Saturday, November 23, 2019


I always love to start my posts with a pretty photo, usually flowers, but today I have the best ever beginning...welcome Lucy June!  Emily gave birth to this little nugget November 15.  She weighed 5 lbs., 13 oz., just a peanut.  She's absolutely beautiful and she looks so much like her mama.  And Emily was also small, 5 lb., 2 oz.  Holding Lucy for the first time was like deja vu.  So tiny and perfect.

Big sister Madelyn had been anxiously awaiting this day.  She was actually practicing feeding and diapering her baby doll in preparation.  She is so gentle and loving with Lucy, I wish I could show you so many more pictures of her with the baby.  But trust me, I be sharing when I can.  Isn't she beautiful?  Aren't they both?

Switching gears here, I was really wanting to go to some fall festivals but it simply didn't pan out.  I've joined a few Facebook neighborhood groups and it's amazing how you can find out about all the great events going on in your area.  This recent holiday shopping weekend was called Christmas At The Barn.  It's a genuine barn that was repaired and renovated for seasonal events like this.  Abby and I went last Saturday to a nearby suburb (where my son, Jeffrey, also lives, but further west and near some beautiful forest preserves).  I couldn't help but think what a perfect day it was both weather-wise and in this gorgeous wooded setting.  


I loved this old bike with a basket filled with evergreen.  Not something cute and flowery like we usually see, but looking like it's been suspended in time.

The shopping didn't disappoint either.  It was a mix of old and authentic, as well as new and loved.  Some vendors were local artisans so it was a good feeling to see handmade items.  Abby, who is in the midst of decorating her new home, was pretty restrained.  She is loving plaids so she picked up a few cute pillows.  There was a lot I was really wanting to buy but how could I do that when I'm in the middle of tossing and giving away holiday decorations I've collected over thirty five years?  All in all it was a fun afternoon.  I love spending time with my daughters.

Last week I was writing a holiday column for one of the newspapers and I wanted to share a recipe I came across on Pinterest.  I've always use my own recipes and photos in my articles, but try as I might, I simply can't photograph food to make it look appealing.  So I am using Pinterest once in awhile as well as recipes from my cookbooks.  If I tweak them, I share them as my own (hideous pics and all), but some recipes are just perfect as they are.  

I can't break tradition when it comes to holiday meals, The Husband and kids can be really vocal about that if you know what I mean.  To satisfy my love of trying out new recipes, I serve the usual corn but then make another side dish that looks gross to my non-vegetable eating kids/guests, but a hit with others.  

So I stumbled on this recipe for Brussels sprouts done up in a wonderful way.  I'm going to make them as a side dish on Thanksgiving.  Here is the recipe and for your convenience a link to the original.  

Parmesan Prosciutto Brussels sprouts

I think this is such a pretty dish although maybe not for everyone.  It makes me curious to dive into and discover some new tastes.  I've made a few converts with this side dish!  Finally--I hate starting a recipe only to find I didn't take note of the cooking time.  Allow yourself an hour for these and I don't recommend reheating them.

1 lb. Brussels sprouts

2 T butter
2 cloves of minced garlic
1/4 c grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and Pepper
2 slices of Prosciutto, chopped into small pieces * 

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.  Trim ends of Brussels sprouts, remove loose or brown outer leaves.  Slice each one in half lengthwise and place them in a large bowl.  

Melt the butter and pour over the Brussels sprouts.  Add the Parmesan, garlic, and a generous amount of salt and pepper.  Stir to combine.

Spread the seasoned Brussels sprouts over a parchment paper lined baking sheet, trying to keep some space between them, they crisp up that way rather than steam.  Place in the oven and let bake for 40 minutes until they are just starting to brown.

Turn the oven temperature up to 350.  Chop the prosciutto and scatter over the veggies and gently push them around with a spatula.  Shake the pan and return to the oven and roast an additional 10-15 minutes.  Serve immediately or cover with foil and keep warm in oven.

Layla and Poppy are really becoming good friends.  I had my doubts at the beginning as Playful Poppy has a ton of energy and was pretty much pouncing on Layla every chance she could.  I was trying to keep them separated so Layla could have some peace and quiet but then I noticed that she was actually enjoying the play fighting and having Poppy nuzzle her.  All that worry...and then things worked out on their own.  

I wish I could say it's been cool watching Poppy grow, but she's not growing.  I guess this is it, fifteen pounds of long body and legs and big 'ol floppy ears.  A lot of people ask what breed she is, I mean she really has this sort of "look", like a purebred something or other.  I can't figure out what she is but I know for sure she inherited all the traits of a cattle dog that is ever-present in her genes.  She is insanely fast, and as a friend said, she could easily be a horse rustler.  Thoughts of keeping her off-leash at the lake are feeling less and less likely.

On the medical front, whatever cold or flu I had that was making my nose and chest insanely congested seems to have passed.  The asthma isn't so great, my lungs tighten up just going up and down the stairs to do laundry. My doctor has prescribed some new meds and we are awaiting the analysis of the little germies that were scraped out of my lungs and are currently growing under a petri dish somewhere.  I also have to go for more blood workup, at this point I don't even  know what for.  I'm just happy to say that I'm writing this from a better place than the last time.

As if being sick, having a new puppy, the huge celebration of having a new grandchild, planning for Thanksgiving dinner (for which I will host dinner for a small group and then dessert for a crowd), tossing out long ago and unwanted Christmas decor, making a list and checking it twice, finding a caterer for Christmas Eve, which will also be at our home for The Husband's side of the family and easily amounts to about thirty guests including little ones...I'm in the middle of redoing one of the baths that I touched on in my last post, as well as our family room.  I'm having an anxiety attack just writing this.

My son came to my aid in offering a "jack of all trades" that he has for work on the various properties he owns.  While I thought I was going to have the tedious work of painting trim and doors, and then hiring an electrician and plumber, I now have a weight taken off me.  And I will get excellence as this guy works for Jeff and he is a hawk with his employees.  All I have left to be shipped are the light fixtures for the family room and to pick out hardware for this and that.  I found a granite dealer way out in some far flung suburb which I never would have gotten to without my GPS, and I picked out a pretty vanity top in quartz.  I look forward to sharing the finished bathroom soon.  I'm so proud that I designed (if I could actually say that), and sourced out everything and everyone I needed by my own little self.  

I could blabber on forever, as you know, but I'll cut off here.  I have confused even myself with this hodge podge of what is going on.  I actually thought Thanksgiving was the week after next.  Lists.  I need to make lists.

Thanks for visiting.  You are all such great girlfriends.  Have a wonderful Thanksgiving with your loved ones!


Saturday, November 9, 2019


Halloween 2019 In Chicago (no editing)

Hello Hello Hello!  It's always good to be back in a somewhat timely manner.  I'm hoping we are all past Halloween and looking ahead to Thanksgiving although it makes me shudder.  In all my years, whenever I host holiday dinners, I have never learned to not stress it out.  I'm a huge reader and eat up books, magazines, and websites that promise ways to handle hosting a party or simply holiday stress.  No matter, I fret over whether all the food will be ready at once, if everyone has a drink, a refill, a little tidbit,  And those that wander into the kitchen asking for the odd beverage, extra napkins, a hand towel for the bathroom (gulp).  And there never seems to be anyone around to say to, "Can you please help this person out?"  I feel my holidays have become so relaxed for my company, and perhaps routine, that everyone is happily chatting away while I'm sweating away in the kitchen and acting like a traffic officer at the same time.  The worse thing is...I apologize profusely.  We're out of ice?  Let me run out to a convenience store.  You're allergic to nuts?  Let me whip up some liver pate.  You're gluten free?  Really?  Really?????

I write for the Michigan newspaper and I'm a cross between Dear Abby, Martha Stewart, and Joanna Gaines.  No, I'm not in their league in any way but my column is geared toward encouraging readers to be the best cook, gardener, home decorator, gift wrapping professional, and above all, organizer.  No one has any idea how little I follow my own advice.  I'm really not much better than the writers of those self help-don't stress it out pieces.  So yeah, I'm not prepared and even if I were, something always goes wrong and maybe I ought to just ban guests from the kitchen.  

Christmas Inspiration

I'm definitely not planning for Christmas right now, but I do love to Pin ideas, and I came across an article on the Apartment Therapy site: "Beautiful Outdoor Christmas Decorating That's Not The Least Bit Tacky".  The Husband is not so keen on hanging outdoor lights or wreaths on windows.  He frowns on blow-up snowmen and white wooden deer sculptures (believe me, I'm open to everything).  So the outside of the house is pretty much non-Christmasy unless you count the lit up tree you can see through the living room window.  Anyway I digress, I saw this lamplight idea and I knew it was for me.  Simple.  Classic.  Beautiful.  And even though I have a phobia of climbing on ladders (thinking back to 2016 when I fell off a chair and broke my arm in three places), I'm doing it.  Nothing is going to stop me.  I may have eight people holding on to said ladder and an inflatable snowman to block a fall, but I'm decorating the porch and garage lights.  If you'd like to see some of the ideas I've Pinned, go to my page.  I have lots of good things on my boards--holiday cooking, baking, gift ideas, something for everyone.  

Lifetime Movie Calendar 2019

Maybe it's cheesy, maybe I should be watching Fleabag, Jack Ryan, or The Crown, I just can't help but feel the allure of a sweet, sappy love story set in a big city or a little town with snow and carolers, hot cocoa, and the inevitable widow/widower with children who instantly fall in love with The Love Interest.  Most times one or the other Love Interest gives up their present life to join the other Love Interest forevermore.  And all those interrupted kisses, we finally get to see one in the final thirty seconds. ❤️.  Sigh.  Just gotta love curling up and watching these movies to get away from the world.  Or your husband, kids, and needy, drooling dogs.

Hallmark Channel Christmas Movie Calendar 

You can Pin these calendars if you so wish, or download and print them.  Maybe not.  Perhaps you like Jack Ryan... John Krasinski is awfully sexy.

I had a lot of fun passing some on some info about moisturizing your skin as the really cold weather begins.  A few ladies asked about foundation that didn't make them feel like they had a mask on, so I wanted to move on to what I've learned about this sort of coverage.  

I had a rude awakening this past spring when I had been wearing Nars Natural Radiant Long Wear Foundation for a good couple of months. I love their radiant concealer for under my eyes so I thought the foundation would be a win as well.  And then I happened to see myself in a mirror in bright, natural sunlight and I couldn't believe how thick and caked it looked.  In spite of feeling I knew so much about makeup products and applying them, I hadn't really discovered the difference between full coverage and light.  I was telling the girl who does my hair about it and she recommended Bare Minerals Tinted Hydrating Gel Cream.  Back in the day I used something similar from Lancome that was a tinted moisturizer and it was prefect but I've never found anything like it since.  Long story short, although I felt that the Nars foundation was making me look line free, smoother and more radiant,  it was actually the opposite.  So I tried the Bare Minerals gel cream and I could not be happier.  When you apply, it feels like silk...I just smooth it all over my face with just my fingertips much like a moisturizer.  It evens out everything such as red spots or uneven tones, and your skin glows (and not in that bright highlighted way).  Best of all, I've come to love my freckles again (thank you, Megan Markle) and I feel fresh faced.  It is super hydrating which I love especially in the colder months, but if your skin is on the oily side, you can most likely skip your moisturizer and just use a primer before you apply it.  Good stuff.

And finally, I wanted to share an update we are doing on one of our bathrooms.  It's almost embarrassing that we still had the 1980's linoleum flooring and outdated light fixtures.  The vanity counter is pink.  The first thing we did was have the linoleum removed and the floor retiled with what you see above.  This is my actual bathroom with an overlay design board (courtesy of my interior designer daughter, Emily).  I ordered and have received the light fixtures and faucet gadgets from Home Depot.  I want to give the wall's vertical shiplap a fresh coat of white paint.  And I'm making trips to a few granite dealers to pick out a vanity top, I'm thinking something white with a little gray marbling.  The gold rimmed mirror is from Target.

My question is--- I don't want a completely black and white bath, nor a complete vintage vibe that the flooring leans toward.  I do have a bad way of mixing up too many elements in rooms that aren't  cohesive.  I'm thinking of adding rusty brown, bronze or copper colored pieces and a little bit of natural elements; plants, dried flowers, grasses, stems, or herbs, tucked in an urn, basket, something on the wall.  Please weigh in with your ideas or tips.  More to come...

Thank you all for your well wishes on this never ending bronchitis or whatever.  I saw a specialist after a chest CT scan and had a bronchoscopy of my lungs yesterday (not for the mild or timid).  A lot of bad stuff was sucked out and part of my lower right lobe has collapsed.  When, how...unknown.  Nothing to be done and it shouldn't present any problems.  So far the consensus is I have a bacterial infection in my upper left lobe and I'm getting a heavy dose of antibiotics.  My throat is a bit sore from the tube but I'm feeling much better all around.  The fluid and tissue lab results come in this week.  What a mess.  But I'm in good hands and I'm pretty tough!  So again, thanks for your thoughtful words and prayers.

Off I go now.  Hope you are having a great weekend!