Monday, April 28, 2014

weekend in milwaukee

 Hello friends ~ it's a gloomy day here in northern Illinois and from looking at the
weather forecast, not much is going to change within the next 10 days. I would've
thought with the month of May coming up, that the days would be warmer and sunnier
and that I could finally get flowers, veggies, and herbs planted and the patio all set
up. After the loong, bitterly cold winter we had, I guess it's still taking Mother Nature
a long time to warm up. I did plant some chives in my herb garden yesterday and my
pea plants are awaiting us to build a simple trellis, but that's as far as we've gotten.

Brian and I enjoyed an overnight stay in Milwaukee, Wisconsin this weekend.
We stayed at a Four Points by Sheraton hotel and were impressed with how they
had updated the rooms. They have a more modern vibe now, which we really liked.
I enjoy several different decorating styles ~ traditional, cottage, mid-century modern,
and a more masculine modern. I suppose that's why it's hard for me to settle on just
one look! Anyway, we thought it was clever how the bedside lights were built into
each side of the headboard. Makes reading in bed easier and is a nice space saver.

 We also liked how the TV was mounted on a beam on the wall instead of just 
directly on the wall. You could take this idea in different directions according to your
decorating likes. I could see using a big piece of reclaimed wood to mount the TV on.

 I loved this mirror. I'm looking for something similar for the wall over my fireplace.

 Friday night, we had dinner at Cempazuchi - a mexican restaurant we had seen
featured on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. It was every bit as good as Guy Fieri claimed
it was...from the peanut and sesame based salsa to the huge variety of tequilas and
hand-poured margaritas to the homemade mole sauce. (Little side note: I am a huge mole
aficionado. I may or may not be known for licking mole sauce off my plate in
restaurants when no one was looking.)

 And when the waitress told me they had homemade ("never mixes here!", she proudly
proclaimed) Sangria, I was in. I told her I'd have one. She then said, "OK! Would you
like white, rose, or red?" I was like, "Are you kidding me? You not only have homemade
Sangria, but three different kinds? How do you decide on which one to have?" She 
replied, "Oh, I usually work my way up...white, rose, then red!" I thought that was pretty
funny and clever, but I chose to stick to one. I had the rose Sangria and it was delish.

On Saturday, we went to the Mitchell Park Conservatory Domes.

Our favorite dome was the desert one ~ perhaps because we've never experienced
this type of environment. We found the cacti especially fascinating.

It's so amazing to see such beautiful flowers growing on desert plants.

 We got a kick out of this plant: Old Man Cactus! Evident because of it's long,
white "hair".

 We also went into the tropical dome, which was lush with beautiful plants and
water features. It was so humid in there though, that we started feeling a little
sick and had to leave to get some cool air.

 We then headed to the Milwaukee Public Market, which we've been to several
times. We had lunch there and walked around just to "window shop".

Our last stop of the day was walking around Milwaukee's Historic Third Ward
neighborhood. We found this great junk shop called Hoarder's World. It has three 
floors of stuff and junk packed to the ceiling. We didn't buy anything, but it was fun
to look around.

My favorite part of the shop? The owner's dog, Champ who was resting
outside. What a sweet pup.

Hope your weekend brought you some fun as well! 
Happy Monday, everyone.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

a city friend's beautiful home ~ and a day out

 Yesterday I drove into Chicago to spend the day with my childhood best friend.
We call each other our "oldest friend" since we've known each other since we
were three years old! We lived across the street from each other in the suburbs
for ten years ~ until my family moved to Kentucky for a few years. We only talked
to each other and saw each other a few times in our 30's and 40's, but it's been
about the past ten years that we've really connected again. 

I've always loved my friend's house. It's a typical small, Chicago bungalow but my
friend has made the inside so earthy, warm, and peaceful. I always feel so 
comfortable in her home. In the front living area of the house, there's a big,
cushy chair just perfect for reading a book, writing an email, or just daydreaming.
(Sorry for the poor quality of the photos - I was using my phone camera.)

I love how she created a private office space in a small area by using
a bookcase as a sort of privacy screen.

This photo is with my back to the front windows, looking into the living room
and dining room. Love the arched doorway and crown molding.

How cool is the built-in hutch in the dining room...and take a look at that awesome
vintage chandelier! The windows in her house are to-die for, too. No wonder
she doesn't cover them with drapery - they're too pretty to cover up!

How in the world they got this ginormous painting into the house is beyond
me. I know it certainly wouldn't fit through a doorway!

The kitchen and small lounge area/kid's playroom is in back of the house, as 
you walk through the dining room. Unfortunately, this was the only shot I got at the 
time. But it does show some of the unique features of this area...the wooden ceiling,
open cabinetry, the gorgeous kitchen island, and brick-like flooring.

Meet the furry resident of the house, Sky. You can just tell he knew I was taking
his photo. He was so posing.

 I think he got a little bored with my antics though.

 We spent hours walking to all kinds of cool shops...children's stores, a huge
thrift shop, an antique store, an art store, an independent bookstore, a few other 
women's shops with items that you'd never see anywhere else, and one of my very 
favorite garden centers: Gethsemane Garden Center. It spans two entire city blocks!
Their outdoor space has flowers, trees, herbs, vegetables and statuary. One indoor
space contains all houseplants, succulents, and all kinds of tropical plants. Another
indoor space has things like garden decor, seeds, bulbs, and vases. And yet another
building contains unique gifts and findings from all over the world. I didn't do much
photo taking while we were out - this was the only photo I took at the garden center.

I bought a few plants ~ garlic chive and a couple of pea plants. I could probably
plant them outdoors now, but it's really chilly again. We even had a frost warning
last night. I don't want to take any chances. But another cool thing I bought at
Gethsemane that I've been wanting for a long time, was an air plant! I haven't 
hung it up yet, but when I do, I'll take a photo and post about it.

Monday, April 21, 2014

wonderful, low-key easter celebration

 What a wonderful weekend...Tim came home, Brian was actually off work (a rarity -
his job is not a Monday-Friday one), and the temperature was in the 70's!
My first flowers of spring made their debut.

Tim took Zippo outside to munch on some grass. Zippo loves to go outside,
but we don't purposely let him out to roam the neighborhood. So this was
a compromise. Zippo got his fresh air and sunshine, but he didn't get to wander.

Easter dinner was just the three of us, and my mom and cousin.
I don't have a separate dining room, so the five of us squeezed around the
little kitchen table, which worked out fine. I set up all the food ~ ham, salad,
marinated asparagus, corn casserole, potato salad, fruit salad, homemade
cookies, and two pies buffet style on my countertops. I also put out a pitcher
of lemon water, a pitcher of iced green tea, and a couple of bottles of wine ~
along with the appropriate glasses, so people could just serve themselves.
This photo cracks me up...I noticed Tim was the only one with food on his plate.
He was so hungry, he dove in before I officially called that "dinner was served"!

After dinner, we all sat out on the patio in the sunshine, relaxing and talking
and just enjoying each other's company.

Oops, how could I forget our furry guest, Miss LuLu? This is my mom's
adorable, sweet little dog. She and my cats get along just fine. They probably
think she's one of them since she's so tiny.

For those of you who celebrate Easter, I hope you enjoyed the holiday
with loved ones.  Happy Monday, everyone!

Monday, April 14, 2014

hopping down the bunny trail

 I don't decorate much for Easter now that I don't have little ones at home, but I still
enjoy putting Easter touches in my kitchen. I put some of my favorite bunnies and
vintage egg cups in the china cabinet...

and placed some more bunny items on a shelf next to the china cabinet.
The egg cup on this shelf is a new one from World Market. The other bunnies
and even the miniature teapot were all thrifted in past years.

I keep my kitchen table very simple on an everyday basis due to curious kitties.
If I so much as put a tablecloth on the table or any elaborate place settings,
they must check it out and jump up on the table. So, I won't make a really pretty
tablescape until the last minute on Easter Sunday.

Easter dinner will be small and cozy ~ me, Brian and Tim ~ and my mom and cousin.
I'm picking up a nitrate-free ham at Trader Joes this week and I'll also make 
marinated asparagus and a fruit salad. My mom is making hot cross buns and 
potato salad, and  my cousin is bringing glazed carrots and an apple pie. I'm also going 
to make a pitcher of strawberry-peach sangria.

In other news, I started physical therapy again today for my shoulder. The MRI
last week showed I have a partial tear in my rotator cuff. I'm perfecting the art
of one-armed yoga and at least I can still exercise by walking and biking. I got a
"new" bike last night from a private seller in my town. It's a Schwinn Traverse and
was hardly used. All it needs is new inner tubes in the tires. Little bits of work continue
in the yard as weather permits (we had some warm weather, but then rain moved in
and's now currently snowing!) and in the guest room, too.

Happy Monday, Happy Passover, Happy Easter.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

the color of ocean and sky

 I love color. Lots of, red, green, purple, yellow, pink.
But I think if I had to pick a favorite, it would be blue. And if it's the shade of blue
like the ocean and sky, so much the better.

My living room is done in neutrals but has touches of bright blue...
turquoise, aqua. I recently painted the round mirror in the window
frame a beautiful blue.

I have other touches of blue in the living room ~ plates, candle holders,
lamps, and vases...

...pillows and plant holders.

 Perhaps my love of turquoise and aqua started when I painted this wicker
chair a few years ago. At first I thought it was "too much". Now I love it.

I found the blue throw last year at HomeGoods. I think it adds the perfect
color and balance to the all the neutral going on in the couch, walls, rug,
ottomans, and pictures above the couch.

" Blue is the color of the sky and sea. It is often associated with depth and stability. 
It symbolizes trust, loyalty, wisdom, confidence, intelligence, faith, truth, and heaven. 
Blue is considered beneficial to the mind and body." 

What is your favorite color? Do you show it in your home decor?

Linking up to Green Willow Pond: What We Accomplished Wednesday

Monday, April 7, 2014

new little succulents, signs of spring, and a bunny

 I had a really lovely weekend ~ a nice mixture of time spent with a friend, getting
things done around the house, and starting evening walks with Brian again.
We really slacked off on the walking during the winter. 

You might recall that a month or so ago, I was looking for succulents at Home Depot
and they didn't have any. Well, the other evening we were at HD and while hubby
was looking at boring stuff (gel stain for the front door and register vents), I told him
I'd be in the plant section. I was delighted to find they had gotten in a ton of succulents!

I bought three small ones and planted them in a couple of teacup planters and
a piece of milk glass.

I was also thrilled to see that the spring outdoor plants were on display at Home
Depot. It's always a mental and spiritual lift for me when I start to see beautiful
flowers appearing once again in the garden center. 

Speaking of signs of spring, I was walking around my yard this weekend and
was excited to see that the tiger lilies we transplanted around the compost bin
 last fall were coming up. This little area used to be a burn pit years ago, but now
 that we don't burn any yard waste (still legal in our area, but I have terrible allergies
 and burning really drives my allergies insane) and this was an ugly the
compost bin isn't exactly attractive either, we decided to fill the pit with dirt and move
 the compost bin into the center. To make the area more attractive, we planted the lilies
around it. We'll also need to re-seed with grass seed this spring.

 I mentioned spending time with a friend this weekend...we spent the morning going
to five thrift shops. My friend was in search of a small dresser, but no luck. In fact,
none of the thrift stores had any exciting treasures. Neither one of us bought anything.
We stopped for a bite of lunch, then on to a local art studio to paint a ceramic piece.
I have not painted ceramics since I was a teenager, so let's just say I was new
to this. The lady that ran the shop did show us a few pointers so that we weren't
totally clueless. I decided to start simple and chose a small bunny to paint...

 And this is how the bunny looked when I was done. It goes in the kiln this week and 
then I'll pick him/her up. Can't wait to see how it looks when he's/she's all shiny. It was 
more fun and relaxing than being serious about what we were painting. This studio offers
various classes, so perhaps we'll take some sort of painting class in the near future.

 Happy Monday!