Thursday, October 29, 2009


Today I want to introduce you to my friend Karen from A Scrapbook Of Inspiration, a fellow blogger that I have had the privilege of following for quite a long time. Perhaps you know her as well. I want to share some of her work with you. All of the prints and originals have been gifted to me by Karen, and this should be a good indication of how warm and generous this talented artist is.

The above original watercolor was sent to me several weeks ago. She wrote a post on flowers and asked what our favorites were. I answered "Daisies." I will always be a daisy girl as opposed to some of you who may be roses... ;-) Several days later I received this watercolor. Isn't it beautiful? (I am going to be asking this quite a bit in this post!)

This is how the painting arrived, in a beautiful handmade envelope of quality paper along with a card printed with one of her watercolors.

Another one of her works. I was reading one of her posts, which are often illustrated with her artwork. I commented that I loved this little blue bird and suggested she make it into a note card. She did!! And she sent me a little pack of eight. These cards are printed and then mounted on watercolor paper with a matching dusty rose envelope. Such quality.

Isn't this precious? Have you ever seen sweeter eyes on a bird?!

This is a watercolor print that Karen sells in her Etsy shop. It's a profusion of color. I love the picket fence and the sweet flowers. I had to have it.

Another print I fell in love with called 'Washday'. I love the simplicity of it and how it looks as if the sheets are actually blowing gently in the breeze. And of course it brings back sweet memories of my childhood when I would stand near the clothesline just to catch the fragrance of the freshly washed blankets and sheets from our beds. Heaven!

I am showing another print, as Karen had these printed on two types of paper to see which one I preferred. Both are perfect.

I was prepared to order these prints from Karen when I received an email from her. She wanted to send them as a gift. She didn't want me to ask questions or make a fuss. So I didn't. I am proud to own these pieces. And I am ready to have them framed.

This is the hand painted card that came with the prints. Again, mounted on heavy paper so creatively.

Quite awhile ago, Karen wrote a post about a difficult time in her life. It had to do with losing something very special. She believes that is the best time to give back. So she asked us to send her a favorite quote and she would paint a journal page for each of us with the quote. And that she did. Above is my journal card.

And this is the card that came with it. Need I say it is her artwork and isn't it beautiful?
Please visit Karen at her blog and have a look at her Etsy shop. You will be filled with wonder, as I always am. She is so very talented.

At the lake last weekend I was driving home from town on the road that goes around the lake. The fall colors were bursting out all over and I thought I would take a few pictures. Sorry about the hood of the car...the roads twist and turn and I didn't want to get whacked by a car coming up behind me!
Now this would be inspiration for a painting...

This is just a little cove with shore stations but I wanted you to see a tiny bit of the lake in the background. You can click larger. The next time I am there, I will take a walk along the lake and take some pictures. I can't believe I haven't done that already. Too busy spray painting everything in sight.

I thought I'd show you some of the little cottages along the lake. Okay, big cottages. Now, these are pictures from the road and at the lake the roadside of the homes are called the back and the lakeside is called the front. When I take you on a walk along the lake, you will see how magnificent the 'fronts' of these homes are. The gorgeous patios and decks, elaborate docks and beautiful landscaping.

I have always loved this house for the olive green color of the shakes. I think it's daring of people to choose these 'new' never really know what it is going to look like from a paint sample. This home is lovely.

This is what you do when you are building on a very narrow lot, which is about all that is left on the lake now. This home is just down the road from me. Again, I love the color and I am partial to black wrought iron fencing. So classic.

The next few pictures are really old homes. If you can't tell this is an A frame... I wonder how the people stand up straight in it.

Behind the rustic fence and trees is a log cabin. There are two more tucked away back there. I'm not sure if it is the same owner...

Can you spot the yellow house?

Aren't these pink chairs precious? I forget what they are called but I do know they get awfully hot in the summer!! Do you see how they match the flowers in the flower box? So cute...

And this house has a lawn that really needs to be raked. I am not sure of the name of the pretty red bush but I do know a maple when I see one. Love the front porch and balcony above it. Hey, this looks familiar! Oh yeah, I think I'm home!!
Thanks for coming by today. I wish everyone a spooky Halloween. We are going to a costume party tomorrow night that is also a birthday party for my friend Snow, as in Snow White. Yes, we have a lot of nicknames around here. If you guessed, she has black, black hair and alabaster skin. I promise some pictures. I will be the one not dressed up.

Friday, October 23, 2009


I finally got out and bought my haystacks, pumpkins, mums and apples as well as an assortment of baby pumpkins, gourds and fall scented candles. I feel complete at last... Now I have to do the same for the lakehouse. Sigh. No, actually it is fun. These things are fun and that is why we do them. We anticipate the holidays and then we complain that we don't have time, that we are stressed out, that we are spread too thin. But it's what we anticipated. We start out loving it. And then the love slowly fades and the complaining starts. Bah Humbug! I refuse to let that happen. I may have been late with every holiday this year, but I will be on the ball with the rest of them (hopefully).
Now, how did I go off on this tangent? I don't know. About an hour ago I was outside arranging my little scarecrows on my huge haystacks and the wind was whipping and the leaves were flying and it is only about 60 degrees here in Chicago. I was enjoying every breath of rain sodden, leafy smelling air. And that is the way it should be. I want to live in the moment, even if I am late for the moment. And who determines what late is?? Me. ME!!!! Why am I always late? Because I simply follow my own clock.

I am not too much of a cute person. I really don't do cute well. But these are for all the little kids that walk by on their way to and from school, wearing my children's former uniforms. The littlest ones stop and point. I can see them out the window and it makes me smile. I have been making fires in the fireplace about 5:00 every evening, lighting my candles with scents like Spiced Cider and Clove Bud & Citrus. I do this before The Husband and Kevin come home just so I can have a little time to enjoy the quietness, the savory smells and the crackling of the fire. I'm peaceful inside.

After awhile it will feel like the weather is holding us hostage. A short trip out in the car looms in front of me because it means dressing up warm, maybe cleaning the snow off the car windows and waiting for it to warm up. Even my feet hitting the cold floor in the morning is a reason to mumble to myself. Curling up at night with a good book and a warm throw over my lap has remarkable qualities until I think of having to do it all again tomorrow. How to stay positive... How to live in the moment when the moment isn't so hot.

When I bought this threesome last year, it was supposed to be Me, Emily and Abby (we were going to use a black marker on Abby's hair!!). Abigail came home from school this weekend. I picked her up at the Greyhound station. Just the other day I remarked to Emily, "Doesn't it seem like it hasn't sunk in that Abby has gone away?" To which Emily replied happily, "Nope." And other than the first week, where I would sometimes think that she was home, I have been fine. I am remarkably fine. I hope it isn't my usual denial reflex kicking in, but everything just seems to keep going along at it's normal pace. Sitting up at the lake one weekend not too long ago, I realized all of this. And I thought of how one by one I had sort of lost a child to the lake. They reached an age where they didn't want to be up there and away from home, away from their friends. Green Acres just wasn't the place to be. So one by one they stopped coming. For the last two years or so, The Husband and I have been alone there on weekends, sometimes longer. And so I realized, I have said my goodbyes to all of them, including Abby. I may have been the one who left.

We used to refer to my mother as 'the old crow'. Don't be shocked...she got some sort of kick out of it. We'd be out shopping and we'd say "C'mon you old crow!" and she'd laugh. Yes, I come from a family with a quirky sense of humor. Well, I remember her sitting in her chair in the evening with her book and a cup of coffee, while I prepared to go out to some party or event. I felt sorry for her. That she was going to sit there alone. My father was usually quietly watching television or dozing on the couch. Of course there was absolutely no reason to feel sorry for her, just as there is no reason for my children to feel sorry for me. But I wonder if they do. I am usually sitting there at night, book in hand as I say, "Have a nice night. Be safe." I'm content. I am not yearning for more than what I have. My wants may be more simple now that I am older, and even that is enough to be happy about So I say to myself, "Hey, you old crow. Look at what I'm doing. I'm just like you. I hope you were happy..."

I bought yellow and white mums. I thought they would look good with my blue shutters. I also bought some pansies to switch out my pots of impatiens with. I've never done that before. Pansies can survive a frost. Here in Chicago, in the spring, after all the tulips and daffodils have died off, you see the pansies everywhere. The first flowers that will take us into summer. And we can't wait...we are done with spring. Bring on those hot, sunny days. Well then you know what comes after that...I do feel so bad for my friends in the South and in Arizona and California (did I miss anyone) who are still trying to cope with the incredible heat they have been having. We were so lucky here in the Midwest with perfect weather. But as with any season, one day starts to blend in with the next, punctuated by holidays, and while time marches on, it also flies by. Suddenly we are older and we want time to slow down. Yet we still push forward with our seasons.

Everything is looking a bit shabby here. I once confessed to my sister that about August, I began to tire of taking care of my garden and yard. I wasn't out pulling every little weed or fertilizing like I should. She admitted that she felt the same way and we laughed. I don't know if any of you feel that way. So you can see that I have not been out with the hedge trimmers lately. Hey, I like 'shabby chic', indoors and out!! How does the blue and yellow look?

My geraniums refuse to let go. And I can't toss out a live plant. To the right of the plant you can see a new pot of lavender I bought. What a deal I got and look at the size of it. When my geraniums finally succumb to the frosts. I will plant the lavender in the pot to winter over. Then I think I'll keep it on the patio where I can smell it. Mmmmm!

What a funny guy this is, on his swing. I think he loves fall. I think I do too. Soon I will be replacing these decorations with some balsam wreaths and Christmas lights. But the old crow says "Wait. What's the hurry? I'm having fun!" So that's the way it is. I'm slowing down. The days may be shorter but I still have 16 hours. And now I am going to throw another log on the fire and curl up with a good book.
Have a wonderful weekend! :-)

Tuesday, October 20, 2009


Today I am linking with Kathleen from Faded Charm Cottage and Leigh from Tales From Bloggaritaville for White Wednesday and Thrifty Thursday respectively. Have a seat!

Another perfect fall weekend at the lake. By now you know we spend every weekend there, so I probably don't need to say where I am at. But I am doing a lot of decorating and changing things around there that I don't do at home so I think I need to mention it. I got a lot of R & R in after being home from Las Vegas for only a day and then heading up to Michigan, which is nice. I was feeling the crunch of the time zones, but that's good. Keeps you on your toes. Or bum, as it were. While The Husband worked outdoors, putting away lawn and patio furniture and knocking down sand castles, I busied myself in the kitchen making a 15 Bean Soup with Chicken. Nothing special. You just purchase the bag of beans and use the little packet of flavoring inside. I added a fresh chicken breast cut in slivers for the last hour and it turned out quite good. If I were at home where my fridge is better stocked, I think some celery and green onion would have been great in it as well... So soup and some bread for sopping up all that juice was on the menu at Blondie's Diner and afterwards we sat by the fire...okay. Stop now, Jane. I sat by the fire. The Husband sat up in the loft in front of the Bears game. It sounded romantic for a second there, didn't it? My neighbor Susie came over and we had wine and some nice conversation. She picked the last of my tomatoes for me and most are the size of cherry tomatoes. I sliced them up and we had those on mozzarella cheese and crackers....oh, heaven! What ever variety I had that she picked, they were tart and sweet at the same time and so fresh!!!! The good old Husband was upstairs stomping and clapping and never knew what he missed!! ;-)

My favorite old pot bubbling away...The kitchen is not finished yet. I have no drawer pulls or knobs, thus no fingernails. I don't think Resident Carpenter is coming back now that he is no longer in residence. But let's not go there. I feel really at home with the way the house has turned out so far and somehow the details will be pulled together. I have so much more to show you and I think I will start taking pictures of the master bedroom which is just about finished other than some artwork I am framing. I will hint to you that a wonderful and generous artist/blogger has gifted me with an incredible amount of her work and I will be doing a post about it. In the meantime, please visit Karen at A Scrapbook Of Inspiration. Her work is fabulous and she sells quite a bit through her Etsy Shop.

I have been having a thing for chairs lately. A 'chair affair', if you will. Whether I am in a thrift store or antique shop, they beckon to me. And no matter what, like stray cats, I always have room for them. (Actually I have no cats, but I would if I weren't allergic). The chair with the basket on it you might remember from some of my summer photos. It sat under the oak tree on our patio with a pot of geraniums on it. It made it through the summer fine, but the paint had a yellow tinge from the iron in our water, so I painted it white again. I found the other chair with the rush seat at a little fleatique store in our lake town and I painted that white as well but left the seat natural. I have to touch up a few smears and I was running around the house like a madwoman trying to find my Mouse Sander to distress the paint a bit before I took the picture. Alas, my Merry Maid, Emily was at the house the weekend before and her idea of cleaning is to hide all my stuff. lol!! So I'm still stressing over the distressing... I have the chairs in the kitchen where my future Hoosier cabinet will go. What I like about chairs is how they can be used for little vignettes; holding a plant or something treasured, in a bedroom with a collection of pretty purses...well, maybe I just have weird ideas, But I do love these thrifty chairs that I paid no more than $20.00 for.

This is one of the pillows that Barb from French Elements made for me. Pay no attention to the lack of trim on the walls (and the crumbs for that matter).

I finally bought pumpkins!!!! Some are huge. Sue from the Farm Stand at the Lake had a neat assortment of all shades of oranges and yellows, in all sizes and shapes. I found a big one in the shape of a squash!! When I get my porch all arranged I will post it. I bought a few bunches of wheat from her. Isn't it nice how pretty something so natural and simple (not to mention wholesome) can look? I put the two bunches in a jar on the table.

Finally I have this wicker shelf thingie that the previous owners of the house left me. They literally left it hanging on the bathroom wall and I used it for soap and towels...nothing special. For 18 years!! It was thrown into a junk pile when the bath was gutted and for something that I just left hanging on a wall for 18 years, I scrambled to save it!!! It is in good shape, it just needed a bath and a good coat of white spray paint and now it is ready to go in to my freshly painted blue & white bedroom, which I will show you soon.

My bedroom has a combo beachy/garden theme if there is such a thing! lol!! Hey, maybe I have started a new style~Shabby Beach Garden Chic!! I wanted to do seashells and pretty sandy beach pictures and then I found a floral duvet cover that I had to have! Please do not read tropical. Just beachy and shabby flowers. So this is my shelf and on it I will have seashells and flowers and something old and something new...Shabby Beach Garden!
Visit Kathleen and Leigh and all the participants in these events by clicking on the links at the beginning of my post. I hope you enjoyed reading about my finds! Have a wonderful week! :-)

Saturday, October 17, 2009


Happy Saturday!! Today I am linking up with Christine of Christine's Home & Travel Adventures for Sightseeing Saturday, of which she is our gracious hostess. If you have any pictures you would like to post of a vacation or trip, this is the event to to link up with! Today Christine is taking us to Stockholm, Sweden, and I am taking you to Sin City!! I have to admit first, that these are the worst pictures I have ever taken in my life and that is because I just bought a new camera and did not brush up on the manual before leaving, so everything came out terrible. Please bear with me.
I mentioned that we go to Las Vegas every October with a group of people that are related to my husband's business. We have been having this get together for about ten years straight. Every year we stay in a different hotel and this year it was Ballys. Below is a picture of our room from the 22nd floor. Ballys is nice enough, but I have stayed places I have enjoyed more (and some less). After so many years you have pretty much seen everything there is to see as far as shopping and sightseeing, so that leaves shows, gambling and eating, and we did our share of that. So here are some pictures:

The mountains were wonderful to wake up to every morning, as well as the leaning tower of Bellagio (!). I warned you these would be awful pictures... It is on my agenda to stay at the Bellagio because one of my all time favorite movies is Ocean's Eleven. Oh, how I love that movie, I must have seen it ten times!

The grounds of Ballys.

Next door is Paris, where we stayed last year. I loved it. On our first day we had lunch here at Mon Ami Gabi.

The Husband frowns on me for taking pictures of the food, so I take pictures of the menu...

All of the wives went to see Cher at Caesar's Palace. It was a very good show. I have never been a big fan of Cher musically, but I have loved her movies and I loved the Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour from the Seventies, from which clips were shown. And true to form, she wore elaborate costumes and head pieces in almost all of her numbers. She isn't much of a dancer, but the scenery was fantastic, as were the backup dancers. She's quite cute too. She said, "People are always asking me why I keep making comebacks..." Pause. "WELL WHAT ELSE AM I GOING TO DO???". Again, my pics aren't great, but she is really pretty, even with the surgical enhancements.

The Husband and I went to the Venetian for dinner one night at a restaurant called Buschon. Last year we ate at Mario Batalli's restaurant in the Venetian and after my stay at the Bellagio, this is next on my list. Then I will be satisfied not having to go to Vegas again. There are other places to see (ask Christine)!! The entire hotel is one big work of art.

The Husband in the entrance.

A terrible picture of an outdoor walkway.

Now these pictures are even worse because they are pictures of pictures. They are instamatic since my camera was doing so poorly. These are group pictures at some of our joint dinners.

I would be the blonde.

And so we arrived back home a few days ago and I am $400.00 up. I probably blogged more when I was there than I do at home just to pass the time!! I saved money that way too!!
I plan to be in some events next week now that things have slowed down again. I want to thank everyone that responded so kindly to my last post about my mother in law. I am sure she is up in heaven smiling right now at all of you. And I also want to let you know that my dad is being evaluated medically before starting radiation and they think he will be finished with the treatment by the holidays. I am so happy. His doctor says that he is healthy and fit and so I am hoping and praying for the best. Thank you again so much!