Tuesday, November 29, 2011


It's a very blustery day in Chicago, hang on to your hat. It's not cold though, in the 40's and there are rumors of snow. We shall see. I'm hunkered down with my coffee and laptop and thought I'd do a quick post.

First up, I received the most wonderful gift in the mail yesterday from Maggie of Normandy Life. Many of you know her and I am one of the lucky ones. She did a post on making chutney a few weeks ago, and I commented that I had no idea where to start and had never tasted it before. She kindly emailed me and asked if I would like her to send me a jar from her homemade stash. Of course! So it winged it's way from France to here and I am the lucky recipient of not only a jar of Spicy Apple Chutney, but she included a sweet card, a little tote bag and a box of deliciously fragrant soaps that she bought in Paris! Is she not the best? I can't wait to try the chutney. She advised me that it is good along side cold cuts and meats and also cheeses, some of which she recommended. I am so touched and thankful to have such a sweet and generous person like Maggie in my life.
Time marches on and I have no tree as of yet. The Husband said he would take it under advisement. What was I thinking...that I could put up a live tree prior to December 1st and it would live to see the holiday? So I have been busying myself with other holiday duties...er, fun, such as writing out my Christmas cards and doing a little {lot} shopping. I have to say that I am 60% finished and I am going to start wrapping gifts today. I didn't go out on Black Friday, but I did take advantage of Cyber Monday. When there is free shipping, you just can't beat shopping online. I know this makes me sound like an efficient little elf, but believe me, after a week or two of the boxes arriving, begging to be wrestled open and wrapped, I start to lag behind and I'm up on Christmas Eve to all hours wrapping. All my ideas for handmade gift tags and stamped paper fly right out the window.
Our wedding anniversary is December 14th...25 years. Wow, I have been with The Husband longer than I have been without. We have a little trip planned to celebrate. Next weekend we are off to St. Joesph, Michigan to stay 2 nights at The Belvedere Inn and Bistro. It's right on Lake Michigan and this harbor town is known for it's quaint shopping and dining. I couldn't download any better pictures than this, as the site had one of those pesky little slide shows. I'm really excited and I promise to take lots of pictures.

So that's about all I have going on now. I'm late but I am joining Marty from A Stroll Thru Life for Tabletop Tuesday and Honey at 2805 for Potpourri Friday. Thanks so much for hosting ladies. And to everyone...have a wonderful week! :-)

Friday, November 25, 2011


I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving. Today I couldn't do anything but lie on the couch and watch Hallmark Christmas movies! I think I ate the house yesterday! And I feel so tired from all of the cooking and cleaning and shopping and getting things ready. Drained. But it was all so worth it and we really had a lot of fun!

This was my centerpiece. I found a rosemary plant last minute and thought it would be perfect. Believe it or not, the tray it sits on was something I have had for years and don't remember where I bought it. When I cleaned my kitchen out for the remodel, I was going to put it in the box with things I wanted to give away. I'm happy I didn't because it goes with my holiday dishes perfectly.
Yes, I know it's supposed to be Thanksgiving and this looks like Christmas, but I really wanted to use these Winterberry dishes and since we will be having Christmas away, I did the whole table like Christmas. But this is all I am showing as I want to be in some of the upcoming holiday parties {see my sidebar if you haven't heard}. My family thought I was nuts, but they do all the time, so I was just a happy little elf playing with my Christmas things.

Emily and Mikey were in charge of appetizers, little finger sandwiches, some with chicken salad and some with shrimp...they were quite good. Emily also made the mashed potatoes with sour and cream cheeses. Everything was delicious...the turkey, sweet potatoes, corn, asparagus tips and rolls. After we ate, I took a little catnap before company came for dessert.
We had our annual best dessert contest and the hands down winners were my nieces who made these little turkey guys. The body is cake dipped in chocolate and decorated with candy. They were darling. Runners up were my nieces, Liz and Grace. Congratulations, girls.
I made shortbread cookies with a chocolate center and chocolate cupcakes filled with a cream cheese mixture. I found this three tiered stand at a thrift shop last summer for $3.00.
Of course the dogs knew it was a special day...Layla likes to lie in front of the hot oven to keep warm and smell the food. We found her curled up in this pie plate that missed the garbage can. It looks like a pretty dandy dog bed in the perfect spot.
After company left, I found Milo sacked out on the couch. Yes, we dress them up on holidays! He, Layla and I went to bed shortly after.

I was going to take my fall things down today but I only got as far as getting out the big box and some tissue paper. So that HAS to be done tomorrow when I am a little more refreshed {and not near the TV and Christmas movies!}. The Husband hit the Black Friday sale at Macy's today so I am hoping we can go together to get the tree tomorrow.

Now I am back to visiting some blogs and then I am going to get a good nights sleep. Christmas is in 30 days and I want to start dreaming about it. Have you started shopping yet? ;-D

Saturday, November 19, 2011


I had a very quiet day at home and decided to do a little baking. Nothing for the holidays yet, just some goodies for taste testing. Only the best makes it to the holiday table. And I have some seasoned judges. Tomorrow I am going to start to bake and freeze. First up are some heavenly chocolate cookies that get help from a brownie mix. I got this recipe from Cass at That Old House. Give her a visit, she has a lovely blog and such a great sense of humor...you will love her. Anyway, she wrote about a cookie she likes to make and all you do is take a regular brownie mix, add 2 eggs and 1/4 cup of oil and mix. She added chocolate chips, I added walnut pieces, and your good to go. Bake at 350 degrees for 8 minutes. They taste like brownies! And oh! So easy!
I made chocolate chip cookies from a recipe I've had forever. I am sure you have your favorite. These are chewy and full of flavor. And simple. Love that.
I keep waiting for the cold {brrrrrr} weather and yet it has been in the 50's here all week. I want to whip out that new parka and North Face boots {okay, I can be a label bragger}, but the weather is not cooperating. I was looking at scarfs the other day at Target...yum, all the patterns and colors. Here in the Midwest, the cold brings out the fashionista in all of us. Why not look good while your lips are turning blue?
Thanksgiving plans are underway. I am breaking away from tradition. Who? Blondie? ;-D. After a long search for Christmas dishes to buy and have as a yearly tradition, I finally decided on the Winterberry collection by Phaltzgraff. I have had them in the box since last January when they went on sale. Well...we are not having Christmas dinner here, so I decided I am going to showcase those babies on Thanksgiving. It's going to look a lot like Christmas! There are no Christmas trees or snowmen on them...just some lovely holly and berries. And last week I ordered and received some matching wine and water glasses. I picked out some napkins with holly in a bit of a contrasting pattern from Kohls and I will mix these up with white ones. I am still working on the centerpiece but I know I am going to add some white pumpkins and branches lest we forget it's Thanksgiving.
This is my Thanksgiving and Christmas plate that we serve our turkey on. I've had it since we were married. I love the subtle color and how it works for both holidays. Isn't that turkey darling?
I have a favorite website, Terry's Village, that I find a lot of cool stuff at. I'm not much for whimsy when it comes to holidays. At Christmas I love to collect Old World Santa's and I have a thing for snowmen as long as they are not screaming red, black and green. This site has a little of everything and for the 3 months before Christmas, I place an order every once in awhile for a few favorite things. It all has added up over the years of course, and I have more spread out throughout the house. Give their website a peek, the prices are wonderful.

So, I have shopping and baking next week, cleaning and fluffing. We have 8 coming for dinner and then we are hosting dessert for about 30. Everyone brings a dessert and as we did last year for the kiddies and the young at heart, we have a contest for the most original and tastiest dessert. Somehow, those little munchkins always win! ;-D

So, that's it for my holiday countdown and a lot of rambling. For all of you that posted on my kitchen reveal, thank you so much for your kind compliments. I am loving it. It truly is the heart of my home. Have a great week! :-)

Wednesday, November 16, 2011


I know that I have showed you bits and pieces of the kitchen redo but I thought it was fine time I showed you some overall views. I found out yesterday that the kitchen island I ordered from Williams Sonoma will not be delivered for another 2-3 weeks. I was waiting for that to show you a complete reveal, but we will just have to wait. Bummer.

So this is the kitchen now...
...and this was it 4 weeks ago. We kept the original cabinets as you know, but had them taken off and revarnished and new hinges put on. New granite counter tops replaced these green things that I had for 20 years.
We went with brushed nickel knobs and pulls to blend in with the stainless steel appliances. Try as I might, I can't help but have a little {lot} of clutter on my counters. Some of it is even functional! Next on my list is to take down the hideous wallpaper border and paint. It went well with the green counters but not these.
I think you have seen the built in spice rack that I love, it's opposite the stove and so handy. Now, if I had a place to hide that humongous bag of dog food. My apron hangs on a little broom closet that was extra space and above it is a wee little cabinet for plastic bags.
This is the little peninsula that looks out into the living room. Most kitchens adjoin a family room, but this house was originally only 2 bedrooms and an addition was made in the 1940's that included a family room that is at the other end of the house.
This looks from the sink area to the dining area and the living room beyond. The fireplace was made by the same carpenter that did the cabinets, all in pine. It looks like a lot of wood but I just tossed the big cream colored area rug I had in the living room and have something else ordered. It looks a lot cozier with the rug.
Sorry...this is a repeat picture!!
And this is a final picture looking from the living room. As you can see, I have plenty of room for that island and I just can't wait. Did I mention that it has a marble top for rolling out dough? I have been stocking up on all of my favorite baking ingredients and implements. It would have been fantastic to have had in time for the holidays, but hey, this isn't too shabby!

I have new counter stools ordered, they are distressed white chairs with backs and upholstered seats in a gold/yellow. I am also looking for blinds. In the spring I am going to rip off the nasty wallpaper above the cabinets and paint it a nice cream color along with the walls.

So, there we have it. I'm really happy and so happy that it turned out this well. I'm joining in with a couple of parties: Potpourri Friday at 2805, Feather Your Nest Friday at French Country Cottage and a kitchen linky party with Jennifer Rizzo. Follow the links to join in and have a Happy Week! :-)

Saturday, November 12, 2011


Today I went outside with great expectations of throwing away the weathered, raggedy looking mums and inpatiens in front of my house and then I paused. They're not dead yet. They are bent and drooping from the wind, rain and cold, but still have lovely blooms. I stood there with the trash can and my gardening gloves and promised them all another week.

This is the lavender plant that I decided not to put in the ground this fall for fear it wouldn't root well enough before the ground froze. It's doing okay in my garden window. I water it every two weeks, as I read that they like dry soil. I have gotten advice that it will live okay in my house until spring and then I got another piece of advice to let it go dormant in a dark cool place. I suppose I would have to water it, too. Any thoughts on this? I get really emotional over this sort of thing.
I was thrilled to find that I could order a bouquet of lavender on eBay, which is pretty cool since my little plant isn't giving much yet. To my surprise, it arrived 2 weeks later via Athens, Greece. The stamps were very interesting and there were two little charms inside as well which I think was very thoughtful. It was totally wrapped in heavy plastic but the scent was unbelievable. Yum!
Daughter Emily brought home 4 of these pictures from the furnishings store she works at as a designer. They are framed French postcards. I'm going to do an arrangement on the wall in my family room, which is next on my To Do list. The room has been on hold since the kitchen took precedence. It's a big project, from furniture to curtains to everything in between. I am really excited to get moving but I think I will wait until the holidays are over.
The thing about dried lavender is that the buds fall off the stems. Never fear, into a porcelain soap dish and into the bathroom they went.

While I was on eBay, I also ordered some dried hydrangeas, which I have done before. The box came today...I shouldn't say box, it was a carton about the size of what my microwave came in. Big heads of purplish green hydrangeas. I was in awe at first and then I thought, "What am I doing with this when my house is in full transition from fall to Christmas and an unfinished kitchen thrown in as well?" I closed the box and managed to find a corner in the den to store it until January. Maybe they will look good next to some red and green poinsettia plants.

I am packing up most of my fall decorations this weekend {besides load after load of laundry}, and just leaving out a few pieces. This will make it easier to start Christmas decorating after Thanksgiving. This year I am going to be early, I will get my tree early and just water the heck out of it, and do what I say I am going to do every year...get it all finished and sit back and enjoy December. Last December with the passing of my father, we didn't get our tree until the 20th of December and I didn't decorate much at all. This year will be different. I have a big box of ornaments from him, the old, scratched mercury glass orbs, and after growing up with these, they now have a home here with my family to enjoy.

So, I'll go back to my laundry and pop on back next week. I hope all of you are having a great weekend. It's 60 degrees here and lovely!! :-)

I'm joining in Marty's party, Table Top Tuesday. Visit A Stroll Thru Life and join in the fun!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011


The Husband and I took the scenic route to the lakehouse on Saturday morning, driving around Lake Michigan and stopping at one of our favorite restaurants, The Stray Dog for lunch. After having a wonderful taco salad, I took some pictures of the harbor. 99% of the boat slips are empty. Everyone is preparing for a long cold winter.
The Halloween decorations were still up. These were so cute, I had to take some pictures.
Isn't the baby darling?
It really was a gorgeous weekend, sunny and in the 60's. The weekend before our friends, Craig and Snow stayed here for their 18th wedding anniversary. As a gift they left me this little bird sign. I love it. Discover.

Needless to say, we didn't do much. Everything has been cleaned up and put away...we are actually ahead of the game. The Husband spent a lot of time watching college football and I spent my time lying on the couch reading and napping. Since the patio furniture is put away, I sat on the porch steps for awhile breathing in the crisp lake air. Somewhere, someone was burning leaves..it smelled like fall.
My daisies just won't quit. They are like me, a little stubborn when it comes to the seasons changing.

We ate at a steakhouse Saturday night. They really know how to load up the food. A bread basket and a basket of crackers with cheeses, Soup and salad. I had prime rib and The Husband had barbecued ribs. Turtle cheesecake for dessert. All in a rustic, farmhouse atmosphere. What a feast.
Sunday was even more quiet as it turned gloomy and rainy. The patio looks so empty and lonely. It's hard to believe that we had 26 guests crowded here having a ball on the 4th of July!
I made the simplest, most satisfying dinner for us on Sunday night. All you need is sausage, onions, potatoes and carrots. I adapted it from a recipe by Jacques Pepin. Cook the onions until soft in a little oil, throw in any kind of sausage {brats, Italian, breakfast sausage}, what ever you have. Stir in chopped potatoes and carrots and cook all until done. Add a little water if the food starts to stick to the pot. It should evaporate. I season it with salt and pepper and sometimes a mix of Italian seasonings. You can't stop at one bowl!

Our temps are supposed to go down this week and we may even have a few snowflakes. I am still working on putting together the kitchen, Jeff hasn't moved out yet so my living room is a catch all for all of his new things. I'm slowly packing up my fall decorations, everything is looking so crowded. I just need some space! I'd like to start Christmas shopping, but where will I put it?

So...tell me what you have planned this week. Any big projects? Just relaxing with some good books and magazines? Tons of laundry {that would be me}. Thanks for popping over! :-)

Thursday, November 3, 2011


To prepare for long, cold winters, some people have the chimney cleaned or the furnace checked, snow blower oiled and gassed up...the normal precautions. Me? I go boot shopping. That's one of the benefits of living in a cold climate, you get to wear boots. And I LOVE boots!

The great thing about having grown {still at home} daughters, is that we wear the same size shoe. Well, count Emily out, she has wee little dogs. But Abby and I share shoes and together we have quite a selection.

I bought these boots last week and Abby didn't like them. She said they made her feel short, like an elf.
WHAT? Elflike or not, these boots are walkin' and rollin'! These are great for pulling on quickly to rush out the door for something; a quick trip to the store or mall and hey, at the airport where you have to untuck your jeans, pull off your boots and your 3 pairs of socks. I love these. My Go To boot.
I love all the detail on these. Emily has them in gray, but she is a wee size 6. She is also only 5'0, but has never considered herself an elf. These have a short chunky heel on them so I don't fall. And by the way, a tip I learned to keep your boots in shape when they are in your closet; put a wine bottle in them. I did that here to get the one to stand upright. Rinse the bottles out first, or hey, put full ones in and you can have your own stash when you need it.
Now these will be great when I go out riding my imaginary horse. I love them. Again, chunky heel so I won't fall.
And I guess these illustrate that I don't take Midwestern winters lightly. Waterproof, fleece lined and cute. I am ready!! They go with my new black parka, but that's a whole other post.

I usually buy boots a half size larger since I am probably going to be wearing thick socks. Make sure you wear skinny jeans...and that just means that they are tapered at the ankles to tuck in your boots...they are not just for skinny people. Believe me!! Boot leg pants look terrible scrunched into tight boots. And don't forget leggings, skirts and dresses with tights.

I am not a mall person and I love to shop online because I'm comfortable and I see the stores whole inventory. But one place that I just found I want to pass on to you. It's called 6PM.com. I found amazing prices there. I believe they are related to Zappos. Your order is delivered in 2 business days. And best of all, you get that chill that runs up your spine when you see the UPS truck.

So, are you boot happy this fall? What are your winter wardrobe plans? Let's chat! :-)

Tuesday, November 1, 2011


I have exciting news...Daughter Emily is engaged! Mike popped the question Sunday night. But I'm getting ahead of myself. First, he invited The Husband out for a drink last week and got permission to propose {whew}, he got the O.K. and then later in the week told me. I was jumping up and down...I think Mike is just the greatest and they are so in love

The plan was that they were staying at the Hilton overnight for a "daycation", {a new word for getting away briefly}. He was going to propose after they got to their room. Which he did. The floor had rose petals scattered all around and he had made a heart with their initials on the bed. Not only did Emily cry, but she hyperventilated and Mike never had a chance to get down on one knee. The ring is gorgeous.
After the proposal, he led her downstairs for what she thought was drinks and dinner, but surprise...the bar was filled with about 40 family and friends! Here are my four. This would make for a great Christmas card if it weren't for someone wearing a baseball cap and holding a beer.
Emily and Abigail. Abby is going to be the Maid of Honor
Mike, Son Jeff, Emily, Abby, DIL Mary Clare and Son Kevin. The Thanksgiving table is going to be full!

Mike and Emily have been going out for over three years. Mike grew up next door to Papa, so they have known each other all their lives. Our families and friends are connected in so many ways. Before popping the question, Mike patiently waited for Emily to graduate from school and get settled in a job, which she has as a designer/salesperson in a large furniture chain here. The date scheduled for the wedding is September 29th of next year.

So...I am going to be Mother Of The Bride. Seems like yesterday that I was Mother Of The Groom. I've had a little practice but I think I am going to be much more involved this time. We are already looking at the bride magazines and looking forward to the spring fashion shows. I am truly happy and excited. Nothing is ever slow paced around here! I should get out and start looking for that dress now. :-)