Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Dinner at Our House

Oh my...have you had a healthy share of sweet corn this year? I do not remember a year when the sweet corn was as perfect and abundant. No matter where we purchased it...Wal-Mart, Dominick's, Jewel (or THE Jewel as native Chicagoans call it), or any one of several different farm stands...the sweet corn has been delicious.

Tomorrow we will be loading the RV in preparation for our upcoming trip to the far Northwest so we are clearing out the frig. We had finished the leftovers so all that remained this evening were these last three ears of sweet corn...and that was dinner at our house.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Carlinville, Illinois ~ My Hometown

This is the dome of the Macoupin County Courthouse located in Carlinville, Illinois. I grew up in this small Midwestern town that exemplified everything you now read about small town America of the 1950s and 1960s. I am so grateful to have lived in that town, throughout those years. Carlinville folks worked to make their living; took care of their families and homes the best they could; knew and cared for their neighbors; tried to live the lessons they learned attending the church of their choice; provided the town's children with a great public education; kept the townfolks healthy and their property safe; offered an array of individually owned businesses that supplied the townspeople's needs; and presented a variety of entertainment options and community events.

This courthouse has a colorful history that can be accessed online. It's easy to find links to stories about the "Million Dollar Courthouse" and the scandal that surrounded its funding. Abraham Lincoln represented clients in an earlier Macoupin County courthouse building and when this courthouse was completed in 1870 it was the second largest county courthouse in the entire United States.  Isn't it beautiful?

Not only does Carlinville have this magnificent courthouse with all its history, but the town is laid out in a grid with a charming square serving as the primary business district. There are four entrances to the square for vehicle traffic and businesses are located along each of those streets near the square. 

The square has a brick roadbed and the center is landscaped to highlight a lovely gazebo. On my recent visit home, there was entertainment in the gazebo on a weekend evening, which is typical during the summer months.

Scenes like this are played out all across this great country of ours...this is truly America!

And, even though I have not lived in Carlinville for several decades, I am proud to call this wonderful small town ~ MY HOMETOWN!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Happy Birthday to ME..Imagine!

This photo was taken in Central Park's Strawberry Fields on my 60th birthday, one year ago today. What a great place to celebrate a milestone birthday! That trip was phenomenal and since I was not blogging then, I'm dragging this, my favorite photo from that morning, out to show you this year. Actually, I like it so much and it brings back such happy memories that I just might drag it out every year on this day! Dorothy, a BFF since high school, sent me a really cute b-day message that included the hope that I could top last year's...not a chance, but that is what photos and memories are for, which is why I am including this Yesterday photo.

I am grateful for every birthday that comes my way and we did celebrate on Saturday with Greg, Jenny, and Marianne at Sweet Tomatoes. If you haven't been to one of their restaurants, you are missing out on some fresh, healthy, and bottomless salads and soups.

The desserts are yummy too...and best of all, you can make these teeny tiny frozen yogurt cones...so very cool! And delicious!

After dinner we all went to Mar's for a while.

Rich did a great job as photographer that evening; this photo illustrates just how difficult it is to get a good one of oneself though...teehee!

And now, today, I am 61 years old.

I am one lucky chick who is madly, happily, ecstatically in love with my husband, proudly in love with my kids, joyfully in love with my grandkids, and thankfully in love with so many family and friends. This year, along with Rich, I retired after many years of work that encompassed varying degrees of challenge, satisfaction, and success which now allows us unbounded opportunities for Meandering...

What more could one ask?

Sunday, July 18, 2010


Directions, plans, priorities...

The first change today is the header of this blog. The shot of a wall sculpture in our dining room visually anchored us at home which does not fit the "Meandering..." of our travels, our days at home, our relationships, our thoughts, etc., which this blog was created to share.

With the maps out this morning to rough out the path of our upcoming trip, the photo of a map section displaying our starting point seemed to make a better header image. What do you think?

And yes, we are changing our travel plans too. Since Rich has upcoming association commitments, we are now planning two more trips before winter rather than one long trip. Fortunately, this change is possible because he has already completed all the RV projects and updates he had planned after our last trip. Let me share a few of these changes...

Changing out fixtures began with a leaky bathroom faucet when the kids were here. It is so pretty that the others seemed out of place.

Some of you probably know how much I "hate" spring loaded toilet paper holders. You won't find one in my house. I know, I know...there are bigger issues in life. But don't we all have little ones like this that drive us crazy? Here's the new one, in all its simplicity, in the RV. See how easy it is to replace a roll? Simply lift the bar, slip the roll off and on, then drop the bar back in place...lovin' it!

What will surely be my favorite change though is the kitchen faucet with the pull-out sprayer. Just feast your eyes on this beauty...the faucet, too!

Behind the faucet hang the new kitchen curtains. Rich made these from fabric we bought in Key West. At the end of my last post, I said that I would let you know what he was up to while I was visiting Two Special Ladies last week. These are the projects that kept him busy.

How many times do I have to tell you...WHAT A GUY!

Here is a better shot of the curtains and the new faucet.

Hope you are keeping cool and having a great day!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Two Special Ladies

I was "down home" for several days recently. While there, Mom and I went to Jacksonville to visit Pauline. On the way back to Carlinville we drove many country roads because that has always been a favorite pastime of Mom's. She can tell you who lived at many of the farms we pass and talks about her experiences along with much local history. So, it's a treat for me too. These photos were taken during that drive. There are stretches along the way where you can't see a single house, only fields and prairie. If you look closely at the far end of the gravel road below you can see a round, red water tower; it's located in the town where I grew up.

Pauline will celebrate her 98th birthday in October and is now living in a nursing home. But, remarkable woman that she is, she lived independently in an apartment until this May.

She is my kids' paternal grandmother and we have remained close through all these years. Mom and she have also maintained their friendship. And, she loves Rich dearly, deeply appreciating the beautiful life he afforded her grandchildren. As always, Mom and I had a lovely visit with her last Friday afternoon.
The following evening, I drove Mom to the 65th reunion of her 1945 Virden High School graduating class. Virden is about 20 miles north of Carlinville. My grandparents lived there, we still have many relatives in the area, and I have beautiful memories of time spent with all of them. 

Several of Mom's classmates attended the meeting, which was held at a Thayer church before the banquet in Virden. Because the classes are small, all celebrating classes attend the same big banquet. Mom decided to only attend the gathering of her class. My cousin, who provided the cakes at the banquet, told Mom that 400 people were expected to attend.
These are two very special ladies in my life and it was an absolute pleasure being able to spend so much time with them...yet another great benefit of retirement!

Stay tuned for a post showing what Rich was up to while I was gone...what a guy!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Greg's & Jenny's 2nd Wedding Anniversary!

The last great occasion in our family was the marriage of Greg and Jenny on July 12, 2008. How the time passes, two years already since that glorious day. Everything about it was so very special!

It doesn’t matter

Where you go in life…

What you do…

Or how much you have…

It’s who you have beside you.

In addition to our happiness about their marriage, the day was made even more special having our families and friends there! And...all three of our grandkids were in the wedding party which means I can't resist including these photos too.

Happy Anniversary, Greg and Jenny, with our wishes for many, many more. We love you!

Monday, July 5, 2010

Dessert Anyone?

I know, I know! All you foodies out there have been perched on the edge of your seats waiting for my next culinary post. Well here it is.

I baked these delicious bars for our cookout yesterday. It's a new "recipe" for me and it got raves from all three of us who tasted them. Seriously, I suggest keeping the ingredients for this on hand for those times when you need a quick dessert.

 As you may have suspected by now, the main ingredients are contained in this box from Betty Crocker. In addition to this, you will need one egg, one stick of butter, and some water...that's it!

You prepare the brownie packet and spread it in an 8" square pan. I topped the brownie batter with a generous layer of Georgia pecan halves that we bought on our Florida trip. See, I'm not a strictly-by-the-box gal after all...such culinary creativity!

Then you mix together the chocolate chip cookie dough packet and drop by spoonsful on top. Bake it and serve with pride...claim it as your own even...I won't tell.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Happy 4th of July!

We hope you all have a safe and happy holiday weekend! Grilling and relaxing are on the agenda here.

When we built this house twelve years ago, we could sit on our deck and enjoy the fireworks displays of seven or eight surrounding communities. As the trees have grown our ability to see them has become very limited. Still, I took these from our deck two years ago on July 4th. I hope you enjoy them; we have most certainly enjoyed viewing them here every year! 

Friday, July 2, 2010

A Spectacular Lunch!

Rich's sister, Marianne had shoulder surgery last Thursday and has made remarkable progress toward recovery. Her friend, Judy, stayed with her the first two nights and she has other friends offering to take her to physical therapy or shopping or whatever else she needs help to do. She can't drive for up to six weeks...yikes!

Pictured here with Marianne is her friend and former co-worker, Carol. Today Carol brought lunch and invited us to join them after we took Marianne to PT this morning.

And oh what a lunch it was!!

Carol brought absolutely everything with her so that Mar would not be inconvenienced and so that she wouldn't have to impose by using Mar's dishes and stuff. And I do mean everything...plates, cups, utensils, place mats, napkins, serving dishes, baking sheets for reheating, etc, etc. in addition to all of the food and drinks.

Here is a photo of the lovely table she set and a close up of the holiday decorated, red velvet cake she baked.

We feasted on chips and guacamole; a spinach salad with mushrooms, nuts, dried cranberries, and other yummy ingredients accompanied by homemade buttermilk biscuits; a hash brown quiche and cantaloupe wedges; and then finished with the red velvet cake that was even more delicious than it was beautiful! Both the biscuits and the quiche were made from Paula Deen recipes.

Following that amazing meal, she insisted on doing all the cleanup and the dishes too...even though Rich offered to box her for the privilege of doing the dishes...teehee!
It was a pleasure finally meeting Carol after Marianne has spoken of her so often and to have the added bonus of being the recipient of her hospitality, generosity, and culinary skills at Marianne's house...just how lucky can a gal get two days in a row!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Cubs Lost; WE WON!

Even though the Cubs lost in the 10th inning this afternoon, we were winners. Here is a recap of the events of the day:

1. Beautiful day to drive into the city
2. We'll walk around Millenium Park and through the Taste of Chicago
3. Pull into underground parking lot and see $25 fee for the day
4. Decide we could find a more reasonably priced place to walk around
5. Rich calls Marc A to see if he would like to meet us for lunch, which doesn't work out
6. We decide to drive out to Northerly Island
7. Marc calls back to tell us that Tom V has two tickets to Cubs game that starts in an hour
8. Rich calls Tom V and makes arrangements to meet at Wrigley Field
9. At Marc's suggestion, we actually find a parking space on the street just a three minute walk from the park
10. Tom V is driving past the ballpark and hands Rich the tickets
11. We get to our seats and find that we are sitting in the 11th row from home plate, slightly to the left...unbelievable seats!
12 Tom V sits with us for a while before joining the rest of his family in a corporate suite and we enjoy every second of the game on a sunny, 73 degree, occasional breeze, perfect game day!

We were two very happy Cubs fans today! Thank you Marc! Thank you Tom!