Monday, September 29, 2014

the dreaded day ~ and other stuff on a monday

 Last Thursday - September 25th - was the five year anniversary of Phil's passing.
(That's Phil in the green and white striped shirt, between me and Brian.) This was
the last family photo taken of the four of us in July 2009. We were celebrating Phil's
21st birthday at one of his favorite restaurants - Maggianos. Anniversary dates are
never easy. I don't think it matters how many years it's been been. Brian and I drove
out to Tim's place after he got out of school and we went to the cemetery together, then
out to dinner. I'm thankful that Tim isn't going to school far away where we couldn't
just hop in the car and be at his place in 1-1/2 hours.

On to other news...I finally saved up enough money to buy a nice lens for the Canon Rebel
xsi camera that Tim gave me a couple of years ago. (He was given a much nicer camera
for shooting a wedding.) I got a great deal on this lens from a seller on eBay. This lens itself
retails for almost $500! I was able to get this lens for a little more than half the retail price.
And it's in perfect condition. Now for the even harder part: learning how to use this camera
and lens! I have never used a DSLR camera before - just a point-and-shoot. Just looking
at all the buttons and knobs and stuff on both the camera and lens have me overwhelmed.
I know there's tutorials online, so that's where I'll start. Tim told me to learn how to shoot in
manual, not automatic.

 Speaking of photographs, there's nine of Tim's photos that I want to mat and frame
and hang on a wall in his old room/the guest room. I laid them out on my bed today
and I think this is how I want to display them on the wall. Now I need to make a trip
to Hobby Lobby or Michaels and check out my framing options. I'll wait to purchase
all of the frames until one of the places has a 40% off sale.

The weather here in northern IL continues to be just about perfect every day: warm
temps, tons of sunshine during the day, and cool nights. My desk faces a west window
so that the late afternoon sun comes streaming in - which the cats love. I caught Miss
Clemmie rolling around in delight yesterday. 

Sir Zippo prefers to just nap. Smart boy.

 One last thing ~ did I tell you that I'm back in my regular yoga class now that my
shoulder is feeling much better? After almost a year in a gentle class, it feels so
good to be back in my regular class where I feel a bit challenged. Namaste!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

autumn eases in

Here it is, the first day of autumn. It slipped in with all its splendor, casting upon us the
clearest blue skies, a warm breeze, and maple trees tinged with red. 

Kitties sit in open windows and chitter at the squirrels who are teasing them
from the tree limbs.

 Touches of fall decor have been unearthed from a bin in the basement simply marked
"Fall" and placed around the house.


 Homemade soups are once again becoming a staple on our dinner table,
providing nourishment and warmth for the cooler, longer nights ahead.

Goodbye, summer. Hello, fall. You always bring a tinge of sadness laced
with all that beauty. 

Joining Cozy Little House - Tweak it Tuesday.

Friday, September 19, 2014

around my home ~ indoors and out

Hello, friends ~ how's your week been? I was actually sick most of the week; but 
nothing major. Just a raw, sore throat, headache and tiredness. Just enough to make
me feel yucky and not have a lot of energy. I doubled my vitamin D and took a
tried-and-true supplement, Allibiotic. I swear by this stuff. If you take it at the first sign 
of a cold or scratchy throat, you can pretty much avoid a full-blown cold. At least that's
how it's worked for me, Brian, and Tim. (My mom swears by it, too.)

Do you remember the round, wooden mirror I bought a couple of months ago
and couldn't decide where to put it in my living room? I had thought it would look good
on the fireplace wall ~ here's Brian holding it up for me. Nope, too small. And I wasn't 
keen on hanging sconces or anything else beside it to balance it out and fill in the
 white space. 

Turns out, I found a better spot for it: on the wall right inside our front entrance. I hung two
 San Francisco prints on the smaller wall to the side. The larger one is a vintage painting
that we picked up in an antique shop last year and the small print is just a page from
a calendar that I framed. The city of SF holds a special place in our hearts, as that's
where we spent our 25th anniversary five years ago.

I think the new mirror looks a lot better than the gold, oval mirror that was there before.
 I was getting tired of the plates, too. The gold mirror is now in the master bedroom.


The past two weekends, I've frequented a farm in our area to buy a ton of tomatoes
and some other veggies, as this is pretty much it until next summer. (Waah!) 

We enjoyed one last batch of fresh gazpacho ~ so easy to make in a food processor.

Topped with cucumber and avocado, it made a delicious and healthy lunch.

And then with the rest of the crop, I put tomatoes, garlic, and rosemary in a big
roasting pan and tossed all with olive oil and salt. I slow-roasted in the oven for a 
couple of hours until the tomatoes were saucy. The house smelled so good! Then I
packed the sauce into freezer bags. I have five bags in my freezer right now. It'll be
so awesome to use these summer tomatoes in spaghetti sauce, chili and soups 
this winter.

And then going on around my yard...Brian planted these fountain grasses in the little
ditch area in front of our house beside the driveway. We don't have sidewalks in our
neighborhood. The other side of our driveway has a larger ditch and that's filled with 
tiger lilies. I'm happy to see that these grasses are doing well and have grown a lot in 
the past month that they were planted. I can't wait until a few years down the  road when
 they're really tall and they sway in the breeze. Fountain grasses have always been one
 of my favorite plants, especially in the fall.

All my potted flowers are still going strong.

In my butterfly garden, the sedum is in full bloom. I never used it as a cutting flower until
I saw a few bouquets on blogs. I now have a bunch in a Mason jar on my kitchen table
and I'm happy to report that this is a great cutting flower ~ they still are colorful and sturdy
even after a week on my table.

Looks like my cherry tomatoes are pretty much done for. All the leaves are
drying up. Makes me sad. I love being able to step outside my door and pick 
fresh tomatoes off the vine. And cut flowers for the table and pick herbs to use
in my cooking. Can you tell I'm a warm weather person?

Farewell to the Black-Eyed Susans, too.

Have a wonderful weekend!

Monday, September 15, 2014

30 years

Thirty years ago today, I said, "I do" to Brian in front of about 110 loved ones.
It was a beautiful, sunny day and we were married outdoors in a lovely garden
setting. We were just kids - I had just turned 22 and Brian, 24. Of course, when you 
take those wedding vows, you have no idea what life will throw at you in all the years
down the road. Just six weeks after we were married, Brian's mother passed away
 (she had cancer). We've also been through the death of my dad; our firstborn
son, Phil; illnesses; surgeries (me); financial troubles; job security worries; a severe
car accident; sleepless nights with newborns and teenagers; on and on. I don't mean
to be all doom and gloom...naturally, there have also been a lot of wonderful times and
memories, too. It's a good thing we have each other.

We celebrated a little early by spending the day in Madison, Wisconsin on Saturday.
We started out by walking the farmer's market by the Capitol building. We had read
online that this 300-vendor market was crowded and they weren't kidding. We 
could see the throngs of people by the tents as soon as we started crossing the street.

There were a ton of produce vendors...we bought green beans, gold and red beets
(I hate beets, but I roasted them for Brian), parsnips, and even some farm-grown
popcorn kernels. I couldn't get any photos of all the veggies; it was much too crowded.
I did manage to get a photo of this array of beautiful mums though.

After the farmer's market, we walked all around the downtown area, hoping to
find some interesting stores to explore, but didn't see anything that caught
our eyes except for an independent bookstore.

We were getting hungry and wanted to leave so we could go out to lunch, but we
couldn't find the parking garage where we parked our car! Brian usually has a great 
sense of direction and can find anything, but not this time. It was actually me who realized
 we were not going in the right direction and suggested going another way - and I was right. 
By the time we got to our car, we figured we had walked for several miles. We chose to
eat at a place called Tex Tubb's Taco Palace, which had great Yelp reviews.

We started out with chips and salsa and I had a delicious mango margarita. I 
rarely eat steak but the steak tacos sounded good, so I gave those a try. Brian had
the shrimp tacos.

We drove to another area to check out a couple of little shops and while we
were walking to the shops, we came upon some beautiful landscaping. I wish
my side yard looked this lush and pretty!

I thought these tall, purple flowers were so pretty with their interesting stalks.
Anyone know what they are?

I had to laugh when we were by one of the shops and I saw a sidewalk sign
announcing a library book sale. I told Brian we just had to go check it out!
It was the last day of their sale, so you could fill an entire paper bag for only $4.
Here's our loot.

We're lying pretty low today. Brian has the day off work and we met up with Tim
for lunch. I'm under the weather, so that's the most excitement we've had today.
Otherwise, I've just been doing little bits of housework, reading, and napping.
Oh ~ Brian did gift me with a pair of beautiful pearl earrings. Pearls are the
traditional gift for 30 years of marriage. 

 "Grow old with me, the best is yet to be."

Friday, September 12, 2014

for the love of books

 I love me a good library book sale. I traveled 23 miles to get to this one today.
I read somewhere that it was either THE largest library book sale in the country, or
at least one of them. There were over 110,000 books organized into 115 categories.
It was awesome, but a little overwhelming. And the one thing I didn't care for with
this sale was that the books were individually priced. Every other library book sale
I've been to - and I've been to a lot of them - the books had set prices, such as $1
for softcover and $2 for hardcover. Most of the softcover books here were $2 or $3
each which isn't terrible, but a little higher priced than other library book sales.

Sorry for the bad photo quality (I was using my phone), but as you can see, it
was row after row of books. The sale was held in the gym of a big recreation center.
Notice everyone is wearing coats? Yep, it is cold here. It's only been in the 40's the
past couple of days. With clouds and bursts of rain on top of it. Very yucky. Way too
early for this nonsense. Good thing it's not supposed to last long. 

Someone sure came to the book sale in style. Too bad it wasn't me!

So, here's the stack I came home with. The Dennis LeHane book, Sin in the Second
City, and the Frank Sinatra CD are for Brian. I've already read The Snow Child - this
copy was picked up for a friend. I saw on Goodreads that it was on her Want to Read
list. Speaking of Goodreads, are you on this site? It's a great way to keep track of
the books you've read, what you want to read, and see what your friends are reading.

 What are you reading right now? I just finished Carry On, Warrior by Glennon Doyle Melton,
which was excellent. She reminds me a little of Anne Lamott (one of my favorite authors),
but with a little more Christianity thrown in. I just picked up a non-fiction book called,
Inventing the Rest of Our Lives by Suzanne Braun Levine and so far, it's just "OK". I
got the latest issue of Better Homes and Gardens in the mail yesterday, so I'm looking
forward to delving into that. Looks like it's full of autumn goodness. 

Hope you all have a fantastic weekend! We're heading up to Madison, Wisconsin
tomorrow for a day trip. Will be back on Monday to share it with you.

Monday, September 8, 2014

welcome to my office ~ little changes

After several years of just having blinds in my office, we finally got some curtains
hung! And by "we", I mean the husband. He's such a good guy. I would have no idea
how to do something like this. I never did claim to be the DIY type.  

 Granted, the curtains are nothing fancy. Just simple sheer panels from IKEA. I 
wanted this room to stay light, so I just chose to use one panel per window and pull
it to the side. It's far from perfect and they puddle on the floor, but I like the softness
they add to the room. And, obviously I don't stage photos, otherwise that lovely fan
would not be in the photo.

In this view, you can see both windows.

The red chair is a great napping spot for Zippo. Our family photo (last one taken
of the four of us in July 2009 before Phil {green striped shirt} passed away just two
months later) hangs in this room, which is the perfect spot ~ as this used to be Phil's
room. In fact, in person I don't actually call this room my office. We still call it 
"Phil's room".  The beautiful quilt belonged to an elderly friend of ours. He used
to sleep under it as a child at his aunt's house.

Another small change...  I moved a small drop leaf table beside the red chair to hold
 my laptop and a lamp.

The other side of the room has Phil's memory shelf, a bookcase, a bulletin
board, a basket of cookbooks, and my exercise stuff. It looks too busy and
cluttered like this, so I'm working on decluttering this area.

 Happy Monday ~ and thanks for visiting.