Thursday, April 29, 2021

SPRING MARCHES ON IN A PHOTO-LESS BLONDIEVILLE

 






I made this little cutie for my granddaughter with more requests from the rest.  Isn't it precious?  I was actually at Hobby Lobby with Emily and the girls and came upon the needlework section.  I saw three tiny kits to make this, as well as a sloth, and an owl.  I asked Madelyn if I could make this little lamb for her.  She said, "Yes, Grandma, but it's a unicorn."  Oh, well, I still think it looks like a lamb.  I made the sloth for daughter Abby because, well...it fits.

I became very interested again in needlework since I'm pretty much off my feet several hours a day.  I rummaged through some of my half finished projects as well as  samplers, which I'm really not interested in doing.  I will say that Amalia at Handmade By Amalia truly inspired me to get into some of the whimsical hand stitching she does so well.  I have none of her talent.  She tells the most wonderful stories and poems on her blog and Instagram feed-give her a visit!   I have some online projects ordered.  I'm sad to say there isn't much at all to be found in Hobby Lobby or Michael's.  I drove out (into the burbs) to a Jo Ann Fabric and they had zero.  Nothing.  A few cheap counted cross stitch kits.  And they're selling clothing and jewelry now. What???  If you do any sort of this using an online shop, please let me know.

And this is my only photo for you, I still can't load them.  I have even searched You Tube and there was a video in which a guy concurred with the dumbass picture loading issues with Blogger and illustrated how he copies and pastes his images, but it wasn't clear from where.  This really doesn't bode well with bloggers who seem to be disappearing quickly.  I'm determined to keep it up.  I found blogging and blogging found me after my sister died.  Writing gave me the chance to escape from the real and cruel world, and forced me to look at the good things in my life.  I still go back in my blog which I started  in 2009, and although my photos are lousy, it brings back things I had forgotten, from people, parties, vacations, everyday happenings, and then the photos.  A written journal doesn't have that impact.  And I keep everything here clean and fun as opposed to my written journals!

If anyone uses Blogger, please email me with your advice.  

So this is a photo of Poppy playing in the daffs:

                                                    😑

We've had a lot of rain so as you can't see, they are mud spattered and drooping.  I can see them from the house all along the fence and that's where they can stay.  The tulips are really coming up now-I cannot wait for their show!🌷
                                              
And this is a picture of a new garden bed:


                                                  🀬


I'm happy I got it mostly up and running last fall so there really wasn't any hard work to be done--I did the pointing and The Husband did all the digging.  I'll tell you another time what was planted, I've lost the stick markers. I still use that free phone app called Picture This.  Just snap a photo of your flower, plant, bush, tree, or weed and it will identify it and give you all sorts of info.  I also have some flower seeds planted; four 'o clocks, moonflowers, zinnias, and cosmos.



I don't really know when we will get back to the lake to just hang out.  The kids are coming up the weekend of May 15 to help unload all of the summer furniture, beach toys, and all things outdoors. The boat will be dropped off and we have The Beach Boys replenishing sand and weeding.  I didn't make a big mark in the cleaning of the house the last time I was there and that includes a ton of laundry and getting the guest rooms company ready.  I'm going to pick up some drop cloth from a hardware store and cut sections it to drape over the beds whenever I leave.  No one wants to sleep in a bed that has sat in a room undisturbed for weeks.  I leave windows cracked but I always wash my bedding and dust my room upon arriving or else my allergies would go bonkers.  So that's my lightbulb idea.  

Between my back issues and The Husband having new health problems, I'm doing my best to consolidate appointments into chunks so we can get away whenever we can, whether it be the lake, Asheville, a getaway vacation somewhere warm, anywhere.  I really hope so.  

My current read is Daughter's of Erietown by Connie Schultz. It had good reviews and I was having a real fiction mood.  It really is good so far.  

Well, I'm off for now.  I'll probably think of a zillion other things I could have mentioned but it's about time I was short and sweet!

Be well 🌸

Jane x


Sunday, April 18, 2021

A LITTLE GAME OF CATCH-UP WITH BLONDIE


I miss all of you!!  I never thought I would seriously get anything out anytime soon.  You know--it's everything and nothing going on at the same time.  My biggest reason for absence has been problems loading my photos on Blogger.  I thought I would throw my laptop across the room if I couldn't figure it out after another try.  It's working...for now.  If anyone out there is on the new Blogger, give a girl a hand! I also found out that Feedburner is making changes and if you subscribe to my blog or anyone else by email, that's going to end in July.  We were advised to download our list of subscribers but what to do from there is questionable. Any idea?

I hate to start off all techy (or tech-less) but all of this just made blogging unappealing.  I'm going to do my best and hop in the saddle again! 

These tulips are from the grocery store and I actually bought them a few years ago.  Are they faux?  No-I just posted an old photo. πŸ˜‚. I had to laugh at something I saw on Buzzfeed now that I just used that crying emoji.  They shared texts from people who thought their parents  were undeniably inept at  emoji's and how to use them.  One really made my jaw drop:

Hey son.  Your Uncle Mark died. πŸ’€

And another from someone whose mother thought the "laughing til I'm crying" emoji was really crying hysterically:

Judy, I know you'll be sad, but my kitty passed away. 🀣

Ahhhh...we all need a little laughter these days.  You can subscribe to Buzzfeed on your phone apps.  I love it. 




I make this candy as an Easter treat (which of course, has come and gone).  I thought I'd share because you can use whatever little candies you like for holidays, seasons, etc.  I like to make an "adult" version with good chocolate pieces, some pretzels, and smashed up macadamia nuts.  Out. Of. This. World.  In a nutshell πŸ™„:

Place almond bark or white chocolate pieces in a large bowl and microwave at 30 second intervals, stirring as you go until melted.  Spread on a parchment paper lined baking sheet and then adorn with your choice of edibles.  Place in your fridge for about fifteen minutes.  Break into pieces and store in a plastic container for a few days or until gone, whichever comes first and I can make a good guess!

 



Have you tried any CBD products?  There are SO many out there and a lot of mixed reviews and misinformation.  I did a fair amount of research hoping to find something that would help me with my everyday anxiety and sleep issues.  I settled on this brand and I'm not disappointed.  I take the daily gelcap in the morning, and a dose of the daily drops in the evening before bed.  I do feel a sense of calm, nothing intoxicating at all.  I also use the natural oil for my face, hands and ends of my hair.  The gentle scent is heavenly and that alone is relaxing.  Anyway, in my humble opinion, if you are interested in CBD products at all, this is a good company.  I like that it's geared toward women, not to mention attractively packaged.  Check out Equalibria online.
 



Another share I have for you is my subscription for these energy bars from a company called Verb.  For a tiny little bar that can fit in the palm of your hand, they pack a lot of punch energy-wise.  The caffeine content is equal to a cup of espresso so it doesn't cause any jittery feelings, just a nice boost if you are having a midday slump or have evening plans when all you want to do is put on your PJ's and cuddle with your pups.  I've been getting my little monthly supply for well over a year now.  The flavors, like Lemon Raspberry and Salted Peanut Butter are awesome and change up quite often.  Maybe this is something you might want to try.  Go online to Verb Energy.  And of course you know I don't make money for endorsing anything, I'm just a very pushy person that likes to spread the word on good things.



My reliable daffodils are blooming wild and tulips are just starting to open as well.  I need to make a note of bare spots.  As this area dies down, I have coneflowers, phlox, sedum, and daylily that spring up for the entire summer.  I'm working on edging out another border with an excess supply of cobblestones and flagstone, adding flowers and plants as I go along.  Well actually, I work at telling The Husband where things go.

 I'm going in for surgery on my back(again).  Sometimes I feel like I'm ninety years old.  My back is miserably messed up.  It's only been three years since I had a partial fusion, and now an area needs to be clamped and screwed nowhere near the first fusion.  

For the most part, since the end of November, I have been spending less and less time on my feet and more lying in bed, taking pain meds, drinking tea, reading, watching a little TV on my laptop, and just appreciating the company of the pups.  Surgery is scheduled for May 24.  What a way to start out the summer.  πŸ€¦πŸΌ‍♀️

I can do my thing for about six hours stopping to rest now and then.  Sometimes it feels like there isn't a darn thing wrong and then my spine shifts and boom, it presses on a nerve and the pain goes down my leg to my heel.  Anyway, I've been doing what I can to simplify things once I'm home from the hospital. I make extra large dinners so I can freeze a good potion for meals The Husband can make.  I've been organizing and tossing a lot of things.  It's just mundane stuff that will nag at me and wish I had gotten done before the surgery.  

In other news, I'm fully vaccinated and my family as well-it's so great being together again.  Illinois has done a great job with vaccines but I'm still keeping a low profile, doing as much as I can to stay out of the grocery stores, etc.  I know for the younger crowd, being stuck inside and not being able to socialize has been rough.  For me and The Husband, it wasn't a huge adjustment to stay home, we just missed family and friends.  Thank goodness for books!  I picked up my needlework again and even gave felting a try.  

I'll leave you with that.  Bring me up to date on how you are, what you have been up to, and anything else I've missed!❤️

Jane x


 

Sunday, February 28, 2021

FRESH DECOR CHANGES INSIDE & OUT, BOOKS, AND SOME DELICIOUS RECIPES





Hello friends and strangers!  I'm not even going to apologize for all the time that has passed since I last posted🀦🏼‍♀️.  I'm trying to make up for it with a pretty picture from my archives.  These beautiful roses were from my grocery store if I remember right. So pretty. 

I stopped physically going to the stores back in November when I was worried about flu season starting on top of the Covid.  I really enjoy the whole shopping experience so I can't say I like having groceries delivered.  The shopper just never seems to get the produce right. The other evening I placed an order mainly for fruit and vegetables I had run low on since my last "big" shopping order.  Out of twenty odd items I received only half, and none of it produce.  I ended up having to place a second order with another grocery store and surprisingly, they had everything I needed.  πŸ€·‍♀️






After I had packed away all of my holiday decor in mid January, I left everything bare for a while.  I am so tired of clutter but I have a hard time taking a minimalist approach.  Perhaps its just me but balance is the key when it comes to shelves.  It can all go downhill with the wrong number of pieces, their relation to each other, how they measure, how they're spaced, color family, etc.  When I try something simple, the shelves or mantel look barren.  If I use too many pieces it gets busy and confusing, the focus is thrown off.  Do I sound too technical for someone not trained in design?  Hahahaha!

I made a list of what I didn't want, sometimes that's a great place to start.  I wanted to get off the "cottage" style I had for many years.  I was so inspired by what I saw and read in Gil Schaffer's book A Place To Call Home.  I felt like I was stepping back in time to the way I decorated in my home long ago.  With the creaky floors and huge fireplace, I leaned toward darker colors, florals, thrift store finds with a history, and subtle pops of freshness with plants, books, and framed artwork.  I took tapestry rugs over geometrical, and drapes over curtains.  

Emily came over when I was contemplating what I wanted to do in the living room after Christmas.  She took all the pieces (is there a better word?) I wanted to use and arranged them in such a way that I had that balance I strive for.  As you can see, there are different heights and layers, organic touches as well as old books, and a color scheme of browns, creams, and green.  




  I was just so intrigued by how she walked around the house and picked up this and that from each room and then shuffled, arranged and rearranged everything until it was to her liking (and mine).  She also took a few steps back every now and then to look at different angles...now, remember to do that if you want to look professional!  Seriously, I can learn from her, free of charge of course.  She has that college degree in part by the generosity of myself and The Husband!






I started to use planner a few years ago when I wanted something a little more personal than a wall hung calendar.  It's nice to have something that can fit in your bag.  I no longer carry around cards with appointments, or pieces of paper with scribbles.  I guess I'm still a little old fashioned, I don't use my cell phone much for it's calendar or notes.  Anyway, even though you might have this end covered, I wanted to share my planner with you (and yes--I know, we are going into March!) and give a shout out to this women owned business, Me And My Big Ideas.  They make several types of planners and journals and they are just so cute, inside and out.  Colorful illustrations, quotes and inspirational words; it's also perfect for doodling in.  Grab some colored pencils or markers, maybe some stickers (I order them from Amazon), and start each month with some artwork that will unleash anticipation for the coming days and weeks.  I originally found this line at Target but since I haven't ventured out recently, I scored it on Amazon where you will also find all sorts of products by these talented ladies. ⭐️⭐️⭐️




My draw dropped when I saw this on West Elm, and not just over the furniture-- that's not too shabby either, but the whole space.  It looks like it can be boxed up and dropped off in my backyard where my current patio is.  Even the homes in the background resemble those here on the Southside.  So, very much in the same way that you might see a sofa or dining room set and say, "I love it and it's going to be perfect..." that's how I feel about this picture.  



This is the most recent picture I have of the patio, possibly summer of 2017.   I have wanted something done with the cracked concrete and I think I'll do brick pavers.  I have the room to extend all the way up to the brick.  I'll never grow ivy again, it was strangling my house a few years ago and I had to have it professionally removed.  To add greenery I think I'll bring out some of my large potted plants.  In a nutshell if I move things around I just may be able to have an informal gathering space.  So what do you think?  I'm in love with the size and shape of that little table, and how they mixed up the furniture by adding a chair rather than a third piece from the set.  That saves you a lot of money.  I've seen outdoor furniture everywhere so I hope I can get something similar if West Elm is out of the budget.  Any ideas or something you suggest I add to the whole patio?  I find making plans for summer a little uplifting when there are 10 inches of melting (finally) snow on the ground and another two months til warm sunny days.  

 



I talk more about my reading on Instagram, maybe because I post more often there, but I really have been hitting the books.  I vowed to read a book a week and I'm doing pretty well.  Some books overlap such as when I have a non fiction book going and then feel the need for something fictional and so I go back and forth for a few days.  I don't do book reviews so if you see one you might be interested in, all I can do is tell you what I thought of the book after finishing it.  I almost always order from Amazon and I think they have good reviews from publishers, media, authors and the average Joe.  What a pile I have here.  A few I've read. 

As I look around my bedroom right now from where I'm typing away on my bed, its piles of books on my nightstand along with a lukewarm cup of tea (spiced turmeric), laundry to be folded in a basket on the floor, random slippers and socks, and a menagerie of dog toys.  Home. And I'm almost looking forward to getting up tomorrow morning and getting things in order and doing a nice housecleaning.  Still nesting and faffing (as they say in England).


I have two recipes for you.  One I clearly made at Christmas and it has become my very favorite homemade cookie.  I only make them for special people because I will surely eat half of them.  I recently gifted our next door neighbor with a box for snowplowing our driveway a few times over the past few weeks that we've had tremendous amounts of snow.  Even with my wonky back I can shovel the porch and steps but forget the driveway.  Then the snow plows come by several times a day and make a wall at the end of the driveway and it's back to square one.  Anyway...here's that famous recipe:




White Chocolate Cranberry Cookies 


3/4 c butter, softened
3/4 c dark brown sugar
1/4 c granulated sugar
1 egg, room temperature
2 t vanilla
2 c flour
2 t cornstarch
1 t baking soda
3/4 c white chocolate chips
3/4 c  dried cranberries

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  In a large bowl cream the butter and sugars together until light and fluffy.  Beat in the egg and vanilla, scraping the sides of the bowl as you go.  Mix in the flour, cornstarch, and baking soda.  Finally, stir in the white chocolate chips and dried cranberries.  Chill dough at least 3 hours and up to 3 days.

Drop tablespoon size balls of dough on the lined baking sheet spaced about 1 inch apart.  They really don't spread much.  Bake approximately 8-9 minutes until barely golden brown.  They will firm up as they cool.  Let them cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes then remove them to a rack or platter.  If you are using the same baking sheet, make sure it has cooled down completely before dropping more dough.



Easy Focaccia Bread

A lot of people have started baking bread, or have returned to baking bread during this time that we are sheltered in.  I have made bread in the past but it seemed like a long process only to result in one loaf-my sons could make one sandwich with.  Another reason I wasn't keen on it also ties in with baking.  I detest cleaning up flour and washing dishes and utensils with clumps of flour and dough.  Weird?  I think it's just in my blood I should cook and not bake.  

Then you find a recipe that's easy and has your mouth watering before you've finished reading it.  I can't remember where I found the original recipe and I tweaked it quite a bit as it was very wordy with a lot of unnecessary tips.  It's a winner in more ways than one.  The recipe turns out fab results with minimal hands on time.  And for people like me who don't "get" the math and science of baking, its ridiculously easy.  Shall I add that there is no kneading? It may sound time consuming and a lot of steps but I wanted to break it down for those of you who haven't given bread making a try.  So let's get on it.

4 c flour
2 t kosher salt
2 1/4 t instant yeast (or 1 packet)
2 c warm tap water
1 t butter, softened  ( for greasing pan)
4 T olive oil, divided
Italian seasoning or finely chopped herbs
Flaky sea salt

In a medium- large bowl, combine the flour, salt, and instant yeast.  Stir well.  Add the warm water.  With a sturdy wooden spoon or spatula mix well until there are no small pockets of flour.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 8 hours and up to 24.   

About two hours until baking time, lightly grease two round pans with a bit of soft butter, line them with parchment paper and then give that a drizzle of olive oil.  Remove the bowl from the refrigerator, divide the dough in two and place them in the pans.  Now just go on about your business and come back two hours later.  

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.  The dough will have filled the pans and be ready to bake.  Top the dough with another drizzle of olive oil.  Poke a few holes in the soft dough (after you washed them of course), and then sprinkle with sea salt and whatever you have chosen as far as herbs and spices.  I like the combination of rosemary and oregano.  If you are using fresh herbs, chop them up finely, and for presentation, maybe use a whole rosemary stem or two decoratively on the surface.  

Reduce the oven heat to 425 and bake for 22-28 minutes, until the tops are golden and the undersides crisp.  Remove from the oven and using a spatula, remove the rounds from the pans and transfer to a rack to cool.  Cut into thin slices to serve.

This bread is delicious with meals or to make sandwiches with.  I like it as an appetizer with company cut into two inch pieces and served on a platter with a small bowl of olive oil flavored with garlic and parmesan cheese.  You can also freeze the bread and when ready to use, thaw it, then heat it up in a 350 degree oven.  Enjoy!


 
I hope that this post wasn't too long.  Now that we're caught up we can move on to current happenings, and there are a lot, just in my world alone!  Take care.  Stay healthy.  Keep wearing those masks.

Jane x