Wednesday, December 31, 2014


What is really a big difference  now in comparing today with a year ago, and I know it is true for many, is that the winter of 2013-14 was so incredibly cold and snowy.  At this point in time, my area of Chicago has had less than an inch of snow, and last year we were at approximately 40+ inches.  A whole different realm then; shoveling out everyday and dealing with frigid temps.  Needless to say, we kept the home fires burning and my little Layla was close by.

I make a lot of my own recipes and soup was a mainstay (if you know me, you know I love to experiment with soups and stews) during the early months of the year.  For this post, I'm just going to give you links to the recipes.  Most of them I never gave a name to.  Ha!  Shall we call this Creamy Vegetable Soup?

I spent some time trying to get the right feel for our master bedroom after having it painted a bluish gray.  As fussy as I am, it took awhile of course, and I finally decided on this comforter from The Land Of Nod, pillowcases from West Elm, and the burlap pillow from Restoration Hardware.  I LOVE to look many choices and good deals.  

I had these plate racks from One Kings Lane for awhile and they were  originally bright red, yellow and blue...not my normal color choices but I just had a "feeling" about them.  A light bulb moment came  and some cans of spray paint, and I had them on the wall with some collected plates in no time at all.  I love the feminine feel they give the room.

1/4 c. Balsamic vinegar
2 t. brown sugar
1 T chopped garlic
1/2 t each salt and pepper
3/4 c olive oil

Shake well and keep refrigerated.  As there are no preservatives, the mixture will solidify.  Take it out of the fridge 15 minutes before using.  Feel free to Pin!

These are delicious Red Velvet cookies made from a cake mix and even speedier dipped in an easy glaze. They were fun to make around Valentine's Day.  Find them here. 

Spring was in the air not much later and I started to crave colorful peppers and asparagus fit the bill.  Go to this link to find this creamy recipe that I created using seasonal veggies and chicken.  I really have to start naming these things! :)

...and the recipes coming from my kitchen were more fresh and filled with color.  This is Chicken and Pine Nuts over Spinach.  It was delicious.  Feel free to Pin, my recipes are not long nor involved.


I'm going to leave you here for now.  It's New Years Eve!  I truly hope I haven't dragged this on really long.  I tried to highlight some of the bigger moments but I also wanted to keep with the vibe of my blog...the decorating, cooking, gardening, etc.  As I sifted, or scrolled,  through picture after picture,  I could see that  even these don't really tell the  story, it was the pictures that I just couldn't squeeze in.  The little moments; people pictures, funny dog antics, peaceful beach moments.  Anyway...for me, this post will jog my memory quite well.  For you, well I hope you are enjoying the ride, I appreciate all of you!

The Husband and I are having a very quiet night.  I have cheese, crackers, fruit and some boiled shrimp to dip in cocktail or remoulade sauce.  And a bottle of champagne, of course.  And tomorrow I'm having a sort of "Open House" for the kids to stop by if they can.  I'm making a big roast beef, mashed potatoes and gravy, asparagus with shaved Parmesan, Brussels sprouts in a warm reduced balsamic sauce, and the one dish I am really looking forward to, a Black Eyed Pea Risotto that I found on my friend Karen's blog, Back Road Journals.  You know that these peas bring good luck, don't you? 

Love to all of you and Happy New Year!  I'll be back in a few days to wrap this review up.

Jane xxx  

Friday, December 26, 2014


Papa went back to hosting Christmas for the O'Hara side of the family.  His daughter took it on a few years ago and this year Papa reclaimed it.  It was very happy yet bittersweet to spend Christmas in his home again.  We miss Nana, but the tradition goes on.  My kids were tiny, tiny, tiny when we  began celebrating Christmas here almost 30 years ago.  And as always,  his house is packed with fabulous food and fun! 

I'm working on a Year In Review post.  I had good intentions last year and then succumbed to tiredness (laziness?).  A bit of hard work but so worth it for ourselves.  And I have a few day of delightful nothing!!

I hope all of you had a very Merry Christmas!

Jane x