Sunday, March 30, 2014


We are having a gloriously beautiful day today, temps are in the mid fifties and people are actually out washing their cars!  I was hopeful that The Husband and I could make the transition back to our own cars, he can always use mine if and when snow is predicted.  Well, he tried to start the little monster awhile ago and the battery is dead.  And our battery charger is 100 miles away at the lake.  I don't even know anyone that has one we could borrow.  Argh...I had lofty plans of going grocery shopping tomorrow and then a run into the Dollar Tree to pick up some glasses.  

Yesterday was very gloomy and a little cold.  Taking a few tips from Penny at The Comforts Of Home, I went out into the backyard and snipped some stems from my forsythia bush.  I usually wait for it to bloom and then cut some to bring indoors, but she explained how to "force" them on her blog.  I just trimmed the cut end up about an inch so it drinks up the water.  I have them in my new French trough.  And...I decided to leave the color of the wood alone.  I think it's beautiful just like this.  Now hopefully I will have some beautiful yellow flowers soon.

I haven't spoke much about the low carb diet.  It was 10 weeks last Friday.  I can't say it's easy, only because discipline and restricting ourselves from certain things is never easy.  Overeating and bad food choices are hard habits to break.  I could give you all the tips and tidbits of how I'm dealing with all this but it's just different for everyone.  And some just don't believe in diets (for lack of a better word).  I simply believe we have to take a serious look at our food and the way we eat, and how  that is causing us to gain weight, and then make the necessary changes.  I've almost hit the 20 pounds off mark and I really want to thank all of the ladies I've been emailing back and forth with for their encouragement, advice and for sharing their stories.  I don't think I could have asked for more cheering on.  :)

This is just a wonky picture I downloaded from the website where our condo is located.  This is pretty much the decor for all of the units.  Yes, everything comes outfitted so all of the units are uniform.  The units are booked out sort of lottery style and unless someone requests a particular unit, or one, for instance by the pool, it's all random,  I think they call the decor "Mountain Rustic".  I'll get a ton of pictures.  We have pretty concrete plans to go for two weeks at the end of May/beginning of June.  We knew that one of the first things we wanted to do was explore the Shenandoah Valley and all of the surrounding historical landmarks.  More so The Husband, I really just want to be in the mountains!  For practical purposes we are going to fly into Washington, D.C. and just make our way down through Virginia driving.  We will stay at a few places on our way to Asheville.  So I am working my way down the map, looking at B&B's and inns and even cabins.  It really has been a long time since we've been away and The Husband and I are very excited.  I'll keep you posted.

I don't know what the weather forecast is for this week, I have pretty much stopped checking it.  I still have three major organizing projects that I want to get done; the den, the office and our big linen closet.  I am trying to devise a way to get The Husband on board with redoing the den.  But, I think I need to take a break from all of that for now and just focus on having a relaxing summer.  

Have a great upcoming week! :)


Tuesday, March 25, 2014


Isn't this just the cutest metal sign?  I know, it looks like it belongs in a nursery but I fell in love with it and it's in my kitchen.  I moved it here to take a picture but otherwise I have it on the window ledge above the sink.  It looks really cute at night.  Do you ever go to Joss & Main?  I really have to avoid it ,but for some reason, I clicked the email open one day and I found a few neat things and at quite a savings.  I'll show you more further on in this post.

Remember me showing you pictures of the dessert plates and napkins Pottery Barn had for spring?  I ordered the napkins but when I tried to order the plates, only one color was left.  And then a few days they were gone and there has been nothing since.  I really felt a little angry because I now have the napkins and they match the no~longer~existing plates.  Our closest PB is 40 minutes away and I think I just may pay them a visit.  Maybe the store can get them.  Anyway, I turned to Williams Sonoma and I saw this large platter.  And yes, I mean LARGE!  (I just got my tape measure out.  It's 19 1/2 X 14).  The Husband isn't thrilled when I shop online, but he also knows I'm not a "shopping/lunching" wife, so he takes it with a grain of salt, though he has his limits.  I woke up early one morning with him shaking me, "Where did you get that tray?  It's beautiful!!  It's going to be a family heirloom!"  Wow, I loved that!  Made me want to head back to the website!

  Ooh, I love it!!  Girls, you have to make one of these (or withhold dinner until your hubby makes you one).  I am going to hang it somewhere outside, either here or at the lake and after I drill drainage holes in it I will plant flowers in the box.  I need to woop up the window part...any ideas?

See you soon! :)

Joining Tweak It Tuesday at Cozy Little House.  Thanks, Brenda!


Friday, March 21, 2014


You learn a whole lot having kids.   And yes, mine are older than that a bit now but the "lingo" is still much the same, just in disguise.   Remember, "It's not all about you."?  Well, sheet!  They never read, "Looking Out For #1" back in the 70's!  And lately, "Get to the Point."  Suddenly these kids have very little time to hear a story/explanation/memory from beginning to end. My son has literally said that to me so that he can get back to whatever it is that he is so enticed by looking at his phone.  I do agree, I have to edit my part in conversations...the biggest evidence is here on my blog. 

summer when I lamented that getting the back yard looking good and thriving was something that I wished I had had a landscaper  do, there was so much cleaning up and heavy work.  I ended up doing it myself.  You can look back in my archives....September 2013.  I did a lot of brainstorming, heavy work and maintenance and yes, I was very, very proud.  I will reap the rewards forever.  But...the victim part.  I'm ashamed that I looked everywhere except at myself for help on this one.

 I may come off as a gal that has never had to deal with the hard knocks of life. I certainly don't feel that it's necessary to delve into the very numerous and extremely personal, painful and trying times I've experienced.  But I do stop and take notice of this "victim" thing.   Where does it get us to complain about this horrible winter?  Can we possibly make spring come any sooner?   I've never mentioned any of this but since January 1,  we've had to replace our water heater, washing machine and dryer.  The dishwasher decided it needed a bundle of repairs and it was no longer under warranty.  We lost part of our roof in the heavy winds this winter...our snow blower died and our garage door opener also decided to quit.  And before we knew any of this was going to take a toll on us, we had already ordered new furniture for the living room and there was no turning back.  Could I play victim?  Of course.  Do I want to?  No.  Maybe my kids opened my eyes, but I certainly see ( no pun intended) what they mean.  And I don't want to be that person.

to plant these seed heads, the beauty is worth the pain.  And the smiles will be limitless.

A close up of the jute embroidered curtains.  Was I lucky to find these?  They had my name on them as I had been so lost in finding what I liked.  I really am so happy with this room.  And yes, The Husband is happy, too.  He likes to give Emily the credit for her design talent, (I personally believe it was a half and half endeavor but this makes him happy.)  In any event, we are cozy and comfortable and I just want to thank all of you who weighed in and gave just the loveliest compliments. :)

Dinner was simple...baked ham, mashed potatoes, baked macaroni and cheese, corn,  tossed salad, toasted Ciabatti bread and great appetizers that disappeared!

It's late and I saved all of those pretty dishes to wash tomorrow!  Can't wait.  Have a wonderful weekend all of you...forgive me for my rant...(What's your point?).  Grrrrrr...


Sunday, March 16, 2014


Starting out small, here's my old cabinet and in front is the Louis XVI chair I bought for the desk at the lakehouse.  I have adopted it as my own for this house...what can I say?  It's LOVE!

You can see the new coffee table.  A big departure for me because I just love old, distressed wood. I never thought I'd have a glass table but my designer daughter convinced me that it would make the room look more open and the legs, which are iron with a hand painted silver finish would tie in with the rest of the metals.  In my next post I'll give you a few close ups of everything...I didn't want to bombard you with a zillion pictures.

Other than the new tables and some accessories, the only other things I bought were the curtains from Pier 1.  Oh, my gosh.  How I searched and searched and pondered patterns and colors and then one day I was there and went through the curtain panels and there they were.  It's hard to see, and I will show you another time, they are a creamy sheers with embroidered jute vines.  This is how I added texture to a room that is pretty neutral.  And they puddle on the floor, another new thing for me.  Now let me ask...does this look too cluttered?  I keep playing with things every time I walk into the room!


Now, you need to hear about all the mistakes I made along the way. :)  You know I ordered a big old jute area rug.  We cleared out the room, rolled up my cream colored wool rug and lugged it downstairs.  Then we hauled the jute one up and unrolled it, all 9 X 12 of it.  OMG!  It was way too huge and the color reminded us of cardboard.  It was a small weave so from afar it really did look like a huge piece of cardboard on the floor.  I couldn't take it.  We rolled it back up and reversed the whole process... down with the jute and up with the wool, 2 flights of stairs.  And now I have to re~wrap this beast and lug it to the post office to return it.  

And remember the painting?  I so wanted a floral painting to add some color and life.  I eyeballed the space above the fireplace and thought the painting on canvas I liked at Bed Bath & Beyond online would be perfect.  It came and it was humongous.  And as I sat and stared, cocking my head from left to right, I just knew it wasn't me.  So I'm off to return that.  

So there you have it!  Thanks for all your comments on my last post...all of you seemed so sweet and sincere about wanting to  see the changes.    Maybe because I've been doing the proverbial crying on your shoulder thing about how I am afraid of color and pattern and making big decisions.  I'll probably never change. ;-)

I'll be back later in the week with some close ups, probably my normal blah blah blah randomlings and a few pictures of some new rabbit food recipes.

Happy St. Paddy's Day, everyone!  The Chicago River is being dyed green as we speak.  I'll share a picture next time.  The parade is tomorrow but since we're in the 20's, I'll be a no show I'm sure.

Joining these parties:

Cindy at Dwellings~The Heart Of Your Home...Amaze Me Monday
Brenda at Cozy Little House...Tweak It Tuesday
Marty at A Stroll Thru Life ...Inspire Me Tuesday
Kim at Savvy Southern Style...Wow Us Wednesday


Tuesday, March 11, 2014


After getting up today and feeling a little cranky, this arrived on my doorstep. Yes, my latest order of dried hydrangeas sent direct from Concrete, Wa., via Ebay.  I usually make an order like this once or twice a year, depending on if I'm sharing with Emily.  I also received some "broom blooms" and some blue globe thistle.  This is such a great way to get away from faux flowers and I get a minimum of a year of use from them before they fade too much.  Aren't they pretty?

Have you ever had the experience of reading a blog post, having a light bulb go off in your head and just jumped up full of inspiration and energy to "get er done"?  Okay, maybe not the  jumping right up part.  I was at Mary's blog last week and she had a vision of adding a lower shelf to her kitchen island for some additional storage.  You can follow the link to read about how she accomplished that.  As I was reading this on my laptop at the kitchen table, my head jerked to the right to look at the lower shelf of my island.  What a waste of space!  This is an "after" picture above.  Before...well that large basket which was once so stylishly used to hold potatoes and onions until I had an invasion of fruit flies, was now holding a bulk package of paper towels.  To the right, vases of every size and a colorful collection of half burned candles sat gathering dust.  Don't ask why. And the drawers...don't ask about those either.  Think: a lot of plastic straws.  I start off organized and unintentionally veer terribly off course.  

I judiciously decided what needed to be in this space the most (it's across from the sink and stove), and cleaned out a cabinet with a teetering mish mash of pots and platters and Tupperware.  I sorted and tossed and decided on what I needed at close hand.  Pots and platters and serving bowls are no longer jumbled together and are within easy reach.

And here's the weekly pet photo and it looks like it's Layla this time.  She's holding her dainty little paw up as she is known to do when she's caught being bad.  Barking!  With the sun and the warm temps, we have had dog walkers, baby walkers, joggers and kids and delivery people, oh my!  She and Milo wore themselves out in front of this window yipping and howling and moaning and groaning and you know what?  I let them!  They needed it.  Their vocal chords needed it.  In the summer I pull this chair away from the window a lot.  But for that day, I let them ROAR!

Speaking of new coffee table and end tables are being delivered on Thursday.  I'm trying to remember what they look like.  I am worried about the area rug and painting I bought.  The rug came from Natural Area Rugs and I have ordered from them before and love the quality and prices.  The problem is, I ordered a 9 X 12 because the next size smaller was unavailable.  I am so afraid it's going to eat up the room.  And the painting came and I swiftly brought it downstairs, as the whole room is a surprise (shock) for The Husband.  The box is huge.  It's for over the fireplace and I actually think it's going to be humongous.  Oh, why am I so bad with proportions?  I know I should open the box but somehow I think I'll be able to figure something out.  Emily is coming over Friday morning and we are putting the whole living room together; arranging the furniture, hanging the new curtains, laying the rug, and doing the accessories.  I'm really hoping everything turns out.  The Husband has been playing along quite nicely with this whole "surprise" ruse.  When I returned the tables I didn't like a few weeks ago, I picked out new ones in exchange and told Emily, "Just put the order in, I'll show him later."  She ended up telling him it was a surprise.  So as I have purchased other things (over time of course, I have bills to pay and food to buy!), I just hide it.  So basically now, we are ready, down to the candles and the dried flowers as I showed you above.  Eeeeeek!

And in attempt to end my posts with something bright and happy to think about while we await the end of this crazy winter, here is a short list of what I'm dreaming about to do at the lake this summer. :)

sitting on my beach
farmer's markets
getting the summerhouse ready
grilling outdoors
eating fresh tomatoes with s&p
looking at the stars on clear nights
seeing the fish jump
sleeping under cool sheets
eating al fresco
the croak of bullfrogs
reading on the porch swing
that first swim


Wednesday, March 5, 2014


I don't think my friend, Melanie, believes me when I say I love celery.  I really do and it's not just because of this Bugs Bunny diet I'm on.  I find it very refreshing; watery, crisp and it doesn't get in the way of whatever you scoop up with it.  In this case, THE most wonderful dip in the world.  And no, I didn't make it but I'm going to bring it to my lab and dissect it under my Food Microscope so I can develop my own recipe.  It's from my grocery store (with their name on it), but it's "supplied" by another place where they add all sort of bad things to it to poison you.  It's called The Ultimate French Onion Dip, and I'm sorry to say, I'm addicted to it.  I limit myself to snacking on it only once per day, two stalks of celery only and I measure two tablespoons (no, I'm not on Weight Watchers) of this gooey stuff,  Can you see the chunks of onion?  Besides the weird stuff, this has sour cream, mayo, toasted onion, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce and some secret spices.  No fear, I will get to the bottom of this (literally and figuratively). :) 

I was thinking how I wanted a nice creamy casserole, yet everything seemed to have milk, flour, pasta or rice in it and I can't have any of these things on the low carb diet.  Somehow, I'm able to have cream, so I was able to come up with this, avoiding flour, milk and fattening cheese, and still getting a nice, thick sauce.  So, in a nutshell (or a large pot):

Trim and slice 1 1/2 lbs. trimmed chicken thighs into medium bite size pieces.  Saute them in 2 T. of butter until lightly golden on all sides.  Transfer to a plate. Add 1 bunch of asparagus, ends trimmed, cut into 2 inch pieces, and cook over medium heat until tender crisp, about 2 minutes.  Add these to the plate with the chicken.  Add 2 T. vegetable oil to the pot and saute 1 small chopped onion, red and green pepper and a half lb. sliced mushrooms.  Cook about 5 minutes, stirring often.  Add 1/2 cup white wine (don't skimp, break out the good stuff), and 1 cup chicken broth.  Bring to a boil scraping up all the little bits off the bottom of the pot.  Mix together 3/4 cup heavy cream and 1 T.cornstarch and add to the pot.  Stir until thickened.  If too thick, add more cream, if not thick enough, add another T. cornstarch to 1/2 c. cream.  You might have to play with this.  Return the chicken and asparagus back to the pot, add some salt and pepper to taste, and let everything heat up together nicely.  Serve!

This got like 10 thumbs up from The Husband,   And I was so happy that I was getting a nice rich meal.  And did you notice, there are no spices other than the S & P? can really taste the smoothness of the sauce and subtle flavors of the vegetables..  I hope you try it.  Penny from The Comforts Of Home has a new link party called Tasty Tuesdays.  I'm linking to that and I encourage all of you to join or stop by.  Penny is a wonderful cook, she likes to use whatever fresh foods she can find and has posted some really great recipes in the past.  Stop by!

And speaking of Penny...she lives in beautiful Asheville, N.C., and if you've followed me for awhile,  you know The Husband and I have gone on vacation there twice.  I love the beautiful mountains and the lively downtown area.  The Husband had fly fishing lessons both times and he never enjoyed himself more.  I was so incredibly lucky to meet Penny, as well as Mary from A Breath Of Fresh Air, and Penny from Lake Lure Cottage Kitchen.

Okay, to make a long story short, The Husband and I had been  looking and looking for a piece of property or real estate to invest in for his retirement.  Call it serendipity, but the units at the  hotel/inn that we stayed at both times in Asheville, are owned independently.  So, similar to buying a condo, we now have a one bedroom unit at this "Premier Hotel", as they call it, that conveniently comes with a concierge and maid service! We have actually never seen our place's amazing what you can do over the internet.  We are hoping to get there next month when the weather warms up.  We are in a great area, just 5 minutes from the Biltmore mansion and very close to downtown.  Tourism is increasing quite well in Asheville and our unit has been booked pretty consistently by vacationers.  I am really excited about our first trip to our home away from home!

My plans for the living room redo are coming along great and I will clue you in the next time I post.  I want to leave you with this:

The spring came suddenly,
bursting upon the world as
a child bursts into a room,
with a laugh and a shout and
hands full of flowers.

~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow