Thursday, April 24, 2014


I've practically lived in the front yard for the past week. After we put up the fence we had some serious landscaping to do. From the get-go our plan was a picket fence and flowering shrubs. We discovered that it's quite hard to find flowering shrubs that stay under 3 feet tall! Finally, at my favorite plant store in town, we came across Philadelphus Snow Dwarf. In late spring it gets covered in highly fragrant white blossoms--a nice addition to my good-smelling lily of the valley and lilacs. :)

Buying the bushes was the easy part. I then planted the bushes, hauled several dozen bricks from the back yard to the front yard, dug a trench for the bricks to make a border for the bed, filled the bed with 12 bags of pine bark nuggets, and pruned 3 huge bags of dead branches out of the evergreen bushes out front. One evergreen fought back--I have a gouge on my hand and a minor eye injury to show for it--but I won.

This weekend we'll put down grass seed, and then I think we're done with the front yard for a while. The warm spell is ending for now and next week I'm moving back inside to finish up my bathroom. There are baseboards and window trim to be cut! Operation Get Shit Done forges ahead at full speed.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Looking out my back door

For most of my life fall was my favorite season. Scarves, cider, changing leaves, huddling up under a blanket, all that good stuff. Several years ago, however, I became a gardener. Canner. Work-at-home mom who's constrained inside four walls all winter. Today it hit me: Spring is now my very favorite because it heralds back the beginning of all the stuff that makes me so happy. The world is getting leafier and more colorful with each rain shower and each peek of sunshine. Keep on blooming, little plants!

It's up!

Last August we decided to put a picket fence up in front of the sidewalk that runs in front of the house. We shopped for panels and couldn't find the kind or quality we wanted, so we decided to build our own from individual pickets and rails. In building our own we got to decide on the exact height of the fence and the spacing between the pickets, and we got to make all the panels the same width so that the spacing between the posts would be even. And we got to make panels that were way heftier and sturdier than the lightweight ones we found in stores. Win! We built the panels in the living room in a single day.

And it had been sitting in the living room since. Time didn't cooperate last fall, and before we knew it the ground was frozen solid for five months. Finally, this weekend, we put on our work clothes and dug holes, smashed out concrete that was buried in the dirt, put up posts, drilled holes, put up the panels, and painted the whole fence. Whew. It's done! It's up! It's adorable. I'm one step closer to my dream of living in a 50s sitcom. :)

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Tart and sweet

I made some rhubarb sauce almost a year ago today, and apparently I forgot about it because I found several jars in the cabinet. Oops! I'm in use-it-up mode now. I'm not entirely sure what one does with rhubarb sauce. The recipe recommends serving it over pound cake, so there you go--Elliot and I made the pound cake from Martha Stewart's Cakes and we're having it for dessert tonight. It's a happy little loaf, as Lucy Ricardo might say, and big, so we should be able to get through at least a couple jars of rhubarb sauce. :)

Monday, April 14, 2014

32 in Chicago

This weekend we stayed with our friends Emily (whom I've known for 25 years now!) and Brian in Chicago to celebrate my birthday. Yay!

Em and Brian live 4 floors from the top of this building. The view? Oh, just downtown to the west and Soldier Field and Lake Michigan to the south. No biggie! (Holy crap!)

First order of business? Birthday cupcakes, then a walk to 12th Street Beach. The wind was whipping and the water was ice-cold. Elliot loved every bit of it.

That night we enjoyed dinner surrounded by the city lights (holy crap, what a view) and I got to video chat with one of my favorite people, Scott (whom I've known for 19 years now), in Australia! Yay!

The next morning we walked to Millennium Park so Elliot could see the bean--er, Cloud Gate. He sprinted ahead, all the energy in the world. Emily was a trooper and ran with him as the rest of us meandered along.

A quarter mile into the trip Elliot was exhausted and informed me that, because his legs were sore, I had to carry him the rest of the way. I'm still hurting.

Finally, we made it to the bean! Elliot wanted to crack it open so he could see all the beans inside. :)

My friends are pretty swell. Thank you, Em and Brian, for making Elliot's first trip to the city--and my birthday--so awesome!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

A case for shades

A while ago I noticed that my sunglasses are getting scratched up because I throw everything in one bag with no compartments. Keys do bad things to lenses! I saw a pattern for a sunglasses case in Sewing for All Seasons, which I got for Christmas, and thought hey, good idea! It'll save my glasses from getting more banged up. The case is made with fabrics (Happy Camper by American Jane) and batting from my stash. Free is nice. :)

PS: Notice that lovely green grass? Spring!


I turned in my enormous job a week ago--yay!--and immediately launched Operation Get Shit Done. Six weeks off between jobs. My to-do list is long. No time to lollygag.

First on the list: Fix up the bathroom. My cat, bless her little heart, decided to use my bathroom as a litterbox and ruined the baseboards and electric heater. Plus, the people who lived here before us smoked and the tar had streaked up the walls and ceiling. It just felt disgusting in there.

The walls and ceiling are now painted. I was set on a yellow green, not a blue green, but picking a yellow green is hard because if you go too yellow it looks sickly. After comparing a couple dozen paint strips in different light conditions I picked Grassy Field by Valspar--a very pale green with yellow undertones. Nailed it! Just the green I wanted. It has a very 60s grandma feel to it, in a good way. :)