Thursday, August 2, 2018


Hello all!  Happy August!  I'm a bit spotty in my blogging, but I'm here now and full of ideas for upcoming posts, so as the dust settles, you'll see more of me.  Not much of a point in going on about July 4th! lol!  It was as always, exhausting too.  But it's just a once a year bash we have, not counting Memorial Day and Labor Day, the latter of which is coming up fast.  

I have to say we probably had about twenty-five people on the Saturday after the holiday as that's when the fireworks, parades and all sorts of celebrations go on at the lake.  Most of the time The Husband takes a boatful of people out at night to see the fireworks from the lake, but this year everyone just walked down to the boat launch down the road where you have a perfect view of the sky.  I stayed back at the house with Papa, and we sat by the driveway and didn't miss a thing.  

The little kiddos had a fantastic time on the beach and playing in the water.  I don't think any of us were indoors unless it was bedtime or nap time for the babes.  The meals were delicious, everyone bringing something to the table.  I used to be a lot more organized about the menu, rigid sometimes.  I think the best way is to have the basic plan and be ready to improvise.  The grocery store is five minutes away.  In fact, I had two appetizers I wanted to make, bought the ingredients at a huge store in another town, and then when the weekend arrived, realized how long I would be in the kitchen making them.  I think the more simple the prep work is, the better it would be for a large group or when it's your party.  When you have a smaller group, go for that enticing recipe you want to try on your victims.  

There is usually someone who comes through with flying colors to bump up the menu a notch, and help out in a major way.  My son, Jeff, took the horse by the reins and grilled up a huge amount of spicy chicken wings, then slapped them down on the patio table with a roll of paper towels.  THE best mid afternoon nosh.  And then there was my brother in law, Jim.  They drove in from Kansas City with the kids the night before and rented a small cottage nearby for accommodations.  He had the foresight and generosity to stop and pick up a few things on the way to our house.  In the kitchen he set out putting together a wonderful antipasto platter for everyone to nibble on before dinner.  He made a beautiful salad to go with dinner, and then after dinner he served everyone some sort of cream cake which he individually and offered to everyone.  His wife, Gwen, one of the best people I've had in my life for the past twenty-five years, came straight up to me when she arrived and said, "What can I do?  I'm not moving until you tell me what I can do to help."  She's just like that.  And you know, these are the sort of good people who would be hurt if you brushed them off.  Good, good family  :))

If this picture looks dark, it's because it was.  Backtracking... The Husband and I arrived at the lake separately, the weekend prior to the holiday.  Our daughters and their men arrived on Tuesday.  And of course, our little pixie, Madelyn.  Everyone was such a huge help in just getting some general things done, and then the nitty gritty of cleaning the garage, patio, house, guest house, was so heartwarming to see everyone helping out.  Yes, even in July there was plenty to do.  We also sat in front of the bonfire at night playing music, looking at the stars, and drinking a lot of cold beer.  Hence, the actual 4th of July on Wednesday came and went, everyone going to bed very early, leaving me, the last man standing, in the guest house while the fireworks lit up the sky outside the windows and the boom, boom, booms filled the air.  Everyone missed it but me!   

We have an ice cream truck that goes around the lake playing kiddie songs.  Oh my gosh, it was so fun to see my kids frantically digging in their pockets for ice cream for their kids, while shouting for someone to stop the truck.  That feeling of panic that the truck wouldn't stop for us was something I can still vividly remember from my childhood!  Remember those days?  In this picture, I don't think Madelyn has a clue as to the enormity of eating this entire ice cream sandwich!

Everyone was out the door on Sunday, along with The Husband.  I stayed on hoping I could just sleep for fifteen hours straight.  I ended up staying three weeks!  It wasn't all play, I had my writing to do, deadlines and such, and Layla has taken to sitting on the table while I work.  I swear she was a cat in a previous life.

 The Husband came up on weekends and that was fun, I always had a To Do list waiting for him.  He really threw himself into working on our perennial flower bed, pulling weeds, filling in sparse places, and pulling out plants that weren't doing well.  I think I showed you a photo of a plant I couldn't recognize and it wasn't flowering or doing anything purdy.  A sweet girl left a comment on that post calling it Pachysandra.  She was spot on.  A person at the nursery confirmed it and told me it was a ground cover.  I didn't want that in this bed, and the leaves looked a little diseased so out it went.  So, my guy made several trips to the lake nursery and kept adding more and more plants.  Honestly, I haven't asked what they are, although many I see are lilies.  I'm methodical about my gardening, I have a diagram and plant flowers that bloom from early spring to late fall so I always have color.  I also keep in mind height and space...oh well, he has so much fun.  I suggested that when he retires we can have a big veggie garden.  I think he's liking that idea.

I didn't neglect the inside of the house.  You might remember from my last post that I didn't like the black framed barn print I had next to the mirror.  The black played out well, but it was a little too modern for me.  One night I was perusing my emails and saw a sale on large wall clocks at Pier 1.  That good old light bulb went off in my head.  The closest store to me, 45 minutes away had two in stock.  And this is it.  It's a replica of a pocket watch, and it's super heavy.  It has a London address on it, I should have taken a close up, I will.   The Husband has a way of acting grumpy when I make decisions without him.  I was quite coy when I asked him if his father had a pocket watch (said father would be 110 years old if he were alive), as he was a train conductor.  TH couldn't remember but when I pulled this clock out of the box I could tell he liked it.  The next morning I woke up to the sound of his drill as he was hanging it.  It could go a little lower but I'm not complaining.  

All good things have to end, and to be honest, The long hot days were getting to be too much and the dogs and I were spending more time in than out.  It seemed like it took me forever to get all the bedding washed, the bath towels, beach towels, throw rugs...blah, blah blah.  But we finally got on the road last week. 

I was pretty impressed that The Husband hadn't let all my potted plants die.  Maybe his somewhat new interest in gardening is making him more attentive to this sort of thing.  And the house wasn't terrible.  We have a cleaning girl who comes twice a month, and since she had just been there, everything was clean, sparkling, and fresh.  He was spared...this time.

Grandpa & Madelyn, July 2018

All four of our grand kids really gravitate naturally to The Husband.  He is always so chill, he speaks slowly and smiles a lot.  I, on the other hand am always sort of excitable, to put it nicely, talking and gesturing wildly most of the time.  Even when I'm sitting, I look like I'm moving.  And I'm daffy with the kids...I love make-believe and funny voices, exploring the yard, filling the bird feeders, and picking up toads.  I guess they get a good mix.  Did you imagine me this way?  Don't answer.  

A quick update before I end.  You might remember we had one of our huge windows shattered by a stone thrown by our lawn guy's mower?  I searched high and low for a contractor.  We also needed our entire patio redone, the pavers were all buckling and it was a serious hazard.  Long story short, I found someone who would be available in August, yay, and you know the domino effect.  I had been wanting the balcony off our master bedroom to be screened in.  It has an arbor overhead so it's useless when it rains, and always buggy and dirty.  And I also thought that the front porch below should be extended on each side to really look like a farmhouse large porch.  I'll do some before pictures, but you can look on my sidebar for a pretty good idea of the street side of our side.  

Our guy and his crew will be working soon, so I'm just not going to be at the lake much.  It's just too involved and the dogs don't need that activity and distraction.  Anyway--I'm SO excited!

I'm signing out for now.  Off I go again tomorrow for a family weekend.  The next weekend we have good friends coming.  Then I'll be a city girl, and hopefully be good to go for Labor Day if we aren't a mess from the construction.  

Continue to enjoy your summer, it gets tedious sometimes with the heat, humidity and too much or lack of rain.  I'm getting too old to wish away even one day.  Make each one special. :)

Jane x

Monday, June 25, 2018


I'm having a hard time being disciplined in writing.  I'm good with visiting blogs, it used to be the other way around.  But now that I'm feeling better, moving around better, I am determined to get on track with my writing and taking pictures.

I didn't spend a lot of time gardening this spring, just a few pots here and there, most of my work was  focused in front of the city house.  As you might remember, we had a new porch put on, and some new landscaping and such.  I just added some pots of flowers to the porch and window boxes.  I'll get some snaps for my next post.  

I've had some good quality time at the lake here and there.  The two hour drive has never been fun for me,  but now I can load up the car, grab the hounds and go.  And I don't have to come home until I want to.  :))

I took some shots of the kitchen.  It really hasn't changed much in a year.  I've learned from having company that I need more mugs, and as much as I like to use my everyday dishes, even melamine, people are awkward about that and want to know where the paper plates are.  Personally I'd rather spend a few minutes washing up dishes than having bag after bag of trash.  But its no big deal.  


All of my everyday dishes are from Anthropology.  After the eighteen month wait to get back into my house after the flood, I splurged.  I chose 4 different sets so I could mix and match them.  The Ball jars have the metal lids;  I collected a lot from barn and yard sales in the country.  A buck or two will get you a large one.  Clearly they don't know the craze for them, along with old alarm clocks,  vintage kitchen scales, and and time worn linens. I always love a touch of whimsy in my rooms, here I have this joyous duck on the top shelf.  The unexpected always gets the most attention.  

The opposite side of the kitchen is done with rich, dark, cabinetry...just a bit distressed.  I really wanted that juxtaposition with the farmhouse style and reclaimed wood on the other side. The cabinets have lights inside on the top, I love how that looks at night when the kitchen is clean and 'closed'... cue me yelling years ago to my four grubs, "Get out of there.  Kitchen closed!"  In this cabinet I keep white dishes by Gibson, which used to be my everyday dishes a few years back.  There is an identical counter/cabinet are on the other side of the fridge.  That cabinet has a set of old china I picked up at an antique shop well over fifteen years ago.  And yeah, I'm saving them for when the Queen of England comes for a visit.  

Totally changing the subject, I was wondering if any of you Trader Joe fans have seen these spices.  Emily picked some up for $1.99 each, and I nearly fell over.  This is a great one.  I've actually used it on meats, in salads, and of course, on bagels.  I've been tossing out a lot of my spices little by little.  They have very little strength and aroma after 6 months.  I now know to get the smaller containers of turmeric, curry, and such.  How about pumpkin pie spice and poultry seasonings?  What a waste.  I've been in some cute culinary/cooking shops, a little on the trendy/expensive size, but I think it might be a good idea to buy some small packets of these rarely used spices.  Trader Joe may be the place to find replacements.  

On to some cooking.  I've mentioned many times that I like to clean out my fridge by making soups, stews, quiche, and stir fry to use up veggies before they go bad.  That said, I haven't been going to the grocery store much as A)  I can't lift and carry those bags into the house in multiple trips.  Its just something that makes my back pay for it later., at least for now.  B)  With going to the lake all the time without The Husband, he doesn't know the first thing about cooking so he just needs some frozen dinners, canned soup, English muffins, and Raisin Bran.  Even then, he usually orders food or picks it up from a fast food place.  

I stopped using packaged, frozen, and canned  food with preservatives a few years ago.   It wasn't a huge challenge because I've always loved fresh vegetables.  The challenge was always using them up before they spoiled.  So long story short, I'm not ashamed to admit that I've been relying on these frozen goodies as I heal.  Surprisingly, Bird's Eye makes a mixed bag of vegetables with a (rather salty) packet of teriyaki sauce.  It's a 3 pound bag with two packets of sauce.  I made it according to the directions the first time.  The second time I sautéed some onions and chicken strips in sesame oil before adding in the bag of veggies.  Leave it to me to tamper with something meant for ease. Still, my love of cooking is lagging behind.

 I've also learned to love frozen peas and carrots.  I throw them in everything.  I made egg salad last week and heated up a small bag of them to add to the mix.  It was a really nice difference and added some crunch.  I served it over a bed of iceberg lettuce.  For the record, my salad includes chopped, boiled eggs, mayonnaise, a small amount of chopped shallot, celery, garlic and onion powder to taste.  NO salt, you'd be surprised how much mayo has.  

This is not my photo, but I felt it gave a really good idea of how delicious these fish tacos are.  I am loving making them, and I usually serve them buffet style, which takes away a lot of extra work.   I had something similar in San Diego a few years ago, and you can now find them on a lot of restaurant menus in the Chicago area.  I hope you give the recipe a shot.  I took the best ingredients and methods from a few recipes on Pinterest.  

Blackened Fish Tacos with Avocado-Cilantro Sauce

 This is a somewhat spicy dish, but the heat is mellowed out by the slaw and creamy avocado dressing.

1.5 lbs. tilapia or cod fillets

1 1/2 t smoked paprika
1 t garlic powder
1 t dried oregano
1 t onion powder
1/2 t cumin
1/2 t salt
1/2 t brown sugar
1/4 t cayenne pepper
2 T veggie oil
12 corn tortillas

***For the slaw:

1/2 red cabbage, sliced thin

1/4 green cabbage, sliced thin
1/2 medium sweet onion
1/2 c chopped cilantro
Juice of 1 lime

***For the avocado-cilantro sauce:

1/2 c sour cream

1 ripe avocado, peeled and pitted
1/4 c cilantro
1 jalapeno, seeded and chopped
Salt to taste

In a small bowl mix together all of the spices and gently pat into both sides of the fish

Combine all of the avocado-cilantro sauce in a food processor or blender until well combined.

Prepare the cabbage slaw.

Use the veggie oil to lightly coat your grill or grill pan.  Cook the fillets over high but not direct heat, 4 minute per side.  This can also be done in a heavy skillet on your stove.  Remove the fish from the heat and if desired, warm the tortillas for 30 minutes on each side.

Gently break up the fish into large chunks.  Stack the tortillas in twos.  Distribute the fish evenly between the 6 sets of  tortillas and top with the slaw and sauce.  Serves 4-6

This recipe is not as busy as it sounds.  I make my sauce and slaw the day before and keep it refrigerated.  The spice mix can be made ahead, in fact, you might want to double or triple the ingredients as it makes a tasty seasoning for all types of fish and meats.


I've been doing sooooooo much reading while I recuperate.  Obviously I'm not trotting off to Barnes & Noble; so its a lot of Amazon searches, blogger recommendations, book reviews in the newspapers, and magazines, etc.  I walked into the book aisle at CVS last week and nearly died when I saw this book of short stories by Maeve Binchy.  Now, if you are a fan you know she passed away a while ago. I've caught up on a lot of her books I hadn't read over the years, and then sort of felt lost knowing there would be no more.  Well, here we have a book of her short stories complied by her husband, Gordon Snell.  Its copyrighted 2015, so maybe you've seen it.  I'm just three stories in, and oh, how I love short stories and meeting new characters and plots.  I have to admit though, I'm sorry when a story ends when I've become attached to the people.  I'm loving it.

I've been a little discouraged in buying books.  I no longer get books at the library.  Where I live, there is a waiting list a mile long for a new release.  I always look at the reviews of books on Amazon, but still,  after a purchase, there are times when I want to throw a book against a wall.  A recent paperback novel with a glowing review from the New York Times had a huge number of grammatical errors and mistakes.  I wondered who edited it, how it got published.  For example, the two main characters were at a cocktail party in one chapter.  The husband was drinking quite a bit before the wife suggested they go home.  Later in that chapter, there is a major happening and the husband sits down next to the wife on the sofa and, "...she looked at Justin and suspected he had been drinking."  Really????  Grrrrr...


I have a final appointment with my surgeon in 2 weeks.  Yay.  I am totally off prescription pain medication other than a muscle relaxant as needed.  I'm doing some upper body weight lifting; hand held weights, ten pounds each.  I'm also carrying and lifting as much as thirty pounds.  I can bend over and touch my toes.  Amazing considering I have 2, three inch clips screwed into my lower back.  I will say it was excruciating during the first two weeks, and the fog of the Norco made everything surreal and upsetting.  I don't want to look back.

Milo is having a lot of problems, mostly from his age as the cancer is still in remission.  He has lost a lot of strength in his hips and back legs.  Over a week ago he was falling at minimum, ten times day.  Sadly, I had to lift him back up as he simply slid on the wood floors and fruitlessly struggled to get up.  I constantly worry about him when I'm out.

My vet is always one step ahead of me.  In addition to a low dose of pain meds, he started him on an anti-inflammatory, and after about a week, he stopped falling.  Near the end of the day I can see him standing, and the back legs quivering, but its not changing his quality of life, and that's what I have to be cognizant of.  Fingers crossed, toes crossed and sending prayers to that big guy above.


I have a busy week ahead here in the city: my eight week hair appointment, my annual dental check up and teeth cleaning, Layla's vaccinations at the vet, and the Garden Keepers doing some backyard weeding, trimming, and clean up... a pure luxury for as long as I'm healing.  Wondering how long I can stretch this out!!! ;-D  Then I'm off to the lake to prepare for our 4th of July bash.  Emily, Mike, and Madelyn will be up days before and they are a huge help.  And The Husband is actually taking time off work.  He works way too hard.  And his birthday is July 2, so we'll have a nice celebration up there.  He's there right now, at the lake.  He went yesterday morning to do some work and he sat back tonight with a few beers and thought better than to come home.  He'll be back bright and early tomorrow.

Okay, I'm off.  I actually have a lot more random stuff to share but I'll hold off.  You are probably sighing in relief!  Ha!


Sunday, June 3, 2018


Happy June!  After the heat we've been having, and storms, it almost feels like mid summer.  But things have leveled off here in the Midwest, at least the high temps, humidity, and rain.  The plants are lush and full, begging for a good trim, and it's finally tolerable weather to get some outdoor projects done.  

I feel much  like Milo (above).  The last 6 months spent in bed not doing much.  But I've healed so much in the past month.  I still have good and bad days.  My doctor was truly surprised when he saw me 2 weeks post surgery awhile back, he said most patients would come in with their walkers.  I can only take credit for having had a nice balance of resting and then moving slowly and carefully.  But I pushed myself in a lot of ways because I had to.  Who was going to let the dogs out or feed them?  I had to make my meals, take showers...everyday things, and that's a part of physical therapy in its own way.  

Isn't this pretty?  I found out about it 2 weeks before I came to the lake last weekend.  Our lawn guy hit a stone with his mower and while it only made a small hole in the window initially , it spider-webbed out.  Thankfully, it's a double pane window and only cracked on the outside.  I've had a few window companies out to look at it, and it appears we have a lot of issues with all 8 large windows, including the wood trim and caulking  around them.  This is a huge job and I have my work cut out for me in trying to find contractors this early in the season, almost all are booked up.  I'm so grateful that all the windows were deemed safe so that I can be here.  I have to say its disappointing after last year being absolutely worry free...finally!

The girls and their guys, and sweet little Madelyn, were here for Memorial Day weekend.  They were all a big help in getting the place spiffed up after months away, and it was like summer blossomed overnight.  We had beautiful weather, it was in the nineties but when you're on the boat or in the water that's not a terrible thing.  We have a covered patio with a big ceiling fan so we were very comfortable and truly spent the three days outdoors.  We lived on cold cuts, salads, grilled burgers and hot dogs, S'mores, breakfast muffins, exotic and fruity cocktails, lots of beer and bottles of water. There were bonfires each night, fireworks around the lake, sand all over the house, and wet bath and beach towels going 24/7 in the laundry room.

This year Madelyn, now 18 months old, has a much better idea of Grandma and Grandpa's place; the beach and water, her little pool, the boat, her bedroom, and our morning to night rituals.  Early in the morning I would wake up to hear her little feet thumping across the floor downstairs as she ran around enjoying all the open space.  When she spotted me coming downstairs, her face would light up and she'd run to me with her arms open wide.  Oh, she is such a huge joy in my life.  

I let her help me fill the bird feeders, it reminds me of Emily at this age; she would sit right smack in the middle of our vegetable garden and hand me seeds.  Madelyn just loved to sink her hands in the big container of wild bird seed and somewhat aim for the feeders.  I hung them up and as the evening went on, the birds began to arrive.  I would hold her, point, and explain how we had given them 'their dinner'.  Oh, I could see the wheels turning!  There's nothing like seeing life through the eyes of a child, or sharing your life with a child so their curiosity can be piqued.  I'm really looking forward to summers to come.

Lots of good things blooming now, a bit late due to the wacko weather.  These iris' grow off to the side of our house and woodpile.  They mean a lot to me as The Husband planted them as a surprise  over twenty years ago.  One spring I was out wandering around, saw them popping up and ran to get him.  Yes, he had planted the bulbs the previous fall just for me!  They come and go so quickly, usually before we have really gotten into a regular pattern of coming and going for the summer.  Its such a pleasant spot under a tree to stand and gaze at with my morning mug of coffee and the snooping hounds.  

This is a plant that is driving me crazy.  It's in my perennial bed and it didn't bloom last year.  I don't even see buds right now which would have had me think it might be a biennial.  This is actually one plant, and I have three.  On my muddy, torn, garden map, I think it's written 'dianthus', but I could be wrong.  If you have any idea, let me know.  I need my space!  The leaves are thick and quite tough.  The stems are thin and woody.  Interesting?  Please help me figure out what it is.  

I was so pleased to have this mirror hung back in January, I had been hanging on to it for over 2 years waiting to find someone to do it.  Weighing a hefty ninety pounds, no one was ready to jump in.  My lawn guy came to my rescue. 

This is a close up.  I love how it reflects areas of the room. 

 I was trying to pick up some of the black accents in the Great room, and I hung this art print of an old barn next to it, and I specifically chose a black frame.  This is not looking right to me.  It's a long wall and while the pieces look well together, they seem to be just slapped up there, not giving any warmth at all.  

I know it's going to take awhile for me to see this the way I want.  The mirror definitely stays (who's going to move it?!), but I actually think I may do some sort of arrangement where the print is, maybe something white and rustic.  

The first thing I set about doing was working on this oak table.  We bought the set over twenty years ago and The Husband stained and varnished it.  It's been a workhorse and is still in excellent condition, but it has a very 1990's look.   I added the end slipper chairs two years ago and always intended to paint the Windsor chairs.  I picked up some chalk paint and got to work.  I also looked at some chairs online, I thought a bit more of a mix would give it a spin.  More on that later.

I came back to the city late yesterday afternoon, it was a good ten days away.  After a houseful over Memorial Day weekend, it was really a slow and peaceful time; hot days flowed into some rain, and then cool temps came yesterday.  The house was sparkling clean so I packed up my duffel bag, grabbed the dogs and here we are.  Of course it smelled like dirty socks when I walked in.  The Husband doesn't think to open windows.  Still, he keeps things pretty neat.  I often surprise him when I come home, like yesterday.  I chipped away at cleaning up and sorting mail, in between lying down; the good old back isn't liking two straight hours in the car.  

I have flowers to plant, a patio to clean up, a vet appointment for both dogs, my two month appointment post surgery, and I need to line up quotes for work at the lakehouse.  But I'm taking it slow--honestly!

Happy June!

jane x

Friday, May 4, 2018


Hello my friends.  Its good to be back doing something somewhat normal.  I started editing pictures, then I would get tired.  I'd start a draft, and then my back would ache.  Finally I realized everything would happen in it's own time. 

My surgery went pretty well.  The only glitch was the doctor found a nerve on the left side of my spine that was wrapped around's all gibberish to me.  But I'm all fixed, screws and all.  It was a three day hospital stay.  I was in a ton of pain, but the way things work now you can just go home and be in pain.  I have to have someone with me all the time for the first two weeks.  My doctor and the hospital people were very firm about that.  Thankfully, The Husband's schedule is a little flexible, and Emily and Abby are a huge help.  If I'm alone at any time, I stay in bed.  

So that's the way it's been, a little less in pain every day, doing a few small things like wiping the counter tops, or organizing my jewelry.  Just piddly stuff that doesn't have me bending or twisting.  Surprisingly, some of these little jobs have a big impact.  Sometimes we fly by the seat of our pants, we 'get' the big picture, but sometimes its the small things we overlook and need our attention.

As someone who has been in and out of the hospital many times, mostly for asthma and related things, I know very well what its like to have a brain that is working overtime, and a body that's not keeping up.  Suddenly I'm thinking about that darn linen closet I never cleaned out.  Or the pile of quilts that need a good washing and fragrant dryer sheets before I store them until this winter.  Since a big part of my recovery is getting out of bed, walking, as well as sitting in a chair, I was able to do a "whole lot of everything and not much of anything".  Have you ever heard that?  My mom used to say it a lot.  

My living room was looking half lived in when I got home.  I would stare at Monster Mantel and fantasize about going at it with an axe.  "The meds made me do it!".  If it were just my choice, I would rip all the wood out, and just do a simple tile surround and rough wood shelf.  And on a small scale.  

I love watching Stories on Instagram.  It's hard to explain if you don't have an account, but the person can make a video of anything. I like the ones where it's a blogger sharing their home or DIY project.  One day I'd like to get the hang of this.  Annnnnyway...a blogger/Instagrammer was giving some design tips recently.  She had a little group of objects: two pots with faux greenery, a few old books, and some candlesticks.  Nothing new or recently bought.  The lesson was to learn to use what you had and not go overboard.  Keep it simple and easy.  I was curious as to what she'd do, and it was really cute.  So I took this approach with Monster Mantel.  I couldn't get downstairs to my hoarding room if I tried so I just went around the house and played on a theme of greenery.  I wanted to bring that glorious spring inside.   The mushroom print has hung in my kitchen forever.  I never thought of moving it but I am so darn proud of myself for being fearless/careless (of course you can see I set the bar high!).

This is the side table next to the chair The Husband usually sits in.  It looks pretty with some books and one of the million birds I have.  I love this little bird cage with the candle.  It was getting zero attention high up on a shelf in the living room.  

I feel like someone took my blinders off.  So many times I do a vignette and only move it when the season changes.  I'm feeling really positive about doing more when I'm mobile.

I never gave a lot of thought to the coffee table either.  Even if I had any thoughts, my ideas were slashed as  my little vignettes took up valuable real estate for those who had a plate of food, a snack. and a drink.  Anything over six inches high had to be moved as it blocked the TV when one was reclining.  Today I did a walk-thru of the house and found this beloved tray hiding in the guest room and just a few random pieces, and made an arrangement that can be moved around without a lot of effort to put back the way I like.  

My family has always teased me about my clutter, especially in the kitchen.  It really is the hub of the house.  I think of all the appliance I have on the counters.  The the mail and magazines that arrive in abundance everyday and multiply day by day if I don't have time to sort through it.  It's a dumping ground for books, papers, tote bags, baby toys, and everything under the sun that you plan to put in its proper place but keep putting off.  

I am really lucky that I have an expanse of counter space.  Today I worked slowly and carefully in taking away anything that did not encompass cooking or food storage.  The empty spaces took a while to get used to.  Ignore all that stuff on the island...I try to leave fruit out so The Husband doesn't miss it. 

It's a good feeling to have things in order, simplified.  My pain comes and goes, so I try to use the good hours to do something positive.  I have some five pound weights and I've been using them everyday for my arms.  I won't start physical therapy for a few weeks as I'm still healing.  One day at a time. 

I'd love to go to the lake but I've been trying to figure how Milo will be managed.  He is losing his balance and sliding on the wood floors.  Sometimes he's sprawled out like a turtle and we have to help him get up.  At the lake we have stairs and  he was really slipping and sliding when we were last there in January.  In the Orvis catalog I found stair treads with rubber backing, like you'd have in your bathroom.  This sounds perfect.  He's almost completely deaf, so if he wanders, he doesn't hear me call and I'm in no shape to chase after him.  Time will tell.  I realize that time here, in the backyard playing catch and enjoying the sun and fresh air is good enough for him.  I think as I approach the end with him, maybe I'm hanging on to the past when he was a playful little guy, running on the beach, then running upstairs exhausted from a full day outside, collapsing in his dog bed.  I'll figure it out.

Before I close, I want to thank everyone who sent well wishes and kept me in their prayers.  You are the best and I appreciate all of you.

Jane  x   

Sunday, April 22, 2018


Hi!  I just wanted to pop in really quick before I head off to bed.  My surgery is bright and early but I know I won't get a wink of sleep.  I can't have anything to eat or drink past midnight, so I'm actually hanging around the kitchen waiting to have this last sliver of cake from a brunch at Emily's today.  11:59...then I'm going to have to tough it out.

A few of you really sweet ladies (well, all of you are sweet), asked if you could send a card or note.  I think that is so, so nice.  In fact, it may give me something to do while I'm flat on my back.  So if you are so inclined, here is The Husband's office address:

Boudreau & Nisivaco
120 N. LaSalle St.  Suite 1250
Chicago, IL  60602
Attention: Jane Boudreau

I hope you all have a great week and I'll be back as soon as I can!!

Jane x

Wednesday, April 11, 2018


I am back a lot sooner than I thought and that makes me happy.  Actually, I started to put a post together in my mind last week.  It happened at night when it was too late to get some pics.  Sadly, a week or so goes by and the amount of stuff I want to share becomes a super long post.  I have had some readers write that my posts are too long to read.   I get that.  Everyone should grab what they identify with or want to chime in on.  A nice comment makes me happy.  

I hope all of you had a wonderful Easter.  Ours went really well; great company, good food, and Bellini's!  The Husband wished everyone a blessed day, and to keep in mind the true meaning of Easter.  We had a buffet dinner, so I didn't do anything fancy with the table.  I didn't do a lot of decorating either.  It is just enough to keep the house clean, and I had no desire to sort through my very unorganized hoarding room for spring decor.  Instead, I picked up three bunches of tulips, and made about five different arrangements which I placed here and there where they would be noticed.  A few candles as well.  I'm beginning to realize that a little goes a long way.

The day before Easter, I did poke my head into said hoarding room, and grabbed some bunnies and a few smaller items.  I played with the mantel a little, at least in a way that wouldn't require a huge effort to put away.  Convenience and time saving is the name of the game lately.  I really hope to get a little help to clean up the hoarding room after summer has gone by.  I use to have it so organized, but its easy to grab, and harder to put away neatly.   My dream is to have labeled bins stacked neatly by category.  Don't we all?  

I'm not sure if any of my past posts showed pics of my former curtains, I think they did.  They had a trailing sort of vine with aqua flowers.  I had no idea that this teenie weenie bit of color would drive me crazy.  They were lined, which I may not have noticed when I ordered them (and I have forgotten from where).  This lining made them very heavy and somewhat obnoxious once hung, and when I tried to open them, they kept closing.  The Husband loved them specifically for the lining, of course, as he thought it made the house warm in the winter.  True, but I felt claustrophobic.  I knew in my sneaky heart that I would never get away with replacing these curtains unless it was an extreme deal, which The Husbands lives for.  

I was in Target one day and saw these.  I loved them at first sight; a sort of paisley/floral.  Light weight cotton, nothing fancy...but oh so spot on just the way Target does it.  The color is described as gray, but I see more beige.  There were only two panels, so I tried to order more of them online.  Alas, discontinued.  I flew back to my local Target and enlisted the help of one of my good friends who works there.  He managed to locate the last six panels, alas, three at one store, three at another store.  Now, you might not know this, but I am the most lazy person you have ever met.  But I reeeeeeeealy wanted these curtains.  I headed off to the other Target, and when the manager came to the customer service counter with six packets, I think I heard to angels sing.  I didn't have to make the trip to the third Target 45 minutes away.

Close up.  So happy.  The Husband has barely noticed.  I was so excited from all of the sweaty running around, but they had been discontinued and marked down to $13.98 per panel.  Oh, heaven.  The planets were aligned.  :D  

So tell me, do you like?  I know I change curtains, shower curtains, and bedding way too often.  I have about ten different shower curtains, mostly from Target, but to my credit, I switch them around a lot between my two bathrooms.  No apologies. 

A not-so-frugal thing I did on Easter, was to forget to put my ham bone in the refrigerator, and it sat out all night (in the roaster pan).  Some of us were talking about the variety of dishes and soups we like to make with the bone.  I love Ham and Bean Soup, my mom always made it with the bone.  I also have a few casseroles, also using beans.  And The Husband loves Split Pea Soup, which grosses me out...but I'll make it.  Someday.  On another somewhat related note, I do not like jelly or jam.  Not because of the taste, it's the texture.  When my kids were in elementary school and I packed their lunches, they sometimes asked why there wasn't jelly on their peanut butter sandwiches like the other kids.  I always apologized that I had forgotten to buy it.  I'm surprised my how many years this worked until they reached the bologna stage.  Oh, I could finally let go of my evil lies.   

Saturday was Abigail Jane's twenty-seventh birthday.  I think back a lot about how easy my pregnancy and delivery was.  She was a tiny spring chick who never gave me a worry.  Just a really happy baby.  I had her when I was thirty-one, and there was no doubt in my mind that I wanted at least one more baby.  Sadly, it didn't happen.  So when I think back to that spring in 1991, and the anticipation of soon having her in my arms, I wish I had been more "there".  Pregnancy is not easy, but if I knew it was never going to happen for me again, I never would have moaned about swollen feet or feeling like I was suffocating.  And now, I don't think I could have asked for better.   

So Abby is our caboose, and she really makes us proud.  She's in her sixth year of teaching high school grammar, she and Tom are planning to get married in July of 2019 at a resort on Lake Geneva, in Wisconsin.  They are planning to move back down here to the Southside after living up north for a few years.  I am so, so relieved and happy to have her close by again.  I also think our area is safer from crime, but some could argue that point.  They will live with Tom's dad, about 3 minutes away from me, for about a year while they save for a house.  That will be interesting.  Ahem.

I've shared quiche recipes a few times before, I simply love how you can switch around and use up bits of cheese and veggies that you have on hand,  In this case I had leftover ham (of course, no ham bone to be seen), and veggies from a plate of crudités   In making quiche over the years, I've changed things up many times.  I always seem to be fighting the effects of excess liquid from either the veggies or dairy.  It can leave a puddle in the bottom of your pie plate, or a soggy crust if you go that route.  The last time I shared a quiche recipe with you, I recommended using a scant 1/4 cup of bread crumbs on the bottom of the pie plate to absorb the liquid.  Another tip I have from trying over and over to get a light and fluffy custard, less, not more eggs will help you achieve that.  I use no more than 4 or 5 eggs per 1 1/2 cup liquid (milk, half and half, or cream).  After that I mix things up, but I would recommend at least 1 1/2 cup of cheeses.  Following is the recipe I used for the quiche I made last week.

Baked Ham & Veggie Quiche (crust less)

6 eggs, beaten well
1 1/2 c half and half
Pinch of salt and nutmeg
1 T butter
1/2 onion, peeled and thinly sliced
1 small zucchini, cut in half lengthwise and sliced thin
2 c diced ham
1 1/2 to 2 c cheese, finely grated
1/2 c dried bread crumbs (optional)

Whisk together the eggs and cream, salt and nutmeg, and set aside.  Melt the butter in a small skillet and add the onion and zucchini.  Sauté until the onion becomes slightly transparent, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat.

In a 9 inch pie dish, sprinkle the bread crumbs evenly on the bottom.  Add the cooked veggies and ham.  Top with the cheese.  I used a variety; Muenster, Parmesan, and Swiss.  Give the egg mixture another good whisk and pour over the cheese and veggies.  A nice sprinkle of Parmesan over the surface makes it brown well and gives a nice crunch.  Bake at 350 degrees for 50 minutes.  Let rest for 5 minutes before cutting.  Serves 4.

I treated myself to some flowers the other day.  There is a section in my grocery store that has various 'filler' flowers and some blooming stems, like pussy willow and forsythia.  The blue flowers were there for $5 a bunch.  I can't remember the name of them.  They bloom from the bottom up.  I arranged them with $5 carnations and I smile every time I look at my pretty vase.  

As I finish up this post, I have to tell you that I started it Saturday night!  Hahahahaha!  I give it a go and then I have to run and do something else, then I write for another half hour and have to rush out for something  In the middle, I'm sleeping a lot.  So--I'm going to try to cut to the chase on a few things before I hit publish.  I'll save you and me time.  :-D

1)  Stopped in Kohl's the other day and bought PJ's, undies and bras.  I always do this before a vacation.  This one is going to be at Christ Hospital.  

2)  From the 1,243 hours of sleep I've clocked since January, I know getting fit is the key to getting better.  When I let the dogs out and wait for them to poop and snoop, I do squats, lunges, and jumping jacks.  I swear, it's working.  Not only does my back hurt, everything else does, too.  

3)  As a wannabe scientist, because it sounds so cool when people ask what you do, I was checking into Dead Sea Salts and was a-m-a-z-e-d by all of the benefits one can get by soaking in a bath with them.  It soothes the skin, helps with your muscle aches and pains, and detoxes your body.  I bought a huge bag from Amazon and you can find me at 8:00 p.m. every night in my sub par spa, soaking away.  

4)  While I wile away my horizontal hours, I love watching You Tube makeup videos.  Then I shop the Sephora website, positive I can create the look in the video, and spend so much money that I often accumulate my 500 points for a gift.  Not that I need anything else, but it still makes me feel like I got a burning deal and want to keep my business there.  I mean...all that stuff, most of which I tuck away in a bedroom junk drawer and totally forget about.  I'm working on a post about makeup products, the right and wrong reasons to purchase them.

5)  In keeping with the makeup buying binges, magazines a not harmless from my mad ways.  Flipping through Vogue last month, the January issue I might add, I fell in love with a perfume sample.  You know, the page with the model in a white linen dress, sprawled over a wild horse somewhere in the Sierra Nevada.  The page is folded, but you've already smelled the scent of the perfume before you've left the drugstore with said magazine.  Short story, I fell in love.  With the perfume.  Not the horse, nor the model.  And I now own it.  I could buy 45 copies of Vogue for what I paid for this perfume.  Step away from the magazines. 

6)  Currently on my tube:  The Zoo on Animal Planet.  I can't watch one of these shows without crying.  Especially the other night when an aardvark had an infected tooth removed.  Hiccup.  

7)  I was at Target the other day (SuRpRiSe), and bought an oversized, white faux fur throw for my bed.  Between that and my heating pad, Layla only gets down to eat and piddle.  

I'll be back soon~

Jane x