Monday, February 28, 2011


It has been raining and snowing for the past week and today the sun is finally peeking out from behind the clouds .It makes me think today will be a great day. That vitamin D level is definitely up. And it has been a good couple of days since I last posted, just getting out of the house and having the kids coming through my revolving door. Keeps me on my toes.
I have been looking through my seed catalogs and I decided that in addition to growing a few tomato and pepper plants at the lakehouse, I will attempt a vegetable garden here at home again. I have a nice size plot that has a little fence around it to keep the dogs out, little stones to walk on and full sun most of the day. Forgive me if I sound ambitious, but I used to grow beans, peas, carrots, zucchini, lettuce and eggplant. And of course tomatoes and peppers. Other than the squirrels playing toss with my tomatoes, the garden thrived. Then along came an invasive weed and every spring it would take over and choke all my plants to death. It was impossible to keep up with so I threw in the towel.
Since then I have been content to grow my favorite herbs in a little plot next to the back door and in some pots. I LOVE fresh herbs when I cook. But this year I am putting on the boxing gloves. I am going to turn over the soil in that big garden bed, put down some weed killer and let it go to town for a few weeks before I plant my seeds.
Yes, I am determined this year. Daughter Emily became a vegan about 6 months ago. She has really been learning how to cook with vegetables and herbs and spices. I hope the garden will gain her interest. She was such a big help when she was a little girl...well she was more interested in looking for worms.
And as I continue on with my Weight Watchers diet, totally stuffing my self on healthy foods, it is going to be so nice to eat my own homegrown veggies. Do you have a garden? Big or little?
Friday Emily and I went to a gift shop a couple of blocks away. It's one of my go to places when there is an occasion to buy a gift. She was going to a party and needed something, so I walked around and snapped some pictures.
Look at these cute purses. They are very summer~like to me so maybe I will go back for one in a few months. I think ruffles are going to be in vogue for awhile longer.
And I thought these signs were really fun. They have everything from candles to jewelry. It's a very popular place.

Saturday night we went out with friends to dinner and a play. It was a good time. I have a habit of taking pictures everywhere I go, but the play involved nuns and they have some scary habits of their own. It really was fun, an interactive sort of play in a church setting, complete with the nuns from your catholic school nightmares. I don't think you ever get over that fear. At the end when we got to meet the actors, I found out Sister Bernice was one of the people we go to Las Vegas with every year. I didn't recognize Mary Ann under the habit!
Well, it looks like it is time to get my day started. Layla is not looking too excited about it.
Milo is the sort of "throw anything my way" kind of dog. He'll help me in the garden this spring and Layla will lie in the shade.
In the meantime we have to be content with the last few weeks of winter. I try to take each day as it comes...make every hour happy as they say. There will be days that I am snuggled down in my nest (still trying to make my way through Pride And Prejudice), poring over the seed catalogs and dreaming of warm weather. And before I know it, spring will be here. Yay!

I am linking with Marty at A Stroll Thru Life for Tabletop Tuesday. Thanks for visiting! :-)

Thursday, February 24, 2011


Sometimes you are reading a blog and you find a link to another blog that looks interesting. Or you are reading the comments on a post at a blog and you find one that captures you, and you think, "I like this person, I have to check out her blog." Well, that happens to me all the time and that's probably why I follow so many blogs. And that is how I met Suzan.
Her blog is called Old Grey Mare. She is sweet and witty and down to earth. And crafty. Give her a piece of twine and a twig and she will create something memorable. And now I am head over heels that she has opened her own shop called a Mare Of A Different Color. These are some of the beautiful, handcrafted pieces you can order. And things are selling fast.
These are the gorgeous little {I shouldn't say little, they measure about 5' x 4'} hearts that smell heavenly. I couldn't stop at ordering just one. Use them as sachets, or fill a cute basket with them as I did...I am in LOVE! Pop in and visit Suzan and tell her Blondie said Hi! I hope you are soon hearing the knock of your little UPS man with a beautiful pink and green box filled with goodies.

See you soon! :-)

Tuesday, February 22, 2011


Warning: These pictures may make you shiver. The lake is covered with a sheet of ice. It's hard to believe that 5 short months ago we were zipping around in our boat and swimming at the sand bar. And it will be awhile before we are doing that again.
As I took these pictures I felt like I was somewhere in Alaska, just no sign of life anywhere. The roads were desolate looking and although many people don't come up in the winter, everything looked closed up and deserted.
Inside we kept a fire blazing and the wood stove burning. We only ventured out to get a bite to eat. In the evening we rented movies and watched them cozied up in the loft with popcorn. I rented Pride And Prejudice. I was hesitant to watch it because I haven't finished the book yet. The good thing is, I fell asleep before the end. Perfect timing.
Funny, after not being at the lake for 3 months, I expected the house to look different; dusty, abandoned, but it looked the same. The only plants I seemed to have lost are my two huge ferns and that makes me sad. The Husband's palms are thriving. Everything was in it's place, it looked like we just walked out yesterday.
There was just a tiny bit of snow left as you can see and the grass looks looks nice and green. My porch looks like it is crying out for plants and flowers and big fluffy cushions on the furniture.

It wasn't all melancholy {baby} as I am making it sound. We weren't stocked up with food so we had 3 wonderful dinners out. Saturday we went to a small town about 45 minutes away and browsed around an old bookstore. It also carried new books and I bought a book of short stories by Alice Munro. It was sad to see that some of the antique stores we love were closed down with For Sale signs in the windows. Here I go getting melancholy again. We visited the gift shop in town and I bought a beautiful big trellis, about the size of a twin headboard, for planting flowering vines on this summer. I also bought a big bouquet of flowers that I filled several vases with and that really brightened everything up.

The forecast was that we were going to warm up to about 50 and the sun would be shining. Well, it never went over 30 degrees and Sunday we had snow and sleet and rain. We sat on our rockers and read our new books. It was peaceful.

So that was our 3 day weekend. It has been snowing and raining off and on since we got home, but as always, this house is always bustling and lively. I think we better wait for a guarantee of warmer weather before we hit the road again. I hope all of you are having a wonderful week and staying warm and dry. See you in a few days! :-)

Thursday, February 17, 2011


I haven't done a tablescape in the longest time, so with the weather being rather gloomy today and no sign of spring, I got down to it. I gave you a little peek of the dishes I got from Ballard's awhile ago but never actually set a table for you with them. We use these as everyday dishes. I love the soft brown glaze around the edges.
The napkins and place mats are the Food Network brand that you can buy at Kohl's. I love their kitchen linens and stock up whenever they have a sale. The monogrammed silver napkin rings are from Grandin Road, and no, the B is not for Blondie.
The wine glasses are from Pier 1 and the silver is vintage.
These are dried hydrangeas that I bought on eBay. Can you order dried flowers on eBay? You bet your sweet Pay Pal you can! They arrived from the farm packaged just so, not a petal dropped. The enamel pitcher is from IKEA.
I love my mercury glass and kept most of it out after packing some away from Christmas. I filled this little piece with potpourri from Smith & Hawkin.
Mercury glass votives.

This was a fun table to set and most everything was right at hand since we always use the dishes. I am trying to convince son Jeff to get these for his new apartment {yet to be found}. I asked him if he would rather be George Clooney or Adam Sandler. lol!
Other than the gloom, the temperatures are climbing and we are supposed to hit 60 degrees this weekend. The snow is melting super fast, just a few patches left. If we have a clear path to our door at the lakehouse, we may just go this weekend. It has been SO long since we have been there, I know I'll have to bring my feather duster. And my poor car is going to pay a visit to the car wash, I have months of road salt on it. I'm not kidding myself that spring is here, I'm just going to pretend for awhile.

I hope you have had a great week. I am going to link up to Susan's party at Between Naps On The Porch. It's a little late but I bet there are some beautiful tables out there. Have a wonderful weekend! :-)

Monday, February 14, 2011


Happy Valentine's Day! I am hoping that The Husband gets home early enough that we can have a nice dinner here. I am thinking steaks, but who knows, I will have to check the freezer. Do you like how I plan ahead? I hid a cute little card for him in his armoire for him to find this morning...he was really touched. Today I am going to bake some heart shaped cookies and try not to eat any of them I feel so deprived but I have lost a little weight on Weight Watchers and I don't want to mess it up. One cookie leads to another and another...

See the beautiful painting of the rooster? I won that on Sharon's giveaway. Her blog is My French Country Home, and if you haven't been there, you are one of the few. She shares her life in the gorgeous French countryside, you will love visiting. She had a weeks worth of giveaways and I won this painting by Ande Cook of Chickory. It's painted on a piece of wood, I love all the detail. I think it is going to look fantastic in my English Farmhouse kitchen at the lake. Thanks Sharon and Ande.
I also won a mystery gift bag from the beautiful and sweet Kathleen Ellis. A book, a bracelet and some vase filler gems. Her lifestyle posts are something you won't want to miss. Thank you Kathleen.
I was cooking again Friday night to meet up with Carmie's challenge of cooking a recipe a week from all of my dusty cookbooks. As you can see from the cover and pages of this book, it has been much loved. I bought it right after I had Abigail, as I was searching for quick meals and these are great because you get everything you need in one pot {or pan, crockpot, casserole...}. Just add some bread or a side salad.
This week I made Chicken Cacciatore and it turned out great. Enlarge the pictures and you will have the recipe.
I used chicken tenders so we wouldn't have to deal with bones. Doing it this way also means I shaved off 1/2 hour of the cooking. Try it this way, you will like it. I also confess I was out of frozen beans so they aren't in this, but do add them, they give it a nice crunch and more color.
This is the chicken after you have browned it.
And this is everything simmering in the pot. The wine really adds the flavor, so make sure you use it. and ONLY use something you would drink.
I served it with couscous but rice is good, too. And a small salad. I sort of threw this on the plate to take a picture as everyone was anxious to eat. I guess that's a good sign. Join Carmie at The Single Nester to see what's cooking at her place this week.
Saturday night took us to The Pit with another couple. People come from all over for their barbecued ribs and pulled pork.
I love looking at all of the memorabilia.
Everywhere you turn there is something interesting to look at.
Did I mention the food is delicious? Everyone had the ribs, but I ordered the Greek Chicken Oreganata served with a baked potato, pasta and Texas Toast. Oh, and lots lemon. Most of the dishes are on the Greek side, although all of the waitresses speak Polish. Go figure. And everything is cooked over a wood burning fire. Yum!
Isn't this an awesome place?

Yesterday we went to another party and then I was home and in bed at 9:00. I haven't had a chance to pick up my book, Pride And Prejudice, but I am working on it and look forward to the movies.

We had a warm up this actually got into the 40's. The snow is really melting fast. I actually just wore a sweater to the party yesterday. To think I was freezing last week.

I hope everyone had a good weekend and that I didn't overwhelm you with all of this food. Now I'm off to do some much needed cleaning and laundry, and then to make those cookies. I hope all of you have a wonderful Valentine's Day with those you love! :-)

Wednesday, February 9, 2011


It has been a really cold week here, right now it is 9 degrees. I had to go grocery shopping and as the wind whipped around me and made my eyes tear, I thought, "Why do I live in Illinois?". Well, to answer that, it's all I've ever known and I would terribly miss the 4 distinct seasons that we have. So it's grin, with teeth chattering, and bear it.

I want to thank everyone for the birthday are all so sweet. I wore my boots! Yes I did. We went on a casino boat on Lake Michigan {the boat stays docked} and since there was valet parking, I had those babies on. We had dinner there with 4 other couples and I did all but put my feet up on the table to get them noticed. And this was my lucky week, not only did I win $150.00 on the slot machines, I won 2 giveaways last week. I will surprise you with them when they come. So today I bought a scratch off lotto ticket and I am going to do that later with my fingers crossed. ;-D
Super Bowl Sunday {which seems like ancient history now} passed very quietly in our house. The Husband, who is not a Packers fan at all, refused to watch the game and did paperwork instead. I curled up in bed with the dogs, still in my jammies and watched The Holiday. I can't believe I have never seen it, as I am such a sucker for Christmas movies and romantic story lines. It was good. I love Kate Winslet and Jude Law is very easy on the eyes.
That movie could have a nice sequel, maybe set around Valentine's Day. I am hoping there will be a lot of good romantic comedies on this weekend. I live for the Lifetime channel. I can be such a nerd. Is anyone doing anything special for Valentine's Day? We never go out for dinner as it's so hard to get a seat at a nice restaurant and we are going out next week for my birthday now that all the kids are home again.

Speaking of food, I was going to join Carmie's Cookbook recipe challenge again this week, but I was just so late in getting in on it. She made a wonderful Light Lemon Meat Loaf and you can check it out at her blog, The Single Nester. Hopefully I will have something next week.
I've had this book for awhile now...I feel like I am the only person in the world that hasn't read it or anything by Jane Austen for that matter. I flipped for this copy because it is a Keepsake Edition with gorgeous illustrations, as you can see by the cover. Anyway, I started it Monday and I am halfway through it...I can't put it down. The Husband is happy to see that I have moved away from my computer and I can now be found lying around with my nose in a book. So have you read it? Did you identify with any of the characters? I'd love to say I am an Elizabeth, but I don't think I really have her sense of adventure or her spirit. Then again, Jane is almost a saint. Well, she's kind and thoughtful and never says a mean thing about anyone, maybe we could all strive to be like her. Well, let me know if you have read it or any other Jane Austen books. And I understand there is also a movie...who is in it? I am speed reading so I can rent it.

Well, this is all I have for now, I know, a boring post. I have a fire going and I bought one of those 'already roasted' whole chickens from the grocery store, so all I have to do is a few side dishes and be done. Then I can go back to my book!

Hope you are all having a great week. Thanks for visiting! :-)

Friday, February 4, 2011


We all survived the blizzard of 2011. I actually slept through most of it, but was awoken by the thunder and lightening. Now, that is something I have NEVER experienced in all of my Midwestern years. I think the weather people were calling it Thundersnow.
The Husband made a wise decision to buy a snow blower back in December when they went on sale. It is amazing that we went so long without one but since we live on a city street, and there is just a short sidewalk and driveway, we got by. Boy, did he need it Wednesday. He went out several times as the snow kept coming down. Coming home from Ft. Meyers Beach on Tuesday, his was the last flight out until Thursday, so he just made it. The storm started just a few hours after he landed in Chicago.
Everything was closed down, shut down, The Husband closed his office. It felt like one long weekend with him home. We took a ride to get salt at a gas station a few blocks away and everything was deserted looking, just walls of snow on each side of the street. I didn't take any pictures because I thought maybe we had all seen enough snow pictures for one day.
Someone had a birthday Thursday. I still get excited on my birthday, I want the cake and balloons and everything. I woke up late Wednesday night to find Abby in the kitchen and she just dropped what she was doing and stared at me. Half awake, I didn't realize she was baking me a surprise. "We didn't have any cake mixes, so I'm making you birthday cookies." Oh, my heart nearly broke in half. Then she said, "And I'm doing a very neat job." I think she was referring to what a perfectionist I can be when I bake and cook. My little heart broke again.
So these are my birthday cookies and I even had one or two and blew off my diet. They were yummy. When son Jeff gets home from a trip to L.A., we will all go out to dinner to celebrate.
The Husband was able to sneak my gift into the house last night, these beautiful Coach boots. My little heart broke again. He knows me so well. They are suede so I have to wait for the crappy weather to get over to wear them. I really am a lucky girl. And if birthdays can always be like this, I don't mind getting older.

See you next week! :-)