Thursday, December 30, 2010


This looks like a picture from It's A Wonderful Life but it is really just my street taken in the early morning the other day. Today most of this has melted as we are nearing 50 degrees by tomorrow. Then it is going to slip back down and Old Man Winter will be blowing back in.

I have been enjoying the peacefulness of the past few days, I haven't really gone anywhere since Christmas Day. Nope, not even to hit one sale. I managed to clean out a lot of my Christmas bins before decorating and threw out or gave away some of the things that were falling apart or that we had outgrown. I feared shopping the sales would make me buy more Christmas things just for the great prices. That happens to me a lot. So...I have been trying to figure out what to do with myself. Is anyone else starting to feel cabin fever?

As I ramble on, I wonder what 2011 holds for me. I haven't made any serious resolutions, I don't like setting myself up for failure. I do have some goals, the usual and silly like lose weight and save more money, read and write in my journal more. But I have some aspirations. I want this to be the year I travel to Europe. It really just takes some serious planning and I'm good at planning our trips {I have a penchant for finding the nicest places to stay}. I am thinking that I'd like to visit England. See both London and the countryside. It seems like a safe place to start since we speak no foreign languages. And for a trip closer to home, I haven't seen much of the Southwest. I'd love to see New Mexico and some beautiful sunsets. Just dreaming here.

We have no big plans for New Years Eve. We have a bottle of champagne left over from Christmas Day brunch and I have a stockpile of cheese and sausages and sweets. I think I need a little whirlwind of activity today so I feel like hunkering down tomorrow night to watch the ball drop. Does anyone have any big plans?

Well, that's all I have to post about today. I think I will get dressed and head on out to see what the world has in store for me. I hope all of you have had a good week and I wish you a wonderful New Year!

Monday, December 27, 2010


Whew! What a whirlwind of activity it has been around here. Coming and going and eating and never seemed to end. It has finally calmed down a bit, the girls are at the mall spending their gift certificates {as if they didn't get enough clothes, jewelry and perfume from Santa!}. I finally have some time to catch my breath and then it is back to trying to make sense of the chaos of my home. To me, it looks no different than it did when the kids were younger, really young. And Christmas morning resembled the same this year. Wrapping paper and boxes flying, shouts of happiness, son Jeff wheeling in a vintage Schwinn bike for The Husband to use at the Lakehouse {it is sitting in my den right now}, and lots of eating and making merry. We had a little brunch around 11:00 with an egg casserole I threw together and a hot buffalo chicken wing dish that Abby made. Santa was good to everyone, I received some decorating books, a new IPhone {still haven't completely figured out the Blackberry I got last year}, a gift certificate for a spa {I NEED that}, some jammies, perfume, goodies for the home from Marshall's and a whole lot of good stuff.

The Husband did surprisingly well with his last minute shopping on Christmas Eve. He was feeling a little bleary eyed after coming home from his office Christmas party at 2:30 a.m. the night before, but he made it through the throngs of shoppers and came home weighed down with packages. He was most proud of his trip to The American Indian Store downtown where he picked up these hand made hats for Emily, Abby and Mary Clare. Don't they look darling? Christmas morning is always brings out the child in us all.
I felt a little bad that I wasn't able to show you a lot of my Christmas decorations, and as I was walking into the family room the other night, I saw my little Christmas Village and thought I'd share that with you. Actually, it is Emily's village, I gave it to her after getting tired of setting it up. Do you know how many cords and light bulbs go into one of these things?
I collected all of it in about a year, a piece or two every month, anxious to have a whole town. It's made by the artist Thomas Kinkaid. Emily had a blast fiddling with it.
Isn't it precious? I love all the little people and dogs and trees...

Christmas Day was spent with Mary Clare and her family. They were so gracious and welcoming to us. Since son Kevin and Mary Clare became engaged in September, we have all become the best of friends. Dinner was served at two long tables put together in the dining room, lit with candles and Christmas Carols in the background. Mary Clare and her sisters cooked all day {giving mom Peggy a nice break!} and served steak and lobster tail, mashed potatoes, gravy, fresh green beans and asparagus. What a feast. Afterward we played games and just had a wonderful time. On top of an evening with Papa's family and Christmas Eve with The Husband's side of the family, you can see why I am so tired {and stuffed}.
December was my month to win giveaways. I won a pretty collection of vintage ornaments, tinsel and mercury glass tea light holders from Melanie at Pretties And Posies. I used the ornaments to decorate my little stick tree.
A very special gift which was not a giveaway, came from my good friend Julie Marie at Idyllhours. She was such a Godsend to me when my father was ill. Her comments and emails lifted my spirits and we actually spent some time talking on the phone. Knowing I was feeling down, she made arrangements to have this new book by Jo~Anne Coletti, The Feminine Home, sent to me. Above is a picture on Julie Marie's blog that is featured in the book. She is an incredible animal and nature lover and she took this gorgeous picture of wild roses growing along the path that she takes on her daily walks.
I am sure you have seen the book around is beautiful. You can order one for yourself at Vintage Rose Collection. Thank you so much Julie Marie and Jo~Anne

I also won this gorgeous sachet from Rebecca of A Gathering Place. I just met Rebecca a few months ago after seeing her pretty face around Blogland. She is a real sweetheart. She has a shop that you must visit if you love all things pink and romantic. Thanks, Rebecca.
Isn't it beautiful?
It seems all things Christmas came to me late, including this magazine from Matthew Mead. I had such a great time going through it. It reads like a book. If you know me, you know I love to read books and magazines, and love pretty things, so I hold these treasures and sweet people close to my heart.

Well, I've rambled long enough. I have won 2 more giveaways that I will tell you about in an upcoming I've heard before, I should play the lottery this month. Here's wishing that all of you had a wonderful Christmas. I look forward to hearing all of your great stories! :-)

Tuesday, December 21, 2010


I want to thank everyone, from the bottom of my heart, who sent their warm condolences to me after the passing of my father. It has been a truly long week and although I feel a little numb, I still have the drive to make this a very Merry Christmas for my family. I had planned to downsize the decorating a bit this year anyway and that pretty much happened on it's own. Still, I'm pleased with how everything turned out.
This old pitcher started out with one branch filled with pine cones and berries. Soon I was stuffing it with anything festive that came along and needed a home. It sits on a runner that I made last year out of drop cloth and fabric paint.
Our tree is weighed down with ornaments {The Husband did a great job picking out a perfect one at Home Depot, don't you think?}. I have to confess, I didn't decorate the back of the tree and only used about half of my ornaments. I also need to fiddle with my mantel a bit more...I took a nap after the funeral yesterday and when I woke up, Emily had cleaned the house and had packed away the rest of the decorations and all the boxes. So I need to scoot downstairs and see what I can come up with.
During some downtime, I read a few blogs and stayed in touch just by skimming over some of the pretty holiday decorations. It was much better than reading or looking at any magazine. The inspiration is just incredible. And I am amazed by the talent so many of you women have.
These little guys are new this year...I couldn't pass them up. The wind around just about anything with their arms and legs. My chairs are perfect for this. They really make me smile.
Our holiday celebrations begin on the 23rd, when family comes in from out of town. This is when I will be needing all of the baking that I was supposed to be doing. And I have presents trickling in that I ordered online and I need to play catch up with the wrapping. These things don't feel like chores, if anything I have felt the need to grab the horse by the tail. These are special times and special days and we need to feel the love all around us as we prepare for this blessed day.

I have left out some things I wanted to show all of you because of the poor quality of lighting in my house today {we had tons of snow last night}. I hope to post that before Saturday. And I have received some wonderful gifts in the mail that I want to share, so I'll be back soon. Happy Holidays! :-)

Friday, December 17, 2010

My father passed away last night. Words cannot express my sorrow and grief. I wish I could pay tribute to him, but he was a very private and gentle soul and I wish to leave it that way. Your prayers are much appreciated.

Understandably, I will be taking a break, but I wish all of you, my friends, a happy and wonderful Christmas.

Sunday, December 12, 2010


I apologize for the not so great pictures in this post...because of our terrible weather, I don't have the best light. As you can see, it's almost blizzard like conditions in the Midwest. The snow is blowing sideways and drifting. This started late last night. Here is Milo, looking out the window, wondering why the squirrels don't want to come out and play.
I'm sorry my house looks like such a mess, we went to a wedding last night and got home late. I was really lucky because I was able to bring bits and pieces of some of the centerpieces home with me. Have you ever done that? The theme was Christmas and the vases were filled with evergreens, green hydrangeas and red roses. Simple green and red ornaments on picks were added as well. I was able to steal, one full centerpiece {with the help of Mary Clare}, and one of the waiters gave me a shopping bag and I dismantled the centerpiece on my table and the one on my kid's table {much to their horror}. I knew I would embarrass them before the night was over. In this picture I have the ornaments on their picks in a wine glass. I can put these on my tree...which I don't have yet due to said blizzard.
The roses are just beautiful in a simple candle jar.
Here is a picture of the entire centerpiece.
I recycled 3 bunches of hydrangeas and have them hanging to dry. If anyone knows if this is the right way to do it, let me know. And how long do I let them dry? Until they are dry, I suppose. Duh! I hope they are by Christmas, I'd like to have a huge dried bouquet for my table, especially after risking my reputation and good name.
They look a little limp but I would, too if I were squished in a bag all night.
Am I lucky or what?
Now that I am finished bragging about my centerpiece heist last evening, I thought I'd show you the French Onion Soup I made for dinner Friday night. It looks pretty gross but makes up for that in flavor. In a nutshell, saute about 8 cups of onions in about 2 tablespoons of olive oil. When limp, add 8 cups of beef broth, a palm full of thyme and oregano each and a couple of good shakes of soy sauce until you have a rich, beefy flavor. Add a few grinds of pepper.

Toast some nice bread and put a slice in one of these nifty bowls that you can get on clearance at Sur La Table. Top with a slice of mozzarella cheese and run under the broiler for about a minute. This was so good The Husband was moaning. I hope you make it and enjoy it.

That's all I have today. I am hoping this weather clears up so I can get that darn tree. This is turning into a nightmare...sometimes I think my life should be a reality show! ;-D

Wednesday, December 8, 2010


Oh, the weather outside is frightful, as in cold. It has been in the teens for the last 3 days. Right now it is 15 degrees. I will say that we Midwestern folks are tough. We check the weather every morning, turn up that heat and dress in layers. And of course we complain. Just a little.
We have no Christmas tree is just too soon to bring a fresh tree in the house and have it last throughout all of the holidays. I've learned this the hard way. And since the rooms in my home are rather on the small side, I will have 3~4 weeks of enjoying all the festiveness before I tire of it. I will of course, be going back to the same place for my tree. The place where I met the most charming elf that helped me pick out Fir Elton John last year. I wish I could lead you directly to that post, but if you want to read or re~read it, it is in my archives under 12/7/09. I spotted the elf a few times over the summer tending to flowers and shrubs, so I believe I will see him again.
Things have been quiet around here since our weekend in Lake Geneva. I have been stocking up on my baking supplies with the intention to bake some things ahead of time. I know...I said that before Thanksgiving and threw together a pie 20 minutes before guests arrived for dessert. That's me, always flying by the seat of my pants. But Christmas is different. I love to make gift bags for the special people in my life and I found the neatest little bags made of fabric to pack all the sweet goodies in. I'll show you them in my next post, remind me. I also have some plastic molds to make miniature cakes in the shapes of Christmas trees, bells, and snowmen. And I found a recipe for a sugar cookie icing that looks so yummy. So...I am going to spend my days baking and freezing. I mean it.
I know it's possible to 'deck the halls' without a Christmas tree, but I've always done the tree first. This makes a lot of sense since we have to move furniture around. I have however, been living vicariously through the blogs I visit. I never would have imagined before blogging that I would see hundreds of pictures of homes dressed up for Christmas. They are truly magazine worthy. And truly a reflection of the sweet ladies that know how to decorate a room.
Well, that's my post for today. I have plenty to keep me busy. UPS is still dropping by everyday and I have a pile of gifts to wrap and even more shopping. Friday night we have a birthday party for Papa and on Saturday we have a wedding to go to. Of course I have nothing to wear so I need to take a little shopping trip for that...

I hope you all are enjoying this wonderful season. Have fun with your decorating, your baking, your Christmas card writing {oops, forgot I have that to do as well}, and visiting
those you love. And stay warm! :-)

Monday, December 6, 2010


Blondie and The Husband at the Annual Lake Geneva Christmas Parade.
On Saturday The Husband and I drove to Lake Geneva, Wisconsin to meet fellow blogger Cindy, of Applestone Cottage, and her husband Dan for a weekend of holiday fun. And fun it was. This is the 2nd time we have met up, last year was in Galena, Illinois. We try to meet as halfway as possible as we live on the south side of Chicago and Cindy and Dan live in Northwest Wisconsin. And we try to pick small towns with shopping and ambiance. Lake Geneva was perfect and we even had the snow to make it more festive for the holiday shopping we planned to do. This is a picture of Cindy...look at her pretty smile.

Other than a few snow flurries during the week, we hadn't gotten much snow in Chicago, but Saturday morning we woke up to about 3 inches. I took this picture out the window of the restaurant that we met at. In the background you can see Lake Geneva. This time of year it is filled with holiday shoppers but in the summer it is a resort town with plenty of water sports and vacationers. I have been here a gazillion times at all times of the year and always have a ball. And we did Saturday, too.
Shopping was big on the agenda. Shop owners provided refreshments and holiday music filled the air. I don't remember the name of this shop, but I do remember my promise not to buy any more dishes. And they were all stunning. I really love this holiday set.
Look at this precious Santa face. There is something to be said for restraint.
Don't you love this old world Father Christmas? I believe he has a face somewhere behind his beard.
And this is a table runner Cindy is holding up that we both fell in love with. The store also had place mats, napkins tablecloths and aprons. Paradise.
We were offered peppermint hot chocolate while we browsed.
After shopping we met up with the guys at this place where they were enjoying their own refreshments. A trip to Lake Geneva wouldn't be complete without a stop in Hogs & Kisses.
At 5:00 p.m. we rushed out to catch the Annual Lake Geneva Christmas parade. Although it was only about 30 degrees and we couldn't see over every one's heads, it was so festive and fun. People lined the streets to see the holiday floats, the Fire Department and marching bands. There was even a dog parade. After the parade we had a wonderful, relaxing and WARM dinner at a place called Scuttlebutts. The food was outstanding. Afterward, we went back to our hotel and settled in for some nice conversation.

Hopefully, the next time we meet up it will be summer. And I know for sure we will visit each other again. I have learned that pretty much what you see in a person on a blog is what you get in person. Cindy is warm, generous and fun. Oh, I almost forgot, she gave me a gift bag filled with ornaments and holly and berries, and the cutest white pitcher. I am so sorry that I forgot to take a picture.

I hope you enjoyed this post. I am truly in the Christmas spirit now. Today I am meeting with my old pal, Earl the elf to get my Christmas tree. Now I need a few extra elves to help me decorate it! See you soon! :-)

Wednesday, December 1, 2010


This will be a short post as I'm busy, every one's busy..busy, busy, busy. The exciting news here is that we are finally getting some snow. Yay! It may not amount to much, it's blowing up, down and sideways and not really covering the ground, but I LOVE snow before Christmas. It makes me feel the spirit of it all. The temperature is not so great, 23 degrees, but I am used to winter weather like this.

I have really been enjoying making the rounds of Blogland these past few days. I am getting so many wonderful ideas for holiday decorating. Some of you may have been in the big mantel party over at The Lettered Cottage. I wasn't, but I took a peek at some of the mantels and I thought they were all magazine worthy. Wow, what a lot of creativity and originality out there. And I learned a few things. Simple, natural and fresh is just as stunning as over the top, all out decorating. I learned that we are using our own REAL evergreen in a thousand ways. We are jazzing up dollar store finds with paint and glitter and proudly putting them on pedestals. And I learned that hot pink, lime and aqua are the big colors this year. It all makes me wish I had a couple of fireplaces instead of one. What has sparked your creativity this season?

You are probably wondering where I am at in the midst of all this inspiration. Well...let's just say the house is being cleaned from top to bottom today and all my surfaces are going to be cleared off, all of my fall things and all of my everyday bits and pieces. The mantel is going to be cleared off except for the mirror that hangs above it. I am going to try to coerce a tall person in this house to hand me down my Christmas boxes and then I am going to get to work. Of course I will have Future Interior Design Daughter, FIDD as you might remember her, to help me. Emily is really good at coming up with good ideas and she is fast and organized. Abigail is not good for much except eating the candy canes off the tree. And speaking of trees, next week I will go out and get one of those. Decorating the tree is my favorite part. Seeing those ornaments that have been tucked away for a year always brings back warm memories. And I am so excited, last year after Christmas I bought a little green feather tree. I'm thinking of hanging just vintage ornaments on it, or maybe miniature bulbs in just one color {lime?}. Does anyone have one of these? Any suggestions! I think I'll put it in my kitchen.

Well, that is about all I have today. I have to brave the cold and go out to buy groceries. I have made turkey leftovers a thousand different ways and I don't want to eat anything with wings for a long time. I am linking up with Courtney for Feather Your Nest Friday. I hope you visit some of the ladies...there are a lot of ideas out there. And finally, I wish you a wonderful week! :-)