Saturday, November 27, 2010


I wish I could say this was a poinsettia plant, but...Christmas has not arrived at Blondie's house as of yet. Chaos existed prior to Thanksgiving. The kitchen overflowed with food to prepare, housecleaning took a backseat to food preparation and some days I didn't get in the shower. But as the story always go, the holiday went off without a hitch, everyone loved the dinner and we had a fun and relaxed get together with family for dessert. I didn't even have to venture out into the cold. We had the dessert contest as I mentioned in my last post, the guys judged the ladies desserts, and one little lady, my 9 year old niece, Maggie, won for making darling little turkey top hat candies {of which I have no picture} that took a lot of creativity, charm and cleverness and all that a 9 year old could muster for a contest. And when she was voted winner, everyone applauded and she beamed and took home a little prize. It was magical and will definitely be a holiday tradition for us!

Yesterday I cleaned and did load after load of dishes...the sort I don't like to put in the dishwasher, and sampled leftover desserts. Oh yes, in spite of buying all the ingredients for a chocolate trifle {and I thank all those that sent me recipes for their version}, I ended up making a simple Paula Deen apple pie. The glitch was, I had only 4 apples and the recipe called for 7, so instead of a mounded pie, it was more concave. But pretty. And delicious. The recipe is a keeper, look for it on the FoodNetwork.

Today I caught up on some post~holiday blogging, went to dinner with The Husband and did a little shopping at Macy's. I also shopped online on Black Friday where a lot of places had great sales and free shipping. Do not forget Cyber Monday...great deals again. Tomorrow we have a Holiday Open House to go to and I believe I will finally get to some Christmas decorating early next week. I am liking having the house just NORMAL for a little while. Does anyone feel that way?
I have also started wrapping presents and stacking them high. I have to wrap right away or the two daughters will be peeking. No, they are not five years old but they act like it sometimes. Besides wrapping boxes the traditional way, I also like to stock up on plain brown or white bags from the Dollar Store and jazz them up with holiday stamps or just leave plain and tie with a simple ribbon or jute. They are perfect for bringing to a friend or neighbors home filled with treats or a small gift.
So this post was just a bit of randomness for a Saturday. We are cold here but no snow yet. Sort of odd, everyone seems to be getting it and Chicago is known for it's blizzards. I should knock on wood. Next weekend we are meeting Cindy from Applestone Cottage and her husband Dan in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin for a weekend of fun. We met last December in Galena, Illinois, a quaint little town about halfway between our homes. This year will be just as nice and I am jumping up and down, I am so excited to see her again. I have special memories of Lake Geneva in December as The Husband and I have often spent our anniversary there. It's a beautiful little resort town.

Finally, I have this book on my wish list. Have you ever read My French Life? If you haven't, do so. This is Vicki Archer's new book and it looks SO good! I love to order my books through Amazon and you can find it there, in case you didn't know it was out. I am nearing a follower milestone and may just have a giveaway with it. Shhhhhh...

Have a happy rest of the weekend and I will see you next week, hopefully with some Christmas bling and a few poinsettias! :-)

Tuesday, November 23, 2010


Happy Tuesday everyone. It has been a busy few days around here and only to get busier as we get ready for Thanksgiving. I have to run to the store for some last minute items and then tomorrow I can start cooking. I still have not figured out what I am going to make for dessert. I think I may try to do a trifle; I have a dish that was given to me as a gift years ago that I have never used. Something chocolate would be heavenly. Now to go through some cookbooks or shop the Food Network. I can't believe I put off making something because I had big plans to make and freeze some things. Oh well, there is always Christmas.

I set up a little tea this morning and I am joining Lady Katherine for the first time. You can visit her at Lady Katherine Tea Parlour for the party she hosts every Tuesday. Like the rest of you {most likely}, I've had some silver to polish for the holidays. Last year my son got up from the table and pulled out some flatware for himself because the silver was so tarnished. I was using a creamy type polish and it just wasn't cutting it, so I bought some liquid stuff that you have to use with gloves sounds nasty. So I am not looking forward to this. Why I didn't do this sooner, I think I thrive on stress. But I digress. Last summer my friend Snow saw at lot of my silver up at the lakehouse on my hutch and said, "If you like silver, I have a ton of it and I hate to polish." That's all she had to say. A few days later she brought some pieces over and it included this tea set.
This has to polished up but let's just say it has a patina. I have two other tea sets but they aren't as large as this. I had fun setting up this little vignette in my living room. I should have made a fire; it's only 32 degrees here in Chicago.
My tea cup and saucer are part of a set of china called Marquis that I found at an estate sale about 2 years ago. The silver spoon is part of a mismatched bunch. The thingie on the right is actually a mercury glass squash that I am using with my fall decor. It's hard to tell just what it is.

Yesterday I was fiddling around and trying to be crafty with some empty jars I have been saving. I took some sheet music and made a little candle holder which is in my first picture and the one above. I just wrapped it around a clean salsa jar and used some glue. Then I tied a little piece of jute around it and plopped a tea light in it. It pretty much cost me pennies. I'm looking forward to some extra time to make some more. I think they would look good grouped together or lined up in a row. I have been seeing similar {if not the same} candles around Blogland for quite some time. I was really inspired.

Saturday The Husband and I went to the Holiday Market in Morris, Illinois, and really had a good time. Everything I bought was for Christmas, so you will have to wait {with bated breath I'm sure} to see everything. I was amazed at the talent I saw there. If I were a craftier person or one who could sew, I would have walked away with some inspiration. But I'm neither. I didn't take pictures because it was so crowded and I wasn't really sure if the vendors would like it. And though I was aware that there were other bloggers there, I didn't recognize any...of course. How could I? I did see Anne Marie from Na Da Farm With Anne Marie and was bold enough to approach her. We had a nice time talking and I want to say she is as nice and pretty as you see on her blog. She has a barn sale every spring and fall, so if you live in the Chicago area, try to make it. I am putting it on my calendar, I'm not missing it.

Well, I didn't mean to make such a wordy post...I have SO much to do. Visit Lady Katherine and also Marty at A Stroll Thru Life for Table Top Tuesday, to which I am also linking. I'm also wishing you a wonderful Thanksgiving. Save some room for dessert! :-)

Friday, November 19, 2010


It a quiet night here and I love that. The cold weather seems to bring that on. And it is a chilly 44 degrees here in the upper Midwest. I love it! But please don't ask me how I feel when it is in the single digits! I'm not a happy camper. Lights like these above make me happy. Candles can't keep us warm, but they make our hearts warm and our faces glow. Everything is softer and more gentle with candlelight. I like to burn a big old Yankee candles during the day to fill my home with amazing scent. In the evening...when I know we are staying in, I burn a lot of tea lights and votives just for ambiance. I like the tiny little light and flicker they give...alone or in groups.
I did a little more holiday shopping online this week and I am making a good size dent in my shopping and that always takes a lot of holiday stress off me. So many bloggers are saying that they like to have their homes decorated and shopping done so they can enjoy the whole holiday season without pressure and you know...that is smart advice!! I'm doing a lot to make this advice work for me but first, I wanted to talk about holiday shopping online a little briefly because I consider myself a little {ahem} experienced in this area. Actually, it is about mistakes you can make when you think you are getting a deal that would never have happened if you were in the store.
Never buy a candle online. That involves sniffing and maybe someday we will be able to that through a device on our computers. Who would ever think that Pomegranate Tea would smell so awful, but I ordered a huge pillar from Kohl's and I thought it smelled horrible. Think: Couldn't sell, big markdown. Ironically, I also bought a big hurricane for it and plopped the candle in. It melted all over and there is no way to get the wax out. That's the end of both of those deals.
I consider these above a good mistake. I was expecting something much smaller...described for tea light candles, they are quite generously sized. I can also fit a votive in these. I bought some for the lakehouse, too, as they are on clearance. 99.9% of what I order online is on sale or clearance. But in any event...always check dimensions and size.
I packed up a lot of my fall pieces today and kept most surfaces down to a bare minimum with company coming {including babies} on Thanksgiving. I am liking the gets to be too much considering this has all been out since mid~October. Is anyone else ready to get the shovel? lol!! Getting Christmas ready will be a lot easier without as much packing up the fall.

Tomorrow I am off to the Holiday Market in Morris, Illinois. I am hoping to meet some bloggers I have never met before and do a little more shopping. I'm hoping they have a lot of hot chocolate {maybe mixed with a little Bailey's ;-D}. I'll have my camera so look for a great post next week! Hope you are having a snuggly Friday night! :-)

Bottles and candles are from Wisteria.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


Good morning ladies. It's a beautiful day in Chicago. A perfect day to get out and do some Christmas shopping, which I think I will. Since I have sworn off decorating for Christmas so soon, and I had to stop buying fall things on clearance {I already have waaaaay too many things}, getting into the Christmas spirit by buying gifts sounds just like the perfect day to me. Look out.
Yesterday I went grocery shopping and picked up this bunch of spray roses, which were marked down. I love the blush color and they are so pretty to look at aside from all the browns and reds and golds of fall. I made a little vignette with some silver dessert cups that remind me that I have a ton of silver to finish polishing. Other than that, I think I am ready for Thanksgiving. I picked up my turkey yesterday {I have a big freezer downstairs}, and all of the trimmings. I also picked up ingredients for some baking, which I will start on and freeze. Each year we have a baking contest...the ladies bake and the men are the judges. No prize, just a lot of compliments. I haven't decided what to make, but over the years I have found that men love chocolate just as much as women and if it's combined with peanut butter, it's an even bigger hit. I'll let you know what I make.
I had daughter Emily and her boyfriend Mike over for dinner last night. This is no small feat since Emily is a vegan and I follow a low carb diet which includes a lot of lean meat. I made chicken {again}, which Emily skipped, a salad, potato pancakes, steamed broccoli, corn and dinner rolls. It turned out pretty well and I am happy to be entertaining a bit more these days.
I didn't take pictures like a traditional tablescape, but I wanted to show you the new dishes I recently bought from Ballard Design. I know I promised no more dishes, but I bought a complete set, service for 8, rather than bits and pieces that I frequently find at Homegoods or TJ Maxx. I needed a whole set of everyday dishes.
It is called Antique Beaded Dinnerware. Each piece is hand finished and has a light glaze. I love the footed bowls and the beading around the edges. I have hinted that I want the serving bowl and platter for Christmas. Hey, a little hinting doesn't hurt.
We have plans to go on a little jaunt Saturday morning to this Holiday Market, about 50 minutes away. I read about it on a blog. I'll be sure to take lots of pictures. Doesn't it look fun? I hope to do some serious Christmas shopping at this event, too.

So that is all I have today. I have to get moving if I am going to get out and shop. Have you seen the Salvation Army volunteers outside the stores yet? They always put me in the Christmas spirit. And Christmas carols on the radio. I love it!

I am linking with Marty from A Stroll Through Life for Table Top Tuesday. Have a wonderful week! :-)

Saturday, November 13, 2010


Maybe it's the rainy, blustery weather we are having but I am so ready to take a warm bath, put on some flannel pajamas and snuggle up in front of the fire. I think Chinese food will be on the menu tonight. I've had the sniffles the past few days and I was pushing on until today and when I woke up to the rain this morning I decided to just stay in and stay warm. Other than running out for some firewood, I have been in my little nest.
My posts revolve around my pictures {I have taken all of these}. They get me talking, so to speak. So today I was relegated to walking around the house, taking pictures here and there and I edited them to those only in the bathrooms. Pretty weird, huh? The bathrooms in my home are just about the only rooms that aren't cluttered, I guess because they are small. I keep only pretty things in them without letting them become too feminine. So I'm very fussy about what I put on the walls and counter tops.
Fresh flowers, dried flowers and prints of flowers make me smile.
And a little French twist never hurts since The Husband is half French.
We didn't make it to the lake this weekend, my brother is visiting from Louisville. I had to cancel our lunch date due to said sniffles, which were really awful this morning, but I will see him again soon. I sure wanted to have that bonfire though.

Well off I go to make that big bubble bath while The Husband orders the Chinese and then we are going to watch a movie via some new contraption he has called a Boxy Box. I keep calling it a Busy Box and since it seems to reference a child's toy, he's not amused. What are you doing on this Saturday night? Have you had a better weekend than me? Please don't tell me you are putting up Christmas decorations because I may become envious and I don't like myself that way.

Hope you are having better weather than Chicago. Stay warm and dry and I will be back soon!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010


Yesterday was a beautiful day to get outside. The temperatures have been in the high 60's, which is strange because last week we were wearing winter coats and mittens. Go figure. I realized that I hadn't taken any outdoor pictures of my fall decor and I thought I'd share a little with you. I didn't do as much as I usually do because I wasn't up at the lake as much to buy the usual straw, pumpkins, gourds and other fun stuff. Having to pay Chicago prices, I kept it at a minimum.
I also heard about an end of season sale at Kohls recently and coupled with a trip to CVS, I found some great fall items to stock up on for next year; place mats, runners, napkins and candles. I couldn't even look in the Christmas aisles.
I like to leave my fall things out until the weekend after Thanksgiving...
...especially outdoors. The squirrels didn't get these pumpkins because Milo is usually standing guard in the window.

We have missed a few weekends at the lake but I still want to get up there soon to see how the leaves have changed, to feel the acorns crunching under my feet. I want to have a bonfire and roast hot dogs and marshmallows. Once December comes, we will be too busy to go. Has anyone started their Christmas shopping yet?
My mums are still going strong. I think the key is lots of water. I give them a good drink every other day.

How does everyone like having shorter days since we turned the clocks back? I like when it starts to get dark out about's sort of a down time. The Husband doesn't usually get home from work until about 7:00 p.m., so I have a little stretch of time before I have to start dinner. I like to read or watch television of see what all of you are up to during that time. I'm planning my Thanksgiving menu, which rarely changes from year to year, and trying to come up with dessert ideas that I can make and freeze. This year dessert is at my house and although everyone makes something, I try to make at least a pie, cookies and a cake or tart {yes, this coming from the girl who doesn't like to bake}. Which brings me to a correction I want to make from my last post. The little cakelet pan was a big hit with so many of you but I mistakenly said that I bought it at Sur La Table when I actually ordered it from Williams-Sonoma. You can find it under New Bakeware. I'm glad so many of you liked it and would love to see some of your creations.

So that is all that is really going on with me. Just enjoying these beautiful days and hoping you are too. I'm linking again with Courtney of French Country Cottage for Feathered Nest Fridays. Have a good week! :-)

Thursday, November 4, 2010


I really don't like to bake, I don't have much patience for it and I don't like to measure things. Maybe I have been bored or a little cooped up lately, but I have had a craving to bake. The down side to this is that I have been on a diet...well I am always on a diet, but on this one I have sworn off all sweets and I have really been good {other than my Tootsie Roll binge on Halloween}. So truth be told I am baking and then giving it away. The Husband likes his sweets as well, but he is trying to shave a few inches off his waist so he has been substituting yogurt for his desserts. Ugh.
I spotted this very cool pan on the Sur La Table website and I just had to have it. Since I don't bake a lot, I am equally as bad at decorating cakes and cookies. A few sprinkles of colored candies and I am finished. This pan makes little acorns, squashes and pine cones...totally takes away all the confusion of baking something cute.
The pan is not recommended for making anything cake like. It came with a mix for Butter Pecan Bread which was perfect. Any type of quick bread would be great. This time I thought I would crank it up a notch and experiment with cookie dough. Pretty brave for someone as pathetic as me. I just rolled the dough into 3/4" balls and popped them in the pan. Easy as pie, er...cookies.
Aren't they darling? Everyone seemed to like them and I even have a boxful for Papa if I can nab him again. And if I keep up with the baking frenzy, I will have a nice stash in the freezer for the holidays.
I think they go well with a cup of tea. Have you tried the new Lady Grey tea? It sounds delicious and if she is related to Earl, I'm sure it is.

Not much else new in my world. It is getting colder and colder by the day and we rarely see the sun. Rain today. I'm hunting for a new pair of slippers, putting extra blankets on the beds and constantly reminding myself to order a load of firewood. We are supposed to have snow on Saturday...the first snow is always exciting and after that, the forecast is met with a groan. I'm ready to break into the Christmas funds soon, my problem lies in hiding the gifts. My daughters are like hunting dogs when it comes to presents. And then there is the yearly pleading prior to Christmas Day, "If you got the black boots that were on my list, can I please have them now to wear tonight." I have fallen for that many times. I am a complete pushover.

I hope everyone has had a good week and that you have fun plans for the weekend. And I hope we get a little snow to cover up the leaves I haven't raked up! Take care! :-)

Monday, November 1, 2010


We had son Kevin and his fiance Mary Clare over for dinner last Thursday night and I got to use those bargain dishes I found at Target. I thought I would do a quickie post to show you the simple but pretty table and join up with Marty and all the ladies for Table Top Tuesday.
It was a simple dinner that started with a field green salad. I didn't set out wine glasses because Mary Clare and I had been sipping glasses in the living room before dinner and we just brought them to the table. I do have 2 sets that I like to use in the winter, one a green shade that matches the dishes perfectly, and a gold set. I also wanted to mention because I am asked a dining table is from Pottery Barn going back about 20 years ago. Also the chairs. Very simple and rustic.
I didn't take any food pictures but we had chicken breasts done up in Panko bread crumbs and sauteed in butter, olive oil and garlic, Alfredo noodles, french green beans and corn {Kevin's favorite}. I made banana bread for dessert. We really had a nice time.

Halloween turned out to be a beautiful day here, in the 60's and just the right amount of sunshine. The trick or treaters came down the street like they were in a costume parade; we get a lot here in the city. Milo and Layla were going nuts. Of course I ate my fair share of Tootsie Rolls and felt really bad about it. What is your favorite candy? I have a ton left, but I like to freeze it and put it in the Christmas stockings. Not very festive but the kids don't care. I also like to give out Halloween pencils and creepy spider and skeleton rings. A big hit.

I hope every one of you had a great weekend and are welcoming November with open arms. I am putting my Halloween things away today but leaving out all the fall decorations. That hasn't stopped me from oohing and ahhing over all of the neat Christmas decorations in the magazines and catalogs. Have you seen the new Ballards? Burlap ribbon!! I think they have been spying on us!

Have a Happy Week everyone! :-)