Tuesday, June 30, 2009


...DON'T believe the reviews that say that the Irene Hernandez family picnic area near the north branch of the Chicago river is a pleasant spot to wade into the river.
I did. I believed it. And I've always wanted to find a place where we could wade around in the river. We go to Lake Michigan a lot, but the river sounded so fun. I remember liking the feeling of putting your feet into a river and stepping on rocks and feeling it rush past you.
I thought I'd be this nice nature-loving mom for the day and go hike around this little forest preserve area and let the kids splash in the river. But it didn't work out that way. We did our best. Claire wanted us to take pictures of every bug and bird. So we did that.
Sammy wanted to jump off every fallen log, so we did that.
And we took a few pictures looking like we were in a nice little forest or something. But in reality, the yard you had to cross from the parking lot was filled with foot-tall weeds which made everyone's ankles itch. Sammy and I seemed to be attracting giant monster-sized mosquitos, and poor Sam was bitten on the eyelid by one. And as we took a little walk through the trails, I started sneezing.
I mean I was sneezing about every other breath I took. I tried to keep acting fine, but then my eyes started burning and itching and my throat started feeling itchy and swollen. I kept itching things and rubbing my eyes and blowing my nose into our picnic blanket, (hadn't thought to bring kleenex).

I at least wanted the kids to get a chance to wade into this river since some online review said that this area had a great little wading-in area. But actually, the said wading area was full of broken glass and a half of a car that apparently drove into the river at some point and now is just sitting there rusting. There was grafitti everywhere, and it was just all around a rather unpleasant "outdoor" experience.

The kids really wanted to eat our picnic lunch at the picnic area (picnic area = dirty graffiti-filled tables in the middle of the itchy overgrown weed field). I was really dying of some kind of serious allergy attack, but I wanted to sit for a minute so I let them eat their snacks. And Claire took more bird pictures.

She also said "let me take a picture of your allergies mom" so she did. I was a struggle. We stopped at a Walgreens on the way home so that I could buy baby Benadryl and drink it out of the bottle. I might have overdosed a bit because I came home and slept for two hours. Sammy was asleep too, but I think Claire just drew pictures or something. Come to think of it...I don't know what she did. Thank goodness for oldest children who are dependable and calm. Sammy said "we're never going back there." I think he's right about that.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

A blog of house ideas and stolen pictures....oops

I always think it is tacky when people post pictures that other people took on their own blogs, especially when they don't give the people credit. However, I constantly save pictures of other people's house ideas on my computer as inspiration for our next house. And, usually, I don't keep track of where I found them because they are just for me. EXCEPT, for today because I really want to post the pictures that I've been keeping in my idea files since they are all coming together. So, if anyone happens to know whose pictures these are, I'd be happy to give credit where credit is due.
I'm realizing I really like turquoise right now. Just a bit...not too much. Well, sometimes too much. The picture on top shows the staircase in our soon-to-be-new house. The picture below is pretty and light...don't you think? I happen to know this picture's credit. It's here.

Or, what about the picture on the bottom here as inspiration for the living room? Right now, I believe the tenants in "our" house are storing a stereo and possibly a printer in the fireplace? Stunning.

Now, as we go, you have to start using your imagination more. This is the kitchen in the new house. I use the terms loosely, because in my definition of a kitchen there should be a dishwasher, microwave, garbage disposal, etc. This one has none of those things. This one is also painted red, yellow, and blue.
So, I headed to Adventures in renovating a Brooklyn Limestone for inspiration on the kitchen. It's the one on the left. Gorgeous, stunning, and all of that good stuff. The one on the bottom is more practical and realistic probably, (I remember the woman painted them herself....if I could only remember who she was!) but also cute and vintagey. I like vintagey.
I also like this white kitchen that has just a little turquoise, and, if I was seven, I'd really like this bottom one.
Now, remember, keep being imaginative. The dirty bathroom with a mop rotting in the tub is our new master bathroom! Wait, it's actually the only full bath on the second floor, so maybe it isn't a "master" bath. But how pretty is that white bathroom? I could do that kinda, maybe, right?
My good friend Nina gave me an old chandelier that I'm quite considering spray-painting turquoise like the one in this dining room picture. But maybe for Claire's room? And what about that vintagey-like dressing table in my bedroom? And with the red seat? Mmmmm...I like it. Now, if we could actually close on this new house that I speak of...then all my decorating dreams could become reality. Is anyone else feeling the turquoise like I am?

Friday, June 26, 2009

Millenium Park with the Russells

Once upon a time we had these best friends who lived in Chicago. They were our small group leaders at church. We went through regular life together and a few dramas thrown in there. When Robin finally suprised us with the news that they were going to have a baby years ago, we got to suprise them with the fact that we were having a baby too! So, Sammy and Toby were born 3 weeks apart. We love these people. But then they moved to Atlanta. Luckily, we still love them, but we miss them and we're always happy when they visit.
And visit they did this last weekend! So, we all hung out at Millenium Park on Saturday, and the kids played in the fountain for quite a while. It has rotating pictures of faces projected onto the wall, and then every once in a while the face spits out water in a big stream and the kids all run to get soaked in it. It's a weird concept when you think about it, but it's a big hit for kids.
Claire and Sammy took to it right away. I kept remembering the first summer it was completed. Sammy had just been born and Claire just walked around the edge getting her feet wet while Sammy screamed hysterically in the stroller from heat.
Even at that young age, he probably would have liked it better if I had just run through the fountain with him getting him soaked.
Claire has gotten braver and got into the spray a little more this time.
Sammy, of course, was always waiting right at the spot where the giant spray of water comes out so that he can be the first person to get water in their face.
He found these brothers and had quite a time with them. Aren't they cute and chubby?
I love this picture of Sam...with his ribs sticking out from the cold and his police man badge tatoo.
Toby mainly liked to get his feet wet in the water and then make patterns of feet prints on the dry sidewalk. I love this kids red hair.
Claire did stuff like this as well as jumping in the spray.
We headed to Macy's (formerly Marshall Fields) for lunch and cooling off.
Going here reminded me of the days when I used to get invited to Glamorama, which is a fashion show/fundraiser for the Art Institute hosted by Macy's. I wish I'd had this blog back in those days (or even a good camera!) because...
...I could have shown you sweet pictures of Beyonce (I saw her kinda up close) and I would have told you the story of when I snuck into the VIP part of the party and...
... snuggled up to Rich from Big and Rich. Haha...
Well, anyway, I digress. Inside Macy's we tried on hats...
...ate Chicago hot dogs.
...and I gave myself heartburn eatting their famous fish and chips. My goodness is that fish greasy.
We ended the afternoon upstairs in the FAO Schwartz (which happens to be going out of business). Everything was 50% off, so we could have bought that sweet dragon for like, $1,000.
We all headed home (and the Russell's to their hotel) for nap time, but it took us a while to get on a train because....
...it was Puerto Rican fest this past weekend. All the trains were packed!
We made it home and crashed. It was a great weekend to see Robin, Dan, and Toby and we are hoping that he somehow gets transfered back here someday. It could happen!

(p.s. - it looks like Claire is picking Matt's nose in the background of this picture...or Matt has tiy hands. Haha)

Monday, June 22, 2009

Thanksgiving in June

So, our dear friend John gave us this giant turkey a few months ago. The thing weighed 20 lbs. He gave it to me to get it out of his freezer. I had no idea when we would eat this monstrocity, but alas, last Thursday I had looked at it long enough.
At this point, I either needed to drive it back over to John's house, or cook the dang thing. Mind you, I've never really cooked a whole turkey, so starting with a 20 lb bird was probably not the best idea. I looked around online a little and one tip was to roast it upside down so that the juices dripped through the bird and kept the breast from drying out.
Well, it didn't work perfectly. It was still pretty dang dry by the time I got done with it. I didn't think of covering it though...mainly because I don't really have a pan big enough to cover it, so I just said "to heck with it" and cooked it. Honestly, at this point, I didn't even care if it turned out, so long as it was out of my freezer.
By the time it got done cooking and I had basted the thing 50 times, I was the hottest woman in Chicago. Of course, it was a hot and steamy day...perfect time to roast a turkey in the oven all day! What was I thinking? As most of you know...I don't operate that way. I don't plan and figure out when would be the best time to cook a faux-Thanksgiving dinner. I just get mad that it's taking up space and cook it.
The first night I made an actual turkey dinner with stuffing, salad, and gravy. I was too hot to make the potatoes I had intended to make, so I skipped that. Literally, by the time I had it all out for the family to eat, I had to go lay down in the basement and cool off. I don't even think I ate it that night. But....I DID make gravy from actual turkey drippings that day, and that was worth the heat, I'll tell ya'. I've seen my mom do it, so I had some experience with the process, but I got step-by-step instructions from Pioneer Woman. I could eat that on anything.
Okay, so after that, I did not want to heat up our kitchen EVER again, so I found a great recipe on Epicurious the next night for a great turkey salad that has avocado-lime dressing instead of mayonnaise. I did not have all the ingredients, but it turned out anyway. It was very yummy, I thought.

Well, after that, we still had about 16 lbs of turkey left, so I made us turkey sandwiches on toast with the gravy over the top tonight. Not bad. Nothing to turn your nose up to there. This picture, however, is not mine, but I needed a picture of turkey sandwiches, so thank you Foodnetwork.
So, with now only 14 lbs to go, I pulled off what was left from the bird before I did the dishes tonight and made a pot pie to put in the fridge for tomorrow night. I've posted that recipe before. It is also not a particularly summery dish, but you know what: I wrestled that friggin' bird for a few hours one day and now I've had 4 dinners out of it! So, thanks for the turkey John and Amy! We enjoyed it afterall and now I have more room in my freezer for what really belongs there right now: popsicles.