My husband and I recently celebrated our 39th wedding anniversary. Yes, I know. That's quite a feat. I'm shocked myself.
No one would believe my wedding dress set me back $150 and was made of polyester. Oh, those were the 70's my friend, before "Saying Yes to the Dress" was mandatory for brides willing to spend $20,000 on a Vera Wang gown that's only worn for a few hours.
For the last fifteen years, our modus of operation to celebrate this milestone is to drive through the countryside north to Richmond, IL, near the Wisconsin border, for a wicked celebration.
This is how we roll.
First stop, Ginger Blossom, a beautiful old farm that has been turned into a charming international shopping destination.
Ginger's family has owned this property since 1923. She lives in the white farmhouse and has turned the barn and outbuildings into a unique and eclectic array of furniture, textiles, rugs, garden art, pottery, clothing, jewelry and sculptures. They practice fair trade and hand-pick just about everything directly from the artists in small quantities.
For three months during our winter, Ginger and her business partner Chris, travel to Nepal, India, Indonesia, Thailand, Turkey, Morocco, South America and Mexico so you don't have to. Giant shipping containers are filled and loaded on steamships bound for America to delight the senses of those of us wanting to add character to our homes but can't quite squeeze in that jaunt to Kathmandu.
Before the recession hit, rugs were their best sellers. Now it's a six dollar scarf. My purchases have included a chair from Mexico, Day-of-the-Dead statues, hand-painted wooden angels, bracelets, Hindu music, Tibetan prayer bowls and colorful, beaded tapestries from India.
No longer needing to feather my nest, now I hunt for "anything but common" Christmas gifts and birthday surprises. Well, maybe a few Mexican tiles and an embroidered pillow won't be too much of an intrusion. Oh, wait. Look at that tin mirror and those mercury glass candle sticks.
Plan to spend an hour or two.
All merchandise is arranged by country of origin or theme. The Cotton Cottage, Mexican House, A Wool Cottage for sweaters, scarves and gloves. Mexican furniture and garden statuary. Indian textiles, quilts, pillows, dresses, jewelry. Indonesian furniture. Tribal masks and glassware. Mexican sinks and toothbrush holders. Items are tagged with a description of their history and priced very reasonably.
In the summer months, they even sell a variety of fresh produce from their garden in a wooden gazebo. On the honor system, you choose your heirloom tomatoes priced at $2.00 per pound, weigh them on the old fashioned scale, and put your money in the cash box.
Now that's blind faith in humanity considering it's 2016 but I doubt anyone would pocket a zucchini at a place as mellow as this one is.
I don't think you can actually see everything in one visit. But if you see something that strikes your fancy, buy it. I promise you it won't be there the next time. And there will be a next time.
It truly is a destination, even if all you do is browse in wonder through this cultural exchange of international artifacts.
Check out the website for Ginger Blossom here:
After our around-the-world exploring adventure we've worked up an voracious appetite.
Part Two of our Anniversary Celebration involves food of course. And where is there a better place to take your beloved bride to whet her appetite than Dog 'N Suds just down the road?
Are you shocked? Appalled maybe? Can't you do better than Dog 'N Suds?
Yes of course, by why would we?
Don't scowl. It's our tradition and we look forward to it all summer. Quirky. Retro. Nostalgic. A remnant of times long gone in contrast to today's fast paced, sterile, hectic world. I guess you could also say I'm a cheap date. But what's not to love about sitting at a picnic table in the middle of corn fields celebrating a long term marriage?
When was the last time you ate at a Dog 'N Suds, complete with car-hops delivering your order on little metal trays that hook onto your car's window? Not wanting to eat in the car on a gorgeous summer day, we prefer the picnic tables in the back by a small babbling creek.
Nothing has changed since 1963 except the real draft root beer is now served in paper cups rather than frosty glass mugs. Sadly, there are only four Dog 'N Suds drive-ins left in Illinois, so if this is your thing, hurry to experience it before these are torn down to make way for a nail salon or gas station.
As is our tradition, we order the same thing every year. Cheeseburger Baskets with french fries and homemade coleslaw all washed down with root beer floats. The food is cooked to order and it's actually quite tasty. Doesn't everything taste better outdoors?
Our anniversary celebration is simple, uncomplicated, not fussy and low key. Just like us.
No reservations required.
Ginger Blossom and Dog 'N Suds. A solid marriage.
All we need is a sunny August afternoon and each other.
Happy Anniversary sweetness.
Until next year...
Type your email address in the box and click the "create subscription" button. My list is completely spam free, and you can opt out at any time.