Friday, December 30, 2011


I have been reading all of the posts on the 2011 projects in review written by you crafty gals and I am loving it. I never claim to be crafty, I can be a bit creative when I want, but a project for me is more like cleaning out a closet. And I can boast that my closets are pretty tidy. This little paper white guy was a project in a way; planting, watering, watching patiently. He's gotten bigger, but no blooms yet. I love anticipation. If I were a very creative blogger, I would have styled this a bit better. But it's rainy and gloomy here and the best light comes from the kitchen since Sir Douglas still blocks the big window in the living room.

So, what have I been doing with myself since I last posted? Absolutely nothing. I have a head and chest cold and I am spending every spare moment feeling sorry for myself. I was lying in bed yesterday afternoon staring at the jar of Vaseline on my dresser several feet away. I really needed it for my scratchy dry nose, but I didn't have the energy or desire to get up and get it. I made a mental list of all the things I needed and wanted; a box of soft Kleenex, the one with the aloe in the tissues for my sore nose. A big bowl of hot chicken soup. Someone to wash and dry all my PJ's because I am out of clean ones. Someone to clean my bedroom which still looks like Gift Wrapping Central. Some cough drops, hot fruity tea, a warmer's just no fun to be sick alone.

I keep remembering the scene in You've Got Mail, where Meg Ryan is sick and Tom Hanks comes to her apartment. He sits on the edge of her bed while she sniffles and pours her heart out. Why can't we all look that good when we are sick? Meg looks adorable in her cute flannel pajamas, with her snappy little hairdo, mussed up just so...and Tom is clearly taken with it and oblivious to all the used tissues scattered about {probably the ones with aloe}. Now me...I haven't had a shower in 2 days, my ponytail has moved to the side of my head and most of it is sticking straight out, I'm in sweatpants because of my lack of clean PJ's and the bed is covered with dog hair. Worst of all, my NOOK broke. I was happily playing with it the other night {prior to catching this bug} and suddenly the screen went blank. I did all the trouble shooting I could and now I have no choice but to return it for an exchange, which I can't do now as they would frown heavily on a scruffy looking person with a red nose and crooked ponytail, coming in and sneezing on them. A book, a REAL book would never do that to you, I argued with The Husband, the giver of the Nook. A real book is loyal all the way to the end.
Layla and Milo do not have the dreaded bug, but they don't like me this way. Granted, they love to snuggle and nap as much as they can, they are getting a little bored with me. After being abandoned so carelessly by my Nook, I picked up the book I had set aside during most of busy December and finished reading it. {It's on my sidebar, one of Grafton's best}. As usual when I am reading a murder/mystery, my imagination gets a little wonky, so I had to get up, check that the doors were locked and close the drapes. It was evening by now, so I made a pot of coffee {although I was out of my French Vanilla Cream, that would go on my whiny list above} and settled in to read some blogs. If I left you a comment, it was probably very short and made little sense. Nyquil will do that.
The Husband finally got home from work at 8:00 p.m. By then I couldn't remember if it was "Feed a cold, starve a fever", or the other way around. I did know I was hungry, wanted to be fed and crawl back in bed. We settled on ordering from Sesame Inn which is wonderful if you are looking for comfort food. The hot and sour soup can clear out your sinuses with just one whiff alone. I settled on the Japanese U~don Noodle Soup...shavings of beef and onion in a broth with huge, long homemade noodles. Me and my tummy were in heaven.

So all was well in my world as I hunkered down back in bed with the dogs...still no soft tissues, paper napkins would have to do, and as long as The Husband didn't mind, I'd just sleep in my sweats with my ratty hair. :-)

Tuesday, December 27, 2011


Well, that's another Christmas behind us. I'm sure everyone will agree, it went by too fast. It seems like just yesterday I was shopping and wrapping gifts. I took this picture of our tree with the load of presents underneath shortly before the whole family was gathered Christmas morning. There was something {and more} for everyone. Our group is larger now with DIL, Mary Clare and Emily's fiance, Mike. We opened gifts while we munched on cinnamon rolls, coffee and orange juice. There was a lot of noise, happiness and thank you's all around. Afterward we had a big breakfast of eggs, bacon, sausage and mimosas. Then we played games. There is a popular one out now called Stumple and you have to find it. It's a blast.
At 4:00, we met at Mary Clare's family's home for dinner. MC was in charge of the appetizers and they were out of this world. I will share them another time. We played Stumple while we noshed and then dinner, made by Katie and Nora, was served. Above is a picture of the table. Dinner was their family's traditional lobster, beef fillets, mashed potatoes, asparagus and rolls. It was such a feast.
Coffee and cookies, including gingerbread men dressed in swimsuits, were for dessert. We played more Stumple. I was tired by then...Thursday night had been one celebration with the O'Hara side of the family...Christmas Eve was a party with The Husband's side of the family and it all wore out my little batteries.
My family was so generous, The Husband gave me the new Nook {I gave him a versatile saw!}, and son Jeff surprised me with a gorgeous Kate Spade cover for it. I was given a pretty purse from Kevin and Mary Clare, a set of Williams~Sonoma dishtowels and pot holders from Emily and Mike, and a beautiful Michael Kors scarf from Abby. Everyone was surprised and pleased with their gifts. It was so much fun, but the real happiness just came from being together and laughing and hugging. I thought that as my children became older, the spirit of Christmas would be different, and it is, in a new and joyful way. The old saying that it is not the gift but the thought that counts kept ringing in my ears. Often, I had a lump in my throat, looking at my adult children and thinking that The Husband and I had done a pretty good job with them.

Well, that's it for Christmas of 2011. As the year reaches it's end I think constantly about all the things I have to be grateful for. Doesn't this time of year make you a little sentimental, too? Now we head into January and the new year. I'm excited for what it holds. I hope it's a wonderful one...for all of us!

I'm joining Honey at 2805 for Potpourri Friday. Join in!!

Saturday, December 24, 2011


I had to pop back in to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas before the merriment begins. And I have a little candy recipe to share if you have 15 minutes before you rush out the door. I was inspired by Carolyn of Desire Empire {hers were much cuter}.
Crush some candy canes using a hammer, mallet or meat tenderizer as I did. I overdid the amount of candy canes, just make sure you crush them finely.
Melt a bag of white chocolate chips. I used the microwave and it took about 2 minutes, stirring halfway through.
Dip large marshmallows in the melted chocolate and stand upright in a cake pan. Sprinkle with candy cane pieces.
Simple, festive and delicious!
We had a party Thursday night, one tonight and a big brunch here tomorrow for the kids. We are having dinner at Mary Clare's family's home. They are so gracious. I hope to have them all here next year.

So, I know we are all busy but I just wanted to visit and say Merry Christmas. Have a blessed and wonderful holiday! :-)

Tuesday, December 20, 2011


Things are heating up in Kitchen Stadium. Not only have I started baking some cookies and such, I am trying my hand at candy. This is an easy one and only has 5 ingredients. I found it at Flower Patch Farmgirl and it is so simple and GOOD!
I modified the recipe because I used a 9 X 13 pan. Layer baby pretzels in a foil lined pan. Melt 3 sticks of butter in a pot and add 1 1/2 cups brown sugar. Cook at a low boil until it gets really dark. Pour over the pretzels and bake at 350 degrees for 5 minutes.
Take it out of the oven and while it's still hot, throw on a couple of handfuls of chocolate chips {I used this whole bag} and sprinkle on some sea salt. You have to play this by ear...I added too much salt so don't overdo it...maybe 2 teaspoons.
This is what it will look like. Put the pan in your freezer for a few hours and then break it up into pieces.
Be's addicting. Doesn't it look delicious? It really is. Have fun!
The days are counting down fast. Just when I thought I was getting bored {efficiency can lead to that, I have learned}, I volunteered to wrap presents for the late shoppers in my family. I actually like to wrap when I have a pile of it and all my supplies and paper out. Sort of like an assembly line. It brings out that teensy little bit of creativity that I have.
Abby and I went grocery shopping yesterday and it was nice to get out and about. I have been spending way too much time hunkered down with books and movies. People were friendly and cheery, I guess the big crunch time hasn't hit yet. I don't know what I am going to do with That Husband of mine...he has a list a mile long and he doesn't seem perturbed at all to get some shopping done, even on his lunch break or after work. He works in one of the biggest shopping capitals of the world! At least as far as I'm concerned. My goodness, the Mag Mile, Water Tower Place, makes me break out into happy chills.

We have 3 holiday parties, as I have mentioned. All are somewhat casual but we always bling it up a bit. I bought a red silk top with a little sparkle around the neck. With nice jeans and black boots, I am now afraid I might look a bit like Santa {in more ways than one}. I'm not sure about that outfit, I never wear red, it washes me out. But then I have a black velvet top that I think will be pretty and for Christmas day I have a charcoal sweater dress. I can really lean toward being obsessive/compulsive about what I wear. I think everything is in the details. I am getting out my cookie cutters and making sugar cookies. And shortbread. And more candy, which I will share with you, maybe on Friday. In the meantime, try this pretzel/chocolate treat and email me if you have any questions. And I will see you later in the week! :-)

Saturday, December 17, 2011


I am going to start baking...I AM! But I keep getting distracted. Movies, reading, hanging out with the family, napping. I have finally consoled myself with the fact that the sweets will be fresher if I do it closer to the parties. We have three family events in a row starting the 23rd. The problem is narrowing it down to what I want to make, there are so many great recipes out there in Blogland. I could eat it, I mean, make it all!
Would you believe that we have a dog grab bag? Yep, there are a lot of dogs in our family and they are our buddies, so we treat them good at Christmas. I found an etsy shop that has all things good for your puppy. I got a gift basket for my grab bag victim. filled with homemade treats and a few cute toys. As always with etsy, everything is wrapped up so sweetly. If you need anything, visit Trish.
Over in Christmas Central, or my den as we usually call it, I have been a real elf. All that remains to be bought is The Husband's gifts for the boys. I do the girls, he does the boys. He loves to shop last minute, he's out now with the throngs.
I am also forcing paper whites in the den because it is so dark in there. I was told to water the bulbs and keep them in a dark area for 2 weeks and then bring them out in front of a window and they should bloom. I don't see that happening before Christmas. These babies are just starting out and it has been a week. Wish me loads of luck.
I don't think you have ever met Nina. She is our Quaker Parrot and lives in the den where we don't have to listen to her. She has a couple of great lines and makes a smooching/kissing noise constantly. She will also dance on command. But alas, she is mean. I avoid her.
I have been immersed in Christmas movies. Last night The Husband had two work related parties and I got to lounge in bed and watch The Bishop's Wife and part of Christmas In Connecticut. I fell asleep as usual, but I do love that ice skating scene with Cary Grant and Loretta Young and of course, the taxi driver. What a great movie. Last week when we stayed in that little town in Michigan, The Husband decided to take a nap once we were back at the inn. I turned on the TV and look what I found. I think The Holiday is my favorite {non~classic} Christmas movie. Love the story, love Rose's little English cottage, love Jude Law.
So, unless I can coerce The Husband into going out for dinner, it will probably be a very quiet night. Love those, but could really use some restaurant atmosphere tonight. They are all so decorated beautifully now.
I was able to download that picture from my phone of Milo sleeping in his new thrifted dog bed. He really only uses it when there isn't a couch or chair available. I think he looks comfy.

So, that's all I have for today. We had a little snow last night that melted today and it is 32 degrees right now. I went outside for a little while today and it felt quite cold. I just hope we have snow on the ground for the big day. Take care! :-)

Wednesday, December 14, 2011


I missed the party for the Christmas Vignettes so I thought I would share some of mine in this post. I love decorating windows and I have been lucky that Milo has stayed away from this one. He loves to terrorize the mail lady and UPS guy {my best friend lately}.
I also decorated my kitchen window with lots of candles and whimsical snowmen.
I decorated the coffee table a works for me now that my son with the big old feet has moved out. This was a perfect resting place for them.
This frosted glass tray was something that was going to go into my donation bag and then I fell in love with it all over again. Once I thought outside of the box, I came up with different ideas to use it for.
This tiered stand is a thrift store find from last summer in Michigan.
I kept it simple...
I LOVE my Christmas geese, they look so darn happy!
And here is a little plant stand with ornaments on sticks pushed down into the plants. My living room is small so I have to decorate where I can.
I found this hurricane on sale at Kohl's. I love how big it is. I set it on a rustic tray I had with vintage salt and pepper shakers. I have been burning candles that smell like evergreens since we put the tree up. It seems to have lost some of it's smell, or maybe I am just used to it.
Now I have some randomness for you, maybe a nice break from all the Christmas stuff...we ordered 2 new counter chairs from the home furnishings company Emily works for. I love them...they are very comfy.
And then this dog bed. I was out with Emily and Abby the other day. We went to a thrift store because they needed sweaters for the annual Ugly Christmas Sweater parties they go to every year. So, there was the dog bed sitting there, bragging that it was $5.00. Considering I had been looking in L.L. Bean at dog beds for over $100.00, I was ecstatic! I went to Target and got this bright pillowcase and then stuffed it with two old throw pillows so it would be nice and lumpy.
Milo definitely loves it. I had a picture on my camera of him snoozing in it, but I couldn't download it for some reason. He really loves to curl up in it. I think I did good for under ten dollars.

The days are moving a little slower now that things are done. As soon as I buy a gift or UPS delivers, I wrap right away, mainly because my daughters are peekers! I can't even use gift bags, Emily will pry them right open. I've always loved surprises, The Husband can put a bag in the closet and tell me not to look and I am not even tempted. I get my pleasure in the anticipation, I guess.

So tell me how far along you are with your Christmas plans. Still decorating? On to baking? Any good Christmas parties? I'd love for you to share! :-)

Monday, December 12, 2011


I think December was quite a good month for The Husband and I to get married in. We have spent so many anniversaries on little get~away trips, albeit in the frigid Midwest, I don't think I'd have it any other way. Sometimes it has just been the 20 minute ride to downtown Chicago, staying in a nice hotel and shopping the Magnificent Mile. And then we have ventured out into western Illinois, Wisconsin and Michigan. Never a tropical vacation, and never just a dinner out. Always a fun, and cold, cold trip where the sights are fun and full of Christmas spirit and the food is warm and delicious.

This past weekend was spent in St. Joseph, Michigan, a wonderful little town right on the lakefront. We stayed at The Boulevard Inn and Bistro right in the heart of the downtown area. We dropped our bags and went out to explore. The first place I found was this unbelievable kitchen store. Cooking utensils, spices, aprons, dishtowels, small appliances, everything and anything for the cook or baker.
I found some things I needed for the kitchen and even a few gifts. In the spirit of the season, a bottle of sparkling pear cider was given to every customer. And that's another fun part of shopping this time of year, all the hot chocolate and sweets the shops offer. Yum! On the left side of the picture above you can see the pink apron I bought daughter Emily for Christmas. Isn't it cute?
This is their festive window...
...and I couldn't resist a picture of this fun mixer. Isn't the color great?
I was curious to stop in this cafe but we never got around to it. But the name says it all. I bet the desserts are heavenly.
There is always a Kilwin's in every little town I go to in the Midwest. Do you have one near you? They make fudge and chocolates on big marble slabs and it's really fun to watch. The Husband bought some peanut brittle and I got some fudge and we finished it off in about 5 minutes!
As frigid as it was, we had to take a little walk on the beach.
And this is a shot from out hotel room. The inn was very nice and comfortable, decorated just beautifully for Christmas, but somehow I forgot to take pictures. When we arrived, there were two big gift baskets in our room filled with mugs and hot chocolate and candy. Wow...I really hit up on the chocolate this weekend! And one last surprise, I happened to open my purse to find a little box! Inside was the watch I have been wanting, a platinum men's style watch that I was hoping to get from Santa. We usually don't exchange anniversary gifts but since this was the big 25, The Husband is SO thoughtful.

I have some visiting to catch up on and I'll be back later in the week to post some pictures of our Christmas decorations. It's hard to believe it's only 2 weeks away. I'm really enjoying the season...I have the spirit big time. I just wish it could last longer. :-)

Thursday, December 8, 2011


The party's just keep going on and on. This is Honey's party for Christmas Trees. You can visit her and all the ladies participating at her blog, 2805. If you missed my post on Holiday Dining, just scroll down. These are all part of the Christmas Bloggers Block Party and I am having fun!

Here we have our monster tree, Douglas Firbanks, Jr. He was much smaller at the nursery, I think he might have grown overnight tied to my car roof.
Here are a few of my favorite ornaments. After my father passed away last year, my sisters and I picked out a few special things before his house was put up for sale. I really wanted some Christmas ornaments, ones that I grew up with. They hold a special place in my heart. You can also see the little sheet music ornaments I made last week, they are simple and fun.
I have a few of these 'popcorn balls' that are actually made out of Styrofoam pieces used for packing boxes. Aren't they cool? And next to that is an embroidered Santa I made years ago {when my children were little and I had time!!}
I love this one, it's very sweet.
I found this guy on clearance at Target last year. Look at those eyes. Awww...
If you have been with me since I started blogging, you may remember me showing you this ornament. It's a mini shopping bag from what once was my favorite store in Chicago. It's now Macy's, but I still call it "Field's"
I did my best taking a picture of the tree at night. I think it turned out okay. This is the best tree we've had, even if it is on the large size for my living room. Now I just hope that if I feed and water it everyday, it will live until January.
And finally, look what arrived today! I can't believe I have been waiting for this island since October. The kitchen is now COMPLETE! Don't you love it? I am so ready to bake cakes and pies and cookies!

Now I'm off to see some Christmas trees done up by some talented ladies. Pop over to Honey's and you can see some, too! Happy Holidays! :-)