Thursday, October 30, 2014


I'm feeling mention in this post of that horribly stiff and sore hand that still has two sore incisions and though now un~bandaged, refuses to cooperate in the simplest of things without sending me through the roof.  Nope, no mention.  

The morning glories  are hanging on to the porch railing even though the leaves have turned brown and shriveled up.  They owe me after blooming so late!  These are actually more pink than they look.  I ordered the seeds from Renee's Garden a few years ago, a mixed packet of blue and pink...very, very pretty.  I take the seed heads in the fall and crumble them off the porch down to the bed below.  And then they start over again every spring.  I save a few heads to give away and to start in other spots.  Let me know if you'd like some...they will be easy to mail...just email me.

Ta Da!  I finally made an apple pie, courtesy of a lovely recipe from Kathy at Kathy's Cottage.  She is the Queen of Pies!  Her crust is one I truly believe in...half butter, half shortening.  This turned out delicious, but as usual, I get stingy with the apples thinking I have way too much.  Alas, they shrink and my top deflates! Seriously though, we ate this in less than two days.  Three of us!!  You can find the recipe here.  By the way, I will never win any awards on looks or presentation.  Let's just call it rustic.  Actually I simply took a quickie on my phone to send to my daughter to let her know I had been busy that afternoon.  They think I sit around looking pretty all day.   :) 

Okay, I confess...I saw this natural wood and grapevine "window" at Plough and Hearth.  LOVE.  I'm completely finished now.  I am ready to start on gifts (Did I mention I picked up some cool gift wrap at Homegoods).  Okay, enough confession here.  

I am projecting to November 11.  Tomorrow is Halloween.  Laundry and packing between Trick or Treating.  Not me of course, the children in the neighborhood!  Then Saturday we are off to Asheville.  We've planned some great things to do during our week there.  We both really need it.  When we come home I have a day to get oriented again and then I have the next surgery November 10.  Enough said.  So I'm projecting because that's how I love to keep myself awake at night.  I am neurotically thinking of luggage weight restrictions, how the dogs will do with no one  here all day except a brief popping in of one of the kids to let them out.  Will Abby lock the doors when she leaves, turn off the flat iron?  Will I have enough time to get ready for Thanksgiving?  Will I please. please, please everyone?  I know better now but somehow, it keeps me up at night.  Last night I laid awake for 4 hour.  Nothing new, I've always been an insomniac.  The worst thing is (besides some horrid song running through my head over and over) is worrying about how tired I will be the next day.  And then last night I had an epiphany...maybe I just don't need this much sleep.  Maybe I'm like Martha Stewart and can get by on five hours.  Without looking like I'm bragging or anything (and, dear, forgive me), my niece has worked as a Senior Editor for Martha Stewart Weddings magazine for the past few years.  And hurray!  J got engaged a few months ago.  Think of all the wedding ideas she will have!  Oh, I love her Martha stories!  How did I get on this tangent??

I may bring my laptop...we'll see how much I can stuff in my bag.  If not I will see you sometime after the 10th.  Shhhh...wish me luck, I will sleep better! :)

***Just wanted to mention that I have added a little thingie on my sidebar where you can get my posts in your email inbox.  Just enter your address and you will be surprised with a post once or twice a week***

Jane xx 

Saturday, October 25, 2014


He didn't want anything over the top, he proposed in the early morning and then gave her warning...he had invited over 100 of their closest family and friends over for an engagement party that evening!  Well, a little chaos ensued, all the girl wanted was to go out and shop for a nice outfit and to have fresh flowers in all of the bathrooms! 

I bought this cake at the grocery store I go to, it has a fabulous bakery.  I didn't plan it, I was actually going to just get an assortment of sweets.  Red Velvet.  Sigh.

I offered to make an appetizer and saw that I had Pinned this recently.  And lucky for you, its not too late to make it in time for Halloween.  I'm going to give you the recipe as I fiddled a bit with it.  But it's here.  And it's very simple.

~~~~Cheese Ball Pumpkin~~~~

8 oz. cream cheese
10 oz. fine sharp cheddar
1/4 c. blue cheese crumbles
2 t. Worcestershire sauce 
1/4 t. celery salt
1/4 t. onion salt

A mixture of finely chopped walnuts (about 1/2 cup) and 1 t. paprika. 

Mix the first 6 ingredients well,  I used my KitchenAid mixer.  Mold into a pumpkin shape.  This was a little weird, and yes, I did it with one hand so I know you can do it, too!  It was like shaping a meatloaf and I was doing it on parchment paper.  It just wasn't looking right so I gathered the paper around it and rolled it around to make it a ball shape.  Voila!  Press the top down a bit if you want a "fatter" pumpkin!

I put the chopped walnuts in a gallon freezer bag and crushed them for the most part with a mallet.  I would definitely crush them more the next time, perhaps on pulse in a food processor? Just looks better without the larger pieces.  Then you can run a butter knife down vertically spaced every few inches to make the natural lines in the pumpkin.  For the stem I used a real one from one of my pumpkins on the porch.  I rinsed it well and then wrapped the bottom portion in plastic wrap so it wouldn't come in contact with the cheese ball.  And though this all sounds like a huge process, it took about 15 minutes.  Note***  I doubled the recipe to get the size you see in the picture.  It would be one tiny pumpkin if you followed the amounts above!  And it was delicious with Triscuit crackers.

So this was one exciting night and I'm glad it all went down as Jeffrey wanted it to.  He was walking on air for the days before and channeling all his nervous energy into this.  He said that they had vaguely discussed marriage, but it was never a "plan".  The Husband and I are so happy that our son found such a great girl and he's embarking on a whole different stage of life.  And we love Deirdre already.  Mary Clare, Kevin's wife,  fit seamlessly into our lives.  She and her family are wonderful people and I'm so close to them.  And...another surprise, in the midst of the engagement party, MC got a call to go to the hospital, her sister Katie was in full on labor! 

Welcome Margot Brennan, born at 3:10 a.m.!  Healthy and cute and her parent are bowled over.  You have read about Katie and Kevin's love story here.  Oh, I can't wait to hold that bundle of cuteness!  Again. MC's family is like family to us.  I love each and every one of them.

The Husband and I also met Deirdre's family for the first time last night.  Her father, mother and sister are just the nicest people, very Irish (just love brogues!).  How I love these people already!  I think we will be great friends.  What is with all those horror stories of in laws?  We are loving it.  Maeve and I will be friends and future grandmother's together!  I am so lucky!

These are a pair of shoes I've been longing for that I recently purchased on Zappo's.  I love the cutout on the sides.  And the ankle strap makes for a flat that fits perfectly.  If they are too tight, ugh.  Too loose, they flop off at the heel.  Love them with skinny jeans rolled up a bit.  Oh, I love vacations and the excuse to shop beforehand!!  :)

That's it for now.  I will be back again later in the week!

Joining Cindy at Amazing Mondays!  Please visit to see so many amazing things!!

Jane xx 

Monday, October 20, 2014


I made a trip to Hobby Lobby and Michael's Thursday (and totally forgot which street each one was on so it took me 45 minutes instead of 15).  I had come across a craft on a blog and I got so excited about  making it that I nearly peed myself!  Well, it's a Christmas craft and I'm still working on it...maybe I'll give you a peek in my next post. :)

This (above), my friends, is Hungarian Goulash and you can find the recipe here.  This is one of our favorite comfort food meals here and I was even heating up bowls for the boys when they'd stop by (the key is to not tell them the name).  I think I gave you the recipe last year, it's a stew that has a little kick of nutmeg, allspice and cloves that just takes it out of this world.  Tyler Florence does not add these spices, but I do.  And this recipe makes a lot of goulash so you'll want a good heaping tablespoon of these things.  Also, he used potatoes for starch, I used egg noodles.  Play with it.  Yum! :)

Sunday dawned sunny, the lake sending up a mist into the cool air.  The front lawn looked so pretty I didn't even want to rake! 

If you've ever met Carol from Art And Sand, you will know that nothing matches her creativity and love of art and color other than her big heart.  She made these banners and we all fell in love with them.  So she had a giveaway and we could choose what we wanted her to spell out.  I was a winner!!  Thank you so much, Carol!  Pay her a visit...she has a wonderful blog. :)

I have so many websites that I love to shop at and I love to share the wonderful things I find that I think are really unique.  One of my favorite places to go to when I'm planning a casual party, especially one outdoors, is Smarty Had A Party.  I bought some of their disposable dishes, napkins and serve-ware for a party at the lake a few years ago and I never received so many compliments. If you don't want to use good dishes, or even your melamine, these products will take your event up a notch and people will be loving you for your good taste! Below you will see the bamboo forks and knives I used for a backyard barbeque this past summer.  And I keep these on hand for Abby to bring in her lunch at work (she gets the compliments, too).  I was really, really surprised the other day when a box arrived in the mail and these cute disposable Leafware dishes were inside.  Made from fallen palm leaves, they are just perfect rustic goodness for this time of year.  Can you imagine a fall bonfire  with S'mores piled high on these?  Maybe to serve your goodies on at a tailgate party?  And you know what?  I've only mentioned this website because I really like it, I've never been asked to promote it.  And this was their "thank you".  A big thank you back at ya!!

Tomorrow I have a very early appointment to get my stitches out.  Normally this wouldn't bother me much except my hand took a turn for the worse and my incisions are infected.  This started happening Friday so there wasn't very much I could do.  I talked to my surgeon's nurse and since I don't have a fever or oozing, I'm good until tomorrow.  I am such a baby...I'm praying this can be taken care of without the need for a sharp needle or stiff brush.  My hand is so sore as it is, I can't bear the thought of anyone coming near it.  And today I also scheduled my next surgery for November 10th.  Gulp.  To add injury to insult, this surgery will be on my left hand and yes, you guessed it, I'm left handed!  I guess things are going to get worse before they get better.

I have some good days ahead of me, a few things that are very hush hush (!), but I will be back this weekend filling you in! :)

Jane xxx 

Tuesday, October 14, 2014


So, I came up with the brilliant idea of visiting some of the interesting towns and neighborhoods around here in Chicago on these rather quiet (boring) weekends.  We decided to drive north to Evanston, about an hour away.  My friend, Melanie, from Comfy House goes with her husband once in awhile for a little escape and they seem to have fun.  They even go down to the beach for a little picnic.  Unfortunately, the beaches are now closed.  So off we went on Saturday.  

We found a rare book store and I came across a book over 100 years old and it was actually only $8.00.  I was amazed.  And The Husband found an old book about Civil War weaponry and artillery...just up his alley.  I peeked over his shoulder to see what he was looking at and all I saw was Stonewall Jackson and I knew I had some time to kill.  And we also found a little boutique and I picked up a few things for the girls.  I saw a pair of oxfords that I really wanted but they didn't have my size.  Have you seen those in stores?  I am loving them.  They look so sharp with slim pants.  I'm on the hunt for the perfect pair!


So that's the last week in Blondieville.  I just take things day by day, try to keep myself busy during the day, and then blog or read in the evening.  I did a little work in the yard last week.  I carried armfuls of garden decor (birdhouses, outdoor candles and all sorts pots and tools) to the shed, making a little dent until I can get some manpower here to put away the furniture.  The same goes for the lake soon.  I just need to get my daily dose of fresh air.  It has been raining here since yesterday morning and it's supposed to continue until Thursday.  Well, I guess we'll just have to wait and see what sort of adventures arise!

Jane xx

Wednesday, October 8, 2014


Everything went well.  I came home, The Husband had the whole day off from work and Emily came over and helped straighten up the house.  She is so much like me, it's scary.  She can't stand for anything to be out of place and she is constantly fussing.  She decided at the last minute to invite us to dinner (no stove yet...more on that later).  She  was making a corned beef and that got me excited, we never have that except around St. Patrick's Day.  So I went with her to the grocery for some odds and ends, still feeling fine, took a little nap and then we went to her and Mike's about 5:30.  

Dinner was SO good...corned beef with cabbage, carrots and onions and rye bread.  I forgot to get a picture of the food and her table setting.  I'm bad.  She has so many beautiful things that she received at her wedding showers and then wedding gifts.  I'm envious of her pots and pans!  She had chalk board place mats with our names on them.  Really, really cute.  She made the corned beef like her in laws do...baked and basted with a mixture of mustard and brown sugar.  We were swooning!  Coconut macaroons for dessert.  :)

My daughter in law, Mary Clare was there as well.  She told me she and Kevin were pretty sure they are going to name the baby Elsie.  I think that's very cute.  I know Mary Clare has a soft sort of country side to her, her pup is named Tucker.  If the baby had been a boy, they wanted Ben.  She is feeling good and looks great!

We will be at the lake again this weekend, I'm going to set up camp outside and watch the leaves fall (as long as it's not rainy and miserable like last weekend).  It really has been a picture perfect summer and fall.  Our farmer's market will be ending soon so I want to go tomorrow just to walk around and breathe it in.  Never got around to those apple pies, nor did I get all those plants I wanted to when they were marked down, but there's always next year.  And right now is pretty darn good!

See you soon! :)

Jane xx