Thursday, July 30, 2015

for the love of houses

In my previous post I said that last Sunday we took a day trip to Evanston and that we walked around a neighborhood so I could take photos of beautiful houses and gardens. I have always had a fascination for houses - inside and out. Even as a child, I loved going to look at model homes with my parents.

These are some of the ones that really caught my attention...the architecture, the colors, the details, the gardens. All so stunning and so much personality.

 Love the red door on this house.

This to-die-for porch. Why weren't the owners sitting out there, sipping their lemonade and watching the passers-by?

This house has so much attention to detail. Check out the window box full of flowers on the upstairs window.

Looks like they divided this stately home into two living quarters. See the two front doors and address numbers with the low wall in-between? I wouldn't mind living on just one side. ;-)

A purple house? Somehow, it works.

This house was a few blocks away, right across the street from Lake Michigan. And, guess what? It can be yours for just $2.2 million, because it's for sale! Click here for all the details. (The back yard and interior are gorgeous.)

You cross the street from the above house to a tree-lined, grassy park with this view.
That's part of the Chicago skyline to the right.

 And now for some of the gorgeous gardens.

Something unique we noticed while walking around neighborhoods and even in the shopping district...colorful knitted yarn pieces wrapped around tree trunks...

hung on fences...

and even wrapped around utility poles.

We were wondering what this was all about. Through a Google search I learned that Evanston's Public Art Committee did their first "yarn bombing" this past winter. You can read about it here if you are interested. I love the color and whimsy it adds to the city and thankful that vandals have left this art untouched. Hope you enjoyed the tour!

Monday, July 27, 2015

long summer days and weekends

 I've been taking a walk every evening once the sun starts going down and it's not so hot. Everything is so alive and vibrant this time of year...yards are exploding with color and lush greenery, baby bunnies are hopping all over, cicadas are buzzing, kids are outside riding their bikes, and well, mosquitoes are competing for human flesh. All can't be perfect.

 Most evenings, my walk takes me down to the lake. That's where I like to pause for a few minutes and reflect on the beauty around me.

 We celebrated Brian's birthday this weekend. After talking with Brian and Tim, we decided it'd be best for the three of us to just chill at home on Saturday instead of going out to dinner. The boys fired up the Weber and grilled pork tenderloin and corn-on-the-cob and I made all the sides, plus dessert. 

Brian's plate...that corn was delicious. We had gone to the farm stand earlier in the day and got the first fresh corn (non-GMO!) of the season. I simply brushed the corn with olive oil, sprinkled with a little salt, pepper and chili powder and the corn was put on the grill just like that - without the husks. They only took about 10 minutes to cook, but Brian and Tim turned them every couple of minutes to prevent total charring.

Brian's favorite birthday cake is banana cake - his mom used to make him banana cake on his birthdays when he was growing up. We've ditched white sugar, so I searched the internet for a banana bread/cake recipe that didn't have sugar in it. I found a recipe on Yummly here that uses honey. And then I searched for a cream cheese frosting recipe and found one that used pure maple syrup instead of confectioners' sugar. You can find that frosting recipe here. We agreed that this cake was really good. We didn't miss the white sugar at all - and so much healthier using an unprocessed sweetener.

After we stuffed our guts, we headed to the family room to watch a movie. We were in the mood for a comedy, and after looking through Netflix, we somehow decided on Hi Fidelity. I think it was seeing that Jack Black was in the movie that did it for us. 

 On Sunday, we took a day trip and had lunch at our favorite little pizza place, hit some sidewalk sales, relaxed at the beach and read for awhile, walked around a beautiful neighborhood so I could take photos of gorgeous homes and gardens (I'll save those pics for another time), and happened upon a pretty little park filled with roses.


We did great at the sidewalk sales. I got this handmade pendant on a sterling silver chain for only $4. 

Found some cool thrifting stuff for 25 cents each, like this rooster pitcher...

A pretty fall pottery vase...

A shallow vase that I'll use for succulents...

and this interesting, large green tray. It's much prettier in person than in the photo. I had my mom and her house in mind when I saw this. I can picture it on her buffet and possibly filled with candles or plants. I'm going to her house later this week, so we can play around with it and see how it looks. If she doesn't like it, no biggy - I'll just donate this piece. For 25 cents, it's worth a try!

And the best bargain of all...FREE! A little book and music shop had everything outside listed for $1 each, but let us know that at 4:00, everything that was left would be free. We did buy a couple of books and a CD at the dollar sale...and then we showed back up at 4:00 and got all these books, two DVD movies, and a few music CDs (Smithereens and Sting). Score! There were a ton of LPs too, but it was so crowded, we just grabbed what we saw at first and got out of there. The owner of the store kept putting out more boxes of stuff. He had a booming voice and was joking around with everyone about taking all they could carry. He yelled, "Heck, if you have a truck, pull it up to the curb and fill it up - I'll even help you load it!" 

Happy Monday - hope your week is off to a good start!

Blessings ~

Thursday, July 23, 2015


My firstborn son, Philip would've been 27 years old on July 21st.
Some of you know that Philip passed away on September 25, 2009 at the age of 21.
The three of us (me, Brian and Tim) spent the day together and went out to dinner.
We talked a lot about Phil and perhaps what he'd be doing now.

Brian thought perhaps Phil would be an Assistant Manager at the store he was working at before his passing. Tim and I said no; he'd be long gone out of that store. We could see him as a truck driver/merchandiser for a company like Frito-Lay, Pepsi or Budweiser. You know those huge delivery trucks you see on the highway and at grocery stores? Phil actually talked about the possibility of doing that when he worked at Jewel (grocery store chain) at one time.

I asked Tim if he thought Phil would be married by now. He laughed and said, "no way". 

We had a family get-together at my cousin's house this past weekend and had a toast (and the most delicious birthday cake I've ever had...this banana split torte was worth breaking my no-sugar eating plan for this one time) to our family members who were all celebrating birthdays at the end of July (yes, there's quite a few of them!), including Phil. For those of you in the Chicago area, this cake was from Weber's Bakery. I normally don't even like bakery cake, but this one was amazing. They don't use any artificial ingredients and it wasn't sickeningly sweet.

 To read more about Phil, you can click on the "Dedication to Phil" tab at the top of my page.

Monday, July 20, 2015

twenty-five years at comfy house

Thank you, Comfy House ~ for 25 years of providing us with a safe haven from the world.
For keeping us warm on sub-zero days and keeping us cool when the heat and humidity are relentless.
For just the right amount of space to raise a family.
For being an attraction to stray cats.
For all the family and friend get-togethers held under your roof.
For your cute charm and pretty gardens.
For your long-lasting water heater and HVAC system.

 Twenty-five years ago today, I moved into these walls with my husband, our two-year old, our baby-in-utero, and two cats. Now it's just me and the husband (and three different cats). There's so many memories tied to this place: some good, some bad, one tragic. We talk about moving in a few years, but we'll see. It's hard to think about starting over in a new place after all these years at Comfy House.

"Home is the nicest word there is."
~ Laura Ingalls Wilder

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

happy hump day

 What a treat today to turn off the AC and open up all the windows and doors. It was one of those perfect days in the 70's with sunshine and a cool breeze. More thunderstorms are moving in tomorrow and then a sizzling weekend.

Me and my mom hit up a little antique shop recently and I found this wooden pocket letter box which I hung on my kitchen wall. All I need is a rotary dial phone next to it, right?

 I also found this red and white tea tin which is now filled with tea bags.

Puttering around the house today, I stacked suitcases in front of the fireplace box. After all, I'm not using the fireplace this summer.

I hope.  

Played with hues of blue on the buffet. Right now, the wall above the buffet is blank. I'm starting to look for a large metal or wooden decorative piece to go on this wall. I think I'll hit up Kirklands.

Made a lentil-veggie salad for mine and hubby's lunch.

1 lb. cooked lentils
1/2 English cucumber, quartered
1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
1 cup multi-colored bell peppers, diced
1/4 pkg. broccoli slaw
3 green onions, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped

2 T. extra-virgin olive oil
1/8 cup vinegar*
(*I used chive; white wine, rice or any other "light" vinegar would work)
1/2 lemon, juiced
Salt and pepper, to taste

Place all salad ingredients in a large bowl. In a small bowl, whisk together dressing ingredients. Pour over lentil-veggie salad and stir well to mix.

 Welcome to my neighbor's weed garden. :-o Seriously, this is what he calls it. He keeps his lawn mowed, but that's where it ends. There's another smaller patch like this by his front door. And the hostas by his driveway that another neighbor planted for him one year, are also overtaken by four foot high weeds. He jokes about his weed gardens and is a nice neighbor, so we try to overlook this jungle, although it doesn't make for a pleasant view out my kitchen window. You don't think he minds that I snipped a few of his Queen Anne's Lace today, do you?

I think his weeds look much prettier in my bathroom.

As this beautiful day winds to a close and the pussy cats are now all napping ~

Monkey in my son's bed...

Clementine on a kitchen chair...

And Zippo in my office, expressing his sentiments...

 I thank you all for visiting and leaving your gracious comments. 
I read and treasure each one!