Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Now this is what I call summer!

The Setting:

The Thirst Quencher:

The Results: 

Finally planted oregano and thyme,
and the other herbs are growing so well!

The first pepper!

A bit of a mess...

A lovely Wednesday afternoon. A bit of gardening, then enjoying the sun and a cold beer. This is the benefit of working at 5:00 A.M.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Check out my new ride!

Remember how I recently debated starting a new hobby? This weekend I decided it was time to bite the bullet, because I know I could make myself crazy if I kept debating purchases much longer! My biggest motivation came from Joe, who sent me this picture after riding down to Hyde Park while I was at work on Saturday.

The Japanese Gardens at the Museum of Science and Industry

I loved the idea of heading to the lake front to ride together, and decided at this point the bike was a clear winner! I still want a sewing machine at some point, but I'd have to be crazy to choose to spend the summer inside sewing things instead of riding a new bike around the city. We had a recommendation from a friend for a guy who sells used and fixed up bikes, and I was able to get this great K2 road bike for about half the price that it would cost if I bought it brand new.

It rides great, and I've already had fun riding around town. On Sunday after work, I rode the bike to church, and then Joe met me and we rode over to Dairy Queen. Nothing justifies a Blizzard like burning off the calories as you ride to and from DQ!  It actually reminded me of growing up in Colorado, because we used to walk or ride bikes to DQ all the time in the summer.

Today I also decided to ride to the gym, which was a 5 mile ride round trip. I ran and lifted weights at the gym, and had a great workout while also enjoying the beautiful weather outside. Soon, I think I'll try to ride to work, which is about 5 miles one way. And I'm eager to do some short weekend rides with Joe, maybe up to Evanston or down along the lakefront trail. I'm sensing the beginning of a somewhat addictive hobby...

Anyone else hooked on bike riding? Got and tips or recommendations to share?

Monday, June 27, 2011

Things that are making me happy!

I feel like I haven't blogged in forever, and today is going to be a short one. Last week my shifts at work were scheduled so that each day I worked a little earlier than the next day, which meant each day I only had about 10-12 hours between shifts. When you include eating, commuting, and sleeping into that amount of time, you don't have a lot of extra time to spare. But tomorrow I am off, and will catch you up more!

Life is busy but good, and here are some of the things making me happy...

Fresh basil from my 'garden'!

Grilled Greek pizza

New infinity scarf my mom knitted for my birthday. I can't wait to wear it!

Birthday gifts to myself, thanks to a fantastic sale at Anthropologie.

My little garden is growing really well lately!

Most exciting part: little tomatoes starting to grow.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Family Weekend Adventures!

I'm finally recovering from my cold... and I have to say that a summer cold is just about the worst thing. We've had some beautiful days lately, and I've been too busy sucking on cough drops and sniffling to really enjoy it. Thankfully, I was still able to have a pretty good weekend, with my parents and little sister in town hanging out with us! We always enjoy slowing down and playing tourist around our city, and it was such a treat to have a whole weekend off from work.

We wandered around downtown Evanston on Friday afternoon, then enjoyed a typical Chicago cookout of brats, potato salad, and baked beans. Plenty of beer and wine went down smoothly with the meal, and we decided to aid our digestion with a nice walk around our neighborhood. We ended up walking past Rod Blagojevich's house right as his wife Patti was walking in with some groceries. She said hello and commented on what a nice night it was for a walk, and as we continued on my mom started talking about how friendly people in Chicago were, as Joe and I tried to contain our laughter until we got far enough away to tell my mom who we had just run into. It was pretty hilarious, maybe more so thanks to the aforementioned drinks with dinner...

Saturday started out with some wonderful sleeping in, and a lazy morning at home.  Then we went over to Mostrose Beach to walk around and have a lunchtime picnic, which was so enjoyable. I love how much people use the beaches and parks in Chicago, since so few people actually have yards of their own.

After the picnic we did a little shopping along Lincoln Avenue, stopping in at Brew Camp, a new homebrew store near our house. The guy was really nice, and we're excited to go back there next time we need supplies.

That night we went to dinner at The Gage, to celebrate my birthday. We had a fantastic meal, and a surprise dessert to top off the celebration. It was so fun to hang out with my family, and to soak up our wonderful city through the eyes of visitors.

Millennium Park with my little sister.
Cute parents on Michigan Avenue

Delicious birthday dinner
 My parents timed their trip well, because we were able to celebrate Father's Day with my dad! My family is spread out across the country (the 6 of us are in 4 different states at this point, but we were in 6 different states just a few months ago!), so we don't get to spent too many holidays together. We had a nice breakfast at home with my dad on Sunday morning, before they headed back towards Missouri. It was a nice end to a fun weekend catching up with some of my favorite people!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Busy + Sick = Missing the Blog World

Hi Friends!

So I am on day 6 of 7 in a row at work, and I managed to get a nasty cold. I have been mostly just working and sitting on the couch, trying to get through. Any free time and energy is spent getting my house in working order, because my parents and little sister are coming to visit this weekend! I think by tomorrow I will feel mostly back to normal, so we can have a fun weekend.

I miss blogging, and visiting your blogs. Luckily, I'm off work from Saturday to Tuesday, so after my folks head home I'll still have two days to spend online ;)  See ya in a few days!

Friday, June 10, 2011

How's this for a vacation?

Have you heard of the blog Oh Happy Day? I hadn't until someone posted about her blog recently, but I'm so glad to have discovered her site. Jordan is one of those professional blogging types, and her site is fantastic. It's so stylish and fun, and the best part is that she's currently in the middle of spending  a year living in Paris with her husband and two kids. Have I told you how i feel about Paris???


Seriously, it's my number one favorite place of all time. I've been three times, and the last trip was the first time Joe and I got to go together. It's so beautiful, romantic, historical, and all I ever imagined! I love wandering the streets, seeing the sites, and finding less touristy places to eat, drink, and watch the world go by. Joe and I have serious plans to move there (or really anywhere in Europe) someday, and I have every intention of making that dream a reality at some point. Maybe not forever, but a few years living in a different culture, surrounded by charm and history, would be a dream come true. And before you get all "grass is greener" on me, let me remind you that my parents recently moved back after five years in the Netherlands... so I know a huge move like that is far from easy, but can still be so worth it!

But we're not moving yet, so I figured I'd try to win a trip. Sounds like fun, right? You should check out Jordan's site, Oh Happy Day, but don't enter the contest, because the odds are already pretty unlikely ;) 

Happy Friday!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

I need a new hobby

I think I want a bike. Joe and I try to be relatively responsible with our money, seeing how we have a mortgage and other essential bills that we always want to be able to pay. We don't use credit cards often at all, and we have older, sorta crappy technology (I think our TV is about 15 years old!). So we tend to really plan out any big purchases we make, and try to save extra money before doing so.

Recently, Joe was debating between getting a bike or a guitar, in order to start a new hobby. He ended up getting a super sweet bike from his brother for waaay less than it's worth, and then also bought a guitar since he got a great deal on the bike. He's now having fun learning chords on the guitar, and has been cruising around on the bike in his down time. Lucky guy!

This is Joe's bike. It's super awesome, and I've become addicted to riding it! I actually rode about 16 miles yesterday, hitting up Green City Market, Navy Pier (for a work-thing), and riding home along the lakeshore trail.

Now, here's my problem. First, I was dead set on buying a sewing machine, so that I could do crafty things around the house and maybe even learn to sew some cute clothing for myself. I have saved about $250 of my babysitting money, like a high schooler, and was all set to buy the machine I think I want

Then I started riding the damn bike. Now I want one for myself. The problem?  Joe's bike is worth over $1,000, and I have gotten quite used to riding this super nice bike. I think I can only spend about $300 on my own bike, though, so I know there's no way I can get a bike that's near as nice as his. But I am dreaming of adorable rides to the beach, with picnics and frisbees, or rides to the farmer's market on the weekends. I could continue to ride Joe's bike anytime he's not around, which is a decent amount of the time since we work different hours. But I want to have a second bike, so we can ride together.

So what would you do? Buy a bike now, buy a nicer bike later, or say screw it, and buy a sewing machine?  I'm getting a new toy SOON, but this is a harder choice than it should be!  (Welcome to my crazy brain! I wish I could just make a simple decision, but I'm really good at analyzing things waaaay too much!)

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Extended Weekend Adventures

This weekend felt like the real kickoff to summer! I only had to work on Sunday morning, and had all day Friday, Saturday, and Monday off. This meant lots of relaxing time, plus hours of outdoor entertainment! There was a beach picnic, some kickball, outdoor drinks, a park picnic, an escape to an air-conditioned movie theatre, and other very summer like activities. Basically, it was a kick-ass weekend! I got to bond with some Whole Foods people while playing kickball, and even caught a pop fly (if that's what you would call it in kickball!). We explored a really nice beach in Wilmette, a fancy suburb just north of Chicago, and reveled in the soft sand and seemingly cleaner water. There were drinks in front of open bar windows, and out on our back porch. And last night we heard a free Iron & Wine concert at Millennium Park, although it was too crowded to actually see the show. A near-perfect summer weekend! 

What's that you say? You want photo evidence of such fun activities?  I suppose I could indulge you....

Beers at The Hopleaf, plus amazing frites for dinner!

Practicing his new hobby

My tomato plant is growing like crazy!

White sangria with peaches and grapes.
Quite tasty, but also leads to a terrible hangover if you're not careful!

Monday night picnic at Millennium Park, with Iron and Wine concert sounds from across the street.

I had fun beach pictures, but they're on Joe's phone. Maybe if you're lucky, I'll save them for a post dedicated to a lovely beach picnic ;)  Hope you're enjoying some summer fun of your own!

Friday, June 3, 2011

Making the Cut

For a couple years, I've been wondering if I could pull off this haircut. I was worried it needed a whole persona, and I wasn't sure my little preppy self could keep up! But I've been making changes in my life recently, and I decided it was time to take the plunge. First... a terrible before picture. I'd just gone running, and left my hair pulled up and dirty when I showered, since I knew they'd wash it at the salon. I promise this isn't how it usually looks!

And now, are you ready?

Scroll down a little more...

Almost there...

The new haircut!

I LOVE it! I really didn't know how bangs would end up looking, and I'm really pleased with the result! I would still like for my hair to be a little longer, but that will take a little more time. Now we'll just have to see how I do with fixing it myself... wish me luck!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Quick Catch Up

I initially planned to do all sorts of blogging this morning, since I wasn't going to work until 3:00. Thankfully, one of my coworkers said he'd switch me for an earlier shift today, since I've had closing shifts all week and have only seen Joe when we sleep in the same bed at night! I really don't mind working some closing shifts, and having the whole day to relax and get stuff done, but four days in a row was starting to bum me out. So this is going to be a quick update, and I'm going to have to wait until tomorrow to waste hours looking at all of your wonderful blogs :)

I worked all three days of the past holiday weekend, but still squeezed in plenty of fun time. I caught up with some girlfriends, had a date night out with Joe, and enjoyed a night of grilling and beers to celebrate a friend's birthday. I also decided to be a little lazy, and not take pictures of what we were up to. But it was a fun, relaxing, and busy weekend!

How about a little photo show... here's some of the random pictures I've taken on my phone in the last week! God bless you, iphone, for helping me document my life with so little effort.

I am a really good friend, and was willing to help my friend Christie taste
cupcakes for her wedding. Hard work, but someones gotta do it.
And in case you're wondering, Molly's Cupcakes in Lincoln Park is freaking tasty!

After eating cupcakes, we went to the Meatloaf Bakery down the street.
Tasty little bites, like a spaghetti & meatballs 'loafie' and a vegetarian lentil 'loafie'.
We ended our night with margaritas and chips with guac, to round things out!

I learned how to take a screenshot on my phone!
The weather has been so random lately, but now seems to be
settling in on the warmer side of things.

I love taking Joe's bike out on my days off from work.
 I rode to the lake on Friday, then to Trader Joe's.
It was 9 miles and I actually enjoyed it. I'm playing around with the
idea of getting my own bike, but will probably just keep using his for now!

Joe and I had a date night at Bad Apple on Saturday.
We've had beers at this place about a million times, but hadn't eaten there yet.
The burgers were pretty fantastic, and I'm willing to bet we'll eat there again soon!
  Happy Hump Day! See you guys tomorrow!