Farmer’s Markets

The Low-Line Market at Southport

One of my favorite summertime pastimes in Chicago is the farmer’s markets. Chicagoans are really spoiled with a slew of farmer’s markets to choose from — downtown, nestled in neighborhoods and some that are even open in the evenings. I love being able to pick up fresh produce for dinner or even the whole week at a fraction of the price I’d pay at Whole Paycheck. And given our proximity to Wisconsin, there are always cheese curds to be had. Bonus!

So when I found out about a new farmer’s market just a stone’s throw away from home, I had to check it out. The Low-Line Market sits under the Southport brown line stop in Lakeview, and this is the first year for it. It’s held on Thursdays from 4 – 8 p.m. (until September 12th when it ends at 7 p.m.), and I love that a) it stretches into the evening, and b) it runs through mid-October. I see kettle corn and caramel apples in my future. Not only that, but they actually have stuff left in the evening, as was evidenced by a recent trip there at about 6:30 p.m.

While a relatively small farmer’s market, The Low-Line Market had a fairly decent selection when I went, and of course, all from local farmers and purveyors. Personally, I prefer smaller, more manageable markets like this as opposed to huge, crowded ones like Green City Market anyway.

There seemed to be more baked goods than fresh produce or meat, so if you have a sweet tooth, this place is definitely worth checking out. But we skipped past the pastries to grab produce and massive pork steaks for Friday night dinner. I couldn’t resist the Wisconsin cheese and butter stand, though, and picked up this ridiculous garlic basil butter from Nordic Creamery. I can attest to its heavenly-ness when schmeared on a warm, toasty bagel (hungry yet?).

Low-Line Market finds
Low-Line Market finds

Next time we’ll definitely be hitting up Puffs of Doom, since I foolishly missed out on the fact that in addition to their sweet puffs, they have savory, too. A jalapeno popper chicken puff would’ve made for a great dinner.

Gandhi Smriti, New Delhi, India

I loathed the Chester Beatty Library. I did not enjoy the Louvre. I somewhat enjoyed Musee d’Orsay, mainly because it’s smaller than the Louvre and much more manageable. And by “much more manageable,” I mean that you don’t have to spend half of your day there to see everything (although I’m sure you could if you wanted to).

Simply put, I’m not a huge fan of visiting museums. There, I said it. Call me uncultured, but I’d much rather spend my time wandering the streets of a new city versus poking my nose into a museum for hours on end. It has to be something that I’m super interested in in order to get me to oblige, or, as is often the case with my husband, there has to be some trade-off involved. “I’ll sit on the beach with you tomorrow afternoon if we can go to this medieval bla bla bla museum today.”

There are a few exceptions to this, such as The Little Museum of Dublin (admittedly, it was the U2 exhibit that drew me in but I truly loved the whole place), The Tate Modern and to my surprise, Gandhi Smriti. I don’t know that terribly much about Gandhi other than the basics that most everyone knows—he was a peace activist in India. But our tour guide in New Delhi strongly recommended a visit, and I’m so glad that he did. It was one of my favorite stops while there.

World Peace Gong

I find it difficult to explain India to people who haven’t been there, and the same is true for Gandhi Smriti. At the risk of sounding cliché, it is, in a word, moving. Gandhi Smriti is the house where Gandhi lived the last five months of his life, and where he was ultimately assassinated when walking to the prayer ground on the back side of the property.

Many of Gandhi’s personal belongings remain intact, and you really get a sense of how simply he lived from his “bedroom” setup and the rest of the home. “Bedroom” gets quotes because it was by no means a bedroom of today’s standards, rather, just a small cot in the corner of a mostly empty room.

Gandhi Smriti
Gandhi’s “bedroom”

The home is preserved in the fashion that it was when Gandhi lived there, and one of the most powerful parts of the museum is the outline of Gandhi’s final footsteps that he took before being assassinated. Again, cliché, but it did send a chill up my spine.

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Prayer grounds where Gandhi was assassinated

Good to Know

Definitely a must-see in New Delhi regardless of your knowledge of or interest in Gandhi. Plan to spend an hour or two.

Admission is free!

Good for kids, especially school-age.

Friday Faves: June 14, 2013

Three weeks into mommy-hood and all of my hair is still in tact (although I’ve noticed more and more grays popping through…) and I haven’t done anything completely absent-minded like leave our car running for five hours (I leave that to my husband…), so I’m chalking this up as a win so far.

And since I have all this free time now that I’m at home all summer (can you hear the cynical laughter all the way from Chicago?), perhaps I will be better about blogging. Or not. While I ponder that, here are some of my favorites from this week.

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My husband did suggest that I carve out some time to write more while I’m at home. And I’m trying to. It is one of my favorite things and I wish I did more of it. I’d like to write more and read more, especially things by some of my favorites like Jean Thompson. I just love the way she writes. I’ve gone so far as to download The Year We Left Home to my Kindle, and hopefully one day soon I’ll actually start reading it.

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I developed a bit of a sweet tooth when I was pregnant, and sadly, even though the baby has left the building, the sweet tooth has not. So it was a good and bad thing when I recently discovered Lucerne’s birthday cake ice-cream. I typically favor basic flavors or anything chocolatey; birthday cake ice-cream wouldn’t at all appeal to me ordinarily. Well thank goodness for the samples at the grocery store, because that’s the only reason I tried  it. And it is awesome. Seems not all grocery stores carry this brand, though.

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Between breastfeeding and pumping, I’m watching an inordinate amount of TV these days. So thank goodness my favorite smut is back with a new season. It really makes me miss living in Jersey…

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One of the things I haven’t been watching on TV is the NHL playoff games (go Hawks! … I guess?), but now that it’s down to the end and my former city is facing my current city, I might have to start. Though I think dubbing the teams more brothers than rivals is a bit of a stretch.

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I love everything about the Tube. It’s the most civilized form of public transportation I’ve ever traveled. What a novel concept for passengers to wait until people get off the train before they pile in. And don’t even get me started on the brilliance of the “stand on the right” signage on the escalators — and the fact that people actually obey! Chicago El riders could learn a thing or two.

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We’ll undoubtedly take a road trip here or there this summer, which will require some rejiggering as Daisy and her bed previously hogged roughly 75% of the backseat. That’s not going to work with a car seat now taking up 50% of the backseat, not to mention a stroller taking up 50% of the trunk. These camp mat travel beds just might be the solution, although at $100 a pop, Daisy should start saving her pennies now.

Pardisus La Perla, Playa del Carmen, Mexico

By the time you turn 35, you can do pretty much whatever you want to celebrate your birthday. You can go all out, or you can let the day pass with little fanfare. Being a fan of my day, I prefer the former. So this past year, I decided we were going on a beach getaway for my birthday. After all, 35 is a bit of a milestone in my book. And a milestone demands a notable celebration.

So we cashed in our Capital One miles and booked a long weekend to Playa del Carmen. And after not too much debate, we decided to stay at Paradisus la Perla, an all-inclusive luxury resort in Riviera Maya. R & R, here we come!

The resort is about 45 minutes or so from Cancun International Airport. I highly recommend using one of the many shuttle services and booking it before you even arrive. Otherwise, you’ll have to go with one of the vultures waiting to attack you the second you leave the baggage claim area at the airport. It actually reminded me a little bit of when we first arrived in Hyderabad, India. We went with Best Day which seemed reasonable enough. They were on time, nice enough and got us to our hotel in one piece.

Paradisus is nestled in its own little secluded area and there is plenty of security (you’ll see them lining the tall brick wall out past the resort grounds). The grounds are really well-manicured and it feels like a tropical paradise.

Pardisus la Perla

Our room overlooked the pool and the beach, and it even had a balcony with a jacuzzi tub.  In theory, it seemed like a swell idea when we first checked into our room, but we didn’t end up using it a single time while we were there.

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Given that we were escaping the cold, Chicago winter, we spent pretty much the bulk of our days on the beach or at the pool. In December, it was a nice, hot 90 degrees or so on the beach. So our days consisted of waking up (shockingly early on most days), “claiming” chairs at either the beach or the pool (Paradisus has a stretch of private beach with chairs and towels, but you have to stake your claim early in the day) and then grabbing breakfast before sitting in the sun.

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By midday, we typically transitioned to one of the pools on the property and had lunch. Maybe it was the pregnancy hormones, but my favorite meal we had while at Paradisus was the daily poolside lunch, which was a grilled chicken wrap for me every single day (and for the record, mine’s a virgin pina colada).

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Although it was downright steamy most days, the pool water was still a little too cold to enjoy. I forced myself in a few times because it was just so hot, but I couldn’t handle the chill long enough to get prune hands. Had it been summertime, I might’ve been jealous of the swim-up rooms where you can take a dip right from your patio, but not the case in December.

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If you can’t handle the heat, there are also these cabanas lining the perimeter of the pools. But again, you have to get up bright and early to claim one before they’re all gone for the day.

DSC_1390Good to Know

Make your life easier. Book your transfer from the airport to the hotel in advance of arriving in Cancun.

Explicitly request a room with a queen or king bed if you’re traveling with your schmoopie. We were stuck with two double beds which is a little too close for comfort for a pregnant gal and a 6’2″ fella.

Treat yourself to Yhi spa. I had one of the best massages ever (and it was a pre-natal massage, to boot), which I don’t always find to be the case at hotel spas.

Take advantage of poolside drinks and food. The first day we didn’t even know it was offered because we didn’t see any servers, but it is. And the food is very good and the drinks very refreshing on those hot days.