Friday, March 30, 2012


Good morning everyone! It's a rainy gloomy morning in Chicago but I am feeling happy for some reason. I got up and had coffee with The Husband and decided to put together a post of some of my spring decorations. On the down side, I wanted to share more of my daffodils and tulips but right now they aren't looking too well. I don't know if it is because we had such a mild winter or if they bloomed too soon. They look stunted and the tulips are sparse. After this rain I will have another look and see if the situation has improved. What a bummer.
Emily and I made a trip to Pier 1 on Monday. It was pretty hysterical because she was at one end of the store and I was at the other and we would meet in the middle at the counter and load our finds up. With her designer eye, she can buy something knowing exactly where it will go and how it will look and I tend to just buy what I fall in love with! She found this little birdhouse with a glass door knob and knew that it would look perfect on a closet door that you can see from the living room. I have a necklace hanging off the knob that I won in a giveaway from Debby at Cozy Blanket. It's a key on a chain and it looks great here when I'm not wearing it. Thanks, Debby!
I have a small bunny collection and I thought I'd show you a few. This guy I've had for a few years. He's really darling.
And this one is my favorite. You have to love that little face!
This little pair came from Terry's Village. They have some really cute holiday things. I love their catalog. These guys sit on my island.
I found this tray at Pier 1. It goes so well in my living room. I'd show you my whole mantel but I am still working on it. I just can't get it right. I want to paint the wall a cream color...does anyone have a paint color that they are in love with? I am so tired of this mossy green and it really isn't a good backdrop for my pieces.
Emily gravitates toward the whimsical and found these textured bunnies.
This guy is riding in his own little Carrotmobile!
The word around Blogland was that Fifi O'Neill has a new cookbook. I went to Amazon and found it and I love it. I have been thumbing through it and marking pages that have recipes I want to try. There are some bloggers in here that you may have heard of, too. What a great book, I recommend it. I also just finished the book, Signs Of Life {It's on my sidebar} and I laughed and cried all the way through it. It's about a young woman who is widowed when she is five months pregnant with their first child. It sounds like a downer but it really is about her first year grieving and coming to grips with her loss. It's a memoir, and I just fell in love with the author. You will, too.

Well, on the homefront, temperatures fluctuated all week between 40 and 70 degrees. Crazy weather. It was sunny though and I got out of the house everyday, even if it was just a short trip to the grocery store or to walk around the backyard lamenting about my poor flowers. I would love to make a trip up to the lake but The Husband has been bringing paperwork home every weekend. I did find out that my sweet neighbor, Susie, has been watering my plants so I can stop having this vision of walking in to find dead ferns all over the place. Hopefully we will get there soon.

I found a great dessert recipe that I am going to make and take pictures of for you next time and I also have a tablescape going on at the table in the family room. It is still being tweaked and the lighting is so bad today, I didn't want to take pictures. I will have that next time, too. I hope you all have a wonderful weekend. Keep your fingers crossed for great weather wherever you are! :-)

Monday, March 26, 2012


This is a random little post that runs the gamut of A~Z. It's a beautiful day here...temps in the 40's. This is how it should be in March! I went out this morning to take some pictures of some tulips that just sprung up and it felt a little chilly. After our heat wave last week, it feels great!
Later I will have some clusters of tulips for you, but right now I just have a random few. I can't wait to cut some for inside. I think we are all getting tired of store bought tulips, although some of you in the South have some gorgeous plants blooming outside!
It's been a quiet week here. The heat crept into the house and didn't want to leave. Since we have a brick house, once the heat get's in, it takes awhile to get out. We had the kids over for pizza one night, and Emily and Mike for roast beef another, but for the most part I made simple dinners on the stove top.
I wanted to give a big thanks to Diana of Nana Diana Takes A Break. She gave me some wonderful advice on eliminating flour and sugar from my diet. The sugar is a no brainer, but the flour was something new to me. So I eliminated pasta and bread and such and I am so pleased to say I've lost 6 pounds. Thanks, Diana! It's not that hard to stick to but I did have to give up baking for awhile. It's just too tempting. So, wish me luck!
Saturday night we went out to eat at one of our favorite places, The Island Cafe. As you can see, we had the whole place to ourselves. It's sort of odd because the food is outstanding. It was so quiet I could hear the chef pounding out my veal in the kitchen!
As you can see, getting out really makes me happy. The Husband had Chicken Vesuvio. I was good and stayed away from that bread basket!
Its funny that when a waitress sees you with a camera in a restaurant, they think you are out of towners and offer to take your picture. This was taken the last time we were there.
After dinner we stopped at a little place a few blocks from home for a glass of wine. I love this clock. It was actually dark when we were leaving but I was able to lighten this picture up a bit.

So that was my week. I hope I have something more interesting to post next time. April will be a busy month for us {can you believe it is right around the corner?}. We have all the spring work to do at the lake but it will be so good to be back up there. We were just too busy to get up over the winter. And we have planned our vacation...we booked our flight to Asheville from May 18th to the 26th. Yay! We really had such a wonderful time last spring and it's great because it is only an hour and 1/2 away flying. Does anyone have their vacation plans made yet? I'd love to hear about them.

Well...that's all I have. I hope everyone is having a good start to their week. See you soon! :-)

Tuesday, March 20, 2012


I happened to look out the window Sunday and I saw spots of yellow. It just couldn't be! But yes, I had daffodils waving their sunny little faces in the breeze! I have a lot of different varieties, so these must be the earliest. And the earliest I have ever seen them.
I grabbed my handy camera and out I went, in my PJ's none the less, and took some pictures for you. Spring clean up hasn't even started yet, normally we have a lot of cold and wind and sometimes snow in March and April, but what exactly has been normal about this winter? So forgive the sticks and old leaves and just enjoy the blooms.
I have finally faced the fact that this is not a red twig dogwood. Yep, it's a forsythia, as anyone can plainly see. But honestly, I planted a red twig dogwood, I ordered it from Burpee 25 years ago and proudly planted it. As it grew it looked gorgeous against the snow with it's ruby red branches. It must have died, or succumbed to this invasive forsythia that came blowing in from nowhere. I'm sad for the dogwood, but I do love this forsythia. I am going to cut some branches to bring in.
Milo and Layla have been loving this weather. When they aren't playing with sticks, they are sniffing the fresh ground like cows grazing in a field. They roll in the grass and doze in the sun. They don't remember what snow is.
I have two battered looking hyacinths from a big bunch that I planted years ago. I have to add more. They are real survivors, so I took a picture. Poor little guys.
With temps in the 80's for the last week, it's been hard to stay at home. Even running errands with the windows rolled down is fun! Sunday I dragged The Husband out of the office and we went downtown. The day was just gorgeous and we decided to head over to Navy Pier.
It's right on Lake Michigan and boasts several great restaurants, booths and vendors selling everything from hot dogs to ice cream. Inside there is something for everyone, shops filled with handmade jewelry, soaps, candles and souvenirs. We stayed outside on the pier for the most part and enjoyed the summer like breeze.
People from all over were there enjoying our crazy weather. And, we just missed the annual Chicago Flower And Garden show that ended that day. I saw a lady with an armful of tulips and I wanted to make her an offer!
I'd love to take one of these sightseeing boats out...the water was smooth and inviting.
Maybe next time!

Yesterday I went to get my hair highlighted. Mary Clare's sister, Katie, does it at her home. She also runs a very successful salon on the Northside of Chicago. It's so much more fun to do it this way. We talk over coffee and Mary Clare and her mom, Peggy are usually there, as well as my son, Kevin, if he is off work. Yep, people are out golfing already {he is a pro/manager at a country club}. While my hair was getting beautified, we sat outside and enjoyed the view of the garden.

On the way home I stopped and picked up some essentials from the grocery store and decided to make a nice dinner and invite Emily and Mike over. No pictures...there was a food overload in my last post! I made a sirloin tip roast studded with garlic, crab stuffed shrimp, baked potatoes, green beans, a Greek salad, and fresh bread. I mixed up some olive oil and Parmesan cheese to dip it in.

Today I have a few errands to run and then I think I am going to put a comfy chair right smack in the middle of my backyard, read my new book and soak up the sun. I hope all of you are having a wonderful week and I will see you later! :-)

Saturday, March 17, 2012


I am so happy to be joining Kathleen's Annual St. Patrick's Day Blog Crawl. I have been participating since I first started blogging 3 1/2 years ago. It's such a fun day. And as they say, everyone is Irish on St. Paddy's Day!
On to my post. I mentioned that I was looking for the BEST corned beef ever and I finally found it last Sunday. That's the day we celebrate on the Southside of Chicago since our annual parade takes place that day and the whole day is one big party. So I found that corned beef in the knick of time and it literally went from the bag into the pot of water!
It came with a seasoning package as most do...what it consists of I'm afraid I don't know, But it adds just the right amount of flavor to the water that you will also boil your vegetables in. Cover the roast with water and bring to a boil.
I had a 4 lb. cut of beef. It will shrink quite a bit. This served 4, so keep that in mind. Sometimes I have cooked two in separate pots. Once it comes to a boil, let it simmer until tender, or that you can slide a knife through it. Mine cooked for about 5 hours. Keep adding water as it boils down to keep as much of the meat covered as you can.
Once the beef gets a little tender, maybe an hour before it is done, add carrots and quartered red potatoes to the pot.
During the last 15 minutes you want to cook your cabbage, right down in the same pot. My mother in law taught me to cut my cabbage in wedges and carefully place it on top of everything. This keeps it from getting really soggy.
I serve my veggies in one bowl and my meat sliced up on a platter. And you have to have rye bread! If you have leftovers, a sandwich on rye with Swiss cheese and mustard is our standby.
Dessert is always Irish soda bread...I have made it before but the store bought seems just as good. I wish this picture were a little more elegant, but I didn't want anything to get cold, so I was just grabbing plates. It did turn out perfect and was wickedly good! It's a little late in the game to make one today, but corned beefs will be on sale now and you can always pick on up to make this week. Using a crock pot works nicely if you can't be watching it. I hope this little tutorial helps you!
During my regular grocery shopping trip I found these wonderful Bells of Ireland. Aren't they the sweetest? I hope you have a great St. Patrick's Day!

Finally, I want to announce the winner of my giveaway. You may remember it was part of the Beauty 101 post. The two packages of make up goes to Kristin at My Uncommon Slice Of Suburbia! I will be sending her an email. I wish I had enough to go around. You ladies were fantastic in sharing all of your beauty tips!

Have a great week! :-)

Thursday, March 15, 2012


Our temps hit the 80's yesterday...Yay! People and their pets came out of hibernation in droves. I couldn't sit still. While daughter Abby had my car for school, I was out in the backyard, looking at and snapping pictures of spring flowers coming up.
Daffodils have poked through, eager to bloom. Seeing them makes me wish I had planted more last fall. And fall doesn't seem so long ago since we seemed to have just skipped right over winter!

Saturday was beautiful, too, not quite as warm and I dragged The Husband out for a bite to eat at one of our favorite places, Joe Daniel's Pub. Then we settled in with some movies for the evening.
On Sunday, I had to take Abby to a friend's house that lived right smack in the middle of the blocked off St. Patrick's Day Parade route. We had to drive blocks out of our way around the city to get her where she needed to be. And then I went on my last quest for The Perfect Corned Beef! And...I found it! I spent most of the day with that boiling on the stove and I took pictures of all my step so I can share it with you for Kathleen's St. Patrick's Day Blog Crawl. I will be putting up her button with a link just as soon as I finish this post so you can join in the fun, too.
When our heat wave hit yesterday, Emily, Abby and I decided we needed a little retail therapy and headed off to TJ Maxx. It was a very productive trip, although I have been saying that I really can't fit another thing in this house! I'll share some of my goodies in another post.
We then had lunch at this new restaurant and it was quite good. We sat outside and enjoyed the warm breeze. I had fish and chips, Emily had a burger and Abby had a chicken wrap. Look at that gorgeous blue sky!
Here's Emily with her margarita...
...and Abby just enjoying the beautiful day. She starts spring break next week and I will have my car back. I am thinking of all the things I want to do and places to go. Freedom!!

hat's all I have for today. I'm getting ready to head out to Pier 1 to have a peek at what they have in stock for summer. Yes, I have summer on my mind! :-D

Friday, March 9, 2012


Hello everyone! It really is a beautiful sunny day today, if not a little cold. We actually reached 60 degrees twice this week and I saw a few bunnies frolicking in the backyard. I've been seeing some pretty spring decoration out there in the Land of Blog and it is so inspiring. My bunnies and chicks are ready to be let loose, but not just yet!
I went grocery shopping the other day and was pretty disappointed that I couldn't find a corned beef that I liked. We usually make our St, Paddy's Day dinner on the Sunday before as that is the day of the big Southside Irish Parade. After a day spent outside in the cold fresh air watching the parade, maybe stopping in at the many "Open Houses", it's nice to come home to corned beef, cabbage and the works bubbling away on the stove or in the crock pot. So, I have to shop around today for that. While at my favorite grocery store I came upon this vase that looks like a white paper bag and absolutely fell in love with it. I found some Stargazer lilies, that I also grow in my garden and I think they look perfect in the vase. They are now all plump and ready to burst open!
Last week I stopped in one of my favorite stores, Williams Sonoma, and was just in love looking at all of the spring displays. It's always fun to look at their catalogs but when I am in one of their stores, I go into a trance. I fell in love with this gorgeous table runner and napkins.
And these cute little napkin rings. I think I am on my way to a pretty Easter table.
I'm still on my sweet, er...baking binge. Raggedy Girl Vintage posted a recipe for chocolate chip cookies that are to die for. The secret in the recipe is a package of vanilla instant pudding. The Husband swore he had never had a better cookie, even from the bakery.
You can visit her blog if you'd like the recipe. I have it written down in chicken scratch.
They really are scrumptious! I used dark chocolate chips by Ghiradelli. Last night we had the masses over for pizza and to help Emily with a wedding project and the cookies were eaten up in about 5 minutes.
Emily is well ahead of the game for her wedding wedding next May. These are the table numbers. She bought wooden numbers from a source online (not sure what it is) and she was able to choose her font. She then attached moss with a spray adhesive. These will be attached to a stick poked down in floral foam inside pots. Her wedding has a very organic garden theme. I'll keep sharing more, she has so many great do it yourself ideas.
Aren't these wonderful?

Well, I have a lot to do today besides hunting down the most perfect corned beef. I'd like to go downtown tomorrow, just to bum around if the weather is nice. I have a lot of cleaning up to do from the Pizza/Gluing Moss On Wood Party. And as always, lots of laundry. Don't forget my giveaway that is still going on...just scroll down to the last post. Have a great weekend and see you next week! :-)