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

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Downy Fresh Protect, It's AMAZING!!!!


In a perfect world I would have clean sheets every single day.  No, let me rephrase that, in a perfect world I would have a maid who would put clean sheets on my bed every single day.  But, it’s not a perfect world, hubby is the closest thing i have to a maid, oh he will love reading this, but seriously, he always strips the bed for me, we wash the sheets and we both make it again.  But back to my story.  I love the smell of clean sheets, who doesn’t.  I grew up with line dried sheets and nothing in the world smells better, but that’s not possible anymore, so I dump in tons of fabric softener in an attempt to get a fresh smell.  And it works, for a day and then they don’t smell fresh anymore.

I read online that Gain Detergent scent lasts a long time so I bought it after making myself nauseous in the grocery store, smelling all of their different fragrances. I ended up buying their original scent, bought the pricey pods, bought the softener, came home, washed the sheets and they smelled HIDEOUS.  Those reviewers must have been paid because that Gain was some nasty stuff!  It went in the trash and it was back to Tide Pods and Downy for me, but I still wanted that fresh smell to last longer.

Then a few weeks ago we were at Costco and I saw this Downy April  Fresh Protect Scent Booster with Febreze, you add it to your wash and you can sprinkle in a little or sprinkle in a lot.  Well, I washed sheets and blankets and I sprinkled in a lot, I filled that little pink cup to the rim, if a little dab will do ya, then a lot has to be better, right???  And the result...


Oh my, my bed smells amazing and the scent lasts for days.  

You may think this is an unnecessary expense but the smell is so worth it, your bed smells so fresh, your linen closet smells fresh, your clothes smell fresh, your laundry room smells fresh, what’s not to love..

Winner Winner, Chicken Dinner, these little pink beads pack a big punch, this is definitely holy grail at our house now...

Herbal Essences Dry Shampoo, It's Good Stuff!


I used to wash my hair every single morning, my entire adult life I washed it and blew it dry every morning, and then a year or so ago I realized I didn’t have to do this anymore.   I wear my hair long these days, but never down, I look like a hag with it down, it's always up and I realized that 2nd day hair was always easier to work with then freshly shampooed hair, it had more texture, wasn’t as flyaway and as I age, it’s not oily like it was when I was younger.  It’s a freeing experience, not washing your hair every morning, and my secret trick is Herbal Essences Dry Shampoo.  It gives your hair texture, and VOLUME ladies, you would be surprised at how much VOLUME it gives you.  Not to mention that it smells positively delicious.

So now I can go 2 days, 3 days even, I just spritz this shampoo at the roots and my hair smells mahvelous, dahling.  And it has tons of VOLUME!  The price is great, too $5.99 at your local Target and comes in several scents.

You know I always share the good stuff and this dry shampoo is a game changer!  Did I mention that it gives your hair VOLUME? ;-)  Seriously, it looks so much thicker when you use this!  

Try it Mikey, you’ll like it, pinky swear you will.  ~ Jan

Friday, September 1, 2017

The chili of my childhood...

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It wasn't until after I was grown that I realized not everyone ate pickles with their chili.  It was a staple at our house, and looking back, it was probably mother using what she had.  We always had sweet pickles and dill pickles with chili, no peanut butter sandwiches, no cornbread, just pickles and crackers and always in the fall apple pie.

I loved it then, and I love it now.  I make really good chili, you want to know how I do it?  Okay, here goes...

First of all, I’m a slow cooker kinda girl, it’s easy, you set it and forget it.  But if you don’t use a slow cooker, I’m a fan of putting it in a big pot, adding the lid and baking it in the oven.  You don’t have to watch it or stir it to make sure it doesn’t stick like you do if you cook it on top of the stove, I’m all about easy in my old(er) age.

2 lbs. ground chuck browned with a large chopped onion, two onions if yours aren’t really big, seasoned with salt and pepper
1 can of Brooks Chili Mix with Beans


Thought you might like a picture, so you can see what it looks like.  If you can’t find this, just substitute a couple of cans of chili beans with sauce 

Now back to the recipe...

1 large can of crushed tomatoes
1 can of tomato sauce
1 small can of tomato paste
2 or 3 cans of light red kidney beans, drained
sometimes I use 2 cans of light red kidney beans and 1 can of chili beans with sauce, I don’t drain the chili beans with sauce
1 can of Rotel tomatoes
1-2 teaspoons of sugar to cut the acidity
1 dry packet of chili seasoning mix - I like Brooks best, it’s hard to find, but any dry mix will do 

Brown the ground beef and onions, stir into chili mixture and cook on high in your slow for 4 hours or low for 8 hours.  If you bake it in the oven, cook it at 350-375 degrees for an hour.

If you like more heat, add a dash or two of cayenne pepper to the ground beef as you are browning it.  Then taste it after it cooks to see if you need additional chili powder.

The Hoosier way of eating chili is to stir in macaroni.  I don’t do this at first but a day or so later, I cook jumbo elbow macaroni, put it in the bowls and ladle chili over it like I did in the picture above.  I never chili mac as a kid, it’s strictly an Indiana thing, but it is good.

Mother didn’t make her chili like this, she just used hamburger, onions, a quart of her home canned tomatoes and added cans of chili beans.  Hers wasn’t highly seasoned, but the pickles took it over the top.

Oh, the pickles - the best pickles EVER, EVER, EVER are these - 


Oh my, I can’t say enough about Famous Dave’s Signature Spicy Pickle Chips.  They are absolutely wonderful, just the right combo of sweet and hot, they are YUMMY!  We buy these at Costo in big jars, I add them to so many things. tuna salad, macaroni salad and sandwiches and they are gone before our next trip back.  Amazing pickles, if you’ve never tried them, look for them in your market, they are delicious!  If you can’t find them, of course Amazon has them, Amazon has everything... 



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