Tuesday, June 25, 2019

finally summer

Always a great start to the summer to have long-distance cousins in town (Tim and our four-year old cousin)...

and taking a jaunt to the local antique mall.

 Our evening walks take us down to the lake where we watch the sunsets...

 and another weekend day trip was in store where we to a vintage market and then had drinks on a rooftop overlooking the town.

Rain, rain and more rain, now in the form of thunderstorms....

 But I guess on the plus side, all this rain has made everything SO green.

 My herb garden...

The butterfly garden is looking fantastic, though nothing is in bloom yet except the columbine. That's purple coneflower in the foreground, then sedum, lamb's ear, bee balm, phlox and black-eyed Susan.

 It's also mulberry time, which means our neighbor's tree is dropping these berries all over our patio, the patio furniture (which is why the chairs are moved to the side for now) and in the plants and mulch all leading up to the patio. We can't use our patio unless the berries are cleaned up first and they ruin our plants. They rot and smell and then attract flies. They stain our patio and the furniture. We've had our neighbor's tree trimmed back to her property line a couple of times, but it doesn't do much good. Those berries still (obviously) find their way to our property. It also costs a lot of money for a tree trimmer AND this neighbor is very nasty about us trimming her trees, even though we have every right to. 

But back to better things about the patio...summer nights sitting out there with a glass of wine is peaceful and relaxing...

And now that the hot, humid weather has hit (low 90's this weekend!), it's time for more salads. I had this for dinner tonight and it was absolutely delicious. It's brown rice pasta tossed with steamed asparagus, baby spinach, artichoke hearts, fresh basil, salt and pepper, Asiago-Parmesan cheese, and then a homemade lemon vinaigrette (fresh lemon juice, salt, pepper, a little raw honey, and extra-virgin olive oil). I toasted some pine nuts and added them to my salad, too. Leave out the cheese (and the honey in the vinaigrette) if you want/need a vegan dish.

Happy summer!

Thursday, June 13, 2019

hello june

I know it's still spring, but when the calendar turns to June, I automatically think summer. Usually by now in my neck of the woods, it's hot. Last year at this time, it was in the 90's. This year is different. It's been unseasonably cool and unfortunately, still very rainy. The extended 10-day forecast shows scattered thunderstorms every single day.

Around the gardens of Comfy House...my clematis is in full bloom right now and is so beautiful. The color of the blooms have a silver tinge, so that when nightfall is approaching, the flowers almost glow in the dark.

 My three-year old peony bush produced about ten huge blooms last week and I snipped a few off to bring in the house. I was disappointed to find that the blooms only lasted a few days. They quickly wilted and drooped and didn't look pretty. Then I read something online after I cut the flowers, that I was supposed to cut them when they were still buds. And I also wasn't supposed to cut more than 1/3 of the blooms. That can endanger the life of the whole bush. *gulp*

A few days ago, I spotted a crow fledgling in our yard. It was fascinating to watch it trying out its wings, stretching its legs, squawking a lot for mama to feed it, and constantly scanning the sky. I'd see Mama Bird hovering nearby in the trees, flying down to the fence post with a worm in her mouth, then diving down to feed her baby. I felt a little over-protective, too...I was afraid some wild creature would get Baby Bird since it was in an open area. When I was home, I'd look out the window to make sure Baby Bird was still there. And when I was out and came home, the first thing I'd do is make sure Baby Bird was OK. Baby is gone now, so I'm hoping and assuming it learned to fly and is happy in the skies and trees.

This past weekend, we finally had clear, beautiful weather and bonus - Brian was off work. We took advantage and went to an outdoor concert Friday night. Our county's Conservation District holds these monthly summer concerts at Glacial Park: over 3400 acres of wetlands and prairie and glacial kames. Made a perfect backdrop for an outdoor concert.

A beautiful night with beautiful views.

We also met such nice people sitting on either side of us. 

On Saturday, we took a little day trip into Chicago to explore a couple of North Side neighborhoods. We parked on side streets and walked to our destinations on the busy streets. Walking down one of the streets, I spied this Little Free Library by a fire station. Like it's not fun enough happening upon a LFL...but when it's put up by the fire department and decorated in Chicago Fire Department motif, it's even better. Peeking inside, there was a nice selection of books, though we didn't take any. Every book had a Chicago Fire Department bookmark inside of it, so I did take one of those. ;-)

I also love how there's lush flower gardens right in the middle of a neighborhood. I have no idea if the City does this, or if it's some kind of homeowner's association thing or what, but it sure does bring natural beauty into an area that's filled with buildings and cars.

For lunch, we decided to stop at 90 Miles Cuban Cafe in the Roscoe Village neighborhood. When we go into Chicago, we like to try different ethnic food. Guy Fieri featured this place on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives a few years ago.

Brian chose the Cubano sandwich (ham, roast pork, swiss cheese, mustard, pickles), plantain chips and passion fruit iced tea, and I chose ropa vieja empanadas. Everything was delicious and more than enough for one meal. Good thing we remembered to bring our small cooler in the car!

We discovered some cool shops, including The Good Old Days Antiques that had three floors of browsing.

Take the treacherous stairs down to the basement...

Or should I say, the creepy basement. But with so many potential treasures! Brian ended up buying a 1966 framed Cubs photograph with Ron Santo, Don Kessinger, Ernie Banks and Billy Williams. (Brian's a lifelong Cubs fan.)

We also found the coolest used bookstore - Bookman's Corner. The man who owns it, John Chandler, started at a flea market in Detroit in 1975, then eventually made his way to Chicago, opening a store. This location in the Lakeview neighborhood has been in business since 1984.

There are books piled everywhere in narrow aisles...you could spend hours in this place.
Just be careful where you step and be prepared to have to squeeze past other patrons. "Excuse me" goes a long way in this bookstore.

In a quote from Fourteen East Mag, Chandler says, "Everything was great until the Internet. Then it all went downhill. I'm not making a cent of money now, but I'm still buying books. It's a small bleed now to stay open, and if I close it will be like a hemorrhage."

Indeed, the prices are amazing. I don't know how he stays in business.

Another store we really liked was Praha - a quaint, organized shop with mostly vintage and mid-century furniture and accessories. It's all displayed so beautifully and the prices were reasonable. The owner was super friendly, showed us a really cool bar cart in the store and chatted us up about where we were from. 

I ended up buying an old, heavy drawer with dividers in it, which Brian's going to hang on the wall in the living room for me. I'll show that to you next time.

Until then ~ be well, be happy, be peaceful. 💜