Monday, August 28, 2017


Hello, friends!  Time is flying but I r-e-f-u-s-e to say the same over-said words, "Summer has flown by!"  Time flies and it drags.  I'm finding that living in the moment doesn't necessarily make things slow down, but it gives me the satisfaction that I'm moving, doing, being and feeling.  I used to really be hard on myself for things like sleeping late; it's a luxury I didn't always have, and sometimes when the sun has been up for a while and the dogs are ready to start their day, I feel I've wasted some quality time.  Truth is, I can pack a lot into a day.  I multi-task, but not in a frenzied way.  I'm just as focused working in the early evening as I am the early morning.  But I've made changes.  I really like  having my coffee in the rocker at 7:00 a.m., watching the birds flying to and fro around the feeder.  Maybe I'm becoming a day person.  So if my summer is "flying by," I've been cruising with it. 

Emily and I made a trip to HomeGoods last week when I was home a few days and it was so fun.  I miss that when I'm gone.  That little Madelyn is sitting up, so she can sit in the front of a cart.  She's so fun to be with.  She's crawling and pulling herself up to stand while holding on to something.  I'm sure she will be walking soon.  She's such a joy.  Anyway-I wanted a few things for the lakehouse.  In the past, other than for the 4th of July, I have never decorated, as we don't spend a lot of time there in the winter.  I've never felt the desire to switch things around much.  I thought of how my Great room is mostly coastal blues and whites, and decided I'd just deepen things to navy and toss in some orange and rust for fall.  I don't know if it was serendipity or that I was onto a popular idea, but I found throws and pillows in just the colors I had thought of.  I also picked out some fall candles.   

I have quite a bit of fall decorations stored away, and last year I never even opened the bins.  I had bought some pumpkins and gourds and used them inside, and never felt like adding to it.  Now I'm excited to bring some of those cute little pieces to the lake.  I'm hoping to get some Autumn going without cluttering.  Hmmmmmm...

If you follow me on Instagram, and beware - you get a more blow by blow version of my life -I was invited to a luau at the lake by way of an invitation hanging from the side mirror of my car.  It was a cute pineapple cut out attached to a lei with the date, time and place.  I had absolutely no idea who it was.  Turns out a very nice woman across our little cove was inviting all of us living on it to a Hawaiian themed party.  We signed a guest book as a way for neighbors to contact us, there were additional lei's for the men, and flowers with clips for the ladies to wear in their hair.  The decorations were perfect, Hawaiian lanterns and thatched umbrella's over tables.  We played a few silly games which made us loosen up and get to know neighbors who had been around us all along.  Karaoke, dancing, and a photo booth (complete with a box full of props like feather boas and fancy hats) had us hysterical.  

Names have been changed to protect the not so innocent.  And that is not me!

Jane's Hawaiian Salad

There's a good possibility that I'm the only person in the world who has not made Hawaiian Salad.  When we were invited to the Luau I thought it was a novel, if not obvious idea.  And I couldn't believe I could like any food with marshmallows in it.  I searched and found a recipe I liked and tweaked it a bit.  I'm sure there are a zillion ways to make this and let me know what you do differently.  Daughter Emily uses a can of fruit cocktail in place of my fruit and the cherries make it colorful.  

I may be late in the game as we are headed into cooler weather but I wanted to share, and it may be something you'd like to make if you are having a Labor Day bash!

16 oz. bag of mini marshmallows
11 oz can of Mandarin orange segments, drained
8 oz. pineapple chunks, drained
1 medium banana, sliced
1 c. flaked coconut
1/2 c. sour cream
1 c. whipped topping.
Sprinkle of cinnamon 

Mix the first six ingredients together gently but thoroughly.  Fold in the whipped cream and sprinkle with cinnamon.  Chill at least 2 hours.  

Back home two weekends ago, The Husband and I went to see Idina Menzel.  What a wonderful show!  Her voice is amazing and the show seemed more like a musical than concert.  She has a sparkling personality but she's no diva, she never made a change of clothes and there wasn't a glitzy stage setting.  There were a lot of children in the audience dressed up as Elsa from Frozen.  When Menzel sang "Let it Go," from the Disney movie, she encouraged the children to come on stage.  So many of them knew every word to the song, and it was a delight to hear them sing.  This was one of the best birthday presents from The Husband.  

We stayed at the Knickerbocker Hotel as we usually do as it's in the heart of the Gold Coast and Magnificent Mile in Chicago.  We were running late, so there was no shopping.  I had heard of a restaurant called Fig & Olive and made reservations days before.  It exceeded our expectations.  We ate on the rooftop and the weather was absolutely perfect.  I managed to remember to take a snap of our appetizer, prosciutto and melon on arugula with some sort of vinaigrette.  Whipped goat cheese was there to smear on these tasty bites.  For dessert I had chocolate pots de creme for the very first time and I was beside myself!  It was a fantastic weekend.

Sometimes I feel spread so thin between the two houses.  In the city we had a new driveway and porch done a few weeks ago.  The sidewalk will be paver stones, so it's a separate job yet unfinished. Then we have landscaping and sod, as well as new paint on the shutters and peak.  I also have to pick out plants, shrubs, bushes and then exterior light fixtures.  I'm going crazy.

At the lake we have a mason patching up our huge stone chimney.  Our paver patio, which is quite large, has become buckled due to the chipmunks burrowing.  We have to get an exterminator and then have it redone.  Our storm doors were ruined by the heavy winds that caused them to bang open when we weren't there.  And sadly, I'm finding exterior damage to the house and guest house from the moist lake air and the brutal winters.  I start to feel so content that inside my home I have everything I could ever want, and then I take a walk around the property and I'm overwhelmed with the work that's needed, as well as the cost.  You just have to do what you can and keep chugging along.  

So other things going on in Blondieville:

I have some sort of head and chest cold and terrible sore throat - maybe strep?  I'm just napping a lot and taking Advil.  Had to miss watching Miss M today.  Sniff.  

Started watching the short movie series on USA, The Sinner, with Jessica Biel and Bill Pullman.  It's very dark but compelling.  I have one more episode to go.  Also catching a few Housewife shows, and Hallmark summer movies.  I heard there will be 132 Hallmark Christmas movies this year.  Oh, how will I get anything done?  I've seen a few specials on Princess Diana as we come upon the twentieth anniversary of her death.  And I got roped into watching the TLC American Murder Mystery: The Scott Peterson story.  This one I could never watch alone.  Or at at least at the lake when I'm alone.

I wish I could say I was reading something interesting but actually I'm poring over The Best Punctuation Book, Period.  What I've been thinking and now pretty much know for sure, there a very few rules for writing in this day and age.  There are particular editing styles and there is a specific for news media and business style writing.  It's quite interesting and although I've plugged along on my blog for many years, I can't afford mistakes when writing professionally.  And as far as the column writing goes...I'm coming along well, trying to stay two weeks ahead of due dates.  

We are preparing for Labor Day and a houseful of guests.  A manageable amount which makes me happy as it doesn't turn out to be an assembly line of meals.  I'd like to try a few new side dishes.  

Do you have holiday plans?

Like all of you, my heart goes out to the devastation going on in Texas and Louisiana.  Please continue to pray and lend support in any way you can.

I'll be back soon!


Friday, August 4, 2017


Happy August (or is it already September?).  I feel like we simply can't be winding down this fast.  I actually have two clematis I haven't planted.  I'm not even worried about enjoying their pretty vines and flowers, I need to get them in the ground pronto before a frost shows up!  I didn't go crazy with potted plants this summer.  Just three along walls that surround our patio, like above, and a few here and there you can see from the beach.  I found these blue pots at Dollar General in town.  They were $3.00 each. You would never know they are plastic.  I love clay but it dries plants out so fast.   I'll use plastic pots that you mostly see from afar like I do faux flowers.    

I am still loving my bird feeders.  I had been seeing baby cardinals every day and then finally the father showed up in all of his bright red splendor.  Mama is probably at home sitting on more eggs, poor girl.  I adore the nuthatches.  They love the sunflower and pumpkin seeds.  They scurry up the trunk of the tree the feeders hangs from and bang the seed against the bark to break it.  Just so fun to watch.  I was at Lowe's yesterday and couldn't help but look at the wildlife area.  I decided to buy a suet feeder.  I'm excited to hang it.  I don't know a whole heck of a lot about them-I'm hoping I don't attract coyotes or raccoons.   I'll do some research but feel free to chime in on your experience with them.

These flowers were a gift from The Husband.  He surprised me yesterday afternoon by driving up from Chicago and  knocking on the door with this bouquet and the makings for a lobster and crab dinner, complete with salad fixings and a baguette.  He's such a sweetheart.  We really do miss each other but talk on the phone every evening and text throughout the day...even in the middle of the night if one of us can't sleep.  It's a different life from what we've known for thirty years but we are enjoying navigating and exploring independently.  I really and truly needed to learn to fall back on myself, worry and tend to my own needs instead of others, and devote my time when and where I wanted it.  I love that saying, "Don't just do something, sit there!"  I'm learning...finally.  

I had to cut back my climbing rose but I still have the little bit you see at the bottom.  Everything was neglected for two summers and I'm really surprised I have what I have.  The daisies are usually very lush and a few summers ago this bed was so crowded I thought I needed to divide them.  This is a vintage trellis I found at a barn sale somewhere around here long ago.  It's a beauty.  It's attached to our shed which I can see from every angle of the patio and yard, as well as from the Great room inside.  So c'mon roses, grow!

We have an abundance of mourning doves all around.  They love to make their nests in any sort of crevice they can.  I must have, at minimum, three right now that have come since an earlier clutch left. This little one was just below a nest on the walkway off my patio.  I think it was kicked out, and  a day or two later the nest was empty.  And this afternoon I happened to notice a new mama (or papa) sitting in a nest that belonged to robins two weeks ago.  Nests For Rent:  Call Blondie at 1-800-FOR-BIRDS.

Miss Madelyn had her first professional photo session and they were all taken outside in the early evening.  Each and every picture is a keeper.  She is always so happy and animated; she simply can't take a bad picture.  I have a new one on my sidebar if you noticed.  I also have some on my Instagram page, as well as a few videos.  I need to get some pics of the newer grandkids, they are cuties, too, and growing so fast.    

I wrote my last newspaper column with a focus on summertime appetizers.  Those which don't have to be hot or reheated.  Refreshing and easy to make.  My grocery store carries this mango guacamole at a high price for a small amount, yet it is ridiculously easy to make.  I fiddled with this and made a lot of changes, but the original photo is from Pinterest.

Fresh Mango Guacamole

4 avocados, pitted and peeled
1 lime, juiced
1 cup fresh or canned mango, diced
1/2 cup each: red pepper diced small, green onion and tomato
2 T chopped fresh cilantro
2 cloves minced garlic
S & P to taste.  

Mash the avocados in a large bowl leaving some chunky bits.  Add the remaining ingredients and fold gently to combine.  Chill at least one hour and serve with tortilla chip.  If not serving right away, keep the pit of one avocado in the mixture to keep it from discoloring.  Same for leftovers.  


My reading habits are improving thanks to a loose schedule.  Gardening and doing not much of anything with coffee and pups in the morning, writing in the early afternoon, errands and more time outdoors late afternoon, reading in the early evening and before lights out in bed.  Blogging is creeping in here and there and I hope many of you see that I'm popping in more.

I just read a great book called The Widower's Wife, by Cate Holahan.  It's a murder/suspense novel and had me hanging at the end of each chapter.  I couldn't have read it in one or two sittings if I had wanted to, so it was really exciting to open it up when I could.  I highly recommend it.  I think I found it at Target.  I have another suspense novel on the coffee table but I wanted a fun beach read (and maybe on the beach!), so I have an oldie by Mary Kay Andrews called Ladies Night.  One chapter in it sounds very light and funny.  

I'm up in the loft once it gets dark doing a little blogging while switching back and forth on the TV from CNN to MSNBC to Bravo.  Ha!  That's me...a paradox.  Hysteria is definitely a reoccurring theme, though.

The weather has been hot and humid a lot since I came up about ten days ago but it usually cools off by early evening and then the dogs and I like to have a little time on the patio with the sun setting in the west.  They are so relaxed here.  Maybe it's the fresh country air or the slow life, I'm not sure.  We have a routine that is so dependable for them that I think they need and want in their older years.  Maybe me, too. 

Some of my neighbors were here this past week on vacations and it was fun to see and talk to people which usually doesn't happen except weekends.  And this week was our County Fair.  I have such warm memories of The Husband and I taking the kids, watching the rodeo clowns and eating Elephant Ears.  I once had an entry in the cooking contest and came in 2nd Place.  I made Chicken Divan, which one of the judges couldn't pronounce.  The 1st place prize went to a sweet lady for her apple pie.  A very valuable your best and don't try to impress.    

I finished up my front porch this week with seat cushions, pillows, and some candles and such for the little coffee table.  I have sort of a nautical red, white and blue theme going.  Today I picked up some plants to liven things up.  I'll get some snaps soon.  The Husband and I have agreed that the wisteria is really taking a toll on the house.  It's invasive and strong.  We are going to have to consult with an expert on how to remove it.  If I ever did it again it would be on something made of iron or brick.  Then again, the ivy at my Chicago home ate around windows into the house, as well as under the gutters through the roof.  Caution people...caution.

I'm off.  We've already had our seafood dinner now and that darn guy also brought mini Key Lime pies.  I'm going to have to get out for a good amount of exercise tomorrow.  After rain, gloom and temps in the low 60's today, tomorrow is supposed to be 80 and sunny.  Yay!  

See you all soon!

Jane xxx