Saturday, March 2, 2019


Grocery Store Tulips and iris

Hi Friends!  I hope everyone has made it through the bitter snow, cold, ice, and wind that February slammed us with.  Well, most of us.  We survived here, I think I have acclimated myself to the cold over my lifetime so I can't complain too much.  Weather like this does give us a reason to settle in and  find our coziness, whether it's curled up in a chair reading or creating something  filling and comforting in the kitchen.  I've been doing both and I'll share more later in this post.

Wedgwood Infinity flutes and Love Knot Cake Knife and Server

There is a heightened sense of anticipation here as we check the boxes on plans for Abby and Tom's wedding day.  I try to help in any way to simplify what I can for her.  When she gets overwhelmed she tends to worry and retreat, so when I went ahead and purchased the champagne flutes that she and the groom will toast each other with at the reception, as well as the cake knife and server, I got a simple and sincere nod of gratefulness.  I wanted to get a crystal pattern she could add to.  This design is by Vera Wang for Wedgwood and it has a bit of a modern edge to it.  The days of collecting wedding china and silver seems to have fallen to the wayside. 

When I got married 33 years ago, we had a very small wedding and I didn't register for china.  I guess I might have bemoaned it a few times to The Husband because one Saturday he was out and about and called me from an estate sale that he had stopped at.  He described for me a beautiful set of china being sold.  The granddaughter of the owner said that she remembered many Sunday dinners where this delicate china graced the dining room table.  In addition to the service for sixteen, there were serving plates, bowls, a sugar and creamer, and a gravy boat.  And the granddaughter proudly said that not one piece had been broken over the sixty years her grandmother had it, and it would have made her very happy to know it would be enjoyed by another family. The Husband described it to me and I just knew I would love it, especially with the heartwarming history that went along with the set.  So this is my china, over ninety years old and I haven't chipped or broken one piece. :) 

I was reading a blog post and found a link to a girl who has an Etsy shop.  She creates something sweet with these old books and you can have whatever you want stamped on them.  Love at first sight.  I'm going to attempt to make something for Abby's bridal shower.  If I goof it up I can order it.  You can visit Marisa here.

Table Runner from Hobby Lobby

Emily and I made a trip to Hobby Lobby recently to break up our cabin fever.  I was looking for a mirror for a wall in my bedroom.  I had searched every website and store and just couldn't find what I wanted.  Mirrors can be very expensive and I really don't know how or why similar mirrors can differ so much in price.  I resigned myself to just continuing my search in antique stores and yard sales.  However, I stumbled on one at HL and bought it on the spot.  $60 buck-a-roos!  It is super heavy so The Husband has to put plugs in the wall.  I am going to help because I know that using a drill is really holding me back from doing a lot of things on my own.  And when I get this room the way I want it, I'll share.  Our bedroom set is traditional cherry with the high, old fashion four poster bed.  I'm going to stop fighting what it is with adding trendy pieces and just get back to the roots of a it's cozy and classic look.  Stay tuned.

I am sharing this picture to show you the cute table runner I also picked up from Hobby Lobby.  I didn't know they had started to sell kitchen items such as this...placemats, dishtowels, potholders, and more.  This is very well made, lined on the opposite side, but I paid full price.  We'll see if they mark things down, perhaps when the seasons change.

The Husband really turned me into a cooking monster when he gave me this cookbook on Valentine's Day.  I get emails from the Delish website and Pin a lot of their recipes.  I wasn't really thrilled at first, the photography was very "in your face", and as I leafed through it, I noted a lot of gooey, greasy food that you could imagine college kids noshing on in their off campus houses.  But after looking through it for a few days, I started to see the pattern of taking everyday pizza, pasta, fried chicken, noodles, appetizers and dips, to a whole new level.  Definitely not for someone watching their weight, not healthy at all.  But intriguing.  So I made a few things.  Please note: as much as I didn't quite like the photography in this book, it's a lot better than mine!  In fact, the food pictures reflect how fun these recipes are.

Fried Lasagna

I modified the amount of ingredients in the recipe and made some good additions as well.  

Cooking spray
10-14 lasagna noodles, cooked according to packaged directions
15 oz. ricotta cheese
4 eggs, divided
4 cloves garlic, minced
3 T fresh basil or oregano leaves, or 3 t dried
S & P
1 3/4 c mozzarella cheese
3/4 c flour
2 1/2 c Italian seasoned bread crumbs
Vegetable oil for frying
Marinara for dipping

While you are boiling your noodles, spray a baking sheet with cooking spray.  Prepare your filling with the ricotta cheese, 1 egg, garlic, herbs and salt and pepper (I had fresh basil on hand and it really made a difference once it all came together).  When noodles are cooked and drained, lie them out flat on parchment paper or a large cutting board.  Spread 3 tablespoons of the filling (I added the tablespoons in little dollops so it would spread easily).  Fold the noodles three times to form a small 'packet'.  Place on the baking sheet and pop in your freezer for 30 minutes.  

While the noodles are firming up in your freezer, make three separate bowls for the flour, 3 eggs, and bread crumbs.  You can see my little assembly line.  Bring your lasagna squares out of the freezer and heat about 1 inch of oil in a large skillet.  Dip the squares in the flour, then egg, and finally the bread crumbs, and gently place in the oil.  I used tongs as well as a fork to do this safely.  Fry about 2 minutes on each side until golden brown.  Transfer to a towel lined serving platter or rack as I did, and keep covered with foil until you have finished.  Heat your marina on the stove or in the microwave.  Serve.

The Husband and I were each able to polish off three of these and we didn't need a fork or knife.  They're like little sandwiches which makes me think they would make fun appetizers.  I'd slice each square on the diagonal for this and I know it would be a hit.  And they are quite filling!

Cheeseburger Cups

I was on a roll with this cookbooks, and on a Friday night I made these mini burgers, or a new take on sliders.  Another great finger food.  I popped some frozen French fries in the oven as well so we truly had a greasy, fattening feast.  Emily and Mike stopped by and had them with us.  Madelyn helped by rolling out the bread.  You can make the filling ahead of time.  Emily snapped this picture before the condiments and pickles were added.  They are really cute and were SO good.

Cooking spray
Approximately 12 hamburger buns, split
1 T veggie oil
1 medium onion, chopped finely
1 lb. ground beef
2 t garlic powder
Salt and pepper
12 squares sharp cheddar cheese
Ketchup, mustard and pickles for serving
2 T sesame seeds

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and spray your muffin tins with cooking spray.  Using a rolling pin, roll out the hamburger bun halves until thin and then gently press into each muffin cup.  

Prepare the filling.  In a large skillet, heat the vegetable oil and sauté the onion until just soft.  Add the ground beef and cook approximately 8-10 minutes until it's no longer pink.  Drain and return to the skillet.  Add the seasonings and break apart the meat into small crumbles.  

Add the beef mixture to each muffing cup to fill halfway.  Top with the cheese slice and bake for approximately 8 minutes.  Remove from oven and drizzle ketchup and mustard over.  You can also offer the condiments on the side.  Top with the pickle and a sprinkling of sesame seeds.  

Even though there were five of us, I had a ton left over.  Store them in a plastic bag in the fridge and you can reheat them in the oven the next day.  And again, these would make fantastic appetizers.  No silverware needed!

Some of the recipes I have earmarked that might make you curious are: Breakfast Stuffed Baguette, Jalapeño Popper Crisps, BLT Sushi, Tamale Pie, Buffalo Chicken Chili, and Greek Grilled Cheese.  

You can follow the Delish website here.

Downtown Chicago 2/2019

The Husband has been suffering from some low back pain for a very long time.  He's the type of person who will avoid doctors at all costs and passes things off as, "I just have to live with it."  So I finally found the proper doctor at Northwestern Memorial in Chicago.  Long story short, he had an MRI which showed an infection near his sacrum.  His doctor called in the evening after TH had returned home from the MRI.  He needed to be admitted and started on antibiotics intravenously immediately.

We had to check into the ER as it was 'after hours'.  Unfortunately, his doctor neglected to clear him for admittance so it was first come, first serve.  If you've ever had the chance to be in an emergency room on a Saturday night in a big city, then you know how people come up with these reality and hospitals shows on TV.  The room wasn't large, we might have been in a particular section.  In the two hours I was there a fight broke out between two brothers, and police and security guards swarmed in seemingly out of nowhere.  There was an obese woman sitting in a chair across from me who was loudly talking to herself or some demon, all the while pulling her shirt up and down.  There was a poor man violently retching into a bag, and then a firefighter who wheeled in a young guy who was pretty banged up, followed by two Chicago Police officers who appeared to take his statement. I felt like I was watching Chicago Med, Fire, and PD at once.  Now--if Taylor Kinney had walked in... And just before I left, a couple dressed for a gala in a long gown and tuxedo respectively, came to the front desk arguing.  She was claiming he needed immediate medical attention and he was growling, "She thinks I had a stroke!"  "You did have a stroke, dear.  Now go sit down."

So The Husband stayed for two days and it was finally decided they should stop feeding him antibiotics until they found out what type of infection it was, where it originated, and how they could treat it.  We went back Wednesday and he had a needle biopsy for which he was sedated.  We are waiting for the results.  

I really have to give a shout out to Northwestern.  The Husband has had surgery there twice as well as other procedures.  It's located in a beautiful part of the city near the Gold Coast and university campus.  I've enjoyed good long walks, shopping, sitting on benches with a cup of coffee, and just soaking in the energy.  Inside the six connecting buildings of the hospital,  there are over 40 restaurants, coffee shops, gift stores, newsstands, bookstores, and florists.  

Once I kissed TH and sent him on his way to the twilight zone, I went downstairs to grab lunch.  I ordered the most delicious panini in a place called L'Appetito, and sat at a table in a common area with my latest book.  

I had started this book a week or so ago at the recommendation of Katie at The Preppy Empty Nester(I think).  Two chapters in I was thinking it might be another chic-lit book set in London, so many of which I laughed my way through years ago.  It wasn't moving very well though and I set it down for a few days, angry at myself for again paying for a dud.  But I picked it up again just before TH's test and it took an incredible turn for the better.  It has become a page turner and I'm actually typing this as fast as I can so I can wrap it up, hit Publish, and go hibernate in the den with this novel. 

So I'm sitting there at this table in the hospital, managing to eat my panini and drink my pop without spilling all over myself while I tuned out everything and read.  I snapped back to reality and people were still walking, laughing, talking, eating.  And then I looked at my watch.  The procedure was supposed to take an hour, more or less.  I had been sitting there for over 45 minutes.  Oh man, what a great wife I am.  I cleaned up my trash, grabbed my coat, purse, and prized book and hightailed it back up to the Outpatient Surgery waiting room.  They came for me five minutes later.  And there was The Husband in his silly gown with an even sillier smile on his face, "I was in twilight...I didn't feel a thing!  I love that twilight!"  I patted his hand and licked the crumbs off my bottom lip.  

As of yet we haven't heard the results.  Please say a prayer he won't have to undergo anything invasive.  I am really hoping he will be pain free soon.  His retirement is approaching and I want him to be able to do all the things he hasn't felt up to doing.  He's been working from home for the past two weeks and it's a good test run for when he no longer works.  We actually haven't killed each other and while I like to get out everyday to curb my cabin fever, he seems to like when I'm gone. ^^

So February is gone, physically and on my blog.  I had a birthday, not a milestone but that's approaching.  The Husband and girls gifted me with a huge makeup mirror that I had jokingly said I wanted.  It's all Hollywood-ish with adjustable lighting and silver sparkles.  But wait!  It has Bluetooth so I can listen to my music while I primp and paint.  And wait!  I can also make and take phone calls while I'm drawing my eyebrows on.  This thing can do anything except launch a space shuttle.  


I'm keeping busy going out to do a little grocery shopping and then running out for more items when I come across another new recipe.  I hit up Target for my paper items, and to browse the book section even though I have an impressive collection of books I haven't started on my nightstand.  Abby and I went to pick up her wedding gown one evening, she looks stunning in it.  She'll go back closer to the wedding date to have the alterations.  Another evening Abby, Tom, SIL Megan and I went to the restaurant where we are having the bridal shower next month.  They have a beautiful room with an exposed brick wall, giant white trees with twinkle lights and gorgeous light fixtures.  We then had dinner and I have to say, I've never had a bad thing at this restaurant.  The chef is very innovative and everything is presented beautifully.  I really love the owner, a smart and sassy lady who bought this beer joint, cleaned it up, and turned it into one of the most popular places in the neighborhood.  

I need to start looking for a dress for the shower.  My son gave me a gift card to Nordstrom's for Christmas and I think I may start looking there.  I suppose I should start looking for that Mother of the Bride dress as well, but I'm still hoping I'll lose another fifteen pounds.  Don't we all?

One last thing.  I don't know if it has to do with Google+ going down the tubes, but where I once got your comments on the blog page and by email where I could respond to you, that's not happening.  I miss that.  So if you noticed I've been radio silent, please know that's why.  If there is a remedy for it, pass that on please.

Off I go...

Jane x