Sunday, December 3, 2017

Jan's Favorite Things, Christmas 2017


I have two biggies, both new this year.  If you have read my blog, you all know that I’m the Gadget Queen and I don’t believe on skimping on kitchen equipment.  For me, it’s important to have good tools.  Long after you’ve forgotten how much you paid for things, you will love them and be glad that you didn’t cheap out.  

I bought a new butcher block this summer for my center island.  I’ve been a fan of BOOS blocks for years and have had a couple of their free-standing footed butcher blocks in the past, the one I bought a few years ago for the condo is now sitting in the garage because I couldn’t bear to part with it.  I get sentimentally attached to kitchen things, seriously I do.

I had been eyeing up this beauty for a few years.  You see variations of Boos Butcher Blocks a lot on FoodTV, Pioneer Woman has the 3” thick end grain round block, Trisha Yearwood has the 2.4” running grain rectangle and at first I thought I wanted the round version.  I knew I wanted the 3” thick one.  I did the research and knew I also wanted end grain wood, not running grain, it looks better and it doesn’t show cuts as much.  I also wanted the traditional maple board, not the cherry or the walnut.  Practicality won out in the end, that round one just didn’t have the large cutting surface that the rectangle one did, and I made the right choice.

So I bought it.  Don’t gasp at the price, you can get deals from Williams Sonoma, if you open a charge account they give you 20% off, sometimes they run 20% off on items, but often not on the Boos Boards.  When I bought it, I was able to stack coupon codes and I believe I paid $140 for it instead of their retail price of $200.  It’s hard to find the rectangle 3” thick boards, most of them are 2.6”.

Here’s the link, and yes  it’s worth every . single . penny.  I could have gotten the 2.4” cheaper, but I knew I would never be happy with it, so I just bought the damn thing.  And I love it, I really, really love it.  It looks so great sitting on my counter and it performs like a champ.  You can get beeswax-mineral oil conditioner from Boos online, or you can just oil your board with mineral oil.  Never use olive oil or vegetable oil, it makes the board sticky.  You can also have it monogrammed with your initials as in the picture above, but that wasn’t for me.  I just wanted the authentic board.

I did one change though.  My previous cutting board had little stainless steel flat discs that fit on the corners on the underneath side.  It was great, it gives your board dimension and it also lifts it enough that you can get a Bash n/ Chop underneath it.   What’s a Bash n’ Chop?  It’s this little gadget, I think I got my first one from Galloping Gourmet in the 70’s and it’s great for scooping up your veggies and plopping them in your pan.


This would make a great little stocking stuffer and it’s only $8 and change PRIME from Amazon.  Want the link, sure you do.

But back to the cutting board.  My new board sat flat on the counter, and I wanted to lift it up a bit like my previous board, so I called John Boos outlet store in Effingham, IL, and asked them about those little stainless discs, they had them and they shipped me a set of 4 for under $20.  Then hubby drilled the underside of the board, attached them and now my board has dimension and that little Bash ’n Chop slips right underneath it.

I also purchased Pioneer Woman’s Turquoise Knife Set this year.  It’s inexpensive, as far as knives go, but it’s the best I’ve ever had and I’ve had several in my lifetime.  My favorite knife is her Japanese Signature Knife, it’s my go to, that knife is superb.


They’re out of stock at WalMart onlne, guess I’m not the only one that likes them, but you can usually find them at your local WalMart.  They do have them available in Rosewood, but they’re not quite the color pop as the turquoise or red.  Link here...

And the other biggie I blogged about a couple of months ago, it’s the Phillips XL Air Fryer.  They sell cheaper air-fryers but this is the big dawg that started the whole trend.   It’s amazing, we use it almost every single day.  


Here’s my original article, check it out - it’s GREAT! 




The Kindle Paperwhite - I was a little late to the Kindle e-reader game.  I started with a Sony Reader when they first came out, it was kinda meh and I got rid of it when I got an iPad and was perfectly content to read books on it.  Then last summer, Amazon had a Christmas in July sale, and the Paperwhite was $89 instead of $119, so I bought it on a whim.  And I love it.  Why, when I have an iPad Mini?  Because it doesn’t get hot, it’s lightweight, it’s so easy to grab, tuck in my purse and go.  The battery lasts forever, and if you have books in .epub format instead of .mobi which the Kindle uses, it’s really easy to convert from .epub to .mobi on your Computer using a free program called Calibre.  

You can buy a Kindle reader for $79 now on Amazon instead of the Paperwhite, which is now $119, but I’m a bells and whistles girl and the $79 versionjust doesn’t do it for me.  I want the  backlight, perfect for reading in bed without bothering a sleeping hubby, and it has Wi-Fi and Celluar Connectivity.  And it’s WHITE, thats the best part.  You don’t get all of these features on the cheaper version, it’s a matter of what you need.  The best part about the Kindle is that it doesn’t glare like the iPad does, so when you’re outside it’s easy to read.

Here’s the link

And they have really cute covers for them on Amazon, here’s mine, and the link


I also got this bag from Pioneer Woman.  I just love this, the dimensions are 16” x 15” so it’s really roomy and the vertical shape is perfect.  It’s my go-to bag and the more I use it, the more it looks worn-in and vintage, and the pockets on the outside are perfect for my cellphone and my glasses.  I love vintage looking bags and this one delivers and the best part is the smell, you open it and the leather just wafts right up to your nose, it makes me smile every time I open it.  These bags sell out regularly at The Mercantile, if you’re interested you might want to scoop one up here.  When I first opened it, it was a little stiff, but the more I used it the more it softened, it’s really a great bag.


I also bought one of her mugs, talk about vintage, this is so cool and the price is right, $10.  It’s a great stocking stuffer.


You can grab this mug here


And last are Uggs.  I’m a big fan of UGG boots, I have several pairs, they’re super comfy and I walk really well in them.  I had quite a dilemna with buying a new pair this fall, but that’s for another blog entry.  These are the ones that I really liked and UGG discontinued them.  So, then of course I really wanted them.  And you can find them, they’re on eBay, if they don’t have your size or color, just put an eBay search on them and they will alert you when they are available.  I got them in Chestnut, they’re not exactly Booties, but they aren’t high either, and they work great with that bag from The Mercantile.

Just search Google for Ugg Azalea Boots if you like these, they just recently discontinued them and you can find them.  UGG has replaced them with the LiLou, same boot different button and tassel, but I don’t like them nearly as well.  You can find the LiLou here.

And these are a few of my favorite things, some are a little spendy, but it’s Christmas, and you or someone in your life just might enjoy some of these treasures.  If I have time I’ll post another list of inexpensive favorite things, which tends to be more make-up related.  ~ Jan

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Shea Moisture Jamaican Black Castor Oil Review

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Is your bathroom cabinet like mine?  Is it filled with products that promise to be the latest and the greatest but do absolutely nothing for your hair?  Well, ladies you are in for a nice surprise with this inexpensive Shea Moisture Black Castor Oil Strengthen & Restore Smoothie.  This stuff really does add body, elasticity and moisture to your hair without weighing it down.  AND, it’s inexpensive, so it won’t break the bank to try it.
I learned about this on Elle Is For Living’s YouTube channel, and I’ll link her video below.  A word of caution though, tread lightly with this when you first use it, she uses a huge glob of it in her video and unless your hair is extremely dry you will end up with an oil slick like someone who shall remain nameless did 😳 A little dab’ll do ya to begin with.  I also use it between shampoos on the ends of my hair, this is something I will purchase again and again.
Here’s the Amazon link if you want to try it, it’s a large container and it’s under $11.  You can’t beat that and it smells good, too.  It has over 1800 reviews, and the majority are excellent.
And now for Elle’s video, the lady knows what she’s talking about, just be careful with the amount you use until you find your rhythm with this.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Olive Garden Light Salad Dressing, it's a WINNER!


Let’s face it, light salad dressings leave a lot to be desired, and since I’m a huge fan of Olive Garden salad, and when I found this 30 calorie (two tablespoon) dressing at Kroger I was beyond skeptical, but when I tasted it I was pleasantly surprised.

Of course it doesn’t have the depth of flavor that the fully leaded does, but when I duplicated Olive Garden’s salad with the pepperoncini, black olives and iceberg lettuce it was an excellent dupe for not many calories.

Oh, the croutons, they take it over the top.  If you’re a fan as well, and c’mon who isn’t a fan of their salad, then head to your local grocery store, grab some olives, some pepperoncini (I prefer the sliced, they don’t quirt you in the eye when you bite into them like the whole ones do) and these two products and enjoy...



Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Halloween 2017

Here are my cutey patooties all dressed up for Halloween.  We have Shirley Temple, a Super Hero and a real Cowgirl.

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Lexi is Shirley Temple "On The Good Ship Lollipop.”  She, of course is clueless as to who Shirley Temple is, and since her petticoats made her dress really bouffant, she announced that she was “The Bubbler.”  No amount of persuasion could get her to say that she was Shirley Temple, she was The Bubbler!

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Ben was  Super Hero and a scary one at that.  He was flexing his muscles, cause that’s just the way little boys roll.

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Abby announced that she didn’t want a costume, she wanted to be an authentic cowgirl and that she was, complete with vintage chaps, neckerchief and belt buckle riding a horse on a western saddle.

It’s so much fun now that the grands are older, they really get into the Halloween experience.  Just had to share this morning, pictures are too cute to keep to myself...

Monday, October 30, 2017

It's that time of year



Don’t you just love fall and everything that’s associated with it?

I snagged this great pumpkin pie dish from eBay.  It was originally from Williams Sonoma and it calls to  me.

Friday, October 20, 2017

October always makes me think of home...



Oh, the memories.  Chili simmering on the stove, an apple pie in the oven, muddy boots by the back door, a nip in the air, these were the October days of my childhood.

I loved the smell of burning leaves, the piles in the yard to tunnel through, barking dogs in the distance, a train meandering down Appel’s hill.  WROY would be playing on the radio, we had no television when I was a child, so most evenings I would be playing the piano.  How Great Thou Art, Floyd Kramer’s Last Dance, Sempir Fedelis, or Stars and Stripes Forever from John Phillip Sousa, and always classical music like Fur Elise or The Blue Danube.  My music was eclectic and varied, I enjoyed playing it so much, even though it didn’t come naturally to me like it did to  others.

There were always dogs and cats at our house which I would smuggle inside on a regular basis,  and we often had a parakeet or a canary.  The fields would be filled with tractors, fall harvest would be in full swing.  Sometimes I would get to go with Aunt Lois in her International pick-up to the elevator to dump the loads of corn.  We would stay in the truck and she would drive it up on a lift that would hoist up the front end to dump the grain.  Oh, it was so exciting for a little girl, to sit in the cab of the truck as it went up in the air.  

We would travel to visit my Aunts and Grandma on the weekend, their nearby fields would have popcorn grown in them, and we would take tow sacks and glean the leftover popcorn that the pickers left behind.  It was hard working, dragging those sacks of popcorn through the muddy fields and when we were finished we would go to my Aunt Idalene’s house and she would shell the corn off the cob and pop it, and since it hadn’t yet dried all of the kernels wouldn’t pop.  It would just swell to the bursting point, and the result would be the crunchiest treat ever.  They called the unpopped kernels “old maids.”   We would glean enough popcorn to last us all winter and mother would shell it and store it in fruit jars in boxes under the bed.  I would try and help, but always made more of a mess for her than it was worth.  My hands were so small I couldn’t get a good grip on the cob and the grains of corn would just fly everywhere.

We would gather hickory nuts, pecans and walnuts in the nearby woods and mother would spend evenings around the fire, cracking nuts and filling Ball jars with the nutmeats.  She always called them “goodies.”  On our weekend visits, she would help my aunt quilt, she always had a quilt in a frame in her “spare” bedroom in the winter or they would cut out a dress to sew for church on Sunday.  Aunt Idalene loved new dresses, and she couldn’t wait until one was sewn to put it on and twirl around in the living room to get Uncle Raymond's approval.  I would read books when we visited the Aunts or Grandma, since they didn’t have television either, or listen in on the adult conversations, a lot of which I couldn’t quite understand. 

Canning season would be almost over, except for Aunt Mae, who always made pear preserves in the fall, the most wonderful concoction of pears and pineapple you ever put on a biscuit and Mother always made Apple Butter.  She would fill an aluminum dishpan with peeled and quartered apples, add sugar, cinnamon and red hot candies and simmer it in the oven to can later.  We didn’t waste anything, so  mother would grind the leftover green tomatoes from the garden and make relish.  Chow-chow was my favorite, a hot spicy concoction that I still love with beans.   She would also spread unripe tomatoes on newspapers in the house to ripen, as killing frosts came in early in October to Southern Illinois.

Halloween would be on the horizon, my outfits would be things that I put together from old clothes.  One year I was a hobo, with bib overalls, a flannel shirt and a stick with a bandana bundle on it’s handle.  Once I was an old lady with pillows stuffed in my dress , a scarf on my head and a pocketbook to carry.   We didn’t have elaborate costumes like today’s children, we just made do with what we had.

I would wear face masks we bought from the drug store where Mother worked.   They would be very similar to the ones below, made of gauze, with a distinctive unpleasant odor and they always made me claustrophobic.  There were no cutouts for the nostrils, so you had to breathe through your mouth and often your eyelashes would get caught in the gauze around the eye cutouts.  If it were warm on halloween night, the masks were hot, I would always push mine up on my head with the rubber band that held it on.

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We knew everybody’s house we visited, and we would always unmask so that they could see who we were.  Our treats were apples, popcorn balls, always my favorite, and candy.  Not candy like kids get today though, it was mostly pieces of penny candy, cinnamon balls or butterscotch disks or a stick of gum.

I think I’m missing my childhood this evening, it happens with more frequency these days.  I yearn for the simple times, I feel blessed that I had them and that I can resurrect them on nights like this and go home again, if only in my mind...

~ Jan

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Does your Swiss Miss Hot Chocolate Have Clumps???


NewImageI’m a big fan of anything that’s 25 calories, and this Swiss Miss Coca Mix works for me.  Sometimes I add a splash of vanilla, sometimes a grating of nutmeg, a few mini marshmallows, and it soothes the soul.  The problem with instant hot chocolate is the clumps.  Oh, the clumps, I whisk, I stir, and I always end up straining it and by the time I drink it, I’m frustrated!   So much for soothing the soul with a hot relaxing cup of hot chocolate!  But now I have a fix for those annoying clumps, it cost me $15 and was worth every penny.

It’s a frother, for me it was the Bean Envy Handheld.  I ordered this bad boy on Amazon and it’s a game changer.  It works so well, every single clump disappears and you are left with silky smooth hot chocolate.  Of course you can use it to froth milk and make those fancy pants latte’s with the cute little designs too.

And never, ever ever, ever under any circumstances turn it on until it’s fully immersed in the cup of hot water and cocoa mix or you will have a mess!  How do I know this?  It should be obvious, right?  Uhhhh, let’s just say, not always… :-( 


I’m a researcher, I love to research products and this one gave me the most bang for my buck.  It’s battery operated so it has no cord, it has a powerful little motor, it has a stand, so you can sit it on the counter instead of losing it somewhere in the vast recesses of a drawer and it looks good.  That’s important you know, it has to look good. ;-)  I never use more than 6 oz. of water, I don’t like weak hot chocolate, and I use the hot water brewer on my pod coffee maker to do it quickly.  I said “pod coffee maker” instead of Keurig because mine is a Cuisinart actually I think it’s the third one I’ve had because they keep conking out.  But when this one bites the dust, and it will, I think I’m going to switch to a Keurig.  Didn’t you want to know that?  Quit rolling your eyes, I know I’m being talky...

Okay back to the frother, you want one, too???  Of course you do.  Here’s the link, good ole’ Amazon Prime 

Now, do you also want to know how to make those fancy pants designs.  Um hmmmm, yep, you got it, here’s a video. 

Want even more how to make latte art videos - here’s the link - enjoy...

Now go, order this gadget, colder weather is coming, ’tis the season for hot drinks and Happy Frothing.  ~ Jan




Friday, September 29, 2017

Pioneer Woman's New Bedding Line, I'm in Love...

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Ree has done it again!  This woman and her creative team just keep blowing it out of the ballpark.  Oh, this new bedding line, introducing next week at Walmart makes me want to redo my guest bedroom NOW.!!!!!   But I can’t, I just can’t, or can I????  I LOVE IT ALL!!!!

And the cow, ohhhhh the cow, it calls to me...  

Thursday, September 14, 2017

The Pioneer Woman Ree Drummond vs. Magnolia's Joanna Gaines


I’m a die hard Pioneer Woman fan.  I love her show, her food, her family, her work ethic, her ranch, her photography, the list just goes on and on, and I LOVE her Walmart kitchy kitchen collections.  I’ve been a fan since her first episode on Food Network and I believe I’ve seen every one of them.  I also was a huge Joanna Gaines fan back in the day.  I’ve never been a fan of the Chipster, he acts so goofy and now he looks even goofier with that scruffy beard and man bun, let’s face it the poor fella will never be the Marlboro Man.  But I thought Joanna was so talented, I loved her farm, her darling little children and all the animals.  I eagerly looked forward to every episode of her show, and then I kind of lost interest.

I thought Chip and Joanna became too commercialized, they were spread too thin,  Ttheir houses became too contemporary for me and while Ree was selling her Walmart line at awesome, affordable prices, Joanna teamed up with Pier1 and her products were really pricey, she was selling her pillows for over $100 a pop. And her rugs, oh my, they were as high as $2300. No, that’s not a typo, they’re selling them for TWENTY THREE HUNDRED DOLLARS.  Total turn off for me, total.

But now Chip and Joanna are teaming up with Target with a new line, Hearth and Hand and guess what??? It’s inexpensive!!!  No surprise here, The Pioneer Woman’s Walmart line sells like hotcakes and I bet Pier1 still has a boatload of those $100+ pillows left in their warehouses.  And I’m sure those rugs didn’t fly off the shelves at $2300 either.

I hope she does well, she’s a sweet woman and I’ll be checking the Target site to see what she has to offer, but I think I’m more of a kitchy retro kinda girl. Oh, let’s face it, I just think The Pioneer Woman is da bomb, always have, always will.  I hope she’s around for many more years and one of these days I’m gonna be on a road trip to Pawhuska.  Yeah, I know it’s in the middle of nowhere, but I want to go.  I have no desire to go to Waco and see the silos, but oh I want to be Pawhuska bound sometime within the next year.

Just my thoughts this afternoon, it will be interesting to see how competitive this gets.  Walmart vs. Target, Ree vs. Joanna, I know who my bets are on...

Photo snagged from Facebook, blatant advertising on my part for the 2nd issue of her new magazine

Monday, September 4, 2017

My Pillows, do I love them?

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I like them, I’m not in love with them yet, but I just got them last week so I haven’t had time to really bond with them.  I’m brutal on pillows, BRUTAL - I punch them, flip them to the cool side incessantly, wad them in a ball, flip them again, fluff them, pull them toward my head, then away from my head, all in the space of, oh an hour.  You guessed it, there hasn’t been a lot of restful sleep going on at my house.

I’ve watched the infomercials about how these pillows are the end all, I’ve talked to people, our neighbors, Don and Jacquie have them, they hate them, my buddy V has them, she loves them, her hubby, Rich hates them.  Zuilly occasionally has these pillows for a good price, $64.99 for a set of king size, and when they came back in stock a few weeks ago I ordered them.

Now LC was just shaking his head, he’s lived the pillow wars with me.  I’ve had goose down, duck down, chicken feathers, foam, gel, poly filled, are you starting to get the picture here?  I’ve spent a chunka change on pillows over the years and they just aren’t all that! Currently I have this worn out feather pillow that I drag everywhere like Linus with his blanket.  Seriously, if we’re going on a car trip, that pillow is the first thing that is loaded.  Other people have horrid pillows too, it’s just not me and I detest a hard, unyielding pillow with a purple passion!!!

So last week the pillows arrive, it takes for-ev-er to get things from Zuilly, I’m spoiled with Amazon Prime, Zuilly is in no hurry to ship.  They came in this little box, hubby unpacked them and instantly complained that we had been ripped off because they were flat as a flitter.  I explained to him that V told me you had to put them in the dryer sandwiched between a damp towel, so I did that and they came out nice and puffy.  I bought the soft-medium ones, I put them on the bed and took them for a spin.  They are supposed to have a “cooling” effect, so you don’t put a pillow protector on them, just a 100% cotton pillow case.  When you lay down they feel firm, they’re filled with shredded foam, they don’t lump, but they do adjust to your head and it’s kinda soft in the middle where the indentation is.  

And what do I think of them?  Well, they are not what they advertise, I still toss and turn all night, and I flip the pillow, but I no longer wad it up or fluff it, I just flip it.  Does it have a cooling effect?  Oh who the hell knows, I’m still hot all the time, so I’m not a judge.  But I have been waking up lately with neck pain and I have to say that it’s gone now, probably in part because I’m laying on a pillow that isn’t all bunched up.  I just asked LC this morning how he’s liking them and he says, “oh they’re okay I guess, I never know which pillow I’m sleeping on anyway.”  Men Schmen!

But I am going to order two more of them, so I must like them.  Well, actually it’s more economics and desperation.  They’re decent pillows, and you don’t buy decent pillows for $32.50 apiece, at least I haven’t been able to do so.

So, if you think you might like them, go ahead, knock yourself out, pull out that old credit card and CHARGE!

The link, ya, I know you want it, here it is...

Let’s face it, you’re not breaking the bank, these pillows in king size are usually over $100 for a set.  The worst case scenario, you blew $64.99, less if you buy queen size.  Hope you enjoy.  ~ Jan

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