Friday, September 22, 2023

It's been forever...

Wow, I looked back at my last post and it was over two years ago.  

I was looking for a recipe this morning for John and found it in my ages old Thanksgiving post that goes back to '08.  Those were the days when I used to love to blog and scrapbook

Lots of good food, after you click on the link below, just hover over the name of what you're interested in, click and it will link to the recipe.  You can't do it from the picture above, you have to link to the actual site.

Life is good here in Tennessee, I just wish I had the drive I used to have.  I loved posting on Blogger for many years. I still post recipes on occasionally.  I'm still a foodie, still love cooking, and I'm going to try and pop on here occasionally.  I always have something to talk about.

~ Jan

Tuesday, June 29, 2021

 Oh, the stages of our lives.  I was such an avid blogger back in the day, these days, I post a lot of daily stories to Instagram - You can link and follow me here -  I'm active on Facebook, too, but I much prefer Instagram.  No negativity, no political posts on Instagram, it's just fun.

Life moves along, hubby and I are celebrating our 50th wedding anniversary this summer. The Grands are getting so big, Abby almost twelve, Ben, turning ten next month and Lexi is seven now.  It seems like it's all a blur, it passes so quickly.

We are enjoying living in Tennessee so much, our health is good, thank goodness the pandemic is hopefully behind us and we're grateful to be out and about again, eating in restaurants and shopping. I certainly have a new found appreciation of normal life, when it was all so abnormal for such a long time.

We got Maggie right before the pandemic and oh what a joy she has been.  The best dog we've EVER had.  Such a sweet, gentle little soul, she is just sunshine every day.  I wish I would have discovered Cavaliers years ago, they are a wonderful breed.

I just posted a wonderful recipe for freezing corn on Jan CAN Cook, so I took a minute for a little update here.  

Here is a link to the recipe, it's an old one, but oh so good.

And that's what's going on in my world.  You can always check out my Instagram daily stories (at the top of the Instagram page) for a glimpse as to what we're up to...

XXo ~ Jan

Monday, November 9, 2020

Jan's Christmas Favorites 2020

Back in the day I used to publish a Favorites Christmas List.  I haven't done that for a few years but boredom has set in and I really do have some good finds this past year.  I couldn't go out and shop, and I love to research products, so that little Amazon truck has been coming to our house multiple times weekly.  Lots of stocking stuffer ideas here, so many under $10 and except for one item, the rest are under $25.  So here we go...

If you know me personally, you know I'm the self-professed kitchen gadget queen, so naturally I have quite a few kitchen products that are winners this year.

Danish Dough Whisk.  My favorite new gadget,  it quickly mixes cookie dough, batter bread, yeast dough, it's such a workhorse I find myself grabbing this instead of a whisk for so many things.  The handle is beefy, this isn't a wimpy tool, it's just amazing.  It popped up a few months ago in my Facebook timeline, and I was intrigued.  This didn't disappoint, it's a winner.

Meat Chopper - You're browning ground beef, taking a fork or a spatula, trying to break it up, and it can be really difficult if you want it to break in small uniform crumbles.   Well, no more struggling with your burger, this handy dandy little tool makes quick work of a tedious job and breaks up the burger in a flash.  I liked it so much I bought several for the family.

I'm such a fan of America's Test Kitchen, Cooks Illustrate and especially Cooks Country.  Why was I so late to the game with this?  I'm fascinated by their shows and the fact that everything they prepare has a science behind it.  I'm a huge fan of their gadget segment, shocking, huh?  I've been struggling forever with my spatulas, I have several KitchenAid ones and some no-name ones and none of them are that great.  Well, I do like my Paula Deen "Butter Y'All" spatula.  No, it doesn't work well either, but it's funny and at least I smile when the thing is collapsing as I stir something.  And I do have that cute yellow Smiley Face one, but no, it's not any good either.  But back to my crappy spatulas, they bend when you're scraping a bowl, that drives me crazy and they are two pieces, the stem and the handle so food gets caught in the crack or the thing just comes completely apart when you're cleaning it, and then a few months ago I realized I should just go to America's Test Kitchen and see what they like.  Well, this is the winner, I bought it and it's wonderful.  It's stiff so that batter releases smoothly and the end doesn't buckle, it's one piece so no food in the cracks.  It's the best spatula ever!

Lodge Griddle - I've become a biscuit maker thanks to Cooking with Brenda Gantt on Facebook.  She always bakes biscuits on a griddle, so of course I needed one for mine.  Seriously, Jan?  Any excuse for new equipment works for me.  This was a steal for only $14.88 and who doesn't love Lodge Cast Iron.  Now I have my eye on their covered chicken fryer, I'm just hopeless when it comes to kitchen equipment.

Priority Chef Knife Sharpener - Did you know that you cut yourself more with a dull knife than a sharp one. I guess that explains why I've sliced my fingers multiple times over the years.  I read this on the internet, so it must be true, right?   Last summer hubby, who is an avid Amazon junkie as well, and he's always onboard with me buying kitchen equipment because I cook so much, purchased this knife sharpener for me and I love it, it works so well, it's so easy to use, it's fast and so far, no knicked fingers.  It's so so much easier to use than the old fashioned ones, and it has two slots, one is for regular knives, the other for sharpening serrated knives.  Anything to make life simpler at my age is a good thing and it's so inexpensive.

Cuisinart Spatulas Griddle Kit - This one is for the guys in your life who love to BBQ.  These spatulas are extra long, my guys really enjoy that length for flipping burgers on the grill.  It comes with accessories, that wasn't a deal breaker, I was just looking for good quality grill spatulas at a fair price.  We did purchase a new Weber griddle this year that fits on our outdoor grill, that was a big hit as well.

Warmies - I bought these for the grandkids this fall.  They are stuffed animals with bean filled tummies that you warm in the microwave.  They were a huge hit and will be great this winter when it's cold, something for them to cuddle that's warm when they go to bed and comforting if they don't feel well.  I bought a lion for Ben, a lop eared bunny for Lexi and this horse for Abby.

Crayola Inspiration Art Case - This is a great gift, inexpensive, sturdy, it's a nice large size and it comes loaded with art supplies, pencils, markers, crayons and paper so everything stays organized.  

Dog I.D. Tag - I bought this for Maggie nine months ago and it still looks great, not showing wear at all.  I got her the turquoise, a girl needs a little bling in her life and the price is insane, $3.00, free shipping.  It had room for her name, our address and phone number.  You will be surprised at the quality, it's really nice.

Dog Water Bottle - I obsessed over this one, I know, it's a bottle, right?  I ordered a couple, returned them before I found this.  Good features, works well, doesn't leak, easy to use, and it's blue, I know, but hey, color is important.  Did I mention it doesn't leak?  Seriously, it doesn't leak, need I say more...

Beauty Blender - I love beauty blenders for putting on makeup but darn, the original one is so pricey, like $20 for one!  I bought these on Amazon on a whim and they are just as good as the real thing, and you get five of them in pretty colors for $8.99.  Works for me...

E.L.F. Brow Pencil - I'm a big fan of drugstore makeup, for the most part, I think it works as well as the upscale stuff.  I used to pay $20+ for Anastasia Brow Wiz, and that was just crazy expensive for a brow pencil.  This one for E.L.F. is awesome, I buy it in taupe and it costs $2.20 shipped to you.  How's that for a deal.  If even has a spoolie.

Wonder Puffs - I've always loved Buf-Pufs, nothing better for exfoliating your face, but ouch, the price.  One Buf-Puf is $13.49.  I now buy these Wonder Puffs, they're the same thing and a pack of 12 is $6.18.  Unreal..

Reading Glasses - I buy so many of these it's embarrassing.  I lose them constantly, it's just what I do.  These are the ones I'm liking this fall, a friend recommended them and she was right.  They're sturdy, hinged, super cute and this pack of four is super cheap.  And yes, I've lost a couple of pairs already, so it's time to reorder again.  

Frontier Frollies - Okay, so I don't actually have this, it will ship on November 17th.  I'm a huge fan of Ree Drumond, I buy her children's books for the grands, loved her first book, Black Heels to Tractor Wheels, so when she announced she was writing Frontier Follies, Adventures of Marriage and Motherhood in the Middle of Nowhere, I was first in line to order.  

And that's my list if you're still with me.  It's long, but it's all so inexpensive, maybe you can find some goodies on here that you like.  Happy Shopping!

~ Jan

Monday, August 10, 2020

This year is a disaster and so was our vacation...

We've stayed at many airbnbs and VRBO's over the years and always have good experiences. But your luck is bound to run out sometime and of course this was the year that it did, and boy did it! Since pictures really are worth a thousand words, I'll share a few with you.

John was looking for a getaway and he found this rental near Chattanooga in the country that also came with a separate apartment. It had horses, cows, fancy chickens, guineas, cats, a creek, it sounded perfect. A country getaway without being around people. Deanna and I were all over this like a mayo on white, it just sounded idyllic. But as you can see, it didn't quite work out that way.

So we load two cars full of food and more stuff than we could use in a month of Sundays and off we go. We arrive, full of anticipation, up a long winding tree shaded lane and then...  Oh my, it was nothing like the pictures. The yard hadn't been mowed in months, there was this pile of trash next to the fire pit, the landscaping was choked out with weeds, the flowers planted in the spring were all dying in their pots and the creek was a mess with fallen trees in it. To say we were shocked was an understatement, we had arrived at Weedy Acres.

So we unpack, trying to wrap our heads around what we had gotten ourselves into, but thankfully both the house and the apartment were clean and orderly, it was just the outside that was a disaster. The poor horses were so skinny their ribs were showing and the lone guinea was as big as a turkey. One of the cats was missing part of it's ear and they hissed and swatted at Maggie with their claws bared, so my dream of letting her run free was curtailed.

Poor Deanna had a run-in with a mean rooster. It flogged her, it really flogged her. LC and I were sitting on the porch and we heard her screaming. She was trying to defend herself, batting at that rooster with a bag of carrots she had taken to feed the horses. It just wouldn't give it up, just kept coming at her! Lexi was hiding behind John, and of course he was doubled over laughing instead of helping her, thankfully this sweet rooster in the picture came to her rescue and chased the mean one away.

And I can't forget the gazebo, it was one of those things you can't describe, you just have to see it. This is it, where they string with lights and hold receptions. Note the barnwood table sitting on concrete blocks. Just the perfect ambience for any kind of reception, NEVER! 

And let's not forget the view from our rickety deck, complete with dirty chairs and a vase of dead flowers on the table. Oh, it did overlook the weedy creek, such as it was. And I had so been looking forward to sitting by that creek, too, just living in the moment, enjoying the sound of rushing water. Well, the creek was dry, or maybe it was just clogged from all the weeds and fallen trees and the mosquitoes were fierce!

You can't make this stuff up, folks. Sometimes you just have to see it to believe it. The only thing we can figure is that all of the pictures had been taken a few years ago and this woman's husband must have passed away and she had nobody to help her. Her ad was full of excellent reviews, even from this summer, we just couldn't imagine anyone giving this mess a positive review.  You're probably thinking that it was a cheap rental, heck no, it was pricey!

John walked on the porch, but it was so low that he bashed his head on the overhead beam and fell to the ground, he thinks he passed out for a minute. We loaded him up on Aleve and Tylenol, the lump on his head wasn't that bad and he insisted he was fine, but told Deanna that evening that he saw double vision all day.

He had rented a pontoon, and even though the weather was "iffy" with storms in the area, he thought they would go around us. We boarded with poor Maggie all wrapped in a beach towel since we had to smuggle her onboard. They didn't allow dogs on boats, but there was no way I would have left her behind at Weedy Acres. Mags was such a trooper, I didn't know if she would be scared since she had never been on a boat before, but she loved it and really enjoyed the breeze blowing her ears. Deanna was looking at the radar and shaking her head, but John started the boat and off we went on what Lexi and I later called "John's Excellent Adventure." It was a huge lake and we were the only boat in the water. That should have been a dead giveaway, but it was too late to turn back and the sky behind us just kept getting darker and darker. Deanna told him that he needed to try and find shelter that we were in trouble, but we were in the middle of the lake. He powered down, trying to make it to a Mexican restaurant on the shore, and I'm thinking that's not gonna work even if we get there, we have Maggie onboard. So anyway, the sky lets loose, and of course the canopy on the boat starts leaking like crazy, we're all huddled under beach towels, except for poor John who is steering the boat with water dripping off his nose. Lexi and I were laughing so hard our stomachs hurt at all of that water pouring down on us. There was lightening in the distance, it was a major ordeal, and of course we couldn't make it to that restaurant, but finally the skies cleared and it turned out to be a nice day.

One afternoon we loaded up and went for a drive. John took a shortcut, it was miles and miles and MILES, up this windy, twisty untraveled mountain road. I'm talking look out the side window, scare yourself to death kind of road, that was so bumpy and rocky that I'm surprised we all didn't get car sick. And what was at the top of this mountain? A lake! Seriously, how could there be a lake on top of a mountain.

But I need to put a positive spin on this. We actually had a great time, we made lemonade out of lemons.  I had taken my Instant Pot, I made a Sunday roast beef dinner, Lexi helped me stir up Pioneer Woman's Texas Sheet Cake, which was wonderful, better than my recipe. I took mother's crock full of flour and made Facebook's Cooking with Brenda Gantt's biscuits one morning. We sat on the porch in the evenings and played games with Lexi, it was actually very peaceful if you didn't look out in the yard at the weeds.

We had never been to "SEE ROCK CITY" but of course had heard about it for years because of all the painted barns and billboards. It was such a nice surprise, it was just amazing. We all decided it was one of the best tourist attractions we had ever been to. They only let a certain amount of people in the park, you had to have a reservation to get in, people social distanced and wore masks, so you felt safe. It was so well maintained, very updated, there was a pavillon where we had lunch, fried green tomatoes and blackened catfish cakes, yum! The gardens were beautiful and you really could see seven states from the lookout. It was a beautiful day, the weather was so nice, the humidity was low, it was a great experience. We were supposed to stay another day but we decided to pack it in and go home instead of spending one more night in the weeds.

This vacation is one for the record books for sure, but in this year of Covid, I wouldn't expect anything less...

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

It's long past time to check in...

Such trying days we're having.  I'm so tired of staying home, days of cold, rainy weather that doesn't seem to end, I'm tired of thinking about and talking about anything that is related to COVID-19, I never want to hear the words social distancing again, yet there is no escape from it, in just two short months, this has become our new reality.

But on a much, much happier note, in late February we adopted this adorable little bundle of fur.  She is two years old, a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, whose name was Maggie, so we didn't change it and she has been such a help to both hubby and me during this time.  It was meant to be, for us to get Maggie, if we had waited it wouldn't have happened.

We debated over and over again, all the reasons we didn't need another dog.  Our age, temperament, taking her out, the list went on and on, but yet I couldn't give up the idea of another dog.  We lost Maggie, our Yorkie, two years ago and I miss her every single day, but I didn't want another Yorkie, it just wouldn't be the same.  I've always loved Cavies, especially the Blenheims.  We are a family of gingers, and this color just called to me.  I talked with a wonderful breeder in Eastern Tennessee who told me about a friend of hers, another Cavalier breeder who had two dogs she was retiring.  I called and talked to her, we quickly realized that neither of those dogs would work.  They were both over 15 lbs. and five years old, I needed a dog that was more compact, one that I could handle easily and bathe in the sink.

After I told the breeder about my life situation, she told me that there was another option.  Enter Miss Maggie, two years old, twelve pounds, a dog that she kept to breed but Maggie was too small to breed to her other dogs.

So one pretty Thursday morning in February we drove three hours, past Chattanooga to meet Maggie.  You never know what to expect when you meet a dog, for me it was love at first site because she was a cuddler.  Even though she didn't know me, I picked her up and she nuzzled right into my neck and held on for dear life.  It was a perfect match.

And so we brought her home, and none of our worries ever materialized.  We feel like we won the doggie lotto because she is the most gentle little soul.  She has no bad habits, she doesn't potty in the house, she rarely barks, she just wants to be by your side.  She's definitely my dog, she shadows my every step and brings me so much joy.

And that has been our spring.  One of the few bright spots, except for our good health.  I haven't seen my Lexington grandkids in months, I miss them so much, I do get to see Lexi, but only from a distance, she doesn't even get to pet Maggie.  I pray this will be over soon, but the reality of it is that we don't know when we will be comfortable being in public, and certainly not in restaurants.

But life goes on, Mother Nature doesn't realize there is a virus, the flowers bloom the birds sing and we all hope for better, sunnier days ahead.

Stay safe, don't let your guard down, we're not through this yet.

~ Hugs from Jan & Maggie...

Thursday, December 5, 2019

It's all about family today...

The Grands are growing up, Lexi is five, Abby is ten and Ben is six, how can that be?

Lots of Grammie brags here, but they're just the sweetest.  Lexi takes dance and gymnastic classes, she's obsessed with what we all call "trishy trash" all those little Shopkins, Petkins toys.  She organizes them, knows all their names, they're her buddies.  She's in kindergarten and loves, loves school.

Abby continues to be our horse crazy girl.  She has ridden saddlebred since she was four, competes in shows and is just wild about horses.  They live just a couple of miles from the stable and she is there as often as she can.  She's in the fourth grade now, an exceptional student, we're all so proud of what she achieves.

Ben is all boy.  He loves Nascar and football, knows all the teams, the players, the scores.  He's a huge Kyle Busch fan, follows him weekly on Nascar and can tell you pretty much anything you want to know about him.  He takes golf lessons, and he's a good little golfer.  He's in the first grade, has lost his front teeth now and has the cutest little smile.  

LC and I are doing well, no health issues so far and at our age that's a real bonus.  I haven't blogged in such a long time, just busy doing other things.  I do post on Instagram, mostly pictures of the Tennessee countryside.  My favorite times are when we just get lost in nature.

We decorated the house for Christmas last month, I'll try and take pictures and post what we did.  But for now I'm outta here, errands to run today, the sun is shining and it's beautiful day in middle Tennessee... 

Friday, May 10, 2019

A May Morning in Paradise

My idea of paradise may be far different than yours.  Today,  it was an early morning ride in the country.  The vivid colors, the lushness of the grass and the trees after a spring rain, the dappled sunlight, the birdsongs, the flowering bushes, that is where I find paradise.

The child always lives inside us.  I was born a country girl and I will always be one.  There is nothing  I love more than nature and that’s the most difficult part of growing older for me.  I would move to the country in a heartbeat if the circumstances were different.  The time for that has passed, but the yearning is there.  Hubby is really good about taking me for long drives on  Tennessee backroads, he realizes how vital it is for me to connect with my roots.

Earlier this week there was a stream with cows in it, and more cows lying beside it.  Oh, it was amazing.  We often drive by this farm on a hilltop with a pond, where ducks are swimming, goats and cows are in the field surrounding it.   It’s pure magic.

That’s all it takes for me to be happy, nature...

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

If you're in your 60's you will love this...

 Oh Mary Ellen, you just made my day.  If you want a walk down memory lane, just give her video a watch.  So many memories came rushing back as I watched this.  Enjoy…  ~ Jan

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Revlon One-Step Hair Dryer & Volumizer Review

This is hands down the BEST drying  tool I’ve used EVER!  Believe me, I’ve tried everything that’s out there, blow dryers, flat irons, curling irons, other brands of hot brushes, hot rollers in every size imaginable, but I’ve never found anything that works like this does.  Think about it,  no more trying to hold a round brush in one hand and a blower in the other hand, no flat iron, just a product that works.

You will look like you’ve had a salon blowout after you use this.  I read about it online and reviewers compared it very favorably to the new Dyson pricey $500 brush dryer.  I read over and over how good it was, I bought it and I was just amazed from day one.  Even long hair doesn’t tangle in the brushes, it gives your hair volume and shine, it’s a time saver, it just works.

I usually let my hair partially air dry, usually to about 80%, or if I’m in a hurry, I’ll blow dry it part of the way, then use this to finish.  I turn my head upside down and blow from the back starting at the nape of the neck first, then I blow dry it in sections.  Most people start at the back bottom and work up, for me it’s easiest to do the crown first, then flip the hair that I’ve dried forward and continue downward.  It’s just what works for you.  I loved this dryer so much I bought it for both daughters-in-law, they too think it’s wonderful.

So, if you want to give yourself a great gift for $60, the link is below.

Revlon One-Step Hair Dryer & Volumizer Review

This thing is holy grail, trust me on this.  ~ Jan

Below is the video I watched that convinced me I needed to buy this.

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

The year was 1978, I was in my late twenties, a foodie even back in those days and Cuisinart had recently introduced their line of food processors.  Of course, I was all over that like a hot potato, just the thought of a food processor was so exciting, the ease of preparation, the endless possibilities, but oh, the price.  I wanted the top of the line, the DLC-7 and it was $175.

Hubby and I had a young family, that was a lot of money to spend on a piece of kitchen equipment, but I just had to have that food processor.  We went to a department store in Cincinnati shopping one winter weekend with our friends, Charlie and Nisha, and there it was, front and center in a display.  I was drooling, and LC who had heard me talk constantly about wanting one bought it for me.

And here I am, forty years later, I still have the same food processor, I still use it weekly, and even though he’s asked over the years if I wanted to update it, I’ve always declined.  I bought all the attachments for it, I bought Abby Mandel’s Cuisinart Classroom Cookbook, I was off to the races and never looked back.

I’ve used it for countless meals over the years, I had to replace the work bowl twice, and once it locked up, we couldn’t get the bowl to release, so we mailed it to Cuisinart to repair, but it was one of the best investments I’ve ever made.  Of course I used it more when the boys were growing up, but it still has a special place in my kitchen, I’ll never get rid of it.

Thanks to that purchase, I’ve always been a strong believer that you don’t go cheap on workhorse kitchen equipment.  Even though it can be hard to pull the plug on expensive equipment, it will stand the test of time.

Which brings me to this afternoon.  It’s a cold winter day in Nashville, well not as cold as other parts of the country, but a good afternoon to just sit by the fireplace with my laptop browsing websites.  For some reason I thought about one of the staples I always made with my Cuisinart, their recipe for cornbread which was included in a recipe booklet that came with my food processor.  I haven’t made it for years, but thanks to the powers of Google, I found it easily and saved it, maybe I’ll try it again someday, just for old times sake when the boys and their families are visiting, even though it does use a lot of butter.  I always made it my 9" Le Creuset cast iron orange skillet, another one of those items that will never wear out, it’s still my go-to skillet for cornbread after all those years.

Here it is, the original recipe from 1978, oh it does make yummy cornbread.  ~ Jan

Cuisinart Cornbread

1½         cups yellow cornmeal
1½         cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
12           tablespoons (1½ sticks) unsalted butter, softened
3             tablespoons granulated sugar
1½         teaspoons baking powder
½           teaspoon baking soda
¾           teaspoon kosher salt
2             cups buttermilk
2             large eggs


Preheat oven to 425°F. Grease a 9-inch round or square baking pan with the softened butter or nonstick cooking spray; reserve.
Put the butter, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt in the workbowl. Mix on Speed 4 until creamy, about 10 seconds.
Add buttermilk and eggs and pulse on Speed 4 to just incorporate, about 5 pulses. Scrape down and pulse a few more times, if necessary.
Add the dry ingredients and pulse until in short bursts, just until combined – it is important not to overmix or the cornbread will be tough and dry.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake in the preheated oven until golden brown, about 20 to 25 minutes.
Transfer pan to a wire rack to cool slightly before serving.

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