The Missouri Botanical Garden in St. Louis (Shaw Garden)

Dear Husband and I love going to gardens when we travel. Our pleasant surprise however is that the closest garden to our home is also the most impressive. The Missouri Botanical Garden in St Louis is amazing. I say this as a Master Gardener and lover of  nature. What they have done in their space, exceeds expectations.

37692554_1433629473447518_998050687629656064_n

It is so large, there is a tram (for a small cost) to take you to the farthest end of the garden. (& back) If you are a member, the tram is free. Becoming a member has it’s benefits. When we travel out of state, many of the gardens there give free entry if you are a member of this garden. This has saved us quite a bit of money!

This is a garden that hosts wonderful events & people from around the world. Japan and China have their own months. Other events throughout the year are  food tastings, concerts, “glows” and flora shows from orchids to daffodils.

If you live within 50 miles of this place, please go.  In the spring, the Japanese Garden will dazzle you with blooming dogwoods and cherry trees. In the Fall, the maples  change colors to reds, yellows and orange.

And what would a trip there be without checking out near by food? I call this the “Square of Gluttony” as they are on the same street, across from each other.  Where to eat near the St Louis Missouri Botanical Garden?    I recommend:

OLIO:  The building was a former gas station! My favorite savory place. Always a surprise from a menu, something I’ve not had before, or at least prepared differently. Very herb forward, lots of vegetables and just the right amount of spice. The chef behind this food is a Master Mind!  Oh, the Spritzer drinks are great too!

 

UNION LOAFERS: the best sandwiches and pizza! This is a place that has never disappointed us. It is small, so timing is everything here. The pizza is extremely large. And when we get a bad meal elsewhere, we always compare it to Union Loafers, wishing we had eaten there instead.

INDO:  a little pricey but tasty!  Apparently, it’s the hottest place in St Louis at the moment!

And to finish a French dessert at La Patisserie Chouquette.  The Pastry Chef here is the wife to the Head Chef at “The Grill” in the Ritz Carlton.

 

THE GARDEN: LINK

https://www.missouribotanicalgarden.org/

LINKS TO FOOD

https://www.oliostl.com/

https://www.unionloafers.com/

https://www.indo-stl.com/

https://www.simonefaure.com/

 

 

Mid Illinois Iris Society

Next month, I take over the Mid Illinois Iris Society as their President.  Although reluctant to do it, I realized it would only be harder for me as time went on. So, I accepted this task and am determined to make this club grow, educate and be fun! I will be a woman on a mission!

35114546_1402453563231776_1674730868242907136_n

I love irises.  It really is a love affair.

36044139_1402454786564987_8853301733187649536_n

The colors and textures. The height. The fragrance, it all pulls me in.

36249854_1403249369818862_706061841431789568_n

What’s not to love? They keep multiplying!

60067172_1666211646855965_3689943881601777664_n

And soon you find yourself walking the yard everyday as not to miss any.

36048281_1402455173231615_8254859737695256576_n

You can plant them under trees, as long as they get 6 hours of full sun.

60899431_1674268206050309_1262788739428515840_n

Or in a row next to a sidewalk. They are very forgiving.

But back to the Iris Society. I have decided that 2020 will be Iris Boot Camp. An in-depth study of the flower, with hands on activities, rewards (garden gloves), & games. My plan is to have our older established members work one on one with the newer folks who are learning about the flower.  I have even ordered a lab/medical coat that will have “Dr. Iris” embroidered on it.  Each meeting, one of our knowledgeable members will wear the coat and sit at a table with a sign that says: “The Dr. is IN.” for the last 10 minutes of our meeting.  He or she will be there to answer  questions other members may have.   There will also be an Iris YouTube video not more than 10 minutes playing as folks arrive. (so many are available)  I’ve ordered  plastic/artificial iris flowers to use for learning the name of the parts of the flower, coupled with quiz sheets. I don’t want the year to end without our members knowing their flower! And for those who have belonged for years and know their stuff,  I have ordered flash cards of leaves & flowers to keep them busy and learning.  

It’s going to be exciting for our newer members and rewarding for our knowledgeable members.  Here’s the programs for 2020!

Mid Illinois Iris Society – Region 9 

Monthly Meetings

                                                                 IRIS BOOT CAMP 

February 24: 6:30 P.M.:  You’ve bought a rhizome, now we’ll show you what to do with it.

March 23: 6:30 P.M.:  Medals and Awards to WIN!

April 27:  6:30 P.M.:  Grooming Your Iris For Show. What are the judges looking for?

May 16: TBA:  Joint Exhibition with Southern Illinois Iris Society

August 22: 8:00 AM to 12 Noon Public Sale:  Public Iris Sale: Members Potluck at 12:30 P.M. to 3:30 P.M.  Most irises will be $5. This is well worth coming as you usually pay much more from the catalogs.

September 28:  6:30 P.M.:   Dividing, Storing, & Over Wintering Your Irises.
October 26: 6:30 P.M.:   Let’s Play: Iris Jeopardy
December 5:  11:00 A.M. to 3:30 P.M.:   Christmas Party, Bingo and Pot Luck

LOCATION:                                                           

Caseyville Township Hall                                

10001 Bunkum Rd

Fairview Heights, IL.  (Upstairs)

NO meetings during January, June, July & November 2020.

FACEBOOK LINK:    https://www.facebook.com/midillinoisirissociety/

2020 Resolution

82175936_1902013473275780_713320486485884928_n

Sometimes, things happen that one never expects. An accident, or a negligent health care worker does something they shouldn’t, and you are left, for the rest of your life, trying to recover from it. Sometimes, even recovery isn’t possible. You just have to live with it, as it gives you endless pain and takes away those things you took for granted. As it continues, it will get worse until you are left relying on others for the simplest tasks.  So, as my Dear Husband told me when it was apparent I wouldn’t get better:

“Do what you can for as long as you can.”

That’s the only resolution that matters.

The Roaring 20’s

Our neighbor had a wonderful New Year’s Party! Back to the Roaring 20’s!

I must admit, I loved getting dressed up in a be-dazzled blue dress, putting on my fresh water opera pearls, a giant London blue topaz and peacock feathers in my hair! I really felt like a spoiled woman!

81231394_1901085986701862_4197240726838312960_n

There was the little black sequin handbag I’ve had stuffed in the closet for 30 years. It finally saw the sunshine.  And the best part? When the Dear Husband drew a line down the back of my leg with a permanent marker, as a “pretend seam” in my black nylon hose. It was pretty ticklish when it was happening.  And unless you touched my leg, you wouldn’t have know it was drawn on.

81263247_1901235653353562_3069959064592056320_n

Of course, look at the Dear Husband with his tilted hat and spats! We look like an American couple with our red, white and blue outfits!!

It was a glorious night! Best party ever to ring in the New Year!

Soup-er Bowl 2019

No, I’m not talking about the Super Bowl, as in football. I’m talking about the SOUP-er BOWL in my neighborhood, in it’s 8th year.  We have included chili in its own category for the last 2 years.  That really brought the competitive husbands in, although this year it was won by a lady!  (It was delicious!)  Alas, for the 8th year, I did not win. It’s a joke between the husband and I, as even we never vote for our own dishes.

75398162_1831789243631537_5760026674125078528_n

I made Minestrone Soup and the Dear Husband made Chili with a side of skillet cornbread.  (hey, the sides can determine a tie) And looking at this picture, I should have used an autumn tablecloth.  Next year.

So how does this event work? Well, we have our core folks of “soup makers”.  This year, we had eight!  Vegetable Beef Soup, Chicken & Long Grain Wild Rice Soup, Tomato Sausage Soup, Creamy Tomato Tortellini Spinach Soup, German Sausage & Cabbage Soup, Minestrone Soup and three Chilies.

73381331_1831789320298196_4429673769803448320_n

They serve from their front porch, garage/driveway or lawn. We all follow food safety codes, take the temperature of our dishes every hour, provide hand sanitizer, napkins and disposable bowls.  The neighbors come out with their own spoons & water.

74666304_1831789250298203_5936915847103643648_n

And then they walk the neighborhood with the “soup map” and try which ever soups & chilies they wish.  It’s a dry sunny day although it’s in the low 60’s.  Just about everyone likes walking our small neighborhood as it helps burn the calories.

73370535_1831789293631532_4386387418652082176_n

The winners?  The Chicken & Long Grain Wild Rice Soup and the White Chicken Chili.

Well deserved! THE WINNING SOUP BELOW

CHICKEN & LONG GRAIN WILD RICE SOUP  (recipe)

Ingredients
½ cup finely diced carrots
½ cup finely diced celery
1 medium onion finely diced (I only used 1/2 of an onion.)
1 teaspoon olive oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
32 ounces chicken stock
2 cups water
2 cups milk, divided
½ teaspoon pepper
½ teaspoon dried oregano
1 bay leaf
2 large chicken breasts, cooked and shredded or finely diced
½ cup all-purpose flour
4.3-ounce box of Rice a Roni Long Grain and Wild Rice + seasoning packet
(I actually used more rice than what it called for.  It depends on how thick you want it to be.  I suggest using at least two boxes instead of one.)
salt and pepper, to taste
scallions, for garnish
Instructions
Place the carrots, celery, onion, and olive oil in a 6-quart Dutch oven or soup pot.
Allow the carrots, celery, and onion to simmer over medium heat for around 10 minutes or until the onions are translucent.
Add the garlic cloves, chicken stock, water, and 1 cup of milk to the mixture and stir until combined.
Add the pepper, dried oregano, bay leaf, and shredded chicken. Mix until combined.
Allow the soup to simmer over medium heat for about 15 minutes.
Whisk together the remaining 1 cup of milk with the ½ cup flour until no lumps remain.
Pour this into the soup mixture and whisk until combined and no lumps remain.
Place the long grain and wild rice and the seasoning packet into the soup and mix until combined. Allow the soup to simmer for 20 more minutes or until the rice is tender.
Add salt and pepper to taste.
Garnish with fresh scallions and serve hot.

ALDI’S

Here in the Mid-West, we have the best discounted grocery store in the world.

Aldi’s.  I love this place! Bread and eggs under $1. Milk not much more than that. I can get an entire shopping cart full of stuff for under $60. Good stuff! Need snacks? Go to Aldi’s. Get those chips, dips, crackers & cookies at low prices. When I tell folks about it and they go, they too are amazed and start kicking themselves for not going there earlier. Here is a  take home and bake pizzas for around $3.

43679396_1518508094959655_2473403191102799872_n

Today, I picked up a plain garlic cheese one and just added my own vegetables that needed to be eaten. (green onion, mushrooms, cherry tomatoes) Popped it in the oven for 12 minutes. Didn’t even have to add extra cheese.

44770216_1518505991626532_4694370478247116800_n

Looks great doesn’t it!!  It was!  And it was only $3!!!

I love Aldi’s.  Look in your area to see if you have one too. You’re gonna save some money! And who doesn’t like that?

http://www.aldi.us

 

 

 

20 vs 50

When you are twenty, your skin is tight, glows and shows the healthiness of youth. You don’t need much to highlight your face. Just a little mascara, maybe a feather dusting of blush, some lipstick and a little powder to cover a blemish.  This was about all I carried in my purse on a hot date when I was in my twenties. 47389705_1547868218690309_2386192518652887040_n

And now, I’m right in the middle of my 50’s and I can’t leave the house without the full works!  Only thing missing from this photo, is the tape to keep my spine aligned! Pills to physically get through a day, drawing on the disappearing eyebrows, lip liner to keep the lipstick from running into the wrinkles around my mouth, tinted concealer to hide dark age spots, foundation to even out sun damaged skin, a little eye powder and mascara so my eyes don’t disappear behind the bifocals. and a darker lipstick so my teeth don’t look as yellow. But hey, whatever it takes!!

47072980_1547868232023641_6624334476749045760_n

 

It’s Mother’s Day.

59685494_1664044563739340_748349393643503616_n

No matter the state of one’s motherhood, and if the kids even remember, you can still set a lovely table and enjoy it with your husband.  At least he can be counted on to bring some flowers home, and maybe even dinner from anywhere as a meal that didn’t have to be slaved over is still a good meal.

23172397_1237566943053773_2445473116285969302_n

He didn’t disappoint!  The real surprise was this floral arrangement came from Schnuck’s grocery store. I’m impressed! Why haven’t I been buying flowers there before?

I’m pleased with how it came out. One should use what they have and not hide it away in a cabinet or under a bed, or in the basement or in the trunk of her car because she knows if the Dear Husband sees one more set of dishes…..he’ll make her have a yard sale.

Dishes:  Spode:  Roses          Butterfly Salt & Pepper Shaker: Arthur Court

Mother’s Day Table

Cardinals Baseball

I live in Illinois, but we are so close to St. Louis, everyone here supports the St. Louis Cardinal baseball team.  I wish I had known that when we first moved here, as I bought my kids hats from the Chicago Cubs and they had a very bad day at school!

Dear Husband works at a local school and he received 2 tickets to the ballgame. I had never been to the new stadium, so we took the bus from the local St Clair Mall for $5.  What a bargain! It takes you right to the place so no worries about parking or walking a million miles to get to the entrance. We were even given shirts.

Of course, we tried the food, which emptied our wallets. At least it tasted good! I was really shocked at how clean this place is. It was an enjoyable time! No wonder folks around here love the St Louis Cardinals! LINK: https://www.mlb.com/cardinals

Things to remember: Sun screen, hat, wear comfortable walking shoes. Wear the colors of the team. A light water proof jacket (wind breaker) if the weather turns. Use the bus from St Clair Mall. It’s well worth the $5 and takes the worry of parking away.

Sweet Sunday Bake-Off

Each May, our neighborhood holds a “Bake Off” on Sunday. It’s called: The Sweet Sunday Bake-Off!  And yes, we all get an apron!! See the winning year in gold thread! Oh how I covet that golden thread!

20819116_1185420361601765_7037472770930708816_o

Tables are set and we provide a gallon of milk on ice, a wooden board of cheese and some bottles of wine.  Why cheese? Because if you get a “sweet” headache or tummy ache, cheese will take it away.  And what goes well with cheese? Wine! Although it’s the husband who stick around for that.

 

A tent canopy is erected and folks from the neighborhood come out to sample the sweets! Then they vote for their favorite.

And then there is a vote for the golden thread.  No, I haven’t won this one either!

60014498_1663533290457134_4456516804302340096_n

59566612_1663533297123800_307835583302991872_n36187911_1403013309842468_4800473161348939776_n

36239595_1403013486509117_5042007557841879040_n

It’s a GREAT DAY!  The weather isn’t too hot and if it is, we have willow trees providing the shade. No one leaves without a little sweet having been tried! It’s wonderful meeting the neighbors!

And it wouldn’t happen without our bakers!!!

59468225_1663533127123817_1647114323018907648_n (1)

And our husbands who spend an afternoon with us!!

36199707_1403013049842494_508505569292713984_n

I live in the best neighborhood in the world!!!