nothing is new: CardiganJeansTankLoafersNo-Show Socks.

Tomorrow I have an appointment for my first dose of the vaccine, so I look forward to planning a trip to a beach soon. Adding to my collection of shells will be a priority.

After my walk and chores are completed for the day, I enjoy sitting in my sunny breakfast nook reading a book. I’ve just begun ‘Winter Garden,’ a novel by Kristin Hannah. Have you read it?

All the plants survived being in dry inside air this past winter, so I will be moving them out to the screened porch soon.


After all these years, I’ve at last learned to prepare mushrooms so that they are full of flavor and tender instead of mushy. I often saute a chopped sweet onion, minced garlic, and diced fresh mushrooms for part of my afternoon meal. This combo is a savory side to rice, potatoes, pasta, baked fish, or steamed vegetables.

Since mushrooms are like sponges, they should be kept dry at all times. As soon as I get them home, I remove them from any plastic wrap or buy them loose and fresh if available. Wipe them clean using a dry paper towel, arrange them on a clean one and leave them on the counter until you are ready to use them. Cut off any woody stems, slice them, and put them in a glass bowl. Add a little olive oil, spices of your choice (no salt yet), stir to coat, and let them rest while you chop the onions and garlic.

When the sauteing onions are starting to turn translucent, add the mushrooms and then the chopped garlic. Add water, stock, or broth near the end of the cooking time and only a little at a time to keep the mixture from sticking to the pan. If you want to add salt and/or herbs, this would be the time.


I found healthier options for the dish I showed you in an earlier post. Sliced celery, English cucumbers, carrots, and hummus are a delightful combination. Honey-glazed mixed nuts, crackers, and a few slices of sharp cheddar cheese made this light meal a big success.

I hope you have a lovely weekend.

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97 Comments
  1. Good to see you again. The mushroom recipe looks good.
    I’ll have to check out the book. It sounds good. I’ve read other books she wrote.

  2. I read Winter Garden a couple of weeks ago. It was a wonderful book ! Hope you enjoy it as much as I did !

  3. Best wishes for your vaccine appointment! I was fortunate to receive a 1st dose this week (I’m 63). I’d heard so much about after-effects, thought I’d share… I started to feel rather sick with flu symptoms after about 8 hrs but this lasted only about day. I called my Son-in-Law who is a Dr. of Infectious Diseases as to whether taking some Advil would interfere with the vaccine. He said it wouldn’t and advised me to take some. This helped a lot! The peace of mind after even just the 1st dose is wonderful.
    Blessings

  4. Winter Garden is one of my favorite Kristin Hannah books. I have never forgotten the plot even though I read it years ago. I’m a big fan of Maize Dobbs series by Jaqueline Winspear. It’s a well written woman detective series that starts after WWI and is currently set in WWII London. There is a new one out that I can’t wait to get.

  5. Hi Susan from New South Wales, Australia,
    I will certainly purchase this book.
    Can you please tell me, have you ever or would never wear ponte pants?
    I will be getting my first vaccination in the next few weeks. I know that you are still recovering from last years illness and I hope that you will soon be fully recovered.
    Hello to Mr Mickey. Best wishes to you both.
    Ceri Gash

  6. Of course I had to spy on the books in your book case and Color Me Confident reminded me of the original Color Me Beautiful by Carol Jackson. Forty years ago I got my “colors” done, complete with swatches. I still believe that as a winter my most flattering outfits are bold contrasts, much like you wear. Have you had your colors done?

    1. I haven’t had my colors done professionally, but it always feels most authentic to wear jewel tones and saturated colors. The pictures always confirm that I look best in those tones.

  7. I am getting my first dose of the vaccine Monday. I always enjoy seeing your outdoor pictures. It looks like spring is in full swing there. We have crocuses and early daffodils starting to sprout and bloom and the trees are budding. I enjoy fall and winter but this year was too much time in the house alone. I am looking forward to spring this year and the opportunity to be outside with people safely.

  8. Hi again Susan
    It’s lovely to hear from you about the everyday things as well as the excursions.
    The weather here in the UK is not so warm! We wouldn’t dream of putting pot plants outside for a while yet – the maxim usually is some time in May “when all danger of frost is past”.
    Congratulations on getting your first vaccine. I’m three months younger than you and I had my first one on 26 February, about three weeks earlier than I was expecting. So the UK isn’t behind in all respects! I had only very mild and transient after-effects the next day and my partner none at all. But there was a fantastic party atmosphere at the vaccination centre (whatever the volunteers are on, I’ll have some!) and the peace of mind and feeling of progress that it gives you is wonderful ….

  9. Hi Susan! Kristin Hannah is one of my favorite authors. I have a library hold on Winter Garden. I just finished The Four Winds and really enjoyed it. I’ve also read Homefront, Firefly Lane, and Fly Away. I don’t recommend the Netflix production of Firefly Lane; I couldn’t get through the first episode. Take care and Happy Spring!

    Kathy

  10. WINTER GARDEN was the first Kristin Hannah book i read. One of my favorite authors !
    Her lastest , FOUR WINDS was excellent and well done of a time in our past I had not read much about.
    I must go get some mushrooms soon .

  11. I just put Winter Garden on hold at my library. I’m 20th in line, must be good. For my mushrooms I use wine for the liquid. Ooh La La

  12. So nice to see you! I just had my last Moderna vaccination yesterday evening. I’m waiting for the side effects. Everyone says they feel a bit ill the first 24 hours. So far, I’m fine, maybe a bit tired though.
    I am always looking for book recommendations. So I will put Kristen Hannah on my list. I’m reading A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles. It has wonderful characters and is well written. It is not a quick read, but well worth reading. I’m so glad you are not constantly styling a ton of new things. I appreciate the “lets look in the closet” ideas. Adding a few new things and freshening the wardrobe make sense at my time of life. I did add a new animal print faux suede trench coat from Chico’s. It is a subtle print and quite chic looking. The price was excellent. I’ll be able to wear it a lot with jeans or slacks.
    Have a lovely day and enjoy planning your trip. It feels very freeing to be vaccinated. My best to you as you continue to improve in health and vitality.

  13. Oh dear. I found Winter Garden to be rather boring. I just couldn’t find a character whom I wanted to champion. I did finish the book, but it was a bit of a grind. I’m glad others enjoyed it. Susan, I know what you mean about messy hair and no makeup. This has been the first year since adulthood that I haven’t gotten up every day and taken care of my hair and makeup, and I’m 67! Just last week, I gave myself a pep talk and decided to go back to the way things used to be whether I’m home or out and about. Shabbiness really does affect the mind after a while!

  14. You look wonderful. Thanks for the tips on the mushrooms. I love the tree that is in bloom. I live up here in the north eastern part of Ohio and none of the trees are blooming yet.

  15. Susan, I read “Winter Garden” a few years ago – it’s beautifully written, as are all of Kristin Hannah’s books. Her descriptive prose is so engaging I just couldn’t put it down. Enjoy!

    I received the one-shot Johnson & Johnson two weeks ago so I feel like I can rejoin the world somewhat – it’s been a long year for all of us! My uniform of the day has been jeans, tank top & the always comfy girlfriend cardigan – I always dress in the morning even with the pandemic…makes me feel better!

    I enjoy your blog & I’m glad you left Facebook; this platform is much better!

  16. I have read this book! I really enjoy reading Kristin Hannah’s books! I’ve actually read 17 of them! Enjoy!
    ~Kim

  17. Susan, Winter Garden is such a touching and tragic story. I also enjoyed The Nightingale and Alaska by the same author. I have found some of her other books not as interesting or well written.

    I have followed you for years and have learned so much. Thank you for sharing your life journey and style tips.

  18. Kristin Hannah is one of my favorite authors. I especially enjoyed the winter garden. Love, love, love her books.

  19. You look so relaxed and lovely today. I always enjoy your outdoor photos…..that blooming tree is spectacular. Here in San Antonio it has been extremely dry….plus that awful week of freezing temperature…. most of our wildflowers are slow to bloom this Spring. Think I will try your mushroom recipe….we love mushrooms. Happy Easter wishes from a former Tennessean

  20. I’ve read The Winter Garden and enjoyed it. It has some good plot twists. I have had both of my COVID vaccines. The first caused a headache and a bit of fatigue. The second kept me in bed for most of a day and it was not pleasant! I would recommend not planning anything for a day or two after the 2nd dose (if you get that particular vaccine) just in case.

  21. So glad you got your first vaccine! I’ve had both, due to a blood disorder. I now feel safe enough to be out & about. Hope you will too!

  22. Susan,
    I have had both of my Covid-19 shots. Did NOT have any reaction after either shot. The injection site was slightly sore – no worse than any other shot. We still mask up if we must go out in public.
    I have not read any of Kristin Hannah’s books but plan to do so.
    Fixing my hair, applying makeup, getting dressed and doing exercises is something I have always done and I am 82 years old. Feel so much better.
    Thank you, Susan for such a wonderful blog. So many great ideas.
    Fran

  23. I need to read that! I laughed at your opening sentence. I haven’t worn makeup in a year now. I never wore much to begin with but since I have to wear a mask all day long, I just can’t stand the thought of makeup on my mask. I’ve been lucky and haven’t had any skin breakouts due to mask-wearing, either. I’m 64 and have had both doses of the Pfizer vaccine with no reaction to either one – not even a sore arm. I arranged a personal day following the first dose. I didn’t bother to arrange to take a personal day after the second one and all was fine. My 90 year-old mother has had both doses of the Pfizer vaccine and did not experience any reaction, either. Hope all went well!

  24. Thanks for all your helpful information. It seems like I know you, and I admire all you do. Wish I had you for a friend. I love your breakfast table and chairs. I am looking for a smaller set for our new condo. Could you tell me what size diameter the table is? Looks to be perfect! Thank you, Joanne

    1. The diameter of the table is forty-two inches. The Italian chairs were gifts from friends when they downsized. I found plenty of tables I liked, but I rarely found chairs I liked.

  25. Your mushrooms sound delicious.
    My granddaughter and I had our first vaccine yesterday.
    My husband had his second one over a month ago already. He is retired Navy and 100%DAV. He has quite a few health issues and 20 years older than I, so the VA in Biloxi got his done early. Ours were sll the Moderna vaccine but my daughter and her family got the Pfizer vaccine.

  26. As always, am grateful for your posts Susan. Here’s hoping your jabs are uneventful. Both of mine amounted to nothing.

  27. I have tried to wake up each morning during the shut down and get ready like I had someplace to go even tho I was watching grandkids inside my home. I always put on my makeup as that makes me feel better and ready for anything. Thanks for the link months ago to Sheec socks. I ordered some of them and they are the best. No falling off the back of my heels like the other ones. I also bought a little mesh bag from Sheec because my old one was getting worn. Easy to wash with that little bag and find them for hanging dry.
    I’ll be looking forward to seeing you in front of flowers again and maybe wearing a dress. I love wearing a casual dress with a jean jacket. Maybe a fashion show from you or how to wear a dress a few different ways?
    Good luck with the vaccine. I am half way to being fully vaccinated. Hi to Mr. Mickey.

  28. Hi Susan. I love your mushroom recipe. I will make it today. Thank you for sharing. Have a great weekend as well!

  29. That’s so funny I love mushrooms and just fixed me some. Those sweaters are so pretty will get me some. Love wearing loafers to lazy to tie shoes anymore lol. I stuck my plants outside but I have to put them in my garage this coming week snow oh well. I love snow and cold till about May then I’m tired of it. Have a great week.

  30. Susan,
    I wanted you to know that I purchased the SlimSation black denim pants from My Fair Lady. They are terrific. Comfortable, wrinkle free and they are slimming. I will but another pair in Midnight as 2 staples in my wardrobe.

    Thank you for your hints! You are a lovely lady.

    Happy, blessed Easter!

    Regina

  31. Susan,
    Thank you for a lovely post. It gets my day off to a nice start. Good luck with the vaccine. I had my first shot recently and have done well and am scheduled for the second shot in April. Stay well and safe.
    Roy

  32. Hi, I have read several of Kristen Hannah books. I keep a notebook of the books and authors I have read, next to this one,I wrote that it was good,but so sad. That’s ok,I like a book that makes me feel something,happy or sad.You are a wonderful inspiration for making better food choices.Your snacks/meals always look so delicious
    Thankyou,
    Debbie

  33. Thank you for a year of posts on how not to look sloppy at 74! Since I lost 35 pounds, a new wardrobe became necessary, and you showed me how to build it. While I can’t afford to buy most of the brands you show, when shopping thrift stores with the knowledge of what to look for produces amazing results! (I couldn’t resist the Beauty in Stone lariat necklaces and pearl earrings, though!) But today it was nice to see you at home reading a novel and tending houseplants, just ordinary stuff. I’ll take your suggestion on the book. And great news on getting the Covid vaccine! It’s been liberating! Enjoy!

  34. Your style is so similar to mine, which I love. I had had both of my shots and feel I am ready for the beach also. Take care.

  35. Just discovered your website and your tube segments. Your classic style matches mine, so I will be checking you out often.
    I live in Canada so I hope I can get some of the products that you mention especially the shapeez bras.

  36. Hi Susan,
    the light lunch with mushrooms looks delicious! Wondering the name of the smallish purple plant on the stand behind chair in your plant room? Had my Grandmother’s but sadly it faded away. Best wishes with your vaccine – southwestern Ontario town bit behind your state.

  37. Good morning. You are dressed exactly as I’ve been dressing this whole time. I don’t wear any makeup either and I have not gone to the hair stylist yet so my hair is piled up on top. Easy and I’m actually thinking this is my new look. You have helped me to embrace my gray hair. I always enjoy your blog. Take care.

  38. Have not read Winter Garden yet…but just finished The Four Winds by the same author. It was amazing! Good luck with your vaccine and here’s to better days ahead!

  39. You’re going to love Winter Garden. It’s filled with surprises and twists at every turn. A book I will probably read again.
    Thanks for all your posts. Fun to keep up with all your tutorials on fashion etc.

  40. Kristin Hannah is one of my favorite authors. I have read The Winter Garden and 5 other Kristin Hannah books! I just finished The Four Winds and loved it!

  41. Thank you for a warm, inviting post!!! Your round table, complete with book and plants is truly my style (mine not so elegant)
    And I’m so pleased to find your mushroom success story. Love to find more chances to mix them into my dining besides accompanying steaks.
    In sunny Phoenix, with a soft wind, and a strong cup of coffee, I’m ready to join my Facebook church – will pray for peace and harmony in our precious country.

  42. Hi Susan, I am a great fan o f yours. I’m a 69 year old fashionista, and I so look forward to your articles. Your grace and style and poise are an inspiration! You have taught me a lot and I appreciate it! Sincerely, Cindy

  43. I think Kristin Hannah is an incredible author and have enjoyed several of her books. I look forward to reading Winter Garden.

  44. I love the Naturalizer shoes. They fit to a T. I needed black and bought them in a little different style than yours. I love, love Naturalizer. Yours are a good buy right now on your chosen website.

  45. I usually put my mushrooms in a brown paper bag. I love preparing cold plates in the Summer and marinated mushrooms is a favorite item.
    I love this casual look. You are dressed for anything with this look. if you need to walk to mailbox or take the trash to the road or run down to the little store on the corner. I’m blessed. I live in the country. My store carries fresh produce and fruit from local farms.

  46. I love all your shells. I have a Queens Helmet from the BVIs, a Kings Helmet, and several others from around the globe on our sailing trips. My helmets sit on a table on my lanai with the crusher claw from a 15-pound lobster my husband caught while scuba diving in Cape Cod Bay many years ago. I also have a tall vase filled with shells and coral from Ocracoke Island in NC. Here in Naples, Florida we don’t wear too many sweaters and jackets but some cooler evenings need some longer sleeves. My Dad lived in Hendersonville NC for many years and we loved the Biltmore too.
    Thanks for all the tips on combining looks. I look forward to your emails every week.

  47. Thank you Susan for your blog! I just found it on pinterest a few weeks ago
    I’m your age and have about the same build so your tips are especially helpful. I have been a registered nurse for 42 years and still work full time 12 HR shifts in a hospital wearing scrubs, of course. So I struggle with style and just do the best I can. Looking forward to following you and learning!

  48. Oh my – that tree in the last picture!! Gorgeous! I love your “French” books on your shelf. I have “French Women for All Seasons” and “Why French Women Don’t Get Fat.” Fun author. Just read a great Kristen Hannah book, too – The Nightingale. And hear, hear for getting up and getting dressed during the pandemic! I needed that reminder!

    1. That is my work bookcase near my computer desk. I have all the reference books close by when I write a post or answer a question. I always check what the professionals say so that I am not just stating my opinion. I love having the shells in my office. After living on the beach for more than twenty-five years, a part of my heart will always reside there.

  49. I have had vaccine injections. Very little arm soreness was the only after effective. I am also looking forward to a beach trip but will wait until more people have received the vaccine. I am so happy that your main interest is not constantly shopping for new clothes. I find your suggestions and ideas very useful.

  50. If you have not read any of Kristen Hannah’s books before you are in for a treat! I have read several and enjoyed each and every one! This one got me very interested in learning some Russian history. If I remember correctly she had suggested a few titles and I selected one and with it being an historical novel learned details about the time period that I had not known. Enjoy your read! Highly recommend this author!!

  51. We’re not getting the vaccine but, I hope you feel no effects from it!

    Mom taught me to always keep my home & myself ready, just in case anyone drops by. During a pandemic, that particular situation isn’t a worry. But, I still like to look nice for my husband and myself (admittedly, in that order!). Your lovely ensemble looks like my daily fashion!

  52. Hello Susan
    I have recently started following you after seeing you on Pinterest. I love what you are doing
    I notice you placed a disclaimer on the bottom of your blogs re receiving a small commission but how do purchase products to ensure you obtain this commission
    I notice that Talbots do not ship to Australia and I wonder if there is a way we can support both you and Talbots, and also for me to receive their products
    Kind regards

    1. Thank you for your kind thoughtfulness, Rosemary. When you click on the blue links in my text and make a purchase, I earn a small commission on some items. Unfortunately, not all of the companies I shop with ship worldwide.

  53. Hi Susan,
    I just wanted you to know how much I appreciate your site. I am a 68 year old female with type 2 diabetes and am partially disabled. When I started visiting your site I decided to copy the pictures each time and have put them into a notebook. I then can look over the pages and use your inspirations to put together outfits. I wear sneakers due to me being unstable on my feet.

    The Nightingale and The Four Winds, excellent books.

    Thank you for you.

  54. Oh! That book will touch you deeply, I promise. I think I’ve read almost all of her books now and they each leave me realizing that I can keep going and perhaps even thrive again. Enjoy!!!

  55. I had my second vaccine last Saturday so I will be fully vaccinated this coming Saturday! We are making camping trip plans and have a trip to Glacier, Yellowstone and Grand Tetons National Parks in August with another couple. Hoping visitor centers are open by then. Have 2 beach trips planned for the Fall! Can’t wait!
    I am enjoying all the spring bulbs and flowering trees! I love Spring time!

  56. Hi Susan,
    I wanted to tell you have given me inspiration to care about my looks here at home and eventually when I am able to be out again. I am a retired school teacher that is type 2 diabetic with standing and walking problems. I use a walker and a scooter when I go out.
    I have read your site for year. I cut out pictures of your styles and place them in a notebook. This is so I look back and get ideas of what I may wear for the day. I love this site. You have inspired me to look better. Also love Kristin Hannah’s books.

  57. Hello Susan☕️
    In the spirit of an Afternoon Chat.. Love your shell collection. Do you have a junonia? This is the coveted shell of Sanibel Island, Florida. Must wash in from deep waters and is rare. I met a unique lady that lived on Cayo Costa Island. During 40 years of daily shelling, she found only two! My dear cousin gifted me a junonia. Hoping to find my own and of course the joy is in the journey of beach walking! Also considering a plant based diet for prevention of chronic health problems. Your food photos are an inspiration. May I ask, how did you begin? Were there any books that helped you? Right now, it seems somewhat overwhelming. I have made a few changes, gluten free, increasing hydration and drinking water with lemon juice and at night snacking on only crudités. Thanks. Terry

    1. I have always looked for a Junonia, but so far, no luck. Walking on the beach, or anywhere in nature, makes me very happy.
      Ten years ago, my adventure partner, Mr. Mickey, had a massive stroke and was in intensive care for five days. That event was the wake-up call that put us both on the path to eating mostly plant-based. We read the book “Eat to Live” by Dr. Joel Fuhrman in early 2011. Each of us reversed serious health problems and lost almost one hundred pounds between us. Changing to a healthier diet has been our best adventure to date.

  58. Hello Susan,
    It’s my hope that you are feeling well from your 1st vaccine and sunshine embraces you today. The Nightingale is my daughter-in-law’s favorite piece of literature. I confess I’ve never read this particular author but perhaps I need to try one of her novels. Again, hope all is well with you.

  59. Absolutely gorgeous tree! Sautéed mushrooms are one of my husband’s favorites! Think I’ll add them to my grocery list right now! Isn’t it a huge relief to have the vaccine at last?

  60. Your meal ideas look and sound delicious, and I truly appreciate your suggestions on how to store and clean mushrooms. There is always something new to learn! Regarding the vaccinations, neither my husband nor I had more than a sore upper arm for either shot. I got tired earlier in the evening for several days after the second shot, but that seemed more like a positive reaction to me! I hope both shots go as smoothly for you!

  61. I came across your blog via Pinterest and I love it. Your tips and suggestions are very helpful. However, I have a problem in the translation of the items to my color-scheme as I have a “warm” skin tone. Is there a way (perhaps an agreeable friend) to show some of your ideas for those of us in the opposite spectrum?

    1. Think in terms of light, medium, and dark colors instead of the actual colors. If I am wearing navy, white, and blue-red, you might look better in brown, ivory, and orange-red. It is often the tone of the colors that make all the difference. I look washed out in a warm brownish navy but vibrant and healthy in an icy cool navy blue.

  62. First I would like to say that you look amazing while lounging at home, the pop of color with the red cardigan is lovely! I am putting Winter Garden on my reading list. Have you read The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah? I read it recently and couldn’t put it down. She develops her characters so well and I love her writing style. Thanks for the tips regarding mushrooms, which I love but they are my nemesis when it comes to preparation. The crudités look delicious and healthy. I had an epic fail with my healthy eating today. I was stressed after my GYN noticed something at my exam, and had to go for a diagnostic mammogram and ultrasound today. I hadn’t eaten all day due to nervousness, so on the way home around 4 pm I decided to pick up take out for dinner—southern comfort food actually—living in the south you know kind of food that means (mac and cheese is a veggie)—ugghhh! I feel awful after eating it, so hopefully I have learned my lesson about stress eating. Good news about my test though, the area seems to be an enlarged lymph node and they believe it is simply a response to my COVID vaccine. I go back in two months to repeat the testing, but won’t be that stressed again.

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I blogged for five years as Fifty, not Frumpy. Now that I am in my sixties, I am sharing ideas and inspiration for using and loving what you already have.

Thank you!
Susan

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