Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Crabtree Nature Center

Today was a beautiful day here in the Chicago area. The sun finally shone after days of rain. Even though it was a little chilly (temperature was around 50 degrees F) it was perfect hiking weather.

We visited Crabtree Nature Center, part of the local Forest Preserve.

Here is the path to the duck blind.

I found some Trillium getting ready to bloom.

We always are on the lookout for tracks. I think these are deer footprints.

Can you see the frog? He has good camouflage! They were croaking like crazy.

Some pretty Virginia Bluebells.

A real treat to see some cute goslings swimming with mom and Dad.

Signs of Spring!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Interlochen Arts Academy

This weekend was a family trip to Interlochen Arts Academy in Michigan. My niece , Jackie, is a Freshman at the fine arts school. First she entertained with a choral concert.

The school of 500 students is in Northeast Michigan. What a beautiful setting to nurture creativity!

The campus is 1200 acres, founded in 1928. Young students come from all over the world to attend.

One look at the classrooms will show you this school is extraordinary.

My girl's favorite part was the beautiful ceiling in each classroom. It is open - as if to let enlightenment in!

Some famous alumni include Josh Groban, Jewel, Felicity Huffman, artist Robert Snyder to name just a few.

Beautiful open corridors....

Another favorite spot, the huge library.

We are so proud of you Jackie! Thanks for a great weekend.!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Signs of "The Recession" in Every Day Life

As we are entering this season of renewal, the country's economy is in need of new life as well. It has been a long hard winter for all of us collectively and I thought I'd share some changes I've noticed while going through the day.
Our local paper comes out once a week. I have noticed that the help wanted section has dwindled down to half a page. A couple of years ago it was about 5 or 6 pages long. Even seasonal work around Christmas and now summer just doesn't seem to be there.Contrast that with the dramatic rise in the foreclosure notice section, about 8 pages long.

I've come to be able to spot the difference between a foreclosure "for sale" sign and a regular one.

Some of the popular restaurants in our town are closing.

This past spring break the amount of people who went away was way down.

Use of our public library has gone way up. I can remember sometimes being one of the only people sitting in the library. Well now it is jam packed all the time. I'm happy to see it being used, it's just such a shocking increase!

These are just a few little examples. A lot of people have it much worse. We all look forward with hope that things are getting better.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Ridiculously In Love.....

With Ranunculus

I picked up these pots of Rununculus at Home Depot. I'm completely head over heels in love with their delicate layer petals and eye popping color.

I remember Martha Stewart saying they are one of her favorite flowers, now I can see why.

They are also called Persian Buttercups. They grow from tubers. I'm going to put them on my TBP list (to be planted).

Thursday, April 16, 2009

A Risky Investment

Today I planted 5 tree roses along the driveway. I've been looking for something for this ugly strip of driveway and I thought these would be perfect. Last year I tried a bunch of perennials, kind of looking for a cottage look, and I found it to just look sloppy instead. So I thought if I started with a more formal foundation it would pull everything together.
I had trouble getting them all in the picture, but you can probably get the idea. Nothing has really come up yet except the tulips. When I asked my daughter , "What do you think?" she responded, "Why did you plant sticks Mommy?"
Now I have to do some research on how to care for them. I think I read somewhere that tree roses are grafted onto apple trunks, or some similar straight strong trunk. So I'm thinking they won't like the cold winter here in zone 5. Every time I plant roses I think of my Dad. He always grew beautiful roses when we were younger!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The Forsythia Is In Bloom

Today the first real sign of arrived....the Forsythia opened it's beautiful blooms! The weather is expected to follow suit in the next couple of days.

It's hard not to be cheered by the branches full of golden goodness.

Monday, April 13, 2009

A Beautiful Baking Book

"Heirloom Baking with the Brass Sisters"

by Marilynn and Sheila Brass

This is my new favorite cookbook! I love everything about it. First off we meet the adorable Brass sisters in the introduction. They are both in their 60's and for me I was smitten with them right from the start!They recall their strong girlhood memories of baking with their mother so lovingly. It reminds all of us mothers how important it is to create these sensory memories for our kids.
The book itself is stunningly beautiful. The beginning of the chapters and the edges of the pages are decorated with vintage fabric photos. The end papers are full of vintage recipe ephemera- recipes hand written in that beautiful longhand script from the past. Throughout the book are pictures of vintage kitchen gadgets that are really neat to read about. I also like the pictures of the old recipe booklets the sisters have collected over the years.
I have rarely seen a cookbook where I have wanted to try each and every recipe! Included with each recipe is the story of where the recipe came from and how the Brass sisters came upon it. That is what makes this book such a treasure. The stories are fascinating. They tested and tweaked each recipe. The only hard part is deciding what to make first!
When my Mom was over for Easter dinner I was telling her about the book and brought it out to show her. She was equally entranced by the book. Mom recalled her own childhood memories of baking with her mother. It made for a happy conversation. I can't help but think this book would make a perfect Mother's Day gift!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Easter Weekend Petting Zoo

Our town had a fun event today featuring the Easter Bunny. My DD however was too shy to sit on the Easter Bunny's lap for a picture. Oh well, maybe next year!There were lots of other fun activities, like a really nice petting zoo. It's so nice for the kids to get up close to these beautiful animals. My favorite part was how she mused over the goat's feet.

This beautiful pig was too funny. What a mug.The best part was spending some time in the warm sunshine, and slowing down from a crazy week.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Can't Resist More Spring Snow Pictures!

Yesterday we got 4 more inches of lovely spring snow here in the Chicago area. The tulips didn't mind the snow bath at all.

These little blue wildflowers were happy to have a new background to show off their color!
My iris wasn't bothered at all by the pesky snow. If you look closely there are more of those blue wildflowers (not sue what they are called) covered to the tippy top. This last snowfall wasn't so bad with the reminders present that spring really is here. Today it has already melted all away.

Monday, April 6, 2009

How Lincoln Learned To Read by Daniel Wolff

How Lincoln Learned To Read
Twelve Great Americans And The Educations That Made Them
by Daniel Wolff

Reading this book on the heels of the Darwin book was fascinating. It was so interesting to compare Darwin's childhood and education to that of Abe Lincoln's, who was born exactly the same time.

This book is so much more than Lincoln's story. Wolf tells the story of twelve very different Americans, Abigail Adams, Ben Franklin, Elvis Presley, JFK, to name a few. His poetic prose are easy to read and so very compelling. It's not too harsh and not too fluffy. I read this during spring break and I highly recommend it!

Friday, April 3, 2009

Seed Shelf- Week 3

Lavender Lady is the last to spring up, just behind the peppers. I'm not sure how these will turn out, they are so very tiny. I image a path of lavender along my front walk, so I hope so!
The beans and cucumbers are growing.

It's greening up around here! Yes those are old foil roasting pans on the bottom holding the heirloom tomatoes. They are too big for the shelf, so the jut out, waiting to be knocked over. This week I'll start thinning them, and ditch the containers that never germinated.
Wishing you a happy weekend!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Book Review: The True Adventures Of Charley Darwin by Carolyn Meyer

The True Adventures Of Charlie Darwin
by Carolyn Meyer

grades 6 and up

I love historical fiction and I'm a kind of science geek, so I was so excited to read this book. It is told in the first person and tells the tale of Darwin's life as a child , teenager and young man. One of the first lines of the book is...

"I was born born February 12th, 1809, in the town of Shrewsbury, county of Shropshire, England, and christened Charles Robert Darwin."

I think this is great for kids to wrap their brain around the fact that he was born exactly 200 years ago. His early life is quite interesting , showing how he explores the outdoors with his sister and develops a passionate love of nature. There are some strange passages that describe little flirtations with cousins that seem a little out of place in the book as a whole. I can only imagine that Stephanie Meyer took related stories from his real journals.

It is an easy read and very informative, nonetheless. Darwin's voyage aboard the HMS Beagle in 1833 was a big part of the book, and I'm sure readers will enjoy it. I came away from it knowing 100% more about Darwin than I did before, so how can you beat that?