Archives for category: summer

cherry cheesecake frozen yogurt

we all scream for ice cream! sunday was a busy day filled with visiting, treasure hunting, parade watching & dining. tom made a lovely lupper (lunch + supper) and mom brought dessert. i had gotten a text earlier in the week asking if i wanted cake. i declined. every time we have cake half of it goes uneaten & i feel bad throwing it away. then lovey (that’s what we call my mom) asked if i would prefer homemade ice cream. who can resist ice cream? especially homemade? plus it’s been over a year & a half since we bought lovey the ice cream maker attachment to her kitchen aid but have yet to reap the benefits.

deliciousness in a bowl

tom insisted we buy my mom a kitchen aid for christmas several years ago. he loves her cookies & thought maybe he would get more of them if he bought her the proper tools. i think it’s worked well. for the first year, i’d say she brought tom oatmeal chocolate chip cookies almost every time we saw her. i think it’s tinkered out over the last two years but it was a good run. and the holidays aren’t that far behind, so we’ll be back in the cookie receiving end soon.

however, now we have the option of homemade ice cream! and that’s exciting. this weekend lovely made a cherry cheesecake frozen yogurt. it was creamy, flavorful & just plain delicious! plus, it looked pretty. thanks lovey!

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prickly thingys

wasp thingys

so i might have mentioned once or twice about our urban garden & our flower boxes. well, here in chicago we have some amazing garden centers. really amazing. one of the best & also most costly is gethsemane garden center. i love to visit this place. and i was very lucky to have a rather large gift certificate to this magical garden center, so i’ve been having a delightful time all summer visiting, shopping & browsing. this weekend i was wanting to purchase a rose of sharon shrub or perhaps another hibiscus of some sort. while visiting the garden center i became extremely distracted by these wasp things. that’s what i’m calling them anyway. they are large, very large & black with blue highlights with giant-sized bodies. so creepy & yet intriguing. they were really attracted to this prickly, gorgeous periwinkle blue like plant. it was really striking but painful looking too. needless to say, i didn’t get my rose of sharon. nor did i pick up a hibiscus. but i got a few shots of the prickly pretty plant & the creepy intriguing wasp thingys. i guess i’ll just have to go back…

gametime tom

tom & i were suppose to attend last monday night’s cub’s game. so after a long weekend at lollapalooza i wasn’t feeling too much like a long night at wrigley field but i was going. also, tom is the king of rain delays. that being said i wasn’t surprised when it started clouding over at 3:30 in the afternoon then a half hour later pouring down rain. i headed home early so we could see the whole game. when i arrived home i was surprised to see tom cooking dinner & not in his normal cub-game-day-attire. he had a plan to enjoy a nice dinner at home, a homebrew or two & see if the game was still delayed.

wrigley field

we finished dinner & checked espn again & again they reported delayed. finally at some point the game was rescheduled for thursday afternoon. tom was very disappointed. a make up game in the middle of the day doesn’t usually fit into either of our schedules. so he made a plan to give them to our neighbor who’s a huge cub fan & her grandson.

bricks

thursday came & it was a delightful mid 70° day, sunny with a little breeze. a beautiful & unseasonably cool day. unfortunately, our neighbor couldn’t attend the game so tom was back to square one with the tickets. he hated them to go to waste & especially because they were such good seats. he asked all of our friends if they could go & there were still no takers. he even asked his boss to go but he couldn’t either. however, he did give tom the ok to leave early & go. that’s when i realized i would be taking a half day too. it’s a challenge when you work for yourself to take a spontaneous days off but i did. and it was an absolutely perfect day for a game! the seats were amazing. we were in the 9th row & had foul balls flying all over us. plus the cubbies won. very exciting. tom is a big cubs fan & honestly, wrigley is always a great time. this time didn’t disappoint. great seats, great game, perfect weather & with the best husband ever! what more could a girl ask for?

batter up

chicago dog

cubbies

tom at lolla entrance

the final day of lolla 2011 was sunny, hot & filled with fluffy clouds for a few hours. we headed to the far south side of grant park, hutchinson field, to check out the cars. they are still rockin & sounded great. the crowd loved them. the only issue was the mud & the terrible smell. i’m not sure why but it smelled like a pig farm. gag. and i just couldn’t get used to it. i was very relieved to hear the next couple bands we wanted to see where on the north side.

storm clouds

as we arrived to the north fields of grant park we were greeted by some very ominous clouds. yet, the sun was still shining & to the south it still looked pleasant. after the third song from cage the elephant the skies opened & the rains came down. we fortunately, had a shower curtain we had been sitting on that we quickly covered ourselves with. it worked well & we stayed mostly dry. the oppressive heat suddenly faded to a cool

the calm before

showers and gusts of lakefront winds. the combination seemed to be speed for the college aged crowd there. suddenly, they were running, splashing, chugging beer & being obnoxious. i felt like i was part of a frat party.

the rain stopped & the sun shined bright again. we even got to enjoy a double rainbow over the lakefront. very beautiful… and muddy… and smelly. by the time we were scouting out our spot for the foo fighters, the south side was a mud pit. and there was a huge group sliding down a hill

lolla rainbow

into the muck. there were people peeing everywhere, drunk underage kids, obnoxious frat boys, it was quite a spectacle. as we were getting ready to face the crowd & find our space for the night, tom looked to the north & saw more ominous clouds rolling in. fortunate for me he stated we’re done. so we headed for the exit. as we walked, i wondered if i would regret not seeing the closing of 2011 lolla. a half block from the brown line it started pouring! and not just rain but pouring. and diagonally. any inkling of regret was instantly gone & i was grateful

a muddy, beautiful mess

to be under the awning of the el station. tom has impeccable timing. and i am often the beneficiary. thanks tom, you always know how to save me.

photo by stephanie land

there’s something about august that stirs my soul. what usually starts out as hot & oppressive usually ends a little more bearable & often pleasant. the sun starts to fade from a summery scorching fireball to that sort of comfort only a fall sun can have. it’s as if it reaches inside you & fills any darkness with sunshine. august mornings are a little darker, twilight seems more glowing, it’s a magical month.

it also happens to be the month i usually start reflecting on my life. looking to see what improvements have been made, what has been neglected & what really needs to change to make me a better person. it’s an old familiar battle i face 2-3 times a year. i guess august is my evolution month. i try to identify the problems & take action to correct it. some years are better than others. this year has been a struggle mentally & i guess physically too. i spent much of the first half worrying about others & the future only to neglect my own self. i do that from time to time. somehow, when others (or myself) are hurting or struggling, i abuse myself. then regret my physical state. so begins my reflection. i’ll be spending the next couple weeks reflecting. pondering what worked & what didn’t. who i am & who i want to be. daydreaming of what i want for myself.  focus on creating my future. so, watch out world… there’s a new & improved me happening, you just don’t know it yet.

large succulent garden

so i might have mentioned this once but i have a succulent obsession. it first began in september. i received a housewarming gift from a very close friend. the gift was 3 succulents in pretty little pots. immediately, i was hooked. i wanted more but wasn’t sure i liked the idea of pots all over my home. then the cb2 spring catalog arrived. in it was brilliance! one very large shallow pot with many different varieties of succulents. love at first sight. shortly after the arrival of mentioned catalog i found myself at ikea. i never realized they have a weekly plant offering. it just so happened that week was succulents. and an amazing variety of them.

small succulent garden

i purchased nine (yes. 9.) succulents, six different varieties. and one large pot along with a few smaller ones. i’m very happy with my results. the large part resides on our deck for the summer & is filled with the ikea plants. the smaller of the two also is on the deck for now but filled with variety of succulents from home depot & the peoria botanic gardens & one ikea succulent. all except the ikea plant were 1″ pots  to begin with. they have since grown with fervor & i couldn’t be more pleased.

banana peppers

i live in the glorious, thriving city of chicago. for most of my existence here, i’ve lived in an apartment. one of my most favorite rituals tom & i had, was celebrating the beginning of spring. every year in may, usually the week of sears garden center opening, we would spend a sunday browsing the garden center, purchasing a flat of flowers & plant our flower boxes while grilling & having a celebratory beer. it was a perfect kickoff to a perfect season.

brussels sprouts

this year was a little different. we no longer have an apartment & most of our may was spent inside watching the ongoing construction of our deck & yard. yes, we’ve ditched the courtyard apartment & upgraded to a home with a backyard. it’s magical! and the very first moment we could spend some time in our yard, we did. tom built me a lovely kitchen garden even before the backyard redo. i believe it was the last week in april or first week in may. it was beautiful out & we traded sears for home depot’s garden center.

tomatoes

in our urban garden, we’re growing broccoli, brussels sprouts, strawberries, banana peppers, green peppers & snap peas, that unfortunately, didn’t make it. we also purchased a couple of tomato plants to put grow in containers, a small raspberry bush & blueberry bush for the plant beds. they look more like sticks than bushes but i guess the roots were there. the raspberry didn’t survive. and not knowing exactly what we were doing with our kitchen garden, we crowded everything in & last month tom had to transplant the majority of the brussels sprouts. who knew eight brussels sprout plants would be too many? and who knew each plant could yield up to 100 sprouts? or that you don’t harvest until september or october? so far, our garden has produced several cherry tomatoes, a couple of banana peppers & broccoli. we also have a window box of herbs that’s thriving.

kitchen garden

no garden is complete without intruders. we’ve had an ongoing battle with bandits. i think the culprit is an evil squirrel. i see him in the yard, digging in the mornings. he mocks me. and every time we have a strawberry oh so very close to ready for the picking, he eats it. i guess it’s all part of the urban gardening experience.