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 🙏



coffeeontheporchwithme said...

It's nice to see a post from you again! My hair does what yours does and I stopped fighting it during stay-at-home time. I totally understand what you mean about baths, and yoga! Not a fan of either one and I always end up feeling frustrated with yoga, rather than relaxed. Take care - Jenn

Penny from Enjoying The Simple Things said...

Your pizza and baked potato recipes sound good. I will have to check out those books.

Susie said...

Hi Blondie, I am happy to see this post. Glad you are on the mend. Also that you are staying in away from crowds and the covid. It's too scary to risk our loved ones lives for any Thanksgiving gathering. We can have big meals and parties,many more times if we wait for a vaccine. At least you are keeping busy doing a few fun things right at home. Blessings to you, xoxo, Susie
p.s. It was 2 years ago today that Ted learned of his cancer and was hospitalized. He is slowly recovering from all the chemo.

Eileen in Fla. said...

I just found your Blog and enjoy it very much, especially your photography. I think I will gift myself with candles and perfume for Christmas. Thanks for the recs.

Linda said...

It was good to catch up with you today! I may try the fragrance CLEAN! I have been wanting a new scent. Youth Dew! That took me back! I used to wear that in the winter long years ago. Then I switched to Cinnabar for the cold months and a lighter Este Lauder fragrance for the rest of the year.

Helen said...

Happy Thanksgiving, Jane!! Stay safe and healthy ~~~~~

Leslie Harris said...

Hi Jane,

It's always so nice to read you posts, as close as a reader can get to a cozy visit. I know what you mean about rolling with the social distancing. And with the spike in numbers it's so crazy to risk infection when we're really so close to a vaccine. I like your cautious attitude about the holidays, that's pretty much my feeling. I received your email and I've started to sit down and respond but I like to take time to reflect on your words and mine. I do wish I could give you a big hug though. It was my first instant reaction.
love you,

Mary said...

I never knew you actually had curls dear Jane!!!! Beautiful hair.
I now have about 85% silver (well, actually grey!) and should, within a few more months of trims, be completely silver, yay! My hair has turned wavy and is cut in a long on top and front with short sides 'pixie'. No more bangs either. NO heat any longer - anyone want styling tools, I have a load!
I love shampooing/conditioning every couple of days and just drying naturally and am ready to go! No more daily hour long styling, blowing, straightening etc. as with the bob! I do miss being a redhead a little though. COVID through horrific, has been good for my hair in several ways - less breakage and much healthier.

I've just ordered 3 of those water bottle from Amazon (cheaper than ETSY) as Christmas gifts - the gals who get them should love them - thanks for the heads up.
I already have a similar one myself which I load up with a sliced lemon daily.

Glad to know you are healing dear - do not try to do too much too soon though.
We've canceled our Thanksgiving travel to AZ to see family - just too risky. This will be the first year EVER that we've not traveled anywhere - it really hurts!

Hope other things are going better and that you enjoy this very different Thanksgiving. Stay safe and be well.
Love from us both XX

Anonymous said...

Nice to hear from you. Keeping busy while indoors. Reading and doing lots of all kinds of puzzles. Getting ready Thanksgiving. We ordered our turkey last week. Trying to wrap some Christmas presents to avoid the rush on Christmas Eve. Fragrances can be soothing and relaxing. Philosophy and Perrier bath products are two good ones to try. Wishing you and your family a Blessed and Happy Thanksgiving.

Junkchiccottage said...

Hi Jane,
These are all great things and what wonderful gifts. I need a new water bottle and I like this one so I will check it out. Have a good Thanksgiving with just your hubby. I think if we all just stay put and and try to be a patient a little longer we will get to a better place with all of this. Have a good weekend.

Scribbler said...

I am so glad your ankle is getting better. I get what you mean about preferring to clean the kitchen as opposed to exercise. It is boring. The potato and pizza both look so good! We do not really have those ethnic departments in our supermarkets here, but I did find an online source called I ordered some things, including their yeast for pizza crust, and tried it for the first time tonight. It is a game changer used with King Arthur Bread Flour.

I need to check out that Amber Lewis book. The other one I have had for quite a long time. Your design plans for your family room sound great. I like the idea of a nice desk and comfortable chair for yourself to do your writing. Santa is bringing me James Farmer's new book. He is my favorite decorator.

Covid is going nuts here, too, and I have not been anywhere but my doc appointments, either. So far we have managed to dodge the virus. Fingers crossed.

Michele M./ Finch Rest said...

hey old friend-

You are not alone. There will be hoards of studies done when this is over about coping. This is a veritable nightmare. And man, whew, no kidding it's difficult, huh?

I haven't really been anywhere since the end of March. One emergency doc visit due to an infection I couldn't shake, and I ride in the car when hubs shops for us at the grocery sometimes. We go on rides to see the sunset in other places around here. My daughters and I have been completely isolating, so we are in safe bubbles and can see one another. If I couldn't see my grand I would probably be suicidal. Thank God above they work from home and are safe. I am in the high risk category and don't mess around.

Now about your curls. Now why of why do we always want what we don't have??? Do you have ANY idea how gorgeous I think your curls are? I will spend an hour curling my hair, only to have it go as flat as God made it within no time at all. Those curls are gorgeous, Jane! Embrace your natural fabulousness!

BTW- please don't think this tacky- but my daughter makes the best hair oil for dry and fly-away hair, curly or straight - and it is a game changer. Just so happens I am having a giveaway from her company and from me going on right now. It will take you to her website.
I use the Azure smell but it looks like she's sold out of that scent but there's several more. Used to use Moroccan oil - never again - hers is lighter, smells better and one only needs a tiny tiny TINY bit to go a loooong way. It will last a long time. I know you'd love it - all natural ingreds in all her stuff. Check it out.

And take care, ok? Stay safe, stay well, stay hopeful. This will end. Keep the faith.
Hugs hugs. ♥

Rita C at Panoply said...

Jane, it's good to hear you're able to get about better. Your food looks and sounds like comfort, and I really like what I see of your wavy/curly hair! All the holidays will be in isolated pockets in our family, but my #1 daughter is trying to muster some sort of Zoomfest. We'll see how it goes. I had just about given up on sending cards this year until your I may change my mind. I've always sent so many - nearly 100 just with immediate family and their offspring! This year has incredibly changed so many aspects of our lives going forward....stay well, stay the course. Good to hear from you. Happy Thanksgiving.

cindy hattersley design said...

Hi Jane

I left a comment earlier but it did not go through. Is anyone else having that problem? Oh dear, I am glad you are on the mend. That potato looks delicious. We are having a very small Thanksgiving (not our usual 20+) with just our immediate family including the little firecracker. Best to you my friend and hang in there!

Kim said...

It's always good to catch up with you, Jane. The recipes alone are making me drool! I get it, we've been hunkered down, too, it's been a long 8 months and I'm getting kind of tired of it, but we do what we have to. I feel bad for my kids, they've been home with us and it's just not normal for the young ones to be trapped in for so long...but again, they're doing what they have to. And now I'm off to shop, that water bottle and the books are intriguing. Thanks for sharing and Happy Thanksgiving!

Jeanie said...

So glad to see your post! The baked potatoes look delish -- I often use chili over a potato -- I'd love the taco version more!

Yes, just us two. I'm playing a long game with Covid. I'm just peachy keen with my own company and Rick for as long as it takes. I want to be around for many Christmases and Thanksgivings, not just this one. So it's just doc appointments for me. He's doing the groceries and I wish he wasn't but he's being careful and we are careful around each other. All we can do is hope and do our best.

Happy Thanksgiving, Jane.

La Contessa said...

I think I saw your water bottles in T.J.'s the other day!!!They caught my eye but I was moving too fast was on a MISSION in and OUT!That has never happened..........
Have you ever tried ALKALINE water?I get that at TRADER JOES............the taste is WONDERFUL.
YOUR hair looks DEVINE!
Did the grocery shopping last night for TURKEY DAY and forgot the TURKEY!NO ONE in the store on a SATURDAY NIGHT!
I have Never listened to a PODCAST.......I KNOW I KNOW but I cannot LISTEN and DO STUFF I FEEL!
Finished THE CROWN the other day!SO GOOD but what a SAD SAD STORY!!!!!!THEY ARE ALL SO UNHAPPY!
HUGS TO what you feel you need to do!
I'm hunkered down too except for THAT DASH to TJMAXS!!!

Anonymous said...
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Lorrie said...

Your recipes look delicious, Jane, and I'm glad you are doing well. It's so hard to stay away from family and friends just now, isn't it? We're having another grandbaby on Saturday (C-section) and I'll be looking after the older sister, so we are all being very very careful. Who knows what Christmas will look like? But we will get through this, with God's help. Stay well!

Starting Over, Accepting Changes - Maybe said...

I am loving those recipes and will try them soon.

We are thinking of doing a food exchange in my open garage on Thursday. Myself and two of my children are making three sides each, and packing them up for everybody to take home. It will be a hi-bye affair with a toast of something, and even though we will all be at a distance from each other, I am beginning to rethink it. We are expecting rain that day so any plans of being completely outside may not be possible. I might have to look into a plan C.

Stay safe.

Lynne said...

Reading your post early on the 23rd
and you’ve given me a punch . . . I needed it!
The secret . . . you’ve freshened my mind
with new things, suggestions, tries.
Like having a conversation with my daughter or friends.

And thank you Amazon . . . at my door again and again.
Keeps me from going out and about.

We are staying in . . . all of family that usually
comes together, we are all “staying in” . . .

I am heart flipping right now for my daughter
who has dodged the virus from all sides
BUT she is ill and I feel helpless.
She is doing all the right things and I need to be
thankful, patient, hopeful.

Ordering your fresh fragrance for her . . .
and me . .. I love smiles and I can see her now!

Thank you for your zest . . .
Happy Thankfulness . . .

Kit said...

Hello! Glad to hear you are mending. Covid is crazy here too. So I stay home and away from all the crazy people. Doing a lot of shopping online and enjoying nesting about my house. You take care and have a great Thanksgiving. Stay safe! Kit

Melanie said...

Had no idea you had curly hair - it's very pretty!

Your stuffed potatoes and pizza look yummy.

That water bottle looks cool, but I'm partial to Hydroflask as it keeps the water cold for many hours, even when the bottle sits in a hot car in the heat of the summer!

Unfortunately, I can't wear perfume anymore or burn candles unless made with pure essential oils, as both trigger my allergies and leave me a coughing, sneezing, congested mess.

I will check out those books you recommended on Amazon - thanks!

Hope you and your family have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

Susan said...

Your recipes sound excellent, homemade pizza and stuffed potato sound so yummy. Good to hear you are recovering nicely from your foot injury. Soon you will be 100%. Your Clean Classic perfume sounds good, I will look for this. Currently, I like Chance by Chanel. A nice winter scent. Like you, I have a tray of perfumes and have always liked my perfumes,just as my mother did. Your natural curls frame your face and look lovely. Have a good Thanksgiving. As you suggest we might have to have a Thanksgiving do-over with the entire family when it is safe for everyone. Two of each holiday is not such a bad idea...

It's me said...

Hello Jane...I am so glad you and your husband are ok and is such a strange time...I also are most of the time at home...I have a pair of friends who I see or visit ...with a lot of distance...Leaf and I are ok !...but i am so affraid for being I watch out how much I can...almost Christmas...o my.....the second one when I am on my one strange....but I try and do my best every day to live my life....for so many people it is a hard time....please stay safe and healthy love from me 🍀💕🙏🐾🍀

handmade by amalia said...

Hi Jane, nice to catch up. I hope you did manage to have a nice Thanksgiving, even with the restrictions. We've celebrated all our major holidays this year under quarantine and I don't think I'll ever take family gatherings for granted again. Thanks for all the recommendations, I think that we are in for a few more months of this and it is books and cooking and the garden and distant friends that will keep us going. A hug.

Jen Kershner said...

Hi Jane! You had me at 32 ounces! I have a lidded cup that holds that much but the lid never fits right and we have a real love hate thing happening. Also, that A Place to Call Home book has one of my fave rooms of all time on the cover! We are hunkering down here too. I imagine the wedding was the last time we will all be together for awhile. We spent Thanksgiving just the 3 of us (the baby girl is home from college for the foreseeable future). It was fine. I love the idea of Thanksgiving in July! We plan to be tucked into the house for the next several months and are also grateful for zoom and FaceTime! Be well, dear Jane.

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