Tuesday, September 27, 2016

FEELING FALL, BABY NEWS AND A HUGE GIVEAWAY



Wow...can you feel fall in the air?  Not many trees changing colors here but the leaves are falling and my resident squirrels are leaving chippy walnut shells all over.  We have not had a lot of rain at all and since we pay for our water, I really don't like to water the lawn.  Still I've given everything a good long drink a few times over the past few weeks.  Now that the air feels crispy and the humidity is gone, it's that time to start pulling the spent flowers that have lost their energy, rinse and store my pots and put away all of my cute pieces that I have hither and yon in the backyard and on the patio.  This is something I've put off before, thinking I'd like to have it around a bit longer and then it's early November and the wind is whipping and the days are short and gray and who wants to freeze their little pinkies off?  So I have work ahead and I'm not going to wait until the eleventh hour.  ;-D

I have been a good girl as far as jumping too soon on the fall wagon.  Just this mum plant and some pots of pansies.  Okay...I found 4 irresistible baby pumpkins. But that's it, I swear.  I hope to get some time to bring out some of the things I like from my fall bins, I simply can't use it all anymore.  I'm really starting to revolt against clutter.  Somewhat.  

Right now I want to thank everyone who made it through my previous post, as long and droning as it might have been.  I don't regret including the wise words of Leslie Harris, nor do I think I will avoid addressing issues in the future which I feel are important for women of our age and place in life.  I was more than happy to see so many of you weigh in and I know a lot of you were reading other's comments so it was a nice 'round table discussion'.  I hope you enjoyed the post.  




Sunday was such a wonderful day.  We had Emily's much anticipated and prepared for baby shower.  We had been planning this for weeks.  Thankfully her sister and sisters in law helped tremendously as did many of Mike's family.  I've been long time friends with Mike's mom, Maureen, actually going back to before I even had Emily.  

Isn't this a lovely banquet room?  It reminds me of a cathedral, or maybe a Swiss chalet.  We chose a country club in a suburb way out toward the once barren countryside I grew up in.  That's all changed now but the area around this golf course and country club is in the middle of land untouched.  




As I said, so many in the family pitched in.  They made vases out of canning jars, bought flowers from a farmer's market, simple gold votive cups from The Dollar Tree and filled them with lollipops from a party store (candles are banned in the banquet rooms).  For favors we found a lady nearby who is known by word of mouth.  She makes the cutest cookies decorated with fondant.  Man, I'm so sorry I didn't get a picture.  They were shaped like little baby bibs and I wrapped them in tissue and put them in little paper bags secured with washi tape.  

She received so many much needed items for the baby; a stroller, the crib mattress and bedding, a small bassinet...just so much and I loved to see her happy face and shining eyes as she was gifted by friends and family who can't wait to meet little Madelyn.  On that note I want to share some of the nursery Emily has been working on.  





What is really amazing is that this room did not have the chair rail or trim before but she knew it was something she wanted.  Most of the artwork on the walls was found on Etsy.  She loves the combination of the coral and minty green/blue but it's subtle and and makes all of the smaller pieces pick up the colors and stand out.  The big splurge was the Pottery Barn Kids crib.  It is beyond beautiful.  And then on the flip side, she found the pink bouncy chair at a garage sale for $5.00, washed the fabric and cleaned up the base and wow, it looks great.  




On this side of the room we have a peek at the closet.  She was given a lot of baby clothes from DIL Mary Clare, that were Elsie's, my first granddaughter.  Em also hit up a Carter's Outlet where everything is half price and then marked down even more.  The little drawers in the cubby were hand stenciled and embellished for pennies after she saw the idea on a high end store website.  

For the baby shower, instead of cards we asked guests to bring a children's book.  Emily found the 'book shelves' at iKea, they are supposed to be spice racks.  She IS good!  On the DIY painted quilt rack she had in her basement for years, she has some cozy blankets.  The one in front is actually part of the quilt and sheet set I had in her crib 29 years ago!  I do save everything but I don't know how or when she confiscated it.  Still, I love it.   Sweet memories.  



Now I want to share with you a great giveaway that my friend Lidy at French Garden House is collaborating on with me.  If you've never been to her shop or blog, you don't know what you are missing.  I tell everyone and anyone that Lidy unknowingly got me into blogging.  I recently did this interview and I mentioned it without naming Lidy (should have!).  

All of these beautiful treasures will be given to a lucky winner.   Pictured above, A pretty Bon Appetite Linen Towel...


...a French Market Tote...


...a gorgeous smelling Harvest Apple Soap, and...


...a fabulous Wine Bottle Cover!


Hmmmm...wondering if I can get in on this giveaway!

I am really indebted to Lidy for being a friend over all of these years and I'm super thrilled that she's letting me sponsor this giveaway.  As my way of thanking her for her inspiration I'm having this giveaway and asking only that you do these few things to get your name in the drawing:

Visit Lidy at French Garden House and have a look at her blog and shop.
Leave a comment telling Lidy what you love most about her blog/shop.
Subscribe to the French Garden House blog and her newsletter.

Easy!  She will determine who the winner is on Sunday, October 2.  Good luck. She will wrap everything up with a big bow and send it off to some lucky lady!  Thanks so much for playing along.  You are going to love her as much as I do!

That's all I have for now.  I hope you were able to put up with a whole lot of pictures in this post.  Off to the lake on Friday to open more boxes!!!

Jane x

Sunday, September 18, 2016

SEPTEMBER RAMBLINGS & SOME WISE WORDS


Howdy!  I'm having a great time as new plants and flowers are amazing me here in September.  I have been spending a lot of time outdoors now that the temps have dropped down to the normal 70's we usually experience at this time in the Midwest. My Sedum looks like bushes and the hydrangeas are getting a bit dried out so I can soon cut blooms to bring indoors.  A little weeding here and there and using the hose when we have days on end without rain.  I really love being outdoors.  I'd rather cut the grass then vacuum.  God help me this winter.  

These are Obedience plants.  I wasn't sure what they were so I asked on Hometalk.  If you haven't been there it really is cool.  Go to the category you are searching; gardening, cooking, home repair...and you can download your own pics.  You then get responses from all sorts of folks familiar with the category.  Real people.  Real answers.  It's as helpful as Google but as I said, you can download pics in addition to your question.  When everyone weighed in on these being Obedience plants it dawned on me that I planted these at the lake near The Husband's rock garden.  They were tall so I dug them up and brought them home.  A great example for keeping a garden journal.  



Along the same fence I noticed these blooms.  I thought perhaps hollyhocks but I know they bloom along a tall stem and these flowers were at the top.  Hometalk and the woman who works in the floral section of my grocery store set me straight.  This lady, Donna, was so sweet and helpful.  I asked if she gardened and wow, it sounds like she has something really magnificent.  We chatted about twenty minutes.  I had to pull myself away before the ice cream melted.  So...this is Rose of Sharon.  All of my sources including Instagram confirmed this and also warned it's very invasive.  I can't say I don't welcome this as it's along a fence where I need privacy from the next door neighbors.  My dogs are barkers and we are in such close proximity to these people I wish I could build a wall.  Ugh...didn't mean to say that at all.  ;-D



And the good 'ol morning glories.  They climb vertically and then horizontally.  I have to thin them out in the spring.  They strangle my herbs and you can see they took over a little iron tower that's unidentifiable now.  They make a nice little shaded area on the back porch for the dogs but they don't bloom until September.  Glorious velvety blooms then but with the cold coming on by October, you don't get a chance to enjoy them long.  I think maybe next year I'll drop some of the seeds along that wall...I mean fence.



A Good Book & Milo At My Feet

I follow Monica at Prince Snow Farm, both her blog and Instagram feed.  She recommended this book and I immediately looked it up on Amazon and then ordered it.  Briefly, this is the story of a woman who bought the farmhouse she had always dreamt about in Pennsylvania.  To quote the book jacket:

"Through stories of planting and preserving, of opening the gates wide to neighbors, and of learning to speak the language of a place, Christie invites you into the heartache and joy of small beginnings..."

It is definitely a book to savor.  Thank you, Monica.

********

I want to introduce you to a long time blogger friend of mine, Leslie Harris, who writes the blog, Gwen Moss.  If you've read my blog long enough, it's not just a lot of senseless drivel.  Well, actually, it is.  But I try to stay away from the negative, a personal trait of mine.  I am however, quite wary of taking chances.  I am so embracing my relationships with my children and ever growing family on my blog but I wonder what's in store for me.  I add a spin to my everyday happenings, always honest but trying my best to make you smile (and perhaps myself with the crazy happenings that can only happen to me).   I have to really shake it off in a good way.  When it comes down to pure honesty, I'm floundering in my middle age.  A bit lost in my new role in life that I actually have no name for.  I'm not sure what direction I'm heading in but I do know I have more years behind me as opposed to ahead of me.  In light of all of this I do a lot of reading, writing, and simply listening to others as well as what is going through my mind.  

Leslie summed up so many of my feelings in a recent post she wrote.  I've included a little excerpt here.  I think you will find it as enlightening as I have.  I hope you find the time to write a comment here sharing how you feel as far as uncertainty about the direction you are going.  I realize some of us are very grounded and content in our lives.  If I've made some sense here, if Leslie's post moves you, I'd love for you to share or follow the link to her blog simply to read all of it.  She's an incredibly motivating person.   



"I am not a seeker of scary experiences. Let me be clear about that.
There’s no one that likes a comfy routine more than me. But one thing I’ve learned from relocating cites and selling our family home (2 years ago) in my fifties, is that big changes inject your life with a newfound energy. All of sudden you’re looking around with a pair of new eyes. You find yourself growing in unexpected ways simply because you’re outside your comfort zone and everything feels terribly new. 
Suddenly anything seems possible.

But no, you don't have to move and be totally uprooted to have a similar feeling. I've found that change in baby steps is manageable. 

Here’s one way to feel good about yourself. Introduce something new and positive to your life, but make it small.  Just do it every day for a set period of time. Even a week is good. And finish it. 

The next thing you know, you’re walking around with a feeling of accomplishment about this one positive thing you’ve done. And suddenly, you’re seeing yourself differently and who knows what's next? 

It's this openness to new experiences that keeps us growing".

*****

She's the real deal and I just love her.  





A shout out to Tammy at T's Daily Treasures.  I so enjoy seeing the sweet pieces she crochets and how she involves herself in groups and classes with women who love needle work.  Living in Kuwait, she gives us glimpses into a beautiful country with her photography and words.  

She knows, like many of you, that even though I'm all thumbs I would love to knit, crochet and sew.  She recently gifted me with these pieces and they so warmed my heart.  Terrible pics but the piece on the right has a glass bottle filled with dried lavender on it and the cute little mug shape on the left...well The Husband confiscated that  to use on the end table next to his favorite chair to hold his coffee mug.  He can be sneaky like that.  He needs to send a personal thank you note to Tammy.  :-D




I'm leaving you with a very simple and quick recipe for a side dish, Creamy Spinach Bake.  If you like spinach, especially creamed spinach, you will love this.  It's very simple and requires few ingredients. I didn't change it much, this is my own picture and I have to say, we devoured it.  Here's the link.

I'm enjoying time at the lake.  Lots of work but it's relaxing to take walks and sit on the dock.  Not much else to do but unpack boxes and we are down to pretty much just the decorative pieces I've accumulated over the past 25 years.  I like the simplicity right now and we actually have no place to put these things.  We gave away many pieces of furniture and I want to add back, purchase new pieces of furniture little by little giving everything a lot of thought.  Going up alone is a challenge.  The T.V. is not hooked up nor do we have WiFi.   Country living shouldn't be about that. At least we love to believe that.  I'm all about it but the dark nights with nothing but the sound of bullfrogs and coyotes, well it's a little unnerving for this girl sometimes!

I'll be back soon.  Have a great weekend!

Jane x




Saturday, September 10, 2016

BACK AT THE LAKE, A RECIPE AND SOME EXCITING NEWS


Diamond Lake

Here I am!  Can you guess where from this picture?  We are finally back to the lake.  It is so beautiful there, I can't wait to share that with all of you, especially the changing of the leaves on the trees along the lake and in the back where the woods border our little roads.  But for now, I'm a bit excited about the cattails.  The seeds blew our way and although they can get invasive, we will enjoy them and keep them under control.  This side of our dock is open to wildflowers and lily pads.  We had our pontoon docked here for a long while but decided two boats were too much work.  So this side is just growing free.  I love the blowsy feel. I like to bring cattails indoors and placed them in a tall urn.  No water whatsoever and they dry beautifully.  The tall brown spikes let loose with those cotton candy~like seeds so I spray them with hairspray when I bring them indoors and they last a few seasons.



Great Room


Arriving late Thursday evening, this was my first glimpse of our cottage in over a year.  I had seen snaps The Husband had taken on his visits but nothing prepared me for all of the changes.  The staircase was a very different from before as we chose to change out the wood spindles to wrought iron, had the steps stained the same as the floor and the risers white.  I hear there can be a problem with scuff marks...do any of your guys have a remedy for that?  I was thinking Magic Eraser or just having to paint them when they get really bad.   



New Loveseat & Layla

I ordered a new sofa and love seat through Emily.  I had been wanting to get to a lighter, breezier lake  look and I found this fabric.  The stripes are actually a blue/gray and the cushions are part feather down so they are super comfy (as Layla found quite soon).  I have a thousand throws here in the city house so I'll pack up a few. 

You can see the boxes the moving van brought, well over 100.  Sounds unbelievable but they are just medium size so they are easier to carry.  The people at this company, I think the name is Service Pro, did an incredible job packing our belongings.  Everything was wrapped in paper or bubble wrap.  Every box was labeled and in the correct room.  The furniture was in all of the right rooms but just sort of set anywhere.  We spent the first night sleeping in our bed in the middle of our room surrounded by boxes.  Very confusing for someone like me who has to get up ten times a night to use the bathroom.  



Someones been sleeping in Milo's bed

Milo is getting a little high strung in his old age.  The new surroundings were making him very anxious and I was so afraid he'd have a seizure.  His dog bed made it through the flood and I thought the familiar scent would calm him down.  Nope, but Layla found it cozy.  She has always slept on the sofa or on our bed (under the blankets I might add).  She cozied up here and at night they both crowded in bed with us, at least until the last night when Milo finally felt at ease and slept in his own bed.  

My biggest priority was to unpack the kitchen first.  I brought up some coffee, dog food, laundry detergent and toilet paper.  I forgot filters, couldn't find the dog bowls and was going into complete withdrawal without my Diet Pepsi that first morning.  The Husband and the car were gone so I was at a loss.  I got started on the work at hand until he showed up two hours later.  I thought he'd have some groceries or at least a box of his breakfast leftovers that he lovingly gives to me, much like a dog does with his wet bone.  Nope, he had gone to some far flung town to get his truck registration all up to date.  Priorities.  I'm starving but hot dang, the truck is good to go.  


Saturday.  Halfway there


So I unpacked each and every individually wrapped plate, bowl, glass, serve ware piece...you name it.  Into a sink filled with soapy water, washed, hand dried and stacked on the table.  By the end of that day I was down to just two boxes and I had clocked 12,000 steps on the good old Fitbit.  The final job the carpenter has in the kitchen is to put the subway tile up and I didn't want to get in his way so the harvest table is overflowing and I still have three more boxes to go. 

The Husband was in charge of laundry, all the packed up towels and sheets and quilts that survived.  He really thought he had the greatest job...toss the laundry into the washing machine and then sit down with his iPad while Mr. Whirlpool did the work.  He was stunned when I told him that one usually occupies oneself with other chores in the interim between washing and drying, like unpack 67 boxes in the bedrooms upstairs.  There was a little grumbling to say the least but that ended when the washing machine (brand spanking new) died.  Literally wouldn't drain or spin.  I trouble shooted everything to no avail and we have to get a service person out.  You can guess now that The Husband was humming a different tune.  Sort of like, "Yes, yes, yes!".  Creep.



Squint to see Milo.  Matching dog and dock...how chic.


It was not all work and no play.  While we were stuck in the city for 19 months, the two houses to the right of us sold.  I'm going to really miss our old neighbors but the new ones are very, very nice.  Next door is a young couple from the Northside of Chicago.  I like them a lot.  We were given a tour of their cottage and I love how modern and bright and it is.

The next house belongs to a couple with two small kids and this is their permanent year round home. I like that because it's normally so desolate in the winter. The Husband actually knows the guy as he has a marina on the lake.  His wife is very sweet, too.  I think we will have some good times together.  I might mention that we all had an impromptu first meeting Saturday afternoon in the midst of a huge birthday party/Labor Day celebration they were having.  Milo spied people (actually a crowd of children and adults) and his thinking is that where there are people there will be dogs and he shot over.  Now this really was the party of all parties; a huge jumping jack for the kids as well as a trampoline, a sprinkler that shot up like a fountain and just so, so many people.  Have I said that yet?  Because I had to race in and around all of them to catch Milo.  I was slipping and sliding in my flip flops and ran right under the fountain after him.  As I came around the side of their deck, the owner had him by the collar and there was Milo, as proud as a prized pony surrounded by children petting and hugging him.  It was like the party now had their own petting zoo.  So I muttered a couple of thousand 'sorry' and pulled him away and headed to our house.  And then he decided to do his duty and yes, it was the dirty one, right smack in their side yard.  When I reached our house, sweaty and dripping wet from my meeting with the fountain, I gasped to The Husband, "Go.  Go there.  Get a bag.  Go.  Clean it up.  Go.  Now."

So we and the new neighbors all had a nice chat the next day and we sat with our long time friends on their deck drinking Cosmo's and catching up.  I have found that no one in our little corner of the bay has dogs.  That makes it easier for me as Milo won't be tempted to take off as much.  However, it didn't escape me that we would now be held responsible for any doggy~do found anywhere.  :_(



Raw food

A quick recipe and then I'll wind things up.  Sometimes chicken breasts can be so unappealing. I know there are a thousand ways to make them but I think I only know of three, especially if I want the chicken to be moist and have a lot of flavor to liven it up. So I made this up the other night and I'm just going to sum it up quick for you as I don't think you need to measure much.  Let's call it Chicken with Sausage and Peppers.

I started by browning four boneless, skinless chicken breasts in a pan which has a tight fitting lid.  Do this with about two tablespoons of olive oil.  I then layered red onion, green peppers and about three chopped garlic cloves.  Seasoned this with a nice palmful of dried Italian herbs (basil, oregano, rosemary, or a mix...Emeril has a great one).  I also added some red pepper flakes for kick.  Top the whole mess with ground Italian sausage just scattered over, about a half pound.  Cover and bake at 350 for about 30 to 40 minutes.  Serves 4.

This was such a great combo of flavors and the juices from the sausage guarantee a very moist chicken.  

                                                                       ******************


It has been one crazy week.  It seems like one huge tornado hovered over me, never really touching down.  From Blondie's Medical Journal, I saw my main dermatologist in Chicago.  I'm doing pretty well driving around the city on my own in spite of the fact that I could get lost in a phone booth.  The bad news is that I've been off the meds for my skin for three weeks and the eczema has come back full force.  My skin dried up so badly my arms, legs and chest felt like sandpaper.  My neck became so rashy and dry that the skin cracked and I couldn't turn my head unless I had on a thick layer of ointment.  So...Plan B.  A new drug that won't be marketed in the states for a few months but my doctor has participated in some of the studies and will have privy to it in another month or so.  It is very, very promising.  I'll give myself injections and hopefully I won't faint doing it.  

On another wonderful day I went to a dentist, a new who Emily goes to and just loves.  I had some swelling around a tooth, as in the one right next to my front tooth.  I thought it might just be a little access, but no.  I have a fracture in the tooth up high, like halfway between my upper lip and tip of my nose.  Dr. Nice Dentist referred me to a periodontist.  In the future he might be referred to as Dr. Evil.  I'm going to have to have a little cutting of the gum down to the tooth to see what's happening and then sutures.  I'm shaking as I type this.  I may actually lose the tooth and have to have an implant.  I have never been afraid of going to the dentist and I know its a huge fear for some.  But my imagination is running wild with this.  Say a prayer...for my mental well being.

I'm caught up in planning Emily's baby shower on September 25.  Mike's mom and I are in charge but we have a ton family helping us with a variety of things.  We are expecting about 70 guests and it's at a very old country club out around my hometown.  I'm super excited as evidenced by the fact I've already gotten new shoes.  And speaking of babies, my son Jeff, and his wife, Deirdre are now expecting.  So yes, we have a granddaughter coming in early November and then another (they don't want to know if its a boy or girl) in early February.  Very exciting!  I guess that's about all the good stuff I have to say about this week.

It's Saturday afternoon and The Husband and I are just getting ready to head up to the lake.  I wanted to get this post in before as we have no Internet connection up there yet.  Soon I hope, not that I have a chance to sit down.  If there are a ton of typos here you know why.  ;-D 

Enjoy your weekend!

Jane 

Monday, August 29, 2016

LAKEHOUSE RENO PICS AND MY NEW 'UNFITBIT'


A floral arrangement by moi

I was driving home from my dermatology light therapy treatment the other day and I called Emily.  I asked if she wanted to take a trip to Michael's.  

"Nah.  I'm kind of tired".  She's 7 months pregnant now.  
"What are you doing?'
"Sitting on the couch eating pistachios."
"C'mon.  Let's go!"
"Why?"
"To look around."
"At what?"
"Stuff."
"Okay.  Sure."

No persuasion whatsoever."

And what a lot of stuff.  Fall stuff.  We took notes.  We separated and when we met up it was sort of funny that we both had dried and silk flowers in our carts.  And that's it.  I've been loving this flower pail that I've had for years (I showed you a fresh floral arrangement in it in my last post).  I found a bouquet of dried flowers and the gorgeous fragrance came from eucalyptus.  Other than the bouquet which I arranged haphazardly in my usual inept way, I had a branch of some sort of white fuzzy blooms.  Maybe you can enlarge the photo and enlighten me as to what they are.  No matter, I'm probably allergic to the real ones.  This whole arrangement came to about $6.00 with my coupon.  I walk by this cabinet going down the hall to the right and swoon over that earthy scent.  I think it actually looks multi seasonal, don't you?



Alstromeria and Roses

I love having fresh flowers on the dining table.  I jumped at this $5.00 bouquet at my grocery store.  I thought they were just alstromeria (Peruvian lily) which last forever, but once home I found there were several red roses tucked in the middle.  So pretty.  I've been changing the water every day and they are all doing well.  I am really loving to use that vase I found in Asheville, NC a few weeks ago. 



Blondie's Produce

In some of the huge pots I have left over from when we grew palms and rose trees, I planted lettuce, spinach and carrot seeds.  The greens are gone but the carrots aren't as big as they should be.  Every once in awhile I pluck one out (best to do when the soil is dry), and the other evening this put a huge smile on my face. They definitely need more time and I'm waiting for some cooler, hazy days of the waning summer for another planting of baby lettuce and spinach.  



New Kitchen Open Shelving

Still not sure if we will be able to go up to the lake next weekend.  The moving people may not be able to deliver the van with our belongings by then.  All we really want is a bed to sleep in.  At this point~~~after 19 months, I'm no longer going to get my hopes up.  We just thought that a 4 day weekend would be great.  The crew will continue for a bit more but we felt they could work around some of our basics.  I'll keep you posted.

I decided to post some pictures of work that was recently finished.  I think it's better than bombarding you with a slew of pics later.  

I have never had a full on vision of the way I wanted a room to be until I planned this kitchen.   I wanted to mix a bit of the old and new, rustic and soft.  I've been loving reclaimed wood since I bought my kitchen island and I would carry out it out on my back in a fire.   The black hardware, never thought I would have anything 'black' in my kitchen but it simply works in my mind.   We kept the same countertops which were intact.  They are white Silestone with some little flecks of color.  The subway tile needs to be done and then I think we are good to go on the kitchen.  



Larger View of Kitchen

No one seemed to: A) Understand,  B) Like my idea of a shiplap ceiling.  I guess you need to know Joanna Gaines from Fixer Upper.  Our Great Room already has a pine shiplap ceiling going back to 1978 when the house was built.  Yet white planks just seemed to make everyone either: A) Scratch their head,  B) Cringe.  The only guy that seemed to get it was our carpenter, Lee.  Love ya, Lee.   He got me.  He got me through texts and emails, photos from Pinterest.  I think he began to see it all unfold as he worked.  

Emily was a huge help in choosing light fixtures.  I opened up websites and roamed the aisles of the Big Box stores.  She knows me and she knew the look I was going for.  Boom, she sent me pics of about ten ceiling lights and the six pendants I needed.  THIS is what a designer does.  I would still be searching.  Trends come and go but I think you can work with and without them by making choices for items that you really love, those which will stand the test of time, and for many of us, increase the value of the home.  


Refrigerator and Newly Designed Cabinets


We were beyond fortunate to be able to have custom made cabinets for almost half the cost by way of the old sort of barter system involving a client of The Husband's.  I chose the panel style and kept it square and simple, the stain is called called Rye, and dark bronze cabinet and drawer pulls from Home Depot.  The cabinets are just slightly distressed.  This right side of the fridge is close to the sink area in the above photo.  We'd like to make a coffee station.  I pray we don't use the other side to drop our keys and random receipts and business cards.  ;-D




Newly Designed Staircase

A very nice change we made with the staircase was to change out the white wood spindles for black wrought iron.   We had the steps stained the same as the wood flooring but we kept the risers white.  I so love it!  We actually have a lot of black detail in the room: the old wood burning stove, the hardware that suspends the 4 beams from the 19 foot ceiling, the fireplace screen and the curtain rods...among other small details.  Again, I never thought I would like anything black or dark...but it seems to make every subtle color pop.  Are you noticing the paint colors at all?  We did almost two colors in every room.  In the great room we have opposing walls in light gray and cream and this extends down the hall.  We have wainscoting here and there and it will go up the stairs on an angle as well.  I'll save the other rooms for later.  


New Laundry Room


Remember when The Husband and I were quarreling over the paint for the cabinets in here?  I wanted white and he wanted a creamier color.  He felt white would make the room too sterile
 and I've always felt white meant clean.  I bowed out, you have to choose your battles and I think his choice is just fine.  I mean, it's a laundry room!!



On to the Fitbit Craze


A while ago Emily and I were bumming around the mall and I happened to pause at a Brookstone shop...not sure if you have these stores around your area, they are like Sharper Image; all sorts of techy, interesting and mind boggling products.  I wanted to stop in for a good pedometer and I walked out with a FitBit.  The Husband and daughter Abby had been encouraging me to get one for inspiration.  Inspiration for me is drinking orange juice in the morning instead of Diet Pepsi.  I haven't joined the gym again because I've blown the membership off so many times I can't see wasting the money.  

After buying the FitBit about 3 weeks ago I finally sat down and programmed it 2 days ago.  You can see that I am beyond excited about using this little device to reveal how lazy I am, er...psyched to get in shape.  

I have to say it's a game changer.  I set my goals yesterday morning and by noon I could see how terribly I was failing.  I didn't have any errands as it was Sunday, one of my many days of rest.  I didn't want to work in the garden with the heat and humidity.  As far as I could see the only dust balls had to be hiding under the furniture and I'm really lucky to have enough towels and linens (since I'm too cheap to toss them out even when they are see~through) to get by for another week.  But as The Husband had warned, it will become a war between you and that little calculator of activity.

Okay, visualize Blondie walking in place while she folds clothes from the dryer.  Dancing to a little hip hop while making dinner.  Jumping up and doing a few jumping jacks after the little beep tells me I haven't moved in a hour.  Creepy in a good sort of way.  Wish me luck.



Layla Manning the Back Door

We still have heat...I try to get out, of course you know I do it for the dogs,  I hate what it does to my hair.  And these darn dogs won't spend time outside without me there.  So sometimes I sit on the back porch steps and just do some deep thinking.  Or Instagram.  I turned around one evening when the sun was sinking behind the hills, er...houses, and got this great photo.

Another quiet weekend.  I've been trying to watch a movie every Saturday night. Sometimes The Husband joins, sometimes not.  I scroll through the romantic comedies.  God knows I'm a news junkie and I need the break.  Recently I've watched P.S. I Love You, Wedding Crashers, and this past Saturday night, Bridget Jones (the second movie, whatever it's called).  And now I have Under The Tuscan Sun  on and I know the lines word for word.  I have a thing for women who shrug off there fears (and terrible choices in men) and make life changes.   Please give me some recommendations if you like these sort of movies.  

I want to thank all of you for the kind words you had to say about my friend Traci in Baton Rouge, some of you eager to help or at least relieved to hear from someone right there.  You guys rock.


Happy new week to all of you!!

Jane x

Monday, August 22, 2016

TIME FOR CHANGES


My Prerequisite Beautiful Photo

Hello everyone.  Me again.  A day late and a dollar short.  Where does the time go?  I can't tell you how many days go by when I think I don't have anything interesting to say or new photos to share.  The other evening I was scrolling back over posts I'd written years ago and I saw so many craft projects, tablescapes, changes in decor, organizational ideas... a nice variety of everything.  I feel like my blog has taken a different direction of late...  Okay, things shift, life has it's changes, but I plan to spend some extra time I have in the winter months, when the Midwest burrows down under blankets and the snow flies, to spend time going off in varied directions.  And I hope to get on a better schedule! 



I've been working on my den again.  Have you ever felt that a room would be perfect if for just one thing...something you can't put your finger on.  This is a super small room and before I overhauled it a year ago it had walls covered in  dark green floral wallpaper, shelves on every wall with dusty books going back years, and a few pieces of somewhat formal furniture that made the room even more unappealing as opposed to relaxing.  The room time had forgotten.  

I stripped the room down to the bare bones and bought some comfy furniture.  Maybe it's the small space but the neutral colors looked very bland.  I've tried bold pillows, adding navy and then burgundy accents.  I almost gave up, my room felt comfortable so I was just going to stop fussing.  And then a few days ago I saw these curtains at Target and I thought, "Bingo".  The color, pattern, the silky texture, it was everything I needed.  Sometimes things just don't fall together at once.  And since I am a chameleon, it's probably better that they don't.



And then I got around to some other decorating challenges.  I might have mentioned that The Husband has been sticking his nose in...er, becoming a bit more interested in the decor here and at the lakehouse.  I'm seriously not sure where this is coming from.  Everything from pictures on the walls to simple switch plates.  We bickered for days over having white or cream colored cabinets in the laundry room.  The laundry room!!!  I didn't know he even knew we had one.  That aside, one day I found that he had made some major changes to our office.  Over a year ago I took on a huge project of cleaning out this space that had become a virtual storage room with a computer.  I actually filled up five huge Hefty bags and spent a ton of time tossing out homework going  back to when my girls were in high school and The Husband was working on his first season of Fantasy Football.  Possibly 1987.  

You see that huge clock?  It was a garish gold and it took me days to paint, three coats in and out of all those little curlycues.  I made the little floral arrangement under the cloche and framed photos of the kids.  And above the computer I added push pin boards.  In keeping with my feminine side I pinned all sort of cute postcards and pics...  


...pretty, huh?



And then one day I noticed this.  The Husband came along and claimed his territory in a way that would have made General Grant happy.  He loves the history of the Civil War and American Indians.  And I truly love that he loves that.  His knowledge of that period of time is extraordinary.  But I just happened to walk into the office one day and there was Geronimo staring at me.  I sort of freaked.  On the opposite wall where I had a lovely gicglee painting on canvas, he had replaced it with one of his framed degrees, and the painting was on a wall in the guest room, a terrible placement I might add.  

My feelings were all over the place.  Of course I wanted his degree hanging on the wall, but it was a  smallish framed square on an otherwise empty wall.  But I remained calm, he actually uses the office more than I do and in a way it's rather cute that he wants to add his weird little choices for decor.  

One day last week he came to me with a stack of photos, maybe 8 X 11.  Black and white illustrations of...trout.  Big ugly trout swimming to the surface of the water with flies on hooks dangling above.  His eyes were sort of twinkling, "I'm going to have these framed!" he exclaimed, "For my office!"  Oh, high five!  Then..."You mean your office downtown, right?"  "No!  Here!"

This is when you take the time to walk around the house and gently close all the windows and doors or your neighbors might otherwise warn the police your home is about to become crime scene.  

I did however, calm myself down by taking a long shower.  My second of the day.  But it gave me time to think.  And my first thought was the obvious, march into the office and take all of his gosh darn historical, over achieving crap down and put my stuff back.  And then as I was drying my hair I had a novel idea.  Sometimes when you do the opposite of what people expect it really throws them off.  I went in and took down my pictures, my burlap boards, my pretty cloche and framed photos, I even took the cute baskets holding printer paper and the miscellaneous.  Oh, and the Target lamp.  

It looked sad.  Barren and sad.  As we sat down for dinner I told him he was welcome to frame his trout and flies.  I said, "I actually made a ton of room for you in the office to do whatever you please."

A week went by and not much happened.  One of our daughters mentioned to me that they brought up the subject of the 'undecorated' office to him and he looked a little sullen.  And then one day I received a text from him.  "Hon, have you redecorated the office yet?" 



And that I did!


In other news, we watched this movie Saturday night.  Having read the book and loving it, I wasn't sure if I'd like the movie but I think they were equally good.  The movie kept true to the book although it had to leave out a lot of nuances that shaped the story and characters, but otherwise, it had us both reaching for the Kleenex.  I'm reading the sequel now along with fifteen other books. 


I'm really excited to say that we may be moving back into the lakehouse over Labor Day weekend.  I am beyond excited.  Everything will be delivered, the furniture put back in place and I believe our belongings are in boxes labeled for each room.  Everything is going to have to be washed and stored. Have you ever looked forward to work like that?  I am so excited that Milo and Layla can be back at their home away from home...I know that sounds a little over the top but they filled in a spot where the kids left off once they grew out of spending weekends 100 miles from the city.  I wonder if the hounds will recognize it with all of the new smells.? I have a little stash in the corner of my family room but otherwise we have nothing new to bring.  Abby and Tom found this sign at HomeGoods.  I love it!

I want to end this post by telling you about a long time blogger friend of mine, Traci, from The Traci Chronicles.  Traci and her family live in Baton Rouge and although they are safe and have escaped damage to their homes, there is devastation all around.  It's heart wrenching to read this blog post I'm linking you to but I hope you take the time to read it along with a recent email from her.  I'm copying and pasting it for all of you.  I asked her how we could give, how we could donate or help.  Her email  says it all and more.  It's my feeling that we see devastation, pain, hunger and disaster all around the world everyday.  Seeing communities, countries and the world work together is one thing that is not only critical, it opens our hearts and restores humanity.  If you have the time to look at the Go Fund Me Page, please do.  Ordering much needed bins and supplies directly through Amazon is also a  really great option.  I ask that you contact me directly for Traci's address.







Traci Blanchard

9:47 AM (7 hours ago)
to me

The email address you sent this too originally is good but the one I'm replying from is best. I check it multiple times a day. THe other is just for blog stuff. 

We're doing ok. So much better than most people. We've spent a lot of time this week helping friends & family basically demolish their homes & throw away all of their personal belongings & washing A TON of clothes. It's such an eye opening experience.  

I was in Central this weekend which is where my parents & brother & sis-in-law live. They were so lucky that they didn't flood. The majority of the subd. did & it's EVERY street. The shock has subsided now & reality is setting in for people & a lot of them just don't know what they're going to do. Aside from the stress of losing everything, there's the dealing with flood insurance IF you had it & car insurance because aside from losing houses a lot of these people lost cars too. There's just so much. 

Some schools are starting back this week. At least the ones that didn't have damage. Plans have been put in place that some schools with damage are moving the kids to other locations to be able to hold classes. The public school system in Baton Rouge isn't a good one. Several of the private schools are heavily damaged. We have a large number of private Catholic schools which are trying to make arrangements to take in kids from schools with damage. This is a burden as well because these are schools that have to deny entrance during normal years because of lack of space & trying to keep the student to teacher ratio balanced.  All of those things will be thrown out the window so that kids can just get back to school & some sort of normalcy. 

Baton Rouge has had a really rough few months between the police shootings & this but one thing is certain - Southern Hospitality is real & the people of Louisiana have come together like you've never seen. People without damage are helping the people with damage. People without damage are cooking hot meals for people with damage. Donations are pouring in. I'm not sure if you saw anything about the "Cajun Navy". These were just "regular" people with boats (a LOT of people) rescued person after person after person & animal after animal after animal. Someone dubbed them the Cajun Navy. These people were life savers. 

Donations are greatly appreciated. Todd McClure is a former LSU football player who was raised in Central. He went on to play in the NFL for awhile for the Atlanta Falcons. He's set up a Go Fund Me account through a local bank here. All donations will be given to the people in the communities that were hardest hit. NO administration fees or any of that nonsense. The site is https://www.gofundme.com/2jwp6e4

If someone would rather not donate money & wants to donate "stuff" (toiletries, diapers, wipes, cleaning supplies) they can send them to me & I'll  make sure they're distributed where needed. My address is *****Please contact Blondies Journal 

There are a lot of things that are in short supply here - mainly things like plastic storage bins. A suggestion was made on FB that if someone wants to donate something like that order it from Amazon & have it shipped to someone in the area so that's another idea & my address may  be used. 

The Red Cross is here & hasn't been as helpful as they could be. When they get here they take over the shelters & won't accept any food that doesn't come from one of their "contracted" people. They say they have to make sure that health regulations are being abided by. The people in these shelters have lost everything. Some were sitting on their roof waiting to be rescued, some had to wade through sewer water to be rescued. A good, hot meal that someone is providing free is most important & that's not what the Red Cross is providing.  A LOT of home cooked, good food has been turned away at these shelters. It's a very sad situation. 

Thank you so much for the thoughts & prayers.





I'm off now, have a great week!  I will be back soon, or else!!

Jane x