Tuesday, March 24, 2015


We went to the lake on Saturday...Friday proved to be a little busy.  Too bad, Saturday was cloudier and colder and I was so not in the mood to see what had become of the lakehouse after 2 weeks of the "cleaning up pro's" there.

This is a skeleton of my kitchen and the hall on the other side.  I know it's confusing and I won't elaborate on what is where.  But remember me telling you my kitchen was not effected by water damage?  No such luck, a lot of water seeped through and under the wall from the hall that received so much of the damage.  So that's what you see on the mid-left.  The floors in the kitchen were removed, as were all of the floors in the house.  We had thought these floors were saved.

I'm trying to remember things I had on my walls, collectibles (thank you, Rita).  What, how many, from where, what did I pay?  Very confusing.  Answers will come,  I'm trying not to freak.  I have been having hives really bad.  I've never had them this bad before but I'm prone to them emotionally.  I'm scratching like a maniac and can't find a remedy.  And tension headaches.  We don't usually have a single bottle of pain reliever in the house...The Husband and I never have anything like these sort of headaches.  And I hit the Tums almost every night when my mind (and stomach) shift into 4th gear.

Still, I try to concentrate on the positive.  I've made a Pinterest board just for this "project", and since The Husband just doesn't get Pinterest, I have bought a few magazines to show him ideas.  I need to look at paint samples and flooring options.  I have plenty of time but loose ends are my demise.

A little trivial info.  The two homes to just the left (west) of us have been up for sale for a good bit of time.  They both just recently sold in the past few weeks.  I find that sort of ironic...new beginnings and new friends all around.  I just don't know when we will be back in to meet these new people.  Patience, Jane.  Patience. 

I made these cookies before we went...simple sugar cookies and I've given you the recipe before...the same old from the baby shower and then the marathon for my niece.  I made a very sweet (and tart) Key Lime icing/filling, and using various size cookie cutters, made layered cookies.  And I brought these to Kevin and MC's, as they are not safe here in my clutches!!

Whoa...too much bad stuff here!  But no...good things always. That's the way I have to see things or I would go nuts.  I am working out hard, physically...The Husband made a great little work-out room in Abby's old room (and the future guest room).  He likes to lift weights some nights here, and go to the gym other nights to do laps.   I've been doing a DVD I love and it's all about cardio and strength training.  I'm not always so good about it...believe me, sometimes I can't even walk by the door of that room!  But I have my son's wedding in 5 months and I want to look my best.  How about some prayers for that?!  Yes, I know a smile is the best thing you can wear, but I smiled through the last two weddings and still don't like to look at the pics! Ha!

Truly, things are good here.  We can have so many bad things thrown at us, but I feel a sense of clarity.  It's life with all of it's ups and downs. We need to keep the important things in perspective...health, love, family, peace on earth and happiness for all.  

Happy Almost Spring to All of You!!

Jane xx

Friday, March 20, 2015


Well, first and foremost, I gravitate to the shelves with the pretty soaps. Why on earth would anyone buy pump dispenser soaps at their grocery or drugstore when they can get beautiful bottles of natural, organic, vegan and pure soaps like these?  I simply go nuts and stock up whenever I'm at one of these stores. Beautifully wrapped cake soaps go into a big basket in my bath, and the bottles I have pictured above are in both bathrooms and at the kitchen sink.  The big bottle on the left is 28 oz. and I paid $4.99.  Incredible.  And this is the norm.

I can also see that this is almost as interesting as my cookbook monologue above.  

One last thing...I find bathroom rugs for $9.99.  Table runners for $12.99.  Pillows for $16.99.   Just saying.  And there is no compensation for my sharing any of this...maybe just a plea for some sympathy for my terrible addiction to these stores, and forgiveness for writing totally inane posts about them.

 myself two per year), I went for the whimsical.  Isn't his face precious?  I have a few more to bring upstairs but I was feeling a bit lazy today.  I'm excited that one day Elsie will love all of these bunnies.  My own children think I'm certifiable insane.

 A few speckled eggs in an old Atlas jar I found in Michigan.  I rarely bring home anything from our house in Michigan, I think of everything belonging in their own respective places.  I had a very protective feeling for some of these things when we went up there two weeks ago.  I wanted to bring home everything and nothing.  Leaving my treasures meant the whole place would be resurrected.  Taking anything would mean the disintegration.  I brought home this one old jar from a great collection I have, found at all sorts of barn sales and antique shops over the years.  And I filled it with these little eggs I found at an antique store in the town we visited last weekend.  It's a symbol to me...the "here and there" as I wrote earlier, the "then and now", and the inevitable birth of a home better than it was before.

We are going up there tomorrow to do an inventory of all of our personal things.  All of the debris has been removed...they've moved a lot around to dry things out and sterilize.  I think I'm in for another jolt.  We're also meeting with our first contractor to get a bid on the repairs.  So many of you mentioned that this will be a time to have a little fun renovating and redecorating and you are all so right!  I felt a little guilt in the beginning...this was so tragic.  Yet I saw walls being repainted in colors that I would prefer now...window trim being finished, the staircase finally being completed.  This is not going to be easy...The Husband and I clash a lot on design/decor ideas.  But we did agree...since all of the wood flooring has to be replaced, upstairs and down  (we had all the floors done in new hardwood about 8 years ago, it was just carpet before that) maybe we could make some changed there as well.  I mentioned to him that I was less than happy with the over-varnished oak look, and could we possibly redo it with wider planks in a different stain..sort of gray-ish?  And likewise, he suggested we do the staircase and balcony off the master bedroom (that looks out over the Great Room) with wrought iron instead of the cheapy looking painted wood spindles our last contractor used.  Yes and yes.  But we are seriously avoiding upgrading a lot of things.  Our mantra has always been that this is a second home...a "vacation" home.  The overall quality and craftsmanship is very important of course for home value purposes, but we just can't go wild, especially with The Husband looking at retirement in a few years.

That said, I have a few things to pack up for tomorrow; a picnic lunch, a good book, and my forms (20+ pages) for the inventory.  I hope to see my neighbor, Susie, and share some wine...maybe sit on the dock for a little bit with the sun on my face.  I wish we could bring Milo and Layla but it's just not the place for them right now.  Soon I hope.

Okay...now you know why I was a little blue this morning.  But tomorrow is another day.  It's all about the here and there, isn't it?  And where you choose to be.

Love to all,

Jane xxx

Sunday, March 15, 2015


I think she's happy.  But I think she misses home, too.  Still, she loves where she is living and this time in her life...every day brings new experiences and makes her more comfortable.  She's stayed here several times for various reasons where she had to be in our area, and I sleep SO well on these nights.  And it's not like we sit up until midnight talking and painting our nails, nor am I making Mickey Mouse pancakes in the morning, but it feels good.  We are all adjusting to the new normal. 

I enjoyed two floral/gift shops that had things I don't get to see too much in our area.  I fell in love with this birch arbor...I even took some very close-up pics because we have so much birch from the two trees we lost the summer before last.  These were drilled and held together with heavy bolts.  Maybe The Husband can make me something like this?  :)

Today is the BIG Chicago Southside Irish Parade.  I've posted about it every year since I started blogging so I will spare you.  It's fun.  The Husband and I enjoyed going when we were younger and then visiting friends who had "Open Houses",  corned beef sandwiches and lots of Guinness was the special of the day.  Now our kids do the parade route and hit all of the Irish bars.  Actually this year I've seen them wane off it a bit.  It seems to be either for the very young twenty year old's, or younger families with kids.  Still, a great Southside tradition.  

I have a nice big corned beef...I usually make it the day of the parade (as in today) which is always the Sunday before St. Paddy's Day.  It's nice because the whole family can smell the aroma as it boils all day.  Today it was just The Husband and I, and I was feeling a little melancholy (baby) and defeated in all the efforts I make for him and I...no one else around the table.  And then I felt foolish and insensitive.  I'm so grateful that as time marches on we are so lucky to have each other...so I made a big Irish Stew.  And it may just be him and I when I make that big corned beef and cabbage on Tuesday but, well... he's my best friend. :)  I'm such a softie.

cead mile failte!

Linking up with Martina at Northern Nesting for Share My Style Thursday

Jane xx

Tuesday, March 10, 2015


I really wanted to chill at home on Monday...I've been busy and that's always a good thing for me, but I have so many things to get done (painting the furniture in Abby's room, cleaning out a big cabinet in my living room that is stuffed with all sorts of linens and dishes and accessories I don't even need...purging a few closets and organizing some clutter in the kitchen).  But Emily has Mondays off and the Call of the Wild came bright and early.  Our temps were in the 40's and I couldn't resist.  We went to an outdoor mall in the suburbs, she wanted to look at furniture at a Lazy Boy showroom.  I was surprised...they have some cool things.  Very affordable, too.  Then we hit Williams Sonoma, World Market (which I have never been to), Pier 1 (to see if they had anything new since last Thursday!!), and Anthropology.  This is the only store location within a close vicinity to us, so it's always a treat.  Emily likes to look at clothes because of course, she can pull them off.  I love the decor, displays, books and dishes.  The books really inspired me.  Tons of cookbooks and the photography is enough to sell them without any attention to the actual recipes.  And green, green, green.  I've mentioned before that I cook and we eat "clean" here, but I can see that we are really lacking in grains.  And the smoothies...you feel like a total slouch if you aren't having one every morning to start your day.  Since I watch my carbs, grains aren't a big option, nor legumes.  But I'm seriously considering the benefits of those. What are your thoughts on this subject?   Bottom line...love Anthro.  


I don't know how I can ever thank you for the really, really heartfelt comments on the lakehouse damage.  We are taking it one day at a time.  They are still working on drying out the place to salvage what they can...and then working on sterilizing everything so we don't have bacteria and mold when they rebuild everything.  Otherwise, it's all about patience and following along with whatever is required of us.  We've had sleepless nights but it's much better now.  The Husband has work to distract him and he spends a lot of time at the gym preparing for the big hiking trip over Memorial Day weekend (more on that later).  And as you can see, I never seem to have time to catch my breath.  I actually had a recipe to share with you but I think I've run out of time!

I'm truly feeling okay.  We will get through this and there will be many, many good times ahead.  For now...gosh, I so wanted to get a new post up so I didn't have to keep scrolling past those ugly pictures of the damage.  Now I have something good and promising to look at~ you, too.  If I didn't get by to personally thank you...know that all of you touched my heart and confirmed my belief that some of the best friendships are developed in our very own blog world.

See you soon!

Jane xxx

Saturday, March 7, 2015


When I last wrote I mentioned that we had heard that some pipes had burst at our lakehouse in Michigan, about 100 miles from here.  At the time I knew it was bad, but I didn't want to jump to conclusions, especially when we knew so little.  Reality dawned when we arrived in Michigan in the very early hours of March 4.  

I have spent a good amount of time  deciding how I wanted to write this post...this has been a devastating experience in the lives of me and my husband.  I didn't want to present this to you, my friends, as something dramatic and in a "Pity Party"  sort of way...yet I want to be honest and real about what has happened at our home away from home...heck, HOME.  It's not pretty and I've just slowly got my head on straight.

I know it was a virtual shock for my neighbor, Susie, to walk in Tuesday morning and see what you are now looking at.  She has been a dear and incredibly selfless friend in looking after our little cottage, coming in periodically to make sure the windows are closed, lights are off, and to water our plants.  She had been on a short vacay and when she returned, she
 stumbled on this.  

  Spring, 1992  

We bought this place when Abby was just 6 months old.  She grew up, as all six our little family did, escaping every weekend to the country.

  We watched rain fall when all we wanted to do was be out on our toys.  And The Husband and I rejoiced that the lovingly planted and tended to gardens were getting a natural drink of water...maybe we were the only ones!!

 I have to thank my good neighbors, Susie and Mike.  And I want to thank all of you ladies who felt it in your hearts and minds to send good wishes after my last post which just alluded to this devastation...it's as if you knew me and what I was trying to hold back on.   

I truly hope you don't feel like I am being melodramatic with this post.  I felt so wrapped up in sadness when The Husband and I were there on Wednesday. I found this little corner of the Great Room where we always gathered to talk and look out at the bay, it was one of the only places that was dry.  The temp in the house was still at 55 but slowly heating up.  I crawled into a ball on the settee with my hood over my head and a small throw over me as The Husband worked with the insurance adjuster.  In a half dream I heard Susie's voice.  I sat up.  We huddled and talked.  She was shook up, too.  Later she brought over some snacks and a bottle of wine.  For about an hour it seemed okay as we sat in this one dry spot but I kept my back to the room.  The frozen bay was all I wanted to see.

Love and many thanks in advance.  I know all of you know what the lake means to me.  We have a long road ahead of us but we will be fine.  And I will keep you posted of that progress.

~~I live with regrets-the bittersweet loss of innocence-
the red track of the moon upon the lake-
the inability to return and do it again.

John Geddes
~A Familiar Rain

Jane  xxx

Tuesday, March 3, 2015


I have the neatest pan with molds that lends itself best to quick breads, and I made these little beauties.  The texture is a bit more dense than a muffin, and a sprinkle of powdered sugar adds some sweetness.  These are so perfect for dunking in a mug of coffee or tea.  


So it goes with Naked Cakes.  I read an article, saw the pics and recipes, and just knew it was something I was going to try my hand at.  So this is my first attempt.  A butter cake with whipped vanilla frosting.  Three layers in 6 x 2 spring-form pans.  Trial and error of course. I spread the frosting on each layer, keeping it thick towards the edges.  I smooshed those layers down and then spread the frosting all around the sides of the cake with a wide spatula.  I wish I had a smoother effect, but it seems contradictory to want to perfect "rustic". 


I recently made some changes in the bedroom.  Last week when I was looking for a lamp for Abby at Target, I found this queen size comforter marked down 60%.  Yes, you read that right!  Once I brought it home I washed and dried it on delicate and it fluffed up so nicely.  Score.  Some have asked how I can have so much white in my house with two dogs (and yes, they are on the furniture quite a bit).  The answer:  Oxy Clean.  It's a miracle worker.  I use a little of it in all of my white laundry loads.  So Milo and Layla want to tell you that this is one cozy comforter!

And it was love at first sight with this throw from Anthropology.  Look at those tassels!  My friend Melanie joked that her kitties would be having a ball with these!  

This will be a guest room which practically sends me and The Husband into hysterics.  I don't think we've ever had a guest here in our lives!  Unless you count the children that have left the nest and then came back to regroup, cause a lot of upheaval, leave a ton of their belongings behind, and move on again. 

We have to buy a bed frame and mattress, and I hope to find a used headboard somewhere to jazz up.  I will never be the type to make a headboard out of pallets or cork, so don't expect any forthcoming tutorials! ;-)


Heat 5 T. butter in a large stockpot or dutch oven.  Add 1 large chopped onion and 3 cloves of minced garlic.  Cook on low until just softened.  Add 2 1 lb. 12 oz. cans of tomatoes (I used diced but you can use whole and mush them up), about 3/4 of a box of chicken stock (the boxes are 32 oz. each), 1 1/2 c. white wine, 2 bay leaves, and a T each of thyme and oregano.  Cover and simmer 45 minutes.  Add the fish of your choice, I used 1 1/2 lb. each shrimp and bay scallops, 1 lb. each little neck clams and mussels, and 1 1/2 lb. cod, cut in small chunks.  Cover and simmer 5-7 minutes, making sure that all of the clams and mussels are open.  Season with salt and pepper and put on your bibs!!

I'm happy to say I have the Pin button working so if you use Pinterest, you can hover over any picture and add it to your pages.  I also want to say thanks to so many of you ladies who are following me on Instagram.  It's so much fun!  I changed my user name recently to my blog name so you can follow me here if you'd like.  I would love to share with some of you ladies who don't always comment on the blog! 

In other news, Kevin and Mary Clare came over for dinner Sunday night with Elsie.  She is such a great baby, slept almost the entire time and when she fussed a bit, Kevin would gently swing her car/infant seat back and forth and she would be fast asleep in about a minute.  I love watching him be a father.  He's very gentle and cautious, and I can sense that he has one eye on her all the time.  He and MC are a great team. 

In some sad news, and I can't go into detail because information is very limited right now, we learned this morning that two pipes broke at the lakehouse and we have some water damage.  Please keep your fingers crossed that the damage is minimal.  Next month is about the time we start to get ready for the warm weather up there.  With all the crazy projects I have going on here, a trip to Asheville in June, a wedding in Louisville in August as well as my son Jeff's wedding in mid August, and a plan in-the-works for a trip to Nashville/Franklin, TN. in October, I just want some smooth sailing! :)  I'll be back later in the week.

Jane x