Friday, January 31, 2014


And they were good.  I really enjoyed making them.  I gravitate toward pretty desserts.  I remember very long ago being at a fancy fundraiser, in a fancy hotel in Chicago, wearing a fancy dress, eating fancy food.  But when dessert was served, it was not fancy at all.  It was a work of art.  It was a replica of a grand piano made out of dark and white chocolate, the white for the mini, mini individual keys.  I didn't want to eat it.  I wanted to smuggle it home in my purse and maybe try to preserve it with hairspray or bug repellent.  But I caved and ate it.  Wow, imagine making that for 200+ people.  Here is the link for the recipe.  The cheesecakes, not the grand pianos.

But before we went I took a few snaps of some changes in her home.  In the kitchen, she just recently purchased this island.  Not fancy but just perfect for extra workspace across from the sink and stove and next to the fridge...that perfect triangle.  She's an avid cook and no doubt they will update the kitchen at some point, and I'm sure it will be beautiful as well as functional.  She has done an amazing job with every room.

This is one of the guest bedrooms that I've shown you before only with a view of the other side with the pretty iron bed and linens.  This side shows the ladder she found at an antique store when we visited with Kris from Junk Chic Cottage last summer.  She has it decorated so cute.  And the dresser is from a sister duo who scout out old furniture, paint and replace hardware.  Oh...if we all had that time.

And that, my friends, is what I'm aiming to do!  Big plans tomorrow for my birthday celebration...I'll tell you about it next week with plenty of pics.  And today, a big giveway if you can guess my age.  Ha!  No, no.  But go ahead and give it a gander!

Big hugs to all,


Monday, January 27, 2014


Our floors are like ice.  Unless I put warm socks on, my feet are practically blue.  So I know how Layla feels with her tiny feet and little body just inches off the floor.  We have a radiator with a fan below the cabinets under the kitchen can see her lying in front of it in the above picture.  She tries to warm up but for some reason, she can't seem to gauge how much she heats up and I have seen her creep away and collapse.  Sometimes we laugh, but it's really not funny, even her tags get red hot.  I'm constantly looking that way and picking her up.

I conducted a little experiment that I saw on a blog and thought I had Pinned.  I didn't Pin it though but I think it might belong to Lynn from Happier Than A Pig In Mud.  Step up if it's yours, Lynn!  You, too, can make your scallions (or green onions) re-sprout!  Who would have thought?  Just put about an inch of the root end down in water and the new sprouts just start coming up like crazy.  I love these babies and I use them in everything from soups to salads to pasta.  Since they tend to get a little slimy fast, and I shop every two weeks, I can get myself a new bunch in between trips to the store.  Fascinating, right?

We had an absolutely boring weekend but this will be a busy week.  I'm really excited, my furniture comes tomorrow.  I still have not done a thing with my living room since I took my Christmas decorations down.  I may have changed my mind about the blue/gray curtains.  My heart just isn't going that way.  We picked out blinds at Home Depot and found out that they will measure and install every window in your home for $120.00.  The Husband jumped on it.  We have 5 windows left to do now and it took him forever to do the blinds in out bedroom.  So they are coming Saturday.  And I don't know if I mentioned that we had to get a new water heater last week.  Well, a few days ago my washing machine died.  The transmission.  So The Husband picked out a new washer and dryer over the weekend and they are coming tomorrow as well.  They are very basic models, but are high efficiency so I'm very happy to save some money and hopefully, get more laundry done per load.  

So, that's it.  I think I am going to go hang my head out the bathroom window for some fresh air now.  Stay warm!


Wednesday, January 22, 2014


See that drift (above)? 

We went to our favorite little restaurant for dinner, the roads were not good at all.  And then we just spent the evening relaxing with a fire burning in the old stove.

I am in the middle of the book on my sidebar, The Kitchen House.  I started it in December and had to put it down because of all the crazy busyness.  I picked it up Monday night and I am letting laundry and basic chores fall to the wayside.  This is an excellent book.  And I know a few people who have recently finished The Fault In Our Stars, and it is supposed to be a fantastic book and a real tearjerker.  I think I found my next book!

Stay warm and dry and I will see you soon! :)


Saturday, January 18, 2014


Cupcakes for Dinner 

So sorry ladies.  I've gone on a radical diet.  I've brought out the big guns.  Suz and know where I'm coming from.  Yes, the "D" calling it a Nutrition Plan or Healthy Eating's a big a** diet that is going to make me miserable.  You won't agree and I don't expect you to.  I will not bore you with it, but when I am (hopefully) ready to shout from rooftops, I hope it will be within your hearing!

So, for my last meal I baked and made cupcakes,  They were good,  "nuf said.


Don't We All Loathe Our Glasses?

I broke my glasses.  They were about six years old and I desperately needed a new pair.  In the meantime I switched to these glasses from about 15 years ago.  (don't we ladies save everything??) I have to move my head in slow motion to keep them from flying off.  I found out we had switched insurance that just may cover new glasses.  Yay!  But in the meantime I have these wicked glasses that fall into my soup.  Don't you love this photo with no make up?  I'm so brave!

My New Flannel Shirt

I watch my girls very silently to see what the trends in clothes are.  Abigail has been wearing a lot of flannel and plaid shirts so I got myself one.  I remember stealing my Dad's flannel shirts (he totally lived in them during the winter) to wear over  low cut  lacy shirts and then tuck them into my jeans.  A real juxtaposition.  And a little racy, but hey, I was 20 and quite fashionable.  When he passed away 3 years ago, I looked through his closet and chose a flannel shirt to remember him by.  It just may be one I wore back then.  Most importantly, it was one he wore.

Note:  This is the third day in a row that I've worn my trendy flannel shirt, and a shower is in the works tonight.  So...with no make up and crappy hair, I did my best to look glamorous for you.  Definitely not something worth posting, but I said...this is not your regular post.

The Target Experience

Emily has Thursdays and Fridays off know we hang together on her days off.  She wanted to go to Target to get a few bulk toiletry items.  Once there, she decided to just do her 2 week shopping trip.  I have never done that there and expressed my apprehension.  Anyway, we did it and as we approached the checkout, we guessed by looking at the amount in her cart...$250.00.  Well ladies, it came to $185.00 and made me a believer.  She  was so nervous, she gave the check our lady back a candle she had in her cart that she thought was frivolous, but when she got that total, she said, "Give me back that candle!" :)

In Memorandum

I have an affinity with people older than me.  Someday I will tell you about Henry.  I don't like to post about the past...maybe a little here and there but I am a person that is very focused on the present and future. However.

Up at the lake, we were befriended by so many people that first fall/winter there.  This  picture is of a wonderful lady named Dawn.  She arrived at our house in December (we moved in in September).  She came in a  beautiful Cadillac wearing a fur coat, and with a flourish handed us a fancy invitation to her annual Christmas party.  Oh, I wish I could tell you that this was a happy meeting with this glamorous-in-my-eyes  cultured lady originally from Wilshire, England, who had incredible and innate class and grace.  My daughter Emily...five years at the time, on a dare by her older brothers, stood on the balcony directly above Dawn, and dropped at minimum, 6 raw eggs on her.  The Husband and I froze.  Silence.  And then Dawn gave a deep throaty laugh and said, "She's definitely going to find her way in this world".

Rumor had it that Dawn had had a facelift.  Oh horrors.  Great fodder for all of these lake/country folk.  I do admit, she looked pretty darn good to me.  But she also carried herself with grace, dressed beautifully and stylishly.  Her blonde hair was worn in a simple bun and her cornflower blue eyes sparkled and were accented with the perfectly applied make up.  She was widowed way back in the 50's and had worked for years in a men's clothing store. Everything, everything was rumor.  She lived just up the road from us.  After the Christmas dinner at her home that year (that surprisingly she actually wanted us to come to after the egg embarrassment),  I started stopping by her home on my walks or bike rides.  In short, we had a very large age difference, and I'm not going to play unawares, we spent many a sunny afternoon in her sunroom, talking about her life and mine.  She gave me so much.  Me, maybe I gave her company.  No...I know I did and yes, I'm proud and happy I did, but it came so easily and naturally and with such love for this lovely lady.  And I truly know in my heart that I got so much more from our friendship.  No doubt.

I haven't been to the lake since August.  The last time I saw her she was complaining about her arthritis (I always chuckled inside because she pronounced it "Arthur-itis" :), so it was with great sadness that I heard she passed away in December.  I feel...well honestly I just feel incredibly sad for a myriad of reason, all do understand I'm sure.  But I will tell you, when I read her obituary, I learned she was 89 years old.  Oh my!  She had us all fooled!  And she carried it all off so gracefully.

Rest in peace Dawn Eileen.


Tuesday, January 14, 2014


I know I'm one of many who has the vestiges of furniture past.  As in the monster traditional cherry bedroom set.  Every new bride in the 1980's had to have it.  How we ever thought we were going to fit a queen bed, nightstand, dresser, armoire and vanity into our teeny little home...well, we did.  I've had moments where I've longed for old painted furniture and an iron headboard, a well worn quilt and sheer curtains blowing in the breeze.  But then I think fondly of this furniture.  I cuddled my babies in this bed, in fact, I was lying in this very same bed pregnant with Abigail when my water broke!  Ha!  TMI?  So there are memories here as well as an investment.  This bedroom set will never go away quietly.

So what to do when you want to bring a new and fresh feeling to something you feel is old and maybe outdated?  I asked myself these questions over and over again when we decided to paint our master bedroom this past fall.  For years it had been a bland beige color (sounds familiar?).  I had tried to keep it interesting and current with various duvets, throws, pillows, curtains and rugs.  And then I fell in love with gray, ever shade of it.  And I know that it is said that paint is just paint, but it's NOT cheap, nor is Charlie The Painter. So...when I looked at samples of gray, the same thought and question kept coming to mind.  How will such a cool color (in tone) go with the warmth of cherry wood?  I stress over ridiculous things like this.  Finally I just said, "Jane, get over it!!"

I showed you bits and pieces of the room as it came together before the holidays.  But I finally found the quilt I wanted and that's it above.  Believe it or not, it's from The Land of Nod.  You would be amazed at what you can find there that's not just for children.  It's a nice medium weight and I have it layered over two more blankets. 

And I did a small gallery wall over my vanity with prints of my own photography except for the one in the forefront of the Asheville mountains, I borrowed that from my dear friend, Mary, of A Breath Of Fresh Air.

So I think you can see that you can breathe new life into a room without changing around some of the major players.  Gray and cherry?  Why not?

Back to the changes in the living room.  We placed the order for the country French cabinet, side table and coffee table (you can see them by scrolling down to my last post).  It will take about 30 days to get here.  In the meantime, I searched for curtains.  I think that is going to make the most impact when it comes to adding color.  As you can see by my sample picture above, I'm really loving gray all around.  These panels are from Home Decorators Collection,  and I think they're going to go very well with the creamy furniture pieces.  I'm going to replace the bamboo blinds I now have with white wood blinds and I'm going to keep my eyes open for an area rug with some soft colors.  All of this sounds very elegant and pretty but I'm planning to throw in a lot of texture and interest with some rustic and natural pieces here and there.  I really want to "stir the pot" in that regard.  I am so excited!!  Thanks so much for your help and support.  I hope I haven't bored you silly!

One thing I have been doing is cooking a lot.  I know most of you have been with me for many of the years that I've been blogging and usually right around January I come up with some new and improved eating/exercise plan.  Well, I haven't this year, so there!!  I have been cooking and eating very healthy for the past 8 months after reading a book and some articles about the dangers of chemicals and preservatives in our packaged foods.  I can honestly say that I've adhered to the principles of eating fresh whole foods since then, with the exception of the tempting, tasty treats that The Husband brings home from the bakery.  A girl has to live!

Soups and stews are our mainstay in the winter months, as much as grilling gets us through he summer.   I just love playing with ingredients to my heart's content.  The other night I pulled this puppy out to give it a test drive.  I bought it last January during the white sales and forgot I had it!

Saute 2 cloves of minced garlic in 2 T olive oil until golden.  Add 1 medium chopped onion and toss and stir until translucent and soft, about 3 minutes.  Add 1 1/2 cups sliced carrots and about 2 cups of peeled, cubed potatoes (I used Idaho).  Let that cook up and sweat about 5 minutes.  Add 1 32 oz. box of chicken broth and 2 cups of water.  Bring to boil, then lower heat to medium and let simmer until potatoes are just becoming tender, about 8 minutes.  Add 1 medium head of cauliflower, broken into pieces and one can of Great Northern beans.  Season with 1 T of marjoram, salt and pepper to taste.  Simmer 10 more minutes.

Who said those blenders are just for smoothies?!

We're off to the lakehouse this weekend.  It's been a really, really long time.  We are meeting with a carpenter who is going to put a bid in on finishing up so many jobs that were started by Resident Carpenter a few years ago.  The staircase, hardwood floors in the guest rooms, some of my kitchen cabinets and a lot of painting.  It will be so nice to have that completed.  I'm looking forward to decorating those guest rooms on a budget, and I have some really exciting ideas for some new garden beds.  Getting a head start on all of it now will free us up in the spring to concentrate on getting everything ready for what I know is going to be a wonderful summer!  Wow!  I just love even typing that!

See all of you soon! :)


Friday, January 10, 2014


I love taking snaps of the dogs in the winter.  They are always doing what I want to be doing.  I can be wide awake in the morning while lying in bed, but the thought of hitting that cold floor and waiting for that first cup of hot coffee makes me linger a lot longer than I should!  Milo, too.  My dogs love to burrow under the blankets.  They only peek out when they know I'm ready to get up and then they loyally follow.

I think my fear of color came well before the trend of simplifying and toning everything down.  How and why, I don't know.  Years and years ago I remember walking down the aisles of furniture showrooms when The Husband and I were selecting  furniture for our living room, den and family room.  And then the lakehouse.  That's a lot of furniture shopping...not all at once mind you.  I chose what I liked.  Pretty green florals, red and blue plaid, checks, stripes!  I loved it all and I created beautiful rooms (if I can say so myself) around my furniture choices.  Where did that open minded, adventurous, intuitive sense of style go?  Did I succumb to the masses?  Did I just crawl under a rock waiting for inspiration to strike?

I was reading a blog today, I wish I could give her credit but it slips my mind.  She wrote that she got brave in her family room and bought black and white plaid curtains for her mostly neutral family room.  It was a big leap and of course she was nervous, it's not something you can afford to make a mistake with, literally, with the cost of curtains.  But she made the right move and they make such a great impact, they really "make" the room.  So maybe I'm not the only one that's leery about jumping in without testing the waters.  

So how do you weigh in on this?  What is your decorating mantra when making choices?  Do you have a vision?  Do you go with your favorite colors or patterns, or do you choose what strikes your fancy?  Do you have any suggestions for what I should do with this Plain Jane room? (!!!!).  Please, please, let's talk.

In a nutshell (or large skillet):

Melt 3 T of butter and saute 3 finely chopped garlic cloves over low heat approximately 3 minutes until golden.  Add 1 pound of cleaned, peeled shrimp, tails on if you prefer, and toss around until coated with butter and cook on medium until opaque, about three minutes.  Do not overcook or they will be tough.  Squeeze the juice of a half of a  lemon over shrimp.  Add 1/2 cup of fine bread crumbs and toss gently until coated.  Add a pinch of salt, remove from heat and keep warm. 

I made a simple pasta to go with the shrimp and you can be boiling the water and cooking the pasta, which was fettuccine, while you are making the shrimp.  Once the pasta was drained, I returned it to the hot pot and added 1 chopped tomato, a sprinkle of dried basil and salt and pepper to taste, and then added enough olive oil to make it nice and slippery.  Easy.  Delicious.  And maybe 20 minutes from start to finish.  Go for it!

I think I ended on a happy note after all of my complaining about my self doubt when it comes to decorating.  But that's why we are here for each other, right?  I've always prided myself on having my own style, but sometimes we get a little lost, maybe a little scared of commitments because it does involve an investment of time and money that we have to live with.  Are we all so sure of ourselves?

Let me have your thoughts.  And have a great weekend.  I'm getting those wellies out!!


Wednesday, January 8, 2014


It seems like I haven't posted in ages yet I have so little to talk about...but don't worry, I'll find something.  What a frozen world we have been living in.  I'm sure you have heard all the horror stories about the Midwest and now the upper and lower East coast are going through the same.  This is a picture of a frozen lake Michigan in front of the Chicago skyline.  My friend Cindy let me borrow it.  Brrrrrr.  Fortunately we were stocked up on food and had everything we needed to amuse ourselves with.  Knowing there were homeless people, as well as people without heat that had to seek out shelter, we were so fortunate.  Nevertheless, our house is drafty and we wore layers.  We avoided going outside except to shovel the snow.  Neighbors helped neighbors.  It was very humbling.  At our worst we were 15 below zero.  We are now up to 12 above and getting warmer bit by bit every day.

The Husband has been working from home quite a bit.  He has a suburban office (actually just an office he leases from our insurance company) just 10 minutes away besides his downtown office.  This is really convenient for meeting with clients that would rather not make the trip into downtown Chicago.  So he has been working there and at home a lot in the past few months.  I think I now understand what a wife goes through when her hubby retires.  I know it must be difficult for both the spouses, but this is my beef (and blog!).  He's at odds with what to do in his spare time and spends a little too much time with his nose in my business.  Do you know, he answers my cell phone sometimes!  Really!  The nerve!  Like it's the house phone.  He seems to have taken over.  For example, we have these sweet Polish ladies that come in once a month for a really deep cleaning.  When he was working downtown steadily, he barely nodded at them as he walked out the door in his suit with his briefcase.  Well, now they all sit and  chat and he offers them coffee and they are just so tight!!  The last time they were here he peeked his head around the corner of the bedroom door and said, "We can't find the vacuum cleaner."  We????  And he's been taking a lot of baths, at least one a day.  He had to take baths after the discomfort from his surgery in July, but I really don't see that this is necessary now, he just seems to like them.  When I notice a bottle of Calgon lurking nearby I will really lose it.  I want my MAN back.

Around 4:00 p.m. Saturday, we were both lying on our bed.  We were napped out, TV'd out, read out, small talked out, and finally I sat up and said, "We are going to drive each other crazy if we don't get out of this house!"  So off we went to our favorite restaurant just a few blocks away.  Fox's Pub.  A change of scenery and some fresh (frozen) air.  Sometimes that's all it takes.  We came home and I went to bed.  He hopped into the tub.


Layer 1/2 of a large bag of shredded hash browns in a casserole that you have sprayed with Cooking oil.  Over that make a layer of chopped onion and green pepper (about 1 cup).  Then layer 1 cup of cheddar cheese over that.  Salt and pepper lightly between layers.  Repeat, ending with cheese.  Mix together 8 eggs and 1 cup of milk and pour over layers.  Bake at 350 for one hour.

Now, you can be veeeeery creative with this by using your own favorite veggies, cheeses and even bacon or sausage.  Think of your favorite omelet.  I love jalapenos in mine.  The crock pot recipe is the same only twice the ingredients.  That's great for a crowd like I had for brunch.  I hope you try it!


The living room looks pretty stark, doesn't it?  I usually keep it pretty neutral in the winter but I was reading a favorite blog and this sweet lady said that she was going to add some bursts of color to her home to contrast with the dull colors outside her window (Hello, Balisha!!).  I like that idea.  I thought I might add some pops of one color, I was thinking of sort of an aqua blue.  So I'm shopping the house and I may pick up some candles from Target.  Decorative and useful.

And I'm really excited...The Husband is so susceptible to falling for the domino effect, I almost feel a little guilty.  If you look at the above picture of the bare Christmas tree, just hiding behind it is a small table with our teeny little 32 inch TV.   This living room is treated much like a family room since it is open to the dining area and kitchen, so we like a TV in there (although for years we didn't), but we didn't want or have room for one of those big screen deals.  We have that in our family room which is on the whole other end of the house.  Well, I spotted a beautiful corner cabinet entertainment sort of center at the store Emily works at.  The Husband liked it and mumbled something about going with a larger TV now that we would have the proper cabinet.  Okay...And then Emily emailed us the matching coffee table and end table.  Score!  I knew once we painted and got the new chairs last year that we would soon get around to the right furniture.  The coffee table is an old wobbly thing I  found on Overstock years ago, and the TV actually sits on an ancient LL Bean nightstand.  We are so with it.  Anyway, I'll keep you updated.

I thought I would add a little randomness here, I know, that's very surprising.  In celebration of, and  not to be one left behind in our annual January craze to simplify, organize and purge, I found some simple tips in HGTV magazine and I thought I would pass them on to you.  These are some of the things you might not think to toss or recycle:

~old bent wire hangers
~socks with no match
~broken umbrellas
~last year's holiday cards
~used notebooks and scratch pads
~dried up cans of paint
~random mugs
~old hairbrushes and combs
~candles with burned down wicks
~pens that are out of ink
~dead batteries
~old spices
~unidentifiable chargers
~paper grocery bags
~old makeup
~food storage containers with missing lids
~old florist vases
~outdated business cards
~perfume you don't wear anymore
~broken small appliances
~old pots and pans

I hope this was helpful.  Personally I like to do my organizing in the fall.  Things are usually in pretty bad shape after spending months of mainly outdoor activities.  It's also easier to drag things down to the curb on trash day without snow and sleet, or make a trip to the Goodwill center in good weather.  But then again, by January, it's usually time to do it all over again!

I hope you are all staying safe and warm.  What a way to start the year! :)