Friday, August 4, 2017

SLOW LIFE


Happy August (or is it already September?).  I feel like we simply can't be winding down this fast.  I actually have two clematis I haven't planted.  I'm not even worried about enjoying their pretty vines and flowers, I need to get them in the ground pronto before a frost shows up!  I didn't go crazy with potted plants this summer.  Just three along walls that surround our patio, like above, and a few here and there you can see from the beach.  I found these blue pots at Dollar General in town.  They were $3.00 each. You would never know they are plastic.  I love clay but it dries plants out so fast.   I'll use plastic pots that you mostly see from afar like I do faux flowers.    

I am still loving my bird feeders.  I had been seeing baby cardinals every day and then finally the father showed up in all of his bright red splendor.  Mama is probably at home sitting on more eggs, poor girl.  I adore the nuthatches.  They love the sunflower and pumpkin seeds.  They scurry up the trunk of the tree the feeders hangs from and bang the seed against the bark to break it.  Just so fun to watch.  I was at Lowe's yesterday and couldn't help but look at the wildlife area.  I decided to buy a suet feeder.  I'm excited to hang it.  I don't know a whole heck of a lot about them-I'm hoping I don't attract coyotes or raccoons.   I'll do some research but feel free to chime in on your experience with them.


These flowers were a gift from The Husband.  He surprised me yesterday afternoon by driving up from Chicago and  knocking on the door with this bouquet and the makings for a lobster and crab dinner, complete with salad fixings and a baguette.  He's such a sweetheart.  We really do miss each other but talk on the phone every evening and text throughout the day...even in the middle of the night if one of us can't sleep.  It's a different life from what we've known for thirty years but we are enjoying navigating and exploring independently.  I really and truly needed to learn to fall back on myself, worry and tend to my own needs instead of others, and devote my time when and where I wanted it.  I love that saying, "Don't just do something, sit there!"  I'm learning...finally.  




I had to cut back my climbing rose but I still have the little bit you see at the bottom.  Everything was neglected for two summers and I'm really surprised I have what I have.  The daisies are usually very lush and a few summers ago this bed was so crowded I thought I needed to divide them.  This is a vintage trellis I found at a barn sale somewhere around here long ago.  It's a beauty.  It's attached to our shed which I can see from every angle of the patio and yard, as well as from the Great room inside.  So c'mon roses, grow!



We have an abundance of mourning doves all around.  They love to make their nests in any sort of crevice they can.  I must have, at minimum, three right now that have come since an earlier clutch left. This little one was just below a nest on the walkway off my patio.  I think it was kicked out, and  a day or two later the nest was empty.  And this afternoon I happened to notice a new mama (or papa) sitting in a nest that belonged to robins two weeks ago.  Nests For Rent:  Call Blondie at 1-800-FOR-BIRDS.




Miss Madelyn had her first professional photo session and they were all taken outside in the early evening.  Each and every picture is a keeper.  She is always so happy and animated; she simply can't take a bad picture.  I have a new one on my sidebar if you noticed.  I also have some on my Instagram page, as well as a few videos.  I need to get some pics of the newer grandkids, they are cuties, too, and growing so fast.    



I wrote my last newspaper column with a focus on summertime appetizers.  Those which don't have to be hot or reheated.  Refreshing and easy to make.  My grocery store carries this mango guacamole at a high price for a small amount, yet it is ridiculously easy to make.  I fiddled with this and made a lot of changes, but the original photo is from Pinterest.

Fresh Mango Guacamole

4 avocados, pitted and peeled
1 lime, juiced
1 cup fresh or canned mango, diced
1/2 cup each: red pepper diced small, green onion and tomato
2 T chopped fresh cilantro
2 cloves minced garlic
S & P to taste.  

Mash the avocados in a large bowl leaving some chunky bits.  Add the remaining ingredients and fold gently to combine.  Chill at least one hour and serve with tortilla chip.  If not serving right away, keep the pit of one avocado in the mixture to keep it from discoloring.  Same for leftovers.  

*****

My reading habits are improving thanks to a loose schedule.  Gardening and doing not much of anything with coffee and pups in the morning, writing in the early afternoon, errands and more time outdoors late afternoon, reading in the early evening and before lights out in bed.  Blogging is creeping in here and there and I hope many of you see that I'm popping in more.

I just read a great book called The Widower's Wife, by Cate Holahan.  It's a murder/suspense novel and had me hanging at the end of each chapter.  I couldn't have read it in one or two sittings if I had wanted to, so it was really exciting to open it up when I could.  I highly recommend it.  I think I found it at Target.  I have another suspense novel on the coffee table but I wanted a fun beach read (and maybe on the beach!), so I have an oldie by Mary Kay Andrews called Ladies Night.  One chapter in it sounds very light and funny.  

I'm up in the loft once it gets dark doing a little blogging while switching back and forth on the TV from CNN to MSNBC to Bravo.  Ha!  That's me...a paradox.  Hysteria is definitely a reoccurring theme, though.

The weather has been hot and humid a lot since I came up about ten days ago but it usually cools off by early evening and then the dogs and I like to have a little time on the patio with the sun setting in the west.  They are so relaxed here.  Maybe it's the fresh country air or the slow life, I'm not sure.  We have a routine that is so dependable for them that I think they need and want in their older years.  Maybe me, too. 

Some of my neighbors were here this past week on vacations and it was fun to see and talk to people which usually doesn't happen except weekends.  And this week was our County Fair.  I have such warm memories of The Husband and I taking the kids, watching the rodeo clowns and eating Elephant Ears.  I once had an entry in the cooking contest and came in 2nd Place.  I made Chicken Divan, which one of the judges couldn't pronounce.  The 1st place prize went to a sweet lady for her apple pie.  A very valuable lesson...do your best and don't try to impress.    

I finished up my front porch this week with seat cushions, pillows, and some candles and such for the little coffee table.  I have sort of a nautical red, white and blue theme going.  Today I picked up some plants to liven things up.  I'll get some snaps soon.  The Husband and I have agreed that the wisteria is really taking a toll on the house.  It's invasive and strong.  We are going to have to consult with an expert on how to remove it.  If I ever did it again it would be on something made of iron or brick.  Then again, the ivy at my Chicago home ate around windows into the house, as well as under the gutters through the roof.  Caution people...caution.

I'm off.  We've already had our seafood dinner now and that darn guy also brought mini Key Lime pies.  I'm going to have to get out for a good amount of exercise tomorrow.  After rain, gloom and temps in the low 60's today, tomorrow is supposed to be 80 and sunny.  Yay!  



See you all soon!

Jane xxx









Monday, July 24, 2017

SUMMER IN THE CITY (AND COUNTRY)


Here's my guy Milo, playing sentry.  He has been having so much fun at the lake just roaming around the property and every once in awhile, meeting a new furry friend.  The home next door is being rented to vacationers and he loves to wander over and visit.  The  problem is he usually leaves a little 'gift' and so I have to go over to clean up, introduce ourselves and apologize.  Our little Welcome Wagon.  Honestly though, we've met some very nice people.  

   

I went up to the lake a few days before the 4th of July and just came home this past Monday.  I think I would have stayed longer except I had a dental appointment, as well as my six month physical that I have to do for my asthma.  And of course, I get to have Miss Mad once a week when Emily works downtown.  The weather is so nice now, albeit hot and humid most of the time, but we get out for a long walk in the stroller or just some time in the backyard.  

During my days alone at the lake I try to get out every day.  I think of the movie Castaway, with Tom Hanks.  His plane crashes and he ends up on an uninhabited island for five years.  One of the most moving parts of the film is his relationship with a volley ball which has washed up on shore.  He paints a face on it and it became his friend and companion, Wilson.  So...I was alone in the cottage one day just doing my own thing, chatting with the dogs ("Don't tell me you have to go out again."  "No.  You just had a treat!").  And then it sort of hit me.  If I didn't have the dogs, I wouldn't utter a word for days on end.  And if Tom Hanks hadn't had Wilson, there would have been a good forty minutes of silence, and that wouldn't have made for a very good movie.  

I did get together with some friends one evening at my place, and now that lake people know I'm pretty much there all the time, I have friends stopping by.  It's all very slow, relaxing and peaceful.  



I've been coming across a few 'new to me' antique shops.  I went into a town one day to check out a shop I had been to years ago.  it had a new owner and was even better than before.  Everything was displayed very nicely and I lingered for a long time.  A great collection of ironstone, a lot of mismatched silver and silver-plate, interesting books and a whole section of garden paraphernalia.  I found the galvanized watering can there.  It's not a large place so the owner is particular about what she sells.  


I found these Beatrix Potter books, they are very small and have a copyright of 1946.  My heart melted when I saw them.  I have a lot of the Bunnykins china by Royal Doulton, and I can add these to the collection for the kids to fight over later.  I'm looking for the perfect brown velvet ribbon to tie these together with.  I have a vision of them looking perfect this way.

  

The projects never end.  We have this balcony off our bedroom but we rarely use it.  It has a view of the 'big lake', as opposed to the bay that you often see in my posts.  Do you know that the builder of our home made sure that you could see water out of every window in the house?  And it's true.  Someday I'll find a map that shows you exactly how we are situated.  

I needed something comfy-my goal was to have a place to recline, read the paper, sip coffee and enjoy the lake breeze.  I found these bamboo chairs with canvas on Hayneedle.  I believe they were in the area of $70.  A few days after they arrived (and they are top notch), I saw something very similar in a Ballard Design catalog for $180.   These are fine for me.  I love that they fold up for easy storage and that the canvas can be scrubbed, power washed...what ever you need.  In the background is a mosquito plant.  It smells somewhat like citronella and a friend of mine swears by them for deterring the varmints.  Several people asked about the pillow.  This was made by Maria Elena at Our Home Away From Home.  She has the most beautiful home in Texas and she is a sewing wizard!  I'm sure the balcony will continue to evolve...I'll keep you posted.



We had the pleasure of watching our granddog for awhile when these two (daughter Abby and Tom) attended Tom's brother's wedding.  Squall was great, he loves the water.  Thankfully, Layla is getting a bit more comfortable around him.  He's about seventy pounds to her ten.  

I had to laugh when Abby talked about Tom's speech (as Best Man) at the wedding.  He began with recounting some of the wonderful trips and vacations his brother and fiancee had gone on.  When his brother said they were going to have a 'Destination Wedding', everyone thought: warm, tropical, exotic.  "So here we are," Tom said in his address to the guests at the reception.  "Destination Wedding...Indiana!"



I also made sure I was home for my sister's 60th birthday party.  Held in the town where I grew up and no longer recognize, it was such a fun get together.  My sisters and I don't see each other enough.  It was fantastic to catch up.  I wish the pics of the family were sharable, but if you've ever tried to get six people together who are giggling, flipping their hair, joking with one another...well it's hard to find one good shot.  Just take it from me, it was a fun night. 

I did get a shot of me and my brother, John, who lives in southern Indiana.  We see each other about once a year although we need to make a point of doing it more.  You might remember his daughter's wedding down in Louisville three years ago.  He retired at sixty-five from teaching high school social studies.  It was a short retirement; he went back in the capacity of administration part time and is very happy.  Can you believe he'll be seventy in December?  It was so great seeing him as well as my sisters, nieces and nephews.  

  

I perused some of my appetizer recipes on Pinterest (click to get to my boards) for an article I was writing for the Indiana/Michigan newspaper.  I've been a Pinning fool lately...if only we cooked as much as we Pinned!  I'm focusing on appetizers.  Summer is such a great time for entertaining and going to parties.  And you can't go empty handed.  I had a few that did not require any cooking or reheating.  This one stood out.  A toasted baguette slathered with a ricotta cheese mixture, then topped with prosciutto and basil.  What a great way to use this creamy, subtlety flavored  cheese.  I can't wait to try it.

Heading back to the lake Wednesday where I will ensconce myself until August 12.  Remember me mentioning The Husband gave me a birthday present back in February for tickets to see Idina Menzel?  All of a sudden the date is here.  I have to book a hotel room and dinner reservations.  I want to shop til I drop!

Finally, thanks for all the good wishes on my promotion.  I am giddy with excitement and looking forward to some quiet time to start building up columns in a folder.  

Have a wonderful week and I will be back soon!

Jane x



Tuesday, July 11, 2017

MID SUMMER MADNESS: GOOD EATS, READS AND GENERAL DRIVEL


Hi!  Just me.   Still at the lake.  I'm just going to stop giving my location like a GPS...I've been here since the end of May but for maybe 2 weeks.  I'm loving it.  We are having rain almost all this coming week so I may get more writing and blogging going rather than wandering around outside like a weirdo.  It's just so much more quiet and secluded here than my home in the city.  It's a slow sort of life but I always keep busy or find things to do.  I have been a little reclusive, most days my only conversations are with the dogs, and even they are tired of me.  I invited some lake girlfriends over for hors d'oeuvres and cocktails tomorrow so maybe I'll take my hair out of its permanent ponytail and throw on something other than a T shirt for that.  :)

Our 4th of July was fun.  We had family and friends come up as early as the Friday before.  The lake has a fun party at the sandbar the Saturday before where you can anchor and play in the waist high water while singing and dancing along with a live band.  The fireworks show is that night and we go out on the boat to watch from the water...it's a spectacular show in the sky and on the water.  So it was a few good long days of playing on the beach, grilling food, and eating tons of fruit, chips and dips, and taking long boat rides.  We walked the baby and dogs and stayed up late in front of the bonfire.  It was really great.  When the last of the lake warriors left on Wednesday, I had the slow but steady job of cleaning up sand everywhere in the house, even in the sheets.  Egad.  It was quiet and peaceful once again so I rolled with it.  

  

Madelyn really is a waterbug.  Emily bought a little baby pool that she filled up with a little of the warm lake water and that little girl could sit in it all day.  We kept it down on the beach where we spend most of our time.  The little fashionista had a different red, white and blue dress for each of the five days.  I don't think Emily ever got out of the doll dressing days.  And as far as Madelyn sitting in a pool rather than the water, we spotted a muskrat cruising by and that was it for Emily.  They are sort of nasty looking.



I share so many pics from our little cove, I'll start to post more from right on the lake.  This is a happy group:  Abby's boyfriend Tom, and nieces Grace and Tricia.  Fun in the sun!



One of the best parts of being here almost full time is getting a lot of time to fix up spaces we never have time to do on weekends, as well as shopping for new pieces to replace what I've tossed or donated.  We have a foyer and it's never seen much because we never use the front door.  So I started thinking about it and searched for a bench that would fit.  I finally found one at Pier 1.  It is actually part of a dining room table and man, I'd love to have the table, too!  Pier 1 is gaining in popularity with many of us who like Pottery Barn.  I styled it with a chicken wire basket holding birch logs (our tree came down in a bad storm, sob.).  I got the B and window from Hobby Lobby and the pillow from an Etsy shop called With Lavender and Grace.  She has a ton of really cute handmade pillow covers at great prices.  And finally, the rusty windmill and wire rack...Emily noticed a small shop that recently opened in the next town that I apparently missed when driving by.  It is so cool and I spent over an hour talking to the owner.  They paint all sorts of furniture to sell and have decor ranging from shabby to farmhouse to industrial.  Most is made by local artisans and priced really well.  There are also candles and cards and bits and bobs~~~I'm actually fearful of going back!




This looks like a picture from a website but it's just a closeup of the rack on the wall.  I wanted something with hooks but this was even better.  It was fun add a few cute things to it.

I'm also working on the balcony off our bedroom.  The wisteria still needs to be trimmed and trained up to the slatted arbor roof and I've been looking for comfy chairs that are easy to store in the winter, as well as an outdoor rug.  Another area I have neglected.  I finally found what I needed at Amazon and I'll share when it all arrives.  It's the same story with the big front porch.  I lost my furniture cushions which were stored inside when we had the flood.  I'll be darned if I can't find the right sizes for this furniture.  I'll keep looking but I'm afraid the house looks a little haunted from the front.  We had wind damage off the lake to the storm door so it's barely hanging on, and so much is overgrown.  So much to do as always around here.  


I loved this oak tree so much that we had the patio built around it.  I have about four birdhouses in it, a feeder and a hanging plant suspended off a branch (only me).  The Husband says that if I hammer one more nail in the tree I'm going to kill it.  And then I happened to come upon these solar light mason jars.  They mimic mercury glass so when they light up at night they really sparkle.  

I have really turned into a little old bird lady.  My neighbor is helping me identify them.  I have one feeder on this tree (that I'm murdering with nails), and another on the maple on the other side, which I can see from the windows in the corner of the Great room when I'm sitting having my coffee.   I also found a sweet birdbath, so it's just a feathered friend paradise here.  Cardinal, finches, wrens, tit mouses, nut hatches, woodpeckers...and even robins and orioles stop by for the birdbath.  Occasionally I get a little chipmunk but it hasn't been a nuisance.  We have been having a lot of critter sightings; two deer just ambling down the street in morning, a gofer that tunneled into my rock garden, the muskrat I mentioned, a mink, our swans that had 8 'swanlings' this spring, and some of the most gigantic turtles sunning themselves on the beach.  I mean their shells are as large as trash can lids.  Just call me Blondie Doolittle.  :)



I love this time of evening.  Sometimes I can stand on the dock,  look up and the sky looks like a carpet of stars.  



Emily did several photo shoots with Madelyn and her five dresses.  I love this one.  The Husband planted daisies here one year and they bloom just in time for July 4th celebrations and throughout the rest of the summer.  I have vases of them all over the house.  



I've had a few health issue this past stay and it limited me in doing some of the outdoor work.  Nothing major.  A head and chest cold (or maybe a revisit from that nasty virus) had me feeling terrible and then spurred on the asthma so I couldn't get around like I normally do.  I also think I got bit by something as my left ankle and foot swelled up a few days ago and really had me concerned.  The Husband came up for the weekend and I asked for some help in the garden, which had been severely neglected over the two summers we weren't here.  Well, he worked his cute little buns off weeding and edging and he even dug up all the stones that made a path, power washed them, and laid them back down.  Love him.  I went to our little nursery/market in town today and this is my load.  They really lower the prices of perennials around this time and I have a lot of spaces to fill in.  I bought a ton of lavender, honeysuckle, phlox, Coreopsis, and Artemisia.  I can't tell you how sweet my car smelled as I drove home.  And now I have work ahead of me in between the rainstorms. 

So I continue to enjoy each slow day as it flows into the next.  It's amazing how much more calm I feel when I'm not pushing myself to get this done or that finished and above all, worrying about the obligations of taking care of other people.  I wanted to pass on an Instagram feed I came across which led me to the woman's You Tube videos.  Perhaps some of you ladies down in Texas know of her, Dominique Sachse.  She is a newscaster in Houston and she puts out weekly You Tube videos ranging from careers, raising children, fashion, decor, health and make up tutorials.  I'm just really loving watching these videos on my laptop in the evening.  She has such a great 'on camera' presence, and she comes across very knowledgeable, honest and caring.  The video that recently inspired me and had me nodding my head the whole time, is titled You Deserve More,  Reset, Reclaim Your Life.  Her words truly opened my eyes to how far I've come from raising children, to feeling a little lost, and then finally identifying my dreams and goals and making them happen.  I hope you have a look at this video (and I think you'll like many others she's posted), and if you leave your thoughts in the comment section, we can go further into a conversation in my next post.

****Note:  You may not get to the video with this link but do try to 'search' You Tube by typing in her name.

Finally, very briefly, here is a little more drivel before I go:


I got a promotion at the Chicago newspaper!  Yay!  It's weekly and I will go from writing one column a month to three!  I am so, so excited.  Of course it's daunting and I have to really get disciplined but I've been changing my writing time habits.  I get on a roll writing day after day and then saving several articles to submit when needed.  Wish me luck---I'll probably always have that fear of not keeping up but at least I've lost the fear of trying.

I had to break out of the habit of sitting in the evening on my laptop night after night, but I've never really watched television here.  Years ago The Husband and I would rent a movie every so often but otherwise, no.  I've been in a routine though and sometimes I'll dwell on problems and conflicts in my life, so for a diversion I actually cozied up on the couch in the loft with a quilt and the dogs and watched mindless TV  this past Sunday night.  It was fantastic!  A huge, guiltless Real Housewives/Hallmark Movie party!

My eating habits are still a little different.  I can pat myself on the back for being able to piece together a meal or snack with whatever is on hand and I've definitely been eating healthy foods.  It's just that since I'm not obligated to make dinner as I do for The Husband and I, I can sometimes get lazy and have cheese and crackers for dinner or a can of soup for breakfast.  Anyway, in keeping the carbs down I'm still sticking with eggs, low carb toasted bread with avocado, nuts, berries and whipped cream, and a few slices of cheese for a snack.  I have also made stir fry with beef or chicken and veggies, as it's quick and you get everything on one plate.  

Having time outside with the dogs is great exercise.  I take them for walks but when the asthma kicked in last week I had to slow it down.  With Milo really becoming more deaf by the day, when he wanders off the property I have my work cut out for me hunting him down as he can't hear me call.  I have to talk to my vet for some tips.  Abby picked up these little battery operated buttons that light up.  You put them on the dog's collar and you can then see your pup in the dark.  This helps but I really don't let them out much at night unless we are just relaxing on the patio.  Too many nocturnal animals in the woods that I don't want them to tangle with.

Reading.  Still plowing through A Certain Age by Beatriz Williams.  It's hard to get into but since I loved her last novel I keep pushing on.  Also picked up a Mary Kay Andrews paperback at the drugstore which I haven't opened, as well as one by Elin Hilderbrand, The Rumor.  I thought they would be fun and keep up with the summer beach vibe.  All the stores I'm used to, including Barnes And Noble, are several towns away so I'm sort of stuck with what I have here.  I also get very distracted by the birds flitting around or a boat drifting past, and totally lose my concentration, so not much reading gets done anyway.  

I hope all of you are having a great week.  I'll be by for some visits soon!  Enjoy our mid summer madness!

Jane x 



Friday, June 23, 2017

BEACH GIRL, BEACH DAYS & COWGIRLS



Hey Everyone!  I've not gone missing.  I have been spending time at our cottage and I am in such a good mindset as a result.  Maybe not so much a writing mindset...  I really and truly believe we all need to spend some honest and goodness time with ourselves.  I think I have a new best friend.  And what's more...I absolutely loved all of your comments on my last post. I woke up the morning after I wrote it; coffee in hand, birds chirping and was speechless. Some of you expressed your thoughts on your experiences raising your children, others the empty nest situation, whether it has happened or is looming.  And many of you ladies gave valuable insight into the whole realm of getting older and navigating a way through this new chapter.  I just loved the response.  Now~~~I have a secret.  It was a dark, rainy night...I couldn't wait to go to bed and watch the scary lightning and curtains whipping around the balcony doors.  So I finished up my column for the Chicago newspaper and hit publish.  Oops, that should have been Save.  Oh, yeah.  I use the same template for all of my writings.  It was there in the morning on my blog and since I had already started to receive comments, what's a girl to do?

  Note to self:  Maybe you ought to write more about what you think and feel as opposed to the everyday drivel of your life.  ;-)



I embrace each day at the lake.  The weather has been a little unpredictable but I just adjust my plans accordingly.  I've had a lot of time finishing up the guest bedrooms as far as wall art and little pieces that make it homey.  I've also been Swiffering my brains out.  The dark wood floor shows everything and it drives me nuts.  And I piddle and fuss.  Then I read or write.  Then I Swiffer again.  And so it goes.  

The weekend of Father's Day was a blast...my two youngest girls and their guys came, along with The Husband, of course, and wee little Madelyn had her first somewhat 'conscious' visit at the lake.  Her first time was at our sledding weekend in January, and as she was an infant, I'm pretty confident she will have no memories whatsoever.  



Look at this bathing suit!  She is a little Esther Williams.  And please note the matching headband.  She is a model baby, as in Emily dresses her in a new outfit everyday, sometimes two in one day, just like a supermodel with shorter legs.  Anyway, Mad loves water.  We filled a little baby pool with lake water, avoiding minnows and snapping turtles as best we could.  And since Emily had seen a muskrat the night before, she declared to anyone within earshot that the lake should be off limits for a minimum of 10 days. 



Of course you gotta love this little charmer, carrots all over her face and all.  But what I really want you to note is the high chair.  This was Abigail's when we moved to the lake 26 years ago.  She was 6 months old.  I'm going to try to dig out a picture and put them side to side.  And this little antiquey isn't just 26 years old, we found it at a church sale so who knows.  It's definitely a Jenny Lind, and The Husband painted it blue (I'm scratching my head over that), and it has been there for every visiting baby since.  It was hiding in the garage since the flood and Em pulled it out, scrubbed it down and here we are.  Sob, sob.  Of course Abby showed little, if any emotion.  "I simply can't remember sitting in it, Mom.  What do you want me to say?"



Madelyn had her first boat ride on Papa's lap.  They are loving it!  We have so many pics of babies; family and friends, who took this same ride with The Husband.  When they get older, he actually lets them hold the steering wheel.  I think I'm going to frame this.  



I adore this picture.  Her dress has little white sailboats on it.  There was another with Emily holding Madelyn and the big lake is in the background.  Most of the shots you see are taken on our bay...the lake is enormous.




All sun and fun and no land?  You might remember I did our master bedroom in a sort of country/rustic way.  A nice break from the nautical throughout most of the house.  

I was really happy to have this website recommended to me.  And when I find a great website, I like to pass it on. At King Ranch I fell in love with these cowgirl boots...have a look.


These are mine  You can't have them.


I had a lump in my throat watching the opening video.  I think most of you know that I grew up in the prairie land of Illinois.  No...not like "Little House on the Prairie" as I might make it sound, but huge corn and wheat fields, a watering hole of a lake, and skies that dropped off into the horizon.  There were an abundance of well traveled back roads that took you to out of the way places.  You could park on dirt roads and watch the sun set, or walk precariously on a fallen tree over a steam.  We'd sit on the hood of the car, illegally drinking beer and listening to Bob Segar's Night Moves.  I have wonderful, heart filled memories of those days.  So much came back to me looking at this video, and I dug out my old cowboy boots.  As you can see, I've had them forever.  You have to break those babies in and once you do, never give them up.  I have worn them everywhere and with anything, from jeans to skirts to shorts (I'm seriously thinking going to Coachella next year.  Well, only if Vanessa Hudgens goes with me).  

I really have a thing for this company and I hope that not only you Western gals check it out...let's dance in sundresses in the South and shorts in the Midwest!  

So now I leave you with a few thoughts.  I've been enjoying my time, freedom and independence at the lake for over four weeks now.  Some have asked (very politely) how it works in my marriage.  Well, you know, I didn't know until I tried it.  Truth is, we both enjoy a little time apart.  We're not Bert and Ernie.  We could do what we wanted to do without any nagging or chastising about those bad habit things that drive us crazy no matter how long we've been married.  He loves to leave dirty dishes and candy wrappers all around his favorite chair and table in the living room.  He leaves a trail of clothes behind him wherever he goes, and bath towels can be thrown on the floor until there is a mountain.  Oh, and he can go to bed at 8:00 p.m. after Rachel Maddow.  

Me?  Well, I can sleep til 10 or 11:00 a.m. without anyone making me feel like a sloth.  And then again, I can stay up late on my laptop without anyone crabbing for me to come to bed.  I don't have to tell anyone to clean up their dishes or candy wrappers.  My clothes are always neatly put away and I rarely trip over anything on the floor.  I can be really gross and spit my toothpaste in the sink and not rinse it out.  At least for about 10 minutes.   I watch Rachel Maddow at 8:00 before I go into a frenzy of writing each evening.

I worry most that he eats right.  Since I've never really known him to grocery shop other than picking up jumbo sized toilet paper and donuts, I try not to get too sympathetic.  He won't starve. And we have every sort of restaurant and fast food place within walking distance.  

Me?  I sound like a primitive caveman.  I survive on eggs, avocados, cheese and nuts.  Seriously.  I'm not liking cooking for just myself so this is what I graze on all day.  Oh yes, a lot of Diet Pepsi and white wine.  So, we're doing fine.

Here's to a Happy Summer!

Jane x


Sunday, June 11, 2017

THINKING OUT LOUD



Most kids are out of school for summer break, and in the days leading up to it, the weather held promises of days and weeks of freedom.  Little league, family vacations, swimming, eating watermelon and popsicles, and just living without a schedule.

In late spring I could hear groups of children laughing and chatting as they walked past my house after school.  Through my open windows I could see young boys swinging their book bags and girls with their heads bent together whispering and giggling.

It's been a little over a decade since my own kids rounded the corner, my girls in their maroon jumpers and my boys in white polos and gray pants. My house would once again be filled with laughter, chatter and the occasional argument.

Those of you reading this may still have little people at home and are living the routine of making lunches, signing papers every evening, and being sure socks match.  As routine as that may seem and taken over your life, you just can't believe the people telling you, "Live in the moment.  They grow up so fast."

While I ramble on about my kids and yours, the point I really want to make is what inevitably happens to us.  As older parents, no one comes up to us at the church carnival and remarks, "My, you've aged so much! Time sure flies.  I remember you when you were just thirty-five!"

The truth is, just as our kids grow up and out of the nest, we face the reality that we are no longer these young, energetic and sometimes 'cool' people.  We have a few gray hairs and we don't always understand how to text on our cell phones with two thumbs.  We'd rather listen to the news on the car radio than music, and we guess the term 'chill' means ice in our vodka.  The list goes on and if you haven't realized your uncool ways, your kids will let you know.

So my four have flown the coop.  I'm happy for them in spite of missing all of that noise they generated in our house.  I marvel at how they've grown.  They have homes of their own, some even have a few rugrats that we are ecstatic over.  Still, it hits me at times; not only are they growing, I am too.  I forget that time hasn't stood still for me.  The children grew, my parents aged, but in the realm of life and in my mind, I'm still the young mother, wife, daughter.

These days I enjoy looking at the cute kiddos skipping down the street past my house.  I'm a proud mother who gave it my all and I respect this new generation of parents.  I hope they live in the moment, it goes by so fast even though I didn't believe the people who told me twenty years ago.  But shhhhhh...the next chapter is just as wonderful.  




Wednesday, May 31, 2017

LAKE GUEST HOUSE


Wisteria, 2017

A big Hello to all of you and a belated Happy Memorial Day!  It was nice, I'm sure, for so many of us to have a three day weekend and above all, remember our brave Americans.  I was seeing the red, white and blue proudly waving from anything and everything around the lake.  

We were a little laid back at The Blondie Lake Cottage.  I've been here for a while and The Husband came up late Friday night.  Abigail and Squall joined us Sunday.  All of our neighbors were around with friends and family spilling over into each others yards, and it just felt so good to be back here.  

The new couple next door are teachers in Chicago and had friends up who were also teachers.  That was pretty cool for Abby to meet them.  Two of the couples live in the neighborhood she just moved into.  It was also really nice to catch up with our good friends, Tom and Diane, who are also from Illinois and part-timers here.  We had dinner together here last night, all of us contributing something to the wonderful meal of beef tenderloin fillets, spinach salad, and corn on the cob.  Lovely people.  Diane likes to stay up here in the summer so I know I have a great friend to bum around with.  

The wisteria finally opened it's pretty blossoms yesterday.  This is off the balcony of our master bedroom.  So it's now two stories up and I have to sweet talk it to go up on to the arbor above this balcony!  It needs pruning big time but I'll wait until after the blooms.  And these  blooms will fill out and become even more magical in the next few days.  Looking at my vines, the puffy clouds and the lake in the background...I'm smiling from ear to ear.



I ordered an outdoor area rug from Overstock.  It came in just 3 days, I had it shipped straight here to the Lakehouse.  It was fun to play with the patio table and a few cute accessories.  I really, really love the color; I'm simply not sure why I've been so infatuated with the blue lately.  This is the boldest I've gone but I think outdoors things need to be bight and happy.  This rug is nice and thick and has a nubby feel to it.  It seems to catch the sand and whatnot on your feet.  It's a breeze to sweep and I'll find out how it is to use a blower on it.  



A few days in to my stay I went into a town about 35 minutes away, quite close to South Bend, IN., home of Notre Dame.  Great area.  A big, beautiful mall and any other adjacent areas with some of my fave shops...Bed, Bath & Beyond, HomeGoods, Hobby Lobby, DSW Shoes, Target.  Oh, I was a happy girl.  I picked up some of these decorative tabletop pieces (the metal bucket I had, (and of course the sand), and I added these chunky candles.  A nice crowd of tapers would be kind of exciting as well.  I might even bury a pillar candle down deep with just and inch or so showing.  So many possibilities.  The runner is from HomeGoods, the little picket planter from HL, and the pretty plant from my local nursery.  I had a ball there the other day.  I'm mostly planting pots and adding to my perennial bed.  More pics on that next time.  



I often talk of the Summerhouse...sometimes I call it the guesthouse as it's visually easy to understand.  The Husband call it the Little House, but he also calls Layla The Little Dog.  A memory thing for sure.  

It's our version of a freestanding sun porch.  Set back a bit from the house but still on the patio slab, it has 7 screened windows, a small front porch and measures about 13 x 13, something like a small bedroom.  I have it furnished in such a way that I can be alone doing my writing or reading, cool under the ceiling fan, a breeze blowing in and privacy.  Behind the closet door that you can see above, there is a twin bed that folds down.  It's called a Murphy Bed and takes up zero space unless it's down.    There are two so it makes a nice little place for couples to stay if they want privacy or even some of the teens in our family who want to stay up late talking.  


We recently had the whole house fitted for blinds by Home Depot.  They did an incredible job and the guy that installed them was definitely a perfectionist.  I have Roman shades inside the house, and in the Summerhouse, slatted white faux blinds.  I was afraid they would take away from the charm but it's really looking okay, don't you think?



The 4 x 6 sisal rug is from Overstock.  I wanted it smaller so we could see the pretty porcelain tile that was also in our kitchen before all the damage.  The drop leaf table and unmatching chairs were antique/vintage shopping scores along with the wicker chair (with the red cushions).  

It took me about two hours to clean, sweep, wipe down and scrub the floors.  The screen door isn't as tight sit should be so I get debris blowing under.  We have Lowe's coming out to measure for a new door as well as a storm door on the front of the house.  The wind and hard winters really do a number on everything up here.  We have a cute front porch on the Summerhouse but it's chipping and in need of painting.  No matter, I'll get my rockers and plants going and have a pic next time.  Hope I didn't bore you.



Squall enjoyed his first lake experience and absolutely loved the water.  He apparently has gills because he kept sticking his head underwater.  He was fascinated by the minnows and blue gills.  Abby was trying to wear him out; still technically a puppy, he can be a handful.  He just never got tired in spite of playing along the beach and long walks.  They both had a good time.  And I'm having a good time washing sheets today as Abby slept in one bed and Squall in another.  I'm so hospitable.  

Oh, the toys are back in town.  The wave runners are a blast and I'm really not a adventurist.  Sort of like a motorcycle on the water, you can really cruise or as I do, go slowly along the shore and admire the gorgeous houses lakeside.  


This is a house about 4 down from mine.  I walk by it often and have always love the deep shade of blue on the shakes against the crisp white.  Most of the homes are built on narrow lots that provide more lakefront space so they are mostly custom made.  This is a side view of this home.  For the heck of it I was walking the dogs and pulled the For Sale flier out of the mailbox.  Hang on to your hats: $1.7 million.  Back down the street to reality and my house!




I couldn't resist a picture of Miss Mad.  Isn't she just so darn cute?  I miss her so much.  I've been here 12 days and other than The Husband and Abigail being here over the weekend, its been pretty quiet.  I love that, I've gotten a lot of writing done.  I've read a few beach reads, done some yard clean up and planted some, but not all of the flowers I bought at our nursery last week.  So much to do but I pace myself, this is a peaceful break and there is no deadline as there seems to be when I only have weekends.  

I'll be home in time for my grandson Brooks' christening on Sunday.   I'll have little Madelyn under my watch on Tuesday.  Then I'll be back just enjoying the country air; the sound of the water lapping on the shore, the birds flitting to and fro out of the oak tree in front of the window that I look out of while rocking and dreaming.  Oh...and Milo and Layla, who are sending a postcard-Wish You Were Here!

Jane x