Friday, July 31, 2015


Here's my pretty picture blog post starter and as per usual, if it's outdoors, Milo is photo bombing.  These are not day lily's, they're some sort of perennial type  (Help, Beth!) that bloom for weeks.  I'm looking at bulb catalogs---already, and I'm going to add in some additional colors. I love that these come up where my tulips have died off.  It's hard to see but I have my wee little lilac right in the center.  As it grows it will bloom right after the tulips and daffodils.  Excuse the weeds in the forefront...may do a bit of ground cover or low growing flowers here.  Any other suggestions? 
I continue to spend a lot of time outside but it's mostly just relaxing or putting the sprinkle on my garden bed under eaves.  I like watching it go back and forth and the steam rising from the hot ground.  Yes, it hit the 90's here this week.  I simply need that restful time and clean air and the dogs do, too...although in this weather I watch them closely and get them in when they start to pant.  Have I talked about this already?  My mind is gone.  Seriously. 
I wanted to show you this sweet little Morning Glory sprout...a volunteer most definitely.  They grow every year up my porch railings about 10 feet away.  All from dropped seeds from the previous summer.  And this little guy is growing in one of the many cracks on my 80 year old concrete patio.   It's starting to wind around the leg of my old baker's rack (which I had planned to sand and give a new coat of paint on this summer).  Today I decided to help my little sprout along and pressed a little potting soil in and around it and sprinkled some water from the dog bowl.  Wouldn't it be a hoot if it bloomed?  I've read that you can sprinkle thyme seeds in cracks of your stone or pavers or whatever you want.  Add a little sand or potting soil to get it off to a good start.  When you walk on it you have the sweet release of it's scent.  Since we will probably never get this patio redone, that might make things more nice. :)
In a last ditch effort to trim down---at least lose some water and puffiness, we are eating salads as much as possible.  No true recipe here.  Just a mix of baby lettuces, some cous cous, shredded seasoned chicken that I did on the stove in a cast iron grill pan and then tossed with a lemon/herb vinaigrette.  I had some rolls leftover from some sandwiches we had for lunch Sunday and I wanted to use them up so I drizzled olive oil on them and grilled them right in the same pan where they picked up the herbs. I know the bread was a bit overdone but it was good.  I think I've dashed my hopes of being a future Foodie Blogger/Photographer. ;-)   I could rave about this forever.  I meant to add some black beans for more protein but forgot.  Play with this.  Omit the chicken if you'd like. 
These are the shoes I finally decided on for my niece's wedding Saturday.  My dress is a long black light weight knit (Michael Kors), with a low V-neck and cap sleeves that slip down a bit over the shoulders.  An empire band of about an inch or so wide and simple pleats just below.  We have a wonderful local gal that does alterations on the side and since I'm only 5'2 I have to have everything hemmed.  I had her take it up just below my calves and I really wanted a sort of  "statement" shoe and to elongate my body.  Am I overthinking this?  I think not, I know what looks right on me.  As for that heel, since it's chunky I'm good.  If it were thin, forget it.  I don't roll that way anymore. 
I scoured a few stores and a mall this week (enjoyed the air conditioning).  I finally ordered these on Zappos as I knew was crunch time.  I have always loved Zappos for their next day free delivery, I think that's why they were so popular.  Well, no more.  It's free delivery for 5-7 business days but most online shops have free delivery almost always or for when you reach a certain dollar amount on your order.  To get these in 2-3 days I had to pay $15.00.  Never again but I was afraid I wouldn't get them in time. 
Things took a turn on Tuesday morning when my sister in law passed away.  Suddenly perhaps, although she had been ill and quite frail for the past few years.  She was the wife of The Husband's older brother.  Phil is 64 but Jean was several year older...still 71 is way too young for me.  She injured her back years ago and then re-injured it several times more.  Surgery was not an option and she became less and less active due to the pain and difficulty getting around.  It makes me sad because she was always on the go.  We used to get together for lunch every once in awhile and as couples for dinner.  And then of course holidays.  I will tell you more about her at a later time and I want to find some pictures of her from my many bins.  I will tell you she was an extraordinary woman.  Her diminutive size was juxtaposed by her sarcastic wit and throaty laugh.  Her career centered around teaching at schools for the deaf.  When I first met her I was a little frightened--she was outspoken and a bit brusque.  At some point we came to understand one another and I found that she was actually a bit shy under this demeanor.  I came to love her so much.  She really had a heart of gold.  She once rescued three Bassett Hounds in one day from a pet shop when she found they were going to be euthanized due to their age (14 months), and size. They were her best friends right up until the end. 
Sadly, she developed pneumonia last week and then suffered a heart attack.  She may have been able to live on a ventilator which I dare say she would not have wanted.  But her organs began to shut down and she went peacefully with Phil and their son Flip (Phil Jr.) by her side.  She was here at our BBQ on the 4th of July.  They were elated to tell us that Flip and his wife were expecting their first grandchild.  I'm so grateful she was alive to know that.  Okay-tears falling. 
The memorial is tomorrow night so we will not be leaving for Louisville tomorrow morning as planned.  Instead bright and early, early, early Saturday morning (I hate getting up early and have been know to hit snooze and hide my alarm or cell phone under the mattress).  And I have a hair appointment near the hotel at 3:00 that I can't miss.  With the cast...what can I say.  My hair has been a mess for over a month and you ought to see me try to put on make up! 
I had an appointment to have X-rays and hopefully get the cast off tomorrow morning.  Dr. B told me three weeks.  Tonight I got a phone message 'after hours' to call and reschedule my appointment for unknown reasons. I wanted to cry.  It's not so much that I want to be healed and get out of the cast.  I can understand if the fractures aren't healed but I truly wanted at least a new cast.  This feels and is so disgusting.  I've of course gotten parts of it wet so it looks dingy and I have chafing and a rash on my arm and calluses and blisters on the base of my thumb where it rubs.  I go through  cotton balls like crazy, stuffing them in the cast trying to buffer all of this craziness.  And now I have to go to Louisville for three days like this?  And Martha Stewart may or may not be there (Jaime is a Senior Editor at Martha's wedding magazine---it might figure, at least a lot of press). Can you imagine her wrinkling her nose if she meets me and gets a whiff of the cast?  I'm going to call the clinic tomorrow and inquire about another physician and/or the possibility of simply having this cast taken off and a new one put on.  I just can't believe my rotten luck. 
I'll close now.  Tomorrow we celebrate Jean's life and Saturday, 350 miles away we celebrate the life of a sweet couple.  And as usual, for me and my life lately it seems, there's a path that twists and turns in ways that I can't always seem to follow. 
See you next week with some good stuff, I hope!!!  And Happy Weekend (almost!)
Jane xx

Monday, July 27, 2015


Wow, I've been gone a long time.  Summer is flying by and in spite of all the activity going on here in Blondieville, I feel pretty good about everything.  Have I maybe accepted that my life will always be a whirlwind?   I do grab my moments of relaxation every afternoon.  Maybe an hour in the early afternoon when the sun isn't on the patio, or later--about 5:00 when I have dinner ready to pop on the grill and the dogs and I can relax outside with a glass of wine and a good book before The Husband rolls in from work.  So peaceful.  Looking from my patio west, the sun goes down behind our fence and the houses beyond.  I've been capturing this elusive 'Golden Hour' and plan to have my good camera at the ready next time I'm out.  I love this picture...Milo, looking so, well...Milo-like.  Doing just this is #1 on his Bucket List.  Can you see why?   Psssst...he is in his 'squirrel catching' mode.
Yay!  I have some Early Girls plumping up here.  SO excited.  I've enlisted the help of The Husband in helping me to turn this huge pot about half a turn every few weeks and I think this is a big reason why the tomato plants are doing so well in the container.  If you do any container planting (and man, that's the way to go for herbs and tomatoes and anything you love but don't have the time/room for), rotating the pots is essential for a good dose of sun everywhere.  I actually had some wind damage from a recent storm,  I used one of those tiki torch stakes to tie this baby up.  But the plants were fine...with just three I don't have much to lose but I would still cry! ;-)
I love that I can plan my days and I have plenty to keep me busy unless I decide to play hooky.  But I really love to get out, just for a change of scenery--it refreshes me.  So hmmmm...this week.  I've been making plans for the wedding of my brother's daughter down in Louisville on August 1.  I haven't been there in a long time and haven't seen my brother and his wife in over two years since Emily's wedding.  It's going to be a great 4 day getaway.  I spent some time last week shopping.  What is it about a trip---even a short one, to make you reevaluate your bras and undies?  Say what? The fates have kept me from having a car accident as the paramedics would surely abandon me the minute they saw my ragged underthings.  Really.  So I combined a recent shopping trip looking for things I needed for next weekend as well as Jeff's wedding which is in a few weeks   A strapless bra plus clear straps...sounds crazy right?  The lady that fitted me for my "Mother of the Groom" dress advised me that cups sewn into the gown would not give me support, as in I would sag.  Well, I can tell all of you something not too surprising, if you are sagging you don't have a whole lot of hope in holding the girls up in a strapless bra.  I think a strapless bra on a large breasted woman is simply a ploy to get one to look at her new high heels, because that is where you will find her fancy ass bra.  Anyway, I have an arsenal of 'support' pieces that have probably cost more than the dress.   Did I mention Spanx?  Oh, yes.  A good reason to get a part time job at a 7/11 before the big function. 
Recycled Sangria bottle with Hosta blooms
I'll give you a break on the wedding stuff for now because life is really wonderful if you pay no attention to it.  Just kidding.  My arm hurts!!!  I honestly only took the pain pills when I desperately needed them...not so much that I'm a purist but it cuts the pain so much that I want to trim the bushes or wash my car, and obviously that doesn't help the healing process.  Anyway, for the past two weeks I have been suffering from hives all over my neck and chest.  The itching seemed to come from inside and nothing topical on it would help.  Then I realized that the Tylenol with codeine was a new-to-me culprit.  Ahhhhh...relief from the hives.  And my pain?  Not much there to help, but we have to choose our battles. 

We had a BBQ at my sister in law's today for family who came in from Kansas City.  So much fun.  Here is our Elsie with Emily who's giving her multitudes of kisses (could you resist?).  We have reached a consensus that she does look like Kevin.  But not Kevin as he looked as a baby---the "now" Kevin.  And a "female" Kevin.  I have to get a pic of the two of them soon to illustrate this fact.  I have to again say, this little gal is so sweet tempered---never cries and loves everyone (and everyone reaches out to hold her---we should have raffles).  I can't hold her with the monster cast (which may I say does not look or smell too pretty after 16 days), but I get in her face all the time to make crazy faces and noises and remind her I'm grandma.

Long on time and short on one arm, I found a great dip to bring to the BBQ.  This is healthy and was a huge hit.  It does spend 10 minutes in the oven to make things meld so you may want to consider this in the warmer weather.  Heck--stick it on your grill if you don't want the heat in your kitchen.  I felt it worked out great and then it was served as/is an hour later, it does not have to be hot.  Give it a shot---I had fun playing with the recipe. 
White Bean, Asiago Cheese & Onion Spread
1 15 oz. can Cannellini beans
1 c. shredded Asiago cheese 
2 c. diced yellow onion
1/4 c. plain Greek yogurt
4 t. olive oil divided
2 T. minced garlic
2 t. dried rosemary or 2 T fresh
Salt and pepper to taste
1)  Saute onions in 2 t. olive oil over medium heat for about 8 minutes or until browned.  Set aside. 
2)  In food processor combine beans and yogurt.  Pulse until smooth.  Add S&P, 2 t. olive oil, garlic and rosemary and 1/3 c. Asiago cheese.  Pulse until smooth and creamy.
3)  Transfer bean mixture to a shallow ovenproof dish.  Top with half the onions, half the remaining cheese and then repeat.  Bake at  450 for ten minutes.  Serve hot or at room temp with crackers, toasted bread or crudités.  YUM!!!!
I will be back soon, pinky promise.  I am supposed to get my cast off Friday morning and then literally take off for Louisville.  Say a prayer that the X-rays are good!  I will try to get a post out before Thursday.   Have a wonderful week, friends!
Jane xx

Friday, July 17, 2015


Hello!  So glad to be back.  It's been a pretty uneventful week just hanging out at home mostly.  Trying to sneak outside for some fresh air when it's not raining, which is most of the time.  Some of my plants seem a little bit stunted and my lawn has some brown spots.  I think it's just a lack of sun since I truly baby my grass after losing the whole lawn to grubs a few years ago.  Not being an expert I can only guess that lack of sun causes problems the same way lack of water does.  Thankfully, some of my tried and true flowers are holding on, like these petunias.  Very simple and I thought they looked interesting against the brick of my home. 
These bloomed a week or so ago.  I neglected to add them to my garden journal and so I'm taking a guess that they are Stock.  No?
Abigail made a huge container of Sangria for our 4th of July party and it was out of sight.  She suggested that I save the cute bottles with their hinged caps for flowers.  Aren't they cool?  I love that she is starting to think that way.  She has started to cook a lot more for her house-mates since she has been on summer break from teaching.  She texts me pictures of her dinners and I'm always a bit amazed that she is coming up with some really delicious meals since I've really only seen her do eggs and sandwiches when she lived here.  And it's sort of funny, she and Emily now take pictures of food, much the way we do for our blogs.  At one time they cackled and giggled when I did that.  Hmmm...
I actually had a great day with both of them on Monday.  I have probably mentioned before that the two get along like oil and water.  Very much opposites.  I hoped as they got older they would become closer but that hasn't happened yet and I think it's just a matter of pride and finding it easier to just carry on as usual instead of working it all out.  Habit maybe.  So we hit a mall together and we honestly had fun.  No arguing or drama.  I tried to give them both the same amount of attention (and I think this is what the whole problem stems from).  I flitted back and forth between them in the stores and as we walked through the mall.  It's difficult but I think we are doing better each time it's just the three of us. 
I am going for the fitting of my dress for Jeff's wedding next week.  I'm not sure how that is going to work-the sleeves are quite slim and very sheer...I don't know if the one will fit over my cast on the left arm.  I thought about asking my doctor to take it off just for that one day but I know him.  He's sort of a cranky older man and very set in his ways.  Thankfully he's just a specialist, I could never have him as a G.P.  So I'm really worried.  I also have my niece's wedding in Louisville in two weeks.  We leave the day I get the cast off given my fracture has healed.  Say a prayer for me.  I've been fretting over a dress for that wedding as well as a pre-party the night before.  You must know me by now--I overthink everything and just maybe have self confidence issues.  I have searched shop after shop in the malls and online for the perfect dresses.  I think I may have found what I like.  What a headache.  And men.  Wouldn't it be wonderful to just select a suit and tie from the closet and a pair of dress pants and starched shirt and call it a day?  Ugh.  Can't live with them and can't live with them.

Today was miserable with the heat.  Abby came home as she has an event here tomorrow.  She was complaining she wanted something cool and refreshing to nosh on.  I was ready to do my weekly shopping so once I was at the grocery store I remembered I had a nice English cucumber (seedless).  I picked up a package of mini pumpernickel bread slices and some cream cheese.  Do you make these?  They were so popular years ago as appetizers.  Just a nice spread of cream cheese on the bread, a cucumber slice and and a tiny sprinkle of dill.  They truly hit the spot between lunch and dinner.
I mentioned we cooked peaches on the grill last week after making our dinner outside.  I neglected to get a picture.  The other night we did mango and pineapple and both were absolutely delicious.  The mango was a bit tough---maybe it needed more time, but the pineapple was spectacular.  Look at the charring.  It made it even better.  I highly recommend you try this.  Cut some fruit up in the morning and have it ready.  You'll love it.
I have a recipe for you that sounds a bit involved but it really isn't.  If I can do it with one arm, so can you,  And you won't be sorry!  And I've included some ideas for enjoying some of this recipe during the long cold months of winter should you so desire.  Here ya go:
For the marinade:
1 habanero pepper, minced
1 large garlic clove, minced
1 T. chili powder
1 t. each salt & pepper
1 T. olive oil
Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl.  Add 1 1/2 pound skirt steak and roll in the mixture, patting it in as well.  Let marinate a minimum of 1 hour.
For the salsa:
2 whole large garlic cloves
I poblano pepper seeded and cut in quarters
1 large beefsteak tomato cut in half
1 large white onion cut in quarters
2 T. lime juice
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
Pinch of S & P
Fire up the grill.  Skewer the first 4 ingredients divided equally on to 2 skewers.  Grill on high heat, turning often until charred, about 5 minutes.  Meanwhile. mix together the lime juice and cilantro in a medium size bowl.  When veggies are cooled, chop coarsely and add to the lime mixture tossing well.  Add salt and pepper and set aside.
Remove the steak from the marinade and grill on high heat 5-7 minutes per side.  Meanwhile. wrap 8 corn tortillas in parchment paper and then foil and place on the grill with the steak away from direct heat.
To Assemble:
Let steak rest 15 minutes.  During this time I grilled a few extra vegetables for a full-on meal; slices of red and green pepper, zucchini and red onion.  This is an optional side dish but so good. 
Slice steak very thinly against the grain.  It should be rare to medium rare to maintain it's tenderness.  Serve the steak over the corn tortillas topped with the salsa.  Add a nice topping of additional cilantro, queso fresco (a Mexican crumbling cheese you can find in almost any grocery store), and a squeeze of lime juice. 
Now, the best part is, and I mentioned that just before the recipe, you can relive your warm summer nights enjoying part of this meal by simply making the salsa as directed and then canning or freezing it.  You will have that nice charbroiled flavor to serve with any sort of Mexican meal or as snack with chips.  Make nachos topped with this incredibly delicious salsa and bring it to a party as an appetizer.  Have a few jars on hand to give as holiday gifts along with the recipe.  The ideas are endless.
It was 95 degrees in the shade today which happens only occasionally here in Northern Illinois.  Same for tomorrow.  A slight breeze picked up about 8:00 p.m. tonight and I herded the two hounds outside for some fresh (?) air.  I saw the sun setting behind the houses west of us and was able to get a snap.  No altering or filters of this photo.  I think you can really see the steam coming out of the ground as it hit a bit cooler air.  My daylily's that surround my walnut tree are really coming into bloom as well as the Queen Anne Lace.  I have ferns tucked in there as well as columbine.  I've always called this my Woodland Garden because of the shade. 
Thanks to all of you again for your kind well wishes on the broken arm.  The pain is much the same but I can deal with that.  It's this stupid cast that drives me nuts.  I'm trying to visit blogs a bit everyday-if I haven't come to you recently, I will.  I was up until midnight last night finishing my newspaper column for the Michigan paper.  Leave it to me to wait for a deadline.  The other day I came home about 2:00 in the afternoon after going to have my hair and highlights done.  I walked past a sink full of dishes, 2 baskets of laundry that needed to be folded, and a bathroom in serious need of cleaning, and climbed into my bed with Layla and Milo.  Two hours later I awoke to the late afternoon sun peeking through the blinds.  All three of us stretched and I could swear those dogs smiled.  Yes!  Blondie can do chill once in awhile! :)
Happy Weekend!
Jane x

Saturday, July 11, 2015


For your viewing pleasure, a pretty yellow daylily from the many that are popping up everywhere along with the peach varieties.  So pretty and I love mixing them up.  I like how every area in my yard has them blooming at different times depending on the amount of sunlight.  A real treat.
A few weeks ago I mentioned that I went to our local farmer's market and bought a three year old hydrangea.  Look how big those blooms are!  Can you spot Milo behind them?  :)   Wow!
I'm short on words.  Thanks so much to all the ladies who emailed me, wrote in their comments, and gave warm healing wishes on Instagram.  I just feel so happy and truly blessed.  All of you gave advice that was right on target...get casted and get back to the doctor.  I was in such pain for ten days solid after being told I had a sprained wrist..  Long story short, three fractures in the two bones in my arm.  How on earth did I do all the chopping and cooking and cleaning before the 4th of July party?  I'm not looking for accolades, nor sympathy and pats on the back.  Maybe a few fingers shaken in front of my face telling me to stop the 'people pleasing' and trying to prove I can do it all.  That's the truth.  Even now---I'm typing with two fingers and the hard cast keeps hitting the keyboard.  But hey, I want you all to know the situation and secondly, I love to write.  And I can't sit still. 
My days are filled with errands and 'housework' (can we please come up with a better word?).  I'm not invincible but I have a routine that keeps me sane. I HAVE to get out everyday and I may be a hazard on the road but I do it.  I push myself because I would go nuts sitting in the house alone day after day.  Call me weird---the other day I was taking a shower.  I don't wrap the arm in plastic as the nurse suggested.  I just hold it out and up and away from the spray.  I started to think of people with disabilities and those who have lost a limb like an arm.  What if...and call me crazy, we all had three arms, if that's how God made us.  And then we injured one and could only use two.  There we are in the shower mad as hell that we can't soap up, shampoo and shave our legs at the same time with those two arms  We grumble and whine and then we do the best we can.  I'm not trying to  sound like the quintessential optimist but really, we take so much for granted and we have the ability to adjust.   Seriously though, I have my rainy days when I lie on the bed reading magazines and dozing.  I don't deny the pain and the need to take care of myself.  I'm probably the biggest baby you've ever met! ;-D
Before the big break (Ha!) I took down the wall decor I had on the wall in my family room and with the help of The Husband, hung these windows.  I SO love old chippy windows and it's amazing how something can change the way you love a room.  To the right of the windows I have a cute group of picture frames yet to be filled.  Sort of reminds me of people way back when who carried wallets with unknown faces in the plastic picture slots!  I'll get around to it. and white or color?  People or nature?  This may take some time. 
I've left you with so many projects just hanging.  This is the den.  My new furniture from Emily's shop arrived about 2 weeks ago.  Club chairs in a nubby but soft fabric.  I found the sea grass rug at Amazon for a super low price.  KariAnne from Thistlewood Cottage wrote about a sea grass rug she's had for over 6 years without one speck of problems.  I've had jute and sisal so I wanted to give this a try---I really love the natural look and fibers.  The room is in the early stages...I tried a few things on the shelves and am searching for a media center (and if I had my druthers, just a small cabinet I could paint), for a television.  This will  be a little room for The Husband and I to read in and watch a movie or two once in awhile.

We've been making our dinners outdoors a lot lately, The Husband mans the grill and I usually make the side dishes.  I have been hearing for a long time about the wonderful flavors you can get from grilling fruit.  Last weekend when Abby was home, The Husband was making the main meal on the grill  and we sliced up peaches and let them cook a bit while we had our dinner. Checking them once in awhile, we ended up with soft, warm juicy peaches that tasted a lot like peach pie.  We dove into our dessert and I only wished we had some vanilla ice cream.  I picked up a pineapple and some mango  at the grocery for our next extravaganza and yes, a carton of ice cream!
I've had enough than I need for typing now---if you find a lot of typos, be patient!    Thank you for all of your thoughts, advice and well wishes.  I'll be in this wretched cast for three weeks.  But I'll keep pushing on.  Believe me---I have plenty of time to rest and I will.  I just love to connect.  You can find me on Instagram under Blondies Journal (see sidebar) if you want to get a day-by-day life update. ;-D
Hope you are having a great weekend and I'll be back later in the week,. :)
Jane x

Sunday, July 5, 2015


Asiatic Lily
I thought we'd start off with some nice soft colors before we leaped into the red, white and blue.  And I hope all of you here in the states had a great Independence Day.  I have to say it was different this year in the city after having spent the past 20+ holidays at the lake.  I was not disappointed a bit.  We have parks all around and they have the most awesome displays, and we have several parades in and around our neighborhood. 
Abby came home Thursday for the holiday weekend and in time for the big parade that we had always gone to as the kids were growing up.  Both my boys were in Little League and The Husband coached for many years.  They proudly walked in this parade every 4th of July so it's sentimental.  Abby's Tom lives just a few blocks from the parade route and the park where they have a big fireworks display at nightfall.  We were invited to an after-parade party at his house where we could see the fireworks from his backyard deck.  It was a great evening for all.  And popular!  We had to park the car about 6 blocks away.  The streets were crowded with happy revelers and it was just a great night to enjoy city.  And this was just Thursday!
Before I get too far ahead of myself, I had an appointment to look at dresses for son Jeff's wedding next month.  Yes!  It's upon us for real.  I look back at Kevin's wedding 4 years back, and Emily's 2 years ago and I think---wow!  I was such a wreck and I think I documented that pretty well on this blog.  I'm not going to say I'm a whole lot more laid back now, but I do know that after all is said and done, it's the occasion that counts and what remains in your heart after.  Not all the worries and fussing before. 
I found my dress at the small bridal shop where Emily found her wedding gown and I got my mother of the bride dress.  I like the personal attention and that you are not paraded around in front of other women to get a look in the mirrors.  These ladies are pro's but they are also the sweetest, calling everyone 'Hon' and 'Dear'.  It almost makes you feel warm and fuzzy inside while  being in nothing much more than your bra and panties.  Anywho...this is and isn't  my dress.  Okay, it's the dress but not the color.  I really wanted navy, just sort of had my heart set on it.  It's elegant and a step away from black.  And I find dark colors so forgiving.  This color was called Blue Willow and it just wasn't right.  So I ordered the dress in Smoke, which is a very pale filmy gray.  I really love the sheer sleeves with a bit of embroidery, the empire waist and the sparkles just on the bodice---just the right amount of bling.  The pleat down the front is slimming and shows a little leg.  It's floor length and the ladies recommended I not have it hemmed to tea length as it would mess up that ruffled seam.  I'm happy.  It will be in in one week (sigh of relief here), and then I have alterations.  Oh, and I have to look for shoes.  But I'm calm.  Very calm.
I wasn't sure how Milo was going to do with the loud noise on the 4th.  At the lake I usually stay behind with him when everyone goes out on the boat for the fireworks.  Surprisingly, he was pretty chill considering that he now takes the phenobarbital for seizures.  Our family BBQ and romping with cousin Tulo wore him out and he conked out about 9 p.m. right on the patio in the midst of all the bangs and booms.  :)
I never could have done it without The Husband and Abby.  They did a lot of the heavy stuff because I'm still having issues with my injured hand.  We had three folding tables and our picnic table as well as the umbrella table on the patio.  We ended up with about 30 guests.  Looks pretty fancy, eh?  Shhhh...those are not tablecloths.  Think sheets and a few shower curtains, all of which I had in my linen closet.  Each table had flowers that I dismembered from one grocery store bouquet and an elegant citronella candle from Home Depot.  All other decorations from the Dollar Store.  I'm such a big spender.
I always tint the vase water like this on the 4th at the lake.  I had to sniffle a little when I thought that the daisies would be  blooming up there now.  I always used them in my vases in and out of the house for this holiday.  I didn't let this take away from the day, we had a blast.
Abigail made a wonderful sangria and the drinks and appetizers flowed.  Everyone brought such great dishes but I simply forgot to take get some snaps.  The Husband manned the grill and along with the hamburgers and hotdogs I made a potato salad and pasta salad.  My sister in law made a tossed salad with an awesome dressing.  We had chips and pickles and everything 'All American'.  The desserts were in abundance;  apple pie, cookies, two beautiful cakes, cupcakes.  My daughter in law, Mary Clare, made some sort of  toffee treat with Heath Bars, graham crackers and vanilla chips that was so fantastic I texted her at 11:00 p.m. for the recipe.  I will share that soon. 
Here's our little Elsie in her cute Star Spangled Banner outfit.  Isn't she precious?  Her eyes really lit up over the brightly colored decorations.  And she is amazing (I know, we all say that about our grandkids), she absolutely doesn't fuss or cry...not when we've been around her.  Gosh---we want to eat her up!
I'll end with a parting shot of Abby putting mosquito netting to a new use.  Leave it to the "Me" generation to figure out how to protect the baby and oneself at the same time. 
So there you have it.  We're good on holidays until Labor Day.  We will be going to Louisville in less than 3 weeks for my niece's wedding.  I'm so looking forward to that---it's been years since we've been down there and I always love catching up with my brother and his really sweet family.  We're making a 4 day weekend out of it so we can relax a bit.  And then Jeff and Deirdre's wedding is two weeks later.  Their wedding is at the church in the parish Deirdre grew up in not far from here.  The reception is at the country club Jeff belongs to.  I understand it's going to be huge...250 invites mailed the other day.  Yikes, that's almost 500 guests.  I can honestly (and a bit proudly) say that they both have many many friends going back a lifetime, as well as colleagues and family and they didn't want to leave anyone out on this special day.  I'm happy for them and I'm calm.  Calm, calm, calm. 
I wish my hand was doing better.  All the activity in the past week has not helped.  I keep it wrapped in the long tight bandage thing at night and as much as possible during the day.  The main issue is in the wrist.  With my good hand I can hold out my arm and bend at my wrist to make a sort of claw shape with it.  With the injured left hand I can't bend the wrist a millimeter like that.  I have thought about making an appointment with the doctor that did my carpal tunnel surgery in November.  The Husband thinks I should give it more time, maybe the tendons and ligaments need more time to heal.  Just not sure what I'll do. 
Okay, I'm off.  Thanks for listening to me drone.  Have a wonderful week!
Jane x