Saturday, August 31, 2013


Happy Saturday, everyone!  No post today but I wanted to let you know my guest post is up at Susan's from Must Love Junk.  It is her new feature, The Blogger Behi The Blog.  I really hope you enjoy it!  I'll be back early next week...I finally have that home tour of Emily's new house all ready!  See ya! :)


Friday, August 23, 2013


As you can see, I went foraging for Chinese Lanterns this past week.  Yes, I had on my camouflage outfit so my neighbor wouldn't see me (although actually, I think that the ones that have grown under the fence into my yard are rightfully mine).  I opened up a few of the riper ones and sure enough, there is a little tomatillo inside (please don't eat these until you have researched them), and yes, there are seeds in the tomatillo, just like in a tomato.  So I squeezed these out and had them drying on a paper plate and lo and behold, someone tossed them.  I guess I need to label my little scientific experiments!  Well, there are plenty more.  And these, above, I'm drying for fall decorations.

Once the rosemary has cooled, chop each half cup up finely and combine it with 1 cup of kosher salt.  Mix well.  You will see that some of the olive oil mixes in with the salt so you get a really nice flavor throughout.
I had the wonderful opportunity to meet two fantastic bloggers yesterday.  First, it just seems that in the 4 years I've been blogging, the number of bloggers in my area, in and around Chicago, has just multiplied.  I find that I want to take things one step further as I get to know a blogger of like mindedness.  I have a handful of ladies that I carry on "conversations" with through emails, and a lovely, smart and just a treasure of a person to me that I  poured my heart out to on the phone recently (you know who you are, sweet friend).  And this is so new to me.  I've always considered myself shy and socially awkward, (aka, S.A.)  Not that I'm a wallflower, I just have to really force myself to be open with strangers.  But I never feel that way with the bloggers I meet.  Yes, a little nervousness, but then we have that common thread of being in the blogging world and everything else falls to the wayside.  That's how I felt when I visited with Kris and Anne at Kris's home.  Daughter Emily also came along...she was the navigator as she attended school and received her bachelor's degree in interior design in this area, and I knew she would appreciate seeing Kris's beautifully decorated home and maybe, just maybe, we could entice her into starting a blog!!  Anyyyyyway, we were greeted by Kris's cutie pie of a dog, Libby.  She is the most beautiful Basset Hound I have ever come across.  It was love, for all of us, at first sight!
After a tour of Kris's house (and I am being a sly fox by making you go to her blog to see pictures of it and hopefully follow her, she's a doll and you're going to fall in love with her home!), we drove to Tattered Tiques, a shop that specializes in shabby, cottage, farmhouse and industrial decor.  These are just a few pics I took.  I've never been to a place that carries the much revered Annie Sloan Chalk Paint, and since I have only painted three pieces of furniture in my life (with three awaiting my magical touch), I just couldn't buy any.  Leave it for the talented and curious.  I did pick up some of the wax to use and a few other things that I will share later.
Back at Kris's...she spread out a wonderful lunch in her charming dining room.  Bacon and broccoli quiche, a bowl of fresh fruit and a basket of blueberry muffins.  Everything was delicious and we ate and talked and laughed and talked more.  Then she served a delectable fruit tart and afterwards gave us little favor bags she made and decorated with tissue flowers.  They were filled with candy, a flowery pen wrapped in ribbon, a mini chalkboard and a few things I know I'm missing!  Thanks so much, Kris!  And I can't forget to mention that Anne from White Lace Cottage was just such a sweet gal...pretty, talented (visit her blog) and a rising star in the blog world with her shabby chic/vintage sense of style.  She's starting a shop soon!

Back to real life.   I finally opened up a book the other night after 2 months of reading magazines.  Do you do that?  Read magazines when you are exhausted and know that you can't give a book the proper attention?  And as Claudia (Mockingbird Hill Cottage) and I have ruminated on, sometimes it's hard to let go of an exceptional story line and endearing characters that you want to keep alive for while, and  move on to a new story, new people.  So I chose to read a book in my library called The Husbands's Secret.   This is also on my sidebar for your reference.  The overview starts out catchy (much more catchy than the somewhat lame title):

My darling Cecilia, if you're reading this, then I've died...

Imagine that your husband wrote you a letter to be opened after his death...the letter contains his deepest darkest secret-something with the potential to destroy not just the life you built together, but the lives of others as well.  And you discover this letter while your husband is very much alive.  Three women; Cecilia, Tess and Rachel do not know each other, but they are about to feel the earth shattering repercussions of the husband's secret.

As one well known writer wrote, "In The Husband's Secret, Liane Moriarity has created a contemporary Pandora, whose dilemma is spellbinding.  Shocking, complex and thought provoking...a knockout!"

I agree with this review totally... there was nothing frivolous or redundant about this novel.  I'm excited to read more by this talented Australian author, who is fast becoming popular in the States.

So, that's what I have.  I am trying to work on a post for the feature on Susan's blog next Saturday that involves the blogger behind the blog, as in Jane behind Blondie's Journal.  What more can I share?  Writing comes easily (unlike the problem of the S.A.), so I have been pretty much  an open book.  At the risk of sounding vain...are there any questions you might have for me?  Something you might want to know that I might possibly have never brought up before? Do you want to hear deep dark secrets? I looked at some old pictures that I thought I would scan and I exclaimed to The Husband several times, "These pictures are just not telling the story of my life!"  So, if you'd like to give me some prompts, let me know.  I have just a few days to write it.

Sorry, sorry, sorry for such a long post.  I hope most of you skip over the parts you are not so interested in.  When I'm free of S.A., I tend to drone on.  Maybe the S.A. is not so bad after all! :)


Saturday, August 17, 2013


Now, on to some fun stuff!  Don't you love this dress?  Don't you love this model?  She is definitely not one of your skinny mini's and I love that.  Anyway, I order a lot of clothes from websites that have sizes that range from  10 to 6X.  And the added plus is that these clothes have been designed to enhance your curves and downplay your trouble spots.  As you can see, this dress is an empire style that flairs out and down in pleats and for me, my trouble spot is my tummy.  The color here is charcoal so I'm giving up the basic black I usually wear.  So, it has shipped and I'm so excited to see it.  Emily and I went shopping for shoes the other day.  Have you ever been to DSW (Designer Shoe Warehouse)?  I just love it.  The prices are exceptional.  I found shoes for this dress that I think I like, but I also found a pair on Shoedazzle,  So I'll have to choose between the two.  I'll let you know how that goes...maybe we can have a vote!

Now, I do want your opinion on panty hose.  I am aware that the younger generation abhors wearing them, even during the cold Chicago winters.  Just by chance, I haven't had to wear much more than a sundress and sandals for many recent summers.  In the winter I almost always wear black pantyhose with my usual black dress.  So, I'm wondering, are you the type to go au natural in a dress like this, or would you wear, say, nude pantyhose as I am thinking?  I have no color on my legs, and these legs of mine have been around for a long while so other than shorts once in awhile or capris, I really don't go around flashing them. 
Let me have your thoughts.

My point in telling you this as they have been found to be toxic.  A few years ago Milo started having seizures.  He'd have a few lasting about 3 minutes, over the course of a few weeks.  We Googled "dogs-seizures-causes", and we were amazed when black walnuts popped up as a culprit.  The connection was first made when bedding for horses was made up of 5% black walnut shells, and the horses began having convulsions and seizures.  Further investigation showed this happened with dogs as well, but not cats.  To make a long story short, my vet had never heard of this connection and told us the only thing we could do would be to medicate Milo and this would cause him  lethargic and tired.  We decided against that.  A few nights ago Milo had about three seizures in a row.  It was so sad.  All we can do is hold him tight and stroke him.  Since the walnuts are everywhere, in all states of deterioration and their mold and oils everywhere, there is not much we can do as far as clean up.  And they will fall from August to October.  Cutting down the trees is not an option due to the cost.  At this point we have been keeping disposable cleaning cloths at the back door and we wipe his feet and underside really well.  We are sure he is getting these toxins into his system by cleaning and grooming himself.  So...please say a prayer for our sweet little guy.


Sunday, August 11, 2013


Tuesday I was in the area where there is a Trader Joe's.  I have been on the hunt for bread, crackers and something crunchy to snack on that doesn't have sunflower oil in it.  Have you noticed that it seems to be in everything?  I'm allergic to sunflower seeds so I read every label.  What really kills me is when the label says:  May have sunflower and/or safflower oil.  Okay, lets see if I'm gasping for breath and turning blue to find out which it is!  Anyway, I did find some bread, but nothing else. so I bought enough to freeze, too. And I did find these pretty flowers and a couple of bottles of Two Buck Chuck.  I like to keep the Cabernet stocked for the kids.  I was reading a flower arranging tip in an old issue of Jeanne D'Arc.  Divide your flowers into three groups, randomly or by flower type.  Cut each group a different length and then arrange.  I did that in the picture above.  I have always cut my flowers the same length.  This looks much better I think.


 Very quick, easy and good.  I cooked the zucchini on a ridged grill pan I have right on the stove.  Other than the dill I had everything.  You might want to cut back a bit on it, The Husband said it tasted like seaweed (but he has an aversion to herbs that aren't carefully hidden in the food...sort of like a 4 year old).

I wanted to get pictures of Emily's house this past week but she came down with some sort of flu.  I went grocery shopping with her and then helped her put it all away.  That night I went back over as her hubby was working late and we laid in her bed watching reruns of Modern Family while I gave her hand massages.  You owe me, Emily!!!  Bright and early the next morning, I took her to a doctor for antibiotics and Friday she was well enough to drag me along to the mall to buy her a dress and jewelry for a wedding..."Mom, the gift alone is putting me in debt!".  My kids are at that age where all of their friends are getting married and they spend most weekends in the summer going to weddings.  Shower and wedding gifts are so expensive,  weddings are expensive, I definitely know that!  So, since Em was under the weather, we didn't so a photo shoot but we will next week.  And I will make those herb infused oils.  And that peach tart.  And that homemade salad dressing.  And finish organizing the linen closet.  Get my car washed.  Do my nails.

Before I go, I want to tell you about two blogger friends of mine that have started a new feature.  Kris from Junk Chic Cottage, and Susan from Must Love Junk, have started a new thing they each post on their blogs on Saturdays called Spotlight: Life Behind The Blogger.  I think they are right on target with this.  Each week a blogger does a guest post on Kris and Susan's blogs all about themselves...not so much their blog, so you really get to "meet" and better know who's writing your favorite blog.  Or maybe even learn about someone you find you really like and visit their blog.  These sweet girls invited me to do a post in a few weeks for their feature (as if you need to know more about me), but I hope to find and scan some older pictures and tell you a little more about Jane's pre-blogging days.  But check out yesterdays posts at their blogs, two every week.  In fact, Kris lives in the Chicago area and we are getting together on the 22nd of this month!  I can't wait to meet her!!

I hope all of you have a great week! :)


Monday, August 5, 2013


I've really been enjoying the Mediterranean cookbook that I recently bought.  One of the things I am really interested in doing is making some flavored cooking oils.  The author gives proportions for making oils flavored with herbs and spices with an olive oil base.  These can be used for drizzling  over vegetables or pasta, brushing it on good bread and broiling it, or just for dipping.  So I loaded up on some Mason jars, smaller than the ones we usually see since you are only using about 1/2 to 1 cup of olive oil.  I'll let you know how it turns out.

I know that school has started in many areas.  That's a sure sign summer is coming to an end.  My kids always started the 3rd week of August and that was perfect.  Daughter Abby starts student teaching in 2 weeks.  She's very excited and begged me to take her shopping for "teacher clothes"!  So off we went to the mall and I have to say, we had a great afternoon.  In my mind I kept thinking...this will be the last time I take one of my children shopping for school.  .  My kids will always need me, in one capacity or another, albeit new needs, new experiences.  It's the things I've repetitively done for so long that make me feel a little empty inside.  Setting the same scratched  wooden table for dinner in the evening, one plate less every few years.  Three toothbrushes in the bathroom instead of six, a small carton of milk in the fridge instead of a gallon.  Well, it seems I'm getting a little melancholy (baby). I know we've discussed the "empty nest syndrome" a few times, but feel free to add your thoughts.  Was it hard or were you looking forward to it?  What do you do with the extra time (if you have it), and do you feel twinges of not being needed or sort of in the background now?

So, I will have two wreaths to share next time.  By the way, the boxwood dried up and withered away.  I think I procrastinated a bit too long.  We are almost ready for another clipping and now I know to work quickly so I can enjoy it for 2-3 months.  I also have the hooks for The Husband to attach to my new window, of course I could do it myself, but because it's glass and I don't want it to come crashing down on anyone, best to leave it to him.  And finally, I'm going to be allowed into Emily's new home with my camera (gasp), so I'll be sharing some of her gorgeous rooms and decorating ideas.  So stay tuned! :)