Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Positively HAPPY NEW YEAR 2015


by Mauverneen

 It's that time of year again. Time to start thinking about those resolutions. Like Janus, the Roman god with two faces who looks at both past and future, we tend to do the same. Janus presided over the beginning and ending of conflict, war and peace; the doors of his temple open in time of war and closed to mark the peace. A god of transitions, journeys and exchange.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Positively Christmas 2014

by Mauverneen

I know not everyone celebrates Christmas – this is for those who do.

Most people love decorating their homes for Christmas, from a simple tree or a candle in the window to a full blown ‘Griswold’ effect. Some are over the top, cluttering the yard with every plastic snowman, blow up santa, candy cane and gingerbread man ever made. Some are simple. Some are thrown together and some are meticulously put together, with every bulb in line. Driving around in the evening to check them out is always fun.
 

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Positively YIKES!

by Mauverneen


 YIKES! Christmas is a week away. A WEEK AWAY!


I’m not ready. I haven’t shopped, I haven’t baked, I haven’t  - well, I really haven’t even thought much about it.
 

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

POSITIVELY ILLUMINATING - part 2

 by Mauverneen

It's back for a second run! If you are anywhere near the Morton Arboretum between Nov. 21 and January 3 - This is well worth the trip! Mesmerizing and delightful, it's a great Christmas time event! Great for the family, a romantic evening out, or just to bring out the kid in yourself.


Christmas is right around the corner and malls, parks, zoos and individual homeowners are putting up holiday displays.  Trees, nativity sets, plastic snowmen – what have you.  And lights.  Lots and lots of lights. 

The Morton Arboretum in Lisle Illinois is putting on a very different kind of light show this holiday season. Called Illumination, it is a show of lights that celebrates trees in a very festive and totally different way. It is a one-of-a-kind lighting event and the first ever for the 91 year old arboretum.

 
Visitor Center and outdoor sitting area

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Positively NOLA - Beyond the Quarter

by Mauverneen


One can spend hours just circling Jackson Square and days exploring the French Quarter, which by far attracts the largest amount of tourists in New Orleans. But the city is more than that. Far more.

Frenchman Street is on the edge of the quarter and is especially busy at night when crowds spill in and out of clubs and bars where the music is good. The crowd there is young for the most part, and what might be called ‘hippies’ tend to congregate on the sidewalks in spots. But they are friendly, and fun for the most part.
 
Frenchman Street

Then of course, there is the Garden District, home to Commander’s Palace and the many mansions of the rich and sometimes the famous (such as author Anne Rice).


Gorgeous mansions
 
Commanders Palace has an excellent Jazz Brunch on weekends. If you’re in the mood to splurge this is the place. My first trip to New Orleans I took a streetcar ride down to Washington Avenue where the restaurant is a short walk off St. Charles, their blue and white striped awning an easy-to-spot landmark.
The St. Charles Streetcar

Tours of the Garden District are offered and are a good idea if you are into history and architecture. Admiring the beautiful homes is one thing, but having a little background thrown in is a definite plus! Shopping and dining options in the District are plentiful and Magazine Street is where you’ll find it.

There are plantation homes too, just outside the city. Tours are available to visit a number of them. If you have a car, a good map will get you there.

Ante bellum plantation
 Artists and writers have found inspiration in New Orleans for years. Some have lived here - Tennessee Williams, Truman Capote, John Kennedy Toole, Anne Rice - to name just a few.  Many others have found the city to be the perfect setting for their novel or movie.

Food is also an art here in the Big Easy. Home of so many specialty dishes it’s mind boggling. From Beignets to Bananas Foster to Oysters and Crawfish to Eggs Benedict to Poboys to Muffalettas to Jambalaya and Gumbo to … well, I could go on and on. But you get the picture. I had the ‘Redneck Eggs’ for breakfast at Elizabeths one morning - poached eggs on Fried Green tomatoes with Hollandaise Sauce and a side of Praline Bacon. Oh. My. The Bananas Foster stuffed French Toast is delicious as well, but, um…. You’d better have a H U G E appetite if you order that!

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 



And although I know it won’t taste the same I had to buy a jar of olive relish to try and make Muffalettas at home. The friendly guy behind the counter at Central Grocery gave me an impromptu history of the place while he fixed and heated my sandwich. It made a mighty fine lunch with a glass of white wine.

The Gumbo Fest was in full swing the weekend I was there. Louis Armstrong Park was filled with artists, food vendors and an entertainment stage – all Free! The smoked gumbo was outstanding as was the shrimp and crawfish mac and cheese. The entertainment – from the Cajun and Zydeco to the high school marching bands – had crowds dancing. It was early November and it felt like summer, being outdoors, sampling good food and listening to good music.


And of course I have to mention the cemeteries. They are spooky, yet beautiful, and spark a wildfire in the imagination. I have driven out to Metairie and spent hours perusing some of the most beautiful tombs. This trip I stopped in at Lafayette Cemetery, across the street from Commander’s Palace. It’s not hard to see where Anne Rice likely got some of her inspiration!

Scenes in Metairie

 
Tombs in Lafayette Cemetery


Stones in a heart shape - makes me wonder -is someone paying respect or is there a little voodoo going on here???
There are other neighborhoods and other tourist attractions I have yet to see – and I can’t wait to get back and check out a few more.

Although I did not get my fortune told in Jackson Square while I was there, I think I see another visit to the Crescent City in my future. Soon. Very soon!

As always, words and photos are my own, and require permission to reprint.
However, feel free to share the blog in it's entirety. In fact, I encourage it!
 
Interested in photo prints? Contact me! maureenblevins@yahoo.com
and visit my website: http://mauverneen.com


Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Positively NOLA - The French Quarter

by Mauverneen
Welcome to the French Quarter!
As I wandered the streets of the French Quarter on my recent visit I was so thankful that it had survived. What a tragedy it would have been to lose all of this – this history, this architecture, this joie de vivre that is New Orleans. It is not nicknamed The Big Easy for nothing!
Window dressing
I had been to New Orleans twice before – both times pre-Katrina. It had been too long.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Positively Wedding Bells

by Mauverneen


It was a destination wedding and the destination was New Orleans! Several months of intense planning by the bride-to-be and her fiancé put together an outstanding event.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Positively Witchy!

by Mauverneen


Witches at the Mansion
 My daughter and I decided to attend Witches Night Out. I had seen flyers in previous years and thought it would be fun but never made it. This year it moved from a downtown Joliet venue to the Jacob Henry Mansion, a Gothic looking Renaissance Revival 3 story built in 1873. A cross between elegant and spooky - what better setting could there be?

As we drove up the street we passed witches in cars and witches on foot – nary a broomstick in sight. What fun to see groups of witches heading to a party.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Positively Copshaholm

by Mauverneen

Mansion? South Bend? Who’d have thought!


Copshaholm - the Oliver Mansion
I had the pleasure recently of touring the Oliver Mansion in South Bend, Indiana. It sits adjacent to the Studebaker Museum as part of the Center for History. I was meeting the Greater Illlinois Region of the Classic Car Club for a tour, but was running a little late. As it turned out I was not the only one. Our ticket options were cars, mansion, or both. We bought tickets for both but as it turned out we had no time to see the cars.  Unfortunate, as they have an outstanding collection of vehicles, but we were not at all sorry that we chose to see the mansion.
 

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Positively Pumpkin Time Again

by Mauverneen

Last year I had the pleasure of attending an entirely different type of pumpkin fest  – The Glass Pumpkin Patch at The Morton Arboretum in Lisle, Illinois. This year's fest is this upcoming weekend: October 15th to the 19th. I am definitely going and plan on bringing one of them home with me this time.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Positively Glorious!

by Mauverneen


The weather here the past couple of weeks as been Positively Glorious! The rains we seemed to  have had all summer are spent, leaving behind turquoise skies and sunny days. It’s the kind of weather that makes you want to take long, leisurely walks in the morning, kicking up leaves on a country path, and then sit by a blazing fire in the evening basking in the glow and the warmth of both the flames and a glass of good wine, falling asleep with the lingering smell of a campfire in your hair.


I have been feeling lazy these recent fine days, just wanting to find a cozy spot and turn my face to the sun and soak up all the warmth I can before winter makes its frigid appearance. My dog Bailey and I sit on the deck and watch the hummingbirds do their final forays to the feeders, knowing any day they may be gone – out on their suspended road trip. We fight the bees, but we suffer through it, watching them and occasional butterflies do their flower hopping.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Summer's End

by Mauverneen
Hummingbird on lookout
Summer is winding down; birds are starting to flock, the hummingbirds are crazy - sucking the feeders dry, the trees have spots of color here and there and those big yellow school buses are everywhere. Lately it seems there is a hummingbird on every feeder, protecting it's own food supply, chasing off any other bird that even looks in it's direction. And of course contending with the bees that become so obnoxious this time of year.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Positively Bailey!

by Mauverneen


Last week was National Dog Day – A day to raise Awareness for homeless dogs, rescue dogs, dogs in shelters, dogs that might get put down if someone doesn’t adopt them.  I knew that when I did get ready to get a dog it would be from one of the shelters.

But.

I live in a tiny space, I can’t have too big a dog, I don’t want too small a dog, I don’t have a fenced yard, I .… ; I had a list of excuses.  Thursday one of my daughters posted a photo to my Facebook page of a dog that was up for adoption. Friday morning, I had a dog.

Well, he was darn cute and several people chimed in on just how cute he was and that he looked like one of the family.  I thought I might as well go check him out. I had nothing else to do that day.   

We spent some time in a ‘play room’ and when I left the room to ask a few questions, I found him waiting by the door when I came back. Hmmm.
 

Looking at him in my car I thought ‘What have I gotten myself into?’

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Positively World Elephant Day

by Mauverneen  

Today is World Elephant Day.









I consider myself fortunate indeed to have seen elephants in the wild on my trip to Kenya, Africa a few years ago.

 Magnificent, awe-inspiring creatures!

I am sharing a few of my photos here. I am also adding a link to world elephant day.org. When you have 30 minutes I urge you to watch the video on how Thailand is reintroducing elephants into the wild. It is well worth your time!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Positively Cruising

by Mauverneen
My pick of the day

I decided to go out to a local cruise night last night, in Lockport, IL, just a few miles up the road. Seems like almost every town has them during the summer months and admittedly some are better than others, but they are always enjoyable. Lockport had quite the turn out! Held on Monday evenings, it’s a great way to prolong the weekend and take the bite out of Monday.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Positively Perfect Pairings


by Mauverneen


Wine and cheese, Beer and Brats, Antique cars and horses – I don’t know, somehow they go together.
 
Looks more like a champagne car than a beer car

It was billed as guy’s day out at the Arlington Park Race Track – cars, horse racing and beer tasting. Personally I don’t drink beer. I could have tasted those beers all day and they would all taste the same to me – like beer. But antique cars? Horses? Love ‘em!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

POSITIVELY Hemingway

by Mauverneen

My mother is a great Ernest Hemingway fan.  Her favorite book of all time is The Sun Also Rises. When I found out he was born and raised in Oak Park, IL, I thought she might enjoy a trip to the Ernest Hemingway museum and his birthplace. So my aunt, my mom and I took a field trip. It turned out to be better than we expected.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

POSITIVELY BUGGY

by Mauverneen


'Show me some tobacco'

a:  an insect or other creeping or crawling invertebrate (as a spider or centipede)
b:  any of several insects (as the bedbug or cockroach) commonly considered obnoxious

My kitchen sink is being invaded by large black ants. I know – the sink? But, yes, that’s where they seem to want to hang out, in spite of the fact that I have several strategically placed ant traps. I’m used to ants getting into the hummingbird feeders – but the kitchen sink? I thought they didn’t like water!

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Positively Loving the Classics


by Mauverneen
I do love the old cars.

If you are going to be anywhere in the neighborhood of OakBrook, Illinois on Sunday, June 15th, the Father’s Day Car Show will be going on from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. at the Oakbrook shopping center. An annual event put together by the Greater Illinois Region of the Classic Car Club of America, it will have approximately 200 antiques, classics and some specialty cars on display for your viewing pleasure.
 

The focus of the Classic Car Club of America is of course on the ‘Grand Classics’ – cars manufactured before 1948. Although not all cars in those years qualify for that designation, the club does publish a comprehensive list on their website. If you’re interested in the classics you can find out about the various regional clubs across the country on their website as well. You need not be an owner, just an admirer – like me.

For anyone as enamored of these old cars as I am, car shows are a great way to get to see them. Lots of them. A number of the cars on display come from ‘collections’, museums, have won awards at some prestigious shows like Pebble Beach, Amelia Island, Pinehurst, etc. and some have belonged to VIPs and Hollywood stars.  It’s so nice to know that these pieces of history are being preserved and loved and shared. And driven.
Chic indeed!
 
Who’s head doesn’t turn at the sight of an ‘old car’ – classic or not – tooling down the road. And if they are in the course of a tour or a run, seeing several going by at once is a sight to behold. Owners are very protective of these ‘babies’ and some don’t get driven, but trailered to and from. It’s amazing though how many of these cars are driveable. Much of the fun in owning one is the chance to take it out on the road.
Classic Hood ornament
 
Awesome details

If you have a dad who loves the old cars, it’s a pretty neat way to spend some time together.  If you love the old cars, come early and enjoy the show, you’ll still have time to head on over afterwards and spend some quality time with dad. And if you’re not in the vicinity of this particular show, look up some classic car shows in your area. View the cars, talk to the owners – they love to talk about their cars. And who knows – you just might fall in love – with a Deusenberg. Or a Packard. Or a……
 
 

As always, words and photos are my own, and require permission to reprint.
However, feel free to share the blog in it's entirety. In fact, I encourage it!
 
Interested in photo prints? Contact me! maureenblevins@yahoo.com
and visit my website: http://mauverneen.com

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Positively Cooking!

by Mauverneen 

The National Restaurant Association had it’s annual trade show at McCormick Place in Chicago this month. Oooh what culinary fun!
 

Everyone who was anyone was hawking their wares at the show. There were dishes, ovens, sinks, gadgets, celebrity and non-celebrity chefs, new technology in meat thermometers, blenders, wine aerators and stoppers, cutting tools, cleaning supplies, uniforms, utensils, furniture and delivery options – it was all there. Over 2000 vendors on three exhibit floors. Whether you are a supplier or an end user, there was everything the food industry had to offer.

 

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Wheels O' Time - Positively Delightful!

by Mauverneen


Just outside Peoria, Illinois, the little town of Dunlap houses a surprisingly delightful museum. Called Wheels O’ Time, it is the lifelong work – and joy – of Gary and Jan Bragg. 

It began in 1978, when Gary and his friend John Parks decided to join forces and build a garage to store their vehicles in.  Both were classic car aficionados – Bragg owned 6 or 7 and Parks around 15.  They built their garage and almost immediately began to attract visitors.  The rest, as they say, is history.
Rare Fokker triplane replica overhead, antique autos on the ground, and one of 2 murals painted by the Bragg's son-in-law

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Positively Earth Day

by Mauverneen

Big Sur, California
It’s spring – at least in this hemisphere - which seems to me the perfect time to celebrate Earth Day.  Things are coming back to life. Grass is greening, trees are budding, water is flowing, and animals are giving birth to their young.  What a celebration.

Red Wing Blackbird, Illinois
Earth day is a day to celebrate the wonders of our planet but it is also a reminder that we need to work to keep it that way. Just like we need to exercise and eat right to stay healthy and in good physical shape, we need to work at keeping this planet healthy and in good shape. We have to find a way to keep our water clean, our soil free of contaminants, our resources from being depleted.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Positively Neighborly

by Mauverneen

We have finally had some sunshine and warmer weather this past week so I’ve been celebrating by having my morning coffee outside with some new neighbors - a pair of hawks that are building a nest in one of the trees behind the house.  Of course, I’m the one having the coffee while they do all the nest building.  I am not sure what kind of hawks these are – I’m guessing they’re Cooper’s Hawks.

Early morning watch - who's watching who?