1. våren

    We have entered my favorite time of year.  My favorite holiday season.  And my birthday month.  I love when they all coincide.  Although, Springtime (våren) could be a little more bold and hearty and just, like, stick around and stay and I would not complain at all.  That being said, last Sunday was Palm Sunday.  The ‘kick off’ of Holy Week.  Tim and I were fortunate enough to not only attend Palm Sunday service together but we had the lovely company of my step-sister, Blair, my step-mom, Jenny, and my sister-in-law, Maggie, come along with us.  Jenny and Maggie came in from Iowa on Saturday for a fun Girls Weekend of Shopping and to help Blair move.  Blair has spent these past few months, her final months of college, here in Chicago as a student teacher.  She has a few more weeks of observation here but then will graduate in a month.  Pretty excited.  We are all proud of her and can’t wait to see what the future will bring.  That being said, we spent most of Saturday afternoon and evening dining and shopping in Andersonville.  It fact, Maggie got caught red handed having fun in Chicago:

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    Maggie also brought us some amazing gifts.  These - to show a few:

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    She perfectly picked some new (to me) vinyl!  Isn’t this great?

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    And Peyton (her four year old daughter, my niece) drew us this wonderful drawing.  Trond is clearly on top and pink.  Katie and I are on the front and Tim is on the back, jamming to his head phones! So sweet!

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    I walked Trond early on Palm Sunday morning while everyone was getting ready for church.  It was a gloriously sunny day.  This tree was in bloom and it almost looked as if it was glowing.  I noticed it a block before getting to it - I’ve never seen one like this before:

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    The hund had never seen one before either.  Or smelled one, so… you know… he did what he does best. 

    Palm Sunday service was nice but as we sat in church together, with the windows open, initially, we were warm but by the time Communion was distributed, it was getting chillier and chillier.  The day that started out sunny turned cold and rainy.  That did not stop us from having a good time, finding good deals AND packing and moving Blair.  By the end of the long day, we decided to take my step-brother, Brandon, up on his offer of treating us to a very nice meal.  He sent Maggie with special money in tow for us ladies (Tim was working Sunday night) to go all out on going out for dinner.  And boy, howdy, did we!  We dodged raindrops and made our way to Mrs. Murphy and Sons Irish Bistro.  We all had drinks (Maggie and I imbibed in some whiskey cocktails) in various forms with each course.  We ordered two appetizers for the table:

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    Baked rarebit with bacon and onions and crusty bread.

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    Beer battered asparagus with a lemon ranch dipping sauce.  They were both amazing!

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    Maggie ordered the half slab of ribs.  Mrs. Murphy’s wins at Ribfest every year and is very well known for their ribs.  Maggie agreed that they were delicious. 

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    Jenny and Blair ordered various forms of the gourmet mac and cheese.  Blair enjoyed a Stout that she had not had since being over in Wales.  She also authentically ate her fries like the Irish do, with malt vinegar.

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    Jenny and I each ordered this deliciously lovely entree: pork tenderloin with bacon on top of root vegetables in an apple cider reduction.  It was heavenly. 

    You know we opted for two desserts to split, too.   The Bacon Brownie Sundae with a Chocolate Pecan Brownie,  Guinness Ice Cream, Milk Chocolate Ganache, Toasted Pecans, and Bacon Brittle and Brioche Bread Pudding with Whiskey Caramel Sauce, Cinnamon Mascarpone Cream, and Walnuts.  We did not get pictures of those.  Believe me, they were scrumptious.  But we did get a picture (finally) of the four of us, having a wonderful dinner courtesy of Brandon.  Mange takk, Brandon!

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    Last night I went to Maundy Thursday service.  That and tonight’s Good Friday service are two of my top three favorite of the year.  The Most Favorite being Easter.  Good Friday is one of my favorite days of the year, I know it is somber, but we need that in order to truly celebrate Sunday.  The day today was not somber, because my very dear friends from college, Kristin and Nathan, who live in Sioux Falls, came to visit me today and finally FINALLY meet Tim Ryder!

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    Here they are!  IN MY HOUSE!!! 

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    My sweet, sweet Kristin and me.  ON MY COUCH!!!  They were in Wisconsin for a work and family trip and drove even further today to come see where we live and enjoy a lovely lunch together and drop off a birthday present for me and meet my wonderful husband.  It was perfect.

    This time of year is also significant because yesterday (April 17th) marked our eighth year together.  Yes.  Tim and I started dating eight years ago.  EIGHT.  FREAKING. YEARS! While cleaning the other day, I found my old cell phone.  We charged it up because I had these text messages saved (not really old love letters but hey - this is modern living, y’all.) from when I realized that Tim didn’t just like me but he like liked me.  He offered to pick me up from the airport.  Unsolicited.  Who does this?  Someone who likes someone, that’s whom.  He liked me.  Woo hoo!   EIGHT YEARS!

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    It’s a record.  For both of us. 

    Speaking of record…

    well - that is another entry. 

    A Blessed Good Friday to you all.

     
  2. You know if I see a window filled with ham, Imma stop in m’tracks. Gotta love a ham window. God bless the ham window. #hamwindow #hamdisplay #Easterhamyallz

     
  3. Sometimes, you get to be a tante to two nine-month-old nieces and it’s pretty darned spectacular! Happy Nine Months, Amazing Liv and Amazing Elin! You are both so very loved.

     
  4. This morning felt like a Spring morning should feel. It was warm and sunny outside. The hund and I enjoyed a glorious walk. But as I was captivated by these purple blossoms bursting from the ground, Trond sensed something else…

    He discovered two long lost tennis balls of ours under our neighbors’ pipe. What luck! I don’t think I would have noticed them but that hund nose sure did!

    Is it all too good to be true? Springtime? Blooms? Found balls? The hund tilts his head in wonderment…

     

  5. catch-up

    Yay!  You like the curtains! - I can only assume.  But I am sure you’re wondering if the hund still finds them an acceptable and comfortable addition to our huset even though they are so much brighter than our other curtains. Well, you can put your minds at rest on this question.  This is how he was yesterday afternoon, thus, your answer:

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    And even though yesterday was Tuesday, the husbo and I went out last night.  Due to Tim’s new job, Monday and Tuesday, for us, is much like Saturday and Sunday are for most normal people.  Both Tim and I normally have shows that we are each in on Saturday nights.  Tim performs  Thursday through Sunday nights but has Monday and Tuesdays completely off. I had obligations on Monday but yesterday we both had the day together.  And actual plans.  We had dinner reservations downtown at 5:30 in the afternoon evening. 

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    I tell you what - we really did it up, too.  Tim did the pre-fix meal:  three courses accompanied by a different wine with each course that some Portland vineyard was trying to introduce to the Chicago market.  I do not recall the name of the wine.  Sorry!  Tim started off with some grilled asparagus in prosciutto and shaved Parmesan cheese, a steak (can’t remember what cut) with foie gras pate for his first two courses.  A class of white with his first course that was delicious and a red that was all right.  His dessert was this lovely little glass of port and chocolate raspberry cake with hazelnut gelato.  Look how happy he is. 

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    We were not going to be those people who take pictures of the food but… by the time dessert rolled around, we gave in.  It was all so very scrumptious.

    I cannot do foie gras - more accurately, I will not do it.  So, the pre-fix was not an option for me.  I did, however, have a cup of potato leek soup, a glass of pinot noir and the filet mignon (small cut) that was absolutely incredible.  Absolutely.  Holy Roar was it divine.  Our lovely server, Liz, asked if I would like to look at the dessert menu.  OF COURSE I WOULD!  I shouted in my head but said in a polite fashion out loud. The drink menu was also in the dessert menu - these were not presented to us at the beginning of the meal so I did not know that Pear Martinis were even an option.  You know I jumped all over that!  And a sensible creme brulee.  I mean - that is the best way to chase your filet mignon… with a Pear Martini and creme brulee…

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    We know how to do!

    Normally, we do not eat such luxurious food.  Normally, we do not eat dinner at 5:30 in the freaking afternoon but we had a 7:30 show to attend.  Tim was really looking forward to seeing it.  I was indifferent.

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    Um… we saw this show.  Peter and the Starcatcher.  It is the story of how Peter Pan became Peter Pan.  I hate to be negative so let me try to be as positive about this show as I can.  Tim and I were glad that we can write these tickets off, in terms of taxes, and we would both tell you, if you have not purchased tickets to it - DO NOT purchase any.  If you have, hopefully, you can at least write them off, too.  I hope the actors are having fun performing it; all of the men and ONE FEMALE of the cast.  I was glad when it was over.  I was even more glad that as we walked to the train from the theatre, that Tim disliked it just as much as I did.  I was not sure what his take was; we didn’t discuss anything during intermission.  And I tell you what, we would not be discussing much of anything had he enjoyed.  Yikes.  And uff da.

    So - I dunno - spend your money on other theatre, folks!

    But on a positive note - it is actually 63 degrees in Chicago today!  On our afternoon walk, the hund and I saw this beautiful blossom!

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    We also were bombarded by three girls, all wearing cute spring dresses, all riding their little foot scooters, all under the age of nine, all stopping immediately and jumping off their scooters, all asking, "Can I pet your dog?!?" "Can I pet your dog?!?" "Can I pet your dog?!?"

    Can you pet my dog?  OF COURSE YOU CAN!!!!  I shouted in my head but said in a polite fashion out loud.  Trond sat right down and all three girls started petting him.  He absolutely loved it.  As I was saying to these girls, “He is very friendly.  But just know that he loves to give kisses.” Then, Trond, as if on cue, started lapping up and completely licking up each face.  Which made these girls giggle and giggle and wiggle and wiggle even more.  Then, it turned into each girl commanding Trond to, "Lick my face!"  "Lick my face!" "Lick my face!" to which the hund, of course, happily did. 

    Their moms finally caught up to them and told them they needed to cross the street and thanked me for letting them pet my dog.  OF COURSE!  IT WAS OUR FREAKING PLEASURE! I shouted in my head but said in a polite fashion out loud.

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    We headed home and on the last stretch of our afternoon walk, the hund had to plop down a bit.  All the walking and attention just wiped him out a bit - plus this dingus still has his winter coats and with the temperature being a balmy 63 degrees - he has to build up his tolerance to the heat.  I am glad that he plopped down on the sidewalk chalk drawing.  I am glad that it is finally Sidewalk Chalk Season again! 

     

  6. curtain call

    Many an hour was spent under a blanket on the little couch in our living room during Chiberia.  I spent much time trying to escape the cold under my blanket, sometimes with the hund, watching various television programs and movies on our big screen TV and… looking at the curtains.  I spent a lot of time looking at the curtains.  And - even though I liked the curtains okay, that is as much as I liked them.  They were okay.  Tim really liked them.  He picked them out and they were the curtains we most agreed upon.  They were fine:

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    They were wide stripes in various muted colors of off white, pale yellow and khaki.  They were inexpensive.  They were from World Market.  They spent nearly four years up in our living room.  The first winter in this apartment, we did not plastic the windows, so we would close the curtains at night to keep the draft out.  It kind of worked.  They were fine.

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    But Chiberia is (hopefully) ending and I decided that our time with the fine curtains should end, too.  For the past few weeks, I’ve been on a bit of a curtain hunt.  I looked at West Elm, Crate & Barrel, World Market, Marshall’s, Overstock.com and Target.  I did not want to spend a ton of money.  I wanted color and some pattern.  Nothing too horizontal.  I thought I found some okay ones at Target.  I brought them home and after getting the ladder out, I realized that I could not switch them out on my own.  The rod is too high for this shorty so I had to wait for Tim.  We put one panel up and they just weren’t right.  I returned them to Target.  Tim dusted and I washed the old curtains.  But we kept them off so we had a bare window for about two weeks.  Uff da.

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    But last week, I stumbled upon some curtains on the Pier 1 Imports site.  Tim did not hate them.  We drove over to Pier 1.  They did not have our size in stock but if you order from the store, you do not have to pay shipping AND they were 15% off!  And in less than a week, they arrived at our doorstep! Here they are!

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    Here they are up close!

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    They are called “Papaya Tile” curtain.  It is a warm burnt orange and sunburst orange pattern on a white background and I think they really brighten up the living room, even when the sun is not out.  The hund had to inspect this new change to the room -

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    -thankfully - they passed the ultimate test.  They did not hinder him from getting really comfortable and napping on the couch. 

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    So we can all rest easy tonight, knowing that these curtains still allow for him to nap on the couch by himself AND for him to nap on Tim on the couch, as he did this afternoon…

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    I am happy that the top of these curtains are not grommets, like our old ones were, they are just curtain rod tops so they stay nice and straight up top.  The only bummer was they did not come with tie backs.  So for about a day they stayed closed while I came up with something in which to tie them back. 

    And today it hit me -

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    I had some of this wire/twiney/jute stuff from a previous project.  So, I got the ol’ trusty wire cutters out and snipped some of this stuff off.  I think it looks all right! (Especially with today’s sunshine streaming in!)

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    So, yeah, for about sixty dollars, we made a warm change in our living room that all of us will enjoy for a long time to come. 

    Thank you, Old Stripey Curtains, for your past service.  Now, you may take your bow for your curtain call. 

     

  7. big smiley

    If ever I need a reason to smile, I think of these little smiley sweethearts and the fun we had a few weeks ago.  These little smiley sweethearts turn me into Big Smiley.  Liv is the snuggliest little smiley sweetheart I have ever met.  I flatter myself to think that I am the only person (other than her mommy, I guess…) with whom she truly snuggles up to and gets most smiley and comfy.

    And Elin is full of sweet personality and side smiles and expressions.  She - and this is the truth, not me flattering myself (like I usually do and the picture of me is not flattering but look at Elin, she is so sweet), she seldom snuggles up face down on anyone’s shoulder like this - she prefers to be held face out so she can keep an eye on things but the first day I was at Elin and Liv’s house this last trip - sweet Elin conked out on me like this!  It was a dream for this tante!  I was Big Smiley!  (A quiet Big Smiley so Elin could rest…)

    Two sweethearts in their sweet stripey shirts!  If that doesn’t make a person into Big Smiley: then, Good Luck with Life, Pal.

    Now —- I can be loud.  Really. REALLY L O U D.  (I’m Big Shouty!) It is one of m’talents in this life.  But my sweet tiny niece, Elin, can gave her loud Tante a RUN FOR HER MONEY!!!  Elin will go in spurts of ‘talking’ to us and it is the funniest thing I have ever heard or seen.  Normally, she is a soft-spoken, if not silent lady but when she has something to say; she lets it be known.  It is tremendous.  Here we are discussing large matters on the bedroom floor.

    So - if you need to be Big Smiley today - my sweet little smiley nieces are here to help you accomplish your mission.  I know they always turn me into Big Smiley.  Mange takk, Elin and Liv! 

     

  8. these fools

    Sunday and Monday were two days in which Spring felt quite promising… today is fitting for April Fool’s because while it is sunny in Chicago, it is blustery and cold.  But… Monday was great and so was Sunday.  In fact, on Sunday evening, the sun stayed out til almost 8:00pm and so were we.  Barbara and I enjoyed some LemonBerry Shandy in the yard while these three romped a bit… but as Barbara and I finished our bottles o’ booze, these three fools had a little moment on the porch…

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    These three best buds -

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    porch pooches -

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    - ding-a-ling-doggies.

    I am thankful that these fools have such a good time together.  I am especially glad that they have some warmer weather ahead to have fantastic future fun together.  These sweet fools :)

     

  9. round and round

    The week before I left for Texas, maybe I stumbled upon a record store that I had not yet been to.  And maybe, just maybe, I found a few more records to add to my little collection…

    I WASN’T EVEN GOING TO BUY ANY RECORDS… but when I saw this Neil Young album at such a reasonable price… AND THEN this vinyl edition Pearl Jam TEN album with these features:

    For the sake of not only myself, but my dear sister… I  simply had to get it.  HAD. TO!!!

    Maybe I even recorded a little video of the needle going onto the vinyl as it spun round and round so Katie could hear and see and experience her beloved Pearl Jam on vinyl, since neither of us had done that before.  I recorded some of ‘Once’ and some of ‘Porch’ (as per her request) and sent it to her.  But I’ll spare y’all those videos.

    You’re Welcome.

    When I returned home from Texas, sad to leave my sister - I did have this happy package awaiting me on the dining room table.  I had per-ordered Mike Gordon’s newest album ‘Overstep’ (Mike is the bass player for Phish) and dang it all, if this album isn’t delightful!  Audibly, as well as, visually - it sounds great and looks cool in blue as it spins round and round the turntable. 

    I also ordered this tote bag that is specifically designed to hold record albums so I can take it with me on future vinyl buying outings.  But I am not going on any vinyl buying items until National Record Store Day.  I love that it is so close to my birthday. 

    For I have been a BIG lover of music ever since I was a little Becki Jo.

    Round and round and round and round!

     

  10. treasures

    My Mom (Mamba) works at a college and as an employee of this college, she, like the students, gets a Spring Break.  (Her Spring Break is more well deserved than the students but I won’t go into that…) For the past how many years now, Mamba has spent her Spring Break in Chicago with me.  But this year, we mixed it up.  Mamba graciously gave her plane ticket to me so that I could spend her Spring Break with her, my sister and my nieces in Texas.  This way, we were all able to see each other and have fun and hang out and be silly together.  Hopefully, you read about our adventure to the Living Desert Cactus Nursery.  Well, we had a few other adventures and fun times. 

    The girls enjoyed their first trip to IKEA!  They were champions about it, too!  We were able to spend a few hours there looking at all that IKEA has to see and each one of us adult girls found some little treasures to bring home with us.  We also swung by an Outlet Mall.  Mom had to get some good walking shoes for an upcoming trip and Katie found some clothes and sunglasses.  The girls were in need of some sweet bonnets to protect their precious heads from the strong sun in Texas.  Mom, Liv and I found the perfect ones while Katie was tending to Elin.  Look at these sweet sunshine sweethearts!

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    Now they can take the long walks in their neighborhood that they enjoy so much without worrying about getting sunburnt noses. 

    One day, Mamba and I split off to go to some of our favorite junk treasure shops in Burnet, TX.  It is not really Katie’s jam and it would have been too long of a day for the girls so we let them enjoy a day without Tante around and had some fun!

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    Mamba understands the importance of acquiring not only this handy metal crate but this wonderful piece of cherry wood from Pennsylvania, as the sticker indicated.  Mamba got a wonderful type stump of wood herself that I would have gotten for myself, had I not had to fly home.  I am so happy she picked it up!  See the little spotted stone, there?  Mamba bought that for me at the Nursery.  It was one of the odd pieces that Darrell had in his many pots filled with odd pieces.  I love it.  I am still figuring out exactly where to put the crate and stone but the wood slab has a lovely home on our dining room table right now.  And enjoy the spring dogwood branches and pretty mums!

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    Mamba also encouraged me to pick up a few albums in one of the junk treasure stores.  She bought a few for me and I bought a few for me.  Look at the treasures that she will ship to me.  (I did not want them to break in my suitcase on the flight home.)  Tim cannot wait to hear all twenty-five of those polka greats!

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    I did not get pictures of the treasures Mamba brought home.  OR of the most perfect pieces of coconut cream pie that either of us had ever eaten in our entire lives!  Mamba took me out to lunch at one of our little places, we go there because they have dynamite coconut cream pie and while I usually try to get a picture of it - we were too swept off of our feet to even talk.  We chowed down and loved it! 

    We even brought a piece home for Katie. 

    We are treasures.