Friday, December 31, 2010

Coming Up for Bubbly

I'm taking a break from slogging
through my lovely basement to welcome 2011.

And until I can assemble a really cool pictorial Year in Review, here's a little bubbly for you. And a little for me.

Bonne Annee.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

So Ick

As you will recall from here, there is still much cleaning, sanitizing and gagging to be done in the basement.

The good news is the Roto Rooter guy told me that hydrogen peroxide is even better than bleach for bacteria eradication, two words I hope never to write again, let alone think about, in 2011.

If you need me, you'll know where to find me. Wear rubber gloves. And a face mask. Disposable footwear is probably a good idea.

Meanwhile, tell me about your plans for New Year's Eve in the comments section. I'd love to hear what you're up to. Your stories will buoy my spirits as I try to undo the ick factor.

Happy New Year, everyone.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Friday, December 24, 2010

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Printer Give-Away Over By Der at Pioneer Woman

In the interest of full disclosure, I am linking all y'all to a contest over at
in the hope that I --or someone I know -- wins a completely fabu printer from HP.
It looks like this:
Per Ree Drummond, author of all that is The Pioneer Woman, the Photosmart eStation e-All-in-One is a "slick new web-enabled printer loaded with apps that allow you to print directly from the Web completely independent of a host computer."

Is that 7 kinds of awesome or what?

Check out the link above to enter contest.

(Ree also is giving away a majorly red mixer. And knives. Not Ginsu.)

Be sure to read the contest rules.


Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Sync the Halls

I know you. You've seen the Youtube vids of pulsing Christmas house decorations here and here. But those are just that, videos. Catch the real thing right here in our ole hometown of Naperville in the 1800 block of Auburn, near Ranch View School.

Three cheers to the homeowner for synchronizing his decs to music, which can be heard through your car radio. 

(And raise your hand if you understand the engineering behind this. I still don't have bows made for the three swags on the front of the house, never mind dancing lights and/or Manheim Steamroller.)

(The small white sign says to tune to 100.1 on your FM dial.
It helps to drive by when it's dark.)

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Racked and Dangerous

Naperville Now would like to say thank you to her fellow Naperville blogger, On the Road with Freddy, for inspiring today's post. However, please take these darling eating machines back to your yard. The evergreens in our yard are decimated by all of that rapaciousness. (Sorry. I'm reading Roy Blount Jr.'s Alphabet Juice. I think it's giving me worditis see:sesquipedalianism.)

"Hmm, I wonder if that tree tastes as good as this one. I'd saunter over for a test bite except for the creeper with the camera."

"I think I've managed to shave this one pretty close. Let's go over to Chilvers Court and see what's cookin'."

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Everything Except the Squeak

My pal Nancy is a quiet and reserved person with MAD TALENT in 900 ways: art, design, painting, decorating, quilting, woodworking. And cooking. Or, in this case, baking by assemblage.

Maraschino cherries dipped in chocolate, wedded to Hershey's Hugs, slivered almonds, and facial dots au chocolat.

I needed a little darling injected into my day. These helped a lot.

Santa, however, is pretty freaked. Ten days until.

(Yep, she made him, too. Told you. Mad talent.)

Tuesday, December 14, 2010


I'm back from the 2010 Lafayette Square House Tour-in-a-raging-snowstorm.

This is what St. Louis looked like when we picked up our tickets:

And 24 hours later, it looked like this:

Only not as sunny.

But being house junkies, we could not resist the chance to snoop around 10 fabulous homes built in the 1880s, even if it meant a slight case of frostbite. Besides, we are tough chicks.

Here's a true lay of the land, courtesy of Wiki:

It's so French and lovely, I can hardly stand it. All those Mansard roofs with their scrumptious grey slate, pocket doors and front and rear staircases. Parlors and working fireplaces. Millwork and more millwork. Did I mention the French thing? Fantastique.

Lafayette Park is the oldest public park in St. Louis, created in 1836 and quite the fashionable address in its day. Devastated by a tornado in 1896, the neighborhood rallied until the World's Fair in 1904. From there, it was free fall into neglect and decay.

During the 1970s, when the neighborhood was designated a historic district, people started to buy up these grand old homes, restore them and raise their families there. And the Lafayette neighborhood became a community again.

They even have their own tour posters every year. Carlos Zamora designed this one and signed it for me. I'm thinking Christmas present for our newly-minted St. Louisan, if I can bear to part with it.

Thursday, December 9, 2010


Naperville Now will be taking a short break to play in her adopted hometown of St. Loueeee.

Feel free to meet me.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010


Merry Christmas! Happy Hannukah! 

This is my official warm and heartfelt e-greeting to you this year. Having faithfully written and mailed out 30-plus years of cards, I'm done. Facebook, email and this blog have rendered the need for cards obsolete.

Because of the Internet, I am in the lives of friends a little bit here and a little bit there all year long, not just at Christmas. I love that. There's a continuity of news rather than a December avalanche of "Aunt Maude's gall bladder operation didn't go as well as expected" and photographs of the dogs.

Of course, there are two exceptions: Honey's Mom, who will be 90 soon, and my aunt, who will be 95 in February. (If you're in your tenth decade, you get a card.) 

So, feeling lighter and liberated with this two cards only decision, I ducked into a store this afternoon to spend a little time rifling through the inventory.

And what to my wandering eyes did appear but box upon box of astonishingly ugly Christmas cards. Breathtakingly ugly. Ugly dogs chewing Santa hats. Candles a horrendous shade of puce. Black landscapes. Really scary Santas. Cats stuck in Christmas trees. That puce color over and over. When did Christmas card artists start playing "You think that's ugly? Top this!"

Now I realize if I were to shop at, say, Papyrus, I probably would find several lovely holiday choices. But I would have to drive to Oak Brook and spend a smallish fortune on something that ultimately will be pitched, hopefully recycled.

I did manage to find one box slightly less frightening than the rest. There are 14 cards, so I'm good to go until 2017.
PS The No "L" card was not what I purchased today. It was made by a talented local card maker. Santa was glommed from the glorious world wide web.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

1950 All Over Again

When I was 11, my mother took me to an auction of junque and crap that has put me on a flea market trajectory ever since. To find stuff that is compelling AND underpriced rather rocks my world.

To that end, I made the bi-annual trek to Geneva, IL with Nancy this week (a delightful way to spend the day with a pal. Geneva has decorated its downtown with every conceivable live bough, berry and garland. Well done, neighbor.)

After browsing The Country Store of Geneva (on James Street and definitely worth the visit), we usually hit the Geneva Antique Market on Third Street. Now this emporium (where I found a first edition of To Kill a Mockingbird for beaucoup cheap) has the same feel from year to year. It is an illuminated jumble of tchotchkes, geegaws, doodads and treasures, all crammed into the basement of The Berry House.

This year, however, I could not believe the sheer amount of Christmas stuff jammed into display cases and shelves. They always carry this kind of inventory, of course, but the quantity was overwhelming -- red plastic Santas from the 50s, plastic reindeer, ornaments (probably plastic but covered in so much glitter who can tell), Santa mugs, Christmas postcards, elves, trees of every color, tree skirts, Christmas aprons, Christmas tea towels, Christmas jewelry. It was beyond anything I've ever seen.

After my third, "Have you ever seen so much vintage Christmas stuff in your life?" Nancy observed that the original owners of all this stuff have probably died, and so their possessions are at auctions and garage sales.


"Well they're retired, if you prefer, and have downsized."

The ultimate downsizing.

Nancy is right, of course. The parents of our generation are gone, or going. Their kids already have a ton of stuff and their children want stuff from Crate and Barrel, not Grandma's moldy basement.

There are exceptions, however. I see nostalgia (and the occasional buying of same) as the ultimate in recycling. So perhaps, instead of a being a blue Christmas, it's really a green one...

that started in black and white.

(The stores in Geneva have not paid me for this post. Believe me when I say it is I who have paid them.)

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Rabbit Rabbit

When I was in First Grade, Mrs. Barrell (accent on the 2nd syllable) taught us how to make candles, cook spaghetti sauce, and write letters to the Swedish trolls who lived on her desk. Now, I realize that last item might be a little problematic in the pedagogical scheme of things, but we loved her and those colorful wood dolls that looked a little like this:

Minus the goat.

Word by the cubbys was Mrs. Scott, the music teacher, was the real author behind those replies to "Are you old or young? If you are Swedish, where did you learn English? Why do you freeze up when we come back from gym?"

After awhile, I think the whole notion of talking Swedish trolls began to freak some of us out, so Jens and Gunnar were relegated to a drawer. (From there, I'm assuming they grew up to become mascots for

We were very fortunate to have Mrs. Barrell again in Second Grade, where we were introduced to "Rabbit Rabbit," which must be uttered on the first day of the month for good luck. While I am not sure of the etymology of Rabbit Rabbit,  I'm guessing it's probably Swedish for "Let me out, dammit!"

Facebook has made it possible to keep up with quite a few of my buddies from elementary school. We've had a few laughs over those trolls. And the spaghetti sauce. And the Christmas candles we dipped for our moms. And on the first of nearly every month, my friend Cam writes "Rabbit Rabbit to my bff" on my Facebook wall.

I'm sure Mrs. Barrell would get a kick out of that. Jens and Gunnar, too.