Category Archives: local

life local

We Got A Dog!

I know, I’ve been horrible about posting lately.  My excuses?  I was sick, then Ava was sick, then I got sick again, and then Ava again.  I’ve also had a bad case of  the ‘I’m Sooo Over Winter’ blues.  And we just adopted a dog.

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This is Sufjan.  (Pronounced Soof e yahn, but Ava says it has to be said like this – Soof john.)  That was the name the shelter gave him and it just stuck.  We haven’t even had him a week yet and we are already totally in love with him.  We had been talking about getting a dog, but still hadn’t decided that it was the right time.  Sometimes we would randomly stop by a shelter and have a looksie, but it wasn’t until we met this little guy that we had some serious thinking to do.

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As Ava was walking past his room at PAWS, he jumped up at the door and began pawing at the window.  Ava knelt down next to it and started pawing back.  It was adorable and went on for a few minutes.  We had a private meeting with him and he just seemed so sweet .. and so sad.  Three days later we brought him home.  So far, he is totally awesome.  House trained, crate trained, great on the leash, doesn’t mind our cats, and kind of lazy.  I think he’s starting to like us too.  But I do wonder what kind of life he had… someone obviously took the time to train him and care for him (he is btwn 5 and 7 years old).  He was picked up as a stray, which seems odd because he’s such a sweet little guy.  I do feel like he’s missing someone and I hope we can make him feel safe and happy with us.

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We had to take Sufjan for his check-up on Saturday and while we were waiting to be seen, this chubbers walked in.  Is that a fat wiener dog or what?!  We were trying not to crack up.  Poor guy!  LOL

Have a great day! XO

life local shopping

5 Things I Miss About Portland

Last year, we moved to Portland, OR for about 6 months.  I still miss it and here are five reasons why.

1.  THE FOREST

We had the pleasure of living about half a block away from a trail head entrance into Forest Park, one of the country’s largest (5100+ acres) urban forest reserves.  It was our Wonderland.  Ava never stopped looking for fairies and it was easy to believe they could exist there.  That forest is magical.  The scenery/greenery all over Portland is amazing.  Spring is beyond imagination.  Every time we went outside we were like, “Whoa – it’s so colorful here”.

2.  NEW SEASONS

(image via new seasons)

New Seasons really is the ultimate neighborhood grocery store.  We do plenty of grocery shopping and have visited lots of different grocery stores in lots of different cities, but this is the only one I’ve ever found myself missing.  It’s sort of like a Whole Foods except there is so much more local stuff – the “Home Grown”  produce rocks.  Every time we went we found new things to try and were never disappointed with the selection.  Love this place.

3.  SCRAP

(image via eric steindler)

Now this place does not look like much from the photo, but trust me, it’s AWESOME.  SCRAP is a donation based creative reuse store.  You can find pretty much any craft based item here – glue, yarn, paper, boxes of buttons, crayons, ribbons, stencils, wood & metal scraps, buckets of foam, corks, ceramic tiles, etc. (I think you get the idea).  A collage artist’s dream.  Always new stuff to check out and because they run off of donations, it is super cheap.  We filled up our basket one day and spent about five bucks.  Score.

4.  LOCAL MADE EVERYTHING

The sense of community is abounding in Portland, which is what I feel drives people to make and create.  At least half (if not more) of my husband’s and my Christmas gifts were made in Oregon.  If you live in Portland and aren’t making or growing something, you’re doing it wrong.  A few faves:

Capturing the pure essence of the forest – Juniper Ridge

Self-proclaimed “plant nerds” at Portland Apothecary making amazing teas, extracts, and more

Delicious “farm to cone” ice cream – Salt & Straw

My list of faves could go on for days.  The people of Portland know how to get down.

5.  PAPER BAGS

Yes, I miss paper bags.  Sure, we have them here in Chicago.  You see them at Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods and some smaller shops, but in Portland you get them EVERYWHERE.  Even Target.  I detest plastic bags.  I try to always bring my own shopping totes, but I will admit that sometimes I forget or sometimes I have more items than I have bags.  When I have to bring items home in plastic bags I always drop them off to be recycled, but I’d just rather them not be around at all.  Don’t even get me started on the recycling issues here – it’s horrible.  People have no idea what they can and can’t recycle and where we live, it rarely gets picked up.  So yes, I miss paper bags.

And there you have it, five things I miss about Portland.  I’m not sure if it’s in the cards for us to move back there, but we will definitely visit again and may even end up somewhere close by.

XO

life local shopping

My Retro Moment

(Let’s totally ignore the fact that I haven’t posted since we moved into our new place.)

A few weeks ago we were strolling through our new neighborhood and I had a retro shopping moment at Seek Vintage.  Isn’t the dress totally cute?!  And I have a thing for vintage trays, so I just couldn’t resist.

I also picked up this ‘heart of stone’ at RR#1.  They have a TON of awesome stuff in there.

baby / tots life local

Fancy Photo Weekend

(and by fancy, i mean instagram & camera+)


creativity decor local

To The One I Love

I just came across these prints by Amanda Catherine Designs and had to share.

Perfect for Valentine’s Day … or any day.  (Love you, MS)

baby / tots life local

Weekend at the Cabin

Last weekend I planned a surprise getaway for Mike’s birthday.  I wanted something close, something serene … somewhere we could just relax.  I found a secluded cabin just an hour and 15 minutes away from Chicago, nestled on 80 private acres of woodland and spring fed ponds.  I did all the packing and grocery shopping in advance and even picked up two fishing poles [Mike has always wanted to take Ava fishing].  It is amazing how much stuff we had for just a two night/three day stay [most of it for Ava – kids don’t pack light!].  Mike drove us to our destination, guided by “Matilda” [the name we gave our mobile navigation voice] and was pleasantly surprised as we turned down the long private drive to the cabin.

The surroundings were beautiful – lush spring forest, lily pad laden ponds – ahhhhh nature.

While I sorted things out inside the cabin, Mike busted out the fishing poles and he and Ava dug up some worms and headed to the pond.  She caught a baby bluegill on her first cast!  She ended up catching a total of two … Mike, zero.

We kicked off our night by making a fire in the firepit and roasting hot dogs and marshmallows.  I thought Ava would love s’mores, but she said she didn’t like marshmallows “with brown stuff”.  She did enjoy waving her marshmallow stick around though!

On Saturday we went exploring [we were only 15 minutes away from the Michigan Harbor Towns on the beachfront] and picked up some local morels and sausages from a farmer’s market.  Ava spent lots of time outdoors and especially loved the tree swing out in front of the cabin.

Saturday night, Mike and Ava headed down to one of the ponds with a flashlight and net and brought back a bullfrog and a tree frog.  [If Ava spots a gnat or fly, she totally freaks out – but frogs and fish, love at first sight!]  She held the treefrog for quite a while and wanted to bring him home with us [um no.].

The next morning, Mike made a stellar skillet breakfast using our fresh morels and some wild onions, scrambled eggs, local bacon, and potatoes.  Yum.  Then he and Ava headed down to the pond one last time and found a few tadpoles.  [Not bringing those home either!]  By the time we had to leave, we were just getting into the rhythm of cabin life [isn’t that how it always is on a vacation … just when you start to relax it’s time to go].

I have a feeling this won’t be our last weekend getaway for the spring/summer.

baby / tots life local

“I’m going to have so much fun, you guys!”

That is what Ava said when we told her we were going to go outside and play in the snow on Wednesday morning.  Totally worth venturing out into the aftermath of the blizzard here in Chicago.  Our parking lot was covered in drifts so it was the perfect spot for some snow play without having to dig out the car.  We may only have lasted about 15 minutes in the cold, but seeing her have so much fun [as she kept telling us every few seconds] was pretty priceless.

baby / tots life local

This is What Lunch Looks Like

We try to dine out at least once a week.  If you have children, you know it is not as relaxing as it used to be when you and your significant other got to go out solo.  This is what eating with Ava can look like:

This was our lunch stop at Honky Tonk BBQ in Pilsen  We thought she’d behave in the booth.  Oh, were we wrong.  And yes, one of those pictures is her UNDER the table.  I guess she wasn’t in the mood for barbecue.  She did however like the live music [the musician even played an old-timey country version of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star for her] and the old horse they had in the back, that still worked when you put a quarter in!

I was big fan of one of their pieces of art on the wall … made out of old yardsticks.

Despite Ava’s antics, we left with full stomachs and smiles.  Next time we’ll remember to bring along the ipad. [wink]

local

Local & Organic Produce – Delivery, Grocery, Markets

Since Ava came into our lives, I have become even more aware and concerned about what we are putting in our stomachs and calling food.  We are limiting our intake of red meat and when we do serve up some steaks, we make sure they come from a farm [usually local] that practices responsible and sustainable farming for the least impact on the environment and our bodies.  We also try our best to purchase organic produce and prefer local, but especially in the winter months, that can be difficult.  Then I did a search for local produce delivery and farmers markets and came across more options than I imagined.  [If you are not in the Chicago area, I suggest doing your own search to see what’s available to you … and I would love to hear about your own local organic groceries and markets!]  Our family will be trying each one out over the next couple of months and I’ll be sure to let you know about our experiences.

Irv and Shelly’s Fresh Picks. Chicago residents and parents of two, Irv & Shelly, started this year round local delivery service to help local independent farmers prosper by bringing fresh, chemical free, and delicious food directly into our homes.  In addition to seasonal produce boxes, you can also make a la carte selections from an assortment of fruits, vegetables, meat, dairy, eggs, and more.  We recently tried this service out and were very pleased.  We chose a double box of veggies for $25 [which included lettuce, radishes, scallions, potatoes, tomatoes, an eggplant, marinara sauce, a green pepper, and some mushroom patties], a few apples, some bok choy, whole wheat flour, blueberries, and tofu.  The delivery guy was super friendly and took the time to explain the drop off process to me and when I realized our mushroom patties had been left out, they were quick to get back to me and offer to drop them in our next order or give us a refund.  So far, we have only used the potatoes, scallions, and lettuce and they were delicious.

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Newleaf Natural Grocery. Strong advocates of supporting local farms, this grocery stocks their shelves with as many local goods as they can get their hands on.  They offer a variety of grass fed meats, fresh produce, fair trade coffee and bulk foods, and a hefty raw foods selection.  They offer six different box varieties for pick-up or delivery and this is next on our list to try!  Located at 1261 W. Loyola Ave.

Natural Direct. This grocery service serves the greater Chicago area and seems to have the largest selection of locally grown and organic foods that you can have delivered to your door.  You can customize your own order or choose one of their weekly boxes [they even have a grass-fed meat box!].  The site is easy to navigate and there is a pretty substantial list of grocery items in addition to the meat, produce, dairy, etc.  I’ll give you more details after we try it out.

Green Grocer Chicago. Although as far as I can tell, they don’t deliver, Green Grocer does have a produce box subscription.  There are two sizes available [$15 / $28] and you get a mix of local and organic veggies and fruits that you can pick up at their store every Wednesday.  I have yet to visit the store, but from what I hear they have a great selection.  I’m going to try to check it out sometime this week.  Located at 1402 W. Grand Ave.

Green City Market. This farmers market in Lincoln Park is the city’s most popular destination for local farm shopping.  During the winter months, you can visit it indoors at the Peggy Notebart Museum and the next date is February 13th [meat & potatoes].  There is no option for delivery, but it’s worth the trip and you get to meet some of the farmers and sample the goods and there is always some treat you didn’t expect to find – like chef demonstrations and little festivals.  Check out their site for a calendar of events.

And while I was looking into all of these local food sources, I came a cross The Local Beet – a site full of forums and blog posts all about “a practical approach to local eating”.  Check it out!!!

local

A Taste of Chicago

When you think of Chicago food, you think of pizza.  The other night we ordered delivery from Giordano’s, home of the “World Famous Stuffed Pizza”.

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We got a pie with sausage, peppers, and onions … a super thick deep dish crust stuffed with your choice of toppings and the topped off with cheese and sauce.  Omigosh it was good.

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Over the weekend we drove to nearby Andersonville and had brunch at Big Jones on N. Clark Street.  I am kicking myself for not having my camera with me to take pictures of our meals.  Sooooooo good.  Their menu has a southern flair and uses locally grown, sustainably-farmed foods and is in one word, delicious.  Mike had the Andouille & Sweet Potato Biscuits and I had the Cheddar Corn Cakes.  The portions were big enough that we could barely finish and even little Ava had a few bites.  We will definitely be revisiting this restaurant and I’ll be sure to have my camera with me when we do!

XO!

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