Wednesday, December 30, 2015


New Years Eve 2014/2015

I love doing A Year In Review, I think I've done a few over the past few years and they're always fun to reread.  Whether you use your blog to document moments or crafts or projects, how nice is it to have a little wrap up of what you accomplished in a year?  If you are a treasured friend to my blog or just visiting for the first time to listen to my normal drivel, this is a post for you.  In any event, I love writing and I hope you enjoy seeing something new or just having your memory jogged.  

The Husband and I usually have a really quiet New Year's Eve.  We've been known to go to bed before midnight only to wake up to neighborhood fireworks and even the clanging of pots and pans from porches (yes, we also did that when our kids were young, too---they loved their part in the celebrations!).  

For a bit of fun, I make a little spread, usually the standard cheese and crackers left over from Christmas and a few dips and spreads.  Last year I embellished our cheese board with cookie cutter cut cheese slices.  Sort of festive, don't you think?  Just today I invited the kids to pop over early if they were or weren't going out on the town, perhaps to get together early.  Today I made a wonderful Asiago and White Bean Dip that you can find later in this post, lobster cakes, and I have various cheeses and fruit along with some extra bubbly from Christmas.  Happy, Happy New Year from all of us here!

January--A Baby Shower

January marked the first of many  celebrations with a baby shower for daughter in law, Mary Clare. Emily and I did our best to make it an occasion for her to remember.  We do have catering for so many of our parties especially with restaurants on every corner.  For this we worked our little bums off making homemade sandwiches, spreads, various trays of savory bites and delicious sweet treats.  Some family members contributed to the menu as well.  Here is a photo of some of our spread.  I made a variety of small finger sandwiches, it was time consuming but fun and I learned a lot, especially about presentation.  We saved tons of money by purchasing items from The Dollar Store of all places, like these faux silver trays, which I washed up and saved, as well as cute little signs we picked up at Michael's to write the names of the different foods on.  I think we pulled off a successful party.  

Katie, Mary Clare, Nora and Mother Peggy...a beautiful family!

A much awaited birth

And then Elsie Jane arrived February 10, 2015.  Is she not the most beautiful baby?  Love, love, love.

February, Downtown Chicago

My own birthday is February 3.  Figures I'd be born in the most miserable month of the year.  Want to hear something crazy?  There are six girls (siblings) in my family. Two of us were born in February, two in August and two in October.  My parents couldn't have planned that if they wanted!

I like to spend my birthday in downtown (Chicago).  I love the Knickerbocker Hotel, we've been longtime guests, in fact my 40th birthday party was a surprise there.  Last year we had my birthday lunch at Ralph Lauren's restaurant, 4:00 tea at the Drake Hotel and a light dinner at our hotel.  We took a walk across the street at the start of a huge snowstorm (another perk of a February birthday) for cocktails, again at the Drake Hotel.  My kind of celebration!

Disaster at the lakehouse

Havoc ensued the first week of March.  A neighbor who keeps an eye on our lakehouse in Michigan called us one morning to tell us to get there quickly, a major disaster had occurred. We arrived to 
find out that a pipe in the wall of the upstairs bathroom had broken and that water had gushed for approximately three weeks.  You can only imagine the devastation we found.  The above pictures are of the hardwood floors we had just laid a few years ago.

The cabinets in the laundry/mud room completely fell off the walls.  Floors buckled and drywall was soaked.  Within days of the insurance company stepping in, walls were stripped down to studs as the house was dried out by industrial size fans and mold treatments were applied.  Every piece of furniture and decorative piece in our house was taken away in a moving van---not sure where. 

So here we are in late December.  After a lot of negotiating with the insurance company, demolition has started.  We missed a whole year at our place and the work is not expected to be finished for 6 months.  Very sad but I have to keep a perspective.  We were never without a place to live as some people are after a major flood or fire.  We were quite happy to find that spending a summer here in the city after 25 years at the lake wasn't so bad after all.  We kept quite busy.  No boating or kayaking, no long days daydreaming on the dock or bonfires in the evening.  But heck, we had a roof over our heads and in the long run, our lakehouse will be complete in a few months with nothing left to repair or redo for a very long time.  :)

Finally Spring

Spring arrived in April and my daffodil and tulip beds always makes me smile and think of new beginnings.  Each year I add a few more bulbs...I love to get out into the fresh air but truth be told, April in Chicago can still be in the 40's.  But we are a tough bunch!

By mid-May we are adding flowers here and there, I love my planter boxes.  This year I went for a bit of the blowzy feel.  So pretty.

I added a trellis to a brick wall along the back of my house and in spite of it being westward facing, my clematis grew beautifully.  I was so happy to see it bloom from June until September.  What a beauty!

It was a very sad and scary time when our Milo had a huge lump on his thigh diagnosed as a cancerous tumor.  The surgery was 'iffy' and very expensive but we love him so.  He made it through with flying colors and our veterinarian was very sure he got all of the tumor.  Once thought to be a fatty tumor by another vet, please consider getting another opinion.  Milo is doing fine but we keep a close eye on him.  As far as the cone he wore for two weeks, my heart ached but he survived !  :)

Oh---and how can we forget klutzy old me.  The last week of June I made the bad choice of climbing on a chair to turn off a ceiling fan.  The chair was on a hardwood floor and it totally slipped out from under me.  I tried to break the fall with my left arm.  The next day The Husband took me to a small random clinic where after X-rays I was told I had a sprain.  10 days later and after cleaning, shopping and preparing for a 4th of July celebration for 30, I was still in miserable pain.  I made an appointment with a specialist only to find I had fractured my arm in 3 places.  Could you hear me cursing?  This wrap came off and a cast went on.  After three weeks I started physical therapy.  6 months later I still have a lot of pain, especially with movement around the wrist area.  Once things calm down in a few weeks I may have it looked at again...just not sure it healed properly.

This is a gorgeous, healthy and delicious tomato salad.  Below you can find some of my concocted recipes and links.  It was a great year of making and sharing recipes.  These are some of my best loved and Pinned dishes.

White Bean, Asiago and Onion Spread

Last but not least was Elsie's christening.  Her gown was made with a piece of Mary Clare's wedding dress.  Isn't it precious?  It's hard to believe that little girl is now 10 months old.  We had a wonderful Christmas with her and all of our family.  I will share that in Part 2.

I want to wish everyone a wonderful, healthy and prosperous New Year.  I simply love and appreciate  all of you.  There are times when I feel that my time and energy for blogging is waning and then I remind myself that writing is my true love and that knowing great souls like yourselves make it all worth it.  

I'll be back next week with more from July to December.  I hope you've enjoyed this post, especially so many new friends-and you know who you are.  So many adventures many great memories behind.  And every day a new beginning.

Love to all and Happy New Year!

Jane x

Sunday, December 27, 2015


Merry 'Day After' Christmas, everyone!  Is it a relief or a bit of wanting the magic to last?  I'm enjoying my tree and the beautiful glow in the living room.  I was so crazy for the last three weeks, we popped that tree up last week and I did the mantel last Sunday knowing the clock was winding down.  I'm going to enjoy the ambiance of it all for the next few weeks (or as long as I can take all the happy, happy, happy in the room).  Space is very tight so I know I'll get tired of maneuvering around things at some point.

You can't see much but I managed to do my own ribbon on the tree and The Husband helped decorate  with the ornaments.  That was a first.  He also bought a beautiful new manger for under the tree and he positioned a light over it...magical.  

I wanted to do a Winter Wonderland on my mantel, I think I mentioned that in a previous post.  I had most of everything I needed from past mantel endeavors.  I've always loved something that reflects the outdoors as well.  I found the large wood tree in the center at Marshall's a few weeks ago but everything else was in my storage.  Thank goodness for Emily last Sunday.  I was at a loss.  For some reason I felt so little creativity this year.  I guess I left you hanging in my last post but I lost a cousin to cancer the week before.  That and a few other things were hanging a dark cloud over my head.  But we have to solider on and I did.  Em came over and grabbed few things out of my bins and helped me put up my little white 'forest'.  I try to keep it simple but the fireplace and mantel are so big.  Still, I think this is great and I'm still basking in the glow.

I so love pulling out the ornaments, especially when I find a few from the after Christmas sales and a some I picked up on trips.  Can you see the bear ornament on the bottom in the center?  I bought that in Gatlinburg this past September when we (or I) was positive we were surrounded by black bears everywhere we stayed and went.  I shudder to think of it!  I have a really obsessive fear of bears and that's pretty weird for a city girl.  lol!

We had days of crazy fun and celebrations.  Emily had the first get-together December 23rd with a full house of-gosh, who knows how many?  We had grab bags and played a crazy trivia game with our cell phones that I couldn't begin to explain.  I think I nearly peed my pants several times.  SO fun!  We started at 6:00 and ended at 2:00 a.m.  I was up at 8:00 to do the rest of my baking, wrapping and preparing food for Christmas morning.  I was determined and just a wee bit tired.  

Christmas Eve was spent at son Jeff and Deirdre's home.  He had Chicken Scaloppini catered and another outrageous gift grab bag.  This one involved a few rolls of the dice and passing your gift to the left and right--I decided to be in the audience this year.  Ha!  We were home a little earlier that night but since I'm a procrastinator and fly by the seat of my pants, I was up until 4 a.m. making a breakfast casserole and wrapping the last of the gifts.  I shouldn't have bothered going to bed as we were all up at 9 getting ready for our brunch.  Abby was a big help with last minute fluffing, lighting candles and a lot of fussiness.  That helped.  ;-)

I wish I had taken pictures of all of the sweets I made.  Boxes of goodies for many family members and friends;  chocolate pretzels, sugar cookies, almond bark and sugared pecans.  

I found these little boxes at Michael's and they make the most simple little cookies and candies look like something from a fancy bakery.  How good can it get?  But I had so many baking mishaps.  I meticulously cut out sugar cookie snowflakes and then I had a whole baking sheet of them flip right into the oven as I went to place them on the rack...just like whoops, the whole sheet of dough fell on to the bottom of my oven and started to burn and smoke.  And I had just cleaned the oven before Thanksgiving!  I also made cheesecake squares that stuck to the bottom of  the pan and then if that was not enough, two whole pans of white cake were baked a little too long and cracked like earthquakes before I could frost them.  No desserts as promised at two parties.  And lastly, an appetizer I promised for Em's party-I forgot to buy the cheese.  The swearwords coming out of my kitchen were not meant for the faint of heart.  But we survived. ;-)

A little Elsie time.  She was the highlight of Christmas morning in our home.  We always have a wonderful and somewhat wild time with a big brunch and plenty of mimosa's.  But truly, having a baby in the house made it beyond magical.  Wow, it brought me back to the days when our son Kevin, Elsie's dad, was in his sleeper PJ's with the padded feet, opening his presents on Christmas morning. I have to say, Elsie is quite the pro at opening her gifts...she loves the paper but definitely knows there is something under it!  We found this set of 'old time' blocks in a wagon on our trip to Cedarburg, WI., in November.  

I think all of the kids were happy with the gifts from Mrs. Claus, or whom I'm referred to as.  I really love 'dressing' the guys, I know most of them could use a few new shirts and a nice sweater or two.  I love giving the girls jewelry and candles and scarves.  The biggest and best surprise The Husband and I received from the kids was tickets to The Carole King Musical as well as a generous gift card for a hotel or restaurant of our choice.  I am so excited.  Jeff saw it in New York a few weeks ago, I was happy to hear he really liked in spite of not really knowing who she is!  My gift from the Husband was my favorite perfume with my name etched on the bottle.  This year I gave him a new watch, very thin and stylish with a black leather strap.  

Finally, Christmas dinner was hosted by daughter in law, Mary Clare's mother, Peggy.  They are all so gracious.  A nice sit down dinner of Chateaubriand, mashed potatoes, asparagus and rolls.  And homemade bread pudding for dessert.  Heaven!  A wonderful Christmas gift for their family was the birth of little Cecelia five days prior.  You remember Katie, MC'S sister?  She and Kevin are proud parents and Margot has a new little sister.  

I could have brought her home with me.  Welcome to our world CeCe!

So that was Christmas here in Blondieville.  I have the house somewhat back in order and in spite of all the time spent in the kitchen the past few days, we haven't had a normal home cooked meal here in a long time so maybe I'll do that today.   

Thanks for the Christmas wishes!  I will be posting a 'Year In Review" this coming week.  I love doing those-at least for myself.  lol!  Helps to keep my life a little more straight!

See ya soon!

Jane x

Thursday, December 17, 2015


Ho Ho Ho.  How does it go?  I am so, so behind the eight ball and I'm not kidding.  I joke about not being able to do a home tour but I'm very serious.  And yet, while I really love to see every decorated home and porch and vignette on blogs and IG, I no longer feel I have to speed things up to post pictures.  This year I'm slower than usual.  I've been in a sort of slump.   Not feeling very creative and also in the dumps for many personal reasons.  I mentioned that we brought the bins of Christmas decorations up, we even bought our tree last Friday. it already Thursday?  lol!  The other day I was at the grocery store and I saw this precious Lemon Cypress and it jumped into my cart.  I know without a doubt it will most likely succumb to my brown thumb with houseplants in a few weeks.  For now it makes me happy.  And I picked up a little crate of orange 'cuties'.  I love to stud them with cloves.  Limes, too.  I no longer have time for fancy designs, I just poke them in for the  lovely scent.  So that was that for my dining table.  Beyond simple but so happy.  Yet there are years when I like to pull out all of the cute decorations and treasures I've accumulated over 30 years.  My home is small but I sometimes make huge vignettes of snowmen, angels, sparkly anything...a fever dream of It's A Wonderful Life and The Grinch Who Stole Christmas.  Seriously.  But not too often and not this year.  

Lesson learned, we can surround ourselves with 'happy' by surrounding ourselves with what we love, no matter what season or holiday, no matter how big or small.  Sometimes the less elaborate, the better.  I see so many simplistic ideas for Christmas homes, small trees barely decorated.  Clean uncluttered counters and islands with a few natural touches.  Mantels and tables with real greenery, pinecones and fruit.  I love it all.  Over 20 years ago I would cut branches from the evergreens in our backyard.  The scent of them on my mantel and window sills was intoxicating.  I had simple battery operated candles in every window and I added fruit; apples, pears, pomegranates and limes on top of the greenery on the mantel.  The old is new again.  

In order to fit our tree, which by the way looked so small at the garden center, into our living room, we have to rearrange furniture and a piece  usually goes into our bedroom.  Space is tight there as well, but The Husband loves a cozy little space to read.  I find him here early in the morning with the sun coming up.  He's an early riser and well, I could sleep until noon if I didn't have an alarm clock (cell phone setting).  I don't spend a lot of time adding anything to our room, it's really tough to keep it uncluttered as it is with all of our books, magazines, framed pictures and personal stuff.  Nope, if a room is on the small size you have to keep things minimal.  More on that further down.

We have two full baths which is a luxury in an old and small house in the city.  I love this particular bathroom especially since Abby is no longer here to turn it into a disaster zone.  Truth be told, I'd rather have her here than a tidy little bath.   But its fun to decorate with the white wood planks and light gray walls.  I keep things neutral and simple, it's just the way I like the room no matter what the season. That little grapevine wreath on the right spells out 'Merry Christmas' on little tags.  I made that last and all my thumbs. ;-D

The bathroom we use the most and the one off the hall near the living room and kitchen (as in guests use it, too), gets a little more attention and personality.  Right now I have a yellow floral shower curtain and yellow accents.  Very spring-like so I'm going to switch that out with a blue ticking stripe curtain and pale blue towels.  I'm going to use what I have and I think this will be nice for the winter. In the meantime, I have a homemade mason jar candle holder filled with faux snow and a whimsical little piggy with a Santa hat.  I think this confirms that I'm somewhat weird.  

The only holiday-ish thing I have in our master bedroom is a wreath with berries in the window and I love how our neighbors lit up stars shine through as a back light.  I also have a poinsettia 
plant and that's it.  Restraint is usually hard for me but for now I just keep rummaging through the bins and containers, picking and choosing a few things here and there for each room.  My favorites are pillows and throws I've accumulated over the years.  They are fun and serve a purpose.  I almost hate to pack them away in January but it makes it a little more exciting to pull them out in December.  :)

I've been so, so slow!  It's very typical of me and I have no idea why, but the more behind I am on something, the slower I move.  Go figure.  I'm so  determined to enjoy the process, of anything and everything.  When we are getting ready for a night out on the town, I spend way too much time on my makeup and hair, picking out my clothes and jewelry no matter how late it's getting.  I come home with groceries and while the the milk gets warm and the ice cream melts, I clean out the refrigerator and organize the cabinets.  I'm just nuts.  So I have all this stuff to do and here I am everyday spending hours not just wrapping gifts but precisely arranging the tissue paper, making every folded corner perfect and then embellishing each present with all sorts of string and ribbon and tags...little jingle bells and snowflakes.  It never ends.  I love the motto, "Anything worth doing is worth doing right."  When my kids were young I was like a factory worker getting the gifts wrapped in record time.  Christmas Eve I would slap bows on them.  Of course their tiny little fingers didn't care about any of this.  Now I love to put time and creativity into it.  Still...I have so many other things to do and I'm wondering if I should give myself some slack.

Emily was telling me she knew a gal who wrapped her gifts in a different paper for each recipient.  And I've seen where people use wrapping paper and ribbon to coordinate with their holiday color scheme.  I couldn't do this if I tried.  I pick out paper according to my mood, what appeals to me at the time.  I was sort of proud of myself for sort of sticking to some paper and tags in the same color scheme but otherwise I'm all over the place.  Great idea but I'm just me.  My tree is filled with a myriad of ornaments going back to the little handcrafted treasures my kids made to my periods of loving nature one year and bling the next.  What a hodge podge I have and my gift wrap is the same.  I will tell you, the Target dollar spot had the most insane tags, I found everything from tiny chalkboard wood rounds to little birch squares.  And I can't tie a bow for the life of me so I used a lot of jute twine which didn't require anything fancy.  I had tons of wrap and ribbon and tags from last year as well so this was quite an inexpensive endeavor.  I wish time was so aplenty as well.  

Friday The Husband and I went to the nursery we've always gone to for our tree.  I think I've posted pictures and stories of it many times over the last 6 years I've blogged.  It looks so beautiful at night and the shop has beautiful plants, wreaths and decorations---you name it.  So when we got there late Friday afternoon I mentioned how deserted everything looked.  And then once inside there were probably a total of 15 trees.  I know the owners and employees quite well, I get my flowers and plants here in the spring and summer.  I was told that their tree supplier failed to come through and this (the remaing 15 trees) was all they would have.  I almost cried.  This has always been a Christmas tree wonderland.  I thought about the barrenness of it all, the loss of business in the shop, the employees out of work, the huge loss of profit.  My brain was scrambling for ideas...could they possibly hook up with a Wisconsin Christmas tree farm with a bumper crop?  Buy out a corner parking lot just to bring people into the shop for business?  I felt like we needed a Hallmark movie intervention.  Well, it is what it is.    
The tree in the forefront of this photo is the one we chose.

Our little Elsie's first Christmas and Kevin and Mary Clare's holiday card.  Is she not beautiful?  Our kids do make perfect little ones!  We love all of them so much.  

My tree is still sitting naked as a jaybird.  The Husband and I keep planning to put the lights on each evening and then after dinner we look at each other and say, "Nah..."  Tomorrow definitely.  I have dough frozen for cookies, recipes for candies and all sorts of holiday baking to give as gifts to extended family.  I have more shopping to do online and a brunch menu to plan for Christmas morning (and to shop for).  Emily is having a pre-Christmas Eve party for one side of the family, son Jeff is having the other side over for Christmas Eve. We will have Christmas dinner at Kevin and Mary Clare's home.   I want to help with appetizers and desserts.  We have a dinner with friends on Saturday.  I know all of you think I'm busy as heck but this time you are right.  I'm ready for a nervous breakdown!! lol!  Next year I vow not to have such lofty ideas or I will start doing all of my holiday stuff in August. 

I probably won't get back here until after Christmas, not sure why.  Ha!  And in spite of all of my lamenting and complaining, I really do rejoice in the true meaning of Christmas.   That and the love we feel for family, friends and mankind is reason enough to push ourselves to do and be our best.    So I'm wishing all of you and yours a very happy and blessed Christmas.  Many thanks for your support and love each and every year.  I hope I've returned that, all of you ladies are so incredibly wonderful and I'm so proud to call you friends.  That said, love, peace and joy to all !

Jane xxx 


Thursday, December 10, 2015


I hope all of your holiday plans are underway and going well.  I know so many of us are shopping, wrapping gifts, decorating and baking.  And well, if you aren't, call me over and give me a hot drink and a few cookies so we can relax and chat and feel the real spirit of Christmas.  I need the diversion!  Actually, I've been slacking off.  I get  few things done here and there and then I get immersed in a book or movie or making an involved dinner for The Husband and that is totally unnecessary.  I guess it's all about playing the relaxation thing by ear.  And procrastination, which is my middle name.   ;-)

I think I showed you the hot mess of Christmas stuff my guy and I brought up from storage last Saturday.  I've barely touched it.  When I packed everything away last January I thought I was so clever storing decorations from each room in separate bins.  That's just not working for me now.  It's just not in me to overload each and every room right now for so many reasons.  So I'm picking and choosing a few things for rooms as I peek into the bins.  It's going to be a minimal year, that's just how I'm rolling right now.

I received a text from Abigail on Tuesday that she was coming home for a few days.  Since the guest room is still sort of her room (she's been our only guest by the way), I decided to add a few little holiday touches here and there in her, errr...guest room.  I kept it a little whimsical with a bright red throw, a simple wreath above the bed, a reindeer pillow and greenery around the window with candy canes hanging off it.  She was always my 'candy cane kid".  To this day, as fast as I can get them on our Christmas tree, they simply disappear.  And we know who the sweet tooth culprit is.  So she has her own supply in her window.   

The dresser has a little bowl of colorful ornaments and a mini Charlie Brown Tree. It has a lone red ornament and that little blue blanket wrapped around the bottom, just like in the classic, A Charlie Brown Christmas.  I found this at Kohl's years ago and I love it.  I also found some weird little green sticks at Michael's that smell so much like a real fir tree.  I poked some here and there in the room and it smells like a freshly cut tree. I think she was honestly impressed and happy that we did this for her.  She works a 10-12 hour day teaching and it's finals time.  She also coaches 11th grade girls basketball and some games take them all over the city and she might not get home until after 9:00 p.m.  I know she's young but she's also exhausted.  Having her old familiar room (albeit it much neater), I hope, is a sanctuary for her.  

I did a little work on my mantel.  I'm doing a sort of winter wonderland tree theme.  I had everything nailed until I came to a little empty space.  I wanted to keep things neutral and the only thing I had on hand was this little old tree that I can't even remember using in recent years.  I looked up my friend, Sherry, at Thrift My House.  She recently gave a tutorial on how to 'flock' a tree with ingredients you have on hand.  You can see it here.  Alas, I had everything but shaving foam.  The Husband uses the old fashioned mug, bar of soap and little brush.  Gramps.  Ha!  So I remembered a little box of craft things I had and sure enough, I had a can of white spray paint.  

After a few wickedly cold trips out to the garage and 1000 coats of paint, I had this.  I hope it doesn't look too lame.  The look on my mantel is white so I wanted to keep that.  And don't worry, no trees were killed in the process of decorating the mantel.  :)

Some things show up in the most  unsuspected places.  In our storage room downstairs (Emily's old room) there is a closet.  I lifted up a few odds and ends and found a box filled with various holiday pieces from years ago that I had forgotten about.  And here was my swan.  He used to be out year round and one year I tied a ribbon around his neck and we were perfect for Christmas.  I don't know how I forgot about him but I can honestly say, it was a happy moment.  It's not anything really special to anyone but me, but aren't these little things close to our hearts, the little touches and secrets (like making a guest room a wonder filled and merry place for a certain someone), sometimes the greatest gifts of all?

I did a little bit in the den, too.  Just a few months ago it was a dark dreary room with old Victorian style wallpaper and outdated furniture.  We simply didn't use it at all.  Now it's my favorite little room.  I read, watch TV and use my laptop in here.  I added a lantern with a Christmas candle on a cabinet, a little boxwood wreath on the wall, the little swan, and this berry garland on the French door that leads to a hallway.  I'm learning that less is more.  After 30 years!  Ha!

Today Emily called me last minute, she had to pick up some holiday gift certificates in a little area not far from us near the Metra train that goes downtown.  There are a few streets around here that have many independently owned shops; everything from coffee, antique and gift shops, to bookstores and art galleries   A sort of 'small town' life right here in Chicago.  After getting her gifts and a stop at a little Italian deli where I needed a few dinner things, we popped into a little consignment/second hand shop and my eyes gravitated to these wrought iron tree sculptures.  They are a minimum 24 inches high and very heavy.  And the shocker---$10 for the set of two.  I've never been in this shop and can't wait to go back.  I saw a few other things that I think would be perfect for the lakehouse.  And by the way, I know I haven't  brought you up to date much on the progress there, mostly because there has been no progress, but we are in week three of the demolition aspect.  I am so beyond happy.  I pray that by the time the warmer weather comes that we have heat and plumbing and we can go up on weekends and do our outdoor thing.  Oh, how I miss that place!

I've never been able to get a good sunset picture here, the trees and homes and power lines get in the way.  I happened to see this vivid pink sky about 5 p.m. last night when I let the dogs out into the backyard.  The photo doesn't do it justice.  Our temps have been in the 50's, maybe that's why we had such a beautiful sky.  How pretty can it get?

I wish I could catch the Christmas Home Tour train but I'm just a little too slow.  I do love looking at all of the blogs participating, I get so many ideas!  Thanks to those who share, you are all incredible!

Happy Holidays!

Jane x

Sunday, December 6, 2015


More Holiday granola for gift giving

Very Important News.  I did it.  I actually got The Husband to watch The Holiday with me last night! Wow, what an accomplishment.  I encouraged (threatened) him to watch Love Actually a week or so ago and next on my list is The Family Stone.  These are hands down my favorite holiday movies, not counting the classics and you know... those overly touted movies I keep droning on about on Lifetime and Hallmark.  I have to say, I ply him with wine, popcorn, whatever it takes, and last night it was a few Blue Moons.  I joked that I was saving the bottle caps on the kitchen counter (all two of them), so if he was hungover this morning he'd know why.  :)  The best part of spending time with The Husband watching movies like these is that he is always so focused on the news, politics and documentaries.  So when we are watching these happy love stories, I peek at him out of the corner of my eye and see him smiling and laughing and nodding his head.  My little 'ol hearts swells.  

I've been keeping myself busy after lying in bed coughing and sniffling for the first part of the week. Thanks to all of you for your get well wishes.  I'm almost embarrassed by how much I've complained about this darn cold I can't seem to beat.  I called my doctor on Monday and got on a new antibiotic and I think it's helping.  And then on Wednesday I had had enough, I got myself dressed and out of the house, just a few errands but the hour out in the fresh air made me feel a little more alive.  

I really wasn't feeling totally okay but Emily dragged me out again on Thursday.  We hit Michael's for some gift wrap, ribbon and odds and ends.  Then she wanted to go to the nearby mall for a few gifts.  Well, guess who was the one to make a major dent in the gift buying?  I love shopping online and I do have a little of that I need to get on to but shopping in stores doesn't bother me in the least.  I remember my childhood years shopping in a small town miles from our little house.  We took the bus most times, all of us little girls and my mom, who didn't drive.  I remember only Sears, a Hallmark and Fannie May.  And Woolworth's.  That was the best part.  Sitting on the stools at the snack bar having hot chocolate.  I don't believe I ever stepped foot in a mall until my early teens.  And now?  I love shopping in downtown Chicago, admiring the window displays, and The Husband and I visit smaller towns with independently owned shops that are just as delightful.  Yet still, I get so many ideas at the malls, beautiful gift sets for that hard to figure out person in your life, the incredible sales that you might not be aware of if they don't show up in your email or you don't read the newspapers.  Sometimes it can be distracting and overwhelming but I really get into it.  And I truly believe that the majority of people I'm around in stores are genuinely happy and courteous, merry and very obliged to hold that door open for you or smile as they make room for you and your 1000 shopping bags!  Maybe we spend more time complaining about crowds and rude people.  Yes, they exist, no doubt about it.  I was ready to strangle a saleslady in a store who was treating me more like a nuisance than a customer.  But then you round a corner and someone gives you a warm smile, or sales people (nicer ones!), ask you if you need help with your bags, do you want boxes?  We need to chill, relax and most of all, get out of our cocoons and get into the spirit with others.  Just my thoughts.

While I've only accomplished some shopping and today, getting The Husband to bring up some bins of holiday decor, my daughter Emily has been working her little bum off all week.  She's clever, creative and most of all quick.  She found these burlap reindeer at Menard's.  They light up, too.  I think they are darling even though they actually look somewhat like grazing goats to me.  If you are reading this, Em, I'm sorry.  I really do think they are cute.  Her home looks so pretty and festive inside and out.  

The Husband saw pictures she texted him of these little guys as well as her tree, etc.  And he shook his head and said, "Well, Jane, the competition begins."  He has this really unhealthy idea that Emily and I compete with our decorating, especially at holidays.  Nothing can be further from the truth.  What I really envy is that she has that energy to drag her bins up, decorate the tree and house, hang her lights in the windows by herself, all in about 2 hours on December 1st.  Egad.  I am the tortoise for sure.  So after seeing the goats, I mean reindeer, The Husband texted her this morning: "Emily.  You've made my life miserable.  Mom has me off to Menard's for 4 reindeer."  She was like, "Seriously?"  Totally shell shocked.  We had a good laugh!  They are cute though.  

I had a really sad moment this morning when The Husband and I were sorting through the Christmas stuff in a storage room.  You might remember that we lost our sister in law this past July.  We were very close and every Christmas we secretly exchanged gifts so that the other sister in laws wouldn't feel bad.  Last year I came home on Christmas Eve to unwrap these 'books'.  Maybe you've seen them, they are actually a little sort of craft where you fold the pages this way and that and you have a little 3 dimensional display.  These books spell out Joy and Love as you can see from the covers.  When I received these from Jean on Christmas Eve last year I put them away in the storage room to save for this Christmas, a nice way to relax and pass the time and enjoy the whole holiday season.  When I saw them this morning I had tears in my eyes.  I had forgotten about them.  It was almost as if for that little moment I forgot she was gone.  I'm going to get to work on them---this last gift of so many over the years, and I will treasure them, absolutely.  

I had a great weekend cooking up a storm.  Making granola for the girls to give as gifts.  I'm not so hot at crafting so decorating the jars is a challenge but I'm loving the different ways you can change up the recipe.  I made a sort of sweet version with holiday colored chocolate chips (red and green) that make it look so pretty and it tastes much better!  The Husband is eating it faster than I can make it.  I spent the better part of Saturday making pans of lasagna for my kids.  Between having 9 to 5 jobs and my son and daughter in law with a small baby, they need a break and I need to do more, even if it's a meal here and there.  I will say, lasagna goes a long way but I get so crazy going all out making it from scratch that I gag thinking of eating it myself.  I promised The Husband salmon for dinner so you can just imagine the smells emanating from my kitchen yesterday.  Major candle burning.  lol!  Tonight I made a stew, the first since we've gotten cold weather.  I was liking the festive colors as it boiled away so I took a picture.  I wanted to use up leftover veggies so it had onion, carrots, potatoes and Brussels sprouts.  An odd concoction but it worked.  

Tomorrow will be a laid back day.  I'm going to do a little bit of Christmas fluffing in a few rooms and wrap a few gifts.  I'll also start on Christmas cards and otherwise just stay in and relax.  I'm feeling a little excited, too.  Usually The Husband wants to wait until the very last minute to get our tree, he always thinks one year it will go up in flames if it dries out.  Last year we bought a preservative sort of solution that you put in the water in the stand and our tree was as fresh when we took it down as it was when we put it up.  So with the temps reaching a balmy 50 degrees this week, he suggested we go cut one down this week.  Okay, I'm lying, we've never cut down a tree in our whole lives, but it sounded good, didn't it?  Off to our local nursery where they tie it to your car roof top and you pay $10,000 for wreaths and pine branches.  

Ho Ho Ho!

Jane x