Friday, September 21, 2018

on this last day of summer

The end of summer always makes me a little sad. I love the long sun-filled days and the warm temps. (Admittedly, not when it's in the 90's or when the humidity leaves you unable to breathe.) I love the lushness of the trees and abundance of colorful flowers. I love being able to run outside by just slipping on a pair of shoes (or sometimes not). I love being barefoot most of the time. I love the smell of freshly mown grass and the wafting scent in the air of neighbors grilling dinner. I love hanging out on the patio in the evenings, sipping a glass of wine. Can you tell summer is my favorite season?

I've already been dumping pots of withered annuals and washing out the pots and storing them back in the garage until next spring. The only annuals still thriving are the ones on my front porch.

The summer perennials are drying up, too...

Here, the purple coneflower is done showing off and the sedum is taking over.

The morning light coming in through the front door is now muted and casts beautiful shadows. (Oh, and I guess that's a sneak peek at my new Wayfair painting. A post will be coming next week about that.)


No surprise, but I haven't dug out my box of fall decor yet. I have put up a few pieces of fall artwork and today when I was at Trader Joe's, I picked up some small white pumpkins, but that's all I've done as far as fall decorating. I'm in no hurry.

It was 90 degrees here yesterday and this afternoon, it was only in the 60's! Tonight, it's actually going down to 44 degrees. I said to Brian that we could be going from air-conditioning to turning on the furnace in 24 hours. He said, "Welcome to Chicago."

In all seriousness, I am not turning on the furnace. I will put on a hoodie and a pair of socks tomorrow morning if I have to. 

So long, beautiful summer. Until next year....


Monday, September 17, 2018

a weekend full of love

This past Friday night, I had the honor of being part of the women's circle at My First Best Friend's beautiful home. We met when we were three years old and lived across the street from each other. We drifted apart during our late teens - mid 30's because our lives took such different turns - but now that we're reconnected, it seems like we were never apart. Funny how life does that.

The women in this group are some of the most kind, loving, compassionate, beautiful, supportive, intelligent, and amazing human beings that I have ever known. As they say, these women are "my tribe". Our dinners are healthy and mostly vegan, centering around bowls of homemade soup, salads, veggies, fresh fruit, dark chocolate for dessert, and wine. We sit around the table for almost two hours, eating, talking, and laughing - though most times, there's some tears, too.

And then Saturday was mine and Brian's 34th wedding anniversary! We chose to spend the day in a quiet, simple way ~ in our favorite town, walking around to visit our usual choice places...the bakery where they make from-scratch breads and pastries (we love their scones!); a vintage shop; the farmer's market; and an independent bookstore. This sign was outside a florist and plant shop. 

For true relaxation, we then headed to our Happy Place on the lakefront (Lake Michigan) where we spread a blanket underneath a huge oak tree and laid in the dappled sunshine for almost two hours, kind of napping on and off. It's hard to believe while our area is having such beautiful weather (mid-80's, low humidity, brilliant sunshine), that the east coast is being hit with a hurricane.

 It felt so good with the filtered sun, the cool lake breeze, and the sound of the waves hitting the rocks in the background, that we didn't want to leave. But we finally got hungry and had over an hour's drive home. We stopped at the little pizza place that we used to frequent when we were dating. Brian told me he used to go to this place when he was a kid - it's been in business 50 years! 

Me and my honey...I hope we are blessed with another 34 years together. 💓

~ There is only one happiness in this life; to love and be loved. ~
(George Sand)

Thursday, September 6, 2018

time flies ~ a lot of little things

It's been awhile since I've posted. Nothing is wrong; just things in life that are taking up a lot of my time lately, where it's hard to find time to sit down and write a blog post. Then I was having phone and computer problems. Long story short, I use OneDrive for my photos and my photos from my phone weren't syncing to my laptop. I obviously need my photos for a blog post. I spent many hours Googling the problem and trying to fix it. Which I think I finally did late last night. However, when I went into my photos in OneDrive today, I found that I couldn't edit them. But all the photos also went into Dropbox and I could edit them there. Sometimes technology can drive one nuts!

Here in the US, last weekend was Labor Day weekend, which signifies the end of summer - though technically, we still have two-and-a-half more weeks to go. I went to a friend's BBQ on Saturday, though we were all crammed into her small house because of the rain. And on Sunday, I went to another friend's house and we were only able to sit outside for a little while (though it was so hot and humid, we were drenched in sweat) until more rain came. Monday, of course - more rain. In fact, the storms were so severe here that we had a tornado warning. I didn't even know there was a warning - I never heard the sirens go off, nor did the weather alert alarm go off on my phone. It wasn't until my mother called me and asked if I was in the basement, that I found out about the warning! It was a short-lived tornado warning this time - the storm passed us quickly with no damage. Driving past houses and cornfields this week, there's standing water all over the place. The Canada geese are having a ball, splashing around in the "ponds" in some of the now-empty cornfields. We only had a couple of light sprinkles today and it looks like dry weather is finally in the forecast for the next week, though much cooler. Fall is on its way, though I'm still in summer mode.

I had a very unpleasant experience with TJ Maxx yesterday....I will start out by saying that I normally like shopping there because of their decent prices and the ability to find women's clothes that aren't the cookie cutter ones from department stores. Last week, I had picked up a few tops and a lightweight zip-up cardigan. I don't try clothes on in the store, so I brought the clothing home, tried them on, and found the cardigan and one top fit. The other two tops needed to go back. I washed the cardigan and the top that fit on the gentle cycle and in cold water. Then I hung both to dry instead of putting them in the dryer so that they wouldn't shrink. I noticed after the top dried, it looked smaller. So I tried it on again, and sure enough, it was very tight. I was angry and disappointed, as I followed the label instructions for washing and drying. Of course, I didn't have the store tags anymore, since I thought I was keeping this shirt. 

I returned to the same TJ Maxx store to return the tops that didn't fit, plus the one that shrunk. I explained to the clerk what happened to the shrunk shirt and why I wanted my money back. She automatically said that because I washed it, I wasn't allowed to return it - period. That the store return policy was even posted on the front door. I could feel myself getting angry, but I remained calm and firmly stated again that I didn't even wear this shirt. That it was not my fault that the shirt shrunk when I followed the exact washing and drying instructions that were on the care label. And this was not a cheap shirt: it was a Michael Kors. At this point a store manager walked over and reiterated what the clerk had said, but that she'd "make an exception this one time." I said to the manager, "I'll even take a store credit instead of you crediting this back to my debit card." While this store manager was talking to me, she never made eye contact with me and the expression on her face was one of annoyance. I was polite enough to thank her. The clerk then said, "I guess it's your lucky day." I bit my tongue but I wanted to say, "Excuse me? Your store is selling defective merchandise; you don't want to accommodate a customer; and you're saying it's my lucky day because a manger 'made an exception' to your awful store rules?!" 

I have returned clothes to Kohls and Burlington where I found problems with them after they were washed and tagless with no problems at either store. No fuss, no hassle. Instead, an apology and my money back. Guess who has lost a clothing customer?!

On to more positive things...

I won a giveaway from Linda at Itsy Bits and Pieces

I love this huge ball of blue and white vintage twine...I think it'd look great under a cloche. And then Linda also included a bag full of all kinds of vintage pieces, bottle caps, Bingo cards, children's flash cards, a hankie with the original Woolworth's tag still on it, a spool of thread, etc. If you're not familiar with Linda's blog, head over and take a look. Her decorating is beautiful; she does some really creative projects and makeovers; and she always comes up with amazing thrift shop finds.

Hope you all have a great weekend!

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

a little rearranging and reorganizing

It's been hot, muggy and stormy here in Illinois these past few days. Thunderstorms woke me up way too early this morning. I'm also "recovering" from getting a crown at the dentist yesterday. This was my fifth crown and for whatever reason, this one was the worst. Maybe because it was the back bottom molar. My gums and jaw are still a little sore today. I'm eating soft foods...healthy smoothies, scrambled eggs, soup; rinsing with warm salt water; and taking healing supplements ~ which is part of my normal routine, anyway. Then in three weeks, I get to go back to the dentist, have more injections (the dentist told me this was the hardest spot for a dentist to have to inject numbing medication ~ thanks a lot for making my dental phobia even worse, Dr. T!), the temporary crown removed, and the  permanent one put on. Oh well, at least the worst of it is over.

On to better things...our spare bedroom - what used to be Phil's room - is used for my yoga room, a quiet reading spot, doing paperwork, holding extra clothes (in a dresser and in the closet), and corralling my scrapbooking and art journaling supplies. I never liked the look of the plastic storage bins under Phil's memory shelf and the clutter of my yoga supplies in the corner. 

I wanted the plastic bins to go and perhaps put a small dresser underneath Phil's memory shelf instead. I was going to organize the scrapbooking and art supplies in the dresser drawers. But I didn't have a small dresser, so I shopped the house to figure out what else I could do.

This black IKEA cube was in the basement. It used to be in Tim's room when he was away at college, but when he moved back home, he didn't want it in his room. At first, I put this cube in the spare bedroom closet. I thought I could organize some of the art supplies and yoga gear in here.

After moving the cube into the closet (and by this time, I had a lot of things organized in the cube, too), I realized it didn't leave enough room to get into the other side of the closet. And I needed to store the vacuum cleaner in this closet. That would mean having to lift the vacuum cleaner up and over the cube every time I needed to vacuum. Not such a good idea.

I took all the stuff back out of the cube and moved it underneath the memory shelf. Much better! I also removed the garland of heart lights that were hanging from the shelf, which gave this area a neater look. Brian's Crosley record player was also in the basement, so now there's room for that on top of the cube. 

I still have yoga mats and a bolster, and now a basket of my purses in the corner, but once Tim moves into his own apartment (which should be soon), we'll have his bedroom and closet for more storage space.

The plastic bins went into the closet. We don't have doors on this closet, but when the bedroom door is open, it covers the opening to the closet, so you can't see the inside.

And now I have enough room for the vacuum cleaner! (As well as more art supplies and boxes of photos.)

Next organizing project is to clean out my files in the desk drawer, which is the perfect project to work on while I don't feel like going anywhere and it's too hot and humid to work outside.

Have a great week!

Monday, August 20, 2018

birthday celebrations and saturday night live

My birthday was last week and Brian's was at the end of July. We don't make a huge deal out of birthdays, but we do like to recognize them by doing something special. For my birthday, I simply wanted to spend the day in a charming town that's about an hour away, just walking around and popping into certain shops, relaxing on the outdoor patio with a drink, and going out for a nice lunch. 

Now this is my kind of bike: flowers in the front and a crate of wine in the back!

I could be the neighborhood wine lady, sort of like the ice cream man, but for grownups. 😉

I love the way shopping areas in some towns have stunning displays of flowers in the summer.

For Brian's birthday, we went to Chicago to the Museum of Broadcast Communications, specifically to tour the Saturday Night Live exhibit which will be there until the end of the year.

We're both huge SNL fans, having grown up with the best of it in the 1970's - early 80's. I will never forget watching Gilda Radner, John Belushi, Chevy Chase, Eddie Murphy, Dan Aykroyd, Jane Curtin, etc. The exhibit was amazing. It took you through many different rooms filled with this history of SNL, from the characters to the costumes to the props to the staging to the design to the brains behind the show - Lorne Michaels and Dick Ebersol. I took a lot of photos and they aren't the best, since we were in a dark museum and the costumes and props were behind glass. But here's a few of my faves, where I'll let the photos do the talking...

Do you remember the charcter, Turd Ferguson?! You can watch the clip here. So stupidly hilarious. (I think you had to grow up with this stuff to appreciate it.)

The Coneheads were some of my favorite characters...

Some of the silly products from the SNL commercial parodies...

The Bass-o-matic was hilarious!

A replica of the control room....

RIP, Gilda...

The regular part of the Museum of Broadcast Communications was very cool and interesting, too, but I'll save that for another day.

Happy Monday - have a great week!

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

the language of kindness

This afternoon I was in my garage, hunting for my pruning shears. I heard a sweet, quiet voice behind me say, "Excuse me!" I turned and saw two young Mexican girls, one holding a large metal tin of fresh peaches. I knew who these girls were. Their family lives down the street and even though the mother doesn't speak much English, we always smile and say hello to each other. The girl holding the peaches said, "Would you like some peaches?"

This family has four peach trees in their yard. I wasn't sure if they were selling them or gifting them. I replied, "I would love a few peaches!" The girl looked at me shyly and said, "You can have all of them!" I said, "Really? This entire container?" Both girls giggled and said, "Yes!" I told them I was going into the house to get a big bowl and I'd be right back.

As I was gingerly plucking the peaches from the metal tin and putting them into my bowl, I was chatting to the girls about how appreciative I was; to tell their mother I said thank you; and that I might have to make a peach pie. I'm not sure how much they understood, but the whole while, I was being gazed up at with two pairs of big, brown, adoring eyes and the sweetest smiles. They skipped away as I clutched the bowl of prized jewels to my chest and went into my house.

There is no language barrier when it comes to kindness.
Pass it on. 💓

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

please don't rush summer

I've already seen posts all over social media about fall and even - *gasp* - preparing for Christmas!

I just don't understand the rush. It is only the beginning of August. We have over six weeks of summer left. I am not thinking about pumpkins, leaves changing colors, cool days, Halloween, or anything even remotely associated with Christmas.

Maybe it's because I live in an area that has long, dark, cold - even sometimes brutal - winters. It makes us appreciate summer even more.

Our lives are always so rush-rush as it is; why do we find it so hard to slow down and be mindful of what is going on around us now? It's so easy to get in that mindset of what is coming next instead of being present in the moment - whether it's rushing the seasons or even the activity of our everyday lives.

To me, August is the epitome of summer. Everything here in the Midwest is so lush and green and brilliant flowers abound. The roadsides are filled with Queen Anne's Lace, Purple Loosestrife, and some kind of small yellow wildflower that appears in late summer. If the humidity is low, the sky is a brilliant blue and if the humidity is high (which it often is), the sky is dotted with fluffy, cotton candy-like clouds.

I also crave a lot of light and sun, and this is the season to revel in that.

I love when I'm in the kitchen making a meal and decide I need fresh herbs, and being able to slip outside and snip herbs from my containers or little backyard herb garden. Even better when I do it with bare feet. 

And then the fresh produce...another reason I wish summer lasted a lot longer. We are surrounded by corn fields here in northern Illinois. Of course, most of it is GMO and used for animal feed (one reason to buy grass-fed beef, if you can), but two of the local farm stands here carry non-GMO corn that is picked fresh every day.

My own tomato plants are doing terrible this year and I've heard the same comments echoing from others in the area. We think it's from the erratic weather. At the start of summer, we had a deluge of rain to the point of local flooding. Lately, it's been a dry spell. Can't seem to get that nice mix of dry and wet weather. So I've been getting my tomatoes (and peppers) from the local farm stand, too. This is the only time of year I eat raw tomatoes. I can't stand the waxy, tasteless supermarket ones.

I have a friend who gardens on her farmer friend's huge plot of land. My friend is out of town right now, so she had posted on Facebook that she needed people to come every few days and pick veggies. There were about seven of us who volunteered, so my friend set up a schedule for picking.

Brian and I went yesterday morning and came home with onions, swiss chard, jalapeno peppers, tomatoes, beets, carrots, zucchini, one little cucumber, and a ton of green beans. And a couple of sunflowers for the kitchen table. (Yes, she said we could help ourselves to those, too.) Last night we feasted on corn-on-the-cob, sliced tomatoes and steamed green beans. It was a perfect summer meal. Nothing tastes better than vegetables that were just picked that day. I remember when I was little, my grandma grew yellow tomatoes in her garden. I had never tasted one before. She told me how they were a bit sweeter than red tomatoes. She picked a yellow tomato and brought it inside, sliced it up and sprinkled with a little bit of salt. We feasted on the juicy slices, still warm from the sun. To this day, I still prefer sliced yellow tomatoes over red, and I always think of my grandma when I eat them.

On the evenings where Brian's home from work, we walk down to the lake and watch the sunset. Such a beautiful way to end the day.

Oh, the summer night, 
Has a smile of light,
And she sits on a sapphire throne.
(Bryan Procter)

Happy Wednesday, happy summer.