It’s picture day! I started out looking thru some recent pictures on my camera roll & realized they might show you more of what I’ve been doing for the last few weeks than anything I could write. And who doesn’t like to look at

Last Monday my husband tackled our sagging porch. (Yes, one corner had actually dipped measurably.) It was more than time for this repair, but we had no luck finding a carpenter to do the job. Fortunately, Steve is very handy. This is what he did.

Demolition is always pretty ugly and we didn’t know what we’d find. Happily, the decking was in great shape (yay!). Steve had to cut out a few boards to get to the substructure, which was also in good shape but had sunk a few crucial inches in one corner.


Since we were expecring guests, we just rolled the old carpeting back over the newly leveled porch. We talked about skipping the carpet and painting the floor, but apparently treated lumber needs to dry out for several weeks to months before it can be painted or stained. We could still power wash the floor and leave it exposed to speed the drying, but the spaces between boards are more “generous” than we thought. Will that invite bugs? Decisions, decisions. It’s a work in progress.


I shared on Instagram but not here that my husband built these awesome cedar Adirondack chairs earlier this spring. It was quite a project, but so worth it. They are a great place to take a break from the garden, read a book, share a glass of wine, or just chat.


This clematis came with the house over 30 years ago, and it’s blooming non-stop this summer, but look at the color variation. Some blooms are the usual deep purple, but others are varying degrees of lilac. Has anyoine else had this happen? Is it missing a particular nutrient? If you have any ideas, let me know.


I was walking past the dining room recently and noticed that the table was clear, there were no jackets draped on the backs of chairs and although the light wasn’t perfect, I needed to capture this moment! By the way, I am on a mission to center the table with something other than flowers, hence the candlestricks. This is also a good example of my current high/low style: a crystal chandelier over a pine table. Works for me!


Finally, I often save pictures from Instagram that somehow and for whatever reason inspire me. Do you do that too? Here are two recent saves. First, if you have ever been to Charleston, South Carolina, you know that residents there take their window boxes very seriously. I thought this one was so pretty and featured flowers we could do in Chicago.


Finally, if you have been here for any length of time, you know I have taken cooking classes at The Cook’s Atelier in Beaune, France. I wrote about one here . Marjorie and Kendall set a lovely but simple French table and the food is plated just as beautifully. It’s not all all surprising that their shop displays have the same elegant, restrained French sensibility.  Just look.


That’s all for now. Thanks for stopping by. I’ll see you soon!

My latest book list!

July2018_WireBasketBooksSince my posts about books generate so many comments from you, my readers, I thought I would share at least some of the latest reading list my book group generated for August thru next July. This isn’t the complete list — just a “teaser.” 

If you are a regular Ivy & Ironstone reader, you may recall I am a member of a book group that’s been meeting on the first Friday morning of the month for well over 50 years. I wrote about it here   We  recently met to choose our books for the coming year.

This was also the first time we met in person since the pandemic began.  We have met faithfully via Zoom, but readily admit technology is a poor substitute for the intimacy of in-person greetings, mingling over coffee before we launch our discussion. Some hugs, lots of laughs. It’s just so good to be together, a shot of emotional tonic. 

But I digress. We’re talking books here and you probably  want to hear titles. I won’t bore you with all eleven books, but I will share a few I am especially looking forward to. 

Caution: if you’re looking for beach reads, this may not be the right place — although a few of them could be — and this list has little to do with best sellers, although a few of them are. It does include a few critically-acclaimed first novels, a few prize winners (or at least contenders) and some authors that this book club returns to again and again.  

First up, we are reading Valentine by Elizabeth Wetmore, which I read and wrote about here. I really liked this book and, more importantly, think it will generate a good discussion. It’s not “happily ever after,” but it is a story that stays with you. I’m eager to see what the rest of the group thinks.

We’re also reading The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett, about African-American twin sisters from small-town Louisiana who eventually move to the city where they discover one can pass as white. This revelation fractures the sisterhood and examines the subject of identity and family. It’s been included on several “best books of 2020” lists. It was already on mine. 

This group often goes back to authors we have enjoyed in the past, so we chose The Cold Millions by Jess Walter, author of The Beautiful Ruins, which we loved. Set in 1909 Spkane, the novel focuses on two brothers caught in the class warfare of the early the twentieth century. Sound familiar? More than one critic has noted the similarity to today’s social climate. 

I may take the next two titles with me to the beach next month. Technically they are not necessarily “beach reads,” but I’m looking forward to reading both. And who defines “beach read” anyway?

The first is Stories from Suffragette City, a collection of 13  short stories all set on October 23, 1915, when thousands of women marched up Fifth Avenue in New York demanding the right to vote. We  love the topic and the history. I think this may be our first short story effort, so it will be an interesting discussion. It is, of course, our October selection.

The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman is described as “an intelligent mystery about four septugenarian sleuths who find themselves in the center of a murder investigation.” It’s set in an English home for senior citizens. It sounds a little whimsical,  but several members of my book group are also enthusiastic mystery readers. And I have no comment on the “septugenarian” angle. 

I’ll share more with you as the reading year goes on. In the meantime, if you want a break from reading and some pretty pictures to look at, how about these personal libraries? I don’t need a separate room, but would love a library wall like one of these. 



Before I close, I want to thank all of you who took the time to wish my husband and me well after our “break through” Covid diagnosis. Your care and concern are sincerely appreciated. (And, boy, quarantine is really lonely!) We have recovered & are catching up on what we missed. It’s very good to be back!

That’s it for now. Thanks for stopping by. See you again soon!