Prairie Crossing

This is going to be kind of a wide-ranging, catching-up kind of post.

The Peacock Fine Indian Cuisine, 700 N. Milwaukee Avenue, Vernon Hills, IL 60061 (847) 816-3100

We had to pick up something out in Vernon Hills yesterday night so we decided to try this little Indian place in the same shopping center. Interestingly, I looked up reviews of it just now while searching for a website for it (apparently, there isn’t one) and they are pretty much divided between people who LOVED it and people who HATED it. The people who hated it either hated the food or the service.

Well. Honestly, our experience there was really good. The service was friendly and attentive (so attentive, in fact, that when I asked him if he could recommend a place for dosas he told me to just call him ahead of time and he would make me one anytime I wanted), the food was good and seemed authentic (based on our experiences at other Indian restaurants around the country) and was served hot and in a timely manner. Tony had Rogan Josh and I had Muga Makhani (butter chicken…probably the most heart-clogging thing you can get at an Indian restaurant, but also one of my favorites…I used to get it all the time at a place in Clearwater). So I would definitely recommend it. The sauces were definitely dead on and had a nice spice level to them (i.e. they didn’t dumb it down for the pale folks).

They also have a lunch buffet, though I have no idea how that is. I’m always a little leery of buffets, so maybe that’s where the bad experiences mentioned in online reviews came from. No idea. The dinner was a little bit on the pricey side, but not heavily so. I’d recommend it. Oh, and a plus was that at least 3 Indian groups came in to dine or get take out while we were there. That’s usually a good sign.

In other news…

Station Village at Prairie Crossing is starting to look pretty dismal. First the bookstore, Under the Sycamore Tree, closed due to health issues of the owner. Then the Prairie Croissant Cafe closed because they felt they couldn’t be true to their upscale organic coffee/cafe vision in these economic times. And now the Affinity Boutique is closing so that the owner can concentrate on her more profitable wholesale jewelry business. So that’s three stores in as many months. Gone. All for different reasons, but the end result is the same. I’m very sad about it. I was going to the cafe at least once a week and I made sure to order all my books from the bookstore. Heck, all the clothes I’ve bought myself lately (which, admittedly, aren’t a huge amount what with the baby and everything) have been from either Affinity or Little Skye. I’ll keep on supporting the stores that are there and hoping that new ones come in to replace the old ones.

And lastly…

I have a cousin in California who is gay and he emailed everyone in the family today about the upcoming election. He’s a lovely guy (and knitted Max an awesome little sweater) and he has been with his partner for 10 years. Two of the nicest guys you can imagine. They finally have the right to marry in the state but that right is in jeopardy because of Proposition 8. If you live in California and are able to vote, I ask you to please consider voting No on Proposition 8 in November.

I definitely don’t want to get into a discussion about right or wrong or morality or any of that (for the most part, I think people feel the way they feel on this issue and nothing I say here will change that)…I will just say that, to me, it’s about the people and it *is* personal (and it *should* be…we’re all people and we all experience love and hate and all the things in between). And I know my cousin. He’s a great guy. He loves his partner. They’ve been together for more years than many straight couples I know (and get along better than a lot of them too). He deserves the right to declare his commitment and love.

I’ll get off of my soap box now. Next post…back to our normally scheduled Max attacks!


So, I’m way behind in keeping up the blog. I’ve just been sick. I’m finally on the tail end of it (thank heavens; I don’t know how many more Kleenex I could go through). Luckily, Max is still (cross fingers) healthy. Though I think he’s teething, but that’s another story (Overachiever! Babies aren’t ‘supposed’ to teeth until another month or two!)

Royce and Janet (Pop-Pop and Mom-Mom) came to visit Max. Max loved to giggle with Mom-Mom and let out some really cute giggles.

And here’s all the Pauley guys in one shot, though Max, as per usual, is chewing on his outfit (at this point, he’s chewing on anything that goes near his mouth). For those keeping count, that’s three Royce’s in one picture.
We went to the Father’s Day Pig Roast in the neighborhood and it was great fun. The weather even (amazingly) cooperated. Max hung out and took it all in as we all took in a bunch of good food.
We also took a drive down by Lake Michigan and went by the Waukegan Harbor. We had some ice cream at a nice little ice cream shop called Dockside Ice Cream (38 E Madison St, Waukegan, IL 60085 (847) 263-1846). Good banana splits and a nice little patio to hang out on.

And here’s Max and Daddy by the lake.
All in all, it was a good Father’s Day weekend. Now, if I can just shake this dratted cold…

Since the weather has turned nice (it might get up to 80 today! Ack!), Max and I have been taking some walks to the shops at Station Square here in Prairie Crossing. Some new shops have opened up and there have been some changes in some of the old ones, so here’s a quick overview of what’s old & new…

Under the Sycamore Tree, the cool bookshop, is still going strong and is as awesome as ever. I’ll hopefully be doing a book signing with them once my book is out. They do also carry a small selection of books for adults…Max and I recently bought Daddy a copy of In Defense of Food, which he really likes.

Little Skye has re-focused a bit and is now caring more maternity / nursing mom stuff, including some really nice nursing tops; I’ve gotten two…I especially like the “boob wear” (I swear, that’s what it is really called). As always, they’ve got really cool stuff for babies and kids. Once Max gets a bit older, we’ll have to check out their alternative diaper stuff (cloth, the G diapers, etc.)

The Prairie Croissant Cafe has made some changes for the better and just one for the worse. They’ve added new menu items (though, man, they only do the crepes on weekends…I’m bummed…I was so going to get one today), some little artsy stuff for sale, organic creamery products (good yogurt), re-organized so that the kid stuff is one one side, and seem much better organized (like getting the food and drinks out faster). All that’s great. And I’ve lately seen at least one person working on a laptop whenever I’m there, as it has also quieted down a bit (or I’m going at non-mom-group times). The only bad change is that they’ve cut their hours quite a bit and I’ve gone by a bunch of times and they’ve been closed. Hopefully that was just a winter issue and now that Spring has sprung they’ll expand their hours again.

The Affinity Boutique is also just as cool as ever. Every time I go in I want to get a ton of stuff. I need to be somewhat cautious with clothes still though…I’ve lost the baby-weight (so I can’t blame Max anymore), but I’ve still got some pounds to go before I’m happy (like that post-cruise weight). So anything I get now needs to work later when I (hopefully) lose more weight. I did find a really cool dress today that I’ll have to give Tony a hint about for Mother’s Day…

Ten Thousand Villages is also the same, with a nice selection of crafts from all over the world and friendly staff. They are always getting new things in.

Prairie Arts & Fibers (960 Harris RoadGrayslake, IL 60030, 847-543-5255 ) is brand new and owned by Linda Keating, who lives in the neighborhood. I could easily get into lots of trouble at this shop, since she carries bunches of great yarn, as well as the work of local artists (the photos from the storm chaser lady are really cool) and even some really nice handmade furniture. I’m also going to be making some soap for her to carry. Oh, and they do open knitting sessions and knitting classes too.

Prairie Sunshine Yoga Studio (960 Harris Rd. Grayslake, IL, (847) 223-0601) is also new. I haven’t actually been in there yet, though I hope to make use of their services soon (they just added a masseuse and are having a May special on massages). They also have Mommy & Baby classes that I’d like to try, though I might need to wait until Max is just a wee bit older.

That’s about it, though the annual Earthwild Gardens plant sale will be this coming weekend. They don’t have a permanent store, just a tent that they set up for special events. Nice plants and nice people.

Have we mentioned how awesome our neighbors are? The signs advertising our neighborhood advertise it as a way of life as much as a community. I thought this was a real load of marketing nonsense and mostly related to the environmental nature of the community.

Turns out though that Prairie Crossing is a relic of the past. Neighborhoods like this just don’t exist much anymore. I didn’t know what we were missing, but I’ll tell you our country needs a revolution to get back to a time when this type of caring and generosity are commonplace.

When I was a kid if some got really ill, passed away, had a baby, etc, the women from church would pull together and help out the family in need with food, help, and what have you. This was a function of the church as a community more so than the neighborhoods in which we lived.

I don’t know if it is like this in the rest of Prairie Crossing, or just in our little corner of “Station Village” (a small section of the neighborhood), but the beauty of the people here is sometimes overwhelming.

Since Kim and I have no family or real group of friends in the area, they all pitched in and threw us a wonderful baby shower. Since we got home from the hospital, we’ve been showered again with cooked food (they have each signed up for a day for the next couple of weeks), hand-me-down baby gear and good advice on how to make it through the first weeks. We could have gotten by without all of this, but it would have made things much more difficult.

Every time someone is in need, the families in our vicinity “circle the wagons” and help them through as if this were one big family.

Is that awesome or what? Do the world a favor, pass it on.

The newscasters weren’t lying about the snowfall today. Looks like we might get up to a foot of snow. Shoot, looks like we’ve practically already gotten a foot of snow. Here’s pictures looking out the front door. You can’t really see out of any of the windows. The snow is coming down kind of sideways due to the wind and the screens are full. Click on an image to see the “big picture” and really see the flakes. It’s a blizzard as far as I’m concerned!
We don’t normally get much snow on the porch, and definitely not all the way up to the door. The winds are supposed to be gusting up to 35 mph, but it looks a little more than that to my untrained eye.
I had to actually move my doctor’s appointment today because there’s no way I can get out of the house. They haven’t plowed yet (not that it would do them a lot of good if they did, it’s coming down so fast) and I don’t think I could get out of the garage anyway. Right now you can’t even tell exactly where the road is supposed to be, other than that there are mailboxes on either side.

Under the Sycamore Tree Bookstore
970 Harris Road, Grayslake, IL 60030, Tel: 847.548.0311

This is an AWESOME bookstore for kids and parents. It is owned by Jackie Harris, who lives in the neighborhood. It’s a really great bookstore with a large selection of both books and related items (toys, tie-ins, cool stuff) and a bunch of resident pets (a snake, some birds…). Uniquely decorated and with lots of events (author signings — hey, hopefully I’ll have one there next year when my book comes out — storytime with Ms. Jan and all kinds of stuff).

Being a YA book reviewer, I don’t often buy books for kids or teens. Heck, I don’t buy many books at all — I get too many in to review as it is. But I would highly recommend Under the Sycamore Tree to anyone looking to buy a book for a special kid in their life. I try to buy the few books I do from here. It’s always good to support a small local business over the big chain stores. So many little shops have gone out of business in the last 10 years. And this one is just a really nice shop with lots to recommend it.

Prairie Croissant Cafe
970 Harris Rd, Prairie Crossing, Grayslake, IL 847.223.9800

This is arguably the shop at Station Square that I am most excited and disappointed about. These are, of course, only my own personal thoughts. I know some people in the neighborhood love it unreservedly and others really dislike it. I’m kind of in the middle.

On the plus side, I LOVE having a coffee shop/cafe within walking distance (heck, practically spitting distance). That was one of the (few) things I liked about Old Louisville — the Old Louisville Coffee House. I was beyond excited when they opened up the Cafe here. I love doing the whole writer-thing and working in a cafe all day, drinking specialty drinks.

So, that in turn is my biggest disappointment…though it probably has more to do with the demographics of this neighborhood than with the Cafe itself. During the day, it’s a noisy, noisy place packed with miscellaneous play groups. I know, I know, I’ll soon be a mom myself. And I’m sure I’ll be happy to take my kiddo there to get out of the house too. But it really ruins it as a place to go work in during the day. But even when it isn’t packed with kids, it is always pretty noisy. Something about the space just makes it that way. Not that it isn’t a pretty, attractive space. It is. Just too many hard surfaces to cushion the sound.

For the most part, the drinks and food are all pretty good. I’m partial to the steamers (I’m not a big coffee drinker). The bad thing is how long the food usually takes to arrive (especially sandwiches). They still have some kinks to work out on service levels. They have been expanding their offerings lately, and it looks like things are improving. Another note on the sandwiches though — they are all mostly French style (which means ultra-crusty bread and frou-frou fussy ingredients). They’ve all been okay, just not my favorite kind of sandwiches. The pastries (from an organic bakery) are all pretty yummy though.

As an interesting note, they have the most efficient hand dryers in their bathrooms that I have ever seen. Really insane.

At any rate, the Cafe is a nice place. They still have some things to work out, but it is getting better every month.

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