Friday, May 29, 2015


A summer change to the mantel
I don't think I've been so prepared for summer as I have this spring...reminds me of the title of an album by Maroon 5, "It Won't Be Soon Before Long".  Well, however you want to figure it.  Time is flying and for this time of year I have so much accomplished.  I always seem to feel I'm barely treading water yet I see so much progress in the projects I'm doing.  My imagination? 
I have a lot of irons in the fire right now.  Working on making comfy rooms of the den and Abigail's old room, soon to  be the guest room.  Still painting furniture and dragging stuff to the basement, curb and donation box at our church.  So many heavy bags, I should own stock in Hefty Trash Bags.  The catalyst was knowing  we were going to have a house/pet sitter this weekend and I simply couldn't let this person live amongst the clutter, paint cans and books...tons of books. 
A lightweight summer throw to brighten a chair
I'm terrible at making priorities.  I'm cleaning up a bathroom and as I walk past the guest room I decide to slap a coat of paint on the dresser.  20 minutes later I'm washing dishes and decide I need to make myself breakfast.  Somehow things get  done.  In practicality, while I was running up and down the stairs, it seemed right to bring back and forth pieces to make a transition from spring to summer (in some cases, winter to summer!).  So these are the changes, small as they may be. 
A vignette on an antique cabinet
The Husband made it home from his hiking trip in Colorado and believe it or not, we haven't had a chance to sit down and talk about it in the way we should,  He arrived home very late and tired Monday night and then had a busy day at work the following day.   Off he went to the lake Wednesday and was exhausted when he arrived back home.   There just isn't enough 'relaxed' time for us to sit and enjoy a nice talk yet--schedules, phone calls, business, sounds crazy and as if we don't connect but we do, and we like to make it a special uninterrupted time to really make it a nice conversation  and time to enjoy each other.  So we will, perhaps on our way to Wisconsin tomorrow.  He did have a great time though and I?  Well I was sort of sad to see my time end. 
I was very good about several things.  One was to not 'neglect' myself, as in not making myself good meals and eating like a sloth just because I had no one else to 'cook for'.  It was fairly easy to keep up my routine of eggs, toast and coffee for breakfast; soup or salad for lunch, but dinner, hmmmm...I wasn't going to make a four course meal, nor was I going to get McDonald's,  So one night I had a soup I had frozen along with a huge Garbage Salad (think: everything and anything you can find in your fridge).  I made tuna salad and omelets, and ate a bowl of Skinny Pop every night while watching Bravo.  And as I mentioned in my last post, I worked outside in the garden and inside on the furniture painting, spent quality time with the hounds, did my blogging bit and a little reading---I felt alive and purposeful and that helped me miss him less,  :(
Fiesta Bean Salad
Emily made for a great holiday party on Sunday...just we hiker widows.  The weather was gloomy but the rain held off until later in the afternoon so we were able to sit on her deck under the big old maple tree.  She made beautiful sandwiches on artisan bread filled with turkey, cheese, arugula and pesto.  Heavenly.  And she made this salad that you can find on Skinny Taste.  This is a plate of leftovers I was digging into at home when I had the hindsight to take a snap.  So's a Go To salad for this summer.
I left Emily's on Sunday and arrived home for Day 4 of my Staycation and who was on my doorstep but my scraggly little Abby.  I love her to pieces but I was sort of looking forward to putting on my PJ's and vegging out the rest of the evening.  Of course I did that but there's something comforting about stuffing whole handfuls of popcorn in your  mouth and chugging Diet Pepsi when no one is around.  I went to bed about 9:00, resigned to the fact that my late night marathons were not going to make it under her hawk eye.  She crawled into my bed with me a half hour later and though I'd love to say we talked and giggled for hours, it was more like a tug of war with the quilt and me begging her to turn off the television, which this younger generation needs to have on to merely to sleep (as in white noise).  But God.  I love her.  I even made her the Lumberjack Special breakfast the next morning.
Off on Tuesday to get my hair done by Katie.  On the left is her baby, Margot, and then my granddaughter, Elsie on the right with daughter in law MC holding her.  Just 4 months apart, they will be best friends forever.  Margot gets hysterical looking at, "Hey, I recognize you!  You're a baby, too!"  The exciting news is Katie is pregnant again.  She and her husband, Kevin, absolutely wanted to have another baby soon and they got their wish!  They are off to Ireland Saturday where Margot will meet Kevin's side of the family for the first time.  Poor Katie is sick 24/7 so they bought mom, Peggy, a plane ticket to come and help out.  Family is everything.  The next trip I hope they think of me.  :)
Lemon Poppy Seed Bread
Peggy is always so kind to offer me coffee and sweets or a snack...she makes getting my hair done so special, for all of us really.  She's a genuine 'nurturer".  It occurred to me to bake and bring something Tuesday.  If you want to make this you can find Betty's recipe and all the ingredients in the baking aisle of your favorite grocery store.  Can't take any credit here. But delicious!
Changes in the family room
I needed a big time clean up after stuffing everything from the two rooms we were having painted in to our family room.  I figured I'd purge then.  Ha!  I could barely move amongst all the stuff.  But in all honesty, you know how to get it going when you have company coming, and as I mentioned earlier, I have a housesitter coming.   I carried things to the basement, to the trash, to the curb.  I dusted and wiped and scrubbed and vacuumed.  I arranged and rearranged.  For the past several months this table has been my sort of desk, this corner of the family room my office as I simply got a better Internet connection here.  That along with a gorgeous view of the backyard and the big screen TV made it ideal but I felt a bit closed off as this room is way off at the other end of the house from the kitchen and main rooms we use.  Long story short, I abandoned this set up and found a temporary place for some of my dishes.  I know this makes no sense whatsoever but it works for now.  Enjoy the view, dishes. 
I fussed and plumped and poked the other side of the family room so said housesitter can watch TV and relax.  I love her to pieces.  Her name is Kate (yes, lots of Kate's in this area), and she grew up across the street and is one of Emily's oldest and dearest friends.  She knows us and the dogs and she'll do great.  With Abby living up north, I simply don't want to put anyone out.  It also makes me feel a bit liberated that I don't have to depend on any of the kids.  I have my sources now. Ha!
You really can't see but on the lower shelf of that coffee table there are about 100 gardening and décor books.  I'm sneaky like that. ;-)
Simple Strawberry Tart
Lot's of good food pics in this post, notice no flowers?  Next time for sure.  I needed something quick and easy to bring to Emily's little soiree over the weekend...something sweet.   I had seen a recipe for individual tarts made with Phyllo dough and  after several screw ups, decided to scrap it and make one big tart. 
Phyllo dough, in my limited baking world, makes puff pastry look like plywood.  Each transparent sheet is fragile beyond belief.  I think working with it takes a lot of time and effort and patience, none of which I have.  I had an hour before the party.  Here's my version of a strawberry tart.  And yes, it was very, very good.
1/2 package Phyllo dough
1 pint of strawberries, roughly chopped
1 large round  of Brie cheese, roughly cut into small pieces
Cooking spray
2 T. sugar, separated
Most packages of Phyllo dough come in two portions. They should be kept frozen and thawed just before using. You will only need about 5-6 sheets from one portion so simply defrost one packet.  Save the rest for whatever you come up with.
Preheat oven to 375.  Prepare strawberries and cheese and have ready in separate bowls.  Toss the strawberries with one tablespoon of the sugar to release the juices.   Spray an 8 inch tart pan or similar size baking dish with cooking spray.  Unroll Phyllo dough and carefully arrange one piece after another in the tart pan, spraying lightly and evenly with cooking spray between each layer.  Turn each sheet a bit so the layers are sort of fanning out and press gently to fit in bottom of pan.   Do this until you've used about 5-6 sheets depending on how thick you want the crust to be...I like the effect I got here.  Add the cheese covering the bottom of the dough as evenly as possible and then top with the strawberries the same way.  Gently lift the edges of the dough and fold over toward the middle of the tart, pressing to make a sort of cinched edge.  Spray lightly with cooking spray and dust with a bit of granular sugar.  Bake for about 35 minutes or until edges are golden.  Serve hot or at room temperature. 
That's all I have for now.  Tomorrow we leave for Sister Bay, Wisconsin, for a much needed (for me) 3 day break.  Nothing like a little R&R along one of our Great Lakes.  I've never been, so I'm looking forward to a great experience.  And The Husband and I will have 4 straight hours of driving to talk about his adventure in the wilderness.  Oh joy.  :)
See you next week!
Jane x


Art and Sand said...

I love the throw on the chair.

I am not looking at your pictures of goodies. I gave up flower from April 1 until the rehearsal dinner. I still have 7 weeks to go. But, my dresses are draping nicely so it is worth it.

Michele M./ Finch Rest said...

What a wonderful newsy post - I feel as though we truly just had a nice visit together.

And yes - those babies are SO SO CUTE!!!

Take care - breathe!!!!

Stacey said...

So many yummy things to eat in this post! We are trying to be healthy so I'm going to check out the Fiesta Bean Salad.

Your room looks so pretty! I love the vignette you shared. You know, we need a pet sitter sometimes but having to get the house ready keeps me from doing it. Don't want that added stress!

Have a great trip with your hubby. :)

Theresa said...

Beautiful way to add some color to the chair:) Enjoy your time with the hubby, I know you all will have the best time! Thanks for the recipes, you always make me hungry:) HUGS!

podso said...

Oh the babies! So cute. Your granddaughter is growing so fast! So many changes the first year. I too like your throw. Hope you have a restful time away.

Primitive Stars said...

Morning Jane, love the vignettes, really great looking together.. Nice throw on the chair too, very summery. Sweet little babe, she is growing up so fast...Enjoy the weekend, Francine.

Melanie said...

Love your summer throw. I need to look for one for my couch. A trip to Home Goods is in my near future! The babies are SO cute...I love how they're looking at each other. I really like the couches in your family room. They look like the perfect place to curl up with a book - or to take a little nap! Have a great weekend in Door County. You will have a blast. Haven't been up there since my honeymoon, over 30 years ago!

Unknown said...

Hi Jane,
Hope you enjoy your getaway. I like the throw on the chair. It reminds me of a grainsack. Looks really pretty. You have been on a cleaning binge. I think I'm about to have a few days of me time, so I plan to work on my closets. Hope my back agrees! Have a great weekend.

Row homes and Cobblestones said...

Jane I'm loving the throw on the chair and the way you go about your day in your own way. No matter what your method is it all gets done and your posts are always an enjoyable read. Your Summer additions on your mantel and your vignette is looking ... Well Summery and pretty. My house is still cluttered up with renovation stuff stuffed here and there.
Fiesta Bean salad looks tasty. Here's a little share - John's Uncle George who loved chick peas, put them in just about everything and ate them everyday lived to be 103. YUP 103 ... So lately we've been adding them to salads and dishes too.
Adorable cousins!!!
Oh my, I'm stopping in to Trader Joes for Phyllo dough and Brie and organic strawberries! You have me drooling over that Strawberry Tart.
Thanks for the recipe!
Enjoy your weekend my friend.

Rue said...

Hi Jane :)

You've certainly had a lot going on lately! I hope you have time to relax on your trip.

Your family room is really cute and I love all the Spring touches you've been adding. The tart looks amazing!

Have a great weekend.


Lisa @ Texas Decor said...

Love the summer throw on that chair! What precious babes! Love the sweet smiles. :) Glad your hubby made it home safely. Enjoy your weekend!

Doreen@foxdenrd said...

I do the same thing...walk around and get distracted by all the other things that have to get done. I wish someone would invent a 34 hour day.

Glad to hear hubby had a good time. I was wondering about that based on the not so great weather.

Those babies are way too cute. Looks like the apples didn't fall far from the trees ;).


Doreen@foxdenrd said...

I do the same thing...walk around and get distracted by all the other things that have to get done. I wish someone would invent a 34 hour day.

Glad to hear hubby had a good time. I was wondering about that based on the not so great weather.

Those babies are way too cute. Looks like the apples didn't fall far from the trees ;).


Doreen@foxdenrd said...

I do the same thing...walk around and get distracted by all the other things that have to get done. I wish someone would invent a 34 hour day.

Glad to hear hubby had a good time. I was wondering about that based on the not so great weather.

Those babies are way too cute. Looks like the apples didn't fall far from the trees ;).


Brenda Pruitt said...

Loving that chair photo! You two have a nice relaxing time and he can talk about his trip with the guys. Be safe.

NanaDiana said...

Oh- Have fun in Door County, Jane. I know you will. You can add about an hour to your trip though...unless you are speeders....It is an hour+ from our house to Green Bay and we are 4 hours from Chicago...unless you live on the far north side of Chicago..then it will be shorter.

Your rooms look great and I love that blue pottery piece in your first picture there. That baby is getting SOOO big. xo Diana

Wsprsweetly Of Cottages said...

I loved the brightening of the chair~! It was amazing the change! We are not half as busy as you..couldn't handle it but still, you sound happy, Jane! Contented. You have a lovely life, lovely homes and someone who loves you,'s all so good.
Your discription of yourself running around, going from one thing to another is just like me. I went out the other day to sweep the back patio and painted two chairs and a table. :)

Debbie said...

I like the throw on your chair...almost gives it a little bit of a French look.
The babies look so cute to see them smile.
You sound happy, Jane. Your life seems full....of life, and love.
Have a grand trip with your hubby. I hope the weather is good, and the drive is enjoyable.

Kathy @ Creative Home Expressions said...

God that strawberry tart looks delicious, Jane! If I could find a gluten free phyllo(spelling?) I'd like to try it myself.

Those babies are just too darn cute together! I bet they will be so close as they grow up. I can't wait for our second little granddaughter to arrive at the end of the summer. Right now it seems like it will never get here, but I know it will be here soon enough. It's June in another day!

Helen Philipps said...

I loved seeing all your pictures......lovely home, sweet babies, yummy food! The chair looks great with the throw! I do the same as you.....going from one thing to another in a seemingly random way but eventually you get a lot is like a jigsaw of activities!
Wishing you and your husband a wonderful trip enjoying each other's company. Safe travels.
Helen xox

Deb @ Frugal Little Bungalow / Sacred Eclectic said...

I do that random one thing to another stuff too. The babies are so cute and that tart looks delicious! Enjoy your getaway :)

Elaine said...

Ooh that tart looks wonderful. I am going to have to try and make it. Sounds like you've been very busy with family and your staycation.

I like staycations. Sometimes I much prefer a spontaneous daytrip to having to do so much planning for a longer trip.

Lisa @ Fern Creek Cottage said...

Your family room looks so beautiful, but also super cozy, which I just love!! That picture of the babies is SO cute!! You must be having fun lovin' on that baby! What a doll!

Cindy (Applestone Cottage) said...

Came by to catch up a bit. However I think we did pretty good this weekend.
Your such a creative gal Jane, and I love hanging out with you.
Fun times, making memories for all of us.
Talk to you soon,

bj said...

Hi, Blondie...I can't even believe it's summertime....seems like yesterday, we were all getting ready for summer...then Christmas and now summer again.
Sounds like you've been busy..I love what you are doing in the house..the family room looks nice and cozy..
The strawberry tart sounds amazing. No way can you mess up anything that has strawberries in 'em.
and, I start cleaning a room, walk thru another and end up there for too long, too.
Skip around a lot and don't get as much done as I should. Oh, well...there's always tomorrow. :)

Barb said...

Hi Janie,

Love your mantel changes and everything you showed looks comfortable and inviting. I love how you 'leave little bits' of yourself in everything you do.

Have a wonderful and relaxing time on your getaway. The tart looks so yummy....I love strawberries.

I used to go from room to room while I am super focused. It is all good, anyway you do it....doing it is the important part. Ha.

Have a blessed and happy day!

Barb xo

White Lace and Promises said...

Every part of your home looks yummy! Now I've got to try the salad.

RURAL said...

Oh a recipe and some good news, and babies..! Love it.

Your small changes are adding up to big impact, very pretty, and fresh.

I'm so like that, one job started, distracted, multitasking...that's just the way our brains work, and they do it quite well thank you, giggle.

I'm not sure if you are "Jane" who left me a lovely comment yesterday or not, but Jane's comment doesn't link back to a blog, which means I can't return the visit. It's a glitch between Blogger and WP. Bloggers who use the same email address as their blogs make it much easier to visit back. Other wise I'm guessing who it might


Celestina Marie said...

Hi Jane, I love to visit and catch up on what is going on in your beautiful world. Yes you have accomplished much and it is always such a great feeling when we do, isn't it?
Love the throw on the neutral chair. You have inspired me to do something like this too.
I do the same thing when I go around the house changing and moving things around. I start projects and somehow end up in another room. How does this happen? I guess I want to do so many things and they flood my head all at once. LOL
The babies are just the cutest and your desserts look so good.
Enjoy your getaway and relax if you can.
Thanks for stopping by and your sweet comment.
Blessings to you Jane

Hugs, CM

Leslie Harris said...

Oh you've been busy Jane. I always enjoy reading about your life. I'm so glad hubby got back safe and sound and good for you that you took care of yourself so well when he was gone. It's so hard to cook for just one. That photo of the cousins made me melt. SOOO Cute. By the way, I really appreciated your last comment, especially the quote about 'worrying' that you shared. It made me really think.
Hey, how's the newspaper writing going?

Stan and Jody Gabara said...

Love this post Jane. You are the busiest woman in Blogland. Love all the photos of the projects, food and family!! Thanks for sharing all your delicious recipes too!!

Tammy@T's Daily Treasures said...

You are a busy gal and your hubby has been quite the travelin' man. :) I'm sure he enjoyed trekking through Colorado. So much beauty there. Have a good trip.

Traci said...

Those babies are just too cute! I bet it's adorable to watch them together.