Tuesday, April 30, 2019


Rustic Herb Pot Tray

Hello friends!  And happy almost May.  In spite of snow yesterday, the sun was back out today and temps were around d 55 degrees.  That gets a big yay from me.  Spring fever is on my mind.  It's hard to believe it's still April; the anticipation for spring and summer has been much more on my mind than past years.  Maybe it's because I'm currently trying to get my ducks in a row at both houses.  Here in the city we need some new fencing and gates for the backyard, and I need to work on getting some perennials along the back fence.  I also have some areas to reseed and others to mulch.  It's all heavy stuff so I'm not too sure how I'm going to get it done. Maybe like the ant and the rubber tree plant?

I gave up trying to start plants from seeds indoors although I did give it a respectable try years ago.  I'm loving this little wood tray with pots that I can just plunk herbs down in.  It has a cute chicken wire top.  I do have an herb garden but this is sort of convenient in the kitchen just to snip and use.  I bought it at Antique Farmhouse a few years ago.  If you haven't been to the website, go have a look/see.

My Daffs

The daffodils are up and blooming and since I snapped this, I also have tulips.  Every spring I wish I had added more bulbs the previous fall.  I just want to fill in some gaps.  And along this wood fence I want to add more plants as I mentioned earlier.  I get a lot of sun here. :)

Shower Flowers

Abby's bridal shower was two weeks ago and everything turned out just lovely.  I sometimes felt like the running around would never end but it was fun coming up with ideas and working with the other gals involved.  I shared more pics on my Instagram account, which you can see here if you have a feed.  

I bought these mercury glass containers at Michael's.  They are actually meant for candles.  I think I bought about eight in different shapes and sizes.  I ordered mini carnations from a florist.  Abby wanted one single color, very simple.  I then added baby's breath and eucalyptus to fill out the bouquets.  

A View of The Room

This is how the tables looked.  I also included clear glass tea light holders with the same glittery stones around the edges.  The shower was from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m.  We had a buffet of heavy appetizers, cocktails, and the pub's signature red and white wine sangria.


Tom's sister, Katie, made these cute little pots of succulents as party favors.  They made for cute decorations on the tables.  I was lucky to bring a few stray ones home and can't wait to plant them in a shallow dish.

Gift Table

My daughter, Emily, did a great job decorating the the table set up for gifts.  We requested them to not be wrapped so it was a great display.  Em also made a banner of pics of the happy couple over the years.  Since they have been together for just over ten years, right out of high school, you could really see how they had changed!

You might recognize the book bundle from this post.  I found them at this Etsy shop.  I also had napkins monogrammed with the same words.

The Buffet

The buffet provided various 'heavy' appetizers.  I mentioned this was a casual evening affair so we wanted guests to feel free to sit at a table or mingle with small plates.  The fare included Caprese Flatbread, Santa Fe Chicken Rolls, Flame Grilled Mini Burgers, Buffalo Chicken Spring Rolls, and Mac 'N Cheese Bites, to name a few offerings.  

Let Them Eat Cake

First Abby wanted doughnuts on her dessert table.  I checked some of the top doughnut shops and bakeries in Chicago, and although the flavors sounded insanely good, they didn't have any sort of visual loveliness.  We then looked at individual mini cakes  and pastries sold at one of our better grocery stores.  She wasn't too keen on those.  So we settled on Nothing Bundt Cakes.  If you have the chain in your area, I highly recommend it.  I ordered the Chocolate Chocolate Chip, Strawberries and Cream, and Raspberry Orange.  Each cake serves 18-20.  I ordered these little cake boxes and printed labels from The Stationery Studio, and guests were genuinely delighted to take a piece of cake home.  I was happy that none of the cake went to waste.  I would recommend having some of these boxes on hand for any occasion.  They can hold cookies, candy--any sort of take home sweet.  They come flat and easy to fold and close.   

Let The Games Begin

Emily put together three little games, mostly revolving around how well we knew the future bride and groom, and how well they knew each other.  Katie made up cute little gift bags filled with fun beauty and pampering items for the lucky winners.  

Yes To The First Dress

Apparently its not just about the wedding gown anymore.  Abby found about four dresses for the shower.  This is the one she chose.  I have always thought that she has beautiful style and this not only complimented how pretty she is (if I do say so myself!), it was gorgeous!  Now she's on the hunt for dresses for the rehearsal dinner, a night on the town near the resort, poolside wear, and the Sunday breakfast.  Me?  I have nothing so far.  Ugh... 

A Winner of a Recipe

Emily made this salad awhile ago and I always wanted to try it.  This is utterly simple to make and looks absolutely beautiful on your table or buffet.  It's tart, creamy and just delicious.  I served it with my Easter dinner buffet.  Enjoy!

Emily's Grape Salad

8 oz. softened cream cheese
1 cup sour cream
1/3 cup sugar
2 t. vanilla
2 lbs. seedless red grapes
2 lbs. seedless green grapes
3 T. brown sugar
3 T. chopped pecans

1)  Beat cream cheese, sour cream, sugar and vanilla until smooth.  Add grapes and toss to coat.

2)  Transfer to a serving bowl, cover and chill.  Before serving, sprinkle over the brown sugar and pecans.  

A Bowl of Olives

I love finding books shared by bloggers.  My friend Monique, who writes the blog Le Table de Nana, is not only a talented gardener, cook, lover of family and friends, but a talented watercolorist.  She shares many of her paintings and hand lettering creations right on her blog.  Go have a peek.  She shared this author, Sara Midda, on her Instagram account and I was intrigued.  Off I went to Amazon and found this gem of a book.  It's a work of art and if you love watercolors and hand lettered books (Susan Branch is a wonderful example), this is a keepsake of a book.  Here is the link. 

Molly on the Range

This sweet girl has a show on the Food Network--I just discovered it.  I am so charmed by her vibrant  personality.  She's a young and talented presence much like Rachel Ray offered us in the mid 2000's.  I watched the whole season, Pinned some recipes, then found her cookbook, Molly on the Range at Amazon.  I really like the straightforward recipes, uncomplicated but creative.  And you can't help settling down to read her stories of living in the Midwest (Yay!), moving to New York, and then a farm in Minnesota.  She is also an award winning food blogger and you can find her website here.  I give everything she does 5 stars!

April Snow

Yeah, we had this white stuff a few days ago.  I like to think that it looks like a nice spattering of baby's breath.  It's hard to believe that a few days prior on Easter Sunday, we all gathered outside with the grandkids and extended family to toss around a ball, nosh on after dinner appetizers and sweets, and raise a few glasses.  And I hope everyone had a wonderful Easter...I think I sort of skimmed past that.  

Okay!  I'm all caught up and I'm going to sign off now.  I'm off to the lake later this week with so many ideas, work, cleanup, and happily-- some decor fun.  Moreover,  time for myself, and time for Layla and Milo, who is in the end stage of his disease.  He's going to have some great outdoor (and inside) time and  at the place he has always loved.  The Husband is going to have an additional ten weeks of daily antibiotic infusions so we are up in the air as to how we are going to work things for now.  The main thing is to try to clear up this infection and his pain.  He's comfortable as long as he can lie down once in awhile and not do any heavy lifting.  Please keep him in your prayers.  

It's a Dogs Life

This is my guy, around 2005.  He took to the water and sun like a true lake dog!

See ya soon!

Jane x

Monday, April 8, 2019


Pretty Tea Roses

Hi friends.  I've actually been working on this post for awhile.  Telling myself I needed to get my bum going, feeling guilty that I still wasn't moving, overthinking the guilt, perusing my photos, editing them, blah, blah blah.  Just not focused. I know there has been a very big change in blogging since Instagram came along.  My comments and page views have gone down tremendously.  Personally, it affects my motivation to write in a way that I tell myself--no one is holding their breath for your next post.  No matter, I will never give up blogging although I often come on here with my tail between my legs for lack of discipline.  One good thing I want to say, I recently "cleaned out" my cache and cookies (and I have no idea what that means).  I was pleased to see so many blogs from the past pop up on my feed.  People I followed, went way back with, and absolutely loved were all there.  So I'm touching base a little at a time.  If you are reading this and you haven't heard from me in awhile, it wasn't intentional.  

Corned Beef and Cabbage

I enjoyed reading about your St. Patrick's Day celebrations and delicious meals.  We celebrate pretty hard here on the Southside.  We have a huge population of Irish folks, many first generation.  I like to brag that we have the largest St. Paddy's Day parade in the US, and of course, the Chicago River is dyed green (it's vegetable dye and very safe for whatever lurks in there). The Husband and I were content at home while our kids and their kids hit up the parade and after-parties. 

 I made the traditional dinner of corned beef and cabbage.  I poured two glasses of beer for The Husband and I and added a bit of green dye.  He had no idea what I was surprising him with. ;-D   So I'm wondering about corned beef.  We all have our cooking methods: oven, slow cooker, and boiling, which my mother did and her mother did.  How do you do your corned beef?  I remember my mother in law cutting her cabbage very precisely and skewered chunks with toothpicks.  During the last 5 minutes of cooking the meat, carrots and potatoes, she added her cabbage and let it happily float and steam.  She hated it all soggy and unrecognizable.  She was so cute and such a dear.

The Husband and I recently found out our little used bookstore had moved locations and expanded.  We went one Sunday afternoon just recently and pleasantly got lost.  I wish I had thought to make a list of authors-- I kind of walked around aimlessly.  Did I want drama?  Mysteries?  Thrillers?  It was a little confusing as I usually search recommendations from friends, bloggers, newspapers, and magazines.  Next time I'll go armed.  You can trade in your own books for credit towards what you purchase.  And I have stacks.  Most of them not read yet. 

Our Cherry Pie

When Madelyn visits or I get to have her here for a good amount of time, it's like having a little friend.  When I was younger, maybe I was too busy with four little ones running every which way at once, maybe they kept themselves amused together.  Maybe time has gone by and my memories are all fuzzy.  But I want to eat this kid up.  I want to show her how to cook, bake, clean up, brush her teeth (she loves my electric toothbrush but of course I only let her feel it), put things in the garbage, wash dishes...more on that last one in a bit.  

Little ones like repetition.  She really blows my mind that she remembers what we did the last time she was over and gets that ball rolling before I can say anything.  She loves to bake.  Of course she loves dough--what child doesn't?  But she's smart; she knows we have to dust the counter to roll the dough (and she quite good with my old rolling pin).  With this pie she was a little inpatient when we had to cut the top, but she loved using a fork to press down the edges, and then "painting" with egg.  Once it was finished she had the last little bit of dough and was playing with it.  I wanted to make a little flower cut out but I tell you, she almost arm wrestled me for it!  Can you spot it?

My Maid

Our new things is doing the dishes.  She has a little tea set, and of usually our baking things, and I think she could stand on that chair for hours.  Kids have a very early infatuation with water.  This was the first time we did dishes, and she was soaked from head to toe.  The next time I knew to take off her clothes and wrap her in a towel.  Forget the hardwood floors, she was having fun.  It's all about imitating, imagination, and repetition.  I'm in heaven!

She's super interested in her Barbie and Skipper dolls.  She's learned how to name them and give them voices from her older cousin, Ella.  When I was little, and even when my girls were little, it was all about dressing them in the latest fashion.  I went on Amazon and my mouth dropped open at all of the cool set-ups your little plastic gals can play in.  I ordered a little supermarket with mini fruits and veggies, cartons of milk and orange juice, etc.  That turned out to be one of her favorites with the familiar shopping cart as well as the stroller with the baby that Skipper pushes around while holding her Starbucks coffee and cell phone.  So I had about five of these little plastic scenarios set up on the coffee table in my den.  She was so surprised that Grammy had Barbies!  Her eyes scanned it and became shiny. "For me?  For me?"  We played together for a few hours.  And she happily shares.  Her cousin, Brooks, was here the other day and they were sweet together.  He's my only grandson so I think I need to stock up on some action heroes. :)

Roasted Vegetable Pizza

I have really been cooking up a storm.  Please don't think I'm being over confident or anything.  I think I've said it before, it's like a hobby.  It relaxes me and makes me happy.  Lately my recipes have been all about what I have on hand and I just take it from there.  Sadly, I simply can't stage and photograph food so I'm at a loss as to how to share some of the dishes I make.  Maybe I could do an illustration.  I used to sketch quite well if I must say so myself.  ;-D

 Let me give you my take on Chicago pizza.  It's not all about pan pizza or deep dish.  You can order it of course, but most of us here on the Southside love our thin crust, salty tomato sauce, and toppings.  The Husband orders our delivered pizzas "well done" and it's quite heavenly.  Smokey, crispy, crunchy, and so good.

So this is my game here.  The pre-made crust gets a tiny smear of sauce, some basil and oregano.  Take any veggies you like, toss them with a little bit of olive oil and give them 15 minutes in a 425 degree oven. Then scatter all of it on the pizza crust, a handful of cheese--your choice, some salt and pepper, and then bake  for about 15 minutes to finish it off.  I feel good about eating a pizza like this as the crust is so thin that you aren't consuming a ton of carbs.  I don't remember the brand of these crusts but just look around.  Then do it your way.  Or--if you have time, make your own crust.  Check out my Pinterest page for some dandy ones.  In fact, just go and have a peek at my Pinterest account, the icon is on my sidebar.

Not Your Average Pizza

This bad boy had me scratching my head but I thought it was about time to really venture into the wild.  I have the cookbook, Delish, but this is a recipe I found on their website.  The only description was, "Just try it" and I did.  Very easy, not a ton of ingredients, and all of the topping played together well.  I used one of those thin pizza crusts I mentioned above so I didn't invest a lot of time or waste.  But I really think this is a winner and I'll put it right up there with the 'not so regular' chili, Sloppy Joe's, burgers, spaghetti...that this book has inspired me to do.  Remember the Fried Lasagna in my last post?  Read about it and another fun app here.

  But before you rush over to the recipe, let me tell you how I changed it up before I made it and would definitely do/not do the next time:

1)  Use more mozzarella cheese.  Spread that stuff out all the way to the edges so you get it in every bite.

2). Rather than six slices of bacon, just fry up the whole pound.  You know you're going to munch on a few pieces and give the dog a few bits.  I think the pizza needs more anyway, and again, don't forget those edges.  

3). The pickles photographed really well, but in reality, I would cut them in half.  I felt that getting a whole slice in a bite was major puckering up.  

I really hope you try this.  My actual cookbook has a whole chapter devoted to pizza's and I'm going to keep trying to take the creative road with them.  

My Latest Read

I'm slow but persistent.  I started this and I'm liking it.  Moriarty creates the most complex characters, sometimes too many of them to keep track of, and I felt this with Big Little Lies (the movie worked out better for me).  I'm reading this book a little slower, backtracking sometimes to look for some key pieces when I feel a little lost, and it's definitely a page turner.  She creates thrillers with a nice amount of humor.  Her characters are people we can understand a bit, maybe identify with in spite of their flaws.  Has anyone read this yet?  And can you recommend any other new novels?

My Favorite New Bootie

I had been pinning these on my favorite shoe website, Sole Society.  Things are a bit pricey but you can catch some good markdowns and I've always gotten good quality shoes.  These will transfer well from cold weather to warm.  They will look good with slim jeans rolled up a bit, and even skirts and dresses.  

Another website I found that I'm loving is Roolee.  I think their clothes are breezy and sweet.  Who can't like a cute linen dress billowing around a model dancing in a field of wildflowers?  My daughters and I are loving this site, I've ordered a dress and shoes, Abby ordered the same shoes, and Emily bought two cute dresses.  Tap the links to these websites.  I think they are age appropriate for us Over-Forties-Crowd, as well as our daughters.  

Bunnies Multiplying

They came out of their bin, were dusted off, and scattered around the house along with a few nests and eggs.  I'm starting to plan Easter dinner.  We have quite a crowd coming and I'm going to have to squeeze in some extra tables for the first time.  

Doggie Naps

Milo and Layla grab the sun wherever and whenever they can.  I share so much about Milo that sometimes little Layla doesn't get asked to the prom.  She's thirteen and healthy, and maybe I lean too much on what I've heard that smaller dogs live longer.  And I guess I pacify myself with that because Milo is on borrowed time.  In his case, his cancer came back last September.  With nothing left to do it's been all about waiting it out.  He's different everyday.  His back problems cause him to move slowly and his senility is pretty bad.  He paces and is confused sometimes but overall this is simply age progression.  The vet has said that we need to look for signs of no interest in anything, no appetite, and signs of pain.  So we take it day by day.  Thank you for your prayers.  I share a bit more about this journey on my Instagram feed, if you'd like to visit.  If you have an account, I'm under Blondies Journal.  

And an update on The Husband.  I wrote about the pain in his back and the biopsy he had in my last post.  The results were that he has a bacterial and fungi infection near and possibly in his sacral area.    He had a port put in his upper right arm and he goes to a nearby hospital, rather than downtown to Northwestern Memorial, every morning, seven days a week for an infusion of antibiotics.  He's on week five of the seven weeks and then he'll have another MRI.  He's been working from home this last month and a half and that's a real game changer for both of us!  I don't think I'm going to elaborate on that right now as this post has been going on almost a week of me writing, and maybe more for you to read.  

Abby's bridal shower is next Saturday.  There are four of us planning and it's still a lot of work; phone calls, running around,  putting ideas together, but I think we are on track.  I'll share the details and all about the celebration in my next post.   

Getting the lakehouse  ready for summer is a busy time and it looks like I'll be on my own.  The Husband not only has his infusions, but he's in some pain and not really ready for that strenuous work.  He also has to be ready to go downtown if he has court.  So I'll be heading to Michigan after Easter and with the help of The Beach Boys and my lawn guy, get the beach replenished, the boats back in, and the yard cleaned up.  I'll have to hire for a lot of help on outdoor repairs, and I hope my daughters will pop up to some deep cleaning with me of that big 'ol house.  Thank God for my sons and son in law's for their help as well.  How much The Husband can be there, I just don't know.  But there is no reason for me to not get out of Dodge for a few weeks (or more).  ;-D

Okay, winding up here.  I am doing a little makeover of the blog and I hope to share soon.  A little bit more content besides the Perils of Pauline, but don't worry, my life is better than fiction. 

Okay--I'm ready to hit Publish right now without doing a 50+ grammatical/spell checks...I'll fix that later tomorrow.  Just enjoy. :)  

Happy Spring, friends!

Jane x