Tuesday, December 25, 2007

merry christmas

Like a lot of families, it's been a long week of Christmas festivities for us ... we started celebrating last Wednesday when we got together at my mom's house, and our events will conclude tomorrow night after we will celebrate with Ben's family.

We were extremely lucky this year that we didn't have to travel more than 45 miles. My brother and his family came to Central IL from Pennsylvania, and Ben's sister is trying to fly in from Denver (the only unlucky one to be caught in bad weather). Our extended "family" - Lynn and Jeff - made the trip successfully from Phoenix too.

It's been great seeing everyone and spending time together, and I am not looking forward to work tomorrow. Hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

winter wonderland

We woke up Sat. morning and it was snowing.
We went to bed Sat. night and it was STILL snowing.
We got about six inches of snow throughout the day, and our street looked like a picture-perfect postcard.

Hope everyone had a safe, snowy weekend.

And to those who live in warmer climates: you know you're jealous!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

the big apple

I spent a whirlwind weekend in NYC and had a blast! It's hard to beat touring Manhattan during the holidays. Here are a few highlights:
  • Walking through Chelsea and Greenwich Village, including a tour of Chelsea Market, waiting in a really long line at Magnolia Bakery for cupcakes (I won't even stand in line for Garrett's karmelcorn, but hey, when in NYC...) and eating at this cozy Italian restaurant, Piccolo Angolo, based on the referral of a super nice local
  • Window displays at Lord & Taylor
  • Herald Square - seems so tiny in person
  • Walking through Bryant Park and shopping at all the pop-up retail stores
  • Hanging at the Today Show and taking the 30 Rock tour - it was fun to see the studios for the nightly news, SNL and Conan
And the definite number one highlight of the weekend was seeing Cyrano de Bergerac starring Kevin Kline and Jennifer Garner. They were amazing. Kevin Kline is such a talent to see in person, and Jennifer Garner totally charmed the audience and displayed great comic timing. We lingered at the stage door afterward and Melissa George (Jen's co-star from Alias) exited followed by Jennifer herself a few minutes later. She signed autographs and chatted with everyone despite the rain beginning to fall. We exchanged a few words as she signed my playbill - I'm still in shock it happened.

What a weekend!

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

small town perks

I've been making numerous trips to Chicago lately and the extremely boring 120 mile trek gives me plenty of time to think about the pros and cons of living in a small town.

Here are my top pros:

1. There is virtually NO traffic. Rush hour is from 5-5:15pm instead of 4-7pm. You can get anywhere in town in about 15 minutes.

2. Nearly every business has a drive-thru window. I can run errands without getting out of the car (hey, this comes in handy in the sub-zero temps). I enjoy my coffee while I hit the bank, dry cleaners, and the pharmacy from the comfort of T-Bone (yes, our car has a name).

3. You can actually find items in stock at Target. It's heaven.

4. Parking is EASY and FREE! Seriously!

5. And last but not least, the cost of living in a small town is a fraction, a tiny fraction, of the cost of a big city.

All that being said, there are some definite cons too...I'll address those next.

Friday, November 23, 2007

thanksgiving at the liberts'

We hosted our first holiday in the new house!

Yesterday our families landed and we fed 15 people - all seated (albeit in 2 rooms at 3 tables).

We served all of our favorite dishes (Ben - turkey; Melissa - tie between stuffing and sweet potatoes - brown sugar should be its own food group) and 5 desserts. We can't take credit for all of the hard work though. Our families pitched in with tasty treats too.

Hope you all had a wonderful holiday!

Monday, November 12, 2007

looking for something to watch?

I saw Keri Russell on the Today show and it reminded me 1) how much I love her work 2) how much I miss Felicity and 3) how beautiful she is (honestly, she made curly hair cool).

If you are looking for something to go see in theaters, check out August Rush (UPDATED 11/26 - we saw it over the weekend and loved it!)

If you want to stay home and let Netflix do the work, put The Waitress at the top of your queue.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

abi turns 3

I was in Pittsburgh this weekend for Abi's birthday and we had a blast. It's not that often I get to watch Scooby Doo, play "kitchen" and eat my mom's French toast for breakfast.

Abi has a hilarious sense of humor. The girl can bring the house down! She sings and dances constantly (always yelling out "shake it, 'lissa" or "shake it nana"), loves balloons and likes to apply "lick stick" to her lips (and entire lip area).

I can't wait to see how her personality, likes and dislikes will continue to develop. She's such a little miracle growing and changing every day.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

happy halloween!

It's my favorite time of year: Halloween!

We were more excited than usual for Halloween this year since we got to decorate the house and prepare for a horde of trick or treaters.

Our street is very spooky with the big trees, lamp posts and old wooden porches.

Our yard has a few cobwebs, pumpkins, and we lit our walkway with luminaries tonight.

Ben normally scares kids with his monster mask so he dressed up as a scarecrow tonight so the neighbor kids wouldn't cry. I was a witchy woman.

I thought we would have between 100-200 trick or treaters, but we barely hit 100. We had a lot of cute little kids and only a few who stuck out their bag and never said trick or treat, happy halloween, or anything - that's so annoying!

Hope you all had a fun holiday! Let me know how many trick or treaters you had and send photos!

Sunday, October 14, 2007

happy 150th, ISU

We celebrated Homecoming this weekend and it was more fun than usual since it's ISU's sesquicentennial. Some of my closest friends were able to visit which made it an even better weekend.

The above picture (of Natalie, Nikki, Lynn and me) is from the football game where ISU easily defeated Indiana State.

This was one of the weekends where it's a blast living in a small town. Now that all my friends have returned home, it's a lot lonelier - one of the things I hate about living so far away from my girls!

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

oh, starbucks, how I hate to love thee

How could I have been so stupid? Why didn't I take precautions to protect myself? Why didn't I see it coming?

I....(wince) like Starbucks (but only a tid bit!).

I find myself gravitating more and more frequently to one of three Starbucks in town (see, I'm helpless to fight; they're everywhere!) and now I can't stop listening to "Sound of Starbucks" on XM. Thus the reason for my post - I was listening to to XM tonight and heard The Ditty Bops. Now I am F-A-R from any sort of music buff, but I really liked these funky gals. I liked them so much I sat right down and typed this post and admitted my love/hate relationship with Starbucks.

I can only hope someone else can now enjoy The Ditty Bops and my pain and suffering will have been worth it.

If in a future post I act like a Starbucks snob and allude to ordering some venti non-fat mocha frappa concoction, I beg you to please set me straight and tell me to return to my humble roots - a tall Americano, no room, please.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

go, cubs, go

Cubs win! Cubs win! We're celebrating at our house this weekend and are looking forward to a L-O-N-G playoff season. Welcome, October, and let the playoffs begin!!

Sunday, September 23, 2007

here’s to you, mom

My mom celebrated a milestone this weekend – her 50th birthday. We threw her a surprise party, and actually managed to surprise her, with a Hawaiian theme in honor of her upcoming trip.

During the celebration my mom mentioned that her 25th birthday was a tougher birthday to deal with mentally than turning 50. I wonder why a quarter of a century had a much bigger impact than half a century? At the time she was pretty much a single mother who was working hard to raise 2 kids on a small salary. She’s certainly accomplished a lot in the last 25 years including what she calls her biggest success: two “good” (her word!) kids who left the nest and started lives of their own. I think the fact that she finally started to take vacations in the last 15 years has also contributed to a dramatically lower stress level. My mom can enjoy life a lot more now than at 25, and I think that’s a tremendously great thing. For her, age has brought a new acceptance of life’s obstacles, and she’s just trying to enjoy the ride. I hope I can learn that lesson from her now, 21 years sooner. Turns out she’s still teaching me more than a few life lessons.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007


Target often serves as my refuge when I need a break from work or want to wander aimlessly. Unless you are there on a Saturday or Sunday, it's a mostly peaceful place to visit and you have time to check out all the deals you miss when you run in and out for detergent.

So you can imagine my horror when two times in the recent past my Target visit has been disrupted by crazies. The first episode took place when I was leaving the store after a lovely outing where I discovered the Boots line (try the grape/avocado body butter). I was heading to my car in the crosswalk when a car came straight at me and stopped about 3 feet away. I looked up and saw a man and a woman in an SUV staring at me. I looked back at them with confusion as to why they had come so close when the man leaned out his window and shouted, "what are you, stupid?" much to my surprise. Why was this man shouting at me for apparently acting stupid when he had nearly hit me in the crosswalk of a heavily trafficked parking lot? It's not as if I darted in front of him and dared him to hit me. Apparently the 5 seconds it took for him to stop ruined his day and he made a complete ass out of himself. I can only hope the woman with him was not his wife and that she was left wondering if he treated everyone that way, how would he be treating her soon enough? Well, I didn't let it ruin my day and instead called the non-emergency police line to report a dangerous driver in the Target parking lot. While he was fuming, I was jotting his license plate down in my phone.

The second experience happened, tragically, inside the store and can't be blamed on a stupid passerby. It was a Saturday, my first mistake, and I was rushing around with a list in one hand and a shopping basket in the other. My second-to-last stop was a grab for some cling wrap and a mom and her two kids were in the same aisle. I went by and stopped for a moment to ponder my choices and one of the kids came nearby. I picked some wrap and tossed it in my basket and the boy turned around to approach his mom and ran into my basket with his head. He let out a wail and his mother scurried over. I felt bad and the first words out of my mouth were "I'm sorry"...but what was I sorry for? Shopping? Carrying a basket? The mom didn't acknowledge me or my apology so I made a fast getaway to grab my last item and headed for the check-out.
I just don't get it. It's still bugging me! Would you have apologized too? Or what would you have done?

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

fall fashion

The single best thing about living in the Midwest is just around the corner - fall! The crisp air, beautiful leaves and football (finally!) are just a few reasons to love the too-short season.

Fall fashion is a whole separate topic. As is Halloween. First thing's first: fashion.

I picked up the September issue of Lucky and they have a few great (and some forgettable) fashion tips to consider. A-line jackets, circle skirts and opaque tights are a few of my early favorites.

I started to shop for a few key pieces this weekend by checking out what's available within 50 miles of Bloomington-Normal, which, *sigh*, isn't much. Thank goodness for Target, where I checked out the new line from Isaac Mizrahi, and I also made my first visit to Steve & Barry's to see the Bitten line from Sarah Jessica Parker.

Both lines contain some great pieces, but a few stand-out due to their flawless design and "of the moment" cache.

Top finds:
  • An adorable dress from Isaac in a light eggplant color. Includes pockets (LOVE that) and hidden shoulder snaps to hide bra straps (it's the little things like this that make the dress a quick and easy can't-miss look). The belt felt a little too matchy-matchy for me so I wore a brown suede/gold buckle belt instead. This dress will wear well into November with a blouse underneath and tights.
  • A chunky but not bulky a-line sweater from Bitten in dark gray. This is the piece I will wear over and over again.
  • A great brown suede bag from Bitten that I didn't need but couldn't pass up at $15
I'm still looking for cute flats that aren't $400 (ideas?) and, of course, I am continuing on the endless search for the perfect pants.

Trends I won't be wearing this fall: high-waist pants and animal prints
Trend I'm still not sure about: ankle boots

Let me know about your fashion finds and what you will/won't be wearing this fall!

Monday, August 20, 2007

from central IL to all of you

I'm starting this blog for mostly selfish reasons. Ben just started class again and instead of working on house stuff, reading the pile of books and magazines taking up half our living room or doing something else productive, I have come to the misguided conclusion that I have some free time on my hands.

I spent 3 hours between yesterday and today trying to catch up on email and find myself starting to avoid my inbox altogether. Isn't there a better way to communicate with friends between phone calls? Hell if I know. I like to think of myself as Ms. Correspondence but all the cute cards I've been stockpiling from cute stationary stores in Chicago and LA are packed away somewhere (another reason to unpack!).

For now I'll just say that central IL can get pretty damn boring, and I will try to make this blog entertaining to all of my far-away friends.