Monday, October 20, 2014

GOODBYE SUMMER


I made a trip to Hobby Lobby and Michael's Thursday (and totally forgot which street each one was on so it took me 45 minutes instead of 15).  I had come across a craft on a blog and I got so excited about  making it that I nearly peed myself!  Well, it's a Christmas craft and I'm still working on it...maybe I'll give you a peek in my next post. :)

This (above), my friends, is Hungarian Goulash and you can find the recipe here.  This is one of our favorite comfort food meals here and I was even heating up bowls for the boys when they'd stop by (the key is to not tell them the name).  I think I gave you the recipe last year, it's a stew that has a little kick of nutmeg, allspice and cloves that just takes it out of this world.  Tyler Florence does not add these spices, but I do.  And this recipe makes a lot of goulash so you'll want a good heaping tablespoon of these things.  Also, he used potatoes for starch, I used egg noodles.  Play with it.  Yum! :)



Sunday dawned sunny, the lake sending up a mist into the cool air.  The front lawn looked so pretty I didn't even want to rake! 













If you've ever met Carol from Art And Sand, you will know that nothing matches her creativity and love of art and color other than her big heart.  She made these banners and we all fell in love with them.  So she had a giveaway and we could choose what we wanted her to spell out.  I was a winner!!  Thank you so much, Carol!  Pay her a visit...she has a wonderful blog. :)



I have so many websites that I love to shop at and I love to share the wonderful things I find that I think are really unique.  One of my favorite places to go to when I'm planning a casual party, especially one outdoors, is Smarty Had A Party.  I bought some of their disposable dishes, napkins and serve-ware for a party at the lake a few years ago and I never received so many compliments. If you don't want to use good dishes, or even your melamine, these products will take your event up a notch and people will be loving you for your good taste! Below you will see the bamboo forks and knives I used for a backyard barbeque this past summer.  And I keep these on hand for Abby to bring in her lunch at work (she gets the compliments, too).  I was really, really surprised the other day when a box arrived in the mail and these cute disposable Leafware dishes were inside.  Made from fallen palm leaves, they are just perfect rustic goodness for this time of year.  Can you imagine a fall bonfire  with S'mores piled high on these?  Maybe to serve your goodies on at a tailgate party?  And you know what?  I've only mentioned this website because I really like it, I've never been asked to promote it.  And this was their "thank you".  A big thank you back at ya!!









Tomorrow I have a very early appointment to get my stitches out.  Normally this wouldn't bother me much except my hand took a turn for the worse and my incisions are infected.  This started happening Friday so there wasn't very much I could do.  I talked to my surgeon's nurse and since I don't have a fever or oozing, I'm good until tomorrow.  I am such a baby...I'm praying this can be taken care of without the need for a sharp needle or stiff brush.  My hand is so sore as it is, I can't bear the thought of anyone coming near it.  And today I also scheduled my next surgery for November 10th.  Gulp.  To add injury to insult, this surgery will be on my left hand and yes, you guessed it, I'm left handed!  I guess things are going to get worse before they get better.

I have some good days ahead of me, a few things that are very hush hush (!), but I will be back this weekend filling you in! :)

Jane xxx 

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

A LITTLE BIT OF EVERYTHING


So, I came up with the brilliant idea of visiting some of the interesting towns and neighborhoods around here in Chicago on these rather quiet (boring) weekends.  We decided to drive north to Evanston, about an hour away.  My friend, Melanie, from Comfy House goes with her husband once in awhile for a little escape and they seem to have fun.  They even go down to the beach for a little picnic.  Unfortunately, the beaches are now closed.  So off we went on Saturday.  









We found a rare book store and I came across a book over 100 years old and it was actually only $8.00.  I was amazed.  And The Husband found an old book about Civil War weaponry and artillery...just up his alley.  I peeked over his shoulder to see what he was looking at and all I saw was Stonewall Jackson and I knew I had some time to kill.  And we also found a little boutique and I picked up a few things for the girls.  I saw a pair of oxfords that I really wanted but they didn't have my size.  Have you seen those in stores?  I am loving them.  They look so sharp with slim pants.  I'm on the hunt for the perfect pair!



 









So that's the last week in Blondieville.  I just take things day by day, try to keep myself busy during the day, and then blog or read in the evening.  I did a little work in the yard last week.  I carried armfuls of garden decor (birdhouses, outdoor candles and all sorts pots and tools) to the shed, making a little dent until I can get some manpower here to put away the furniture.  The same goes for the lake soon.  I just need to get my daily dose of fresh air.  It has been raining here since yesterday morning and it's supposed to continue until Thursday.  Well, I guess we'll just have to wait and see what sort of adventures arise!

Jane xx

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

FALL UNFOLDS & MANY THANKS!




Everything went well.  I came home, The Husband had the whole day off from work and Emily came over and helped straighten up the house.  She is so much like me, it's scary.  She can't stand for anything to be out of place and she is constantly fussing.  She decided at the last minute to invite us to dinner (no stove yet...more on that later).  She  was making a corned beef and that got me excited, we never have that except around St. Patrick's Day.  So I went with her to the grocery for some odds and ends, still feeling fine, took a little nap and then we went to her and Mike's about 5:30.  



Dinner was SO good...corned beef with cabbage, carrots and onions and rye bread.  I forgot to get a picture of the food and her table setting.  I'm bad.  She has so many beautiful things that she received at her wedding showers and then wedding gifts.  I'm envious of her pots and pans!  She had chalk board place mats with our names on them.  Really, really cute.  She made the corned beef like her in laws do...baked and basted with a mixture of mustard and brown sugar.  We were swooning!  Coconut macaroons for dessert.  :)





My daughter in law, Mary Clare was there as well.  She told me she and Kevin were pretty sure they are going to name the baby Elsie.  I think that's very cute.  I know Mary Clare has a soft sort of country side to her, her pup is named Tucker.  If the baby had been a boy, they wanted Ben.  She is feeling good and looks great!









We will be at the lake again this weekend, I'm going to set up camp outside and watch the leaves fall (as long as it's not rainy and miserable like last weekend).  It really has been a picture perfect summer and fall.  Our farmer's market will be ending soon so I want to go tomorrow just to walk around and breathe it in.  Never got around to those apple pies, nor did I get all those plants I wanted to when they were marked down, but there's always next year.  And right now is pretty darn good!

See you soon! :)

Jane xx

Saturday, October 4, 2014

TONS (TOO MUCH) FALL DECOR


I'm showing you a brief glimpse of my mantel which I haven't changed up much from the last time you saw it. lol! I found (or should I say Emily found) this faux white pumpkin with the gold bling on it on one of our recent trips to Homegoods.  She was ahead of me and lamented, "I wish I could afford that pumpkin."  I reached ahead of her and dropped it in my cart.  "That's okay, Em.  I love it and I can afford it."  Ooh, dagger eyes! :) 

I was emailing back and forth with a really sweet girl who works for Modani Furniture.  She happened upon my fall mantel, very much like the one above (Ha!), and really liked how I had mixed the modern metal spheres with the sort of homespun pieces and bits of nature here and there.  I guess it all relates to buying the pieces we love and doing some mixing and matching.  Everything is so much more interesting this way.  So Addison, from Modani, was asking me a few questions regarding what I've learned about decorating since that "first apartment", you know, when dinosaurs roamed the earth, and what I might share now.  Well, I've had my focus on redoing our den into a sort of "Woman Cave".  Isn't that a neat concept?  I mean, why should they have all the  fun?  Where's our cave?  Please don't say the kitchen.   So I am going to be putting some ideas to paper and I'm going to be searching high and low for ideas and the pieces I want to have in this very me sort of space.  And I am going to be looking at Modani, which has 10 showrooms in the country, one not too far from me in Chicago.  So more on that later!

 


  This is another table that I managed to keep simple and neat.  Ha!  A big departure for my non~minimalist style.





 front porch is just a simple mix of the rainbow mums I told you about in my last post, and some pansies I found at the same garden center.  A few pumpkins from my grocery.  I'm spraying the pumpkins with Pledge furniture polish and it's a tried and true remedy for keeping the squirrels away from them.  My neighbors either think I am crazier as ever out there spraying the pumpkins...or wondering how the heck I can keep pumpkins with the rodents everywhere.  My little secret.  And yours.  And this is the first time I ever made an urn filled with plants.  I hope it looks okay.  It was a challenge.  








But, we feel happy and content.   While the looming surgery is always floating in and out of my mind, I look to the sleepy dogs for comfort, the fires going strong, and the sound of The Husband shouting and clapping upstairs.  My hands felt so good a few days ago that I decided to sleep without the gloves...maybe everything was getting better.  I awoke the next morning with no feeling whatsoever in my fingertips, they were swollen beyond belief and the slightest movement of my wrists was excruciating.  So, that's how afraid I am...I thought maybe things were better and  I could postpone everything.  Nope.  The gloves at night help me make it through the day.  I brought up two bags of my laundry, the whole hamper, and I've got that done and folded.  Both houses are neat and clean.  We're leaving tomorrow at noon and I will have nothing to do but shower, rest and prowl around in my robe.  Oh, maybe a quick DIY pedi.  ;-)  My surgery is scheduled for 6:15 a.m. Monday morning.  Piece of cake!

I'm ready to get cooking...boneless pork ribs, fresh steamed broccoli and two huge, beautiful acorn squashes with butter and brown sugar!

So I'm off.  I will try hard to get back to blogging soon.  You have all sent so many good wishes, don't feel you need to do that again.  Tell me what you've done to pretty everything up for fall.  Do you have pumpkins?  Do you like the weird colored ones?!  Any suggestions for the Woman Cave?  Okay...how about...if you were going to do a Woman Cave for yourself, name one thing you would have to have in it!  Please! :)

Much love to all,

Jane xx 

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

FALL BEAUTY & SOME COMINGS & GOINGS


If you happened to hear from me over the weekend, you'll know we didn't go to Las Vegas as planned.  We had (and still do) a big mess at both of our airports due to an incident where an employee at the nearby FAA location sabotaged major radar equipment.  So our flight, among hundreds others were cancelled.  I did however, get an earlier reprieve from going when The Husband found out two other wives had to cancel and it was turning into more of a "guys trip".  That made me happy.  I think The Husband would have had a bit more fun that way...he knows I'm not crazy about this event.  

So, I've had some crazy/busy time since last week as well as some wonderful relaxing "down time".  Have to love that.  I got together with Emily on Thursday to run some errands. She was very excited, telling me about a garden center that had "rainbow" mums.  She knew I didn't want to get mums yet, I don't want them to be faded by mid October!  But she dragged me to this cute little place that I never knew of called Olivia's Garden.  And I'll be darned, we bought mums!  At 6 for $42.00, how could we resist?  Aren't they the prettiest?  








I did a lot of cooking on the grill with not having a stove or oven.  That along with an electric skillet and the microwave. I went to the grocery store on Friday not quite acknowledging I was stoveless.  I did know (or at least thought at the time) that The Husband would be gone for 4 days straight and I didn't want to subsist on junk food.  I had seen a recipe in one of those BH&G Celebrate magazines, which I showed you in my last post,  Cornbread Stuffing. Nope.  Have never made it although I can bet many of you have.  It was insanely good, insanely easy (okay, I baked it on the grill outside and that took some thinking).  But in a nutshell, you can make your own cornbread or use a mix, crumble it up.  Cook up some breakfast sausage and red onion.  Add that along with some fresh spinach and fennel seed.  Toss it together gently and put it in a casserole dish.  Drizzle with with about 1 1/2 cups of chicken broth and bake at 325 for 45 minutes.  I have to admit, this was sort of fun to make on the grill.  I don't think it added anything to the flavor, I just sort of felt like a pioneer woman!  Ha!  We just loved it and I think I'm going to have it as a side dish on Thanksgiving along with our regular old dressing.  

I wonder if I could live without a stove like Brenda?  I was craving homemade iced tea yesterday and realized I could actually boil the water in the microwave.  Genius!  And Abby made egg sandwiches last night in the electric skillet that were very good.  I'd consider cancelling Sears except I really want that dishwasher fixed, I'm not that much of a pioneer!










When The Husband left for the lake Sunday morning, I started to have second thoughts that maybe I should have gone.  I was feeling anxious and a little stressed out understandably.  I puttered but I just couldn't shake off this weird feeling that I didn't want him so far away.  Years and years ago, when the kids were very young, he was gone overnight and in the middle of the night I woke up in a panic attack.  A really big one and I did not see it coming nor did I ever forget it.  If you've ever had one, I wish you peace. Fear feeds on fear and it's a bad place to be.  I get twinges of those feelings when he goes away, which is rare.  And I felt those twinges Sunday.  I decided to get into a book, I'd been reading all of my monthly magazines as a little fix because I didn't want to devote hours to a book (and when I start one, I can read for hours on end, usually finishing a whole book in a day or two evenings).  I came upon this one in my Nook library.  Coincidentally, this book was suggested to me by Balsiha at Simply Balisha.  She's a real dear and she wrote about this in a comment on THIS post I wrote about finding my inner peace, learning to survive on my own, being independent.  This book is a memoir of sorts of a woman who has raised her children, is ready to embark on the "second half" of her life and believes she is in a rather shallow marriage (for lack of better words.   I'm giving you my take on this, you can look up the book if you'd like).  So, she escapes to their little cottage on Cape Cod and she spends a year on her own.  She learns to face her fears, get by totally on her own, take chances, live out some of her dreams and for the most part, from what I got out of it, she learns to embrace change, live and love the journey, and  to put her desires first and foremost after 30 years of marriage and children.  This is a truly enlightening book.  I came away with so much from it.  When I have more time I'll tell you more of what I learned from this book as well as the author's website.  And ironically, as I lay in bed Sunday night, all snuggly and warm in my PJ's, with the dogs snoring next to me and the book open...finally feeling a little more calm and relaxed that my guy wasn't lying beside me, I heard a loud banging on the front door.  I ran and looked out the window while Milo and Layla danced and barked crazily.  And there he was, with all his bags and leftover fast food.  I was astounded...to the lake and back in one day?  Why?  "I just had a funny feeling without you there, hon.  I just wanted to come home to you."  My heart melted.  I slept like a baby that night.  Still, I worry about the next time.  There will be a next time.

I'll close now with some happy and exciting news.  We are off to Asheville the first week of November.  I am so excited to see the mountains in the fall.  With a whole week there I am making definite plans to go hiking and see the gardens at The Biltmore Mansion in all of their glory.  We subscribe to a North Carolina publication and I am going to check out all of the events and activities going on.  We are so lucky to have the refund from the airlines or I don't know that we'd be doing this.  I am beyond thrilled.  

I have to get ready for the arrival of the repairman, and I suppose I have no good excuse not to make dinner tonight!  I will post again this weekend before the dreaded surgery Monday.  :)

Jane xx

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

BABY NEWS & GIVE ME A HAND!


Now I know you are all anxious to know about that little "gender revealing" party my son Kevin and Mary Clare were having last Friday.  I have a short video (I actually had to crop it to fit so you get the reveal but not the shots of everyone clapping and screaming).  And...you have to watch the video to find out if they are having a boy or girl!  Here goes:


video

 



 

So, Emily and I hit up Homegoods and she found some mercury glass pumpkins and gourds and I found that darling sweater for Layla.  She also had to return something to Old Navy and I found a pair of "Boyfriend" jeans I liked.  I was thrilled to bring them home and try them on only to find they were too big!  Yes, thrilled!  So I have to make a trip back and exchange them but I will be the happiest customer in the store!  The trips to the gym are paying off!



 





After days of texting Emily, "Will you be my hands?  I don't want to be handless!"  I went to my doctor yesterday and yes, the CTS is "marked", but I will have the surgery one hand at a time, the first one will be on October 6, that's about a week and 1/2 away.  Then I can have the other hand done as early as 2 weeks later.  I am so relieved, I really thought I was going to have to type my posts with a pencil poking out of my mouth!  Ha!  I can guarantee, they won't be long posts, and that's not just a threat!  And the housework?  Hmmmm...I'm wondering what The Husband looks like in an apron. 

And so now I am in the "I'm losing my mind" stage.  I never put the office back together as I want to paint it.  I'm halfway finished packing up and donating books in my den so I can start to redo that room.  I'm trying to transition my summer clothes to winter.  I need to reseed and fertilize the front lawn as well as plant some mums I bought last week at Home Depot.  Our oven died the other day, it looks like it may be the computer panel and although I love it dearly, The Husband thinks we've had it way too long.  So we have been ordering food in for a few days and I had to give my apples to Emily, no pie making happening here.  Oh, did I mention we are leaving for Vegas in three days?



We will be home Tuesday and I will be back in touch.  I can keep up to date with emails and comments on my post via my phone.  Oh, I wanted to thank you for all of those nice comments about keeping my blog the way it is.  I definitely plan on doing that.  If anything, I was thinking along the lines of shorter, more frequent posts...moving on to subjects I generally run out of time to write about.  We'll see, but I am truly flattered by what all of you had to say.  

Jane xx