29 February 2012

Leap Day; Leap Year

Great video. Now I understand Leap Year!

Our son-in-law MA works for Epipheo.

27 February 2012

Great News

Today's doctor appointment turned out the best ever. No Stenosis. No Spondylolisthesis . Nothing. Back is fine. Well, as fine as usual. Passed all the tests with flying colors. That pain is gone, gone, gone.

Doctor said impressive. Keep doing Yoga and speed walking. Very flexible. (The unspoken, "For a woman your age.")

Shingles virus is waning. No idea how long nerve pain will continue, but appropriate narcotics are available. Wonderful newer drug called Lyrica that calms the nerve endings. Really. And, for me it helps me sleep soundly. All night long. Miraculous.

I'm still really hurting, but the drugs make a difference, and I'm getting wonderful care from CA and attention from our doctor.

Life is getting easier again.

26 February 2012

Getting the Look

image from Tumblr via littleemmaenglishhome.blogspot.com

If you like this display of "antique" and found objects, check out the free stuff I'm giving away on my new blog:

Lot's more free stuff coming, including a week-long BLAST of free items.

25 February 2012

ER Tour Continues

Another disappeared post recreated...

Unbearable pain has CA and I driving 30 minutes to another ER--this one is connected to the hospital where our family practice doctor has privileges. We decide to go this direction rather than to the ER we visited a week ago that is just 10 minutes from our home.

Every bump and lurch of the car is painful, and not a few times I groan or complain. CA is driving so carefully, but my low back and upper legs hurt so, so much along with the on-going Shingles nerve pain.

We sign-in around 8:30pm, and although everyone is nice they keep us waiting, and waiting. For over three hours we wait behind the curtain in the treatment room with nothing to intervene with the pain. Nothing.

This afternoon we talked to our doctor's office and it was decided that I would stop the oral Morphine in favor of a Lidocaine patch that might work better. It does not.

The low back pain is a fairly new development--started yesterday and is somewhat similar to the chronic, sporadic back pain I've suffered over 30 years. Pain incidents I've learned to control with exercise (Yoga and speed walking on a cushioned track) and body-conscious living. I could have a PhD in back pain. I know a lot.

However, this pain is intense and unremitting.

I'm kept waiting for over 3 hours with no pain killers. We decline further tests because last week's ER visit covered everything--EKG, stress test, MRI, blood work, x-rays, etc. And, the results were excellent except for acknowledgement of flexibility issues with my back. So, we wait.

Finally the still-invisible doctor allows the nurse to give me a small dose through an i.v. port that is ready and waiting. It helps immediately, but for only a short time.

Then, the doctor (a very kind and knowledgable man) appears and determines that my normally remitting back pain has stepped up a notch to Stenosis or possibly Spondylolisthesis--the same condition our son DM suffered through until surgery in 2004-2005.

Relieved to have a diagnosis, pain meds, and a few miscellaneous Rx's we are finally on our way home at 3:00am. I'm up to 7 prescriptions a day from my usual one tiny Rx. I have drugs for pain, nausea, a UTI, high blood pressure, anti-viral, etc.... And, a referral to an Orthopedic specialist--the same doctor our son sees.

What gives here?! Tonight is only my second time in hospital care, excluding the two C-sections when our son and daughter were born. Two hospital visits in bit more than a week.

I know which ER I'll go to in the future. Although, I don't plan on ever needing to visit an ER again. Please.


24 February 2012

Winter Lace

My friend has a lamp on her outdoor deck. It's weather-proof. Can you believe how lacey the gathering snow appears through the filtered light? Lovely. And fun.


23 February 2012

4 Years and Counting

Notes I took in London 2008

Armani rides the Picadilly Line during Fashion Week 2008

I'm celebrating.

On this date in February 2008 I'd been visiting Bratislava to celebrate the birth of granddaughter #2, Kristina Faith Phillips. CA and I were traveling together, but when it was time to go I decided (at the last moment) to stay longer to help out a bit more with baby KF and fun kid, LG.

When I at last began the journey home, it turned into quite a journey. Literally and figuratively. Other forces were controlling my trajectory, resulting in a great adventure by myself and also the beginning of this blog.

Whew! I've just re-read the early posts and re-lived the facts, delights, and overwhelmingly fine experiences.

The detailed note taking and emails home were the result of JE insisting that she needed to hear every detail from her brother's home in Central Europe since she couldn't be there herself.

Somewhere along the way I realized that I wanted to start this blog to document our travels and life experiences, along with the witticisms and escapades of our increasing brood of grandchildren (we've gone from 3 to 6 little ones during this four years).

I'm still refining my content and goals--realizing that all that detail is kind of tedious. So, my goals going forward include paring down the details (except when we're traveling, as both our children like to vicariously travel along with us).

And, to celebrate further, I've started a new blog where I'm giving away a ton of decorative stuff and small antiques that currently live in my basement. Enjoy...

21 February 2012

Shingles: How I spent my summer vacation...

Actually it's been less than a vacation. I just think I'm funny. The following is TMI, so feel free to skip the details. In summary, I have back pain, my blood pressure went up, I had chest pains, I went to Urgent Care at midnight on Wednesday-Thursday was admitted for a few hours, but passed all tests with flying colors. So, my heart is healthy. My back hurts like never before. I have a mild (?) case of Shingles. Mild? In whose opinion? Oh, that's right, my doctor's.

20 February 2012

Give-Away Winner Announced

I'm having fun with my newest blog. Especially today as CA randomly (!) selected the first-ever winner of a give-away.

19 February 2012

The Week in Review

Where do I begin?

Sunday we spent a fun day in Chicago, and then dinner with friends.

Monday was a great at-home day. My back hurt, specifically my right lumbar region.

Tuesday, I had a phenomenal day with friends in Chicago. My back hurt. All day.

Wednesday, I took a Yoga class with my favorite instructor. My back felt so much better that I shopped and did errands for several hours. By midnight CA and I were researching online and watching this video. By 12:30am Thursday we were at the hospital.

Thursday I was released from the hospital--arriving home about 4:00pm.

Friday I went to a 6:00am Yoga class. Felt so much better that I way-way over-did. Had a miserable and regret-filled night.

Saturday I laid low until early afternoon when CA and I went to CL to a wine tasting (him) and to make some retail returns (me). I "might" have had an impulse problem this week traced to pain, self-pity, rogue pain-killers, sleep deprivation...

Today will be much better. As a wise hippy once proclaimed, "Today is the first day of the rest of your life." and, as that great philosopher Little Orphan Annie opined, "The sun'll come out tomorrow." So maybe relief is only a day away.

Judi Dench

Just released news video highlights one of my all-time-favorite British actresses. Judi Dench is fighting Macular Degeneration.

She's such a talented lady. I imagine she's as tenacious as some of the characters she's played. There's not much better comedy than her As Time Goes By series, which ran on BBC for 67 episodes from 1992 - 2005.

I was privileged to see her perform on stage the last time I visited London.

Dench says that her vision is bad enough already that family members read her lines aloud for her as she's preparing a role.

18 February 2012


SIMPLY - CHATEAU: I really am sorry, Billy................

Shirley is a riot! And, she has a perfect eye for antiques and interesting "bits."

17 February 2012

800 Posts

original blog home page photo

This is my 800th post and coming up on my 4th anniversary as a blogger.

Today is the Day

First opportunity to enter to win one of the small antiques I'm offering to readers on my new blog Shop My Basement.

And, preview upcoming items to be given away in short order.


15 February 2012

Best Bacon

In my ongoing plan to buy/eat only food that tastes great, I've rediscovered Nueske's Applewood Smoked Bacon. Mama Mia! This one is so worth the calories. And, I grabbed an idea from David Lebowitz's appearance on Andrew Zimmern's 2008 series and sprinkled brown sugar on the four slices I prepared for CA's Valentine's breakfast.

(Just be careful and drain the excess fat on something other than paper towels, as we had a sticking problem that distracted from the presentation. :))

These Were Waiting for Me

CA often buys me daffodils for Valentine's Day. A reference to our first date and a friend singing a folk song (that sure dates me--1966!) called Seven Daffodils.

I may not have mansion, I haven't any land
Not even a paper dollar to crinkle in my hands
But I can show you morning on a thousand hills
And kiss you and give you seven daffodils.

I do not have a fortune to buy you pretty things
But I can weave you moonbeams for necklaces and rings
And I can show you morning on a thousand hills
And kiss you and give you seven daffodils.

Oh, seven golden daffodils all shining in the sun
To light our way to evening when our day is done
And I will give music and a crust of bread
And a pillow of piney boughs to rest your head.

A pillow of piney boughs to rest your head...

These are Seven Daffodils Lyrics on http://www.lyricsmania.com/

14 February 2012

First Give-Away

Check out my first-ever give-away on my new blog, Shop My Basement. I'm having fun--hope you will, too.

The Way to a Man's Heart

Uncharacteristically, I am up before the sun and prepare a special breakfast for my Valentine: his own personal-sized Dutch Baby and brown sugar bacon; along with fresh orange juice and espresso.

By all measures CA should be extremely overweight. God bless his fantastic metabolism. Actually, he takes great care of himself and eats far less than ever in the years I've know him, but the man cannot resist good food. And, today is all about food.

Soon, my great friend LL and I head to Chicago for another of our food adventures. First stop is Jarosch in Elk Grove Village for butter cookies and brownies. We've plans to redistribute the wealth--sharing the edible goodies with friends and family. Jarosch Bakery's been a northwest Chicago suburban mainstay for over 50 years. Hope it never goes away.

Speaking of going away--in past years these edible adventures have typically included Ana, Ida and Me, Ricci's and Company, and Garrett Popcorn Shops, which have (sadly) gone out of business.

So today, we're mapping new destinations beginning with Jarosch, which LL has never visited.

After touring LL's sister DV's beautiful 4-story West Loop townhouse, we drive to the newish French Market for a long-awaited experience. FYI: The first hour of parking at the Metra Parking lot is complimentary when you spend $20 and present the required punch card.

This is an European market experience (extremely small Naschmarkt) and an immediate delight. I quickly find some rose-colored sea salt from Bolivia, our favorite tortillas, baguettes, Niçoise olives, and fresh ginger. LL opts for French-style macarons and croissants, while DV finds some gorgeous veal chops.

Miraculously, we pounce upon on-street parking just outside Club Lago for a fun Italian lunch. DV's delightful daughter works just across Superior and joins us. We laugh, tell stories, gossip, and relax into the experience. Lovely.

LL and DV conspire to shock me with a visit to Peoria Packing Butcher Shop--my first ever visit and I love it. The variety and freshness of the meat is unprecedented. I'll come back with CA someday with a cooler and ice.

A fine adventure--a day filled with wonderful food and fun friends.

(I decided not to share the photos I took as I realize they will be offensive to some. Although, I was dazzled by the details and overall experience. I'll just say that no single part of any critter raised for consumption was overlooked. Fantastic.)

13 February 2012

Shop My Basement: Free stuff

Go on over to my first ever post of free stuff that I'll giving away on Fridays beginning this week.

I have many more antiques, and a variety of other categories of good stuff, too.

I plan to have fun with this new blog, and hope that you'll join in and spread the word.

Jami Attenberg

I read everything Jami Attenberg writes and was delighted to find her blog whatever-whenever a ways back.

She's been working on her latest book while living temporarily in New Orleans. If you've only ever seen an official Mardi Gras parade, you're missing out... Here's a sample of the fun.

We visit New Orleans periodically, and I can't say I love it there. CA's only sib--LFW--resides in suburban NO and teaches at one of the universities, so we've heard her stories and seen some of this first-hand.

Crawfish are ubiquitous and delicious, so don't eat this little guy.

Our favorite spot for seafood is Harbor Seafood and Oyster Bar in nearby Kenner, LA. The very best Bloody Mary ever!

This spot is the definition of casual. Think: paper towels for napkins, sticky table tops, high chairs and booster seats for the kiddies. Counter seating available. Their seafood retail outlet is just next door. Delicious. Every time.

These photos from here.

Mardi Gras dog photos from whatever-whenever, Jami Attenberg.

Anti-Cupid? Or, wise words...

Loving this clever, tongue-in-cheek column in today's Chicago Tribune: Office romances rife with pitfalls, by Rex W. Huppke, I Just Work Here.

Love is in the air.
Either that or Dan over in accounting went a little nutso with the Axe Body Spray this morning.
Regardless, in the spirit of Valentine's Day and shameless column hooks, let's talk about office romances, the perils of workplace flirtation and the fact that this t-shirt really highlights my abs. (NOTE TO MY BOSSES: If you comment on my abs, I'll sue you faster than you can say "magnificent.")
First is the simple question: Is it ever a good idea to become romantically involved with a co-worker?

Answers and more fun here...

Rex Huppke is a very good writer. I love reading well-written anything.

12 February 2012


Loving the March 2012 issue of Martha Stewart Living. Kevin Sharkey's article Hello Yellow (pg. 82) is a particular favorite.

I have wonderful memories of the Forsythia in our backyard and at G+G Korta's. And, I've had a vase of silk Forsythia blossoms in our master bedroom for a couple of years. It stands tall atop the armoire that houses our t.v., just opposite our bed. I teasingly call it my feng shui... Nonsense on all levels, but just seeing it there gives me a sense of peace and tranquility.

No matter what anyone says against silk flowers, I'm keeping my Forsythia year-round and for a few more.


The dude on the right is LC at 4-1/2 months.
JE says it looks like he could eat his friend!

11 February 2012


Winter has returned to the Chicago area. We had a nasty few hours of snow (not much accumulation by local standards) just in time for the work commute home on Friday evening. Our appointments were within a few miles of home, so though it was treacherous we weren't inconvenienced for long.

All that to say, we've been content today to do our Saturday things close to home. And, being home-bound always encourages my culinary inclinations. For a late lunch today, I whip together some scrambled egg; sauteed spinach, onion, and mushroom burritos. And, for dinner CA grills pork chops and I prepare green beans almondine (a blast from the past), and our favorite squash--acorn (CA's with butter and brown sugar, and mine with butter and black pepper). Nothing fancy, just good food.

We're very happy to have Season 2 of Downton Abbey finally available on PBS, and we've spent the past two evenings (re)viewing Season 1. CA has come late to the show and is now as hooked as I. Can't say enough about Julian Fellowes and all the actors involved. A lovely and beautifully shot period drama.

And during a few sleepless nights lately, I've been catching up on food Network's current Pioneer Woman cooking series. Love her blog; love her show.

Television has been abysmal for months and months. We're just happy to have found a bit of entertainment for a wintery weekend.

10 February 2012


Venetian Rose 1292
Benjamin Moore

White Dove OC-17
Benjamin Moore

The painters will return in a week or so. They'll continue the fresh coat of Blonde in the main living areas and repaint the master bedroom ceiling which has been under observation for two winters. The dormer roof has been successfully repaired and we're more than ready to get rid of that suspicious 18" dark line overhead.

Blonde SW-6128
Sherwin Williams

And, the big news is that our study-dining room is getting a lovely new color. Pink. I can hardly believe it. CA can hardly believe it. I get to choose and I choose Venetian Rose on the walls and White Dove on the ceiling. Pink is supposed to be an extremely flattering color as it reflects on a lady's countenance. We will, wisely, have the painters sample it on one wall before utterly committing.

All this is a result of DV's visit yesterday, and my choice of drapery fabric. Exciting stuff. I haven't been able to track down an online sample of the Stroheim fabric, but I'll keep looking. It's lovely--a very soft aqua (teal?) background with a multitude of colors and tones. You'll see.

And, when I found this photo on Houzz today, I texted DV that I obviously have much work to do in my morning room.

It's already changing. Just not quite ready for reveal.

09 February 2012


To help save the economy, the Government will announce next month that the Immigration Department will start deporting senior citizens (instead of illegal immigrants) in order to lower Social Security and Medicare costs.

It seems, older people are easier to catch and will not remember how to get back home.

I started to cry when I thought of you. Then, it dawned on me ... Oh, crap ...

I'll see you on the bus!

Source unknown. Just one of those annoying email spam forwards.

08 February 2012

Best Dishwasher Soap, Absolutely

This has changed my world. Truly.

I've been using this product for a few months and my glassware is perfectly sparkling.  I also continue to use the JetDry product in its built-in dispenser--our city water is hard enough to cause issues without requiring a (dreaded) water softener.

(My daughter and niece absolutely refused to shower at GG's house when they were growing up because the water was silky-slimy. Over conditioned...)

Read the Finish product packaging carefully, because the distributor (manufacturer-?) Reckitt Benckiser has made frequent name and labeling changes.

While this is a 16 oz. (453g.) box, it is quite small--approximately 4-1/2"W x 6"H x 1-1/4"D. Think... 4 x 6 index card-sized.

As far as I can tell, you can use any kind of dishwasher powder you like as long as you add 1/4 cup of this to the bottom of your dishwasher before running the load. I said powder, because I've found the gels and tablets don't perform in the same league as the grittier, slightly abrasive dish cleaning powders. Also, skip the brands or versions with a citrus element as that can stain/discolor flatware.

Originally recommended here.

06 February 2012

Today I will make soup...

Pampered Chef 2 qt. Batter Bowl

Creamy chicken pasta soup, that is.

I'm making a double batch, so 2 cups each of celery, carrots, onions, and mushrooms.

It's one of my favorites. The touch of lemon juice added in the final stages of prep kicks this recipe over the top in the chicken soup category.

Magically, I have all the necessary ingredients, except celery, on-hand--including homemade chicken stock from the freezer. I'm just gonna be glad to have my glass, lidded, measuring pitchers back in the mix. Foolishly, I elected to store said chicken stock in these back a few months ago. I've miss my glass pitchers. They're oh-so-handy for mixing as well as measuring large quantities.

Hm-m-m... Thinking my two big girls would love a set each in her repertoire, and I know just the Pampered Chef person to procure them for me.

Also available as a 1 qt.--I love both sizes for varying uses.

05 February 2012

Longing for a French Kitchen

Months (and months!) ago I posted about this fabric and this small console table, without following through with the results.

This is a narrow back hallway leading from our mud room-laundry room, and difficult to photograph. But, you get the idea.

I purchased two different lengths of cafe rods at WalMart (using a short piece with a long piece to form two long-enough rods), had a handy man bend them at appropriate lengths, then mount the cafe rod brackets on sides and front of underskirting of console table. Obviously, the gathered panels had to meet to coincide with the appropriate mounting bracket, and the two rods end (just barely touching) in the front middle.

Voilà!  Rather French kitchen, if I do say so myself.

At the moment I've stored a ton of coffee-table sized books on the hidden shelf. Out of sight, out of mind? Probably. But, when I need them, there they are.