Sunday, August 31, 2008

First guests

Joe and I hosted our very first guests as a married couple early last week. Joe's dad and stepmom, Lynn were here over night on their way to Indiana. We had a birthday celebration (for his dad whose birthday was that day and for Lynn and me who share the same birthday coming up) over a wonderful dinner. The next morning we had breakfast together at the house before they left.

I'm back

I am back in Chicago. Joe was waiting for me last night with dinner, wine and a much-needed foot rub. It was so wonderful to see him again after spending a few days apart.

The visitation/memorial for my uncle was such a beautiful tribute to him with more than 600 people in attendance. He obviously touched many lives and will be greatly missed.

Needless to say, after a busy and emotional week, I was exhausted yesterday (and still am) when I got home and slept rather soundly. This afternoon Joe and I went to Hyde Park. He wanted to trade in some cd's at Hyde Park Records and we ran over to Edwardo's for pizza. I'll admit that the "great" Chicago pizza has eluded me thus far. None of it has really been that great to me until today. I think this was the best I've had.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Loss for words

Sadly, my Uncle David (my mom's brother) died suddenly this morning. I will be with my family at some point this week. Please keep us in your prayers.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Soap box

Joe sent me this article which lists the top ten art films of the summer. I realized even more so when I moved here how lucky I was to previously have the Ragtag. You'd think in a city this big, there'd be lots of places to go and see independant films but really there's only a couple theatres. And for obvious reasons it's not as convenient. In fact, last weekend Joe and I thought about going to see Transsiberian and we couldn't find it playing. I looked it up today and it looks like it's playing in one theatre at only two times. Sad.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Movie night

Joe and I are going to see Singin' in the Rain tonight at a nearby arts center. Joe has seen it a million times and tonight will be my first time. I'm looking forward to it. Other than that, it's been status quo around here. Watched a dvd last night and patiently waiting out my days here at home. I think now that I'm done unpacking and running around getting things done boredom is setting in a bit.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Sugar and spice

I just wanted to point out that my friend Cristin is a genius. Check out this cupcake hat and matching mittens that she made. Seriously. Cute.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Menu Plan Monday

I went to the store today to do my shopping. I've been spending lots on ingridients lately so my goal was to primarily make meals based on things we already have at home. And I just got finished making brownies (no mix!). Tonight Joe and I are both on our own. I'm going to a yoga class and he's off to teach tai chi.

Monday: turkey sandwiches

Tuesday: baked tilapia and spinach salad

Wednesday: beef and bean burritos

Thursday: roast, carrots and mashed potatoes

Friday: leftovers or out

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Weekend update

I haven't had the best luck with my computer lately so I've been avoiding it and not blogging or checking email as regularly. So here's what I've been up to:

Joe and I went to a yoga class last week. It was killer. Seriously hard. I felt like I'd been hit by a bus by the time we left. I think I might go back this week but to a different class...maybe I was overzealous at where I started.

I made a pie! (Thanks, Nichole!)

Friday night we went to see Tropic Thunder.

Yesterday we spent a huge portion of the day cleaning the house. It's nice to have help and I'm finding that there are things Joe likes (laundry!!) and there are things I like (cooking!) so we're both finding where we fit and it seems to be working.

This afternoon we went to Chinatown for lunch and window shopping. Joe bought me a beautiful bracelet.

And I must mention that today I think I found my church. I've been looking around since I got here and have tried a couple churches for the past few Sundays but nothing felt right. So today I ventured out of the area and I felt right at home. I am definitely going back again next Sunday. It was a great feeling.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

It's official

I've jumped through all the necessary hoops to have a new identity (or last name if you prefer to be less dramatic). In the past two weeks, I've gotten new license plates, new social security card, new driver's license (completed today!), new health insurance - new everything! I'm exhausted. Not to mention all the address changes I've made on my mail. The driver's license experience was much easier than I had anticipated and I only missed one on my written exam which made me feel like a rock star...especially because the question I missed was a trick question about child restraining seats. I think a celebration is in order. How about a latte? Sure, I'd love one.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Sox game

I had just started dinner last night when Joe called from work and said, "You want to go to a Sox game?" Sure! I hurried through making dinner, we quickly ate and we went to the game. I was excited they were playing the team from my hometown state not known for their reputation as a good team but it still made me feel a little warm and nostalgic. We had a sweet suite complete with an awesome view and free food and drinks. (Who can beat free at a baseball game?) Turned out to be a lovely night. Great weather, great time with Joe. The Sox did win 9-0 which made me actually feel a little bad for the Royals. I think I was worrying about them getting their feelings hurt everytime someone would mess up and the stadium would go wild with cheers. Go figure.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008


Not that I should admit this but yesterday I didn't leave the house. Nor did I shower or change out of my pajamas. I'm not really sure what I did to keep myself occupied aside from job-searching online. Today Joe urged me to leave the house. And he was right. It's okay to stay in my pajamas sometimes but definitely not a habit that I want to start. Today I got up, showered (yay!) and I left the house to explore the nearby Beverly area. I sat at Starbucks reading for about an hour (where I was the only female without a stroller) and then I walked around. I found a cute little cooking school and a yoga center here that Joe and I are going to try out this week. I also found the cutest little gift store that reminded me of some of my favorite Columbia gift shops. With a morning of adventuring, I can now work on some laundry and housework.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Menu Plan Monday

I have really enjoyed cooking. I think it was something I never had the energy to do just for myself but I love doing it for others. I have noticed that whenever I cook (even if it's a relatively small recipe) we end up eating on things for a couple days. This suits us just fine for lunches or leftovers during the week. I'm finding that I can pick out a few good recipes for a week and we can just make do with leftovers or improvise as needed. I'm not too stringent with planning and it pains me to think an entire week out but I can see things through the work week without a problem. Below is what I have in mind for the week (also known as Rachel Ray week).

Monday: Zucchini and bow-tie pasta

Tuesday: Ginger-lime chicken with green beans and wasabi smashed potatoes

Wednesday: leftovers

Thursday: Salsa stoup and double- decker baked quesadillas

Friday: leftovers or date night out

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Saturday synopsis

Today Joe and I went to see the documentary, Man on Wire. It was about a man who tightroped between the World Trade Center Twin Towers in 1974. Great film. The tightrope walker was on camera so I knew he was still alive but my heart was racing throughout the film; it made me so nervous!

Afterwards we went to Lincoln Park Zoo for a couple of hours. It was nearby and it's the free zoo here in Chicago. Despite a period with dark clouds and a few sprinkles it remained a beautiful afternoon. I was exhausted by the time we got home. Just woke up from my nap. Now that we've played, we can do the housework that has already seemed to pile up.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Fun times in Chicago

Before I moved here and before we got married, Joe and I decided to implement "date night" which would help us make sure we were spending some quality time together each week doing something fun. We also want to spend one time each week doing something to explore the city. Tonight our date night just so happened to also be a way to explore the city. Originally we were going to go to a movie tonight but the movie we want to see is going to be more convenient to see tomorrow along with another adventure we have in mind. For our date tonight we decided to go to Buckingham Fountain. Once it's dark they do a light/music show for twenty minutes each hour. We sat on a bench and did one of the things I like best - we watched other people and we ate ice cream. On the way back to the El we walked around Millennium Park. So there you have it. Our first $20 date in the city.

Thursday, August 07, 2008


Joe and I received a really cool gift yesterday to a cooking school here in Chicago. I'm so excited to pick out a fun class for us. Maybe one involving pizza-making. Looks like there are lots of classes I'd like to participate in. This might be my new hobby. (When I get a job and $$.)

Joe took me to see Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2 last night. I think he was a little mortified to be one of just a few guys in the place and we were definitely the oldest non-parents but he knew it would get me out of the house and put a smile on my face. I loved the first movie and the sequel didn't disappoint. Great stuff.

Someone is here steam cleaning one of our couches. Very excited about that.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008


Below are some observations I've made since moving here:

  • People around here smoke. A lot.
  • It took me over an hour last night to drive 22 miles.
  • Gas gouging does occur. Yesterday I saw gas anywhere from $4.12 to $4.50 and today I saw it for $3.95. There seems to be no difference for all the cost differences. And those prices can vary dramatically just down the street or a couple blocks away. I'm used of living in a town where gas at every station was always the same price.
  • GPS does not guarantee that you will be driving through safe, secure neighborhoods.

Monday, August 04, 2008


My sweet husband (still feels weird to say that word) brought home a rose and a homemade card tonight to celebrate our one week anniversary. Even though I'm still in a funk about the job rejection, it did make me feel better to have such love and support. I'm going to count myself lucky.


Remember my job interview? The one that I was sure went so well? Well I just received my official rejection letter in the mail today. I'm not going to lie, it stings. I was up late last night searching for other jobs and nothing really appeals to me. Nothing.

Life of a domestic goddess

Ah the life of a domestic goddess. I'm not used to "not working" a regular, paying job but I'm trying to get in the swing of things around here. Already this morning I've gone to get pictures printed, made a visit to the shoe repair guy and to the dry cleaners. Soon I'll be cleaning the house. Impressed? Yesterday after church shopping, Joe and I went grocery shopping and bought items for the week. We're on a mission to eat at home much more and save some money. Imagine us comparing cheese at the store because I wanted to buy it already shredded (hello, convenience!) and Joe recommended to buy it in the block and shred it ourselves because it's cheaper. Since when do I live this way? Well, apparently, I do now...without further adieu, below is my Menu Plan Monday for the week.

Monday: salsa pork chops and rice
Tuesday: good casserole (recipe below)
Wednesday: pizza and salad
Thursday: leftovers
Friday: going out?
Saturday: BLT sandwiches

Good Casserole
12 ounces egg noodles, cooked according to package directions
2 tablespoons butter
8 ounces cream cheese
1 cup cottage cheese
1/2 cup sour cream or plain nonfat yogurt
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
3/4 teaspoon salt
freshly ground pepper to taste
1 pound ground beef
1 cup chopped yellow onion
1 garlic clove, minced
vegetable oil, as needed
1 can (15 ounce) tomato sauce
2 cups grated cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place noodles while still warm in a lightly sprayed or oiled 3 to 4 quart casserole and toss with butter. in a medium bowl, mix together cream cheese, cottage cheese, sour cream, parsley, salt, and pepper. Spread mixture over the noodles.

In a medium skillet over medium heat, combine beef, onion, and garlic and saute, breaking up meat with a spoon, until meat is browned and vegetables are tender, 6 to 7 minutes. Add a little oil if needed. Stir in tomato sauce and simmer several minutes. Pour over the noodles and top with cheese; do not mix. Bake, covered, until bubbly, about 35 minutes.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Weddingmoon - Day seven

This was such a long day of travel. Joe and I would definitely recommend our resort to anyone but it was such a long day yesterday that I think we're just glad to be home and to rest and get caught up on "normal" life. We had breakfast and left the resort at 8:15 am for the ride back to Montego Bay. (It takes about an hour and a half.) Our flight kept getting delayed and we changed gates four times. Finally we made it to Fort Lauderdale. We were supposed to have a five-hour layover in FL and I had mapped out a funky little district for us to go to during our layover but our layover was now only two hours (which was fine) so that didn't happen. We finally arrived back in Illinois sometime after midnight. What a long day! And this was the first time I'd flown since airlines started charging to check luggage and drinks and snacks are no longer complimentary. I don't know if the airline we flew has always been this way or not but it was so "no frills" that it made Southwest look like a luxury airline only for the rich and famous. Sad times.

Weddingmoon - Day six

We went zip lining! Or as you would say in Jamaica, we took the canopy tour. I've always wanted to do this and it was so much fun but also probably the scariest thing I've ever done in my life. I'll admit at first I was terrified but we did a series of nine "jumps" and it kept getting easier. And we were definitely in the jungle; it was so beautiful. Also, our guides were fantastic. They were so much fun. They loved picking on Joe, too. It was such a hot adventure that we had to cool down in the pool as soon as we got back to the resort.

Weddingmoon - Day five

We went on a shopping excursion in Negril. It was more touristy than I had hoped.

One of the things we enjoyed doing at our resort was feeding the fish. There were beautiful gardens and ponds with lots of fish, a couple of turtles and some birds were always hanging out trying to eat some of the fish. I could have stood there for hours.

Our afternoon was spent on the beach. I think I must have used more sunscreen than ever before. Still got a tiny bit pink but not sunburned so it paid off! It's true that in Jamaica you can get anything you want. Anything. One day while Joe was in the water, and I was trying to keep shade under my big hat with my People magazine when a local man approached me. "Your husband smoke?" No, I answered. "You liked cakes? Brownies?" Yes, I mean, no. No, I don't like "brownies." I don't think I'll ever get used to that...

One thing about Jamaica is that there are lots of nasty flies/fleas that will come out at night and bite you. We knew about this ahead of time so we brought bug repellant but we still got bit up pretty badly. Not fun. Definitely a minus to our trip.

Weddingmoon - Day four

We had breakfast on our balcony (we had a room with an ocean view) and then we hit the beach for awhile before we both had a couples massage in the massage hut on the beach. Now I've watched enough episodes of The Bachelor to know that the couples massage on the beach is where it's at. Dream. Come. True. Aside from the wedding, probably the highlight of my trip. As honeymooners, we received a half hour complimentary massage but we upgraded to a full hour and reserved the massage hut instead of the spa. Totally worth it!! It was so relaxing and peaceful with just a cool breeze coming from the ceiling fan and the sound of the ocean in the background. Later in the day we went kayaking and then took a dip in the pool.

Weddingmoon - the wedding

Giselle came to get us in our room around 3 pm. There were brief showers every afternoon. The only day it didn't rain all week long was the day of our wedding; Hooray for us! Our minister had such a soothing voice and our cake was probably the best cake I've ever had in my life. We had them wrap it up and we ate on it all week. Below are just a few of our photos.

That evening, after the wedding festivities, we had a private candlelit dinner on the beach. It was so romantic! My camera doesn't take good night photos but Joe got a few that I may post later. Our menu was: thai style fish cakes, crunchy garden greens, surf & turf of lobster tail and grilled chicken breast and mousse au chocolat for dessert. Yum!!

(Funny side story. At the end of our picture-taking and videotaping, they had us walk all the way down the beach so they could get a shot of us from behind walking off together...well we were already on the edge of our beach/resort and we had to keep walking...all the way past the nude beach. Maybe you had to be there but it was kind of funny in the moment. We just kept looking straight ahead!)

Weddingmoon - Day three

It's my wedding day! The night before Joe and I exchanged wedding gifts. I agonized over what to get for him and settled on typewriter key cufflinks with his initials. I thought it was the perfect gift. He loves old typewriters and loves to wear cufflinks. Little did I know he already had a pair! Oops. The ones he had (with his initials, too) were yellow and the pair I gave him were black and a little fancier than what he had which was good; he loved them! He gave me a beautiful turqouise necklace and matching earrings. Perfect for me!

After breakfast and walking around on the beach, Joe and I just spent an hour just laying in a hammock. It was so peaceful. A staff member named Melbourne came up to us while we were in the hammock and brough us a coconut from the tree. He cut it open and we drank from the inside of it. Then he sliced it in half and we both got to eat part of it. He said it goes right to your heart!

After our adventure with Melbourne, I went to the spa to have my hair and makeup done. I loved how it turned out but none of their lipstick suited me. Too pink, too brown, too neutral, etc. I sent Joe to get my makeup bag and we went with my Downtown Brown. I couldn't imagine using anything else!

Weddingmoon - Day two

Today we went to a brief orientation for the resort and then we had an appointment to meet with the wedding coordinator, Giselle. Giselle was extremely nice and went over all the details for the following day. We had been avoiding the sun (mostly me!) so that we weren't burned for our photos but we did grease up with lots of sunscreen to enjoy the beach and hot tub for about an hour. Later I got a manicure and pedicure at the spa.

Nichole burned a mix cd for me several (4?) years ago that I really love. Joe and I both have iPods but I knew that all the rooms had cd players so I brought some cds and we listened to Nichole's off and on all week when we were in the room - thanks Nichole!

Hello darling! I wore my cover up and big hat while on the beach at all times!

Weddingmoon - Day one

Joe and I woke up at 2:20 am to leave for the airport by 3 am. We were at the airport around 4 am, stood in line, etc and were to our gate with about 45 minutes to spare before boarding our 6 am flight. I was exhausted! I'm not a morning person and it was too early to be happy. Joe, on the other hand, loves the morning so he woke up naturally happy. Grrr.

After flying to Fort Lauderdale and then to Montego Bay, we arrived in Negril at our resort around 2 pm after taking a bus for about an hour and a half. We were greeted with champagne and cool towels - I could get used to this! After all our traveling we mostly just walked around the resort, had dinner and just crashed.

Joe and I on our way to the resort.

Our beautiful scenery.

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