Wednesday, May 4, 2016


It occurred to me that I've met so many new friends that I didn't know, and who didn't know me before the flood in our lakehouse in March of 2015.  So I thought I would do a repost of something that really represented the life we've lived at the lake for the past 25 years.  As it is right now, perhaps we will be ready to get back in mid~summer, but even then it will take a lot of time to unpack and get back to normal.  Lots of work, but happy work.

So this is for all of you who didn't know Jane and Blondie's Journals way back when, and for those that did, a jog of the memory that I hope made you smile when I was at my happiest.  Enjoy!



Sunday night we headed out to a new restaurant on Fish Lake.  It was excellent.  It's not always easy to find a good steak or tasty pasta in the wide open country so I think we'll be back to this place.  We arrived back at the ranch, made a fire in the chimnea and sat back to listen to the bull frogs and look at the stars.  And then Ella peeked out the patio door and said, "Aunt Jane, there's a bird in the house."  I thought, okay, that's happened.  I told her I would be in in a second to take care of it.  And then it occurred to me..what sort of bird do you have flying around at night?  "Oh, Ella...what does the bird looks like?"  She replied, "It's big and black."  Okay, Red Alert.  The Husband ran for the fishing net and we cautiously came in.  Snow and Ella were cowering on the settee while the menacing flying rodent swooped here and there.   The dogs were barking at the sight of The Husband frantically running like a mad man with the fishing net, and of course the bat was swooping high and low and whizzing past our covered heads. Thankfully, after about ten minutes, The Husband was able to snag it.  I wish I could say all was well, but I knew, deep in my heart of hearts, that the creepy little monster had not just swooped in through an open door.  He (and his many friends and relatives, I'm sure) have a way in and a way out.  Probably in the stone wall around the fireplace or perhaps in a crevice near the attic.  Our house has settled and shifted so much on this marshy ground, anything is possible.  Since that night we haven't been terrorized by any more, but I have to get an exterminator out.  We've had them in the attic before and they just smoke them out...very humane.  

As if we didn't have enough excitement that night, I awoke about 5:00 a.m. to get a glass of water.  I was sort of puzzled that Layla didn't follow me to the kitchen.  When I got back into bed, I felt around for her under the blankets.  No sign of her.  I tried to quietly call for her without waking up the house...but no Layla.  I actually peeked in The Miller's room thinking maybe Ella had coaxed her in, but again, no Layla.  I did get to see Craig in his boxers and I'm trying to get that image out of my mind.  Finally I went outside.  The doors were unlocked...typical men.  They had come to bed hours after we girls.  All I could think was somehow Layla had gotten out.  I walked around the yard and stood in the driveway calling her name.  Michiana Trash & Recycling drove by and waved.  Yes, there I was in my ragged pink jammies and hair sticking up all over.  I went back inside with my heart in my throat and into the bedroom to get dressed.  Obviously I'd have to search, whether along the lake or down the road.  North and south and east and west.  By then The Husband was up and wandering around outside calling her as well.  And then I heard something like a was hard to tell since I can't hear that well, I looked towards our bed and I saw the blankets moving.  I pulled the quilt off the bed and saw a lump down near the floor at the end of the bed.  I pulled back the top sheet and there she was like a ladybug on it's back trying to turn over, caught between the half pulled out top sheet, a hammock of sorts. And stuck swaddled on her back!  She must have just rolled off the bottom of the bed and the tucked in sheet caught her!  I nearly cried in relief!

So that was my wonderful Monday morning.  It then proceeded to rain 2 straight days.  Comcast came out and you'll never guess why I haven't had Internet since May.  I got a new laptop and apparently you are supposed to change your network and password.  Oh joy.  So I'm back in the game.  Well except for at home...that's a whole different issue, but I'll try to keep my problems in check by locale if anything.  


These are some of the flowers.  Yellow coneflowers.

I can barely hold my eyes open but I haven't posted for over a week.  We are going home tomorrow and then we're off to Madison, Wi., bright and early Saturday morning.  Then it's back to reality and trying to figure out where to put three rooms of furniture while we  have the carpet put in.  Maybe I should just stay here a bit longer...bats and all. ;-)


Sunday, May 1, 2016


There are some things that are explained best in pictures rather than words (and you know how hard that is for me to do).  Nevertheless...

Once upon there was a young girl and a guy.  They practically grew up together as her Nana and Papa lived next door to him and his family.  He probably pulled on her braids and she most likely tried to keep up with him and her older brothers when they played Running Bases in the street.

These two kids drifted apart and went their separate ways to high school and college.  And then one New Years Eve they ran into each other at a party.  She had just had her heart broken and he was looking for someone to fill his.  They talked and laughed and then kissed...and not like childhood buddies.  

Five years later they were married.  It was more like a family reunion/block party as all of the family and friends knew each other.  It was a joyous occasion.

They found the home of their dreams and if the story can be more ironic, the house was next door to Papa (Nana had passed away), and on the other side of Papa's house was the home of the young man.  The same block where they played tag and sat on porches eating ice cream on magical summer evenings.  He was no longer pulling her hair and she wasn't pinching him.

They adopted a cute little Boston Terrier who quickly became their little baby.  Spoiled beyond belief and loved unconditionally, even when he chewed on the young girls designer shoes.  

They nested and worked and made their house a home.  She gardened and he helped with doing the dishes.  They marveled over the fact that they had not only been best friends for 8 years, but they had a history together that seemed predestined.

And now?  Well, this is a new chapter... 

The young girl and guy, Emily and Michael, will be adding to their happiness this coming November!  A joyous and incredible miracle that will further cement the union of so many families and long time friends.  

I am so incredibly happy that my daughter will now have the happiness and feeling of completion that I felt when I found out I found out I was pregnant with her.  The Husband and I, as well as her siblings, Jeff, Kevin and Abby, are so excited to welcome another new little one into our lives.  

Life is good.  No, life is unbelievably happy and fulfilling and incredibly blessed right now.  

Couldn't wait to share this with you, my friends!

Okay.  Now we can move on to the usual.  Before the onslaught of rain we've been experiencing for the past few days, I was able to pull out some of my favorite things from my newly cleaned out shed. I have several birdhouses and even have some young renters in one close near a bathroom window that I can peek at.  Sparrows that are busy filling their little abode with this and that.  I haven't replenished the bird feeders yet so I added a  handful of my parrot's seed to the window ledge and they loved it.  Unfortunately the dropped seed attracts quick and little critters with names such a Mickey, Minnie and Mighty.  They startle me and I've decided that my feeders need to be hung from some trees away from the patio.  

This is a very old birdhouse that needs some repair and the little entrance drilled larger.  We mostly have sparrows, robins, cardinals and bluejays and they couldn't fit a leg in this.  But its cute, it reminds me of an old run down barn.  

Can you believe I finally packed up all of my rabbits, hares, chicks and eggs last week?  I was pretty lazy and kept trying to convince myself that they were perfect for spring decor.  But the clutter finally got to me and I found a lot of inspiration on Instagram looking at mantels that were beautiful without a huge amount of 'stuff' on them.  I now need to pare down the shelves in my living room and switch around a few things on my coffee table.  And then take a look at the family room and den.  Ugh.

I recently took a long look at my patio which is surrounded by 4 foot hedges.  It's not large and our table with an umbrella takes up a majority of the space.  Yes, that's how small it is.  And then it occurred to me that after all these years of having pots of plants and flowers all over this space, they were 'lost' as they were so close to the ground.  So I got on Amazon and ordered a few urns to raise everything up and make the flowers at eye level when relaxing at the table.  And these were all at bargain prices.  I LOVE Amazon.  Please note I have no affiliation with them.  I finally broke down and bought some solar lights, they were incredibly inexpensive on Amazon and Emily had bought this brand and said they were just perfect.  So my first project once the rain stops is some clean up of the flower beds in this space, adding some mulch, annuals and the pretty lights.  I'm sure Milo will not hesitate to lift his leg on them the minute they are stuck in the ground.  But Emily reassured me, they're waterproof.  I hope so.

I found this cute statue as well.  I like a few small ones here and there and I hinted that for Mother's Day I'd love a birdbath.  I already have one but my yard is large and another one would be perfect.  The one I have now has a hairline crack about 4 inches long and loses water.  Any suggestions as to what I can use to fill it?

A lot of food action going on here.  I had made some pizza dough back in December and froze it.  It was perfect when I took it out of the freezer Friday and let it thaw at room temperature.  You can find the recipe here.

I used what I had in the fridge for the toppings; onion, red and green pepper, broccoli and pepperoni (just on half of it).  I sautéed these veggies for about 3 minutes over high heat in a skillet with a few drops of olive oil just to take the crunch out of them.  Very important  The only cheese I had on hand was a small block of Pepper Jack and I grated it up and topped the pizza off with it.  Then a small sprinkling of salt, pepper, oregano, thyme and pinch of red pepper flakes.  

The sauce is simple.  I never buy jarred sauces anymore.  It's not worth the money nor the preservatives.  I used a 28 oz. can of plum tomatoes in a skillet along with 2 T. butter.  I broke the tomatoes up as I went along and added some chopped garlic (about 2 cloves).  Add more of the same spices you see above as well as 2-3 teaspoons of sugar.  Let it bubble away while you set up the dough on the pizza pan.  Once it's reduced, not too thick or thin, you're good.  

Pizza dough can't be rolled out like cookie or pie dough.  It's very elastic and needs to be stretched.  I have fought with pizza dough to the point where I've wanted to throw it against a wall.  Today I watched this video and them made a super thin pizza/flatbread that made me wonder why I didn't Google it earlier.  

Once the dough is the size of your pizza pan, fold it in half, transfer it to the pan that you've added a small palmful of cornmeal to (keeps the dough from sticking),  and unfold.  Pat and flatten and push into the edges.  Add your toppings and bake at 425 until the crust is browned around the edges.  Cool 5 minutes before cutting. 


In other news, Abigail and Tom moved into their new apartment over the weekend.  The Husband, son Kevin and I drove to the North part of the city.  The expressway and Lake Shore Drive was a mess due to the pouring rain and the last day of the NFL Draft celebration in Grant Park.  Tom's father was there helping to install their T.V. on the wall.  The Husband and Kevin got on the ball putting the bed together and I scoured the bathroom, hung the shower curtain and arranged the guest towels.  Abby was running all of her dishes, flatware and glasses through the dishwasher.  Once the bed was together I added the sheets, duvet and the pretty decorative pillows she bought.  The apartment is small but it has tons of windows and is so bright.  I plan to be the Motherzilla and bring her some potted plants for all of those nice, deep windowsills.  Everything looks wonderful and once she has tidyed everything up I'll have her send me some pictures.  

I'm going to sign off now, I have an early appointment in the city tomorrow with my dermatologist.  My rash is doing wonderful but the side effects are still here; headaches, diarrhea, nausea and tiredness.  I've only actually vomited a handful of times but I fight it all the time.  Still, I am plugging along because for the first time in 20 years I'm not clawing at my skin until it bleeds.  I imagine it will be a few more months of this but I'm going to push on.

Thanks for hanging in with me when I've been posting and visiting so sporadically.  Just love all you guys!  :-)


Sunday, April 24, 2016


The start of the tulip parade

One would think that I've been busy as a bee since it has been a little over a week since I last posted.         Really though, I haven't.  Just some normal 'catch up' after our trip...laundry, a car wash, making the house a little more presentable.  Errands, grocery store, light therapy for the skin 3 times a week.  And there wasn't much to photograph.  My Swiffer?  Do you ever feel as if a lack of photos means a lack of words?  Well, I'll do my best, I'm rarely at a loss for words.  ;-D

We had wonderful weather last weekend and I was really, really happy that I only had to make a few subtle hints to get The Husband to clean out our shed.  It has been a super mess for a very long time and I knew it would take me weeks and weeks to clean out.  Bags of old fertilizer and grass seed long expired, rakes, shovels and garden tools scattered all over.  In a far corner, Abby's  bike from when she was about 13.  He filled about 10 huge trash bags and had a huge stack of junk to be brought out on trash day.  Thankfully our son in law, Mike, came over and lended a hand in bringing it all to the curb. It's such a relief to have all of this space.  There is already some shelving in there as well as hooks on the wall.  I really can't wait to organize everything.  Gardening is going to be much more easy this year and clean up in the fall a breeze.  Thank you, dear. 

I forget the name of these tiny flowers each spring and I think you gals told me their name last spring.  Help!  Also, do you think I can divide them, they are great ground cover.

Last Sunday when The Husband was doing the shed makeover, son Kevin came by with little Elsie.  She's been walking for 2 1/2 months so it was so cool to have her in our back yard.  I took her hand and showed her the tulips, picked one for her which she promptly tried to eat.  She really loved the branches of the forsythia, so bright yellow now.  Abby and Tom pulled out my patio table and umbrella that morning so we spent time in the shade.  I made her some buttered toast and cottage cheese and she sat on my lap in the shade to munch.  Then we took a little stroll, hand in hand down the front sidewalk.  She babbled and I guess what I said was babble to her:  "This is where your daddy walked to school for years, from the age of four to thirteen".  We walked back to the house and stopped where you can see the gate to our backyard.  Milo and Layla were waiting and she immediately recognized them and pulled toward that direction.  Then she saw Grandpa in his bright red shirt near the shed and her face lit up.  We had a great afternoon and I think Kevin liked his alone time in the cool house watching the Cubs game.

More backyard babble.  Told you I didn't have a lot of pictures.  I can't wait for warmer weather to add to my herb garden.  My chives and oregano come back every year and you can see the dead foliage of last years morning glories.  I don't clear them out in the fall, the seed pods are ripe and ready to pop up once they get rain. Yes, a lot more clean up 

Speaking of rain, I have some bare spots in my lawn and I'm a perfectionist about my front and backyard.  I like to reseed when I know we have rain predicted but sometimes it doesn't work out for the best.  With rain in the forecast on Wednesday evening, I flew to Home Depot after my light therapy and paid a fortune (as usual) for grass seed.  I didn't even go into the house once I got home, rain drops had started to fall.  I opened the garage, pulled down the spreader, filled it up and seeded that front lawn in about ten minutes flat.  And then a light rain started and I did a little jig inside.  And  then the thing I dread happened.  The rain started coming down in torrents and that washed the seed around, and made puddles in shallow spots.  My only consolation is I do have about 1/4 of the bag left and I'll wait until June to fill in random spots.  Am I not a relentless perfectionist?

I might have forgotten to mention that the day after I came back from Canada I went over to Emily's house, she watches little Elsie on Thursdays.  The Husband and I always get her (Elsie, not Emily) a little something with the name of the places we visit.  Isn't it cute?  Later that day the three of us went to Target and wow, it was so cool to push a baby in a cart again!  And she is so good.  Even though she was getting tired, she was excellent.  She rarely, if ever cries.


This was another beautiful weekend and Milo and Layla are really loving the warm temps and the tease of summer.  I dug out the 'outdoor' water bowl and little Layla, who loves to stretch out in the sun, became a little overheated and decided that the cold water was the place to lie down next to in the shade.  

I have tons of work to do outside and I haven't even begun to plant flowers.  I have plenty in my flower beds but I love pretty pots.  Just not warm enough yet. 

 In between my time outside doing the chores, I'm catching up on some reading, visiting more blogs every evening than I have been in the past few months (thank you for understanding that life sometimes gets crazy) and I've been really experimenting in the kitchen with new recipes.  I take such terrible pictures of food and since we actually eat what I make, I can't spend a lot making the food look pretty; staging with various props and letting it get cold.  Each recipe I've tried, one from a restaurant in Vancouver with ingredients I sort of figured out and stored in my phone, have been spectacular and I'm sure I'm going to make these again and again and I'll be sure to get a few shots.  What's a recipe without a picture? And something I'm really happy about is I did dust off my little Canon, used it in Canada, and downloaded some pics today.  In fact, all of my flower pictures were taken with this camera so I'm keeping it at hand and definitely not grabbing my iPhone for pictures.  Hopefully my food will look better!  Some of the recipes I made for the first time were Quinoa Salad with arugula, red pepper, cucumber, capers and Feta cheese.  Another great recipe was a wonderful Chicken Paprikash that is very traditional to Hungary, and utterly the best.  And finally, an oven baked fish and chips.  How great not having to have it fried.  The secret?  Browning the bread crumbs in a skillet before you coat the fish with them.  I'll share these in upcoming posts.

Thanks so much for the visit.  I'll try to stay on track a bit better.  I hope all of you are having good weather.  Would love to hear what you are doing outside to get ready for summer.  What is your weather like?

Have a great week and I'll be back soon (just need that camera at my side!).


Jane x

Saturday, April 16, 2016


Our hotel 

Our much anticipated trip to Vancouver came and went in the blink of any eye.  6 days is really the average for us when we take trips but this one kept The Husband and I on our toes and it flew by.  This was our second time visiting and we were able to cover much more ground.  The first few days were work for The Husband but I managed very well to keep myself busy.  I'm getting ahead of myself though.  Of course there had to be some mishaps.  The Perils of Pauline often occur in Blondieville and this was no exception.  There's something about travel and airports...

At some point during our 4 1/2 hour flight I felt a sort of pricking in my chest area.  Like getting stabbed every few seconds.  I went to the washroom on the plane and pulled the zipper down on my sweater and saw the culprit.  The sharp underwire of my bra had poked through the fabric and was actually stabbing me in the chest.  I did what I could to poke and pull it into place and then went back to my seat.  Needless to say I fiddled with this for the remainder of the flight.  I was well aware that I might just be drawing attention to myself, the woman in the aisle seat pulling her zipper up and down and seemingly fiddling with her bosom.  But it was after all, a matter of life and death.

Long story short, we made it to Vancouver, got our luggage, went through customs and all the while I worried about bending or twisting...truly stabbing myself and dying in the most embarrassing way possible.  Finally I was able to get to a washroom. Can you imagine trying to undress and remove your bra in a 3 x 5 space when you are in a complete sweat?  I was so relieved to dump the offending garment in the trash bin, black and lacy and sexy as it was.  Then I had to deal with being braless and spending the next hour finishing up at the airport, taking a train to the area we were staying in and then a cab to the hotel.  I did all of this with my arms crossed over my chest as if it were cold. was 67 degrees and I'll be darned if I wasn't dressed for the 37 degree temps and snow that we were having in Chicago when we left that morning.  I looked like an idiot.  Bonjour Vancouver, Blondie has arrived.  ;-(

A view from our hotel restaurant~~

As I mentioned in previous posts, The Husband was invited to give a presentation to a large international group of people having to do with the legal field.  As an attorney for some 40 years, he is an expert in his chosen area of law and well respected not only in Illinois, but the entire U.S.  He worked so hard preparing for this and he totally aced it.  His portion of the plane fare, food and lodging was paid for so that was a plus for us, and the hotel was chosen by the hosting organization.  It couldn't have been a better choice.  Located in the Coal Harbour area, we were on the waterfront and within walking distance of some of the best sites.  My first view of the mountains was from our hotel restaurant.

The husband needed time and space to prepare for his presentation and was also meeting with people here and there so I was pretty much on my own.  I'm going to be brutally honest here,  I'm really not one to get around well by myself.  Yes, I did when I was younger.  In my twenties I did a ton of stuff independently, had no problem going here and yonder by myself, but after 30+ years with a life partner, you get used to doing things as a couple.  But I had to come to the realization that we aren't Bert and Ernie and that I had to put on my big girl pants.  I hadn't planned doing it in another country but with map in hand, I set out for a shopaholic paradise, Robson Street.  Now, I can get lost in a phone booth but I have to admit, I did quite well and I really had a ball.  Great shops and wonderful places to sit on benches and people watch.  After two hours of shopping and browsing I stopped for a light lunch.  I haven't had a meal alone in a restaurant in a very long time but I was quite comfortable.  As I made my way back to the hotel I received a text from The Husband, "Where are you????"  Ha!  He's the one who booted me out of our room!  Never underestimate a woman when shopping is involved. 

Emily helped me shop for this vacation.  She always makes me look at things with a fresh eye.  I wear way too much black and gray and I don't like patterns...I feel frumpy and/or clownish.  I wasn't too sure about several items, especially this top.  When she said it looked nautical I fell for it.  I actually wore it twice and as I teased on Instagram, I slept on it.  We had feather down pillows and I'm allergic.  Every time I thought of asking for synthetic it was late at night so I would lay a piece of my clothing over the pillow.  It kept me from waking with splotches on my face. This blouse was nice and soft.  Double duty.

Our brother in law, Jack, has lived in Vancouver for well over ten years.  He married a gal  from there and unfortunately it didn't work out but he loves where he is and plans to stay.  It was so great seeing him and he has a new friend, Isabella (Izzie).  The Husband and I had such a wonderful time with them at this restaurant, Cardero's.  Located in the harbor, we were swooning over the incredible yachts tied up to the piers.  I especially loved the nautical decor inside the restaurant; ship wheels, anchors, canoes and small versions of seaplanes hanging from the high ceilings.  The seafood was incredible and we enjoyed catching up with Jack and getting to know Izzie.  I can't say enough how impressed I was with the restaurant, the location, views, decor, service and excellent food.  

The harbor next to Cardero's

I was so lucky to meet up with two bloggers, seems I 'know' someone in every city  I guess that's probable when you've been blogging for 7 years.  Lori, from Family Trees May Contain Nuts (far right) and I have been blog friends forever.  Nancy, from Stonecrop Sisters, and I have been following one another for about 2 years.  We met at a restaurant a few blocks from my hotel.  We had a wonderful lunch and as always, I'm so happy and surprised when I meet bloggers and we talk and laugh like we've known each other for years.  That was the case here.  :-D

We drove up to Whistler, BC early Monday morning.  It was gloomy and raining but the drive was beautiful.  The sea on one side of the highway and on the other, mountains that changed from solid rock to sky scraping pines.  

As we neared our destination the sun came out and it was even more spectacular.

I did my research and found a hotel in Whistler Village where we could walk to everything.  It's called The Delta Whistler Village Suites.  This is a view from our room.  You can see the snow covered ski trails on one of the mountains.  We don't ski but I was feeling that athletic and adventurous vibe in the air.  I told The Husband we should take lessons in Michigan where there are a few places to ski, in fact our kids took lessons.  Well, it was a nice but fleeting thought.

We strolled through the village, stopped in a few shops and had lunch on a rooftop cafe.  The weather was perfect, all that was needed was a light jacket.  Many of the restaurants have heated outdoor spaces such as this one where we stopped for a cocktail.  

The Village looked so gorgeous lit up at night as well.  Everything is open a little later as the skiers go as long as they can.  There was a festival going on in the town as well, so there was live music here and there and a pretty happy crowd.  

Seeing the rings from the 2010 Winter Olympics made my heart skip a beat.  I'm glad I got this photo at dusk, it really looks cool, doesn't it?

We had to leave early the next morning for the two hour drive back to Vancouver.  We decided 'next time' we would stay in Whistler longer.  We never actually left The Village.  

Back in Vancouver we checked back into The Pinnacle.  I had viewed some other places to stay but this hotel was very nice.  I asked about upgrading our city-view room to a waterfront view.  It was $20 more and The Husband said I could come down to the restaurant if I wanted to see the water.  He's blunt like that.  The girl at the desk gave me a sympathetic smile.   When we arrived on the 18th floor I noticed our room was across the hall from our previous room...and yes, you've got it.  She gave us the waterfront view!  We had a small balcony and this was the view that evening.  That lit up structure in the center of this photo is actually a floating gas station.  It was not only a pleasure to watch the boats coming and going but there were many, many small seaplanes.  I have tons of pictures of them on my camera and I was able to zoom in on them as they were taking off and landing.  And they tied up to piers just like boats!  That was a new thing for me.

Our last day was very rainy.  Drenching rain and we wandered around with umbrellas and ducked in and out of shops and bars.  We ended up for dinner at a beautiful restaurant in the Westin Hotel where we celebrated our last night having seafood chowder, fish and gelato for dessert.  

I hope this wasn't too long or drawn out, or too busy with photos.  I haven't had a chance to look at the ones I took with my camera.  We arrived home late Wednesday night.  I think spring arrived in Chicago while I was gone.  I'm sitting outside as I type this, it's 75 degrees.  Unbelievable.  The Husband is cleaning out the shed and the dogs are lying in the sun.  I haven't sat still since I came home.  Grocery shopping, eye doctor, a visit with Emily who watches Elsie on Thursdays, and the annual visit to the vet with Milo yesterday.  You want to hear something funny?  Abby has been moaning and groaning about how old Milo is getting, 14 years old (young).  She thinks he's going deaf and blind.  So yesterday I asked Dr. B. just how old Milo is based on his records.  Well the darn dog just turned 12 last fall!  I couldn't wait to tell Abby.  Now, don't you wish we had that sort of luck?  Just a mere two year miscalculation on our age?

Quiet week ahead (I think).  I hope to fiddle around outside, I have some daffodils and early tulips coming up as well as grape hyacinths and snowdrops.  I'm going to plant a little 'salad garden' while the weather is still a bit cool...I think I'm going to give up the tomato plants in containers, I only manage to get about five ripe ones and that's not until late August.  :(

I hope you're having a great weekend and that you might just be having weather like us.  It's heavenly!  See you soon.


Sunday, April 3, 2016


Let's start with some pretty flowers today.  I seem to gravitate to them every time I do my grocery shopping as you know.  The other day it was $5 bouquets so I chose two bunches of spray roses.  I have this fantastic wire container with three glass jars and flower frog tops that make arranging so simple with spectacular results.  You've seen this before but I've never actually used it on my table until recently.  I combined two different shades, yellow and pink, and I think it looks beautiful.  I hope they last as long as those carnations I shared in my last post.  Changing the water every day and snipping a bit at the bottom of the stems helps.  The porcelain tray they sit on is a purchase from Williams Sonoma years ago.  Very, very pretty.  I love bringing it out in the spring.

I hope all of you had a wonderful Easter.  We had a lovely day.  The weather was quite warm and we talked and laughed and enjoyed a great dinner.  Dessert was many sweets brought by guests, much more than needed.  A great time all around.

I had a few dishes that failed but I was prepared for that. I disappointed myself with the trifle I had planned for dessert.  This however, was not the first time I had made one.  I simply didn't fully read the recipe as I went through the various steps...cake, filling, fruit, repeat.  I mixed the whipped cream into the filling (pudding and condensed milk among other things) when I should have folded it in at the end. Instead of a firm sort of custard it was more like milk  The next layer, berries, would have sunk into oblivion.  Happily I had the homemade pound cake and extra whipped cream as well as strawberries and that's a nice dessert of its own.  Several family member brought sweets as well.  We weren't lacking at all.  

I promised a few recipes and you can find links at the end of my post. You can also follow me on Pinterest by clicking on the icon on my sidebar.  Most of my recipes are Pinned and I make a ton of changes...I pick apart recipes all the time and give my own stamp on them until I'm satisfied.  I'll only give you recipes on my blog if I have done that.  Otherwise a direct link to the source.  You can fiddle with these recipes as well.  That's originality.  :)

I always try to make anything and everything ahead of time for big dinners and holidays.  I had an appointment with my dermatologist downtown the Friday before Easter and planned to start some desserts and make~ahead dishes later that day.  I was however, feeling a bit off that morning  After I showered and about 15 minutes before I was ready to leave, I felt a wave of nausea come over me and from then on it was a downhill course if you know what I mean.  The Husband tucked  me into bed and called to cancel the appointment.  It really upset me as I need to be monitored, have blood tests, etc., to make sure the meds aren't affecting my liver and kidneys. 

 As I laid in bed I kept thinking of all of the preparations I had to do for Easter Sunday.  I really like a head start, am determined to have a head start.  I had shopping, cleaning and a few recipes to do as early as possible.  But I was feverish, chilled and nauseous.  And then...there was a knock at the door.  A representative for the electric company.  They were going to be trimming trees in my backyard and along the alley to clear the power lines...please keep your dogs in.  Oh, that's easy.  Except my dogs can hear, see and sense anyone within 50 feet of our house.  I had 50 guys in bright yellow vests and hard hats doing macho stuff with my 50 walnut trees and then hauling the poor and healthy limbs to their cruel chipper truck.  Oh, such excitement for Milo and Layla and misery for me.  I shut the blinds, closed the curtains and thought about blasting the Rolling Stones on my iPod, but instead I suffered in silence.  As you can see above, as evidence of my distress, I pulled Milo's favorite chair away from a living room window but it didn't deter the dude from straddling it.  Obscene almost.  As horrifying it was, it makes for a good blog post.

Abby was on spring break this week and I always feel that I have to clarify that she is a teacher, not a student.  At 25 years old, being petite and pretty, she really does look like a student and it drives her mad.  She arrived home Easter Sunday morning with a cute tray of sliced cakes and a container of guacamole and chips.  She thrust them at me and said, "Never go to the grocery store on Easter morning.  The whole place was swimming with desperate people."  And then she caught sight of The Husband vacuuming the living room rug.  He was feeling sympathetic after my stomach bug and was doing pretty much everything I asked him to do.  Yes, it was shocking for both me and Abby.  I was simply happy that he needed only a minimum of directions to find the vacuum cleaner.

As I said, Abby was on spring break and I was really looking forward to some one on one time with her.  She has been living on the Northside of Chicago for the past year with her best friends and as we are on the Southside, we've missed her.  Now, she and her boyfriend of 7 years have found an apartment just 5 houses down from where she lives now.  A three story apartment with a cool courtyard that blends in very much with the million dollar homes (seriously) on the block.  I say this because her safety depends very much on the neighborhood she lives in.  So far we've only seen some pictures.  Move in date is April 30th.  

Today The Husband and I drove up to be with her and some of her housemates for her birthday at a pub on the corner called Toons.  We had a fabulous time.  The weather was so strange.  It would be sunny and pleasant and then turn dark with snow blowing in the high winds.  It would stop and start over and over again.  Very odd and now we have temps expected in the 60's.  

April 2, 2016  
Downtown Chicago

This photo was taken from our car on our way back home.  The clouds were quite ominous.

I ordered a gift for her that hasn't arrived yet, but then again her actual birthday is on April 7.  She never reads my blog so I'll tell you.  A fine gold necklace with an 'A' charm and another little teardrop charm with Tom's birthstone.  I actually paid extra for fast shipping but it wasn't here today when we met up with her.  Grrrrr...  I hope it arrives before we leave for Canada.

We had a great five days together.  Monday we hit HomeGoods for some 'this and that' for her apartment.  I was on a weird mission to find her a butter dish.  I know, very strange.  I actually found three that I placed in one spot, (shhhh...) to show her.  As I walked the aisles I felt my heart getting heavy.  She doesn't have that black belt in shopping like Emily and I do.  I expected to find her with nothing.  As I rounded a corner there she was, her cart half full.  She has a vision!  Yay!  Spa colors for her bath, some kitchen items and even a few decorative pieces  (you can see some of this in the photos below).   So many things piled on the floor in my family  room.  She was so excited to show Tom.  Yes, these are my tosies! And no, she didn't like any of the butter dishes.  Claims she doesn't use butter, just olive oil.  I'm guessing she'll never bake.  

After HomeGoods and two furniture stores, we had a late lunch at Corner Bakery.  Tuesday we went to 2 more furniture stores and a mall~I needed a few products from Sephora.  Yes, I need some attention, too!  She and Tom ended up at Ikea that night and bought a sectional and are very happy (ever after I hope).

I've been searching and searching for a real wreath all over the place but didn't want to pay $75+ dollars.  This is handmade with real wheat and I scored it for under $20!  It may not last forever but I really love the real thing.  I'm not against silk plants, I think they look great from a distance in an urn on the hearth or fireplace, but not in close proximity.  But it suits many people and I don't knock that.  I hope this pretty wreath lasts awhile.  We have a storm door so I think I'm good.

With the risk of changing my blog name to Blondie's Medical Journal, I just wanted to share a little about my dermatology appointment Friday.  My skin is doing really well and I may have the meds cut in half at my next appointment in a few weeks.  Yes, no more headaches!  So at this appointment my doctor wanted a blood test to check my liver and kidney functions that are sometimes affected by this drug.  And gulp...I only have one kidney (long story).  My blood pressure was sky high, too, and that frightened me.  As my luck goes, the nurse/tech had to stick me 5 times, one in the back of my hand, and seriously could not get blood.  I turned my head to The Husband each time to avoid the sight and each time I thought it was happening.  Nope.  I said to him, 'Hon, I truly think I'm dead."  And he replied,  "No. You're still Googling restaurants for lunch"

Great week ahead.  A blood test at a facility of my choice (they decided not to stick me any further).  Two light therapies bumped up to three.  I finally got a current eye exam and need to follow up on that.  The dreaded teeth cleaning.  But on a happy note, my blog friend, Cindy, and her husband are coming to Chicago and we are meeting for dinner on Monday night.  I am SO looking forward to that.  She's the blogger I met 7 years ago and we meet up once or twice a year.  We may also meet up for a little shopping and lunch as well.  I am beyond happy!  

I have three links for recipes I think you guys might love.  As I said, I screwed up the trifle but it's a recipe you may want to keep.  The Italian Spread is a keeper.  Make it ahead, it tastes better after it melds.   Several people raved over the Chilled Strawberry Soup.  I added a bit more cream than the recipe calls for, taste it as you go along.  It was a little tart to me. ;-)

I'll see you hopefully before our trip next Friday.