Monday, December 24, 2012

Taste of the Holidays

Mine is a family full of Foodies... and good old fashioned "Eaters".  During the holidays, we are blessed that the food is plentiful, family is all around, and our dining traditions are firmly in place.

In no particular order, here are some of my favorite holiday "Foodie" memories...

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies
Potato Latkes
Home made Chex Mix
Red Jello Salad
Brisket with Onions and Carrots
Angel Food Cake with Cool Whip piled on top
Honey Baked Ham
Oven-baked French Toast
Triple Chocolate Cookies dipped in Hot Chocolate with Marshmellows
Made-to-order Omlets
Hot Crab Dip
Green Beans with Almonds - the soggy frozen kind
Mom's Famous Hockey Pucks - also knows as burnt dinner rolls
Bacon from the 4-H Auction
Matzo Ball Soup
Leftover Ham Sandwiches with Miracle Whip on White Bread
Cheesy Potatoes

Whatever holiday you celebrate, may your bellies be full, your spirits high, and your loved ones near.  

Happy holidays!  xo jj
Welcome to  -  Joanna Jenkins
Photo Credit: © Ruth Black -

Monday, December 17, 2012

Win, Win, Win

It's all good news today, ladies and gentlemen-- In fact, my news is so good that I swear angels are singing.  As 2012-- the year that kicked me to the curb repeatedly, winds to a close, you won't hear me moaning about burglars or large mice or the seeming endless drama of late.  Nope, today it's all good news.  Everybody wins!

For starters, the lovely Lilly of Lily's Life is the winner of my Christmas ornament giveaway courtesy of Attila the Mom and Highland Roses Design Studio.  Please check out both blogs and the ornament shopping site-- These ladies truly are awesome longtime bloggers with great writing and a strong sense of community in Blogland.

Second, I'm sitting up a little straighter in my chair today with a big goofy grin on my face.  Out of the blue, I received a very nice surprise from the Huffington Post.  No, I'm not finally showing my face in the photo below, but my little blog was one of seven blogs they like for post 50 women!  I'm ignoring the fact that HuffPost/50 solidifies my age as clearly not 40-something anymore but this recognition kinda makes being almost 55 okay. 

What I especially like about the HuffPost/50 mention is that the sidebar next to my blog screenshot (not shown in the above photo) says "Joanna Jenkins muses about life, friends and family, and also offers a nice list of other awesome blogs." That means many, many of you, my dear blog friends, are also included in this recognition and that makes me very happy.

I have absolutely no idea why or how my blog was selected but I'm pretty sure it's because of word of mouth from YOU and for that I am deeply grateful.  Thank you, thank you, thank you.

The other thing I like about this HuffPost/50's list of blogs is that they ask for comments with YOUR suggestions for other blogs.  So please--  CLICK HERE for the full feature, and if applicable, add YOUR blog to the list so the Huffington Posts knows about you.  Tell them Joanna sent you.

And while you're there, pretty please click the LIKE button for my blog and/or leave a commet.  (Hold your curser over my screenshot for the sidebar box and the LIKE button appears.  Or scroll all the way down to get to the comment section.)   Thanks a million!

How many blog do you usually read/follow?
Welcome to  -  Joanna Jenkins
Photo Credit: © Fotowerk - and Huffington Post

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Lights Please

Lately, my "to-do" list seems never ending with each new day bringing one more "to-do" to the party.

It all started in late October when a burglar (or two) spent time in our home turning the place upside down in search of, what I'm assuming they thought-- based on the ransacked mess, was buried treasure.  Every stitch of clothing and personal items in our bedroom were thrown about in such a mess that I'm STILL sorting, cleaning and washing trying to get their disgusting sweaty palms off our stuff.

Along the way I've learned a lot, and I've become a little too freaked out about the whole thing...

-Take photos of ALL your possessions and your entire home, room by room, closet by closet-- Literally, use your fancy cell phone camera and start taking pictures.  Gawd forbid you ever need them, but if you do, you'll be glad you did.

-Then make time to take "good" photos of your most cherished items (like jewelry?).  Place them on a solid colored surface so they show up well and take photos at different angles and with a ruler in the shot so the size is noted.

-Make a note of the serial numbers for anything that has them-- like your computer, and keep copies in few different places not just on your computer.

-And, turn on the outside lights, at least at your front door, at night.  The police said to turn the radio on when I leave the house during the day too.  The more you do the greater the chance burglars will go elsewhere.

I'm all about lights these days.  All.  About.  LIGHTS!

Yes, I now have 6 sets of exterior floodlight-- 2 lights per set-- 120 watts per bulb.  They automatically turn on from dusk til dawn with a 50 watt light.  Not huge but enough to "glow".  But, if a leaf falls, a hummingbird passes by or a car drives down the street, the yard is lit up like a maximum security prison.  I love it!

At night when we watch TV, we can see three sets of the lights though the windows-- front yard and two on the side yard.  All night long it's as if a child were flicking the light switches on and off, on and off, on and off, every three minutes.  I've never gotten such a workout because every time the light comes on I'm up and checking out the windows.  I can only imagine what our electric bill will be and, um, how long the senor lights last before husband unscrews the bulbs.

In other news..

The "mouse" and by "mouse" I mean it's much larger and significantly uglier "cousin" who took up residence in our master bathroom days before a big dinner party is now history.  He was as unwelcome as the burglars and cost me...

-4 trips to the hardware store, each time getting bigger, and bigger, and bigger traps to catch him
-1 trip to the grocery for more apples-- which seemed to be our "guests" food of choic
-1 trip to garage for a shovel to scoop up the "guest" (trap attached) 24 hours before dinner party
-20 minutes to get the nerve to actually go near the deceased "guest" with shovel
-5 hours of scrubbing the "mouse motel" from top to bottom.

The fund-raiser dinner party was certainly the highlight of the last several weeks and thank gawd the "mouse" was gone well before any guests arrived.  Husband and I agreed that this was probably the nicest gathering of people we've ever had at out home.   (No offense to family and friends.) Of course we didn't know a single person but by the end of the evening, we'd made many new friends.  It was really a treat.

And the best news of all-- You can still enter my giveaway for one of these beautiful ornaments.  Just leave a comment below and you're entered!  Easy peasy.  For more chances to enter CLICK HERE!  Giveaway ends at midnight PT, December 15th. 

Is your house "lit up" for the holidays?
Welcome to  -  Joanna Jenkins  
Photo Credit: © VRD -

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Signs of the Times

Between shopping, schlepping, wrapping and way too much eating, a few holiday reminders crossed my path and made me smile this week.

Happy Hanukkah!

These guys were painted by various artists and positioned around our local mall....

And whatever you do...

Happy Holidays!
Welcome to  -  Joanna Jenkins
Leave a comment below to enter my Christmas Giveaway for one of these gorgeous ornaments.  And for more chances to enter (like blogging about it too!) CLICK HERE.   Giveaway courtesy of Highland Roses Design Collaborative Craft Studio

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Big Joy

That big sigh of relief you heard yesterday was from me-- Because ALL of my Christmas shopping was finished-- Ahead of schedule--  With my sanity intact! 

But my Christmas spirit got lost somewhere between the salesperson at Macy's telling me that she "didn't get paid to show me" where the coffee markers were located, and the customer service Grinch at Bloomingdale's calling a shopper a bitch because the lady asked too many questions!  Ahh, Christmas.  Bah humbug.

Every year I vow to make a shorter gift list and to shop more online.  And I thought I had too, but with the mountain of shopping bags filled with stuff I can't even remember anymore, clearly I missed that boat.  My feet hurt, my back ached and my wallet was a bit lighter despite my best efforts to play the department store coupons and discounts-before-1pm game at the mall. (I yiyi, what a waste of time that was!)

In short, yesterday when the deed was finished-- I.  Was.  Tired.  And I still had a holiday party to go to last night!  A party that I had been looking forward to with friends that gather each holiday.  I should have known better than you shop and try to party all in the same day but, oh well, tired or not, I was committed to go.  So I pulled it together, put on some lipstick, and dragged my exhausted self, in crazy Los Angeles rush hour traffic, to my friend's house with the promise of Christmas cheer and lots of joy. 

And I'm so happy I did.  As soon as I pulled up to the front of my friends' beautifully decorated home, I could see the joy-- BIG JOY-- shining through my dazed and worn out haze.  It made me happy-- Happy for my friends and their kids, happy to enjoy a lovely dinner, happy to laugh til we cried, and happy to "just be".

I must have looked more tired than usual when I arrived to the party because one of the kids went to work on a beautiful picture to remind me that "Cristmas" was the best holiday ever.  And by the end of the evening, there was no doubt in my mind, Christmas is pretty great, despite the occasional bah humbug feelings.

How are the holidays going for you?
Welcome to  -  Joanna Jenkins

It's not to late--  Leave a comment below to enter my Christmas Giveaway.
And for more chances to enter (like blogging about it too!) CLICK HERE.  
Giveaway courtesy of Highland Roses Design Collaborative Craft Studio, a privately-funded project that provides individuals who live with disabilities and/or mental illnesses as well as their family caregivers an opportunity to step towards independence through the sale of our own arts and crafts creations. They accept no grants or government funding, and are working to become self-sustaining through our own endeavors. 
Every step of this undertaking is a collaborative effort---from design to creation. Each distinctive ornament is produced by several sets of hands---all working together to create something special!  For more info or to place an order CLICK HERE.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Uninvited Guest & GIVEAWAY

Thursday night our house will be jammed packed for a fund-raiser supporting a charity close to our hearts.  And I mean jammed packed!

The food will be plentiful, wine will flow, and if everyone shows up that have RSVP'd, it will be standing room only... Which is not exactly what I'd planned.  Of course when invitations were mailed, we were hopeful all would attend but the reality is our house isn't that big... And, this is a fund-raiser, on a week night, and the odds of 100% participation are usually slim to none. 

Call me one lucky (or crazy) girl but I have my fingers crossed that a big turnout means a lot of much need funds will be raised. uninvited dinner guest has already arrived-- Two days early!  And he (gawd, I'm praying it's a HE) is very hungry.

Bright and early Tuesday morning, my husband called me into the kitchen with a tone of voice usually reserved for big scary spiders that he wants me to deal with.  I padded in still blurry-eyed, expecting to remove the creepy crawling bugger, but instead he asked if I'd recently eaten an apple-- Which I definitely had not.

Upon closer examination, I realized, based on the teeth marks, that we had a good sized mouse (please gawd, not a rat) hanging out in our kitchen.

Damn it!

Several traps smeared with peanut butter were immediately set-- Traps leftover from a mouse scare about this time last year.  There were no mice then, but there is no doubt at least one mouse is definitely in our house now!  (Please, please, please gawd, just one!)

But the traps in the kitchen did not work and last night as were were getting ready for bed, mouse poop greeted us on our bathroom sink.  At that point I was totally creeped out and there was absolutely no way I was sleeping in our adjacent bedroom. 

About the time my husband rolled his eyes at me for the third time arguing that we did not have to sleep upstairs in the guest room, the little black mouse, now fattened up by all the apples he's eaten in the last 36 hours, ran across the room and back into the bathroom.  To say that got my husband's attention is an understatement.

We slammed the doors closed, ran for the traps in the kitchen, reset them in the bathroom-- now that our critter was captive, and banged around so the mouse would stay under the vanity until we were out of the bathroom.  We slept peacefully in the guest room sure we'd have a fat mouse in one of the many traps in the morning.

We did not.  No mouse, but all traps were snapped closed and peanut butter foot prints were everywhere. 

Today my dear, fearless friend has arrived to take matters into her own hands.  As I type this post, she's locked in the bedroom in search of the mouse.  She's talking to the rodent in a nice sweet voice as she digs through my closet, under my sink, and through the vanity.  I can hear her taking the bed linens off, and working methodically through the rooms.  Every now and then she shouts her progress to me on the opposite side of the door-- Lots of poop, everywhere.  I can't believe she's doing this.  What a great friend.

My fingers and toes are all crossed that she's successful, at which point I will be eternally grateful and in her debt for the rest of my life.  If, by chance, the fat pain in my behind has left the bedroom and moved to other parts of the house, I'm prepared with all of this...

The party is tomorrow night.  If we are not successful I can just imagine-- The buffet table fulled with tri-tip sliders, grilled salmon, numerous side dishes, and the big, fat, black mouse racing from dish to dish on the buffet thinking he's hit the mother load of food, and not caring one bit about the 40+ people gasping in shock.  That outta motivate people to reach for their checkbooks, don't you think? 

Oh.  My.  Gawd!  These traps better work-- Fast.

Any advice?
Welcome to
Photo credit: © cienpiesnf -

 Don't forget to enter my GIVEAWAY to win one of these gorgeous ornaments!  Leave a comment on this post to enter.  And CLICK HERE for Giveaway details and another chance to win!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Christmas Ornament Giveaway!

Now that Thanksgiving is over and I'm well past my turkey coma, I don't mind the endless Christmas music on the radio anymore-- I'm actually enjoying it!  But what I'm not enjoying is the battle for a parking space at my local mall.  Ahh, this the season.

Thank heaven for blogger extraordinaire, Attila The Mom, and her crew of very talented folks who make the gorgeous fabric ornaments shown above.  Those beauties are all hand made and so beautiful that I own several of them already-- And I never had to leave the comfort of home to get them.  Isn't online shopping great?

Some of you may recall that Attila provided one of these gems as a giveaway for me last year, and now I'm totally in the Christmas spirit because she's offering another one this year!

What makes these ornaments so special and why I'm happy to participate in this giveaway is because of the significance of how these ornaments and the company, Highland Roses Design, came to be.  It all started with Attila's family... 

Highland Roses Design Collaborative Craft Studio is a privately-funded project that provides individuals who live with disabilities and/or mental illnesses as well as their family caregivers an opportunity to step towards independence through the sale of our own arts and crafts creations. They accept no grants or government funding, and are working to become self-sustaining through our own endeavors.

Every step of this undertaking is a collaborative effort---from design to creation. Each distinctive ornament is produced by several sets of hands---all working together to create something special!  For more info or to place an order CLICK HERE. 

I can't tell you how blown away I was when I received my first ornament from this hardworking group of crafters.  They are beautiful-- Not just the ornaments, but the hands and hearts that made them.  Here's YOUR chance to own one too. 
 Christmas Ornament Giveaway!  
 Choose from one of the three ornaments pictured as your prize. 

All you have to do to enter is leave a comment on THIS POST and/or on and or all of my new my posts between now and midnight PT, December 15, 2012.  The more you comment, the more chances you have to win.

And, if you want to be a super elf and help spread the word-- Just blog about the giveaway and/or Highland Roses Design's ornaments, linking to THIS POST, and you'll get THREE MORE chances to win.

Easy peasy.

Giveaway available to everyone, everywhere in the world, as long as you have a blog and I can email you for your address.  I'll notify the winner on December 16th.  

So come-- Get in the Christmas spirit and enter to win!
Welcome to  -  Joanna Jenkins

Monday, November 19, 2012

Thanksgiving Comes First

As I sit watching TV with a half eaten bag of Halloween candy, I am reminded, despite the barrage of Christmas commercials and the numerous news reports of people camped out in from of retailers for days to get "early bird" specials on Black Friday, that Thanksgiving Comes First.

And really, it should-- Thanksgiving coming first, that is-- Especially since it's early this year-- November 22nd.  To that end, I'm focusing on the things I am thankful for while I ignore the non-stop Christmas music on the easy listening radio stations and the endless stream of Christmas commercializing from retailers on the TV that started well before Halloween.  And I'm making a point of NOT Chri$tma$ $hopping before Thanksgiving to put my money where my mouth is, so to speak.

Instead, in the 22 days leading up to Thanksgiving I am focusing on the many things I am thankful for...

1.  Chocolate.  Because just one bite helps minimize angst, exhaustion and anxiety.

2.  Lumpy turkey gravy.  It immediately reminds me of my late great-grandmother who made the best ever.

Dad, Mom, Granny and me - circa 1964-ish.
3.  Holding hands when my Ohio family says grace before a meal-- even if we're in a restaurant.  Stopping everything everyone is doing to hold hands and give thanks for the day and the meal we are about to share brings tears to my eyes.

4.  My grandparents-- The ones who always welcomed me with open arms and unconditional love.  My first Thanksgiving memories were at the kids' table in their crowded kitchen-- warm from all the cooking and so many people crammed into the small room that the windows "steamed up".

5.  Cool whip.  'Nuff said.

6.  Jello, because it's not Thanksgiving without it.

7.  Friends.  True friends.  Mine are few but priceless.

8.  100 watt light bulbs-- A lot of them, and having them turned on-- All.  The.  Time.  These days I'm still a little spooked because of these idiots so I'm lighting things up day and night to remind myself how thankful I am to have a home, even if it is all glass.

9.  Prayers for my loved ones in need.  Knowing that on a daily basis, loving and generous people I have never met, pray-- by name, for the well-being of people I care about is absolutely humbling and deeply appreciated.

10. My sewing machine and the ability to use my arthritic hands well enough to make this quilt for Middle Sister as a house warming present...

11. A whole week of school vacation for Thanksgiving-- Godson (now in high school) and I have big plans.  And to say that I am thankful that I'm still cool enough for him to hang out with is an understatement.

12. The old cemetery in my hometown.  It's a beautiful place where my dad and his side of the family are all buried.  Rain, shine, blazing heat or brutal winters-- it makes no difference. It's the place to go to be surrounded by love and peace.

13.  I give thanks for breakfast.  Second only to Thanksgiving dinner, it's hands down, my favorite meal.

14.  Flannel pajamas and warm fuzzy socks.

Mom and her dog, Noah.
 15.  I'm thankful for strong female role models growing up.  I had more than my share-- starting with my mother.

16.  All twelve of my nieces and nephews.  They full my heart with joy.

17.  My brother-- The one to call in case of an emergency.  He's rock solid, gives great advice, never judges, and loves with his whole heart.

My siblings and I - circa 1966-ish.
18.  My three sisters--  I can bare my soul to all of them and vice-a-versa.  We are blessed to have each other.

19.  Monopoly-- the game, because it's brought multiple generations of my family together after Thanksgiving dinner for more years than I can count.

20.  I am very thankful for my husband, the love of my life.

21.  My husband.  Because it's worth repeating.

22.  Grandma Lee's Nude Apple Pie.  It was a family favorite dessert, although it was a cake, not a pie and, it was "naked" because there was no frosting.  Gram kept the "recipe" on a 3" X 5" index card covered with spattered ingredients from decades of use.  The thing is though, that the recipe lists all the ingredients but not the quantities.  And her "secret" ingredient that made the cake so darn delicious was never written down.  No matter how hard we've tried, my sisters and I have never been able to come even remotely close to duplicating her cake.  But, the memory of Grandma Lee's cake is still vivid in our minds, especially at Thanksgiving.  And for that reason alone, I don't want to rush past Thanksgiving-- I want to linger in the memories and the joy it brings.

Thanks to Suldog, a terrific blogger and writer, for always reminding us that Thanksgiving Comes FirstCheck it out HERE.  

Happy Thanksgiving.  xo jj
Welcome to  -  Joanna Jenkins

Sunday, November 18, 2012

A Really Good Wife

Husband is a UCLA football fan-- Big time!

For the past several years, his team has taken a beating from its cross-town rival USC.

UCLA has a pretty good football team this year (for a change).

We have 50 yard line seats at the Rose Bowl which does NOT have a roof.

It was pouring rain on game day/Saturday.

Pouring.  Rain.

This wife drove her UCLA alumni husband to the Rose Bowl and stood in the rain for 4 long hours.

UCLA won!  (Thank gawd.)

Should there ever be any doubt, this wife has photographic proof of what a reallllly good wife she is.

'Nuff said.

How's your Sunday?

For more Sundays In My City CLICK HERE.
Welcome to  -  Joanna Jenkins

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

People Who Live In Glass Houses

Around this time last year, I put on a happy face trying to make light of a scary situation-- Burglaries in my neighborhood, in THIS POST.  At that point in time, 15 house had suffered "smash and grab" robberies and I was pretty freaked out about it.  So, for peace of mind, I wore and literally carried around with me my most cherished jewelry and possessions for SEVEN months.

I did my due diligence as well to ensure our home was as safe as possible, and I talked with my security alarm company, the Homeowners Association, our Councilman's office, the police Watch Commander and all of my neighbors.  In short-- I was obsessed about making sure robberies in my 'hood did not happen again.

But they did happen, despite our living in a "safe neighborhood".  One house after another was robbed with the same actions--  Smash a back door or window for entry, grab as much loot as time allows, then run to the corner and get picked up by a waiting vehicle.  Despite so many people's best efforts the "robbery ring" continued. 

Friday it was our turn.

Very shortly after I turned our alarm on and left our home, our glass back door was broken-- the exterior door leading to our bedroom-- the 1/4 inch, super thick, glass door we had to take advantage of the beautiful view from our yard...

...was shattered to smithereens leaving our home wide open to robbers.  And rob they did.

The bedroom was methodically ransacked until they found the "mother load of loot" then it appears, they decided to leave the bedroom to explore other areas of our home.  That's when our so called "state of the art" motion sensor burglar system kicked in and the alarm blasted them right back out the broken bedroom door to disappear into the infamous LA traffic.

Our bedroom door.  Gulp.   The one place we thought we were the absolute safest in our home turned out to be the most vulnerable.  If the robbers had actually opened the door an alarm would have sounded but glass isn't "alarmable" and so they removed it.

Days later the sick feeling in my stomach is still very present.  The bedroom door is still boarded up awaiting the replacement glass and is a stark reminder of the destruction and angst caused by a very organized and skillful group of @#$%&! gang members.

I have since learned of newer, more modern "shatter detectors" for glass and, since the entire back of our home is floor to ceiling windows, they will be promptly installed.  Once again, I have made the rounds through our neighborhood distributing information and literally begging homeowners to use their alarm system (the other two houses robbed the same day did not have their alarms on).

Our alarm company representative has been to our home to review our system for recommendations on how best to "arm" our home (short of a gun which I do not want).  And I just spent an hour with the police fingerprint officer-- his black and white police car parked in front of our home brought a momentary calmness to my racing mind.

I see the horrible destruction caused by Hurricane Sandy on the television and know that millions of people are in a much, much worse place.  I'm ashamed to be so upset over a situation that clearly is minor in the scheme of things.  But still, sleep is hard to come by and I am shaken to my core.

Tonight I will be the Halloween Scrooge and not pass out candy-- The thought of opening my door to strangers is too frightening.  And, the knowledge that neighbors will ask if I heard about the burglaries means explaining I not only heard but I SAW--  I love Halloween but my yard full of decorations have been removed and the front of our house will be dark.  The window-filled back of my house will, however, be lite up like a Christmas tree so there is no doubt we are home.

My sweet husband will hold down the fort here, and tomorrow I'm running away from home-- to my first home-- in Ohio.  I.  Want.  My.  Mommy!  Soon I will be eating the worst homemade meatloaf you ever tasted but it will be my Mother's meatloaf.  As odd as it may sound, I find great comfort in that. 

Stay safe, my friends.  xo jj

Monday, October 22, 2012

Vodka, Please


For nearly four years I've been hanging out in Blogland and met, through their writing, photography and artwork, some pretty amazing folks.  I never dreamed how meaningful these connections would become and I'm blessed to call so many of you friends.

I'm guessing you also know VodkaMom-- She's pretty much a legend in these parts and she has a heart of gold.  VM blogs about life and her amazing first graders.  Over the years, she's left me snorting orange juice up my nose, turning blue from laughing so hard, and on occasion, crying a river from her stories.

Today VodkaMom had hip replacement surgery!  (You can hear about how this come to be HERE.)

I yiyi!!!!  That cannot be fun and I'm hoping you'll help me cheer her on. 

Please stop by HERE and wish VodkaMom well.  And, if you don't know her already-- scroll around her blog and read a little-- or a lot.  You'll be glad you did.

Thanks a million.

Welcome to  -  Joanna Jenkins