Sunday, March 31, 2013

Happy Easter!

Mike was surprised with a few adult beverages...
There are some days that allow us all to be kids again...  Easter is on of those days!

Mike and I get each other Easter baskets each year.  I know, what can I say?

One of the best stories of the day came from our friend's 3 year old grand daughter Taylor.  Because she is a bit afraid of the Easter Bunny,  she left him a note asking him to leave the Easter baskets outside on the porch.  And that's where she found her basket this morning!

I decided to make a bunny cake to celebrate the big day.  Using a cake tin I found this week while unpacking my kitchen stuff, I set out on this new challenge.

Despite the cake batter overflowing and spilling in the oven (and oh yes, briefly catching on fire), and a couple of pieces breaking off the bunny,  I was pretty pleased with how it turned out.

Don't worry I don't think I'll pursue a second career as a baker!

Blue Belle enjoying a sunny spot 
And as much as I wanted to plant some flowers on a 50 degree day, something told me to hold off. Perhaps it was the forecast of 30 degree nights coming this week, but I walked away from the beautiful pansies at Lowe's.  Instead I cleaned out pots and got ready for some warmer planting days ahead.

We tried a couple of new recipes for our Easter meal.  We grilled a ham with honey-brown sugar-orange juice glaze, and it was amazing!  Add some Au gratin potatoes with Parmesan cheese and grilled asparagus, and we had a feast!`

And now it's time to get off my feet and rest, and I think that bunny cake is calling my name!

Have a great week!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Quit whining!

Purple crocus in full bloom
Ok, here in the Midwest, we talk about weather.  And by now you know I've been kind of whiny lately about this long winter.

Well, I'm happy to report that I found Spring in Southern Indiana.  I take this as a good sign that Spring is soon headed to central Indiana.  But then again maybe I spoke too soon...

Mike and I spent a great weekend at my mom's in Southern Indiana where there are actually flowers in bloom.

Daffodil standing tall

Hyacinth ready to bloom

We had a great visit with mom, cooking meals, handling some chores and making time for crafts.    On Friday night we cooked a tasty shrimp stir fry, and my brother Gary and his wife Peggy joined us (after the I.U. basketball game, of course). 

Mom working on cross stitch with basketball game on TV
And we watched basketball this first weekend of the NCAA tournament:  I.U., Butler, Illinois, Ohio State and Iowa State to name a few favorites.  Now I remember how much Indiana loves its' basketball!

Mike fixing exhaust fan

Mike and mom working in kitchen

Mike preparing template

And my sister Pam had this idea of making a topiary.  Of course she didn't have time to tackle this project during her last visit, and so Mom and I took on the challenge.  We were pleased with the end product, but it definitely wasn't easy to get there.  Even Mike got in on the action (not by choice, mind you)...

Mom with that wicked hot glue gun!

Smiling because its' done!

Same purple crocus in snow

And after a couple of days enjoying the beautiful Spring weather, winter returned.  Southern Indiana only got a dusting, but we arrived home to 5-6 inches of snow!  Seriously?!

Drive back to Indy
Front yard

Fenced in beauty
And though I complain about winter, the skies this time of year are amazing...
Cotton candy clouds

And as the latest snow begins to melt, I anxiously the upcoming days and the lovely forecast of 50 degree days!

Have a super week!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Chicago weekend

Winter in the Midwest

We headed to Chicago last Friday to hear the band Switchback perform a St. Patrick's Day concert.  It was a dreary, rainy day when we entered the city...
The concert was in Rogers Park, north of downtown Chicago.We scouted the area for parking (like looking for gold at the end of the rainbow), and eventually we found a spot a few blocks away from the Mayne Theatre.  The "L" cut a swath through the neighborhood, and we drove through areas with nice houses and torn down buildings.  I must admit we were a bit nervous, memorizing where we parked our car (especially after losing a car in New Orleans, but that's another story...).  
Rogers Park

The Mayne Theatre was beautifully restored.  We found some great seats along the wall, and it wasn't difficult to imagine ghosts of women clad in slinky dresses smoking long cigarettes and drinking forbidden liquor.  

Switchback played many familiar songs including "Nancy Whiskey", "Danny Boy" and "Travelin' Down and Irish Road".  Every song took us back to our recent trip to Ireland with this wonderful band.  Reliving vacation through music, friends, food and whiskey made for an amazing Friday evening!

On Saturday we started our day with a great little neighborhood restaurant in Skokie.  Ok, it probably had the original fixtures from the 1930's, but the biscuits and gravy and french toast were amazing!
As we traveled through Slokie, Evanston and Rogers Park on Saturday, we found some interesting sights...

Be a Pig?

U-Spy Store Winter Sale?

Mike noticed the "U-Spy Store" which we had to visit!  Cameras in pens, cameras in alarm clocks, cameras in soup cans, cameras in lapel pins...who knew???  I mean we "get" James Bond carrying these cameras, but mainstream America?

After a great day of antique shopping, we headed back downtown for dinner at a great little Italian restaurant, Rosebud on Rush which we discovered in January.   And then the city gave us a magnificent goodbye!

We are already talking about our next trip to Chicago...museums anyone?  Definitely a plus to live 2.5 hours from Chicago!  And we are still dreaming about Ireland...

Have a great week!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013


Back yard view
Sunshine today!   Blue skies, white clouds and shadows on the lawn.  Could Spring be in the air...

It's been a long winter here!  I know, I'm a broken record of complaining.  But it's the common theme these days. Everyone I talk to is SO TIRED of cloudy days!

So, despite the forecast of snow again tonight, I am loving this single day of sunshine!  I even had this crazy thought today of planting pansies on the deck...

Mike started teaching again at his Alma mater.  He is an adjunct professor and is coordinating two chemical engineering lab sessions.  He LOVES this work, and he is excited about the energetic group of Juniors he is working with this quarter.

Music category, what else?

While Mike teaches, it seems like a good time to tackle items on my latest "to do" list...

So last week I focused on organizing Mike's clothes, namely so I could fit clean laundry into the closet.  At his request, I organized the t-shirts into categories:  music, places, exercise and other.  What can I say???

One of Mike's goals in retirement was to wear a t-shirt every day!  Judging from the sheer number of t-shirts, I think he could wear each shirt once and get through many months before repeating.

Headed for the basement

Next up is the kitchen!  Moving my dishes and pots and pans into the kitchen and out of storage is long overdue.  Getting this accomplished will go a long way towards getting rid of a storage unit.

  • First step is moving seldom-used items into the basement.
  • Second step is unpacking boxes.  
  • Third step-many more donations to Goodwill. We still have TOO MUCH STUFF!

About half the kitchen boxes that need to be unpacked

Chef Mikie taking a break from the grill to visit with Melanie & Stacy

We also celebrated Mike's birthday over the weekend with a small dinner party.  We had a great time laughing, telling stories, listening to music and of course eating and drinking wine!

Chuck, John and Brian waiting patiently for the food
Blue Belle on the bed

And sometimes our cats invite us to slow down and relax...which sounds like a great idea after a very busy week!

Hey, I would love to hear from you.  Feel free to comment on this blog in the comment area below.

Take care and have a great week!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Buy a blizzard?

Local DQ seems a bit optimistic
A blizzard sale?  Really?

Well, 6 inches of wet snow on Tuesday definitely pushed vacation thoughts away!  Seems Spring is NOT right around the corner!

Here's where retirement rules!   Disregarding the clock and the day's chores, we headed out with our cameras and explored the beautiful contrasts in a world covered with snow.
One armed angel at local cemetery

The quiet of nature

The road to ourselves

Vertical and horizontal

The ducks love it!

Pine cones in snow

Soldier trees

Train through the snow

We finally found color!

Although I am so ready for warm weather and sunshine, this heavy snow cover is just beautiful!  Every time I look outside I am mesmerized by the winter wonderland!  Ok, I'm really trying to have a good attitude about this lingering cold and snowy weather...

Have a great week!

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Southern Caribbean Islands in Winter

San Juan harbor 

Back to reality now, here in Indiana, home of cold, gray, snowy days.   And as I catch up on laundry, bills, grocery shopping and other day to day chores, I remember the warm, windy days and beautiful ocean views...

We decided to break up the long winter months with a Southern Caribbean cruise with 2 other  couples.  We flew to Puerto Rico, and then we embarked on the cruise with ports of call in St. Thomas, St. Kitt's, Aruba and Curacao.

We were pleasantly surprised at everything Puerto Rico offered, from cities to forts to rain forests...

San Juan Convention Center 

Castillo San Felipe del Morro in San Juan

In the Puerto Rico rain forest, 200 inches of rain annually produce tree sized ferns...
and leaves bigger than your head, which can be made into small hats

And hats are a necessity in the intense sun of the Southern Caribbean.  Despite the high dork factor of this hat, it served me well.  Ok, so my friends had fashionable straw hats, but they always had one hand holding their hat in place!

St. Thomas ocean view property

We found a fun Jeep excursion on St. Thomas.  Tooling around the island with the Jeep top down gave us a wonderful feel for the sights and smells of this beautiful place.

St. Kitt's Shipwreck Beach

Before this trip, I never had any luck snorkeling.  But I got my courage up while sitting on a beautiful beach at St. Kitt's, and this time I actually did it!  It was delightful to float around and see beautiful fish everywhere! Of course I still have a VERY HEALTHY FEAR of the ocean, and I was quite happy that no fish touched me, and I didn't step on any sea urchins!

Mike's picture under water

There are some interesting things for sale on the islands.  As you would imagine I enjoyed the jewelry stores and the "free jewelry" including bracelets, charms and necklaces used to lure you into their stores.

Kevin at his favorite jewelry store
Coconuts on the curb

Sold in an Aruba gas station.  Do NOT mistake for water!

We enjoyed great friends, food and laughter along the way.
Kathy and Kevin at dinner

Stan and Mary on the beach

And then the sunsets were amazing!

Aruba view

And WHY was Mike posing this way on the beach???

We found a bit of humor along the way...

At the car wash

And we found Curacao delightful with bright, cheery buildings and aloe farms.

Pontoon bridge on Curacao

Curacao aloe farm

And traveling to the islands in is good!

Have a great week, and I hope you find your own happy place wherever you are!