Tuesday, January 8, 2019


January Gloom outside my window

I'm back in time to be a part of the New Year in the blogging world.  What a shock.  Is this a new leaf, or evergreen branch I'm turning?  I'm just feeling good, energized.  As per usual, I came down with my after holiday cold/flu, New Years Day to be exact.  I hunkered down in bed, slept the days away, struggled with my asthma, and slowly got better.  The last few days have me congested and coughing, but oh so ready to get it all going. 

 Have you ever been incapacitated in any way, sidetracked by a bad bug or even something really bad like surgery?  You have that time to contemplate all you want to do, and maybe lament that you didn't do it when you were well.  So while I tossed and turned (when I wasn't snoring through my stuffed up nose), I thought about that linen closet that was overstuffed and overflowing,  the Tupperware in my cabinets that I had planned to organize, the new quilt and bed skirt I wanted to update our bedroom with, and the purging that never seems to end in this little old house.  I felt that frustration that I hadn't seized the day when I was feeling good.  Oh...the pressure we put on ourselves.  Happily, our weather has been mild and even if I haven't accomplished any spring cleaning, I've managed to get out almost everyday, just for a few errands.  Oh, that fresh air feels so good.

Milo is not doing well, I'll leave it at that.  A few week ago I could say that every day was different.  It's not that way anymore.  I know we are going to have to make a decision very soon.  I've been able to rework my feelings and confusion in  way that I hope helps any of you facing the decline of your pet.  We have those puppy months that we just want to eat them up, even when they are mischievous and frustrating.  And then we move on to that comfortable familiarity where they fit seamlessly into our lives, our family. The aging stage may come on gradually...the slowing down, the graying of their fur, and many other physical changes, and we start to realize they won't and will not live forever.  

With Milo, I have watched him go from a 7 week old puppy, to a 15+ year old dog.  I often think of these stages, and while I feel grateful to have had this great amount of time, there are days when I think this is the one part of his life where I hold the strings.  I have to decide when it ends.  It's very hard.  I write this now because I don't think I'll be able to later.

Ah, weekends in the cold Midwest.  It's hard to come up with things to do, especially when you have to weigh going out into that gloomy, miserable weather, or just stay warm and comfy inside.  Other than a few little trips out for groceries or errands, The Husband and I tried a few new restaurants nearby.  One featured Vietnamese, Thai and French food.  It was an incredible menu and we each had scallops done in completely different ways.  We will definitely be back.  Another was a Brazilian place and that also had a great menu, small but interesting...one that makes you want to try everything over time.   

It has also been a long time since The Husband and I have explored antique shops and malls.  An effort to keep clutter down,  no specific desire or need for anything, and the fact that we have been to many places in and around our homes in Illinois and Michigan, sometimes multiple times, these outings have fallen to the wayside. 

Sometimes you get an inkling for pieces you'd like to focus your search on, and for me it was to scout out some of my favorite things that I had lost sight of. I've always loved mismatched silverware, and pretty much anything silver plate, and in this venture, I was really longing for candle holders and silver trays.  I've also been looking for vintage mirrors.  The chippy windows that I love are starting to get old, and I'm longing for a huge old mirror, or a few to layer above that massive fireplace mantel I have and loathe.  Of course, I've gotten inspiration from Pinterest and Instagram...these are great sources for stirring up ideas you haven't yet put your finger on.

So, my frugal haul.  I found so many little Christmas treasures.  At the risk of offending anyone who loves vintage, and that's really a huge part of scouring antique stores,  I don't collect that sort of thing.  I personally can't commit to a lot of small pieces, nor does it play a part in my decor, holidays or anytime.  But...sometimes you find things that tug at your heart.  

I couldn't resist these!  I have two little vintage Santa salt and pepper shakers that are going to look darling next to my little old guys.  I think I paid about a dollar for these.  All Christmas items were 50% off.


It took awhile but I found a set of silver-plate candle sticks.  These are large and heavy and have the perfect amount of tarnish (or patina).  I'm going to keep looking... I simply love them compared to glass and crystal, although I wouldn't stick my nose up to any! ;-D

I never gave much thought to vintage Christmas ornaments, although I love seeing my  blogger friends with original boxes of Shinybright ornaments, not because of their value, but those who have had them passed on from generations.  While I was checking out, I quickly Googled the Holly brand. One box was being sold on eBay for $36.00.  The box is in perfect condition and I guess the matters.  Wow, I really know nothing about the collecting world.  I paid $4.

My growing up years remind me of the Dick Van Dyke Show.  We had mid-century modern furniture,    large lamps, star burst mirrors, and huge ashtrays on the coffee table.  But nothing old.  It seems my parents shed everything from family and city life in Chicago to start over in the middle of nowhere Illinois. 

When my father passed a few years ago, I think what my sisters and I were very agreeable on and wanted to share, were the Christmas ornaments that hung on our fresh tree every year.  I really prized them, although I can't really remember any particular one.  It's just a special feeling that these were on that tree in a room where I laughed and played as a tiny little girl until I was grown and gone.  

You can also see the little bells in the picture that I thought could jazz up a wreath, and in the front right corner, six silver-plate napkin rings.  Perfectly tarnished for the grand 'ol price of $2.  Happy dance! :)

This year I decided to put things away properly.  My cleaning girl has offered to help me organize all of my seasonal and overflow decorations and pieces.  The first thing I did was order divided cartons that hold 64 ornaments each.  I first looked at The Container Store and once I added what I needed to my cart, I nearly fainted at the total cost.  So I went to Overstock.com and this is what I ordered.  Not a bad price at all.  

I've also added to the large plastic bins that go on sale at this time of year.  I like the ones at Home Depot.  They can be stacked and labeled and save tons of space.  I will be so relieved when that downstairs spare bedroom is organized and clean.  I've actually started to store things in Abby's old room, or our guest-less room.  Do you have any storage tips to pass on?

Jane's Shrimp and Vegetable Soup

After the carb infused, filling foods over the holidays, I was craving light and simple.  I was thinking clear soups, more broth than anything.  This picture above actually photographed a lot thicker than it actually was because of the color of the tomatoes I added.  But believe me, it was light and fresh and I can imagine eating it chilled during the summer months.

20-25 medium shrimp, cleaned, peeled and deveined
2 32 oz. boxes of chicken or vegetable stock
1 T olive oil
2 large shallots, chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 green onions, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and cut in 1/4 in. rounds
1 plum tomato, chopped
1 T dried thyme
Small pinch of red pepper flakes
Salt & pepper to taste
1 1/2 c fresh spinach, roughly cut

Heat the oil over low in a large soup pot or dutch oven.  Add shallots and sauté until just tender.  Add garlic and stir for 1-2 minutes.  Pour in the stock and bring to a boil.  Add the green onions, carrots, tomato, thyme, red pepper, and S&P.  Reduce to a simmer with lid on for 15-20 minutes.  Add the shrimp and let cook 2 minutes.  Stir in the spinach, adjust seasonings and serve.
Serves 6-8.  I added a little shaved Parmesan to the top and also had some toasted garlic bread on the side.  

I still don't have that Pin button working.  Grrrrr...in the meantime you can copy and paste my recipes to a folder if you'd like.  

Just a few questions.  Please tell me what you're watching on TV now and really loving.  Also, some book recommendations would be great.  I finished Kitchen Yarns, which I wrote about in my last post, and just started a new one called Then She Was Gone by Lisa Jewell.

This is a page turner so don't pick it up unless you have a good amount of time to get into it.  Read about it and order here if you'd like.

Enjoy these slow days of January.  Find simple pleasures and when you are bursting with unspent energy, bring some organization and changes to your home.  Before you know it spring will be here and you won't want to be inside!

Jane x