Thursday, February 25, 2016


My pretty tulips finally shed their petals and I found these lilies at the grocery store.  I think a lot of you might think it's funny (or sort of strange) that I mention in most every post about one trip or another to my grocery store.  It's sort of a two fold situation.  Number one is that I'm restless and I feel that getting out each day is something that gives me fresh air and a clear mind.  Sometimes when I'm doing my grocery shopping,  I might think we are a little low on something perhaps like dog food or paper towels.  Then I think, "Nah...I'll come back in a day or two".  So strange.  It gives me something to plan on.  This is more of a winter/cold weather habit.  In the warmer months I get my fix just working or sitting outdoors.  

Another aspect: a long time ago it was so interesting to see my in-laws plan their food shopping around the newspaper store inserts.  I know my parents did the same before they left the city shortly before I was born.  Certain stores---mostly the 'Mom & Pop' types were known to have the best meat, fish or bakery.  So to make it even more involved, people would make separate trips to these individual stores do get the best price and finest choices.  I can still do that but so many of our huge stores have the best of the best.  The store I currently shop at has a food area that has an array of pizza made to order, fresh squeezed fruit and smoothies, a bakery that serves up bread right out of the oven, an area with cheeses from all over the world, a bar that serves anything from wine to elaborate mixed drinks and...a grand piano and player.  In a grocery store!  It may be 'over the top' but I really love all of it, especially the three aisles of international foods with signs that lead you down the pretty little walks with names such as Singapore, Brazil, Tokyo, San fun!

For someone who loves creative cooking, being in stores like all of these may be similar to what a knitter or person who loves to crochet feels like in a yarn shop.  Or a reader in a great bookstore (and I fall under that category as well!).  It's mesmerizing and has our creative minds churning.  Ever feel that?

I have several plants I brought in to try to keep over the winter.  I've always had a lot of luck with geraniums.  These are the annual type and although there is a perennial, these are doing well.  I love their scent as well as a few blooms near a sunny window.  I also have a little Norfolk Island Pine I bought three years ago.  It's probably only grown 2 inches in all of this time but I haven't the heart to toss it.  I have two Boston ferns that should  be put out of their misery but I feel a sense of responsibility to help them through until warm sunny days outdoors.  So I have this whole corner of my family room filled with greenery.  It's actually very pretty and 'alive!'

First pair of frivolous boots for 2016

I made a trip to Marshall's yesterday.  I mentioned The Husband has been home a lot working on his paper to be presented in Vancouver.  Loads of work.  Today was his eighth day here in the home office in the last ten day.  Can you say T-O-G-E-T-H-E-R-N-E-S-S?  I can't say it's terribly annoying, he rarely comes up for air.   Yet sometimes he makes me see red with remarks like, "What's for lunch?"  "We're out of juice".  "Is this all you do all day?"  So yeah, it's not a walk in the park.  Retirement looms ahead...God help us!  I may get a job. 

Much like I escaped to Target last Monday, yesterday I had no appointments or lunches with friends, visits with the pope or jaunts with Emily, so I did the little trip to Marshall's as I needed soap.  Yes, soap.  

Can I sing the praises of these hand pump soaps?  For around $4.99 to $5.99, you can get about 24 oz. of soap to keep in your bath or kitchen.  We go through it like crazy and you can't beat the prices, even if you were to buy economy size refills for high end brands such as Soft Soap.  I stock up every 2 months or so and always enjoy the scents. They switch brands around a lot so it's a little frustrating to consistently find something you've loved.  Still---a tremendous value and the ingredients are usually much more natural and plant based than most on the market.     

Not playing Show and Tell here, I just love a good deal and think it's cool to pass it on.  I found this darling of a bunny for $9.99.  Her right leg is a little wonky but so is my left arm.  Maybe she fell off a chair.  I may give it to a certain little girl but we'll see.  The Husband thinks I'm going to creep her out and give her nightmares when she sees all those bunnies I've accumulated over the years.  All those beady eyes and long ears everywhere you look.  Anyway, I have so many fun ideas for an Easter gift.  Being a grandma is so much fun.  I try to curb on the is what's important.  Signs of our love that last forever don't hurt either.  ;-D  

I also found these mugs at $1.99 a piece.  Wow!  I love the way they are sort of wavy like something pulled off a potter's wheel before becoming perfect.  I remember when I had a ton of mismatched mugs; different colors and sizes, a few that said things like Las Vegas or Chicago Blackhawks, and I thought I really needed matching mugs to be a grown up.  So I had them, they came with my last set of dishes.  Well, time went on and I slowly wanted to see some color, something different, variety.  Now  I have these and a couple of florals that you see at the likes of Anthropologie.  Just a few matching but something to grab for my morning coffee or tea fix that suits my mood.  I think that's most important, go with your own flow. :)

We had huge warnings for a winter storm and it did start quite heavily this morning.  It was however, a big mix of rain and snow.  The winds were huge and created what we call 'White Outs'.  The snow blows so heavily you can't see either way, walking or driving. I went out to shovel twice, simply trying to stay ahead of any huge accumulation but it was mostly slushy.  The wind was wicked though, the heavy wet flakes hitting my face like little needles.  This is why we are having slippery roads, many car accidents and spin outs.  Right now the horrible snow has moved under and around Lake Michigan and into Indiana and Michigan...I wonder how close it is to our lakehouse.  Say a prayer for Northwest looks bad.  Abby came here after work and I love that.  Wet towels on the floor, her books and bags and laptop dropped randomly in the living room.  Forages through the refrigerator that come up empty depending on her mood for junk or something healthy.  Always fun. 

This is a very cool recipe that Peggy, my partner in crime/Elsie's other grandma made recently and shared with me.  You HAVE to try it!  No matter how la-de-dah and "Oh, I've had something like this before"...TRY IT.  I have way to vary it but I want to give you the original recipe from Peggy which has no name other than, 'Rita's Salad'.

                                                                ****Rita's Salad****

5 slices of bacon, cooked and drained
2 types of lettuce--I used romaine and iceberg---3 cups each
2 pieces scallions (green onion) chopped
4 oz. slivered almonds
3 T Sesame seeds
2 T butter
1 small can Chow Mien noodles


1/2 c canola oil
1/2 c sugar
1/4 c white vinegar
1 t. each S&P
2 T Italian herbs (oregano, basil, rosemary...your choice

Quite simply... in a large bowl, mix lettuce and add scallions.  Set aside.  In a small saute pan heat the butter over low and cook the almonds and sesame seeds until just starting to brown.  Add to bowl with lettuce and mix quickly so lettuce doesn't wilt.  Add bacon (crumbled) and chow mien noodles, toss.  Make dressing.  Shake well and add to salad just before serving.  Best at room temperature.  

I may make this as part of my Easter dinner and I know it will be a mainstay this summer not only for our al fresco dinners at the lake but for company as well.  We truly loved it!  Thanks, Peggy.  And Rita.  Whoever you are.


Finally, I want to announce the winner of the book, Romantic Prairie Style.  I was very surprised by how so many of you do have it...myself, too.  I ended up with an extra because I've never learned to read the fine print.  Still, I was so happy to give a follower my extra book and this goes to Kerry at Sea Washed Living.  Send me an email with your address, my friend!

I'm off to the 'Less Windy-er' city tomorrow for an appointment with a skin specialist.  My eczema is beyond bad and this guy has done a lot of research in this area of dermatology, that makes him a hero to me already.  I truly have my fingers crossed that it won't be the same routine of oral steroids and topical ointments.  I wish I could just have a needle stuck in my arm to make it all go away but life wasn't meant to be easy.  I do mean to have The Husband take me to a nice, warm, heavenly place for lunch no matter the outcome.  That'll give us something to smile about.

That's it for today.  See all of you soon!

                                                                     Jane x

Friday, February 19, 2016


Hey everyone.  It's been a pretty good week in the Land of Blonde.  No, not perfect but it's the little things, right?  Like these tulips.  They gave me a week of pleasure and I even loved them when they started to drop a few petals.  My grocery store has a Five for Friday deal...a little bouquet for $5.00  Love it.  Today I bought some dwarf lilies.  I like to get them before they open so you will have to wait, with baited breath I'm sure, for a pic.  

It was 64 degrees and sunny here in Chicago today.  Amazing.  I opened windows in every room and let the breeze blow in to clear out the air and the dust rats.  Milo and Layla could not sit still.  They leaped around with their sniffers in the air and did their little dance to go outside every 20 minutes.  Maybe they think this is spring, who knows?  But they were happy.  I was happy and all was good.  Except the wind.  Far beyond what the Windy City is accustomed to.  Streets downtown were closed as windows broke, construction sites became dangerous; debris flying all over.  Everything and anything taking off into the wind.  I made a trip to the grocery store (I know, by now all of you think I live at the grocery store but it is what it is. :) and I was hanging on to my cart for dear life.  Other than that bit of excitement it was a sunny week and we all need that in February.

The Husband spent the most part of last weekend and then Monday and Tuesday working at home on the project he will be presenting in Vancouver this April.  We did go out for a nice Valentine's Day dinner Sunday and had a wonderful time.  I have to say, by Monday I had a little too much togetherness.  What can I say?  I'm used to being alone 5 days a week and although I never knew how much I was accustomed to it, well, I guess I am.  I escaped to Target Monday and other than a few food items, I was just wandering.  You know me too well though, I have a love for shower curtains.  Switching them up by season or just a whim.  I wanted something spring-y and this fit the bill.  At $19.00 I was pleased.  Maybe a little premature but a girl can dream, right?  I have the window open and you can see my little birdhouses swaying in the breeze.  So encouraging!

The only other thing I needed to make a soft feel was a pale pink hand towel for the shelving I have in this bath.  These are simple pieces of pine I had cut to the dimensions I wanted at Home Depot a few years ago.  I painted them a soft creamy color and they give me space and a way to display pretty soaps, towels and glass containers of essentials.  How fun it is to change a bathroom around so inexpensively.  

I really love the book section at Target.  Losing Border's was a real disappointment to me.  Barnes and Noble is about 50 minutes away and I've noticed it's filled with a lot of eye catching items I can't begin to count, nor need.  I think you know what I mean.  But...I have to avoid the book section at Target...I'm a sucker for the best sellers and pretty covers.  I did see this and when I read the back cover I was intrigued.  I thought it would be a sort of generational novel going back and forth from the times I really love--the early 1900's and 1960's.  It was but what didn't prepare me was how well written and...

...hysterically funny it is!  You'd never know.  Switching back and forth between two eras can be a little too common in so many novels, and though you can read the jacket cover (which you might want to enlarge to read above), you'd never know how charismatic these characters are and how life plays out in such comical, suspenseful and heartfelt way.  I'm eating up several chapters in a sitting.  I'm also enjoying a slow and enjoyable read of Stillmeadow Seasons by Gladys Tabor.  I savor her gentle rumination, almost meditative.  Before bed is the best time for me to relax and enjoy her writings.  Her times on the farm are a bit like my time at the lake, I get her need for solitude and simple life.  

I got wise after all of my appointment mishaps that I wrote about in my last post.  I never thought I needed any sort of calendar beside the good old wall type with pretty pictures of puppies.  But I finally broke down and bought a simple little planner and I'm getting pretty good at transferring all of those little appointment cards I usually stuff in my purse in to this little guy.  At the end of each month is a larger space for daily notes and I'm keeping a daily meal diary there.  I hear that tracking your meals helps in your diet.  I find it terrifying but heck...who knows?  I may or may not let you know how well this works.  ;-D

And on to another recipe with an awful picture as per usual.  We don't eat meat during lent and as I'm not a huge fan of seafood, nor do I eat eat many carbs such as pasta, potatoes or anything relatively white,  I have to be creative to make fish taste a a little better.  I peruse recipes all the time and I happened to find a great recipe for Cod Cakes published by the New York Times.  Of course I changed it.  The poached fish involved a lot of herbs and spices that I felt would simply get diluted in the process so I eliminated them in my recipe.  I also have specific ideas as to how to create a cake that doesn't fall apart.  I hope you enjoy this and feel free to modify your ingredients. 

Cod Cakes

1 lb. fresh cod fillets
2 T butter
2 stalks celery, diced fine
1 carrot, diced fine
1 medium onion, diced fine
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 heaping T mayonnaise 
2 t Dijon mustard
2 eggs
S & P
1 T Italian herb blend
1 T sweet paprika
1 c Panko bread crumbs
1 c. plain bread crumbs

1/4 c canola oil


Poach fish in 1/2 c water in a small skillet about 10 minutes until opaque.  Remove and let cool.  Drain skillet and melt butter over medium heat.  Add all veggies and garlic and saute about 6 minutes until soft.  Transfer to a large bowl.

In a small bowl combine mayo, mustard, eggs salt and pepper.  Add herb blend and paprika.  Add this to the large bowl of veggies.  Stir in the bread crumbs 1/2 cup at a time.  The batter should be moist but firm.

Flake the cooked cod both finely and in small chunks.  Add to the rest of the ingredients and mix thoroughly.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and chill at minimum 30 minutes.  

Heat canola oil over medium heat.  Form patties of the cod mixture and cook about 4-5 minutes on both sides until heated through.  For a crispy surface, spread a bit of mayo over each side before cooking.  A lemony vinaigrette is a nice topping as well.


Well. that's it for now.  We have zero plans for the weekend but that may change.  I'm feeling very on top of things lately.  I handed in my first newspaper article of the year 5 days early.  Yay!  This is the year I want to be a non procrastinator.  If that's possible.  

I also want to say that I'm keeping the book giveaway open another week (see my last post).  If you want to be entered, please let me know in your comment.  

Have a great weekend!

Jane x 

Saturday, February 13, 2016


Hello!  Happy Weekend although when I publish this it may be Sunday morning.  I have a tendency to proofread a thousand times.  How are you guys weather-wise?  Our warmest day was Tuesday at 28 degrees but the wind was so bad I felt like I had windburn on my cheeks walking from the parking lot into the grocery store.  The Husband has been so good about making fires...we have a ton of wood from the lakehouse piled up in the garage.  We also use a Duraflame logs to keep it going a little more effortlessly.  Our living room and the direction it faces gets a lot of the cold wind so the fire truly keeps  us warm as well as cozy.  We have snow predicted tomorrow--3-6 inches which is truly not terrible for us.  In fact, I'd love to see the beauty of the white stuff.  Still, not crazy about anyone having to drive in it.

In spite of the cold we had many sunny days.
 Milo and Layla usually play games with this chair in the living room which faces southeast and gets that mid morning sun.  I truly think they love each other, they share the same food and water bowl, sometimes at the same time...but Milo seems to have owners rights as he is two years older and was the king of the roost.  To see them on the same chair is quite a phenomenon.  Toleration?  Brotherly/sisterly love?  I have to grab it when I can.  They are precious and even more together.  And lets not forget that sun, it makes me smile.


Thank you for all of the compliments on Elsie's party and the pics.  She is so beautiful and with her walking...what a game changer.  I sometimes feel very far away from when my children made these milestones and at other times I still feel that instinct from having four kids so long ago. That instinct never leaves us.  I'm so glad I get to do this over again!

We celebrated her true birthday on February 10th.  Kevin and Mary Clare had both sides of the family over for pizza.  So fun.  I made a little, I need to stick with cookies and cupcakes.  I frosted the bottom layer on a piece of cardboard so it wouldn't smear up the cake pedestal.  My best and most honest critic, Emily, asked why the bottom of the cake was odd.  It was a chocolate cake and that was obvious along the bottom.  Well, I ended up tinting more frosting and fixing it but didn't take a revised picture.  Still, I'm a perfectionist and until I take a cake decorating class or simply practice, practice, practice...I'm leaving cake decorating to the experts.

I mentioned in my last post that we were making progress at the lakehouse and picking out so many new things.  I think it would be a big mish mash to show you little bit by bit things.  Just let it be said, I've chosen the kitchen floor and lower cabinets (see above and more about the stain below).  I'm doing reclaimed wood shelves above.  I am going to stay with subway tile for the backsplash but will use a darker gray grout to make it pop a bit.  I picked out a porcelain floor that mimics wood.

Above you can see the stain that will be used on my lower cabinets.  It's called 'Rye",  I want nothing with an orange or honey shade.  They will be glazed in a shade called Sable that will get into the grooves.  I'm going to have black hardware that will also be used in the brackets of the open shelving.  I have a bit of a rustic/country theme going.  I can't wait to share it all.

I had a little mishap, mistake, not too pleasant experience when I ordered this book.  I was really excited when I pre-ordered it and maybe I neglected to read the fine print.  I received it, even posted positively on IG, but once I settled down to read it, I realized it was all very familiar.  I have the original from 2011 and this is simply the same book with a different cover.  What?   Well, I could return it to Amazon but seeing how many people on IG responded that they'd love to read it, I'm going to give it away.  Yes, another giveaway within three months.  Just leave a comment to be in the drawing.  And spread the word around with a link if you'd like. ;-)

This week was a string of mishaps and although I was terribly frustrated, it's always great to look at it from the humorous side.  Here goes...

I feel like all I've been doing is going from one doctor appointment to the next.  Seriously.  My annual exam with my GP a few weeks ago, 3 visits with my audiologist, the second opinion with an orthopedic specialist on my arm.  Blood tests, bone density and a colonoscopy ordered (whoa boy...hasn't happened yet).  

So here's the real unadulterated poop...

~I was driving to the suburbs to one doctor and as I pulled into the parking lot, realized I was at the wrong doctor, 6 miles out of my way.  And wondering if I had completely lost my mind or just jamming to The Weeknd and Justin Beiber.  

~Went to another clinic (another day) a mistaken hour before my appointment.  After complaining a bit, I pulled the appointment card out of my purse, realized my mistake and of course felt guilty.  I directed my anger to the wall rack of magazines,  Parents, Highlights for children, Prevention and Woman's World.  It made the green vinyl chairs and rubber plants seem appropriate.

~This goof up had to be the worst of them all.  I tried to prolong my gynecologist appointment for so long--I even rescheduled once.  And on Tuesday I was wallowing in self pity that I had to go.  This sort of exam for me is similar to how some of you dread dental appointments.  I'd rather have a tooth pulled.  So as I sat that morning with my coffee contemplating rescheduling my appointment, I pulled myself up by the bootstraps, took a three hour long bath and headed out into the 17 degree weather.  I arrived at the office thinking the waiting room was quite empty.  Yay, no wait.  When I announced my appointment... well long story short, they couldn't find me on the computer and then voila, I was actually scheduled for the next day.  I had the date wrong.  What????  And I have to do this all over again???  So I rescheduled and now I have to go through the same anxiety, loss of sleep and three hour soak in the tub.  Shoot me.    

~And finally.  I had to renew my passport for our upcoming trip.   The Husband was nagging and a little inpatient about me doing this.  So I was in Walgreens one afternoon and it was quite empty.  Considering many of us do not want to pose for a picture in the busyness of a store, I seized this moment, had the photo taken, and had the proper papers printed.  Once home I methodically filled them out and then  smugly presented them to The Husband along with the photo of my beaming face.  And then he said, "Oh, Jane.  I forgot to tell you that I looked at our existing passports and we are good until 2018".  Again, shoot me.  

I'll end with a funny moment here.  One of our grocery stores has a promotion which involves getting little tabs/stickers based upon how much you spend.  It's sort of a Monopoly game where you stick those little babies on and you can win win over $500,00 dollars or a $2.00 coupon. Or nothing.  I never play and usually give my little stickers to the customer behind me.  When The Husband found out he shared warm and fuzzy moments about his father collecting S&H Green stamps  Remember those?  It was a part of my life, too, and I remember my mother winning a set of  pots and pans. is the man totally involved with the stickers.  My life was threatened if I dared to give them away again.  The funniest thing here is...The Husband can rock a suit and tie like nobody else, but little do you guys know, he dresses like someone from Archie Comics when he's relaxed at home.  Well, not always.  Hubby, if you are reading this somewhere in 2027, forgive me.  He is truly a man I'm proud to be out and about with.  And maybe you should see me on downtime! :(

Happy Valentine's Day to all.  I bought myself some cheap tulips yesterday...this guy is absent minded but that's just another thing I love about him.  :)

Jane x

Sunday, February 7, 2016



I absolutely want to start out by thanking everyone for the wonderful birthday wishes.  You are all such good friends.  It definitely makes getting older much sweeter!  After celebrating the night before, I met with my friend/partner in crime/fellow grandmother to Elsie, Peggy, the next morning for a trip to a second hand bookstore that we both love.  Nothing like being friends with another reader.  After a lot of browsing and some purchases we headed off to a little cafe near the Metra station to downtown Chicago.  Just a small place but it has the most delicious soups, salads and burgers.  Since it was my BIG day I indulged in a hamburger (ask The Husband, other than the very occasional Quarter Pounders when we are on the road and desperate, he's never seen me order a burger at a restaurant nor do I make them at home).  This one was special...sautéed spinach on a 1/2 pound Angus burger with feta cheese and grilled red onion.  That's all I needed besides my Diet Pepsi, no fries or chips, it was plenty.  I stopped at the grocery on the way home and picked up a container of chicken that's made up fresh everyday and a container of broccoli cheddar soup-- this was our simple no fuss dinner.  Great day. :)

Elsie's first birthday party was coming up on Saturday and although I had contributed a bit by getting the paper items like plates, cups and napkin, at the last minute I wanted to do more.  The party was being held at the home of my son and daughter in law, Jeff and Deirdre.  They have a ton of space.  One day I'll give you a tour.  So I had a few last minute ideas and made the mason jars filled with candy (see above) the day before.  Even more last minute I decided to make some cookies for the kiddies to snack on before cake was served but when I found some cute little glassine bags, I made little favors with them.  I think poor Elsie is in for a heart shaped/borderline Valentines Day theme for many birthdays to come. ;-)

Emily texted me pictures as they set up.  She and Mary Clare are very creative and have so much energy.  I have a fear of standing on chairs after my near fatal fall in June (ha ha ha!), so it was so neat seeing all of the decorations hanging everywhere.  Can you believe you are looking at simply the foyer?  Behind is the open living room, kitchen and dining area.  His home is unbelievable.  

The hearth was decorated with cute pictures of Elsie on doilies as well as a framed pictures for each of her 12 months in our lives.  I can't remember how it was before her!

Beautiful cake and I love how you can now get the separate one for the birthday girl/boy.  That's simply the sweetest part, watching them dip their chubby little fingers into the first really sweet treat they've ever had.  Isn't that cake precious?  Peggy contributed this.  

Here are the proud parents and grandparents around our girl...

...and another I just saw in one of our shared family albums on my phone, a great picture of my kids and their loves.  Clockwise:  Elsie, Abby., Mary Clare, Kevin, Mike, Emily, Tom, Jeff & Deirdre. 

Finally a picture of me and our birthday girl.  I posted this on FB and IG so if you are tired of seeing it, apologies.  Neither of us will ever be this young!  We really had a great time.  Friends, family...this little girl has a lot of love all around her.  Again, it's hard to imagine life before her and it make me look forward to our family expanding even more, soon I hope!!! ;-)

We had a quiet day today.  Abby was here for the party and left to go home and then The Husband and I slipped out for dinner.  We've been doing that quite a bit I think recently in spite of my claims to the contrary in my last post (!!!).  I just know that we never have much time together during the week.  He works long days and I really like to create good meals for us in the evening.  He likes to read in bed and go to sleep early and I like to stay up until at least after the 10:00 news.  But I really need some getting out and with temps consistently in the 30's of late, I'm feeling a little housebound.  

We are working on our 2016 Travels (I feel really important wording it that way as we usually don't go far or long).  I am really excited about trip to Vancouver in April, The Husband is receiving an award for a paper he wrote with a doctor/colleague and it's very exciting, I'm so proud.  We are pencilling in a lot of sightseeing.  Stay tuned.  We hope to get to our place in Asheville in June and I need to map out a fun route to take in some new states/cities/towns/ to see along the way.  The lakehouse will fill our weekends soon and then we will take our usual 2 weeks stay in August which I know will be very busy.  Hopefully we can get away to some of the  Lake Michigan shore towns for some change of scenery.  Yet, the lakehouse will be perfect enough.  I sometimes wonder how Milo and Layla will feel to be back inside and out.  Work has been going on for over 8 weeks now and is moving along quickly.  In my next post I'll share some of the things I've picked out for the new kitchen, bath and loft area.  

Thanks for taking the time to read this post (if you are still here with me).  I may have been long winded about the party but if you know me well, then you know that family is something I hold very close to my heart.  I'm fortunate to have a big one but no matter the size, we all have a lot to be grateful and perfect moments spent together.  :)

See you soon!

Jane x

Tuesday, February 2, 2016


It's raining cats and dogs and we have thunder and lightening.  Wow...February 2?  Since it's been a really quiet, lazy day here in Blondieville, it feels sort of cozy hearing the rain on the roof, the distant thunder and trying to see out of the rain spattered windows.  Great day to stay in, turn the lamps on low and have soup for lunch.  I took a shower and jumped right back into a pair of p.j.'s.  The afternoon went by quickly reading my book and a few magazines on my bed.  

We had a really great weekend.  I have a birthday coming up so The Husband and I went out to a Louisiana Cajun style restaurant that has been here forever.  We really had a ball, just the two of us.  The place is lively, noisy and so fun.  It was also decorated for Mardi Gras so that was very festive.  The Husband had trout and I had soft shell crab.  Tomorrow is my actual birthday and he came home just a little while ago and wants to take me to my favorite Mexican restaurant for dinner tonight as he is working late tomorrow.  With the rain and the fact that I'm in my p.j.'s, I could easily just stay on my laptop watching the news.  We have really cut back on having dinner out and ordering food in.  I, personally, don't go to fast food restaurants.  There's nothing I can eat on the menu that's good for me other than salads and I can make those at home.  Unfortunately we are tempted by all of the restaurants around us that deliver anything from their menu from a burger to a steak...and with all the sides.  Still, we've found by plugging along and going out just once in a great while, we can indulge in some of the better restaurants.  But I digress.  The restaurant we are going to tonight is known for it's gourmet Mexican food.  Here is a link.  Check out the menu. ***

While we are on the subject of food, I wanted to share a great soup I made last week that had The Husband swooning.  I have been Pinning cauliflower recipes like mad, it is so versatile and low in carbs which I try very hard to avoid.  I adapted this big time from a recipe for cauliflower chowder.  I wanted something creamier.  It's very rich and filling and I toasted some thick slices of bread (for the man), with a little olive oil and garlic.  

Cream of Cauliflower Soup

4 slices bacon
3 T butter
2 carrots, diced
2 celery stalks, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 c flour
4 cups chicken broth
1/4 c milk
1 small head of cauliflower cut away from the stem
1 bay leaf
s & p

Cook 4 slices of bacon in a large pot or dutch oven over medium heat until crisp, set aside.  In the same pot melt the butter.  Add the carrots and celery and sauté until just tender/crisp, 2-3 minutes.  Add the garlic and cook one additional minute.

Add the flour to the pot and whisk continuously about 1 minute until it starts to brown.  Add the chicken broth a bit at a time, whisking all the while and scraping the pieces from the bottom of the pot.  Add the milk, cauliflower and bay leaf.  Bring to a boil and then adjust heat to  low simmer and cook covered 1/2 hour.  Remove the bay leaf and let the soup cool a bit.  Then puree with an immersion blender (which I used), or a standard blender until smooth.  A food processor will work, too.  Serve in bowls topped with the crumbled bacon bits you've reserved.  You may want to reheat it a bit in the pot just before serving.  This is a great 'make ahead' soup.  Serves 4.

I hope you enjoy this soup.  It is stick-to-your-ribs comfort food soup.  If you don't puree it, serve it like a chowder.  With some good bread it is a perfect winter meal.

If this isn't the truth---it's not so easy to find things to post about in the dead of winter.  Would you care to see a photo of a snowplow going down my street?  Hear of all the movies I've caught on the LMN channel?  How despite running a humidifier night and day I still have dustballs the size of Texas?  Yep, sad posting material.  I take so many pictures outside in the summer, I decided to take a stroll around the Ponderosa indoors the other day.  I don't share many pics of our family room.  It really should get used more.  See the TV above in the sort of entertainment unit?  Well, that is actually a closet and the wood surround is just a thin wood front that pops off.  Ingenious, right?  Never mind that black speaker, The Husband thought surround sound would help me hear better but it actually makes me jump out of my seat.  Loud booms are amplified so loudly it sounds like a plane has crashed into our house!! lol!

This is the opposite side of the room, the sofa facing the entertainment unit.  Very comfy and laid back. A perfect place for napping.  The windows look out into the shady backyard and in the summer it feels like you are in a cozy birds nest.  So, do you have any rooms to share that maybe you don't use a lot but have some neat features?

I posted this on Instagram (I sometimes can't remember what I put on my blog and what I've posted on IG).  I thought this was so funny--I see it all the time.  I spend my evenings in the den working on my laptop, maybe watching TV or reading.  After dinner is cleaned up and I'm all cleaned up (as in face washed and clean p.j.'s on), I head in here with the dogs trailing behind.  They each have a chair and a little throw.  While I'm fiddling with my bedtime stuff and looking for my slippers, I see Milo patiently waiting.  It's the winding down of the day for him, too.  Last week I came out of the bedroom with my phone in hand and was able to capture a picture.  This sums up the idea of a faithful dog.  Their lives are based on habit.  They know what we should be doing when we don't even know!  

I was reading a magazine and I can't remember which one, but it was extolling the virtues of turnips.  My experience with turnips is adding them to soups and stews.  That's it.  They are somewhat tasteless and I remember some of our friends at the lake including slices of them as part of veggie trays to dip into...well, a dip.  This however,  is a cool recipe...very quick.  It has a great, subtle flavor that may have you and your family/guests thinking they are eating rather different but better french fries.  You will thank me once you've made it.  Truly.

Turnip French Fries

2 large turnips 
2 tablespoons of canola oil
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
1 T cayenne pepper
1 T paprika
1 t nutmeg

Peel and slice the turnips in quarters, then slice into medium to thin pieces, much like 'steak fries'.  See picture above.  Place them in a bowl with the remaining ingredients and give it all a good toss.  Spread evenly on a parchment lined baking sheet and bake at 425 degrees for 1/2 hour, flipping halfway.  Season with salt before serving if you wish.

I know many of you are fans of the late Gladys Taber.  I had heard a bit about her here and there, her love of simple life.  A life in a sweet country cottage surrounded by land, her gardens, her pups and a love of recording her days and years.

I finally asked my friend Dewena, where do I start?  The woman wrote over 50 books before she passed away at eighty.  Stillmeadow Seasons is what she recommended and I received it the other day from Amazon and I simply can't put it down.  I've never been so caught up in descriptive writing like this---in fact I usually prefer a lot less description and have a  "get right to the point" penchant.  Not this time.  I left the book on the table near my reading chair and The Husband picked it up.  It's a used 1st edition and he adores anything with a bit of history.  So thank you Dewena! :)  I can't wait to get back to it.  Please leave something in your comments as to how you might know of Gladys Taber and her books.  Which have you read and could recommend?

As a little inspiration and something I can surely identify with at this time in my life and with a birthday tomorrow, this is the beginning of a paragraph I ironically came across today in this book by Gladys Taber.

"I do not actually feel a year older on my birthday, now coming up on the clock face of time.  I only feel a sense of the value of the moments, hours, and days that are yet mine, and now and then a deep and passionate wish to do as well by them as is in me"

                     Gladys Taber

A Happy Week to all!!

Jane x

***  Well, the Husbands persistence in going out on this miserable rainy night to celebrate my birthday had an underlying motive...

Clockwise:  Elsie, Kevin, Mary Clare, Jeff, The Husband, Emily, Tom, Abby & Moi.  Yay!  And Elsie is now walking like a champ.  Her 1st birthday party is Saturday and I will fill you in on all of the details. :)