Vintage Wondrous Wreath

I’m on a vintage kick now since The Paper Players Challenge got me wound up last week (when I made this card that Claire kindly picked as her “Cut Above” – thanks Claire! 🙂 )

It’s been a busy week, so I was excited to wake up on my own at 4:30am on Thursday to get an hour or so in for stamping and crafting before starting the day.

(I know – very strange – but it is that  [er ahem] ‘vintage’ here-she-goes-again phase of life where I am waking every night around 3 or 4am and often can’t get back to sleep…. )
You know – like everything else these days – I blame it on the meh eh eh eh eh menopause (sung to the tune of “Blame it on the Alcohol”).

Wondrous Wreath Hello Doily PP221 jlm

This week is a Color Challenge (PP221)  at The Paper Players to use Cherry Cobbler, Very Vanilla, and Mossy Meadow to create any type of card.  Well the colors lead perfectly into Christmas, and Christmas leads perfectly into Vintage, and Vintage leads perfect into Hello Doily (again) and Stampin Up’s Wondrous Wreath!  I also discovered that Just Add Ink has a Texture Challenge (JAI#240), so I thought I would play along with that too since my card certainly has a lot of “texture” to it with embossing, die cut, brad, bow, and layers.  🙂


With some Pinterest inspiration I discovered from Maggie Patterson @ I Love Papercrafts, I created this version:

Wondrous Wreath Hello Doily PP221 jlm 2

For my stampin’ friends:  To make this card, I started with SU Very Vanilla for the Card Base, then added SU Typeset Specialty Designer Series Paper (DSP) framed in black and sponged on the edges to vintage up, along with curling up a bit.  The wreath and bow are stamped with Mossy Meadow and Cherry Cobbler on Very Vanilla also, then die cut out.  The doily was done by stamping SU Hello Doily with Versa Mark on vellum paper, then sprinkled with white embossing powder and heat embossed.  I fussy-cut it out – a bit tedious, but love the results.  I also sponged with brown around the edges of this faux doily to vintage it up (as well as every other piece on this card). The banner and Joy sentiment were done with the SU Under the Tree Specialty DSP.  Topped it all off with an Antique Brad and linen thread bow, and Voila – another Christmas card ready for someone special – because I kinda love this one…. especially considering it was done on one cup of coffee and even before the sun came up 🙂 .

Wondrous Wreath Hello Doily PP221 jlm

Have a wonderful Friday and weekend!

Cheers & Hugs,




Breaking News: Snow on Mars

Mars, PA that is…

Remember how I posted the gorgeous 70 degree F day on Tuesday (two short days ago)??

Today, Mikey and I headed out for a short lunch time walk, and look what is happening!!

THE WHITE STUFF!  And it is 36 degrees F.  I actually had to put a coat on for the first time.

snow 1

snow 4

snow 2

snow 5

snow 3

jjojoSo – ok – it wasn’t like a blizzard or anything (in fact it had just started, and I had to try pretty hard to find objects with enough snow on to get a photograph :).  Remember it was 70 degrees two days ago… 

But the first snow – no matter how much – is always kind of exciting…  like a right of passage to the holiday season…

In faaaccctttt…….  I think I might start playing the Christmas tunes…

(That always causes all kinds of trouble around here with my grinches  guys – tee hee hee!)


Ask me in February – or maybe even January – how I feel about the snow, and I imagine it will be a whole different story!  But from now until New Year’s, I love it.

Cheers & Hugs,



Perfect Pot Roast

I always thought I made a decent pot roast.

Throw a frozen chuck roast in a crock pot or enamel roaster pan, add an envelope of Lipton onion soup, onions, carrots, water….

Not bad….

But then……. (drum roll please)…… I discovered Ree Drummond (aka The Pioneer Woman)’s Perfect Pot Roast recipe.

(Trumpets Sound and Angels Sing)

No turning back after you try this!

perfect pot roast

I forgot to take some nice pictures of the finished product (BAD BLOGGER Jodi!!!!), but hopefully these will begin to get your mouth watering.

And since when did Chuck Roast become such a premium price cut of beef?!!???!!!  It used to be CHEAP, but then I think people discovered the wonderful marbling and bits chunks of fat actually create A-M-A-Z-I-N-G flavor!

perfect pot roast 2

Here is the recipe I will use forever and ever from this day forward – love without end, amen.

You are going to LOVE it!

Perfect Pot Roast (original recipe from Ree Drumond, Pioneer Woman)

  • 1 4-5 lb. Chuck Roast
  • 2-4 Tbsp. Olive Oil
  • 3-4 cloves of fresh chopped garlic (I added this because garlic always makes it better!)
  • 2 Onions
  • 6-8 carrots
  • Salt & Pepper
  • 1 cup Red Wine (this is what MAKES it! – though Ree says you can use beef stock if you prefer)
  • 2-3 Cups Beef Stock (I used beef bouillon dissolved in water to make the “stock”)
  • 3 sprigs Fresh Thyme, coarsely chopped
  • 3 sprigs Fresh Rosemary, coarsely chopped (oh my obsession with fresh Rosemary! – this is #2 item that TOTALLY makes it!)

Generously salt and pepper your chuck roast.

Heat a large pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat.  Add olive oil.

When the oil is hot, add the chopped garlic and quartered onions.  Brown nicely, then remove to a plate.  Do the same with carrots, adding additional olive oil as needed.

Place the meat in the pan and sear it for about a minute on all sides until it is nice and brown all over. Remove to a plate.

With the burner on high, deglaze the pan with the red wine – scraping the bottom with a whisk to get all of that wonderful flavor up.

When the bottom of the pan is sufficiently deglazed, place the roast back into the pan and add enough beef stock to cover the meat halfway (about 2 to 3 cups). Add in the onion and the carrots, as well as 3 or 4 sprigs of fresh rosemary and about 3 sprigs of fresh thyme.

Cover and roast in a 275F oven for 3-4 hours.


Cheers & Hugs,


Homemade Spiced Pear Liqueur

Spiced Pear Liquer

Have you seen Chef Mimi’s Blog?  Oh My My!   Talk about mouth-watering photos and unbelievably talented cooking skills!

When I saw a post where Chef Mimi shared this recipe for Spiced Pear Liqueur, I had to try it.

I have never tried making anything like this before (with the exception of the ever-popular and classic Apple Pie Moonshine 🙂 that didn’t turn out too shabby!), so I am excited to see how it goes and what other wonderful libations I may want to try concocting…

Here is the recipe as Chef Mimi shares:

Spiced Pear Liqueur

1/2 cup sugar
Small handful whole cloves
Small handful whole allspice (I did not have allspice, so did not use)
2 cinnamon sticks
1 ripe pear, I used red D’anjou
Few pieces of orange peel
Vodka, approximately 3 cups

Place the sugar, cloves, allspice and cinnamon sticks in a large, clean bottling jar with a lid. Slice up the pear, avoiding the core, and place wedges into the jar. Add the orange peel.

Pour vodka until it reaches the top. I used approximately 3 cups. Shake well until the sugar dissolves. Then store away for 4-6 weeks.

spiced pear liquer 2

I love all the wonderful colors and aromas of the ingredients that went into this, and after almost a week, it has achieved this beautiful amber color below.

Can’t wait to try taste-testing in a few more weeks!

spiced pear liquer 3

Spiced Pear Cheers & Warm Hugs,



Walk with My Camera


pittsburgh 11112014

Pittsburgh, PA 11/11/14

Yesterday – NOVEMBER 11, 2014 – it hit 70 Degrees F (SEVENTY DEGREES!) here in Pittsburgh, PA!  That is simply unheard of, and surely broke some kind of weather record.

But, alas, today it is dropping, dropping, dropping and currently 39 and continuing down.

Not that this is meant to be a weather report – really!!!  blah blah blah. But still – YOWSERS – it sure made an already great day even that much more glorious!

I was downtown on business, and was OH SO LUCKY to have the opportunity to have a spare half hour to just walk down along the river front of our beautiful city of bridges and take a few photographs.

As I angled my camera to capture the bridge, the water, a few of the building across the way and the beautiful blue skyline, I noticed the homeless man sleeping on the sun-warmed dock.

It made me pause – – –  so grateful for this beautiful day – – – for him.

Cheers & Hugs,



All the Light We Cannot See

all the light we cannot see

This past weekend, our “Best Book Club Ever” got together to discuss “All the Light We Cannot See” by Anthony Doerr.  This is one of the best books I’ve read in quite some time.

And in honor of  Veteran’s Day today, I thought it befitting to share a bit about a beautifully written tale revolving around a subject so deplorable as war….  World War II in particular…. one of the darkest periods in our history.  Yet one that needs discussed….  and one I came to a deeper understanding of through this novel.

Our book club, which consists of 26 men and women, gave this book an average rating of 8.5 out of 10, which is one of the best ratings this eclectic group of ages and backgrounds has given a book.

Though you can certainly read a good summary of this Best Book of the Month on Amazon,  I thought I would help spread the word because I feel so passionately about this book.

The thing I especially loved,  for maybe the first time in reading a book I have to say – or at least in a long time, is the true beauty of the writing.

Doerr has a magical way of heightening our senses through the most gorgeous metaphors.  Maybe I am more aware now that I am trying to write a bit more myself, but this is a book that I didn’t want to rush through to finish as I often do because I am typically reading a book for the story – not the writing.

But this book was one I wanted to absorb into my pores.

I savored each word in each sentence.

The descriptive similes the author used, such as expressing the passing of time in a number of heartbeats, gave me a deeper appreciation for the most simple things in life.

It’s no wonder it took Doerr TEN YEARS to write this book!  When you create statements like this:

“And is it so hard to believe that souls might also travel those paths?  That her father and Etienne and Madame Manec and the German boy named Werner Pfenning might harry the sky in flocks, like egrets, like terns, like starlings?  That great shuttles of souls might fly about, faded but audible if you listen closely enough?  They flow above the chimneys, ride the sidewalks, slip through your jacket and shirt and breastbone and lungs, and pass out through the other side, the air a library and the record of every life lived, every sentence spoken, every word transmitted still reverberating within it.”

Are you gasping and sighing as I am even though I have read this many times?

It is such a good thing that Doerr created such short “chapters” that allow us the time to breathe and sigh and let the words sink in and absorb them into our souls.

Though confused a bit at first at how each “chapter” alternates between the tale of a blind French girl and a young German soldier during World War II, it slowly

and methodically

and heartbreakingly beautifully

comes together as the story goes on.

I loved the way Doerr heightened my own senses by expressing the most minute of details one becomes aware of when losing our sense of sight.

If you are a a reader, I hope you will consider this story that illuminates the ways, against all odds, people try to be good to one another.

And while we are on “the subject” of Veterans and Veteran’s Day, thank you to all of those that have served and are currently serving in our armed forces, and thank you to those whose lives we’ve lost in their pursuit of our freedom.

Cheers & Hugs,



Lake Erie Wine Country 2014 Harvest Celebration

wine tour 1

After a Friday evening with the gang of “The Best Book Club Ever,” Marty and I got to join some of our favorite fun peeps for a Lake Erie Wine Country Harvest Celebration in New York.

wine tour 11

It was a crisp Fall day,

wine tour 2

but we couldn’t have felt warmer bopping around from winery to winery, tasting and sipping with this gang of folks we love dearly.

wine tour 10

We managed to visit 8 or 9 wineries between noon and 5 pm.

wine tour 3

Each winery – some quite simple  – others more elaboate – had their own individual style, appeal, taste, smell, and “feel.”

wine tour 5

Each one also served a lovely food pairing along with 4 or 5 samples of their best wines.

We ate everything from lasagna soup at our first stop at Liberty Vineyards and Winery to sliced tenderloin on garlic crostini with roasted red pepper aioli at our last stop at Presque Isle Wine Cellars.

wine tour 6

We learned about grape varietals and the fermentation process.

wine tour 7

Packaging sure sells – eh?  These bottles made me think of our dear Jake Henderson, who will be shipping off to the Navy soon.  We are so thrilled to get to have him here for Thanksgiving this year.

wine tour 8

Marty sure had a good time.  He loves spending time with this gang as much as I do.  We are so blessed to have Joyce and Rob, Kathleen and Jack, and Laurie and Ed in our lives.  We have learned and experienced so much from sharing time with this group of retired school teachers experiencing life to its fullest.

wine tour 9

Each winery had it’s own personality, as did their wines.

wine tour 15

My favorite wine of all was at 21 Brinx Winery, where we bought several bottles of the 2012 Noiret.

wine tour 16

But I couldn’t resist getting some photos of the wines names after our dear Ella 🙂

wine tour 17

Marty fell in love with Ports and bought several from different wineries.

wine tour 18

The absolute BEST hospitality and our favorite “snack” of chicken and biscuits was at Willow Creek Winery.  You know the old adage: “You can’t judge a book by it’s cover?”  Well – it sure rang true here.  Marty bought an entire case of assorted reds, whites and Port here, and the people were the sweetest, kindest, and most generous of all.  Keep up the great work Willow Creek!

wine tour 12

Until next time – –

Cheers & Hugs,


Rosemary Roasted Cashews

roasted rosemary cashews

I am completely OBSESSED these days with fresh rosemary!

I’ve been adding it to sourdough pretzels, potatoes,  butternut squash, pot roast (My PERFECT Post Roast Recipe coming soon!), chicken, veggies.

I am utterly addicted to the smell – it reminds me of Christmas and winter and Bombay Gin 🙂 , the taste – so earthy and woodsy, the PUNCH – it completely kicks up any recipe it is added to!

rosemary obsession

So when looking for a different snack to take and share at “The Best Book Club Ever,” I came across this recipe, and had to try.

O M G is all I can say!  Served warm, these will ROCK your WORLD!

roasted rosemary cashews 3

Here is the recipe I found on the Food Network’s website from Ina Garten.


Rosemary Roasted Cashews (original recipe can be found on Food Network’s website from Ina Garten)

1 1/4 lbs cashews
2 Tbsp coarsely chopped fresh rosemary
1/2 tsp ground cayenne pepper
2 tsp brown sugar
2 tsp coarse kosher salt
1 1/2 Tbsp melted butter

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Place cashews on ungreased baking sheet (I used a stone bar pan) and roast for 10 mins.

While the cashews are warmly roasting in the oven, combine the rosemary, cayenne pepper, brown sugar, and salt.

When you remove the cashews from the oven, drizzle with the melted butter and toss to coat thoroughly.

Then sprinkle with spice mixture, and toss again to coat thoroughly.

Serve warm.

Go Crazy!  I dare you to eat just one!

(If you for some reason I would not be able to understand, are not a cashew fan, I’ll bet this would work great with pecans, peanuts, brazil nuts, hazelnuts, or whatever you fancy!)

roasted rosemary cashews 2

Cheers & Nutty Hugs,