thank you! and does anyone need a coat?

hello everyone.

i'm halfway through my thank you's to the wonderful and kind birthday wishes you've all sent me.  it truly is overwhelming just how thoughtful you all are.  
yesterday i put that post up and went to hollywood for the day and by the time i got back home, i had 68 comments wishing me a happy birthday.  i read through each one with grateful tears in my eyes - you know the kind.
what a beautiful end to a beautiful day.
so i thank you from the bottom of my heart.

now on to this coat...

i'm not going to lie, if you live in southern california it is just too warm.
it is lined with thinsulate and i didn't think it would make that big of a difference but wow, i was wrong.
it's made for a colder climate.
it's a new, beautiful j. crew peacoat in a pretty radio red color.

so i'm selling it on ebay and if you know someone who would be interested in it, i think it is a fabulous coat to own - in a colder climate.

thanks again for all your wonderful birthday wishes.



to new traditions...

well christmas is over and the year is almost over too.

our weather is just beautiful right now.
a perfect combination of chill and sunshine.

i've been thinking a lot about our christmas traditions...mostly how they need to change.
i think i've been hanging on to the Way Things Used to Be.
you know my kids aren't little anymore.
if any of you out there reading have children that are adults and live on their own and have been for awhile maybe you'll understand what i'm talking about.

my sons all have very full and interesting lives - separate from me.  
and that's the way it should be (in my eyes.)
whatever your situation is with your adult children, i totally respect that.
but me always trying to create the perfect day and reinvent new ways of presenting things, isn't working for me any longer.
all the shopping, cooking, cleaning, planning, more shopping, eh, i'm over it.

i'm thinking that it's time for a change holiday-wise for us.
i'm thinking a nice get-together at thanksgiving with everyone and then i'm thinking christmas may involve just the 2 of us and a mexican beach.
just thinking out loud here, no one panic!

so here i am ending a years worth of posts in this old outfit that i love.
i turn 55 tomorrow, what are you doing?

thank you a million x 10 for all your support throughout the year.  this blog is nothing w/o you.
really, it's true.

peace, love and happiness to you all.



homemade kahlua

i just realized i misspelled the word kahlua

i wish i had posted this a little earlier but i just learned to make it yesterday.
additionally, a pretty decanter would make a beautiful presentation and gift.
as it is this is what i have so this is what you see.

homemade kahlua is so ridiculously good and easy to make i just had to share it.
if you are a coffee drinking, sugar loving drinker you may even have the ingredients on hand.
maybe a last minute gift?


4 1/2 cup sugar
5 cup water
1 cup instant coffee granules (i used decaf)
5 oz vanilla extract
5 cups vodka

in a large saucepan bring the water and sugar to a boil
add 1 cup instant coffee, stir and let cool to room temperature
add the vanilla extract and vodka, stir and enjoy.

how are you guys doing out there?


christmas twenty twelve

ok so here we are 4 days til christmas.  my shopping is done and i just decorated the house.
i went to trader joes yesterday hoping to get some wreaths and poinsettias but they were all out.
imagine that.

thank you annie of the beautiful blog, most lovely things. for that darling little white dish up there.  so kind and thoughtful of you. xo

i decided to clip boxwood and stick it everywhere.

i hope you can bear to look at more pictures of these rooms.
i can't help it, they are all i've got to share with you.

while i was out shopping yesterday i happened to pop into my local salvation army and found these adorable saddle shoes.  it wasn't until i got home and put my glasses on that i saw they are ralph lauren polo.
merry christmas to me.

hope all is well with you lovely people and you are all in good health and spirits.

merry christmas everyone!  


comfort food - mushroom risotto

nothing says comfort more than risotto.  even the stirring that is required of the recipe is meditative.  this picture does not do this dish justice.  it is so creamy and yummy i could eat a batch of this all by myself.

mushroom risotto

1/2 c small dice onion
4 T earth balance margarine
1  pkg mushrooms (i use portobello or cremini) rough chop
1/2 cup white wine
1 cup arborio rice
1/2 teaspoon saffron threads (if you have it)
approximately 4 cups of vegetable stock

in a heavy stockpot...

saute onions and mushrooms for about 10 minutes
add arborio rice and make sure the rice is coated with the melted margarine
add white wine and saffron, continue to cook for another 5 minutes
add a cup of heated vegetable stock and stir
allow the stock to be absorbed by the rice mixture - don't allow mixture to dry completely out.
slowly continue to stir and add vegetable stock a ladle full at a time until the rice is fully cooked - approx 30 minutes
when rice is soft and most of the liquid has been absorbed, it is done.
garnish with nutritional yeast and cracked black pepper
best eaten curled up on the sofa with someone you love.




like most of the world i am just speechless these days.  i just can't get into the christmas spirit now matter how hard i try.  so i'm not going to force it.  instead i'm just going to be quiet.  i've gathered a few posts that you may want to read if you are new here or maybe want to read again.  take care and hug someone you love.  xo janet

christmas last year

my own story on clutter and finances

a small wardrobe

thrifting tips

my $5 closet makeover

why i am vegan

6 steps to beautiful skin


the $1 hostess gift

you must know by now that i'm quite frugal.  that is a lot different from being cheap though.
in my eyes frugal is careful and cheap is stingy.

i'd like to think that the gift i'm giving this year to my neighbors is a nice gift.
it takes a little time but the end result is quite lovely.

who wouldn't love a freshly baked loaf of bread?

wrapped in a 50 cent ikea tea towel makes it the perfect holiday hostess gift.
coming in at a whopping $1 you could even add a jar of jam or a bottle of wine.

and if you don't bake you could purchase an artisan loaf of bread from your favorite bakery and wrap it in a tea towel and it is still a brilliant but affordable gift.

anyway that's what i'm doing this year.
what about you?  

ps - oh my gosh, thank you all for your wonderful tips and advice and general commiserating about having the blues this time of year.  just writing about it made me feel better.
as i always say, this blog is nothing without you.
much love,



she's got the blues

i do and i don't think it is unusual for this time of year though so i'm not gonna be all hard on myself.

i got these pants at target back in august with the intention of taking them to new york but never did.
i kept them b/c they fit and they remind me of the 60's.

i'm wearing them with a backwards cardi.  

i'm including this close-up picture b/c apparently some of you want to see my wrinkles.
i've earned and love every one of them.

so are you all happy and everything or do you get blue around this time of year too.


autumn days

i know it is december and i should be thinking about christmas but it's hard to when i'm surrounded by all these leaves and autumn colors.
maybe next week i'll start thinking about christmas.

have a beautiful weekend.


peas and carrots

yikes this soup is beautiful and what an antioxidant powerhouse.
who doesn't need that right now?

i personally love peas and carrots - but it wasn't always that way.   when i was little, i'd be the one sitting at the table long after everyone else had been excused, pushing those peas and carrots around my plate trying to make them disappear.  but i guess the fact that i love them now means i've finally grown up?

i made my favorite carrot cappuccino soup and took the cappuccino part out.
that is, i did not put it through a sieve after it was done.   i left it thick so it could stand up to the peas.
after the soup was finished i just ladled about a 1/2 cup of freshly cooked peas into each bowl.  
those peas deliver 8 grams of protein per cup.
it's almost too pretty to eat.

carrot cappuccino soup
recipe by rick tramanto of tru restaurant

1 lb sliced carrots
1 celery rib fine dice
1/2 med onion fine dice
1 1/2 Tablespoon grated fresh ginger
2 oranges juiced
3-4 c vegetable stock
salt and pepper to taste

sweat carrots, celery and onion. add vegetable stock and ginger. bring to simmer, add oj and cook until carrots are tender. puree in batches until smooth, pass through fine strainer, season to taste.
note: as you pass the puree through the strainer, use the back of a ladle or spoon to really press the liquid through.
i left that last part out and left the soup thick but by all means try it pressed through - it. is. amazing.

eating your peas and carrots never tasted so good.

***to anyone who reads in the UK, if you can get your hands on the december issue of Esquire magazine,
i'd pay for it and the shipping if you could send me one.  Jack White is on the cover.***

thanks so much!!!


homemade bread, a simple pleasure

yesterday was one of those gray damp days that called for all day pajamas and homemade bread.

i make this bread a minimum of once a week and i'd like you to try it too.
not only will you save a ton of money at the grocery store (it costs about 50 cents to make) but there is just something decadent about eating homemade bread every day.

i've shared the recipe with you before and you can see it right here
but i've cut a bunch of the steps out and it comes out perfect every single time.

so here is what i do...

late in the afternoon, usually between 2pm and 4pm in a medium sized mixing bowl i add...

3 cups of flour.  i usually mix white, wheat and spelt in equal parts.
1/4 teaspoon yeast
1 1/2 teaspoon salt

i pour in...
1 5/8th cup water (which is roughly 1 3/4 cup water)

and with a big spoon mix it up and then use my hands to mix it a little bit more

i cover it with another bowl inverted style and let it be for a minimum of 12 hrs but up to 18 is ok too.

when i get up the next morning i punch the dough down about 3 or 4 times and let it sit for another hour or so.
1/2 hr before it's ready to be baked i heat my dutch oven to 450 degrees.

when the dutch oven comes out i sprinkle a small amount of flour on the bottom and then put the bread dough in, cover it and bake it for about 45 minutes.

 then i just pop it out and it's ready.

it's so easy.

this has to be one of life's simplest but most luxurious pleasures.



getting my ralph lauren groove on...

if you have been reading my blog for awhile then you know how much i love ralph lauren.
you can read about this love affair here and here.
i think when fall hits i find myself inspired by him even more.
so things are looking pretty rl around here.
if you can stand it, here is a little pictoral tribute to the man.

boots, sweater, scarf all thrifted ralph lauren
except the sunglasses, they cost more than the house.  

the road leading up to my house.

wishing you a lovely saturday.
i apparently can't stop posting.


a good day to change

today i wrap up world vegan month.

for those of you who have been toying with the idea of a vegan diet,
i really, really hope you were able to see that being vegan is really, really easy.
that's 4 really's in once sentence so it must be true.

if i inspired one person to become vegan then it was worth it
(let me know if i did or if this helped.)
because that alone would save over 200 animals a year from death.
two hundred.
just think if 2 of you changed your diets to vegan, or 3 or 4 and so on...
and then maybe you inspired a friend or family member.

just think of that kindness multiplied in the world by you!

thank you all for reading and inspiring me to keep going.



potato soup & portion size

i had the potato rosemary soup last night.
you can find the super easy recipe here

a lot of you have been asking about portion size.
i don't really know what to say about that.
i eat what i eat.
i don't feel my portions are so small.
sometimes i have seconds and sometimes i don't.

but here is the key for me...

i have slowed my eating way down.
i remember one of my culinary teachers telling me that american's don't know how to eat,
that we eat too fast.  in school we made an 8 course dinner once and the biggest complaint we got was that it took too long between courses.  i think we tend to wolf our food down.
so i've purposefully slowed down and that allows my eyes and my stomach to catch up with each other.  i put my fork down between bites and i sip water in between bites.
eating really becomes so much more pleasurable when you take the time to really enjoy each bite.
mind you, not every meal i eat is eaten this way.
but i try to.

next, we use smaller 8" dinner plates.  i've talked about this before somewhere but i also think that is key.
my plate looks super full as opposed to looking skimpy.
the look of abundance makes me, i don't know if i can even finish all of this.
haha, but i always do.:)

i also eat a salad on the side or before the entree.

does this help?


one more day.


chili with a secret weapon

i learned this secret weapon trick with chili a long time ago in culinary school.

i don't care what kind of chili you make, if you add a can of condensed tomato soup it will make your chili better.
  i swear.

anderson's makes a vegan version that i use.

so here is how i make mine.

i saute some onion and bell peppers in a tiny bit of water or oil until they are soft and then add
2 15 oz cans of any combination of beans you want.
i usually use black and navy beans.
then i add a cup or 2 of whatever vegetables i want or need to use up.
i usually add some frozen corn for color
a 15 oz can of cut tomatoes
about 2 big T of chili powder
if you want it hot add some red pepper flakes or cayenne
salt and pepper and
a can of tomato soup

heat it through for about a 1/2 hour and serve.
the next day it is even better.
i use it in tacos, potato scrambles, you name it.

i usually place a flour tortilla in a bowl and scoop the chili in it and garnish with avocado 
but i obv did neither yesterday.

2 more days.
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