Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Meet me in St. Louis

This past weekend as the spring break was coming to a close we escaped East to St. Louie for some shenanigans with Ray and Kerry. After checking in to our cozy VRBO rental in the Central West End we headed off to the fanciful City Museum. This is a museum unlike any other - it was EPIC! The best way I can describe it is a giant, surreal, jungle gym for kids and adults alike. We spent hours climbing, sliding, exploring and smiling our way through the space. If you ever find yourself in St. Louis the City Museum is a must see!

Mary Climbing up out of a Tunnel
Ray, Dan and Kerry Embracing a GIANT Reptile

Ray Exploring the Cockpit of the Plane

Kerry Whizzing down the Slide

Dan climbing up the Wing of an Airplane

After all the playing and scaling we rewarded ourselves with a walk to a new brewery where I had purchased a beer tasting for us on Groupon at Alpha Brewing Company. Each couple was given 11 samples of beer - every brew they produce! Some were better than other and it was a refreshing reward after all our strenuous activity.
Many Ales were Consumed
Then we headed back to our rental, parked the car and continued our night on the town. The Block restaurant down the road from our place was recommended to us so we scooted over there for dinner then ambled further down the block to The Scottish Arms Bar where we enjoyed more libations. Then we wandered through the St. Louis University Neighborhood where we found ourselves at Humphrys surrounded by college-aged students. The boys polished off a final drink before we called it a night. The next morning we walked to brunch at Brasserie by Niche then made our way to the Basilica where we sat in awe of the astounding gold-leaf mosaics throughout the church.

This photo does NO justice to the Amazing Mosaics in the Museum
We drove through the massive Forest Park (which is nearly 50% bigger than Central Park) then enjoyed the massive Art Museum which had some great collections -  our brief tour was highlighted by the Modern Art, European Art and Egyptian Art - so much more to explore!

Modern Art
 For lunch we drove down to the Soulard neighborhood which is known for it's Mardi Gras and Bastille Day celebrations. We saw two parrots hanging out in front of one of the houses as we walked to lunch.

Colorful Parrots
 After lunch we made our way to the Schlafly Brewery where we peeked in on the brewing operations before sitting down to cheer on the Wolverines as they made their way into the Sweet Sixteen defeating Texas - GO BLUE! Then we made our way up to the Loop neighborhood where we met up with Alex, our good friend from Williamsburg. Alex is now a professor at Washington University. We enjoyed a delicious Syrian dinner at Ranoush then Alex suggested floats at Fitz's an old fashioned soda shop - how could we resist!?!

Alex and Dan with their Ice Cream Floats
It was a fantastic visit and we look forward to the next time we're in St. Louis!

Monday, March 17, 2014

(Another) False Alarm

It seems that every time I write about "spring" Mother Nature reads my musings and just laughs:

Annie in the snow yesterday
Brian was in from Denver to visit Springfield for the weekend and before the snow hit we took advantage of good weather by treating him to ice cream outside(!) at Elle's before going on a nice hike at Busiek State Forest.

Brian and Dan enjoying some ice cream at Elle's

Encountered some vibrant crocuses on our walk
On Saturday we had beautiful weather. Heather and I ran the Shamrox 5k together, Heather had a great pace and led the charge finishing in just over 28 minutes and I came in at just under 29 minutes - fastest time I've run in years :-). We celebrated our successful race with a splash of Guinness.

Cheers to a great race
We also went to the St. Patrick's Parade through downtown. The kids had lots of fun catching candy (our group even enjoyed a few pieces of tootsie rolls). We were in front of an Irish Bar to watch the parade - they have quite a large crowd out front as they throw t-shirts and other chachkies out the windows above the bar.

Confetti Shoots out in front of Finnegan's Wake Irish Pub & Restaurant
On Sunday when we had snow all day the boys installed a new exhaust fan in the bathroom and we enjoyed some indoor activities; a trip to Bass Pro Shop headquarters where we enjoyed the aquariums and NRA Museum, a trip to the Springfield Art Museum and an NCAA basketball tourney game where we cheered on Drury to a win over Lake Superior State from floor seats! Drury plays again tomorrow in the Sweet Sixteen where they take on Michigan Tech (how funny that they play two teams from Michigan back-to-back?).

Largest Elk Ever caught!
Dan and Brian joking around at the Art Museum

We Are DU!
All in all it was a wonderful weekend, I should probably wrap this up as it's about time to pull my Irish Soda Bread out of the oven. Happy St. Patrick's Day friends!
Ellen with Julian and Audrey in their green from Aunt Mary

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Surer Signs of Spring

Here in Springfield St. Patrick's Day is a pretty big deal; there is a St. Patrick's Day 5k (in which a friend and I are running), there's a pet-contest and parade through downtown, there's a pub crawl and of course there are St. Patrick's Day decorations throughout our neighborhood. With St. Patrick's Day right around the corner surely spring must be on its way?

These festive leprechauns adorn a porch we walk past

This gorgeous flag flies proudly at our neighbor's house
Still not convinced? Well perhaps the abundance of crocuses sprouting up are the true barometer of spring:

Annie in front of a field of purple crocuses

Gorgeous delicate little flowers
 Perhaps you remember the yarn-bombing that we encountered last fall? Well, it's happened again! This time the mischievous knitters attacked a bench outside Homegrown Foods, our neighborhood grocery store.

Most Adorable yarn-bombing I've ever seen
Earlier this week we attended a baby shower at Drury for Elaine and Justin. Elaine is due in Mid-May. For the shower I made rubber ducky sugar cookies. There were a few leftover cookies so put a couple of them in a ziploc baggie to take to neighbors who are expecting their first child tomorrow.

Kerry, Elaine and Mary at the Baby Shower

Rubber Duckies (a shamrock for Irish Elaine)
Annie had other ideas for the leftover sugar cookies. I had naively left the cookies on the coffee table thinking that they'd be undisturbed as they were in ziploc baggies. Nope. When Dan got out of his shower this morning he found a devious Annie had devoured the first cookie and was starting to nibble her way in on the second!

Monday, March 3, 2014

The Oscars!

Dear readers my "Signs of Spring" post was premature. Yesterday we were hit with a snow and ice storm so today Annie, Dan and I are enjoying a snow day!

The birds don't seem too bothered by the snow
As a result of the snow my Oscar party turnout dwindled down to four - we Northern transplants enjoyed appetizers, champagne cocktails, flourless chocolate cake, Heather's home made cake pops and the excitement of the Oscars! The theme was vintage / thrift store red carpet.

Heather, Kerry & Mary in Red Carpet Attire
Heather and Mary do their best "I don't care" pose
Annie even asked to dress up so we put her in a stunning red collar with some silver ribbon attached for flair:
Annie looking fabulous as always
Oscar Party Decor & Cake Pops!