Thursday, December 3, 2020



Hello friends!  I'm trying to stay on top of my blogging.  I am such a procrastinator and I wholeheartedly admit it.  And I do not like commitments so I wait until the eleventh hour.  This got me in some hot water a few weeks ago when my December newspaper article deadline arrived and I found that the regular old way I added photos to my blog was now totally undoable.  I still don't remember how I did it, but I do know my editor was frothing at the mouth over my excuses and delays in going to press on time.  And I never had the time to share all I wanted to during this festive time.  So---for this post I finally figured out that I could drag photos from my downloads (I use a MacBook Pro) and insert them in my blog draft.  This is the only way I could make it work and I'm extremely angry that the new Blogger changed so much with zero explanations or guides.  Google was even using the old guidelines which no longer work.  

What a rant!  I have a picture here from last year.  I love my vintage salt & pepper shakers.  Many never notice that they're not Mr. and Mrs. Claus, they are actually two Santa's.  Isn't that odd?  Maybe the maker never saw Miracle On 34th Street...there is only one Father Christmas!  

I haven't even begun to stuff is beautifully organized downstairs but I like to buy my live tree first.  And I'm seriously going to go minimal this year and I really mean it!  There may be no company, no one dropping in, and who knows if I'll be able to have the kids and grands here in the morning for gift giving and mimosas. I'm playing it by ear.

I read and hear a lot about people putting on the Covid pounds; working from home and indulging a bit too much on food and drink to heal our loss of family and social life, it's not uncommon.  But I'm addressing cravings here.  I often wonder if we have them because our bodies are telling us we are missing something.  Or maybe we just get hooked on something we haven't had in awhile.  

I gave up yogurt when I really started to cut carbs well over fifteen years ago when the Atkins diet became a hit.  I still have fond memories of the days when I worked in an office in my early twenties.  Once in awhile the receptionist, and a great pal, would leave a carton of Dannon yogurt on my desk as a little surprise when she brought her own.  Then I would return the favor.  Don't ask me how but we never did it on the same day.  

Early this year I came across Two Good yogurt (this is not a paid promotion).  I was looking for the glitch ...2 grams of sugar and fat?  80 calories?  It sounded too (two) good to be true.  Well, I can tell you, its as smooth and creamy as pudding, and the flavors are perfect without being overly tart.  I believe it's in most grocery stores.  I really love the peach and mixed berry flavors.  Give it a shot.

So, was my body telling me I needed calcium?  Protein?  Were my taste buds telling me that salty potato chips and sweet cookies were no longer necessary? Who knows but I should own stock in the company and I would love a year of 
free Two Good if the Yogurt Gods are reading.😂

By summer my cravings 
 turned into fruit.  Fresh fruit is often a side or a snack at the cottage, especially with the little grandkidlets running around in the sun and heat.  I like a little bowl of fruit when we have breakfast at restaurants, but at this point I was cutting up an abundance of fruit I would buy; pineapple, cantaloupe, honeydew melon, watermelon, strawberries, blueberries, etc.  And the best part to me is to stir and flip the fruit everyday to get that refreshing and flavorful combination of the mixed juices.  So no one is surprised to see ripening pineapple with its pretty texture and festive top, or melons taking up space in the fridge.  So, what is my body craving?  Hydration?  Natural sugars?  Something crunchy and cooling?  Hmmmm...

Spicy Ginger Beef Noodles

And yet another must-have food: noodles.  I'll take them any way.  I also wanted beef broth and saltiness.  And thus ramen bowls became a hit in Blondie's household.  You can find a lot of choices of ramen noodles in the Asian aisle of your grocery store, they are wheat based and originate from Japan, but come in many different forms.  

Anyway, I love noodles and I've been craving salt, and what better excuse do you have for taking in a coma inducing amount of salty soy sauce?  I was adding it to food much like kids add ketchup to everything.  So I was making many bowls of ramen and this is one I created and is a keeper. 

Jane's Spicy Ginger Beef Noodles

8 oz. noodles of your choice
1 T veggie oil
1 t sesame oil
8 oz thinly sliced sirloin beef
1 knob (or inch) of fresh ginger, peeled and finely grated
1 c (or a handful) of fresh snow peas
1 c baby Bok choy, thinly sliced into ribbons
3 cloves of garlic,  finely chopped
4 c beef broth 
1/4 c soy sauce
2-3 scallions, trimmed, tops and bottoms, roughly chopped
Pinch of red pepper flakes
1/2 c fresh cilantro, roughly chopped

My mantra, particularly in this recipe, is to chop, slice, grate, or whatever before you begin cooking.  It's essential for a recipe that involves bringing the layers of flavor together in a short amount of time.  Don't get fussy, just do all of this work at the start and keep everything separated on your cutting board (mine is super large)

Bring a medium pot of salted water to boil. Turn the heat down to low and cover.  Meanwhile, add both oils to a large skillet over high heat.  Add the beef and cook, using tongs to flip about 2 minutes.  

Lower the heat to medium and add the ginger, snow peas, and Bok choy, and continue to toss approximately 2-3 minutes.  Add the garlic and toss for another minute, then add the beef broth and soy sauce.  Let simmer on low.

Up the heat on the pot of water for the noodles to a boil.  Add them, stir often and check the noodles by tasting them until they are soft, then strain.

Divide the noodles into two bowls, pour over the veggie/broth mixture. Top with scallions, a bit of red pepper flakes, and the cilantro.  Serve immediately. 

I made a pasta dinner one night last week and while I usually use half the box, I used the whole pound...way too much for The Husband and I.  I kept the remaining half cooked pound in the fridge not sure of what to do with it and not liking waste.  Then I came across a recipe for baked spaghetti, actually quite a few.  I got the gist of it and then put together this recipe.  Feel free to make changes as far as the ingredients and cheeses.  You will absolutely love this.  

Jane's Pasta Casserole

1/2 pound spaghetti noodles, cooked
5 bacon strips, roughly chopped
1 T vegetable oil
1 onion chopped
1 sweet pepper, red, orange or yellow-your choice,  finely chopped
garlic cloves, peeled and roughly chopped
1 1/2 c frozen peas, thawed
5 T butter cut into small pieces
1 1/2 c grated mozzarella cheese, divided
2 T dried oregano
2 T dried rosemary
2 t nutmeg
2 t ground cloves
5 eggs, whisked
2 T butter, melted
1 c bread crumbs
1/4 c grated Parmesan cheese

Place the bacon pieces in a large skillet and cook over medium heat until crisp.  Remove to a plate lined with a paper towel.  When the skillet is somewhat cool, wipe out the remaining bacon drippings with paper towels.  Add the vegetable oil and once hot, the onions and peppers.  Saute over medium heat until just softened.  Add the garlic and stir for another minute and off the heat.

Place the cooked pasta in a large bowl.  With two forks or your fingers (as I did, clean of course), separate the strands of spaghetti until no longer sticky and clumped.  Add the cooked veggies, the peas, 1 cup of the mozzarella and  butter.  Do another good toss. 

 Mix the dried spices and salt and pepper together in a small dish.  Add half to the pasta mix, toss, and then the other half, tossing again until it's evenly incorporated.  Since the pasta is cooked, you can sample a forkful to adjust the seasoning before baking. 

Pour the mixture into a casserole dish of your choosing.  I used a deep dish so I'd get more density and less dryness.  Once in the dish, mix things together again.  You want everything blended.  Pour the whisked eggs evenly over the pasta and then top with the remaining mozzarella cheese. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes covered with foil  Remove foil and bake for another 15 minutes.  Top the casserole with the bread crumb mixture and return to the oven for another 10 minutes or as I did, under the broiler until lightly browned.

Let the casserole cool slightly, then using a knife, slice into squares.  Use a spatula to serve.  Oh girls, you will ❤️ this recipe!  Serves 6-8 with a side salad or good bread.  Enjoy!


 I found the recommendations for this book on Instagram but I can't remember where.  As a writer I was drawn to it, and as a long time admirer of the First Lady, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, I knew this would suit me.  

Amazon description: The about a struggling writer who gets his big break, with a little help from the most famous woman in America.

It's fictional but based on fact.  In the last years of her life, Jackie was an editor at Doubleday. When she died, her son said that she passed away peacefully, surrounded by family and her precious books. I'm only a few chapters in so the verdict is not out.  Stay tuned, I'm loving it so far.   

I wrote on Instagram that I was well into this limited series on Netflix.  Wow, it seems I'm the last one on the train!  I'm really liking it thus far.  The Husband and I, as well as our older sons, were avid chess players, we had family tournaments quite a bit.  I think I'm going to dust off the old set.

As I said in the beginning of my post, I haven't yet started to decorate for Christmas.  This is a very sweet arrangement my daughter, Emily, made for a cabinet using faux greenery and little wood cutout homes from the dollar bins at Target.  I love her creativity and design on a dime.  I'm going to go very minimal, and to keep that mindset I'm only going to bring up select items from my bins and rely very much on candles and greenery.  I always fail to remember whatever I bring out also has to be put away.   Ugh...

Who knows how Christmas will be.  Our Thanksgiving family get-together was gathering in our backyard in 40 degree weather, wearing coats and hats and holding plastic cups of mimosas while wearing masks and walking around in an effort not to spend too much time with any one person.  Some of my family has had Covid, others were exposed, but this occurred well before Thanksgiving and they were all cleared.  Still...

Christmas is a toss up.  We've thought that maybe we  can do our traditional Christmas morning brunch and gift giving, at least for the sake the grands.  Even my children have gotten overly sentimental about it.  I'm hoping with the right protection: ventilation, masks, staying apart from one another and limiting our time, we might manage it.  No decisions yet.  

Emily found this discarded, once sad looking sleigh.  She spiffed it up with a little black paint, and created a cute winter scene!  The best thing is that her daughter, (and my much loved granddaughter!) Madelyn, participates in all of these projects.  She's going to be as inspiring as her mama.  I shared this wiz of a designer in my last post.

Okay, in winding up I'll give you a few things I'd love to hear about in your comments:

1). How's your holiday decorating going?  Finished or in no hurry?

2). Has the stress of this unprecedented time in our lives caused you to make changes in your eating habits, in particular cravings?  Or is it just me?  What are your favorite snacks and go to foods?

3). Do you think I should continue to post recipes?  I'm not a food blogger but like to share some newish sort of ways of cooking that come out of my scattered brain.

4). What are you reading and watching?  How much time are you devoting to these things?  And if your thing is knitting or journaling, how's that going?

5). Do you have definitive holiday plans?  What sort of precautions and protocol do you utilize right now as the pandemic is at it's all time high?

You don't have to answer each question.  As when you took exams in school, if you don't know the answer to a question, move on and come back to it later.😂😂😂

Love and good health to all!❤️

Jane x

Friday, November 20, 2020


Happy fall days, friends.  This is a pic of the bay from last winter.  As you know my last visit was cut short due to my clumsy fall on the steps and this is the view I wanted to savor for awhile.  Nevertheless, here in Chicago I have a carpet of leaves on the front lawn and in the backyard and I'm going to have a slow go at raking. I'm still in a lightweight brace but I'm able to pull a loose boot over my foot and it gives me a lot of stability.  I'm having guilty feelings over Poppy not having more fun outdoors and I also really need the exercise.  Today I was tempted to take a slow stroll around the block with her and then I got distracted by something else~and she would have probably dragged me down the sidewalk!  But still, our weather has been ridiculously gorgeous!  Yesterday I sat on the back steps just to get fifteen minutes of sunshine.  Mmmmmm... 

Taco Style Baked Potatoes

Moving on to recipes a little earlier than usual, I am loving these potatoes, created and photographed by moi!

First up, the pairing of the much loved baked potato with a taco style filling/topping.  You can totally do whatever you want with this but I'll give you a simple recipe for mine, which very much consisted of what I had in my freezer and fridge.

2 large baking potatoes, scrubbed and washed
1/2 lb. ground beef
I/2  package taco seasoning mix
1 c chopped iceberg lettuce
2 scallions, thinly sliced
6 cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 c sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 c sour cream

Prick the potatoes several times with a sharp knife.  Bake at 375 approximately 1 hour (depending on the size). Insert the knife until it slides easily into potato.  Turn off the oven and let the potatoes stay warm until assembling.  

Meanwhile, add the ground beef to a medium size skillet and brown over medium heat, stirring often.
Drain and return to skillet.  Mix in the taco seasoning packet as per the directions but halved, and cook for about 15 minutes, stirring often until all of the liquid has absorbed.  

Slice the baked potatoes in half, smoosh with a fork, and then remove about a tablespoon or so of the potato in the center to form a well (you can save this to fry up with your eggs in the morning).  Prepare your toppings.  I assembled the potatoes and then finished them up.  First goes the seasoned ground beef into the center.  Then top with the lettuce, scallions and tomatoes.  Follow up with the cheese and sour cream. You can keep extra sour cream and cheese at the table.  Fair warning: you will need a fork and knife to eat this!  Serves 2. 

Buffalo Chicken Pizza

I think you guys know that I love making my own pizzas for a simple and quick meal after a busy day.  I like to use mostly veggies, sometimes zero meat, and just a brush of olive oil on the crust rather than a tomato based pizza sauce.  The toppings just shine this way.  I buy thin pre-made crusts sold in the Italian section of my grocery store, no need to refrigerate and a long shelf life to boot.  A tip here for thin crust pizza, don't forego the cornmeal on your pizza pan; a thin pizza can get mushy in the middle before it's done in the oven and it also prevents sticking as the cornmeal soaks up the liquid.  As always, use the topping you like in addition to the chicken.

1 lb. chicken tenders
3-4 T Frank's Hot Wings Sauce
8 T butter, melted
1 1/2 T olive oil, divided
1 thin crust fresh pizza
1 T cornmeal
2 c of assorted veggies you have on hand such as sweet peppers, diced tomatoes, mushrooms, etc., thinly sliced
2 c Mozzarella cheese, divided
1/2 c crumbled, feta, goat, or bleu cheese
1/4 c Parmesan cheese
Dry mix~ 1/2 t each: Italian seasoning, granulated garlic, salt, fresh ground pepper, and a pinch of red chili flakes

Slice the chicken tenders in half.  Simmer in a saucepan of water  to cover until cooked through and can be flaked with a fork and knife, about 10 minutes.  Meanwhile, mix together the sauce and melted butter.  Drain the chicken in a colander and place in a  medium size bowl.  Slowly add the hot wing sauce and melted butter.  Set aside.

Place the pizza crust on a baling sheet, preferably round and sprinkled with cornmeal.  In a large bowl toss your veggies with the remainder of olive oil. Begin to layer the ingredients.  Start with half the Mozzarella to form the 'glue' to hold the veggies.  Next add the chicken evenly around the pie and sprinkle the mix of dry spices over that.  The grand finale is the remaining Mozzarella, your choice of cheese crumbles and the Parmesan.  Add a pinch of salt and pepper at the end.  Bake in a 400 degree oven to ensure the crispiness, for about 10 to 15 minutes.  We like our pizza well done so we leave it in longer or turn on the broiler for a few minutes.  Let the cooked pizza sit for about five minutes and then slice by pressing down with a large carving knife as opposed to a rolling pizza cutter or serrated  knife, a perfect way to keep the toppings from sliding willy nilly.   

If you have any questions, and especially if I made any mistakes in proportions, gulp, send me an email or mention in your comments. 


Don't you just love when you find something new and you want to tell everyone about it?  I came across these water bottles and I was quickly drawn in by the various features that come together in making me reach for it every morning.  It's just that fantastic.

I bought one each for The Husband an myself.   First off, this is a 32 ounce container made of strong plastic with sides grips that help when regular bottles sweat.  Or you and your hand sweat~like after a workout. The bottle is  marked in increments of time and ounces consumed. Starting at 8:00 a.m. with a full bottle, you can see that you will need to consume 8 ounces in an hour, and so on and so forth.  By noon you will have had 32 ounces of water.  Now it's time to refill the bottle and continue to drink eight ounces per hours until 5:00 p.m.  And voila, you have had 64 ounces of hydration which is recommended by most health providers.  And finally... the bottle has an insert infuser in which you can add fruit or whatever you like to favor your water.  I love citrus fruit but but I once added a knob of ginger and that was really good. My favorite is pineapple.  

I probably wore you out with this but I swear, there are a lot peeps on my Christmas gift who will be getting one of these! Check out the website.

Yankee Candle:  A Calm and
 Quiet Place

I found this candle while sniffing around a floral and gift shop in the lake's downtown area.  It was smell at first sight!  When you've had enough of sweet summer scents, fall's pumpkin and spice wafting through the house, and evergreen everywhere, this candle is a nice respite.  It's a wonderful mix of jasmine, patchouli, and warm amber musk,  I have had a large candle burning in my kitchen right now, and usually a smaller version in my bedroom where I spend sone time reading and relaxing. 

I know that Yankee Candles are very pricey, most candles have seemed to up their prices.  I get my candles on Amazon now that I can't/won't venture into TJMaxx.  Give it a shot.

Clean Classic Reserve, Sephora

This perfume has been on the glass tray on my dresser for the past four years (not the same bottle of course).  It's very crisp and clean. You feel like you just stepped out of the shower and the scent of pure cleanliness stays with you all day. I wear this as my everyday perfume and get a lot of comments.  You can find it at Sephora

 I'm someone who has worn perfume since I was a teen.  I was fascinated by my mother's bottles on her own glass tray and I would sneak into her room quite a bit and spritz on a little White Shoulders or Youth Dew.  I felt so sophisticated!  And it became a lasting love and ritual.  Before I leave to go out of the house, I give myself a little mist of whatever fragrance is my fancy. My daughters have followed in their grandmother and mother's footsteps, they have their own favorite scents and I often gift them with a bottle on birthdays and at Christmas.

Made for Living by Amber Moore

I have way too many decorating books (much like my overflow of cookbooks). My interest ebbs and flows but lately I'm tiring of decorating websites which feature homes and apartments that all look alike with current trends. 

 Finding an author who compiles decorating ideas and knowledge and creativeness along with gorgeous photos and generous descriptions and tips is something you want to pore through.  This book had me at Hello!  Thus, it's on my bedside table, a little worn for being new, pages earmarked.  It's quite diverse, a little something for everyone.  I find the placement of furniture quite interesting, and ways to keep a room from feeling cluttered yet displaying your treasures in a seamless way.  Does everyone wonder if they will ever balance that frustration.  This is a great book and since again, I found it at Amazon.

A Place To Call Home by Gil Schafer

This designer comes right out of the pages of Traditional  Home and Town and Country.  His style is a mix of classic and cottage.  And I love a mix as I can't define my style other than that.  What I lack, and hope to achieve as I update and decorate the last bit of our home, is to add some antique pieces.  My family room is freshly painted and the original hardwood floor will be refinished next month.  The only furniture is a white slipcovered sofa, loveseat, and chair, and one side table which I need to share to describe, it's so beautiful.  So I clearly have some space and I'm thinking along the lines of a few antique pieces of furniture and perhaps a vintage mirror and a painting.  I may do a Turkish or Oriental rug on another side of the room where we used to have a round table and chairs for the kids to do homework. Not sure what to use that space for.  Maybe a desk and a traditional chair to do my writing? 

There is so much sadness and tragedy all around us and the Covid is shattering records.  I have many family members, immediate and extended who have had the virus and luckily pulled through without a lot of medical issues.  The Husband and I have completely isolated ourselves other than our doctor visits.  The kids want to get together outdoors on Thanksgiving morning in our backyard, dressed warmly with the fire pit burning logs.  And of course our traditional mimosas.  I think it's a lovely and thoughtful idea but it really goes against the guidelines and the current spike.  Patience. I heard somewhere that we can celebrate Thanksgiving in July, when the very hopeful vaccines have been approved and put to use.  

I decided to go with the flow of hunkering down in my house, somedays not changing out of the p.j's.  Who's going to drop in?  And I decided to stop damaging my hair with heat appliances, like my handy flat iron to straighten out my natural curls.  So I took a picture.  It looks pretty here but once I sleep on it or get caught in the wind, I have to mist it with water to spring the curls back up, and after three days I have horrific knots from not being able to brush it.  What's a girl to do?

I also started to take better care of my nails, skin, and diet.  Boredom can make you do that.  I'm not a "self care person".  I get bored very quickly while taking a bath and the water gets cold I'm out!  I'm trying to listen to soothing podcasts but always feel I need to be doing something productive~ definitely not what they are used to achieve. I've been doing yoga via streamed classes on the T.V, but I spend the first two minutes fighting off Poppy who thinks I'm on the floor to play with her.  Sometimes I think I'm more content cleaning the stove.    

I pray all of you are healthy as well as your family and friends. Hang tight.  Know family love is in the heart as well as in person.  FaceTime, Zoom.  I started Christmas cards early so I could add a little note to each, something I've hadn't had time to do in years.  We need that expression of love and kindness and who doesn't like something beautiful in the mail?❤️❤️❤️ 

Sending love and prayers 🙏


Wednesday, October 28, 2020



A-mazing Acres, Edwardsburg, MI

Well, hello!  Where have you been?  Last time we met up it was August!  Let's forget about that, summer has ended, I had a last hurrah at the lake for five straight weeks.  Total solitude and visits from The Husband most weekends.  I think it made up for getting up there and rolling so late in the season due to our quarantine and then hesitation to venture out.  Everything outdoors is now stored away, the house is spiffed up and there is no sign of crumbs or sand.  I'm not sure if our January sledding weekend will take place, we aren't going to take any chances of catching a cold, the flu, or the virus.  

We celebrated fall and all things fall not only in the city, but at the lake.  Emily, our designer daughter, had a "Special" in her business for fall porch styling.  She had a good number of requests and jobs.  Each and every one of the porches, of all size and shape turned out fun, festive, and reflective of the homeowner's taste.  She worked her bum off!  You can visit her website, Curate Design Studio to get a peek at what they do.  She does virtual design consultations for those who are outside Chicago and the surrounding suburbs. She's also on Instagram at Curate.Studio.Chicsgo.  I may be partial but I love her Stories!  Informative, fun, and full of hands on advice and tips anywhere from styling a shelf to creating a gallery wall.   

Diamond Lake, MI

I have never grown zinnias myself but I have memories of being very young and my grandfather leading my sisters and I around the backyard where he grew them all along a picket fence as a tall border.  

One day in early September I was taking Poppy for a walk at the lake.  I was admiring the zinnias growing around a mailbox near the road.  It may have been serendipity, but the lady who lived there happened to pull in her driveway and walked over for a meet and greet (and have Poppy maul her with sloppy kisses and tail wags!).  We chatted about the zinnias.  She told me that she let the seeds fall and they came up again the following spring.  She also kept a few seed heads to scratch into the soil and then lets  nature take its cue.  This is going to be one of my many new projects in the garden next spring- growing tall, blowzy zinnias.  And I'm going to do a raised bed for tomatoes.  We were gifted with so many tomatoes this summer that we were eating them every way possible and there was not one tomato forgotten, they were that good!  Any new ideas for your gardens next spring?

Our little Madelyn is quite the little dancer and loves to pose for the camera.  She really has a gift.  She's been modeling for a children's clothing line, Sprout and Berry.  If you have kids or grandkids, have a peek. Such cute clothing!

Sprout and Berry

This dress is so, so cute.  Mad has the modeling moves down, although this could be her reaction to being told to sit still! 😒

Fall Decorating

City House Porch, Chicago, IL

My porch, courtesy Curate Design Studio

Fall Fun!

Diamond Lake, MI

So many pumpkins, so many choices.  Pansies are my choice of flowers in the fall, they can make it past a frost or two.  I've heard they are actually called pansies because they can't stand the heat of summer!  Mums are spectacular but need a good watering every few days, if not everyday. As rainy as it might be in October, the flowers are so dense they don't get the hydration down to the roots, hence the watering. In the Midwest we simply can't grow anything until the spring bulbs pop up so there's none of those relaxing days in the garden.  Living here all my life, I'm envious of those of you in warm weather areas, but I'm very much emotionally attached to Chicago and appreciate the evergreens and the haven they provide for those bright red birds, the cardinals!


Cousins:  Madelyn, Elsie & Patsy

The grand girls were up for our "Fallin" weekend.  Little Lucy didn't make the cut for some of the action pics.  My daughters dressed the girls in these matching outfits and the colors really made it easy to watch them when we went to the pumpkin patch, which was  pretty much like a small county fair.  They also had cute little silk pajamas and after their bath in our big free standing tub (they used a green bath bomb and claimed they were bathing in a swamp!), Emily and Abby brushed and braided their hair and they fell into bed exhausted.  Such a memorable weekend.


Individual Chicken Pot Pies

  I usually make these after Thanksgiving with leftover meat and there's always leftover meat!  But I recently made a whole chicken and thought I'd used the light and dark meat for these.  Puff pastry makes it super easy and fast.  Ramekins can be too small, so these crocks worked well.  Just use any type of oven proof bowl or crock you have.

2 c cooked shredded chicken
2 T butter
1 yellow onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 medium red or yellow potatoes, peeled and cubed small
1 1/2 c frozen peas and carrots
1/3 c flour
1 c chicken broth
3/4 c milk or cream
1 T dried thyme
1 T dried tarragon
S & P
1 sheet of puff pastry*
1 egg, beaten

In a large saucepan, melt the butter and add the onion.  Cook over medium heat until softened and translucent, stirring often.  Add the chopped garlic and continue to cook an additional 2 minutes.  Turn up the heat and add the flour, whisking until you have a thick roux.  Slowly add the broth and milk, stirring until bubbly.  Add the chicken, potatoes, peas and carrots, and dried herbs, and let simmer about 5 minutes.  Taste a spoonful of the mixture and add salt and pepper if needed.  While this is going on, lay out your sheet of puff pastry on a floured surface and gently roll out about an inch or so on all sides.  Using a knife or pastry wheel, cut the pastry so you have four even squares.  Ladle the chicken mixture evenly in your oven proof bowls and gently press a piece of pastry on each one, pressing down along the edges with a fork to secure in place.  Brush each one with the beaten egg and make an X with a knife in the center fo the steam to escape.  Place the bowls on a sheet pan and place in a 375 degree oven for 35 to 40 minutes or until the pastry is a pretty golden brown.  Enjoy!
*Please note that you need to take the puff pastry out of your freezer about 30 minutes before using.  If it's too soft it will be sticky and difficult to work with. 

 With my thoughts leaping ahead to cooler days with all the cozy scents of fall in the air, I'm dreaming of pies, muffins, chunky cookies, and quick breads, I decided I had to give you one of my favorite cookie recipes that is definitely for grownups.  I love these in the afternoon with a cup of Joe or tea, or maybe a few after dinner just for that last sweet bite for the day.  Of course you can keep them in your cookie jar for the kiddos, but if you know they're there, they might not be around long!  

This recipe comes from longtime favorite blogger, Julie Blanner, and credit for this photo goes to her as well.  I did write it out myself rather than provide a link.

Caramel Cheesecake Cookies

8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/2 c. butter, softened
1 1/2 c sugar
1 t vanilla
2 c flour
1/2 c graham cracker crumbs
1 bag of caramels

Preheat over to 350 degrees

Combine  cream cheese, butter, sugar and vanilla.  Beat in mixer until fluffy.
Gradually add the flour and graham cracker crumbs.

Roll a somewhat large ball of dough, about the size of two cookie scoops.  Make a hole into the center with your thumb and insert a caramel.  Gently roll back into a ball.  Place on a parchment lined cookie sheet and continue with the rest of the dough.

Bake for 12 minutes.  Remove from oven and press each cookie with the bottom of a glass that has been buttered.  Press gently and give it a bit of a turn.  Return the pan to the oven for an additional 3 minutes.  
You can serve these warm but if you can't, 10 seconds in the microwave will work.  Yields 24 cookies.  


So other than  running around pumpkin patches with the kiddo's and enjoying fall and some cozy time in the kitchen, much more goes on behind the blog.  Lots of ups and downs, but I really don't do a lot of, 
"Why me?" Not because I'm a Martyr or comparing myself constantly to others who are much more worse off, its more because I'm used to the barest of normalcy in my life--I say this with a little giggle but if we had a timeline going for the past few years, and my blog is proof positive, I'm always an accident not ready to happen--but happening!😂

In mid September I was happily plugging along, giving the lakehouse a good end-of-year cleaning, doing some additional planting and mulching in the yard, and just soaking in this pause in time, a sort of yawn if you will.  Most people leave the lake for the winter just after Labor Day, even those with year round homes so everything seems to slow down and become mellow.  I felt so much more content in enjoying my morning  coffee on the front porch with Poppy and Layla.  We took long slow walks down the quiet roads and I started making fires inside in the evenings. The three of us just sat on the couch hypnotized and peaceful.

And then one afternoon (drumroll) I walked out the service door to the garage, arms full with a dozen things, and missed the bottom step.  Down I went, it felt like slow motion.  I felt like a pretzel when I landed on the garage floor, my legs all twisted under me.  I could feel the pain in my right leg and instinct told me to get it out from under my bum and it was excruciating as I maneuvered this.  Whew!  I sat and thought for awhile, Layla was scurrying around under the boat and trailer (she was one of the things I was carrying as I was on the way to  a last minute appointment getting her into a vet).  I knew I had to get back in the house and I also knew my right leg was messed up and the pain was getting worse.  Well, I won't make this any longer...I hope.  I bumped my way up the steps on my rear end, was able to open the door, and then crawled into the kitchen.  Oh, and my good ten minutes of thinking was crucial, I dragged my purse, with my phone in with me.  I mean, actually had a plan.  But there was no one to call, the lake people had gone home.  It was just me and the dogs.  This is beginning to sound like a screenplay for a movie.  Okay, I crawled to the fridge to get an icepack, then realized I could pull myself up by using the drawer of the freezer and the countertop just across from it.  No small feat as I couldn't put weight on my right leg. And then I thought another five minutes or so--these things need to be multi-tasked. I needed to get into the great room and then I would not be able to get anywhere else.  I grabbed the icepack, my phone, a water bottle, and a bottle of wine, and then did a hop until I could reach a dining room chair and then used that to get to the couch and collapse.  The ice pack numbed my lower leg which was like a balloon, and the wine went down really well, too. The dogs and I were able to get through the night other than me and the chair making a run to the powder room.  

The Husband was up the next morning.  This man has saved my butt more times than I can count.  He once had to rescue me when I was down in Key West and had a little trouble, the law.  He drove form Michigan to Chicago, caught a flight to Miami, and drove two hours to Key West to bring me back home.  But that's a story for another blog post.  

So, I have a fractured tibia.  I'm growing new bone as we speak.  I am following doctor's orders to the letter, I want to dance again. And I mean that.  And run.  And play hopscotch with my grandkids.  This party ain't over yet! 🥳🥳🥳.  Oh, Layla finally made it to the vet, she had to have nine teeth pulled (and not from being flung across the garage), and to the tune of what would amount to a down payment on a new car.  

In other news, we are getting new wood floors in part of our house, this will be a fine mess.  The Husband has one more case yet to bring to a closure and he will really and truly be retired.  I consider him reeeeeeeally retired because he is underfoot every single day.  He spends most of his time researching the Civil War, just when you think there was nothing left he didn't know, his coin collection, which takes up a lot of room and seems useless to me since I can't use it as actual currency, and new properties to invest in, preferably in Tennessee where you don't have to pay property taxes and we would most likely have to take up full residency.  But he's still underfoot.

I actually deleted the last part of this post which makes for a whole new post coming soon.  I promise it won't be "all about me."  

I hope all of you are well, physically and mentally.  It's going to be a long winter, hard on those of us who want to be near family and friends but risk too much health wise.  I have been managing to get out to do my grocery shopping, the pharmacy, doctor appointments 🙄, but I sure would love a trip to Target or TJ Maxx!  That's a thing of the past with this new wave of the virus on top of flu season.  I feel my life with The Husband hasn't changed too drastically In this pandemic.  Other than family parties, get-togethers, and holidays, we have always pretty much stayed at home and chilled doing our familiar comfortable things.  We actually make popcorn and watch a movie once in awhile on a Saturday night.  I love to cook so we sit down for dinner every evening, we may order out once or twice a month.  I like to do my online shopping, in fact I'm working on Christmas already and that's a rarity!  But we have a tight budget with him retiring.  we both enjoy reading and watching the news together.  He does his thing on his iPad and I do blogging, Instagram, shopping, and Googling all my medical issues on my laptop.  We play with the dogs a lot.  

This has been a lot to read, my friends, I know.  If you made it this far you deserve a medal!  I promise to catch up on your blogs.  I reached a point after being non existent here for two months, that it would be odd to pop in on you and then you'd come back here to something you read way back when.  

I leave you with this...

Our Lucy June and her dog Rusty~~


Jane xxx