Gone to the Dogs

On past trips to Chicago, we’ve seen a few “K-9s for Cops” art installations around the city…this time, we saw a few more in a place we had never previously been!

I love finding cool public art installations!


Last week we did something new…we went and picked lavender at Tenderloin Farms in Edwardsville, IL! (I know…you wouldn’t guess they grow lavender there based on their name, but it used to be a hog farm before The Stahlhut “Girls” started growing lavender.)

Like asparagus picking, I really had no idea how it works. It’s super easy, though…they give you a pair of (safety) scissors, and you cut the stems from the blooming plants, making sure to stay “in the green.” The field (and the store) smelled amazing!

We also learned a lot about how lavender likes to grow (warm temperatures and not too much water), and the various kinds (there are over 450 varieties, but of course, Tenderloin Farms doesn’t grow them all…they do have about 20, though, including a pink variety!).

We even learned how to make lavender lemonade…and got to sample some, too!

We couldn’t have asked for a nicer June day to be out…it wasn’t too hot, it was only partly sunny, and there were three kinds of lavender blooming…we picked some of each.

This was a really fun thing to try, and I love that we brought home an amazing-smelling souvenir…we’ve already made a few recipes with it (lemon-lavender shortbread and the previously mentioned lavender lemonade), and we’re looking forward to using the rest to make lavender wands!

It’s My Birthday!

Today is, as Moose put it, my 5th 39th birthday. We started the day by taking a peek at the rapidly-growing mourning dove squabs in our tree:

We were out early due to the excessive heat warning I was gifted for my birthday. There was only one thing I really wanted to do out of the house…visit a spray park. We ended up driving up to a really nice one in Edwardsville because it was open early, and had fun playing in the water before it got too hot!

When we got home, I opened my presents…I received some very nice things from my family!

Of course I played Animal Crossing New Horizons, and for the second year in a row, Roald came to my party!

The rest of the day was pretty chill…we watched some of my favorite movies (Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, A League of Their Own, and White Christmas), had my favorite frozen pizza for dinner (Home Run Inn), and enjoyed the beautiful birthday cake (with 43 candles) the girls made for me:

In spite of the heat, I had a fantastic birthday…and that’s just the start of the fun this week!

The Two Best Things About June

My two favorite things about the month of June, whether we’re talking real life or Animal Crossing, are fireflies and hydrangeas.

The Third Time’s the Charm?

For the last month or so, Ladybug, Chickadee, and I have been attempting to walk five to six miles every weekday morning. Walking has been part of our school day when the weather is nice anyway, but that was more of a quick two-mile jaunt. We decided as we got closer to our trip this summer, we wanted to lengthen our walk to prepare ourselves, and so as school wound down and then ended for the year, we have been able to dedicate more time in the morning to a longer walk, and for the most part, we’ve had good luck in getting out every day, even if it meant walking in a bit of rain.

On Monday, we were expecting storms in the afternoon, so I wanted to make sure we got started early…we didn’t wait until after my planned grocery shopping trip. I double-checked the weather before we went out at about 8:15, and the radar was clear, and the forecast said the storms weren’t supposed to start until about 1:00, so our timing was great. Or so I thought. We hadn’t even walked quite a mile when it started raining (which wouldn’t have been a big deal because it wasn’t too heavy), and then lightning, which sent us hastening home.

After I did the grocery shopping, we decided to try again. We had about an hour before the next round of storms was supposed to start, so we set out again, altering our route to make sure we wouldn’t get too far from home in case the forecast was wrong again. Actually, while we had a little more rain, there wasn’t any further thunder for the rest of the day, so things were looking good. We were enjoying our walk, there was a nice breeze, and then I felt a thunk on my head. I assumed it was a “helicopter” seed pod blown down from one of the trees we had just passed, and reached up to shake it out of my hair. I felt it, but it was kind of tangled in, so I became a little more insistent in trying to free it. And then I realized that I didn’t have a helicopter in my hair, but rather an insect. And it was just my luck that it happened to be a wasp that stung me right on the scalp before flying away…and I’m pretty sure I heard it laughing as it went.

We still hadn’t met our goal of our daily five miles, but we went home, one of us feeling rather defeated. I was also feeling pretty determined at that point, though, so before dinner, I set out by myself to finish my walk and hit my steps for the day.

I guess the third time really is the charm, because I had no further mishaps. No bad weather, no injuries, nothing out of the ordinary. For some reason, though, I didn’t really feel like I had accomplished as much…the whole walk just kind of fell flat after all the trouble I had!

A Look Back at the Platinum Jubilee

We’ve been celebrating Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee for about four months now (and we’ve yet to do the one last thing on our list…plant a tree for the Jubilee!)…let’s take a look back at the fun we’ve had, starting with a special tea party on the date of her accession to the throne in February:

I found a fun craft that we did then, too:

The big events were just this past weekend. We went to a street party at The London Tea Room in St. Louis:

And I made a special, historic dinner to celebrate the historic event…coronation chicken:

For dessert, I made the lemon Swiss roll and amaretti trifle that was the winning entry in the Platinum Pudding Competition:

In some ways, although this event was more historic than 2012’s Diamond Jubilee, it felt more low-key. This was, of course, in part due to Her Majesty’s mobility issues causing her to miss many of the events…they just weren’t the same without her. And the absence of the Duke of Edinburgh was also keenly felt. But it was still a special celebration, with many touching and memorable moments (my favorites were the Paddington sketch, Prince Charles’ touching speech, the well-planned service at St. Paul’s Cathedral, the Cambridge children’s antics at the events, Mike Tindall wearing wife Zara’s hats, and Her Majesty’s balcony appearance following the pageant), and something I will always remember!

The Markel Family Returns to Chicagoland–Day Four

On Sunday it was time for all of us (minus Ryan and Turkey) to head home so that Moose could march with his school’s band in the town Memorial Day parade on Monday. We said a sad goodbye to Combo Breaker:

And got a few last pictures:

We took one last walk around the beautiful hotel lobby:

And then hit the road. We were excited to watch the odometer kick over to 80,000 miles on the way. We were even more excited to stop at Portillo’s and eat lunch on their patio!

It was weird arriving home without two members of our family, but they returned Monday with gifts. I didn’t have the opportunity to stop at a Jewel-Osco while we were in Chicago, but Ryan found time to buy my favorite chocolate torte:

And he brought back staff medals for the entire family as thanks for the work we did over the weekend…I was rather overwhelmed at being recognized!

And so that wraps up what was a slightly shorter than usual but greatly appreciated trip up to Chicagoland for Combo Breaker. Hopefully it won’t be another three years before we make it back, but like I said, I won’t take it for granted again!