More tulips. They jumped in my grocery cart Friday. I think these are my favorite, a combo of soft pinks. We've had the BEST weather here the past week yet I hesitate to take a stroll around the grounds and jinx any sign of bulb shoots. We could get snow or another frost next week. Actually, I'm sure we will. It's way too soon to delude ourselves into thinking this is really spring in the Midwest. Maybe early May...the earliest. Until then...the grocery store or florist. By the way...FYI, I was reading on Ina Garten's blog that we shouldn't trim the ends of our tulips or let them have a lot of water as they drink it up and it makes them droop. That's quite the opposite of what I've learned about other cut flowers but I'll take the advice. But...don't you sort of like when they all droop over the sides like a Weeping Willow tree? :)
When you have 60 degree temperatures and your windows and doors wide open, you get inspired. And when your baby girl is coming home for a day or two...you get crazy! Red Velvet cupcakes with cream cheese frosting. Yum.
I think she's happy. But I think she misses home, too. Still, she loves where she is living and this time in her life...every day brings new experiences and makes her more comfortable. She's stayed here several times for various reasons where she had to be in our area, and I sleep SO well on these nights. And it's not like we sit up until midnight talking and painting our nails, nor am I making Mickey Mouse pancakes in the morning, but it feels good. We are all adjusting to the new normal.
I think I've mentioned that The Husband and I do a lot of "Day Trips" when it gets a little slow at the lake. I've been trying to implement that here at home as well on these cold, and slow weekends. We really have so many cool towns to visit once we get west of the city. Yesterday I woke up and suggested we go to a town about 25 minutes away. Very old (incorporated in 1873), with huge old mansions and blocks of shops and businesses and restaurants in the original old buildings. We had such a good time!
I enjoyed two floral/gift shops that had things I don't get to see too much in our area. I fell in love with this birch arbor...I even took some very close-up pics because we have so much birch from the two trees we lost the summer before last. These were drilled and held together with heavy bolts. Maybe The Husband can make me something like this? :)
I'm not against faux flowers or plants, I've had my share but I really and truly love the real thing. That said, I don't live in the woods or have an abundance of flowering trees. This shop makes it easy for any of us to have blooming branches to force indoors and there is nothing more beautiful than that in the spring. It was all so tempting! I tried to force forsythia branches last spring from a big bush I have but I wasn't successful...I'll try again in another month or so. And I thought the pussy willow stems were so pretty. Last summer The Husband planted a Weeping Pussy Willow tree in our front yard at the lake. We have our fingers crossed it made it through the winter. It is the most awesome tree!
The Husband is always the first to jump on the bandwagon when I suggest day trips like these, and most of you know that most of our vacations involve visiting all sorts of "new to us" towns and cities, just strolling around, trying new things and enjoying new experiences. Still, sometimes he comes into shops with me, other times he stands outside patiently waiting. I'm so grateful to have someone like him that is always beside me but sometimes steps away to let me explore on my own (And maybe give himself a break). I really enjoyed this antique store. We admired a few things right away and I was curious...no prices. And then we both started to snicker at the same time, thinking of the old adage that if you have to ask the price, you can't afford it! Nope...didn't even want to know. I did find a few cute things for my Easter table that didn't set me back much, but that was it for the entire day. I just love to browse in these little towns. There is no hunt, there are no needs, there are luxuries we smile at and know we can live without. Sometimes we spoil ourselves but that's rare...we have days and days like this behind and ahead of us.
And the coolest part is finding the best, most perfect spot for a drink and a small bite. That's all we need between lunch and dinner. And we did find this fun, eclectic and modern Mexican restaurant and we had such a ball. The perfect margarita...
...and a plate of avocado french fries. I bent the cooks ear. Sliced avocado wedges dredged in Panko crumbs and spicy dried peppers that had been ground very fine in a food processor and then baked. I don't think I'm getting the full story here, a cook and magician never reveal their secrets, but believe me, it's going into the lab. So tasty and healthy!!! We also had tortilla chips with 4 different salsas. Needless to say, we skipped dinner.
I was going to give you this recipe last week and ran out of time. Now, thinking it over, I really don't think I need to give you a recipe for something like this. I'm not going to underestimate what you know. If you can make a basic chicken soup...you can make this. It is simply a variation of Chicken and Rice Soup, something I've always loved. But I wanted to make it a bit more filling and updated at the same time. Voila! Risotto! It was perfect. Now...risotto isn't something of it's own (and you know this, too). Just follow the directions on the back of your package of Arborio rice...most every brand has a recipe and it's usually as simple as making any other longer cooking rice. Make your favorite chicken soup and then add 1 cup cooked risotto in the last ten minutes. It makes for a creamier, more "comfort food" sort of soup. Some good bread or crackers...it beats the winter blues!
My Tulo Man woke me up this morning. This is the happiest, goofiest dog you have ever met. Standing on his hind legs, he towers over me, yet he tries to climb on my lap all the time. He's just so gangly and awkward and lovable...can you see that in his face?? He's like an elephant in a china shop in my house, yet as my son Jeff says, this is his fave place to go to hang out with us and rough-house with Milo, probably since this is where he first made friends as a young puppy. You have to love that. But sometimes I call him Tulo'/Droolo, he is always panting and drooling!! Within 5 minutes, the water bowl is empty and Milo is covered in slime from their playing. I do love the guy but I feel like the house needs to be hosed down after he leaves. Anyway, After Tulo went home, Milo and Layla were ready for a bath. I had been avoiding it with Layla until I was sure she was over that ear infection. And today it reached 50 degree so they were unceremoniously dumped in the tub and scrubbed from head to toe. I then put their stinky collars in a large bucket filled with water and laundry detergent to soak. Then I rinsed them and let them soak in the same bucket again with white vinegar and water. Air dry. I think collars make up for 99% of their stinkiness. :( This is a great method for getting them clean and fresh smelling.
Today is the BIG Chicago Southside Irish Parade. I've posted about it every year since I started blogging so I will spare you. It's fun. The Husband and I enjoyed going when we were younger and then visiting friends who had "Open Houses", corned beef sandwiches and lots of Guinness was the special of the day. Now our kids do the parade route and hit all of the Irish bars. Actually this year I've seen them wane off it a bit. It seems to be either for the very young twenty year old's, or younger families with kids. Still, a great Southside tradition.
I have a nice big corned beef...I usually make it the day of the parade (as in today) which is always the Sunday before St. Paddy's Day. It's nice because the whole family can smell the aroma as it boils all day. Today it was just The Husband and I, and I was feeling a little melancholy (baby) and defeated in all the efforts I make for him and I...no one else around the table. And then I felt foolish and insensitive. I'm so grateful that as time marches on we are so lucky to have each other...so I made a big Irish Stew. And it may just be him and I when I make that big corned beef and cabbage on Tuesday but, well... he's my best friend. :) I'm such a softie.
cead mile failte!
Linking up with Martina at Northern Nesting for Share My Style Thursday