Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Ta Ta, 2009!

For those of you who haven't heard from us much this year, may I provide a brief explanation, describing 2009 at the Herlihy's....

We do not care for those annual epistles that bestow unreal glory of perfect, unimagineable lives...."Timmy was just accepted to Harvard at the mere age of 10, while little Annie will be joining the Peace Corps after her run as a Rockette for Preschoolers...she speaks eight languages.


Our year, however, was the exact opposite. In fact it resembled a country western song. We would venture to say, the song "Gloom, Dispair & Agony on Me", of Hee Haw fame Click here to see what I mean, best describes what occurred in our lives this year. So much so, that we were compelled to share our tale of woe with you.

Actually, it’s pretty funny….

Let's recount the year, shall we?

September 2008: Construction commences to dig a basement under our 120 year old home.

October 2008: Construction continues slowly; we worry that 4 guys and a wheelbarrow do not appear to be working on the project in a professional manner.

Garage is now full of dirt. Huge hole/doorway cut into back wall. Can no longer park in garage.

November 2008: We hear a thunderous noise at 2 am. Look out window to find sidewalk has
collapsed between our home and the neighbors.


January 2009: We come home from Christmas vacation to find that there is an 8' deep trench spanning the entire length of our house, between us and the neighbors, with no support of the neighbor's home.

Tom freaks out.

January 9, 2009: While Tom is at General Contractor's office, pleading with them to fortify the neighbor's house, he gets a frantic call to evacuate both buildings. Neighbor's foundation slides out from under their house.

The same week I started a new job, all the while, Tom is starting his own company.

Oh, and Jack changed schools that week and was the new kid in school.

Jan/Feb: All occupants of both buildings are forced to live in hotels for 40 days in the coldest, most numbing weather in ages. Imagine being in one hotel room with two small children for that long. Cue the vodka….lots of it.

Mid Feb: We say screw it and move back in the house even though we were told not to.
Dayglo orange sticker graces front door..”STOP WORK ORDER”. Might as well say “VERMIN LIVE HERE.” (which they do, under the house)

Plywood at front of house to secure crevasse between the two houses.

Heavy rains causes erosion in front and back of house. My attempts at landscaping get sucked under and the redbud tree stretches one sad branch up and out as a last gasp under the house.

March 2009: Insurance denies claim, citing “Ground Movement”. Doesn’t that mean earthquakes and landslides????

Neighbor sues us to recoup his costs. Attorneys get to work and start billing. Construction ceases.

April 2009: Tom has 2 car accidents in one day. No construction happening...

Receive letter from city stating our house must be torn down......hmmmm that might be a good idea!!

May 2009: My car bottoms out in an unmarked construction area, costing $2,000.00 Still no construction.

June 2009: A U Haul hits my parked car. Drivers have no insurance.

That’s right, the big hole under and between our houses still exists.

My once lovingly landscaped backyard is full of weeds, construction debris and anything remotely dangerous to children.

July 2009: Summer is here and our house just needs a couch in front to be redneck complete. STOP WORK ORDER SIGN has faded to yellow.

City wants our remodeling plans from 1984 to reissue permit. We bought the house 2002….What the hell??

August 2009: City wants us to remove three bricks from our sidewalk as they intersect the imaginary line with city property OR pay an annual trespassing fee….What the @#*&?

September 2009: Remember the job I started in Jan? The one where I left a great job of 10 years to take? Laid off…..Still no construction, no permit. Husband working constantly to get that first sale…

October 2009: Not sure what is scarier, the head on a stick decoration for Halloween in our front yard or our FRONT YARD?! No construction, no permit.

I get “hired” to be the office secretary at Tom’s factory. Former secretary jailed. (don’t ask)

My parked car gets hit AGAIN.

Tom’s car window bashed in by vandals.

November 2009: Work resumes! Promises are made that this nightmare project may end soon. No permit yet, however.

Tom heads to Bangkok, Dubai, Abu Dhabi and London for 16 day sales trip.

So now it is December and we are 11/12 done with this crappy year. We would like 2009 to have an American ending, with the home project done, all negligent parties found liable, to secure a big sale for Heat Armor and for our devastated finances to be made whole. I don’t see that happening in the next 30 days, however, we are on our way.

And we have much to be grateful for. No one (knock on wood) we know or love has been ill, our kids have had a great year in school, I started my own children's clothing line named Mac & Fitz Check out my store on Etsy and the dog didn’t die (oh, right…we don’t have a dog!!!)

We hope your 2009 was a good sight better than ours and don’t look for an epistle next year.

Love, The Herlihy’s

Sunday, November 29, 2009

From Bullwinkle to Biscotti....

The Thanksgiving weekend has ended and it was a whirl of eating, parade watching and whisking Christmas past the Thanksgiving decorations and leftover turkey...whew! It's almost as if the world says "Step aside, Thanksgiving! Make room for Christmas already...The Black Friday sales are WAITING!!!"

Thanksgiving started with a morning prep of the 12 lb. Martha Stewart Young Turkey...http://www.marthastewart.com/turkeycomplete with the fat laden cheesecloth (just as Martha suggested). We then hustled the two kids into the car to see the Thanksgiving day parade on State Street.
Now, unless the parades are Disney style with lights, great costumes and pomp & circumstance or if they are the cute, nostalgic, kids-on-tricycles 4th of July kinds of events, parades are pretty much the same.

Success, though, is when your kids are actually interested in what is creeping down the road vs when they can have a Starbucks soy chai latte!
So, despite the fine drizzle and the pauses in motion, the kids enjoyed seeing the bands with their bad shoes (what is UP with that?!), flag girls and balloon floats of has-been cartoon greats.

Clearly, Bullwinkle and Rocky the Squirrel did not make the cut for New York, so they glided down the street to puzzled looks. My kids have no clue who they are, but liked watching the handlers guide them under the El tracks.

One more comment on the band member's choice of footwear...what self respecting teenager agrees to don shoes that their grandmother wears on a regular basis?! At least some covered them up with spats...
The day progressed to family arriving and the mad dash to prepare the myriad of dishes in a timely manner. We are fortunate to have the best next door neighbors who are like family... We share the holidays and feast preparation together.
It was a fun evening.....
The rest of the weekend we avoided the shopping hordes and opened the Christmas bins. We have a little artificial tree this year, but the kids didn't mind. They actually managed to decorate a wider swath of the tree vs a 2 foot square section with 100 ornaments. Only two broke...bonus!

We decked other areas of the halls........and lit the front porch. Looks great next to the plywood, huh?

Yep, the light really accentuates the STOP WORK ORDER sign on our front door, too. Kind of like the flattering light of a candle on ones face....not so much!

The Christmas season is off to an accelerated start. Lists are swirling in my head...when to make the biscotti, toffee and caramels.... When to ship gifts to NJ.....when to get a bikini wax! This year I have to be the most organized ever, since my husband will be overseas for the next two weeks. So much for help!
Oh well, his biscotti stinks anyway.....

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Be Careful What You Wish For...

It's a Chinese Fire Drill around here!

For the last 3 weeks my husband has been globe trotting, in search of potential business in the armored car world...Bangkok, Dubai, Abu Dhabi & London. Back in Dodge, I have been manning the factory office, taking care of kids, house, contruction under house and Mac & Fitz. http://macandfitz.etsy.com

With Christmas sneaking up the back stairs, I have been working on handmade items. This year, the year of no cash, means the year of handmade. I like the idea of handmade gifts. When I was a kid, I needlepointed, painted and decopaged a wide variety of goodies for my parents. It was fun and I am sure they loved everything.....right mom??
And I love making things now, if it weren't for the 85 MILLION other things on the day's must do list, too. So, the creative hour starts around 8:30 pm until about midnight.

Tonight it was limoncello...an easy, quick concoction that once prepared, steeps for a few weeks before consumption. Now it's made and it will be poured into pretty decanters upon gift giving. More projects on the agenda, but there's a little wrinkle in the plan...

A very cool pop-up shop (Kooky) down the street opened, selling kids clothing by local designers. As luck would have it, they like my Mac & Fitz creations and now I am a member of the co-op!

On November 23rd my skirts will be for sale at Kooky! I am more than excited, I am panicked!

My inventory consists of about 10 skirts, so I am sewing at every available moment and have begged my mom to fire up her Singer. The sewing machines are humming and hopefully a larger selection will be available at game time.

Stop by Kooky on Southport, two doors down from Mystic Celt. http://www.kookyshop.typepad.com/kooky-shop/

Look for Mac & Fitz and say Lori sent ya!

And be careful what you wish for......

Monday, November 2, 2009

An Autumn Salutation...

Indoor weather, as they call it, in the Upper Midwest, has come.

The leaves were blown off the trees recently in gale force winds, combined with torrential downpours. The leaves matted together in a sodden layer and were ground into the pavement, forming a slick mush on the roads and sidewalks.

After a few bright, cold days, the leaves dried enough for me to rake them into a damp semblance of a leaf pile.

Memories of autumns past always come to mind. We had two massive oak trees in my childhood yard. Some years they would produce so many acorns that if we collected them and tossed them on a hill we could ride them downhill

like we were on ball bearings.....whoosh!

The leaf piles were legendary and my blistered hands were proof. Our home sat at the dead end of a wooded area and the leaf pile in the recessed turnaround could be 5 feet deep. We would run as fast as the dickens and leap into the aromatic, dirty,

scratchy mess, full of joy.

Even better was the fire Dad made as he burned them. I miss that leafy, smoky smell. Marshmallows and hot dogs tasted better, smoked by leaves.

Halloween this year was the story of Ninjas & Princesses...

Ninjas who trick or treated with the "boys", a fast running bunch,

who were into quantity.

The princesses, took their time scaling the condo steps, surveyed the take, remembered the "Trick or Treat" chant, "Thank you" and Happy Halloweenie" and covered at two block square in 90 minutes...

Tortoise and the Hare....

An Autumn Salutation...

Yep, sonny this is sure enough Injun summer. Don't know what that is, I reckon, do you? Well, that's when all the homesick Injuns come back to play; You know, a long time ago, long afore yer granddaddy was born even, there used to be heaps of Injuns around here—thousands—millions, I reckon, far as that's concerned. Reg'lar sure 'nough Injuns—none o' yer cigar store Injuns, not much. They wuz all around here—right here where you're standin'.
Don't be skeered—hain't none around here now, leastways no live ones. They been gone this many a year.
They all went away and died, so they ain't no more left.
But every year, 'long about now, they all come back, leastways their sperrits do. They're here now. You can see 'em off across the fields. Look real hard. See that kind o' hazy misty look out yonder? Well, them's Injuns—Injun sperrits marchin' along an' dancin' in the sunlight. That's what makes that kind o' haze that's everywhere—it's jest the sperrits of the Injuns all come back. They're all around us now.
See off yonder; see them tepees? They kind o' look like corn shocks from here, but them's Injun tents, sure as you're a foot high. See 'em now? Sure, I knowed you could. Smell that smoky sort o' smell in the air? That's the campfires a-burnin' and their pipes a-goin'.
Lots o' people say it's just leaves burnin', but it ain't. It's the campfires, an' th' Injuns are hoppin' 'round 'em t'beat the old Harry.
You jest come out here tonight when the moon is hangin' over the hill off yonder an' the harvest fields is all swimmin' in the moonlight, an' you can see the Injuns and the tepees jest as plain as kin be. You can, eh? I knowed you would after a little while.
Jever notice how the leaves turn red 'bout this time o' year? That's jest another sign o' redskins. That's when an old Injun sperrit gits tired dancin' an' goes up an' squats on a leaf t'rest. Why I kin hear 'em rustlin' an' whisper in' an' creepin' 'round among the leaves all the time; an' ever' once'n a while a leaf gives way under some fat old Injun ghost and comes floatin' down to the ground. See—here's one now. See how red it is? That's the war paint rubbed off'n an Injun ghost, sure's you're born.
Purty soon all the Injuns'll go marchin' away agin, back to the happy huntin' ground, but next year you'll see 'em troopin' back—th' sky jest hazy with 'em and their campfires smolderin' away jest like they are now.

Thursday, October 22, 2009


Nope, not that kind...

Working on three birdie print skirts and tweet came to mind.
Added a coffee bean print panel and I thought that if Mr. Robin had a latte now and then he might read the paper, take out the trash AND get the early worm long before his chicks woke up! Perhaps I am projecting my own wishes on that poor bird....
It's just that autumn is getting in the way this week...

such beautful fall weather and the colors are popping out.

So we played outdoors, decorated indoors with fall regalia and made comforting dishes such as butternut squash, spinach stuffed pork chops and pumpkin bread.

All the while, those skirts stared at me and my inefficient production ethic!

They are almost finished now.

The next ones may begin today, but most likely after the school fun fair tomorrow. I love autumn!