when the sun gives way to april showers

This past weekend was pretty filled with showers – both the rain and life-event-celebration variety. My cousin-in-law Annie had her bridal shower in Missouri and my friend Stefanie had her bridal shower in Chicago. But I missed them both because I had long-standing tickets to see Mary Poppins with my mom. So my mom came in and we took the train (it was raining, you see) and dashed into the Cadillac Palace theatre for the matinee. One of my favorite Disney movies. It was a cute show. Lots of squirming loud kids, but that was to be expected. The girl who played Mary Poppins (Ashley Brown) was straight off of Broadway and sounded very much like Julie Andrews* (my favorite lady ever.) At the end, Mary Poppins flew up into the air and over the audience. My mom and I oohed and ahhed like little girls.

*By the way, did you know I met Julie Andrews a couple years ago? At a book signing. So, yes, I have her children’s book with her signature – she signs her books Julie Andrews Edwards. It’s has a special spot on our bookshelf next to all of our other autographed books. I didn’t just get her autograph, but I actually talked to her! She asked how I was and I said “I’m well thanks.” I was too nervous to say anything else, but I definitely think I made an impression…

After the matinee we scurried over to Trattoria No. 10 for dinner and then headed back to the ‘burbs. The next morning, I did make it to another shower. We drove to Rockton for our friends Mark and April’s baby shower. So my blog post title does have a double meaning, eh? April had her shower. In April. During a rain shower. April’s shower had April showers.

Mark and April got lots of goodies and are busy putting their nursery together no doubt. Their little girl is due in June.

you can crush the flowers but you can’t stop the spring

This year for Easter we traveled home to Rockford to celebrate my mother-in-law’s birthday early. We were so excited to give Barb her presents that we made her open one on Friday night. Kari had bought her a bunch of cat accessories. The first thing she opened was some fuzzy mouse toys. “What?” She was really confused and of course we were all laughing. “No. no. no. no.” she said. “YES!” We were taking her to the animal shelter the next morning to pick out her very own kitten! I love how we didn’t give her a choice. HA! Of course, she warmed up to the idea. And of course, I was there with my camera, eager to snap pics of the new kitty. But first, the cake!

I had been reading a great foodie blog – Dinnercakes (I know the author personally through my sister-in-law!) and saw that she made a rainbow colored cake and I thought that’d be perfect for an Eastery-birthday cake for Barb. So I did my version with pastels. (The cake wasn’t homemade, so no recipe to post.) I made it two layers with white frosting. I poured green in first, and then right on top I poured the remaining colors one by one. Then, I dragged a skewer through a couple times to get the colors to move a bit.

I kept the decorating simple (because I’m so not good at that part.) But I wanted it to have the flower theme for Easter – and to go with the little birthday plate I painted for her at Color-Me-Mine. The plate looks like it was painted by a kindergartener (no offense to kindergarteners) – we’ll just say I mean it to be that way (instead of confessing my poor painting skills.) She loved it nonetheless.

The colors of the cake didn’t get as marbly-mixed as I thought they would – you could see the half-circle shapes and that’s still cool! It tasted great too!

Now for the kitty! We went to Winnebago County Animal Services and spent some time with all the kitties there. It broke my heart to see them in their little cages – meowing and pawing to get out. That was tough. But we found a perfect match for Barb! Meet Oliver.

He was a little shy when he arrived at his new home, but it didn’t take him long to start exploring. By the end of the day, he was jumping up onto tables and being held by everyone. He and Barb are gonna be best buds I can just tell! I get first dibs on cat-sitting!

You may notice that he looks a lot like a certain little kitty who’s appeared here before – but there is no relation. Nanaa is from Africa! I hope to chronicle the highly-anticipated first meeting of Ollie and Nans.

Ollie & Nans

After celebrating with Barb and getting Ollie acquainted in his new home, we headed to my Mom’s for a delicious Easter lunch. She had a turkey she wanted to “experiment” with (although all her recipes are experiments.) She did three or four different treatments on parts of it—braised, marinated, jerk-style. It was all yummy!

See more pictures from the weekend on Flickr.

gonna take your mama out all night

For my mom’s birthday, I surprised her by taking her downtown to The Wooden Spoon for a cooking class. As if the woman needs any instruction in the kitchen. But we love to cook together and this was a fun reason to go downtown on a nice spring day. There were 12 people in the class and together we created a meal of crab fritters with curry dipping sauce, goat cheese salad with roasted beets and fig-balsamic vinaigrette, pork medallions with arugula cream sauce, roasted potatoes, and a lemon custard fruit tart with raspberries. And we brought our own bottle of wine to sip on while we cooked.

Yes – those are onion goggles. Both stylish and functional.

Check out the rest of the pictures on Flickr.

The best part of the class? You got to eat what you made! It was all muy delicioso!