Wednesday, March 31, 2010


I don't mean to be thinking of summer while we have just started celebrating spring, but I was so thrilled to receive my order from Paula at Castle And Cottages. She makes the neatest hand painted signs and although it was hard to make up my mind, I decided to get two signs for the lakehouse. Above is the sign for the guest house, or Summerhouse as we call it. I'll take more pictures of it this summer for those of you who have not seen it.
And this sign is obviously for the lakehouse. How perfect. Paula already had these signs in her shop, but she takes custom orders. I have a feeling I am going to be giving her a lot of business!! If you get a chance, visit her. She has a great blog.
Things are moving right along with the remodeling of the family room and bath. I SO appreciate every ones comments with such useful advice when I was bemoaning all the decisions I had to make. It was rather silly of me because this is supposed to be a fun process. Here are a few things I learned from all of you:

1) Go with my instincts. Look at colors I love, even colors I wear. Paint some sample colors on the walls and live with them for awhile. Paint isn't permanent.

2) Don't live by rules and trends. Do what I want rather than what everyone else is doing.

3) If you can't change some things, work with them or around them, Accessorize!

Once again I am giving a big shout out (sorry) to all of you who took the time to give your opinions, advice and support.
So here is the low down on what has occurred since I last posted. Things went from bad to worse with the bathroom. We had to replace all the drywall. That set us back a day and cost us a bit more money over our budget. I continued to flip through my paint decks looking at color samples and of course, was ready to start the flinging again. But...I have some very GOOD news. The Husband had agreed to painting all of the trim white. Oh, I am doing the happy dance. You can see the trim in the picture above. I think we were all bemoaning the fact that the trim was going to stay the same. And I was so surprised at how many of you have husbands that have a problem painting wood. Wow! Where did they all get this phobia?

And more good news is that I have found my paint colors and I have ordered fabric swatches for new curtains. Have I not changed my attitude?! So will just have to wait for the final reveal. :-)

I hope everyone is having a fantastic week. Our weather is gorgeous and it is in the 60's today. All of the yards and gardens have been cleaned up and I think I am going to plant some pansies today in the big pot on my porch. Thanks for stopping in!

Saturday, March 27, 2010


Decorating, renovating, rehabbing... it's supposed to be fun, exciting if you will. Then you start to run into problems. You look at paint colors, magazines and end up flinging them into the air. At least that is how it is going for me.

We have started on the family room, second bathroom and hall. Stripping wallpaper and priming the walls. Our painter has left me with 2 books of paint colors. 2000 samples in each book. I have had them for 2 days and haven't even taken a look. I am so indecisive, I am afraid to look and not like anything. Out of 4000 samples. I think that is color overload. But bear with me. We aren't just painting, I am trying to redecorate these rooms that have been dull and brown and boring. My head is swirling with ideas and visions of how I want it all to look and how to make it look the way I want it to look.
This is our funky bath. None of my pictures were staged, however I believe I put the cap back on the toothpaste. Do you save caps in case one gets lost? I do. Anyway, note the wood on the walls. The previous owners had lofty ideas. It has been a love/hate situation. Let me know which side you are on.
When we wallpapered 20 years ago, I tried to feminize the bathroom a bit (which is the 2nd bath and across the hall from the girls room). I have a pale pink marble~look vanity top and the wallpaper is a trellis pattern with all sorts of pastels. I think I worked too hard against the existing look... not good. But I have lived with it. The cedar is definitely being painted white.
Of course you can click on to make the pictures larger. In addition to trying to feminize the room, I have a sort of rustic country look going on that is outdated. Where has my mind been? I guess I was just trying to work with what I had.
Now this is the family room. The wallpaper is above the chair rail and it is a very faint beige with tiny blue flowers. The couch is various shades of beige and the chairs have a bit of green.
The woodwork is oak and I have encountered a problem with The Husband not wanting to paint it. I thought it would look very pretty painted white. But that is a no go. The carpet is a light beige frieze. And all of this has to stay. All of it. The furniture came from my husbands office when he moved to a smaller suite and didn't have room for it. I don't think I would have ever picked this out. But again, I have to work with what I have.
This is my crafting corner with an oak table. It stays.

So my dilemma is: What color do I paint? How do I decorate this room in a way that is pleasing to me? What sort of style do I like?

Last night I went through a ton of my old Romantic home. Romantic Country and Cottage Style magazines. I also had visions of blogger's homes and remodels. This process helped (when I was not flinging things) and I have some very good ideas, but I will elaborate on that in another post.

This is the work in progress. It only took 2 days to strip the wallpaper. Next there is some patching.
And horrors of horrors, we found a lot of wall and ceiling damage in the bathroom that has to be fixed with new drywall. Additional time and money.

Am I still excited? Yes. I am forging ahead like a soldier. I will whip these rooms into shape and I will love the results. But I appreciate any ideas you may have as far as colors and ways of giving these rooms personality. Fun, fun, fun!

Hope everyone is having a great weekend!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010


The bunnies are hopping all over the place and I had one hop right on to my table today and it told me to get off my bum and start playing with my dishes. So I am joining up with Susan and a bunch of other gals for Tablescape Thursday. Visit Susan at Between Naps On The Porch to see what she and everyone have to offer this week.
My inspiration this week were these beautiful tulips I bought at my grocery store yesterday. The centers are yellow which you will be able to see in a day or two when they open more. When I was rummaging around through my dish cabinet I found candles that matched the flowers really well so they are on my table as well. The vintage candle holders go well with the bread or appetizer plates.
I received the dishes from my kids last Mother's Day. They are from the spring collection of '09 at Pier I. The water goblets are from the Butterfly Meadow collection by Lenox and the silver plated flatware is vintage. I just picked up the napkins and place mats from Steinmart last week. I love the texture. Have you noticed I am not big on tablecloths? I don't know why. Some of you have asked about my table and chairs. The set was bought from Pottery Barn about 20 years ago. Love at first sight.
Now I am dismantling my set up here to show you the individual plates.
Each piece is very versatile and I have made combinations with other dishes to get different looks.
All of the plates are fun but I think the dinner plate has a bit of casual elegance to it.
A birds eye view...
I had a lot of fun playing and now I just want to bring you up on a few things I have been doing. I found the book pictured below after hearing about it from another blogger. I haven't even begun to look at it, but the pictures of France are beautiful and if you are interested in French decor, this is a lovely book. I bought it on Amazon and I am so glad I bought a new copy because not only is it a great book to display, it has a padded cover and feels almost like a deluxe photo album. It's a wonderful addition to any coffee table. I'll tell you a bit more about it when I read through it more.
I'm not sure how I came upon this book, maybe I read a review. But I am a few chapters into it and I am loving every page. It's written by a blogger. Wait...are we a profession now? lol! Okay, the author has a blog and she was inspired to write her book after posting about her life, love of cooking and writing. I'll tell you more about this book after I read it and I will tell you what she said to me in the comments section of her blog! Fabulous book, so far! :-)
Finally, we have a lot of chaos going around in Blondie's house. I am having rooms renovated and painted and a big mess made everywhere. I have taken some 'before' pictures and I will post them next week. We are working on the kitchen, a bath and the family room. Lots of wallpaper coming down and a new look for all of these rooms without stretching the budget too much. Sounds ideal, right? I'll tell you more next week.

Thanks for coming by. And if it looks like spring, it must be spring! :-)

Tuesday, March 16, 2010


St. Patrick's Day in Chicago is always done in an 'over the top' sort of way, as you can see in the photo above. Where else can you see an entire river dyed green? It is said that the road from Chicago to Ireland is paved in water, from the Chicago River to the Illinois River, from the Mississippi to the gulf shores of the Atlantic, straight through to the Emerald Island itself...
Every St. Paddy's Day since the mid 1960's, forty pounds of vegetable dye is dropped into the Chicago River to start our great city's celebration. The dye will only last a few hours, but it is incredible to see!

On the South Side of Chicago we don't have a green river, but we do have Western Avenue and every year up until this year, it's played host to it's own parade, one of the largest parades outside of Dublin. Right here in my neighborhood. It is sort of like being in New Orleans on Fat Tuesday!
Last year there were 15,000 marchers, 120 floats and a whopping 340,000 spectators. We live about 8 blocks from the parade route and this is where the roadblocks start, so it's on foot or bike! I've never had a view from up in these bleachers, but there is a friendly crowd down below!

Last year marked the 31st year of the Chicago South Side Irish Parade. It looks like this pup has seen all of them!
It is estimated that the South Side is 70% Irish... I am only half.
People actually start taking their places on the parade route as early as dawn. The streets are barricaded off just after the last Sunday Mass that day(The parade is always held the Sunday before the holiday). The parade itself lasts a little over an hour but the celebration goes on in all of the Irish bars on Western. Cabs line up and down the street offering free rides home. Many people throw open their doors for 'Open Houses', serving up the traditional corned beef and cabbage, boiled carrots and potatoes and Irish soda bread.
Sometimes at the end of the day, I have to ask myself...what could they be doing over in Ireland?

I am joining in on the 2nd Annual Blog Crawl, hosted by Cuisine Kathleen. Stop in for a visit where this is a ton of food and drink to be had and all sorts of ladies participating in this day of celebration. And stop in to Chicago when you have a chance. It's a great city.

Monday, March 15, 2010


Look what came prancing into my house a few weeks ago, bringing with them a breath of fresh air. A chorus line of chicks, each one cuter than the last. Today we are calling for snow but I don't care. I have a bit of spring right here!
I joined my first swap hosted by Lori and really enjoyed myself. I was partnered with Stephie from Made by Stephie and just had a ball. We emailed each other and found out what each other liked and of course, we kept it 'springy'!
When I visited Stephie's blog I found that she was one of those bloggers that loves to re purpose old furniture and thrift finds, things we all love to do. And she had some great posts on how she changed an ornate mirror into a jewelry tray and how she took and old dresser and fixed it up as her own. Lots of great tips and directions. I urge you to pay a visit to her blog. This girl has talent!
Aren't these chicks darling?
Stephie kept the theme going with a cute cake stand, egg cups and a chick oven mitt. Oh, spring is in the air!
And she made a precious brooch or hair accessory from fabric that she brought back with her from Paris. Given that I live in pony tails, this will get a lot of use!
I had just as much fun shopping for Stephie and kept the spring theme as well and tried to remember that she loved vintage. You can go to her blog to see what she received from Blondie.

I told Lori she has to have a Summer Fling. This was too much fun. Pay Lori a visit, she has a great blog and hosts Get Your Craft On Thursday, which is neat.

Don't forget Wednesday is Kathleen's Blog Crawl for St. Paddy's Day! Don't you just love a party?

Wednesday, March 10, 2010


Less is more today as the temps in Chicago have hit the high 60's and I'm chasing daylight once again. All of the snow piles have melted over the last few days. I saw a flock of geese flying this afternoon and I thought, "They've come home." My neighbors are out working in their yards, children are riding bikes and parents are taking babies for walks. There's just a little extra bounce in every body's step when we first warm up here in the Midwest, though we know it won't last and we will probably have several more snowfalls. But today is gorgeous and I thought I would do a little 'springy' tablescape for you and include one of my favorite recipes as well.
Today my centerpiece is a simple white basket of white flowers that I made a few weeks ago and I believe I posted a picture of. I also have a little white pitcher filled with blue flowers and a new addition to my bunny family. Isn't he precious holding his little basket of eggs?

My tablescape is very simple as well. I bought some pretty salad plates that I wanted you to see. They are called Blue Chintz and I bought them at HomeGoods last fall. I also bought the white dinner plates there. The salad plates came four to a package for $7.99. Yes!
The place mats and napkins are from Steinmart, the wineglasses are from Target and the silver is vintage.

Very simple. And now I have a recipe for an easy soup that your guests will think is anything but. It's not a cream soup, but it has a velvety taste and texture. You will love it.

Spinach & Rice Lemon Soup

1 onion, chopped
6 garlic cloves, minced
4 shallots, minced
2 T butter
3 cans (10 1/2/ oz. ea.) chicken broth
2 10 oz. packages of frozen chopped spinach
4 T fresh lemon juice
1 c. cooked rice
1/2 c cream (optional)
salt to taste

In a dutch oven, saute the first 4 ingredients until the onions are soft. Stir in broth and bring to a simmer. Add the spinach, lemon juice, and rice and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the cream if you are using it. I do. Heat through. Looks lovely garnished with a sprig of parsley.

I hope you try this recipe. I love it and I think you will too. Let me know if you like it.
Today I am joining Susan from Between Naps On The Porch for Tablescape Thursday and Michael Lee from Designs By Gollum for Foodie Friday. Please visit each of these sweet ladies and then make the rounds of all the participants.

I am happy you stopped by and hope you all have a great evening.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010


My week has been getting better and better. The weather is warm and sunny and we are expected to get up into the mid 40's over the weekend. Yes!! We actually have patches of grass showing through the snow after just one day of sunshine. The smell of fresh air makes me want to inhale and never exhale... I love it.

One of my favorite things to do when it is cold and gray and I don't have anywhere to go is to browse online for unique shops. I got a tip from another blogger about a website called Farmhouse Wares. I was thrilled to find so many things to go with the English Country decor of my kitchen up at the lakehouse. I ordered up a storm and I still have another list! In the picture above you will see the galvanized metal stand I ordered. Now wouldn't a dreamy angel food cake look cute sitting on that? I just love mixing things up like that. I threw some fruit on there for now so I could show it off (fresh out of angel food cake). Is it not the greatest?
Yes, I really did just throw the fruit on it after my trip to Pete's Market and never bothered to take the netting off of the clementines. That's just me. And although to my knowledge, galvanized metal is pretty much used as a receptacle for cows milk and scraps for the pigs, it is making a big show in all things rustic and chic, right up there with burlap. Pottery Barn is busy selling their galvanized wares and not to compare apples and clementines, I think I got a great deal. The shop owner also has a blog called Farmhouse Musings and she has some really cute stories about farm life, so pay her a little visit and pop into her shop. You will love it.
And again it was my lucky week. See the beautiful tassel? I never thought I would own one, although I see them all over Blogland. I mean, do I look like a tassel person? Beyond the tassel is the parrot's cage with a box of Fruit Loops on top!! But I mentioned in the comments to another blogger that I loved bunnies and I loved the bunny tassel she had and the next thing I knew, our wonderful girl from that mountaintop in California, Gloria from Happy To Be sent me this adorable bunny tassel that she made! For the very few of you who don't know Gloria, go directly from my post to her blog. You will have a friend forever.
I was so surprised. Gloria really has my style pegged. I think Mr. Bunny just might look good in my English Country kitchen at the lake. Or should I ask, does one put a tassel in a kitchen? Well, if I can have a parrot in my living room, I can have a bunny tassel in the kitchen.
Look at this face. I just want to kiss it. Thank you from the bottom of my heart, Gloria. From my lake to your mountaintop! ;-)
I was playing with my flowers again the other day and having a bit of rainy day fun. I made these two arrangements for spring. Emily has been joining me and she is just SO creative. I'm in awe of her most of the time.
I bought this little urn from the clearance section at Michael's. From my Floral Shop post, you all know that I have enough flowers to last me forever, so this was very inexpensive to make.
This one is made with a crackle glass container, also from Michael's. Both of these are blogger gifts so I can't say much more. How do you like them?

The beautiful day is getting away from me. I can't believe it is staying light out until almost 6:00 p.m. In another 6 weeks or so, my tulips and daffodils will be coming up. Whoo hoo!! And this reminds me, St. Patrick's Day is also approaching and Kathleen from Cuisine Kathleen is having a Blog Crawl. You can click the button on my sidebar to get all the details. It sounds like it will be loads of fun.

Thanks for coming by to visit. It's always appreciated. I'm thinking of letting the dogs take me for a walk now and then I have a beautiful veal roast going into the oven. Happy Wednesday everyone!