Tuesday, March 31, 2009


Tam at The Gypsy's Corner is our hostess for Three or More Tuesday. After you have had a chance to see my contribution, jog over to her website, see what she has today, (I've been there already, you will love what she has!) and then pay a visit to all of the girls participating today! I am sharing some pictures from our lake house in Michigan. We have had this year round home for almost eighteen years. It is a 2 hour drive from Chicago. Our kids were very young when we bought the house and they grew up there, summer after summer (and these are all summer pictures) and of course winters, when we would ice skate, toboggan, snowmobile & ski. But today I have summer pictures that span many years. Above you will see "the harbor" and our beach. This looks to be the second summer we were there as our boats are looking rather on the "new" side. Last year we traded both of them in for a new deck boat which I will show you this summer.
Now, to have a beach you must have sand. Every summer we have a truck load delivered. Looks like fun 'eh? Well the real fun begins when we start shoveling it into the water, going back to about that rope. That way we have a sandy bottom instead of muck. Hard work but once it's done we have a great beach for building sand castles and frolicking in the water. Below you can see the "delivery".

Ahhhh, can you see? Abby & Milo are already having fun. Or maybe is trying to be the Dog Whisperer. Milo is not a fan of the water.

This is a very cool swing that Emily & Milo are on. If you can tell by the picture, the ground starts to slope down, even further out than you can see. When you swing, the ground slips away and you almost feel like you are flying. Blondie loves this swing as well! I'm probably off somewhere sulking that Emily made me get off.

Below is little Abby, not long after we moved up. She is only nine months old and not walking yet. But look at that precious smile. Wouldn't you be smiling in this paradise? Okay, I love the lake!

Our little Captain Abby, maybe a year later. A little sun burned but none worse for the wear. See, still smiling!! :-)

Now we have some friends visiting. We have learned one thing about the lake. It is always sunny and warm until we have guests! These are our "fishing" friends. For years and years we all spent Memorial Day up at Big Green Lake in northern Wisconsin on our annual fishing trip. We experienced a lot of bad weather there. Somehow I think they didn't expect it in Michigan.

Oh well, what can you do?

Well, you can start to prepare dinner, as Jill is doing. She looks like a happy camper (and she really always is. You will never meet anyone nicer!).

And, you can always break out into a dance! Here are Jill & Linda dancing to Madonna's song Vogue. The kitchen at the time had the only hardwood floor in the house, so it became the official dance floor. In this case, we needed a rain dance!

And others deal with the bad weather by breaking out into a pillow fight!

Finally, sunny skies. Alas, I took black and white pictures! This is Emily & Abby I would say they were about four and one years old. Typically, Emily is trying to wake Abby up from a drowsy little nap on the boat!

The Husband and Abby in the Captain's seat. Where are those sunny skies?

Here we go. Donna, Blondie & Sue. How do you like my hair? I look like a cockatoo!

Here is a nice group on the pontoon. This was our luxury cruiser. We could fit a ton of people on it as well as a few dogs, a grill, several coolers and a lot of beer. Hey~you have to stay hydrated!

So here we are, The Husband & Blondie alone at last, him relaxing with a cigar and me with a good book. The hand problem was the result of stuffing a dishcloth into a glass to dry it. Luckily, we have a lot of medical help on the lake. My good friend Steve is a dentist that lives down the road, so Blondie just walked on over and he stitched the hand up like any good dentist would do. He even had Novocaine! Let's call it a day, shall we?

Thank you for visiting on Three or More Tuesday (three hundred or more quite possibly!). I hope I am following the rules! In any event, SAIL ON!!!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009


Today is Three or More Tuesday brought to us by our beautiful hostess Tam at A Gypsy's Corn
. Give Tam a visit and see a list of everyone participating today. Pay them a visit to see all they have to share with us. Visiting those blogs is a sure way to make new friends and see some beautiful treasures!

Today I have a few things that I fell in love with when I shopped at Marshalls last week. I already showed everyone the beautiful white salad plates I bought to match my blue dinner plates, (if you didn't get a chance to see them, they are posted on last weeks Tablescape Thursday).
I bought this creamer and sugar bowl as well. As usual, I love them so much that I hate to use them! Alas, all I have are the pieces that go with my china and they are way off limit! I love the milk glass style and the three dimensional flowers. The colors are so spring ~like as well. The husband is happy he doesn't have to haul the milk out of the fridge for every cup of coffee and Kevin is the only one who likes sugar so he no longer has to forage around for my canister. By the way, Kevin arrived home from Naples last week and is back at work at the golf course in Illinois. Not only was he promoted to manager of the Pro Shop, (after only one season working there!), but the Pro Shop was recently named Number 1 in the country for overall excellence in a private golf club. Yahoo!!!). But back to real business~

Here is a closer look at the creamer and sugar bowl. They looks hand painted, don't they? I absolutely love them. I soaked the price tags off and can't remember what I paid, but I'm sure it was a bargain.

The third item I bought... wait, I definitely bought more than three things. Hmmmm, the third item I have for today is a baguette baking pan. Everyone knows by now that Blondie does not bake. Someday I will give it a whirl. But I do love to bake bread. I make all sorts in regular loaf pans, but when I make French or Italian bread on a baking sheet it spreads out a lot. So this is perfect. The little vents also insure a nice browning on the bottom. As you can see from the price tag, I paid only $4.99. If you were to look at Williams Sonoma or Sur La Table, it would cost a lot more! :-)

As you can see, I can make two loves. Can't wait! I think making bread is quite easy and fun, especially if you have a mixer with a dough hook. You just pop that dough in there and let it knead for ten minutes while you go wash your hair or something. Another trick I learned if you have problems getting your bread to rise, preheat your oven to 200 degrees for 5 minutes. Turn the oven off and open the door until it is just ajar for 5 more minutes. Put the bowl of kneaded dough inside until it has doubled. Simple!! Works like a charm. Instructions always say to put the dough in a warm spot to rise. Well, in this old drafty house, that doesn't exist. I remember my mom always making bread (she learned from my grandfather who was an excellent baker) and she let the dough rise in our tiny little bathroom, just sitting on the hamper, rising away. Doesn't sound too appetizing, does it? But we kids couldn't wait for dinner and slathering butter or honey on that bread! Yum! :-)
So that is it for today! Try making a loaf of bread yourself soon and then sit down with a nice cup of tea and a bowl full of jam, preserves or honey and enjoy!!

Sunday, March 22, 2009


Everybody loves Milo, am I right? And he decided to pose with Abby, good boy that he is! :=)
Everybody have a blessed and wonderful Sunday. Enjoy our spring air and the promise of all things blooming & coming alive!



Wednesday, March 18, 2009


Today is Tablescape Thursday, hosted by Susan at Between Naps On The Porch. In fact, today is the 30th TT!! Visit Susan and see the list of all the gals participating and give them a visit. There is an awful lot of creativity and talent out there!

My tablescape theme was to be a Spring Luncheon. But as I fiddled around with everything, stopped to make dinner for my own family (which was feeling slightly rejected that I was pouring more attention in to a faux meal!!), and realized that it was getting dark outside! So I added some candles and we now have a Spring Dinner (pretend of course).

My dinner and salad plates are from both TJ Maxx and Marshalls. They seem to carry the same brands. I first bought the blue dinner plates awhile back to just add color to my table settings. I have white "everyday" dishes, which I love. Working as an assistant chef years ago I learned that chefs and restaurants prefer white dishes as it showcases the food best. Not to say that my family has ever stopped, fork in mid~air, to say, "Lovely presentation, Mom!". Well, I put the blue plates away somewhere and then last week came upon three of these white salad plates. I instantly fell in love with them for their detail, which you will see. I was at Marshalls and saw that they also had the blue plates so I was able to put them together and they go well, don't you think? I told The Husband that I was a little disappointed that they didn't have a fourth white plate, even better, five to make a set. And if you read my blog you have probably already guessed...he went out and found the rest! What a love! :-)

The blue/green/white napkins are also from Marshalls, as well as the wine glasses. I really love the wine glasses because they are short and somewhat heavy, yet have very elegant curves. I would absolutely love the day that I have a minimum of 16 matching wine glasses that don't chip or break or shatter...and I think these may fit the bill. $6.99 for a set of four. I think I may go back...

A closer view of the dinner plate. I love the scalloped edge and raised flowers. Those areas have received a light rubbing of a dark stain to bring out the texture. Brown and blue have been very popular color combo's of late (note my blog~hee hee) so I think I can also use some brown in a tablescape with these dishes, don't you agree?

The salad plate looks nothing like the dinner plate but I think they work nicely together and are perfectly fine for entertaining. I love the little bunch of flowers in the middle. They will make cute dessert plates too! :-)

A close-up of a place setting. My silverware is vintage, collected from estate sales and antique stores. None of it matches but I love it. Each piece is so individual and unique. I have over eighty pieces and at least service for 16, yet I don't know if I will stop collecting. Practicality flies out the window when you spot a bargain (or a piece that is just so intricate and detailed. I have a knife that has a monogram engraved on it. My mind just wanders thinking of a family way back when, that had monogrammed silver! Ooh la la!!).

These precious little salt and pepper shakers came from a little interior and gift shop near my home named Mona Lisa. In my tablescape I have the matching napkin rings and butter dish, as you will see.

Isn't the detail pretty?

And happily, it also plays up well with the plates!

Four orphaned pieces getting a second chance around!

Here is a different angle and color. My table is pine and we bought it from Pottery Barn about 15 years ago. It has no varnish or sealer on it, which I love. It does have a lot of nicks and scratches that tell many, many stories of times sharing meals with family & friends, playing games or cards, doing homework or having coffee with a friend. All it needs is an occasional rub down with some furniture oil and it sighs with contentment!
Thank you for visiting me on Tablescape Thursday. I hope you had a good time! Visit Susan to see her post today and then drop in on all the other ladies to see what is on their tables. And visit me again, I'd love to have you. We can have coffee at my old table and make a few new nicks in it together!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

OUTDOOR WEDNESDAY: St. Patrick's Day, Chicago Style

St. Patrick's Day in Chicago is always celebrated in an "over the top" sort of way, as you can see illustrated in the above photo. Where else can you see an entire river dyed green? It is said that the road from Chicago to Ireland is paved in water, from the Chicago River to the Illinois River, from the Mississippi to the Gulf shores of the Atlantic, straight through to the Emerald Island itself...
Every St. Patrick's Day since the mid 1960's, forty pounds of vegetable dye is dropped into the Chicago River to start our great city's celebration. The dye will last only a few hours, but it is incredible to see!

Once I learn to maneuver my kayak on the lake, I am going to join these guys!

On the South Side of Chicago, we don't have a green river, but we do have Western Avenue and every year it plays host to one of the largest parades outside of Dublin. It is held every year on the Sunday before St. Patrick's Day. Being here on that day is sort of like being in New Orleans on Fat Tuesday. It's either the place you want to be or the place you want to avoid!
This year there were 15,000 marchers, 120 floats and a whopping 340,000 spectators! The temperature was in the high 60's and that alone was enough reason to grab your baby, drag the dog and head out toward Western Avenue. And good luck getting close to the parade! We live about 8 blocks away and this is where the police roadblocks start. So it's on foot or bike!

I've never had a view from up in the bleachers but it sure looks like fun!

Oops! (they're shrinking!). Moving on...

Ahhh...the infamous Cork & Kerry! Blondie has passed away some very merry time in this little pub! One year after the parade we actually got in to the bar, which is a feat unto itself. A group of bagpiper's came marching in and wove in and out of the tables playing their Irish tunes. Oh, I thought I had died and gone to...Ireland!!

The flags put a mighty lump in my throat, how about you?

Sunday marked the 31st year of the South Side Irish Parade. This little guy looks like he has been to all of them! :-)

According to Papa O'Hara, the South Side is approximately 70% Irish. Papa retired as a Captain of the Chicago Fire Department after almost 50 years of duty. He doesn't go to the parade anymore, but living just two blocks from it is almost like being there.

My girl's were dressed in their green t-shirts, beads and glitter and out the door by 9:00 a.m. on the day of the parade. People actually start taking their places on the parade route as early as dawn. The streets are barricaded off just after 9:00 mass ends.

The parade itself only lasts a little over an hour but the celebration goes on and on! Cabs line up outside the bars on Western all evening, giving rides for free.

The Husband and I spent the afternoon celebrating with our friends Reggie (Mike) and Maureen at their home, which is a block away from the parade. Sitting on their front porch basking in the unseasonably warm weather, we sipped cold ale and listened to the drumbeats and cheers from the crowds. Helicopters whirled overhead, video taping the events for the evening news. Later we went inside for Mo's incredible corned beef, cabbage, boiled potatoes and carrots and brown bread (her grandmother's recipe). She also served us homemade Irish Cream. It is 10 times better than Bailey's!! I could really imagine topping off my coffee with this every morning! Finally, for dessert being only 3/4 Irish, I supplied a vanilla cream pie!
We went home satisfied and full, shed our green t-shirts, beads and bracelets, washed the glitter off our faces and settled down to watch the day's events on the news. I turned to The Husband and said, "I wonder what they are doing over in Ireland"!
I hope everybody had a blessed and wonderful St. Patrick's Day! Happy Outdoor Wednesday! Please visit Susan at A Southern Daydreamer to see her post for today and a list of all the participants sharing in Outdoor Wednesday! :-)

Wednesday, March 11, 2009


Welcome to Outdoor Wednesday hosted by Susan at A Summer Daydreamer. Be sure to visit Susan to see all the participants in today's event and be sure to visit them to see some beautiful "outdoor" pictures!
I have foraged through some of my old pictures to bring you something today that makes me think of summer. For me, the very good summer of 1985 when I moved in to my very first apartment in the Lincoln Park neighborhood on the Northside of Chicago. The picture above is a statue of William Shakespeare that sits in a little square on the corner of Clark and Hudson. It is a beautiful place to sit on a bench and read or eat lunch and feed all the pesky little pigeons!
The day these pictures were taken my mother had come to visit me for the first time. I was just so excited for her to see where I lived! Although my mother was born and raised in Chicago, I was living on the Northside as opposed to her neighborhood on the Southside, worlds apart theoretically. So she was very excited as well!!

We had such a great day, browsing the boutiques, bookstores and having lunch at a gorgeous sidewalk cafe. I have a picture of her that I can't for the life of me find, but I remember vividly. She is sitting at our table at the cafe, dressed for the city in her summer finest, the sun glinting off her long earrings as she raises her wine glass in a toast. I WILL find that picture!
My apartment was just a studio and the building is pictured below. Thankfully, I didn't need more than a bed and a little dining table and chairs and friends bought me dishes and glasses from Crate & Barrel as an "apartment warming" gift! I didn't even have a television, but that didn't matter. Every evening after work I went for walks and browsed the parks and shops, visited the Lincoln Park Zoo (which was free) and sometimes just sat looking out my window on the second floor at the children laughing and rollerskating up and down the block and people sharing a cool drink on their front porches.

The quality of this picture is poor, but this is in front of a garden next to my building. My building itself had once been a hotel and I never gathered much more information about it. The lobby was large and carpeted in dark burgundy with faded wallpaper on the walls. A winding staircase stopped at the second floor on which was my studio.
At the top of my street was Grant Hospital, now known as Lincoln Park Hospital, and at the bottom of my street was Augustana Hospital (great location to be if I ever broke a leg!). Thus, most of the buildings' residents were medical students. I rarely ran in to any of them, they must have all been studying or sleeping!!
So that is my contribution to Outdoor Wednesday, a wonderful time in my life and a beautiful day with my mother.