Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Alton, Illinois - Zip Lining

The rest of our vacation was filled with days walking the dogs (daughter), feeding a swan (daughter), driving the golf cart around like a mad man (son) and eating every single kind of Haagen- Dazs ice cream available in the Midwest (me). 
Two days, we especially enjoyed were filled with a visit to Alton where we had a very delicious lunch at "My Just Desserts" and admired the apartment of my cousin and her boy-friend who are lucky enough to live there. 
I wouldn't mind living in an old brick house right next to the Mississippi!

 Another day that made an impression on me was the day son, cousin and her boy-friend went zip lining in the pouring rain. To this day I don't know how they climbed this gigantic wall without slipping...


Sunday, October 14, 2012

"Locally Grown Gardens" In Indianapolis

A must, must, must when visiting Indianapolis is a stop at "Locally Grown Gardens" a very unique place that sells local produce, delicious meals, imported soda, olive oil from Italy and housewares that you wouldn't expect to find in Indiana. 

It is an incredibly charming place, styled with shabby chic furniture and indoor and outdoor seating. It has a lot of thoughtful and cute touches like the bowl with water for dogs walking by or the fresh herbs, planted in huge pots in front of the store. There is only one room where you can sit down and eat and it looks like someone's aunt's living room/ library. 
It's very informal with fantastic food - exactly the way I like it! 

Thanks to the gluten free diet I have to stick to, I couldn't try the Sugar Cream Pie but the kids said it is very, very good and worth its price. They also loved the Peach Pie and the Baby Greens with Ginger Citrus Vinaigrette.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Indianapolis Museum Of Art and The Lilly House & Gardens

Definitely worth a visit when in Indianapolis are the Lilly House and Gardens which are located on the IMA - Indianapolis Museum of Art - property. 
The grand mansion, home of businessman, philanthropist and collector J.K. Lilly Jr is now a museum. If you are interested in how the incredibly rich lived in the 1930s or what a country estate used to look like the Lilly house is a prime example. 

Side view of the Lilly House. There is no entrance fee and we just walked through it quickly...

...pretending to be the lady of the house...

                                               ...or pretending not to know the pretend lady... me though, the Gardens were even more enjoyable. We parked our car at the Greenhouse Shop, walked to the Lilly house and then through part of the 152 acre grounds.

             There are the Oldfields/Lilly House Gardens, the Rain Garden, the Garden for Everyone,

                        Nonie's Garden and 100 Acres, woodland, a lake, meadows and wetlands.


                                         We walked and walked till, at last, we got to the IMA.

One of the largest general art museums in America, it is probably still mostly know for this piece of art:

Robert Indiana's LOVE sculpture. Recreated and shown in various cities around the world, the original has been in Indianapolis since 1970. Supposedly, the IMA is one of the top 10 locations for marriage proposals in America - right in front of the famous LOVE statue.

Some of the plants found on the grounds can be purchased at the lovingly set up Greenhouse, which also has a small gift shop.
Very visitor friendly, the IMA and grounds have free general admission. There is free Wi-Fi at the museum and the Lilly House. Most parking is free and you can bring your dog as long as he is on a leash.
While we were there we saw people using the benches for picnics and there were quite a few mothers who brought their children to the gardens after school to play or read books.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Museum Of The Grand Prairie, Mahomet, Illinois

The Museum of the Grand Prairie is a charming little museum, perfect for grasping the attention of kids, no matter what age. There are a lot of hands on exhibits like Abraham Lincoln's buggy or a pub he frequented called "Kelley's Tavern". There are replicas of clothes worn at the time and old photographs of people living in the area. It is a perfect place to show children how the settlers lived and worked.

Located right next to the museum is the "Mabery Gelvin Botanical Garden". Just as charming, it invites you to explore the diverse local flora, drive or walk through a covered bridge, hike on one of the well kept trails or swing on a set of swings. They also have a One-Room Schoolhouse on the premises, unfortunately we missed that one.

This is one of the museums/gardens I was really taken with. It rather small but everything is put together in a very personal and lovingly way. The kids didn't want to leave!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Butterfly House in St Louis, Missouri

The Butterfly House in St Louis is located in a glass conservatory which houses over 60 tropical butterfly species. You have to enter this special place by walking through a door where you have to wait a few minutes before being led through another door, where immediately you will be surrounded by tropical plants and butterflies flying around you.

Some are very colorful and surprisingly large and might just land on you while walking around or sitting on one of the benches.

The rest of the Butterfly House exists out of a little gift shop, a room where a film about butterflies is shown, some displays and the cockroach box, which my children found surprisingly fascinating.

There are thousands of cockroaches climbing all over each other, perfectly visible because the box is made out of glass, the top is open and in the middle there is a glass bubble which gives you a very close up view. (Yikes.)

If you get there early enough you can purchase a tiny cup full of "cockroach food" (looked a lot like fish food) from the gift shop. They only sell a few a day in order not to overfeed the bugs.

I was really amazed by the butterflies but my children might have liked the cockroaches even more.
(What is wrong with them?!!!)

Friday, September 28, 2012

Nickelback Backstage

Husband and I got to meet the guys from Nickelback!

Ballard Nature Center, Illinois III

For the third summer in a row, I took the kids to the Ballard Nature Center in Effingham and made them pose behind the trail sign. Just like last year. And the year before that.

And just like the years before the Midwest sun was super bright and they had a hard time looking towards the camera.

Once, daughter and I took Yoyo there in the rain. He very quickly understood the "frog" game: walk as quietly as you can towards the pond. The second you take that last step (or jump in daughter's case) hundreds of little frogs will jump from their hiding place into the pond. Fascinating!