Sunday, February 26, 2017


After temperatures in the mid twenties yesterday we are warming up.  It's very windy but sunny, and in the forties.  Love it.  I may get some extra exercise and rake up some of the sticks and dead leaves this afternoon.  Or not.  I'm really not good at prioritizing.  I look around now and I see breakfast dishes in the sink, a basket of laundry ready to go downstairs and a bathroom that needs a good scouring.  Yet I'd just love to curl up in a comfy chair, go through the stack of magazines that are piling up or finish one of the 3 books I've started. 

I stopped at Trader Joe last week when I was out in the burbs.  The flowers are definitely an attraction to reel people in. I bought these tulips as well as some yellow carnations.  I also bought some of their delicious salads and spreads such as the Taboule, tapenade, and babeleh.  These are great alone, spread on crackers or added to a green or pasta salad.  

I've been making a lot more salads lately.  I Pin a great many if you want to have a look at my Pinterest board.  The days of chopping up lettuce, adding some cucumber and tomato, and dousing the whole bowl with Italian dressing are over.  The more interesting, the better.  And they're not just for summer any more.  My doctor would like to see me eat less animal protein and since I keep my carbs way down, I can't have much pasta, rice, grains or beans.  The truth is, if I ever had a cheat day I wouldn't eat cookies or ice cream, chips or even bread, as Oprah craves.  I'd have a big 'ol bowl of rice and beans.   The other day Emily and I were heading out for some retail therapy and I offered to bring us a salad for lunch before.  It was simply a huge bowl of Romaine lettuce, finely chopped red pepper, onion, cucumbers, some shredded cheese,  a small handful of chickpeas and some black beans.  I made a light dressing of balsamic vinegar, honey and olive oil.  As we ate (and she loved it), I was thinking of other beans that would have been nice, maybe some chopped olives or a scoop of quinoa.  The great thing was we had two servings from this huge bowl and shopped for almost 4 hours.  Usually we are tired and hungry afterward but not this time.  It was healthy and full of protein.

If you are interested in some meatless recipes, I highly recommend the book River Cottage Veg by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall.  He's a British writer and broadcaster and has written several cookbooks including River Cottage Meat and River Cottage Fish.   I've had the book open on my counter for the past two weeks.  I peruse the recipes, jot down the fresh items I need for a few and add them to my grocery list.  Very simple.  I've also taken to food shopping once or twice a week so the veggies are fresh.   Not everyone has the time but it sure beats canned or frozen.  I love the photography in this book, too.  The late great Charlie Trotter wrote in my copy of his book when I had the good fortune to meet him, "Food is love."  I also think food is art. :)


This is the first weekend in awhile that we haven't been to the lake.  We've done so much work up there and it was balanced out with a lot of reading and relaxing.  Friday I just wanted to stay home, not have the two hour drive there and back and maybe see the kids.  We did get together at a restaurant about 3 blocks away.  It was fun; we saw some friends and neighbors as well.  Life is slow and somewhat quiet at the lake (with the exception of summer with all of the water toys buzzing around the water and tons of people walking, biking, running, rollerskating...).  The Husband had missed his Sunday morning breakfasts with Elsie.  These two have really bonded.  She just adores him and of course, he loves that attention! I've also had the time to get caught up on some things around the house.  Can you believe I'm still finding Christmas decorations?  In a hallway I happened to notice my sign that says, "Happy Spring".  I guess it can just stay there now.  

The sunsets have been so pretty without the leaves of the trees to obscure the sky.   This is actually facing southeast but I love the reflection on the bay.  Last weekend the weather was in the 60's and I sat outside with the dogs while The Husband split wood for kindling.  A neighbor was burning leaves; it felt like autumn.  I'm glad it's not.  I'm excited to get back to my gardens and sit on a nice clean beach.  

I've been hesitant in giving you a tour of the lakehouse without the decor completely finished.  Another shot of the furniture we had reupholstered.  It's hard to tell but the settee has little diamonds of blue that pick up colors from the sofa and loveseat.  I had a round jute area rug here before but the sun seems to have yellowed it.  I would think if anything it would fade but it didn't.  I have been looking online at every style and shade of area rugs I can and I get so discouraged.  I'm so picky.  And there is not one speck of artwork on the walls yet.  I have a ton to sell at the yard sale in June that I simply have no desire to hang again.  There was a time that I hung pieces just to fill the space.  Now I'm thinking quite a bit before I put a hole in the wall.  The walls are expansive so I need large pieces or groupings.  I get really insecure doing that.  You can rearrange furniture, add, edit or move around small pieces and table toppings,  but rugs, window treatments, artwork or anything that means making a hole in the wall...well that's major

Not much to do in this area...the coffee table is a mess of books and magazines.  The left side of the sofa is where I park in the morning with my coffee or at night with a fire going, maybe sipping wine and reading with that cozy quilt around me.  I mentioned that the carpenters covered over the floor outlet where we used to plug in a lamp on this small table.  I took the advice of the ladies on Instagram to use a lantern with a candle on this table.  I found a set of three at a shop in town, this one being the largest.  Looking at it from this view makes me think I should go down a size.  Gee...looking at these pics make me feel a little homesick for the lake and wish we were there!

Back at the ranch, I continue to declutter.  This counter is always an eyesore (and this is the after!).  It's across the room from the stove and sink so I really don't use it a ton.  Some would put the mixer and food processor away as well as the flour and sugar but I want it at the ready.  I think the reason I don't use my slow cooker much is because its buried in a cabinet and it's heavy!   See the empty cookie jar?  That's why I have the mixer out.  Time to get moving.  

 How do we keep a nice balance between having a clean, organized home/closet/car...fill in the blanks if you wish, and time for relaxing and living in the moment?  It's hard for me to kick back if I have stuff to get done.  And there's always stuff.  So, my question you have a designated day for cleaning house or do you do it as needed, a little here and a little there?  There was a time when I had to have everything perfect, as if my mother was going to walk in unannounced with a white glove.  In fact I prided myself on being the Queen of Clean.  And then I realized how tired I was.  And I noticed my energy level for doing much else after I broke my bum picking up, organizing and disinfecting was nil.  Patterns change and sometimes I wonder if I'm being neglectful or just breaking free of  unrealistic standards I set up.  Just my thoughts on a Sunday afternoon, still looking at breakfast dishes while I ponder what to make for dinner.


I did a pretty good job simplifying the bedroom.  I recently bought this comforter from West Elm for the bed in the master bedroom at the lake.  Then I found another at Target that suited our room much better.  Loving this one so much I kept it for the bedroom here in the city.  The woven color is gray but I saw that you could get the comforter with red or blue accents.  The throw at the end is from Pottery Barn and a good five years old.  Abby even had it at her apartment for a while.  On really cold nights I layer it over the comforter which is super soft but not so thick.  Hello from Layla!  She turned 10 last week.  Like me, she needs to walk off a few pounds.  ;-D

So here's a little round up without all the unnecessary words:

From Blondie's Medical Journal:  An infection going on three months in my head and chest due to zero immunity.  Hoping the new meds are approved in March.  I stopped bothering to take OTC meds, so I just sleep as much as possible.  Probably the reason I'm agonizing over housework.

From Blondie's Library:  Just finished Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk (quite good), and starting Since She Went Away, a thriller that I found at Target.  "...a chilling novel of guilt, regret, and a past that refuses to die..."  I have the feeling this will be a page turner.  

From Blondie's Guide to The Laziest Form of Entertainment:  Never disappointed by Blindspot, Timeless and This Is Us, the latter making me very down so I may stop watching.  Hmmmm...

From Blondie's Guide to Even More Lazy Forms of Entertainment:  Tried to start the new HBO series based on the book by Liann Moriarity,  Big Little Lies.  Got further in the book, as in two chapters.  Interesting characters but boring.  A shame because these are really good actors.  A better choice for a series would have been her book, The Husband's Secret.  Loved that.  Started an excellent series on HBO called Imposters.  OMGoodness; mystery, drama, action, humor, sexiness and great acting.  Great storyline, too.  Just a few episodes in, you can catch up if you have On Demand.  I'm anxious for Tuesday nights!

From Blondies Love Of Music Meant For the Younger Crowd:  I actually love driving, the farther the better, just to crank up that car radio.  So loving Mercy by Shawn Mendes.  The live performance from SNL is insane.  I'm also belting out the words along with Rihanna to Love on the Brain, and dreaming  with the Chainsmokers doing Paris.  Finally, loving the new(ish) singles out by The Weeknd, Starboy, and Bruno Mars, 24K Magic.

Okay, I may have lost most of you on this last one.  

I'll be back soon.  Enjoy the rest of your weekend and the start of a brand new week!

Jane x

Wednesday, February 15, 2017


Brooks Patrick
February 10, 2017
8 lbs., 2 oz.
Proud Parents, Jeffrey and Deirdre

Is he smiling or what?  We are so filled with love for this little guy already.  We were in the hospital waiting room with Deirdre's parents when Jeff came through the door from the Labor and Delivery section, arms raised high, "It's a baby boy!"  We were able to see mom and baby a little bit later.  Isn't he the most handsome little one you've ever seen?  I'm fighting a cold but once I'm not contagious I want to eat him up!  Ironically, Brooks was born the very same day as Elsie, February 10.  My sons having their firstborn on the same date, 2 years

Our little Madelyn came to visit on my birthday on the 3rd.  She's really smiling a lot.  She grows so fast, I'm wondering how Mondays With Madelyn will be once she starts crawling.  A lot of vacuuming and sweeping I'm sure.  Once the weather gets warmer, a looooong time from now, I want to go for walks with her in her stroller and maybe a few trips to the park up the street.  This is so fun.  I don't know how Emily feels but when Madelyn isn't sleeping, getting her bottle or a diaper change,  I like to put her in the portable cradle in front of the TV with Sesame Street on.  Before you think of me as being that type of mother, I mean grandmother, who lets the TV babysit the kids, you should see her smile and wiggle to the music and those cute Muppets as they sing and dance.  I think the music and colors and faces are really pretty cool for a baby.  Better than watching me fold sheets.


I am so wanting to make changes.  I think winter and being inside virtually most of the day makes me want to get wild and crazy.  The clean out and organize phase is over, or let's just say I'm good with the 2 closets and 4 drawers I did.  I also purged 3 sweaters and countless cotton tops that I shrunk in the dryer.  Does anyone else have problems with shrinkage?  I do have a tendency to buy more inexpensive clothing for hanging out around the house.  But man, I've been so good about hanging sweaters, bras and rugs to dry.  I know~~~I shouldn't wash them together.

So I was going for my highlights and I was going to have my girl cut it shorter and I was also thinking an alternative would be bangs.  She talked me out of short bangs and I did realize I would be a version of myself at ten years old with makeup and a lot of expensive hair products.  So she gave me side bangs.  This selfie is right after and of course, it's styled perfectly.  Since, it's been a disaster.  The bangs are going straight up in a bouffant sort of style (think Elvis), and when I finally tame them to casually go off my forehead, I've used so much gel, mousse and hairspray, my hair is bulletproof.  I've never been good with hair, I don't know why I have it.  I mean long hair.  Maybe it's the ease of pulling it up in a ponytail or loose bun and looking like the same old Jane day after day.  Maybe I should just accept the way my hair wants to go.  I might just avoid messy drawers, closets and fussy laundry as well.

After I cleared the Christmas decor off the mantel (about 2 weeks ago), I left it bare so I could pretend I was looking for inspiration.  I was actually parked in front of the TV every night watching Chicago Fire, Chicago P.D. and Chicago Med.  I do not watch these shows because I live here, God knows it's happening all around me,  I don't have to see it on TV when I have the news (I don't take this lightly) but I love to recognize streets, intersections, restaurants and the general links to Sweet Home Chicago.  Do you know they actually film here and really do use real names of streets, parks, etc.?  I was watching a chase scene recently on Chicago P.D. and they were going after a suspect downtown.  The dispatcher called in, "He's heading toward LSD east on Columbus"  As the officers said, "Copy that.",  I'm screaming, "No!  Take Randolph Street.  Less lights and traffic!!!"  I love interaction television.  

But getting back to the mantel, I really strove for simplicity and you know by now clutter is my middle name.  I think I got it with the mercury glass on each end (does anyone love mercury glass pieces anymore?  I love it and always have it here and there in vignettes).  I like to have something green or organic in every arrangement and I decided toss some books in randomly.  Every mantel needs a little randomness.  Some of mine are a total mishmash of stuff and I just tell myself that people will think I'm on to something, go home and totally trash out their mantelscape.  The sign is handmade from the cutting of the wood to the distressing and stamping of the words.  I wish I could remember the name of the blog where the husband and wife make the most incredible one of a kind pieces of art.  If you are sincerely interested, let me know and I will dig through my archives to when I first bought it.  This has been hanging in the master bedroom for a long time but as I said, I'm making big changes.  This was tough because I love my windows on the mantel.  

Well, you can see the window didn't make it far!  Another wall in the living room.  I really pared this down.  I usually keep family pictures in the bedrooms and family room but it's about mixing it up.  This will stay until spring/Easter, whichever comes first.  I'm feeling a little lighter.

Source Unknown

I'm sharing a recipe that knocked the socks off The Husband and I.  I think it may be a new Go To for making pork with a crispy coating and juicy flavor.  I may even use it on chicken.  The key is giving the meat a dry rub, browning it over high heat on the stove and then baking it with a light brushing of mustard and honey near the end.  You can find the recipe here.  No pictures from me.  I simply can't take good looking pictures of the food I make.  In fact I think it may make most readers turn away in disgust.

For your information I made the following changes:

~~~I did the whole recipe with pork tenderloin
~~~I increased the amount of the herbs and spices just a bit
~~~I cooked the meat to 120 degrees as opposed to 140.  It continues to cook once removed from the oven and I didn't want it dried out.

That's it.  I'm going to try it on chops and chicken.  This would be great on the grill as well.  

Bon Appetite


I was super excited that The Husband fulfilled my birthday wish with something other than tacky pajamas and bad perfume.  ;-D  We have tickets to see Idina Menzel at the Chicago Theater in August.  I just love her.  She's a wonderful Broadway actress who has won Tony Awards for her roles in Rent and Wicked.  She is also the voice of Queen Elsa in Frozen, in which she sang Let It Go, and won an Oscar and a Grammy.  So...I'm such a fan and I just love the theater.  We used to go quite a bit before my hearing went downhill.  With headsets provided I can now enjoy going again.  Musicals are my favorite.  Funny, I barely mentioned it to The Husband and there were the tickets on my birthday.  Great seats, too!

I also forgot to mention that this sweet guy gave me a potting table for Christmas!  Yes!  A freaking potting table for the garden!  I've been crabbing and dropping hints forever and there it was Christmas morning, well sort of.  A photo copy of said potting table with the actual one in the garage waiting to be assembled.  This will be interesting.  If I want it by spring I may need him to get started now.

We are having ups and downs with the temperatures here but we are going up to 60 degrees (!!!) this weekend and after missing the lake 2 weekends in a row, I'm excited to get there and get some fresh air.  The Husband bought yet again, a new wood chopping device.  This one helps you make kindling and that's a must for making a good fire.  Have I ever told you I'm a really great fire starter?  With a big fireplace, wood burning stove, chiminea and outdoor wood burning stove..well, sometimes I've been inclined to get involved.  We do the outdoor fires 3 seasons, and the indoor fires for a good  6-8 months.  While he plays Davy Crockett, I plan to walk the dogs.  They are so huge and lazy with the lack of activity as the winter drones on.  And I need some exercise, too.  Seriously.  

Feel free to share some of your laundry woes with us, your like or dislike of seeing plays and musicals, as well as  any changes you will or won't be making as we near the dream of a possible early spring.  ;-D

Jane x 

Wednesday, February 1, 2017


Hoping everyone is alive and well.  I'm curled up with a warm throw watching the Ladies of London, hence, it's not too hard to write a post at the same time.  A good movie...well, that's when I get behind in blogging.  

I wanted to share a great family get together we had at the lake this past weekend.  I applaud The Husband for planning it, he is super excited about getting the kids together for some activities up north other than just holidays.  Everyone was there except Jeff and Deirdre...their baby is due in early February and they felt it best to stay close to home.

Here's a shot of the happy group looking like they scaled Mt. Rainer.  Emily took the picture and I was down in the warming shelter with little Madelyn.  As you can see, there wasn't much snow.  That didn't stop us.

Ready.  Set.  Go...

I can't tell you how hysterical this is to watch.  The screams and laughs are what made it worth being out in 26 degree weather.  Having two year old Elsie experience something so new like this...watching adults act like kids, must have been incredibly amusing for her.  Kevin took her down the other side of the hill which wasn't as steep.

  She is a real Midwestern trooper and she's not letting go of her baby either.  She never complained of the cold and is a true daredevil on top of it.  I'm amazed at how fearless she is. 

I wanted so bad to hop on a sled...I can be pretty adventurous but I was worried about my back.  My doctor really planted a seed in my head that if I didn't work on getting in shape and do the exercises I learned in physical therapy, I'd have a lot of limitations.  I knew I was nowhere near ready and I had visions of my lower back held together by screws.  And let me add, while going downhill is fun and a little rough, walking back up dragging a sled is pretty unappealing as well!  

Emily wanted to have a little fun, too, so I snuggled with Madelyn in the warming shelter, which wasn't so warm.  There was a huge stone fireplace but as we were the only crazy people there due to the lack of good snow, it wasn't lit and we didn't feel it was safe to leave a burning fire.  I was fine however, and Madelyn slept through it all.  Any chance to have that little peanut in my arms is good enough.

The fresh air and a long leisurely lunch at a nearby ski resort made Elsie very tired.  She took a nap but daddy woke her up after two hours so she'd have a normal bedtime.  I love how Mary Clare and Kevin have a tight schedule.  She was still a little cranky but was content to watch a few Mickey Mouse shows on an iPad.  

This is the first time she was at the lakehouse.  She settled in naturally and I can't wait for summer when she can play outdoors on the beach and in the water.  Still, this weekend wasn't too shabby.

Madelyn had a good 'ol time, too, although she won't remember it.  She was just there to make us smile and love her.

I was so excited to see the newly upholstered furniture.  We had found a really fantastic family owned business in a nearby town to redo three pieces we couldn't bear to part with.  When they were finished we gave the people the code to get in the house.  We have cameras inside so we can be pretty confident in situations like this.  

This is one of 2 glider rockers we have had forever.  They are so comfy, I love to sit and read in them, rocking the whole time.  Or just fall in a trance looking out at the bay.  

This is the settee we bought at the same time as the gliders.  The camel back makes it quite unique.  All of these pieces were in super shape; when one lives in a home that gets used on various weekends and 2 weeks in the summer, the wear and tear is minimal.  This is another really comfy piece.  You can't stretch out on it but we have a nice little conversation corner here, not to mention the dogs love to lie here and watch out the windows for anything that moves.  

I'll share better pics later as I have an end table I'm going to bring up from here and a sweet nautical lamp.  We also have curtains, blinds and maybe someday, artwork.  Hmmmm....if only The Husband and I can agree.

Maybe all of this cold weather talk has made you crave a warm, comforting meal.  Yep, I'm giving you a recipe for my very own tried and true stew and I promise, if you make this version you will never go back to the one you've been doing.  As always, you can substitute veggies and seasonings.  Let me know if you try it and love it like we do.  

Jane's Beef Stew

1 lb. beef stewing meat, cut into 1 inch cubes
1/4 c. flour
2 T veggie oil
1 c red wine
3 c. beef broth
1 c each chopped onion, celery and carrots
1 medium red potato, cubed
1/2 lb. Brussels sprouts, bottoms trimmed
S&P to taste
1 T dried oregano
1 T dried thyme
2 t. cinnamon
2 t nutmeg
1 bay leaf

Toss the stew meat in a large bowl with the flour while heating oil in a large oven proof pot or dutch oven.  Brown the cubes on all sides over medium high heat, turning when meat loosens from bottom of pot.  Remove to a plate and set aside.  Carefully add the wine and stir, scraping up bits of meat off the bottom of the pot.  Add the broth and bring to a boil.  Add the meat, veggies and spices and continue to boil 5 minutes.  Stir well, cover the pot with a lid and place in preheated oven at 325 degrees for 2 hours.  Remove and adjust seasonings to your liking.  Serves 4.

Hover over the pic to Pin if you wish.  You will love this!  In this particular stew I used some Brussels sprouts sliced in half.  Use up what you have in your veggie bin or just switch things around as you prefer.

I'll be darned, but even though we now have Internet at the lake I continue to read one book after the other.  I read a great review of this book in People magazine and ordered it on the spot.  I'm halfway through and savoring it.  Since I'm not so great at reviewing books, check it out at Amazon.

See ya soon!

Jane x