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Friday, December 30, 2011

Christmas Away from Home

This lovely poinsettia tree greeted us in the Fort Myers, Florida, airport.
We rented a lovely home in Venice with a pool and an excellent location between the beach and downtown shops and restaurants... all within walking distance.  Here are my son and granddaughter enjoying the pool.

We spent a day visiting a friend who spends winters in Florida.  Here is my husband getting acquainted with the egret who regularly visits my friend's deck overlooking the intercoastal waterway.  Across the water we had lunch in Cortez, an older working fishing village with every kind of luscious sea creature available for purchase in the market. 

The unexpected bonus for me was a free daily yoga class on Venice Beach.   I attended every day.... it was rejuvenating!  We had a lovely holiday week with family and friends in a beautiful, friendly community.  Hope your holiday was special, too.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Cookie Baking

I love my granddaughter's intensity in her first serious stint at making rolled and cut cookies at Nonna's house!  Her attention span was greater than I anticipated for a 2 yr. 9 mo. old.   She spent the weekend with me and when her parents came for supper and to take her home, we all enjoyed frosting and decorating!

 Ernie, Bert and Emily loving the snow globe music box....  we played it again and again.... and again!

Hope you are having a joyful and peaceful holiday!   And Happy Solstice, too!  Longer days will be here soon.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Christmas Village in the Library

You know how one activity must precede another?  I so badly wanted to set up my Christmas village on this deep window ledge today, but first I had to sort stacks of books first.  I should have taken a "before" picture.   Books were stacked 18" high every-which-way on this ledge, on the floor, two rows deep on the upper shelves.  So I was ruthless and went through the entire wall of books from the ceiling to the floor and have three shelves full in another room now that will go on after New Years.  This felt so good - so right, and now I have the reward of seeing my Christmas village with all it's pretty lights.

The two shelves of books directly beneath the village are the children's lending library.  I have books for toddlers up to older elementary.   Some were my own children's books when they were young.  There are several visiting neighborhood grandkids who come to the lake in the summer and I encourage them to come borrow two or three books at a time for those occasional boring or rainy days.   It is fun to have them here.  And now I have a toddler grandchild of my own to enjoy my library as well.

Sunday, December 4, 2011


Irresistible apple tree!  An untamed, untrimmed, unpicked tree along the side of the road just loaded with gorgeous red apples.   It deserved a photo on a chilly December day.  This was last Friday as I took back roads along the shore of Lake Michigan to set up a day early for my final craft show of the season.  The day of the show our roads were covered with black ice, so I am especially glad I did not wait to drive the distance on Saturday.   This scene was within walking distance of a quilt shop which is one of my favorites in the north.  I had the extra time so stopped to purchase supplies for new projects.

Also on this route is this neat old Dodge Power Wagon which is under a lean-to so is well-protected from the weather.  Notice the bit of snow on the fender and running board.  I have been driving past this oldie for a couple of years and longing to inspect it more closely.  Again, time was on my side so I stopped for a photo.  I am tempted to crop this pic for the landscape reflected in the side windows.  What do you think?

Thursday, December 1, 2011

It's beginning to look festive

The Christmas tree lighting ceremony in our town is this Friday night.  The very large donated evergreen is set up in one of the busiest intersections of our 3-block downtown.  The trunk of the tree is secured in a man-hole and what was a three lane street is now 1/2 lane on either side of the tree, and, yes, traffic carefully gets through.   No one seems to mind this minor inconvenience for a few weeks.  I'll try to get some pictures of the lights.

In the meantime, I found myself with extra pie dough again last night and nothing special to put in it.
I sliced two apples, two pears into the pie shell and topped them with a cup of raw cranberries.  Spices then a crumb topping made this a very tasty and festive pie.

From my postcard collection I selected this beauty from the 1920's and placed it in this wonderful little vintage art deco swing frame.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Flexible Flyers

Do you remember trying to "fly" down a hill in a direction of your choosing?  Somehow we managed very nicely.   The big boys would run carrying these sleds, then throw themselves onto their bellies atop the sleds so they could fly even faster down the snow-packed runs.  Now I slide on a molded plastic sled!  Seems safer at my age!    These are vintage "flyers" I find, restore and decorate with painted snowmen for my booth in the annual Holly Berry Art & Craft fair.  Fresh cedar & hemlock from the woods!  Very festive on your front porch!

Thursday, November 24, 2011


Happy Turkey Day!  Here is my mincemeat pie with a turkey cut out from the extra pie crust.... and an apple crumb pie beneath the mince pie.  I love the old fashioned fold-open paper turkey on the table.  These never go out of style for Thanksgiving decor!  We were fortunate today to serve an organic free-range turkey from a nearby farm.   Delicious!   Hope your Thanksgiving was bountiful in food, friends and family.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Little Rascals

These four furry raccoons are why we have been bringing in the bird feeders at night.   I suspect they are siblings from this past summer.  They are very resourceful and should survive the winter well!

Forgive the blurry and foggy photos.  The first three were taken in the dark through the double pane glass of the kitchen window.   When I went outdoors to try to get a clearer view, they would scamper away, but not too far..... as in the last photo.

And notice that the deck railing is wrapped with holiday lights already.   My husband has learned to do this fun chore before the weather gets too cold!  

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Autumn Beauties

This autumn continues with mostly mild and beautiful weather.  I cannot resist posting a few more photos of local scenery.  The tamaracks along the highway have been prettier this year than ever before, or so it seems.  They look like conifers but shed their "needles" so are actually deciduous trees.

And the protected red Michigan Holly berries are plentiful in the swamps. 

Today the sun was shining on this tart cherry orchard..... beautiful all year 'round!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Good Timing!

In the last 3 or 4 days all the leaves have fallen from this lovely twin birch on the shoreline of our front yard.  Bushels and bushels of maple leaves have fallen ankle deep into our yard as well.  The oaks have not yet let loose of their leaves.  It's a good thing, too, or we would be buried in leaves.   My husband had hernia repair surgery Monday and I call that very Good Timing!  He got out of late season yard work this year!  Fortunately I enjoy raking and using the leaf blower and today was beautiful for working outside.  It brought back memories of childhood when it was legal to burn leaves.  One neighbor always burned leaves on a clear chilly evening and invited all the neighbor kids to bring a stick for toasting marshmallows over the leaf fire.  Great fragrance.... leaf smoke!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Pears and Cranberries!

Another fabulous fruit crumble!  No sugar with the fruit, just in the topping.  The sweet pears and tart fresh cranberries balance each other out.   I never tried this combination of fruits before, but saw a version of this on the site "Smitten Kitchen."  I used my favorite crumble topping and..... voila!  Give it a try! and check out the site for more good recipes.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Tangerines and Apple Pie

Nothing says November like the first fresh tangerines at the grocery and the smell of apple pie spices wafting from the kitchen.  Ready or not, winter is coming.... just ask our in-laws in Massachusetts!  They have been without power since Saturday from that freaky early snowstorm out east.  Is that a Halloween joke by Mother Nature?  Happy trick or treating, everyone!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

New Dog, Old Dog, New Tricks

Autumn here has been at the very least two plus months long and beautiful.  At the end of August maple leaves began to turn here and there.  Now nearing the end of October some maples are still beginning their color change along with the oaks...

Here is a view of the shoreline while we were taking our new dog, Griffin, for a boat ride recently.   He loves the water, chases frisbees into the lake and absolutely loves boat rides.   He is not a young dog, but has adapted very nicely to our home and fits right in with the dogs we already had.  He is a corgi with a mellow  personality.   We are happy to have him.

Our original dog family includes 8 yr. old large hound/lab?/shepherd? mix, Reggie.  Usually quite well behaved and sedate, he has taken to grazing along the kitchen counters.  Last week I bought a fabulous apple pie at a bake sale.  Reggie's new trick was to remove the pie from the counter and share it with our other corgi, Sadie.   She is the sassy-looking one in the left front of the group photo.  I had to laugh at Sadie licking out the pie pan on the kitchen floor.   I am more careful with baked goods now.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Heritage Farmstay

Escaped to the year 1910 today with a group of lady friends for lunch.   A long drive for some, it was only an hour away for me through the beginning of the color changes.... lots of reds and red-oranges in the maples already with a bit of deep wine foliage here and there.   I have a feeling it will be a beautiful, colorful fall.

We carpooled and met at this restored farmstead which is also a B & B, or "farmstay" as our hostess prefers.   Susan cooks on a vintage "Round Oak" stove, has a hand-pump in the kitchen sink and a yard-full of chickens.   She is an authority on vintage recipes and keeps her meals as authentic as possible.  Her website is and an interesting article with photos is here

Saturday, September 3, 2011

More Chenille and a Rainy Driveway Sale

The chenille quilting bug has bitten me big time.... literally.  I just finished this 90" x 102" patchwork creation as a custom order through my Etsy shop.  It came together quite beautifully ~ very soft shabby and chic-looking.    As a respite from sewing I tackled the garage which is full to over-flowing with my estate sale finds.  In fact, I couldn't open the garage door to set up inside, so all the bargains were under tarps in the driveway in case of rain.   It poured the first two hours of the sale!!!   Nonetheless, it was successful, happy people went away with damp treasures and there is a wee bit more room in my garage! 

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

"I Like Painting"

My kitchen has seemed as though it is about 18" too wide.... always requiring an extra couple of steps to get from one side to the next when I am rushing.   Well, I'm over it!  With an almost 2 and 1/2 yr. old granddaughter set up with child-size table and chairs in the middle of it, my kitchen is now the perfect size.  I babysat her for a couple of days and an overnight last weekend and thought she would enjoy her first painting experience.   She loved it and declared "I like painting!"  I enjoyed watching her wield the paintbrush with both hands equally well, but I'd say she is favoring her left hand,  yes?

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Repurposed Chenille

Since I do not seem to have the skills [i.e.: attention span] to absolutely love traditional quilting, I have let myself go with my vintage chenille stash and have been creating some luscious patchwork quilts and throws for snuggling with babies and anyone else for that matter.  Here are photos of a few yummy quilts recently completed.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Reunion of Generations of Good Friends

Nearly 40 yrs. ago while living at a rather remote inland lake, I was longing for a friend both for myself and my toddler.  Back then homeowners names were posted boldly on mailboxes and births were published in the newspaper daily.  When I noticed a birth announcement for neighbors whose name I recognized from having driven by their mailbox, I baked a loaf of banana bread, bundled my toddler on her sled and trudged a half mile through the January snow to introduce myself.  

This wonderful friendship grew, we each had another baby within weeks of each other, and we were always on the lookout for other young mothers in the neighborhood.  One by one, we found newcomers, created play dates for the kids, potlucks for the entire families and the above photo is the result.  Our core group still gets together for birthdays, showers, multi-annual potlucks and parties.  Just one more gal is waiting for grandmother-hood.   We assure her it will happen with patience.   Not all of our daughters were present at this luncheon this past Saturday, but this was a joyful reunion for moms and daughters alike.... one granddaughter could be with us, too.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Art & Craft Fairs

Thought you might enjoy a couple of shots of my booth at the beachfront fair yesterday.   Pure shabby chic cottage decor.   It was great!  Lots of friends came through.  Sales were good.  The location was excellent.   I so enjoy a public presentation and feedback, don't you?