Tuesday, September 27, 2016

FEELING FALL, BABY NEWS AND A HUGE GIVEAWAY



Wow...can you feel fall in the air?  Not many trees changing colors here but the leaves are falling and my resident squirrels are leaving chippy walnut shells all over.  We have not had a lot of rain at all and since we pay for our water, I really don't like to water the lawn.  Still I've given everything a good long drink a few times over the past few weeks.  Now that the air feels crispy and the humidity is gone, it's that time to start pulling the spent flowers that have lost their energy, rinse and store my pots and put away all of my cute pieces that I have hither and yon in the backyard and on the patio.  This is something I've put off before, thinking I'd like to have it around a bit longer and then it's early November and the wind is whipping and the days are short and gray and who wants to freeze their little pinkies off?  So I have work ahead and I'm not going to wait until the eleventh hour.  ;-D

I have been a good girl as far as jumping too soon on the fall wagon.  Just this mum plant and some pots of pansies.  Okay...I found 4 irresistible baby pumpkins. But that's it, I swear.  I hope to get some time to bring out some of the things I like from my fall bins, I simply can't use it all anymore.  I'm really starting to revolt against clutter.  Somewhat.  

Right now I want to thank everyone who made it through my previous post, as long and droning as it might have been.  I don't regret including the wise words of Leslie Harris, nor do I think I will avoid addressing issues in the future which I feel are important for women of our age and place in life.  I was more than happy to see so many of you weigh in and I know a lot of you were reading other's comments so it was a nice 'round table discussion'.  I hope you enjoyed the post.  




Sunday was such a wonderful day.  We had Emily's much anticipated and prepared for baby shower.  We had been planning this for weeks.  Thankfully her sister and sisters in law helped tremendously as did many of Mike's family.  I've been long time friends with Mike's mom, Maureen, actually going back to before I even had Emily.  

Isn't this a lovely banquet room?  It reminds me of a cathedral, or maybe a Swiss chalet.  We chose a country club in a suburb way out toward the once barren countryside I grew up in.  That's all changed now but the area around this golf course and country club is in the middle of land untouched.  




As I said, so many in the family pitched in.  They made vases out of canning jars, bought flowers from a farmer's market, simple gold votive cups from The Dollar Tree and filled them with lollipops from a party store (candles are banned in the banquet rooms).  For favors we found a lady nearby who is known by word of mouth.  She makes the cutest cookies decorated with fondant.  Man, I'm so sorry I didn't get a picture.  They were shaped like little baby bibs and I wrapped them in tissue and put them in little paper bags secured with washi tape.  

She received so many much needed items for the baby; a stroller, the crib mattress and bedding, a small bassinet...just so much and I loved to see her happy face and shining eyes as she was gifted by friends and family who can't wait to meet little Madelyn.  On that note I want to share some of the nursery Emily has been working on.  





What is really amazing is that this room did not have the chair rail or trim before but she knew it was something she wanted.  Most of the artwork on the walls was found on Etsy.  She loves the combination of the coral and minty green/blue but it's subtle and and makes all of the smaller pieces pick up the colors and stand out.  The big splurge was the Pottery Barn Kids crib.  It is beyond beautiful.  And then on the flip side, she found the pink bouncy chair at a garage sale for $5.00, washed the fabric and cleaned up the base and wow, it looks great.  




On this side of the room we have a peek at the closet.  She was given a lot of baby clothes from DIL Mary Clare, that were Elsie's, my first granddaughter.  Em also hit up a Carter's Outlet where everything is half price and then marked down even more.  The little drawers in the cubby were hand stenciled and embellished for pennies after she saw the idea on a high end store website.  

For the baby shower, instead of cards we asked guests to bring a children's book.  Emily found the 'book shelves' at iKea, they are supposed to be spice racks.  She IS good!  On the DIY painted quilt rack she had in her basement for years, she has some cozy blankets.  The one in front is actually part of the quilt and sheet set I had in her crib 29 years ago!  I do save everything but I don't know how or when she confiscated it.  Still, I love it.   Sweet memories.  



Now I want to share with you a great giveaway that my friend Lidy at French Garden House is collaborating on with me.  If you've never been to her shop or blog, you don't know what you are missing.  I tell everyone and anyone that Lidy unknowingly got me into blogging.  I recently did this interview and I mentioned it without naming Lidy (should have!).  

All of these beautiful treasures will be given to a lucky winner.   Pictured above, A pretty Bon Appetite Linen Towel...


...a French Market Tote...


...a gorgeous smelling Harvest Apple Soap, and...


...a fabulous Wine Bottle Cover!


Hmmmm...wondering if I can get in on this giveaway!

I am really indebted to Lidy for being a friend over all of these years and I'm super thrilled that she's letting me sponsor this giveaway.  As my way of thanking her for her inspiration I'm having this giveaway and asking only that you do these few things to get your name in the drawing:

Visit Lidy at French Garden House and have a look at her blog and shop.
Leave a comment telling Lidy what you love most about her blog/shop.
Subscribe to the French Garden House blog and her newsletter.

Easy!  She will determine who the winner is on Sunday, October 2.  Good luck. She will wrap everything up with a big bow and send it off to some lucky lady!  Thanks so much for playing along.  You are going to love her as much as I do!

That's all I have for now.  I hope you were able to put up with a whole lot of pictures in this post.  Off to the lake on Friday to open more boxes!!!

Jane x

Sunday, September 18, 2016

SEPTEMBER RAMBLINGS & SOME WISE WORDS


Howdy!  I'm having a great time as new plants and flowers are amazing me here in September.  I have been spending a lot of time outdoors now that the temps have dropped down to the normal 70's we usually experience at this time in the Midwest. My Sedum looks like bushes and the hydrangeas are getting a bit dried out so I can soon cut blooms to bring indoors.  A little weeding here and there and using the hose when we have days on end without rain.  I really love being outdoors.  I'd rather cut the grass then vacuum.  God help me this winter.  

These are Obedience plants.  I wasn't sure what they were so I asked on Hometalk.  If you haven't been there it really is cool.  Go to the category you are searching; gardening, cooking, home repair...and you can download your own pics.  You then get responses from all sorts of folks familiar with the category.  Real people.  Real answers.  It's as helpful as Google but as I said, you can download pics in addition to your question.  When everyone weighed in on these being Obedience plants it dawned on me that I planted these at the lake near The Husband's rock garden.  They were tall so I dug them up and brought them home.  A great example for keeping a garden journal.  



Along the same fence I noticed these blooms.  I thought perhaps hollyhocks but I know they bloom along a tall stem and these flowers were at the top.  Hometalk and the woman who works in the floral section of my grocery store set me straight.  This lady, Donna, was so sweet and helpful.  I asked if she gardened and wow, it sounds like she has something really magnificent.  We chatted about twenty minutes.  I had to pull myself away before the ice cream melted.  So...this is Rose of Sharon.  All of my sources including Instagram confirmed this and also warned it's very invasive.  I can't say I don't welcome this as it's along a fence where I need privacy from the next door neighbors.  My dogs are barkers and we are in such close proximity to these people I wish I could build a wall.  Ugh...didn't mean to say that at all.  ;-D



And the good 'ol morning glories.  They climb vertically and then horizontally.  I have to thin them out in the spring.  They strangle my herbs and you can see they took over a little iron tower that's unidentifiable now.  They make a nice little shaded area on the back porch for the dogs but they don't bloom until September.  Glorious velvety blooms then but with the cold coming on by October, you don't get a chance to enjoy them long.  I think maybe next year I'll drop some of the seeds along that wall...I mean fence.



A Good Book & Milo At My Feet

I follow Monica at Prince Snow Farm, both her blog and Instagram feed.  She recommended this book and I immediately looked it up on Amazon and then ordered it.  Briefly, this is the story of a woman who bought the farmhouse she had always dreamt about in Pennsylvania.  To quote the book jacket:

"Through stories of planting and preserving, of opening the gates wide to neighbors, and of learning to speak the language of a place, Christie invites you into the heartache and joy of small beginnings..."

It is definitely a book to savor.  Thank you, Monica.

********

I want to introduce you to a long time blogger friend of mine, Leslie Harris, who writes the blog, Gwen Moss.  If you've read my blog long enough, it's not just a lot of senseless drivel.  Well, actually, it is.  But I try to stay away from the negative, a personal trait of mine.  I am however, quite wary of taking chances.  I am so embracing my relationships with my children and ever growing family on my blog but I wonder what's in store for me.  I add a spin to my everyday happenings, always honest but trying my best to make you smile (and perhaps myself with the crazy happenings that can only happen to me).   I have to really shake it off in a good way.  When it comes down to pure honesty, I'm floundering in my middle age.  A bit lost in my new role in life that I actually have no name for.  I'm not sure what direction I'm heading in but I do know I have more years behind me as opposed to ahead of me.  In light of all of this I do a lot of reading, writing, and simply listening to others as well as what is going through my mind.  

Leslie summed up so many of my feelings in a recent post she wrote.  I've included a little excerpt here.  I think you will find it as enlightening as I have.  I hope you find the time to write a comment here sharing how you feel as far as uncertainty about the direction you are going.  I realize some of us are very grounded and content in our lives.  If I've made some sense here, if Leslie's post moves you, I'd love for you to share or follow the link to her blog simply to read all of it.  She's an incredibly motivating person.   



"I am not a seeker of scary experiences. Let me be clear about that.
There’s no one that likes a comfy routine more than me. But one thing I’ve learned from relocating cites and selling our family home (2 years ago) in my fifties, is that big changes inject your life with a newfound energy. All of sudden you’re looking around with a pair of new eyes. You find yourself growing in unexpected ways simply because you’re outside your comfort zone and everything feels terribly new. 
Suddenly anything seems possible.

But no, you don't have to move and be totally uprooted to have a similar feeling. I've found that change in baby steps is manageable. 

Here’s one way to feel good about yourself. Introduce something new and positive to your life, but make it small.  Just do it every day for a set period of time. Even a week is good. And finish it. 

The next thing you know, you’re walking around with a feeling of accomplishment about this one positive thing you’ve done. And suddenly, you’re seeing yourself differently and who knows what's next? 

It's this openness to new experiences that keeps us growing".

*****

She's the real deal and I just love her.  





A shout out to Tammy at T's Daily Treasures.  I so enjoy seeing the sweet pieces she crochets and how she involves herself in groups and classes with women who love needle work.  Living in Kuwait, she gives us glimpses into a beautiful country with her photography and words.  

She knows, like many of you, that even though I'm all thumbs I would love to knit, crochet and sew.  She recently gifted me with these pieces and they so warmed my heart.  Terrible pics but the piece on the right has a glass bottle filled with dried lavender on it and the cute little mug shape on the left...well The Husband confiscated that  to use on the end table next to his favorite chair to hold his coffee mug.  He can be sneaky like that.  He needs to send a personal thank you note to Tammy.  :-D




I'm leaving you with a very simple and quick recipe for a side dish, Creamy Spinach Bake.  If you like spinach, especially creamed spinach, you will love this.  It's very simple and requires few ingredients. I didn't change it much, this is my own picture and I have to say, we devoured it.  Here's the link.

I'm enjoying time at the lake.  Lots of work but it's relaxing to take walks and sit on the dock.  Not much else to do but unpack boxes and we are down to pretty much just the decorative pieces I've accumulated over the past 25 years.  I like the simplicity right now and we actually have no place to put these things.  We gave away many pieces of furniture and I want to add back, purchase new pieces of furniture little by little giving everything a lot of thought.  Going up alone is a challenge.  The T.V. is not hooked up nor do we have WiFi.   Country living shouldn't be about that. At least we love to believe that.  I'm all about it but the dark nights with nothing but the sound of bullfrogs and coyotes, well it's a little unnerving for this girl sometimes!

I'll be back soon.  Have a great weekend!

Jane x




Saturday, September 10, 2016

BACK AT THE LAKE, A RECIPE AND SOME EXCITING NEWS


Diamond Lake

Here I am!  Can you guess where from this picture?  We are finally back to the lake.  It is so beautiful there, I can't wait to share that with all of you, especially the changing of the leaves on the trees along the lake and in the back where the woods border our little roads.  But for now, I'm a bit excited about the cattails.  The seeds blew our way and although they can get invasive, we will enjoy them and keep them under control.  This side of our dock is open to wildflowers and lily pads.  We had our pontoon docked here for a long while but decided two boats were too much work.  So this side is just growing free.  I love the blowsy feel. I like to bring cattails indoors and placed them in a tall urn.  No water whatsoever and they dry beautifully.  The tall brown spikes let loose with those cotton candy~like seeds so I spray them with hairspray when I bring them indoors and they last a few seasons.



Great Room


Arriving late Thursday evening, this was my first glimpse of our cottage in over a year.  I had seen snaps The Husband had taken on his visits but nothing prepared me for all of the changes.  The staircase was a very different from before as we chose to change out the wood spindles to wrought iron, had the steps stained the same as the floor and the risers white.  I hear there can be a problem with scuff marks...do any of your guys have a remedy for that?  I was thinking Magic Eraser or just having to paint them when they get really bad.   



New Loveseat & Layla

I ordered a new sofa and love seat through Emily.  I had been wanting to get to a lighter, breezier lake  look and I found this fabric.  The stripes are actually a blue/gray and the cushions are part feather down so they are super comfy (as Layla found quite soon).  I have a thousand throws here in the city house so I'll pack up a few. 

You can see the boxes the moving van brought, well over 100.  Sounds unbelievable but they are just medium size so they are easier to carry.  The people at this company, I think the name is Service Pro, did an incredible job packing our belongings.  Everything was wrapped in paper or bubble wrap.  Every box was labeled and in the correct room.  The furniture was in all of the right rooms but just sort of set anywhere.  We spent the first night sleeping in our bed in the middle of our room surrounded by boxes.  Very confusing for someone like me who has to get up ten times a night to use the bathroom.  



Someones been sleeping in Milo's bed

Milo is getting a little high strung in his old age.  The new surroundings were making him very anxious and I was so afraid he'd have a seizure.  His dog bed made it through the flood and I thought the familiar scent would calm him down.  Nope, but Layla found it cozy.  She has always slept on the sofa or on our bed (under the blankets I might add).  She cozied up here and at night they both crowded in bed with us, at least until the last night when Milo finally felt at ease and slept in his own bed.  

My biggest priority was to unpack the kitchen first.  I brought up some coffee, dog food, laundry detergent and toilet paper.  I forgot filters, couldn't find the dog bowls and was going into complete withdrawal without my Diet Pepsi that first morning.  The Husband and the car were gone so I was at a loss.  I got started on the work at hand until he showed up two hours later.  I thought he'd have some groceries or at least a box of his breakfast leftovers that he lovingly gives to me, much like a dog does with his wet bone.  Nope, he had gone to some far flung town to get his truck registration all up to date.  Priorities.  I'm starving but hot dang, the truck is good to go.  


Saturday.  Halfway there


So I unpacked each and every individually wrapped plate, bowl, glass, serve ware piece...you name it.  Into a sink filled with soapy water, washed, hand dried and stacked on the table.  By the end of that day I was down to just two boxes and I had clocked 12,000 steps on the good old Fitbit.  The final job the carpenter has in the kitchen is to put the subway tile up and I didn't want to get in his way so the harvest table is overflowing and I still have three more boxes to go. 

The Husband was in charge of laundry, all the packed up towels and sheets and quilts that survived.  He really thought he had the greatest job...toss the laundry into the washing machine and then sit down with his iPad while Mr. Whirlpool did the work.  He was stunned when I told him that one usually occupies oneself with other chores in the interim between washing and drying, like unpack 67 boxes in the bedrooms upstairs.  There was a little grumbling to say the least but that ended when the washing machine (brand spanking new) died.  Literally wouldn't drain or spin.  I trouble shooted everything to no avail and we have to get a service person out.  You can guess now that The Husband was humming a different tune.  Sort of like, "Yes, yes, yes!".  Creep.



Squint to see Milo.  Matching dog and dock...how chic.


It was not all work and no play.  While we were stuck in the city for 19 months, the two houses to the right of us sold.  I'm going to really miss our old neighbors but the new ones are very, very nice.  Next door is a young couple from the Northside of Chicago.  I like them a lot.  We were given a tour of their cottage and I love how modern and bright and it is.

The next house belongs to a couple with two small kids and this is their permanent year round home. I like that because it's normally so desolate in the winter. The Husband actually knows the guy as he has a marina on the lake.  His wife is very sweet, too.  I think we will have some good times together.  I might mention that we all had an impromptu first meeting Saturday afternoon in the midst of a huge birthday party/Labor Day celebration they were having.  Milo spied people (actually a crowd of children and adults) and his thinking is that where there are people there will be dogs and he shot over.  Now this really was the party of all parties; a huge jumping jack for the kids as well as a trampoline, a sprinkler that shot up like a fountain and just so, so many people.  Have I said that yet?  Because I had to race in and around all of them to catch Milo.  I was slipping and sliding in my flip flops and ran right under the fountain after him.  As I came around the side of their deck, the owner had him by the collar and there was Milo, as proud as a prized pony surrounded by children petting and hugging him.  It was like the party now had their own petting zoo.  So I muttered a couple of thousand 'sorry' and pulled him away and headed to our house.  And then he decided to do his duty and yes, it was the dirty one, right smack in their side yard.  When I reached our house, sweaty and dripping wet from my meeting with the fountain, I gasped to The Husband, "Go.  Go there.  Get a bag.  Go.  Clean it up.  Go.  Now."

So we and the new neighbors all had a nice chat the next day and we sat with our long time friends on their deck drinking Cosmo's and catching up.  I have found that no one in our little corner of the bay has dogs.  That makes it easier for me as Milo won't be tempted to take off as much.  However, it didn't escape me that we would now be held responsible for any doggy~do found anywhere.  :_(



Raw food

A quick recipe and then I'll wind things up.  Sometimes chicken breasts can be so unappealing. I know there are a thousand ways to make them but I think I only know of three, especially if I want the chicken to be moist and have a lot of flavor to liven it up. So I made this up the other night and I'm just going to sum it up quick for you as I don't think you need to measure much.  Let's call it Chicken with Sausage and Peppers.

I started by browning four boneless, skinless chicken breasts in a pan which has a tight fitting lid.  Do this with about two tablespoons of olive oil.  I then layered red onion, green peppers and about three chopped garlic cloves.  Seasoned this with a nice palmful of dried Italian herbs (basil, oregano, rosemary, or a mix...Emeril has a great one).  I also added some red pepper flakes for kick.  Top the whole mess with ground Italian sausage just scattered over, about a half pound.  Cover and bake at 350 for about 30 to 40 minutes.  Serves 4.

This was such a great combo of flavors and the juices from the sausage guarantee a very moist chicken.  

                                                                       ******************


It has been one crazy week.  It seems like one huge tornado hovered over me, never really touching down.  From Blondie's Medical Journal, I saw my main dermatologist in Chicago.  I'm doing pretty well driving around the city on my own in spite of the fact that I could get lost in a phone booth.  The bad news is that I've been off the meds for my skin for three weeks and the eczema has come back full force.  My skin dried up so badly my arms, legs and chest felt like sandpaper.  My neck became so rashy and dry that the skin cracked and I couldn't turn my head unless I had on a thick layer of ointment.  So...Plan B.  A new drug that won't be marketed in the states for a few months but my doctor has participated in some of the studies and will have privy to it in another month or so.  It is very, very promising.  I'll give myself injections and hopefully I won't faint doing it.  

On another wonderful day I went to a dentist, a new who Emily goes to and just loves.  I had some swelling around a tooth, as in the one right next to my front tooth.  I thought it might just be a little access, but no.  I have a fracture in the tooth up high, like halfway between my upper lip and tip of my nose.  Dr. Nice Dentist referred me to a periodontist.  In the future he might be referred to as Dr. Evil.  I'm going to have to have a little cutting of the gum down to the tooth to see what's happening and then sutures.  I'm shaking as I type this.  I may actually lose the tooth and have to have an implant.  I have never been afraid of going to the dentist and I know its a huge fear for some.  But my imagination is running wild with this.  Say a prayer...for my mental well being.

I'm caught up in planning Emily's baby shower on September 25.  Mike's mom and I are in charge but we have a ton family helping us with a variety of things.  We are expecting about 70 guests and it's at a very old country club out around my hometown.  I'm super excited as evidenced by the fact I've already gotten new shoes.  And speaking of babies, my son Jeff, and his wife, Deirdre are now expecting.  So yes, we have a granddaughter coming in early November and then another (they don't want to know if its a boy or girl) in early February.  Very exciting!  I guess that's about all the good stuff I have to say about this week.

It's Saturday afternoon and The Husband and I are just getting ready to head up to the lake.  I wanted to get this post in before as we have no Internet connection up there yet.  Soon I hope, not that I have a chance to sit down.  If there are a ton of typos here you know why.  ;-D 

Enjoy your weekend!

Jane