June 28, 2010

Best Burgers Ever!

As the 4th of July approaches, and we move full swing into that blissful season known as summer, it's time to get grilling.  Surprisingly (or maybe not) Clever Girl has a handy new book to help you do just that.  
Bobby Flay's Burgers, Fries & Shakes,  is a dynamite cookbook packed with great OUTSTANDING burger recipes that put a twist on traditional.   I think every family must have some sort of backyard burger standard--the hamburger that we toss together and, while certainly good, this burger book will help you make it even better. Case in point: The Cheyenne Burger, which gets slathered with homemade barbecue sauce and then piled high with bacon and shoestring onion rings.  
Or how about this clever California Burger, combining avocados, cilantro, fresh lime juice and just a touch of spicy jalapeƱo.  Sounds quite good, right?  (Please note that our in-house chef, Michelle, has road tested quite a few of these already, and reports each one better than the last. True Clever Girls really do research these kind of things...)
California Burger
So, as you begin to prepare for the big weekend, be sure to have a copy of this book on hand, and plenty of napkins too.  And stay tuned--we have a tasty cocktail recipe coming soon to put a little fuel in your 4th!

June 24, 2010

Safety First

Exciting news for Western Springs!  Safety Village of Western Springs is now open.  Safety Village teaches 5 and 6 year old children more than fifty different facets of safety in a hands-on, fun and educational way.  Children drive toy cars through the streets of a miniature Western Springs, practicing good safety mixed with lessons, songs, movies and live characters.  Each child has the opportunity to make a real 911 call, explore a real fire truck, police car and ambulance, along with "escaping" from the fire safety house.  They also get to meet a whole cast of safety characters including: Cinders the Fire Dog, Bike-O the clown, Beltman, Buckle Bear, McGruff and Buster the School Bus.  

Clever Girl Building

The original Safety Village has been operating in Hinsdale for almost three decades, and more than 8,000 children have attended the two week program which is filled to capacity every year.  This wonderful educational experience was founded by the Satkamp family in memory of Katie Satkamp, who was killed in a school bus accident at the age of 7.  Katie's sisters and friends now live in Western Springs and are the driving force behind this outstanding program.  Thanks to them, the children of Western Spring now have the opportunity to participate in this very valuable learning experience.  Bravo. 

June 8, 2010

Shine On...

We've raved about Dash and Albert rugs in the past, but it bears repeating.  There are so many charming patterns to choose from--and early summer is the perfect time to spruse up with color.  I've personally used their "Rain or Shine" rugs outside now for two seasons, and they really do still look like new.  I have the Pond Stripe, shown below (dog not included) and it still looks great as it starts a third summer.  Here's the secret: Twice a year I scoop it up and take it with me to the do-it-yourself car wash.  Hit it with the power washer, and shake it dry. Poof.  Brand new rug.  
So, while the Summer is still young, and the BBQ's are still ahead of us, this is the time to dress up your outdoor spaces with a shot of color that's soft under bare feet, forgiving to the elements, and will make a leisurely Sunday brunch just a bit more special.  Try it.  You'll see...

June 4, 2010

Ever the Same in Maine

I've just returned from a wonderful two weeks in Maine, and am so happy to report that the essence of it remains ever the same....
Chicago is left behind, and as we drive East my anticipation mounts...we journey into beautiful upstate New York, then Massachusetts, a quick zip through New Hampshire, and then we hit the Maine State Line.  "Welcome to Maine" reads the sign.  As we whiz up Route 1 I worry that there will be some huge new housing development, or that ugly billboards will clutter the roadside--but Maine remains (blissfully) as ever.  Status quo has never looked so good.  This year the Lupin are blooming more than I've ever seen--all along the Bristol Road large, bright, purple patches appear around almost every bend.  The pine forest rises up to greet us, and the scent of the briny low tide wafts into the car as a familiar greeting.  The mist and fog hug the coast, although the sun waves a quiet hello through the clouds every now and then.  Reilly & Son Grocery, with it's sloping wooden floors remains exactly the same, and we pop in to stock up on coffee and other basics. The tidy yellow house at the curve is bursting with pansies, buttercups and poppies in bloom as we wind our way up the dirt road towards home.  Here we are! The dogs tumble out of the car--we all rush to the deck and scan the ocean.  The lobster buoys are out, the seagulls are soaring and the waves are crashing on the rocks below.   Yup.  Same as ever.  

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