A Nautical-Theme Baby Shower

A couple of weekends ago, Conservative Mom, Kid Sister, and I teamed up to throw a baby shower for lovely Miss Alicia (that's Q and M.B.'s daughter-in-law).

Miss Alicia was expecting her first son around September 1, so we thought a shower the first weekend in August was perfect timing.

Because little Jack's nursery is decorated in a nautical theme, we decided it was only appropriate to go with a similar theme for the shower, hence the shells and light houses.

And the nautical-theme napkins.

We started with mimosas for the ladies who could indulge in such beverages and a tasty blue punch for those of us who couldn't. (It really was nonalcoholic, despite the fact that all the ducks floating in the punch looked drunk.)

After the ladies played a couple of silly games, like guessing how many candies were in the baby bottle ...

and sniffing baby food jars to figure out their flavor ...

we sat down to a meal featuring Not-So-Conservative Grandmom's famous chicken tetrazinni, which was a huge hit.

Then, before we moved on to showering the mamma-to-be with gifts, we stopped for a very important part of the party.

The cupcakes.

These weren't just any cupcakes, mind you. They were gourmet cupcakes, with flavors like snickerdoodle and red velvet and chocolate-peanut butter, and raspberry. It was difficult not to try one of all of them, but at the same time they were so darn cute it almost seemed a shame to eat them! (Almost ...)

We had a fabulous time throwing the shower for Miss Alicia. And it turns out it's a good thing we scheduled it when we did, for she started having contractions the day before the shower. And just less than a week later, handsome little Jack was born.

Mom and Baby Jack are healthy and happy and doing well. Congrats to the whole family!


Introducing You To Teddy

Meet my very first teddy bear. Grandpa Charlie gave him to me when I was born, and he's been around ever since.

When I opened up some of the tubs full of my childhood belongings that My Parents brought to L-Town this summer, I discovered Teddy tucked among all sorts of other treasures.

He's a sweet little guy that has been well-loved over the years. Despite being a bit worn, he still retains all the character he had when I first received him. And he even plays music still, too.

Now he's hanging out in the nursery, waiting for the arrival of little W.C. in November. I have no doubt that W.C. will love him just as much as I have over the years. How can you not love a face that looks that sweet?


A Farm-Fresh Dinner

Last month, Conservative Hubby was a real trooper. He devoted an entire Saturday to doing activities that he probably wouldn't have otherwise had any interest in doing.

The first: a daylong Lamaze class. (On the bright side, by taking the one-day class, Conservative Hubby got out of taking four evening classes.)

More on that later. Or maybe not, because odds are you've been there yourself or don't care to learn that many details about childbirth. (Conservative Hubby certainly didn't want to know some of what he learned, and he has to be there in person in a few short months!)

So maybe we'll leave that one well enough alone.

The second: a Farm to Fork Dinner at Oak Tree Organic Farm in Ashland, which was put on by the Community Learning department at Lincoln Land and sponsored by a local food grant I manage.

With the second activity of the day, it wasn't so much that Conservative Hubby wasn't interested in going as it might not have been something he would have picked to do. But he decided he was game and, after the event, said he'd love to go back to another Farm to Fork Dinner given the opportunity. You probably will want to come along too once you see what it was like.

The evening began at the tent under which we would dine, which was located near a lovely pond on the farm. Nearby stood another tent where Chef Denise and her culinary team from Lincoln Land whipped up our dinner--sans electricity, mind you. This is what a gourmet might call "roughing it."

I should just say it now so I don't have to keep repeating it with everything I mention: Pretty much all the ingredients, aside from the olive oil and a few things of that nature, were sourced from local farms and producers. That began with the first course, which involved some amazing sausage on little toasts. The wines served with each course were local, too.

Conservative Hubby tried them all. I, however, did not get to indulge. Maybe next time.

After enjoying an appetizer and chatting for a few minutes, we took a quick tour of the nearby fields where Farmer Chad and his family are raising their organic produce, which is sold at local farmer's markets and through a CSA and an online market they've set up.

Farmer Chad is a great, down-to-earth guy, filled with passion for the plants he grows and the animals he raises. His parents (who were there too) are long-time farmers, and he decided to move part of their farm in a different direction a few years ago, hence the emphasis on organic produce rather than the fields of corn otherwise surrounding us.

After we got the scoop on what they grow, production methods, challenges, and such, we headed back to the tent to sit down for dinner.

The culinary team took care all of the details, from the menus tucked under the plates to the Mason jars from which we enjoyed our beverages.

For the first course, we started out with a lovely salad featuring heirloom tomatoes and burrata (little balls of mozzarella) over crusty bread from Incredibly Delicious, a local bakery that makes to-die-for loaves.

Then we moved on to a salad featuring green beans, squash, grains, greens, and an anchovy sauce. I'm missing a few ingredients, I'm sure. But just take my word for it: It was delicious. Even Conservative Hubby thought so.

Then came the main course: grilled chicken with a tomatillo-cilantro cream, accompanied by fresh-picked potatoes, carrots, and squash from the farm. The tomatillo sauce was a recipe one of the chefs from Lincoln Land picked up while training with Rick Bayless. Talk about a fellow that knows what he's doing ...

You might think that the dinner couldn't possibly get any better at this point but, alas, you'd be wrong. Because, of course, we had dessert.

For those who could indulge, it started with a little jar of sweet dessert wine.

And it ended with a taste of heaven: homemade sweet corn ice cream on a (still-warm) waffle, drizzled with fresh honey and topped with a piece of honeycomb.

All I can say is: Wow. I never in a million years would have thought to try sweet corn ice cream, but I sure am glad I did. And fresh honeycomb? And a waffle? It doesn't get any better.

So there you have it. A day that filled Conservative Hubby with dread ended up being pretty darn good. We drove home to L-Town totally satisfied and happy and agreed that if our schedules allow we will be at the next Farm to Fork dinner.

Who's with us?


Walks in the Park

When Butter and I have time, we enjoy heading over to Kickapoo Creek Park for a nice, long walk.

It's a lovely little park with a big paved path that loops around it as well as some other, smaller trails that branch off into the woods and the fields. (Yes, it's big enough the terrain even changes a bit here and there.)

Butter is ecstatic the moment the car turns into the entrance to the park because he knows what's coming. So much to sniff! So much to see! So far to go!

It's a lovely park with a lot of big, old trees. When I was taking an ecology class a few years ago, Butter had the tortuous job of accompanying me on many trips to the park so I could practice tree identification. There are a lot of massive, established native trees and shrubs in the park for me to identify--plus, of course, a few non-native species here and there. (The one below is native--it's a sycamore. There are a lot of sycamores in the park, in case you're wondering.)

Because of these trees, even in the heat of the summer much of the path is shaded, which is nice for a pregnant lady and a very hairy dog.

And if you need a break, you can always step off the path and rest on one of the picnic benches.

Or in the hollow of this old tree, if you're tiny enough.

Sometimes, when we're feeling brave, Butter and I will even go off-roading and venture across the creek and into the woods.

But most of the time we just stick to the path and mosey along, him sniffing and peeing every chance he gets and me just enjoying the fresh air and the scenery and the exercise.

And then when we get done, we plop down on the ground, drink some water, and ...

relax before it's time to head home.



I threw some seeds in the ground where the tulips and daffodils sprout each spring, hoping we might be greeted by a cheerful row of zinnias later in the summer.

The only problem was, I did a rather lazy job of planting the seeds. (Blame it on the fact I was tired. Or the ground was hard. Or whatever you want.) Only one zinnia plant made an appearance.

But it's here and it's lovely, so I'm happy.


Honey-Rosemary Shortbread Cookies

I realized tonight that I have more than 10 things I want to share with you--furniture moving and farm dinners and flower photos and recipes and little nursery tidbits and other such nonsense.

So why the heck am I posting so infrequently?

I promise to get back to you more often.

No, really. Seriously.

Come on guys, listen.

I mean it this time.

I digressed before I even began, didn't I? Anyway. Back at the ranch.

A few weeks ago, when the urge to bake finally returned, I decided to make the honey-rosemary shortbread cookies I stumbled upon in a recent issue of Midwest Living.

Good choice, because: They were relatively easy to make. They required some of the rosemary that has been growing unchecked in our front yard all summer. And they're a rather light, summery cookie. What's not to love about all that?

Oh, and did I mention that as good as they are plain, they're pretty darn delicious with a little lemon sorbet too?

You can check out the recipe by clicking here.