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