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 🙏