Tuesday, February 27, 2007

keeping busy

Ah, nothing to report on the bathroom. We had good intentions for getting the floor done as we headed into the weekend, and then an unexpected rain and snow storm took our time and attention. Poor, dear, husband went out to shovel the slush for "20 minutes" on Sunday and returned 3 hours later with the job finished at last. It seems that all the neighbors were out trying to collectively move the water on the sidewalks back into the street. But they got the job done.

So the bathroom must wait a wee bit longer...and I'll let you know when we get back to it.

Today's forecast makes me want to start a fire instead of plan a picnic. We're trying to keep ourselves busy. Later today we'll get into our snow gear and tromp around the backyard for a little while. For those of you at home with little people, how do you pass the time on days like today?

Saturday, February 24, 2007

curio cabinet

It's been awhile since I have profiled a hand painted piece. This is one of my favorites (I think I say that every time...I suppose they are all my favorites?)

This wall cabinet came with the house. You can see it on the wall in the kitchen in the first photo. I wish I had a close up of how it used to look, but you probably get the idea. When we moved in we had a few things that were lingering around here. This cabinet, that old broken down chair also in the photo, an abandoned dresser. This was the only thing worth salvaging. Actually, I almost gave it away when a friend expressed interest, but thought better of it. Thank goodness.

Mary the artist worked her magic on it last year. The result, as you can see, is remarkable. She took my 4 favorite MacKenzie-Childs' Taylor patterns (2 of which, I'm sorry to say, have been discontinued), Aalsmeer, Bearded Iris, Stoke Gabriel, and Summer Frock, and wove them into a design that transformed the cabinet. And just look at it now! Yes, I love it. Can't imagine parting with it. Some day, oh, in about 60 years or so, I'll be loading up my things for the nursing home. And this will be at the top of the heap.

Friday, February 23, 2007


Our bathroom beautification project continues this weekend. I am looking forward to seeing how the floor turns out. It is not wood, it is a (cheap looking) vinyl tile, something we will not miss. The first time we painted the walls we just assumed that we'd be ripping out the floor soon after, so we didn't even put a sheet down, we just let the paint drip right on the floor. Well, that was about 2 years ago, so it's time to do something.

Here's the scene in the bathroom today. My 2 year old, probably like yours, has discovered the greatest game. Who knew unraveling the entire TP roll could be so much fun? To think that Mom and Dad didn't show him how to do this months ago!

Thursday, February 22, 2007


Last night at book club* my friend Nicole brought Nestle Toll House cookies. Yum! I'm always, always a sucker for them. After trying hers, I said they tasted slightly different from what I am used to. She said she alters the Nestle recipe a bit by adding 1/4 C more flour (so the cookies rise higher) and ommitting the salt.

Last week I stirred up some Nestle cookie batter and froze half. That's what you see up there in the picture. Frozen batter is a little safer around here than cooked cookies. I can only manage about 1 spoonful at a time and can keep my cookie monster cravings somewhat controlled this way. So a few minutes ago I had a bite and I thought, well now, that does taste a little salty. Maybe I should try it without the salt.

So now I'm curious, what do you guys do? Do you have your own version of the Nestle recipe that works for you? Any suggestions you care to share on improving this delightful treat? My only thing is that I sometimes add extra chocolate chips. It's never a mistake!


*The book this month was The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri, which I'm sorry to say I did not read. I meant to, but by mistake I left it home when we were away last week. Instead I brought with me The Memory Keeper's Daughter by Kim Edwards, and I thought it was excellent.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

signs of spring

Our snow is melting. We have puddles on the driveway, streams down the sidewalks, rivers in the gutters. It's encouraging. Yesterday, when there was more snow than there is today, I took the boys out in their snow gear. They spent most of the time jumping in muddy puddles. It was great to see. I'll need to get them some rain gear before too long. Maybe some of those "wellies" that I hear about. I've never tried them myself, but they look perfect for kids.

The days are getting longer. In the middle of a Chicago winter, you have to turn the lights on in your house around 4 p.m. Now I can wait until after 5. We eat dinner with the blinds open because the kids like looking outside, even when it's dark they like looking out. Now they can really see things clearly. People walking home from the train. Late afternoon joggers. Cyclists. Meal time is getting more interesting again, even if what's on the menu doesn't always wow them.

Spring is always tentative at the beginning. These encouraging signs of it's approach may disappear before too long. That's OK. I think of it as officially starting on March 1st, so there's just a few more days ahead where I need to keep my chin up. You probably can tell from what I've written before that I am not a winter person. But I try to be brave. And I get a lot of help. Yesterday, for whatever reason, I felt discouraged and blue. But then my husband brought me these flowers on his way home from work. It turned my day around.

Monday, February 19, 2007

back to reality

What a week we picked to be away. While we enjoyed the sand and surf, the poor Little Cottage got pummeled again with snow, about 12 inches this time. Hearing about that made our vacation even sweeter. We tried to get everything we could out of our time away. The kids loved being in the water, loved the beach. It was so nice to see their chapped cheeks turn soft again, and to see their curls come out in the warm, humid air. aaahhhh. Loved it.

Speaking of nice, thanks for your nice comments the other day about Preppy Rider and her baby. Baby came on Monday last week, all is well, but I can't reveal any more! PR has her blog in mind and when she gets a chance I know she'll update you.

Now that we're home, we're tackling some winter projects. Here's one: painting our downstairs bath. This room and all its fixtures are originals, circa 1957 (or so?) Oh, this little room needs a major update, but we can't do it just yet. Part of the reason we're putting it off is that it has no fan, no ventilation system. And if we installed one, we'd have to know that the bathroom would be staying for awhile. But, see that back window in the tub there, that's looking out to our back porch. And maybe someday in the next few years we'd do an addition that would make the porch an indoor room (maybe with a new bedroom directly above it?) And maybe then we'd be interested in moving this bathroom to another location. Maybe this bathroom would become part of the kitchen. But, maybe not. Do you see our dilemma?

So, band-aid renovation this time around. We just finished painting the walls (they had been a pale, mint green), and I have a new shower curtain and new bath accessories. This weekend we are going to paint the floor. That should be interesting. I'll be sure to let you know how it turns out!

Saturday, February 10, 2007

writing buddy

My thoughts today and for the rest of this weekend are with my dear friend Preppy Rider. Have you met her? If not, I encourage you to stop by her stable for a visit. She is heading into the hospital on Monday morning for a scheduled C-section. This is her first baby. PR, we are so excited for you and can't wait to meet your little PR baby!

Once upon a time, I was fortunate to see PR every single day. We worked together for the same company and reported to the same director. We started around the same time. The beginning of that job was kind of rough for both of us, and I know that part of the reason I made it through was the fact that I had her there to share in the experience. She is a listener extraordinaire, a compassionate soul, a girl with a wonderful sense of humor. She was my lifeline. We immediately bonded over our shared fears of our boss - "the Eagle" we dubbed him. We laughed over his confusing communication and our inability to understand it. We held our breath when he reviewed our work. We breathed a sigh of relief when he took off for a 2 week vacation. We celebrated when we realized - finally - that we "got" him and he "got" us. From that point on, everything was Ok. I think we both look back at that time now and see it as a special time - when we had a ball working together, living close to each other, and building our fabulous friendship. When the company shuffled its floors and put us in a corner office together (with a view of the lake, no less) we were in heaven. It was like being back in college, living with your best friend.

Not too long ago, PR met her prince charming, and he scooped her up and carried her out of town. Out of state! But thankfully, not out of my life. We've been so good about keeping up, visiting when we can, calling each other regularly. I marvel at how much we have been able to share by reading each other's blogs. How strange is it...you know you've embraced technology when you and your friend can read up on each other's lives and feel like you haven't missed a beat.

My wonderful friend PR is becoming a mother on Monday, and I am so happy for her. I can't imagine someone more suited for the role. PR, all my thoughts and prayers are with you. That little baby is blessed!

Friday, February 09, 2007

the nursery

This was how my youngest son's room looked when we bought our house. Just like our bedroom, it needed new paint and clean white trim to freshen it up:

Another angle that you can't see here is the corner where the Peter Rabbit dresser stands.

This was actually my oldest son's room when we first arrived, because he was the baby then. When I became pregnant with my youngest, my big boy moved into his big boy room. The nursery just kind of stayed on...So the crib and its ensemble have been in place now for about 5 years. I still love to look in the room and see it set up. Big boy rooms are great, but a nursery is special. The gentle curve of the rocker. The little change table. Most importantly, that sweet crib and all its fluff. There have been many mornings when I've come in here, bleary eyed, and looked at it wistfully, thinking that I'd love to just crawl right in.

Soon it will be time to plan his big boy room. I'm not quite sure what I want to do for him yet, but I'm starting to get ideas. Stay tuned...

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

worth its weight in gold

Best decision ever -buying a snow blower, that is. This was from last night. It took my husband about 20 minutes to do our driveway and the sidewalk. And our driveway is fairly long...


Sunny today, still very cold...about 8 degrees out now...but the sun makes a difference. Psychologically. I guess, though, it's not such a great week here. The paper says "Chicago sinks deeper into misery" - as in, we lost the Superbowl, there's no end in sight to the frigid temps, now we have more snow. Remember the marquees I told you about as I drove through town last week? I saw one last night that simply said, Unbearable. Oh, dear. Next week we go someplace sunny and warm for vacation, so that's what we have to keep our chins up. And when we get back spring will be that much closer.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

same as he ever was

It started snowing a little after 9 this morning, and it's still falling steadily. My oldest son was thrilled to see it when he got home from preschool. After we took off coat, hat, gloves, boots, he immediately flew to the window to watch it come down while I made lunch. He's always been a watcher, has always loved looking out to see what's happening. I was thinking about this as I snapped his picture. I was thinking that it reminded me of when he was a baby, not yet a year old, and how much he loved to be propped up on our couch so he could see the street outside. There he is, there's my little baby boy down below. See how comfortable he looks? You can see that we'd pull up the blinds so he would have a better view of the street. He could stay there for a long time, maybe 15-20 minutes. An eternity for a little person who couldn't yet walk!

Oh, it's hard to look at the difference in these pictures, hard to accept the changes that have taken place over the last few, short years. But, he's still small, he's still just a little boy. For that I'm grateful.

Monday, February 05, 2007

tagged by preppy rider

It's so easy to think of what to write on a day when you've been tagged to answer questions. Thank you, Preppy Rider!

I tag Cindy and the Sisters, Bossy, and homedaisy.

1. If you could build a house anywhere, where would it be? On the water

2.What's your favorite article of clothing? my Dansko clogs

3.Favorite physical feature of the opposite sex? Tall, dark, handsome. Sorry, I can't choose just one.

4.What's the last CD that you bought? Norah Jones

5.Where's your favorite place to be? With my family

6. Where is your least favorite place to be? in a crowd of hysterical people

7.What's your favorite place to be massaged? my shoulders

8.Strong in mind or strong in body? depends on the day. Most days both.

9.What time do you wake up in the morning? fluctuates between 5-7 a.m.

10. What is your favorite kitchen appliance? dishwasher. Close second is microwave.

11.What makes you really angry? passive agressiveness

12.If you could play any instrument, what would it be? I'd like to play the guitar like Sheryl Crow. I would like to look like her while I'm playing it, too.

13. Favorite color? sky blue. baby blue. light blue. However it's best described, that's me.

14.Which do you prefer...sports car or SUV? I have an SUV now, so I'll go with sports car. But I'm not really into cars in general.

15. Do you believe in an afterlife? yes

16.Favorite children's book? The Amazing Bone

17. What is your favorite season? SUMMER! It's -9 degrees here this morning.

18. Your least favorite household chore? gardening

19.If you could have one super power, what would it be? Time travel. I'm not sure if that's a super power. If it doesn't count, I choose the ability to fly.

20.If you have a tattoo, what is it? no tattoos. That's not me.

21.Can you juggle? no. Quite frankly, I'm not interested in learning.

22. The one person from your past that you wish you could go back and talk to? Ming

23. What's your favorite day? Saturday

24. What's in the trunk of your car? nothing

25. Which do you prefer, sushi or hamburger? cheddar cheeseburger

Sunday, February 04, 2007

game day

The LC is in the heart of "Bears Country". Oh, to see the commotion around us! This was my son's art project at preschool this week. All the clerks at the grocery store, all the people at the gym, everyone is decked out in Bears jerseys. Every business has added a little GO BEARS to the bottom of their marquee. Someone down the street has one of those huge inflatable characters in their yard, a big Bears player. Cars are driving by with Bears flags flying off of them. The Trib is all about Super Bowl coverage. When we picked up dinner last night I noticed that someone had scratched "Go Bears" into the ice on the pickup window. Yes, things are at fever pitch around here, and it's fun to be a part of it. Keep your fingers crossed. My husband is a life-long Cubs and Bears fan. He's ready for his team to go all the way!

Thursday, February 01, 2007

o blessed day

Thank you, February, for arriving today. For being short. For giving us another holiday to look forward to. For pushing January to the bottom of the rotation.

See you in 2008, January.