Tuesday, March 3, 2015


I have the neatest pan with molds that lends itself best to quick breads, and I made these little beauties.  The texture is a bit more dense than a muffin, and a sprinkle of powdered sugar adds some sweetness.  These are so perfect for dunking in a mug of coffee or tea.  


So it goes with Naked Cakes.  I read an article, saw the pics and recipes, and just knew it was something I was going to try my hand at.  So this is my first attempt.  A butter cake with whipped vanilla frosting.  Three layers in 6 x 2 spring-form pans.  Trial and error of course. I spread the frosting on each layer, keeping it thick towards the edges.  I smooshed those layers down and then spread the frosting all around the sides of the cake with a wide spatula.  I wish I had a smoother effect, but it seems contradictory to want to perfect "rustic". 


I recently made some changes in the bedroom.  Last week when I was looking for a lamp for Abby at Target, I found this queen size comforter marked down 60%.  Yes, you read that right!  Once I brought it home I washed and dried it on delicate and it fluffed up so nicely.  Score.  Some have asked how I can have so much white in my house with two dogs (and yes, they are on the furniture quite a bit).  The answer:  Oxy Clean.  It's a miracle worker.  I use a little of it in all of my white laundry loads.  So Milo and Layla want to tell you that this is one cozy comforter!

And it was love at first sight with this throw from Anthropology.  Look at those tassels!  My friend Melanie joked that her kitties would be having a ball with these!  

This will be a guest room which practically sends me and The Husband into hysterics.  I don't think we've ever had a guest here in our lives!  Unless you count the children that have left the nest and then came back to regroup, cause a lot of upheaval, leave a ton of their belongings behind, and move on again. 

We have to buy a bed frame and mattress, and I hope to find a used headboard somewhere to jazz up.  I will never be the type to make a headboard out of pallets or cork, so don't expect any forthcoming tutorials! ;-)


Heat 5 T. butter in a large stockpot or dutch oven.  Add 1 large chopped onion and 3 cloves of minced garlic.  Cook on low until just softened.  Add 2 1 lb. 12 oz. cans of tomatoes (I used diced but you can use whole and mush them up), about 3/4 of a box of chicken stock (the boxes are 32 oz. each), 1 1/2 c. white wine, 2 bay leaves, and a T each of thyme and oregano.  Cover and simmer 45 minutes.  Add the fish of your choice, I used 1 1/2 lb. each shrimp and bay scallops, 1 lb. each little neck clams and mussels, and 1 1/2 lb. cod, cut in small chunks.  Cover and simmer 5-7 minutes, making sure that all of the clams and mussels are open.  Season with salt and pepper and put on your bibs!!

I'm happy to say I have the Pin button working so if you use Pinterest, you can hover over any picture and add it to your pages.  I also want to say thanks to so many of you ladies who are following me on Instagram.  It's so much fun!  I changed my user name recently to my blog name so you can follow me here if you'd like.  I would love to share with some of you ladies who don't always comment on the blog! 

In other news, Kevin and Mary Clare came over for dinner Sunday night with Elsie.  She is such a great baby, slept almost the entire time and when she fussed a bit, Kevin would gently swing her car/infant seat back and forth and she would be fast asleep in about a minute.  I love watching him be a father.  He's very gentle and cautious, and I can sense that he has one eye on her all the time.  He and MC are a great team. 

In some sad news, and I can't go into detail because information is very limited right now, we learned this morning that two pipes broke at the lakehouse and we have some water damage.  Please keep your fingers crossed that the damage is minimal.  Next month is about the time we start to get ready for the warm weather up there.  With all the crazy projects I have going on here, a trip to Asheville in June, a wedding in Louisville in August as well as my son Jeff's wedding in mid August, and a plan in-the-works for a trip to Nashville/Franklin, TN. in October, I just want some smooth sailing! :)  I'll be back later in the week.

Jane x

Tuesday, February 24, 2015


I bonded big time with the mothers.  I had never really met them as we all live in different parts of the Southside and the girls had formed their friendships in our nearby high school where students come from all over.  All four of us were becoming empty nester's for the first time and it made for some heartfelt talk.  But it was mostly upbeat as we helped the girls get situated and participated in their excitement.

But...I so felt it the next day.  That overwhelming pull -the-covers-over-your-head sadness.  I really thank all of you for your warm wishes and advice in my last post where I blathered on about my baby leaving home.  As much as I want to say I've taken it all in stride...I haven't.  I may be veering off into left field but I want to mention a website I subscribe to called MindBodyGreen.  It's like a self help book that doesn't involve 14 chapters of redundant info that you forget in five minutes.  You simply pick and choose the articles you want to read.  In a nutshell,  Sunday afternoon, after forcing myself to take a shower and straighten up the house, I happened to go to this website and read an article posted that day called, The Upside Of Feeling Bad".  How ironic.  There was a  paragraph that resonated with me, "Accept the wave whatever the ride.  You use all of your energy pushing it away."  This was truly food for thought.  I spent a lot of time that day letting my thoughts and feelings flood over me; how I left home so easily in my 20's without so much as a glance backwards.  Did Abby have that lack of feeling that I did for home and family?  And don't get me started on why I felt that way then.  That's a whole different post if not a book.   It all boils down to me feeling what I need to feel instead of running away from it.

 pictures of Lake Shore Drive a lot, don't I?  It's an iconic part of Chicago.  I mostly share the lake view...this is the limited skyline I was able to snap through the car window when we left the Northside at about 7 that night.  Beautiful, but it made me feel a little empty.  The siren song that took my girl.  

In spite of what I read and did Sunday (and I hope you take a peek at that website), yesterday and today I have thrown myself into cleaning, organizing, laundry, cooking and baking.  I took Layla to the vet yesterday to get the ear plug taken out (love that sexy Dr. B.  I am such a shameless cougar!).  That perked me up (the getting out, puleeeez!) and I was also happy to get a few phone calls from Abby and some texts.  She wanted pics and videos of the dogs and the prints of her photos.  She is nesting in her new place, as I am as well.  It's a new and somewhat difficult time for both of us, but it will make us stronger and more mature.  And above all, we will always have each other.  That will never change.

I promise in my next post that I will have my act together and share some boring recipes, maybe a few mundane shopping trips with Emily.  I might coax The Husband out for dinner at a new place, and yes, I'm visiting MC and our precious Elsie Thursday.  Can't wait!  I wanted to tell you that I received in the mail the sweetest gift for the baby from one of my very best blogger friends, Mary.  I have carried on way too long so I am going to post a picture of my granddaughter with this lovely present in my next post.  Thank you, Mary.  Please visit her, she's a lovely person!

If I haven't visited you or thanked you for your comments, I will be around soon.  It has been crazy here.  And I lost a bunch of ladies I followed by email.  I finally figured out those blogs somehow ended up in my Spam folder, so friends, I'm catching up, it wasn't personal.

I'll be back soon (and on a more positive note!).

Jane xx 

Joining in on a new multi-blogger fun party called Share Your Style.  Visit and see some great ideas at No Minimalist Here!

Wednesday, February 18, 2015


I really, really want to thank all of you, how kind you are.  I was so touched and I am so simply amazed (and I shouldn't be after all these years of blogging!) by the love, compassion and spirit of my fellow bloggers after I posted about the birth of my first grandchild.   These congratulatory wishes were passed on to Kevin and Mary Clare and so appreciated.  :)


This little angel slept the entire time we visited.  So wonderful to just look at her and eat up how perfect she is, and to spend time with the parents as they relaxed and recuperated.  MC went through 16 hours of labor.  She needs a lot of rest...I think they were just happy to be home and settled and I think Elsie is going to be a very good baby as far as fussiness (fingers crossed). 

But this girl is moving to the Northside (we are on the Southside) of Chicago.  For reference...downtown Chicago is central  We are perhaps 40 minutes apart.  
On the way to her apartment yesterday, I took a few snaps of Lake Shore Drive.  No editing or filters at all.  I think it's beautiful, if not frigid looking.

have been rehabbed and that's the case with the building Abby is moving into.  

Abby asked if I would go with her to Marshall's last Friday night to find a comforter and a few essentials.  It was a little different for us..this is something I do with my daughter Emily quite a lot...not so much Abigail. Abby is a pro at shopping for clothes, shoes, etc., but home decor?  We separated, as Emily and I always do, but every few minutes I would hear Abby's  little voice call, "Mom?  Where are you, Mom?"  And she wanted my thoughts. 

I couldn't help but fall into the excitement of these girls.  They are going to have a great experience.  Finally seeing where Abby is going to live made me feel much better about her moving out.  Well, not so much the moving out part...but where she is moving  to!

I succeeded though at making reservations at a restaurant in downtown Chicago after researching and reading many reviews (as I always do).   I simply decided we needed to change up the routine.  Surprisingly, The Husband  loved the idea!

   I will hopefully find a place to wear them soon.  

I was in Pier 1 today, I was buying this and that for Abby's new home and without any plans...found myself in the making of an Easter basket for my new little one.  The salesperson doing my ringing up was very pleasant but not the talkative type.  As she did her thing I started to tell her about my newborn granddaughter, and my baby daughter leaving  within a week,  How everything I was buying was for them.  She did a lot of of "Hmmm, that's wonderful."  She was busy I know.  But still, I whipped out my phone and shared a picture of Elsie and then one of Abby.  "These are my babies."  I said, yet she had little to say.  It didn't matter, I still  felt the tears coming.  I guess that's life.  At least my life right now.  :)

Jane xx

Thursday, February 12, 2015


Elsie Jane
February 10, 2015
11:18 p.m.
8 lbs., 12 oz.
21 inches

Proud Parents
Kevin & Mary Clare


Monday, February 9, 2015


1 t. garlic powder
3/4 t. kosher salt
1/2 t. cumin
1/2 t. paprika
1/4 t. oregano
1/4 t. chipotle chili powder or cayenne pepper

*Tip...I really don't measure much anymore when it comes to herbs and spices.  Measure a teaspoon of salt or pepper in your palm.  You will then get a future idea as to what that amounts to just by looking at it.  And if you want more or less of something...go for it.  

I used the rub on a 1.5 pound piece of flank steak, which is super lean.  I really think you could use boneless chicken breasts or even a nice piece of salmon.  Let the meat sit for 15 minutes.  Meanwhile, make your vinaigrette:

3 T. fresh lemon juice (the recipe suggests 2 T. lime and 1 lemon)
2 T. olive oil
1 T. minced scallions
1 T. minced fresh cilantro 
S & P

Shake or stir.

I used a grill pan to cook the steak over medium to high heat.  Use a thermometer because the thickness of your meat will vary from mine.  I cooked each side for 10 minutes to have a medium rare temp.  Let the meat rest for 5 minutes and then cut it against the grain in to strips.

While the steak is cooking, assemble your salad.  I made 2 plates that started with a layer of romaine.  I then added some minced shallots and halved cherry tomatoes.  I think you can do what you want with this part.  I then spooned some of the vinaigrette over the greens, laid a few slices of steak over that, and then topped it off with the remaining dressing.  As I said, I divided this over two plates for The Husband and I, and I had a lot of extra meat which I'll use in one way or the other.  

I'm still working on a Pinterest button.  Feel free to cut and paste or come back next week when I hopefully have it.  


And I'll end with really exciting news.  Tomorrow morning Mary Clare's labor is going to be induced.  I am beyond excited, the whole family is.  A new generation of B's!  Say a prayer and the next time I come back I'll have a few snaps of this long awaited miracle!

Jane x

Thursday, February 5, 2015


  At the last minute I invited Emily and Mike over for dinner.  Sounds strange to be making your own dinner on your birthday but The Husband and I splurged and had a culinary feast over the weekend... I still wanted to do something fun.  I made lasagna, a salad and crescent rolls.  And we had cupcakes for dessert of course.  I probably shouldn't even show the table I set...someone set their plastic cup of ice water down.  Well, real life intrudes.  :)

I won another giveaway.  Oh my gosh!  I should be playing the lottery!  This beautiful handmade pillow came from my "Best New Friend", Vera, from Row Homes and Cobblestones.  We "met" just a few months ago.  Have you ever read comments on a blog you are visiting and just had a sort of feeling about the person...as if you knew they could be a friend?   That's how I felt about Vera.  I had to go to her blog.  We commented back and forth, emailed, and soon found we were soul mates.

She made several pillows for her recent giveaway and chose two winners.  Each pillow was different and so beautiful.  The one I liked the most (and it was so hard to decide), was this one and the gorgeous inscription on it is, "Life Is But A Dream", in Italian.  Love!

 I browned chicken breasts (bone in) in a saute pan with olive oil.  This seals in the juices.  I removed the chicken from the pan and set aside.  I then added some roughly chopped root vegetables...carrots, turnips, and parsnips to the same pan.  They caramelize a bit that way, releasing sugars.  I put the chicken breasts in a casserole dish, arranged the veggies around them, added a few sprigs of rosemary for flavor and a pinch of S & P.  Covering with foil, this baked for a half hour at 350 degrees.  You can omit the chicken if you want a meatless meal, very easily done. 

  Now that you've baked (and steamed with the foil) these fibrous sort of veggies, you can add the softer, quick cooking ones.  I did asparagus, leeks and cherry tomatoes.  I drizzled everything with a little olive oil and seasoned with Mrs. Dash.  Love this stuff!  Cover with the foil again for 15 minutes, remove foil and bake another 10 minutes.  Perfection!! 

Little Elsie has not entered our world yet and Mary Clare is a trooper, still working full time, just waiting it out.  The original due date is February 11, but because the baby is growing by leaps and bounds, a delivery by caesarian was contemplated.  Right now it's a "wait and see" sort of thing but I know it's weighing on MC and Kevin's minds.  Say a prayer and let's keep counting the days, hours and minutes!!  My friend Cindy from Applestone Cottage made this gorgeous little dress for Elsie.  You probably remember that Cindy and I became blogger friends way back, six years ago in fact.  We meet up personally every year.  She has taught herself to sew in the past few years and has been churning out clothes for her two granddaughters like crazy.  She has a grandson on the way, can't wait to see what she comes up with.  She never stops!!!   This is darling and the little sash ties in a bow in the back.  Thanks, Cindy!

And as if you can't have enough thoughtfulness from blogger friends...thank you Melanie from Comfy House for the birthday card.  That and the recent giveaways I've won, how lucky can a girl get?

Well, off I go.  Let's hope for a warm up here and good wishes for the East coast yet again.  Be safe.

Jane xx