Friday, February 28, 2014


I've been working little by little on my living room while I wait for the furniture pieces.  I'm going for a sort of Rustic/Pretty Country.  It's kind of funny how we are combining style names for all of the lovely collections and pieces we are merging together in our decorating.  Maybe we will just start naming our style after ourselves, since making a room yours is all about having the things you love.  So my style is Ever Changing Jane.  And this is the print on canvas that I chose for over my mantel.  I searched high and low on every website for the right floral, right color and right size.  Ta Da...Bed Bath & Beyond!  This picture from their website is a little fuzzy but I love it because of the combo of bright and soft colors mixed together, how they are sort of blowsy as if they are moving, and the soft shade of blue that I want to pick up in accessories.  I know you can feel my excitement in getting this room completed.  Soon, my friends, soon.

Well, you know the one good thing about feeling cooped up is tackling some little projects, and for me it always revolves around organization.  I seem to be the only one in this house that returns something to the exact place it belongs.  I'm guessing most of you have one of these drawers in Kitchen Stadium.  Mine looked a lot like this before, only as if a bomb went off in it.  I see all sorts of drawer organizers out there, but they just don't have the right size slots I like.  So I have my old organizer in there and then just the bottom and top of a small gift box.  It looks pretty good now but I can guarantee, it won't even resemble this in a month.  And so it goes with many drawers, cabinets and closets here.  As if I need more to do.  Wait a sec...I do need more to do, I'm beyond bored without a vehicle!

I was reading a  post by Yvonne at Stone Gable about how she likes to stack dishes in various pretty ways as in something for a tablescape.  She had some very pretty stacks using different dishes in each.  So I sort of had a brain storm.  I keep my dishes in the den up on shelves amongst the books.  Yeah, pretty strange but it works.  We never use the den much with a living room and family room.  We probably should call it The Library (I'm saying this in a very haughty voice).  Furniture that's too formal and a very busy floral wallpaper against a deep green background.  So I am going to be dish stacking this weekend,  I'll let you know how it works out.  I did a little stacking on my island the other day, just two different patterns and just perfect for grabbing when I am setting the table.

Saute 1 coarsely chopped onion and 3 carrots in 3 T. of butter.  When onions are soft, add 1 1/2 pound of trimmed chicken thighs**, cut into bite size pieces.  Stir every thing up nicely and then sprinkle  4 T of flour over, stir it up until everything is coated and then add 1 32 oz. box of chicken broth and 2 cups of water.  Bring to a boil.  While you're waiting for the soup to come to a boil, trim 1 bunch of asparagus, using tips only, and about 6-8 sliced button mushrooms.  Now add your spices; 1 T each of dried tarragon, allspice and nutmeg.  Let all of this simmer for 1/2 hour.  Add 1 cup of whipping cream, cook an additional 5 minutes, season with S & P, and then serve!!

**I have come to the conclusion that white chicken meat (the breast meat) is too dry tasting when used in soups.  I'm not a big fan of dark meat but I tried using thighs this time and the soup was much, much better,  The meat was juicy and tender.  You have to trim the thighs as they have a little fat and you might lose a moderate portion of the meat, but it makes all the difference in the world.

I can't believe I'm telling you how to make an omelet, I think I'm trying to say how you can never get bored with them.  Play around, have fun.  And clean out the fridge while you're at it!

So, I am closing now.  Again, thank you all for your well wishes.  We have snow coming this weekend and we are at 10 degrees right now.  Time to stock up on the firewood again.  Have a great weekend and love to all of you!


Tuesday, February 25, 2014


I never got around to making this "pie" yet, well not in time for Valentine's Day.  But I have all the ingredients and I will soon.  I re~posted the picture because I wanted to share some matters of the heart.  Literally.  But without sounding like a drama queen.  I mentioned I had to have some tests yesterday and I did, for my heart.  When I saw my doctor last, I was told my asthma was as in control as she has ever seen.  So I asked her why I was out of breath all the time, after simple things like making the beds or carrying laundry downstairs?  She got a little worried and did an EKG on me right in her office.  She told me, pretty grim faced, that it looked like I wasn't getting a whole lot of oxygen to my heart.  So, I had an ultrasound of the heart and a stress test yesterday.  And now I wait for the results.  I didn't share that in my last post because for one, I thought it would be something I could be relieved about once I had the stress test and then I could pass that on.  I didn't realize it had to be read and sent to my doctor.  So I didn't post for a week.  And secondly, I always seem to have some gripe; my asthma, my back, a cold...and although I receive the sweetest get well wishes from all of you,  I'm feeling like there is just a whole lot of negativity in my posts.

So, that said, I will get my results and I will share them with you.  That's how I roll, I'm pretty open.   This is life.  And I feel very positive if you want to know.  Yesterday when I walked out of the hospital it was in the low twenties and the wind was whipping.  I had to park about 4 blocks away and as I walking, I had a strange feeling, like I could just keep walking, that the cold, windy fresh air was taking all of my fear and anxiety with it.  I felt really strong, the tension draining with each step.  And last night I slept really well. :)

The not so great news is that she has to have surgery on a wisdom tooth coming in.  The nerve is in such a position that it can't just be pulled straight out, she risks possible paralysis in the jaw.  She has to have a CT scan this week and then the surgery will be scheduled.  As my mother used to say, "We're going to hell in a handbag" here.

On a light note (ha!), when the books came in the mail yesterday, The Husband and Abby were lying on our bed looking at one together.  They were doing a lot of laughing and snickering, making fun of my corny post titles and anything else they could.  Abby said, "Mom, half of this is so far from the truth!"  I asked her what she meant, as I've always made it a sacred point to be exact and honest in my writing.  She said, "Well, you call this place a 'wonderful restaurant', and we all know you hate it.  And here you are writing about my 21st birthday with a  picture of me that was taken in 2009!"  Well, I felt a little embarrassed but it was not like I was telling blatant lies!  "I'm going to start a blog called The Truth Behind Blondie's Journal."  Abby proclaimed...just before I hit her over the head with my book. 

Now to share some fun stuff.  I found this scarf organizer in a very nifty catalog called Solutions.  There are 18 openings for your scarves to keep them all in one place.  These are both Abby's and mine.  We wear a lot of solids, and scarves can really make an outfit look different, just by switching them out.  And it hangs in the closet.  Neat and simple.  I sort of like holding the whole hanger up in front of myself to see which scarf pops against what I'm wearing.  I think this was $9.99.  And also, it sure beats having them neatly folded and stacked in a drawer only to have them all get messed up when you pull the bottom one out! Ha!

I may have mentioned Renee's Garden seeds before.  It's my go to place for flower and veggie seeds.  I just received my vegetable seeds (did I tell you my vegetable garden here in the city is having a Grand Re~Opening this summer?  Yep, after 12 years, I'm pulling the old rototiller out!  More on that later).  Renee has the prettiest website and I would be lying if I didn't say the beautiful illustrations on the packets draws me in every time.

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2 t. dark brown sugar
1 T. chopped garlic
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. pepper
3/4 cup olive oil

Combine all ingredients in jar.  Shake well. Refrigerate when not using.
**Note:  The oil will solidify in the refrigerator.  Just take it out and let it come to room temp for about 15 minutes before using.

I use this for a of of things.  Tonight I am marinating  chicken in it to make shish kabobs.  Mix this with a little honey and you have a wonderful glaze for chicken and pork.  Spinach salads scream for this dressing.  Just have fun!

I'm off now.  I will be back sooner than I have been in awhile.  My goal is always to post at least twice per week and I didn't really skim the surface of everything I wanted to talk about in this post.  I hope all of you are having a great week! :)


Tuesday, February 18, 2014


So how did I get going on this tangent?  Oh, yeah, day after day of running here and there.  I had a doctor's appointment on Thursday and although The Husband was supposed to be working at home, he decided to tag along.  My doctor's office is way out in the southwest suburbs and there are a lot of neat stores and restaurants so we enjoyed lunch together after.  My appointment went relatively well; the enlarged lymph node had shrunk to almost nothing and she said my lungs sounded clearer than she had ever heard.  I was super happy about that.  She did order some tests for me which are scheduled for Monday.  Once I know more about this whole deal I will bring you up to date on it.

Okay, I think I've overwhelmed you with cooking.  I just get such a kick out of passing on cool things to make.  Then again, I'm just that weirdo that dances around the kitchen with my broom when I get a good browned butter.

So today it was very quiet.  I was home alone mostly except for my sons popping in for a bit.  I had planned to spend the afternoon lolling around looking at seed catalogs and a few gardening catalogs I picked up at the grocery store.  I ordered my veggie seeds which should be here any day.  Thinking of these things, that we will be gardening in just two short months, makes me want to do the Happy Dance!

Hoping all of you are off to a good week.  Keep the faith that we've been through the worst of this winter. :)


Monday, February 10, 2014


Happy Monday!  I know Mondays aren't supposed to be terribly exciting days for most people, but after a weekend stuck inside with the snow and cold temps, I'm sort of glad to be back into a routine.  Over the weekend  I spent a lot of time catching up on magazines, I subscribe to Rebook, More, Real Simple, Ladies Home Journal and HGTV Living.  They all seem to come in the mail at once so I take a nice break from the fictional world and fill my mind with endless tips, advice, breaking fashion news and innovative ways to clean my bathroom in 1.2 minutes.  So, I was actually feeling a little giddy when The Husband agreed to go out for dinner, even if it was our nearby favorite little pub that we always go to.  I think the fact that we had a gift card from Christmas might have swayed him a little .  Come 6:00 p.m., I looked outside at the snow falling under the street light, as it had been for 24 continuous hours and said, "Do we really need to pile on the layers, including boots, hats, scarves and mittens to drive 5 minutes, take it off for an hour, repeat and come home?"  Nah.  We made a fire and had omelets for dinner.  

I read about a neat phone application on Karianne's blog, Thistlewood Farm.  It's called Waterlogue.  You can turn pictures you've taken on your IPhone into beautiful works of art.  This is my house in case you didn't recognize it.  You can print these out on good paper and frame them if you cool is that?

I found a soup recipe and it intrigued me because it called for pork...something you don't see a lot of in soups.  It also had kale in it, and we all know what a superfood that is (including my dentist who raved about it when he popped a stray piece out between my teeth when he was cleaning them recently).  But I wasn't too crazy about the rest of the recipe;  the lack of veggies and the sort of blah seasonings.  So I redid it, of course.  I used lean ground pork, and since I was short on kale and long on spinach, I used that.  Some celery, carrots and simple spices and we had a great soup last night.  So in a nutshell, or your biggest pot...

Saute 1 large onion, chopped in 2 T. olive oil over low/medium heat.  When soft, add 3 cloves of garlic, finally chopped.  After a minute or so, add 1 lb. of ground pork.  Raise heat to medium and stir, breaking up the meat as you go along.  Now we are going to add the spices instead of after the broth...a little different but I like how it turned out.  Add 2 t. of cumin, 2 t. of nutmeg, 1 1/2 t. of  allspice,  1 T. of fennel seed, and 1 t. of red pepper flakes.  If you don't have these spices in your cabinet, you should, they aren't scary.  Start with the small 0.9 oz. jars. I find that cumin gives soups and stews so much depth, it makes everything taste richer.  And using spices that you generally associate with baking add a level of surprise, like, "Hmmm...I can't figure out what this is but it is definitely good!"  And then fennel seed...those are the little seeds you see in your Italian sausage and this brought out the flavor of the pork a little better.  Now, let all this cook up together for a few minutes and then add 8 cups of chicken broth.  Or you can use 6 cups with 2 cups of water, totally okay.  The add a few chopped carrots and celery stalks.  I like using the leafy ends of the celery, too.  Bring that to a boil, stir well, and then turn it down low and  let it simmer for about 20 minutes.  Add a few big handfuls of baby spinach (or kale) and simmer 5 more minutes.  Add S & P to taste and adjust other seasonings if you'd like.  I'm not a nutritionist by any means but does this not scream healthy?  Let me know if you try this, we just loved it!


Well, I'm prone to these sudden outbursts once in a blue moon, and then I go back to taking care of everybody's needs.  And so I started the laundry, made these yummy White Chocolate Dipped Red Velvet Cookies (scroll down to my last post for the link to the recipe).  And I made the soup and tried my best to ignore The Husband's compliments on it, but inside I was like, YES!  I am such a sap.

I'm making progress on the living room.  Emily gave me the websites she uses a lot for clients to look at, and I found one with some great pieces that really caught my eye.  The next day she came over for lunch and went through the coffee tables and end tables on this site, and she would point out how the legs of one table matched my fireplace screen, and the X's below a coffee table mimicked the ones on my corner cabinet.  Well, I placed my order!!  I was going to show you pictures from the website, but I'd rather show you everything completed at once.  And then while we were out Friday, we stopped in Pier 1 just to look around.  Easter stuff.  Oh, how I love my bunnies.  She made me put them back.  But I did find curtains I liked and of course, they are very reasonably priced.  Anddddd...I found Christmas napkins on clearance, white with red velvet trim for $1.48 a piece!  And the matching runner was $6.00!  I NEVER find deals like that!  So I came home with just those Christmas things and I am going to go back for the curtains when my blinds are installed.  So, we are making progress with the living room.  Our friends Craig and Snow came over for cocktails Thursday night and they were remarking how pretty the room looked.  Now, Snow and I were sitting on a sofa with no cushions (they are still being re-stuffed),  there is  no coffee table; I gave that to Emily.  The only decorations I have out are some half dead poinsettia plants and a dish of conversation hearts.  And to think I have been fussing all this time.

Have a great week, we are heading back to the single digits, 11 degrees now.  But I have lots more laundry to keep me busy.  And by the way, stop by for some of those cookies...I have been a very good girl and haven't touched not a one! :)

Joining Brenda at Cozy Little House for Tweak It Tuesday.


Wednesday, February 5, 2014


 And it was driving in the dreaded white stuff that messed up The Husband's big plans for my birthday this past weekend.  He had made reservations for us to spend Saturday night at one of our very favorite hotels in downtown Chicago, The Allerton.  We have so many great memories of staying there.  It has my much loved  European style decor; old and worn and elegant.    And he had reservations for us to have dinner at Gibson's Steakhouse, another classic.  And for lunch I chose RL, Ralph Lauren's place near the old Water Tower.  Well, the snow had been coming down all night and was still coming down.  I was just worried about the expressway, with it being less traveled on the weekends, it might not be so clear.  So we were able to cancel (thank goodness) and I'm taking a rain check for sure!

It was great to get out on Monday.  Off to the grocery store in the slush.  At least it was sunny.  I was trudging back to the car with my cart when I checked my texts and saw, "Dinner reservations for tonight at 6.  Happy Birthday!"  Wow, my birthday wasn't going to slip away unnoticed! 

This is a new restaurant just a few blocks away called Tavern In The Green.  The food was delicious...sandwiches, burgers, steaks and pasta.  I was very disciplined; a bowl of French onion soup and a spinach salad with shaved Parmesan and dried cranberries.  It also came with sugared pecans which I declined.  19 days.  No sugar.  Yay!

And then I saw these.  Aren't they darling?  My friend Julie Marie at Idyll Hours has the "chirp" mug that she found at sister store, Marshall's.  It's these little things that perk me up when I'm staring at my barren living room, not knowing where to turn next.  But we'll just skip over that today.  I truly believe one day my heart will speak to me and I'll see the whole picture.

This is something Abby came up with.  I simply blackened some cubed chicken (2 large breasts) over high heat and made some brown rice.  She finished it off by sauteing some green pepper and onions with about 2 tablespoons of chicken fajita seasoning and a splash of water.  We then layered in bowls, rice, lettuce, chicken, veggies and topped it with shredded cheddar cheese, guacamole and sour cream.  These are not big bowls and it was very filling.  I skipped the rice and one bowl was the perfect size for dinner.  And so simple!

I'm moving on to make my second Valentine's Day celebratory treat, Soft and Chewy White Chocolate Dipped Red Velvet Cookies.  Need I say more?  Visit here to get the recipe and I'll share mine in another post.  

The new washing machine and dryer were delivered yesterday.  The Husband picked them out and told me they were very simple and not fancy.  Well, I'm looking at a control panel on the washer that is as lit up as my car dashboard at night.  I feel like I could press a few buttons and launch a space shuttle.  He was so excited, "Come on, we can watch a You Tube video and learn how to work it!"  OMG.  I have laundry covering the floor, nothing in the linen closet and I'm on my last set of bed sheets.  But I told you, I'm wise.  I waited for Abby to come home from work.  Of course she was thrilled to see new appliances and took off to her room to grab her hamper.  Like a good mother I warned her, "It's a little difficult, Abby."  And she shouted back, "Oh, don't be ridiculous, Devil Woman."  After about 20 minutes she came back up and with a wave of her hand said, "Simple.  Just press this, this, this and that button.  Wait.  Then hit this, that, this and this button."  Okay, so what does that do, I asked.  "Well, that just estimates the size of your load and how long it will take to wash."  That's all.  

So instead of doing all the laundry that's going to take til almost spring, I decided to write a post! :)

Hope your week is going great!