Yes, you read that right. We Chicagoans are experiencing the most remarkable winter/spring ever! Day after day this week, long-standing record highs have been cast aside. And while the “Groundhog Day Blizzard” of 2011 will go down as the frosting on the cake of one of our snowiest winters ever, the winter of 2011-12 will go down as the “Winter that Wasn’t.”

Below is a picture of our backyard just 1 year 1.5 months ago:

Groundhog Day Blizzard of 2011

Now, here is a picture from this afternoon of basically the same view (except that I could actually open our back door, step outside and take a picture):

St. Pat Weekend 2012

Notice a difference?

My husband got out the porch cushions last night, we (mainly the daughter) built a fire in the fire pit, we grilled, and we even ate outside. ┬áThe grilling isn’t new. We’ve been grilling out back for a week. And with temps peaking in the low to mid 80s daily for the past week, we’ve actually had to grill. I’m not heating up my west-facing kitchen!

A couple of downsides to this early arrival of Spring/Summer do exist. First, I am scrambling to try to find my shorts and capri pants and the boys’ shorts, as well as clean short sleeve shirts for everyone.

The other downer is that we refuse to turn on the air conditioning. It’s just too early to start handing over money to ComEd. But last night was pretty unbearable, and I’m hoping we can hold out. The dog looks miserable–and I even caught a cat sleeping on the edge of the cold porcelain tub last night. I do have to confess that I turned on the A/C in the car today on the way home from the grocery–but my car thermometer was registering 85!

Negatives aside, I’d much rather have this weather than the cold, snowy springs we’ve had in the past.

This was the first year in ages when we haven’t had corned beef, cabbage, and either boiled or mashed potatoes for dinner on St. Pat’s Day. But who could eat that in this heat? The only Irish to our day was the Guiness that my husband and I had.

For those of you just uncovering the grill for the first time, here’s a quick marinade I used on the flank steak last night:

Lime-Soy Marinade

1/3 c lime juice
2 tbsp soy sauce
3 green onions, white and most of green sliced
1 to 2 tsp ground ginger (depends on your preference for ginger)

Whisk all together with a fork (or an actual whisk, if you really want to). Place fresh or defrosted meat in either a large freezer bag or a shallow pan. Pour marinade over meat. Refrigerate for at least 30 min.