Monday, August 29, 2016


A floral arrangement by moi

I was driving home from my dermatology light therapy treatment the other day and I called Emily.  I asked if she wanted to take a trip to Michael's.  

"Nah.  I'm kind of tired".  She's 7 months pregnant now.  
"What are you doing?'
"Sitting on the couch eating pistachios."
"C'mon.  Let's go!"
"To look around."
"At what?"
"Okay.  Sure."

No persuasion whatsoever."

And what a lot of stuff.  Fall stuff.  We took notes.  We separated and when we met up it was sort of funny that we both had dried and silk flowers in our carts.  And that's it.  I've been loving this flower pail that I've had for years (I showed you a fresh floral arrangement in it in my last post).  I found a bouquet of dried flowers and the gorgeous fragrance came from eucalyptus.  Other than the bouquet which I arranged haphazardly in my usual inept way, I had a branch of some sort of white fuzzy blooms.  Maybe you can enlarge the photo and enlighten me as to what they are.  No matter, I'm probably allergic to the real ones.  This whole arrangement came to about $6.00 with my coupon.  I walk by this cabinet going down the hall to the right and swoon over that earthy scent.  I think it actually looks multi seasonal, don't you?

Alstromeria and Roses

I love having fresh flowers on the dining table.  I jumped at this $5.00 bouquet at my grocery store.  I thought they were just alstromeria (Peruvian lily) which last forever, but once home I found there were several red roses tucked in the middle.  So pretty.  I've been changing the water every day and they are all doing well.  I am really loving to use that vase I found in Asheville, NC a few weeks ago. 

Blondie's Produce

In some of the huge pots I have left over from when we grew palms and rose trees, I planted lettuce, spinach and carrot seeds.  The greens are gone but the carrots aren't as big as they should be.  Every once in awhile I pluck one out (best to do when the soil is dry), and the other evening this put a huge smile on my face. They definitely need more time and I'm waiting for some cooler, hazy days of the waning summer for another planting of baby lettuce and spinach.  

New Kitchen Open Shelving

Still not sure if we will be able to go up to the lake next weekend.  The moving people may not be able to deliver the van with our belongings by then.  All we really want is a bed to sleep in.  At this point~~~after 19 months, I'm no longer going to get my hopes up.  We just thought that a 4 day weekend would be great.  The crew will continue for a bit more but we felt they could work around some of our basics.  I'll keep you posted.

I decided to post some pictures of work that was recently finished.  I think it's better than bombarding you with a slew of pics later.  

I have never had a full on vision of the way I wanted a room to be until I planned this kitchen.   I wanted to mix a bit of the old and new, rustic and soft.  I've been loving reclaimed wood since I bought my kitchen island and I would carry out it out on my back in a fire.   The black hardware, never thought I would have anything 'black' in my kitchen but it simply works in my mind.   We kept the same countertops which were intact.  They are white Silestone with some little flecks of color.  The subway tile needs to be done and then I think we are good to go on the kitchen.  

Larger View of Kitchen

No one seemed to: A) Understand,  B) Like my idea of a shiplap ceiling.  I guess you need to know Joanna Gaines from Fixer Upper.  Our Great Room already has a pine shiplap ceiling going back to 1978 when the house was built.  Yet white planks just seemed to make everyone either: A) Scratch their head,  B) Cringe.  The only guy that seemed to get it was our carpenter, Lee.  Love ya, Lee.   He got me.  He got me through texts and emails, photos from Pinterest.  I think he began to see it all unfold as he worked.  

Emily was a huge help in choosing light fixtures.  I opened up websites and roamed the aisles of the Big Box stores.  She knows me and she knew the look I was going for.  Boom, she sent me pics of about ten ceiling lights and the six pendants I needed.  THIS is what a designer does.  I would still be searching.  Trends come and go but I think you can work with and without them by making choices for items that you really love, those which will stand the test of time, and for many of us, increase the value of the home.  

Refrigerator and Newly Designed Cabinets

We were beyond fortunate to be able to have custom made cabinets for almost half the cost by way of the old sort of barter system involving a client of The Husband's.  I chose the panel style and kept it square and simple, the stain is called called Rye, and dark bronze cabinet and drawer pulls from Home Depot.  The cabinets are just slightly distressed.  This right side of the fridge is close to the sink area in the above photo.  We'd like to make a coffee station.  I pray we don't use the other side to drop our keys and random receipts and business cards.  ;-D

Newly Designed Staircase

A very nice change we made with the staircase was to change out the white wood spindles for black wrought iron.   We had the steps stained the same as the wood flooring but we kept the risers white.  I so love it!  We actually have a lot of black detail in the room: the old wood burning stove, the hardware that suspends the 4 beams from the 19 foot ceiling, the fireplace screen and the curtain rods...among other small details.  Again, I never thought I would like anything black or dark...but it seems to make every subtle color pop.  Are you noticing the paint colors at all?  We did almost two colors in every room.  In the great room we have opposing walls in light gray and cream and this extends down the hall.  We have wainscoting here and there and it will go up the stairs on an angle as well.  I'll save the other rooms for later.  

New Laundry Room

Remember when The Husband and I were quarreling over the paint for the cabinets in here?  I wanted white and he wanted a creamier color.  He felt white would make the room too sterile
 and I've always felt white meant clean.  I bowed out, you have to choose your battles and I think his choice is just fine.  I mean, it's a laundry room!!

On to the Fitbit Craze

A while ago Emily and I were bumming around the mall and I happened to pause at a Brookstone shop...not sure if you have these stores around your area, they are like Sharper Image; all sorts of techy, interesting and mind boggling products.  I wanted to stop in for a good pedometer and I walked out with a FitBit.  The Husband and daughter Abby had been encouraging me to get one for inspiration.  Inspiration for me is drinking orange juice in the morning instead of Diet Pepsi.  I haven't joined the gym again because I've blown the membership off so many times I can't see wasting the money.  

After buying the FitBit about 3 weeks ago I finally sat down and programmed it 2 days ago.  You can see that I am beyond excited about using this little device to reveal how lazy I am, er...psyched to get in shape.  

I have to say it's a game changer.  I set my goals yesterday morning and by noon I could see how terribly I was failing.  I didn't have any errands as it was Sunday, one of my many days of rest.  I didn't want to work in the garden with the heat and humidity.  As far as I could see the only dust balls had to be hiding under the furniture and I'm really lucky to have enough towels and linens (since I'm too cheap to toss them out even when they are see~through) to get by for another week.  But as The Husband had warned, it will become a war between you and that little calculator of activity.

Okay, visualize Blondie walking in place while she folds clothes from the dryer.  Dancing to a little hip hop while making dinner.  Jumping up and doing a few jumping jacks after the little beep tells me I haven't moved in a hour.  Creepy in a good sort of way.  Wish me luck.

Layla Manning the Back Door

We still have heat...I try to get out, of course you know I do it for the dogs,  I hate what it does to my hair.  And these darn dogs won't spend time outside without me there.  So sometimes I sit on the back porch steps and just do some deep thinking.  Or Instagram.  I turned around one evening when the sun was sinking behind the hills, er...houses, and got this great photo.

Another quiet weekend.  I've been trying to watch a movie every Saturday night. Sometimes The Husband joins, sometimes not.  I scroll through the romantic comedies.  God knows I'm a news junkie and I need the break.  Recently I've watched P.S. I Love You, Wedding Crashers, and this past Saturday night, Bridget Jones (the second movie, whatever it's called).  And now I have Under The Tuscan Sun  on and I know the lines word for word.  I have a thing for women who shrug off there fears (and terrible choices in men) and make life changes.   Please give me some recommendations if you like these sort of movies.  

I want to thank all of you for the kind words you had to say about my friend Traci in Baton Rouge, some of you eager to help or at least relieved to hear from someone right there.  You guys rock.

Happy new week to all of you!!

Jane x

Monday, August 22, 2016


My Prerequisite Beautiful Photo

Hello everyone.  Me again.  A day late and a dollar short.  Where does the time go?  I can't tell you how many days go by when I think I don't have anything interesting to say or new photos to share.  The other evening I was scrolling back over posts I'd written years ago and I saw so many craft projects, tablescapes, changes in decor, organizational ideas... a nice variety of everything.  I feel like my blog has taken a different direction of late...  Okay, things shift, life has it's changes, but I plan to spend some extra time I have in the winter months, when the Midwest burrows down under blankets and the snow flies, to spend time going off in varied directions.  And I hope to get on a better schedule! 

I've been working on my den again.  Have you ever felt that a room would be perfect if for just one thing...something you can't put your finger on.  This is a super small room and before I overhauled it a year ago it had walls covered in  dark green floral wallpaper, shelves on every wall with dusty books going back years, and a few pieces of somewhat formal furniture that made the room even more unappealing as opposed to relaxing.  The room time had forgotten.  

I stripped the room down to the bare bones and bought some comfy furniture.  Maybe it's the small space but the neutral colors looked very bland.  I've tried bold pillows, adding navy and then burgundy accents.  I almost gave up, my room felt comfortable so I was just going to stop fussing.  And then a few days ago I saw these curtains at Target and I thought, "Bingo".  The color, pattern, the silky texture, it was everything I needed.  Sometimes things just don't fall together at once.  And since I am a chameleon, it's probably better that they don't.

And then I got around to some other decorating challenges.  I might have mentioned that The Husband has been sticking his nose, becoming a bit more interested in the decor here and at the lakehouse.  I'm seriously not sure where this is coming from.  Everything from pictures on the walls to simple switch plates.  We bickered for days over having white or cream colored cabinets in the laundry room.  The laundry room!!!  I didn't know he even knew we had one.  That aside, one day I found that he had made some major changes to our office.  Over a year ago I took on a huge project of cleaning out this space that had become a virtual storage room with a computer.  I actually filled up five huge Hefty bags and spent a ton of time tossing out homework going  back to when my girls were in high school and The Husband was working on his first season of Fantasy Football.  Possibly 1987.  

You see that huge clock?  It was a garish gold and it took me days to paint, three coats in and out of all those little curlycues.  I made the little floral arrangement under the cloche and framed photos of the kids.  And above the computer I added push pin boards.  In keeping with my feminine side I pinned all sort of cute postcards and pics...  

...pretty, huh?

And then one day I noticed this.  The Husband came along and claimed his territory in a way that would have made General Grant happy.  He loves the history of the Civil War and American Indians.  And I truly love that he loves that.  His knowledge of that period of time is extraordinary.  But I just happened to walk into the office one day and there was Geronimo staring at me.  I sort of freaked.  On the opposite wall where I had a lovely gicglee painting on canvas, he had replaced it with one of his framed degrees, and the painting was on a wall in the guest room, a terrible placement I might add.  

My feelings were all over the place.  Of course I wanted his degree hanging on the wall, but it was a  smallish framed square on an otherwise empty wall.  But I remained calm, he actually uses the office more than I do and in a way it's rather cute that he wants to add his weird little choices for decor.  

One day last week he came to me with a stack of photos, maybe 8 X 11.  Black and white illustrations of...trout.  Big ugly trout swimming to the surface of the water with flies on hooks dangling above.  His eyes were sort of twinkling, "I'm going to have these framed!" he exclaimed, "For my office!"  Oh, high five!  Then..."You mean your office downtown, right?"  "No!  Here!"

This is when you take the time to walk around the house and gently close all the windows and doors or your neighbors might otherwise warn the police your home is about to become crime scene.  

I did however, calm myself down by taking a long shower.  My second of the day.  But it gave me time to think.  And my first thought was the obvious, march into the office and take all of his gosh darn historical, over achieving crap down and put my stuff back.  And then as I was drying my hair I had a novel idea.  Sometimes when you do the opposite of what people expect it really throws them off.  I went in and took down my pictures, my burlap boards, my pretty cloche and framed photos, I even took the cute baskets holding printer paper and the miscellaneous.  Oh, and the Target lamp.  

It looked sad.  Barren and sad.  As we sat down for dinner I told him he was welcome to frame his trout and flies.  I said, "I actually made a ton of room for you in the office to do whatever you please."

A week went by and not much happened.  One of our daughters mentioned to me that they brought up the subject of the 'undecorated' office to him and he looked a little sullen.  And then one day I received a text from him.  "Hon, have you redecorated the office yet?" 

And that I did!

In other news, we watched this movie Saturday night.  Having read the book and loving it, I wasn't sure if I'd like the movie but I think they were equally good.  The movie kept true to the book although it had to leave out a lot of nuances that shaped the story and characters, but otherwise, it had us both reaching for the Kleenex.  I'm reading the sequel now along with fifteen other books. 

I'm really excited to say that we may be moving back into the lakehouse over Labor Day weekend.  I am beyond excited.  Everything will be delivered, the furniture put back in place and I believe our belongings are in boxes labeled for each room.  Everything is going to have to be washed and stored. Have you ever looked forward to work like that?  I am so excited that Milo and Layla can be back at their home away from home...I know that sounds a little over the top but they filled in a spot where the kids left off once they grew out of spending weekends 100 miles from the city.  I wonder if the hounds will recognize it with all of the new smells.? I have a little stash in the corner of my family room but otherwise we have nothing new to bring.  Abby and Tom found this sign at HomeGoods.  I love it!

I want to end this post by telling you about a long time blogger friend of mine, Traci, from The Traci Chronicles.  Traci and her family live in Baton Rouge and although they are safe and have escaped damage to their homes, there is devastation all around.  It's heart wrenching to read this blog post I'm linking you to but I hope you take the time to read it along with a recent email from her.  I'm copying and pasting it for all of you.  I asked her how we could give, how we could donate or help.  Her email  says it all and more.  It's my feeling that we see devastation, pain, hunger and disaster all around the world everyday.  Seeing communities, countries and the world work together is one thing that is not only critical, it opens our hearts and restores humanity.  If you have the time to look at the Go Fund Me Page, please do.  Ordering much needed bins and supplies directly through Amazon is also a  really great option.  I ask that you contact me directly for Traci's address.

Traci Blanchard

9:47 AM (7 hours ago)
to me

The email address you sent this too originally is good but the one I'm replying from is best. I check it multiple times a day. THe other is just for blog stuff. 

We're doing ok. So much better than most people. We've spent a lot of time this week helping friends & family basically demolish their homes & throw away all of their personal belongings & washing A TON of clothes. It's such an eye opening experience.  

I was in Central this weekend which is where my parents & brother & sis-in-law live. They were so lucky that they didn't flood. The majority of the subd. did & it's EVERY street. The shock has subsided now & reality is setting in for people & a lot of them just don't know what they're going to do. Aside from the stress of losing everything, there's the dealing with flood insurance IF you had it & car insurance because aside from losing houses a lot of these people lost cars too. There's just so much. 

Some schools are starting back this week. At least the ones that didn't have damage. Plans have been put in place that some schools with damage are moving the kids to other locations to be able to hold classes. The public school system in Baton Rouge isn't a good one. Several of the private schools are heavily damaged. We have a large number of private Catholic schools which are trying to make arrangements to take in kids from schools with damage. This is a burden as well because these are schools that have to deny entrance during normal years because of lack of space & trying to keep the student to teacher ratio balanced.  All of those things will be thrown out the window so that kids can just get back to school & some sort of normalcy. 

Baton Rouge has had a really rough few months between the police shootings & this but one thing is certain - Southern Hospitality is real & the people of Louisiana have come together like you've never seen. People without damage are helping the people with damage. People without damage are cooking hot meals for people with damage. Donations are pouring in. I'm not sure if you saw anything about the "Cajun Navy". These were just "regular" people with boats (a LOT of people) rescued person after person after person & animal after animal after animal. Someone dubbed them the Cajun Navy. These people were life savers. 

Donations are greatly appreciated. Todd McClure is a former LSU football player who was raised in Central. He went on to play in the NFL for awhile for the Atlanta Falcons. He's set up a Go Fund Me account through a local bank here. All donations will be given to the people in the communities that were hardest hit. NO administration fees or any of that nonsense. The site is

If someone would rather not donate money & wants to donate "stuff" (toiletries, diapers, wipes, cleaning supplies) they can send them to me & I'll  make sure they're distributed where needed. My address is *****Please contact Blondies Journal 

There are a lot of things that are in short supply here - mainly things like plastic storage bins. A suggestion was made on FB that if someone wants to donate something like that order it from Amazon & have it shipped to someone in the area so that's another idea & my address may  be used. 

The Red Cross is here & hasn't been as helpful as they could be. When they get here they take over the shelters & won't accept any food that doesn't come from one of their "contracted" people. They say they have to make sure that health regulations are being abided by. The people in these shelters have lost everything. Some were sitting on their roof waiting to be rescued, some had to wade through sewer water to be rescued. A good, hot meal that someone is providing free is most important & that's not what the Red Cross is providing.  A LOT of home cooked, good food has been turned away at these shelters. It's a very sad situation. 

Thank you so much for the thoughts & prayers.

I'm off now, have a great week!  I will be back soon, or else!!

Jane x

Monday, August 8, 2016


A precious find from Asheville

Happy August!  We're in the home stretch now.  I'm trying to be a good Flower Mother in keeping my pots watered, a bit of the sprinkler action going on in the evening and trimming the ivy.  Not sure if I mentioned that I have ivy growing over a large window which happens to be the biggest window in our living room.  We can no longer see out.  That's not the effect I was looking for when I planted it back in the Renaissance age.  After my tumble off a chair last summer and resulting broken arm, I certainly don't want to get on a ladder.  I don't want to embarrass The Husband but he doesn't care for ladders either.  I was able to pull a bit of the ivy from a section of a shutter and it took a chunk of paint with it.  OH NO!  Somehow I have to figure this out.  The problem with ivy is that the more you cut it back, the healthier it becomes and it grows much more vigorously.  I don't EVEN want to think of the Wisteria at the lakehouse.  

On to an entirely different subject.  While in Asheville last week we toured the Grove Park Inn as I mentioned in my last post.  There were a great many shops just off the lobby and in one of them I found what was called a tumbler although I thought it was a vase.  Love at first sight.  I look at it and it makes me happy.  And it screamed for bright flowers, not pink or white or pastel blooms.  That's it above.  Those babies are still alive after days.

New ideas after shopping the house

I've had this tin pail (for lack of a better description) for ages.  I'm a little slow on the take but I couldn't think of a way to use it for fresh flowers as the WELCOME is cut out.  Duh.  I found the perfect vase to fit inside and now I'm loving using it on the dining table.  I really like these yellow carnations.  I rarely see them in this shade and as they last so long they are a good buy.  The pink flowers are asters.  I'm going to plant some next year...a done deal.  They are annuals but I've never really paid attention to them before.  The colors are a pretty combo.  Don't you think some vases just beg for a certain sort of mix and color?

Stumbling upon a fabulous festival

Again, going through the last of my pictures from Asheville I wanted to share a festival The Husband and I stumbled upon the day before we flew home.  We were just planning on doing a bit of souvenir shopping in the downtown area.  We stumbled upon a park and noticed all of the white tents and throngs of people in a park.  Turns out it was the annual Leaf Festival.  How lucky we were!  We really had a great time.  I found so many great treasures; new collars for my dogs and a portion of the proceeds go toward 'No Kill' centers.  The Husband found some great local pottery and I came upon some candles for our daughters.  They are quite amazing.  The warmed liquid wax surrounding the wick is meant for dipping your fingers in and it's basically oil you can massage into your hands that smells just like the candle!  It was amazing to watch the sellers demonstrating.  Not sure what sort of wax they used...I'll have to ask one of my girls to give me the website and if you are interested you can check them out.  All in all it was a great ending to a marvelous week in my favorite mountain place!  If you ever visit, give me a shout and I'll try to help you out with places we've loved.  :-D

Making a beautiful hairdo my own

This was one crazy busy and fun filled week after getting my bearings being back home.  We were invited guests to a family wedding on The Husband's side.  And when I say family I mean all 4 of our kids and their partners and many, many in laws, cousins and friends.  I haven't been to a formal event since my son's wedding last summer so I was sort of excited to get a new dress.  I had been to one of my favorite shops three times, once actually in Asheville, and had my eye on a pretty dress. I bit the bullet and  of course that led to new heels and an evening bag.  Tuesday Abby was home and wanted to get a pedicure together.  It wasn't on my agenda but I love doing this sort of thing with my daughters.  This was a 'new to me' salon and it was so cool.  The package I chose involved a paraffin wax treatment for my feet and an incredible leg massage.  The guy was so nice and after a lot of encouraging I had my nails done, too.  Nothing artificial, just a good 'ol manicure that was close to having Madge soaking my fingertips in Palmolive.  Remember those commercials? ;-)

Later in the week I went with Emily to a maternity shop in the local mall and helped her select a dress.  She found a beautiful one in a light floral silk.  I love that girls are showing off their growing tummies.  A far cry from my pregnancy days and before when we wore loose smock tops, as if we needed to hide something.   Anyway, she looked gorgeous.  After leaving this shop we moved on to Sephora as she needed one of her favorite foundations.  I roamed around and ended up buying 3 lip glosses.  How I love makeup, products and playing around with different looks.  I've been that way since I was allowed to wear makeup when I was about fifteen.  You don't want to see my vanity table!

Regarding the picture above, I've had this on my Pinterest board of hairstyles forever.  I remember wearing my hair blown out and straight at a salon for son Jeff's wedding last August.  The heat and humidity caused it to curl up and frizz beyond the point of an actual hairstyle.  I can't even bear looking at the pictures.  My girl, Peggy, who's been doing my hair for the last 8 months said, "Sure.  I can do this for you."  And that she did.  I wish I had someone take a picture of how pretty it was from behind.  In fact, my sister in law, Megan had a very similar hairstyle.  She said she had wanted something loose that looked like she had done it up herself.  That was my plan, too.  And Peggy also offered to do my makeup.  I'm so glad I had her do it...she had so many products and expertise in applying everything I couldn't believe it was me.  Yet it was very natural.  When my own kids say I look great and I could truly feel it.

Me and the ever elusive Husband

Here's The Husband and I at the reception.  It looks like we have cartons of Chinese food in front of us!  Just napkins tucked into glasses.  The curls around my face sort of wilted and I can't begin to tell you how hard it was to remove all of the pins from the back of my head once we got home.  It was so worth it.  And we had a ball.  We all danced as soon as the Deejay started and I don't think I rested a minute.  So fun, well until...Abby's boyfriend Tom pulled me out on the dance floor and we were dancing to a great upbeat song.  He grabbed my hands and we were whirling and twirling and the next thing I knew I was falling, falling, falling and I ended up on my rump on the floor.  I was mortified.  To make things worse, a heavy bracelet I was wearing flew off and hit one of the bridesmaids in the chin.  In the background I could hear one of my sister in laws yelling, "Jane's down!  Jane's down!"  Arghhhh...  Well, I survived, we all do.  I kept my dancing to slow ballads with The Husband and Papa.  

My Emily 

A little change in subject matter.  This is my Emily at six months pregnant.  Isn't she a doll?  She's having a few issues with her feet swelling but otherwise she's on the go.  I don't think I've mentioned, the baby is going to be named Madelyn Elise.  Isn't it a beautiful name?

Roasted Asparagus with Bread Crumbs and Parmesan

I know, another terrible food picture from me.  I hope you don't judge a book by its cover.  And trust me, I would never post a picture and recipe if it wasn't delicious.

In trying to keep carbs down at dinner we have our protein (otherwise known as meat) and then 2 vegetables rather than a starch (otherwise known as bread, potatoes, rice and pasta).  Maybe not so appetizing to some.  But keeping things interesting is the name of the game.  

I roasted a bundle of asparagus after cutting off the woody end and then slicing the remaining piece in half.  Toss the pieces in a bowl with a tablespoon of oil.  In another dish mix together a half cup each of breadcrumbs and shredded or shaved pieces of Parmesan cheese.  Toss the asparagus in the dry mixture and place on an oiled baking sheet.  All it needs is about 7-10 minutes in a 400 degree oven.  I found that some of my shaved pieces of Parmesan came off and toasted a bit on their own.  Tasty but not what I had in mind so I recommend you use shredded cheese.  

I've been coming upon so many other veggie recipes in cookbooks, magazines and Pinterest.  Variety is the key and as I said, we eat two different vegetables with our dinner (and I usually have a salad for lunch, and cucumbers, carrots, celery or zucchini with a creamy dip as a snack), I really need to put thought into dinner to keep it interesting. 

 It looks like everything is wrapping up at the lakehouse and our belongings, furniture, etc., may be delivered back to us possibly within the next two weeks.  I am beyond excited.  We have a long road of hard work ahead in getting everything inside and out put back together but it's a clean slate and that helps.  I can't wait to share pics with you guys.  We may have missed our second summer there but I have to admit, autumn is beyond beautiful in Michigan.  I can foresee many nights relaxing around the bonfire after a long days work.  And having family and friends back up next spring...we are going to be in good shape by then.  How blessed we are!

That's it for today.  Have a great week everyone!