Monday, July 28, 2014


You might remember that we were going to have a BBQ on Saturday and yes, we did.  It was a lot of fun but I am sorry to say I only have a handful of pictures.  I was going to try to get pics when everything was set up but we were actually doing that even as the first couple of people came.  If I learned anything from this particular party, if someone offers to help, don't try to act like you're Mr. Nice Guy and get all "Aw, shucks" over it.  Be firm.  Say exactly when and how you want that help.  I was offered a tent, tables and chairs as well as some setting up help.  I was also offered some help in the kitchen.  Most of it happened but I think it turned into more of a disaster in the making and no one was very happy.  I'm all for delegating, but not if it involves more than making a simple dessert to bring or loaning some extra folding chairs.  

I thought I had planned ahead...we do this sort of stuff at the lake all the time so as I try to think back on what went awry that day, it's mind boggling. 

Maybe I didn't prepare for the unexpected.  I woke up at 4:00 a.m. Saturday morning having asthma issues.  I reached for my inhaler and it was empty.  It became worse and worse until The Husband could get to the pharmacy at 9:00 a.m.  I was finally getting my breath by noon but many hours wasted.

We thought we could squeeze in other obligations.  We had two graduation parties that day that we (The Husband and I) thought we could manage by each of us going to one for about an hour.  I raced out the door an hour before my own party to go to another party up the street where I barely knew any of the 60 or so guests.  I stood like a wallflower with my teensy plastic cup of wine and looked at my watch every other minute.  

I could have done without the tent, I worried too much about rain.  I should have done more ahead of time, I got a little too confident that time was on my side.  And I must never run out of my meds!


These are bamboo forks and knives that I stock up on from a website called Smarty Had A Party.  I love this place.  They have everything disposable to take your party up a notch but make the clean up easy.  Most of the stuff is sold in bulk so one or two bags of utensils or napkins (in every color of the rainbow) can last me all summer long.  I keep some of the disposable forks in a Mason jar on the kitchen counter to grab for a snack or take out food.  

Yesterday was my "I'm not doing anything" day.  I really need time to slow down, stop and smell the roses.  I ate leftovers all day and dug deep into a mystery novel I'm reading.  I wouldn't even go outside with the dogs...I have had enough of the Great Outdoors.  Then today I woke up to sunny skies and just when I thought I was losing that summer enthusiasm, you know, when you can't stand the sight of another weed and keeping your yard neat comes second to cleaning the bathroom, I felt renewed.  I got showered and dressed and decided to pick up where The Husband left off outside yesterday cleaning up.  I picked up branches from the wind we've had the last few days, I watered my plants and swept and filled the bird feeder.  It is glorious out there!!  Do you see the striped outdoor rug there?  I had been really stubborn about not getting one even though our patio is really, really cracked and split.  That happens when you've been outside in the wind, rain, sun and cold for over 80 years!  What I thought was just a little old time charm started to get ugly so I broke down and got this from Home Decorators (on sale) and I think it looks good with my replacement umbrella.  

Did you notice the green beans?  My first harvest!  And my only harvest...I planted the beans in a container and well, you just don't get as many as you do when you have a few rows in your garden patch.  I am getting some decent container lettuce and the tomatoes are getting big, just not red.  :(

Other than an eye doctor appointment tomorrow and maybe a trip for a few groceries, I am free as a bird this week.  There is no company in sight coming up to the lake and The Husband surprised me, he has taken a week off the second week in August for us to go up there and just do nothing.  But of course we will.  I'm still working on the never~ending job of expanding my English Garden but we also plan on scouting out some new towns, flea markets and restaurants.  Can anyone tell me the name of a good beach read?!! :)


Joining Brenda at Cozy Little House for Tweak It Tuesday

Friday, July 25, 2014


Okay.  Enough.  We had our big group at the lake this past weekend.  One of my biggest joys is seeing anyone play in the sand.  That's what lake life is all about.  Okay...among other things, ahem.  Let me introduce you to Emmett.  He loves the sand and rarely left it...only to go on the boat.  And the one thing he talked about over and over when he got home was the swans.  And we have plenty of them.  They seem to multiply each year (but the huge turtles in our bay are making them diminish a bit, if you know what I mean).   Anyway, what a cutie!

As in the sun.  Out on all the water toys, lots of great food and snacks...a few naps for myself and Peggy (the matriarchs) and a lot of fun keeping multiple dogs separated (no, they don't always like one another, although Milo has quite a love affair with that Golden across the creek...she's now crossing over to see him!!  Brazen hussy!!)

 I really, really wanted to have a backyard we used to have before the old grill died and we resorted to eating my dreary meals at the table...not enjoying any of the F & F other than the wilted, dyed daisies from the grocery store (those bright blue daisies should be outlawed...sick) on the dining table.  I wanted to enjoy all the plants and flowers and mulch and cute little garden signs and votive citronella candles while we dined.  No matter that I had no idea how to cook on a gas grill.

Anyway...never one to back away from a challenge...with my brand spanking new grill and all my pretty flora (fauna only if I fill the bird feeder which I am cruelly selective about),  I have invited a mere 32 close family and friends for a BBQ on Saturday.  I am so ready!!  Armed with a list and my right hand woman, Abby, we hit Home Depot, Target, Binny's and the grocery today.  We have it all...we have family who will be
bringing tents and tables and chairs.  We have the good old bean bag boxes and a new game...something involving throwing a Frisbee at a beer bottle on top of a Tiki torch.  And you are required to drink something if you hit it or not.  You know, one of those "beer games" I just don't know about.  And Abby, our little waitress and bartender (she has had as a supplemental living) is making some sort of tropical drink that we all get a shot of considering the whole "B" family will be there.  We did find cute, trendy striped straws that we will be cutting into 2 inch segments for this little shot of Bali.  And  we have trendy colored plastic tablecloths and votives from the Dollar Store. I will try to get family really gives me h*** when I interrupt a good time with random shots.  The best I can do is get people to pose and that takes away from my fun.  Ha!!!

Five teeth gone and still barking at the hot UPS guy...I think he's fine.  I may save his pain pills for my own personal this barbecue. 

Joining Alice at Thoughts From Alice Sundays


Monday, July 21, 2014


I was so happy and honored when Doreen from House Honeys asked me to participate in this blog tour.  Doreen is one busy gal...recently retired, she and her husband moved into their second home, a log cabin in the woods.  Doreen is hard at work decorating and trying to squeeze 2 homes into one!  Visit her, you will just love her sense of humor and her decorating and craft ideas.   I had been reading other  posts on the Blog Tour and loving them and never thought that I would be telling my own story, answering these questions myself.  I hope you enjoy reading!

 I've been blogging since December of 2009.  That said, the first question on the tour is:

1)  What are you working on right now?


 I'm also working on changing around our den in the city house.  It's gone through many transformations and right now I'm bringing it from a formal sort of 'sitting room' to a casual place to read or watch TV.  Wish me luck!  I'm taking baby steps because it's so much better to work on indoor projects when the  weather isn't so great and it's summer now!  Forget that!! Ha!

This is serious business and I know my long time readers don't always see this side of me but I will try to be as honest as I can.  As much as I believe in honesty and truthfulness, I believe in privacy so I may  not be  "telling it all" in my posts.  Need I do that?  I'm not out to write a book about my life.  My blog started out as many of of yours did, as a creative outlet.  As the name of my blog illustrates, this is a journal.  My blog has very much replaced the hard cover, written and scribbled journals I've kept as far back as 14 years old  (which I still have!).  However, in those journals I wrote so much in an attempt to work things out, to pour my feelings into, to grasp the difficulties in whatever was occurring in that specific time of my life.  My blog has replaced these journals in such a positive way.  I've been able to share my life, express my feelings and put a spin on all of it in a happy and helpful way.  Of course I have a personal side to my life and experiences that I struggle with.  I have had major struggles in my life as many of you have had.  That's just not relative to what I want my blog to
be about.  So in answer to the question, I write to please myself and hopefully, entertain you!

I believe that the biggest difference has to do with my shifting from city to country life.  I chronicle a myriad of different  occurrences and experiences in both places yet they all  accurately and affectionately  reflect my crazy life.   I never forget how lucky we have been to have our little place on the lake.  We welcome family and friends all the time and it keeps us all connected.  Our children grew up swimming and boating and water skiing, not to mention ice skating and downhill skiing in the winter.  Hey, the greatest snowball fights ever!! I thank The Husband for having the foresight in a great investment...a place to exhaust and rear our kids and a place to sit back and enjoy the slow life once they are on their own!  City life is equally exciting in it's own way.  We are more grounded here with extended family and friends.  Our children went to fantastic schools and we are part of a great community.  This will always be "home" to me.

So I think shifting from one very different place to another locale, with it's parallels but also very different activities and experiences makes for a different sort of post.  And I also believe that I can relate to many of my readers/followers/good friends because I'm honest and straightforward, even with a wry sense of humor and some sarcasm. 


And now the final question:

4)  How does your writing/creative process work?

I should have spent more time reading blogs and learning the ropes before I dived in, but I did get a lot of help from observing as I went along and also got advice from some very nice bloggers.  I basically start with a visual prompt by keeping a camera with me at almost all times.  I have a small digital camera with great settings that fits in my purse and I also invested in a Canon DSLR a few years ago and I use that for special events or occasions.  My IPhone camera is as good as a point and shoot and I can grab that in an instant.  Taking photos, especially still life pictures, has really made me notice the beauty in everyday life.  Every couple of days I download my pictures and I can see a story develop; where I had been, what I was doing  and then I mentally start piecing together a sort of account/story/essay (!) by stringing the events together and weaving the pictures in and out.  The mood or mindset I'm in plays a big role in the tone of my writing, and I write in "real time", it's easier for me and I like to be spontaneous. I aim to post at least twice a week but as I get busy, it's more like once a week and I'm bound and determined to change that.  

I hope you've enjoyed this special little post.  The questions were quite interesting.  I am supposed to pass the baton on to two bloggers as part of the tour.  I would love to see these two ladies participate:

Brenda from A Cozy Little House

Of course no one is obligated to do this, but I enjoyed it.  Thank you, Doreen!


Wednesday, July 16, 2014


One of the Hibiscus Sisters is doing pretty well.  In spite of my great ability to bring them very close to death as I winter them over in a large percentage of space in my family room, this past winter seemed to have the most desirable of results...beautiful blooms in April!  Indoors.  Alas, a week or so later I was watering the old girls and I saw a swarm of what looked like gnats or fruit flies.  I gingerly lifted up a leaf, then another and saw that they were infested with white flies and their in the leaves were "encrusted" with them.  I literally flew down the hall screaming for The Husband.  As he shook his head in dismay, I demanded Herculean in get the damn things outside now!!!  April in Chicago isn't exactly balmy and I thought I killed the poor ladies, but secretly, I knew it must have also killed the freaking larvae.  Fear not, the plants pulled through.  One of the gals has been pruned down to almost nothing but carries on and this one is looking pretty attractive, but no blooms yet.  Just not sure what I will decide to do this winter.  I try to limit living things in my home to us and the dogs.

at our farmers market.  I was worried...hers was doing so well and mine looked sick.  Well, she gets more patient.  If you have less sun, your plants may be slower, smaller...but fear not!  Look at this baby.


This was part way into my job last Saturday.  I pruned the heck out of the wisteria as I also did on the opposite side.  Years ago I prayed it would reach the balcony and arbor.  Oh, dear God.  The stuff is miserable.  But we're good now.  I have scratches up and down my arms and face and some spots on my hands have almost became infected.  Next time, long sleeves and perhaps, a face mask.  In any event, the porch and balcony are neat as a pin and I proceeded to do some landscaping on Sunday.  I love to say that...landscaping.  In  a nutshell...ahem, I went to a family owned nursery here in Chicago and met with one of the brothers that owns it.  He was such a wonderful help in selecting shrubs and plants.  And after carting it all up to Michigan on Friday with The Husband not uttering one word, I played landscaper for 7 hours on Sunday.  Once again, I love that title.  I could be a landscaper if I weren't inherently lazy.  And extremely allergic to all things green.  Just call me a soldier for now. I'm so relieved I don't have poison ivy.   Anyway...when I finished, the light was set behind the trees and casting very unbecoming shadows and glare on my creation so I am going to make you wait with baited breath to see what I did.  So there!

 Today was a hellish day for the dogs.  The annual trip to the vet.  Happily, they are in great shape, Dr. Fisher said that she can barely believe Milo is 10 years old.  He shows no symptoms of slowing down or being out of shape.  He does, however have really bad problems with his lower front teeth.  She has wanted to pull them for the last year and I have been too frightened of anesthesia.  Now he's lost a few on his own and she has me worried about infection and pain so he is having the 'surgery' next Thursday.  It's breaking my heart,  I remember Brenda's pup having 13 teeth removed recently...:(   Tonight they have sore hips from their shots and are just creeping around and shying away from us.  And I feel the wimpers coming again when I think of the cost today and what it will be next week.  How we love our critters.  Here is Layla waiting for me to turn in.  The Husband needs no excuse.

Again, it's lake time on Friday.  This weekend we are having DIL Mary Clare's family up.  I love all of them and we will have a full and happy house.  Having company gives me a reprieve from work...other than passing out paper plates and replacing toilet paper rolls, I'm pretty good with just sitting and enjoying the company and fresh air.  We are actually having temps in the 70's and the humidity finally went Bon Voyage!  And it's supposed to stay like this for awhile.  We've had so much rain, but mixed with sun, too, so it's hard to count on anything.  I personally take the rain as a sign to snuggle in bed longer with the hounds in the morning or sneak in an afternoon read or nap.  Really!  That's what rainy days are for!

I will be back on Monday.  I was (finally) asked to be on one of those blog hop tours where you answer a whole lot of mind bending personal questions about your reasons for blogging, etc.  Just kidding.  I adore the gal that asked me and I hope to take my humorous shield off and give you some close to the heart answers.  

Happy Hump Day! :)


Wednesday, July 9, 2014


Tablespoons of butter on medium heat in a non stick pan.  Add 2 sliced bananas (about 1/2 inch thick...I did my mine on the diagonal) and sprinkle over 3 tablespoons of brown sugar.  Cook until slightly soft, tossing bananas occasionaly to get covered in butter and sugar.  Serve with a squeeze of lemon over them.  Heaven!  Happy Birthday to the love of my life!

  Now I take you to the lake.  I left on Wednesday with daughter Abigail and her boyfriend Tom.  We made a pizza and sat around and talked, got to bed early.  Thursday we made an early morning run to the grocery 3 towns over.  Veggies for salads, fruit, ingredients for appetizers and side dishes and breakfast sweets.  The fridge and cabinets were stuffed and that didn't even count what everyone else brought!

This is the tablescape I worked on that day.  I know, it's very much like last year (and the year before, ha!).  I save everything.  The daisies are blooming big time so I had them everywhere. 

We (The Husband and I) stayed until Monday morning but daughter Emily and her husband Mike stayed until Monday night.  Of course Emily cleaned the house from top to bottom...that's just her bag.  Washed sheets and towels, swept up the sand, and cleaned the bathrooms.  But she did a really great thing for me, something I had neglected for so long.  She cleaned and dusted and rearranged the furniture in our master bedroom.  Remember the antique trestle table The Husband found to use as a desk last summer?  He also found these gorgeous stained glass windows.  We had some help from the guys to carry down an old and heavy chest that sat in the corner of our bedroom with an outdated TV on it that didn't work...that's where the desk is now.  The Husband hopes to do some work from the lakehouse so we can have more days there.  Doesn't it looks great?!

I have some free time over the next few days and I am definitely going to do some serious catching up on my blogging.  I recovered from the festivities on Monday by not doing a darn thing.  Yesterday I did a lot of errands and grocery shopping.  Today I alternated between putting this post together and tidying up my garden.  Can you say Burdock weeds?  Ugh...

Happy Summer Days to all of you!