29 April 2014

Big Kids

LC's first night--last night--in a big boy bed.
NJ. Beauty sleeps.


It's hard to see these two getting so grown up. They're more than likely our last grand-babies, #3 in each of their families. We've loved every stage of development with all 6 grandchildren, but oh! these sweet babies...




25 April 2014

Found Objects


We purchased this cabinet on a whim from a now-defunct local furniture store the summer we moved into our home--2001. CA was especially captivated, thinking we'd use it in the master bedroom for our television. That never quite worked out, and t.v.'s soon got flat and light-weight, and wall-hung.

So, this cabinet resides in our greatroom, holding Christmas china, candles, passports, random luggage tags, and foreign currencies (In VERY small quantities, Mr. Robber.)

The amusing fact about this cabinet is that we moved it around from place to place over the years, until one day I noticed something kraft paper-ish sticking out underneath. Upon investigating, I found that a backsplash had been wrapped and taped to the bottom for shipping, and was never mentioned at time of purchase nor discovered until years after.

In situ.

I didn't want it attached, thank you very much. So, it landed on a basement shelf where I would, on occasion, pick it up, note it's heaviness, and replace it on the shelf. Somewhere along the way I had the brilliant idea to repurpose it into a coat-rack/key-holder, and had our handyman(men) drill for hooks and then hang it securely (it is heavy!) in the back hall. I love it! It's functional and lovely. Extremely functional. Classes up an otherwise dreary pass-through from the garage.

More detail.


24 April 2014

Not My Daughter's House!?

Yes, it was. A backyard neighbor dumped his firepit ashes, then went inside. Thankfully, JE heard the crackling, looked outside and saw her back fence on fire. Really. Thank you, God. And, thank you it's a big backyard.

LC was a bit too shy to climb on the firetruck. 15 minutes later he had regrets. It's hard to be 2-1/2. So much to experience.

22 April 2014

It's Good to be Queen


Image via @slimpaley on Instagram.


21 April 2014

The Path that Leads to Nowhere

Photo via Jean Wethmar on Instagram.

This Instagram spun me backwards 20+ years to when I memorized this poem. At the time I was thinking of Kiawah Island, SC. Not exactly topographically- or botanically-correct, yet the poem evokes thoughts of lazy island days.

Corinne Roosevelt Robinson (1861-1933)


THERE'S a path that leads to Nowhere
In a meadow that I know,
Where an inland island rises
And the stream is still and slow;
There it wanders under willows,
And beneath the silver green
Of the birches' silent shadows
Where the early violets lean.

Other pathways lead to Somewhere,
But the one I love so well
Has no end and no beginning—
Just the beauty of the dell,
Just the wind-flowers and the lilies
Yellow-striped as adder's tongue,
Seem to satisfy my pathway
As it winds their scents among.

There I go to meet the Springtime,
When the meadow is aglow,
Marigolds amid the marshes,—
And the stream is still and slow.
There I find my fair oasis,
And with care-free feet I tread
For the pathway leads to Nowhere,
And the blue is overhead!

All the ways that lead to Somewhere
Echo with the hurrying feet
Of the Struggling and the Striving,
But the way I find so sweet
Bids me dream and bids me linger,
Joy and Beauty are its goal,—
On the path that leads to Nowhere
I have sometimes found my soul!


Corinne Roosevelt Robinson was the sister of United States President Theodore Roosevelt.


19 April 2014

English as a Second Language

My great friend RvH stepped out of her comfort zone a bit over a year ago to mentor in an English as a Second Language program. She's been incredibly faithful, and flexible, as her adult student-friend (now) balances a busy life which includes a disabled child. I was so, so pleased to get this email from her yesterday--


I am so proud of Edilsia. When I met her Fall, 2012 she was at Level 1 and now she tested at Level 7 which is the cap for the first phase. She really did well with answering all the questions, understood everything, so officially this phase with DuPage Literacy is over the end of June. She needs work with her writing skills and language structure, but that is not a priority in her everyday life. That would be the next phase with DuPage so I will not officially sign up with them again, but will just meet with her, going forward, when we can. The main objective for now was for her to be comfortable and confident with her English speaking skills so that she could get her needs met when dealing with teachers or doctors, etc., both understanding them and not needing an interpreter when speaking English. She is smart and motivated, and thus, she has done something good for herself. The "teacher" always learns from the student. Her son, Emmanuel, came home with all "A's" on his report card. I told her that when he comes home today from school, she needs to share her news of a good report too...a nice gift for us all.


18 April 2014

Serial Killer Easter Bunnies

E! News published this series, and I have to agree that these are some seriously deranged, threatening Rabbits...

Peda-Bunny with a serious sinus infection.


This one is particularly troubling.



17 April 2014

David's Birthday


We can't be together to celebrate DM's birthday this year, but he's in our thoughts and prayers all day.


He's our firstborn and the swift-kick that pushed CA and I into instant parenthood and maturity. We were never frivolous. We were just very young (24 and 22-1/2) when he was born. CA was a U.S. Navy officer and I soon wore the official (of the time) Navy wife uniform--maternity.

We were (and are) adoring, committed parents. We were also overwhelmed by the 24/7 realities of a newborn. DM has always been intense. He rolled over very, very young; walked soon; constant motion. He's been an athelete and die-hard Cubs and Bears fan since toddlerhood, it seems.

We are and have ALWAYS been proud of him. He works hard, loves deeply, intensely. He has that rare aura--like a young Meg Ryan or Jon Hamm. He emits more light than average, and that plus his gracious smile and sincere attitude have always made him stand out; people are drawn to him.

Today we celebrate his birthday. His 4 girls know how to put on a party, so we're convinced this day will be a special one.


We love you, David Matthew!



16 April 2014

Life Lessons Learned: Upholstered Furniture


When you furnish your first home(s), buy the best upholstered furniture you can afford. Even a bit better, if you're daring.

These chairs and ottomans used to be the same, except for radically different upholstery. One chair and ottoman resided in our previous familyroom, and the daring upholstry had been influenced by a half dozen trips to Santa Fe in the late '90s and early 2000s. The other set we purposely bought for this greatroom when we moved in, and it was a red-floral-fruit chintz. Our 2 three-seater couches transitioned from the old familyroom and we purchased a two-seater for our library here--all the same style-brand. I believe they were Flexsteel, a middle-of-the-road priced brand but unbelievably durable.


They all look quite different now, but originally staying with the same style allowed us to move them between rooms, and finally to reupholster and re-style the pieces when we redecorated 2+ years ago.

I love that the two ottomans fit nicely between the legs of this Pottery Barn console table. Actually, they were each 35" wide but we had the upholsterer cut them down to 33" to fit. My brilliant idea!

This Chippendale-style sofa is Ethan Allen (my vision of "the best" almost 30 years ago). It used to be cream with a country-blue cross-stitch every so often. Now it resides in our loft (guest space). The bright insets on the pillows were made from a fabric sample.

There are two of these wing-back chairs in our morning room. They used tho be cream and country-blue checked and with the above sofa sat proudly in our former livingroom. One was reupholtered to a horrendous purple linen for a brief and ill-conceived moment.

That Bombay Trading Company table came from an estate sale ($75) and will soon be painted.

So, upholstered furniture can live almost forever. If you find something pleasing and most of all comfortable, buy it, use it, store it, reupholster it. We stored some of this for almost 10 years before repurposing. And, two sofas traveled to Colorado when our son's family returned from living in Europe.


15 April 2014

Keeping Up With the Kardashians is My Secret Vice

But, I'm a bit concerned that Kim is not only crushing on Marie Antoinette, but focused on emulating her. Think about it. Even a much rumored wedding in Versailles--purportedly relocated at this point.


14 April 2014

Lemon Tartlettes



I've treasured this cookbook for years. It was one of the first I purchased in the early years of our marriage. This has been not only my go-to pastry cookbook, but CA's also as he's the primary pie crust-maker, pie baker at our house. I may research Julia's The Way to Cook for almost all techniques, but Martha's Pies & Tarts is the word in our home for all things pie-related.

This has been in my to-do list for several days. I froze the leftover pâte brisée from CA's birthday peach pie, planning cinnamon rolls or lemon tartlettes.

CA's Birthday Peach Pie


I did some quick thinking as I reached for the pie weights--then I folded some parchment paper in thirds, drew two outlines of the tart pan drop bottom, and cut six circles about 1" outside the drawn outline. I folded each circle into 8ths, laid one over each pastry-lined pan, and then gently dropped a handful of ceramic beads into the center of each parchment circle. Voilà!

Maybe this photo clarifies that process...

How to line a tartlette crust.


Today, I'm using a prepared lemon curd, although I've been very happy using Martha's recipe in the past.



Voilà! x 6.

Not really this orange. Just lemony yellow.


13 April 2014

Jonah is 7 today.



This guy loves, loves, loves the color blue. He's always full of questions, challenges. His head spins with thoughts. He's exceptionally atuned to music, and from a year old to about 5 he was totally dedicated to drumming and guitars. Now he's busy with physical activity and sports, and he's learning to enjoy reading. He loves stories--LE and he listen to audiobooks daily.


Jonah loves, loves, loves his little brother LC, and mostly plays well with his oh-so-inventive sister LE. He loves wrestling with his daddy, watching sports, and having a catch. His mommy takes good care of him, encourages him, and keeps track of his likes and dislikes. She's his prime advocate and organizer. He's very proud of his mommy and keeps her near.



He's always going to be the guy with one or just a few best friend(s). He's learning to manage his world, avoiding sensory overload. As the phone calls began today with birthday wishes, he said, "Why are all these people calling me?" NaNa and PaPa, Uncle Eric, and grandpa and I. Still, he was sweet and polite, and brief--forebearing our calls. When we're together, he's always ready with a hug and sweet smile. Just keep it brief.


This is where JA fits into the grandchilren mix... He's 7, just behind (as above) his very blonde cousin, LG (9 next month). His siblings LE (5) and LC (2-1/2) fill out the first row. His other cousins KF (6) and NJ (4) stand to his left.




BTW... JA has asked his mommy to prepare blue Jello for his school birthday treat. She didn't even know he liked Jello!




12 April 2014

Busy Week

Planned an overnight in Chicago at my niece's for Tuesday, in order to attend a medical appointment with my sister JA. Always enjoy the irresistable ES and the lovable RR. LA made a quick and delicious taco salad for dinner and I squeezed in some fun conversations and Waterlogue play with the kiddos.

Wednesday meant an early morning at Rush Presbyterian St. Luke's and then some errands, and JL came home with me. CA picked up some Pad Thai and we vegged at home and watched Midsomer Murders via Netflix.

Thursday was errands and then haircuts at Mario Tricocci's Salon. My talented stylist sorted out JL's recent hair woes (Rx has frizzed and curled JL's normally straight hair). My own locks took a huge growth spurt this month leaving me somewhat bedraggled, too. We left the salon as happy campers. Reshaped and revamped.

JL, looking like JL. Finally.


Friday meant an early trip back to Rush, then home for me via California Pizza Kitchen in Schaumburg for my favorite Pear Gorgonzola thin crust pizze and an hour+ of downtime and regrouping.

Pear, Gorgonzola Pizza



Today is dark skies, pouring rain, and hail! I love, love love stormy weather. I plan a Pajama Day with fun food and no responsibilities.