Wednesday, September 17, 2014

TOMATOES TO APPLES AND EVERYTHING ELSE UNDER THE SUN


A big glitch in the whole process was getting the furniture moved out.  I did all the little stuff...lamps and accessories and what not.  We don't like to ask our sons for much...they both work and have homes of their owns.  Anyway, the furniture got moved out, the carpet put in and then we sort of stalled as to who could help bring the furniture back in!  The Husband and I don't like to ask for help, so...a few of my rooms were filled with a coffee table here, an end table there, a sofa table buried under lamps here and pillows tossed all around...for 6 days!  And of course in the middle, we had the plumbing problem which led us to use the back bathroom that then led us, mostly turning sideways to fit, into that far removed back bath.  Okay...the cute Irish plumbers finally made it on Monday.  Friday didn't work and we had to be at the lake for some other obligations.  All in all, it's a done deal.  My cute Irish guy recommends we put a new line in as we have really bad tree root in the plumbing lines.   "In 'foive' years it will be a mess"! Can I stand it?  The guys, not the roots.



Oops, I forgot about my picture that guides me through my posts so I don't go off on tangents (like I just did!), I found these chairs at a little thrift shop in town.  Originally $7.00 each, I got both for $10.00!  The guy is good...he's making a go of it.  I have that small picnic table I painted white in the spring.  It has 2 detached benches.  I always thought it would look cool with a bench on one side and two chairs (like these on the other side).  So...I am going to do three painted navy stripes down the middle of the table,,,something like you'd see on a grain sack...then paint the chairs navy.  Does that sound good?  I'm psyched!  And the extra bench...hmmmm?






As you know, you can find tons of recipes on Pinterest, and I have a few Pinned myself...but then I came across the book that Penny from The Comforts Of Home gifted me with when I was last in Asheville back in May.  Oh, Penny, I'm sorry that I have just now started leafing through this.  And I found this recipe for baked apples in a jar with the crust pressed over.  Isn't this just the best?  I want to make these this week for Susie and Mike, who gave me all the tomatoes and beans.  They won't have to fight over who gets the last piece of the pie! You can also make a regular  8 inch pie with the dough and ingredients but I just happen to have these jars!!  Yes!  If anyone is interested in this book, let me know.  It is written so sweetly by a girl who bought a house that just "happened to be on a farm".  And then it all began. :)










   So here is a pic of my granddog,  Rusty.  Remember him?  He is quite a Facebook celebrity according to his mother (my daughter Emily)  Everyone loves Rusty and you can see why!  Here he is falling asleep next to Mike while he awaits ONE tiny bite of that breakfast cereal!  Nope. Mike's not sharing and Rusty seems to have lost all hope waiting.

And that sullen face leads me to some not so great news.  I'm not one to complain (I can hear my family laughing hysterically).  I was diagnosed with Carpal Tunnel Syndrome two  weeks ago after about 6 weeks of symptoms (pain, numbness and tingling in the fingers of both hands and weakness of both wrists).  I also have "trigger" finger in both pinky fingers which is a bit more separate.  I think there are some of you who have had this or know someone who has, so I'm not going to go into that.  I had an EMG today (not fun and I have a very high tolerance for pain).  I get the results tomorrow. Anything above mild will involve surgery.  Blah, blah, blah surgery.  It's the recovery I hate.  6 weeks of recovery...no using your wrists or hands.  Dear God!  No hands?  I will keep you posted.  In the meantime, I wear these really attractive gloves...geez, I can't describe them...sort of wrist bands that resemble fingerless gloves that wrap around half my hand (with a hole for my thumb) and half of my forearm, secured by Velcro.  Apparently moving the wrists at night causes the most pain and is common with those with this condition. Let me vouch for that.  In the first stages I actually paced around the house and cried, not knowing what this was and what I should do.  We (The Husband and I) thought it would get better before worse.  Silly.  I get my results tomorrow.  It looks like surgery with six weeks recovery (as I have been told).  Honest to God...my biggest worry is that The Husband will pack up and leave me if he has to "assist" me in the bathroom.

   

I am not a Fashionista!  Well...maybe I am, I do love shopping for clothes,  Heck, I like jewelry and purses and shoes as well.  I do. That's me.   I follow many fashion blogs and Pin lots of outfits I'd love to put together.  I don't need much for Vegas...the casinos are cold, really cold.  And the temps vary from year to year  We almost always go in October.  One year it was 115 degrees and a few years ago it was cold and actually snowed!  I think I brought that on...I'm pretty talented like that.



Okay...you have probably fallen asleep.   I went a little above and beyond my usual narrative and commentary.  I always hope that you get to know me a bit more with every post...that you see a sort of rhythm in my life...season to season...in my recipes and decorating.  That it might tell a sort of story in the end.  I so enjoy writing.  I will never believe that I will fit into a certain category such as cooking, decorating, crafts; what have you.  But I have had discussions with my good friend, Brenda, from Cozy Little House.  We go back to 2009.   I asked her for a good critique of my blog...what I might do to get out of what I see as a rut of stringing you along on my day to day living,  For goodness sakes...who cares about my day to day life?  So, I hope to be making  some changes soon.  I hope you will offer your thoughts.  

One last thing!!!  My son and DIL will be finding out  whether they will be having a girl or boy on Friday.  I wish this were a short story...Ha!  MC goes to the doctor Friday for an ultrasound.  He writes the sex of baby down and puts it in a sealed envelope.  MC brings this to her baker.  He makes a cake with a pink or blue filling and frosts it in white,  We will be having  a small party at their house Friday night and they will cut into the cake for their big surprise and for all of us to see and celebrate!!  Isn't that cool?   I just may make a little video!  Shhhh...  :)

Talk to all of you soon! :)

  Jane xx

Friday, September 12, 2014

AN OVERDUE TOTALLY RANDOM POST


Yesterday I was running errands and drove by a brand spanking new Deals store that I wasn't aware of.  Yes!  My car nearly steered itself into the parking lot.  This was double the size of our usual one and it was so clean and well stocked.  I found these little lanterns that were darling and just a buck a piece.  I also stocked up on Halloween pencils, erasers, stickers and spider rings that I love to throw in the big candy bowl for the trick or treater's.  I just loved walking up and down every aisle and seeing all the bargains.  Usually I shop at Deals for my cleaning supplies but I didn't have a list. so this was just a little fun on a rainy morning and didn't cost more than $15.00.





1 c olive oil
3 T Balsamic vinegar
3 chopped garlic cloves
1 T of apricot preserves*
Juice of 1/2 lemon
2 T finely snipped chives 

*I used the preserves to make the stickiness you need to coat the meat.  You can actually use any type of jam or jelly, or even honey.  

I cut two chicken breasts horizontally, from side to side so it's as if you are opening a book.  Cut all the way through so you have four thin pieces. Put them in a zip lock bag with 3 tablespoons of the marinade, work it in and then refrigerate for a minimum of 30 minutes. Divide the remaining marinade into two small separate bowls.  When you are ready to make the chicken, spray your grill pan and turn the heat up to high.  Spread the chicken pieces out on a cutting board and use one of the bowls of marinade for brushing on the breasts.  Grill each side on high about 3-4 minutes, basting with the marinade as it turns a nice golden color.  Remove to a plate and cover with foil to keep warm.  Wipe down grill pan when cool.  Lightly butter the bottoms of four English muffins.  Place on grill and toast over medium heat for about 3 minutes.

 To assemble the sandwiches, I made a small bowl of mixed baby lettuce and tossed it with the marinade I had reserved in the last bowl.  Be sure this marinade has not come in contact with any of the uncooked chicken, this should have been set aside.  Place a chicken breast on the bottom of the toasted English muffin, add a nice handful of the mixed lettuce and top with the other half of the muffin.  We had these with chips but they would be great with soup as well.  

This is really very simple, I just sort of walked you through it.  The main point is you have a nice marinade to use three different ways.  Next time I will double the recipe and store half of it in the fridge for another day.  I'm sure it's good on all sorts of things.  Hope you try it!




Hand sewn by Pamela of One Paisley Pig, it's chock full of every sort of necessity you may need when out and about.  Kris from Junk Chic Cottage introduced us to Pamela last week, she had ordered a bunch of these cute bags for a group of ladies and even had a sweet giveaway.  I just had to order one for each of my daughters.  They can be tucked in your carry~on bag for a trip or you can have one in your desk drawer or glove compartment.  There are 40 items alone in this cute little thing, from first aid items to post it notes, pens, tweezers and paper clips!  These would make great Christmas gifts, too.  Emily and Abby loved them!  Check out Pamela's website if you get a chance.


As I write this I'm in a real pickle.  Funny, I can just sit here tapping away while disaster is all around me.  The Husband woke me up about 5:00 a.m. to tell me the toilet and bathtub was clogged.  Yeah, yeah, yeah.  I'll call the plumbers at a reasonable hour.  Thank goodness we have another bathroom.  All was well in my world.  I got up, had my coffee and took my time.  When ever I call those cute Irish plumbers, they are usually at the door in 15 minutes, so I thought I would get my day started first.  I straightened up the house, started the dishwasher and threw a load of towels in the wash.  As I stood in the bathroom doing my hair and make up, I heard  gurgling noises and turned to see black water bubbling up in the toilet.  The tub was making the same babbling brook sound as it, too, filled with the putrid stuff.  Egad!  I ran for towels, opened the windows and lit a brand new pumpkin candle I was saving.  I called the cute Irish plumbers and left a message.  I got everything cleaned up. luckily the toilet didn't overflow onto the tile.  I finished getting ready and was heading back to the family room with my coffee to write this post when my bare feet made contact with a wet floor in the hall.  I opened the bathroom door to see more black water spilling out of the toilet and this time I had to stop the flow with about 6 bath towels.  Double Egad!  Now I did an emergency call to the cute Irish plumbers. I think it was the washing machine usage that broke the camel's back. So I wait.  And I'm finished here so just imagine me and my big bottle of Clorox having quality time in the bathroom as you read this.  

If all goes well we will be on our way to Michigan in a short while.  A big fire in the wood stove and some coffee with a shot of Bailey's will be in order, I'm sure.

Happy Weekend!

Jane xx

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

SHORTER DAYS AND A FALL MANTEL







 










Yesterday morning it felt good to be on my own again and I decided to change the mantel a little.  I normally wouldn't start to get into fall so soon but I had a real beachy theme going on here all summer long and it really looked out of place.  So I just removed all the blue ocean hues and starfish and gathered up some things with deep colors.




I love this sign.  It's from one of those flash sale deals.  I'm not always crazy about them but I have gotten a few really unique pieces from Antique Farmhouse.  





Gosh, I wish I had something to complain or lament about!  Just life as usual here.  This weekend we will be back to our regularly scheduled program at the lake, which I believe will be one big chill party! :)

Jane xx

Joining Weekend Retreat at AKA Design.  Please visit!!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

NEVER ENDING FLOWERS AND VEGGIES!






















We came home today and The Husband worked from here.  I lolled around, not yet adjusting to my routine.  Tomorrow I have a zillion things to do.  This coming weekend will be a reprieve from the lake with a baby shower on Saturday and a birthday party on Sunday.  People time!  That will be refreshing.  No gnats or dirty hands!

I hope all of you had a good holiday.  And it's a short week!  Yay! 

Jane xx

Friday, August 29, 2014

THE GREAT TOMATO POST


So Layla may represent how I've felt these past few days, but actually, this is the mode she goes into when Tulo comes to visit, as he and son Jeff did today.  Yes, I had a visitor!  We sat on the patio and had coffee while Tulo and Milo wrestled in the grass.  Tulo is twice the size of Milo, but The Mi is very muscular and strong, and he's the "older and wiser" of the two so he dominates.  Very nice morning.  Rain is predicted later today and all weekend.  I'm starting to just ignore that little weather app on my phone, it's never right.  And the last big bang at the lake?  Almost everyone had to back out for various reasons.  MC's family is preparing for a baby shower for sister Katie, which I will be going to next weekend.  Another group of the family are doing some major landscaping during their time off from work.  And the rest, I shooed them off to do other fun things...it just has to be all of us, our big jolly family group!  I am suggesting a big fall get~together to go apple and pumpkin picking, and have bonfires...make some S'mores.  Yes!




I made the Tomato Tart as I spoke of in my last post.  It was absolutely delish!  The Pioneer Woman is very laid back and offers many options when she posts a recipe.  She used small orange cherry type tomatoes in her recipe which are very cool.  If you've ever roasted small tomatoes, they are so good when they've popped!  So I am going to give you the low down on how I prepared this so you don't have to jump from link to link.

Saute 2 large onions, cut in half and then sliced, in 4 T butter. Keep the heat very low, be patient and let them caramelize, about 15 minutes.  Meanwhile slice your tomatoes...I just used my big old red ones.  You want about 3 cups.  Grate three or four different cheeses to equal 2 cups. I used Swiss,  Fontina, Monterey Jack and Parmesan.  These cheeses really make the tart.  The prepared pie crust is pressed into a sheet pan (I'll get to that), I used a large one and 4 of us ate only half of it.  So use a half sheet pan or 2 pie or tart pans (these would actually be prettier).  Sprinkle the cheese on in one layer, then the onions and finally the tomatoes.  I sprinkled some S&P on over that and about 2 t. garlic powder.  Brush the pie crust edges with a little egg/milk mixture and pop in the oven at 450 for about 15~20 minutes.  Shred some fresh basil over the top when you take it out.  Then let it sit for 5 minutes before you slice it in squares.  



The pie crust is something I am saving for last because 1)  I LOVE making pies in the winter, and 2)  You can freeze the dough!  Yay!  Can you imagine making your dough all in one swoop and then pulling it out of the freezer anytime you want to fling together a pie, quiche or tart?  And this crust is tasty!!  It was sent in to Rhee by a blog reader and she wholly recommends it.  Here it is:

1 1/2 c Crisco Vegetable Shortening
3 c flour (I like King Arthur)
1 whole egg
5 T cold water
1 T white vinegar
1 t. salt.

Start with your Crisco and flour.  Cut them in together with one of those dough cutters or use two knives like I do.  When it's nice and crumbly, add the rest of the ingredients.  Here is where I jumped the gun.  I thought the dough looked too wet so I added another tablespoon of flour.  No, no, no.  It will be fine.  I later had to add in water because it was cracking as I rolled it out.  Knead it on a flour covered surface, separate into 3 balls, flatten and pop into freezer bags and into the freezer.  For this recipe you will use all the dough after 15 minutes in the freezer.  If you are a smart cookie, you can just keep on making dough to your hearts content (since you've already made a huge flour~y mess on the counters and floor).  Then you'll be all set when those apples and pears and figs and whatever come in season this coming month! :)







One last thing, because I was going on and on with the recipe, and some of you might have just skipped over it, if you have a ton more tomatoes as I do, toss them in a big pot of boiling water.  When the skin starts to crack, scoop them out into a strainer, let them cool, peel them and pop them into freezer bags.  You can chop them up beforehand as well.  Then you have a good months worth of tomatoes for sauce, salsa, chili, however you like them.  Maybe a tomato tart? :)

Have a great and safe holiday weekend!

Jane xx

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

GARDENS, TOMATOES & GOOD TIMES WITH GOOD FRIENDS





My next door neighbors (at the lake) went away for a few days and told me to help myself to anything in their veggie garden.  I had a ball!  They must have 30 tomato plants.  This is from one picking!  And I have tons of green beans that I blanched and froze.  I've canned before, I used to make red sauce and salsa and my own version of V8 Juice, but I've found that you need a lot of tomatoes to yield a few jars.  I found a recipe here for a tomato tart so I'm going to give it a whirl today.  I've also been slicing them up to have with lunch and last night I made a mix of tomatoes, green pepper and zucchini, along with some herbs and a butter/bread crumb topping that I baked in the oven.  It was very good.  


We got home from our week at the lake on Friday night and were up early Saturday morning to head to Madison, Wi.  It wasn't hard to do at all since my bag was packed and all I had to do was switch out some clothes.  It was about a three hour drive from Chicago.  We were meeting Cindy and Dan from Applestone Cottage and they chose a restaurant on Capitol Square where we had a beautiful view of the Capitol Building.  A huge farmer's market was going on and there were so many enticing shops and restaurants.  As you can see it was pouring rain and of course, we didn't have umbrellas.  :(

We met Cindy and Dan at a restaurant called The Old Fashioned Tavern & Restaurant.  It was delicious, with a wood burning grill and a huge selection of Wisconsin's famous beer.  It was so great to see Cindy again, we get together once a year you know, last fall we were in Cedarburg, Wi.   The rain ultimately put a damper (!) on things.  After lunch we managed to make it down about 2 streets, ducking into pubs and shops to dry off a bit.  Cindy took me into one of her favorite shops called The Soap Opera where I bought three fancy little guests soaps that smell incredible.  And that was my one and only purchase on the whole trip!  The Husband was a happy man.  











Now on to some general rambling.  :)

I'm lonely.  Sad, listless and lonely.  The Husband and Abigail are at work all day now and I pace around looking for things to do.  Since it has been raining and storming for days on end, I've only gotten a little weeding in and not much else.  I have to schedule the carpet installation and finish disassembling the family room.  I'm in no hurry because I will just be skirting around things piled up in various rooms until I schedule.  And I have no idea who is going to help The Husband move the heavy furniture or where it's going to go, but I have decided to isolate myself from that problem.  Don't you love that?  That's my new way to deal with stress...mentally isolate myself from things.  It works!  And in addition to the above, all of the wires and gadgets to the TV and Computers have to be unhooked so of course I don't want that to happen until the last thing left to be done.  Sigh.

Daughter Abby got a teaching job at a new school and started the next day.  She was elated!  She got the phone call an hour after her interview.  She is teaching sophomore (10th grade) English at a high school.  This academy is just two years old and the pictures she has shown me are incredible.  All glass and stone and landscaping...very different from the very old schools that she has taught at here previously.  She came home after her first meeting with the department and announced happily, "I have to wear the uniform  blazer everyday and there is a teacher's lounge with a Keurig machine.  Squeal!"  Well, the blazer will cut down on adding to her work wardrobe although I did help fund a trip to Banana Republic. She does have a long day though, she's up at 5:00 a.m. and home at 5:00 p.m.  I've taken pity on her and I straighten up her room and bathroom every morning (I have nothing else to do).  The Husband thinks I'm crazy but I think if I do this for awhile, maybe she will realize that everything goes more smoothly if you are organized.  Maybe not.  And I have too much time on my hands.  I'm seriously thinking about joining the university gym again so you know I'm desperate.  

Have I mentioned that I invited a small group of family members up to the lake for the holiday.  Oh, maybe just 15 or so.   Why do I do this stuff???  Actually, after spending a whole week there, I get everything so spic and span I just felt like entertaining!  One last hurrah, as it were.  The Husband and I will have plenty of quality time up there this fall, it's just magical then.  But for now it's still hot and sunny and ripe for swimming and boating and making sand castles.  :)

Okay, a trip to the store for the tart ingredients and then some packing up these rooms.  Have a great holiday weekend if I don't get back and thanks for visiting!

XO,
Jane