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 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 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. 💜


  1. You guys always go on the neatest outings! And your flowers are just beautiful. Happy June!

  2. That book place looks amazing. I am going to have to visit. Love that sweet little library fire box. I want that!!!! Too cute. We have a few of those in peoples front yards around here and I love them. I actually had to close the windows and put on a sweater today. Ugh already!!!! Lets have some heat!

  3. My husband would be amazed with the book store. He reads every day on the bus to and from NYC.

    The weather has not been great in NJ either. Rain, clouds, humidity and we get one beautiful sunny day.

    Your plants are doing well. I love peony and thought about planting something I researched. Too many rules for me.

    Enjoy your evening


  4. Melanie, I'm pretending I was along with you and Brian on that Chicago trip! What fun you two have and what great little shops you find. I could have spent hours in that bookshop.

    It is so weird that y'all are a month behind us here in Nashville in things blooming. Our clematis have been gone for a month. I love any kind of purple clematis. And peonies, even though we don't have them at this house. I didn't know that about cutting them in the bud, I always waited until they were in full bloom.

    I hope the baby crow did learn to fly! I love the big crows here.

  5. You find the coolest stores. You and I need to road trip sometime.

  6. You two sure get out and have a lot of frugal fun! I've never had Cuban food. Bet they have some around here someplace I could try. Rained again here last night too.

  7. I just love your posts about your day trips! Every time I read them, I vow that Dan and I are going to do more exploring, but I doubt we could find the cool neighborhoods that you have there in the midwest. But it would be fun to try:) Our weather has been unseasonably cool, too. Last year at this time we'd already had 10 days of 90 degrees plus temps. We've barely broken out of the 70s this year, and I'm enjoying the cooler weather. Not so much the thunderstorms. Your clematis is gorgeous! Mine is a big fail this year! I don't know what happened:(

  8. I just learned the peony trick this year as well. Pick the buds when they feel like a marshmallow (they'll be almost opening), and put the stems in ice water. I thought the ice water thing was nuts, but I did it, and also added ice to the vase the next day and a day or two after that. Not only did they bloom beautifully, but they lasted well over a week. I've never had peonies last that long.

  9. How fun, to peruse things in Chicago.

  10. What a fun outing! All things I love to do. A shame about the bookstore. I still prefer reading books and magazines over anything digital.

  11. Sounds like you have been having a load of fun. Happy June!

  12. Melanie I just love you. Everything about you, it's all reflected in your blog and in your writing and it's marvelous. I love the love that you and Brian have for each other and how you get out together an explorer your city. It's easy to see that you enjoy being together and that you have fun together no matter what you're doing. If I ever make it back to Chicago again I want you for my tour guide. I do believe that you and Brian could start your own tour business. You always find the most unique places to visit and to eat:) Off the beaten path and far from the ordinary.


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