Librarians on the Farm

About 6-7 months ago, my friends and I started kicking around the idea of a girls’ weekend away. I think the idea had been in the ether even longer, but after I read an article about a group of women who take yearly trips to all kinds of places (sorry – I can’t remember where I read about it OR any of the specifics) and THEN read this post about another group’s “lovebomb”, I really wanted to make something like this happen for us.

So after months of planning, the announcement of two pregnancies, one home purchase, and one rescheduled wedding, 5 out of 6 of us found ourselves en route to southern Illinois last week, where we spent two days at a cabin and another day in St Louis. I wish I could bottle up and send you the essence of the weekend, but pictures and bullet points will have to do.

Making Friends

– weather in the mid-70s, driving through the country with the windows down and classic rock on the radio, the joy of driving up to a cabin and finding kitties on the porch waiting for us

– walking outside to find horses, dogs, and assorted fowl making their way up the hill to greet us, then spending the waning afternoon talking to the farmers/innkeepers about their flock and herd while a peacock cried for his mama

– being presented with a dozen of the most beautiful eggs I’ve ever seen – after debating whether we wanted duck, goose, or chicken (as said animals milled around near us)

Farm-fresh free range eggs

– after a run in the muddy woods, having the hardest decision in the morning being whether to take our coffee on the front or back porch

– hiking in the woods in the sun, relishing the changing temperature as we moved in and out of the shadow of rocky outcroppings. Also finding any excuse to say ‘outcropping’. Ice cream in a tiny hippie town after.

– sunset, campfire, grill-out with the first asparagus of the year

Angie and Erin

– the most ridiculous drive ever on country back roads, some of which looked like they might have just been driveways, some of which led over one-lane wooden bridges and by the camps of folks living off the grid – resulting in lunch at a truly insane root beer saloon and a sneak peek at a building rehab in process

Alto Pass

– falling a little bit in love with St Louis as Erin took us to favorite spots in her neighborhood

View from the Top

– most of all, spending hours and hours and hours just talking and relaxing and reconnecting with dear friends

At the beginning of the trip, we said that if we weren’t driving each other nuts by the end of it, we should make this an annual thing.  By the end of it – and in many subsequent emails – we’ve affirmed this decision, as despite travel headaches and the inevitable indecision about how to make money issues the easiest, we all arrived home relaxed, with friendships recharged and bodies and spirits rejuvenated.  It is such a blessing to have the means and the friends to make this possible!  ❤ ❤

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The Last 10 Days of Food

Gees, where to begin?  I’ve been pretty diligent about posting to date, but a weekend of friendos visiting from DC followed immediately by a mid-week trip with some of my favorite girls resulted in 10 days of nothing – and very little desire to catch up.  So here’s what I got:

Mike and Bill rolled in on the 27th, kicking off four days of beer, movies, more beer, vegetarian food, still more beer, a trip to Detroit for the guys, additional beer, dinner at Jolly Pumpkin, and oh, more beer.  I’m still not sure if I accurately captured the amount of beer that was consumed over this weekend.   This wasn’t like a woooo spring break!! kind of blow out – rather, it was a series of tastings, sharing rare or regional treats from each of their stashes.  I wish I’d taken pictures of the very serious boys taking their serious beer very seriously.  I know Shane took a picture of all of the bottles, so that’ll have to suffice.

While the boys were busy with the beer, I made a couple of tasty dinners – Butternut Squash and Fried Sage Pasta (hearty and filling, though not quite what I expected from the recipe) and tempeh tacos (always a crowd-pleaser) – and the killer spinach strata that we’d had at Shana’s on my birthday.  When the boys were late coming back from Detroit, I ate without them, then regretted it as Shane stepped up to make a really delicious Moroccan Carrot Soup (which we’re going to re-run for dinner this week).

Stradaaa

And THEN I hopped on a plane to St Louis, where my friend Erin and I collected some of the best donuts in the country and also some legendary pretzels before hitting the road to Carbondale, where we met up with Angie, Kim, and Laurie for a couple of days of hiking, snacking, napping, drinking, and relaxing with farm animals.

Fritters and Globs

In addition to delicious baked goods and a whole lot of other bad-for-us snacks, we grilled out, toasted s’mores over a campfire, and made breakfast together using two pounds of bacon and the most beautiful farm eggs I’ve seen.  We also checked out a bar and a cute breakfast place in Erin’s neighborhood and had an awesome dinner at Schlafly Bottleworks (including curry crackers that I’m committed to duplicating) on our last night in town.

Farm-fresh free range eggs

Suffice to say that the next few weeks (leading up to um, a special occasion) will should be a bit leaner on the indulgent meals – segueing nicely into the beginning of the growing season and the return of fresh things to the market.  It’s been a delicious and ridiculous ten days – and I’m very much looking forward to getting back into the kitchen and back into more normal eating.

Recipes:
Butternut Squash and Fried Sage Pasta from Self
Tempeh Tacos
Spinach and Cheese Strata from Smitten Kitchen
Moroccan Carrot Soup from Bon Appetit

Tattoo

Erin and Ben, I think you should go to this:

St. Louis Old School Tattoo Expo 2006
11/10/2006-11/12/2006

City Museum hosts three days of ink, seminars, needles, and some of the world’s best tattoo artists. Come show off old tats or get a new one–only at CM.

I’m still on the fence about getting inked. I really like my idea, but I don’t think I’m ready to do it, and wonder if I ever will be. I want some version of the credential stamp received in Santiago de Compostela tattooed either on my inner wrist – perhaps where I current wear my bracelet with the Camino’s yellow arrow – or at the nape of my neck.

Are you inked? If so, what’s the meaning behind your design?

City Museum!

The City Museum was a world of wonders! I:

  • pet a shark!
  • got stuck, literally, in a tree
  • was freed from the tree due to the efforts and help of Jason and Ryan
  • climbed around like a monkey in tunnels and caves and passageways
  • tore a hole in my pants
  • had a Fitz root beer
  • saw a two-headed snake
  • took pictures in a photobooth
  • had far more fun than I expected.

It was a fantastic day full of Hot Librarian fun, and I am very sore, very bruised, and very tired. If you’re ever in St Louis and have half a day to kill, GO. It’s magical, especially if you think you’re too old for those sorts of things. 🙂