Monday, September 7, 2015

Labor Day Kickoff to Fall Decorating!

I hope all of you are enjoying the Labor Day weekend!  There is nothing better than a three day weekend, is there???  I've been able to find a good balance between being lazy and getting things accomplished - and that is quite a feat for me. 

Traditionally, this is the weekend I find time to put out my first layer of Fall decor.  And, true to form, I started dragging out stuff yesterday after giving the house a good cleaning.  In the last couple of years, I have done a better job of separating the Fall stuff from the Halloween stuff when packing things away, so this was a huge help! 

Since we don't have a fireplace, meaning "no mantle", I use this little sofa table as a display area in much the same way others decorate their mantle.  A lush garland filled with pumpkins, gourds, berries, sunflowers and leaves makes the perfect backdrop for some of my pumpkin and bird collection.  Battery operated mercury bulb lights are woven in with the garland and a couple of scented candles give this vignette a soft glow, day or night. 

The wreath that coordinates with the garland hangs on another wall.  Although I have had these for several years, I am still getting mileage out of them!

I absolutely love downloadable prints that pop up all around the blogosphere this time of year!  Here is one I just recently acquired, in a Goodwill find frame.  It was just $1.99!!!  I thought about painting it, but decided that the gold and wood tones worked just fine for this project and made it super simple to display in a hurry. My favorite thing is the colors - just perfect to bring some Fall tones into our living room which is heavy on the creams and aquas. 

Decor on the piano is super simple - another downloadable print and a chippy black crow nesting in an inexpensive candle ring. 

In the kitchen, I simply added some ceramic pumpkins on the buffet.  Oh, and another of those wonderful framed download prints!  The afternoon sunlight fills this area with terrific light, muted by the woven blinds and it is one of my favorite areas in the house to decorate simply.

A new pale blue cake stand from HomeGoods is featured on the kitchen table, along with a green painted tin pumpkin, which has been one of my favorites for years.  We are on our first batch of our favorite seasonal snack - a jar of dry roasted peanuts dumped in with a large bag of candy corn.  Yum!!!

After dinner last night, I lit some of the candles before we settled in for some chill time and the living room felt so cozy and inviting.  This is what it's all about, isn't it?  Creating a comfortable area to spend time with the ones you love, a place that wraps its arms around you and makes you never want to leave!

It's early in the season yet, so there is more to be added and lots of tweaking to do.  I haven't even touched the front porch yet!  But, at least, it's a start! Check back and follow along on Facebook and Instagram to see how things develop.

Thanks for stopping by....


Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Baked Chicken & Veggies With a Twist!

Howdy, y'all!

Is everyone getting in a Fall sort of mood?  I've been a pinning, Instagramming kind of fool lately, taking in a multitude of autumnal images....getting all inspired to drag out my bins of Fall decor this weekend.  Traditionally, I wait until Labor Day weekend to set out my first layer of pumpkins, leaves and such.  So, the countdown is on until time to get started! 

In the meantime, we have been really focused on eating healthy - which, for us, means cooking and dining at home most evenings.  I found a super simple recipe idea today and decided to try it out for dinner tonight.  It turned out awesome - definitely a keeper!  

Let's just say it is a new twist on baked chicken.  So, so simple........

I had two boneless, skinless chicken breasts already thawed out.  So, they went into the 9x13 glass baking dish first.  

Next, I quartered the six red potatoes that I already in the fridge.  They were nestled in one end of the baking dish, followed by a batch of fresh green beans on the other side of the chicken.  I had some prepackaged fresh, select sized green beans - they sure are convenient, all ready to go.  

Then I sprinkled a package of Italian salad dressing mix over everything and ground some fresh pepper over that.  No need for additional salt - there is plenty of salt in the dry dressing mix.  

Finally, I drizzled a stick of melted butter over everything and put the whole thing in a 350 degree oven for one hour.  I covered it with foil after the first 20 minutes, to keep the moisture in and prevent the veggies from getting too crispy.  Let it stand for about 5 minutes before serving. 

Finished result - absolute deliciousness!!!

So, there it is.  An easy to fix, cooks in one dish, dinner - perfect for those evenings when you have other things to do besides slave over a hot stove!  

I hope you're following along with my Facebook page and on Instagram.  I've been sharing some of the terrific stash I got on my first trip to HomeGoods this past weekend.  Would love to have you tag along, so check it out. 

Let's meet up again after the Fall decor makes its appearance at our cottage this weekend!  

Monday, July 27, 2015

Refreshing a "Not Beachy!" Kitchen....

Every once in a while, something comes along that inspires us to make changes.  This is something that inspired me......

The cup that started it all.....
You see, I was walking through the housewares department of Dillards one afternoon, and this lovely pale aqua cup spoke to me......literally called my name......"Jane, Jane, take me home with you!"  

Finding it odd that a coffee cup would make such an effort to speak out loud, I couldn't resist its plea to come to Janie's Porch.  So, home we came and enjoyed many a fine morning together. 

Then one morning, the cup spoke to me and again.....well, really, it was more of a whisper.  It said, "I'm lonely.  Surround me with some more lovely shades of blue, teal and turquoise - just to keep me company, Jane."

Again, how could I resist???

So began the gradual journey of chasing the red, gold and black out of our cozy little kitchen/dining area.  Instead, I longed for soft blues, teals, turquoise....the colors of shimmering seas.  (Or, maybe sea glass....but, I am definitely avoiding the word "beachy" here....)

The walls were already a muted and so-soft shade of mossy green, so they were easy to keep.  (Thank goodness, no painting was involved, or else I would still just be dreaming about this project....)  They look totally different with the addition of different accessories (and the removal of others).

We added a great deal of storage by bringing in an industrial strength metal shelving unit.  (Good ol' Lowes - this unit cost me well under $100!)  Since we don't have a pantry, we are using it to store a variety of kitchen items, with the bottom shelf reserved especially for our pups' stuff.  Have you ever used "S" hooks?  They are totally awesome and I hung coffee mugs, freeing up shelf space!  I am thinking about hanging a couple of my smaller copper bottom sauce pans on the underside of the top shelf....

Why, yes, I do have a large bag of snack-size chip hanging on the side.  Hey, this is real life!
Moving the microwave over here freed up counter top space.  We used 1/4 inch birch plywood to make "liners" for a couple of the shelves.
 The island-turned-buffet was shifted into the "dining area", in front of these terrific double windows that allow for tons of afternoon sun (and, in the summer, plenty of heat....but, it is what it is!)

And there is Pepper photobombing and sniffing an unopened package of her pricey dog food!
 My first impression was that it was too big for the space - probably because I've always something a bit smaller (read, dinkier) in this spot.  But, after a few days and some fun styling, I am totally on board with the buffet's new location.  The large woven baskets to corral clutter on the lower shelves were terrific finds at TJ Maxx (and they hide a multitude of sins...)

I bought this island/buffet at Big Lots in Amarillo about 6 years ago. It is real butcher block and super heavy - a steal for $149! 
 I also dressed the table out a bit differently.  I finally made it out to Pier 1 and used the gift card my mom gave me way back at Christmas.  I adore the table runner that was clearanced out for less than $10!  TJ Maxx to the rescue with a fabulous woven plastic basket for snacks (it really looks like wicker, doesn't it?!?!?).  And the little turquoise creamer (which needs to be restocked with drinking straws) was so darn cute - I knew I could put it to use somewhere.

It's a "magic" little creamer - see how it's there, and then it's not?  It's called tweaking right in the middle of taking photos....
I refreshed the corner hutch with only my favorite pieces.  And I love how the crystal bowl filled with faux pears ties in with other artwork on the adjoining wall. 

The best thing I've ever done is lose the rug under the table - this is so much easier to keep clean with dogs.
I worked on the weird little cubby in the wall yesterday - and have turned that into a makeshift little bar.  But, I am still tweaking on that.....and the jury is still out.  

As things continue along, I will share more photos.  Mostly likely they will pop up on Janie's Porch Facebook page and Instagram.  So, if you're not already following along there, check out the links over there in the right column >>>>> and tag along with me on a more spontaneous basis!  

Hoping you have a blessed week and we visit again soon, sweet friends. 

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Summer Vacation.....CHECK!!!

Recently, Eddie Dale and I were able to get away for a little much needed vacation.  

I haven't really been on a get away like this for over a year.  So, I have really been looking forward to it for weeks.....oh!  Who am I kidding?!?!?  I was clinging to the thought of this vacation as if it were a lifeline and I was flailing in the middle of the ocean...

Anyway, we loaded up the dogs, hooked up the RV and took off for a new destination - Inks Lake State Park.  Although it wasn't our first choice - Blanco State Park was still closed due to the recent flood - we were determined to love it.  And, we did! 

It is a beautiful lake and there is quite a bit to do in the way of activities.  

We went fishing - not once, but twice.  I hadn't been fishing since I was a child.  However, Eddie is a very patient and capable angler.  He was wonderful about loading (and reloading) my hook with big, fat worms!  I had a few nibbles, but didn't catch anything.  But, it was really a lot of fun - even though the spiders on the fishing pier were everywhere!

The sunsets were awesome!  They made the spiders bearable....

We had tubes for floating in our little cove of the lake - so relaxing.  (However, I do not particularly care for the feel of little fishies brushing past my legs and feet in the murky lake water....)

And, we lugged our bicycles down for a little riding.  (During which I discovered that, despite rehab, I still don't have all the strength back in my leg since my hip replacement!) 

We ate very well!  We always take our little portable grill with us and cook outside as much as possible.  Thanks to the HEB in Burnet, we had some fresh corn on the cob with our grilled chicken kabobs one evening.  At 12 cents an ear, it is a bargain and it was super sweet and tasty cooked on the grill.  

We rub it with real butter and salt free fajita seasoning and wrap it in foil and roast it that way above the hot coals. 

One evening we took a break from cooking and went to a little cafe we discovered just a few miles from the state park.  It was attached to a little convenience store and they advertised a dinner special - hamburger & fries for $5!  So, we decided to check it out.  And, it was absolutely delicious and the service was fantastic! 

In addition to biking and swimming, we rented a double kayak early one morning.  It was a wonderful experience!  I really did like it and I feel that my upper body strength is much better than my lower body.   We were on the water for just under an hour.  However, after spending another hour or so actually in the water, I got a pretty intense sunburn.  I haven't really been out in the sun much the last couple of years, so I didn't use enough sunscreen.  Ouch!

Consequently, we had to find indoor, out of the sun, activities for our last full day.  I twisted Ed's arm and he took me into Burnet for a little junkin'.  We found a really great shop that totally inspired me to come home and rework a few things in my own cottage!  My day was made, though, when I found a copy of a book I've been wanting to read for ages - for just $1.49!!!  This is one of those reads that is so interesting - I find it hard to put down!

It just makes me want to watch Julie & Julia over and over......

By the time we had to head home, we were ready.  It's always a little sad to strike camp, but it's always wonderful to get home!  Our little cottage - and our own bed - feels so wonderful!!!

Tomorrow is back to work for me.  However, I am feeling rested and relaxed....and rarin' to go!  It's amazing what a few days away from the routine will do for a body and soul.  

Hope you have the opportunity to do a little unwinding this summer....


Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Currently Obsessing Over....

Two new "likes" in my life.....

Wait, who am I kidding?!?!?!  Two new things that are bordering on "addiction" is more like it!

First of all, Spring is slipping into Summer here in Texas with a big BANG!  The weather around here is making national news.  We've had more rain than normal - not so much here, but down in the Hill Country south of they are getting hammered.  In fact, there has been extensive and tragic flooding down along the Blanco River, particularly in Wimberly, Austin, San Marcos.....and my thoughts and prayers are with all those who are experiencing loss.  The rain is flirting with us, though.  Fortunately, we haven't had the severe weather those around us have had recently.  But, we could sure use a bit more of the wet stuff to bring our rainfall totals and lakes up!

Having recapped our weather for you, let me move on to.....

New Love #1 - The Outlander series of books by Diana Gabaldon.  They're huge, massive 800+ pages each.  And there are eight books in the series.  I am plowing my way through installment #3 and am totally hooked!  So, if you're looking for some good reads and are serious about sticking with it, I totally recommend these books!!!

New Love #2 - Watching "Parenthood" on Netflix!!!  In the evenings when Eddie Dale is working late, I plop down in front of the TV and watch an episode or two of this series.  I just love it - the interaction between the siblings, the parents, the's all good!!!  The background music is awesome; the sets are absolutely to-die-for.  I am almost finished with Season Two and already so sad that it is going to end because the series has been cancelled. 

So, those are my two guilty pleasures at the moment.  What about you?   How do you indulge when you have a little spare time?  

In the meantime, if you haven't joined me on Facebook, I hope you'll take a second to click over on the Facebook link in the right column (right over there >>>> and down just a bit) and LIKE my page to keep up with more frequent posts and updates!

Until later.....

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Simple Dinner - Bacon Avocado Egg Salad Sandwiches

Sunday evening......

Clean house.  Grocery shopping done.  Dinner done and kitchen cleaned.  Windows open and the sheer curtains fluttering slightly in the breeze.  And here I am, curled up with Pepper in my lap, watching "Frequency" with Eddie Dale. 

It's been a nice weekend.  We had rain on Friday (well, some flash flooding, to be honest!) and again yesterday.  We went out to dinner last night with Bonnie & Matt and the kids, and some of their friends, to celebrate Matt's promotion.  Although he just opened the neighborhood market store in Merkel back in January, he has already been tapped to be general manager at a new store in San Angelo, that is about to be built.  We are so proud of the way he is scrambling right on up the management ladder and it was a fun evening!

After a day of housecleaning, I was craving something light and easy for supper.  Inspired by something I saw on Pinterest, I went on a search for the perfect recipe for Bacon Avocado Egg Salad.  I saw a photo, but there was no link back to a recipe.  I browsed a bit, finding several variations on the bacon/avocado/egg theme and culled the basic idea for this recipe.....

Bacon Avocado Egg Salad Sandwiches

1 large, or 2 small, avocados - peeled and mashed 
Squeeze of lemon juice
4 large eggs, boiled and chopped 
1 Tbsp mayonnaise 
4 slices of cooked bacon, crumbled (I used black peppered bacon)

In a bowl, add a squeeze of lemon juice to the mashed avocado, to help prevent quick browning.  Gently stir in the chopped eggs, crumbled bacon and 1 Tbsp of mayo.  I used a bit of fresh ground black pepper and Mrs. Dash for seasoning.  

To build the ultimate sandwich - 

Toast sliced bread. Spread with a bit of mayo and plenty of the egg salad; top with sliced tomato and baby spinach.  

I simply cannot describe how scrumptious this concoction is!!!!

This meal is actually pretty healthy.  It is chocked full of protein and "healthy" fat; between the eggs and avocado, you simply don't need any meat with this meal.  And the ingredients are simple and almost always in my kitchen.

If you give it a try, let me know what you think!

Enjoy the rest of your weekend and let's get the week off to a great start!!!

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Wanting to do more than survive the routine....

Long time, no post!

I have to admit - the last seven months have mostly seen me in "survival mode".  Since returning to a full-time 9-5 job as the office manager and relocation coordinator at the real estate office where I spent four years as an active agent, I have had to make so many adjustments....

I went from being on call pretty much 24/7 to regular office hours.  Even though being a Realtor meant I could set my own hours, I was always at the mercy of others.  And, I felt like I was completely tethered to my phone or tablet all the time!  It could be so stressful and tiring, filled with ups and downs.  The income was great at some times, non-existent at others.  So, the offer from my broker to help him run the office was truly a blessing!  Now, I have a regular schedule every day and a steady paycheck every two weeks.  

However, there have been sacrifices.  I have lost a lot of the flexibility in my schedule.  After working 8 hours a day, I still have to keep up with things at home.  Cleaning, cooking, laundry, has to be fit in after work or on the weekends.  Some days, I am so tired after work that it's about all I can do to drop on the sofa after dinner and stay awake until dark so I can go crawl into bed.  I end up putting off a lot until the weekend.....

One thing I am learning to do is to keep one day on my precious weekend open just to have a little fun or relax.  That might be the day I get errands and shopping done; or take in Trayden's soccer game with Bonnie and the kids; or, maybe even just veg with Netflix or read a few more chapters of a book.  The other day is spent cleaning, catching up on laundry - in other words, working!  

While I am trucking along with the new routine, I do feel something is missing.  There's a part of me that wants to "create".  Whether it is writing or working on a project for the house, I enjoy "creating".

Finding the time to "create" is challenging, but something I realize is totally necessary.  So, it has to be a priority, at the top of my list.  Even if it is just potting new geraniums for the front porch, I need to find a way to fulfill my desire to make something....

Even if I pop over to the porch for a brief post - even one without photos - it is still a creative outlet.

So, bear with me if upcoming posts are not filled with decorating/home improvement projects or lots of photos.  I will try not to let the blog turn into a rambling online diary, but you never know....

For now, I am going to enjoy the warmer weather and the brilliant red of my new geraniums!

Back later.....

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