Monday, May 18, 2015

May 10, 2015: Wondrous Women Dinner Italiano!

Congratulations & Arrivederci Kayla, who earned her Master's degree and is stepping boldly into a new chapter of her life adventure.
Bon Voyage Julie, Natalie and Sarah, who are heading to exciting locales for their summer internships.
Congratulations and good luck to Adeline and Chelsea who received academic fellowships in the local area and thus, will still be able to visit Chateau de Joie.
Wondrous Women all.
As this was also Mother's Day, the beautiful rose above was presented to Italian-ish Mama Marilyn by Julie and Chelsea when they arrived for dinner.
Marilyn is very, very proud to be the mother of two spectacular, talented, accomplished children - Joie and Jake!!!
PLUS, she's very excited about the fact that TWO of the Wondrous Women are moving into Chateau de Joie as our new roommates.

Trio of real swingers

The Menu, designed by Joie, fulfilled by the Wondrous Women...

End of the Semester and Graduation Celebration…Italiano Style…

Sunday, May 10
Antipasti e Vino a 5, Cena alle 6

Caprese Salad

Garlic Bread
Roasted Zucchini

Pasta al Forno
Shrimp & Crab Ravioli a la Vodka
Spinach & Mozzarella Ravioli with an Eggplant Marinara

Sparkling Wine
Red Wine

Hazelnut Cookies, Strawberry-Red Wine Cheesecake, Cannolis
Yes, those are Christmas dishes.

And of course, what's a party without at least one selfie?

Happy trails y'all!!!

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

May 9, 2015:

Here in the Five College area of western Mass, the month of May is a time of dramatic changes. Freezing cold temperatures and mounds of snow give way to balmy breezes, green grass, multi-colored tree and flower blooms, the return of birds and bees and four-legged woodland creatures...and voracious ticks. Marilyn got the honor of the first tick bite despite how careful we've been. Fortunately, she discovered it before it starting drinking her blood so the assault was minimal.

The other major change around here involves the residents. Tens of thousands of students are ending a school year, going to their hometowns for the summer break or heading off to exotic locations for a summer fellowship. Most of the graduates won't be coming back to this area in the fall, though their spaces will be filled by starry-eyed freshmen or fresh graduate students.
     One of the results of such transiency is the need to quickly dispose of furniture no longer needed. Joie and Marilyn have each been on the giving-away end several times, but this year we were lucky enough to be on the receiving end. The downstairs living room now has almost-new living room furniture. Our upstairs dining area now has an actual dining table. Marilyn's closet-under-construction has gotten a head start with a nice chest of drawers. And a desk and entertainment stand were added to tenant spaces. Enormous thanks to colleagues Erica and Amanda for their donations and an extra dollop of gratitude to Amy, Mike, Katie and especially Matt and Chuck for helping Joie physically relocate all these treasures to their new home!

Because of the college terms, May also becomes the month when landlords have tenants moving out and others moving in. In our case, we had two move out and two others are moving in, with only a few weeks to get everything ready in between.

If you've been following the blog, you know last fall we had major repairs that needed immediate attention including massive electrical work (which we contracted out) and complete replacement of the downstairs ceiling (which we did ourselves), but we also did a total rebuild of one bedroom and turned the mud room/storage area into a habitable suite. This week launched the rest of the work needed downstairs, beginning with a full house duct-cleaning and strenuous scrubbing of kitchen appliances and cabinets inside and out. These chores were not photo worthy. Next week's tasks include new kitchen tile, shampooing carpets, painting the living room, kitchen and third bedroom, replacing interior doors, installing blinds on 9 windows and having a section of wall repaired. We'll see if we can't make some of these items deserving of a picture or two.

Monday, May 11, 2015

May 8, 2015:
Crab apple tree from portico
More bloomin' surprises! Joie is in the final days of class papers and grading exams and Marilyn is elbow deep in harsh cleaning supplies as she scours the downstairs space in preparation for new roommates, BUT every few hours, all work must stop to check out what new eye candy Mother Nature has wrought on our property!                         Claiming first place as the most stunning are the crab apple trees. In the fall, when the one outside the portico (yes, we have decided to call the screened upper deck with the swing a portico) shed a ton of leaves into the pool, Marilyn had declared that the messy tree must die! After all, the fruit was inedible and there was no need for a shade
tree next to a pool.   But the overnight springtime display of white blossoms that has attracted hummingbirds, orioles, robins, cardinals, etc, has her retracting her threat. Even seeing the wind blowing those white petals onto the pool cover isn't bad enough to ever get rid of this tree!
     The bonus is that there's another in front of the house, next to a magnificent rhododendron bush. As promised, here are a few more of the lovely surprises spring has delivered so far...

Bleeding Hearts beside daffodils

White birch (?)

Purple Periwinkle slopes

Heather? covers another hill & under Weeping Willow

Unknown--bunches of teeny waxy flowers spread super sweet smell over entire property
1000's of Lily-of-the-Valley, pushing their way thru dead fall leaves - NOTE TO SELVES: must rake leaves.

   Now we're seeing hundreds of another plant growing in all sorts of random places. It has broad, pointed leaves like tulips or lilies, but so far, no buds. Of course, we could ask a local, but we've decided the power of the surprise factor can't be ignored. As soon as we have a flower, we'll be sure to share a pic.
   Until then, we're about to dive into the summer's list of renovation projects and y'all know what that means -- dramas, traumas and giggles galore!  So stay tuned...