Thursday, December 11, 2014


Oh, can you see that the top third of the tree is not lit?  The Husband and Abby were stringing the lights last night and a string went "poof",  I have to make a run for lights and attempt that although I've never strung them before, The Husband has a ritual of doing this with one of the children (which always leaves them in tears, if you know what I mean).  I think I can manage if I want to get the ornaments on any time soon.  Wish me luck.  This is a beast of a tree.  We have to move it into the corner instead of in front of the window as it juts out so far.  As usual we overestimated the size of our living room.  Sigh.

So I seem to be having my granddog, Tulo, here for days on end as the happy couple go here and there,  Can you believe he is only eight months old?  He clearly decided that if Milo can get on the furniture, he can.  Like a typical grandchild, he's not allowed in the kitchen, upstairs or even on an area rug in Jeff's house, but limits.  I just love the big moose.  

Clam Chowder

Heat 2 T of butter in a large pot over medium/low heat.  Add 1 medium sized onion, finely diced, as well as a 2 stalks of chopped celery. Saute until softened, about 3-5 minutes.  Stir in 3 T. of flour and 2 c. chicken or vegetable stock.  Whisk well, and then add the juice of 2 10 oz. cans of minced clams.  I actually could only find the six ounce cans so I used three for a total of 18 oz.  Just fiddle with this a bit.  Reserve the clams until later.  Add 1 c. of heavy cream, 2 bay leaves and 1 pound (about 3 large) Idaho potatoes, chopped in small cubes.  Bring to a simmer while stirring, it will thicken, then reduce to medium low and cook another 20 minutes until potatoes are tender.  Add the clams and season with salt and pepper to taste.  Cook another 2 minutes and serve.  This recipe makes approximately 6 servings.  I also lightly broiled slices of a baguette that I brushed with a combination of melted butter, olive oil and dry Italian herbs.  Croutons work well also.  Enjoy!

As I said earlier in this post, life is not a Hallmark movie and when we lose someone we love during the holiday season, it's a sharp jab in the heart that cruelly takes us away from the joy we are expecting.  We lost our dear friend, Bob, Tuesday morning.  I wrote about him at the end of September (this is the link if you want to read my post).  He was diagnosed with inoperable cancer and with what I am sure, was immeasurable courage, carried on for 3 short months.  It's hard to put my feelings into words.  He was the man that built my house at the lake with just his own two hands.  When I first met him I was a bit intimidated...big and gruff, he turned out to be a sweet, humble man that I so enjoyed being around.  He loved his quiet lake life, returning home on weekends after driving a semi truck all week.  He loved to play the piano at the many cocktail parties he and his wife, Sharon held.  He would lift my kids in the air and scare them to pieces, he showed The Husband all the ropes at our home and gave him tips on lake living.  And for me, well, I'll always remember his bright blue eyes lighting up, twinkling when he saw me, arms stretched out for a hug, "Good to see you, Blondie."  Love you, Bob.  We will be up at the lake for the memorial Saturday.  Say a prayer for his family and friends if you can.

I'm going to focus on the joy as best I can and tackle this mess I have here.  I hope to be back soon.

Jane xx


Anita Diaz said...

Jane, I'm so sorry to hear about your friend. Prayers and thoughts for everyone.

I'm happy to see your room because I thought I was the only one!! I'm sure it will be great when you're done:-)

NanaDiana said...

YOu are way ahead of me, Jane. I still don't even have a tree. This has not been a good winter for me so far. UGH. Maybe this next week. Yep-that is quite a mess and just what my house looks like when I haul Christmas out.

That looks like a wonderful baby shower. Only two months to go- how exciting! You must be thrilled.

I am sorry about your friend, Bob. We are dealing with the same thing here with a friend of ours. It is so sad and you just feel completely helpless.

Blessings and Happy Holidays-xo Diana

Vicki @ lifeinmyemptynest said...

I love Traverse City - I would love to retire there and the vineyards are so pretty! Give yourself a break - Christmas will come and be fun no matter when the preparations get done. I just finished decorating and according to the blog world that's late :-)

Anonymous said...

Oh, Janie! I'm so sorry to hear your friend passed away! He went quickly but what memories he's left for those who loved him.
The girls are darling and glad everything seems to be going well with the upcoming wedding too.
Don't worry about hurrying for Christmas! We got our tree up (fake) before Thanksgiving just for the grandchildren and now I've done about all I'm going to do.
Take care and that's funny about your grand dog!
Be a sweetie,
Shelia ;)

Terra said...

Bob sounds like a wonderful man, like someone I would like to have met. So sad to lose a good friend. Your home is beginning to look a lot like Christmas, as the song goes.

Primitive Stars said...

Hi Jane, I am so sorry to hear about your friend, sending prayers for you and the the tree, your place is looking so beautiful. Blessings Francine.

Brenda Pruitt said...

Wow! You've sure got a lot of stuff. Just the sight of all that would send me packing I think and forget about the decorating!

Row homes and Cobblestones said...

Hello my sweet Jane,
I'm sending you a cyber hug for your recent loss, we just loss John's Uncle George, 103 years young!!! But to be honest I've been stuck in memories of what used to be and wish they could still be. Again this year I can not bring myself to purchase my beloved Frazer Fir tree for a tree full of folly. My son was Mr. Christmas, always the tree that needed 4 foot more of ceiling, he went above and beyond in the fa la la. I know he would wish for me a huge ass tree but this year again it's not meant to be.
Instead I've purchased 2 foot Norfolk pine, cypress and tree tops and have embraced the beauty of unadorned, placing throughout our house. I think sometimes it's OK to just lounge about in PJ's and not worry about everything being merry and bright.
You will get it all done to perfection and enjoy that incrediably beautiful family of yours including fur-kids.
Jane I would of loved a bowl of your New England clam chowder and together we could spend an evening rejoicing in the love that surrounds and doesn't worry if you procrasinate an extra week or so. To me seeing all those boxes of loved items from Christmas's past just fills one with waiting in delight for this years precious memories.
As always I enjoyed this post.

Gina said...

Sorry to hear about the loss of your friend. It sounds like he was a wonderful man.

You have many exciting things to look forward to with your family in the near future! Enjoy & if you don't get all the decorating done, then so be it!

An Oasis in the Desert said...

Maybe not a Hallmark movie, but it certainly is full of family and fun -- that's what is most important. Now, is that a real tree? If it is, you probably have better luck with keeping them fresh in your climate. Had to give up the real ones shortly after moving to AZ -- just too darn dry for them to last much more than a week! Good luck on getting those lights strung.

Kathleen Grace said...

I am so sorry to hear about your friend Bob, it seems even harder to lose loved ones during the holidays. I will be praying for his family and friends.
I am actually planning on going a bit more neutral in my décor so I can change out accessories more easily, so I think your ability to add some holiday cheer with anything you want to is wonderful! It is a mess though, I still have boxes that need to be put back in the basement, but I'm almost finished with decorating and I have given myself permission to slow down and do less so I can enjoy more down time. I hope you can do the same!

Balisha said...

Maybe you should have a simpler Christmas this year. I used to fret over things undone and always seemed to get sick at Christmas. Your house always looks beautiful...even with just a few Christmas things.
I have always hated putting lights on the tree. I can never hide the cords and feel that they show too much when I'm done.
Your girls are so pretty. You have another wedding to plan for. It sounds like fun.
I read something today....Be extremely gentle with yourself this Christmas season. Thought I'd share with you.
Christmas Hugs,

Doreen@foxdenrd said...

I'm sad to learn of your friend's passing. I remember your post about him and how much he meant to you and your family.

The holidays always come with expectations, and reality rarely measures up. I think sometimes as bloggers we are especially vulnerable. After all, we see first hand some of the loveliest homes around, but all is not always what it appears to be. Take it easy on yourself, and only do what you truly feel like doing. No more. No less.

You have such a beautiful family Jane! Many blessings are yours, so revel in that and the true spirit of the season will be yours for the asking.


Julie Marie said...

Hello Jane... prayers to you for the loss of your friend, and to his family also... it is hard to lose someone we love anytime, but especially over the holidays... my grandma passed away on Christmas Eve the year she went to Heaven... so hard... even still... I think she wanted to be with my grandpa for Christmas that year... your girls all look beautiful and those pups are adorable... please take some quiet time, just for "you"... relax... sip your hot choclate or wine... you have been through alot this year... and decorated as you choose... xoxo... Julie Marie

Julie Marie said...

Also, my dear friend Celeste let me know that the verification thing is a blogger glitch, and you do not really have to enter the numbers to comment... I just tried it that way and it works... xoxo...

Mary@mydogsmygardenandmary said...

Well I'm not to far ahead of you. The living room/dining room are finished other than tweaking a few items. I paid a young man to take the plastic tubs to the garage and I just shoved them in their along with my fall decorations. So after Christmas I will have to pay someone to help me clean up that darn mess.
Good luck with your tree. I have a faux tree that I put the light on and I leave them on. It's just to darn putting them them on the way they should be.
Your clam chowder sounds great, but I am on the Atkins Diet and have dropped 12 pounds in 2 weeks.
Have a lot more to go.
I am so sorry that your not into the swing of things, but I feel that two surgeries you had take a lot of you. Hopefully you will feel better soon.
I am so sorry about your friend Bob. "It's so hard to lose people that we love and think a lot of.
Will say a prayer for his family. Hopefully he didn't suffer much.
Well my dear friend wish I lived closer would come over ad help you. I have so much to do as my son and granddaughter will be here for Christmas and he is OCD so that means I really have to put my white gloves on. LOL
Take your time and everything will get finished.
The baby shower sounds like everyone had a great time.
Have a wonderful weekend.

podso said...

So sorry about your friend, Jane. Your Christmas decorations look promising. i like your colors and style and the Christmas colors look really good against that "palette."

Mary said...

We are saddened to hear of Bob's death - recall you telling us about him when we were in Asheville. He was brave and is now at peace in a better place I'm sure. Our condolences to his family.

Well my sweet friend - you certainly have a pile of stuff there to dig through - better get a move on! Tree is large but will look lovely when you've hung all those ornaments.

Take care of your hands/wrists - hope you're healing well. Girls look great in that pic - know it was a fun party with strolling wine waiters, haha!
Hugs - Mary

Betsy Brock said...

So sorry about Bob. Safe travels on Saturday!

I'm still putzing along with my decorations, too. I hope to finish tomorrow. ha.

Love the picture of the 4 girls...adorable!

Art and Sand said...

I think we need to not compare ourselves to the bloggers who have everything perfect already. Remember that many of the "big girls" get paid to show off certain products and they have been decorated since early November.

The only reason my house is decorated is because I agreed to be on a home tour - the feature is tomorrow - and I was stressed this week to get it done so I could take pictures. Mine is not perfect, but then neither am I.

We have a wedding just one month before you. Unfortunately they settled on a Los Angeles venue which means we have to got to LA to find a venue for the rehearsal dinner. My husband hates going to LA. And, we have to stay in a hotel in downtown LA for 2 nights. But, I encouraged my future DIL to choose the place she wanted and not worry about what Steve wanted.

Have FUN finishing your decorating on your own time schedule.

Anonymous said...

Baby showers, the passing of a close and treasured friend, goodness, I'd pack about 2/3's of your decorations away for next year and have a cup of hot chocolate with your feet up on the footstool.

deb @ frugal little bungalow said...

Oh Jane I am so sorry for you, his friends and family :(

Maria Elena said...

Jane, sorry to hear about the loss of your friend Bob. Sounds like he was a good man. I know it makes it specially hard this time of year. I know all about getting the Christmas decor out. I am a little tired already of jumping over boxes and bins. :) I am trying to finish it all already. This is a lot of work and not what Christmas is supposed to be about. If it wasn't for my family... :)
Love the picture of your girls! You are so lucky to have all your family around. Hugs, Maria

Lori E said...

Oh Jane I am very sorry about the loss of your friend.
No wonder you are not ready and raring to go with the decorating.
It will come together maybe while listening to some pretty Christmas music.
I got pretty far on my decorating and then just stalled.
Remember whatever we get done is enough.

Kelly said...

I like the cute little reindeer pillow on your sofa. I can't wait to see your Christmas decor when it's all done. So sorry to hear about your friend passing away. That's difficult at any time but even more so during the holiday season.

Lulu said...

You can be sure that not all of us are decorated to the max. These days I get out a few favorite things just to remind myself that it is the holidays but with just the hubby and me in the house I don't do as much as when the kids were here. Quite honestly I don't feel like it makes a lot of difference when it comes to have the season is enjoyed.

There's never a good time to lose a friend and I'm sorry to hear about yours.

Lulu said...

You can be sure that not all of us are decorated to the max. These days I get out a few favorite things just to remind myself that it is the holidays but with just the hubby and me in the house I don't do as much as when the kids were here. Quite honestly I don't feel like it makes a lot of difference when it comes to have the season is enjoyed.

There's never a good time to lose a friend and I'm sorry to hear about yours.

Beth said...

Jane, I am so sorry for your loss.

The little reindeer pillow is adorable. It looks great on your couch. Your tree is going to be really beautiful, Jane. I love the multi-colored lights (although mine are white - we have a pre-lit tree). Your girls are so pretty! Love Tulo too - he is big and beautiful and seems to feel right at home. Is he a Golden Retriever mix? Your clam chowder sounds great! I've never made it either. I really haven't made a lot of seafood; I will make cod or tilapia or salmon filets and once I made shrimp scampi. I need to broaden my cooking horizons, and seafood is such a healthy option.
Looking forward to seeing more of Christmas at your place. Don't stress about it; enjoy it with your beautiful family.
Hugs, Beth

Susan EvelynAndRose said...

I just love reading your slice of life, Jane. I can imagine the scene laughing about the wedding hair appt.'s - so funny. And I feel the same as you about decorating - just taking it slow...I only just 'finished' the downstairs this week and my upstairs is chaos. Technically this is Advent and we're supposed to start the 12 days of Christmas starting Xmas day, so we still have time!
So sorry to hear about your dear friend Bob. You are all in my prayers. xo, Susan

Stan and Jody Gabara said...

Jane, It looks like you've been pretty busy. So sorry to hear about your friend. Stan's mom passed away last December. It was a difficult time for us during the holiday. Sending prayers for you and their family.

Lisa @ Fern Creek Cottage said...

I am so sorry to hear of the loss of your friend Bob. I'll keep his friends and family in my prayers. So hard to lose someone around the holidays too.
I have felt overwhelmed and sick of the mess of Christmas decorating too. Your post reminded me of the things that really matter.

Kathy @ Creative Home Expressions said...

That's so sad and I'm sorry you lost your friend, Jane.

That's why I kept it simple this year. It's up, it's done, I plug the tree in at 5:00 and enjoy it. All I have to do now is wrap the presents. I think my granddaughter is getting impatient with me because when she comes over she is always looking at the emptiness under the tree and asking me if I have any presents. : ) I will have to get going on the wrapping this weekend, but I need to get her wrapping paper. I want to get the Frozen paper that I saw online Big Lots carries, but only in-store.

Mary Claire looks wonderful - all baby weight it looks like. She is probably being good (unlike myself when I was pregnant with my two). : )

Debbie said...

I'm sorry about your loss, Jane.
So happy the shower went well, and everyone enjoyed themselves.
My house took forever to get decorated this year...just couldn't get myself motivated.
Thank you for sharing the chowder recipe.
Have a super weekend!

bj said...

OMGosh...your room looks just like mine...I swear that next yr, I am only going to put up ONE tree and our stockings and THAT'S IT...just too stressful.

bj said...

You have that word thingy but i just clicked on publish and it worked...

Cindy (Applestone Cottage) said...

Oh what a touching post Jane. I am so sorry about your friend. My living room looked just like yours last weekend. It gets mind boggling sometimes.
I am so excited that your son is getting married in Traverse City. Dan and I spent several days there about 7 years ago and its one of the neatest towns around. And very close to Mackinac Island too. You will love that charming town. And only 2 months until you have a baby grand-daughter! So exciting. Katie is due the very end of March, but I know that will come quickly too.
Big Hugs friend,

Theresa said...

First of all, I am SO sorry that you lost your precious friend! Heaven is happier today as he celebrates without pain and sickness!

Secondly... that looks like my living room:) I am trying to peck away at it but had to do a little tidying last night! It was making me crazy! One day at a time, ya know? Enjoy your day and I hope it is a beautiful one! HUGS!

Ann from On Sutton Place said...

Thank you for the clam chowder recipe. It's one of my husband's favorites but I have never made it. I was going to take my potato soup recipe and just add clams. lol. I hope you have a lovely Christmas Jane. Best wishes for 2015.

Lisa @ Texas Decor said...

Love your reindeer pillow! Such a cutie pie granddog too! My house is a disaster when I'm decorating too. You wouldn't believe the amount of glitter I vacuumed up when I was done. Lol! I love clam chowder. Thanks for the recipe. :)

Kit said...

You take care and have the kind of Christmas you need. :) I will be thinking about you. Kit

Ceekay-THINKIN of HOME said...

Sorry for the loss of your friend. We hurry up and wait a lot as we have gotten older. Even as I write this, I see places where I could decorate, but, no probably not! Enjoy your decorating, whatever you get done!

Maggie said...

Jane, sorry to hear that your dear friend has passed away I know he meant a lot to you all.
Your house looks like mine has done all week but today I finally called a halt and said that's it. All the empty boxes are now hidden in the SP's office (why lug them back up to the attic when I'll need them again in 3 weeks time?)The trees are decorated, the mantelpieces done, the Carolers are caroling, the door wreaths are hanging and I'm pooped!

Jacqueline said...

I love the picture of the mess! That is real and we all have that! A neutral room is such a blessing at the holidays isn't it? Looks wonderful.
So sorry about your friend. Hugs and prayers sent your way!
I am having the same word verification thing and I don't know how to get it off! Yuck!!

Elaine said...

So sorry about your friend. Sounds like a great man. Prayers for his family.

Your grand dog is adorable! Glad he gets along with your pets. Look like he might want to stay with you permanently! He is quite comfortable there.

I procrastinated too on the decorating but I had friends for dinner on Friday and I told them the decorations would be up so I had to do it! I did it all on Friday and I grocery shopped and I was exhausted when my guests arrived! I think I slept 9 hours the next day!

Stop by my blog if you get a chance. I am having a giveaway you might like.

Linda@Coastal Charm said...

Oh my, just two short months and the baby will be exciting!!! Hang in there, you will get it all done (decorating).


Melanie said...

Have you made a dent in all that Christmas decor yet? I don't know how I lost track of time, but when I was looking at the calendar today and realized tomorrow was the 15th already, it hit me that Christmas is only 10 days away! Maybe it doesn't feel like it because of our mild weather. Your girls are beautiful! Exciting times coming up with a new baby and a wedding. I was so sorry to hear about your friend, Bob. He sounded like a wonderful man.

Linda said...

Decorating can take so much TIME!!!
I THINK I am now DONE!!!! Only two strands of lights left and I may HIDE them!!!
Every Christmas season is different. isn't it? Mother being ill in November impacted my Decemeber! Now I am gearing up for parties this week - only to have JURY DUTY in the morning! I better go to bed!

Vel Criste said...

So sorry to hear about your friend Bob, I remember you telling us about him and his wife and loosing him so close to Christmas is tough especially for his family. Prayers to them and to you my friend.

On Christmas decorating, don't be pressured my dear, it's not a race after all, we all have our moments of instantaneous zest and sometimes we just don't have it yet. Decorating is all about having fun, so just do so when you feel like it! And when you do, you'll realize time just flew on by!

your daughters are lovely, and I'm so excited for 2015 for you and your whole family - a baby, a wedding, what else?! You are so blessed dear, enjoy your soup and your family's love this holiday season!

SmilingSally said...

Hi Jane,

Oh, with baby coming, you're going to have such fun! (It'll be much better than granddog--just wait and see!)

Our first GREAT grandson is due any day now, and we are sooo excited.

Scribbler said...

You were so lucky to have had Bob in your life, and you will always carry the wonderful memories of him.

I didn't do nearly as much this year. You have a lot going on -- so maybe you might give yourself permission to cut back a little. The tree is going to be gorgeous!

Sharon Lovejoy said...

Hi dear,

Long, long absence, but thinking of you. I have been wheelchair bound and am starting to get up and around. Oh the joy of moving!

I hope you and yours are well and happy. I LOVE Traverse City and it sounds like a perfect place for a wedding.

I loved poking around at all your happenings, showers, friends, weddings, trees. My tree is teensy this year, but draped in memories and lights. It makes me happy.

Joy to you and yours,


Sharon Lovejoy said...


I wanted to write a private note about your loss, but can't find your e-mail in my directory.

I am so sorry for your loss and for the loss his family suffered. What a hole it puts in the heart. I know you are there for them during this time of need.

Sending love,

Sherry @ Thrift My House said...

Hello Jane, it's good to catch up with you. Wow, the scene behind the couch made me tired :) And yes, I know what you mean about the lights being strung by a kid and Dad... We always underestimate the size of the tree. They always look smaller on the lot! Your clam chowder sounds amazing. And I'm sorry to hear about the passing of your friend. Hugs!

Lori said...

Lots of neutral in your big pieces allows you to put whatever colour you want to accessorize ~ I am the same way and I love it! The baby shower sounds like it was a hit. So sorry to hear about your friend ~ losing someone is hard enough and this time of year seems to amplify the loss ~ don't you think? How are your hands? Have you had any issues. Merry merry fa la la la la! xo

Traci said...

I'm glad to see I'm not the only one that has a huge mess. Thankfully, it's all put away now. So sorry for the loss of your friend. It's always hard but this time of year I think makes it harder. Prayers to you.