Wednesday, May 28, 2014


Well, here we are again.   I think I've posted more on vacation than I do when I'm just hanging out at home!  I wanted to share one more picture of our evening with Mary from A Breath Of Fresh Air that was taken at the restaurant we dined at on Saturday.  I thought you might want to see her husband of 49 years, Bob, as well as The Husband.  Did I mention that our guys get along marvelously?   So funny. We blogging ladies always seem to hit it off, but most of my meeting up with bloggers have taken place when traveling  and we always seems to include those hubbies!!

Penny and Penny came over this morning to pick me up for our lunch and shopping trip.  I was so excited for them to see our place.  In our previous trips here we've managed to do a lot together and I just love both of them to pieces.  We have so much fun together...I have true blue friends in Asheville and I met them through blogging!

We had lunch at a really neat place that was very elegant and had wonderful moderately priced sandwiches and salads for lunch.  Then we shopped more.  And all of this took place in "the village" just a few minutes from our place.  In fact, The Husband has walked there.  

And tomorrow that guy is going fly fishing, something he has been waiting for for the past two years.  Again, with a guide that he has come to know very well.  He is beyond excited.  Me, I want to go to our pool so bad.  Yes, I'm not feeling good about putting on a bathing suit but sometimes you just have to get the "I don't give a crap" attitude and do it.  I had a terrible winter with eczema that left scars on my legs.  Only the sun will clear that up, but I'm careful and use a low SPF.    Then I was thinking of driving into the "village" for lunch in a quiet place with my laptop to blog...or maybe into the downtown area.  I bought Emily and Abby each a pair of Tom's sandals.  If you aren't familiar with them, for every pair of shoes sold, they donate a pair to children in impoverished countries. But these two devils of mine insisted I send pictures and Emily is not happy with hers so I want to exchange them.  And worries.  The packing situation.  I have found some linens I fell in love with, the chimes of course, some books...


Can I say I'm homesick??  Milo and Layla are alone from 6:00 a.m. til 4:00 when Abby gets home from work.  Sometimes Jeff or Emily stop in when they can during the day.  Abby is doing a great job taking them for walks and snuggling with them but their routine has been upset big time. Sometimes I wake up at night in all of the different places and beds and I feel for Layla who sleeps against my tummy, and Milo at my feet.  And then I get a lump in my throat.  Silly me.   And my routine.  Oh, I don't mean to complain.  Two weeks is just a long time for me.  And I am so anxious to start gardening!  All in good time, Jane.  I just keep telling myself that.  I can be such a baby!!

Okay...onward and upward.  We will be home Friday evening.  Business as usual.  I thank you for following along on our adventure.  And shhhhh...I am going to print out pictures at Walgreens of all of our great moments, especially the historical stuff The Husband had on his bucket list.  I'll try my best amateurish job at making a scrapbook for him for Father's Day.  I thought that would be nice.  

See all of you soon (hopefully from Sweet Home Chicago :)


Sunday, May 25, 2014


Just randomly, I'm posting a picture of a certain restaurant/pub that a certain son of mine is an investor in right across from the University of Virginia.   He has personally never seen it so we stopped, had a few beers and I sent him pictures.  He was quite moved.

Ahem.  We arrived in Charlottesville, VA., on Tuesday (I believe), it's all a blur now as it's Sunday.  First stop was the Hollywood Cemetery and all joking aside, it was an eye opening, solemn experience that I am so very grateful that The Husband insisted be on our itinerary.  No, not homage to any movie stars..,just a very introspective, humbling and eye opening experience as we wandered this peaceful resting place of thousands of Confederate soldiers who fought for this country so long ago.  I was hot and sweating but I just simply followed behind The Husband as he searched and searched for the grave site of  his own personal hero since childhood, Jefferson Davis.  I have nothing else to add right now because I have photos and I want to share them when I have time.  I just want to husband is the most intelligent, well informed, well read man I have ever known in my life.  His thirst for history is only challenged by his knowledge of so much that has been a part of our past and all things relevant to our present and future. I have followed along with him on this journey for the past few days, seeing the places where the civil war began and ended and as we moved south, the courage and devastation  of those that not only played a huge part in the war, but in the different yet quite relative civil rights movement much later....very different but all a part of the intricate map we've followed on this journey to the  South.  Can I say what a great and intelligent man I had as a guide?  Thank you A.

Well, The Husband eventually told the B&B owner that the cat hadn't moved from it's preferred spot on our bathroom rug despite our use of the facilities, which felt somewhat like an invasion of privacy at the time.  The owner sort of laughed when we informed him of this and went and retrieved the critter, but I thought it was sort of weird that he didn't seem to mind ...I mean inhabiting guest's rooms?  Especially allergic paying guests.


Well, this is the gift shop.  Don't you just love hanging out in these before you go on a tour?  I think the buses or shuttles are purposely schedule 45 minutes (rather than the actual 5  necessary) apart so you have no choice but to buy souvenir mugs and collect maps for obscure places that sound much more interesting than where you are.  Apparently, Jefferson and the staff at Monticello inspired many a cookbook and beautifully photographed books of the gardens at Monticello.  Sadly, I found the visitor's center and restrooms better landscaped than the mansion.  I'm sorry, I don't want anyone to be dissuaded from experiencing this adventure themselves...I never even mentioned my thoughts to The Husband.  I'm a firm believer that our opinions are best left to ourselves, our private journals, our BFF's or our blogs that can be read by anyone that has access to the Internet.  That is being done on the surrounding landscape and they may just be updating that kitchen that inspired all those cookbooks with some stainless steel appliances.  

Here's Mary and I, my wonderful, sweet friend from A Breath Of Fresh Air.  We have been blogger friends forever and I had the pleasure of meeting her once before in Asheville.  She lives in Raleigh and even though it was a little round~about for us, The Husband knew how much I wanted to see her and her wonderful husband, Bob, again.  And I have to tell you...The Husband has confessed that he has really enjoyed meeting the blogger friends we've had the opportunity to get together with over the years.  He and Mary's husband get along like they've known each other for years.  And Mary and I...well, I love her to pieces.  And again...I have more pictures to share of the lovely evening we had dining together at a wonderful restaurant in Raleigh and then going back to their home for dessert and coffee.  Her home is simply out of sight and I could spend hours in her English/cottage style garden, complete with the cutest potting shed that you could eat off the floors in and a gazebo that again, I could spend all day in.  Much more later, but you might want to visit her blog as she has already posted about our visit.  Oh...and the boxy jacket I'm wearing in this photo...Fashion Police would wonder why I'm wearing my father's old bowling shirt (if he had bowled).  Well, it looked good hanging in the shop.  And truly, I have lost weight, it's just hidden under 40 yards of a linen/cotton/polyester blend.

Okay...a long day behind me and five more days until we head home to Chicago.  I'm dragging him out this week for some horseback riding and a visit to a botanical garden.  And I have a few more blogger friends to meet up with!  Of course he is going to fly fish one day...he better after the h*** I went thorough trying to get his stuff on the plane.  Not knowing it was his gear.  Or maybe I should just hide it.  Hmmmmm...


Friday, May 23, 2014


The picture above is one I snapped when we were resting at the first inn after our flight from Chicago to D.C.  I could not believe it only took an hour and 20 minutes.  And I slept the first hour!  And yes, I have to admit (sheepishly), I over~packed.  And I learned a lesson:  Never take advice from your 23 year old daughter.  "Don't worry, Mom, just smile and act really friendly and they'll let you go a few pounds over."  So at the airport when the Sky Cap said I was four pounds over the weight limit, I stood around with a goofy smile on my face until he said, "Hon, are you going to start emptying that bag or do you want to pay the $75.00?"  I snapped to attention and started cramming anything I could grab (all that careful ironing and folding...sniff) into my carry on bag.  At times like these The Husband acts like he doesn't know me.  He truly goes into "Stranger Mode"  I had all these people staring as I held up the line.  And then what do you think I pulled out of my bag?  A FLY FISHING CASE COMPLETE WITH A FEW RODS AND GADGETS!!  I actually couldn't get my breath for a second.  When did he slip this into my suitcase?  The only reason he was saved from my wrath is because we had entered the secure check~in area and they frown on public displays of insanity.

Our first B&B breakfast of the trip, Karen made cold strawberry soup which was a first for me and something I will try to make.  And then there were waffles with fruit and whipped cream and she had done something with the bacon.  She explained that she sprinkles brown and pure sugar on the strips along with a drizzle of maple syrup and lets it sit for 20 minutes, then bakes it.  It was delicious!

We all hugged goodbye and then we were off to Charlottesville.  That's a story for another day.  We spent two days there and then on to Richmond and we are on our last day here.  We are staying at another B&B way out in the country.  This place is used for weddings quite often, at least the gardens and pavilions and arbors.  I'm heading out now with my camera.  From our room I can see an oval rose garden with a fountain in the center.  Beyond that there is what looks to be a brook with a small waterfall and swans.  Sigh!

We will be "home" in Asheville on Sunday and I will catch up! :)


Tuesday, May 13, 2014



, So many of you know that I truly respect Jeff's privacy...I've posted maybe 5 pictures of him on my blog.  He never said anything about his pup!   And which one is his...I haven't a clue.  Maybe none.  He wanted a good dog and connected with a breeder who's female was was having pups.  He chose a male, the pick of the litter before they were conceived.  And then that happened.  And then his puppy was born.  And then he was given this picture of three of them at about 2 weeks.  Awwwww...and then he waited and waited until today and he picked his little guy...

on, doesn't everyone want to pack all the clothes they own so they have a nice selection to choose from?  Doesn't everyone pack 8 pairs of shoes thinking this is finally the opportunity to wear those 4 inch heels?  I religiously read those magazine aticles where they give you three pieces of clothing and 21 ways to mix and match them over a week. But I swear, I saw pictures in a tabloid of Pippa Middleston's visit to the states 2 summers ago and I spotted a red purse and navy wedges on more than one occasion.  So even royalty (or close) have weight restrictions on their luggage.  At least that's the only reason Pippa was short on, outfits on her visit.  

I see my travels as being very much like Princess Kate's recent trip to Australia and New Zealand (or was it the other way around?).  You have to change several times a day.  Breakfast at the inn...bright eyed, bushy tailed and looking totally not like you woke up 12 minutes before and jumped in the the clothes you had on the night prior.  Then there is the shopping and sight seeing.  While running shoes and a sweater tied around the waist, maybe a Cleveland Indians cap on looks sporty and fun, what happens if you duck into a restaurant for lunch with appetizers on the menu you can't even pronounce?  You've got to be prepared at all costs ladies.  Hence, knowing my innate preoccupation  with being over prepared, before every trip The Husband hauls out the bathroom scale and makes a huge spectacle of weighing himself  and my suitcase and then doing some arithmetic.   I now tend to think of the whole ordeal as an analogy between what Coco Chanel was famous for saying...something along the lines of:  get yourself dressed for the evening and before you walk out the door, remove one thing.  And I try to do with my bag.  Like eliminating a scarf or a pair of chandelier earrings.  Way too much weight.  

  I didn't want to disappoint you without something totally unrelated to the body of my post...remember when I got the credit at Pottery Barn for their terrible, terrible oversight of not having the dishes available that went with my already purchased napkins?  I used my merchandise card for these melamine plates that I"ll use for outdoor dining.  I am head over heels in love with them, I'm just not feeling very victorious.  It's not like me to make a fuss. I have beautiful napkins and beautiful plates just for crabbing about a small oversight.  It doesn't make me feel good.  Although, I am thinking of ordering four more plates to even it out at twelve.  

I hope to get back on Saturday.  Probably to complain a bit more about the preparations for our trip, how my veggie garden is so not happening,  how The Husband has hidden half my shoes... you know, the normal stuff.  See ya soon!


Tuesday, May 6, 2014


I remember once asking a friend how it was when she and her husband became empty nesters and eventually retired.  Her face absolutely lit up.  "Oh, my gosh!  We golf together every morning and we hike and ride our bikes.  Most evenings we make dinner together and then watch a movie.  You are going to just love it, Jane!"  Somehow I just don't see that happening.  I'll never golf and I thought, he'd never garden.  And now, here he is on my turf (so to speak).  I'm territorial.   I was aggravated that he was using my tools and leaving them all about.  He was claiming areas to start new beds where he got more sun than me.  He became a BFF with the woman that ran the nursery in town at the lake.  She gave him all sorts of free advice and a few free plants and discounts.  And what really made me want to SCREAM was he would take her advice over mine!  So no, having this little hobby together will never work.  Oh, we'll both be out in the yard together, but certainly not side by side.  And our tools will be color coded.

It's going to be an interesting summer.

While you are boiling a pot of water for the pasta (1 pound of fettuccine or linguine), heat 2 T of olive oil and 3 T of butter in a medium sized skillet or saucepan.  Saute 1/2 cup of finely chopped onion with 2 cloves of finely chopped garlic over low heat.   When soft, add 2 T of pine nuts and cook until just browned.  Toss in 2 cups of loosely packed fresh snow peas and saute until just tender, about 2 minutes.  Grate in about 1 T of lemon zest and the juice of 1 lemon.  Bring to a boil and add 1/2 c white wine.  Let wine cook off, turn to low and season with 1 T of dried tarragon, salt and pepper to taste.  Drain pasta and pour sauce over.  This is great with a tossed salad.  

I'm still working on our upcoming trip.  I have researched and Googled and printed and Googled and I don't want to even think about the itinerary yet.  .  We will be in 6 towns over 7 days.  And then 5 straight days at our condo in Asheville where I am sure we will be too tired to do anything but sleep and loll around by the pool.  I'll tell you more the next time I post.  Hope you're off to a great week! :)


Thursday, May 1, 2014


You might remember that I tried my hand at "forcing" my forsythia branches to bloom indoors.  They didn't make it.  Not sure what I did wrong.  The leaves just dried up right around the time the buds were turning green.  The actual bush in the backyard is just now getting ready to burst with blooms...I think I may wait a little later next year to cut my branches for forcing.  So while Em and I were out last week, I picked up these weedy little faux "somethings".  I'm not a fan of faux flowers but since these French flower buckets are so large, it's going to be a rare occasion that they are filled with the real thing.  So, I chose something blowzy and it's working since no one gets right up to them.  Now I need to find something pretty for each side, not much need for firewood now.  Thankfully.

The stop at Hobby Lobby was because  I needed a few craft supplies for a new banner I'm making...gosh, I love making those!  Emily was on the hunt for a lamp for her bedroom.  She came up to me with this and for a second I thought she was serious!  And then we just about fell on the floor laughing.  Yee Haw!  She ended up finding what she wanted at Homegoods, as well as a few...ahem...decorative outdoor items.  That she didn't need I might add.  I found a birdhouse.  I'll share that another day.  :)

Friday she left to go north for Tom's (her boyfriend) college graduation.  Quick as a thief I was off to Target and found the quilt and a few toss pillows.  I also bought those prints over the bed and I was scolding myself because they aren't too hard to make.  Still, they were a good price. I added sheer panels which are hard to see with the light.  The curtain rod on the curtain~less window broke so I have to finish that up.  So this was my mini makeover.  I just have the new quilt over her down comforter.

Fillet 2 large chicken breasts and then cut them in strips about 2 inches long.  Spread the pieces out on your cutting board and season them with 1 t. onion powder and 1 t. garlic powder.  No using fresh here as they will burn.  Add salt and pepper to taste and if you'd like a kick, 1 t. red pepper flakes.  Heat 2 T. vegetable oil in a large pan over medium to high heat and spread chicken out evenly, seasoned side down.  Add the same seasonings to this side of the chicken.  After about 2 minutes, carefully turn the pieces over and let them brown and cook through, about 3 minutes.  Remove to a platter and cover to keep warm.  In the same skillet heat up the juices on low, grate the zest of one whole lemon into the juices and then cut the lemon in half and squeeze the juices from each half into that.  Stir, scraping up the small bits of chicken.  Add 10 oz. of fresh spinach.  Toss and stir until leaves are starting to wilt.  Arrange spinach over four plates.  Top with chicken.  Dress each plate with a small palmful of chopped red onion and pine nuts.  Pour juices from pan over the top of each serving.   Enjoy!

My weekend flew by.  I worked on Abby's room and what seemed like 20 loads of laundry that had crept up over the holiday and while I was feeling bad.  I think I'm pretty much recovered but for some bouts with my asthma but I'm not letting that get me down.  Breathing is overrated.  Sunday was absolutely beautiful.  Rain had been predicted for early in the day but it didn't come until much later in the evening.  Yes!  I started at 8:00 a.m. and cleaned up the yards.  I mulched some flower beds, planted the 65 spring bulbs The Husband bought me a few weeks ago (that sounds like a lot but actually one bag had very small bulbs and I think they accounted for 58 so they all went into one wide hole!).  Then I filled in all of the bare spots in the front yard with a spreader.  Finally I sat and read for an hour on the still somewhat empty patio, and then came in refreshed and happy.  And if it couldn't get any better, we've had rain for 4 straight days so I haven't had to water the seeds or bulbs.  Yay!!

And look who I met for lunch yesterday! Yes, it's Cathy from My 1929  Charmer.  And I got to see the Old Charmer in person!  She really has such a cute home, very pretty and comfortable.  Her sewing skills are amazing, I was drooling over her curtains.  And she has a Viking stove.  Need I say more?  I'm green with envy.  She's so fun, as you can see I'm laughing and I rarely stop when I'm with her!  We were going to go shopping after lunch but would you believe we sat and talked for 3 hours?  I told her next time we shop first!

Things are heating up for our upcoming vacation in more ways than one.  It "heated up" when The Husband informed me we were leaving on May 18 as opposed to a week later than that.  Both of us are denying what we said and heard.  So, our trip is "upcoming" faster than I thought and I am an unorganized mess.  My key role in this vacation (besides the obvious of trying to fit every article of clothing I have into one suitcase) is to plan the itinerary.  I love this job, I have a real talent for scoping out the best places to stay.  This time it's a little more difficult.  For one week we are going to be on a road trip.  After flying from Chicago to D.C., we are renting a car and driving from there to Asheville, stopping and seeing attractions along the way.  So I'm in charge of the attractions, which The Husband has made clear must involve as much of U.S. and civil war history as possible.  I just want to see the mountains.  So far I have reserved an inn to stay at in Washington, D.C., and now I have to find five more.  So far I know we will make stops in Richmond and Charlottesville so I can look for places in those towns and then I have to find 3 more towns on our route.  Oh joy! I know so little about the South!  Actually, it's sort of fun but I've been swamped for time lately.  It will get always does.

So, I'm off.  First, I want to tell you that I wrote a guest post for Laura at Decor To Adore last Friday, I mentioned it in my last post prior to writing it, which wasn't such a great idea since who would remember to look days later.  So click on her blog name for the link and it will take you there.  I will check back for comments and if you have questions, put them in your comment and I will email you. :)

I'm joining Penny at The Comforts Of Home for Tasteful Tuesdays.  Stop by for some great recipes!