Saturday, November 29, 2014


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I absolutely adored this recipe.  Not too many people like Brussels sprouts but I do and it wasn't until recently that I learned of all the ways you can prepare them.  This recipe seems involved but don't let the steps fool you.  Bits of panchetta, Gruyere cheese, all melted in a smooth white sauce and poured over blanched Brussels sprouts.  Seconds anyone? Here's the link...keep this in mind for a Christmas side dish.  We loved it!

1)  Cook 7 pieces of bacon.  Drain and set aside.
2)  Drain off all but 1 T. of drippings and saute 2 T chopped garlic cloves for one minute.
 3)  Beat 2 8 oz. cream cheese (softened) until smooth.  4)  Beat in 1/3 c Half & Half.
Stir in bacon, 1 t garlic, 4 oz. blue cheese, and 2 T chopped chives.
5)  Spoon into a small baking dish and bake at 350 for 15 minutes (you can refrigerate and do this prior to serving).    Sprinkle the top with 2 T chopped walnuts before serving with crackers and/or fruit.

It never ceases to amaze me  when I win a giveaway.  In my six years of blogging, I've been so fortunate to win so many.  And I recently won this bounty after joining in at Top This Top That blog.  Sponsored by Mary Kay Cosmetics and BlogHer, I won a bunch of Mary Kay products, from make up brushes to lipsticks.  And the big one was a $100 Visa card.  I am beyond belief!!  How did I get so lucky?  I love the cosmetics of course, and it's going to take me awhile to figure out how to use the card.  Thank you so much, Laura!!

The last time I posted I mentioned a blogger whose photography I so much admire.  And I also admire so many of you ladies that love the photography/writing connection...I think you know who you are.   Sylvia not only takes the most stunning photos, her writing is outstanding and I totally get "lost" in her posts.  I am absolutely mesmerized by the way she weaves within her photos... her stories.  Please pay her a visit.  And have a look at her cards, all graced with her beautiful, rustic pictures.  I recently won a giveaway from her, five of her holiday cards  Do me a favor...visit Sylvia, it would mean the world to me.

And that's all I have.  Tomorrow I'm helping my daughter Emily get some of her Christmas decorations up, and on Monday she will help me.  I'm just doing a bit at a time...our "live" tree won't come until the second week of December...that's when I get in the festive mood!

I'll get back to you on the bathroom and office reveal...The Husband is slow going on getting the office in order and I haven't had time to take photos of the bath.  Much sleep needed here! :)

Jane xx

Saturday, November 22, 2014


Hello!  Lots happening in Blondieville and for that I'm grateful.  I've been stuck close to home with temps in the single digits and The Husband using my car (for long time followers, you know the situation of The Husband buying a sports car 6 years ago which you can't drive in cold wet weather, and he did that obviously, so enamored with said car that he failed to remember we live in the Midwest).  More on that later.  So...I was able to finish up some of those crafts I've been hinting at in my last few posts.  The first is a Mason jar (in this case Kerr), filled with faux snow and a votive candle and then dressed up a bit for the holiday season.   I want to thank Jennifer at Town And Country Living for the inspiration. 

Some hints from me:  I find purchasing Mason jars in the summer and early fall to be the most economical way to do it.  Especially at grocery stores, Walmart and some drugstores like Walgreen's and CVS.  THE best prices around.  If you can't do that, they are sold at Michael's and Hobby Lobby for just a bit more and a few more choices in size.  Secondly, the votive candles were found at Michael's, 12 in a pack for around $8.  Once they burn down, pop them in the freezer for 5 minutes and the old wax will poke out with a knife and you can then re~use them with another votive or a tea light candle.  The artificial snow is from any craft shop as well.  In a nutshell, or Mason jar, fill 3/4 with the faux snow.  Tuck a votive candle jar in the center, pushing it down as far as possible.    Using a teaspoon (or even a small funnel or handmade paper cone), fill in around the candle with the snow.  Any excess that falls in the candle can be scooped out with a small spoon, yet I didn't find it to be flammable.  But don't take chances.  Since you don't want to mess up the "snow", use a long match stick or lighter.    And you can just keep re~using these as much as you want!! :)

Another Mason jar idea came from Yvonne at Stone Gable.  God knows I've gone through tons of Epsom salts in the bath with my bad back, but I never noticed the sparkle (maybe not through my pain!).  So in this case, take your Mason (Kerr, empty pasta matter), and spread Mod Podge over it with a small spongy applicator or paint brush.  MP is like a glue that dries clear.  Spread it on evenly, not too thick yet not too thin.  Pay careful attention to the very bottom of the jar which you might miss as it curves under.  Go just up to the the top and not over the ridges near the lid.  Fill a small bowl with the Epsom salts, hold that sticky jar  by the rim over it and just spoon the salts over... covering evenly.  Voila!  Snow covered jars. 

With the crafts, you must think my feet are firmly planted in December.  Before you put that Scarlet "C" on my sweater, know that I have The Turkey!  For some reason, if I know the bird is in the house (or the  ham for Easter), I rest easy.  A short story:

This morning my son in law Mike stopped by and we all had coffee.  He asked about the Thanksgiving plans.  I said...well, I have the turkey.  Abby  bolted upright and said, "Where is it at?"  As if I had it in the backyard...we all laughed.  But The Husband and I know where this is coming from.  His clients are very generous, especially at holidays.  One year, when the kids were very small, one his clients, an older Illinois farmer, gifted us with two pheasants that he had hunted down (no, not a fan of that but I was gracious).  Before a small pre~holiday gathering, I defrosted the tightly wrapped birds I had kept in our big freezer in the basement.  Although I had made various types of fowl and game (and no, totally am not a fan of any of it now), I wasn't prepared for the feathers as I unwrapped the newspaper and then plastic.  Yes, lots of feathers, adhered to the birds if you know what I mean.  My little ankle biters heard my screams and then ran out of the kitchen in horror after seeing them.   "What am I going to do?" I wailed to The Husband.  He countered with, "We have to figure it out, Ed has to know we appreciated his gift!"  So we did a little research on what was then a very ancient and limited Internet.  Our choices were to do the boiling water method to pluck the feathers...or the hot wax method.  Oh, dear God.  So aware of wasting food when there are so many hungry people in the world, well, it was a hard decision. We had no choice but to dispose of the pheasants, and have a lovely lasagna for our dinner party.  We wrote Ed a note that the pheasants were wonderful. Gorgeous feathers. Gulp.  And that was that.

I may pop in before Thanksgiving.  I'd like to show you how the bathroom and office turn out once I get them jazzed up.  I hope you like the crafts.  I'm all thumbs as you know, I just like to brag a little when I have the opportunity! :)  I also want to introduce you to a blogger friend of mine that has the most exceptionally written posts and photography, and is now offering cards of all sorts that I think you would love to have a peek at.  Can't wait to share that,

Jane xx

Monday, November 17, 2014


I did this tablescape last week before we took the Arctic plunge (you can see my door is open).  I'm just fiddling with ideas for Thanksgiving.  We will be having eight for dinner and then I'm not sure how many in the evening for wine and dessert.  So you see, a lot will be edited from this picture if we want our forks to go from plate to mouth!  

I am using my everyday dishes from Ballard Design, that are really showing the chips.  And old mismatched silver that has to get a good polishing before the big day.  The brushed antiqued chargers were a sale score from Sur la Table and may still be on their website.  I used a scarf for a table runner and a few candles here and there.  

Can you see the little green pumpkin on the right?  My sweet friend Jody from Rooted In Thyme makes the cutest pumpkins and I recently acquired a few.  In the pictures above see if you can spot the green velvet one and another in orange knit.  As a really nice gesture, she threw in a little sock snowman!  Please visit her blog and Etsy shop.  Her stuff is so cute and creative! :)

I still have the banner from Carol up.  I went looking for the "Thankful" banner I made last year and somewhere, somehow, the "l" fell off! lol! I have to locate the stencils and get to work!  Carol's banner is timeless. :)

I was able to drag The Husband out Saturday to a big craft event put on by Three French Hens.  It takes place about an hour southwest several times a year.  I went once many years ago.  It's much bigger now, set up in four different buildings and outdoors, much like a French market.  There were a lot of vendors with vintage items.  And there is nothing better than Christmas vintage!

I had the pleasure of finally meeting this girl who I have "known" about since I started blogging.  Jennifer Rizzo is one creative and successful blogger and she just had a book published.  She was there signing them and meeting and greeting people.  Is this not a dream come true for Jen?!   She has an Illinois blogger get~together every spring and for one reason or another, I've never made it.  This was so cool!

Several blogs I've come across  have been raving about this book and I heard it flew off the shelves at Amazon.  Better grab one while you can and you might want to get an extra as a gift for someone you love!  Thanks, Jennifer, I know we will meet up again!

Again, thank for all of your well wishes.  My cast comes off tomorrow and I'm feeling pretty good.  Still using up those veggies I chopped...tonight it's vegetarian chili!  I'm going to fiddle a bit more with the tablescape and I actually did start two different Christmas crafts and I'm tweaking and working on a third. I'll share next time.  I just polished off two big mugs of green tea while I wrote this and now I may just snuggle under a throw with the dogs before I start dinner.  Have a great week! :)

Jane xxx

Wednesday, November 12, 2014


We visited the town of Blowing Rock about 2 hours away.  It was THE most incredible trip of my life.  The mountains, the valleys, the colors...looking out the car window at the side of the road a few feet away that dropped off a few thousand feet as we rounded curves.  The Husband and I were in such awe we couldn't speak.  Seriously.

Okay, on to the meaty stuff.  I am so miserable I could cry!  For the past two days I have wondered how to write my next post, what viewpoint to take, do I describe my agony or just fluff over it?  So...with my two poor, stiff index fingers, I will just let the words flow.  This last surgery was hell.  I don't know why.  How can your hand be numb and still painful?  My fingers were swollen and turning blue.  And then yesterday was worse because the numbness wore off and it was just real pain.  And of course, the pain pills give me a ironic and just my luck.  This cast is bigger and bulkier than the one I had on my right hand a few weeks ago, making it almost impossible to even peck on the computer.  Since my right hand is still healing and pretty weak from not using it, it just doesn't pick up the slack for the left hand (oh, did I mention, I'm left handed?).  So, I'm learning to use a fork and spoon with my right hand, forget scissors, speaker phone only, no texting.  No driving, online shopping but I've answered a few emails and visited a few blogs I follow by email,  And I made a salad for dinner last night only because I spent two hours the night before the surgery cutting and chopping 10 pounds of lettuce, celery, carrots, cucumbers, peppers, broccoli and onion so we could eat for the next few weeks.  

I feel really bad because right now I have a lot of friends and some family members that are not well, and almost all of them in worse shape than I.  I'm not trying to play the martyr but I have a keen sense of guilt.   I walk that tightrope where I lean into the Superwoman side, and back over to the Pity Party side. 

Many years ago I had a friend who had just given birth to her fourth child in 6 years.  One day she came over and slumped in a kitchen chair and said, "I'm sorry, I try to make it look easy."  I nearly slapped her!  All this time she was my Mama Hero.  I was going to have ten kids because she made it look like a breeze.  No matter that the only time I got away from my kids was when I was in the hospital having one.  

So, I've been honest.  It has taken me almost 3 hours to do this post and I really didn't want to at all.  I actually want to lie in my bed in my jammies and probably will.  I may take a pain pill with a Tylenol chaser.  Salad again tonight with a different dressing?

Before I forget, someone asked me if I could send some of my Morning Glory seeds that I offered and I'm so sorry, I forgot who you are!!  Please email me again, and if anyone else wants some, I have plenty.  :)

I am planning to perk up and get into the swing of the holidays.  I have actually made a few craft things, and have a really pretty Thanksgiving tablescape all figured out in my head, so please, have faith in me, I will be back to "normal" soon!   Thanks for your well wishes!

Jane xx

Tuesday, November 4, 2014


sixties, but we had warm clothes from our trip here from Chicago, which wasn't much better.  
It has been sweater weather and perfect. The worst thing, the time change.  Chicago is an hour behind and then we set the clocks back so we were two hours behind and actually, we just don't know who to believe right now.  We are on "No Time"!  ;-)

  I love trying new foods away from home.  We had brunch Sunday morning at the Grove Wood Cafe.  Adjacent to it is a museum and gallery of artisan's works.  There is SO much talent here.  Anyway, I ordered a sandwich consisting of hummus, avocado, tomatoes and sprouts.  The bread was made here and it had bits of dill in it and was slightly toasted.  The Husband laughs at me, I whip out my phone and start tapping in ingredients and notes (back in the day I kept a notebook and pen in my purse just for these moments).  Of course I can get this at home, it just seems different far away, I guess I want to recapture the feeling by making it in my own kitchen once the trip is a memory.  It was really, really good!  And we loved the gallery.  I picked up two Christmas gifts.  Yay!

We had a ball, laughing and talking.  It is such a unique and amazing thing to meet a blogger (and in this case their spouse) and then get together several more times.  There is a short history and still so much to know about one another.  I have such an affinity with Mary, and Bob is just one of the  most happiest, upbeat,  and ever jovial person all around.  You just can't help but smile when you re in his company.  

After dinner Mary and Bob came back with us to our condo, our "home".  Now this is what makes a house a home.  Friends.   I can't decorate, although I may buy fresh flowers.  This is a "hotel" of sorts and all the units must be uniform and furnished by the management.  Even though we "own" our space, that's just the way it is.  Then again, we have maid service everyday! ;-)  So I happened to have some apples and cheese in the fridge.   We had some wine and a fire going and it was fun and happy and most of all, I felt truly AT HOME here in Asheville for the first time. 

There is a small area of shops practically within walking distance of us and we hit them early this evening before dinner.  Chico's, Coldwater Creek, J. Crew and my fave...Williams & Sonoma.  I have to say my shopping has been quite light.  I just don't have room in my bags.  Almost everything I've picked up are gifts...some for Christmas, some not.  I can't hide gifts from my kids...I give them away early at least until Dec. 1. :(

Tomorrow we are getting up with the sun to take a day trip to a town called Blowing Rock, just under 2 hours away.  I'm so excited.  Not sure what to expect but I've been to the website and I hear it's a great town to explore, shop and eat.  I will tell you all about it the next time I come by.  We get home very early Saturday morning and I have much to do before my date with the doctor Monday morning.  Wish me luck. :)

I'm joining up with Stan and Jody at Rooted In Thyme for Simple And Sweet Fridays.  Please go and have a look at their Etsy shop.  She has the most beautiful handmade velvet and knit pumpkins.  I ordered a few today and I definitely plan on using them straight through December 1!!!

Jane xx