One thing I love about farming in the lovely state Iowa is the fact that we experience all four seasons.  While I am working on extending my crops into the winter and earlier in the spring (thus decreasing the length of the off season), I fully acknowledge there is something to be said about having an “off season.”  The off season is great for recharging my battery, analyzing my numbers, educating myself (tis the season to attend conferences and read books), planning for the next season, but most importantly spending quality time with my family.

This past weekend we were able to take a little getaway to Chicago.  Eric, the boys, and I hit the road on Thursday and had a great adventure!  Both of my brothers live in Chicago so it's a perfect place for us to go.  We planned the trip around my niece's (Annabelle) 5th birthday, and the timing was perfect because my younger brother (Ben) had an art exhibit at the same time.  We stayed at an Air BnB in Oak Park, with my parents, and made some great memories.

On Friday we took the kids to the DuPage Children’s Museum.  It was such a cool place, and I can’t wait for the day when Des Moines gets something similar.  There definitely is a need for a children’s museum in our town!  The boys had a blast and we had to drag them out.  We had about a 40 minute drive back to our place, and luckily they all passed out in the car!  

That evening we visited my brother (Jon's) house, in Oak Park, and had a mini birthday celebration for Annabelle.  Jon, and his family, bought his house a few years ago and it was nice to finally get to see it.  It's a really great bungalow built in 1918.  They found a real Oak Park gem!

Saturday morning we went out for breakfast at a cute cafe, in Oak Park called, Buzz Cafe.  We were pleasantly surprised to see a bluegrass jam session happening in the back of the cafe.  It was a perfect way to start the day!

After breakfast we stopped by the Oak Park Library and then took the kids on the "L" to go downtown and see my younger brothers' art show.   The boy’s loved their ride on the "L" just as much as any other thing we did.  It was Lewis’ first experience on the train and he was a little reluctant at first, but after awhile he loved it!  Walter seemed to enjoy it the most and was glued to the window (so much so that he kept licking it...yuck)!

My brother, Ben, is finishing up his Master's of Fine Arts at the Chicago Art Institute and had his work on exhibit at the school.  It was so great to experience his show as a family because it incorporated our grandpa Bob’s ashes, and coincidentally we visited on our Grandma Norma’s birthday.  It really hit home the importance of family!  I will say I don't recommend taking a bull-headed two year old into an art show featuring fragile ceramics.  I'm just happy my son wasn't responsible for ruining any of Ben's work!

My parents graciously offered to watch all the kids on Saturday evening, so Eric and I could have dinner with my siblings.  We ate at a great Chicago restaurant called The Loyalist.  Around Christmas I happened upon this article in Midwest Living: http://www.midwestliving.com/food/sugar-and-smoke/  After reading it, I texted my brother to have him make us a reservation.  Of course I’m drawn to local eateries that pride themselves in relationships with farmers!  Around that same time, Bon Appepit magazine named their burger as one of the top three in the US.  

I had a beet & endive salad with smoked trout that was fabulous.  My husband and sister-in-law ate the 80-day aged ribeye and the rest of our party had the burgers.  The food was delicious, the atmosphere was perfect, and the company was fantastic.  All in all it was a great dinner experience!  If you're in Chicago I would recommend checking this spot out.

Before the 2018 season gets up and running we have a family (road trip) planned to Austin, Texas.  It will be my first visit to Austin, and I’m really excited!  I know there are some great things to do in the city, but if you have any recommendations for food or fun please let me know!
 

Cheers!

Your Urban FarmHer

Jenny

Ready for the road trip!

Enhancing their wood-working skills at the DuPage Children's Museum

The best birthday photo I could get!

Walter loving the "L" ride!

The fantastic menu at The Loyalist

Uncle Jon leading the way through the streets of Chicago