Monday, December 18, 2017

5 Calorie Russian Tea



I’ve drunk Russian Tea since I was a little girl.  It was mother’s favorite and she made it every holiday season.  Warm, spicy, infused with spices and lots of powdered sugar, it was so good, but it also had a lot of calories.

I’ve recreated it using sugarless alternatives and the result is wonderful and very similar to hers.  She a always made hers with Tang, but it’s hard to find sugar-free Tang, so I substituted Crystal Light with great results.



1.5 cups of Lipton Diet Iced Tea Mix

1 Packet of either Crystal Light Orange Sunrise or Crystal Light Lemonade, depending on whether you want an orange flavor or strictly a lemon taste

1 teaspoon ground cloves

1 teaspoon cinnamon

Stir together and store in glass jars.  Add a teaspoon or two to a mug of hot water and you have a to-die-for drink.  The best part is it’s guilt-free as there are practically no calories in this.

I don’t know which flavor I like most, I made both varieties, one with Crystal Light Lemonade and one with Orange Sunrise.  I drink the orange version and think I like it best, and then I drink the lemon version and think I like it best.  It’s a tough call, so just make both.  Worked for me! πŸ˜€

Happy Holidays, think of me when you drink this



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 used to have the 2.4” running grain rectangle and this year she upgraded to the 3” version.  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 wouldn’t have worked as well for me, and I made the right choice.

So I bought it.  Don’t gasp at the price, Here’s the link, and 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 version just 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, they’re super comfy and I walk really well in them.  I had quite a dilemna with UGG boots 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.
Grab it on Amazon here -  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

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... 



Sunday, August 27, 2017

Dreaming of Fall


It’s that time of year and nothing is better than fall decorating, I like it even more than Christmas.  This is so warm, so inviting, nothing at all that would work for me, well except for the grapevine and twinkle lights.

Maybe those lights will happen on my back porch, or maybe they won’t but it’s a nice little dream on a Sunday afternoon.

And last week we were in an antique store in Franklin and saw this poster.  It’s perfect for my kitchen, but I have no wall space, so I guess this isn’t going to work either.

Gentrys farm poster 2

But wait, there is a positive note here.  It’s the butcher block.  My buddy V sent me this picture last summer and I loved it.  

6b82a472530dc0fd7cedb28346a0cd56 butcher block tables butcher blocks

John and Deanna had a very similar butcher block in their garage, it’s sat there for years, they weren’t using it so they hauled it to our house, hubby cleaned it and it’s in my kitchen.  Isn’t it amazing, it called to me.   

FullSizeRender 1

The shelf above it holds some of my favorite things, mother’s butter mold, an old cow bell with the brass embossing worn off where it rubbed against a cow’s neck, an Elsie the Cow cookie jar, mother’s chicken cookie jar that always sat on her kitchen table and my favorite, a green cow pitcher that Veronica gave me after I told her how much I  loved it.  She had it for years, and she gave it to me.  It was a huge deal for me...

IMG 1405

I could take down the cow collage, put up the Gentry Farm picture, I could redo the top of the butcher block to make it look more like the photo V sent me last year, and if I really wanted it to be authentic, I could draw the pumpkin on chalkboard, well not me, I’m not arty, but hubby is and so is Deanna or Veronica.  I’m looking at this picture and I know I can do better, it’s not vibrant enough, it needs shades of orange and gold and a real pumpkin instead of this raffia one.

It’s only August, one of these days I’ll get a wild hare and redo it.  It’s too cluttered, I need to take away some things, ditch the pig and the turkey, use that real pumpkin, get rid of the snacks in the basket, take better pictures with a real camera instead of my cellphone and repost it.  And I will, as soon as there is a chill in the air I’ll be ready.

But this afternoon I’m going to play with my granddaughter, take her some chocolate and see what’s going on in her three year old world.  Works for me... 

Saturday, August 19, 2017

I'm a boot girl...


I’ve loved boots my entire life.  I had my first pair of majorette boots when I was about three years old, and still have a vague memory of them. I guess that seed was planted early.
Every year I buy a new pair, it’s my fall indulgence, and I’ve always been a fan of the weathered vintage look.  I’m a big Ugg fan as well, but Middle Tennessee winters are so mild, that I might need to rethink buying Uggs.  Anyway, I was poking around on Nordstrom’s site the other evening, I like ordering from them because its free ship, free returns and you don’t have to fight the crowds in the store.
I’ve been a fan of Born shoes and boots for years, they work well for me, the prices aren’t cheap, but they’re not hateful either and they usually have the casual styles I like.  I saw these boots and it was love at first site.  They’re weathered, they look worn in and they’re a shortie boot.  They called to me, so they’re on the way, due to arrive next week, I just hope they look as good in person as they do in this picture.  
So now I’m on the search for a new fall bag to go with the boots.  But it’s only August, I have plenty of time.  I’m just so ready for autumn this year that I think I’m rushing the season a bit.
Do you like them, too?  Umhmmm, I thought some of you might.
Here’s the link, they come in taupe also but I love the tobacco brown.  Now go, look, browse and see if you might like to buy them, too.  Nordstrom’s should give me a discount for the publicity, ya think???

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Lexi's off to School...


When your youngest grandchild starts preschool you cry a little bit.  It’s what Grammie’s do.

Just not ready for her to be this old yet...

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Kindle Paperwhite, I'm loving it...

White paperwhiteI’m so late jumping on the Kindle bandwagon, and I’m a techie gadget girl, oh Kindle where have you been all my life…  I got on the e-reader bandwagon as soon as they came out with a Sony Reader, it was bulky, didn’t operate well, but this was in the e-reader infancy and my first experience with any kind of electronic reading device.

And then along came my iPad and I read non-stop on it using iBooks.  Then I bought an iPad mini and read using it. 

And then I fell out of love with iPads, instead gravitating to a MacBook Pro, and once again reading books on it.  I’m a voracious reader, I read fast, sometimes I skim, but I go through several books a week.  I never ever read a real book anymore, I like the convenience of digital books and the fact that I can have so many loaded onto whatever device I’m reading them on.

So last month when Amazon had their big July blowout, on a whim I bought a Kindle Paperwhite.  It was on sale for $89, it was a good deal, and I thought I might enjoy it.  It took a bit of getting used to, it doesn’t operate as fluidly as my Apple products, and it’s greyscale, no color, but after a few days I was hooked.  Why?  What sets it apart from an iPad or my MacBook?

First, it’s so lightweight, there is nothing to it.  It doesn’t get hot to the touch, it’s very portable, there is never any glare like I have with my iPad or my MacBook. I read outside, I stick it in my purse to read in the car, I grab it and take it to bed, I carry it around everywhere.  The battery life is awesome, too.   I bought a white one, I’m a fan of anything white, and I bought a Vera Bradley blue paisley quilted case for it.  So I’m all set, right?  No, not exactly, after watching MsKristin321 on YouTube, she had this cute little Ayotu cover for hers, I just had to have it, the price was right, $15.59 so it’s now in my Amazon shopping cart. 

Here’s the link

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I know several of you are reading this and wondering why i didn’t buy a Kindle years ago.  I dunno, I guess I’m such an Apple fan girl, I never thought outside my box.  But I’m so glad I finally did, it’s a relatively cheap thrill, it’s easy to convert .epub books to .mobi using Calibre and the portability of it is wonderful!  

I’m in love, what more can I say… ~ Jan

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Dark Chocolate Dusted Almonds, they are AMAZING!


If you haven’t tried these yet, run don’t walk to get them.  They taste like Mars Almond Bars, but healthy.  A friend gave me some this week, I looked for them in Krogers, couldn’t find them, went to Walgreens, they didn’t have Blue Diamond, but they did have Nice Cocoa Dusted with Dark Chocolate.  They are awesome, seriously awesome.  Great nutritionals, too!



150 calories for 1/4 cup (28g)

4 Net Carbs

1gram of sugar 

You can all thank me later just go buy the darned things… ~ Jan

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Reliving my childhood summers

Oh, the lazy summer days of childhood, I have so many good memories of my childhood, and I’m recapturing some of those days here in middle Tennessee.

It wasn’t an easy childhood, but it was a happy one and the pleasures were simple.  My memories are so vivid lately,  it’s amazing at how many things I remember.  

We lived in a little house by my beloved ditch on a dirt road, we didn’t have air conditioning or an inside bathroom or even running water, but what we did have were shade trees and we lived in a valley so there was always a breeze,  We had a great little front porch where I spent many hours playing with my dolls, sitting in the porch swing reading an endless supply of books while drinking iced tea.  My memories are so strong I can still hear the swing creaking and the sound of the screen door slamming shut when I went in and out the front door. 

Our house faced south, but it was so shady the sun didn’t hit the porch, so it was always cool, even on the hottest of days.  It could get dusty when the cars drove by and it was such a small community, I knew every car that passed.  Sometimes I would run in the house until the dust settled, it would be thick and if the wind was blowing toward the house the grit would get in your eyes and they would feel like sandpaper.  And when it rained, oh it was wonderful, the smell of the dust mingling with the rain, we lived for summer rains and the cooler temperatures that followed.

I loved the fence row across the road, the dappled sunlight and the way the big trees swayed in the wind, and I would sit and watch the trees, listening for the train to curve down Appel's hill.  My playmates were dogs and cats, and the birds, the crickets and the frogs were all familiar sounds.


Fast forward to this summer.  Our house faces north, but we have a great little porch, and the ferns have gotten so big that they totally shade everything.  When I look across the street there is a fence row of trees, and I watch them blowing in the wind.  We always have a breeze, and so I sit on the porch, with Maggie beside me, reading an endless supply of books, drinking glasses of iced tea, listening to the old familiar country sounds of birds, crickets and frogs and occasionally glancing at the cars that pass by.  Even though the days are hot, I welcome the warmth, and the cooling breeze coupled with the nature sounds just transport me back to that simple life in our little house by the ditch.

It’s like a gift, being able to have this glimpse of my childhood after all these years and I treasure every moment.  And as I remember those years, I’m very grateful for what I have now, running water, bathrooms, appliances and air conditioning.

So many similarities, that I wouldn’t have thought possible even last year.  It’s never to late to discover new things, there are adventures awaiting us around every corner.

And who says you can’t go home again, in a way I have...

Monday, July 17, 2017

Phillips Air Fryer XL Review


Those of you who follow me know that I love kitchen gadgets.  I love to research and buy the highest rated versions because quality gadgets last a lifetime.  But when everybody started jumping on the Air Fryer bandwagon, I wasn’t that impressed.  And then I started reading more about them, the seed was planted and I was off to the races.

I did my research, and while there are cheaper versions of air fryers there were many complaints, one of the primary ones being that the finish came off of several models, but Phillips invented the air fryer and they have remained the industry standard.  So I bought one from Williams Sonoma, because they have a great return policy and always take care of their customers if they have any issues.  I bought the XL, you don’t want a smaller one, even for one person I would want the XL, the smaller ones just don’t hold enough food.  The price was spendy - $300, but I had a 25% off coupon and free shipping so that helped, and I knew since I bought it from WS that I could return it if I didn’t like it.  

It just didn’t seem possible that food could get that crispy when you fried it with no or little oil.  But boy was I in for a surprise, this thing is a rock star.  The first thing we made were french fries, then fried veggies, hubby wanted fried pies, so we made those, and everything turned out great.  He loves hash browns fried in it, I do drizzle the with a little oil, and while they aren’t grease laden like regular hash browns, they are still delicious, very crisp and so easy to cook.

The unit heats in two minutes, I line the basket with perforated parchment paper to make cleanup a breeze, you don’t heat your kitchen, it’s so fast, so easy, I would rank this as one of my very favorite kitchen gadgets.

My kids are critics, my son Ryan was here with his family last weekend, and he was very skeptical.  After using it just a few times he said, “Mom, you know I’m going to have to buy one of these.”  And that’s high praise from a foodie.  We fried pork chops in it today, it took 18 minutes and they were so good, juicy and flavorful, no oil and no mess!  Hubby thinks it’s great and he can be a hard sell too, but the man does love fried food and this makes it a lot more guilt free than frying it in oil on the stove.  And did I mention that there is no mess, your kitchen stays clean and you don’t have to heat up your oven.  Of course I mentioned it, but it’s worth repeating. ;)  That’s one of the best parts, not having to deal with a greasy stove.  We haven’t fried food often for years because it’s just not healthy, but this thing is a game changer!

There are several groups on FaceBook that give you great recipes, lots of cookbooks, too, even Paula Dean is on the bandwagon with her own brand of fryer and a cookbook.

So, if anybody has mad money and thinks they might like one of these, I’ll give you the link and also the code I used for the 25% off.  I don’t know if it still works, but they gave it to me this month, so there is a good chance it will.

Here’s the link

And the code:



Oh, this one is a winner winner chicken dinner for sure!


~ Jan








Thursday, July 6, 2017

Organizing my world...


I really do think organization is addictive.  I started slowly, and gradually have gotten to the point that when things are in disarray I just hate it.   But if you’re reading this and it’s not for you, that’s okay, too.  I was a formerly messy underneath, but organized on the surface kinda girl, everything looked fine until you opened my drawers, and then it was chaos, everything was just shoved in drawers and I couldn’t find anything, but I didn’t know better, so I didn’t have a problem with it.  But once I realized a few years ago that the key to organization is containment, I started by buying trays and dividers for drawers, and I quickly realized that my life was a lot easier when I could quickly find what I wanted without having to dig through piles of debris to find it.

This has been going on for some time now and a few years ago I organized my pantry and blogged about it, then hubby made me spice racks for my pantry doors for my anniversary, yeah, I was thrilled, and I know that’s nerdy, but that was a total game changer as well, so when we moved last winter, I duplicated my pantry space so that it’s similar to the way it was when we lived in Heavensville.  And yes, I alphabetize my spices. ;-).  


LC built-in my makeup table in my closet for me this spring, and I had everything in open acrylic containers, but it wasn’t enough.   After a trip to the Container Store, where they have everything known to (wo)man and prices that are hideous, I went to HomeGood and bought acrylic storage drawer units for a fraction of the price of the Container Store and it works really well.  I still have some of the open acrilic containers, I’m a makeup junkie who has a lot to store, but I’m really pleased at how efficient it is.


But the biggest game changer for me happened two years ago in August.  I would often take my clothes off in the evening and just leave them in a pile by the side of my bed, and a couple of days would go by and the pile would grow and it was just stupid.  I would make the bed and not pick up my clothes.  Why???  Who knows, but for some reason I said to myself, “Jan, you are never going to leave you clothes by the side of the bed again”  and it stuck!   It’s the only resolution I’ve ever made and actually kept, but since that day the clothes either go on a hangar or in the hamper at the end of the day and I’ve never gotten into that mess again.

Now if I could just make the same resolution about my eating habits...

So that’s whats going on in my world, sometimes when I put actions to paper, it reaffirms the progress I’ve made in my life.  But in all fairness, I do live with a neat freak, who never gets things in a mess and that helps a lot.  And if you’re still with me, my friend Holly says this video has changed her life.  It’s long, 40 minutes, the lady is Japanese and uses a translator so it’s a bit hard to follow, but she has a huge following and her techniques really are life changing.  So maybe I need to implement some of this as well.  One of the things she tells you to do is to put all of your clothes in a pile in the floor and as you pick up each piece, put it to your chest and if you feel the love, keep it, if you don’t, get rid of it.  

 Now go organize something, anything, just one drawer, just take five minutes and see if you don’t feel a sense of accomplishment.  Double dawg dare ya to do it...

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