Thursday, October 26, 2017


I have finally sat down to get a post out to you, and I've also promised myself I will be in bed by 11:00 p.m. tonight.  We'll see.

This has been a few weeks of ups and downs and beyond.  The personal challenges, and the fickle weather have me feeling there is nothing we can be sure of anymore.  I'm happy to say the landscaping project on the front side of our city house is finally finished.  I'm going to share pics and explain what we did in my next post.  Everything turned out beyond beautiful and what I had expected.  Removing the ivy that covered all of the brick (and some windows, partially!), as well as some overgrown bushes that were past their prime, made all the difference in the world.   

Sadly, we had to have a majestic maple tree cut down this week.  We were able to get financial help on the public walkway (which we are responsible for maintaining), if we agreed to have it removed, as it's roots were the cause of the walkway buckling.  We were a lawsuit waiting to happen.  The work on the tree went on yesterday and today.  When a large limb would come down on the street, my house would shake.  The workers said they believed it was the biggest tree they had ever seen in our area.  

***Stump of maple.  Note my wee feet**

This makes me beyond upset.  Our house is surrounded by trees, and we have had our share of damage after heavy storms.  We have all of them trimmed up every few years., and this guy was definitely as healthy as could be.  I'm going to miss seeing that maple when I look out the living room window, or feel that dappled sun in the morning.  My hands were tied.  

The sidewalk will be repaired in the spring and the stump removed.  We will choose another tree (or two).   I want something that grows quickly.  I like the shade and I don't like looking across the street at other houses.  I have heard that the non-fruit-bearing pear tree is a fast grower and very pretty.  If anyone is from the Midwest and wants to chime in, please do.  


Sometime after I wrote my last post I had a little 'incident'.  I've been suffering from extreme dry eye disease for years and it has worsened with the new meds I've been taking since July for the eczema.  One morning I was feeling my way to my dresser for my eye drops, trying not to open my dry, scratchy eyes, when I blinked and felt the most excruciating pain in my left eye.  I actually bent over and rocked back and forth.  When I could manage to get the drops near the eye, I couldn't bear to open it.  I called my eye doctor, and then Abby, who by the grace of God was off work that week, and she took me to the doctor.  She did remark, first thing after walking through my door, "You really need to learn to call Uber."  Uumm...what happened to family?!

The diagnosis was a large flap tear of the cornea.  My eye doctor is normally a really neat, slap happy sort of guy, and he was not acting very slap happy at all.  He said the tear was not pretty, when I blinked, the flap tissue was moving up and down.  I was started on antibiotics and pain meds for the first 12 hours and then I was back to see him.  The piece had fallen off and became an abrasion.  His biggest worry was that the scarring could cause me to lose the sight in that eye.  I can now say that all went well, and I have a tiny scar that didn't cause any permanent damage.  He is trying to get my insurance to cover the daily eye drops, they are over $300 per month.  If I don't get on these drops, I will continue to erode my eye surface.  Still waiting to hear, and using my little Refresh over-the-counter drops every few hours.  I keep the tubes on my night stand.  

So, I couldn't write a post if I wanted to.  Luckily I had a few newspaper columns in my files so I didn't miss any work obligations.  I managed to comment on a few blogs here and there when I could, without overdoing it.  

Emily and Mike had the most fantastic 1st Birthday Party for Madelyn last Saturday.  I had been on pins and needles for the weeks after she asked me if she could have the party in our backyard, since it's large.  Late October in Chicago is not pretty, and I had no room in my house for the amount of family and friends (and little ones) she had invited.  Thankfully, it was in the mid-seventies and not a cloud in the sky.  

Emily should be a party planner.  Her ideas are so unique and she spent many hours working on a lot of sweet and clever ideas to make it a party to remember.  Here are a few shots:

A pretty table with pics of Madelyn and a self serve popcorn station.  The sun is making my photo wonky, but see the cute pink boxes?

For guests coming through the gate, a table was set up with cute cards to fill out and put in a basket as a sort of 'time capsule'.   Beautiful words were written about Madelyn, at age 1, to be opened when she is 18 in 2034.   I'm not even going to do the math on how old I'll be.  As long as I'm there, I'm happy.  :) 

The food was provided by a local Mexican restaurant.  And they are excellent.  How cool is this?  Made to order and hot off the grill.  I think the neighbors were envious, the smell of grilled steak, chicken and pork filled the air.

All of the condiments were set out by the cooks to help ourselves to.  When they were ready to leave, and they stayed a few hours, all of the extra food was wrapped up as leftovers, and off they went, as if they had never been there.  No clean up, nothing.  This was genius!

And finally, the Birthday Girl!   Well her actual birthday is a little over a week from now-I bet there will be another celebration.  Hopefully not here!  That's Abby's old highchair.  Emily painted it at the lake a few weeks ago.  Pretty.  Back it goes for all the little beebies!

I have something I want to share even though it makes my throat ache to put it in words.  I took Milo to the vet this past Saturday after Abby had noticed he had a few more fatty tumors around his neck.  They weren't though, they were swollen lymph nodes and he was diagnosed with cancer.  Our veterinarian is great.  He was straightforward, but also stressed that I wait for the blood work.  Lymphoma in canines does not have a good prognosis.  Even though Milo looks healthy for his age, he had 4 to 6 weeks to live.  

I could dig not very deep at all into my heart, and write triple what you really don't need to hear.  I don't want to make this a drama, you all know Milo pretty well; we have a very special relationship.  He's my buddy.  My companion.  Every. Single. Day.

So the lab work came back absolutely positive.  Since Abby had found the lumps weeks ago, he seriously didn't have much time.  Canines succumb very quickly to the disease.  Of course I read everything I could get my hands on*, and my vet spoke at length with me.  It was decided we would start chemotherapy.  I know it's very debatable to do this with an older pet, I can't say I know anyone who has a dog or cat who has ever gone this route.  But it might buy Milo as much as 6-9 more months.  

He had his first treatment yesterday.  I brought him in the morning, he was slightly sedated, and received the meds through a catheter.  He was sent home with Prednisone and a medication to be given if he had diarrhea, vomiting, wasn't eating, or became dehydrated.  I think just the commotion  of being at the clinic made him tired, and I was definitely stressed out after 3 days of crying and grappling with decision.  We took a looooong afternoon nap--this is him in the photo after his first chemo treatment.  Today he is eating, following me around, and even chased a squirrel across the backyard.  

I've spent days feeling every emotion an animal lover can feel.  Part of me wanted to just let things follow their own course, how could I go through this pain twice?  I was about to do that when I asked the doctor, "If this was your dog, what would you do?"  He didn't hesitate.  "I'd want more time."  And then I made up my mind. 

 Sigh.  This was so hard to put into words.  

I'll keep you posted (of course), but I intend on being as upbeat as possible as we live out this time together.  And I'm going to make it the best time ever!  Please say a prayer for my Mister.

Jane x

*If you are interested in one of the many websites I searched related to lymphoma in dogs, here is a link.

Sunday, October 8, 2017


Dining Table, Fall 2017

Simple, simple, I brought up a few fall pieces from downstairs.  These cute faux fruit went into an old bowl, and a Pier 1 sale candle went into the lantern that's been there all summer with various candles.  I also couldn't pass up these wool and straw place mats sold in a pack at HomeGoods for pennies.  I'm good until Christmas, ladies.  

I packed up a small box for daughter, Abby and Tom, and their apartment.  She said she was going to Marshall's, and I said, "Please, I am Marshall's, just a smaller version."  Name your season or holiday.  I really have to purge through some of this stuff.  I was glad to see some pics she texted me of some of the candle holders, and faux pumpkins I sent off with Tom.  The pumpkin has gold dots on it - I'm thinking that's a hip sort of thing she'd like.

My Beloved Island, Fall 2017

My island is always a great sense of joy for me.  It has a marble top, perfect for keeping dough chilled as you roll it out for pies or cookies, or not.  I just like to decorate it.  I've never rolled out a darn thing.  That's what stone counters are for.  Sometimes when we've had holidays or a party, I've been forced to move things off so we can put actual food on it.  It truly saddens me.

Kitchen Island, 2011 (sort of)

For those of you who didn't know me 6 years ago,  I crossed my fingers, whined, begged and coerced the hubby into buying the island.  It was definitely one for Blondie's Journals - Strange But True Tales.

I came upon this gem while perusing my Pottery Barn catalog and it was instant love.  Our kitchen in the city isn't large by any means, but we did knock out walls to open it up and we had a lot of space in the middle.  Maybe a chopping block or something would have been a bit more practical, but I wanted this reclaimed wood baby.  After I tried all of my wild and woolly female wiles,  I tore out the page from the catalog, and in my own version of copy and paste, I inserted moi!  It's a wee bit out of perspective -  I'm seriously not that tiny, nor is the island that humongous. You can enlarge to see my desperate note.  The rest is history.  

Getting back to my vignette, I won these gorgeous velvet pumpkins in a giveaway hosted by Debra at  Common Ground, 2 years ago.   I adore them.

On a side table in the living room, I had to keep it small and sweet.  These sweater pumpkins were made by the lovely Jody, at Rooted In Thyme.  All of these pumpkins come out every year without fail.  

I had some pics of the fireplace hearth and mantel, but decided it needed to be tweaked.  Funny how you see things differently through the camera lens.  I'll get to that in my next post...unless it's already Christmas.

Jane's Chili 

I shared this on Instagram.  Click HERE to follow me for more frequent posts than I do blogging, lol!  Anyway, I made this Chili the other night, my basic recipe, but sometimes you mess around and come up with something better than your best.  The Husband and I really loved it, and I thought I'd share.  Please ignore the garish photos, you all know I can't take a good food picture.  Also, everyone has their own favorite chili recipe,  but keep your mind open; you might just want to try some of my twists.  Please read the recipe through before you even shop or start.  I've noted changes you might not have in your arsenal of ingredients for Chili.

Jane's Chili

1 1/2 lb. ground beef, or 4 freshly prepared beef Pub Burgers*
1 large onion, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped finely
3 garlic cloves, chopped finely
1 28 oz. can diced tomatoes
1 15 oz can of black or kidney beans (or your choice)
1 c beef broth
2 T chili powder
1 t red pepper flakes
1 T sugar
2 t ground cumin
2 t ground cinnamon
S & P to taste

Sour cream, cheddar cheese, radish slices, or whatever you like for garnish.


Notes:  Rather than an ordinary package of ground beef, I had a package of pre-made 'Pub Burgers' from my grocery store.  The are what they sound like; fresh, firm, and ready to throw on the grill.  Except it was not grilling weather and I felt the frozen meat was going to start going downhill soon.  But---the clouds parted as I stubbornly jabbed at these rounds of beef with my wooden spoon to break them up as they cooked in the skillet.  I was left with some larger chunks, as opposed to little morsels of ground beef.  And that was the beauty of it all.  The chunks, much like steak, soaked up the liquid and spices and held firm, and it was like quite different.  I highly recommend doing your next Chili this way if you do have access to pre-made burgers.  I haven't quite figured out the 'binder' in Pub Burgers, but they certainly held their own in sautéing and cooking in the broth.  

Brown beef in a large skillet or dutch oven over medium heat, breaking it up until cooked through.  Remove to a bowl or plate.  Sauté the onion, peppers, and garlic over low heat until just tender.  Add the tomatoes, beans, broth, beef, and remaining spices, stirring well to incorporate.  Place in oven, covered for 1 hour.  You can then go off and do laundry or take a bubble bath if you so desire.  I hate to watch things cook slowly on the stove.  So many better things to do.

*And now, the addition of cinnamon.  Just do it for crying out loud.  I am not telling you to add a cup of horseradish or a can of beets.  Just do it and thank me later.   :)))

A couple of photos of Miss Madelyn.  I love this outfit.  I think she borrowed it from Princess Charlotte.  So cute.  Already reading books about pumpkin vignettes.  

I can't figure out her secret for always looking just perfect for the camera, especially when she has no clue what's going on.  

She turns 1 year old on November 11, but her party will be here at my house, outdoors, in two weeks.  Keep your fingers crossed the weather isn't like it normally is in October, or better yet, a simple miracle. ;-D


In other news, our landscaping project is almost done.  The grass seedlings are popping up everywhere, the bushes and plants that my favorite lady gardener chose are beyond gorgeous.  I have a sweet Japanese maple that won't tower over our house in 2 years, arborvitae that will stay green all winter long, conical boxwood (who knew?), and  a few smaller 'fill in' plants.  I picked up a few mums, not many, to have next to the steps, and I'm off tomorrow for some pansies for my urn on the porch.  And then I might post some pics.  Unless it snows.  Stranger things have happened in Chicago.

The tables have been turned and I've been home alone in the city while The Husband piddles around at the lakehouse.  I was supposed to meet up with him the day after he left but I have that old virus rearing it's ugly head.  You guys already know, the virus is much like mononucleosis, but not related. Still, with both, all you want to do is sleep, get up to use the bathroom, shove some potato chips in your mouth and go back to bed.  I even bought a pretty new bathrobe to cover up the PJ's I rarely change.  If someone comes to the house I just look beautiful and contagious and they quickly leave.

So it's funny having The Husband at the lake alone.  He texts/calls me about every hour.  Last night he was trying to make a pizza in the oven and he was all messed up because there didn't seem to be an 'Off' button and he was afraid the oven would stay on until eternity.  Well, to Whirlpool, 'Off' and 'Cancel' are interchangeable, and The Husband needed a Valium with his pizza.  He's also very lonely.    And bored.  

Sadly, my input involves things like clean the garage, shed, attic.  Hang my shelves, pictures, hooks.  Wash the windows, inside and out and wipe down the trim.  Sadly, this just makes him lonely, bored and downright angry.  

A storm came through here in southeast Chicago about 4:00 p.m. today, and as usual, it blows over Lake Michigan to the East and hits the area where our cottage is.  I forewarned The Husband via a text and he was happy.  He wanted to know where the candles, flashlights and phone chargers were.  I told him I was more concerned with him bringing in the beach chair cushions and covering his truck bed up.  When I suggested that he leave the balcony doors off the bedroom open tonight to see and feel the curtains blow dramatically, this was the last text I received.  

*****Seriously, I'm slow with my writing and awake hours...ha!  But really serious, I am so heartbroken about what happened in Las Vegas.  How many of us have been there?  There is a happy go lucky vibe 24/7.  It's a fun time with family and/or friends.  To be caught in an attack by an insane person is beyond comprehension.  I can't add to anything you've read or heard.  I just feel a deep feeling of loss for what our world has become, the one we are leaving behind to our children and grandchildren.  40+ years ago it was war, country against country.  Now it is a battlefield anywhere in the US where a violent person/persons can delight in bloodshed.  

*****Love and prayers to all affected by the multiple hurricanes.  It has been entirely too much ocean fury.  We are countries  united and wanting to aid, help and pray for the survival and rebuilding of these countries, even our own island, Puerto Rico.  Did I pronounce that correctly? (!)

The coverage on TV may seem too much, my friends, and I respect that.  Still, I will never turn away from anything that is happening in our world.  No, I don't stay glued to my TV, nor do I immerse myself in newspapers or news websites, too much is too much.  I pray that our country continues to hear people speak, shout, write, and rant for what is so warming issues, gun control, freedom of speech, and voices everywhere, everyday, every minute, making it known that our leader is not leading.  I've gone out on a limb which I have never, ever done on my blog.  I am smart.  I am informed.  I have a political voice.  I am a humanitarian, a mother who worries about the next generation, a very frustrated woman who wants peace worldwide.  Please, let's all raise our voices. 

Jane x 

*****The title of my post is dedicated to the late Tom Petty.  Rest in peace you talented and much loved musician.