Tuesday, October 30, 2012

LRR Hood in our City 'Hood

Not only was Miss E a Ballerina Girl this year, but she also masqueraded as Little Red.  This past Saturday we took her out Trick or Treating in our Lincoln Square neighborhood - a great place for families, fun and candy at most merchant's doors along Lincoln Avenue.
As it was a cold day, that red cape really kept her toasty warm once out and about.  Before we left she posed in our place atop a foot rest and touching the lamp - her request.

Once we reached the happenin' spot, Miss E was off and running!

The only blip along the way was running into the wolf.
 LRRH has every right to be scared of this dude.
Lots of candy in the bucket, though, made up for this blip!
 Every time Miss E got another piece, she had to show her tasty treat to Papa.
(And he was more than happy to see she scored some chocolate goodies.)
Wishing you and yours a treat-filled H A L L O W E E N filled with sweet surprises and...

... unexpected disguises!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

The Annual Halloween Bash (and a Reluctant Spider Man)

Imagine my husband's expression when I told him that for Halloween this year he was going to be Spider Man.  He was thinking of the tight leotard and mask; I was not.  Instead, he would wear a "t" shirt with a web on the front and an inflatable spider attached to a baseball hat.  Painless enough, right? 

As for me, Spider Woman, I was inspired by a "find" at a thrift store of a shiny green taffeta never-wear-it-again bridesmaid's dress and a spider hat a fun friend had given me some time ago.
Now that our costumes were set, we (I - who am I kidding?) could progress with the party planning.
The guest list included our immediate family and Kari's family from out of town, not coming for the party specifically, but for the Northwestern vs. Nebraska Huskers football game.
I worried a bit that they would think I was a crazy Halloween weirdo, but immediately
found out they were on board when they walked in dressed up!
Sisters Kass and Glo called themselves "Husker Hicks" and were hilarious!
Their cheeks had tattoos, their hair was fake and their teeth?  Oh, dear.
But it was Don who made me laugh until my sides hurt.
Somehow I never visualized him as a sumo wrestler type.
Yes, this is the family our cowboy son married into. His lovely wife is the nun.
Now take a look and the rest of our party guests:  Super Preg-o, The King and
Ballerina Girl. 
Yes, I know, I know.  You want a close up of the Ballerina Girl?
There were appetizers, some storytelling and games, a few silly token prizes, then supper with salad, soup and a dessert that had gummy worms oozing out of whipped cream. And, by the end of the evening Spider Man was embracing his spider mentality quite nicely!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Two Girls With Hat-itude

After our walk along the shores of Lake Geneva, Carol and I were hungry! We asked a "local" to recommend a fun place to eat and she suggested the quaint Baker House. This was just the perfect place to eat!

(For more information on the history of the Baker House, please keep reading all the way to the end of this post.)
We knew we were in for a treat even as we walked up the stairs to the restaurant.

Once inside we were greeted by friendly staff who encouraged us to look at the collection
of hats and pick one to wear during our dining experience.
If you know me, you know I l-o-v-e vintage hats and have been collecting them for years.
This was bliss!


Hats for women; hats for men...
Which ones would we choose?





No, these won't do.  How about these?

 Much better!
We actually put our hats aside when we were dining.
The food was excellent, the service was sublime, but best of all
was being together for the experience.
Friends for 39 years now and we still find plenty to talk about, sometimes
with hat-itude and sometimes just plain attitude.

 And, now here's some history of the place:
Baker House History
HistoryBuilt in 1885 as a summer residence for Mrs. Robert Hall Baker, (Emily), the 17,000 square foot, 30 room, Queen Anne Mansion was first named “Redwood Cottage”. The Land that the house was built on was originally given to Charles Minton Baker, (Robert's father),in 1838 by the city of Lake Geneva as part of a "compensation package" for becoming the first District Attorney of Walworth County.
Robert who was born and raised on this land, vowed to one day build a summer home for his family here. Forty-seven years later his widowed wife, Emily, built that summer home as a grand tribute to the man she so adored on the lake that he so loved. Upon completion of the home, Roberts initials (R. H. B.) were lovingly placed in the threshold of the entry by Emily so she would never have to pass through the door without him. Today guests are still greeted by Mr. Baker as they cross that very same threshold and the essence of Emily is never far behind...
(Pictured above, in an antique postcard dated 1904, the Baker House mansion with its turn-of-the-century turret prominently stands today as it did more than a century ago, a crown jewel of Lake Geneva's waterfront).
Over the last 125 years the home has had many lives: a SUMMER HOME for Emily and her 5 children; a SCHOOL DORMITORY for the Lake Geneva Seminary for Young Ladies; a "fashionable" SANITARIUM for wealthy patients recovering from light nervous disorders; a clandestine Speakeasy during Prohibition and by the 1930's it was the lakeside HOTEL and RESTAURANT, best known over the decades as the "St. Moritz". In 2010 the "Redwood Cottage" once again became a PRIVATE HOME that also doubles as a LUXURY INN for all to enjoy as if it were their own. It has been lovingly retored and renamed the BAKER HOUSE in tribute to Emily and Robert.
The Baker House, a Nationally Registered Historic Property, is one of the few remaining "summer cottages" that still embodies the true glory of Lake Geneva at the turn-of-the-century. It is beautifully preserved with most all of its original ornate details intact. Five-wood inlaid floors (believed to be one of S.C. Johnsons very first home installations) and thirteen original fireplaces surrounded by floor to ceiling hand carved mantles embellished with pristine J & JG Low Art Tile of Chelsea, Massachusetts. This rare and highly collectible tile can be seen in every parlor of the mansion and is rumored to be one of the most diverse and well preserved examples of J & JG Low Art Tile in the country.(Additional examples of J & JG Low Tile can be also be seen at nearby Black Point Mansion and the Richard Driehaus Museum in downtown Chicago). This summer the Baker House celebrates its 126th birthday and we will continue making lots of new history here together. 


Thursday, October 18, 2012

Cloudy with a Chance of Inspiration

My wonderful friend Carol is temporarily living in Lake Geneva with her husband Mark.  There was a pocket of time to go visit her before the leaves were completely off the trees.  Unfortunately the day was not a sunny, cloudless, clear day; but time off is time off, so I headed north. 
We went out for a lakeside walk in spite of the threat of rain and gray skies.  (For those of who don't know, Lake Geneva is a medium-sized lake in Wisconsin with a resort feel; it is required that an accessible path lakeside be provided for all passers-by homeowners from "regular" houses to mansions - and there are mansions.) Come along now for a little stroll with us.

Then we came to this standout and were truly inspired by the quotes and paintings on the railings on both sides of the path.
Carol and I took our time to read many of the quotes.
There are quotes from famous people, movies, songs and the Bible.
It is very peaceful here by the lake...what was the motivation behind this "gift" to
path walkers?  I had to do some online research and this is what I found,
as  written by the homeowner, Carolyn Gable.

Year after year I would walk the lake path and always said a silent prayer to God how someday I wanted to own a home on the lake. I would travel on the path looking at the homes and wondered what these people did to enjoy such a wonderful life. Was it a family fortune or just plain hard work that created these gorgeous estates? Many times I would try to chat with the owners of these homes, yet I always felt like I was intruding. It probably was my own insecurities at the time. However, it made such an indelible mark on my soul that I would add to my prayer “And if you ever do bless me with a home on the lake I will make it so inviting for all!”

Well, some 20 years later and the recipient of more miracles than I could ever count, I was blessed by God’s Grace and was able to purchase my home - right on the lake! I held true to my promise and immediately put ‘Expect a Miracle’ on the front gate. Almost immediately, I began to receive cards and letters from people telling me how those words changed their life - it was the inspiration and hope they needed to persevere.

I was so inspired by these letters that I hired a wonderful muralist to paint inspirational quotes on what was a blank white fence along the lakeside path. As he worked during the summer of 2008, people began to gather on the “Miracle Path.” I would, and still do, wake up on a weekend morning to flocks of people coming to feel the love and inspiration from the path.

A year later I added a podium, a large bell that reads “Ring the bell and Expect Miracles,” and a wooden box to hold a spiral notebook so people could share what was in their heart. From that June day in 2008 we have over 12,000 people (14 huge notebooks!) who have stopped by to write in the book or ring the bell and expect a miracle!

This path has truly taken on a life of its own. When I hired a man to paint words on a fence to fulfill a God given promise, I had no idea it would hold such power. I invite you to read these incredibly heartfelt words from many of people from all over the world who have graced the path.

If you ever are in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin I invite you to come and visit the miracle path, ring the bell and expect a miracle to happen.
Very interesting.  Miracles? That is hard to judge. Inspiration? Certainly...even on a cloudy day!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

We Have Been Wedding-ing (#2)

Wedding #1 was on Saturday and a little over 6 hours later we were headed to the airport on our way to wedding #2!  There was no way we were going to miss out on the wedding of a girl I have known her whole life. She is the daughter of one of my best friends from seventh grade back in the New Jersey days!

Sue and her husband Greg are parents to four beautiful (inside and out) daughters. This is their first daughter to be married. More on these girls later...let's get to the wedding in New Hampshire.

The wedding was held at a camp (Pilgrim Pines/Camp Squanto) that I had attended
back in the Jersey years.
The mantel was decorated with fall foliage and harvested gourds and pumpkins.
Simple, yet so earthly elegant.
But who stole the show?
The over-the-moon-crazy-in-love couple!
Kiera and Stefan are just one of those couples who seemed destined to have a happy marriage.  Even as I compose this blog post, I smile just thinking about the two of them and the joy
they shared in being joined together in holy matrimony.
Now, on to the reception venue.

K and S sat at a Sweetheart table for two after they made their entrance with a memorable, choreographed dance. 

There were toasts and tributes,
and a sweet "rap" kinda thing by the bride's sisters
(shown on the left) that let the wedding-goers get a glimpse of what life was like for four sisters growing up together in shared bedrooms, bathrooms and a crowded mini van. And still, they appear to be the best of friends.

Kudos to their parents who have done a stellar job in raising four lovely daughters!
More surprises were unfolded as the evening reception progressed.
We were treated to New England "Contra Dancing" which is like square dancing but the dancers move in a large circle instead of small clusters.
An accordion player and a fiddler led the group.  Fun?  Fun!!
And then we danced ourselves out.
Waaaaay Out!
Congratulations, Kiera & Stefan!!
Much love to you as you begin your married life together.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

We Have Been Wedding-ing (#1)

This past Saturday was an especially sweet wedding of one of my former preschool students,  the lovely miss on the top right of this school picture. (I loved this class!)

I have been blessed to keep in touch with the family of the bride and the bride herself as we are members in the same church family. When the Save the Date card arrived in the mail, needless to say, I was over the moon to think of being able to celebrate with this bride that I had formerly taught.

The wedding was in Wisconsin.  It was a cold day, and we bundled up.  Not only did the invitation give directions, but we were informed that jeans and boots were acceptable attire.  Hmmm...would Wes be willing to wear that fancy cowboy shirt and jeans?  Yes, yes he would.  And I layered myself with a dress normally worn without a shirt under it and a corduroy jacket on top of it and we were set.

From the moment we drove up to the reception venue, we knew we were in for a very special time!
Once inside we found out where we would be seated with the list written on old windows.
There was a tent set up outside (with ample heaters )and long farm tables filled the tent. Burlap topped with lace ran the length of the tables. Flowers in glass jars and flickering candles set a mood of country comfort.
Now let's talk about the food: Pig roast! Chicken wings! Corn bread with honey! And more.
We also were able to reconnect with folks who feel like family, and meet baby Sig for the first time.

The father of the bride gave a poignant speech and not many dry eyes were to be found inside the tent. Toasts, dancing and much joy and merriment continued throughout the magical evening.
All the best to you, newlyweds C and B. May you have a very happy life together indeed. 
You certainly went to the head of the class with this wedding!