Sunday, September 30, 2012

Halloween Witches' Hats

In addition to playing cards this week, I got to join our neighborhood Red Hat ladies on Friday for brunch at IHOP before we all went to Hobby Lobby to create a Halloween craft project. The best part for me was getting to visit with folks I rarely see now that we are on the road so much of the time. Of course, the witches' hats were pretty darling too!

Most of the ladies were very attentive while the instructor introduced us to the project. 

I wish I could say the same for the giggling gaggle of girls at my table...teehee!

We were soon hard at work assembling our witch's hats. An aside: I have never seen so many hot glue guns in my life...a bit scary, those things are HOT!

This is my finished witch's hat...isn't it just too cool?!?!?

Lovin' Life ~~ Time Spent with Friends

A Lovely Fall Week

Earlier this week I took several photos of The Girls. They love hanging out with me while I work on photos. The scanner is in the front room and, with the door open on these gorgeous fall days, they can be with me and keep an eye on the comings and goings of the neighborhood at the same time.

Occasionally Dora interrupts their observations to chase Bella through the house.

Speaking of fall days, this weather this week has also inspired me to bake...

Banana Bread

Pumpkin Bread
The banana bread recipe is the one I've used since my teens...a LONG TIME AGO; the pumpkin bread recipe is the one my SIL, Helen, has baked for years. My niece, Amber, bakes a great pumpkin bread too; if I had her recipe, perhaps I would do my very own bake-off...hint, hint.

Lovin' Life ~~ And Fall in the Midwest

Cantina Laredo

When we were in AZ last winter we fell in love with Cantina Laredo which is located in the SanTan Village mall. Before returning to AZ this year, we wanted to check out their Chicago location. This was our destination when we drove into the city for lunch this past Thursday. Located at the corner of State and Illinois, their building is beautiful...inside and out.

Left of the entrance

Right of the entrance

Our dining area

Really, we do come for the Margaritas and the menu, not just the ambience.

Seventeen days earlier, we had driven to Centennial, CO, while we were in the area visiting our nieces, for the express purpose of having lunch at Cantina Laredo. Whenever we are near one of their locations, we plan to indulge! This restaurant is located at the Streets of South Glenn mall.

Sometimes my brain malfunctions...this was one of those times...I only took photos of our lunch with my phone to send to Sandee, even though my camera was sitting on the table...yikes!

They serve the best Margaritas...the VERY BEST!

The food is extraordinary, not your typical Mexican fare, definitely a cut above.

I have raved about this dessert before. The Mexican Apple Pie, sizzled in Brandy Butter is
the best dessert anywhere...the VERY BEST! 

There are locations in several states so if you are near one, give it a try and let us know what you think.

Lovin' Life ~~ And Favorite Restaurants


I LOVE going into the city! This past Thursday we decided to drive in for lunch at our very favorite restaurant...more about that later because it deserves a post of its own.

We were still quite a ways out when we saw the MetLife blimp cruising past the Willis Tower.

Still on I-55 approaching the city.

Oh my! We are here! There's a tiny glimpse of Soldier Field on the right side of this photo.

There are several sculptures along Lake Shore Drive.
Transformation - by Fisher Stolz [Washington, IL]

Navy Pier is visible in the background of this photo.
Flamenco Revisited - by Ruth Migdal [Chicago, IL]

The harbor is still filled with sailboats.

We are very close to our destination now.

After lunch we headed over to Exelon Plaza...

...where Marc Chagall's mosaic The Four Seasons resides.

"Composed of thousands of inlaid chips in over 250 colors, Marc Chagall’s mosaic artwork The Four Seasons portrays six scenes of Chicago. Chagall maintained, “the seasons represent human life, both physical and spiritual, at its different ages.”"  Source

This work was dedicated in 1974 and renovated in 1994. I learned of its existence when our niece, Kristen, posted a photo of it on FB earlier that morning. Since we were in the city anyway, I wanted to see it as part of my effort to learn more about Chagall's art to enhance our attendance at Hubbard Street Dance's season opening performance inspired by Chagall's America Windows, which are on permanent display at the Art Institute.

Looking down from the Chagall mosaic onto the fountain in Exelon Plaza.

Grant Park

Grant Park
 And a shot of Buckingham Fountain, tinted with the orange of fall pumpkins and gourds!

I rarely do any color processing but I didn't get a really good shot of the fountain as we drove by so decided to play with this image a bit...this is how I spend my days, playing with photos.

Lovin' Life ~~ And Trips Into the City

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

A Fall Family Dinner

I love the way the evening light and shadows play across the fairway behind our home in the fall. This was taken late afternoon on Saturday, when the sky was filled with clouds.

Much of Saturday was spent grocery shopping and preparing for Sunday's dinner. This was the first time we had seen Greg, Jenny, and Marianne since we left here in July. Rich and I planned a meal that said farewell to summer with grilled Italian sausages and BBQ chicken and welcomed fall with roasted vegetables and hearty baked beans.

The Chicago Bears were playing so Greg and Jenny were showing support for their favorite NFL team!

I made this lovely dessert that looked so scrumptious but, well...I don't really recommend it so I'm not showing the package. I do want to say that the thin cake was baked in a 9 x 13 pan; after it cooled it was cut into three 9 x 4 pieces (yes, I know...Rich and I ate the additional one inch piece that was trimmed off!) which were stacked with cream cheese frosting between the layers. That part was really cool because it makes a perfect, small layer cake. It was topped with pecan pieces and drizzled with caramel...very purty!

We had put out fall decorations that morning; y'all know how I love my fall decorations!

We had such a great time catching up with them and relaxing in our HUGE home (compared to the motorhome!) and eating great food (yes, we do say so ourselves!).

Lovin' Life ~~ And Being Home

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Shutterfly Projects

I ordered this for Mom thinking it would make a great Christmas gift. It was also a chance to check out the quality of Shutterfly photo items. This is the second project from there, the first being the enlargement of a photo for framing and hanging in our newly redecorated guest bathroom. The quality of this fleece throw and the clarity of the photos are great! I was a Kodak Gallery customer for all of my digital years and not thrilled about the change to Shutterfly. And now, I couldn't be more pleased with these two items!

Now that the throw is here, I think I'm going to go ahead and send it to her. Next weekend my brother, SIL, and sister can try to convince her to actually use it, not just drape it somewhere to look at. She is often so cold and has a fleece jacket over her. I do wish I had ordered the smaller size, although this would cover her bed nicely. However she chooses to use it, hopefully her six great-grandchildren can keep her warm this fall and winter.

We ordered an enlargement from Shutterfly which we had framed at Hobby Lobby for the final piece of our guest bath redecorating project. They couldn't complete the framing before we left on our trip so picking up the print and getting my engagement ring to the jeweler for repair were two of the first tasks we took care of on Tuesday after cleaning the motorhome and returning it to storage.

Here is the final tour of our redecorated guest bathroom.

Have you noticed? No matter where you are in the bathroom, when you look at this picture you will see me, camera in hand, with Rich in the background...giggle! We couldn't be more pleased with how this project turned out and we LOVE the funkiness of this print hanging in this oh-so-traditional bathroom. Those of you who have been around for a while may recognize this photo as one I took at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Roswell, NM.

Great job Shutterfly, on my first two projects with your company!

Lovin' Life ~~ And Photo Projects

Visiting More Family

As y'all know, we returned to Illinois on Saturday, September 15th after visiting with my sister for a couple of evenings. I got to enjoy a visit with Mom as soon as the car was unhitched but, since we were both exhausted, Rich and I crashed much earlier than we usually do when we're parked at our favorite, WM Campground.

Sunday morning though we enjoyed our traditional breakfast from Hardee's with Wayne & Mary. I love that biscuits and gravy! My cousin, Kathy, came down that afternoon bringing a delicious chocolate layer cake which we all, except Wayne of course, loved indulging. Why doesn't he like chocolate? You can see part of the cake in the photo below. She baked it in a jelly roll pan, cut it into thirds, and stacked them for a great, loaf-shaped layer cake...just another baking tip from yours truly (oh yeah, and Kathy too...teehee!).

Then we all went to the nursing home to see Mom. 

As we walked down the hall to her room, I noticed her friend, Pauline, turn into Mom's room. It was such a treat getting to see her too. She comes to visit Mom when she can; they have been friends for more decades than I think either of them want to count.

Mom & her friend, Pauline
Rich & Kathy
We all left so that Mom would go to the dining room for supper and the four of us returned in time to watch America's Funniest Videos with her. She loves that show but does not remember, from week to week, seeing it before. She clearly had a good time visiting with all of us but her memory is full of holes and her stories often contain bits and pieces of several happenings. She is so contented and really happy to see us when we come though, which is most important.

Monday morning, we left around 8:00 for the final leg of our eight week trip. The Carlinville business district is composed of a square with a gazebo and park in the center. The street on the square is paved with bricks; traffic is one-way, counter-clockwise and you can enter at the middle of each side. As we left town, we had to drive clock-wise around half of the square because a quarter of the square street was closed where they are replacing bricks.

That was such a novelty to me, driving the "wrong" way around the square!

I'm sure it would also seem strange to any of my friends who also drove around that square an infinite number of times as teens. It was the mid to late sixties; we were into cars; and we spent our evenings driving around the square, out West Main to the High School, and back to the do it all over again. Small towns are a great place for teens; if you're looking for an argument, just try telling them that!
Lovin' Life ~~ Home Again!