Monday, June 30, 2014

Last night, I was so inspired. I went to the Green Mill's Poetry Slam and fell in love with words yet again. I got to see this extraordinary storyteller, Sarah Kay, perform:


Friday, June 27, 2014

Wayra and I visited the garden tonight.

I needed some help watering the veggies:
Then, we made cookies for the youth volunteers at my work tomorrow, amused ourselves with a team of stuffed animals, played with Cassius, and read one of my favorites, The Velveteen Rabbit.
Wayra asked if she could help me do any laundry, as she loves doing that. All my clothes are clean right now, so she had to settle with helping me do the dishes.

Slumber parties with Wayra are the best. She's awesome.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Last night I made some amazing fig bars, kinda like Fig Newtons. 
I used this recipe from Post Punk Kitchen and some amazing fig preserves that my father in-law talked up and bought for me when my in-laws visited awhile back. We took this wonderful trip to Milwaukee and went to the  Milwaukee Public Market where they have so many shops full of things like fresh, locally bottled up whole fig preserves. I somehow forgot these fig preserves were in my fridge and was excited to use them when I discovered them.
These fig bars are to-die-for.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

So much to tell! 
Niall and I just spent a wonderful few days in Michigan. We camped in between Ann Arbor and Detroit and got to visit both places. How amazing to wake up to the birds!

This is going to be our home during our big trip from August to October:

It's really decked out! The tent took about five minutes to put together and it is nice and spacious. We have an inflatable mattress on a cot that's pretty comfortable. We also have soft sleeping blankets that can be zipped together and a cozy sleeping bag.

We have two chairs I didn't think we needed to purchase but Niall really wanted to - of course, now I love them. 

As suspected, I love our little stove too: 

We have a lovely set-up. Originally I thought we should really rough it to do it right. However, Niall is new to camping and wary of that idea and, in reality, I do like having a bathroom nearby. 
So, we have created a great plan and put some comforts in place that make sense for us.  

Sunday, June 22, 2014

I'm on vacation!

Yesterday, I went to Tryon Farm in Michigan City, IN with a friend. This place is so cool - it's a sprawling place (their website refers to it as "modern country living") and it used to be a dairy farm. They are dedicated to sustainability and education - they have a great non-profit connected to it that focuses on "promoting habitat diversity and sustainable land husbandry." Friends of mine got married there last year and I had the honor of officiating the ceremony.

But, I'll have to tell you about yesterday's visit later, because Niall and I are off to celebrate our second wedding anniversary! We are gonna go camping in Michigan and test out all the camping equipment we have purchased for our big upcoming trip across the country.

It's good to be in love and learning so much along the way.

Friday, June 20, 2014

We are just ending Pollination Week this weekend - here are some beautiful photos of bees and wasps that Niall sent my way:

I think these are my two favorite:

I just saw this important news, too:
Today a Presidential Memorandum was put into place to take federal actions on the pollinator issue.  Pollinator Partnership reports, "Among the directives in the memorandum are actions increasing forage on federal lands, assessing the effects of pesticides including neonicotinoids, including native seeds in post-fire restoration, landscaping federal facilities for pollinators, educating the public about pollinators, and more." 

Also, Michelle Obama has planted the first-ever White House Pollinator Garden

Thursday, June 19, 2014

My weekend was so full. Here are some of the highlights:

Picking up a cat named after a raincloud, Nimbus, while a storm was brewing. Nimbus went to  live with my kind friend from work, Michael, on Wednesday. She gets to live in a beautiful big apartment in Pilsen with loft spaces and lots of light. Michael writes this wonderful blog (Making a Mess of It). Every week, he bakes an item out of an old copy of the Good Housekeeping Cookbook and writes about it
(and, in the process, writes about so much more). The blog is such an inspiration to me and I always look forward to reading it.

Jumping into freezing Lake Michigan for the first time this year after an intensely hot run with another work friend, Ollie.  The lake was so very cold - Ollie says it's because the Great Lakes were frozen for so long this year. He is full of insights. 

Making preparations for Niall and my's upcoming trip to Ann Arbor and Detroit. My favorite purchase? A one-burner camping stove. I cannot wait to use it.

Cooking this Corn Chowder and topping it with chives from my very own garden. The soup is even better today than yesterday right off the stove.

Going for my first run with Niall, through Loyola's campus, past the sweetest smelling roses. I'm excited about this new thing to do together.

Wandering the garden with my thoughtful friend Monique, admiring the veggies growing and talking about big things.

The Clary Sage is so pretty in my plot- though I have no idea what to do with it.

Michael lives across from this beautiful little park that is a sanctuary for the Monarch Butterfly. I saw a stray beige and white cat in there, but couldn't scoop him up. I hope he finds somewhere good to go with someone good to help him.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Sleepy night at home - gardened, made microwaveable brownies (wow!), called my dads.
Happy Father's Day!

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Friday, June 13, 2014

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Here are some things I loved about my past weekend (which just happens to fall on Tuesday-Wednesday): 
baking pink lemonade cookies (so good and summery) and surprising Elaine for her one year anniversary at work, doing bee education on my own (usually there are other volunteers with me) at the conservatory - discovering I know some stuff about bees and getting a real drive to keep learning as much as possible, having some brief honest talks with people in my life and feeling all of the support I have, getting practical things done in preparation for the big upcoming trip/move, sharing some time over dinner and tea at Wayra and Suzanne's, picking up my travel weary husband and hearing about his weekend at a Texas wedding (he took the bus there and back and doesn't wanna ever do that again, but loved his time in Texas), trying to learn how to make good vegan pancakes- this time oatmeal/banana and an improvement on last time, and almost finishing up the delicious fresh maple syrup my dear friend Erin brought us a couple of months ago from Maine, her new state of residence...

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

The last few days, I've been thinking about this Julia Child quote I've come across a couple times recently: "Find something you're passionate about and keep tremendously interested in it." 
I have been so inspired by people like the head beekeeper at Garfield Park Conservatory, who knows so much about honeybees and plants, is completely engaging with visitors of all ages, and has a great curiosity about the world. I think some of this comes naturally to him, but some of it is the result of his dedicated study. 
I have been thinking about how I have always been someone who dabbles and observes here and there, but doesn't necessarily dive in completely to any one subject. I think part of it has always been fear and a certain laziness, but there's another part that is simply distraction, due to a genuine interest in many things. I have been changing that over the past couple of years. I want to keep nurturing this love of the honeybee - I want to put the work in to build that calm, humble confidence that comes with knowing a subject well and continuing to learn about it on a daily basis. It is wonderful to have something to be passionate about.
 I have come across this a couple times recently online. I love the sentiment.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

A couple of appreciations this morning:
My mama passed along this valuable information to me recently:
if you plant cucumbers next to sunflowers, the cucumbers are sweeter and they use the heavy sunflower stalks as a trellis. This is an example of companion planting, which seems to be one of the coolest things ever. 
Here are my sunflower and cucumber sprouts coming up. I'm very hopeful.

Cassius is enjoying his birthday gift as I type this. I love when I just come upon him in his bed, enjoying the morning. 
Time to finish my coffee (another appreciation) and get on with the day.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

I have this very talented, inspiring friend, Hiu. She teaches at the four year-old GCE Lab School, this high school that has an extraordinary way of doing things. Their students do really cool hands-on, out-in-the-world stuff. I got to go to their graduation (seven amazing kids graduated and were honored as individuals) and final presentations yesterday and I found it really exciting. I learned a lot from the students. They taught me about urban planning, natural medicine, and building circuit boards (among lots of other things). All their classes are deeply involved, incorporate several ideas in one, and include going out in the real world. 

Here's a video to show you a little bit about the school:

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Niall and I went on a fun date yesterday. We started at the garden, which is such a happy place.
 Then we went to a neighborhood bakery I have been really wanting to try - Maddiebird. They have vegan chocolate cupcakes with coconut frosting. Amazing sugar overload.
Then off to Leone Beach. It's the best beach in town, we do believe. Not as crowded, beautiful public art, nice places to walk and sunbathe, a Heartland Cafe food stand.
I gotta start taking some photos of Niall too.
We stopped by one of the coolest bookstores afterwards- Armadillo's Pillow. It was a wonderful Tuesday. Niall leaves for a wedding in Texas today via Megabus, so I was glad to get those moments with him before his trip.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

It is official. This autumn, Niall and I are moving to Florida after eleven years here. Chicago has treated us so well, but our hearts are telling us it's time to move on. One thing I will miss is the seasons.  
The tulips of spring.
The welcome heat of summer.
The colors of fall.
The beauty of snow in winter.
There are subtle changes in weather in Gainesville. I suspect I will appreciate these shifts more having known true seasons. I will cherish these memories of this beautiful city we have lived in.

Monday, June 2, 2014

A lot is happening in the garden as summer creeps upon us. In my plot, the squash and beans seem most excited to come into the world, but the cucumber, sunflower, turnip, are emerging as well. The lettuce, spinach, kale, lemon balm, beets, and marigolds are thinking about it and the tomatoes and sweet peppers are a little sad. We'll see...

Sunday, June 1, 2014

I had lots of fun last night seeing a couple of my workmates perform in Chicago Gay Men's Chorus' Bouncing Off the Walls. They are talented! I haven't seen many big choruses perform and am pretty unfamiliar with most modern Broadway musicals, so it was a cool new experience for me. We went in a big group (which I love doing when someone special is in a show). I got to meet some new interesting, kind people and spend some time with some interesting, kind people I already am extremely fond of.