Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The Autumn Porch.....

The warm embrace of my favorite sweater....

Steam rising off a cup of pumpkin spice latte....

Cleansing breath of crisp evening air....

So many things to love about Autumn!!!

Like these mums and pumpkins now gracing my front porch....


 Little black crows perched on more potted mums, still tight with many buds 
and blooms to come.


A jaunty scarecrow welcoming guests to our home....

 
And a perfectly weathered rocker for sitting with a cup of coffee 
and watching the world go by.


Welcome, Autumn!


I've been waiting for you all Summer long, 
For you are my favorite season of all!!!


How have you welcomed Fall at your home?

Be blessed, Friends....



Sunday, September 23, 2012

Bathroom Closet Makeover....

Do you ever just get so inspired by Pinterest that you run out and buy something like this????

Storage bins from WalMart - $7.96 each
These little lovelies sat on the bed back in the guest room for nearly two weeks, patiently waiting for me to get to work on a project that involved this mess.......

Just one of the shelves in our bathroom closet - I know, disgusting and more than a little embarrassing!
Well, I tackled it today!!!  And I am very pleased with the results, I am!!!  So long, awful mess - hello, organized beauty.....

After - oh, so much better, right???
Motivation for this project - I just hated when I needed a throat lozenge in the middle of the night, or when I was in a flat-out hurry and couldn't find the Tylenol!  Plus I kept buying stuff that we already had because I couldn't put my hands on it.  (We probably have at least five year's supply of Benadryl capsules now....)  

Finding just what we were looking for in all the mess was soooooo frustrating!!!

Since this closet in the bathroom serves as both a place to store linens and keep toiletries, not to mention our dirty laundry basket and extra rolls of toilet paper, it needs to be highly organized - which it was NOT.  

Cleaning up one shelf allowed me to get the entire closet re-organized.

I really wish I had some cutesy printed labels.....oh, well, one of these days.......



For now, it is a very welcome improvement and I can find the Immodium A-D in a real hurry! (After all, aren't you always in a hurry when searching for that?!?!?)

So, what terrific ideas have you gleaned from Pinterest?!?!?  Please take the time to leave a comment and share!

You can follow my boards by clicking on the "Pinterest" button in the right hand column, over there>>>>......Happy pinning!





Friday, September 21, 2012

A Simple Dish for Autumn Evenings....

With tomorrow being the official "first day of Fall", I am going to share one of my simplest, most favorite recipes for a quick dinner that works perfectly for those cool Autumn evenings......

Mexican Cornbread Casserole 

Basic Ingredients:
2/3 to 1 pound prepared taco meat (this amount is flexible - I've used less and more and it still turns out yummy)
1 can cream style corn
1 package cornbread mix
2/3 cup milk
1 egg
3-4 slices colby jack cheese

A bit of history on this recipe and how it evolved....

My mother found the original recipe in the Abilene Reporter News years and years ago - like when I was a newlywed and needed some easy ideas for dinner.  So, this was probably back in 1981 or 1982.  Over the years, I have tweaked it and have it down "pat" now!  

It's a great way to use up leftover taco meat!  So, next time you're preparing tacos, fix a little extra for dinner the next day.....

To start, prepare one package of cornbread mix, according to package directions.
I start to vary it up here because Jiffy mix calls for 1/3 cup of milk and 1 egg with the mix; I always use 2/3 cup of milk.  Don't you?

Next, stir 1/2 of the can of creamed style corn into the prepared cornbread mix.  And you're ready to assemble -

Just cover the bottom of a greased casserole dish with the prepared cornbread mixture.
 Layer in your taco meat.
If it's been in the fridge, I nuke it for a minute to "loosen" it up. 
Layer your favorite kind of cheese on top of the meat.
We like "speckled" colby-jack cheese, but cheddar or pepper jack works well, too.  And you can use grated cheese, if that's what you have. 
Spoon the remaining cream style corn over the cheese.
 Top with the remaining cornbread mixture.

Bake in 400 degree preheated oven for about 20-25 minutes, until golden brown.
 Let stand a few minutes before serving.
We love it with a dollop of sour cream and some hot sauce on top! 
Instead of taco meat, the original recipe called for a pound of ground beef, sauteed with chopped onion and a small can of green chilis.  It's yummy prepared that way, too!  But, I came up with this tweak to use some leftover taco meat a long time ago and it just kind of stuck. 

Tonight, we enjoyed a simple green salad (i.e., leftover shredded lettuce and chopped tomatoes from last night's soft tacos) and Ranch Style Beans with our main dish.  And, as usual, I ate way too much!!! 
We have plenty left over for lunches tomorrow - which should be handy since I have a full day planned, with no time allotted for cooking! 

Do you have some favorite "go to" recipes that you've been preparing for years?  You know, the ones that seem to just get better with time and a little tweak now and then??? 

Enjoy these few hours before the arrival of Fall!








Monday, September 17, 2012

Miscellany Monday.....a Timed Post....

I have given myself 17 minutes to write this post - start to finish!

So, let's see if I can do it.  Shall we???

Joining up with miscellaney monday at lowercase letters today and the idea is to just write and put it out there.....here goes......

miscellany monday at lowercase letters


I had the best intentions at working on an Autumn craft project this weekend.  When I left the house for the office on Friday, I thought I would whip out an afternoon of work and return to get started.  Alas, the phone rang at work and I ended up working until 7:30 (instead of 4:30).  To top it all off, I still had to make a run to Target after getting home and feeding the dogs (who thought they had been abandoned) in order to get a gift for my granddaughter's birthday on Saturday afternoon.  I had to go Friday evening because I had scheduled another appointment with the couple I met on Friday afternoon to look at a couple of more houses the next morning.  It made a for a long day indeed.  And, I had to get up early the next morning to get back out and show houses for a few hours......

Ansleigh's party on Saturday afternoon was a fun outing.  My daughter did an at-home party, princess themed, and had a great mix of Ansleigh's friends, family friends, kids and adults.  After unwinding from the party, Eddie Dale and I headed to one of our favorite diners and enjoyed a dinner of burgers and fried pickles.  (Hey, don't knock it til you've tried them!!!)

The Birthday Princess - Ansleigh - turns 6!!!
 Sunday was a blur.  With the husband working, I was all over the housecleaning.  Went out to start up the washer and all it would do was agitate with a spurt of water here and there.  It's like the timing board is out and it is stuck in the middle of the wash cycle, without ever filling!  I was able to get it to spin out, but had to truck the load of soapy wet towels to the laundromat and fight the weekend crowd early in the afternoon.  Ugh!  Follow that up with a trip to the zoo, I mean grocery store.  But, I had the energy left to come home and whip up a big pot of hamburger stew and a skillet of cornbread.  So, at least we ate well!

A return to the office was in order today - if for no other reason than to recover from the weekend!  And I have yet to start that little project, although my front porch is begging for me to get it done.....

And, so, there you go.....I ran one minute over!  And that was because I decided to e-mail a photo of the Birthday Girl from my phone and insert it in the blog.  Otherwise, I would have been right on the money!!!

Thanks for stopping by the porch today.....posts are not always this random, but sometimes it's fun to just let 'er rip!






Friday, September 14, 2012

Ready to Fall.......

Enjoying some very autumnal weather these last couple of days.....


And browsing around the blogosphere and Pinterest for tons of inspiration!  So many beautiful images, such terrific craft and decorating ideas.....


Oh, if only I didn't need to get some work done today, I would be grabbing a can of spray paint this very minute to tackle a project I was just inspired to take on! 

Also, I'm itching to start work on a new Autumn-themed header for Janie's Porch....I can just picture it in my mind now!  Now, to pull the images together and sit down and create!

I think I need to get offline and take care of "necessary" business so I can get back home and get started on the Fun Stuff!!! 

What motivates you to get started?  Apparently, for me, it is visual stimulation!  

Happy Friday, Friends!!!

Janie

Thursday, September 13, 2012

A New (Sorta) Sofa.....

A couple of weeks ago, I made the mistake of mentioning to my Mom that a friend was selling a daybed......

You see, Mom had recently been talking about revamping a second bedroom/living area in her home by adding a bed....and eliminating a sleeper sofa......and, well, I thought maybe picking this one up second-hand would save her some money.

She jumped all over that!  Said yes, having only seen a photo on my phone of the bed.  But, the dilemma ensued.....what to do with the perfectly good sleeper sofa currently in her room???

After much debate and discussion, she offered it to me!  Honestly, I was resistant, at first.  But, the sofa I could eliminate from our living room to make space for this one has been lived on hard for nearly eight years!

And, something fresh and different in the living room sounded appealing!  So, I proposed the idea of switching out with Eddie Dale.  He was.....skeptical.  (Yeah, that's a nice word for it....skeptical....) 

You see, this sofa is checked.....and, it has flowers on it!  Not exactly what he would pick, given the choice!

The sofa as she appeared in Mom's house....
But, in the end, the sofa came to our house.......

And the old sofa went away.  I was trying to store it for one of the boys to use in the future.  But, when we carried it over to put it in a spare room at my Dad's place, it simply would not fit through the doorway.  Rather than try to rent a storage unit to house this one piece of well-used furniture, we ended up taking it over to the local Salvation Army thrift store and saying adios.  It hurt, but only for a moment.....because that thing looked pretty ratty when we got it out in the daylight!

Here is the "new" sofa in our living room.  (It's cloudy and rainy today, so no beautifully backlit window in the photo - and the walls are not really that mustard color......really, they're not!) 

In her new home......our place!
But, I'm liking it so far.  I have something new in mind for the simple black panels that currently hang at the windows in this room.  And, I have already made some other changes around the room to accommodate the "lighter" feel to this piece of furniture.  Hopefully, over the next few days, I can pull it all together and have a cohesive feeling room!

Bear with me and I will share the results of the mini-redesign as soon as it is finished!  And I will be able to share our Autumn decor that I've been working on getting out at the same time.  I'm making progress, people!  Woohoo!!!

Stay tuned.....






Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Mexican Lasagna - My Way!!!

There has been a change in the air the last few days....and it's not just been my allergies telling me so!  

(They are finally better, thanks to the big shot I got last week, though.)  

Actually, it's felt a little more like Fall around here and the cooler temps and new slant to the sun are a welcome change.  Yes, indeed!  In fact, the change of season made me want to get in the kitchen and cook up a meal!

(Yeah, I know....you don't hear that much from me......)

I "pinned" a recipe for Mexican Lasagna a few days ago and have been itching to give it a whirl.  This evening was Show Time.

The "pin" led me HERE, to "Sugar & Spice by Celeste", a blog where I am sure I will be prowling around plenty in the future.  I took the basic recipe and did a little tweaking on my own, as you will see from my notes. 
 

So, from the top, here is how I prepared this dish: 

MEXICAN LASAGNA.....

Sauce:
  • 1 onion, peeled and chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1 small can of diced green chiles
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste (and we like a lot!)
  • 1/2 tsp. Mrs. Dash original seasoning
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro stalks
  • 2 (14-ounce) cans "Mexican Style" diced tomatoes, plus about 1 cup water to rinse out empty cans
  • 1 tablespoon ketchup 
  • 1 lb. of 80/20 ground beef

In a large skillet, brown the ground beef, onion, bell pepper, seasonings and can of green chiles.  Let this simmer until meat is brown and veggies are soft.  Add the two cans of diced tomatoes, the water and ketchup.  Allow this to simmer about another 10 minutes while you prepare the Filling.
 
Filling: 
  • 2 15-ounce cans black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 3-1/4 cup super sweet corn (I used frozen, 1 small bag, thawed)
  • 2-1/2 cups grated cheese (I used two bags of pre-grated cheese - one colby-jack blend and one cheddar - for a total of 4 cups; reserve the remaining 1-1/2 cup for topping.)
Mix these three ingredients and set aside to layer.
 
Instead of pasta, you will be using soft flour tortillas - I used about 9 soft taco size tortillas. 

In a 9x13-inch Pyrex baking dish, just assemble like a regular lasagna......

Small amount of SAUCE in spread in bottom of pan
Layer of TORTILLAS, torn and placed to make a fairly solid surface
Layer of FILLING, then SAUCE, then more TORTILLAS....
Layer of FILLING,  then SAUCE, then more TORTILLAS.....
Layer of FILLING, then SAUCE, then more TORTILLAS.....
and finally - last little bit of SAUCE.
Top with more grated CHEESE (I had about 1-1/2 cups left to go on top) 
 
(I admit, this was a little hard to eye-ball the amount to use in each layer, but it's not an exact science; just adjust as you go along!)

Place in preheated 400 degree oven, on a covered cookie sheet, in case of drips.  (Mine did not bubble over!)  Bake for about 40 minutes, until nice and bubbly.   
 
**I placed an inverted disposable aluminum cake pan over the dish after about the first 10 minutes to keep the cheese on top from overbrowning and drying out.  This worked like a charm!**

Remove from oven (carefully, this weighs about a ton!) and allow to stand for 10-15 minutes before slicing and serving.  
 
The original recipe called for an Avocado Salsa that sounds really yummy, but I was trying to keep this simple and the dish was very tasty without the salsa - plenty of flavors going on!  It served up beautifully.   
 
 
Also, check out the original post for some great tips for making this dish ahead, freezing and reheating.  
 
The recipe does make a lot - we will get another full meal and probably a couple of individual lunches out of it!
 
So, there you have it.  An easy, delicious dinner that is pretty quick to fix, makes plenty and is truly yummy!   My tummy is still feeling pretty full and it's been hours since we ate.....
 
Until next time, hugs!!!
 
Janie 
 





 
 

Thursday, September 6, 2012

The Big Question - "How Does It Feel???"

As part of an advertising campaign, I have had a billboard up for the last four months.  It's a "rotating" billboard, meaning that the location changes around town on a monthly basis, giving me greater exposure in different areas. 


I've had a lot of people ask me, "So, how does it feel to see yourself on a billboard?"

Well, a couple of words come to mind in response.....

Overwhelming - I mean, gosh!  It's so BIG and VISIBLE!  The first time I drive by and see myself in a new location, I just about have to pull over so I don't have a wreck.....

Intimidating - Again, it's so BIG and VISIBLE!  I worry about my how I appear; does it really look like me?  Do I LOOK like that?!?!?  When someone meets me in person, will they think I look the same???

Our marketing director worked very closely with a local photographer to create a series of photos that truly represent each of us agents and tie in with the overall advertising flavor of the company's campaign.  In other words, NO glamour shots, please!  Very little refinishing or touch-up was done in order to make the photos accurately depict each individual. 

I've had people come up to me and recognize me from the billboards.  It's a very odd feeling, but it does create a "warm" opportunity for me to visit with them about real estate and pass along my card.  On the flip side, it makes me very conscious of my appearance (and think twice!) before I run out for quick errands without fixing my hair or face! 

Trying to get established in the industry when there are over 200 licensed agents in town is truly a challenge.  And I felt that this form of advertising would help me get "the biggest bang for my buck".  It does open doors and present chances to visit with new people about my services. 

But, it still feels a little weird every time I look up and see myself larger than life!   It was definitely a step out of my "comfort zone".  But, at the same time, it gives me a little boost of self confidence.  So, all and all, I am glad that I decided to participate in the campaign. 

Wishing you a happy tomorrow.....

Janie









Wednesday, September 5, 2012

The "Down Side" to My Favorite Time of Year.....

I love Autumn!  Despite the triple-digit temps we've been having, I know it is just around the corner.  Crisp mornings, a new slant to the sun, changing leaves....it's coming!!!  Our Starbucks is supposed to start serving Pumpkin Spice Latte tomorrow and I am giddy with excitement over that!

But, with the change in seasons comes a change in my body.  It's called "allergies" and if you suffer from them, as I do, then you know what I mean. 

I'm not sure exactly which type of pollen is the biggest culprit for me right now, but I've been miserable for over a week now.  My eyes are red, puffy and I simply want to claw them out of my head!  Speaking of my head, it pounds and my sinuses overflow when the sneezing starts.

After trying various antihistamine eyedrops, taking Claritin daily and fortifying that with a shot of Benadryl at night, I surrender....

No relief.....none, whatsoever......

I phoned the doctor's office this morning and made an appointment - something I should have done a week ago!  I couldn't get in today, but I grabbed the first available appointment tomorrow. 

I'm praying that he gives me one of those "magic shots" (you know, the one chocked full of steroids or something like that!) to make the itching go away.  Less than 24 hours to wait for some relief, but it seems like an eternity!

As a child, I underwent the traditional allergy testing back in the 60's.  It was quite the ordeal and it turned out I was allergic to just about "everything"!  I took weekly allergy injections for years - another ordeal, since my mother had to learn to give me those injections and it wasn't pleasant for either one of us.  But, over time, it seemed I outgrew the worst of those allergies.

Now, they are back with a vengeance!!!  My primary care physician in Pampa did more allergy testing and suggested that perhaps I was from another planet, considering all the things I reacted to.  He tried to get me to go back on weekly injections.  I resisted.  But, right now, I would gladly get back on the shot routine to get some relief.  

How about you?  I'm hoping someone has some wonderful suggestion about something "over the counter", some homeopathic treatment that has been successful for them.  Seriously, I am ready to try anything at this point.  If you told me that standing on my head for 10 minutes a day would make it go away, I would DO IT!!!

I have one more appointment at the office to get through this afternoon.  Then I plan on coming home, putting a cool cloth over my eyes, taking some Benadryl and trying to sleep through til tomorrow's appointment! 

Hoping to resurface tomorrow.....

Janie 





Monday, September 3, 2012

Labor Day Weekend - Wrap-up

Just catching my breath after a this 3-day weekend!  Honestly, it's not that we were working really hard or got to cross several items off the "to do" list......it just felt busy and full. 

I really enjoyed Eddie being off on Saturday and Sunday.  He worked in the yard on Saturday morning, while I cleaned house.  Then we headed out to the grocery store, with a quick stop at Hastings to rent some movies for much-needed down time over the weekend.  Let me tell you, we needed the down time after HEB.  First of the month, Saturday of a holiday weekend.....need I say more?!?!?  It was total chaos and both of us were experiencing frayed nerves by the time we finished at the check out and navigated our way out of the parking lot.....

Sunday evening had been set aside for the family to get together over here and celebrate Sam's 21st birthday, a few days early.  So, I baked a cake and prepared homemade potato salad.  Quite an undertaking for me!  Ed smoked ribs and sausage out on the grill and we threw in some baked beans to round out the menu.  But, our time together with Mom, Dad, all the kids and the grandkids was totally worth the effort. We ate well, laughed a lot and the evening was a total success!


Today has been a slow day, thankfully.  Yes, I drug out a file and did some work from home.  But, it was "creative" work - designing a brochure for a new listing - so, it was challenging and enjoyable.  Finished up a few loads of laundry that were still hanging around.  Researched several state park facilities in the Hill Country and made reservations for a long weekend get-away later this month.  And finally gave myself a real "pedicure".  (Well, it ain't like going to the salon, but it still felt pretty good to get fresh-looking feet and toes!)

Revlon's "Velvet Rope" on the toes this week....

 As for the movies we ended up watching this weekend.....

"Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy" - This was Ed's choice; rather brutal and dry, typical spy movie.  It required my full attention to follow the plot, so I will just say it was "okay".











 

"Joyful Noise" - with Queen Latifah and Dolly Parton.  I really wanted to like this one, but it was....bad, boring, every cliche in the book made it into this movie....














"Act of Valor" - Another Eddie pick, but I enjoyed it, too.  Very exciting and extremely moving.  Real Navy Seals, so the acting is a little wooden - hey, these guys are real-life heroes, not actors!












 
"Bernie" - Starring Jack Black, Shirley MacLaine and Matthew McConaughey - Perhaps one of the more notorious alums from my dear old high school, Bernie Tiede.  Dark, but very funny.  And if you've ever been in a small town in East Texas, well, you will get the townfolk.  Should this guy have gotten life in prison for shooting Mrs. Nugent and stuffing her in the freezer???  Well, you watch and be the judge.....




However you spent your time over the long weekend, tomorrow it's back to the usual.  Hope you have a blessed week!

Hugs,

Janie



Capturing a Magical Light

After several gray days of frigid temperatures, along with a bit of ice and a flurry or two of snow, the sun shone brilliantly on New Year&...