Tuesday, November 26, 2013


I guess it's just a waiting game.  I did my shopping Friday and even ran out last night to pick up a few things I forgot.  I will probably duck out tomorrow with The Husband to get the wine and pick up some fresh flowers.  When I saw these at my grocery store last week I asked it they were fresh and I was assured they came in that morning.  I just felt that they looked a little shaggy so these can stay on the island and I think I may get something else for the yet undetermined centerpiece.  I can't set the table yet as I need it and to be honest, I love mixing and matching dishes and napkins and whatever...I don't want to rush it.  I can play with that tomorrow, so, no tablescape until my next post.  I want to take my time. :)

I don't know if any of you are familiar with Sonya of Beyond The Screen Door.  This girl can sew!  She made me a beautiful table runner last year that I prize.   I recently asked her to make me a tree skirt, the one I have has seen better days.  This arrived the other day.  I'll get a better picture when it's under my tree.  It's a pretty oatmeal colored linen with a cream colored ruffle.  There are cute ties where the skirt meets in a circle.  I also had to have this star shaped tray which she had in her shop.  I highly recommend that you visit her.  You can even email her if there is something special you want.

Have you been watching any of the Christmas movies?  I had my fill again on Sunday.  A lot of these are shown over and over.  If you missed Naughty Or Nice, you have to watch it.  It's hysterically funny!


Now I'm off to the Dollar Tree to find a plastic container to brine my turkey in.  I will be up bright and early to do that.  And I always make my potatoes and stuffing ahead of time as well as desserts.  So it will be a busy day.  And then Thursday the family will all be in one place, here, in our home.  Just the thought of that warms my heart.  That's what I give the most thanks for, I've been blessed with a family and so many great people in my life.  We are all in good health and life is good.  I will be thinking about this as I bustle around my kitchen on Thanksgiving, doing what I love the most for those I love even more!

Many blessings to all of you.  Happy Thanksgiving!


Tuesday, November 19, 2013


I was on a roll posting about twice a week.  Then my computer died and while I wait for The Husband to find me a laptop that meets all of his picky criteria, I am using his.  You know how that is, everything feels slightly "off".  And I don't want to load pictures in his.  Sigh.  So I'm just winging it today.

On our way there we spotted a big shopping center just off the interstate, so on our way back we hit Homegoods and Kohls.  Not much damage was made.  I wanted some sparkly candles and I found a few large ones for about $4.99.  Great bargain.  Emily found a large black lantern with a battery operated candle in it for her front porch.  And at Kohls I bought a welcome mat with a snowman on it.  We had a ball as usual!

I was reading an article in Real Simple magazine last night about how stores and shops manipulate us into spending.  None of this is really new to anyone and I take total responsibility for what I do when I'm in a store.  They were talking about the music and the decorations (the sparkly stuff really grabs us whether we know it or not, it signifies luxury), the scent of pine and cinnamon wafting through the air via electronic aromatherapy diffusers.  All of this makes us nostalgic and we buy things in an effort to recreate our past or at least our vision of the past.  I found this article to be so true.  But you know what?  I love how I feel when I'm in a store that's seducing and enticing me with all of that stuff...something for all 5 senses.  And I really, really enjoy shopping with Emily as she creates her very first Christmas of her own with Mike in their new home.  I'm not crazy about the "hustle and bustle" that starts after Thanksgiving, I'm a little weird with crowds, but lately it hasn't been too bad, maybe with the online shopping advantage. 


I suppose some of you have heard of the storms and the tornado they spawned in Illinois this past Sunday.  I thought it was very odd that it was so warm outside when I got up that morning.  It was like an August day with bad weather coming.  And sure enough, by 11:00, the local news was breaking in on the television shows to tell us that a tornado was on the ground just north of central Illinois and from the Stormtracker, it was heading right in our direction.  I really didn't think much because it was so far off and anything could cause it to die out or go in another direction.  But it was coming on a straight path, not leaving the ground, at 65 miles an hour.  In the meantime there were all sorts of storms around us.  The wind was gusting and the rain made everything around us invisible.  The Husband had started watching the Bears game and when they took the players off the field and started evacuating the stands, he decided we should set up camp downstairs.  So he, Abby and I grabbed flashlights, candles, our phones and her IPad and sat in the laundry room.  My first worry was Emily, who was at work  She, too, was in the path just southwest of us.  The Husband didn't want me to call or text her in case I frightened her, but I thought that was crazy.  We were able to follow the storm on the IPad and by the grace of God, that tornado veered northeast and headed south of us toward Lake Michigan.  We got a group text going and Emily was fine.  She and her co-workers took shelter in the bathroom.  Her hubby Mike texted and asked if it was okay to go back upstairs and put his chicken wings back in the oven.  

A small town where the tornado originated was leveled.  It's heartbreaking to see.  Three people were killed but it could have been so many more.  A friend on Facebook wrote, "It was 70 degrees and I was out running.  An hour later I was hiding in my basement."  It was all very frightening.  I think we can all praise the weather people on TV in Chicago for their coverage and for constantly instructing people how to take shelter.  Good job.

It took me over an hour to clean it all out, make bags for Goodwill, and relocate a lot of stuff to the basement.  

Now, I have a question.  I was going to have the doors put back on, but of all people, my son, Jeff, suggested that I leave the doors off and go for a "mudroom" closet sort of look.  I was really surprised.  I thought that was something that I would have come up with and of course, been vetoed out.  I'd love for you to weigh in.

Do you have your Thanksgiving menu planned?  Have any of you started Christmas shopping or decorating?  I just love all the excitement I see on the blogs.  Sometimes I'll be ripping recipes out of magazines or jotting down ideas and I forget if I'm thinking of Thanksgiving or Christmas!  We will be having 9 for dinner on Thanksgiving and then I have been hosting dessert for the past several years and we will have about  15 more.  

The Husband and I have been tossing around the idea of going to a Christmas tree farm and cutting down our own tree.  I happened to be emailing back and forth with a guy in North Carolina that grows and ships trees and he told me that the ones you find in nurseries or temporarily  in parking lots, are most likely cut over a month before.  A fresh cut tree can last 2 months.  That's why I'm always scrambling around in mid December because a live tree would never make it until Christmas if we bought it any sooner.  So we are planning to go to the lake after Thanksgiving and see what they have in that area.  I also remembered that I left the cushions and pillows on the furniture on the front porch.  Gawd!  And The Husband doesn't remember if he put away all my pots and little garden doodads.  He and Jeff seemed to have just taken care of the big stuff on their trip last month.  It would make for a nice 3 day weekend.

Okay, I have a trip to Home Depot in the works but I am waiting for a person that The Husband came up with to come and clean our gutters.  At this rate he is going to be doing it by moonlight.  Let me have your thoughts on that closet and also, how do you feel about holiday shopping?  Do you avoid it?  Dread it? Love it?  Get it done early, late or pretty much go with the flow.  And most of all...are you in the holiday spirit?  I am.  I'm just loving it all.  


Tuesday, November 12, 2013



So, I've always wanted to make a banner.  So,  make a template out of heavy paper, like card stock or even cardboard.  Trace that on your burlap or whatever fabric you like and cut them out.  I folded over a small flap at the wide edge and ironed it to give it a strong crease.  Flip it open and make a line of glue (I used fabric glue found at any craft store) along the very edge.  Lay your twine or jute or whatever you're using in the crease of the flap and then seal it like an envelope.

So that was my crafty little week.  I had fun.  I think I'm ready to start going around doors and windows again.  Look out.

How are all of you doing with your Thanksgiving plans?  We are having two of the kid's cousins coming as their parent have to work...two big guys in their twenties.  In recent years I have gone down to a 12 pound turkey from 22 pounds.  The Husband always insists on a huge one for the leftovers.  Well, you can only eat turkey sandwiches for a few days and then they get old and personally, I feel that turkey is very bland and I have little desire to make up a recipe for the leftovers.  So last week I picked up an 18 pounder.  And a brining kit full of the required spices.  Emily made the brine last year for the first time with the help of a friend who had the extra spices and her own method.  In spite of the fact that I cannot even change the way I make sweet potatoes without protest that I'm deviating from tradition, everyone loved this turkey, surely because it was brined.  And this was the year that The Husband also admitted he didn't like Brussels sprouts...after 28 years might I say.  I couldn't win for losing.  So I have to trot over to Home Depot and get a big drywall bucket to brine my turkey in, which will be in the trunk of my car so that every raccoon, squirrel and opossum in the near vicinity is not hanging out in my garage.  Monster Turkey will also require me to get up much earlier than the 12 pound one did,  Errrrrr...

Now, I'm not going to say that I am at work on another project (although I am) because when I say that, even put it in the title of my post,  what I think I'm seeing is some very DIY loving people coming to see what it is...don't see it and high tail it away.  Nothing wrong with scanning.  I had page views that exceeded comments (by you lovely loyal friends) ten fold.  Not to sound like a saint, I am first of all a lover of writing, sharing my goofy life and times, giving you something to chuckle about, maybe a little inspiration here and there that if Blondie can do it, you can, too.  And then the fun of visiting your blogs.  Ladies I have known for 5 years or 5 months,  if I follow you, I hold you close to my heart.  So stats mean very little, the NUMBER of followers mean very little although I am so flattered and chuffed that any of you have chosen to follow my blog.  There will always be some of you that look but don't comment...I don't bite and I'm always looking for new blogs to follow and inspire.  Secondly...I mentioned a few weeks ago that I have been falling off some of your Followers Lists.  I am trying to get back on them...so puleeeeeze, if you haven't heard from me lately, let me know and I'll pop over and Re-Follow.

Sorry for such a long post.  Your head is probably spinning.  Just feel free to comment on what turned your crank.  I'll try to be back soon. :)

Joining Jennifer Rizzo at Fabulously Creative Friday
Courtney at Feathered Nest Friday 


Friday, November 8, 2013


Thank you so much for getting me out of the slump I was in on Tuesday.  It really helped.  And I think the best thing anyone can do when that comes out of the blue is just get outside, even to walk around the block.  You have to have a change of scenery, smell the fresh air, hear the rustle of the leaves...involve all those senses that have gone dormant.  My remedy was close enough, over to Katie's for my highlights and a cut (yep, two more inches off the hair, it now rests on my shoulders.  I can still get it in a ponytail and I am thisclose to chic!!).  Now, you know Katie is my daughter in law's sister, so we were all there eating donuts and laughing while I was being pampered.  Afterward I went over to Emily's and we had pizza for lunch and headed out for some retail therapy.  Hello Target!  She was not such a happy camper, she had to buy a cover for her patio table as it wouldn't fit through the back door to her basement for winter storage.  Nothing like having to spend good money on necessities.  ;-D  Well, what do you think we found next to the (pretty bare) outdoor section?  The Christmas decorations!  And freshly stocked I might say!  We had a ball looking at everything.  I like to pretend to be a consumer reporter every once in awhile, so here's my take again on what's "en vogue" for the holidays.  Woodland creatures, especially deer, deer, deer.  And antlers and mounted deer heads (I guess it's cool to have it in all forms of it's afterlife).  Lots of felted ornaments, too, as well as knitted.  You crafty ladies can do this easily.  And I will also say that Target has wonderful prices compared to other stores, only rivaled by the craft stores and Marshall's, Homegoods, etc.  They had a cute bin with $3.00 ornaments that were just darling.  

I bought a book, too, couldn't help myself.  The Kitchen House came out awhile ago but I remember my SIL raving about it, so I had to grab that.  And then my friend Melanie from Comfy House knew I was getting into Elizabeth Berg and was nice enough to send me one of her copies of one of the author's earlier books.  Thanks, Mel!  I feel like a squirrel hoarding nuts for the winter.  We could get snowed in from now until March and I would have plenty to read!

In spite of all the allure and promise of getting started on a Holly Jolly Christmas, we walked away with just 1 ornament apiece, with mind boggling plans to come back the day after Christmas to wipe the place out.  As we made our way to the outdoor department and then on for me to buy toilet paper, I asked Emily, "Are we materialistic?"  She never blinked an eye.  "No, Mom, we just love Christmas."  And all was well and good in my world.

I won't go on long here because this has been such an upbeat post but I had to mention that the great chef, Charlie Trotter, from Chicago passed away this past Monday at the young age of 54.  If you are from Chicago, you definitely knew of him and his iconic restaurant.  He was also the recipient of several James Beard Awards and a great humanitarian and philanthropist known throughout the world.  I was so lucky to have met him many years ago at his restaurant.  I wrote a post about it here.  He signed his cookbook for me and we had our picture taken together, which you can see on that post.  

Personally, I am just so, so sad.   There is something very unsettling and confusing when someone you have never met, or someone you knew very little passes away.  There's that distance or barrier outside of the circle where you long to be because no one else understands your own inner loss.  For me, when someone dies, they leave only a legacy.  The deep down pain comes from the realization that there will be nothing else forthcoming from this person; no further words of wisdom or advice.  He will never make another outstanding meal, write another cookbook, open another restaurant.  I had my ten minutes with him, someone I that I had admired for so long, and I will never again have that chance.    This probably sounds frivolous; he has family and friends and colleagues who are in deep mourning right now, but I can't tell you how much I wish I could go back to that obliviously happy time before I heard this news.  

Okay...off to the grocery store.  As you can see I'm trying to post more. I wish you all a great weekend.  I'm back to "normal" sleeping patterns and I'm feeling a lot more motivated to pick up where I left off before the blues hit me earlier this week.  Thanks again for all of your words of encouragement. :)


Tuesday, November 5, 2013


I haven't been out of the house since last Wednesday.  That's unusual but it's happened, especially in the winter.  And then, as if being cooped up wasn't bad enough, I thought I had come down with malaria or something.  The Husband and I rarely get enough sleep, at least "good" sleep, he's an insomniac and I am a sympathetic insomniac.  If he doesn't wake me up with his getting up and down, I sometimes just get up to keep him company.   In fact, my good friend, Mel, asked me last week, "Was that you on Facebook at 4:00 a.m.?"  So this has been the score for a long time and then something happened.  I have been falling into bed at 9:00 for the past week and struggling to get up in the morning.  I feel very lethargic and downright sleepy.  I feel like a slug.

I'm not bashing these magazines.  Matthew did a fine job other than going on for four pages on how to make marshmallow snowmen (sort of a no brainer).  I love my magazines and I get so much inspiration from them, especially during the holidays.  I'm disappointed,  I didn't get my money's worth.  I know there are people out there that will say, "Yes!  I like this simple, calm and natural look.  I'm going this route this year."  I really hope that happens.  For me, I just want to jump into this picture and spread some color and glitter and sparkly lights and candles and maybe a few little elves around!  Is it just me?

Saute about 2 cups of cubed pork in 1 T. canola oil until browned.  Remove to a plate.  Add 1 chopped onion and 1 chopped clove of garlic and saute until soft and translucent.  Add the meat back in, 2 T. paprika and 2 T. of flour and stir to make a roux.  Pout in 4 cups of beef broth, 1 t. nutmeg, 1 t. cloves and 1 T cinnamon and bring to a boil.  Add 1 cup each of sliced mushroom, carrots and new potatoes.  Salt and Pepper.  Bake in 350 oven for 1 hour. Stir in a few tablespoons of sour cream. Adjust seasonings.  Serve with a dollop of sour cream over cooked egg noodles.  Enjoy!

Okay, I feel I'm out of my slump, at least a little!  It's still raining and gloomy, I'm still tired, I'm still &$*%@# off at that grass, but somehow I think I've touched base with you guys and you've given me an ear.  Thank you for that.  :)


Friday, November 1, 2013


In between answering the door, I decided to make this Chicken and White Bean Chile.  You can find the recipe here.  You might notice that I have a variety of beans in mine as all I had were garbanzo, chili and black beans.  It made no difference, if anything, it's a little more colorful.  And I threw in some red pepper flakes for some heat, and some chopped celery for crunch and a little fresh color.  It's very simple, you should try it.  

This morning, like every morning, I had The Chew on.  Most of you know I'm hearing impaired so I watch very little TV.  I do like the muffled background noise and sometimes if I hear a lot of laughing, I go over to the television to see what's so funny.  Well, there's a lot of laughing on this show, along with cooking and guest appearances, so I find myself wandering over to it a lot.  Today Ree Drummond, The Pioneer Woman was on and I really enjoyed seeing her cook (I've never seen her show on the Food Network).  And she made Chipotle Chicken Chile which was quite a coincidence.  The recipe is on her blog today. It's my next comfort food meal.


I wonder if I carry around a lot of guilt that I'm not working outside of the house now that my children don't "need" me.  When The Husband comes home from work I tend to nervously rattle on about the events of the day.  When the kids tell me that I don't have the school/job stress they have, I hold my tongue because I refuse to defend myself when they clearly know I paid my dues, but a part of me wishes I had more challenges.  I do hope when they reach my age, they have the sort of freedom and happiness I do.  But still, the guilt.  And our need to be busy to justify our purpose in life.  What do you think of this quote I found (somewhere) on the internet?  Do you feel your self worth is tied into what you accomplish each day?  Do you hesitate to admit you had a completely lazy day or even days?  Or maybe you are even the type that runs like a rabbit on a treadmill because you can't sit still.  I was reading an article in a woman's magazine today about giving yourself a salon facial at home.  It started out, "If you find yourself with 30 minutes to yourself one day, you can pamper yourself..."  I see this type of wording a lot directed toward women.  30 minutes?  That's all we have for ourselves during a 16 hour day?  That's ludicrous!  We would all be walking zombies if we only had that minuscule slice of time in our day for ourselves.  I can honestly say I would spend it in the office of my therapist.  

Okay...just speaking my mind a bit here.  Feel free to open up and vent in the comments section.  I don't suppose there is a party I can join this week to inspire anyone!

Have a great weekend!