Wednesday, December 30, 2009

holiday highlights

It's been a whirlwind few weeks for us as I'm sure it has been for everyone! It seems like Christmas was just here all of the sudden whether we were ready or not.

Ben's mom had hip replacement surgery two weeks ago so we've been trying to help out with dinners and "elder care" fairly often. Anne supervised while I made our holiday tablecloth and it was nice to have her guidance and it was a good distraction for her while she lays and heals.


We had a quiet Christmas Eve at our house after Ben got off work. We feasted of Parmesan & macadamia nut crusted salmon (a dish we first ate at Duke's in Malibu), asparagus and mashed sweet potatoes. I set the table with our china (the 3rd or 4th time we've used it in 6 years I think) too so that was a treat! We then headed off to church.

We celebrated Christmas morning at our house and then headed to Ben's parents house for Christmas brunch, etc. Michael and Abigail arrived Saturday so we celebrated Christmas Part Three on Sunday with my family. Abigail (now 5) is quite the little girl. She loves coloring, Barbies, mermaids and is a very good little traveler with daddy (a 9 hour ride from PA to IL).
Ben's sister Sarah and boyfriend Scott arrived Sunday after travel delays driving in from CO. We celebrated Christmas Part Four with them on Monday night.

Everyone departed for home today which is always sad so we're getting back to "normal" and prepping for the beginning of a new decade. 2009 has come and gone! Hello, 2010!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

it's beginning to look a lot like Christmas

The balsam fir in all his glory!

My attempt at an artistic outdoor decoration. Our local garden shop inspired me...my version looks a little bit like their display...ha!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

beautiful balsam fir

Picking out our Christmas tree usually requires a few tours around the nursery examining multiple candidates. Our trip on Saturday was over in minutes, however, because we bought the first tree we looked at. He's a 6ft plus beauty -- nice and full, and smells delicious.

So we've got the tree up at home, but he's yet to be decorated. I'll be sure to post a photo once he's adorned.

Now if only holiday cards were as easy...

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

holiday preparations

I've officially taken down my fall/Thanksgiving items around the house, and now I am starting to get excited about decorating for Christmas. We're going to get our tree this weekend, which is always fun. We've decided we need a tree that's a little bigger than the tree we got last year...I'm sure the perfect tree is out there for us.

I know a lot of people who have themed trees, but ours is just a hodgepodge of ornaments we like...from our childhoods, gifts from our wedding, ornaments we've purchased each other in recent years. It's nothing extraordinary to look at, but very special and meaningful to us. I can't wait to decorate!

Our dining room window will be getting a new piece of stained glass I purchased at our Festival of Trees fundraiser. I'm sure there are a few more items still to be purchased. This is our third Christmas in our house, which is hard to believe, but there are still things we'd like...maybe a few outdoor decorations for this year.

Tell me your favorite Christmas decoration. Maybe I need a version of it at my house too!

Monday, November 23, 2009

thanksgiving

I'm off all week for the holiday, and it feels great. I spent the last 4 days in Arizona visiting Lynn and baby Andrew. It was nice to relax, eat and shop with a good friend. Andrew was a champ -- going along with the girls and giving us plenty to smile about.

Now I am getting the house in order and picking out recipes for Thanksgiving. My mom is hosting this year in her new house since it's her holiday off so I'll be taking sweet potatoes, and a few desserts over to share. Friday we'll have round two with Ben's parents.

Oddly, I officially get 2 days off work for Thanksgiving and only 1.5 days for Christmas (though I can't complain since I'm off all week), but this holiday truly seems more relaxed and carefree so I'm going to enjoy it while it lasts. Christmas madness will be upon us before we know it.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

veterans day

I've been busy at work the past few days getting ready for our annual Veterans Day events tomorrow. One of my coworkers who just returned from Afghanistan is speaking, and I got a chance to meet her in-person last week. She's my age AND a newlywed. Sometimes you think YOUR life is rough...wow. She gave me some perspective!

Be sure to thank a serviceman/woman tomorrow for all they do. Or send well-wishes to a friend/family member who is serving. I know they'll appreciate it. My brother is the first person I'll thank. Happy Veterans Day!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

ghost and witch

We had about 175 trick or treaters! They all got a kick out of our costumes and decorations which made it fun.

Ben got dinner ready between kids.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

happy halloween!

After days of cold, rainy weather it is finally dry and sunny today for the trick or treaters. We have a lot to do today before it gets dark. We've held off carving our pumpkins because the squirrels have declared war on us and we didn't want to put them out too soon.

I'll be dressing up as a witch again and Ben's putting together a ghost costume. Can't wait to see how many kids come by...

Friday, October 16, 2009

spread the red

It's ISU Homecoming weekend! Too bad it's cold and rainy, but that will not stop us from hitting the parade and football game tomorrow.

I wish all of my alumni pals could be here so I didn't have to feel so darn old all alone! At least Ben is a graduate (and official alum!) this year. Now he needs to learn the alma mater so I can sing quietly nearby.

Let's hope the band is up to snuff and makes me proud. I'll report back...

Sunday, October 11, 2009

you know it's fall when...

  • The yard and sidewalk are covered in big, fat, wet leaves. It rained tons last week -- including two straight days.
  • I have the constant urge to shop at Michael's for random Halloween goodies.
  • Can't stop browsing the Target candy aisle -- candy corn and M&M's are already in the house.
  • It's harder than usual to get out of bed being that it's pitch black in the morning when the alarm goes off. Blah.
  • Pumpkin everything: Starbuck's scone and latte, risotto, candles, lotion. I can't get enough!
  • I had my first bowl of chili last night (and a s'more --- delish!)
  • New TV. We're liking Cougartown as far as new shows go.
  • All of my tights are in full rotation, as well as my crop of warmer scarves.
Hope you're all enjoying fall...it'll be brief so seize the moment!

Monday, October 5, 2009

iron

We celebrated our sixth wedding anniversary this weekend with a trip to Ann Arbor. It was great to reminisce and visit our favorite shops, restaurants and wander down the streets we walked when first dating.

Last night was our much anticipated gift exchange. This year was a tough one: iron! What to get, I fretted!? I finally settled on a cast iron skillet for Ben, along with a spoon rest. He has a large cast iron skillet that we've used twice maybe so I got a smaller, grill pan that will hopefully cook some fabulous stuff in the future. Ben got me a super cute bistro chair. As you can imagine, it's not very comfortable to sit in but it'll be a great addition to our front porch in the warmer months (with a chair pad). During the winter I'll keep it inside and use it as a plant stand.

Our other anniversary tradition is opening the cards everyone wrote us at our wedding (if you were there you probably remember the notes we had out in lieu of a guest book). We re-read the cards opened in years past and then opened six in honor of 2009. The cards are thoughtful, funny, sweet and something we truly treasure from our special day. I always get teary reading them, and can't wait to open more over the next few years.

Thank you, friends and family, for all of your support then and now.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

thyme

Our dining room has a new look thanks to some much-needed paint. It's a nice herby green (officially called blanched thyme) and it looks great with our white crown molding and wainscoting.

We also hung our fall stained glass (a pumpkin and a leaf we purchased at the Pekin Marigold Festival) which are right at home with our existing pieces.
Our home is very much still a work in progress, but we're achieving little milestones and it feels good. Next up: painting the living room and stairway.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

back the bid

Throughout the Olympic bid process I was skeptical whether Chicago could handle the crowds, the demands on public transportation, and come up with the resources required to do it well. Now, I think, how can Chicago NOT handle it? Opportunities like this are once in a lifetime. Chicago must rise to the occasion.

Oprah made a big hubbub closing down Michigan Ave. but that should just be the start of major events in Chicago.

After all, Chicago is used to being on a national stage - the city's hometown heroes are now White House residents - so let's bring the spotlight back to a great city.

I remember attending the opening of Millennium Park and thinking "this night almost didn't happen" because so many people were against it. And what an amazing, wonderful achievement that has turned out to be.

Will Chicago host the 2016 Olympics? I hope so.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

movies, football, etc.

Summer is winding down (unoficially over I guess) and I'm trying to get caught up on movies, TiVo and into football.

After weeks of trying to see some movies, I finally got two in over recent weeks.
  • The Time Traveler's Wife: C. I was prepared to be disappointed because I just didn't see how the movie could live up to the book, and I was definitely disappointed. The movie changed a lot of major and minor things, which isn't terribly surprising, but some things were different for reasons I can't imagine. Rachel McAdams was great and gave an emotional performance. Eric Bana seemed off. Not his best movie. His best scene isn't with Rachel (they were only so so together), it's with the actress who played his mom.
  • Julie and Julia: B+. Loved Amy Adams and Meryl Streep. Funny, sweet and thoughtful. Really loved Meryl and Stanley Tucci. What a pair. I did some reading about Julie Powell (the gal who inspried Amy's character) and I am not sure I have any desire to read her book or know anything more about her. I am glad we got the Amy version of the real Julie.
On the TiVo front, I got sucked into Grey's Anatomy. The show near the end two season's ago and into early last season was just un-watcheable IMO. I decided to give it another chance after reading about the Katherine Heigl cancer storyline. Worth watching...for now. We'll see how the new season starts. We also just finished Entourage (last season) on Netflix. Love those guys! Also loving the new season of Project Runway (early fave is Althea).

We cheered Michigan to victory over the Irish yesterday, and we're hoping to visit Ann Arbor our anniversary weekend for a game.

Up next, da Bears!




Monday, September 7, 2009

vacation, part two

Holy crap I can't believe it's been two weeks since my last post. Vacation went by in a blur. It was hard to get back into the work routine last week. Whoever thought of a 5-day work week was seriously deranged. and had a death wish. Hopefully this week will be better, but it'll still be hard to adjust after a 3-day weekend. **sigh**

A few highlights from our vacay in Michigan and Chicago:
At the Lincoln Park Conservatory after we browsed the Green City Market and Lincoln Park Zoo
A delicious Pure Michigan peach (and Ben in stage one of post-summer-beard-growing)
South Haven lighthouse (pretty cool minus the graffiti)
The weather could have been better. I was planning to wear my swimsuit. Yeah, it didn't even come out of the suitcase.

Monday, August 24, 2009

vacation, part one

Abigail was here for the weekend, and we had tons of fun. She's looking so much like a little girl now...
On the carousel at Miller Park Zoo. Lots of animals to choose from and Abigail chooses the dalmatian (similar to her favorite stuffed animal, named "puppy," that used to be mine)
Making music at the Miller Park playground
Reading "A Squirrel's Tale" at Nan's house

Monday, August 17, 2009

it's hard to be crabby when...

  • A friend pays you a wonderful compliment. I got one that made my whole week! It STILL makes me smile days later!
  • My co-worker's husband makes it home safe and sound from Afghanistan. I don't know how families do it everyday when a loved one is deployed. What a blessing these men and women are.
  • Extreme Makeover: Home Edition is in town! The lucky family gets selected tomorrow. I'm so excited for them and feel very fortunate to have a roof over my head (even if a bat did get into our house and scare the crap out of us. and we have a leak from our bathroom into our kitchen again...the "joys" of home ownership).
I am counting my blessings until my vacation starts in just a few days...

Monday, August 10, 2009

countdown

I unpacked my suitcase this weekend and put it back in the basement. It felt really good since it's been out on our bedroom floor, and off to here/there/everywhere, since April. I don't have another business trip until 8/21 which is also my last day "in the office" until 9/1. I can't wait!

Abigail is coming for a visit the weekend of 8/22 and my list of things to do with her is long (so long I doubt we'll get to half of it). Ben's working the week of 8/24 so I'll do some things around the house we've been neglecting...like tidy the basement which barely consists of a path to the laundry room at the moment. If I get really ambitious I might paint the dining room (light green? still undecided...).

Then we'll do a long weekend getaway ... location TBD. It's been a l.o.n.g summer and a vacation (even if it's a staycation) is just what I need....any stay/va-cation suggestions? Let me know!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

ice cream

Preparing to post, but must pause for an ice cream run! Gene's strawberry-lemon twist, here I come!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

summer movies

I must admit I've only seen Harry Potter so far this summer, but it isn't for lack of trying. I want see (500) Days of Summer, Away We Go and some others. Unfortunately, few movies I'm excited to see have come to Bloomington-Normal. The Hangover is also on my list, and that is in area theaters so I'm hoping to see it soon. Two movies due out in August are also on my must-see list: Julie and Julia and The Time Traveler's Wife.

The Tribune had an interesting article on the former. The storyline of present day Julie and past day Julia is clever. And the cast is amazing. I haven't seen anything with Amy Adams that I didn't like.

The Time Traveler's Wife also has great stars, but I'm a little reluctant to see it. More so than all the Harry Potter books, I absolutely LOVE Audrey Niffenegger's masterpiece, and I'm afraid seeing the movie will ruin my annual reading. Not to mention the book absolutely wrecks me and I might need to be carted out of the theater. If I do see it, I'll need to do it at a time when I won't need to recover quickly.

Happy movie-going! Let me know your see it or skip it reviews.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

the little things

Despite the July date, it doesn't feel much like summer to me. Too much work, no vacation and the cool weather have talked me out of a summery feeling.

There are a few things I cling to that remind me of warmer, lazier days:

  • Suntan lotion/ sunscreen -- the smell makes me feel beachy
  • My new white pants. I wasn't sure about them at first, but I instantly perk up when I wear them
  • Anything from the garden or farmers market -- I horde fresh flowers, fruits/veggies, etc.
  • An extra swipe of blush/bronzer a few times a day. I don't have much of a tan but I try to fake it
Here's to hoping August brings more summer-like days!

Monday, July 20, 2009

st. louis


Just got home from St. Louis last night. Ben came down for the weekend so it was nice to have some fun despite the fact that I was working.

I did get another fun treat while in St. Louis: the All-Star game! A friend of a friend found some tickets last minute so I got in on the action (albeit from FAR left field in the second row from the top). Nevertheless, the pre-game hoopla was a lot of fun, and I'm glad I went.

This week it's off to Minneapolis for a few days...

And despite all my protests against Facebook I will admit it's been fun to keep in the loop with everyone no matter where I'm at as long as I have my phone with me. Go ahead and say I told you so. I deserve it.

Monday, July 13, 2009

heading out again

I'm packing for another business trip -- this time to St. Louis. It's my last week away from home, thank goodness, but the first of 4 trips in the next 4 weeks.

I'm tired.

Vacation is on the horizon though! I am definitely taking 1.5-2 weeks off at the end of August...I'll spend some of it at home and am also hoping to get away too -- if only for a day or two. So you might receive a call soon asking for a spare bed or couch!

Better get packing. I hope I can do it in under an hour (a world record for me!).

Monday, July 6, 2009

picnic

We had a great 4th of July weekend: goofy golf, picnic and play, Peoria Chiefs game for Ben's birthday, and a lot of family time. Ben's cousins came through town, and Aunt Judy is in the Midwest from FL for the summer. It was nice to have so many visitors in Central IL!

Photos from the picnic and play:

At Ewing Manor - such a lovely setting

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

july

This time last year we were headed out to the Grand Canyon / Las Vegas for a little vacay. I am definitely ready for another trip. It's July...such a great month for getting away.

Five places I'd rather be:
5. Wrigley Field
4. Pool-side in Las Vegas
3. Lunching in Ann Arbor (Zingerman's picninc!)
2. Wandering the streets of San Diego or Santa Monica
1. Shopping in Paris (or any European city really)

Now I need some time off and air fare!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

weddings

We had our first and only wedding of the summer yesterday. Lynn's sister Beth married Bryson and we were there to celebrate the joyous occasion.

What I love about weddings is that when you're single, they fill you with anticipation. What will my wedding be like, I always wondered. After you're married, weddings give you a chance to reflect on your day, as well as think back on the weddings you've attended (the toast that made me cry, the bridesmaid dresses I wanted to steal for my wedding day, the parents who cried when they gave their son/daughter away, etc.)

Many couples renew their vows on special anniversaries. But I say why not renew them each time you attend a wedding? You're there to bear witness and, in the future, love and support the couple in good times and bad. What better time to renew your commitment than at the wedding of another happy couple?

Thursday, June 25, 2009

today

What a strange day with Michael and Farrah dying! I vividly remember dancing to songs from Bad when I was a kid (especially at my 10th birthday sleepover). Good artist; unusual guy.

Things are busy here in Central IL! The Burchfield family arrived yesterday for Lynn's sister's wedding on Saturday so we hung out with them last night. Andrew sure has changed a lot since I saw him 8 weeks ago. I can't wait to see him in his tux onesie on Saturday.

Ben's aunt and uncle are in town from Ohio for the weekend, and Aunt Judy from Florida comes in next week for Ben and John's birthdays. We'll have fun "vacationing" with them in Bloomington-Normal. I hope the heat/humidity subsides. We jumped into summer with both feet, that's for sure. Stay cool, everyone!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

foiled!

We had plans to hit the pool today until we woke up and it was raining (again) so we slept through church and had a lazy morning. Now it's overcast and wet out. Blah. So I am catching up on web chores (bills, email, etc.) before we get on with the day.

This afternoon we'll be celebrating Father's Day. Ben is going to cook for his dad (the parts of soux chef will be played by me and his mom). Happy day to all the papas out there and papas to be!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

it's getting hot in here

We're finally getting a heat wave (and humidity too unfortunately). I took part in two summer favorites today: shandy on the porch swing and fudge pop for dessert.

As the mercury inches upward, I am itching to go on vacation. The soonest I can get away is August, but Ben is stuck here for work. Hrmph. It might be a Bloomington-Normal staycation.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

signs of summer

We're really enjoying the first few weeks of June. And though summer doesn't officially start for another week or so, I am seeing signs summer is indeed upon us.

  • Most of the students have left town so the streets are quieter (normally they are just quiet unless it's 7:45 a.m. or 4:30 p.m.)
  • Work is kicking my butt. This is truly one of the only negatives about my job....summer is the prime time for events so June, July and August are nuts
  • Noisy lawnmowers and weed-eaters ring throughout the neighborhood at 8 a.m. (seriously people!)
  • Ben's a little less hairy (bye bye beard until September)
We start a whole new routine tomorrow in conjunction with Ben's job. It'll be very strange to get up AFTER Ben for the first time in a few years. I don't think this will make getting out of bed any easier...we'll see!

Monday, June 8, 2009

photo highlights

More cupcakes, please!

tasty prosecco

the Lurie garden in full bloom (also featured in my new header)

the new bridge from Millennium Park to the AIC modern wing

birthday highlights

We had a great weekend in the city!

5. books galore at Printers Row
4. modern wing at AIC
3. More cupcakes - double chocolate, passion fruit meringue, salted caramel and red velvet
2. prosecco cocktails - rhubarb was the group fave
1. visiting old friends, of course!

We also had some good news to start the week: Ben is starting a temp position next week through the end of August!! He'll be at an insurance company in town (not mine) getting some more experience in the world of finance.

I don't know how the week can get any better! Maybe we'll play the lottery.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

june?!

My birthday is really sneaking up on me. I can't believe it's June 3. I've been working way too much so the days are flying by, and the weather is way too chilly for June.

We're preparing for a getaway this weekend to the city. I can't wait to visit the new modern wing at the Art Institute, browse Printers Row, eat at our favorite places, visit friends....it'll be nice to get out of dodge.

And I haven't said it in awhile, but we welcome all visitors to Bloomington-Normal! I'd be lying if I said it was the perfect getaway spot, but WE'RE HERE and since that is the case good times will be had!

Monday, June 1, 2009

thunderstorm

I am trying to get a quick post in between storms! We've gotten rain, wind, thunder, lightening and hail since I got home from work. We ran out to carry our new, little tree (currently in a pot to be moved to the front porch soon) to the garage so he didn't get too banged up.

I've been working the past 8 days straight so my brain is toast. I will get back on the blog wagon this week, I promise!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

beware verizon customers

Verizon has once again proven to be totally incompetent, evil and just sneaky. It took about 7-9 phone calls when we first signed up 2 years ago to get our triple pack (phone, dsl, directv) discount straight. We literally called every month to get the credit. Then it worked for about 9 months. Suddenly a few months ago our bill increased $15 and then another $15 this month....

Three calls later (full of the typical BS and non-answers) they finally tell Ben today that you have to sign up EVERY 12 MONTHS to receive the triple pack discount. Nowhere does it say this. Never did anyone tell us this.

It's such a load of crap to make a buck that I had to post so you can all keep a better eye on your bill to prevent any nonsense.

Monday, May 25, 2009

zoorific weekend



We had a pretty tame weekend that included yard-work and planting more flowers. The highlight of the weekend was our visit to Miller Park Zoo to see the new wallaroo and otter.

The wallaroo napped and the otters swam. The sea lion was definitely the liveliest of the bunch!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

recommendation

I read a really interesting home design-related article in the Trib magazine a few weeks back, and I finally got around to visiting the blog of the featured do-it-yourselfer. Making it Lovely has tons of interesting, artistic, fun ideas. And most of the blogger's ideas won't break the bank either.

Making it Lovely and 4 other bloggers are all featured on BHG.com for a 48-hour outdoor challenge too. LOTS of fab ideas to be inspired by!!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

the worst thing about a yard

Weeds. You pull them and you spray to prevent more. They sprout anyway, mocking your hard work. And then you pull them again. Victory (temporarily, at least)! And so the cycle continues all summer long.

My fingers are sore nubs from pulling so many weeds. I pushed the reel mower around today too (love that whirring!). Ben planted a few tomato and pepper plants.

Now we're getting ready to grill some turkey burgers and relax. Good eats and a great-looking yard. Not bad for a Sunday.

Friday, May 15, 2009

weekend

We're getting a lot of rain (to the point of flooding) which totally stinks. It's the sort of easy breezy weekend that rarely comes along, and I don't want to spend all my precious free time indoors.

Our (tiny) Farmers Market opens tomorrow so that's the first thing on my to-do list. I want to see Ghost of Girlfriends past (no matter how mediocre it may be) too. I also see an ice cream outing in my near future.....

The weekend options are endless!! Have a good one!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

now what?

Graduation weekend has come and gone. Bloomington-Normal is a lot quieter minus 20,000 ISU students.

Ben's new job is looking for a job. Our first choice is to stay in the area while Ben gets started in the finance world. It'd be hard to move right now considering the economy. Plus, my job is going well. And we have our lovely house. It'll be hard to give all that up.

We do, however, really miss Chicago. I don't know if we'll end up back there sometime in the next 5 years or even 10. We'll see. We've never been the kind of couple to make and stick to major life plans. That works well for us. We try to embrace the unknown and enjoy adventures. We also like financial security and stability. Hopefully we'll be able to balance the two. C'est la vie!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

graduation

It's Mother's Day weekend in Bloomington-Normal which can only mean one thing: ISU graduation. Thousands of parents will descend on the town, celebrate, and then depart (with a kid who probably doesn't have a job, a car-load of crap and loans out the ying-yang).

It's a weekend full of bittersweet endings and the start of new adventures.

Ben wrapped his last class yesterday so he's officially done. We now have three Redbirds in the family (including Ben's mom) which is fun.

Our next adventure: a job. Stay tuned (and say a prayer).

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

bobby in bloom

Have you heard about 31-year-old Bobby Scales getting called up by the Cubs? It's my feel good story for the week. Bonus: he's a Michigan guy. Go Blue Bobby! Make us proud.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

what the what?

I can't believe the question from The New York Times to the President in tonight's press conference. What has "surprised, troubled, enchanted and humbled" you the most during your first 100 days in office?!?

First - this is a press conference, not an intimate chat over a cup of tea. Second - you are The New York Times, not Oprah. Third - Amy Adams is the only one who can pull off enchanted.

I thought Obama answered the best way he could - a bit fumbled and stuck-on-message, but I am giving the guy a break for even going there and not throwing his pen at the guy.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

the grill's season premiere


Our 20+-year-old Weber grill (the tomato) is ready for another season. Ben got it out and cleaned-up today. We did have to purchase a new grate, but that's a reasonable tune-up.

Tonight's menu: pork, potatoes, red and green peppers and mixed greens with cucumber and apple. I'm lucky to have a husband who likes to cook (and is very good at it!)!!!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

dear earth


I'm sorry for all the plastic bottles I used in Phoenix and trashed. I tried to use my cool new re-usable water bottle as much as I could. I curse the city for not having more recycle receptacles. I would have flown them all home, but I really needed space for my new Pumas. I promise to take better care of you in the future.

On the bright side, our first tulips are blooming and they look fantastic. Thank you for the beauty you bring us; I will try to appreciate it more.

Monday, April 20, 2009

the comforts of home

I made it in and out of O'Hare without delays. Twice. I must be living right. I am sure payback will come on a future trip.

My mom, brother and Abigail welcomed me home today with big hugs at the airport. The joy of hearing Abigail yelling "Aunt 'Lissa" and running toward me for a hug .... that'll stay with me for a long time. Dang, she's a cute 4 year old.

Still waiting for my Ben hug. He's at class right now...just a few weeks to go and he'll be a graduate.

IL greeted me with gray, rainy skies, but it's ok. My skin needs a break from the 95 degree heat and lethal sun. I have 2 weeks of Lost to catch up on now.....ahhhhhhh.......I love TiVo and home.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

state of confusion

Maybe it's the dry, desert air. Or the fact that I've been working non-stop. But for some reason I can't keep the days straight and instead of adapting to the time change I am getting more confused.

My "weekend" took place part of today and yesterday. Back to work tomorrow for a 5 day stretch until I leave AZ on Monday. I am definitely starting to get home sick. I miss my pillow. Why do hotel pillows suck so much? Give me a plain, ol' foam pillow any time. You can keep your fancy feathers thank you very much.

I have had some great food the past few days, including an awesome sweet potato sandwich at Wildflower Bread Co. Yummm...so good.

Friday, April 10, 2009

best of the week so far

It's been a crazy busy week for me in Phoenix. Some down time, but mostly work!

Here are the highlights so far:
5. coffee bean and tea leaf and paradise bakery
4. fish tacos at Blanco
3. no snow and a lot of sunshine
2. hanging out with Lynn
1. getting to meet Andrew Thomas Burchfield (scheduled for tomorrow)

My brain is tired and it's bedtime. ....

Sunday, April 5, 2009

back to the desert

The plan is to leave Bloomington very early, change plans at O'Hare and arrive in Phoenix around noon. I hope the weather cooperates. Old man winter's last gasp better not keep me from the warm sunshine.

Back to packing...talk to ya from the road....

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

europe

Michelle, The Queen, Carla! What an amazing week in politics! (oh, and the G-20 Summit sounds interesting too; just not as beautiful).

This article has a good photo from the visit to Buckingham Palace (the Obamas look like giants!) and some fashion commentary. Tonight they get to have a dinner created by Jamie Oliver. I want to be a cool first lady in my next life!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

new toy

I got an iPhone for work and have already spent way too much time playing with it. I swear new gadgets like this are a slippery slope to terrible eyesight and self anti-awareness.

In all seriousness, this will make my work life a lot easier when I travel. I leave a week from tomorrow for two weeks and it'll be nice to have the iPhone along for the trip.

My goal is to have my Facebook profile up and running before I go and then enjoy updating it with ease from my iPhone. I'll probably be posting on my blog from the iPhone too. I'll also be a new Twitterer (for work)... yikes...

Let's see...in other iPhone wonders, the gadget also made it snow this weekend if you can believe it. We got a lot of rain yesterday and some snow overnight.

Phew...that's about all the laptop blogging I can handle for today. iPhone is jealous.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

atlanta


I took a quick business trip to Atlanta last week. Here are the highlights:
  • Enjoyed a delicious turkey burger at Flip. A former Top Chef finalist serves as the culinary director. They serve sweet potato tots and crazy milkshakes. I tasted a Nutella creation with burnt marshmallows.
  • Toured the aquarium -- the world’s largest with over 8 million gallons of water –see above photo of a few million gallons
Ugh. I don't want to think about Facebook. The readers (well, a few of them) have spoken so I guess I will be creating a page. I have decided to embark on a 30-day experiment. If I like it, I will maintain my page. If I hate it, I am pulling the plug. Stay tuned...

Monday, March 16, 2009

burst of color


Some things just can't be stopped. Like a flower in bloom. Despite the fact that it's only March. In Central Illinois. (and we might get snow still -- shh!). Nevertheless, this lovely lady just couldn't hold back.

We spent a few hours this weekend picking up sticks and raking and hauling leaves. We still have hours and hours of yard work ahead of us, but it's a good start. My back is very sore today.

There is a space by the garage in the backyard desperately in need of a face lift. That will be one of our projects in the weeks to come.
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Early results on the Facebook poll indicate I may be joining the ranks...perhaps...don't forget to vote!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

peer pressure

A lot of people think I should join Facebook. I'm not so sure.

Seems like on the friends front I am in touch with the people I want to talk to. On the professional side, I have LinkedIn which keeps me connected to colleagues I do and don't talk to often. LinkedIn is less of time commitment and less socializing which I like.

If I join Facebook, I need to re-consider the relevance of this this blog. And do I really want to maintain both?

Let me know your thoughts -- why do you love or hate Facebook? Vote to the right or post a comment. I promise to go with the majority (and don't say yes just to get another FB friend, either!)

Monday, March 9, 2009

home


Central Illinois welcomed me back today with temps in the 30's and an overcast sky. Blah.

On the up side, I got to hang out with Ben today (he's on Spring Break) and will get to sleep in my own bed tonight.

Yesterday's sunny skies and Cubs game are already a distant memory. The work week is waiting...eager to punish me for taking a few days off.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

more from AZ


We snapped this before going to see He's Just Not That Into You on Friday night. The movie was entertaining and funny. Today we're off to the Cubs game....

Friday, March 6, 2009

orange blossoms


I sat outside in the sunshine this morning while reading the newspaper. The orange blossoms smell amazing! The photo is of a small tree in Lynn and Jeff's backyard. I love the yellow flower in bloom.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

where am I?

It's hard to believe I'm still in the same hemisphere as Illinois. I arrived in Mesa to blue skies, sunshine and 80 degrees yesterday.

It feels weird, but I'll manage somehow.

Lynn's bump is a lot bigger than the last time I saw her in late December, and she looks fantastic. I'll post photos soon.

I hung out in Scottsdale today and did some shopping. While at Olive & Ivy - super cute restaurant - I saw a Suns player: Amar'e Stoudemire. He's a big guy.

Monday, March 2, 2009

up in arms

It's been hilarious to read all the comments about Michelle Obama's "guns" at last week's Congressional appearance. You'd think we have more important things to talk about. I guess this gives us a welcome distraction from all the crappy news out there...

My thought: she's got a right to bare arms, people! Here's another funny article about it.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

March

We made it to Spring - kind of. I am so glad February is behind us. Now we just have to hope warmer weather comes soon. The sun was out all day, though it was only 25 degrees, so that's a good start.

I'll get a temporary temperature boost on Wed. when I fly to Arizona. I can't wait to feel the hot sun and unleash my wintered toes -- that goodness will only be trumped by seeing Lynn's growing baby bump!!

I also want to give a shout-out to Violet (as in African Violet) who has been featured in my masthead -- March is the third in a 3-part series -- as she blooms beautifully.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

June

I love June - it's my birthday month! - but now there is another reason it's cool: it's the name of new restaurant in nearby Peoria Heights.

The chef is only 28 and he's worked with some of the world's best (I feel so unaccomplished!). He's committed to using farm-fresh ingredients which I highly respect and admire. The buzz is building - from The Wall Street Journal to Daily Candy - and we're anxious to visit...maybe we'll celebrate Ben's May graduation and my 31st (NOT 32nd -aiyiyi!) with a June outing.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Oscar fashion so far

My favorites:
  • Freida Pinto's dainty blue dress -- love the lace sleeve
  • Taraji Henson's flowing, rippled-like-freshly-churned-butter creation
  • Heidi Klum in the best red dress of the night
  • Amy Adams' super cool statement piece--her mosaic necklace
  • Tina Fey's loose side-do
  • Anne Hathaway's intriguing scaly dress
Still un-decided about:
  • SJP's "barely mint" ball gown
  • Marisa Tomei's beautifully pleated dress -- I liked it from the waist down. The top seemed ill-fitted
Yuck:
  • Miley Cyrus in a gown Helen Mirren would have looked much better in. She should have worn something much younger and fresher.
  • Props to Mickey Rourke for his own style. I do wish he would have worn fewer accessories (chains or doggie necklace).

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

accidental dinner


Some of our favorite ingredients came together unexpectedly last night so we celebrated a bit of a late Valentine's Day.

We opened a bottle of wine we purchased about a year ago and it was delicious! Our first ViƱa Esmeralda was years ago after our post-college trip to Europe. So enjoying another bottle last night made the evening extra special...on just your ordinary Tuesday. Got some wine you are saving? I encourage you to open that bottle!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

love of paper

As much as I love email and blogs, there is something about paper and snail mail that I love more.

I can spend hours browsing stationary and cards (I really miss my favorite Chicago and LA shops, Hazel and Pulp). In a pinch, Borders and Target can give me a paper fix.

As much as I love the process that results in a friend or family member receiving a piece of mail, I do not enjoy the post office. The long, slow lines and endless waiting don't fit into my rushed errands schedule. I won't ever love the post office, but this article makes me appreciate it more. Bless you, Pinkie.

Stamps are due to increase again; mail delivery may be reduced to 5 days a week. And that's okay with me because it just makes receiving that card or letter all the more special.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

cool stuff

If you like colorful, whimsical design like I do then check out Target's new line from Orla Kiely. I browsed the selection at Target.com and it's sparse. The cute canisters are sold out already and some stuff isn't available online yet. I'll be heading to the store tomorrow to see what's what...

Sunday, February 8, 2009

48 hours

The weekend flew by in a blur and now it's nearly Monday again. IMO, the only thing worse than a Monday is a Monday with a dentist appointment, which I hastily scheduled without considering the implications, so I am dreading tomorrow.

We've gotten a lucky break in the weather - nearly 60 yesterday! - and I think it's going to last for a few days. It's nice to see the grass again though I'm certain this means snow in April. We'll see.

My brain's tired.

Happy work week!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

my spin

Being in the PR business I hate that when people say or do something questionable it is sometimes equated to "the PR machine at work" or "PR spin."

Jennifer Hudson's people say she used a backing track. Because they didn't say she lip sycnhed, some might say that is spin. Perhaps.

Consider this...you didn't pass the test or you failed? That handbag your friend's carrying isn't your style or it's just fugly? Face it, we all spin.

When Blago was out on his press tour, people said he was on a PR blitz. Ouch. I take offense to anything Blago does being called PR. He's a crazy, liar! Is that what people really think of PR or are they too scared to just call a crazy liar when they see it? They spin. PR just takes the fall.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

commercials so far

We're having a very low-key Super Bowl. The game's been interesting (currently at the beginning of the 3rd quarter) and actually better than the commercials. My commercial ratings so far:

Dumb: most of the bud light commercials - especially anything promoting drinkability, go daddy, teleflora, cars.com, audi. diet pepsi for men

Somewhat entertaining: the heroes promo where they are playing football, bridgestone Mr and Mrs Potato Head

Above average: Conan in Sweden (rare good one for Bud Light), all the Bud commercials with the horses and dalmation, Pedigree get a dog

Thursday, January 29, 2009

75


Guess what? My grandma turns 75 today. She definitely doesn't look or act 75 so much so that I actually wrote "happy 70th birthday" in her card. She'll be flattered.

My grandma doesn't surf the web or have email, but I had to post in her honor.

So happy 75th birthday, Nan. You're just beginning to blossom.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

spring in my step

Whenever it gets close to Valentine's Day I start thinking about brighter colors, flowers and warmer weather. It just doesn't seem right to have such a cheerful holiday during a frigid, winter month. So what to do to bring a bit of spring into my life no mater what the groundhog forecasts?

  1. Flowers. Especially tulips. Yes, they are overpriced. Yes, the delicate beauties will die in a week-even with a penny dropped in the water-and break my heart. If this is the way I choose to spend some money for a week of happiness, I am ok with it.
  2. Pink. I like to wear it, but pink candles around the house or a pink dishtowel also bring me cheer.
  3. Store-bought sunshine glow. Tanning beds are tempting devils, but I can't do that to my skin so I will trudge to the store and buy some sun in a bottle.
  4. Pedi treat. My toes are sad. They need a spa-cation. And a bright coat of happy.
These don't make the last weeks of winter easier, just bearable.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

movies, etc.

We finally saw Slumdog Millionaire! I've been hoping it would make its way to Bloomington and it arrived Friday. I definitely think it is worth all the hype. Very interesting story and the way it's told is just captivating and so well done. I hope it continues to open across the country so audiences can enjoy it.

Here's what else is going on:
  • Working my way through the Harry Potter dvds (just finished 3)
  • Reading Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri
  • NOT listening to XM Cafe since it's gone now due to the dumb Sirius-XM merge. Gr!!
  • Viewing all the Obama photos coming out. Pete Souza is the White House photog (former Trib photog) and I think he's already captured some amazing moments so far.
Another work week starts tomorrow. Time to enjoy what's left of the weekend.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

the week so far

I enjoyed watching the inauguration festivities yesterday. Can't wait to see how President (!) Obama does in the first 100 days.

On a less serious fashion note, I thought the new First Lady struck a nice tone of conservative yet stylish during the inauguration. The lemon-grass ensemble for day was so classy, and the color and texture kept it fresh. I've heard a lot of criticism about the ball gown (too prom-like, too long/the Pres kept stepping on it). What can I say? I can't muster a negative word about Michelle just yet. I was also super impressed with the outfits worn by the girls (coats from the J Crew line for kids, Crewcuts). They looked age-appropriate and fun.

Now we're getting ready for the return of Lost at our house...I hope it lives up to the hype.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

a kitchen years in the making

Here are some before and after shots of the kitchen.


Before: sad and gray :(


After: sunny and cheerful!


The previous owner left the 46 tiles (our house #). They were good inspiration.


Our new over-the-sink shelf. I can't wait to put herbs in our planter.


And finally our new curtains - hot off the sewing machine. We've had the fabric since we lived in Chicago. 5 years, 1 apartment and 1 house later, curtains are born!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

6, -6

6 inches: amount of snow we received last night and today
-6 degrees: the low tonight (it'll feel like -24)

Fun times here in Bloomington. The snow is great, actually, because we'd only had a tiny bit all winter. I could do without the bitterly cold temps and wind. It's just painful to go outside.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

winter to-do list

With winter comes a delicate balance of hibernation and venturing out of the house in layers (to avoid cabin fever). This was more of a hibernation weekend for us. Yesterday we de-decorated (which is always a bit depressing; now the house is empty) and made a delicious pot of minestrone for some friends who came over for dinner.

I have a lot of movies on my must see list, but so far we've only been to see Doubt. I really liked the performances, but the story seemed to be missing something. ... I would have liked more (and I won't say more of what as to avoid any spoilers).

Also on my list: bowling, reading, jammies and TiVo catching-up, and sewing (curtains for the kitchen). With 10 more weeks of winter to go, I should have plenty of time to fit it all in.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

longest week ever

Short post because I'm freaking exhausted from my back to work schedule. I think I've snoozed 30 minutes every morning this week (Ben will tell you this is a regular occurrence, but it's usually 15-20 tops. Besides he's still off all this week so I get to be a bitter snoozer.). Honestly, it's the first week in January! Can't we hibernate or have a bit of a slower work load?

The one highlight for the week: Scrubs is back (Tues. night on ABC)! Watch it on ABC.com if you missed it. JD and co. will bring a smile to your tired, over-worked soul.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

out with the old, in with the new

Hello, 2009! We're three days into the new year and I have not come up with any earth-shattering resolutions.

So far the only thing I am actively trying to do is eat slower. I don't want to become someone who inhales her food without tasting it. I am resolving to savor tasty dishes (and boring food too) by eating slower.

Other things I am pondering:
  • reduce, reuse, recycle - trash is currently at 1 bag a week, but I think we can do better. I am trying to bring less crap into the house period.
  • tackle another room in the house to paint
  • take time for healthy living - don't rely on convenience foods, do yoga/walk/some sort of exercise on a more regular basis
  • write more - I've enjoyed my blog and am eager to try something new, but what?
  • travel somewhere new
Good luck with your resolutions!