Monday, November 30, 2015


Thanksgiving table 2015

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving, it seems like it was a long, long time ago.  It was all a little exhausting but it's a holiday that combines my love of cooking and entertaining with having family all around.  And I had that in abundance.  Of course I worry that everything will fall into place but at the end of the day when I see everyone laughing and talking in the glow of the candlelight, I know my efforts are worth it, even if they were under that little cloud of stress at the beginning.  It makes us strive to do better, be better.  

I made everything but the turkey and gravy the day before; the dressing, mashed potatoes and sweet potatoes, some desserts and appetizers.  All of these dishes are heated up in the oven an hour before dinner once the turkey comes out.  The large casserole dishes take up a lot of room in the fridge so I store these in the back seat of The Husband's car in the garage overnight.  I know, sounds crazy and this year I actually wondered if it was such a good idea.  It's a ritual for most of our family to get together early Thanksgiving morning for a rousing game of football a few blocks away.  I didn't expect The Husband to take his own car (I don't participate, I'm a girly girl!) and when I realized he had, I had visions of casserole dishes slipping and sliding and mashed potatoes splattering on the windows!  Everything was fine though.  Whew! ;-)

I didn't fuss a lot with the table, I used the pretty velvet pumpkins I won in the giveaway and even included the leaves that came in the packaging to give an autumn feel.  I mixed and matched plates and napkins, and silver candlesticks added a little elegance.  I kept it even more relaxed by encouraging everyone to have a seat anywhere they wanted, including the living room.  It was nice to have several conversations going on at once (and hearing a few "Mmmmmm's" about the food!!).

I can always count on my family for bringing appetizers and desserts.  Emily made a different sort of snack, crackers with a smear of brie, a strawberry slice and a drizzle of reduced balsamic glaze.  It was very, very good.  And my daughter in law, Deirdre, made a type of Crostini with bits of sausage, onion and cheese that had a nice Italian bite to it.  My sister in law, Megan, made a hot spinach dip that was out of this world and I am going to share that recipe soon.  Perfect for cold weather entertaining.  I wish I had gotten more pictures of these goodies, we served them before dinner and then right along with the desserts as the evening went on.  On the sweet side...blueberry cheesecake, pumpkin cheesecake, cupcakes and cookies.  

We've finished up the last of the leftovers but for a little turkey.  The Husband loves his sandwiches piled high with turkey, dressing and cranberry sauce.  I have a recipe further along for something I made with some of the leftover turkey.  If you don't have any left, perhaps you will after your Christmas dinner (if you make a turkey).

Milo and Layla were exhausted by the end of the evening.  There were so many of us it was hard for them to find a spot to curl up in.  At one point Milo emerged from under a cozy throw looking like an English barrister!  The last guest left by 10:30 p.m. but for son, Jeff, who sat up late with The Husband for some father/son talk.  I sneaked off to the den and caught another great Lifetime movie, All About Christmas Eve.  Last night I watched A Gift Wrapped Christmas.  I really don't know why I am so hooked on these movies this year, the premise is usually the same; a widowed hunky man with a child or children trying to hook them up with a sweet girl who they long will replace their lost parent.  But I keep getting sucked up into them.  I think right now we need to see happy endings.  There has been so much turmoil going on in our world, here in Chicago...well, it's on the news. Very frustrating, very sad.  I stay focused, I stay aware, but I also try to find love and hope and peace in the smallest of things, even a sappy movie.  

We went away for the weekend, more on that coming up, and on the two hour drive home I began to think of all of the extra turkey in my fridge.  I knew it was now or never to do something with it so I started to consider dishes I make with chicken and I came up with chili.   What I did, and encourage you to do, is grab whatever you have in your pantry and refrigerator to really use up all those odds and ends so it's truly a 'leftovers' meal.  My recipe consists of what I had.

Leftover Turkey Chili

2 T vegetable oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 red pepper, chopped
1/2 poblano pepper, diced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 packets of McCormick Chili Seasoning***
4 cups dark turkey meat, roughly chopped and/or shredded 
1 28 oz. can diced tomatoes
2 cups chicken broth
1 15 oz. can black beans
S & P to taste
Sour cream and chopped scallions for garnish

Saute the onion and peppers over medium heat until softened, about 5 minutes.  Add garlic and continue to stir an additional minute.  Sprinkle in both packets of seasonings and stir to combine with the veggies.  Add the turkey, tomatoes and broth, scraping up the bits off the bottom of the pot.  Simmer over low heat, covered for approximately 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add the undrained can of beans during the last ten minutes and heat through.  Adjust seasonings if necessary and serve in shallow bowls with a dollop of sour cream and a bit if sliced scallions.  Serves 6

***I like individual seasoning packets made by McCormick, Lawry's and the like.  They have all of the components you need if your spice cabinet is lacking something.  These mixes also contain a little bit of flour which thickens the chili slightly.  There are no preservatives and there is not a lot of sodium, in fact, I added about 2 teaspoons of salt.  Want to use your own spices?  You will need 1/4 cup chili powder, 2 tablespoons ground cumin, 1 tablespoon dried oregano, 2 teaspoons red pepper flakes.  Simmer uncovered so that you can let some of the liquid evaporate for a thicker chili.

Continental breakfast at The Washington House Inn

Saturday morning we got out of Dodge and drove north just past Milwaukee to a little town called Cedarburg where we met old friends, Cindy and Dan.  This was the fourth trip to this picturesque little town for The Husband and me.  We met up with Cindy and Dan at our favorite little place for lunch, The Anvil, along beautiful Cedar Creek.  Great sandwiches, salads and some lively conversation.  Afterward Cindy and I took off in the cold for some Christmas shopping at some of the cute little shops in the town.  The guys?  Well they usually head off to a warm little bar or tavern to chat over a few cold ones and take in the football games on the big screens.  This year Cindy and I spent more time walking and talking rather than shopping.  It was a brisk 30 degrees and our noses were red but we had so much to catch up on.  We finally headed off to the little joint the guys had said they'd be at.  But no sign of them.  We shrugged off our heavy coats, I ordered Cindy a hot chocolate with a shot of peppermint schnapps and myself a glass of wine and we chatted away until we got a text from The Husband, "Come and meet us at Easy Street!"  Apparently they found a better place but we weren't budging.  WE were the ones that had just spent the past two hours out in the cold!  Eventually we connected and after more merry making we headed off to a place called The Farmstead for dinner.  This restaurant is a centuries year old barn, farm implements are the decor with light fixtures fashioned out of old lanterns attached to wagon wheels hanging from the ceiling.  The food was outstanding.   We got back to the inn pleasantly full and tired and called it a day.  Phew!

The inn is beautiful and the main floor was decorated for the holidays.  A large dining room just off this room serves appetizers and cocktails between 4:00 and 5 p.m. so guests can mingle.  And in the morning there is a breakfast spread of hot eggs, sausage, potatoes, fruit, sweet rolls, juice and coffee.   

I get sentimental (or superstitious) about rooms so if we return to a place, I usually request the same room.  This time I chose something different on the second floor and I was so enchanted with it.  The shaker style bed and wardrobe took up most of the space but I fell in love with the exposed stone wall and the exposed beams.  Isn't it awesome?  All in all it was a great trip.  We have started making plans to head out Cindy and Dan's way in the spring.  They live about 4 1/2 hours from Chicago in western Wisconsin.  I know we are going to have a great time.  It's still hard to believe I have such a soul sister that I met only through blogging and with a leap of faith in getting together one weekend halfway between Chicago and Black River Falls, WI.  And we have been getting together for 8 years now!  Amazing.

I met Carol from Art And Sand this past year and at first I fell in love with her bight, colorful, sunny and eclectic home in California just off the ocean.  And then I saw how she could change up a table or entire room in a heartbeat with a few pillows or pretty dishes.  Finally, I felt that sweet tug on my heartstrings when I saw so many of the handmade treasures that she has the vision, creativity and talent to make, all the homespun crafts and goodies that remind me of the days when I looked at the hand written and illustrated pages of the Gooseberry Patch catalog that came in my mail.  I still see crafts like these in shops but it's so gratifying to 'know' the artist.  And Carol?  Well, I admired this little hand sewn mini pillow and she wrote, "Send me your address."  That's Carol and that's so like many of the sweet, talented, thoughtful ladies in the blog world that I'm so happy to be a part of.  

I hate to say it, but the head and chest cold arrived last night.  How many times can lightning strike?  The Husband has it, too.  I can hear him coughing and sneezing in the office from where I sit doing the same in the den.  I had plans to start do work on some lists and planning and menu's and then this morning I woke up with my head and lungs full, my asthma rearing it's ugly head, feeling totally zapped.  I laid in bed listening to the rain on the roof and thought, the heck with the lists, it will get done.  The heck with the pressure and all of the other stress we put on ourselves before holidays and events that make us lose sight of the purpose and meaning.  Oh sure, I'll be running around like a maniac next week, that's just how I'm wired.  But for now, I'm getting well while I silently curse the Flu Gods!  

I hope all of YOU are well and doing whatever you feel like doing, whether it's decking the halls or simply sitting back with some hot cocoa and a Hallmark movie.  It's all good.

Jane x

Friday, November 20, 2015


Hello, everyone.  I have had a really quiet week since I last wrote.  I'm in the process of trying to organize a room I have downstairs that holds well, everything under the sun.  It's going to be a very, very long project but I'm not trying to set any world records.  As I weed through my Christmas stuff, I bring a little bit upstairs to get some holiday decorating going on in rooms we don't use so much.  I get sort of anxious to take things down on December 26th because I'm not only bored with it but tired of cleaning around it.  I actually keep these rooms very simple, some holiday pillows and throws and some little vignettes and poinsettias here and there.  I have white slip covered furniture in my family room so the bright colors really pop this time of year.  My daughter Abby spends a lot of time here during the holidays when school is out so the family room is her favorite spot.  So, I took some of my holiday throws (and clean tablecloths) out of storage and gave them a little fluff in the dryer and Milo decided there should be no postponement whatsoever in bringing on the holidays!

I start off every Christmas season feeling over confident when I've actually purchased a few gifts.  And I  give myself a super big pat on the back that I've actually wrapped them.  Oh, how we fool ourselves.  By Christmas Eve I have shopping bags all over the place and I'm tossing gifts into little bags with a few wads of tissue paper and then slapping bows on them!  Overconfidence is not always a good thing.

Monday I got to work on my newspaper column.  I really wanted to do something special for the holidays.  There is usually some extra space as some of the advertisements go down in the winter months considering they are usually for watercraft dealers, landscaping, dock installments...just a lot of things related to summer lake life.  I don't count my words so I'm assuming it's going to be taking up a lot of room.  I proofread everything about 5 times because once I email it to the editor, there is no way to correct anything.  I think I will do a blog post with the December column so you can see what sort of drivel I write about. :)

I also got to work on some serious exercise.  I read an article a few weeks ago that screamed, "9 weeks until Christmas and yes, you have time to get in shape!"  Silly but I needed a little push to get moving.  I get so sluggish once the weather gets cold.  So I've started using my 5 pound weights and also lay on the floor doing crunches and leg lifts, just about 1/2 hour a day.  And I had ordered this stair stepper thingy from Amazon.  If you've ever heard of step aerobics, this is what I'm doing at home.  At this point I don't want to renew my gym membership until after the New Year.  If I can be consistent at home, then I know I won't go for a few weeks and then slack of.  So I ordered the step thing from Amazon and it came Wednesday.  It's so cool.  You just step up and down on it and you get a much better workout then you would by walking.  I also use my weights in my hands to get more bang for the buck. That gets the old heart pumping.  Wow!  What a workout, I was so sore yesterday.  5 more weeks til Christmas...

I've actually been a sort of homebody for most of the week.  I did run out to get a carwash yesterday in spite of snow in the forecast.  We have such cold winters with rainy, snowy, slushy weather that I thought it would be a good time to get everything cleaned and shined up.  And I had my oil changed last week so I feel like I'm on top of things.    

I love my holiday movies, you all know that,  and I think The Husband actually likes to hear the holiday music I have playing non stop, even this early.  Last Saturday I forced him to sit down in the den with me (I bribed him by opening up a bottle of Cabernet and making a little tray of cheese and crackers) to watch Love Actually.  He was so into it!  I've seen it at least 5 times and it was so great to see him laughing and smiling and loving all the different scenarios going on.  He actually said he wants to watch it again as he was a little confused by who was who and how they were related.  Have you seen it?  What's your favorite story line?  I think my favorite is the growing attraction and then love between the writer (Colin Firth) and the Portuguese  housekeeper.  I'm a hopeless romantic.  Next---The Holiday.

The lake guest house/patio, January 2015

The weather people here in Chicago have been warning us about a huge snowstorm that was to have started about a hour ago, it's coming down but not really heavy.  The Husband is heading up to the lake tomorrow to finalize a few things on the house repair/renovation.  Yes, they are starting next week!  It's supposed to be a 5-6 month project but I'm praying the dust has settled a little and we at least have a bedroom and bathroom so we can start going up in April.  I'm going to have a lot of work  in my gardens and with the landscaping work I did in the front of the house during the summer of 2014.  It will be fun though, I love to be outdoors.  I imagine the wisteria has eaten the front porch and balcony by now.  And we have new neighbors.  Two homes just to the right of ours sold and I'm really excited to meet everyone.  The house right next door is a couple from Illinois, they are both teachers, or so I've heard.  I wonder if they have dogs for Milo to romp with?  And then the house to the right of them is a couple with 4 young children.  I think we are going to have a great summer.

I won a giveaway that Debra from Common Ground hosted recently.  These gorgeous velvet pumpkins were handmade by Becky of Timewashed.  The packaging was so cute, I left two of them in the pretty bags tied with jute for you to see.  And she included the sweetest card.  What a great Etsy shop she has, go have a peek.  Thank you, Debra and Becky! :)

Next Saturday The Husband and I are off to Cedarburg, Wisconsin to spend a weekend with my longtime blogger friend Cindy (Applestone Cottage) and her husband, Dan.  I don't even consider her a blogger friend, she's a true blue friend who I've grown very close to.  We've been meeting up since 2009 and this is a picture of us together on the very day we first met six years ago (look at my bangs!).  We meet all over the place, this was in Galena, Illinois, a very picturesque little town near the Illinois/Iowa border.  We've also met up in places like Lake Geneva, WI., Madison, Door County, WI. (just this past summer), and she and Dan also came to the lakehouse a few years ago and that was a drive of six hours for them.  We always have a great time and now we're going to get together twice a year.  

Today I went grocery shopping, I wanted to get it done so I didn't have to deal with 7 inches of snow in the parking lot tomorrow.  And then I couldn't help but grab my 22 pound turkey and some of the items I needed for side dishes and desserts.  I seriously don't know how I fit it all in the cart.  Once I got home I cleaned out the fridge to make room for everything and scoured ever shelf and bin.  I have so much food shoved in and balanced precariously, if you want something in the back you have to take about 20 things out to get to it!  I'm always more content when I know I have that turkey though.  Is that weird?

Abby will be on break from work next week and we have plans to go shopping at one of our favorite suburban outdoor malls.  It's done up like a little town with cobblestone streets, lampposts and at Christmastime, holiday music comes from speakers hidden somewhere.  I really love this place when I start my shopping.  

I don't know if I'll have a chance to post before Thursday so I want to wish everyone a wonderful Thanksgiving.  I hope you are surrounded by all of your loved ones giving thanks for a great abundance of food, family and friends.  

Jane xxx

Sunday, November 15, 2015


Thanksgiving 2014

We all have our minds on Thanksgiving, right?  Or maybe that nagging little notion in our head that we should pull out a notepad and make a grocery list.  Or just continue to watch Hallmark movies and pretend it's December 1.  As I write I'm watching Christmas With Holly (which I give up a big thumbs up to), and not having a whole lot of focus on Thanksgiving plans.  Whether I do or not, I will stress out no matter.  It's a given and nothing's going to change, so why not just watch a little mindless happy TV while the world turns?

I've taken some of the craziness out of this holiday by just sticking with the pretty little table I did last year.  And I think I'll have a very simple centerpiece although from this photo it's hard to see what I had then.  A mystery for all of us I guess! lol!  I have some ideas I've Pinned and you can find them on my boards (click the Pinterest icon on my sidebar) under Fall.  I'm looking for simple and small, I do not have a huge long harvest table that seats 18.  So if you're in my boat, look at some of these innovative and inspiring  ideas.  

Time has a way of slowing down on cold afternoons when the wind is howling outside and you have that lull after lunch and before you need to start dinner.  Friday I made a fire about 4 p.m.  I made a cup of my favorite tea, an organic green blend with lemon and spices such as cloves, nutmeg and cinnamon. Wow, so good!  And then the news about what happened in Paris came on.  I no longer felt warm and cozy--how fast our world can change.  I trust we are all praying.  

I mentioned in my last post that I was actually going to try to be crafty (and crafty to me is getting up at 10:00 a.m., making the bed as soon as my feet hit the floor so that anyone who pops in doesn't think I just rolled out of it).  So the real deal is, it's a very, very difficult sort of thing for me.  I'm all thumbs and since I'm a perfectionist at heart, I give up easily with my high expectations.  So I made this little shadow box thingy for my son and his new wife, a Christmas present.  The box itself was so terribly ugly I painted it with leftover chalk paint, distressed it a bit and lined it with vintage sheet music.  I was flipping through a book of piano tunes from the good 'ol days that I had, trying to find something romantic and appropriate should anyone decide to scrutinize the background.  I became a bit discouraged and then just started to laugh hysterically over what I was seeing.  For example:  Cheatin' On Me, Hard Hearted Hannah, How Many Hearts Have You Broken, I Wish I had My Old Girl Back Again.  Yikes!!!  This is for a newlywed couple!  I ended up using a page from Someone's Rocking My Dreamboat.  The best I could do.  The roses are dried and from the wedding bouquets.  What do you think?  Is it too foo foo?  I don't expect them to hang it above their fireplace mantel or anything but I hope it's special.  :)

I did a little bit of shopping last week with Emily at Marshall's for Christmas decor for my home.  I was really really pleased with how focused and controlled I was about what I purchased.  Many of you must know by now how obsessed I am when it comes to shopping but I'm not nuts and I am actually quite savvy.  I have an abundance of holiday treasures but I wanted to add to an idea I had brewing in my head of a sort of 'Winter Wonderland" theme for the mantel.  And I have been spreading Christmas throughout the house in the past few years so I can use everything I've accumulated in the past thirty years, and that's so a long time so you know what I mean.  Each and every room gets a touch of holiday cheer now, even the bathrooms and office.  Who doesn't love a soft cushy pillow or bright throw to curl up with?  I try to be sensible and get my run for my money.   I'm in love with these two cute pillows I found---$16 dollars?  This is simply not something you can pass up.  

And one cannot live on holiday decorations alone.  The shoe aisles will always call my name.  These were a real necessity.  Truly.  I wore them the other day and they are really comfy and looked quite good with long skinny jeans and a big sweater.  Nothing makes you feel better than when you imagine yourself looking good.  And I stress the 'imagine' part.  

I dropped in on Emily the other morning for coffee.  She and Mike bought their house with a leap of faith a month before they were married just over 2 years ago.  An old home in the city with a lot of redoing just before they bought.  She has made her signature mark in every bit of it.  Call me partial but she has been able to make each and every room beautiful, cozy and a reflection of her taste.  Sometimes I do want to kill her though...I've wanted this ladder of hers for such a long time.  It's in a corner of her kitchen near the door that leads downstairs to the laundry and storage.  It's a great use of this space, who needs an open door and stairwell to look at?  Love the tea towels and well, someday when she's not home I'm going to sneak in and steal it.  By the way, she found it at a great shop that Kris from Junk Chic Cottage took us to when we visited a few years ago.  Kris lives about an hour from us in the northwestern suburbs of Illinois.  Do you know her?  What a great lady and she has a wonderful blog.  Emily and I had a such a good time that day.  And she scored that ladder, darn her!

I'm going to end with a recent picture of Elsie.  A classic.  Mary Clare keeps an album that goes out text-wise to all of our family.  Everyone can see the latest photos and add.  This is such a cool idea and we appreciate the updates so much--babies grow so fast.  This is an unbelievable shot I think, yet every time I see a picture of this precious little girl I want to frame it.  Thank you, MC. :)

Finally, the winner of the book, The Inspired Room by Melissa Michaels is June from Laughing With Angels.  I'll be sending an email off to her.  I wish I had a copy for everyone, that's the sort of part I don't like about giveaways.  Everyone deserves that little bit of excitement and a gift in the mail.  It's like Christmas...but don't get me started on that!

See you next week!

Jane x

Sunday, November 8, 2015


I was at a little grocery store the other day that's just around the corner.  It's nothing fancy--no Starbucks or huge bakery.   The floral department is very tiny.  I was so pleasantly surprised to find these really neat flowers.  Three bunches for $12.  I usually look for the biggest, fullest bouquets to make several vases from but these just intrigued me.  I cleared the huge dough bowl filled with apples and pears off the table, gave it a bit of polish and a different runner and I'm so happy with the simple look.

If you follow me on Instagram, I hope I don't sound too redundant...I posted this shot last night.  I can't remember the names of the other flowers but the yellow ones in the forefront are called Kangaroo Paw.  I love it!  Even The Husband was smiling as we looked at the yellow blooms.  Has anyone ever heard of this plant?  I hope these last a long while...maybe they can be dried.

And speaking of drying flowers, I saved the roses from some of the bouquets the girls carried in Jeff and Deirdre's wedding in August (I'm pretty sure neither of them read my blog so I can share this).  I found a shadow box at Michael's that I'm going to line with some old sheet music and display the roses inside.  A Christmas present, their first Christmas married and a little remembrance  of their wedding.  I'll share it once I find the time to work on it.  Remember, I'm not too crafty so I tend to not  want to jump into this sort of stuff!

Another pic I put on IG this morning.  The sun was making this room glow very early as if there could have been little fairies dancing and hiding out of sight in corners.  I just love this sort of filtered sunlight that comes in through my windows during autumn.  My living room, dining area and kitchen face east so this is the brightest place in my house in the morning and it's always a warm and wonderful spot in which  to relax with that first cup of coffee.  

I have had such a terrible time shaking off this upper respiratory thing in my head and chest.  Some days I feel better than others and when I feel energetic I want to take advantage of it.  Saturday morning I had an incredible urge to declutter, I think I wrote in my last post a bit about my frustration with all the stuff I have everywhere.  How does one store away treasures and pieces that call out their name (and very loudly) while out browsing?  I actually cleared a few things off those shelves, and that crazy ivy I bought 2 months ago is devouring my old cabinet so I really don't have much more room to clutter it up.  I stored away a few pillows and simplified the mantel and hearth which you can't see, and I'm feeling sort of good about it all.  And as I peeled away the layers I scrubbed sinks, disinfected counters and changed the sheets on the bed.  As I cleared off my dresser, nightstand and vanity, I tossed out old magazines and catalogs in the basket next to my bed.  I also, encouraged The Husband to clear off the top of his armoire.  He did a pretty spiffy job I might say.  

I made barbecued ribs for dinner with sweet potatoes and broccoli and for dessert we had vanilla yogurt with my good 'ol granola on top.  A great day and believe me, I was actually a bit sore this morning! 

If you remember me writing in my last post how Milo discovered my new Target bargain blanket, well...Layla got her revenge this week and has no plans to give it up.  I tried to soothe Milo's hurt feelings by putting a comfy throw on another chair but he was't having it.  He now skulks off to bed about 9:00 p.m. with The Husband.  Both are rascals and don't appreciate the abundance of cozy pillows and throws I make available.  Ingrates.  ;-)

I was going to write a post last night and lo and behold, I stumbled upon the Hallmark Channel and holiday movies are well underway.  I watched two in a row and right now I have another on.  I think these are older and the new ones will start in a week or two.  Nothing gets me in the mood for Christmas like watching these happily ever after movies.  

Speaking of television, I actually made a point of trying to follow a series as I've always been super envious of people who have watched entire seasons of shows like Mad Men, Downton Abby, Blacklist and the like.  So The Husband and I started to watch Blindspot which is on NBC Monday nights.  I think it's an excellent show and it gets great reviews.  Does anyone out there watch it?  If you can get the previous shows it would be well worth your time to catch up.  It's a drama involving the FBI, bad guys and good guys (who often turn into bad guys).  I haven't followed a series since Friends 10 years ago.  Seriously.  What can I say, I've always preferred reading for entertainment but television has me sort of mesmerized lately.  I'm easily distracted though so it is never on until after dinner.  

Today I had the urge to do something other than cleaning and laundry so I pulled out the flour and sugar and eggs and made some sugar cookies.  This was a different sort of recipe.  I had wanted to roll out the dough and use cookie cutters but as I was mixing it all up I couldn't help but see that the dough was really soft and sticky.  Comparing the recipe to a few others online I noticed that it involved much more butter and 2 eggs as opposed to 1.  So I resigned myself to the fact that I wasn't going to have cute little leaf and apple shapes and ended up making little balls and flattening them out by pressing them with the bottom of a glass as shown in the recipe.  I was so pleasantly surprised when they came out of the oven crisp and buttery tasting, almost like shortbread.  The recipe is a keeper.  You can find it here

I'm going to wind up this post by saying that I'll keep the giveaway open for this wonderful book until my next post to give as many people as possible a chance to win.   I'm going to do the old 'throwing the names in a hat' or even better as I used to do with my giveaways in the past, close my eyes and run my finger down the comments stopping randomly.  With two posts and chances to win, I'll pull one of two number out of a hat to determine which post in which I'll find that winner.   Fair enough?

I'm doing a two page spread for the newspaper for the December issue.  There is so much to share.  Recipes and decorating, table settings and tips I've gleaned over the years, and I love to add my photos and they take up a lot of space!  I have until the 16th to get that in so I'll be plugging away on that.  And I think I'm doing better at visiting blogs---at least I hope so.

Have a good week, whether it be raking up leaves or being immersed in a great book.  The days are fleeting, let's savor each and every moment!

Jane x

Sunday, November 1, 2015


Halloween was a bust here.  I think I mentioned in my post last week that terrible weather was predicted.  Bingo.  It was gorgeous Friday and then today.  It was as if Saturday was somehow sandwiched in to be rainy and cold.  I can't help but wonder why this affects me so much, after all my kids are grown up and are busy handing out the treats instead of begging for them.  I do have memories of these not so fun days when the bad weather made it a terrible time for them, specifically one Halloween.   I let Emily and Abby walk to the corner to trick or treat without me (they were about 7 and 4 but I trusted our neighbors).  They came back drenched and cold and crying and spent the rest of the afternoon miserably picking through the meager amount of candy they collected in their plastic pumpkins.  Sniff.  I hate rainy Halloweens!

So when you aren't hearing the knocks on the door and the 110 bags of treats you've made up have dwindled down to 102, what can you do?  Make cupcakes!  White cake and whipped cream frosting tinted very subtly with orange (for autumn but not garishly pumpkin-like).   Then edible crystal sprinkles for bling.  I know it may sound weird but I've lost my taste/urge/compulsion for sugary sweets.  I like an oatmeal cookie or a simple muffin.  The Husband gets these outstanding almond 'horns' at a nearby bakery and they are so addicting.  Could this change be the end of menopause (no pun intended)?

I actually jumped on the wagon early and packed up everything Halloween related today.  It didn't take long because I prefer to decorate for fall and do most of the spooky fun stuff on the porch for the kiddies to appreciate (see my last post).  But it felt good to eliminate half of the stuff I had everywhere as I've been wanting to minimize my clutter, don't we all?  My kids and The Husband are brutally honest and I can't help but smell the coffee after years and years of them telling me I simply have way too much everywhere.  I've always made excuses, that this is their opinion and this is my house.  But I look at my rooms sometimes and I know, as much as I love and want to be surrounded by the books, candlesticks, mercury glass and baskets...well, it's just waaaaay too much for my tiny little home.  I definitely didn't wipe out everything today.  My other dilemma is my storage space (Emily's old room).  It's totally haphazardly filled up with stuff sorted into Christmas, Easter, summer, fall and miscellaneous.  I need to purge, organize and box.  Ugh.  I'm ashamed, and to be honest, I haven't been to Homegoods and the like in months.  I have run out of space and really have come to dislike this side of myself.  :(  Big revelations here.

I stocked up on more ingredient for granola (see my last post, I'm so sorry, I'm still trying to learn my way around this Mac and haven't figured out the highlight/link thing).  I really learned a lot from my first batch and if you Pinned the recipe you may want to take note.  I felt it wasn't as 'sticky' or holding together as it should.  It needs some clumping so I added a bit more maple syrup and honey.   I used dried blueberries and apricots instead of dried cherries but the apricots didn't meet the approval of the family.  You can't blow that off---to have someone not want to eat this mix at all because of a one ingredient, that's so understandable to me.  No more apricots.  But I added coconut and that was a hit.  I picked up some glass jars at Michael's along with some black and white gingham ribbon and stamped hearts to make them pretty.  Emily brought a few jars to work, The Husband will as well, and Abby and her roomies like it, too.  Fans!  Love it!  The pretty little packaging is not necessary but I love detail and unlike making cookies or treats for the family, this is going out to people I know and don't know and is making me so happy.  

I said earlier in this post that I've avoided Homegoods but I didn't mention Target.  :)  I actually went because i was admiring my sister in law's outdoor lights this summer and she texted me that they were 50% off this week.  Score!  $7.99 a box.  I'm all set for next summer.  I wish I could have bought a few boxes for the lakehouse but I'll just have to be patient for them to go on sale next fall.  

I saw this blanket on clearance on one of those end caps.  I nearly passed out.  I was just looking at it last month and really loving the plaid, the generous size and that plush backing.  I wasn't loving the price and to be honest, I have throws on almost every sofa and chair in the house.  As I've admitted, I don't need anything else to add to this house.  But the price, oh gosh.  I'm glad I nabbed it.  Milo is glad, too.  And it adds a subtle bit of color to my den.  Plaid is big, well, as Emily pointed out, it has been for a few years along with gingham and buffalo check.  I try to keep things fresh and avoid trends because I'm the girl who never wanted to be spotted in the same bikini on the beach as someone else. Then again, you can't let that stop you if you really like it.  Enough said.  

I'm not playing show and tell nor promoting Target (wouldn't it be great if they were compensating me?), but I found this pillow cover.  Yes, you heard me, pillow cover.  Am I wrong in saying this is a first at Target?  I think pillow covers are the best thing since sliced bread.  Since I can't sew I've always bought, well, whole pillows.  And wow, they take up a lot of room when you want to store them away.  So pillow covers are the way to go for the lesser expense and that you can wash them, fold them and tuck them away in your linen closet.  While Pottery Barn and the like are selling covers at $40+, this was a mere $8.99.  And I have tons of pillows that can and did fit right inside.  Let's see more of this, please.

Abby was home again this weekend.  Although I cook pretty much every night, I try to make something a bit special when she's home.  Tonight I made a recipe called Chicken Chorizo Casserole that Emily gave me, source unknown.  I will never be recognized as a food blog, not that I want to but I think it will all come down to the fact that my food always looks miserably ugly (or maybe it's my photography).  I actually thought of editing this pic to black and white.  Still, what casserole really looks good?  And truth be told, most of the pretty photos you see of food in glossy magazines are taken before it's cooked.  The color is vibrant and beautiful and so carefully arranged.  Sorry, this is the real deal.  The flavor makes up for it in this dish.  Feel free to Pin.  

Chicken Chorizo Casserole

1 1/2 lbs. chicken thighs, trimmed (abut ten pieces)
2 lbs. Chorizo sausage, in 1 inch pieces
6 medium sized yellow potatoes cut in 1/4 inch slices
1 large red onion sliced into 1/4 inch rings
1 T oregano
1 t salt
Zest of one large orange

Arrange chicken pieces in an oiled/sprayed 9 X 13 baking dish.  Layer the sausage over, then the potatoes and onion.  Sprinkle the oregano and salt over the layers and grate the orange zest over last.  Bake covered with foil at 450 degrees for 1 hour.  Ta Da!  Done.  And so delicious!!  But disgusting looking.

The backyard is not looking so inviting with all of my fun and decorative pieces stored away.  Today I was going to enlist The Husband's help in putting away the patio table and chairs.  Then the temps hit 65 and I thought, let's give it awhile longer so I can have a place to sit and relax.  Knowing my luck it will snow this week.

Hard to tell but I tried to get a close up of the Morning Glory seed pods.  I have so many this year.  I mentioned awhile back that I'd be happy to send off an envelope of seeds to anyone that wanted them.  I always find the seeds of an established plant to be better than something you can purchase.  Anyway, I wrote something to the effect of "...for the price of a postage stamp".  I meant, my cost!  I got emails from some of you ladies asking for my address so they could send the pennies for the postage!  Oh, how sweet all of you are.  I am happy to send these seeds out to you, just email me with your address and off they will go.  At least when they are a bit more dried out.  

I'm not seeing too many giveaways these days as opposed to the days when I first started blogging, at least those that are not sponsored by merchandisers.  But...I recently ordered this book on Amazon and somehow received two for the price of one.  I hope Amazon is not reading this and planning to add the charge to my account.  It's a great book written by a popular blogger.  I hadn't visited her blog until I saw her on Instagram  recently and really fell in love with her posts, her sense of humor and style.  I was curious and the book doesn't disappoint.  I'm loving that bloggers are having books published.  It's a fresh and real look at lives of the not so rich and famous.  And we need to support each other   My feelings on the subject at least.  So...I have this extra book and I'll send if off to anyone that 1) leaves a comment, and...2) follows this blog.  No big hoops to jump.  For those who like to read my blog, you can follow by clicking on that cute icon on my sidebar with all the pretty faces, or you can type your email address in another space to "Follow By Email".  I want to thank all of my new friends and readers and want you to know how you can easily get my posts.  Good luck!  

Isn't this great, free seeds and a book?  I'm feeling super good! :)

Off I go.  Have a great week and let me know if your Halloween was as miserable as mine.  ;-)

Jane xx