Create a Paradise with a Backyard Pond

What comes to mind when someone says "backyard paradise"? Do you have visions of your yard dressed like a vacation resort with all the bells and whistles? Chances are you envision comfy outdoor seating, waves of beautiful flowers, and areas for the family to gather and enjoy the great outdoors. For me, a paradise isn't complete without a splash of water, because when I go on vacation I'll always choose a waterfront location.  So when I think of a … [Read more...]

Casual Patios: Relaxed Outdoor Living

The past 2 days I've been sick ... the stay-in-bed-all-day kind of sick. I get horrific cabin fever when I can't get out so when I started feeling better toward the end of the second day, I begged hubby to go for a walk down the forest preserve trail that our dead-end street empties into. The 60-degree air was good for both my body and soul and I started dreaming about our plans for the yard. I want to create a couple of casual patios this year … [Read more...]

12 Outdoor Dining Space Ideas

Now that the outside of our house is finally painted, my next goal is to create an intimate dining space in the backyard. Our yard at the back of our house is small and there's really not much you can do with it. We own the lot next to our house so the vegetable gardening, games of catch with the grand kids, or other outdoor activities take place in that lot, or what we call our "side yard." I've decided in 2015 to turn our backyard into a place … [Read more...]

A Day at Lake Shabbona

Not too too far from our house is beautiful Lake Shabbona, named after Chief Shabaney of the Potawatomi Nation. The lake is situated in the middle of Lake Shabbona State Park and is home to a variety of fish, including muskie, blue gill, bass, catfish, and more. When I was just a wee girl, my grandparents would take me and my bamboo fishin' pole here to catch blue gill. I wasn't that into fishing, but I enjoyed trips here … [Read more...]

Apple Picking in Illinois

A slight chill in the air and the turning of leaves into riotous colors means it's time to take the family out for some apple picking in Illinois! Several farms in the area are dotted with red and golden apples weighing heavily on trees lined in neat little orchard rows. One such orchard is just 5 miles from my house and a recent family gathering ended in a trip to Kuiper's Family Farm. You can see by all the cars that this place is hopping! … [Read more...]

The Early Face of Fall

As I gaze upon the early face of fall and watch the season progress toward winter, I'm reminded of my mother's journey with Alzheimer's. The early stages of this disease are now progressing into something more serious for her, but she's entirely unaware. My grandmother had Alzheimer's so I'm no stranger to this disease that slowly steals the mind. Slowly the person you love and know so well begins to disappear. They no longer recognize … [Read more...]