Tag Archives: cardinals

Seasonal Changes

Pop quiz.

Where’s home to the one of the most successful franchises in baseball and soon two Zalewskis and a Finnegan Murphy?

Hint for Cubs fans: they have 11 World Championships so Chicago is out.

Site of the 1904 World’s Fair.

The first American city to host the Olympics.

Hometown to Jackie Joyner Kersey, Maya Angelou and perhaps most importantly, hip-hop artist and new country breakout, Nelly.

Batter up. The Zalewskis are taking our talents to St. Louis this fall.

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But why on earth would you leave Sarasota, home to the best beaches in the country, year-long sunshine, arts, culture and the most laid-back dress code you’ll ever encounter?

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Decent Wednesday evening.

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A. Because we really miss gray winters and snow

B. Because alligators, fire ants and Trump supporters

C. Because we just love everything that goes into packing boxes and moving across the country

D. Because we were offered an earlier-than-expected opportunity to finally put down roots in a community we love, closer to friends and family and just in time to enjoy the best season the midwest puts on each year (insert all the I love fall hashtags here).

fall colors, springfield illinois, simply social blog

If you answered “D” (with a sprinkle of “B”) you’re correct.

And while we are sad to leave Sarasota and everything never having to wear coats and closed-toes shoes has to offer, we know this is the right move for our family in the long run.

bears football, chicago, greater swiss mountain dog, halloween, Chicago Bears, Florida

Besides, since the Rams left town we won’t have to worry about standing in our driveway doing the SuperBowl Shuffle every Sunday.

You may be asking what our only sits under the AC vent, lover of the beach but not the water, greater swiss MOUNTAIN dog may be thinking about heading back to the midwest?

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Well, he loves car rides and cooler temps so we can only imagine he’ll love it as much as we think he will.  
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There’s at least one family member who will be pumped for a snow again after 3 years of 80-degree Decembers.

So that’s that. A little life update for you. My apologies for only using the blog for the occasional recipe and huge life change announcement.

You can rest assured that as soon as I come to grips with the fact that we just moved into a new house 4 months ago and have to do it again in less than 5 weeks, I’ll be back with more of the good stuff.

Until then we’ll be soaking up all of the sunsets and August humidity we can before heading back “home” this fall.

Sarasota, lido beach, florida, beach, sunset, lido key

Moments of Clarity and Prancercise

Have you ever had a moment of clarity in the midst of an everyday routine? As if all of a sudden you are experiencing it for the first time? Not so much a deja-vu moment, although I have plenty of those on the regular, but a lovely mix of nostalgia, beauty and hope all wrapped up into one? For example, you find yourself walking the same route you’ve walked a hundred times, but for some reason you become more present. You notice the way the lilacs smell sound as they blow in the wind, the incredible shade of green that the grass has turned across an open field, the sound of a running stream alongside the road after a big storm. In the city, these moments are typically followed by a blaring horn and expletives as hurried commuters try to get to work, but they are there nonetheless. But it’s when I’m back home when I really notice them.

I traveled home for the weekend to see my family and to go to St. Louis with some girlfriends for a Cardinals game. Owen finished up school this week so I was fortunate to spend most of Friday afternoon hanging out with my favorite boys. 

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Here’s what I learned:

  1. Don’t underestimate the brainpower of a near-7-year-old. Not only did Owen act as banker, making correct change for what I deemed to be difficult real estate transactions, but he managed to negotiate hotel development and rental fees with a strategy that would impress even Trump. Watch out 2nd grade.
  2. Kennels are not just for dogs. At least not in this family. From the time I brought Finn to visit, these two have insisted on locking themselves inside his kennel for extended periods of time. I like to think they get their imagination from their Auntie Sarah, going on all sorts of adventures as Finn looks on confused at the reversal in roles. Whatever the case, excersaucers are expensive and seeing as how this Kennel has paid for itself 5 times over, I think I’ll be all set by the time I have kids of my own.
  3. Dogs don’t wear pants. Therefore boys who dress up as dogs don’t need to wear pants either. At least according to Jake. After a series of negotiations as to why he needed to keep his underwear on in order to don the dog costume, Jake finally agreed. But not before informing me that if I hadn’t noticed, Finny doesn’t have any underwear on so imaginary dog Jake shouldn’t either. Good boy, Jake.

It was early Saturday morning that I had one of those moments of clarity. We had storms the night before and as I took Finn out for a long walk, I had an overwhelming sense of gratefulness for the place I grew up. For a long time, my neighborhood was just that, a neighborhood. A pickup destination where I ran out the door before my ride could honk twice. A place where I ate and slept and rolled my eyes on a daily basis. The older I get the more I realize that it’s not just a house or a neighborhood at all. It’s home. As we walked I wished I had my phone to snap photos of the little elements of home I was finally seeing after all those years. My parent’s house is nestled above a creek and off what was formerly a country road. My “home home” is nearly the antitheses to my “city home.” Quiet, wide open and filled with big old trees and wildlife.

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Memories always flood back of the days where my girlfriends and I spent hours rollerblading in and out of each other’s driveways, hiking down to the creek and through the fields to visit our friend’s houses the next neighborhood over and selling friendship bracelets, lemonade or our older sisters’ belongings for Ice Deli cash.

There’s also an old railroad track that has been turned into a running and biking trail nearby. So I try to say hello whenever I’m home.

trail run earthworm Here’s what I learned:

  1. After inches and inches of rain, sticks feel just like snakes under your feet. This can be positive however, in allowing you to do a quick set of high-knees as a warm up before you start your run.
  2. Even if snake sticks under your feet give you the willies, the 7 year-old self in you will never let you leave a stranded earthworm to the fate of a bike tire or rogue tennis shoe in the middle of a trail. It may be the only life you save that day as you will then encounter at least 6 more on your way back, but saving lives takes time and you’ve got a pace to keep up.

After my run, my mom and I headed downtown to the farmer’s market. It’s still early in the season, but we both really enjoy going on Saturday mornings when I’m home. I know what you’re thinking, who doesn’t love fresh produce first thing in the morning?

farmers market strawberries radishes

Here’s what I learned:

  1. My mom carries indeterminate amounts of cash in various locations at any one time. Just when you think she’s spent it all on rhubarb and radishes, she pulls out another wad of ones faster than a bookie on race day. If you want to learn how to farmer’s market it, go with the farm queen.
  2. Farmer’s markets can cause you to be a hoarder…of tomato plants. If you don’t scope properly, you are sure to buy several tomato plants at one stand only to find that the stand 3 down has bigger ones for a cheaper price. The same can be said for fresh loaves of bread, asparagus and lettuce this time of year. It’s like instagramming a photo and then seeing a better opportunity just a few minutes later. Doh!   

Saturday afternoon it was off to St. Louis for the Cards game.

st. louis cardinals

Here’s what I learned:

  1. You are never too old for a road trip with friends. Weddings, babies and real jobs aside, everyone can benefit from a good old-fashioned weekend with the people who knew you when you had braces. My chest still hurts from all the laughs and my body from the prancercising.
  2. Speaking of, there’s something to be said for this whole  prancercising trend. At least if you ask me and the guy who recognized that was the trend behind my ‘springy, rhythmic way of moving forward’ after a day of drinks and lots of tacos.

Believe it or not, I actually managed to bake something last week. My girlfriend made a gorgeous lemon pound cake for the pig roast the weekend prior and I wanted to try it out. Well, a little part of me wanted to. A bigger part just wanted an excuse to use my new juicer I bought after our cooking class the other day. Motivation is motivation, right?

lemon juicer

And so I did. During the ‘Hawks game nonetheless. I knew when I decided to let it cool in the pan overnight that I would be in for trouble the next day. After all, it said cool for 30 minutes and then flip. But I wanted to spend that next 30 minutes sleeping instead so the bundt and I had a battle the next day. Do as I say, not as I did and maybe your bundt won’t be as messy as mine was.

glazed lemon pound cake

Glazed Lemon Pound Cake

  • 1 C unsalted butter
  • 2 1/2 C flour (gluten free all purpose flour can be used too)
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 3 C sugar
  • 2 TBL lemon zest
  • 6 TBL lemon juice
  • 6 large eggs (room temperature)
  • 1 C greek yogurt
  • 1/2 C powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Butter and flour bundt pan.

Whisk flour, baking powder, soda and salt in a large bowl.

In a stand mixer, cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Add lemon zest. Use your awesome new juicer to beat in 4 TBL of lemon juice. Add eggs one at a time, scraping sides of bowl between each one.

Alternate flour mixture and yogurt on low until combined.

Pour batter into prepared pan and bake 1 hour or so until toothpick comes out clean. Cool cake in pan for 30 minutes then flip it onto cooling rack. Don’t let it sit in pan overnight or your lovely ridges will be divots.

lemon pound cake

Mix powdered sugar and 2 TBL lemon juice for glaze. Drizzle over cake in a manner that will look prettier than mine. Enjoy!

lemon pound cake slice

Have you ever experienced a moment of clarity?

Have you ever prancercised?

Have you ever experienced an epic baking FAIL?

I’d love to hear your feedback in the comments.

I hope you have a wonderful week!

Take me out to the ball game

So I missed What I ate Wednesday but I have a good excuse. I took the afternoon off and headed up to Wrigley for a cubs/cards match-up. I always try to save my luck for when they are in town and it came through this week with 4th row seats and gorgeous weather. There’s just something about being at Wrigley in the middle of the day that makes you  feel like your cheating the system. And it’s awesome.

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Beautiful day for a ball game! Go cards!

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What did I eat Wednesday?

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Baseball season.

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Peanuts. Salted in-shell peanuts. And lots of them. Welcome to baseball season folks! Growing up my dad and I used to head to Lanphier Park to watch the minor league cardinals affiliate, a bag or two of salted in shell peanuts in tow. After all, a good game is determined as much by the layer of shells under your feet as the runs scored.

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And lucky for me the Cardinals pulled out a win. I forget how much better  it is to watch live baseball than on television. The crack of the bat, the smell of hot dogs and the look of a meticulously-groomed field. And if that weren’t enough, the Duck Dynasty lookalikes seated next to us were pretty entertaining as well.

greater swiss mountain dog puppy

What Finn ate Wednesday Tuesday. A tennis ball. Nearly a whole one. Swallowed it in one full gulp before I could get my hand down his throat to remove it.

We interrupt this blog post for a dog owner rant:

I was thoroughly annoyed at the owner who was letting his dog lay in the middle of the dog park shredding tennis balls into giant chunks Tuesday night. He wasn’t playing with any dogs. Just laying there letting the rubber fly. Finn of course trotted right over to the destruction and snatched up a piece within seconds. I managed to get the first piece away from him but before I knew it he had another (larger) one and down the hatch it went. I equate situations like this to dropping a bag of marbles in front of a group of babies. Of course some of the kids will play nicely with the marbles, but it’s only a matter of time before one or all plop those suckers right in their mouth.

The moral of the story is that some weeks you’re on track and some weeks you’re not. And that’s OK.  Unless you’re eating foreign objects and in that case it’s not.

And so I add tennis ball to the unique list of non-food items my puppy has ingested in the past 10 months:

  • Fully intact pressed rawhide bone
  • 5-7 wooden letter stamps (This is why your Christmas gift tags said “To and “Fro”)
  • Cookbook covers (who needs ’em)
  • 1/3 stuffing from bed he was obviously done with
  • Enough bark to wood-chip a small garden
  • Half of an entry mat-unwoven
  • NEW ENTRY: Tennis Ball

To read more about the fun things my dog eats click here. Otherwise enjoy the weekend and I’ll hopefully have some real food to share for Mother’s Day.