Tag Archives: Springfield

The short game awaits

One of the perks of having a blog is having an open forum to celebrate the accomplishments of friends and family. But blogging has a dark side, too. Like when you realize your dad just finished his last day of work after nearly 40 years and you didn’t do much more than congratulate him over the phone and FaceTime him for his weekly technology troubleshooting session (additional charges do not apply).

We won’t go into the reasons for your unpreparedness. That he had mentioned retiring for the last two years, had set the date upwards of six times and like a boy who cried wolf (or a responsible guy concerned for the welfare of his department) kept letting that date pass.

But he finally did it. A reporter, turned press-secretary, turned Ag then coal guy, finally left his post with the State of Illinois after [dad please insert years of service in the comment section]. And like his better half, downtown Springfield will take another small hit this week.

Grab-a-Java will likely see iced coffee profits move from their downtown location to the west side of town. Starbucks will reduce their sweet and low and Starbucks Via packet bulk orders to accommodate for the loss of such a unique patron and shoe shine Joe will have to find a new guy to run his junk for cash ring with.

The good news is the State Fair is right around the corner and Murf can participate in his parade for turkey legs, drinking shake ups and shaking hands along the way.

Congrats on a well-deserved retirement, Murf! Now you have time to work on your short game. And figure out your iPhone.

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Hanging up the phone

I must admit I’m a little concerned for Springfield’s downtown businesses as they head into summer. Sure, with kids out of school visitors to the Lincoln sites will increase and give them a little cushion, but who is going to support them on a daily basis now that today marks my mom’s last day of work downtown in over 34 years?

food memories, news gazette, beth bosch, food columnist

Who’s going to keep pots of coffee and iced tea fresh at Andiamo?

What is Incredibly Delicious going to do with their extra macarons, croissants, loaves of multigrain bread and raspberry-filled vanilla cakes?

And perhaps most importantly, who is going to support the commission bonuses of meter maids in the blocks surrounding 6th street and Capitol Avenue if not my mom? So what if she has a parking pass for the lot at the corner? This woman has spent years forgetting to feed the meter so the public sector can benefit. It’s just one example of her unwavering support of her local community over the years.

You see, after 34 years working for the State of Illinois, my mom is hanging up her phone. Sure, she’s moving on to bigger and better things, but in all the pension and retirement talks, I think we forget to see the economic impact that her pocket and purse-stored cash flow has on downtown businesses.

But you’ll see it at the Wednesday morning farmer’s market when you pass a solemn tomato seller who misses her best customer. You’ll see it in the eyes of her former co-workers when they go hungry for weeks on end in search of a breakfast quiche, or blueberry scones, or bread pudding. And you’ll likely see it from a big guy named Murf who will do everything in his power to buy up all the Starbucks via and sweet n’ low packets that downtown has to offer in the short month he has left before joining his wife for the next chapter.

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A chapter that likely still involves a lot of visits to downtown Springfield (and hopefully a few to Florida).

Congratulations to my mom on her last day of work and a well-deserved retirement! You’ve set a great example for working moms and we are so grateful for all of your years of hard work and sacrifice so that we could grow into the daughters you hoped we would be.

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p.s. I hope we did grow into the daughters you hoped we would be. And happy early Mother’s Day lest I forget next week 🙂

Awkward Family Photos

Every year around this time, my sister off-handily asks me to bring my camera home to “take a couple of pictures of the boys for a Christmas card.” Seems easy enough, right? Well it used to be. Back before said boys knew what capturing a decent photograph entailed. Things like real clothes, real smiles and real hugs that don’t end in punches, pinches or pokes.

Before we get into this year’s crop, let’s revisit the good ol’ days when the boys were oblivious and the photos were plentiful.

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photography, children, nephews, springfield illinois, simply social blog

 

After a 6-hour flight delay heading home, I arrived to a snowy Springfield just in time to head over to Champaign the next day for Thanksgiving. We made the most of the weekend, booking a wedding photographer, finding a wedding dress and catching up with a few friends and family in the process. If you’ve read any of my posts you probably know I’m horrible with big decisions. It wasn’t without some forethought that we decided to plan a wedding in 6 months. If you want to see a procrastinator change her tune, tell her it takes 6 months for a wedding dress to be made.

Anywho, we managed to squeeze in a little photo shoot a few hours before my flight back home and I will admit I was a little doubtful we would end up with anything useful. The boys had been in the car all day, Jake was willing to do just about anything aside from putting clothes on and they were well-aware that the next 20 minutes would involve more patience and participation than they were willing to give.

family photographs, children, photography, springfield, illinois, old state capital, christmas cards, holiday, boys

That’s what I love about photographs. They pause a single moment in time. Between the paparazzi-shielding hands, the cold wind complaints (it was 55) and the school photo smiles.

family photographs, children, photography, springfield, illinois, old state capital, christmas cards, holiday, boys

family photographs, children, photography, springfield, illinois, old state capital, christmas cards, holiday, boys

family photographs, children, photography, springfield, illinois, old state capital, christmas cards, holiday, boys

family photographs, children, photography, springfield, illinois, old state capital, christmas cards, holiday, boys

family photographs, children, photography, springfield, illinois, old state capital, christmas cards, holiday, boys

 

family photographs, children, photography, springfield, illinois, old state capital, christmas cards, holiday, boys

family photographs, children, photography, springfield, illinois, old state capital, christmas cards, holiday, boys

 

family photographs, children, photography, springfield, illinois, old state capital, christmas cards, holiday, boys

family photographs, children, photography, springfield, illinois, old state capital, christmas cards, holiday, boys family photographs, children, photography, springfield, illinois, old state capital, christmas cards, holiday, boys

 

Photographs allow you to get a snapshot of someone looking exactly the way you love them most. Just being them.

 

Cupcakes and Ice Delis

Please accept my apology for ignoring the blog late last week. I had plans to fly home and surprise one of my best friends for her 30th birthday and I was not entirely confident in my ability not to spill the beans. All of them. All over the table and the floor. I love surprise parties, but I get really nervous having to lie to people to pull them off. When you use as many words as I do in a standard conversation, you really have to tread carefully. Fortunately, recently moving out of state gives you a pretty good excuse for missing large events so I had a pretty good alibi.

I flew home Friday evening just in time to join the celebration and catch up with some of my girlfriends. It was a great weekend with friends and family and lower humidity.

baseball game, nephews, little league baseball, boys

 

grace, puppy, bailey, chocolate lab, toddler, hugsice deli, boys, family, snow cones, summer, nephews

Here’s hoping I can get a few projects started at my parent’s house before they read this and call to stop me. Have a great week!

 

 

After the storm

Have you missed me?

I’m going to assume the answer is yes just as I do each time I write a rhetorical question on a blog post. After all, it is my blog and I’m typically the only one in the room to answer any questions that might arise. Unless you count Finn and if we are inquiring whether a puppy misses you when you’re gone, all you have to do is close the door and re-open it. Chances are he will have the same reaction as if you left him with his dad for 6 days.

greater swiss mountain dog puppy

Whether you missed me or forgot I existed at all, please know that I’m back and in more ways than one. First and foremost I am back in Chicago after a week or so visiting the west coast, specifically the good (and surely high all the time) folks of San Francisco.

Disclaimer: I am by no means assuming that everyone who lives in San Francisco smokes marijuana. I am only assuming everyone who works in downtown San Francisco has a contact high from those that do smoke marijuana on the daily.  

san francisco, bay bridge, sunrise, sunset

I was traveling for our annual work conference, but I made sure to take lots of photos of the bay bridge and various stages of the sun while I was there.

penn and teller, ty pennington, NAR annual conference, san francisco

I also made sure to secure a photo op with our various booth celebrities. Hey, what else are you to do when your stuck inside a convention center all weekend long?

I love San Francisco and wish I would have tacked on a few extra days to stay and visit Napa but instead, I returned to a cold and snowy Chicago was finally forced to deal with the plague I’ve been fighting on and off since the marathon over a month ago. Apparently sinus infections don’t just go away on their own. Who knew?

So I know it’s not the best of excuses, but therein lies the reason I’ve been away for a few weeks now.

The good news is the snow melted, the weather warmed up and I got some antibiotics just in time for a visit home this weekend.

fall colors, springfield illinois, simply social blog, greater swiss mountain dog

I originally wanted to share some photos I took of my nephews this weekend. Nice photos taken in between the shirtless performance of I’m sexy and I know it on my parent’s fireplace “stage.” Performances by them, not me. But after seeing all the destruction and devastation in Washington, Illinois, I didn’t feel up to it. 

tornado central illinois, storm damage, springfield illinois

Fortunately for my family, the worst damage we saw was a few old trees knocked down by strong winds. The sun came out and we all went on with our lives. It wasn’t until this morning when I realized how much damage other communities were experiencing. 

Times like this make me thankful that Facebook still exists. Don’t get me wrong I still curse it rather frequently when I come across stuff like this but it is nice to see a social community coming together for a cause.

Within a few hours of the storm I saw messages from friends that lived in the area saying they were safe and sound. Groups formed to collect donations for those affected and friends offered assistance to help support complete strangers. I saw similar posts for typhoon relief a week earlier. Both of which reassure my faith in the power of social media for good. For more than selfies and snapchats.

If you’re interested in learning how you can help those affected by the storm this weekend please consider donating to the Peoria Area Association of REALTORS® Relief Foundation.

Thank you and have a great week!

Let there be light…in the morning at least

Happy end of Daylight Savings Time, y’all! I hope technological advancements (aka your iPhone) made this time change a little easier on you than in years past. And congratulations to those of you whose car clock is finally accurate again after 6 months of ‘just looking at the minutes.’ Tricky little things, aren’t they?

Ok. So raise your hand if you’re more excited for the early morning daylight that comes when Daylight Savings Time ends than the extra hour of partying.

fall colors, springfield illinois, simply social blog

photo credit Mike Murphy

(Slowly raises hand)

Guilty.

You’re not too old yet points for those of you who still remember which college bar stayed open an extra hour for you back when you were more excited about the extra hour of party time.

Station 211. Excellent. (p.s. for all you U of I alums out there, Station is now the Red Lion)

Don’t get me wrong I still cry every day a little from November until April when it’s pitch black by the time I leave work. As a person who does a lot of activities in the evening, I often find myself thinking:

WTF, DST?

I’ve got a dog to walk, errands to run and a workout to get in before dinner. Why are you making it feel like midnight all the time?

But the older I get the more I realize how much I’m turning into my mom. Most days actually, but especially this time of year.

sarah and mom, simply social blog

You see, my mom is an early riser. Always has been. At least for my lifespan. Come to think of it, her early rising likely started because of my sister and I but that’s beside the point. On the average morning, you can bet you can scare find her in the kitchen, coffee brewing and usually paging through a cookbook deciding what to bake. If you by chance beat her downstairs, she’ll assume 1) you just got home, 2) something is incredibly wrong or 3) something is incredibly wrong.

The truth is, the older I get, the earlier I seem to rise as well. If I had to break it down I think it’s about 70% adulthood, 20% puppy-caused and 10% exercise-driven.

greater swiss mountain dog, puppy, swissy, gsmd

Speaking of puppy-caused, Finn got a little bored with the extra hour Sunday and decided to take up woodworking. He beavered the other side of this leg a few months ago. Guess he wants to keep things even. Can you tell how accustomed he’s become to the dog-shaming photos I make him sit for?

Anywho, whenever I’m home for a visit, I like to scare my mom and wake up early right along with her. I’m sure I’ll be the same way when I have kids. Constantly questioning why they aren’t still in bed and offering them an assortment of juice and milk before they finally convince me that their near-30 year-old self would actually like to drink the cup of coffee he or she just poured.

So in keeping with the early-rising/baking/mom theme, the end of Daylight Savings Time seemed like the perfect time to make a batch of my mom’s pumpkin apple muffins. That and I was up super early, drinking a cup of coffee and paging through cookbooks.

pumpkin apple muffins with streusel topping, simply social blog

Pumpkin Apple Muffins with Streusel Topping

  • 2 1/2 C flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 TBL pumpkin pie spice (cinnamon, allspice, ginger and nutmeg)
  • 2 C sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 C pumpkin
  • 1/2 C oil
  • 2 C peeled and chopped apples (I used honeycrisp)
  • 1/2 C golden raisins
  • Streusel topping (1 TBL flour, 1 TBL sugar, 3 TBL butter, cinnamon)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, whisk flour, salt, baking soda and spices together.

In another bowl (or stand mixer) combine eggs, pumpkin, oil and sugar.

Add dry ingredients into wet until just combined. Avoid over-mixing. Add apples and raisins to batter.

Prepare muffin tins with non-stick spray or liners. Fill each 3/4 full. Top each with 1 tsp streusel.

Bake for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let cool on wire rack.

pumpkin apple muffins with streusel topping, simply social blog

These make a great breakfast or dessert. The apples melt into the muffin and the streusel topping adds a nice crunch. This batch makes 22-24 muffins but they are hearty enough to freeze for later.

I’m happy with the outcome but as most things, nothing tastes as good as when your mom makes it. And I know it’s just me because my mom is too nice to conveniently leave out recipe ingredients like I’ve heard some do.

If I’m out-of-pocket this week it’s because I’m traveling to San Francisco. I hope to catch up next week and share some photos of the city by the Bay.

Have a great week!

The Great Amazing Pumpkin Race

I’d say we are about due for a happy weekend wrap-up post, aren’t we?

Hit it.

I had a hard time excepting that fall had arrived until this weekend. I’ll admit, I was a little bitter at the lack of summer weather we experienced here in Chicago and I just wasn’t ready for a change in season yet. Fall is my favorite time of year so normally I can’t wait to buy stock in pumpkin and place it into every possible food, drink and decor imaginable. I’ll admit I was a little bitter until this past weekend.

I now realize fall has arrived and I’m welcoming it with open arms.

So I jumped into it head first and I’m not looking back. This weekend I:

Bought my first bag of candy corn.

candy corn dish halloween simply social blog

Lord help me. 

Ate my first pumpkin scone while visiting the farmer’s market with my mom.

pumpkin farmers market springfield illinois simply social blog

I forgot how good those things are.

Found out what my nephews are going to dress up as everyday from now until Halloween.

owen and jake spiderman captain america costume halloween boys

Did you know pizza tastes better when it’s made by superheroes? 

And finally, I checked ‘visit a pumpkin patch’ off my fall bucket list.

bomke's patch, pumpkin, simply social blog

My sister and I made the most of a beautiful fall Sunday and took my nephews to nearby Bomke’s Patch for the afternoon. It’s not far from where my mom lives and is run by a family that went to my high school. Living in Chicago for a number of years now has made me realize how much I miss things like pumpkin patches and tree farms. It sounds cliché, but being able to walk into an open field, yank a pumpkin from it’s stem (yes, yank because Jake wouldn’t give up the “snippers”) you appreciate the pumpkin so much more.

bomke's patch, pumpkin, simply social blog,

And just like their momma, my country pumpkins have found their place in the city.

We started our adventure at the barn where Jake proceeded to ride the ‘for photos only’ tractor away from it’s location over and over. Then we moved over to the playground where they had a series of unique slides, swings and corn boxes. 

bomke's patch, pumpkin, wagons, tractors, barn, playground, corn crib, simply social blog

Next stop, corn maze.

bomke's patch, pumpkin, simply social blog, corn maze, map

If it weren’t for Owen, Anne, Jake and I might still be in that corn maze. That kid is a pretty good navigator. We had fun trying to locate each checkpoint and avoiding dead ends. Our success later led to a discussion of Anne and I applying for the next season of the Amazing Race together. A discussion that will only be revisited if she takes back her presumption that I would always have to be right throughout the race. An unnecessary presumption as I think we can all agree my knowledge, wit and charm would obviously carry us to an eventual first place prize.

Anywho.

After the corn maze we grabbed a wagon and started pumpkin hunting. The weapons, obstacles and search for elusive species indicated that this was much more of a hunt than a pick.

bomke's patch, pumpkin, wagons, simply social blog

Letting me pick my own pumpkins is like sending a fat kid loose in the candy aisle. 30 minutes later we were down to 9 or so pumpkins (plus a Jake). I decided to re-evaluate my choices and let a few go because I was sure I was in for $50 worth of pumpkins at this point when my sister came back with the receipt.

15 dollars! 15 dollars for 9 pumpkins minus a Jake. We all know you can’t put a price on that gem of a kid. I could hardly believe it. Had I bought anything near those pumpkins at Home Depot in the city, I probably would have spent triple that.

Point country. 

Once I got over the fact that we cheated those pumpkin growers out of some beauts, we moved onto to the final activity of the day.

bomke's patch, pumpkin, wagons, tractors, petting zoo, miniature horse, goats, imply social blog
We took a tractor ride down to a small petting zoo where we met several goats, a donkey and a miniature horse I will call Beyoncé. No, I’m not saying Beyoncé looks like a horse. It’s just the way in which that little diva of a horse shook her hair that reminded me of Queen B.

Jake preferred to feed the little goat (the real thing, not the restaurant) as I tried to explain that just because he was little, he wasn’t necessarily the youngest. He didn’t care. All 50 cents of feed when straight to that little guy. I understood. Us younger children have to stick together.

And so ends a lovely fall weekend wrap-up. If you have a kid in your life or you just like using kids to be your excuse to do fun kids things, go visit a pumpkin patch this month. Not that I ever use my nephews for that kind of thing.

Happy harvest!