Plaza del Angel in MexicoWell, it had to happen sometime. I’m late with the post. First time in almost two years, but I have a good excuse. I embarked on a cleaning-out-all-drawers-and closets rampage, all inspired by a necklace Dave bought me at the Plaza del Angel Antique Market in Mexico City, which you see only a small part of above. Think Marche aux Puces in Paris only in Mexico City and in Spanish.

Anyway, the necklace is so perfect, goes with everything I own, can be worn on any occasion with jeans or a . . .

Jane's House, for MeditationThey say, those good folks who are studying the science of happiness, that you can actually increase your own happiness by taking a few simple steps.

In brief, here they are.

Savor moments of each day. Don’t emphasize the importance of material things. Take the initiative. Have a goal. Value . . .

Snow Falling on TreesI’ve had a bit of writer’s block — too much to write about, not too little — so I’m a bit late putting this up. This past week, I would be all set to write about one thing that was going on around here when something else would snag my attention, and off I’d head in that direction.

Today, since I was down to the wire, I just decided I’d go with whatever thought I seemed to light upon the moment I sat down at the computer.

Here’s how that went . . .

Coffee cup in hand, I clicked on the San Francisco Chronicle first to get the weather report. We are longing for rain, snow, mist, fog, anything at all resembling precipitation. We’re in the midst of a strong La Nina out here, which means cold and dry. Boy, is it . . .

Jane's Christmas Tree
My daughter and son-in-law are arriving tomorrow for Christmas.

I’ve got trees in all the rooms, and everything is merry and bright!

When I saw how this picture turned out, I realized this was a perfect place for a family Christmas recipe, so here’s my little gift for you, dear readers. I think I might have married Dave just to get my mitts on these cookies!

Grandma Winnie’s Christmas Sandies


2 sticks of butter . . .

Jane's Stone FireplacePioneer Woman has what she calls her lodge — a place where she cooks and entertains — and so do I. Okay, so compared to PW’s lodge mine is more of a lodge-ette.

Most of the time (and when we don’t have guests), this place is sports central for Dave and his buds. Every Tuesday morning, you’ll find me vacuuming up the cloud of popcorn and chips left on the floor. What can I say?

However . . . once a year I gussy this place up and give a girls’ luncheon for some of my Sierra Mountain sisters.

I’ve spent the better part of a week decorating both houses, so consequently, no new chapters up. Sorry. ( See New Year’s Resolutions come January 1.)

I love the fireplace in my “lodge-ette.” It’s made . . .

Lightbulb, the CalfThe other news is we have a new female calf named Lightbulb. Here’s a kind of blurry picture, but you’ll understand the name.

Anyway, about halfway up the hill I heard a meowing sound. It was Dudley the cat, following me on my walk. He wanted me to wait up for him.

It takes over an hour to walk around a little loop road we’ve carved out for ourselves. The road goes through a meadow, up a hill to a grove of blue oaks, down a path covered with buckeye, past a hill of ceanothus and bay laurel near the pond. There are lots of hiding places for bobcats and coyotes, and Dave even saw a mountain lion once, sitting on a rock cleaning his face with his paws.

I don’t really like Dudley to follow me this far because of all the wild critters, but I wasn’t turning back now. I figured I could . . .

Spain, I’m told by people who know these things, is the new Tuscany.

I loved For Whom the Bell Tolls and have a soft spot in my heart for those brave folks in the Abraham Lincoln Brigade, the ones who tried to stop Hitler before he could destroy Europe. And who doesn’t love Casablanca?

So when Goodreads e-mailed me about this hot, new, word-of-mouth novel by Maria Duenas called The Time In Between, which is set in Spain and Morocco during the Spanish Civil War, I had to read it.

BTW if you are a book junkie, and you don’t live anywhere near Vroman’s, or Book Passage, Powells or Elliot Bay Books, get on the Goodreads site. Since I live up here in the sticks far from any . . .

Thanksgiving scene, smallHere’s a great recipe for a Thanksgiving hors d’oeuvres from two wonderful southern cooks. These Cheese Straws taste just like my mother’s.

Recipe: Cheese Straws
1 2/3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/4 teaspoons dry mustard
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 pound extra-sharp Cheddar cheese, coarsely grated (2 1/2 cups)
1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 tablespoons water
Sift the flour, mustard, salt and cayenne into a medium bowl. Using an electric mixer, beat the cheese and butter on low speed until well blended. Gradually beat in the flour until completely . . .

Two cows in the fieldTo add to my learning curve up here, Big Mac has a cyst on his face — dryland distemper — it’s called. My neighbor came over to diagnose it, said she had a horse that had it last month, that it’s common in these parts this time of year, and that no large animal vet will come up here to take care of cattle. And adios.

So along with learning that you can tell a heifer newborn calf from a bull calf by the direction it pees (down on the ground if it’s male . . .

Candlelit DinnerHere in the Sierras, the heat of the summer is gone, and the autumn light has that Indian Summer tinge to it, clear and lovely. But still, the days are getting shorter and the work lists longer.

Dave and I have all the produce in the garden to finish harvesting and fallen leaves to rake. Plus, I have to add a a few more edited chapters of Palace of the Blue Butterfly to my blog. In anticipation of winter meals, I just ordered The Beekman 1802 Heirloom Cookbook — full of recipes from The Fabulous Beekman Boys farm. This broccoli soup looks like the perfect . . .