Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Apple Holler

If you live in the Chicago area, Apple Holler is your place for apple picking this fall. It's a charming orchard just over the Wisconsin border that we like to frequent as the air starts getting chillier, and as we're looking for a place to usher in that cozy combination of jeans and layers. Apple Holler. An hour and 15 min. drive with the city skyline in your rear view mirror, and you're there.

Truth be told, while picking apples off the tree and tasting the sweet and tart of each variety is all kinds of wholesome and wonderful, it's the fresh apple cider donuts that are really my main event.

Along with us, in pursuit of said apple cider donuts, came Kyle and Josh, two of our many favorite (are we allowed to say that?) students. Spending the day with them was fantastic, and it's then that you realize that sometimes your relationships with students can become, more than anything, a friendship. With all that I could say about them, I will say this: they both have bright, bright futures.

{Kyle, Josh, me, Neal}
{Love him.}
{Our bag was mostly Jonathan's.}
Because my Momma raised me right.
{We do like Cortlands too.}
Great for eating, salads, sauces, pies, and baking.
{Cider & Donuts to bring home}
{We drove around for 20+ min. looking for a Starbucks}
We stopped and asked a guy on the way out of the orchard where we could find one around this small town. He looked bewildered, and for a moment, I felt ashamed that I appeared to be a city girl who thought Starbucks is the center of the world.

I felt the urge to tell him that I grew up between 3 corn fields, and that I very well know that porches, babies, and quilts made by your momma are truly the center of the world.
But we just wanted a little coffee to go with our donuts.
{That view that we love on the way home}
{The sights of fall. Thank you, Apple Holler!}

A day of baking apple pies, with the most delicious Thompson family crust, followed soon after.

Now I just need to call my Grandma Lu for her homemade caramel dip recipe.

Do you lovelies have any favorite recommendations for apple recipes?


Hello! Here I am.
Starbucks on Delaware St. is a new little favorite of mine.
Take a peek around, if you'd like.
This sign speaks to me.
I tried the toffee mocha frappachino today, and it pretty much tastes like drinking liquid candy.
I'll let you decide if you feel that's a good or bad thing.
Let's not judge one another.

I am in love with this sign.
This Vespa looks just like ours, orangey-red and all.
There was a time we tried to take Starbucks drinks ON our Vespa.
I won't tell you how that ended.
Ok, I will.
It ended with coffee all down the front of Neal.
But then, you probably could've told us that before we did it.
Right now, can I pretend you're sitting in the chair across the table from me? How are you, friend? I hope you'll stop by and say hello on the blog. If you've been reading for awhile, or are a new reader, I'm so glad you're here!
If you were here at this Starbucks table by the window, I would reach across the table and squeeze your hand and ask you how you are. And because you are just so lovely, you'd probably squeeze my hand back and ask me how my doctor appointment went last week, since so many of you texted, facebooked, called, emailed, and prayed.

It went better than any of my expectations, and was most certainly an answer to prayer! I was so encouraged.

The doctor, the director of internal medicine at Rush Hospital, spent over an hour with Neal and I. She never broke eye contact with me or interrupted me once while I told my story. I so connected with her, and I think she connected with us. She ordered a few more tests for the sake of being thorough, and then wants to work with me on my quality of life until this plight, that doctors are still having a hard time exactly pinpointing, takes off for good.

At this point (a year now into this journey), I'm so thankful to have such a prestigious doctor who has taken on my case, will walk with me until this is over, and who I can feel so connected to. While she can't walk this road for me, her genuine expression to walk it with me is comforting. I'm already convinced that the world would be a better place with more doctors with both the personality and medical intuition of Dr. Wang.

Thank you for your prayers! I am so grateful. For those of you just joining, this all may not make sense to you, but flipping through previous posts may put together some of the pieces for you.

I have some fall posts coming with apple picking, apple pie, book recommendations, and more of our Chicago loves.

All my love to you, dear readers!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Goodbye, Summer

Goodbye, summer, and happy first official day of fall! My anticipation for fall has been seeping into my blog, my closet, and my Starbucks choices even before today, but now it's official.

To give summer a proper salute, I have a handful of various pictures of our summer that never made it into an official post. Consider this the last sweet taste of summer before giving over fully to fall, holidays, and.... cold weather. We take that pretty seriously around here.

Chicago is breathtaking in the summer. Though it wasn't a normal summer by any means because of my health, we still went out and enjoyed our city as much as we possibly could. And looking at these, I have to smile. In between the cracks, it was good.

Not to mention when we were away from Chicago, here, here, here, and here.

{Flower delivery}
My friend Elisa has been a constant source of encouragement throughout my health struggle.
10 months into this thing, she's sending flowers.
I have learned from her.

{Oak St. Beach Days}

This beach is our favorite. It has a stunning city view as a backdrop!

{I have another park to introduce you to.}
First getting to know Neal in the city as students, this is where he first said, "I love you."
The feeling was mutual, and I told him so.
So, we like it here.

{Farmer's Market}
We traveled so much this summer, that we only caught a few of these Saturday markets.
But they're the perfect weekend outing.

(Love my Tretorn rainboots! Find them here.)

{Summer Chipotle dates.}
This Chipotle in our neighborhood has garage door windows that open up to the city street in the summer.
One of the best things you can do with a warm, summer night, in our opinion.

{Lincoln Park}
We fell in love with Lincoln Park this summer.
We took the Vespa there countless times, loaded down with lawn chairs, a cooler, and reading material.
I think we probably looked pretty funny. Or awesome.

{A beautiful summer afternoon spent meandering}
The city can take you many, many places in just a few blocks.

{A new neighborhood flower shop}
I walk by this nearby shop at least every week.
I love the style: clean, vintage, elegant.

{City Walk #21: Lincoln Park Architecture}
These homes were too beautiful.

{Sweet dreams of summer}
Welcome, fall.

A little note to email subscribers: There's a delay in timing from when I post a blog to when it gets delivered to your email. When I post in the morning, you'll usually get it that day, but often you get my posts a day later. Thanks for reading! XOXO.