Thursday, March 31, 2011

This dinner makes me think it should be summer

This simple salad was supposed to be dinner last night, but I wasn't in the mood to use my knife very much! So I kinda set things out and got the eggs and potatoes cooking, then ate leftovers instead. It was getting late, and on nights when I need to go to bed early, I try to eat early enough to digest at least somewhat. So Joe* finished preparing the pieces for his salad last night, and talked about how tasty it was as I was getting ready for bed. The nice thing is that the recipe makes enough for four salads, so I was able to put all the pieces together again tonight for my own delicious dinner. I'm predicting this salad will make a few appearances this summer, paired with chilled white wine and a seat on our porch. That sounds like heaven right about now.

*Joe- also known as the best husband ever, who is nice and patient and cheerful when his wife is being totally grumpy.



Nouveau Ni├žoise Salad
from Eating Well



4 servings, generous 2 cups each

Ingredients
4 eggs
8 ounces green beans, trimmed and halved
8 small red potatoes
1/4 cup minced shallots
1/4 cup red-wine vinegar
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
6 cups mixed salad greens
2 6-ounce cans chunk light tuna, drained (see Note)
12 Nicoise or Kalamata olives


1. Place eggs into a pan and cover with cold water. Bring the water to a boil, and set a timer for one minute. After one minute, turn the heat off, cover the pan, and let the eggs sit in the hot water for 15-20 minutes. Gently remove the eggs from the water, and place in the refrigerator to cool.

2. Add the potatoes to the pot, and add fresh, cold water and another big pinch of salt. Bring to a boil, then boil for about 20 minutes, until the potatoes are knife-tender. Drain, and let the potatoes cool.

3. Bring water to a boil on last time. Add a big pinch of salt, and the green beans. Cook until just tender and bright green, 2 to 3 minutes. Drain the beans in a colander, rinse under cold water and set aside in a large bowl.

3. Meanwhile, combine shallots, vinegar, mustard, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Slowly whisk in oil.

4. Cut the potatoes into quarters or eighths, depending on their size. Add to the bowl with the beans. Add greens, tuna and the dressing. Toss well. Peel the eggs and cut into wedges. Divide the salad among 4 plates. Top with egg wedges and olives. Serve immediately.


Make Ahead Tip: Cook green beans, potatoes and eggs; dry, cover and refrigerate for up to 1 day.
Did you know hard boiled eggs are much easier to peel when the eggs are less fresh? It makes a huge difference!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

What did you do last night?

I thought about cooking a nice barley "risotto" for dinner, but decided that wasn't exciting enough. Instead, I thought I'd spend 3 hours in the emergency room. You see, I had my lovely Shun knife sharpened a couple weeks ago, and I was cutting a rather wobbly quarter of an onion... then the knife went straight into my pinkie!


It was bad enough that I thought I needed to go to the emergency room. My friend Henry saved the day and drove me there, and Joe took a cab there from the loop. It was a lot of waiting, some painful cleaning out of the wound, and then three stitches. Much more eventful than the dinner and movie plan I'd initially had!

Now we'll just have to see how stitches in my pinkie finger affect the rest of my life. It doesn't hurt too badly, but having a bunch of gauze wrapped around my finger is pretty inconvenient...

Cooking First: I made steak!

No matter how much time I spend in my kitchen, there is always something new to try. Cooking a steak isn't exactly an intensive technique, but for me it was a huge accomplishment. Really, the milestone was not so much cooking the meat, but cooking and then eating a decent sized piece of red meat.



You see, I swore off red meat when I was 13, thanks to Oprah's episode on the dangers of beef, and my general pickiness about eating meat. I was a pretty average eater as a kid-- I had my aversions, but wasn't overly picky. As I got older, I grew into some of my tastes, learning to appreciate things like fresh summer tomatoes. I became a somewhat adventurous eater, trying things like escargot or frog's legs, and I started to feel like a bit of a fraud for refusing to eat any red meat. How could I be a foodie if I refused to eat a whole category of food that I wasn't even willing to taste! (Although I hate the word foodie, and the obnoxious outcomes of the recent food renaissance!)
Last spring Joe and I became vegetarian for Lent. During that time, I decided that once it was over, I was ready to try red meat again. It's funny how things have worked out, because we eat a vegetarian diet at least 75-85% of the time at this point... but I have learned to appreciate meat so much more when I do eat it. And it was only appropriate that a food and beer expert like Garrett Oliver would cook me my first grown up tastes of lamb and beef.

I've had some burgers since then, and sampled various cuts of beef and lamb with my food related jobs. Last week I suggested to Joe that we actually plan a meal that has meat as its main course, and he suggested steak. I grabbed the bull by the horns, researched steak cooking techniques from Anthony Bourdain and Thomas Keller, and bought some petite sirloin from Whole Foods. I also found a blue cheese compound butter recipe from Ina Garten, which was so indulgent and mind-numbingly delicious.  Roasted Brussels sprouts and boulangere potatoes (similar to this) rounded out the perfect dinner. I ended up only eating half of the steak, but I'd consider that a significant first step!



Also, let's talk about the butter. Four tablespoons of softened butter, 2 ounces of blue cheese, and a heaping tablespoon of minced scallions. You can blend it in your food processor, or if you hate cleaning your food processor, you can just smash it with a spoon until it's blended. Then, roll it into a log using some parchment paper, and toss it in the freezer for an hour or two. Top your steak with a big slice off the log, and be amazed. Then, save the rest of the butter for when you need to elevate a dish to a new level. Delish!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

This is what blogging looks like...

This is what blogging looks like when you work 9 days in a row. I have two days I requested off during this week, but I requested off because I'm babysitting all day on Thurs and Fri. So today was day 4, which means I'm almost halfway done. So here I am, putting ice and heat on my sore knees, getting ready for bed... exciting life I lead, huh?!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Slowing Down to Enjoy the Little Things

I didn't have to work on Friday, so I decided to venture down to the loop. 
Stated reason? I needed to get new glasses at Macy's.
Real reason? I wanted to go explore!


I did successfully order the cutest new glasses, which I will show you as soon as I get them. Then, instead of tempting myself with shopping on State Street, I headed east towards the park.

I stumbled upon this lunchtime "Music Without Boarders" concert at the Chicago Cultural Center. It was a French Gypsy jazz group, and the few minutes I heard before they finished were pretty fun. Bad timing, though, and the show ended as soon as I settled in!


 I had to take time to walk around the Cultural Center.
Amazing architecture, and FREE art exhibits.
What more can you ask for?



On to one of my favorite places downtown.
It wasn't too cold out, so I walked around dreaming of warmer weather.
I love
picnics
and
concerts
and
frisbee
and
generally hanging out in Millennium Park pretty much all summer.


Obviously, not quite summer yet. Blah.


I saw a line of restored vintage cars, and thought it was strange but interesting.


Turns out the cars were part of the set for an upcoming NBC show that was filming its pilot.

I did not see any playboy bunnies.
Just actors in 1960's garb.
It was an unexpected little surprise, and a fun way to end my little adventure for the day.

Then I came home and made muffins and stuffed acorn squash.
I cleaned up and did my usual 8:30 bedtime, because that's what happens when you work at 5:00 am.

Not a bad Friday overall. There's something to be said for having days off work when most people are chained to their desk. Although there's also something to say about working weekends and insanely early hours. I'll let you decide what to say!

Have a great weekend!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Reason #537 Why I Love Chicago


We moved to Chicago in May of 2007, and I still regularly stop and think about how glad I am that we made the decision to try life in a big city. It was a big leap of faith to come here, especially since Kansas City was so comfortable for us. But we knew that there was somewhere out there where we would fit in better, somewhere people would think like us. Kansas City was a wonderful experience, and I have many fond memories and good friends from those years, but I had a gut feeling it just wasn't where we were meant to be. A lot of people questioned our decision. "It's expensive there!"... "There's no WalMart!" (Thank GOD!)... "It's so crowded!". It got a little annoying, honestly, but I just told myself that they didn't get it, and that different people want different things. My friend Andrea was a huge supporter of our plan, and I still am grateful to her for seeing how obvious it was that we belonged somewhere other than KC.

Our first weekend here, we discovered that we had more friends in the city than we realized! We went to meet a few of my old college friends at a street festival, and automatically had about 10 friends to hang out with. These Mizzou friends have become some of our closest, and we always have a great time hanging out with them. We've all brought other friends into the group, too, so while it's no longer all MU grads, it's a cool people that I love hanging out with!



(We don't only drink when we hang out... although it is a popular activity for this group!)

 We moved about 500 miles from Kansas City, and about 1000 miles from where I grew up... and I still managed to move close to two of the only friends from high school that I still kept in regular contact with.  Jess and Cathy are the kind of friends I can hang out with wearing sweatpants, and I can tell them anything. We were there for each other during the awkward and confusing years of growing up, and now it's fun to get together and enjoy our settled, normal, mature grown up lives. (Really we're not mature at all, but it sounds good that way!) I love these girls!

Celebrating Jess's birthday a couple years ago


Jess's husband and Joe have become great friends... and are really big dorks, but the fun kind of dorks!



Cathy and I got to take a cooking class one winter after our husbands coordinated on their Christmas gift-giving efforts. So fun!

Add in recent friends from my old jobs, and an incredibly rad group of book club ladies, and I start to get overwhelmed at how many amazing people I know in this city. If I have one complaint, it's that I don't have the time to hang out with all these great people nearly as much as I would like. We're so lucky to know as many smart, thoughtful, adventurous, crazy, and fun people as we do! Every time I reflect on the wonderful friendships I've made in the last four years, it confirms what a great decision it was to move to this great city. Life may not always be this smooth (God, just 6 months ago it wasn't this smooth), and we won't necessarily live here forever, but i know for sure that I'll always look back on these years as some of the best of my life!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Welcome to my Condo: Kitchen Tour


If you know me at all, it's no surprise to hear that I spend hours each day in my kitchen. I cook dinner almost every night, and love making bread, muffins, crackers, and just about anything else you can think of. Our kitchen is far from huge, and not exactly what I would call my 'dream kitchen'... but it has some merit. After a couple small and/or crappy apartments, I love the fact that this kitchen is in a condo that we own, and that I can do anything I want to make it my own. Honestly, there have been very few changes at this point (3 years into home ownership), but at least I know I could change things if I felt like it!


This hanging pot rack is an excellent example of something I couldn't have done before, when we rented an apartment. There are giant screws holding this thing up, and most landlords to not approve of that kind of thing! This rack was a splurge we bought at Crate and Barrel soon after moving in, and I can say we bought it out of necessity. See, our kitchen is small, and has limited storage. Our collection of kitchen equipment is on the larger side, and when we moved in we could only put our pots and pans in the oven. Obviously, this was not a great solution, and after preheating the pans a couple times, I convinced Joe we needed this pot rack. What a good purchase that was!

 

This cabinet is home to a few of my favorite things. First, the pasta roller (1). After assisting with a million pasta making classes at the Chopping Block, I had to have one. Not something I use everyday, but a very important part of my kitchen. Gotta represent my Italian heritage! Next, the plates (2)... not my favorite thing, but they are special because they are so freaking large that they don't fit in normal, above-the-counter cabinets. We mostly just use the top two again and again, because they're also too large for the dishwasher. That's what happens when you get married in a city without Crate and Barrel, and choose goofy (and expensive!) plates from Pottery Barn. Don't say I didn't warn you! The orange Le Creuset buffet/braiser (3) is my favorite kitchen purchase ever, because it's colorful and amazing for cooking almost anything. And my surprise item that is used more than I ever would have predicted... my kitchen scale (4). It's handy for so many kitchen tasks!

The cabinets above the stove and counter are full of all sorts of fun stuff... canning equipment, a meat grinder, sushi making gear, and all your normal baking supplies. Really, not too exciting up this way.


We have 4, yes FOUR, different coffee making devices in our small kitchen. Each has their own purpose. From left to right: The Senseo machine is our weekday go-to, providing coffee at the push of a button. The Bodum french press is great for loose leaf tea or coarsely ground coffee. The Bialetti stove top espresso maker is awesome for a small cup of the good stuff, or for the base of a homemade latte. And the regular coffee maker is a weekend requirement, for when we spent a couple hours bumming around the house, circling back for a second or third cup. We're pretty much constantly caffeinated.


That's pretty much everything. I warned you, this isn't the world's largest kitchen! Now you have a bit of an idea where I spend most of my time. What's your favorite room in your house?

Monday, March 14, 2011

Ready to Run!

In the last few years, something strange has happened to me. I have become someone who enjoys running. If you'd asked me in college what i thought of running long distances, I would have told you is was something only crazy people did for fun. I've always been somewhat athletic, and have enjoyed working out... but running was just never my thing. I tried track in high school, pretty much sucked at it, and didn't do more than a little recreational jog for years after that.


Then, in 2007, my friend Becky told us she was getting a group together for a relay race. It was the Brew to Brew race, where groups of 9 people took turns running part of  a 44 mile course from Boulevard Brewery in Kansas City to Free State Brewing Company in Lawrence, KS. Joe was running half marathons at this point, so it was a no-brainer for him. I thought about my love for both of these breweries, and also that it could be good motivation to work out for the next few months... and decided to join the fun!


The race was a blast, and I managed to run 5 miles of the course! It ended up being my second race, because Joe convinced me to do the St Patrick's Day 4 mile race a few weeks before the Brew to Brew. I also ran the Trolley Run at the end of April, which meant I had completed three races in less than 2 months. I guess at that point I was hooked.

The last few years have been up and down with running. Joe suffered a knee injury that resulted in surgery, and is most likely done running. I hope he can heal enough to do short 5k races in the future, but for now we're saving up to buy him a bike (or a guitar), so he can find a new hobby to be interested in.  I have run at least one race per summer... nothing competitive, but it's kept me working out and somewhat focused. I did a terribly slow 5k last October, after a month at a terrible job and not a single day of training. After that race, I decided my next one would be better.

Now it's about time to start training for that 'next one'. I signed up for the Ravenswood 5k, which is run right near my neighborhood in Chicago. I usually miss this one, because it happens early in the spring, and I'm not mentally in running outside mode yet. But this year I planned ahead, and even found a training plan to help me set a personal record with this run.



Then, two weeks ago I did an awesome sprint workout. It felt great, and I was so excited about training after doing this workout. Unfortunately, my knees did not agree that this was a great workout, and my left knee has been hurting significantly for the last week and a half. I'm pretty stressed out about this, after Joe's experience with a knee injury. For the last week, I've still been working out, but not really running and generally taking things a little lighter than usual.


I decided today that since it is still hurting, I will take a week 100% off from the gym. My job has me on my feet for the entire 8 hour shift, and living in the city involves a decent amount of walking around, so I won't exactly be sitting around all week. But my official training for the race is set to start next week, so I'm hoping that a week off will be the cure. Add in some ice, heat, and ibuprofen, and hopefully I'll be ready to start running again next Monday. Wish me luck!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

The check IS in the mail! (and other signs of spring)

I checked the mailbox on my way in from work, and found this little baby waiting for me...


Score! It's a "Wellness Rebate" check from our CSA that we've subscribed to for this summer. This will be our second summer doing a CSA share with Simply Wisconsin, and I couldn't be more excited for this coming summer! A CSA is a great way to try local, fresh produce while supporting organic family farms. This rebate is a really great perk that Simply Wisconsin does to help make the CSA more affordable. You had to sign up pretty early (I think we did it in December), but this check makes the overall breakdown for our produce share really reasonable. June is still pretty far away, but getting this in the mail gave me hope that we'll survive to that point!



Source
 Another sign of spring? I realized I only have a month left to get to a Soup & Bread night at the Hideout. This is an awesome weekly fundraiser, where people volunteer to make and share bread and soup, and everyone donates what they can to help out a good cause. The cooks and charities change every week, and it sounds like a great way to support some good in our community while catching up with friends. I'm really going to make an effort to attend this Wednesday!



My little rosemary plant is also really eager to get back outside. I grew this baby out on our porch last summer, and it had a hard time adjusting to being indoors this winter. It didn't shrivel and die, but it didn't grow for a looooong time. In the last month or two it has started growing again, and I've even cooked with a little bit of it. I can't wait to start growing herbs outside again!

Before we know it, spring will really be here! We're so close to saying we've survived yet another Chicago winter. Bring it on!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Just can't fight it!

wan·der·lust (wndr-lst)     noun.
A very strong or irresistible impulse to travel.
---------------------------------------------------
[
German : wandern, to wander (from Middle High German) + Lust, desire (from Middle High German, from Old High German; see las- in Indo-European roots).]


Prague


I have been feeling a MAJOR case of wanderlust lately! Joe and I have gone through spurts of traveling, crossing the country to visit friends and family. We got to visit my parents in The Netherlands three years ago, and spent a few memorable days in Paris during the trip. We've been to Mexico a couple times, spent time on the beach in California, and explored our Nation's capital.

Bonjour!

I can't say we're not lucky, and I can't complain about the experiences we've had. But I can say we went to Washington D.C. last May... and have only been to Missouri and Kansas (multiple times) in the 10 months since that trip. Oh, and we've toured Iowa on some of the drives back and forth! I'll let these facts speak for themselves...


Thankfully, this travel drought will hopefully be coming to an end relatively soon! I'm going to try to be really responsible with my spending, and to budget accordingly, and then hopefully all these trips will become more than just ideas.  Here's what we're currently looking forward to:


April-- Kansas City for our nephew's baptism. A great chance to see family, and hopefully catch up with some friends too! We're Liem's Godparents, and are really excited about this honor.




July-- California! My cousin and her family are headed to Europe for a month, and offered up their great house in LA. We'll just have to buy the plane tickets and groceries, since the house and cars will be there waiting for us. I can't wait to hang out at the beach, and to catch up with my relatives out there.


September-- NYC. This is just a dream at this point, but Joe and I are dying to get out there. My good friend Danielle is a VIP lawyer out there, and I am hoping to get to catch up with her over a long weekend!I haven't even consulted with her about this idea, but I sure like the idea :)



November-- Cabo San Lucas. Another good friend from college is getting married, and we're going to help them celebrate! This will also be a trip to celebrate our anniversary, since we will have been married for FIVE years in December.
So no more complaining for me! These are some great goals for us to work towards, and even when Lent is over and I can shop again, I'm going to remind myself of these potential great vacations that I should be focused on. I can't wait to see so many of my friends and family during these trips!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Dinner is Served


Homemade vegetarian potstickers, carrot and edamame salad, and a big old Fat Tuesday glass o'wine. Cheers!

Fat Tuesday!

Happy Mardi Gras everyone!
Photo Credit
Today is the last day of celebration before Lent, a time of repentance and quiet contemplation. I look forward to Lent, because I am a far from perfect person, and it gives me a chance to challenge myself. I know I am too judgemental and materialistic, and that I have a hard time drowning out the hustle and bustle of the world we live in. I think pretty hard about what I'm going to give up each year during this time, and I try to focus more on my faith and how I handle my life each day.

This year I'm giving up two things... non-necessary shopping, and drinking alcohol (with a couple *minor* exceptions!). Shopping is a pretty easy one. While it can be easy to forget, I lead a life that is full of everything I need, and then some. We own a beautiful condo full of nice furniture, I have a closet full of clothing and shoes, and bookcases overflowing with favorite novels and cookbooks. Yet I always seem to think I need more. I know that this is quite ridiculous, and a big weakness of mine. I never spend more money than we have, but I am a champion at justifying every random, unnecessary purchase I make. So during Lent, I will only buy necessities like groceries or toiletries. Joe is better at this than I am, so if I think I 'need' anything else, I'll run it by him first. I know I have more than everything I need, and that this Lenten sacrifice could have a good impact on my day to day life for the rest of the year. Wish me luck!


Joe and I also decided to give up alcohol... almost. We're not giving up home brewed beer, because we have A TON of it that is fermenting and conditioning right now. But we won't be buying any new beer or wine, and we will be limiting our consumption of the homebrew more than usual. We will also be trying to limit our nights out at bars, but I do not want to cut that out completely because I do not want to miss hanging out with our friends. We really don't go out to bars too much these days, but I don't want to miss out on a night out with friends because we're not drinking. And don't even suggest I just drink some diet coke at the bar... yeah right! We won't be going out for drinks without other friends, though, so I really don't see us going out to bars more that a few times through all of Lent.

So for Mardi Gras, I will be having a drink or two tonight. I also treated myself a little at Target today, but since the jeans and top I bought were on clearance, they hardly count. Right? (See, that's the justifying I am talking about!)

Want to know more about Ash Wednesday or Lent? Check out this great 2 minute video my mom sent me!

Monday, March 7, 2011

What did you do today?

I had quite a lazy day... it started with about 2 hours on the couch. Breakfast. Coffee. Blogs. Today Show. It was pretty nice. But I was actually being more productive than it looked, as the kitchen was filling with the aromatic smell of homemade chicken stock. It was simmering away on the stove top, and had only taken about 3 minutes to get started.

The inspiration came from The Sweet Beet, a blog my sister introduced me to. The first post I read was about boiling your garbage, and while I thought her advice was a little extreme (egg shells! apple cores! GROSS!), I liked the idea of saving my veggie scraps in the freezer. It seems silly to me to buy fresh carrots, celery, and onions just so that I can boil them to death. So I tried to remember to save scraps, plus wilted veggies I didn't cook in time... and today I tossed the bag of frozen bits into a big stock pot, with a frozen chicken carcass left over from a roast chicken last week. I filled the pot with water, placed it on the stove, and went to enjoy my bagel* while it came to a boil. Seriously, so little effort. The biggest challenge was remembering it was in the kitchen, and to check it and turn down to a simmer once it started boiling. Otherwise, I just tossed in some peppercorns, and let it simmer for a couple hours. I guess straining and putting into containers took a bit more work, but at that point I was more awake and willing to put forth the effort! The result: about 18 cups of homemade chicken stock, now patiently waiting in my freezer.



*While on the subject of breakfast... Aren't bagels the best thing ever? I think my dad's New York roots get credit for my addiction, and it takes every ounce of my health-conscious eating mentality to not eat a bagel every morning. Salt bagels are my all time favorite, but since they're pretty hard to find outside of NYC, my usual go-to is the everything variety. Delicious!

New Design...

What do you think? I recently got the Hipstamatic app on my iPhone, and have been obsessed with it! (Thanks for the inspiration Susan!) I thought it was about time for a new look on my blog, so the pictures seem like a fun idea. I'll probably redo the header once I have better pictures... but this was an entertaining way to start my day off. Coffee, bagel, Today Show, and playing with pictures. Perfect.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

February Happenings

February is a short month, but we managed to pack a lot into those 28 days! The month started off memorably, with a historic blizzard hitting Chicago on February 1st. I had just started a new job that day, and fully expected to continue my training on the 2nd. I mean, that's why we have trains around here, right? It snowed like crazy that night, but Joe and I both set alarms when we went to bed that night. The next morning there was snow everywhere, and within a couple hours of waking up we heard Joe's office was closed, and my store ended up closing, too! We met up with our friend Henry, and spent the day playing video games, drinking good beer, watching movies, and playing in the snow! By the afternoon, the snow had stopped, and so many people were out and about, either shoveling and recovering, or just exploring the crazy snow covering everything. It ended up being a fun day!

We've never been big Valentine's day celebrators around here, but we still try to take a little time to enjoy each other's company every February 14th. My view has always been that we love each other every day, and do nice things for each other regularly. We give each other sentimental gifts at Christmas time, and in February we tend to be less inclined to spend money on big gifts for each other. I'm thankful to have such a fantastic husband, and such a healthy, loving marriage, and I celebrate that every day! But if you know me at all, you won't be surprised to hear that I used Valentine's day as an excuse to make us a nice dinner :) I had the day off from work, so it was easy to take the time to plan, shop, and cook up a little feast. It was nice to sit down and relax with Joe when he got home from work... and that is the extent of our lovely little Valentine's day.


Honey, Dijon, and rosemary grilled chicken thighs, crash potatoes, and a salad with feta, walnuts, and cranberries. Also a great excuse to use a couple serving dishes from our trips to Mexico!



We ended the month with a little day trip to Oak Park, a beautiful area just west of the city. I had been talking about touring the Frank Lloyd Wright house for a while, and snatched up a groupon that recently showed up in my inbox. It was fascinating to see the inside of his former home and office, and our tour guide did a great job. They focused much more on the architecture than on Mr. Wright's colorful personal life, but I found the details about the house to be almost as interesting!

After the tour we had a fantastic lunch at Marion Street Cheese Market, complete with some excellent beer. Fully satisfied, we explored downtown Oak Park, and found lots of interesting, independent shops. We had a great day, and agreed we would head back that way once the weather warms up.


Now it's March, and spring is right around the corner... right?!