Wednesday, October 26, 2016


Take me out to the ballgame.  Notice this is a blue font?  Well, it's always blue font but it now means more.  GO CUBS!

As first baseman, Anthony Rizzo said, "Chicago needs this."  

I'm so glad to be back on a somewhat timely basis.  If you read my last post, you know I've been struggling with a discipline dilemma as my schedule gets more and more busy.   All of you ladies were so honest in describing your own issues with getting everything done and the pressures we put on ourselves to live up to that sort of expectation.  I really love your support and I hope you continue to read and reflect on some of the areas I want to go to in the future.  I will always post anything and everything about decor, gardening, recipes, good reads, travels, extreme tangents and hysterically insane happenings with The Husband (which are entirely his fault) get the picture.  

So onward and upward to decor.  Back at the lake:  I have a little conversation area in a corner of the Great Room.  Actually it's my favorite little spot as it is smack dab in front of the huge glass windows that looks out at the bay.  As opposed the the sofa and loveseat which are positioned around the fireplace, these are the best seats in the house.  For over twenty years we have had the same settee and glider rockers in this space and we can't imagine giving any of these pieces up.  The rockers are beyond comfy and the camel back settee is still solid, the cushions impeccably firm.  So we decided to upholster these pieces.  The rockers were very simple.  They have seat and back cushions which are attached.  Below you can see the fabric I chose.  

Above you can see the fabric I picked out for the settee.  I'm bringing soft blue and grays into the house but I don't want to be blocked into that color so its subtle.  I can't wait to share pics but we aren't there yet.  

These pieces should be done in  January.  I'm so excited.  

 We have had a little round table in the middle to set our drinks and books on.  I think I've posted it before but I'm too lazy to go back in my posts to find a picture.  Ha....  I painted the table with chalk paint and thought I was very cool and on the game but nothing can deny the table was a simply ugly to begin with.  Outdated and vintage are totally different so the table will be down at the curb should you be in Southwest Michigan in January.  Any who, I received an email that Pier 1was having a sale on ottomans and after looking at coffee tables to  replace said ugly little table, I knew that I had to find something smaller.  Ta Da...there you see it above.  I ordered it in Taupe in light of the patterns I have going on in the furniture fabric.  I love the tufted top and nailhead detail.  It's very sturdy as well.  I've bought furniture from Pier 1 and it hasn't disappointed me.  On smaller items my mindset is: if I can't get it cheaper elsewhere, if it's really original or on clearance, then I'm okay.

Speaking of junk, the last time we were up at the lake I was working away inside and The Husband was cleaning out the garage.  He called me to give him a hand with something.  We still have a dumpster in our driveway which is overflowing.  I helped him carry a few heavy pieces over.  It was in miserable pouring rain and of course I was barefoot.  When I got a close look at the dumpster I nearly collapsed in a puddle.  So many of my treasures, my favorite pieces that had been packed in the garage had been tossed away.  Things that were in perfect condition.  Outdoor candles, glass holders, lights, garland, 4th of July decorations.  Beloved signs and beachy decor pieces.  A beautiful set of glass jars filled with sand to hold votives which were a gift from Pottery Barn.  It was all fine albeit a little wet.  I started to paw at it, tears running down my face in the rain.  The Husband thought I was nuts.  "These are perfect.  Why?  Why were they thrown away?" I cried.  Thankfully no one had come along and taken them so I made trips back and forth to save what I could.  I guess it ended up being my own dumpster diving experience.  I'm just so grateful I was there before the monster was hauled away.  Sheesh, long story!

For all the excitement Saturday night, realizing we were going to the World Series, there is a feeling of being on edge with these final games.  I still think hometown glory and pride can do a tremendous amount of good, win or lose.  There have been so many folks waiting for this moment after 108 years since Chicago was in the World Series.  If you are that old you may remember that.  Okay, Jimmy Fallon said that tonight...shoot me.  

I have to share this Facebook post my very, very sweet sister in law, Mary Jane, wrote about my brother.  He and I were texting throughout the game.  He is not only a longtime Cubs fan but he has a 45+ year career of teaching high school and coaching baseball in southern Indiana.  In fact, he's in the Indiana Hall of Fame.  MJ wrote:

"He was born on the South side of Chicago, and saw his first game at Wrigley Field with his beloved grandpa at age 5.  When he would visit his grandparents in the summer, his grandma would pack him his lunch, and at the age of 11 he would catch the bus and go alone to watch them play.  He would pay .50 for a bleacher seat and be sure to get there early to watch them practice beforehand.  Very few times in our married life have I seen him shed a tear.  Tonight was one of those nights."

Me and my brother, John (2015)  Louisville, KY

I mentioned in my last post that The Husband had tickets for the game and thankfully they were for Saturday, the night the Cubbies won.  As comedian/actor and long time Cubs fan, Bill Murray said...people in Miami, Seattle and such don't get it.  We've waited for this forever.  

 The Husband and our son, Jeff, were there together as well as Kevin but he was in a swankier place with his people from work!!  I have a great video they took from the bleachers but I can't seem to load it.  I'll keep trying.  I was by my lonesome but I had the excitement of a zillion fireworks going off, Milo, totally frightened and trying to crawl under the sofa, and Layla vomiting.  Can I say I'm dreading July 4th?  My saving grace was that my men could not possibly hit the bars in Wrigleyville with the crowds and they were home by midnight with McDonalds.  Yes!

Finally...a HUGE thank you to all of you ladies who congratulated me on my new writing job!  I felt your confidence and it boosted mine.  We have such a great community and I feel something so powerful and real.  I think I'm going to be okay. :)

You can look at the Reporter online at the Reporter.  I will have an article every third week of the month (this is a weekly newspaper).  I will also have feature articles and I'll definitely let you know when that happens.  Again, thanks for your best wishes.

Jane x

Friday, October 21, 2016


Hey everyone!  I really thought I'd cave and bring up more fall stuff but I haven't.  I'm still thinking I'll have an excuse to go downstairs and take a peek at what I have but I've been neglecting laundry, too, so I haven't been down there much. it a funk?  I have to get in gear.  The holidays are going to be in swing just weeks from now.  As much as I say I'm going to do tons ahead of time, well, that never happens, and at this rate I may only have a Charlie Brown tree with that one lone red ornament.   In fact, the more time I think I have, the more I add to my list of brilliant things to do, and thats a no~no for all of us.   

I sort of feel a surge of energy in the evening, a second wind of sorts.  Maybe its just that ahhhhh feeling that the day is over.  Last week while feeling this way I grabbed my phone during a commercial on TV and under Notes made this list:

Challenges/Goals/Advice to myself

Go to bed day early...get up early
Discipline is the key to success
No whining.  Be tough and get it done
Treat everyone with kindness
No gossip or complaining about others
Stick to calendar
Complete To Do's or make up next day
Don't let fatigue or burn out make you veer off plan
Push on always
Have a me day
Forget stress 

I wasn't sure if this was something I wanted to post.  I feel it's overly ambitious, rigid and somewhat sad.  A bit hilarious, too, I might add. The pressure we put on ourselves often doesn't make sense to others much less ourselves but sometimes I think we need to look at ourselves in the brutal, cold light of day.  I know my faults...a ton of procrastination and lack of discipline.  I'm thinking I'll have to revise this list or maybe, do as so many recommend, make a list of all I've accomplished in a day.  Or a list of my blessings.  And that list will be much, much longer.  I've opened up a bit here and I hope you weigh in.  Do you set up expectations for yourself?  Maybe you just roll with it all.  As we get older and hopefully wiser, does life get easier?  I'm getting all introspective here and that's very un-Blondie~like but we all have our moments.  ;-D

I'm going on two years of writing for what I call 'The Lake Newspaper' but it is actually distributed in thirteen towns and twenty-two lakes in Southwest Michigan.  I should give it more credit than I do.  I love writing and I've said before, my columns are much like my blog, a lot of touching on this and that with recipes and a bit of my own experience in gardening and decorating.  I love how free and fun it can be to write an article that might get people to laugh and maybe try something new and different.  Experiment with a new recipe.  Set a pretty table.  Plant a little herb garden.   I just love what I do. 

I've been working hard for the past few weeks on something but I didn't want to curse anything or create any expectations.  I sure could have used some prayers but finally, I got the great 'news' last week and I've got a job!


I have a true blue professional job as a writer of a column for a regional newspaper here in Chicago.  Actually, the paper serves several towns/villages in suburbs adjacent to the city.  I am beyond thrilled.  I never thought I could sell the idea of a lifestyle column to a paper that has been in circulation for over fifty years, much less get the job as a writer!  There were times when I had to make follow up calls and I thought it was hopeless, but by the grace of God, this editor gave me a chance.  

A large part of my job will be seeking out stories in the community.  I'm thinking I may just change my name to Lois Lane (Ha!).  I will be writing a column and can also submit articles for possible features.  

I had the confidence of many people, including my children.  One of these sweeties had a bit of doubt, "Mom...there are people who have degrees in journalism that can't get writing jobs.  Don't go here."  She had good intentions, didn't want me to be let down.  I felt I had nothing to lose and I think I pushed harder because I don't feel we should have limitations based on preconceived ideas of background, education  or age.  I've done a lot of soul searching in how I want to spend the second half of my life.  My kids are off and running.  The Husband still has his career of over forty years with no sign of giving it up despite threats (gulp).  I think I'm really doing well.  The glass is definitely more than half full.  Wish me luck.

On to the decorating front.  Just some small changes besides apples and pumpkins on the dining table, some little Cinderella pumpkins on the mantel as I shared in my last post, and this vignette on the coffee table.  I've always loved this basket made out of wood and chicken wire and it works so well in autumn as well as winter.  I added some old books, glass candle holders filled with cinnamon scented potpourri and a few candles.  And I finally  found a copy of Bella Grace that everyone has been talking about.  It jumped out at me on a recent trip to Michael's.  I'm savoring it little by little.  

It's so hard to get a good photo of the glass coffee table (Hello area rug!).  Hope you get the picture.  

On the lakehouse front...I have been decorating the guest rooms and started off with bedding.  I think that pretty much captures the style and colors you want to go with.  Funny, the room my daughters shared, or the Gulls Room, has always stayed feminine and that's stayed the same.   I chose this floral  8 piece set from JC Penney.  It was a fantastic deal and once it arrived I was really happy with the quality.  The comforter is super soft.   Isn't it pretty?  I wanted something sort of happy and carefree in this room.  Emily and Abby have accused me of being very old ladylike when it comes to florals but they approved of this.  Funny thing is, I was going to make up all the guest room beds last weekend and then I thought, no one is really going to be here until next spring, why take these things out of the packages to get dusty?  So I washed all the comforters I previously had and made up the beds for now.  And its nice to see the rooms so fresh and clean after the sad, sad state of the house eighteen months ago after the water damage.  Makes me smile from ear to ear.  :-D

 I still can't help but call the other guest room the buoys (boys) room, and I wanted a little bit of nautical.  I found these  comforters (which also come as duvets) at Target.  This one is from the Industrial Shop.  Is this new to any of you guys?  I love it.

This is from the Beekman 1802 Farmhouse line at Target as well.  This fits perfectly with what I want.  I have three twin beds in this room so I mixed them up.  I can't wait to see how everything looks.  I have months to choose the details.  I'm having a ball!

Last weekend was a nice time at the lake in spite of working non stop to continue emptying boxes and the never ending clean up of drywall dust.  As I said, we bought a Swiffer and a Swiffer Wet Jet.   The Wet Jet worked like a charm getting up the  drywall dust and dirt but it sort of pushed regular old dust and dog hair around.  We chose a dark stain for the new wood floors.  My son has them and strongly discouraged us from getting them as they show every little speck.  I'm stubborn but he was right.  A friend stopped by and she said in between a good washing she uses an old fashion rope mop which she sprays with a little Pledge or Endust.  I'm wondering if any of you can pass tips on.  My floors here in the city are a pretty old and not so shiny oak and only look good after a good wash with Murphy's Oil Soap.  I don't mind at all, these floors have made it through endless pets and children that I actually let rollerblade through the house.  Really.  I'm older and fussy now.  At least until those little grandkids want to wreak havoc in the lakehouse (and I'll let them because I'm a softie).  So...weigh in on your method of keeping your wood floors looking good.

No lake this weekend.  The Husband has tickets to the Cubs game Saturday night (Go Cubbies!).  He's going with son Jeff.  He actually gave his tickets to both Jeff and Kevin but Kevin's employer has clubhouse seats.  And poor Abby lives a stone's throw from Wrigley Field and the traffic, noise and general partying is deafening.  She's coming here.  If they win we will have all the fireworks and celebrating but my area is more full on White Sox.  The Northside and Southside are like that but we are united when it comes to a winning team. lol!

Last thing.  Here's a link to get your very own Nasty Woman T shirt.  Get them while they (we) are hot.  They are $25 with 50% going to Planned Parenthood.

That's it for now.  See ya soon!

Jane x

Thursday, October 13, 2016


A simple harvest table...just some apples and pumpkins from the grocery store.  I'm trying to do things in a more simple and thoughtful way, embracing the natural beauty of autumn.  I may soon be scattering damp leaves and twigs all over the house if I keep this up.  

We are only just feeling 'autumn~like' today with the temps dropping and continuous rain.  Sort of makes me want to make a fire but tomorrow will be sunny again, albeit a little brisk.  Today was the absolute last day in my memory that I had no where to go or be.  No appointments, errands or excuses to "Go bummin'" as my mom used to say (her expression for shopping).  So I stayed in my PJ's until about 2:00 and did some serious laundry, bill paying, catching up on emails and had maybe a fleeting idea to bake something.  Or not.  

I did a minimal amount of fall decorating on The Monster Mantel.  I put away a few summery things like starfish and lanterns and dried flowers, but I still like the blue vibe so I'm glad I have that going by just adding the little Cinderella (or baby boo?) pumpkins.  I found the cotton boll wreath at Antique Farmhouse (I really have to stop opening those emails!).  It came from Georgia and I must say, even The Husband was impressed with my purchase.  

So the truth is I have not so much as ventured into the storage room downstairs to pull anything Fallish out.  Very strange behavior for me.  I feel a little bad that I have collected so much over the years and its just staying packed up this year.  We all talk about downsizing, most times at Christmas.  Just go a bit more simple than the year before.  But we see something in a shop and we just have to have it.  And the collections grow as the years go by and there you are the day after Thanksgiving surrounded by boxes and bins and strands of lights wrapped around your neck.  I'm feeling pretty good about realizing that the less I fuss, the less I try, the better everything looks and feels.  

I know a bit of what I'm feeling has something to do with trying to put the lakehouse back together.  As I unpack boxes I look at things and wonder, "What was I thinking?"  In the kitchen I found three turkey basters.  I've never made a turkey at the lake EVER!  Multiple cork screws, too many linens and pot holders and pleeeeease, a set of china?  Okay, I got a really great deal at an antique mall but really, china at the lakehouse?  I'm really starting to feel uncomfortable even admitting this to you guys.  Maybe we can have a virtual yard sale.  

Can you tell we just love scarecrows in Illinois?  If you've been hanging out with me over the past seven years, you have to be familiar with my fave garden center.  I was holding off on getting any pumpkins as they are so much cheaper at the lake, but I'm sorry, the sun was shining yesterday and my porch was looking bare.  I simply love going to this place, especially for the memories.  I remember being twenty-eight years old with Emily in the cart and the boys running ahead.  I'd give them 50 cents to get a can of Sprite from the vending machine and that made the trip worth it for them.  Later it was Abigail in the cart and Emily jumping up and down for her quarters and in true form, picking out flowers for the pots.  Em and I were there with Elsie this past spring.  Amazing how life circles around.  Going there alone as I did yesterday didn't bother me, I've shopped for our Christmas tree alone.  I thought about it for a second and then truly knew this is the way it is now, or at least for this little jaunt.  Just as I've grown accustomed to a more quiet house, the rhythm of The Husband and I sharing dinner with just each other and going about our evenings in our acceptable sort of retreats (he likes CNN and MSNBC in the living room, I'm all about HGTV and Chicago P.D. in the den)...we seem to ease into the changes.  I have gone all melancholy (baby) on you here so I'll stop.  Could it be something in the water?

I removed the flower boxes with their faded blooms off the ledge of my bay window (gosh how I hate the way my cafe curtains look from outside but this is a hard window to dress).  The pots hold pansies  which are just starting to open blooms and I'll get a better shot later.  

A little vignette on the top step.  The ivy on my house spreads right over onto anything it can leach on to.  The Husband hates it, I hate to tell him it's a little too late to kill it off.  And you simply don't want to know what the wisteria vines are doing to the lakehouse.  :(

I have an urn here that holds my main porch planting (MPP).  I was so tempted to buy some gorgeous purple asters to plant and then I knew I'd probably put off planting them and they'd die.  Just me, I guess.  The easy thing to do was make a little vignette of pumpkins and stick in a generic scarecrow (do you love them like we do here in Illinois?  Maybe we have more fields than you).  I'm hoping Elsie gets a kick out of this when she visits.  I think no one else will.  ;-D

Have I ever told you how much I love to shop with my daughters?  We really compliment each other as far as what we like to look at, buy, where we eat or get coffee.  Emily and Abigail are like day and night.  Emily is bossy, steers me toward clothes and home items that I never would have thought to look at.  She knows how to sell.  Abigail is like a little ghost behind me that sort of sweeps me into unknown territory.  She is my barometer of fashion.  The girl could look fantastic in a paper bag.  I am not the sort of woman who is trying to relive her younger days but I do love style.  I had seen Abby with these shoes on only in blue.  I casually remarked on them in a store and she was super helpful.  I never let her in on wanting what she had or she would have said I was 'copying' her.  Ha. But we share shoes and boots and jewelry quite a bit.  Now if I weighed 115 pounds.... 

The days seem to be flying by.  It's hard to believe that Em will be having her little baby in four weeks.  I am so excited to meet this little girl.  I feel Emily's tummy, it's rock hard.  Madelyn's little bum is facing forward, you can almost feel the rounded cheeks.  And then little turkey legs that Emily feels moving on each side.  It's absolutely amazing.  I loved being pregnant.  I remember taking a bath when I was about eight months pregnant with Abby.  She decided to completely roll over, I saw and felt my stomach do something similar to watching a whale jump in the ocean. And it felt pain, just life.  Incredible.  I would do it all again in a heartbeat, even the pain.  

So this is son Kevin strolling through the park with Elsie.  They both have tennis rackets.  I never thought I'd see my son with a doll in his hand. lol! And the pictures I received on my phone are of he and Elsie on the tennis court and I simply have no idea what this was about!  As you may know, Kevin is a golf pro and he has promised he will begin to give Elsie lessons when she turns three.  Understandable (I wonder if he'll have her fitted for clubs...).  But tennis.  At twenty months?  And the girl insists on carrying her racket!  Definitely determined.  

Son Jeff and Deirdre are getting ready for their baby, too.  We are getting bombarded with babies!  I want to make it easy for everyone at the lake so I'm looking for inexpensive baby 'equipment' so none  of them have to haul a bunch of things up.  

Progress at the lake is going well although I have to say we aren't up there as much as I thought we'd be once the house was almost done.  The drywall dust is a huge factor.  You can mop this stuff up and ten minutes later its back.  We usually drive up after The Husband gets off work and arrive late...Michigan is an hour ahead of us in time.  So it's really nuts that we get there at 10:00 when it's really 9:00 for us.  And we walk into drywall dust.  Oh yeah...let's just go upstairs and lie on our dust bed and get some shut eye.  Doesn't work.  We have succumbed to commercialism and invested in Swiffers.  His and hers.  

I've been having some fun, although not so much in a financial sort of way, picking out the things we need.  Bedding, curtains, linens...everything is coming out of our pocket until we can 'convince' our insurance people that we actually lost things that weren't documented before they were tossed in the dumpster.  I have been buying bed linens and comforters and towels...its a lot of stuff.   I try to get the best deals yet quality as we all's a challenge and I like it.  No matter, we chip away, buying what we can over time, hoping we will get reimbursed at some point. more complaining!!

As I said, it was a rainy day and this is where Layla loves to do her early morning action watching  the neighborhood.  Spotting squirrels, dogs being being walked, people being walked...anything moving.  I'm by myself all day so I truly understand how little bits and pieces of moving life keeps us awake. 

So let's hear how all of you guys are decorating for fall this year.  Any new ideas or changes?  I think of all the years I've been blogging, seeing the changes and trends, the best is individuality.  How we choose to do things.  I'm so happy I no longer feel I have to dig through boxes to get my spirit for a season.  

See ya soon!

Jane x