Friday, December 28, 2012

O' Christmas Tree

The tree in the famous Walnut Room at Macy's.
This is the fifth year I've lived in Chicagoland during Christmastime and the first year I've been able to dine in the Walnut Room at Macy's. 2012 marks the 105th year that Macy's, formerly Marshall Fields, has had a tree in the Walnut Room. People flock here at this time of year to dine and, hopefully, get seated under the tree.

I've been here before to see the 45 foot tree, its 1,200 ornamaments and 25,000 lights but the long dining wait has always eluded me from staying - but today we planned ahead. Joe and I had tickets to see War Horse (amazing show!) so we came early and waited at Macy's to dine. To give you an idea, we showed up at 11:15 am and our seating time was for 12:30. Then at 12:30 we were able to get in another line for 15-20 minutes before actually getting a table.

I may not have the patience to do this every year but it is a Chicago tradition that you should experience at least once.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Christmas 2012

Joe and I spent a couple days in Missouri to celebrate Christmas with my family.

I think part of being an aunt is buying all the girly stuff you really wish you had.

Aunt Amy & Uncle Joe also bought the girls new suitcases. Brylea was obsessed with pulling hers around the house and putting all of her valuables inside - like her sippy cup.

Sunday, December 23, 2012


We have very few holiday traditions (okay, almost none, unless you count putting up our Christmas tree) but I've always wanted us to spend an evening driving around looking at lights. Unfortunately, I know very few "must see" places in the area but thank goodness for the internet. With a little searching, we found a few destination spots and set out tonight to find them. We found two houses that had their lights blinking in tune to music. Just pull up, find the radio station and watch the show. My favorite house was featured here in the Wall Street Journal - amazing! And then we also found a house that had what seemed like, approximately, 300 yard ornaments - wow! So wrong but so fun to see. I'm hoping this can be a new tradition for us.

One of the many houses we saw on our "Christmas light" drive.

Monday, December 03, 2012

Our weekend

After spending three weekends in a row out of town, I was so glad to have this weekend at home and free to just catch, grocery shopping, cooking, laundry. But despite our "to do" list we still managed to fit in some other fun plans, too, like a concert, a movie (Lincoln) and lunch at a favorite restaurant. And, while I still maintain that it doesn't seem like Christmastime (Global warming, anyone? I'm driving with my windows down and wearing short sleeves today.) I have still managed to finish almost all of my Christmas shopping with just a few minor things left. Last night I wrapped gifts, today we decorated our tree and I just finished addressing the last of my Christmas cards. Yes, it doesn't "seem" like Christmastime but I know it is...and I'm ready!

Sunday, December 02, 2012

Lentil soup

I have had my eye on a lentil soup recipe for awhile and, finally, made it this weekend. It took a trip to the bulk bins at Whole Foods to find some of the ingredients but I'm not complaining. I will gladly accept any excuse (or recipe) that takes me to Whole Foods.

Lentil Soup

1/4 cup onion, chopped
1/4 cup celery, chopped
1-2 cloves garlic, diced fine
1 large carrot, diced
1 1/2 cups lentils, washed
56 oz veggie stock
2-14 oz cans of diced tomatoes (fire roasted)
Olive oil
1/4 cup millet
1/4 cup amaranth
1/4 cup flax seed
1/4 cup quinoa
1 Tbs lemon juice
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp dried ground marjoram
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 bay leaf
2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar

Heat stock pot on medium heat and add olive oil. Add onion, celery, garlic and carrot to post, cooking until onion is soft but not brown, stirring occasionally. Add the rest of the ingredients (except the balsamic vinegar) to the pot and stir to combine. Turn heat to low and simmer on stove for 1 hour. When the soup is finished add 2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar, stir and serve.

Monday, November 26, 2012

My Friend in the Middle East

My friend, Wanda recently moved to the Middle East. I am still sad about her leaving and moving away but she has started an awesome blog that I thought my friends would find interesting. It's fascinating to read about her adventures. If you're interested, you can read her blog here.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

The Great Northwest, Day 6

Our last full day in Washington state had us enjoying coffee with one of Joe's cousins, out for shopping and lunch, and one last family dinner before our "day seven" travel day back to Chicagoland.

Joe in Coupeville.

I'm posing before heading off to my delicious lunch of clam chowder. I love seafood! I ate it every day on the trip except for once. And I'm giving myself a pass for that one day since I usually ate it at least twice a day.  

One final family dinner.

The Great Northwest, Day 5

Thanksgiving! Today we celebrated Thanksgiving with Joe's family at his Aunt Judy and Uncle Jim's house with his dad, stepmom, cousins and grandma.

Joe and I with Grandma Dorothy.

Joe and I posing while Uncle Jim and Aunt Judy are hard at work in the kitchen.

Uncle Jim carves the turkey.

Our delicious lunch! So thankful for a great day with family.

The Great Northwest, Day 4

Our last day in Victoria! After breakfast we checked out of our hotel and drove to Sidney to catch our ferry. Another long travel day for us.

We couldn't leave without taking a picture by the beautiful Empress Hotel Christmas tree.

Dreary day, waiting for the ferry to arrive.

The Great Northwest, Day 3

Our next day in Victoria had us doing more sight-seeing and, for me, a massage at the hotel spa.

Joe and I having breakfast at the hotel.

We visited the Royal BC Museum which showcased a history of BC including this guy from the ice age.

We also visited the inside of the Parliment building.

Here's the Parliment building at night.

By the second day of our trip, our hotel was decorated for Christmas!

Joe before our curry dinner at the hotel's Bengal Lounge. The Bengal Lounge has been serving a curry buffet nightly since the 50s.

The Great Northwest, Day 2

Day two took us to Victoria, British Columbia. It has been on my short list of places to visit for quite some time and made for a memorable way for us to celebrate Joe turning 40. This also marked my first-ever trip to Canada.

Our hotel, The Empress

We had high tea at The Empress, a must-do in Victoria.

Yum! I have been dreaming of the chicken curry sandwich I had since our tea.

After a day of exploring the city, we had a late night dinner at this Scotish Pub. I had the best fish and chips of my life and Joe had bangers and mash.

The Great Northwest, Day 1

Joe and I took off for the Northwest to visit his family and also to take a little side vacation to British Columbia. First things first, a stop at Pike Place Market upon arriving in Seattle. I've been before but its been about seven years since my last visit. We walked around, had a wonderful lunch with fresh seafood and then caught the ferry for the second leg of our trip.

Pike Place Market

Watching all of the action at the fish counter

The original Starbucks

Joe and I having lunch and enjoying the view

Joe on the ferry heading to Whidbey Island

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Fore Tee

The birthday celebrating continues. Today we hit some golf balls. But instead of any old place, imagine every ball you have is microchipped and keeps score against your competitor. Kind of like darts only with golf balls. And there's great music playing and really good food/drinks brought to you at your own seating area...oh and heaters. Seriously, this is my kind of golf.

Thursday, November 15, 2012


I sent some balloons to Joe's office hoping to brighten up his busy day.
Today is my husband's birthday...and it's a big one. He refused to let me have a party for him and didn't want anyone to make a fuss. And, unfortunately, that's what he got. (Me? I'm all about the fuss.) Poor Joe had a brutal day with back-to-back meetings and even a late night meeting tonight so we didn't even get to have dinner to celebrate. So I took him out for his favorite meal of the day - breakfast. A few days from now, we'll be in British Columbia. Something tells me that will be a pretty swell place to have a proper celebration.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Girls Weekend

This past weekend I headed to Virginia Beach to see my friend, Carrie. We've been friends since high school but as adults we rarely see each other. So this was a great getaway for me and a fun weekend with an old friend. The weekend consisted of girl talk, pedicures, shopping and lots of good food (I ate seafood for almost every meal and we even hit a Diners, Drive Ins and Dives restaurant, too!).

Cape Henry Lighthouse

The old Cape Henry Lighthouse. Carrie and I climbed to the very top...and today my calves still hurt.

Plague at the side of the lighthouse. It was the first lighthouse authorized by the United States Congress and erected in 1791.

Seafood Mac & Cheese.

Carrie and I having dinner at Eat.

Thursday, November 01, 2012


Wanted to share a picture on my nieces on Halloween.

Brylea as Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz and Adyson as Belle from Beauty and the Beast. Isn't Toto cute?

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Out With the Old, In With the New

I think this is the incentive that Joe and I needed in order to enjoy doing laundry.

Leaves, Leaves and More Leaves

Twelves bags of leaves just from our smallish front to tackle the back yard! I think the worst part is paying for every bag that we sit out for pick up. :\

Weekend Fun

Joe's dad and stepmom were in the area this weekend so we have had a full and fun weekend catching up.
Friday night we went to Navy Pier to see the Sondheim musical, "Sunday in the Park with George." It's based on the people George Seurat might have met while working on his most famous painting which also happens to be one of my very favorite pieces of art.

Today took us to the House of Blues for their Gospel Brunch. It's always so much fun...and now I will not be eating for the rest of the day!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

40 Years

40 years ago today my parents got married. Here they are in 1972.

This is my parents in 2012.

Lots of friends and family joined us today as we celebrated their 40th anniversary.

Me, mom, dad and sister, Cathy.

Cathy at the cake and punch table.


My grandma with her sister-in-law, Jo.

Guest book table with my parents' wedding album. Everyone had so much fun looking at the old wedding pictures.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Weekend Visitor

My mother-in-law standing in front of the CS Lewis wardrobe.
Joe and I just arrived back from dropping his mom off at the airport after she's been here visiting for the past two days. We had a nice weekend catching up. It all started on Friday with me picking Jo Ann up and taking her to lunch, then Joe got off work early and showed her around his office along with other areas of interest before we all eventually headed off to a great French dinner. Saturday found us at Starbucks and then to see the CS Lewis and Tolkien artifiacts located nearby before going to see the movie, Argo. (It was AMAZING. Go see it.) After the movie we had a late lunch/early dinner of pizza and walking around one of my favorite little towns. Today was mostly a lazy Sunday before heading off to the airport. And just like that the weekend is quickly coming to a close.

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