Sunday, November 14, 2010

It's been an amazing Autumn for the Chicago area this year. Our temps have been runnning in the upper 60's (or better) for the last 6 weeks with beautiful blue skies and gorgeous red, orange and golden foliage everywhere you look. I mean, flowers are still blooming!

But yesterday, Mother Nature woke up and realized something was not quite right and it turned cold and gray and rainy. Just like that. She's a trickster, that Mother Nature. I spent the entire day indoors, doing a craft show with Big Girl. When I went into the Craft Show at 7:30am, it was brisk, but still nice enough to not need a jacket. When we exited nine hours later, it was C.O.L.D. It was windy and you could tell it wanted to snow. If you live around here, you know that feeling...

And today...holy cow. It was super cold and really windy. The Hubs and I fished this afternoon over at Crappie Lake. I had on 3 layers under my winter parka and my winter boots, so my body was warm enough, but hoo-boy, my hands were numb! (And every cast came back all weedy, so I had to get the gook off every single stupid time. News flash: really windy and cold plus wet equals blue, achy, fumbly fingers.) Nevertheless, I am still the reigning Crappie Queen, catching 16 or so, some very nicely sized.

But what is my point, you ask? What makes this blog-worthy? This is my aha! moment: walking into the Jewel tonight for tonight's dinner, I was resigning myself that this is it: Winter is right around the corner and I better just give in and accept it. And then I had this amazing sense of "right-ness". It is the middle of November and it ought to be darned cold and frankly, we should have had some snow by now. We Chicagoans accept and kind of embrace our wretched weather. Makes us tough, doncha know? It was such a cool, peaceful feeling to recognize the continuity, aka stability, of the seasons.

Accepting Winter makes me realize so much: that Christmas is coming: yay! Soon, there'll be that first glorious snowy morning where everything is hushed and magical.
There'll be snowmen and frosty windows and Wrigley bounding through the drifts in a delirious frenzy. And Gracie will be turning Four!

We'll get another New Year and another chance to do things better and kinder and more intentional. And we'll be that much closer to the arrival of New Muffin on the Block, due in early April.

She is obviously a very bendy child. Just look at that leg-kick!

And a new Gingrich, due only a month later. Is there another child who can compete with our sweetheart grand-niece, Miss Greeley?

Every minute marks the passage of time, which we can never get back. But our traditions and memories are what make it all worth while. We better make the most of it while we can!

Stay warm, y'all!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

How do you make your husband smile?

Well, here at our house, you ask him to take you fishing. Poor Hubs misses our son; the two of them spent every weekend fishing. And after Scott went to school, I freely admit I was not filling in as fishing buddy. The poor guy was good about it, though. Oh, I used to go fishing. Like 30 years ago. In fact, our honeymoon was spent fishing in Quetico in Canada and we had an amazing time.

But for the past 29 years, I was not so interested.

Then suddenly, a few weeks ago, something changed. I don't know why, but I asked him to take Wrigley and me out on the fishing boat. Since then, we've been 4 times and I've been pretty much skunked. (That's Fishin' Talk for not catching anything.) Kinda boring.

Until today!

The clever man decided we would hunt the eager, hungry, not-discriminating-at-all panfish at a small pond in Barrington. And we caught fish! In fact, I caught a 12 inch crappie, which is apparently a Big Deal!

Fishing has a lot of perks which appeal to me: being outdoors in a beautiful setting, with lots of birds and other wildlife about. We saw a beautiful sunset tonight. There was a tiny hidden creature making odd noises down by my feet, buzzing and chirping away. Turned out to be a little black field mouse. A homeowner was burning leaves on the other side of pond, which smelled heavenly and we could hear the snapping and cracking of the fire. The ducks were quacking in that homey way they have as they paddled among the reeds.

And the fish were biting.

And the Hubs was smiling.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Extreme Displeasure!

Mike and I are outraged by the Project Runway Finale!

As you know, I was seriously rooting for Mondo. I am sad to say, I was disappointed by Mondo's collection; it was a little too circus-y for me. But Andy! Andy's collection was lovely. And ethereal. And breathtaking. Dare I say they were spun from angels' dreams?

well, that might be a bit of an exaggeration....

And yet.....Gretchen won.

Can anyone tell me that this:

and this:

are better than this:

and this:

Well, you can believe that we at the Frew Household are Extremely Displeased!
(but our Family Dinner was delish and we had a wonderful time together!)

Family Ties

The Bride has put out a plea: she needs some Family Time. She's been working herself senseless for the last few months. We seldom get to see her and her Fella.

So tonight is Family Night! We'll get almost everyone of them, missing only Big Girl's hubby, Pat, who is on the road. Or in the air, I guess,

and our sweetie-pie, Tracy, who has to babysit.

The nine of us will enjoy a good old-fashioned autumn dinner: pot roast that's been braising all day, delicious mashed potatoes and plain old frozen corn. Maybe the Hubs will even get the strawberry whipped cream cake he's been (not so subtly) hinting for over the last couple of weeks.

Then we'll watch the finale of Project Runway. (I love my family, but nothing will stop me from watching Mondo's victory dance tonight!)

It's so seldom we get the chance to get together aside from the holidays, so I'm really looking forward to a nice time. Just relaxing, laughing and loving each other.

I hope you all get to enjoy a wonderful evening, too!

And by the way, I just needed to post this freshly-taken picture of my nearly-four-year-old grand-daughter, Gracie, who's turning 4 in a few weeks.

Isn't she a doll?

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Before and After

Have you ever wondered how much difference a custom window treatment can make?

Here's a downtown Chicago condo. This window is the first thing you see when you enter the residence. There are some off-the-rack, not-quite-long-enough, plain-old-white tab top panels hanging in front of the biggest window in the place.  Notice the element of cold concrete on the ceiling.  There are also concrete pillars around this room. Due to the loft style of this condo, the bedroom walls do not go to the ceiling, meaning daylight streamed into their bedroom every morning, unblocked by the inadequate white panels.

Now see what some color and pattern can do! Isn't this room warmed up dramatically?  Doesn't the whole thing look more pulled together?  The owner fell in love at first sight with the valance fabric.  We picked the pale green of the panels from the leaves of the fabric design.  The wall color was another color from the print.  We lined the panels with blackout lining, ensuring the homeowners with blissful un-interrupted extra hours of sleep, regardless of the sunshine.  The harsh concrete no longer dominates the room.

And what a pretty sight whenever they walk in their front door!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Trends for the New Decade

Wow--the New Decade!  I can't believe 2011 is right around the corner.  Remember all the excitement that surrounded the New Millenium?  I was cleaning out my buffet yesterday and found some 2000 New Year's Eve memorabilia (yes, that's how seldom I clean that buffet!) and thought, why keep it?  So out it went. The last ten years sure have flown by.

There are lots of trend reports for 2011 and beyond and I though I would share some of them with you; help you get that re-decorating fire sparked!

From all the blogs I'm reading, the top colors for walls and furniture are, hands down, white and gray.  People are loving the antique French look. Pale gray walls with white slip-covered furniture is a favorite.  Accessories often include natural elements like coral and sea shells, along with big chunky garden elements like urns and figurines.  Shabby accessorizing is very big right now, including pillows made from old grain sacks and mattress ticking. (personally, I'm not a fan of somebody's old mattress, though, French or not! but that's just me...)

Another really cool trend also being heralded by Joni Webb  of is painting your trim to match your walls.  That includes crown molding, window frames and baseboards!  Joni used this picture as one example: love it!

Accessories?  Big, big lanterns, blingy chandeliers, the shabby garden elements and something big and round on the wall, such as a mirror or a clock.  And lots of books, stacked on tables, lining the shelves, any place you can tuck one in.  This picture is from Pottery Barn: (note the industrial-style lighting, also a popular trend right now.)

The important thing to remember is to keep it personal.  After all, this is your home and it should reflect you and your family's loves and lives.



Monday, October 11, 2010

A New Day

Where have I been?  Well, I tell you what, I have been going through some yuck lately and all I wanted to do was hide my head under my wing.

But it finally dawned on me that I was literally being a chicken.
About life in general.

So no more.  In the immortal words of Randy Quaid in one of the best movies ever made:
Independence Day:


(But I'm not going to blow up your space ship, just post a lot more.)

Thursday, August 26, 2010

It's Coming

Have you heard........

                The rattle of dry leaves blowing down the sidewalk?

                The cries of the Canada geese overhead?

Have you noticed......

                The squirrels and chipmunks are awfully busy?

                The birds are starting to gather?

Have you felt........

                The crispness in the mornings?

                The sunshine isn't as bright as it was?

Have you thought.....

                About delicious sweaters and gorgeous suede boots?

                About fireplaces and candlelight?

The morns are meeker than they were--
The nuts are getting brown--
The berry's cheek is plumper--
The rose is out of town.

The maple wears a gayer scarf--
The field a scarlet gown--
Lest I should be old fashioned
I'll put a trinket on.

Emily Dickinson, 1858

How Expensive are Custom Drapes?

A lot of people get very nervous when they hear "Custom Drapes".  Visions of dollar signs dance over their heads and they often assume the prices are extravagant. 

But they know that a room is never really 'finished' until there is something decorative on the windows, and off they head to find something ready-made.  And they might find panels that will be "okay" and maybe they're not quite the right length or quite the best color for the room, but hey, you have to have something on the windows, so this will be better than nothing.

So I thought I'd compare the cost of a ready-made panel from a very popular store and catalog to a custom-made panel.  I don't want to name names, so we'll just say this source rhymes with "Lottery Darn".  There you can buy a dupioni silk panel, lined in cotton with a rod pocket top.  One panel, which is 50" wide and 96" long currently costs $139.00.  It comes in 8 colors. It will have a thin cotton lining and pillow-cased side hems.  It will come to you folded up into about a 10 x 12 package.  (Wrinkles.) (You will have to iron it.) (And there might still be creases.)

If you choose to get custom drapes, you can select from a myriad of colors, in your own home, so that you can be sure your color is exactly what you want to enhance the decor of your home. 

 If you have 8-foot ceilings, you may want drapes that are only 92 inches long.  Or if you have 9-foot ceilings you may want drapes that are 103" long.  With custom, you get exactly what you want.  But let's compare apples to apples here, so we'll use that same 96" length.  You will need 3 yards of fabric.  Similar weight dupioni can be bought for $30.00 per yard.  Add in high quality lining and labor and you get a custom-made silk panel for $136.00.  Imagine that:  the exact color you want, the exact length you want, turned and blind-stitched side and bottom hems to ensure your panels hang beautifully for less than a ready-made panel. And no ironing!

(and that price doesn't even include the 20% sale that is currently running at LFCDS.)
There's that cha-ching you're looking for!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Happily Ever Afters

Yesterday was a big, big day here at the Frew Household!  Big Girl and I went to Priscilla's of Boston with Our Bride to look for dresses and **ta-da** we found the Perfect Dress!

Turns out she has had this particular dress in the back of her mind for quite a long time.  She tried on several dresses, some which were real contenders.  Until, of course, she tried on The Dress and then it was all over.  No competition, this is the one.

As we looked at the gowns, I gave them names so we could remember which was which. 
This one we called the Meadow, because of the sweet trailing vines of lace at the waistband:

This one we called the Cutwork, it has appliqued lace flowers all over.  The matching veil also had the appliques--absolutely stunning! Check out the applique scalloping at the hem.  The train on this one was a real eyecatcher.

This one was the Starfish, it has a starfishy-looking flower at the waist made of crystals and all kinds of bling.  Poor Starfish was rather quickly eliminated...we were not digging that big chunk of bling right there.

This one is PolkaDot. Our Bride loved the dotted swiss fabric, but overall, PolkaDot was a loser.  (As if any of these gorgeous creations could be called losers, but you have to make cut throat decisions in this process.) In this case, PolkaDot had just too much cleavage.

Now being a sewer, I was very interested in the construction.  I loved how all the boning was concealed in stitched pockets.  All the layers of crinoline perfectly gathered and attached in rows, the lace painstakingly stitched on by hand.  A little different from making drapes and pillows, I can tell you that.  I don't imagine Our Bride would enjoy having her straps stapled in place!  I haven't made clothes in ages, but I can truly appreciate the hours and hours of artisanship that go into these works of art.  In fact, a good friend of mine made a wedding gown for a friend this year:  have you ever seen anything more glorious?  Jacki is a true magician with fabric!

As for Our Bride's Perfect Dress?  Well, I'm sworn to secrecy, so I can't share any pictures for a year.  But she looks like a model with endless legs and a Scarlett O'Hara teeny tiny waist.  Ohh, I get goosebumps, just thinking about it.  We ended up selecting the simplest of veils, maybe matched up with a flower in her hair.  I absolutely adored Cutwork's matching veil, and wanted it badly.  Til I saw the pricetag. Apparently I have very. expensive. taste.  Who could have guessed that!
I can tell you, however, Feathers here is not The Dress!  You'll have to wait til August 7th for The Real Thing.

Friday, August 13, 2010

The End of Summer

 Here it is, August 13th.  (Friday the 13th, in fact!)  I'm feeling a little blue, knowing that Old Man, as his sisters call him, is heading back to school next week.  When he went away last year, I told everyone (ad nauseum!) that I was going to go "into a decline" as all well-bred Southern belles who were born in Massachusetts and lived the rest of their lives in Illinois do.  And what the heck were the hubby and I going to talk about, for crying out loud? And who was going to help me with difficult installations?

When in actuality, about 30 minutes after he was officially moved out, I was fine.  Go figure.  And the hubs and I travel on the weekends, go to movies on any old evening we feel like it, doing just as we please.

 And the installations get installed, one way or another.

Which is not to say I don't miss my boy, as much as I miss my girls on an everyday basis, even though none of them are more than 90 minutes away.  Of course, the girls are much better about calling their Mom on a regular basis. (hint hint)  I do know Tracy is taking good care of him.

But really, who could resist a face like this? I miss him already!

By the way, in case anyone was wondering, that lovely harvest gold bedspread was never a part of Chez Frew decor; that picture was taken at our beloved Lakeside Inn in Whitehall, Michigan.