Tuesday, May 29, 2007

heading out

I am getting ready to leave this afternoon for a few days on a business trip. In fact, this week kicks off a 3-week period of travel for me. Some is for work, some is for pleasure. All of it promises to be good.

I won't be blogging for awhile, but if I can I will check in with all of you, visiting you in your homes and catching up on what you're doing. I wish you a happy beginning to your summer. See you in June!

Friday, May 25, 2007

what's better?

...than going to your mailbox and finding an adorable thank-you note from one of your best friends? Brig, this wasn't necessary, but you should know that it's made my day. So, thank you.

here it is

all set for summer!

can we build it!?

Plans are in motion to tear the house down across the street* from us. Prep work started this morning. We received a letter in the mail yesterday which said that demolition will be May 30-31st. If you are a Bob the Builder fan, if you have an almost fanatical obsession with diggers and cement mixers, if you eat, sleep, (and dream) construction, consider visiting us next week. It's bound to be a good show.

*house being torn down is owned by a young couple who purchased the house from her parents. They are planning to live in the new home that is built. This seems like a new twist on teardowns around here (usually it's - old homeowners leave, new house is built, new homeowners come in), so we're excited to see what's constructed...

Thursday, May 24, 2007

have you seen this?

It's the pink seersucker Issac Mizrahi swimsuit from Target. I would have never known it was out there if I hadn't become so immersed in blogland. Someone was talking about it on a blog a few weeks ago, so I ended up looking for it in my local Target store and buying it (I have the tankini top and the side-tie bottom.) It's pretty darn cute. $40 is what I paid, though I think you can pick it up now for around $30 on the Target website.

Yesterday's trip to the city was exhilarating. Aside from a successful business meeting, I stumbled into a 25% off swimsuit sale at Macy's. And I happened to find another cute suit. I would post a picture, but I can't find one online and my camera batteries are charging. I know you would like it if you saw it, though.

Two new swimsuits in one season! I have not had this much success in the swimsuit category since I was a child. I was thinking that I'd return one, but now I'm having second thoughts. How often is it that you find a suit you actually like, never mind two? And it isn't even Memorial Weekend yet!

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

catching the 8 o'clock

This is a treat. I'm catching a train to the city this morning for a business meeting. My destination is one of the buildings you see in the picture above. I'll be slipping on my is-she-or-isn't-she-a-mom mask as I ride into town. Wonder what my fellow commuters will guess? It's so tempting to wear flip flops, but I think that will give me away. Maybe not if I'm casually reading the WSJ. Will be back this afternoon in time to watch the newest episode of Bob the Builder with members from my favorite construction crew. Hope your day is a good one, too.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

someone's always watching

Let's say you live near a Wonder-Hostess bakery outlet (and, oh yes, those delightful places do exist.) In addition to getting great deals on bread and muffins, you can pick up those sometimes hard to find grocery items, like Light Hostess Cupcakes (have you tried finding these at the grocer? Not an easy task.)

Let's say you live less than 2 miles away from the outlet. It'll be easy to justify in your mind that you can go back as often as necessary. So it's no big deal if the box of 8 cupcakes somehow shrinks to a box of 1 in less than 24 hours.

Let's say your kids didn't know the cupcakes were in the house and your husband doesn't eat junk food. No one can point a finger at you when the stash is diminished. Right?

Well, no, actually. My experience is that there's always someone who keeps an eye on you. Call it your subconscious. Call it your inner voice. Call it the last, lone cupcake in the fridge. Someone will be there, calling you out on what you did. Making you think twice about going back for more.

Monday, May 21, 2007

sunday scenes

A little low on news today, so instead I'll show you what was going on here yesterday.

First, my Mother's Day roses are still holding on. When they first arrived they were pale pink, but as the blooms have opened over the past week, they've turned into a beautiful shade of cream. Wish you could smell them through your screen. They are still fragrant and obviously very lovely.

Next, we had a visit from Fireman Small out on the porch after lunch. He wouldn't have shown up without Daddy's help.

Finally, new best friends mowed the lawn together. The little guy wants to do everything with the big guy these days. Well, almost everything...I still get a lot of snuggle time. In the picture below they are walking right by the tomato plants (which by the way, sailed through the frosty night last Thursday.)

I'll be back soon. Have a wonderful day!

Friday, May 18, 2007

Dad, you were right

When my parents drove up here last weekend, my dad came ready to work. He brought 2 more of the wicker tables that had belonged to my grandmother, and spray painted them out behind my garage (he tried to bring 2 more chairs but couldn't get them to fit right on the top of my mom's car.) He fixed our broken doorbell. He hung up a sign on the porch. Because I rely on his extensive knowledge about it, he went out and selected the wine for my party. He bought tomato plants for our garden. But he didn't plant them.

When I asked him why he didn't want to plant them (it was more of a whine, "Daa-ad, wwhhyy not? "), he said we needed to wait a few more days. Until after the "three sisters" pass - May 16th, 17th, and 18th. He said it's an old German farming rule of thumb, he learned it from his grandfather. It's not enough to wait until May 15th. You have to wait for the 3 sisters to pass to avoid risk of a late spring frost.

Now, I've Googled "three sisters", and where crops are concerned, I am not seeing anything about planting dates. I see results about companion planting, as in, plant your beans, squash, and corn all together (could be that this is common knowledge to all of you green thumbs out there.) But never for a moment do I doubt my dad. I'm sure the rule exists. He's the smartest guy around.

But anyway, we didn't wait. The tomato plants went into the ground on Sunday, May 13th. As we were getting ready to plant them, I told my husband about the 3 sisters warning. But we both agreed that a few days ahead of time shouldn't make any difference. After all, the forecast on Sunday said we would have a mild week.

Of course, you all know how the forecast can change.

So, with a frost warning in place last night, I called Dad after dinner for some advice. He did not say "I told you so". But he did tell me what to do (that's why you see my little plants under cover up there.) In a little while I'll go out to see how they did overnight. I just called Dad a few minutes ago and he says sprinkle them with a little water as I uncover them. I'll let you know how they fared.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

how'd they do that?

I promised you an update on the window boxes, so here we are. Since last Friday was my party, and the boxes were empty, we had to act quickly. My husband did not have time to cut out the screens. But fortunately, we took Rick up on his offer and borrowed his ladder. One night after work last week, my husband dragged the ladder out from our back yard, set it against the house, and climbed on up. He just set our flowers inside the boxes, they are still in their little plastic pots. If you can see, there are red geraniums and a little yellow-greenish ivy. It worked out great as a temporary solution until we (he) can get back to the windows this weekend and cut those screens out. We've had just enough rain to keep the flowers thriving in their pots. So far, so good!

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

testing, testing, 1, 2, 3...


You are very perceptive and smart. You are clear and to the point and have a great sense of humor. You are always learning and searching for understanding.

Find out your color at QuizMeme.com!

Borrowing shamelessly from Sisters with Style, I present to you...drumroll...the color test. What is your color? What does it say about you?

I admit I'm a sucker for online tests. You may have guessed this since I've posted one or two here before. Are you? I think nothing of grabbing paper & pencil in the middle of the afternoon to score my way through emailed personality tests. It doesn't matter how long they are or how much time they waste. No, I didn't get a chance to schedule a dentist visit today, but I did confirm that I'm still an ENFJ. Good thing, too. You never know when your personality will change.

The continuing evolution of all the tests you can take to better understand yourself only fuels my interest. Yes yes, there's what color are you. But have you taken what does your favorite color say about you? Two different tests. How about what song are you? Maybe that's too general. Ok, which hit song from 2005? There's much, much more. What kind of traveler are you? Do you worry too much? Which TV character are you most like? Quite awhile ago I took the Desperate Housewives test (I'm Lynnette). Recently I took a few minutes to do the flower test on TulipMom's site. The results show that I am a snapdragon. Hmm. Wonder what that means?

I'm sure one of the reasons that these tests are so irresistible to me is because they provide results that are generally flattering and nice to read. Come on, just look at the results above. It doesn't matter how I fare in real life, my online color test suggests that I'm smart. Don't you love reading that you're creative? Successful? Fun to be around? The people behind these tests and quizzes know what they're doing. If you need more proof of that, pay a little visit to this site today. Spend a minute or two. Or ten. But don't say I didn't warn you.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007


The party was great. Wow, and all of your comments... I felt like I had my own personal little cheering section with me on Friday! Thank you for that.

We had so much food at the party, almost too much. Thinking that it would be just the opposite, I whipped up a few things at the last minute. We didn't even get to my favorite dessert, Gooey Butter Cake:

The whole thing was intact until Saturday a.m., when I started in on the interior. I've been working away at it little by little, as you can see. The good thing about this dessert is that it is very rich. So even if you think you can eat the whole pan, you can't. Still, I might have to send the rest in with my husband to work today. The party is indeed over.

Anyway, if you're a southerner, you may already know and love this dessert. If not, I highly encourage you to throw out worries or cares about cholesterol and calories and make this for yourself (and some special friends) very soon. It's delish!

Gooey Butter Cake

Mix and spread in a (lightly greased) 9x13 pan:
1 yellow cake mix
2 eggs
1 stick of butter
1 teaspoon vanilla

Top with (mixed together)

1 8-oz. package cream cheese
2 eggs
1 16-oz. box powdered sugar (reserve a little for sprinkling on top of cake after baking)

Bake 35-40 minutes at 350 until lightly golden. Center will be soft and (of course) a little gooey. Sprinkle a little powdered sugar on top.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Thursday, May 10, 2007

perfectly ok

Tomorrow night I am hosting a party. I've been planning it for awhile, and I'm excited about it. You see, it's just for the ladies. All the important women in my life (well, nearly all...) We're going to eat, drink, and shop. What's better than that?

But, you know how it goes when you're the host. You go into overdrive, trying to get everything just right. I've devoted the last 3 weeks to party prep. Painting, painting, (more painting), arranging furniture on my newly freshened porch, buying this and that for it. My husband (poor guy) has heard more than his fair share of requests beginning with, "before the party, can we...?" And he's done as much as he can to get to all the items on the list. We both have.

But you know what? Not everything got done. I realized late Tuesday night that some things just weren't going to happen. Painting the porch floor. Getting the front garden beds under control. Heck, even planting my window boxes (although I do have a little shortcut there, and if I get a chance I'll post a picture.)

Whatever disappointment I was feeling about not accomplishing all the things on my list was scrapped when I heard some sad news earlier this week. The news was about a friend of a friend. And it put things in perspective for me. It 'righted' my tilted view.

There's nothing like a dose of real life to make you understand - however briefly - priorities. The timing couldn't have been better in my case.

Instead of focusing on what I don't have on Friday, I'm going to think about all the blessings that I do have. I'm going to relax, enjoy myself, and enjoy all the wonderful women who will be here. I'm sure when they look around my little cottage they will see only the good things, not what needs to be done or what needs attention. And I'm going to see the same.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

unexpected difficulty

Behold the window boxes on our dormer windows!

You can't imagine what an accomplishment it is that they are up. Now, I realize you can only see one in this photo. Take my word for it - they're both up.

We've been working on getting window boxes installed since December. I'm not sure you can tell...probably not from this picture...but the pitch of our roof is quite steep. Therefore it's been hard to find little boxes that can fit in the space.

Rick the workman came over Sunday to put them up for us. Dragged his big 2-story ladder out from his truck and set off to tackle the job. He's a great guy, does great work. As he's finishing up with the first one he calls down to me, looks like these screens are tricky, they must come out from the inside. When my husband says he doesn't think they do, Rick says oh, they must, I've never seen screens that don't come out. After he's finished, the two of them trot upstairs and look at the windows from the inside.

Sure enough, the screens don't come out. They don't move or slide or anything. The storm window moves up and down, but the screens stay put. As I'm sure you've guessed, the windows are original to the house.

So then Rick says, you'd better plant bulbs! he he he! And, you can water them from the ground, just point the hose up in the air! When I ask my husband how we're even going to get up there to plant them, Rick says, you can borrow my ladder! he he he!

Yes yes yes. Even the most SIMPLE tasks end up having some kind of unforeseen glitch to them. Don't they? Little window boxes. Little, sweet, cottage-y window boxes. Big problem! No access to them. Not unless you happen to have a gigantic ladder with (as Rick calls them) "antlers" attached to the top. Which we don't.


So. That's where the story ends...for now. The weekend ended and we ran out of time to work on this dilemma. We think we'll have to cut the screens out. I know that's extreme. But both rooms where these windows are have more than one window. And, so what if we get a few bugs when the windows are open? I can't have inaccessible window boxes. We can't rely on Rick's big ladder each season to get up there (and down!) And, I'm not buying a ladder that we otherwise wouldn't use, for the sole purpose of maintaining flower boxes. hmph!

* * * *

To Be Continued...

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

handsome addition

We added shutters to the sides of our house this weekend. It's been part of the plan all along, we've been wanting to do this ever since we finished painting the outside last summer. Ok, so it took us a little while to get to this part of the plan. But now they're up, and they're not coming down!

When we decided to paint the house white last year, we thought black shutters would be a nice contrast. I was all set to add them to our front bay windows, too, but then read that bays should never have them. Makes perfect sense when you think of it...shutters are supposed to fit as if they were still used to shield windows from storms. Without shutters around them, we're still looking for a way to give the bays some contrast. We've brought home wrought iron window boxes but had to return them...the space below the windows makes it difficult to hang anything. When and if we find a pair that work, I'll let you know.

We did find window boxes for our dormer windows upstairs and had them installed this weekend as well. But I need to save that story for next time...

* * * *
P.S. Sesame Street was great!

Saturday, May 05, 2007

7 things

Happy Saturday!

Mary tapped me to play "7 things", so here I go...

* * * *
7 things

1. I am ambidextrous. This is because I'm a lefty. It's a right-handed world, people. Lefties must adapt or they will perish. Really! All lefties are ambidextrous.

2. My husband is a lefty, too. Between the two of us we have 4 very efficient and capable hands.

3. I met my husband on a blind date three weeks after I moved to Chicago. That was 12 years ago.

4. One of the people involved in setting us up was his sister, Lisa. She lives out of town now but we keep up through email and also through the blogworld. You may have seen her comments on your blog. She always has something nice to say.

5. Before staying home with my children, I worked in advertising. So I always enjoy reading about what Lisagh is up to at work.

6. I still do quite a bit of work as an independent contractor for my old agency, as well as other agencies and businesses in town. Working on the side like that helps me maintain a nice balance in my life.

7. Today I have tickets to see Sesame Street Live. I've never been. There are two little people in my house who could barely sleep last night and who were up at 5 this morning because they are so excited about it. Maybe we should have waited to tell them until after breakfast?

* * * *
Play on! I tap Kellie, Heather, and Navybluegirl. Have fun, ladies!

Thursday, May 03, 2007

thought provoking

If you're interested in a new book, may I recommend Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin. It's a true story about one man (Greg Mortenson) who, after a failed attempt at climbing K2, finds himself forever changed after witnessing the hardships of the lives he sees in Pakistan. He begins a personal quest to build schools for the children in remote Pakistani villages (mostly girls) as a way of promoting peace throughout regions that encourage Islamic extremism.

Though I found the writing itself to be almost too detailed, this is a fascinating story. It provides an encouraging, if not challenging, prescription of what can be done to promote peace and harmony in a post 9/11 world. And it helps explain why we should care about helping people beyond our borders.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

back at it

Now that it's warm out, I've taken up running again. And as always, it's so hard. No matter what I seem to do at the gym during the winter, it seems I'm never in good enough shape to just ease into it out there. It's always an uphill climb at first. Lots of huffing and puffing and sidewalk pedestrians moving out of the way when they hear me coming up behind them (they can hear me about half a block away.) I know it will get better in about a month. Maybe less.

I don't run long distances. I rarely if ever go farther (or is it further?) than 3 miles. This is good for me. It's the range that seems to be the best fit.

Several years ago, when we lived in the city, I got into this kick about pushing myself to run longer and longer distances. I think I just wanted to see if I could do it . Also, I was inspired by the joggers I saw every morning down by the lake. I figured, if they can do it, why not me? I started keeping a daily log of my runs on the Hal Higdon website. It was kind of exciting to see my progress over the months, to see that what I thought was impossible was actually - possible! I'd go out in the morning for a run by the lake, then come into work and log my miles on the computer. I saw my distance building like a graph chart. 3 miles, 3.5 miles, 3.7 miles, 4.1 miles, 4.6 miles...and so on. I peaked around 7.5 miles. That was plenty, I didn't have to prove anything to myself after that point. Plus, I got pregnant. My interests changed.

Today I don't think about pushing the distance, I think about pushing myself out the door. But hopefully not for too long. When summer really gets going, I'll be just fine.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

this just in

Before leaving for work this morning my husband took out the glass in our front storm door and put in the screen. Hooray! Spring really is here!

P.S. That browned out grass that you see? That's part of the area where our new garden beds will be. Not to worry, it's all part of the master plan. ;)

3 coats later...

I was hoping to show you my beautifully painted porch this morning...but wouldn't you know, I'm not finished painting. ah! Somewhere in the middle of coat #2 I decided that it needed a third coat. Yes, yes, yes. Trying to keep up my enthusiasm here. I finished coat #3 late Sunday and started in on the white trim. I'm hoping that's just 2 coats...we'll see. The important thing is that it will all be over soon. I hope. And then on to more exciting things! Chair cushions! Floor rug! Room accessories! Fun finds to share! Stay tuned.

In related news, my husband spent the whole weekend creating a garden bed at the back of our garage that wraps around to the back door of the porch. He went to an Arbor Day sale on Saturday a.m. and bought 2 new baby trees for the area. I did not make it outside with my camera, but I'll show that to you soon. While we were admiring the new area (what a change from what was there before - basically nothing!) we started dreaming and scheming about a backyard patio. Mind you, we have our plates full in getting our landscaping situation under control this year, but putting in a patio is so enticing. Did I mention we're having a 4th of July party? Is it possible to get this all done in time...?