Wednesday, August 26, 2015

NAILING SOME HOME & LAKE PROJECTS







Hi...remember me?  I can't believe I waited so long to post, it's been one thing after another and then a lot of distractions.  You may be looking at this picture and wondering if it's upside down.  No, I'm drying roses from the bouquets I brought home from my son's wedding.  I have vases of dried roses I've saved just everywhere,  I love them, they hold up pretty well for a long time.  I thought about pressing some of these petals and perhaps making a first anniversary gift for the couple.  Something along the lines of framing some romantic sheet music and placing some petals here and there under the glass?  I know you can print out sheet music but it seems I'm always picking out old books of it whenever I'm in an antique shop.  

The wedding is so far behind us it seems.  We really had a ball.  One of the best parts was seeing the friends of the bride and groom (and of my other children as well since they all sort of blended in as they grew up).  Several young guys that Jeff and Kevin went to school with and also played with on the same little league teams came up to me and I didn't recognize them at first.  Then I'd see something in their smile or eyes, it was so cool, these adult versions.  And I don't think I sat the entire night.  Every now and then I think of someone that I didn't have a chance to talk to.  Still, a great time was had by all.  I'm still recovering.




The rest of this post will be an attempt to share the status of some projects going on around here.  I'll even have to refrain from sharing a few new recipes I've made up and promised on Instagram that I'd post.  We'll save those for a rainy day.  But I did have to share my first gorgeous tomato from the vine.  I planted two Early Girl plants in a big container early this spring.  The squirrels got at a few and that made me sad, they don't even like them.  I know I won't have anything more than a few to make salads and some pasta with, maybe a small bowl of fixings for bruschetta.  Still--it's something since I never seem to find the time in the spring to resurrect my old vegetable patch.  Thank goodness for farmer's markets. :)



I'm happy to say that we get closer each day to starting work on the lakehouse.  We have a contractor that has been so wonderful in working with the insurance company on prices of material and labor and we are now starting to pick out the essentials for basically rebuilding the whole interior of the house.  I personally will be in charge of the kitchen.  We've redone it twice in the past 25 years.  I've gone from yellow and white checked wallpaper with white painted cabinets, to white open shelving above and dark "turtle green" colored cabinets below.   Wood floors to tile.  Butcher block counters to Silestone.  Above you can see some of the samples I took home with me from various tile shops I went to with Emily on Monday.  It is an absolute wonder and relief to have an interior designer in the family.  I know the blogger mantra by heart, "I decorate with what I like."  And I do as well.  I walk into these shops with a vision in my head and thank God my daughter knows me and understands exactly how I want a certain room.  And yeah, that's me...each room can be very different, I like to keep my color schemes neutral but I can go from cottage to more rustic in turning a corner.   Decorating is pure self expression, design is technical.

In a nutshell, if you look at the above picture, everything but the hexagon shaped tile is for the kitchen, that particular tile is for the powder room around the corner.  My kitchen floor will be the porcelain with the wood grain pattern that you see.  It has more blues and greens in it much like driftwood.  It's also maintenance free.  My back splash will be going from subway tile to these stone pieces.  And the space between the stove and it's hood,  these glass squares to add reflection and shine.  "Texture!" as Emily says!  Also, easier to clean than the stone---a must in an area where you get grease splatters. 



She put this together for me.  She nailed the light fixtures right on the head.  And I had scoured Pinterest for the open shelving I wanted this time around---something a bit more rustic and natural.  I don't want to say I'm aiming at a farmhouse kitchen, I simply want a kitchen (and home) that reflects our lifestyle there; wildflowers in vases, tomatoes ripening on the window ledge, sand on the floor and little Elsie running around in a tiny bathing suit laughing!

The powder room will be done in muted beach colors.  I'm looking at pedestal sinks and light fixtures.  Very simple.  And I have a long mudroom/laundry room and love all the ideas I've seen for keeping them organized and fabulous looking at the same time.  Believe me, here in the city my laundry room is down two flights of stairs in a dark basement.  I deserve a clean light filled laundry at the lake. :)



I know I left all of you hanging with ongoing projects here in the city.  I left myself hanging (gag, gag).  The den has come together little by little.  I ordered the chairs, I bought the sea grass rug, the chairs came, I had no tables.  Tossed around some pillows.  Shopped the house for a table and lamp.  We could finally sit.  Ahhh...

 



The Husband thought sitting was boring in itself so he shopped the sales and bought this awesome curved TV.  I love it.  The picture is 3D,  It's like watching live television.  I found the cabinet at Home Decorators.  I love the hardware and the whole distressed look.  I never thought they would be using reclaimed wood.  I tossed a basket of books and magazines on a Target pouf that I use as an ottoman.  Looks a little silly though.  So...now I have ideas for the walls.  That will happen soon.  I'm pretty sure.  Yes.  Ahem...

 

I've been spending my days doing a myriad of things.  I'm trying to do more reading and in an effort to do that I'm finding it nice to have more than one book going on at a time.  That would have been a horrible idea to me six months ago but with the variety of books I read, from fiction to non-fiction, decorating books to gardening and cookbooks,  memoirs to beach reads, well a girl deserves to change her mind once in awhile.  So, I read what I'm in the mood for.  When I sit on the patio in the afternoon with the dogs lolling in the grass, I love my romantic novels.  Evenings are usually non-fiction and before bed I usually hit the self-help books, I have no idea why.  Maybe the prospect of hope for a better tomorrow gets me to sleep easier.  Ha!

This just arrived from Amazon.  And that's another new thing I've been doing of late.  Ordering less  on my Nook and getting more of the real deal.  I love them both and have always gotten my reference books straight from the source.  They are keepers.  And  I've always loved picking up a soft cover at Target or a hardback in a bookstore.  And why, why, why would I do this after repainting all the rooms of this house in the last two years and taking down each and every bookshelf to eliminate clutter?  Because I'm crazy, that's why.  Don't ask where I'm keeping the books I'm hanging on to (closet shelves, under chairs, a hamper in the guest room.  Shhhh...).

This book is wonderful.  Part decorating, part memoir.  The writer, Frances Schultz, mixes the two with her spunky Southern charm.  Just as the changes in our homes mirror the lives we are living, you can see how this really wonderful lady navigated her way through good times and bad while she created Bee Cottage.  You'll love it.  I just signed up to follow her blog.

 
 



So I left all of you with some teasers  in my last post.  I seriously thought that after Jeff and Deirdre's wedding life would settle into a somewhat predictable and sane order.  I was really excited for Monday to roll around to have a hot shower, a warm breakfast and sort of just lounge on the patio for a week or two or three.  Nope.  Woke up to The Husband, "Jane, I think there's something wrong with Layla."  He continued to get ready for work and out the door he went while I cradled a limp, feverish, eight pound ball of fur.  I threw on some clothes and patiently tapped my foot until the vet clinic opened at 9:00 a.m.  Thankfully I was able to get her right in and even better, they are just 5 minutes away.  I rushed right over, well, at least halfway over.  A really sweet and kind police officer pulled me over en route.  Talk about pleading guilty before charged, I meekly asked her, "Was I going too fast?"  She looked at me like I had two heads and then saw Layla's glum little face peering up from the passenger seat.  "No.  You disregarded a stop sign."  Oops.  That's also called 'blowing a stop sign",  just between us.  I didn't cry or anything, I rarely cry if you don't count weddings, funerals, romantic comedies, John Greene books or the endings of the last two Tiny Houses on HGTV (the proposal and the father/daughter project).  Sniff.  She let me go with a warning ticket, it was all about Layla's sad little eyes I'm sure.  What Officer Friendly didn't know was that if Layla hadn't been so terribly sick, she would have been growling, barking and baring her teeth, the uniform being a huge motivator.  Well...all that's well ends well.  Layla recovered from her virus.  I didn't get a ticket.  I could have bought a weeks worth of groceries with what the vet cost.

All of you are so sweet in asking about the old broken arm.  It's healing, but slowly.  I get physical therapy several times a week but I still can't bend or twist at the wrist.   I awake in the morning peacefully and then once I move my hand, it all comes back to me and I think...when will this nightmare ever end?  I mean---I fell June 27th!  I did go for a second opinion with a great specialist.  If he hadn't recommended more therapy before taking other avenues, I'd have totally switched over to him from the crotchety doctor I have now (excellent doctor and surgeon...just a little like a spark plug when you question his methods).  My 2nd opinion guy had me look at the X-rays with him and explained that one of the three fractures was really quite bad. And that particular bone has healed in such a way that it's shorter than the other bone.  Thus, I have cartilage, a callus and soft tissue changes going on and that spells out a lot of pain.  So I continue the therapy close to home as opposed to the other doctor,  hoping to get things moving (literally).  The human body is amazing but it also takes a beating once in awhile.  I just wish it wasn't mine.  ;-D

I'm trying to visit blogs and to those of you who come by and leave your heartwarming comments.  I've been reading blogs while I'm curled up in my new, somewhat finished den but I don't always comment for fear of having to hit the pain meds again from the pain.  And then you probably wouldn't understand my comment anyway.   :)

See you soon!

Jane x

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

A WEDDING

 
I gave my advice to the newlyweds-to-be and I know I'm not supposed to do that.  From here on I will keep all my thoughts, opinions and advice to myself.  I told them. "All of the planning and fretting and frustration will end once you say those vows.  You will no longer be getting married, you will be married, and that's a wondrous moment."  I felt that myself, did you?
 
Calm myself?  Hmmmm...  I don't think I was as tightly wound as I sounded.  This was my third child getting married and all of the weddings took place in the last five years.  I've become absolutely tired of the stress.  If something goes wrong, there's not much you can do.  Still, I hope Abigail elopes. 
 
I arrived at the hair salon bright and early bearing goodies.  Fresh croissants, butter, sliced fruit, orange juice and chilled champagne.  I added cute napkins, melamine plates and bright purple cups.  The five of us gals had a great time, we had never been to this salon and I think I have a good idea that this is where I'll go when Katie no longer does my hair (after she has her baby in December).  Later my sister in law and a few of the teens and tweens popped in---we had a great party!
 
I know I'm running on here and I promise this post won't be too long.  I went in to the salon with no idea how I wanted to have my hair and that's a big deal these days.  I looked at every conceivable option on Pinterest and finally told the girl, chop some off, style it smooth and straight and let's call it a day.  A half hour later I was smooth and straight and looking at three inches of blonde curls all around on the floor.  No regrets.
 
 
 
Both Emily and Abby were bridesmaids.  Aren't these dresses gorgeous?  Mary Clare wore a beautiful mint colored dress that went so well with her green eyes (that sometimes turn blue---magical, eh?)  And little Elsie stold the show.  MC brought her up to the alter as we took communion.  Son Kevin was best man and when he saw MC and Elsie, he hopped down the steps to the line to give his girls a hug.  The look on his face was priceless. 
 
There were so many precious moments in the church.  Jeff and his groomsmen didn't enter from the side as in most ceremonies, they walked right up the aisle and my son, so full of personality, not too mention great manners, paused to shake hands with many of the family and friends seated in the pews. 
 
And finally, the look on his face when he saw Deirdre with her father.  And the smile of sheer joy and love on her face...she never took her eyes off him as she walked up the aisle so gracefully and then kissed her father and joined arms with her husband to be.
 
Sorry---no pictures were taken in the church out of courtesy.  That's okay, I have plenty for you!
 
 
 
Two trolleys awaited to take as many of the guests that chose to off to the country club for the reception.  Traditionally this is known as partaaaay time!  Here's Abby and Kevin.
 
 
 
And Emily and Mike.
 
 
 
Kevin and MC.

 
And finally Abby and her longtime boyfriend, Tom.
 
It was so cool because we have so many young nieces and nephews, etc., and riding in the trolley was such a thrill for them. 
 
The Husband and I chose to drive, mostly because the trolley was going to drop everyone off home by home after the reception.  We weren't looking forward to that ride at midnight.  I was having a problem with my contact lenses at the church (as per usual it seems if you remember the debacle in my last post), so we stopped at home where I could fix the problem.  In doing so I managed to pull off one of my faux eyelashes that are such a big deal (and expense) when you have your make up professionally done for an occasion.  I totally freaked out.   No way was I going to go to the reception eyelash-less!  So I did the best I could do and grabbed a bottle of Elmer's Glue All and repaired the damage.  Thank goodness I had that on hand because I'm sure I would have used The Husband's wood glue in his toolbox if I had to.  Vanity.  Sigh.
 
 
 
 
 
The veranda outside the banquet room...so pretty.
 
 
 
I knew you guys would want to see my dress and I really don't like to post a lot of pictures of myself so this is a stretch.  And you can see my shorter hair.  I was a bit unhappy that the rainy, humid weather made it curl up a lot as the evening wore on.  Only someone with unruly hair like this can appreciate what I'm saying.  My sleek look was short lived.  Doesn't Emily look fantastic? :)  And look at the view of the golf course.  Pictures of the wedding party were taken there in front of a huge fountain that was later lit up in the darkness.
 
 
 
And Abigail and I.  The first hour was so wonderful.  Waiters made the rounds with trays of bubbly and hors d' oeuvres.   A great time to take family pictures but I'm clearly lacking some.  We were all spread out. 
 
 
 
These were the arrangements on all of the tables.  The roses were spectacular and most had Bells of Ireland to pay homage to Deirdre's homeland.  In fact, at the church and right after the "I do's", a bagpiper came up the aisle to serenade the couple.  Ahhhhh, the sound of bagpipes makes me tear up!
 
 

The cutting of the cake...and the happy couple.
 
 
 
...and the couple's first dance. 
 
 
 
As the night was nearing its end word went around that we were to gather on the veranda for an announcement.  That piqued every one's curiosity.  But there was no announcement, just a spectacular fireworks display that Jeffrey secretly arranged for.  The perfect ending to a magical day.  I think none of us will forget it...especially the bride and groom.  They are relaxing in Lake Tahoe now with plans for a tropical honeymoon in December. 
 
All of you have been so great in looking forward to this event almost as much as I was.  I appreciate all your kind words and support when I was stressed out or fretting, but I think I kept that under control.  I had many more heartbreaking and terrible things to worry about, and I thank you for all the condolences and uplifting words for our losses. 
 
I have to do another post soon about all the craziness that has happened in the past three days.  Yes, I can devote a whole post to it.  Possibly re-setting the broken arm, two sick doggies, breaking the law and why I love police officers, surviving never ending heat and humidity and tomatoes rotting on the vine.  Just to name a few things. 
 
See you soon! :)
 
Jane x


Wednesday, August 12, 2015

FAMILY & FRIENDS, WEDDINGS AND TEARS

 
My wild and wooly flower bed at the lakehouse.  We were there last Sunday and I took a tour of the grounds.  It's not as bad as I thought after having been neglected for 9 months, as I purposely chose plants that would bloom from spring to fall.  These must be mid-summer.  Still, I wish I had been there to fertilize and add more mulch...tidy it up a bit.  But we're good. 
 
 
 
Oh, I've been a busy bee as usual but the end is in sight, thank goodness.  Dear Daughter Abby (don't you love her ombre hair color?) was set to return to work this past Monday and really wanted a visit from her sister and I to her neighborhood on the Northside.  So Emily and I headed up last Thursday and we really had a good time.  We had lunch at a small café that also boasts a little grocery.  One of their specialties is Bread Pudding Pancakes.  Oh my gosh, we ordered it for a dessert of sorts, they  are served with a bit of warm cream poured over and a little sprinkle of cinnamon.  I was in heaven.  And...they sell the packaged mix which is mainly bread cubes and the flour and other dry ingredients.  Has anyone made this from scratch?  When I actually make them I'll show you in a post and give you the website---I think you can order the mix.  But let's figure it out. 
 
Abby lives one block over from a main street that has both chain stores like Gap, Francesca's, American Eagle, Paper Source, etc.  Bit there are also a lot of boutiques, gift shops and locally owned places.  I loved it. 
 
 
 
We came upon a farmer's market right there on the sidewalk.  They were just getting ready to close up.  Here you can see a large tent that housed it's own little flower market.  We loved the lady/owner.  I could have had a field day (no pun intended), but I had bought a bunch of tea roses on sale at the grocery the day before.  Very tempting though.  Here's Em saying,"You know you want these sunflowers, Mom!"
 
 
 
All in all a good day.  Isn't Chicago beautiful?  I would love to invite all of you here and take you to all of my favorite places.  Look at that sky!  The weather was gorgeous that day.
 
 
 
The next day The Husband and I were back downtown again as he had his yearly tests (his own business, as he prefers).  I had a three hour wait and spent it in the hospital waiting room and in spite of having to walk around every 45 minutes or so to work the kinks out of my back, I caught up on my reading uninterrupted.  In fact, I was a little overzealous about this reading time, I packed two heavy books, one fiction, one non-fiction as well as my Nook which has a variety of magazines I subscribe to and many books in my library, two of which I'm in the middle of.  Oh, my word.  That purse was heavy.  What was I thinking?  Still, I made a dent.  I never thought I'd be the type to have more than one book going but it's working-I can read what I'm in the mood for. 
 
After the tests, we worked off his wooziness by walking over to Gino's East, a great place for deep dish pizza.  A big pick-me-up after a long day.  And happily he got his results Monday and everything is A-Okay.  A real sigh of happiness.
 
 
 
 Some flowers I planted at the lake.  Some of the seed heads were almost dried up on these coneflowers so I pinched a few off to bring home.  So, do I plant these now, in the fall, or in the spring?  Please help.
 
 
 
You remember I cleaned up the front of the lakehouse last summer and if I can humbly say, landscaped a border all along it.  On our visit I found these growing.  What the heck are they?  I really don't remember planting anything like this.  We have so many birds all about, I get a lot of volunteer plants, maybe this is the reason they're here.  Again, anyone know what this is?  Whoa, I have a lot of questions in this post!
 
Now the sad, hard part.  The reason we were at the lake.  You might remember that we lost our good friend Bob in December after a well fought battle with cancer.  Bob built our lakehouse and when he and his wife Sharon sold it to us, we all became very, very good friends.  It was so hard to lose Bob.  You can read my posts here and here.  Friday morning we received a call that Sharon was terminally ill and hospice had been called in.  We had absolutely no idea.  I talked with her daughter, Becky, who is also my good, dear friend, and she very honestly told me it was a matter of days.  We wasted no time and a day later we drove to the lake---I so wanted to see Sharon one last time.  I think she recognized us, she said, "I'm so glad you came up", and then she drifted off.  We spent a few hours with Becky and her husband and daughter.  Then we went to the lakehouse to inspect things and that was dreadful, nothing changed.
 
Just two hours ago I got the call from Becky that Sharon passed away this morning.  Writing this post right now is a good distraction.  The Husband and I have both shared out feelings in the last hour a great deal about Sharon and Bob, and how they welcomed us to the lake.  You know, after the tribute I wrote about my sister in law who passed away just two weeks ago, I simply can't do that again now for this special friend, I'm just beaten down it seems.  A memorial will be held for Sharon at some point soon, and she asked that she and Bob's ashes be scattered in the lake.  We'll be there for that.  I'm so relieved that she went in peace.
 
 
 
 
Can I share something silly and totally out of place right now?  I need to change directions if you know what I mean.   I finally got The Husband to admit our mattress was old and decrepit and hard and probably filled with dust mites, so we tested out a few last December.  He surprised me recently and bought the soft, plush-top mattress I liked.  But wow, this baby is 16 inches thick!  And we already have one of those high Victorian beds with the little steps.  Can you see how massive this set up is by looking at little Layla lying there?  She can spring up those steps because she is small and spry, but Milo?  He had never used the steps and in his first few attempts at leaping up he couldn't clear it and bounced back off.  Alas, he sleeps most of the night in his dog bed that you can see a little bit in the bottom corner of this pic.  And I lift him up in the morning to snuggle and also for naps.  ;-)  As for me, I sleep on the end there and yeah, I worry sometimes about rolling right off.  With my luck lately it just might happen soon. :(((
 
 
 
And on to much better times, my son Jeffrey's wedding is just 4 days away.  A little snippet picture of the country club he belongs to and where the reception will be held.  We met a few weeks ago with him, Deirdre and her parents to sample the food that will be served.  Not only do they have this massive dining room, but there is a veranda that wraps around outside with tables and chairs as well as a bar area with comfy couches and chairs. 
 
I picked up my dress on Saturday, it fit really well so I was able to take it home with no further alterations.  Today I went and bought my shoes.  I picked out seven pairs and after trying them on went with the comfiest.  Ha!  I'm getting practical in my old age.  I'm going to skip the manicure and pedi and spray tan that most of the girls are doing, this is getting to be too much for me.  We are having the usual hair and make up done Saturday morning and that's enough for me.  I have walnuts growing on the trees in my backyard, not money.  Who the heck is going to be looking at my toes?  Anyway, the excitement is building.  Tomorrow is the rehearsal at the church and the dinner afterward.  Usually the dinner involves the wedding party and their partners.  Jeff and Deidre do not favor tradition and have invited a large group of close friends as well.  This will be different. 
 
 
 
Here's a recent snapshot of my boy and his Goddaughter, little Elsie, from the 4th of July.  May I say he might be wanting to start a family of his own soon?  I'm jumping the gun here...let's get through this wedding. 
 
I've had so much going on.  All of you ladies comment and say that I'm SO busy.  Most times I think, really...I'm not.  I truly thing I have a lot of free time to do what I please.  However, today I was on my way out after having my coffee, checking the usual news, gossip, emails and my blog; breakfast, cleaning up the house and getting dressed, and I happened to look at Milo and Layla eying me.  I realized that they must be very used to me walking out every afternoon---as if I have a "real" job.  Lately I've been wanting a day home to just do nothing.  I just want to clear my head, that's all.   I hope that's soon. 
 
Happy and sad times.  As when I lost my sister in law just before we went to Louisville for my niece's wedding, again, we are mourning and celebrating.  God's plan doesn't often make sense but we have to trust in it no matter.
 
I'll be back next week.
 
Jane x

Thursday, August 6, 2015

A ROOFTOP WEDDING & GLITCHES GALORE



I'll backtrack a bit before we get on to the beautiful wedding we attended in Louisville, KY, for my niece, Jaime. 

I was able to get my cast off on Friday.  Oh, how good it felt to run my arm under cool water and soap it up!  The electric saw they used to cut the cast sent me into a panic but I survived--truly scary.  And to be honest, I hesitate to say that I almost miss the cast--it kept my arm from moving so the real work/pain has begun since I can now move things around.  Again, I'll survive. 

We were on the road to Louisville at 6:30 a.m. Saturday morning.  We survived on coffee, Diet Pepsi, granola bars and Frito's on the drive.  I thought I was very organized but I wasn't.  More on that later.

Here is Jaime and Garrett after the ceremony on the rooftop of the 21c Museum (which is also a hotel, ours in fact).  It was a gorgeous day and the ceremony was officiated by a longtime friend of Garrett's who had us laughing and tearing up at the same time.  The couple read their own written vows that had us laughing and crying once more, a bit of classical and blue grass music was played by a guitarist and wonderful vocalist/friend.  My favorite part was when the minister/friend read Jaime and Garrett's favorite passages from their mutually loved book, The Incredible Lightness of Being.  And then it was over, with marital vows and a long kiss.  So lovely.





The rooftop looked out over the Ohio River on one side and the city on the other.  As you can see it was a simply gorgeous day.

The bridesmaids were Jaime's sisters, Mindy and Katy, and they wore champagne color dresses with red accents-- shoes and jewelry.  The flowers also had white and red blooms at the ceremony and the reception.  The men sported red ties and buttoniers. 

After the ceremony we stayed outdoors for  bit and then wandered in to a great space to mingle with guests and have a cool drink.  Wait staff made the rounds with gorgeous hors d' oevres.  We then went down to the atrium for the formal reception--dinner and dancing.   Again, everything was elegant and festive and had a wonderful original touch.



When the crowd broke up after the music ended, many of us moved to the hotel bar.  My niece, Katy, took this picture of me with my brother, John, the father of the bride.  He's such a great, smart and loveable guy, I'm proud to call him Bro.  He's on his 47th year of teaching high school and he has a long history of coaching H.S. baseball.  He was inducted into the Indiana Hall of Fame awhile back.  I often feel sad that he doesn't live in Chicago but it's extra special to get together.  The Husband went upstairs to retire early and I actually managed to carry on until about 1:00 a.m.  Those Louisville people are so much fun.  And they are so touchy and huggy---I didn't wear my splint for cosmetic reasons and I swear I had so many people grab and hang on to my arm I thought it had been broken all over again!  Still...love all of the new friends we made. 




Does this not look outstanding?  My mouth is watering just looking and remembering how good it was.  Eggs Benedict atop a round of fried cornbread, a very healthy version, along with a handful of baby arugula and a drizzle of olive oil and some Parm.  The perfect brunch the following morning.  And conveniently just down on the main floor of the museum/hotel.  :)




The Husband snapped this of me and my mimosa.  The light is quite forgiving.

 Katy gave us explicit instructions on how to find the part of town we wanted to explore; something with boutiques, gift shops, bookstores, coffee shops and bars. She didn't disappoint and we found ourselves on Baxter/Bardstown Rd.  I loved the vintage clothing stores...I've bought and worn a few items in the past...my favorites were a black silk dress I kept for weddings and funeral alike, and a dusty pink nubby wool coat that I wore for years.  Didn't buy anything this time but was drooling over a yellowish/brown wool, sleeveless A-line dress.  Our biggest purchases were in the two bookstores we found---I'll share more on my picks later.  We ducked out of the 91 degree heat into coffee shops, a bar for nacho's and a beer and finally a small place for a glass of wine and a quick Google of restaurants we might enjoy.  And that we found a place called Jack Frys.  Outstanding!  But...by then I was feeling the effects of the sun and was painfully aware of some sunburn.  Ugh.



Always a Mom, I picked up a few things for the girls.  I loved this T shirt for Abby. I also bought two sort of Boho dresses for Emily...haven't seen them yet so I hope they like their souvenirs.   



Morning Glory's going crazy

Home sweet home.  We met my brother for breakfast at about 8 a.m. Monday morning before we got on the road.  He had guests staying at his home and obviously had to be totally worn out but he met The Husband and I that early nonetheless.  As I always say, family is everything. 

I slept off and on all the way back to Illinois.  I never sleep well in hotels.  Saturday night I didn't pay much attention to my pillows and slept on one filled with down feathers.  I'm terribly allergic and woke up with red splotches all over my face and neck.  My make up powder did a great cover up but in the days since it has dried up and peeled like a sun burn.  Odd indeed.   Once we arrived home about 3:00 p.m., I washed my face and dove into bed with my dogs and slept a few hours like a baby.  I guess you can say I don't travel well.  The Husband woke me up about 5---he had ordered Chinese food and had it all spread out on a perfectly set table.  Love that guy. 

I can't say that everything was spot on and a bunch of roses.  Since I'm so "wordy" I thought I'd give you a different format for the glitches in our trip. 

1)  Driving down we underestimated the time.  I had an appointment for hair and make up (due to my lack of movement with broken arm). Admittedly, we were very, very behind in time.

2)  Tried to cancel with salon and found my credit card would be charged the full price regardless of whether I showed up or not.  WHAT???

3)  In trying to make my skin as soft and moisturized as possible for said make up application, I massaged jojoba oil into my face several times on the way south.

4)  Managed to get oil in both eyes and totally screwed up my eyes and contact lenses to the point of sheer blindness.

5)  Not remembering if I had an extra case or pair of contacts, I hysterically ordered The Husband to pull off the expressway at the next town to find a pharmacy/drugstore. 

6)  Found one 20 minutes later at which time contacts were rolling around my eyeballs and I was beginning to resign myself to wearing my nerdy glasses all weekend. 

7)  Found a new case in antiquated pharmacy which seemed like it was still being operated by Mr. Gower. 

8)  Removed contacts and proceeded to sort thorough duffel bag in trunk...found contact case as well as a new package of contacts.

9)  Made my way to salon appointment by the skin of my teeth.  Got out 20 minutes before ceremony, grabbed a cab, threw on dress, broke necklace and stumbled on to rooftop in time for the procession.

***

Let's skip ahead.  Happily got on the road back to Chicago Monday morning.  Was drifting off into a much needed sleep when I had a thought and bolted upward.  "Did you check the closets?"  I implored as The Husband hummed to the radio.  "No.  Did you?"  We are minus one man's suit, dress shirt, tie and two gorgeous dresses I had professionally altered.  One of which I had hoped to wear at son's wedding rehearsal dinner next week.  They will be shipped---I didn't bother to ask the charge.  With my luck it can only be unbearable to know. 

I sorted everything out yesterday. Started my physical therapy for the arm (the man has a torture chamber that could rival Christian Grey).  Did the grocery shopping and paid the girl who watched the house/dogs.  I watered the grass, weeded and made a decent dinner after a lot of (delicious) restaurant food.  I won't bother you with what I have going on tomorrow.  The Husband promises a trip to our place in Asheville in November and all I can think of is that cool mountain air.  Blame me?

Jane xxx



Friday, July 31, 2015

CELEBRATIONS

 
Here's my pretty picture blog post starter and as per usual, if it's outdoors, Milo is photo bombing.  These are not day lily's, they're some sort of perennial type  (Help, Beth!) that bloom for weeks.  I'm looking at bulb catalogs---already, and I'm going to add in some additional colors. I love that these come up where my tulips have died off.  It's hard to see but I have my wee little lilac right in the center.  As it grows it will bloom right after the tulips and daffodils.  Excuse the weeds in the forefront...may do a bit of ground cover or low growing flowers here.  Any other suggestions? 
 
 
 
I continue to spend a lot of time outside but it's mostly just relaxing or putting the sprinkle on my garden bed under eaves.  I like watching it go back and forth and the steam rising from the hot ground.  Yes, it hit the 90's here this week.  I simply need that restful time and clean air and the dogs do, too...although in this weather I watch them closely and get them in when they start to pant.  Have I talked about this already?  My mind is gone.  Seriously. 
 
*
 
I wanted to show you this sweet little Morning Glory sprout...a volunteer most definitely.  They grow every year up my porch railings about 10 feet away.  All from dropped seeds from the previous summer.  And this little guy is growing in one of the many cracks on my 80 year old concrete patio.   It's starting to wind around the leg of my old baker's rack (which I had planned to sand and give a new coat of paint on this summer).  Today I decided to help my little sprout along and pressed a little potting soil in and around it and sprinkled some water from the dog bowl.  Wouldn't it be a hoot if it bloomed?  I've read that you can sprinkle thyme seeds in cracks of your stone or pavers or whatever you want.  Add a little sand or potting soil to get it off to a good start.  When you walk on it you have the sweet release of it's scent.  Since we will probably never get this patio redone, that might make things more nice. :)
 
 
 
In a last ditch effort to trim down---at least lose some water and puffiness, we are eating salads as much as possible.  No true recipe here.  Just a mix of baby lettuces, some cous cous, shredded seasoned chicken that I did on the stove in a cast iron grill pan and then tossed with a lemon/herb vinaigrette.  I had some rolls leftover from some sandwiches we had for lunch Sunday and I wanted to use them up so I drizzled olive oil on them and grilled them right in the same pan where they picked up the herbs. I know the bread was a bit overdone but it was good.  I think I've dashed my hopes of being a future Foodie Blogger/Photographer. ;-)   I could rave about this forever.  I meant to add some black beans for more protein but forgot.  Play with this.  Omit the chicken if you'd like. 
 
 
 
These are the shoes I finally decided on for my niece's wedding Saturday.  My dress is a long black light weight knit (Michael Kors), with a low V-neck and cap sleeves that slip down a bit over the shoulders.  An empire band of about an inch or so wide and simple pleats just below.  We have a wonderful local gal that does alterations on the side and since I'm only 5'2 I have to have everything hemmed.  I had her take it up just below my calves and I really wanted a sort of  "statement" shoe and to elongate my body.  Am I overthinking this?  I think not, I know what looks right on me.  As for that heel, since it's chunky I'm good.  If it were thin, forget it.  I don't roll that way anymore. 
 
*
 
I scoured a few stores and a mall this week (enjoyed the air conditioning).  I finally ordered these on Zappos as I knew was crunch time.  I have always loved Zappos for their next day free delivery, I think that's why they were so popular.  Well, no more.  It's free delivery for 5-7 business days but most online shops have free delivery almost always or for when you reach a certain dollar amount on your order.  To get these in 2-3 days I had to pay $15.00.  Never again but I was afraid I wouldn't get them in time. 
 
*
 
Things took a turn on Tuesday morning when my sister in law passed away.  Suddenly perhaps, although she had been ill and quite frail for the past few years.  She was the wife of The Husband's older brother.  Phil is 64 but Jean was several year older...still 71 is way too young for me.  She injured her back years ago and then re-injured it several times more.  Surgery was not an option and she became less and less active due to the pain and difficulty getting around.  It makes me sad because she was always on the go.  We used to get together for lunch every once in awhile and as couples for dinner.  And then of course holidays.  I will tell you more about her at a later time and I want to find some pictures of her from my many bins.  I will tell you she was an extraordinary woman.  Her diminutive size was juxtaposed by her sarcastic wit and throaty laugh.  Her career centered around teaching at schools for the deaf.  When I first met her I was a little frightened--she was outspoken and a bit brusque.  At some point we came to understand one another and I found that she was actually a bit shy under this demeanor.  I came to love her so much.  She really had a heart of gold.  She once rescued three Bassett Hounds in one day from a pet shop when she found they were going to be euthanized due to their age (14 months), and size. They were her best friends right up until the end. 
 
Sadly, she developed pneumonia last week and then suffered a heart attack.  She may have been able to live on a ventilator which I dare say she would not have wanted.  But her organs began to shut down and she went peacefully with Phil and their son Flip (Phil Jr.) by her side.  She was here at our BBQ on the 4th of July.  They were elated to tell us that Flip and his wife were expecting their first grandchild.  I'm so grateful she was alive to know that.  Okay-tears falling. 
 
The memorial is tomorrow night so we will not be leaving for Louisville tomorrow morning as planned.  Instead bright and early, early, early Saturday morning (I hate getting up early and have been know to hit snooze and hide my alarm or cell phone under the mattress).  And I have a hair appointment near the hotel at 3:00 that I can't miss.  With the cast...what can I say.  My hair has been a mess for over a month and you ought to see me try to put on make up! 
 
I had an appointment to have X-rays and hopefully get the cast off tomorrow morning.  Dr. B told me three weeks.  Tonight I got a phone message 'after hours' to call and reschedule my appointment for unknown reasons. I wanted to cry.  It's not so much that I want to be healed and get out of the cast.  I can understand if the fractures aren't healed but I truly wanted at least a new cast.  This feels and is so disgusting.  I've of course gotten parts of it wet so it looks dingy and I have chafing and a rash on my arm and calluses and blisters on the base of my thumb where it rubs.  I go through  cotton balls like crazy, stuffing them in the cast trying to buffer all of this craziness.  And now I have to go to Louisville for three days like this?  And Martha Stewart may or may not be there (Jaime is a Senior Editor at Martha's wedding magazine---it might figure, at least a lot of press). Can you imagine her wrinkling her nose if she meets me and gets a whiff of the cast?  I'm going to call the clinic tomorrow and inquire about another physician and/or the possibility of simply having this cast taken off and a new one put on.  I just can't believe my rotten luck. 
 
I'll close now.  Tomorrow we celebrate Jean's life and Saturday, 350 miles away we celebrate the life of a sweet couple.  And as usual, for me and my life lately it seems, there's a path that twists and turns in ways that I can't always seem to follow. 
 
See you next week with some good stuff, I hope!!!  And Happy Weekend (almost!)
 
Jane xx
 
 

Monday, July 27, 2015

LAZY SUMMER DAYS, WEDDING CRAZINESS, A RECIPE & ELSIE LOVE

 
Wow, I've been gone a long time.  Summer is flying by and in spite of all the activity going on here in Blondieville, I feel pretty good about everything.  Have I maybe accepted that my life will always be a whirlwind?   I do grab my moments of relaxation every afternoon.  Maybe an hour in the early afternoon when the sun isn't on the patio, or later--about 5:00 when I have dinner ready to pop on the grill and the dogs and I can relax outside with a glass of wine and a good book before The Husband rolls in from work.  So peaceful.  Looking from my patio west, the sun goes down behind our fence and the houses beyond.  I've been capturing this elusive 'Golden Hour' and plan to have my good camera at the ready next time I'm out.  I love this picture...Milo, looking so, well...Milo-like.  Doing just this is #1 on his Bucket List.  Can you see why?   Psssst...he is in his 'squirrel catching' mode.
 
 
 
Yay!  I have some Early Girls plumping up here.  SO excited.  I've enlisted the help of The Husband in helping me to turn this huge pot about half a turn every few weeks and I think this is a big reason why the tomato plants are doing so well in the container.  If you do any container planting (and man, that's the way to go for herbs and tomatoes and anything you love but don't have the time/room for), rotating the pots is essential for a good dose of sun everywhere.  I actually had some wind damage from a recent storm,  I used one of those tiki torch stakes to tie this baby up.  But the plants were fine...with just three I don't have much to lose but I would still cry! ;-)
 
 
 
 
I love that I can plan my days and I have plenty to keep me busy unless I decide to play hooky.  But I really love to get out, just for a change of scenery--it refreshes me.  So hmmmm...this week.  I've been making plans for the wedding of my brother's daughter down in Louisville on August 1.  I haven't been there in a long time and haven't seen my brother and his wife in over two years since Emily's wedding.  It's going to be a great 4 day getaway.  I spent some time last week shopping.  What is it about a trip---even a short one, to make you reevaluate your bras and undies?  Say what? The fates have kept me from having a car accident as the paramedics would surely abandon me the minute they saw my ragged underthings.  Really.  So I combined a recent shopping trip looking for things I needed for next weekend as well as Jeff's wedding which is in a few weeks   A strapless bra plus clear straps...sounds crazy right?  The lady that fitted me for my "Mother of the Groom" dress advised me that cups sewn into the gown would not give me support, as in I would sag.  Well, I can tell all of you something not too surprising, if you are sagging you don't have a whole lot of hope in holding the girls up in a strapless bra.  I think a strapless bra on a large breasted woman is simply a ploy to get one to look at her new high heels, because that is where you will find her fancy ass bra.  Anyway, I have an arsenal of 'support' pieces that have probably cost more than the dress.   Did I mention Spanx?  Oh, yes.  A good reason to get a part time job at a 7/11 before the big function. 
 
 
Recycled Sangria bottle with Hosta blooms
 
I'll give you a break on the wedding stuff for now because life is really wonderful if you pay no attention to it.  Just kidding.  My arm hurts!!!  I honestly only took the pain pills when I desperately needed them...not so much that I'm a purist but it cuts the pain so much that I want to trim the bushes or wash my car, and obviously that doesn't help the healing process.  Anyway, for the past two weeks I have been suffering from hives all over my neck and chest.  The itching seemed to come from inside and nothing topical on it would help.  Then I realized that the Tylenol with codeine was a new-to-me culprit.  Ahhhhh...relief from the hives.  And my pain?  Not much there to help, but we have to choose our battles. 
 
 
 
 

 
We had a BBQ at my sister in law's today for family who came in from Kansas City.  So much fun.  Here is our Elsie with Emily who's giving her multitudes of kisses (could you resist?).  We have reached a consensus that she does look like Kevin.  But not Kevin as he looked as a baby---the "now" Kevin.  And a "female" Kevin.  I have to get a pic of the two of them soon to illustrate this fact.  I have to again say, this little gal is so sweet tempered---never cries and loves everyone (and everyone reaches out to hold her---we should have raffles).  I can't hold her with the monster cast (which may I say does not look or smell too pretty after 16 days), but I get in her face all the time to make crazy faces and noises and remind her I'm grandma.

 
Long on time and short on one arm, I found a great dip to bring to the BBQ.  This is healthy and was a huge hit.  It does spend 10 minutes in the oven to make things meld so you may want to consider this in the warmer weather.  Heck--stick it on your grill if you don't want the heat in your kitchen.  I felt it worked out great and then it was served as/is an hour later, it does not have to be hot.  Give it a shot---I had fun playing with the recipe. 
 
White Bean, Asiago Cheese & Onion Spread
 
 
1 15 oz. can Cannellini beans
1 c. shredded Asiago cheese 
2 c. diced yellow onion
1/4 c. plain Greek yogurt
4 t. olive oil divided
2 T. minced garlic
2 t. dried rosemary or 2 T fresh
Salt and pepper to taste
 
1)  Saute onions in 2 t. olive oil over medium heat for about 8 minutes or until browned.  Set aside. 
 
2)  In food processor combine beans and yogurt.  Pulse until smooth.  Add S&P, 2 t. olive oil, garlic and rosemary and 1/3 c. Asiago cheese.  Pulse until smooth and creamy.
 
3)  Transfer bean mixture to a shallow ovenproof dish.  Top with half the onions, half the remaining cheese and then repeat.  Bake at  450 for ten minutes.  Serve hot or at room temp with crackers, toasted bread or crudités.  YUM!!!!
 
I will be back soon, pinky promise.  I am supposed to get my cast off Friday morning and then literally take off for Louisville.  Say a prayer that the X-rays are good!  I will try to get a post out before Thursday.   Have a wonderful week, friends!
 
Jane xx