Tuesday, January 12, 2016


It feels good to be back.  I've spent the past few days visiting you guys and it's so nice to hear how all of us are moving on in the New Year.  I love that feel of organizing, cleaning everything up and having time to relax.  It may be reading, relaxing in the morning with a cup of coffee in a cozy spot or doing something creative like knitting, crocheting or sewing but I love reading these posts.  I'm happy to have free time to sit back and chill now that I've got the tree down to the curb (sniff, sniff), and all the decorations packed away and downstairs.  Now I have to shop the house to do a little spiffing up here and there but right now I'm just a little lazy.

I wish my year had started out a bit slower but similar to last January, we had a shower to pull off, this time for Jennifer.  She is married to our nephew Flip, who is the son of Phil and Jean.  You remember Jean passed away in August but she knew, thankfully, that she had a grandchild on the way.  For that I'm grateful.  My brother in law, Phil, is doing well, he needs a little company and we plan to do a few lunches here and there.  He had been retired but decided to go back to part time teaching (he's a university professor).  He's so excited to have this grandson on the way.

We had the shower at Emily's home, it was a smaller group.  Emily made these beautiful sandwiches and I have to get the recipes as they are perfect for a large or smaller groups.  She buys a variety of round artisan breads, each different,  then she piles on various meats, cheeses and toppings.  Pesto adds a nice bite and keeps the sandwiches sort of similar.  She cuts each round into wedges like a pizza.  So, so good.  Another niece, Carolyn, made potato soup. We had a nice cold weather lunch.

I made a rustic sort of salad with a few different types of lettuce and herbs, chickpeas and red onion.  A lemon based vinaigrette was perfect.

For my two appetizers I did a little shish kabob with cherry tomatoes, fresh mozzarella and basil leaves.  I marinated everything in olive oil and Italian herbs overnight.  Great finger food.  The favorite I made was fried rectangles of puff pastry topped with a brush of olive oil and prosciutto.  They were so simple and quick to make.  I know I'll do it again and again.  Try to make it just before your party, the pastry is soft and fluffy then.


The theme of the shower was 'Hey Baby Its Cold Outside", and Emily really worked at the decorations which included a lot of snowflakes, a big banner in the window and lots blue.  The little guy is due in early February.  You can see that she framed the invitation.  Jen was very happy and touched.

I mentioned our kids went in together on theatre tickets for The Husband and I as a Christmas gift.   We were so surprised and touched.  They added a gift card to cover a hotel and/or dinner out.  We could have come home, we are only about 25 minutes from downtown Chicago, but it's always fun to stay.  And we do that in February for my birthday so this was a way to get that out of the way! lol!  

I love to do my research so we aren't surprised.  I really dislike walking into an unknown (to us) restaurant and spending good money on mediocre food.  I carefully research every place we go, especially on vacations.  I'm freakish like that.  So I chose a new hotel and it was just okay.  From the 23rd floor we had a gorgeous view of the city.  You can see the room was very clean and modern...

...the bath went off into another direction.  Not bad but a little odd.  I love European style hotels downtown, the Knickerbocker and The Drake are my favorites but I felt we needed to broaden our horizons.  There was a lot to be desired here.  :(  Funny, we ended up at the Knickerbocker later in the evening for drinks and to listen to the jazz band.  

I was really working on a timeline.  Check in to the hotel at 4:00, cocktails in the bar at 4:30, dinner at 5:30 with reservations made several days before, and the play at 7:30 p.m.

Dinner was at the Capital Grille.  The decor was beyond opulent and the food, oh my gosh.  The Husband was very smart in ordering shrimp on a delicious risotto.  But I ordered a steak the size of Texas and could barely eat 1/4 of it.  Given our plans we had no way to get it wrapped to bring with us so it was a sad waste of money.  Lesson learned.  :(

This is what happens when your husband wants to take pictures of you and you totally feel that your 'frizzy from the rain' hair is not up to blog standards (and you know you will want to post it, I was wearing my finest!).  And by the way, all the pictures that night looked like I was wearing my dinner napkin tucked in my top but it was a scarf.  Truly.

The Oriental Theatre goes way back to 1926.  It is breathtaking to see.  This is a view of the lobby.  Wish I could have taken pictures inside with the main floor and two balconies.   I simply can't find the words to describe it.  I've been here many times and I'm always in awe.

I've seen a good share of plays and musicals.  My favorites are 42nd Street and The Lion King.  I actually met Scar from the latter.  Well, not Scar, but the actor who played him (and I've forgotten his name, this was about 12 years ago).  I was walking down a street that ran behind the theatre on my lunch hour when I worked in the city.  I didn't realize this was The Oriental from behind.  'Scar' was on a cigarette break near the back door and although I never approach celebrities or actors, he smiled at me and I walked over.  He was very nice but he did have a sort of edge and I think that made him perfect for this role.  It was a thrill to chat with him.  

The Marquee 

The musical was beautiful and uplifting.  I can't say enough about it.  I was 11 years old when Carole King's album, Tapestry, came out.  We all have our own memories about it and mine are sitting in my best friend's bedroom with the album playing on her record player.  We sang into hairbrushes (our pretend microphones) and imagined that we had long hippy hair, faded blue jeans and boho tops.  The songs were a bit too sophisticated for me but the music was timeless and stayed with me for years to come.  

I never knew that she was such a talented songwriter and that her music went back way before my time, yet such classics that I knew every word.  I was entranced.  The finale when the whole cast was introduced and then broke into I Feel The Earth Move was fantastic.  Everyone stood up and sang and danced.  I looked over my shoulder at the two balconies and I had not only chills up my spine but a lump in my throat.  Very hard to explain but I guess it's what you feel when something of this magnitude touches your  heart.  

Afterwards we walked to an iconic bar nearby.  It was fun but I think it has seen better days! lol!  Also on the way we were able to stop by the building where our Chicago ABC7 nightly news is broadcast live, you can watch through windows from the sidewalk.  I watched part of the 10:00 news and really loved that.  I'm a news junkie so this was really cool for me.  I didn't think you'd like the pics as much as me so I refrained from sharing them.  :)

After our exciting night we headed off the Abby's neighborhood about 15 minutes away the following morning and we did a little shopping with her and her guy, Tom.  It was a lot of fun until a heavy mix of rain and snow started to fall.  We had a really cool lunch at a place that featured artisan beer and an eclectic menu (pizza with dates and feta cheese?).  So much fun.  Here's Tom, The Husband and Abby. 

A good look at the place, The Corridor Bar and Provisions on the Northside of Chicago 

We were rain soaked and trying to keep our spirits up as we walked through the alley on the way to Abby's coach house after lunch.  I was in the middle of belting out Singing In The Rain when I stepped into a huge pothole filled with rainwater.  Down to my knees I fell as both hands were holding shopping bags, leftovers and my purse.  To add insult to injury, my face also dipped into the pothole and was drenched as well as my hair.  I must have looked like the Loch Ness Monster.  In any case, I have two skinned, black and blue knees.  I am ever so grateful that my hands were full and I didn't use that bad arm to break my fall.  I did however, look like a drowned rat! lol!

Switching gears, this is a little snack I made for The Husband and I on Sunday.  I'm full on with my Atkins diet again as of January 1.  It's the only way I lose any weight.  Sweet Potato Fries.  Love them.  No recipe, just a few tips.  Peel and slice, I like them cut like steak fries as they shrink up.  Toss them in a large bowl with a little veggie oil and a bit of salt and paprika.  Spread on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper---this is a key, otherwise they will brown horribly on the bottom and stick.  There you go, perfection.  

All has been going along pretty well since Saturday.  Aside from painful and skinned  knees and a lot of chronic pain in my lower back that always seems to occur around the holidays, I've been good.  Oh, I have to complain about the old broken arm.  Terrible.  I am so confused about it.  My fingers actually hurt when I move them and everything is restricted by the pain.  I can't hold things nor open a simple bottle of water.  The Husband has recommended a great university doctor but I really want someone local.  Not sure what I'll do but I will do something.  This is so crazy.  Calluses, scar tissue...who knows.  It's just not right and since this is my dominant hand and arthritis could be in the future, I want  answers now.

Okay, at the risk this could be called Blondie's Pain Journal, I'll stop.  Next time I want to share a giveaway I recently won and some books I've managed to read in the past week.  And a few things I missed in my Year In Review posts.  I also want to tell you guys that I've finally determined that my posts are just a little too long and drawn out and it's my plan to do shorter and more frequent posts which will make things easier to digest---for lack of a better word.  And I may be able to write a bit more about what I think as opposed to what I do.  

We have had frigid temps here in the Upper Midwest...single digits big time.  It's 5 degrees right now and it will be 1 degree tomorrow morning.  I'm pretty good here, I did some grocery shopping Sunday when it was a mere 25.  I froze but I'm quite used to it.  This is really unpleasant to put it mildly.  I watch my dog babies closely and I'm happy to stay cozy at home. :)

I'll be back soon.  

Jane x


Bluebird49 said...

Wow! Your busy-ness from Christmas hasn't let up, has it?
I loved all the pictures you added --- and nope, I did not think it was your napkin at your neck. (Because you'd just never do that ... barring cracking and picking blue crabs--and then only privately! Or maybe not! Ha!) Wouldn't it be lovely not to worry about rules, manners and such sometime. Then we'd probably go out and eat in our pjs, for comfort's sake. (Umm, maybe some etiquette IS good, after all.) ;)
By the way, Mr.Blondie is handsome, and has a very kind face.
I'm so glad you enjoyed the night out downtown. I love Carole King songs, too.
Don't like the rain, the pothole and your fall, though. Sounds awful, and I pray nothing's fractured---also that you'll find someone good to look at your arm, Sweetie! Soon!!
Trudy xx
p.s. It's so hard to believe we're this far into January, huh!

Gina said...

You have definitely had a busy January so far! Your food always looks so delicious! I love seeing Broadway shows. I'm glad you enjoyed your night out in Chicago. Stay warm!

Tammy@T's Daily Treasures said...

Okay Jane. Something's up. You've had quite a few falls lately. Yikes! Glad it wasn't worse. My friend here that fell and broke her wrist has has nothing but pain and swelling since she took the cast off. She's going to pt weekly, but she said in the first month after the cast came off, she couldn't sleep because of the excruciating pain. She has numbness in several fingers that is persistent and apparently it will take at least 6 months for everything to get better. I LOVE Carole King and can imagine how you felt being there with everyone singing her music in such a beautiful place. It's goosebump inducing! :) Take care of yourself, stay warm, wear comfortable shoes, and walk slowly. Ha! Hugs, Tammy

Stacey said...

I'm so glad to hear you liked the Carole King musical! It's coming here in June and we are planning to go.

Great ideas for the baby shower too. I'm hosting one in a couple of weeks and I'm a little nervous. Showers are so over the top these days.

Happy New Year!!

Susie said...

Blondie, I was reading along, enjoying every word of this post...then there you are falling..OMG, all I could think about was what all you have gone thru with your wrist and arm. My gosh girl,that was scary. I loved the theater...such beauty. I have always love Carole King. You Got A Friend, is probably my all time favorite. Please take care, get some rest and relax a bit. Blessings to you dear friend, xoxo,Susie

Sherry @ Thrift My House said...

What a sweet Christmas gift! I had to laugh at your napkin scarf :) I love sweet potatoes too, add a little coconut oil and cinnamon to them instead of olive oil, taste like dessert! We had them last night. I'll do the parchment paper next time, they did burn a little, smoked, and the fire alarm went off.... at least we know it works.

Theresa said...

Owwwweee, 5 degrees sounds really cold to me! I love to have a little getaway and do lots of research too:) I eat small portions and can't go wrong with something with shrimp in it:) I never eat a steak because they are always too big for my tummy! Have a blessed day dear friend, HUGS!

Vicki @ lifeinmyemptynest said...

I so want to see that musical - off to look at the tour schedule or maybe a trip to Chicago is needed :-)

Art and Sand said...

What a sweet gift from you kids. The concert is not something you will forget. I like gifts like that better than a scarf or sweater that you might not even remember by the next Christmas.

Jemma@athomewithjemma said...

Always such a treat to see a musical and Carole King was one of my favorite singers ever!
I see that Stacey mentioned she was coming to DFW in June, I am going to look into that right now.
You stay busy for certain, such a good, full life.
Take care of yourself, relax and heal.

Scribbler said...

Sorry about your mishaps! You do seem to get banged up a lot, just like I used to. Now that I can see better, I don't seem to have as many falls.

This show must have been fabulous -- I would love to see it. I really enjoy all your tales of going out and about and the photos of Chicago. Most everyone I know who has ever lived there just loves it. I doubt I could cope with the Winters, but the rest of the time would be wonderful.

Vel Criste said...

You have been busy in a good way Jane! Love the baby shower theme, unique and cute! I do want to know that proscuitto recipe with that pastry if you can share it one of these days. I enjoyed watching something on Broadway myself too with our quick NY getaway last Christmas. That comment about your scarf is funny, I did think you were wearing your napkin that way! LOL! Sorry about your arm dear, I hope the doctors can figure it out soon. Stay warm!

Susan said...

Please don't shorten your posts - I love them!!

Kathleen Grace said...

I think the gift your kids gave you is fabulous! I prefer "experiences" over another useless candle. An experience is something to savor and remember for years. Ugh, so sorry about that puddle, sounds like something I would do. I hope your poor knees feel better soon. I am hoping your hand maybe just needs a round of physical therapy to loosen everything up? Praying you find some relief and answers.

Linda said...

Great gift from your kids!
Nice to see your husband and daughter...I think she resembles you!
He....looks very distinguished!
Love getting away for a night...leave behind the "same old"....even if for a while :o)
Cold and snowy here too...
I will enjoy you posting more often...
Thanks for all your sweet comments over at mine!
Enjoy your evening Jane...
Linda :o)

podso said...

Sounds like a fun time in Chicago. But sorry about the fall--ouch. I would have loved to be with you for Carole King. Tapestry was big when we got married. Love that album. Wish I still had it.

Primitive Stars said...

Afternoon Jane, oh how wonderful to go to Chicago!!! Wonderful pictures and I love Carole King...great looking cupcakes and theme. ... So cold here lately, need some sunshine....sure hope you feel better real soon,Higs Francine.

jp@A Green Ridge said...

Oh, Jane...your poor knees...black and blue will heal. It's the bone that take a little longer...dare I say...as we get older...:)JP

Ramblings of a Southern Girl ~ Rhonda G said...

All of your shower food looked and sounded so yummy! I especially liked the one with the puff pastry! Sounds like you had a wonderful visit in Chicago! One place I've always wanted to go, but never have. Hope your back and arm are on the mend soon! :) ~Rhonda

Vee said...

I have heard of cars disappearing into potholes, but never a woman! I am so glad that you were not hurt, but it had to have been a miserable experience. You are wise to wonder about your arm...follow your intuition. See you soon.

Row homes and Cobblestones said...

Hi Jane,
I was really enjoying reading and smiling up until your fall and bruised knees, OMGosh girl!!! Also concerned about the arm issue... yikes.
Your gift to the show and dinner looked like an enchanting evening, what sweet kids you have. Stay warm and take care of yourself sweet Jane,

Carla from The River said...

You are always up to something, sweet girl!! I just love you! Falling into a pot hole and still able to write and share it with us. I do love you!
You are so brave and fun!

I love your tours of your city!! Keep them coming.

Stay warm and rest,

Mary@mydogsmygardenandmary said...

First let me say Jane, I love your long posts. You always bring us up to date on your busy schedule and the wonderful things you and husband do.
How nice a present to see Carol King, I am sure it was terrific.
The baby shower looked like it was a great hit and the food WOW.

So sorry about your falling and hurting you knees. Be careful, as you don't want to hurt your arm again. I think you should go a a specialist and see what is going on with your arm. Or it will bother you later.

I had a very busy holiday also. Take care of your self and rest.

Fox and Finch Antiques said...

Jane, I don't think your posts are too long. Really. I was really "into" this post when you wrote that. I was enjoying it,so don't take that away! It sounds like a nice get-away and I think that is a marvelous gift like the other readers. Hey, Jane, you aren't going to quit dancing in the rain are you?
Hope you feel better soon. I now look on u-tube for exercises for any muscular pain and it has really helped. I went to different doctors for months and months about my sore knees and then found out on the Internet that the statin the doctor gave me could be the cause of the pain. I quit taking it and the pain disappeared. She talked me back into taking the statin and I got the pain back. Quit taking it again. Pain gone! I thought I was going to have to move because I could hardly walk up and down the stairs. I can't tell you how many doctors and specialists I saw. It was a bunch.

Unknown said...

I'm happy with your weekly long post, reminds me of a chatty letter with old fashioned pictures! I had the Carole King Tapestry album many moons ago, love her music. You live life and with the Atkins meals, find a doctor that will help you with your pain. Chronic pain can drain you, that I know.
I enjoy reading your blog and I am not a blogger.
Take care, Kathleen in Az

Doreen@foxdenrd said...

Never a dull moment in Blondie land! Geez louise...you sure do keep things interesting around here!

(And you may be able to fool everyone about the scarf, but not moi lol).

I heard that musical is very good. Love Carole!


Doreen@foxdenrd said...

Never a dull moment in Blondie land! Geez louise...you sure do keep things interesting around here!

(And you may be able to fool everyone about the scarf, but not moi lol).

I heard that musical is very good. Love Carole!


A Joyful Cottage said...

It appears you and hubby had a fabulous get away. Shrimp risotto sounds so good right now. I've not yet had breakfast and I'm hungry. Your shish kabob appetizer looks yummy. You, my dear, are very fortunate that you didn't get seriously hurt falling into a pothole. Regarding your pain, go see the doctor your husband suggested. Even if it means traveling. What you describes sounds serious and you need to take care of yourself. Sorry if I'm coming across as bossy. I just care and believe we owe it to our bodies to do the best we can for them. Hugs, Nancy

Anonymous said...

you have so much going on and you do it all so beautifully, another baby in the family, exciting news but so sad the gramma is in heaven,,

your time away was amazing, I felt like I was right there!!!
I'm so sorry you are still suffering,, so so sad,, I hope you find answers soon,, thank you for sharing all this with us,,

Benita said...

Jane, it looks like you had such a wonderful time out with the hubby! Too funny about the napkin scarf! We love sitting and listening to jazz also....so relaxing with a nice drink and always a great atmosphere for the music....just transports you to another time! Love that hotel you stayed in....so pretty! We love going to the theater. One of the best plays I've ever seen was "12 Angry Men" with Richard Thomas and George Wendt. Richard Thomas was very nice...we got to chat with him after the play. George Wendt...not so much. Hugs!!

Dewena said...

Jane, my heart was in my throat as I read about your fall, this could have been so bad and I'm sure you're making light of the whole thing. And your ongoing problem with your arm, please do consult the best!

But your story and pictures of your wonderful city stay was exciting and I loved learning about it, what a treat to see that particular show! All of Chicago is exciting to me as our grandson and his wife, only married a year, have moved there for jobs after graduation. What a wonderful experience it will be for them to live in such an interesting place.

Jill said...

Those sandwiches do look delicious! That theatre is beautiful!! How nice you and your husband were able to enjoy time away just the two of you. Looks like you had a wonderful time and the picture of you napkin and all is wonderful. Have a great evening.


deb @ frugal little bungalow said...

What a wonderful adventure, aside from falling into that pothole / ugh!

That theatre is beyond amazing ! And I too remember singing along to Tapestry /loved that album so much!

Unknown said...

Jane, love your posts as usual. Everything for the baby shower looked awesome. I am definitely going to try your puff pastry & prosciutto appetizer. I also went to the Oriental Theater a couple of days before Christmas to see Beautiful. I totally agree with everything you said about the play and theater. Note to self "I must see more Broadway plays". We also went to the Kris Kringle market. You should check it out if you haven't already. The best part was the weather ;)

Jacqueline~Cabin and Cottage said...

Hi Jane! So nice to have a visit from you! Your night on the town sounds like it was just wonderful! Makes me want to do the same. So sorry to hear your arm still toubles you. I hope you get the answers that you need.

Jacqueline~Cabin and Cottage said...

p.s. Thank you for the great compliment!

sweetbriardreams said...

This all sounds and looks like the most perfect break in Chicago. The Theater's decor throughout is amazing, you will have to revisit to let us see more :) Sorry to hear about the incident with the pot hole. I don't know if you get "the Vicar of Dibley" over there but there are a couple of scenes where the lady priest ends up doing the same - except she goes full in over head! The baby shower food looks delicious, and I love the look of those sandwiches! Take care and have a great weekend xx

Karen (Back Road Journal) said...

Thank goodness you didn't break anything when you feel. You are so lucky that you got away with bruised knees. I would definitely see someone about your arm…it just doesn't sound right. Now on to the nice part of your post, it sounds like a delightful weekend in the city and that is lovely.

Kit said...

What a lovely event! I will have to watch for a touring company of the show. I too, loved her music and can sing every song at the drop of a hat...LOL Glad you didn't get hurt too bad. Hope you get some relief on your arm. :) Kit

Lori said...

Love the theater trip ~ the weekend sounded perfect except for the falling down part! Hope your knees are healing up. xo

Mereknits said...

Your hair picture is hysterical, you can-never look your best in the North during Winter, you either have hat hair, wind hair or snow hair. Glad you had a lovely trip,

benilhalk said...

How brilliant baby shower and Broadway it was!! I just love everything about this event and I really can’t wait to try these rustic sorts of salads with lettuce and herbs. Well dear, I am looking for some affordable party venues for thanksgiving party. Can you please suggest a few venues?

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