Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Autumn Days

As I mentioned in a prior post, I love Autumn. It is my favorite time of year. So I decided a lunchtime photoshoot was in order. I needed to document the beauty of the season.

Peak foliage does not usually hit the Boston area until Columbus Day weekend. So I was surprised to see such early color. These photos were taken in Melrose, Massachusetts not too far from where I work.

Earlier in the day, I passed by these trees on the way to work. In addition to the beauty of the trees, I noticed 7 turkeys nearby. We are not in the country so 7 turkeys congregated in one place is something to get excited about.

So on my lunch, I went back for a turkey shoot (don't get excited, I mean shoot with a camera)
and the turkeys must have been having lunch too because they were nowhere to be found.
But the trees were there in all their glory so I started snapping away. Personally, I prefer a little green to contrast with the reds, oranges, and yellows on the trees.

Soon after I shot these photos a rainstorm swept through the area. Surprisingly the leaves stayed on the trees! Isn't nature wonderful?

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Fiona Rose

I just made my last car payment. Halleluia! In August 2004, I purchased a Toyota Highlander. I named her Fiona Rose. The loan payoff made me reflect over the last 4 years of our relationship, a girl and her car.
Fiona is such a good companion. She is so patient. She drops me off at home at night and patiently waits outside until I start her engine each morning. She puts up with my eclectic taste in music. Van Morrison today, Nickelback tomorrow, classical music in the Fall, Christmas songs
way before December.
She doesn't mind when I spill my coffee on her carpet. She didn't even get upset when an entire
Double Chocolate Frappucino spilled on the passenger side carpet. I saw it happen but since I was driving at the time I couldn't do much about it. She didn't flinch, probably liked the sugar rush.
When an agressive driver cuts us off and I utter some words I never use in front of another human being, she does not pass judgement. It's our little secret.
Fiona has been everywhere with me. She's been to Maine many times and pretty much all over New England. She willingly takes extra riders too and all my friends have commented on her smooth ride.
She keeps me warm in Winter and cool in Summer. Speaking of Winter, she plows through at least a foot of snow with no problem. Which is great because I detest shoveling snow!
We got rearended last October, a drunken idiot from out of state decided we were in his way and after I got out of his way he hit us for good measure, Fiona took the brunt of it. I was scared but physically fine. She got fixed up and now she's good as new.
Lastly, she was a safe haven for my cat Oscar. Last February, it was bitter cold and Oscar was homeless at the time. He would hide under Fiona and use her as shelter from the bitter cold that had hit the Northeast. I couldn't coax Oscar to come inside but Fiona took care of him until I was able to rescue him in June. I used to place bowls of food and water near her back left wheel every night and the food bowl was empty every morning. Fiona was Oscar's protector. Oscar is now an indoor kitty.
Well, that's enough reflecting. I am looking forward to making new memories with Fiona and hopefully hitting the 200,000 mile mark eventually.
(The photo at the top of this post was taken last week. Fiona was waiting patiently for me while I took some snaps of the first Autumn Leaves. One of many stops I'm sure we'll make while I feed my photography obsession).

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Three Day Weekend

Last week I worked seven days in a row. That's right, I am a banker without banker's hours. I worked my regular week plus I was the covering bank officer on Saturday and then the bank had a booth at the city's town day so I worked that on Sunday. By Thursday of this past week, I was a very cranky girl. So I decided to take Friday as a vacation day.

I know I shouldn't be spending money since I am buying a condo in about a month, but I figured one last splurge would be ok. I started out at the Burlington Coat Factory not sure if that's a national chain or not. Anyway, I decided to treat myself to some new bedding. I am going for an elegant yet comfortable look. I already bought a comforter set with golds and burgundys but when I got it I was disappointed. It was not as advertised. It was not soft at all and the colors weren't as vibrant as I expected. So at Burlington Coat Factory, I found a lovely comforter that looks like a crazy quilt with deep purple and lavender velvet squares. There's also some mocha and golds. It is sooo soft! It had two shams and a bed skirt with it too. Then I picked up two pillows that were embroidered and kind of a light irridescent gold that go beautifully with it. Can you believe the pillows were 2 for $14.99?

I scored on that one.

Then I went to my favorite Fall haunt. It is a beautiful property in a woodsy area and it's called the Whiffle Tree. There's a pond, a shed for spring water, a candle company and little country store. There's a covered bridge too. I always buy a New England Apple candle from them in the Fall. I was there too early in the season to see any spectacular foliage. That doesn't happen until around mid October. It was still beautiful and green.

Then I went to Barnes and Noble and bought my favorite magazines, Romantic Homes, Country Living, and Couutry Home. I read them in the cafe as I drank a pumpkin spice latte. Ideas for my new condo were swirling around my head. Crate and Barrel was just across the road so I went inside for some more inspiration. They had some cool little things I just had to have. A black wire cake stand, 2 kinds of tea (apple cider and white cinnamon), and some lovely autumn leaves that I plan to hang from the light over my dining room table.

Last night I went to see my rescued kitty at the home of his foster mom. Hang in there, Oscar, you'll be home with Mom soon. My creepy landlord won't let me take him in the building so Oscar is living about 20 miles from me right now. Anyway my sister accompanied me and we had a nice visit with the kitty.

Today, I went to a craft fair in Lexington with some friends. I vas amazed at the wonderful selection of goods being sold. I was careful not to spend too much there. I did pick up some homemade soaps, a small acorn pottery dish and some dark chocolate truffles and coffee caramels from a place called Chocolate Paradise. All low cost items. The picture at the top of this post is from the craft fair. I had my eye on the pillow on the top of the display. It would have gone well with my new bedding but it was $110.00! So I took a picture instead of buying the pillow. All of the woman's items were lovely and unique. What a talent!

Plans for the rest of my 3 day weekend? Well, I should do some cleaning and organizing for the move and some weeding out of items I don't want. Tomorrow church, breakfast, visit my mom,
watch the Patriots footballl game, and family dinner in the evening.

This weekend has been like a mini vacation. The weather has been perfect. 60 degrees and sunny. Sweater weather, just the way I like it. Come Monday I think I will not be so cranky
because I enjoyed myself thoroughly this weekend..

I hope you all take time out this weekend to rejuvenate. relax, and be inspired.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Saturday afternoon

Cozy Kitty
Originally uploaded by cafechatelaine
Molly is all set for an afternoon of movie watching. Her Netflix came the day before. Which one to watch first, The Amazing Panda Adventure or the Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill?

Sunday, September 14, 2008

A visit to Wilson Farms

Today I went to Wilson Farms in Lexington. This is the place to put you in the mood for Fall. There were pumpkins and gourds galore and colorful mums and bittersweet. The freshly made apple cider doughnuts were a big favorite. I bought six of them and I was tempted to eat at least one in the car on the way home but I didn't.

I found some items for dinner as well. Maple sage pork tenderloin with carmelized onion mashed potatoes, broccolini with garlic, and strawberry rhubarb pie. This farm is my favorite place for fruit, vegetables, flowers, cheeses, desserts, and prepared foods. One stop shopping in a beautiful setting. I love to visit New England farm stands and to support the local economy.

It was a bright sunny day in Lexington, a little humid but that's ok. This time of year we have warm days and cool nights. It was the perfect Indian Summer afternoon. Soon we'll move to crisp Autumn days, the smell of leaves burning and brilliant color on the trees. I can't wait!

Friday, September 12, 2008

And the winner is ....

On September 3rd, I posted about buying a condo or renting an apartment and I was leaning towards renting again. The cost to buy was going to be more than renting and that was scary. I saw an apartment I loved so I was ready to sign on the dotted line. The next day I realized it would be a mistake to rent again. This really is the time to buy and there may not be another time where both prices and mortgage rates are low.

So I am taking the plunge. I am buying a 2 bedroom, 1 bath with garage condo. The unit is one of 4 in a building built in 1910. Yesterday I attended the home inspection and all is well. So it looks like I will have a new home soon. I am relying on all my faithful readers (all 3 of you) to help me with the decorating. The place is gorgeous and doesn't need any work but a guy owns it now and it's a little too masculine and modern for me. I prefer a French inspired look. Any help would be appreciated. For example, the kitchen is lovely. It has granite countertops and stainless steel appliances but it needs to be warmed up. A friend suggested using wrought iron and lace to make it more warm and "French".

Anyway, decorating is going to be fun. Soon Molly and I will have a new home and my new kitty Oscar will be joining us too. We'll start moving in the end of October.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Remembering 9/11

Today I am remembering with the rest of the nation the victims of 9/11.
First of all, I live near Boston and I hate the fact that two of the planes took off from our Logan Airport.
On that day seven years ago, I thought I couldn't possibly know anyone who was on those planes. In the next few days, I realized I did know someone. One of our bank customers who was also our pizza delivery boy was on one of the planes. He was flying west to help his mother move. He was a college student. The pizza guy we'd seen many times in the course of a year was on one of the planes. Shocking.
My sister taught at a Catholic School at the time and one of her fellow teacher's father's was on one of the planes too.
A week later we found out someone from our town, a woman who had not lived in the area very long had also perished that day.
On the first anniversary on our town common, a labryinth was set up. Our town was historically a shoe town So it was decided that we would set up 3000 pairs of shoes to represent the 3000 victims of 9/11. All participants in the project were asked to bring a pair of shoes to be placed on the common. We could decorate them or not. I decorated a pair of shoes (my sister's old bridesmaid shoes, kind of a raspbery color) with cut out angels and feathery wings and a poem. My sister decorated shoes with Mexican references to give a voice to the undocumented workers who were employed at the World Trade Center. Someone left a pair of hockey skates with an American Flag inside them on the common. It was a tribute to former Boston Bruin hockey player Ace Bailey who was enroute from Boston to LA that day.
Now we're at the 7th anniversary. I'm still remembering the victims. I hope you all will take the time to remember them as well.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Dark Day in New England

You may not know it but I am a football fan. Fan as in fanatic! Yes, I would watch 8 football games in one day if I could. So you should know that today is a dark day for me and for
all of New England.

The lifeblood of our team, our star quarterback Tom Brady, is out for the season. If I see that pathetic video clip of the hit that sent his knee one way and the rest of his body the other way
one more time I will.. well I don't know what I'll do but it won't be pretty.

We are all still reeling from the Super Bowl disaster in February and everyone was looking forward to the team avenging their Championship loss. But no, about half way through the first
quarter of the first game of the season Tom Brady hit the astro turf in a heap and he's gone for the season.

Hope springs eternal though. We are hardy in New England and we will rally around our backup quarterback Matt Cassel. After all, Tom Brady started his career with the Patriots as a backup
quarterback so you just never know.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Forever Autumn

The Summer sun is fading as the year grows old,
and darker days are drawing near... I love that song Forever Autumn by Justin Hayward
of the Moody Bues. Every September, I pull out the Moody Blues Time Traveler CD and
I listen to that song every morning in my car. I probably stop listening to it around Thanksgiving.

The song is depressing but I still love it. And I do wish it could be Forever Autumn because
I am an Autumn Freak. I love the crispness in the air, the smell of wood stoves, the vibrant colors every where you look, the smells of apple, cinnamon, pumpkin! Did I tell you I make a mean apple crisp? Well it's one of my specialties.

I love sweater weather. I can cozy up in a nice soft sweater, or one of my big collar oversized sweaters that hide the fact that I've had ice cream on my apple crisp or too many
Starbuck's Pumpkin Spice Lattes that week. Speaking of clothing, I have favortie suede jackets that are special in Fall too. My dark green suede blazer is my outdoor coat for most
of the Fall but by Thanksgiving in New England it's too cold for it. I also have a burgundy
topper jacket with contrasting embroidery that is an old friend.

And let's not forget Autumn is "Hot Drink Season". I once told my sister I love Fall because of hot drinks. She laughed hysterically. It's true. The aforementioned Pumpkin Spice Lattes,
cranberry autumn tea from Harney's, hot chocolate, orange cranberry tea, and let's not forget apple cider. It's especially nice when it's spiced or mulled. Just throw in cloves, cinnamon and nutmeg, maybe some orange zest, into your cider then heat. You will have a fabulous spiced apple cider.
My last comment is about the decorations. Fall is a time to unleash your creativity. Go get those pumpkins, ghourds, acorns, colorful leaves and put them everywhere! Don't forget a nice wire ribbon in shades of burgundy or plum.
I'll leave you with a quote from George Eliot. "Delicious Autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the Earth seeking the successive autumns".

Thursday, September 4, 2008

A Home For Lane

I've been dreaming of owning a home for a while now. Every Sunday I attend at least 3 open houses and usually I come away disgusted and discouraged. In my price range, I've run into my share of fixer uppers and in some cases condos that should be condemned. This summer I made an offer on one house (a lovely cape in a good neighborhood) and one condo (newly upgraded). Both offers were rejected and both properties are still on the market. So I'd given up on home ownership.

I started looking at apartments. I need to move soon because I refuse to sign a lease where I presently live. You may recall from my Starting From Scratch post that I had been feeding a stray kitty. I met Oscar on Valentine's Day and I fell in love with him. In June, I rescued him but my landlord won't let me have a second cat so Oscar is living a very nice life with his foster family. His foster mother Diane treats him as I would. She absolutely loves him and is probably spoiling him. Our agreement was that she would keep Oscar at her home for up to 3 months. So I need to move fast-literally. Unfortunately I put the cat before the house.

Today, I called about an apartment. It sounded fantastic and when I saw it I really loved it.
It had hardwood floors, built in china cabinets, a fireplace, french doors in two rooms, and
storage space. The rent was reasonable. The landlord seemed nice. I took an application
to be considered for this rental.

Would you believe this evening I received a call from the condo owner of the unit I made an offer on? He had his condo under agreement but this week the deal fell through. So he is lowering the price by $20K and he wanted to know if I would be interested. You would think I would jump at the chance to own. This unit has everything I want. But I was planning on renting something about $200 more than what I pay at present. This condo would be about $700 more per month.

I know what you're thinking. If you rent you throw money out the window. Here's my take,
happiness comes first. I want to have a life. I like to travel, eat out, etc. and most likely I will be paying the mortgage for 30 years. There's no getting out of that or at least no easy way to get out of it. So there's my dilemma.

I need to decide soon, rent or buy. Either way, Oscar will have a new home and he will join
my cat Molly and me very soon.

Just for fun, I am posting some photos of my dream homes, the ones I won't be buying.


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