February 3, 2015: Hola darlings! I am SOOOO happy -- I officially retired on January 30, 2015. I am a FREE WOMAN! If you are retired, you probably know this feeling of being completely liberated to do the things that you WANT to do instead of the things that you HAVE to do in order to keep a roof over your head, clothes on your back, and food on the table. I am so thankful to be in this position -- retired three years earlier than I thought would happen. Now I actually have energy to do some of those projects around Maison Newton! We got socked with a snow storm over the weekend and Lake Michigan piled on some lake effect snow for good measure -- 11.5" official but I have 3 and 4 foot tall drifts! Well, I am not complaining too loudly because we've had way below average snow-fall this winter; more snow is coming later today - I heard starting around 3 p.m. and making rush hour traffic a mess! I hope Mother Nature doesn't decide that February, March and April are "make up for that" months! The new collage contrasts the conditions outside and the warm and cozy inside of Maison Newton. This house is definitely growing on me :) Take care, everyone! Jan

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Is This Just A Glorified Boob Light???

I've been looking around off and on for some different kind of lighting for my kitchen and dinette area.  They are wide open to each other and I want them to be coordinated through either style or color, if not matchy-matchy.  I still go for matchy-matchy, BTW.  There is a third light by the kitchen windows, above the sink.  It is pretty much a classic boob light, but it doesn't have a rounded nipple - it looks like it had a mammogram and got squished.  Replacing this light (if I do), will be problematical as the space is small and I haven't seen anything that looks like it "goes" with any of the other light fixtures I like:



Its rim is a sort of dark copper-y color though, not that almost blackish-dark brown that some manufacturers try to foist off on unsuspecting consumers as "rubbed bronze fnish."  

There is a matching fixture in my back hallway/entry/basement stair landing, and I don't care about that because nobody, absolutely nobody, is standing there looking up at the light fixture critizing it.  In contrast, there is  a true boob light in my narrow hallway to which the bedrooms and bath append:


You can definitely see that protruding nipple, LOL!

Thank goodness that most people, though, don't usually look up at a hallway ceiling fixture through which they're passing in a few seconds.

Anyway, I came across this fixture at Overstock and it has a matching chandelier that would, I think, look beautiful above my dinette table.  Here is the semi-flush mount ceiling fixture that would go in the center of the kitchen work area:

I think it's gorgeous.  I love the metal work and the more copper-y finish, along with the translucent glass shade.  I think that if I left the light in above the sink until I find the absolute perfect solution, they would all work together.  

But -- is this just a glorified boob light look????

I would be horrified to replace two light fixtures in such a visible part of the house with what amount to glorified boob lights -- wish I'd never come across the term.  Damn!  Here is the chandelier:


The price is good on the combo, too, with free shipping.  But - should I keep looking for something less "booby?"  Do I have a psychological fixation on boob light fixtures?  Do manufacturers have a psychological fixation on boob light fixtures -- or feed into this irrational fetish on a grand scale -- all around the globe???? Arrrgggghhhh - sometimes I hate this home improvement stuff.

Duvet Cover Redux

Hola darlings!

Happy belated Valentine's Day to all.  This is what I woke up to on February 14:


We had a snow storm two weeks ago Sunday and had nearly a foot of snow dumped on us; and then we went back into the deep freeze.  Slowly, ever so slowly, as the sun has come out every now and then and the rays ARE getting more intense during the countdown to the Spring Equinox, the snow levels have shrunk somewhat, but as you can see, there is still plenty of it and it's not going anywhere in a hurry!  I was rinsing out some dishes just after dawn on the 14th and looking out my kitchen windows and I thought "What is that?  Fog???"  But I knew it could NOT be fog -- it was like 10 below outside!  No -- it was SNOW.  With the texture of sand in a sandstorm.

I tried to get a couple pictures of it by quickly sticking my camera out the front door -- managed to get a wet lens but not that sense of sandstorm that was happening at 6:30 a.m. on February 14th!  You can see on the driveway, though (above), that blowy-drifty kind of fine grit snow that swirls up into sudden white-out conditions.  Photo above was taken looking to the southwest.  Photo below was taken looking toward the northwest:


Today it is sunny, YAH!  But very very cold.  I hiked to the Pick 'n Save yesterday about 1:30 p.m. -- during the height of the "warmth" when the windchill was about zero degrees F, and picked up some supplies.  Today it will be temps consistently 10 to 15 below zero F because of winds out of the northwest.  Sigh.  We won't get a break from this until Saturday, when it may get up into the 20's, YAH, but also snow.  BOO.  Old Man Winter ain't letting go of Milwaukee any time soon.

So, now that I am a FREE woman, I've been spending a LOT of time working on my friend Barb's family tree and going through ink on my small printer like you wouldn't believe. I completed the first family lines binder and could not squeeze another page into the 1.5" binder; Barb moved the contents to a 3" binder and it works much better now, and a good thing too, because I still have more pages to insert.  Now I'm working on the second binder which contains the "paternal" lines and it's going to be as large as (if not larger than) the first binder.  There are many more people and family lines I was able to trace back to Europe in the 1600's in the paternal line so I'm going to have to pick and choose what records to print out and what stories to tell!  All of us have wonderful stories in our family histories -- if only you knew...

BUT, I have taken some breaks from this fascinating work.  On February 4th, I nearly strangled myself with an Ikea duvet cover, and things went downhill from there.


Do you see how perfect the set looks in the photo, above, from the Ikea website.  They should take photos of what the bedding looks like after someone like me spends a night sleeping on it! Truth in advertising!


I really tried to like this cover, I really did.

But I just was not happy with it.  The material is ultra-soft and warm and I loved sleeping beneath it, it has a luxurious feeling and is wonderfully comfortable, and the flowered vine pattern is artful and lovely!  I especially loved the pop of red color.  But this just wasn't doing it for me.  I thought I would grow to like it more and so left it on my bed for 10 days, but on Valentine's Day I knew it was coming off.

I just could not deal with the wrinkles.  I get the night sweats something fierce (still) and so I'm constantly waking up at night and flinging the comforter off, and then back on as I cool down, and it's a broken record like that throughout the night.  The Lyocel fabric wrinkled too easily during this on-again, off-again process, and I couldn't get the wrinkles smoothed out in the morning when I huffed and puffed and fluffed the comforter (perhaps my over-heating body permanently "ironed" in wrinkles???), attempting to make the impossible happen (wrinkles disappear).

I am not going to give up on it, though.  I have a plan for how to adapt this set to fit my comforter and pillows better.  You can see by comparing the photo of the bed above with the photo of the bed below, how much larger the Rodbinka set is that the Alvine Kvist set.  That needs to be changed, so I will haul out my sewing machine and stitch away...  I envision using the lovely Rodbinka set during the fall through December, and I will switch out some accessories to accommodate the red tones.

But for now, Rodbinka is resting in a drawer and I unwrapped the Ikea Alvine Kvist duvet cover that I had purchased at the same time:


My experience in putting this set on my bed compared to my wrestling with the Rodbinka duvet set was as different as night and day!

After cold-water washing and drying the Alvine Kvist, I ironed it. I won't kid you, it took a long time to do this, although not as long as it did to iron the Rodbinka set.  The Alvine Kvist set is 100% cotton and so ironed beautifully and did not readily wrinkle again as I maneuvered the large duvet cover around the ironing board to get it all ironed.  This was a very different experience than when I ironed the Rodbinka Lyocel material.  To be fair, the Alvine Kvist cotton cover has a much sturdier "hand" to it than the Rodbinka cover, and is not nearly as translucent and soft, so it holds up much better to handling.  It also buttons down the openings on both the pillow covers and the duvet cover rather than closing with ties (which I found for some reason I seemed to undo nearly every night while I "slept").  The opening on the Alvine Kvist duvet cover goes all the way across its top, too, so it was much easier to stuff my comforter into it; also, the size of the Alvine Kvist pillow covers and duvet cover are somewhat smaller (tighter) than the Rodbinka set, and my pillows and comforter fit into the covers much better -- less "wiggle room," so to speak.

I love the pattern -- it's a floral in charcoal grey against a creamy white background, and the background color goes perfectly with the creamy white Ikea curtains in my bedroom:


I paired the Alvine Kvist set with flannel charcoal and creamy white checked bedding that I bought online during Target's white sale last month.

Does the Alvine Kvist set wrinkle?  Yes, it does -- but not nearly as much as the Lyocel fabric did; I think the somewhat "tighter fittting" size, the "hand" of the fabric and the overall pattern help camouflage the few wrinkles that have appeared since the initial ironing.

I am soooooo happy with this set, and am totally in love with the look.  I think it will easily transition to spring -- if it ever comes.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Finale: I Nearly Strangled Myself With A Duvet Cover

In order to get the full impact of this mega-drama, please check out Part 1 and Part 2.

Today, my third official day into retirement, I decided to iron the smutty duvet cover and get the job finished!  Come hook or crook, I wanted to get that Ikea duvet cover on my bed.

And so, off came the comforter, off came the sheets, off came the mattress cover. Never one to leave well enough alone, and since it hasn't been done since last July, I decided to flip over the mattress to see if I can temporarily erase sleeping in a crater (my poor back).  Oh brother.  Note to Self:  Must budget for new mattress set.

Heaved and shoved and pushed and pulled.  Let me tell you - this top mattress, it's no light-weight, ugh!  Finally, get it upright off the bed.


Notice where the arrow is:


Close up of arrow:


Facing the head of the bed from the foot, that arrow had been on the lower right hand corner...

More shoving and heaving of heavy mattress, I got my work-out!  Half-way to the goal line:


After much more heaving and shoving, I got the mattress turned around the corner to the other side of the bed!  But before I could get a decent picture of it, it started sliding downward -- OOOOHHHH NOOOOO!


I quick grabbed my camera and then tried to stablize the mattress - didn't work!  But I got this blurry photo of the turn arrow as I desperately gave it a yank with one arm and a swift kick with my my right leg (picture a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle move).  Notice its position now as it is falling, falling, falling onto the bed -- when finally settled, the arrow was in the upper left hand corner!  Success!  The mattress was turned 180 degrees.  Is this the stuff top blogs are made of, or what!

Part 2: I Nearly Strangled Myself With A Duvet Cover

My Brilliant Idea.  Isn't that the name of a movie???  Should  have shot myself when I had the chance - 'cept I don't own a gun.  I don't think a squirt gun would quite do it.

Brilliant Idea:  USE A WHITE DUVET COVER UNDERNEATH THE WHITE-ISH IKEA DUVET COVER TO HIDE THE WHITE-ISH JACQUELYN SMITH COMFORTER!

I eagerly dived into my (am proud to say), organized but much smaller linen closet than I used to have at the former Maison Newton, so I donated a lot of things and guess what -- my full-sized plain white duvet cover was one of them.  BUT --

I still have a twin size plain white duvet cover.

No, you're saying, oh no Jan, you didn't. YOU DIDN'T!

Yes, I did.

What's that song -- you put the spell on me, baby, ooohhhh oooooooowwhhooo, you put the spell on me...



The Ikea duvet was calling my name, and I was powerless to resist.  I hauled out that twin-sized white duvet cover, and ironed the heck out of it:


And ironed, and ironed, and ironed...  Seems no matter what I did, more wrinkles appeared than disappeared.  Hmmm....

Part 1: I Nearly Strangled Myself With A Duvet Cover

Hola darlings!

Don't quite understand how I managed to get myself all tangled up in the thing, but heaven knows it's as big as a circus tent and twice as hard to work with!  I somehow managed to extricate myself and lived to blog about it --

I must be mad, mad, I tell you.  Bwwwwaaaahhhhaaaaahhhhhaaaaa....

I've been visiting the Ikea website for just about forever, and I love how everything there looks!  Now do I have any Ikea furnishings in my house?  I look at all the Ikea rooms online and say to myself  "I like that, and oh, I really like that and I want that," but in the end my taste is, well, old-fashioned boring when it comes right down to it -- the antithesis of Ikea style.  But I have purchased some items from Ikea.  My mistress bedroom curtains, for one thing -- LOTS AND LOTS OF CURTAINS -- like 20 pair maybe, just on two windows.  But the curtains are inexpensive -- well, they were inexpensive until I bought 20 pair.  Hmmm, okay, maybe not quite 20 pair.  There are three pairs of sheer under-curtains on each window and two and one-half pairs of semi-sheer over-curtains on each window.  I really think each window needs another pair of over-curtains, just to give me the opacity I want.  Or maybe I'll get rid of the sheers underneath altogether, saving them for elsewhere (they are so whispy and beautiful, blow beautifully in the summer breezes, but not at all practical for blocking views from outside into my boudoir - and who would want to snoop into the boudoir of a 63 year old woman, I ask you -- but that's a subject for another day), and buy three pairs of semi-sheer over-curtains to use as under-curtains, splitting one pair between the two windows.  That actually might WORK!  Duh.  Don't know why I didn't think of it before.

Bed in it's winter dress.  The tie-on curtains framing the head of the bed will be taken down for
the summer. I love my black and white toile print comforter set by Jacquelyn Smith.  It's paired with
a black and white gingham check sheet set.  P.S.  The Christmas ornaments have been put away 'til next year.

I love how they look!  They're soft, they're a creamy white not that slightly blue-tinged "cold feeling" white, and they filter the light beautifully.  I feel positively decadent in my boudoir with these Ikea curtains. I just want them to be a little less see-through...

But this post isn't about my curtains -- it's about DUVET COVERS!

I think Ikea cast a spell on me.  One mad day, after months and months of visiting its website and oohing and aahing over its duvet covers, I bought TWO:
This is the Ikea Alvine Kvist duvet set (grey and white).
This is the Ikea Rodbinka duvet set (white, red, charcoal, taupe).
I actually wanted to buy about four more, but I reined myself in...

Monday, February 2, 2015

Aftermath of the First Big Snow Storm of 2015 -- DIGGING OUT!

Hola everyone!

Wow, do I have impeccable timing or what, I ask you?  I DON'T HAVE TO GO TO THE OFFICE TODAY, or ever again!

Just to warm you up, here are a couple of pics taken last evening.  As the day wore on, the snow and conditions got worse and worse and worse, and the winds whipped the snow horizontally every-which-way, including straight into my camera lens:

Back yard.
Back yard.  See that wind scoured spot to the left of the bird bath?  That was totally disappeared this
morning at dawn -- see pic below.
Back yard, taken at dawn, this morning.  The fence is five feet tall -- notice the drift where the hydrangea
is now buried!  There are peaks and valleys all around the yard.  Just amazing!
Looking toward the northeast, last night.
Backyard, dawn, this morning.
Backyard, dawn, this morning.
Official snow fall as reported at Mitchell International Airport in Milwaukee:  11.5".  Now at this new Maison Newton, I had 3 and 4 foot tall drifts all over the place -- my backyard and driveway look like the Sahara Desert, only in white.   Super pain in the neck!  And I thought the former Maison Newton used to have a problem with drifting snow.  Geez!

For the past week or so I've been waking up at 3:40 a.m. and can't really fall back into a deep restful sleep again. ARRRRGGGGHHHH!  So, sans alarm, I was out of bed by 6 a.m. anyway, my usual time.  I turned on the radio and learned that - THE SEAHAWKS BLEW THE SUPERBOWL -- THEY LOST!  Bwwwwwaaaaaaahhhhaaaahhhhaaaaahhaaahahahahahaaahahahahahahaha!  The Goddess of Football delivered us Packers fans some sweet revenge, let me tell you!  Maybe I'll even forgive you for not delivering on giving us the NFC Championship this year.

A cup of coffee and some mini-Belgian Chocolate Eclairs later, I was bundled up and ready to shovel, around 7 a.m..  Except I couldn't get out of my back door.

What the heck?

The snow was taller on the back stoop than the bottom of the storm door!  I had to push, heave and mightly shove that sucker outward to get it open.

And then I stepped down.  Sunk into what seemed a foot of snow.  I gingerly held the shovel out in front of me, probing for the end of the step.  Moved forward - nope, not it.  Moved forward - nope, not it.  Moved forward - BLOOP - FELL OFF THE EDGE OF THE STOOP INTO A SNOW DRIFT.

Darlings, the damn snow was so deep I didn't even make it to a prone position!  I fell and was still standing up in thigh-high snow.  OH, MY BOOTS MY BOOTS MY BOOTS ARE FILLED WITH SNOW.

Did I give up and go inside?  HELL NO.  I'm not a stupid Newton/Villeneuve-Jablonski for nothing.  Ha! What's a foot of snow inside my boots, heh?


Sunday, February 1, 2015

FREE AT LAST!

Hola darlings!  How are you on this wonderful weekend day?  I'm GREAT!  You see, my last day at work was Friday, January 30th.  I am now officially RETIRED, woo woo!

I cannot tell you how HAPPY I am, but I sure don't look it in this picture that my work buddy Barb snapped of me Friday morning -- the other ones she took must have turned out even worse (ouch!) since she chose this one as the best of the lot (?):

Hello!  That's me. Maybe I need to
save for a face lift after all...
Hmmm, I look tired, eyes are puffy, that sweater is NOT flattering (honestly, I'm not as heavy as I look in this pic, but I really need to work on that next 10 pounds, yikes), and I definitely need to invest in a good support bra, OY!  But despite the pic, I was VERY HAPPY -- I just don't take good pics (well, that's what I keep telling myself - nah, you don't REALLY look that bad).

So, that's a glimpse of my former office -- as clean as it's ever been.  It was even cleaner by the end of the day, because I moved piles of work that must be tackled on Monday into the office of my successor, who had the day off (he's not moving into the office I'm vacating, which doesn't make sense because it holds all the files of my now former boss and he's going to be constantly walking back and forth between offices to access them.  Perhaps eventually common sense will prevail and he will - NAH.  He's a nob.)

Now officially retired, and I am GLAD because we are being zonked with blizzard-like conditions here. It's a true nor'easter blowing in over Lake Michigan from Canada. It started snowing last evening and it is going to snow all day today and into tomorrow.  In this area we may get between 6 to 9 inches, but with lake effect snow in play, it's anybody's guess, really.  We could get over a foot.  Here's what my backyard looked like about 10 this morning:


It's snowing hard -- you can actually see it falling in contrast against the red fencing, and you can see the snow blowing off the roof of my neighbor's garages!  Don't want to get a face-full of this stuff!  It's fine tiny flakes, gritty almost, and the wind is gusting upwards of 30 mph.  The temperatures are plunging downward and areas to the southeast of Milwaukee County are under full blizzard warnings until noon tomorrow! I have some tall drifts here and there and bare spots here and there and it's getting worse even as I sit and type this -- wow, just saw a white-out in my backyard!

About 9:15 this morning I opened up my front door to get a look at the street view and got the crap scared out of me - here was this big young guy standing on my front stoop about to pound on the storm door. Fortunately, he looked as taken aback as I did.  He called me ma'am.  Now I know I must look like a blowsy old broad.  Sigh.

Turns out he and a buddy run a business in the area and they were going around the neighborhood offering to snow blow out driveways and sidewalks.  They did my front porch, front walk and sidewalk for $15 (I passed on the driveway, not needing it to be fully cleared), and it looked good.  Forty-five minutes later those guys are way down the block now, getting plenty of work (good for them - very enterprising and SMART to be going around on such a day), and my sidewalk is already drifting over and looks like it was hardly touched!

This was cleared 45 minutes ago, believe it or not!  My front sidewalk, walk from the public sidewalk up to my porch.
I hope those guys come back tomorrow when the storm is finally over :)  Look at that mess -- there's deep snow in the streets, plows have been through but you wouldn't know it by looking at it.  Oh my, not even going to attempt to shovel my way out of here until this is ALL OVER!

As I'm sitting here typing, the winds are whipping up even more.  SO glad I won't be attempting the half mile walk to the bus stop tomorrow morning to get to work!  I won't ever have to do that walk again, against my will!  AAAAHHHHHHHHH, THIS IS FABULOUS!

The alarm part of my clock radio was turned OFF when I got home from my celebration with friends on Friday night.  Yesterday I got up around my same time (5:40 a.m.) without alarm -- I just woke up like I'm on a computer program or something, as I had to go for a blood draw and I like to get that done as early as possible in the day because it takes forever to go back and forth by bus. I left the house yesterday at 7:08 a.m. and was back home about 9:54 a.m., supplies in hand.  When I caught the 76th Street bus going south heading home, I jumped off at my Pick 'n Save and did my grocery shopping, along with about 500 other people!  Stocked up on supplies to sit out the storm -- wine being my number one priority, as I have plenty of food stashed already, and a new box of hazelnuts for my squirrels already in stock (I buy in bulk, 25 pounds at a time). That was it for me for the day.  Other than tossing lots of nuts out to the squirrels yesterday -- they were visiting more than usual, probably sensing as they do that a storm was coming and they would have to "bulk up" for the next few days until they can easily get out of their nests to navigate once again -- I did not do much of anything.  It was heavenly! Today I slept in -- I did not get up until 7:04 a.m.!

View to the southeast from my patio door.
So today's agenda is my usual reading of the Sunday newspaper (already had my one cup of coffee for the day and my morning cookies), taking down the tree and packing away the remaining decorations until next Christmas, and then catching up on visiting my favorite blogs to see what peeps have been up to.


Later on I'm going to make some kind of chicken breast dish.  I picked up a sweet onion and a green pepper yesterday at the Pick 'n Save and defrosted a chicken breast from my stash (you would be amazed at how much food my tall but skinny counter-depth euro-style fridge/freezer at the bottom holds - WAY more than the larger "standard" size with freezer on top I used to have at the former Maison Newton).  I have no idea what it's going to turn out to be yet, I'm just going to experiment and hope I don't poison myself.

Goodbye, 2014 Christmas:


I always take the tree down on Super Bowl Sunday.  It's sad this year because WE WERE SO FRICKING CLOSE, DAMN IT ALL!  At least Aaron Rodgers won his second Most Valuable Player award -- well deserved!  Playing on one leg and taking the team on his BACK (and one leg) ALL THE WAY TO THE NFC CHAMPIONSHIP - writers in Hollywood can't even come up with real life stuff like this (which doesn't say much for their imaginations, does it???)  GREEN BAY PACKERS ARE THE GREATEST TEAM THAT EVER WAS OR EVER WILL BE.  I mean - first we had that traitor Farve whom I will hate until the day I die for what he did, going to play for the Vikings - but he was great until it went to his head - he won two MVP awards, and now Rodgers!  THE LEGEND OF GREEN BY LIVES ON.... (imagine echo sound in that voice of the dude who does the NFL Films voice-overs...)  Let us all fervently pray that Rodgers wins a THIRD MVP award.  Ha, Farve, take that, you filthy traitor.

Before I wrap this post up, squirrels were here at the crack of dawn, and they were waiting impatiently for me on the steps leading to the patio as I was "late" this morning.  There they were, pacing back and forth, leaving paw prints in the snow.  When I opened up the blinds they looked up (four of them) and motioned in squirrel sign language WELL, ABOUT TIME!

I immediately tossed out some hazelnuts but the squirrels couldn't find them in the snow.  So I pulled out the broom and while the squirrels watched from their perches on top of the fence and garage roof I swept off the steps and carefully tossed more nuts down.  They were gone in a flash.

It didn't take long for the blowing snow to begin covering up the nuts that I kept supplementing for the intrepid squirrels who managed to make the trip to my backyard:


The squirrels disappeared about 8:30 a.m.  Given the present conditions, I don't expect to see them until later tomorrow morning, after the worst of this is over.  Which means I'll have to get out and shovel the steps off and make a couple of paths for the squirrels to come from the fence lines and the arborvitae to the patio steps.  LOL!  I'm such a "mommy!"