So. Many. Blueberries.

I am way (!!!!) behind on updating our summer list….so be on the lookout for several posts coming your way in the next several days!

Now. Blueberries.

Blueberry picking was on our summer list and, honestly, I wasn’t sure how we were going to accomplish that one. I had hoped that there would be a blueberry u-pick farm near Milwaukee so that we would be able to combine that with our yearly trip to visit Granny and Pa (post about that trip coming up soon)….but I learned something…..there are no u-pick farms anywhere near Milwaukee. (At least for blueberries.) And, there are no u-pick farms anywhere near Chicago (again…for blueberries.)

When I write that I was looking for something near those locations, I was looking for something within an hour. There are many spots that are 1 1/2 hours or 2 hours away.

So, we did something kind of crazy. The day after we returned from Wisconsin, we set off for a day trip to the Indiana/Michigan border!

Now, if you are in Harbor Country, you will be able to find many different u-pick options! Blueberry farms are everywhere! You will need to plan your trip accordingly, though.

Be sure to check up on the following items before you head out:

  • Some farms accept only cash. Some are cash and credit.
  • Bring sunscreen! You will be in the direct sun for at least an hour depending on how many blueberries you want to take home.
  • Bring snacks. Some of the farms might also have a stand with other fruits, veggies, baked goods. Some may even have more options like sandwiches or other snacks. However, chances are good, you’ll only have blueberries surrounding you for awhile so be ready.

We went to Stateline Blueberries and had great success. We went home with over six pounds of blueberries!

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Once you get your blueberries home, get ready to prepare them. I wash them lightly, then spread out over a towel so that they can dry. Carefully roll the blueberries around to catch any leaves or stems that are stuck to the blueberries.

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Blueberries freeze incredibly well. I actually just poured the blueberries into gallon size freezer bags and stuck them in the freezer. You can take them out anytime and add to muffins, pancakes, or just to snack on! However, let them thaw before you add them to batters.

Our list thus far:

  • Go to Disney World.
  • Pick blueberries.
  • Go bowling.
  • Bake some treats.
  • See outdoor movies.
  • Go to the museums.
  • Go to LEGO Discovery Center.
  • Visit Brookfield Zoo.
  • Go to Morton Arboretum to see the Lego sculptures.
  • Visit the Art Institute.
  • Eat ice cream.
  • Play on the playground.
  • Go on a hike.
  • Go to the library.
  • Go to a festival.
  • Have a slumber party.
  • Have a pajama day.
  • Watch movies at home.
  • Visit Granny and Pa.
  • Visit Mimi and Pa.
  • Have a beach day.
  • Pick dandelions out of the yard.
  • See fireworks.
  • Go to the splash pads.
  • Visit Chinatown.
  • Play outside.
  • Have tea at American Girl.
  • Play in our house.
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Movies Under the Stars

We love seeing movies outdoors! Luckily for us, we are very close to a weekly option for outdoor movies during the summer!

For several Wednesdays during the summer, Oakbrook Center hosts movie screenings on their Lawn.

The movies take place rain or shine. Although, there are people who will just prop up an umbrella and hang out in their rain jacket or poncho, I am not those people. Lol. So, we’ve planned on going to two of the movies this summer and have only been able to go to one. We’re hoping that the rain cooperates so that we can see Incredibles 2 tomorrow night!

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We usually stop upstairs to pick up food from the food court before claiming our spots on the Lawn. (Pie Five for the girls. Cilantro Taco Grill for me.)

Our list thus far:

  • Go to Disney World.
  • Pick blueberries.
  • Go bowling.
  • Bake some treats.
  • See outdoor movies.
  • Go to the museums.
  • Go to LEGO Discovery Center.
  • Visit Brookfield Zoo.
  • Go to Morton Arboretum to see the Lego sculptures.
  • Visit the Art Institute.
  • Eat ice cream.
  • Play on the playground.
  • Go on a hike.
  • Go to the library.
  • Go to a festival.
  • Have a slumber party.
  • Have a pajama day.
  • Watch movies at home.
  • Visit Granny and Pa.
  • Visit Mimi and Pa.
  • Have a beach day.
  • Pick dandelions out of the yard.
  • See fireworks.
  • Go to the splash pads.
  • Visit Chinatown.
  • Play outside.
  • Have tea at American Girl.
  • Play in our house.

 

Go Take a Hike

Even when it’s super hot (it was really hot today), you can usually find us outside at some point each day during the summer. It’s very important to me that we get outside as much as possible when the weather is good (not storming). And even though this week has been quite warm, the girls and I have gone on several walks in the woods.

The Forest Preserves of Dupage County are an excellent resource for us. There are frequently activities at the many education centers/farms/forests. And there are many opportunities to just get outside.

This week, we went to two of our favorites: Fullersburg Woods Nature Education Center and Willowbrook Wildlife Center.

If you are in the area, I highly recommend checking out these locations. At Fullersburg, you can borrow a backpack of exploration tools to help in your nature exploration. We borrowed magnifying glasses, binoculars, and plant identification cards.

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At Willowbrook, you can witness their work first hand. They take in sick and injured wild animals, they treat those animals, and then release them back into a forest preserve. If an injury or illness can not be fixed, that animal may become a permanent resident of Willowbrook. You can see many of their residents indoors and outdoors.

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Our summer list thus far:

  • Go to Disney World.
  • Pick blueberries.
  • Go bowling.
  • Bake some treats.
  • See outdoor movies.
  • Go to the museums.
  • Go to LEGO Discovery Center.
  • Visit Brookfield Zoo.
  • Go to Morton Arboretum to see the Lego sculptures.
  • Visit the Art Institute.
  • Eat ice cream.
  • Play on the playground.
  • Go on a hike.
  • Go to the library.
  • Go to a festival.
  • Have a slumber party.
  • Have a pajama day.
  • Watch movies at home.
  • Visit Granny and Pa.
  • Visit Mimi and Pa.
  • Have a beach day.
  • Pick dandelions out of the yard.
  • See fireworks.
  • Go to the splash pads.
  • Visit Chinatown.
  • Play outside.
  • Have tea at American Girl.
  • Play in our house.

So Many Legos!

Last week, we went to Morton Arboretum with the goal of seeing the new exhibit Nature Connects. This exhibit is full of fun sculptures made from Legos. So many Legos! Each sculpture has a sign that lets you know how many Lego bricks were used and how many hours it took to build each one. The numbers are pretty astonishing. So many Legos. So many hours!

It’s a very cool exhibit and is perfect for a lovely (and pretty short) walk outdoors. Plus, after you see the Legos, you can go on a hike or explore the children’s garden!

Our summer list thus far:

  • Go to Disney World.
  • Pick blueberries.
  • Go bowling. Bake some treats.
  • See outdoor movies.
  • Go to the museums.
  • Go to LEGO Discovery Center.
  • Visit Brookfield Zoo.
  • Go to Morton Arboretum to see the Lego sculptures.
  • Visit the Art Institute.
  • Eat ice cream.
  • Play on the playground.
  • Go on a hike.
  • Go to the library.
  • Go to a festival.
  • Have a slumber party.
  • Have a pajama day.
  • Watch movies at home.
  • Visit Granny and Pa.
  • Visit Mimi and Pa.
  • Have a beach day.
  • Pick dandelions out of the yard.
  • See fireworks.
  • Go to the splash pads.
  • Visit Chinatown.
  • Play outside.
  • Have tea at American Girl.
  • Play in our house.

Make Your Own Spring

Spring has arrived! But, we live in the Midwest which means that spring won’t really feel like it’s here for several more weeks. It’s not uncommon for Illinois to get snow in April. This week we may have 70 degree temperatures….and then the forecast has mentioned a chance of snow for the weekend. It’s hard to keep waiting when you are really really ready for sunshine, warmer temperatures, and gardens. I have some suggestions of things that you can do to make your own spring when spring seems so very far away…..

Check out an Indoor Garden!

The spring show at Garfield Park Conservatory is always a great way to gear up for spring sights and smells. This year’s theme “Understory”, has the visitor viewing the plants and flowers that grow beneath the forest canopy. The entire Conservatory has long been a favorite place for our family to escape the cold, rain and/or snow (all of which we might have on the same day in Illinois spring). You can check out the spring show until it closes May 12th.

Start Planning Your Garden!

So many different home improvement stores are full of flowers and plants right now. Lily and I went to Home Depot over the weekend and checked out the many annuals that they have in stock right now. They also had a few perennials. I already have some ideas for my container gardens.

Get outside as often as you can!

When those really nice days arrive, take full advantage of them! Get outside. Go to a playground. The weather can change very quickly so it’s important to take advantage of the sunshine while it’s here. I feel the same way during the summer months. If it’s nice out, we should get outside (for at least some of the day). Save the movie marathons for the rainy days!

Eat Warm Weather Foods!

Sure, I’ll eat ice cream year round. But once the snow has melted, it just seems to taste better. Do you agree? Being able to eat an ice cream cone without my fingers freezing…yea…the ice cream just tastes better. And once the temperatures start to inch above freezing and stay there, that’s when I want one of my favorite warmer weather meals – a Superdawg with everything, onion chips, and a strawberry soda. Yummmmm! Just thinking about it makes me feel a little bit warmer. 🙂

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Check out a professional garden!

The Chicago Botanic Garden has a useful chart here that lets you know what will be in bloom and when. Yes, this one is really more for days when it’s a little warmer….and hopefully not snowing. But, this lets you plan for what dates you want  to try to check out their gardens. (Especially if you know you really want to see the tulips in bloom!)

If you were lucky enough to check out the orchid show (which sadly has closed already) you were treated to some absolutely beautiful flowers and arrangements. I loved it! It was like a mini tropical vacation! I mean, just look at these flowers! Beautiful!

What to do at Home on this Cold, Cold Day

Looking for some ideas of ways to keep your kiddos entertained during the polar vortex?

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We’re going to be doing a few of these today……and tomorrow……

  • Do a scavenger hunt indoors.
  • Make hot cocoa. Add marshmallows, whipped cream, and sprinkles to make it extra fancy.
  • Bake something!
  • Color in a coloring book.
  • Have a picnic inside.
  • Make a blanket fort.
  • Make a painting – water color or finger paints are both fun!
  • Read, read, and read some more.
  • Write a story.
  • Play board games.
  • Watch movies.
  • Listen to music.
  • Have a dance party!
  • Write a letter to a relative or friend.
  • Play hide-n-seek.
  • Read some more.
  • Have a “camp out” in the living room.
  • Make a big pot of soup.

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This pile of boxes has already become a house, a fort, a boat, another kind of boat, and a store. Who knows what it’ll become later today….and tomorrow.

Right now, the girls are resting and reading books in bed. As soon as they get up, I think we’ll do some baking.

Have you done any of these activities today?

 

Goodbye, Christmas

It’s true. Christmas has finally left our house. (Well, mostly. The outside lights are still up – although not on – I’ll get those down when the weather cooperates a little more.)

It’s a lot of work to put the Christmas decorations up and it’s a lot of work to put them away, too. I find that it works best if I keep a system going each year.

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The first thing that I do? Take down all non-tree decorations. Mostly, that means that the fireplace mantel goes back to normal. But, we do have some Christmas decorations throughout the house that also get boxed up with the mantel.

Everything gets dusted before it gets packed up, the mantel is dusted and the rest-of-the-year decor goes back up (after it gets dusted, too.)

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(Time to pick up some flowers for those vases.)

Next up – time to take down the tree.

We do the girls’ ornaments first.  Their storage box also has a small tree that we set up in their room and a Melissa & Doug nativity that we set up by the tree.  The girls have many ornaments that have boxes (I keep most of the boxes) so the first job is to take out all of the boxes so that we can see what we need to find.

We start taking down the ornaments and match them up to boxes (if there are boxes).

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After the girls’ storage is down, it’s time for my ornaments and Ryan’s. I will admit, we have a lot of ornaments and if we lived in a larger house, I would probably have three trees. So, this does take some time.

Luckily, I had some help taking everything down and organizing it.

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Just like with the girls’ ornaments, we have to match up some to the box that they belong in. (I have one large storage container just filled with boxed ornaments.)

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Once the ornaments are all put away, then the lights come down. This tree was a pre-lit tree and, as you can see in the picture below, there are very few lights on the tree that still work. I add everything else.

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After the tree is down, it’s time to do a sweep and vacuum the living room. It’s always sad to put Christmas away, but it’s also nice to have some more space back in the living room.

Until next year!