Monday, June 16, 2014

a most wonderful weekend

I'm still floating from an amazing weekend. Brian had the weekend off work, which
is a rarity. We spent the entire day on Saturday in Evanston - a beautiful Chicago 
suburb right on Lake Michigan. It's the town Brian grew up in. I sometimes say I'd love
to live in Evanston - that maybe when Brian retires we could buy a condo in one of the
 vintage buildings with the stunning architecture. It's a town filled with old, beautiful
 mansions, parks along the lakefront, restaurants of every kind of ethnic food you
 could imagine, all kinds of unique shops, and has a rich cultural arts community. 
However, the real estate is quite pricey and the property taxes are ridiculous. Plus, I think 
that  living in a busy, crowded suburb - no matter how beautiful it is - would quickly get 
old for me. I do love the (relative) quietness of living in a small, rural suburb.

One of my favorite stores - a must-stop when we go to Evanston - is Secret Treasures.
It's a small shop, but filled to the brim with all kinds of vintage goodies: furniture, 
jewelry, dishes, kitchenware, jadite, McCoy pieces, Bakelite flatware, Depression
glass, ephemera, books, and linens. You'd think a privately-owned shop in an expensive
suburb would have high prices, but not this shop. The owner's prices are very
reasonable. This is the place that I bought my butler's table from a couple of years ago.

I did buy two egg cups ~  the one on the top shelf with the pink crimped edges
(made in Japan) and the little owl one (made in England) next to it.

After we were done shopping, we had lunch at an Indian restaurant.
The lunch buffet had an amazing selection of food: Dal Makhani, Palak
Paneer, Tandoori Chicken, Samosas, Vegetable Jalfrajee, Catfish Curry,
and some kind of goat dish. I tried a little bit of everything except for the
catfish and goat dishes (I don't eat either). And a basket of fresh, homemade
naan bread was brought to the table to mop up all the delicious curry sauce.

 A beautiful afternoon after a filling lunch called for walking around the downtown
 Evanston area. We came upon this huge library and I just had to go in and take a look.

There were four levels of books, movies, and music.

They even have an entire room dedicated to books that are for sale
(50 cents each). I told Brian that if I lived in that area, I could easily spend an
entire day in that library. And then I'd be coming home with piles of books that
I'd never even have time to read.

We then wandered down to our favorite lakefront park, spread out a quilt in the grass,
 and laid in the  shade, reading and half-dozing. We could hear the lap of the gentle waves
against the rocks and the cries of the seagulls overhead. I've always admired the beauty
 and expanse of Lake Michigan and how the sky and water melt into one expanse of
 blue on the horizon. Maybe that's why I gravitate towards these colors in my decorating.

Our last stop in Evanston was Brian's childhood home. His dad sold the property
last year and it's now being torn down and rebuilt. It was really bittersweet for Brian
to see his family home in the middle of demolition. As we were walking around the
property, I spied something in the overgrown foliage in front of the house. It was their
family house sign that Brian's dad had made in 1973 when they moved into the house.
I am so thankful that I found and rescued this sign. We brought it home with us and 
I'm thinking of making a small gallery wall in Tim's room with this sign and some old
family photos. 

Our trip home wouldn't have been complete without a stop at Kaufman's Deli 
in Skokie. I lived with my family in Skokie in my late teenage years - early 20's, 
right before Brian and I got married. Kaufman's has been around "forever" and has
always been Skokie's go-to Jewish deli for corned beef, lox and bagels. 

Guess it's a good thing we don't live close to this place anymore, because their
meat prices are crazy! There's nothing like authentic kosher corned beef, but at
$14.29/lb. (the lean kind), we can only afford to indulge in this the 2-3 times/year
that we happen to visit. 

Tim came home late Saturday night, so since I had both my men at home all day
on Sunday, I did a lot of cooking. For a late breakfast, I made an indulgent dish ~
sausage gravy to be served over biscuits. Instead of buying a roll of pork sausage,
I made my own. Grocery store pork sausage in the plastic roll is filled with a lot
of nasty stuff - MSG, BHT, propyl gallate, and a ton of sodium. So I simply took a 
pound of ground pork and browned it with salt, pepper, paprika, ground cloves,
a lot of ground sage, and a little bit of pure maple syrup. For the gravy, I added 1/4
cup of flour to the meat and stirred for a minute, then slowly added two cups of
milk until thickened. 

Father's Day dinner was marinated, grilled pork tenderloin, grilled potato and onion
packets, and orzo veggie salad.  I was so full from indulging in too much rich food
and meat all weekend (I usually eat mostly vegetarian), that I only ate a few bites
of potatoes and orzo salad for dinner.

After dinner, we stayed around the table and had wine and beer (wine for me;
beer for the boys) and played cards and just enjoyed each other's company.
Tim had written Brian the most heartfelt note for Father's Day which made Brian
cry - and in turn, made me and Tim cry, too - but it was all good. Tim naturally went
through a really hard time after his brother (my oldest son, Phil) passed away almost
five years ago. With Tim being away at school and being on his own and the natural
passage of time, Tim has really grown up and matured. It makes a parent proud when
you realize your child finally "gets it". I am thankful that we have such a close, open,
honest, loving relationship with Tim. These handsome, wonderful men are the loves
of my life. :-)

Today is back to the usual ~ housework, laundry, watering all the outside
flowers and plants, and going to physical therapy. No cooking!

Happy Monday, everyone. Thanks for your visit.


  1. Sounds like a wonderful time in a city that you both love. A little bittersweet happening....finding that sign. I'm sure it will find a special place at your house.
    The food sounds interesting...would love to try it.

    1. The Indian food? Yes, it was delicious. We've had this cuisine several times near Chicago gives you access to all kinds of wonderful foods. I've also made some curry dishes at home.

  2. Melanie - That sounds like a wonderful trip and a relaxing one too! I can't believe you found that sign - what a memento to hold onto forever. So glad you had a great day with your boys!


  3. Sounds like a wonderful week end. So nice to spend quality time with loved ones.

  4. I am glad you had such a nice weekend. All that China was just beautiful.
    I've never ate Indian food but I live in a small Oklahoma town and it just hasn't got here yet.

    My weekend was mostly caring for teething JJ while his parents had a getaway for his momma's 30th bday.

    1. What a mom/grandma won't do for her family, right? How nice of you to do that.

  5. I've heard of Evanston but don't think I've ever visited. Sounds like an awesome weekend. Strolling around with so much to see and do. Wow! That library is fantastic. And Indian food is one of my favorite cuisines. :) My husband loves Indian movies and the music, he speaks Urdu having lived in India and Pakistan in the 70's -- I love the food, but him not so much. Go figure! Glad to hear that Tim is doing so well. And lovely idea to use the family sign as a focal point for a gallery wall. Have a wonderful week. Tammy

    1. That's funny that your husband doesn't like Indian food after living in India and Pakistan. It's definitely not a cuisine I could eat every day, but we love it once in awhile. My former next door neighbor was from Malaysia and she cooked curry dishes all the time.

  6. What a wonderful post ...sounds like such a happy and perfect weekend...every minute of it! :)

  7. Hi Melanie, what a fun trip. I love that mobile in the library. It looks pretty intriguing.
    So glad that you had such a good time . . . here's to a happy week.
    Your blogging sister, Connie :)

  8. Oh, my sweet friend. I feel like a slug. I've missed so many of your past posts and you have been up to so much. But I went back and read the last five. Your garden and yard tour was neat...I think you've done a really nice job with your front entrance. I like the vertical aspect of the plants and trellis's. Maybe you could plant morning glory seeds in front of them next spring. Not as costly as annuals or difficult as a vine, and those little monsters will grow on anything!! And your veggies garden looks great! My oregano grows like crazy...

    You have been having some great family time...I love how you all hang out together and you treat them to such good cooking! And every time you mention going to Evanston I think, darn, we need to do that. Wouldn't that be neat to meet there sometime? We all seem to like the same stuff! Have you ever been to Lincoln Square? Not on the lake but fun and a little funky...I think you guys would like it. I am getting ready to post. Again, so sorry for not stopping by.

    Hugs to you!!

    1. I've missed you! I think I'm going to try honeysuckle vine first and if that doesn't work, the morning glory seeds are a good idea. Although I've tried morning glories in other areas and they always died! Sure, we could meet in Evanston sometime! And yes, I've been to Lincoln Square - twice. Love that little area. Talk to you soon!

  9. What a lovely day you had, Melanie, in Evanston. When our kids were little, we lived in Wheaton and loved to go into Chicago. It was so beautiful along the lake.
    I know you feel blessed to have such wonderful men in your life.
    Mary Alice

    1. I had no idea you once lived in the Chicago area! Wheaton is a beautiful suburb.

  10. It sounds like a perfect weekend together!! Glad that you had such a good time, the dinner - in fact all of the food! - sounds delicious indeed. I am so sad for Brian about his family home being torn down, but it is so great that you found and rescued the sign, your visit must have been timed perfectly to find and save it! I am sure that it will be a treasure for you in years to come. xx

  11. I always love it when you take us along your wonderful outings, Melanie, and today is no exception! Evanston sounds quite cosmopolitan, cultural and beautiful, as your lovely photos show. How serendipitous that you stumbled upon that house sign!! I get such a kick out of stuff like that! Your dishes look divine and how very nice to have spent quality time with your men, who must adore you!



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