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  


Wanda said...

My hat's off to you gals who do these reviews. Guess it's your youth and vitality..HaHa.

I really enjoyed scrolling down and seeing your year in review. It looks like a good year.

Happy New Year and looking forward to lots more of your goodies.

Simply LKJ said...

Enjoyed the recap!! Always good to look back and reminisce. Happy New Year!!

Terra said...

I like the word you picked, grow, and your recap of the year.

Melanie said...

I enjoyed reading your look back on 2014...Happy New Year to you and Al and best wishes for health, peace, and lots of love.

Marigene said...

Just popping in to wish you the happiest of New Years, Jane!

Mary@mydogsmygardenandmary said...

How interesting, Jane. I really enjoyed reading your review of 2014.
You are so interesting. I also love everything about the Civil War. My great grandfather fought in it. And`the government had a special Memorial Service for him with a Confederate Honor guard. They were dressed in their uniforms that they wore during the war. It was very moving and impressive. We are from the Buchanan area of Virginia and Hunter burned a lot of the city. I know your husband will know all about that. Don't you just love that area. That's where I was born and if I wasn't so old would move back there.
Your sops look so good.
I am on the Atkins diet and have lost 15 lbs. in one month. My goal is another 50 lbs, It's all those darn carbs that put my weight on.
Hope that you hands are better and your feeling terrific.
You and your honey have a wonderful New Year's Open House. I wish for you good health and happiness in 2015.
Hugs my dear friend,

Jenny S. said...

Jane, I have enjoyed visiting your blog this past year. You inspire me many times. Look forward to peeping in on you this new year too. HAPPY HAPPY NEW YEAR.

Rita C. said...

Great post, Jane. I think it totally captures the essence of you! Let's see what grows in 2015. Cheers!

Kathy @ Creative Home Expressions said...

Happy New Year! You had a great and busy year, Jane. You got a lot done and I wish I could feel like I do - not just project wise but just in everyday things (even cooking!).

I remember you saying you were changing your diet up, but I had no idea you lost 26 pounds. Good for you! I just joined a gym the other day after doing a free two week trial to see if I liked it. Since they are close by I am hoping I will go often. I want to drop a few pounds and I know I'm not going to walk when it is cold out. I need to move more!

Theresa said...

Loved looking back thru your year! I can't wait to see what 2015 brings for all of us! Have a blessed New Year's Day dear Jane, HUGS!

Maggie said...

A fab helter skelter ride through the first 6 months of 2014, such fun!
Bonne année et bonne santé from Normandy!

Primitive Stars said...

Always enjoy my visits with you Jane. Happy New Year!!!!! Hugs Francine.

The Quintessential Magpie said...

Happy New Year, Janie!

I loved catching up on your year, and reading this makes me wish that you lived nearby. I would love to hang out and eat and talk and laugh with you.

I cannot believe how long we have been blogging friends. Thank you for inviting us into your home and life and the life of your family. I am glad you recapped because this year was not one of my better ones for blogging. So many of my old friends are MIA, and it is good to stay connected with you. You were and are one of my favorite bloggers. xoxo

I love the new NC condo, the decor of the bedrooms for the lake and Chicago, the recipes, the new pupster, your pupsters, and all of the other stories you shared with us. I cannot believe that you have only had an inch of snow! I guess the snow was dumped on Western NY because they had that horrible blizzard that resulted in a lot of deaths. I am so glad it didn't strike Chicago, too!

Mr. Magpie and I spent a quiet New Year's Eve, and I am just getting going this morning. We were awakened by wild revelers at 4:30, and then I had vivid dreams about us moving to China of all places and that my cousin's wife and I were in the throes of filming a movie which we were producing. I fell asleep watching Sandra Bullock.

Okay, sending you much love across the miles. I hope that we will finally be able to meet in person this year. That is my New Year's wish. And I like your word for the year, too.

Love you,

Sheila :-)

Vicki @ lifeinmyemptynest said...

Happy New Year Jane!

marty (A Stroll Thru Life) said...

So fun to see how your year went, you look amazing and sounds like a really fabulous year all in all. Happy New Year.

Row homes and Cobblestones said...

Happy 2015 mon amie! Wow last years frozen tundra was unbelievable, so far Philadelphia has been mild. I can't get over the photo of frozen waves on Lake Michigan.
I too love soups, I think it's the Polish in me ... I make tons of them year round. I too eat pure ... dealing with health issue since the mid 80's so for me it's no additives, no preservatives, no prepared food, no soy (allergic) no high corn fructose sugar products! Jane I often try your recipes and enjoy them. Oh and red velvet cookies .... YUM!!!!
Your master bedroom looks very relaxing and I love the comforter, really cool. OH and those dreamy boots - 15.00 bucks? Seriously?
I'll return back with my first post hopefully on Jan. 7th. I have a terrible cold/flu. Sneezing and coughing has left me dizzy, even more so than normal!
Wishing you, hubby, family and darling fur kids a very happy 2015,

Kit said...

Have a very Happy New Year my friend. I loved seeing all that you accomplished this past year. :) Can't wait to see what you will be up to in 2015. :) Kit

Chel @ Sweetbriar Dreams said...

I loved your post looking back and the re-vamping that you have done. You've certainly had a busy year! Happy New Year!! xx

susan said...

I loved reading about your past year and I love that your picked GROW for your word this year - it speaks of promise and potential. Best wishes for a very Happy New Year!

podso said...

Amazing how much I remember of your year from reading your blog. Much to be grateful for. I hope your winter isn't like last year's.

Wishing you all the best in 2015!

Cozy Little House said...

You're looking wonderful, Jane. I wish I liked to cook as you do.

ImSoVintage Laura Walker said...

Happy New Year my sweet friend. So much fun to look back at your year. xo Laura

Junkchiccottage said...

Happy New Year Jane. I remember those terrible cold days last year at this time. We are so fortunate that we have not seen any snow and last year were were at 40 + inches. Woooo Hoooo hope it stays low on the snow through the next few months. That would be awesome for us. It was fun to scroll down through your year in review. Happy New Year my friend.

Doreen@househoneys said...

I remember so many of these things, but some are complete surprises! I knew you were on a low carb diet, but had no idea you lost that much weight! I'm so jealous! Since we started traveling 10 days ago, it's become really difficult to keep with a low carb diet, which is what I did last year as well and lost nearly 15 lbs. I don't even want to get on the scales now! Can you say shrimp and grits?? I am in the south now after all ;).

We just got to our rental a few hours ago in Florida. It's adorable! Anyway, I enjoyed your recap and btw, I for one hope you hurry up and post those recipes with veggies!

Happy New Year Jane! Let's make it a good one :)

Beth said...

Hi Jane! I really enjoyed your year in review. Best wishes for a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year! Hugs, Beth

Carla from The River said...

This was fun...thank you for the review. :-) I just love the photo of you outside in the summer, with your dress on and holding that drink. :-)
And the dogs. Oh I love the photos of them too. ;-)
Have a great 2015! Looking forward to reading about your adventures.

Lisa @ Texas Decor said...

This was a great look back on 2014! Happy New Year and I'm looking forward to following along in 2015!

Heaven's Walk said...

How fun to look back at your wonderfully blessed year, Jane! Loved seeing that gorgeous pic of you, too! I found myself swooning over those boots and feminine boho top. So glad that you have so much to be thankful for - and are looking forward to the year ahead!

xoxo laurie

Anonymous said...

Since I didn't find your blog until after most of the year had past, I really enjoyed the projects and the weather in review. The photograph of the city with the frozen lake is unbelievable. I, too, am completely enjoying the winter here, with no smow. But we know it is COMING! AHhhhhhhhh! We know it has to come.

littlesunshineegirl said...

What a nice review of the year!

I particularly love the purple little flowers up there!

Have a Happy New Year and may God bless you and your family!

Penny @ The Comforts of Home said...

Sending you wishes for a fabulous 2015 Jane!!

Lori said...

Love your word Jane! I so enjoyed reading your little recap ~ looking forward to part 2 xo

Art @ Home said...

Good choice in GROW for 2015. I enjoy reading posts like yours, Jane. I decided not to write one because it was a bit of a sad year for me, and for once I was looking forward to a new year, new slate, so GROW does resonate with me, too.

I can't get over the snow! Wow…the photo of the pale is incredible. I like your living room. You must be very happy with how pretty you transformed it for spring!

I hope you have a blessed, healthy, happy, and prosperous 2015, my sweet friend!


Julie Marie said...

Happy New Year Jane!... our internet is FINALLY up and working today after being down for five days... I tried to look at your post on my phone, and everything was so small, my eyes just could not see everything well on my phone... love seeing your year in review... so many of your photos seem like just yesterday, when infact, some of them were almost a year ago... where does the time go?... love the photo of you in your long skirt and sandals... we have been hit hard this winter already, snow and bad winds... and I am already thinking Spring!... now I just need to think of my word for the year... xoxo... Julie Marie

Jen Vandervoort said...

Your year has been a whirlwind of so many different happenings. Wishing you the best of peace, calm, and happiness in this year.


Debby said...

Great post. You had a good year for sure. Love your living room. And you know, how I miss our cottage at the Lake. It's always fun to see pictures from there. Great job on the weight loss. I like your word of the year. Happy New Year. Hugs

Linda said...

Loved reviewing your year! It's amazing how much we can pack into one, isn't it?? I appreciate the reminder of the dressing. I meant to make it back when you first posted. I plan to do it tomorrow now!
Happy New Year, Jane!!

TexWisGirl said...

well, happy 55th coming up! :)

Nancy Crowley said...

Hi Jane,
wow, what a great post, truly. I don't know what to start with, whether it was your weather, or your skill at decorating, or your incredible weight loss. I would love to hear more about your eating clean journey and daily routine for eating. Can't wait to try some of your recipes as well. I think that's a wonderful word. it's a little word that takes big courage, right? Looking forward to 2015 with your blog. xx Nancy