doughnuts · festival · fruits · healthy eating · organic

Long Grove Strawberry Fest 2019

~Last weekend my fiance and I checked out the Strawberry Festival, an annual event held in Long Grove, IL from June 21-23 (we went on the 21st since we both had the day off). It was about an hour drive from where I live, but thankfully traffic wasn’t bad. The main road took us on a detour that shuffled us to event parking by a local church. We walked a short way only to realize that neither of us had extra cash on us (the last $5 my fiance had was used for parking (though it was advertied as free parking, what a rip off!)). The woman at the entrance pointed us in the direction of the nearest ATM, where I withdrew enough money not only for entry for the two us ($5 per person) but also for spending.

Once inside the festival we were greeted by a band performing on the main stage and a group of people filing in and out of the shops adjacent to the stage. The festival sprawled across downtown Long Grove with several booths selling various strawberry flavored concoctions. One of the more unusal ones I saw was a stand selling strawberry flavored kettle corn, which I was tempted to try, but I chickened out. We walked several blocks down to explore the rest of the festival where we ended up at the Long Grove Coffee Company.

Long Grove Coffee Company

The Long Coffee Co. was cozy and reminicent of a traditional coffee shop one would see on TV. There were several small tables and even a shelf of old board games you could play. There was a wide selection of coffee, coffee blended drinks and tea to choose from, as well as a few pastries. I had a vanilla latte and a strawberry doughnut which my fiance and I split. Let me tell you, this was by far one of the best doughnuts I’ve ever had! It was a cake based doughnut (fun fact I actually prefer yeast based doughnuts) that was so light and fluffy even with chucks of strawberries baked into it, and coated with sugar but it wasn’t overwhelmingly sweet. It was so good that before we left I bought a half dozen doughnuts 🙂

Walking back on the main road to the majority of stalls at the festival we stopped at a stand from a company called Nectar of the Vine that was selling wine slushies. They came in packages where to make the slushy you combine the package with a bottle of wine (or other liquor you prefer) and equal parts water, blend and freeze for a few hours.

They had two flavors to sample, pomegrante and peach mango. I tried the pomegrante and my fiance tried the peach mango. After sampling we exchanged shots and tried the opposite flavors, both of which were delicious. After talking with the procuerer of the stand we parted ways and further into the festival. Before we left, however, I stoppped back and bought the pomegrante mix. The man had recognized us from earlier and gave me a deal: 2 mixes for $20 (each bag was $13 each)! Score! My second flavor I got was the peach mango.

The last stop, and perhaps my favorite, was a chocolatier that made everything you could possibly dip in chocolate or create with chocolate that could have easily put Willy Wonka out of business. I picked up a few chocolate dipped strawberries (the feature photo of this post) and a strip of chocolate covered bacon. The chocolate was so smooth and luckily didn’t melt on the car ride home! The strawberries were juicy and delicious.

Overall I enjoyed the Strawberry Festival more than I thought I would. It was through Facebook that I found the festival and learned from the guy at Nectar of the Vine that Long Grove also hosts a chocolate festival and an apple festival in the fall (which I hope to attend) 😀

For more info and to shop Nectar of the Vine’s vast selection of wine slushies visit https://www.nectarofthevine.com/

farmers market

I’ve emerged from hibernation

Hello everyone!

I’ve come out of my self impossed hiatus and have returned to blogging and farmer’s markets. I took 2018 off to focus on some personal and financial stuff, but I’m back! Last weekend I went to the Frankfort Country Market and had a wonderful time, which there will be a subsequent blog post about it. And this coming Memorial Day weekend my fiance (I’m engaged now! <3) and I are going back to Frankfort Country Market.

farmers market · Handmade · holiday

Countdown to Christmas

~Can you believe that Christmas is only a couple of days away?! Good thing I finished all my Christmas shopping lol. But if you didn’t, I have a place where you’ll find the perfect gift: Christkindlmarket in downtown Naperville (or Chicago, but Naperville is closer for me). I’ve been wanting to go to Christkindlmarket for years (the one in Chicago), and when I found out that Naperville is its suburban home, my desire to go intensified.

Friends of mine that had gone before advised that I go in the middle of the week because the weekends are chaotic. As advised I went this past Thursday around 12:30, and even then it was crowded. I found a parking garage a few blocks from the Naper Settlement (where they held the market) and my best shot of getting a semi-decent parking spot was on the 5th floor roof.

When I got to the market, I was overwhelmed by the astounding number of ornaments that were sold in nearly every stand. They were beautiful and delicately painted, ones that would look great on any tree. The first stand I went to was, of course, an ornament stand. Hailing from Germany and Poland, these beauties came in all shapes and sizes, boasting a different winter or holiday theme painted onto them. I didn’t go for the traditional hanging ones, but rather a flock of adorable clip on birds. I have birds (parakeets) of my own so naturally I would gravitate toward those. I can’t remember the individual price of the birds but the box containing 4 were $30. Now my little flock is nestled on the branches of our Christmas tree at home 🙂

After purchasing the bird ornaments I made a lap around the market scoping out the different stalls and deciding what I would want to eat. Nearly every market-goer was holding a red decorative mug filled with some of the richest hot chocolate I’ve ever had. To go with my hot cocoa I picked up some caramel coated cashews to munch on as I continued through the market.

I stumbled upon a stand that was a purveyor of wares made from alpaca wool. I was looking for something to match the alpaca wool hat I purchased at the Frankfort market over the summer, and I found a pair of gloves, the ones with the fingertips cut off that could also be worn as mittens, with a similar brown and white striped pattern for $25, which is very reasonable for something wool woven. The man running the stand hails from Alberta, Canada works with families in Peru and Ecuador that raise the alpacas for the wool. Support local businesses/family run operations!

After I picked up a few smaller ornaments and a gift for a friend of mine, I finished the day eating pierogi and potato pancakes. In my Happy Hanukkah! post I briefly spoke of eating them traditionally with sour cream and apple sauce, but at the Austrian Lodge the serve their pancakes 3 ways: plain, with sour cream and apple sauce, or with sour cream and smoked salmon. I opted for plain, which were deliciously crispy, but I’m biased and prefer my mom’s recipe. The pierogi at Tata’s Pierogi were plump and tender, filled with your traditional meat or potato & cheese, and a little more on the exotic side with spinach and feta. Spinach and feta isn’t exactly exotic, but I don’t see a lot of those in Polish cooking.

Overall, I absolutely fell in love with Christkindlmarket. I would for sure go again, either to Naperville or I may be brave enough and fight traffic to visit the one in Chicago.

I hope you all have a very Merry Christmas! ❤

Healthy Living · organic

Burt’s Bees Beauty Challenge: Start!

~Most people know Burt’s Bees through their lip balm, but did you know that Burt’s Bees is so much more than that? They make shampoos, face creams, body lotions, and cleansing cloths galore, catering to all skin tones. I have oily skin and because of that I am more acne prone than most (whoopee…)

I’ve tried dozens of acne cleansers, and not all are created equal. In fact, I even had a reaction to one! I’m more like every one else and familiar with Burt’s lip balm (awesome!), but when I went to the store to pick up, what else, face wash, I stumbled upon the small section of Burt’s Bees products. I selected their Gentle Foaming Cleanser with Royal Jelly, boasting their 99% natural ingredients for normal to combination skin. Wait a second…
If they’re claiming to be 99% natural, what could be in the other 1% of ingredients?

However, I’m determined to see this through to the end. For one week I’ll be using the cleanser morning and night and will post pictures of my progress, which means you get to see more of my face lol

In combination with the royal jelly cleanser, I’m using their Natural Acne Solutions spot treatment to treat some stubborn spots on my face that don’t seem to want to go away.

 

What is everyone’s experience with Burt’s Bees? Comment below!

 

farmers market · fruits · healthy eating · organic

Enter the Dragon (fruit)

~On my last trip to the grocery store (Mariano’s, my favorite!) I went home with items I had on my list and a few that weren’t. One of those was a dragon fruit. As strange as it was sitting in my cart next to the dried apricots and packages of Noosa yoghurt, there were good reasons behind it:

  1. How often do you find dragon fruit in a mainstream grocery store?! I thought you could only find those in an Asian specialty market or overseas.
  2. Dragon fruit has been one of those things that I’ve wanted to try but was too chicken to in the past. My sister’s tried it before and didn’t think much of it, so I was kind of hoping to convince her otherwise.
  3. Because what the hell?

There were actually 2 sections of dragon fruit in the produce department, those that were organic and those that weren’t. Of course I went with the organic one, even if it was a titch on the pricey side (over $3/lb). Plus the conventionally grown ones looked withered away.

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Before I ended up buying the dragon fruit, I hadn’t know much about them beside that they came from Asia and that they looked really pretty on the inside. After some research I learned that dragon fruit can also come from South America, Mexico and Israel. The specimen I purchased happened to be from Vietnam. And apparently it’s a type of cactus! Also know as ‘pitaya’, it comes in 3 colors: pink skin with white flesh (as pictured), pink sink with red flesh, and yellow skin with white flesh.

After I had cut into the fruit, but right before I pulled apart the two pieces, I did an imaginary drum roll in my head, hoping that it would look as I had predicted. It sure was!

The kiwi like black seeds were speckeled
throughout the fruit as if an artist had taken a calligraphy brush and meticulously placed each individual seed inside the flesh.

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Pitaya

Now the next question: how do I eat it?
I took a spoon, inserted it just behind the flesh up against the skin and scooped it out. Cutting each half into pieces, it was tasting time.

 

 

 

 

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I took a bite, and another….and another…. and nothing. ABSOLUTELY NOTHING. It literally had no taste whatsoever. It was like one of those popular girls in high school: pretty but with no substance.

 

*Check out these pitaya pics and more in the Photo Garden!*

Environment · healthy eating · Healthy Living · organic · vegan · veggies

Return to VeggieFest: 2017 edition

~Last year I discovered VeggieFest, a unique lifestyle festival honoring those who have the courage to refrain from meat. This time around I wanted to take my boyfriend with me to share in the experience. Truth be told, it didn’t go as well as I had imagined.

The ran fell on our proverbial  parade (it was a really nice day, not a cloud in the sky) in the form of parking. It was absolutely horrendous. When we had approached the venue, cars snaked around the lots back and forth desperate to find a spot. Unfortunately we got stuck in one of the coils and by the time we made it to the parking garage and found a spot, almost an hour had passed. Nevertheless, I was still trying to make this a positive experience for the both of us.

Once we got to the grounds where the festival was held, it was nothing but tents and a massive crowed of people sprawled before us. I immediately bee-lined for the international food court, which is what I was most looking forward to. You pay for food at the food court in the form of food tickets, where the exchange was $1= 1 ticket. I bought $20 worth of tickets, hoping to try a few different things, especially stuff I didn’t try or get the chance to try last year.

The first thing I tried as soy beef & broccoli with noodles and veggies for 6 tickets from a Chinese stand. It must have been popular because there was a long line. And for good reason because it was delicious! Even though I knew it wasn’t beef, it tasted just like beef! My boyfriend thought it was pretty tasty too, mentioning that he liked the beef alternative BETTER! But I still think he’ll stay a carnivore ;P

Next was a selection of his choosing: veggie burgers. I’ve had a few veggie burgers in the past (mostly at the cafeteria in college) and they weren’t that great, so I was a little on the fence about it. But that too turned out to be delicious!

After we ate our way around the food court we wandered around the rest of the festival peering at the different vendor’s tents while live music played in the background. One thing I noticed was really popular among festival goers was boxed water. Essentially it was purified water in a carton rather than a plastic bottle to be more environmentally conscious. I liked the idea of it, and it was refreshing. I wondered where i could find it?

Unlike last year, I only purchased a bottle of peppermint oil from the doTERRA vendor. I was also disappointed to find that the people selling the mango nectar and Doug & Katia from Waterfall Glen weren’t at the festival.

While this year may not have been as fun as last year, VeggieFest is still something I would definitely check out and recommend to anyone who is either vegetarian, vegan or wants to do something fun and free (free admission and parking!)