summer bountiful

So it’s been one of those summers, where heat, mosquitoes, biting flies, etc. have been bountiful. But so, thankfully, have the vegetables! We’re caring for a friend’s community garden plot again this year and there have been so many beautiful tomatoes and other lovely vegetables. Amazing!

Just posting a lovely eyeful of summer bountiful.

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tooth pillow

This is Catherine’s tooth pillow. A little snug pocket for the lost tooth (the felt tooth on the front there is the little pocket!) and a nice big pocket for any treats the Tooth Fairy wants to leave her.

So far only one tooth has come out, but all the other front teeth seem to be very, very loose. I thought this was going to be the Summer of the Missing Teeth, but Tooth Watch continues…

In the meantime, homemade popsicles soothe aching gums and are easy enough to eat. These are blackberry-blueberry and apricot-honey striped. The sailboat popsicle makers seem to be sold out all over, but I finally found them here at Prairie Moon Beverage Syrup Company and they have lots of other popsicle makers, too. The girls love the sailboats so much.

We didn’t really use a recipe, just blended frozen blueberries and blackberries and a little half and half to make it more cream-sicley, which is the way I like it.

The suitably hot, hot, HOT weather has been Nature’s own around here. I know we’ll have more of that (and more therapeutic popsicles) before summer’s over. Cheers to that!

filling empty bowls

My friend Bonnie and I had a lovely mamas-only outing to the long-awaited Empty Bowls event at Lill Street art center. It was the best sort of affordable fundraiser, to benefit the hungry in Chicago. Amazing handmade bowls are donated by ceramic artists. Neighborhood folks come choose their favorite bowl (from an amazing number and variety) and buy it for $20. Volunteers fill your bowl with yummy soup from Lill Street’s First Slice cafe and then down you sit, to enjoy your soup with all kinds of new friends and their new bowls.

Afterwards Bonnie and I needed a bit more time for chatting and catching up, so we went around the corner to Spacca Napoli, for a plate of antipasti and a small glass of prosecco to celebrate a bit of together time.

There’s no limit to the number of bowls you can purchase at the Empty Bowls event (as many as your charitable pocketbook can stand). Here are the bowls that came home with me….although some will be going out again to friends and family….

Last of Healthy Food

Just a few weeks before Christmas I heard that one of my favorite Chicago institutions, the Lithuanian restaurant Healthy Food in the Bridgeport neighborhood, was closing on December 15. I immediately called my friend Bonnie, to whom I had already broken the news that the beloved Gwen Frostic store was closed — oh, the bad tidings! We decided to meet at Healthy Food for lunch one last time and follow it up with some thrift store therapy at the Unique Thrift at 31st and Halsted.

Oh, Healthy Food. What’s not to love? The yummy, hearty food, the wood paneling, the quirky case full of amber jewelry, everything so cozy — the perfect place for a winter meal. I’ve loved it since I first went there in college. Of the old-school places in Chicago back then, there aren’t so many left now. So Bonnie, Lizzy and I had one last hurrah — what a great meal it was:

{delicious borscht}

{we made quick work of the bread basket}

{main course  — breaded pork chops and mashed potatoes in gravy}

{Lizzy had Lithuanian pancakes with strawberries}

{don’t skip dessert — homemade apricot napoleon cake for us and rhubarb pie for Bonnie}

Good-bye, Healthy Food! We’ll miss you.

birthday doll quilt

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A good young friend of ours is about to turn 6, so I made her this summer-weight doll quilt. Does a summer baby have summer doll babies?It’s quilting fabric on front and mulberry-colored linen on the other side that I got last year from Textile Discount Outlet here in Chicago.

If you love fabric, you really should check this place out. It was featured on the PBS show Wild Chicago a few years back — it’s that wacky and wonderful. Imagine an old warehouse on three levels filled with fabric of all kinds, ribbons, notions, buttons, anything and everything, in a bit of a jumble. 

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C and E’s friends helped me try out the quilt — don’t they look comfy? The mulberry colors were inspired by these:

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ripening all around Hyde Park and staining everything they encounter a deep, delicious purply-red. Delicious, that is, to everyone except the person doing the laundry  (that would be me). Purply fingers, clothes, lips and toes. Maybe I need to make all of us summer-weight purple blankets (and wardrobes, too!).

Crafting for Daddy….

With Father’s Day and a Daddy birthday nearly back to back, we’ve been doing a lot of making and doing for Daddy.

By making things for him, we’ve cracked his once-difficult gift-giving code. He’s the sort of person who doesn’t really need or want anything, and says so, happily coasting along with a minimal amount of worldly possessions.

But everyone could use some of these:

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{“I love you, Daddy” bookmarks, from Soulemama’s lovely idea, here…}

and these:

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{peanut butter-chocolate kiss cookies, here}

And our wonderful Daddy was no exception. I should say, that we also took him on a family overnight at our organic farm CSA, and took him out to eat and to Chicago SummerDance (more on all that later). This is the crafting component, but we didn’t give him short shrift on the celebrating part, either. Happy Birthday, and Father’s Day, too, Daddy!

Bananaphone

hello?

Do you take your kids on public transportation? If you do, a Bananaphone is invaluable. It’s just a banana, but once you say “Ring, ring! Ring, ring!” then it magically turns into a Bananaphone. You can use it to call Grandma, Grandpa, older sisters, Santa Claus, Daddy, really anyone. And after you’ve had enough conversation, you have a snack. 

bye bye, bananaphone

Of course, once you’ve eaten it, the game of Bananaphone is over. Unless, of course, you happen to have two bananas with you.