Saturday, December 22, 2007

O Christmas Tree


We've had a wonderful holiday season so far this year. The first weekend in December we went with Katie and Casey to pick out our Christmas tree. I've posted a cute picture from that night here. We also saw "A Christmas Carol" at Cincinnati's Playhouse in the Park with my whole family. We've made it a tradition to see some sort of show together at Christmas every year, and this one was great. I love the Playhouse's intimate theater and highly recommend seeing a show there. On Sunday of that weekend, Kevin surprised me with an overnight trip to Brown County, Indiana, the place we went on our first out-of-town trip together 5 years ago. It was very romantic and relaxing.

The next weekend we celebrated Christmas with Matt and Amanda. We take turns hosting a big Christmas get-together with them every year, where we eat lots of yummy food, play games and spoil each other with presents. It's one of my favorite Christmas traditions. I also participated in my company's annual Bizarre Bazaar that week, selling lots of catnip bags and dog treats again.

Last weekend, we went to the Over The Rhine (the band) holiday show at the Taft Theater with our friends Doug and Sue. We've grown to be huge fans of this band from Cincinnati in the last year, and the show was great, mixing their regular songs with tunes from their new Christmas album. And we always enjoy getting to see Doug and Sue.

In between all that, we got all of our holiday shopping and wrapping done early and are ready to spend a nice weekend celebrating Christmas with Kevin's family. Kevin and I are both on vacation until Jan. 2, the first time we've both been able to do that. If we don't get a chance to post again before Christmas, we hope you have a happy and safe holiday!

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Kevin Who?

Katie pointed out this week that I haven't posted since September, so I'm stealing one of her posts to try to get myself back in the groove.
My last post coincides with the week I started my new job, so I guess that proves that I have been busy. I might post more on it later, but I will say that I love what I'm doing. It's exactly what I was looking for.
But here's a little Kevin Trivia for now:

Five Things


5 Things I was doing 10 years ago:

1. Attending Cincinnati Bible College
2. Working at Structure (now Express) at the Florence Mall
3. Working as a banquet server at The Phoenix in Downtown Cincinnati (got to pay for college somehow)
4. Sharing a dorm room with Aaron Kupfurer, one of the coolest people I know. But I haven't heard from him in at least six years :-(
5. Getting my first cell phone and thinking that I am awesome (I think it was $10/month for zero minutes - emergencies only).

5 Things on my To-Do List today:

1. Lay on the couch.
2. Take a shower.
3. Go to dinner at Nada with our good friends Doug and Sue.
4. Go to the Over the Rhine holiday concert at the Taft Theater with our good friends Doug and Sue.
5. Not get in an accident driving on the snowy, sleety, wintry mixed streets.

5 Things I would do if I were a millionaire:

1. Payoff all of our debts
2. Work less
3. Travel more
4. Share the wealth with family and non-profits that are important to us.
5. Upgrade a few things: house, cars, toys...

5 Things I'll never wear again (or never wore)

1. "Hammer" pants
2. Pegged jeans
3. Tank tops in public
4. Silk button down shirts
5. Mesh shirts

5 Favorite Toys

1. My iPod nano
2. My cell phone (I'm still awesome)
3. Our iMac
4. My Honda CR-V
5. Our digital camera

Thursday, November 29, 2007

25 Most Baffling Toys

If you need a little time-waster, check out this compilation of the 25 most baffling toys from around the world. Some of the descriptions are a little naughty, but these toys truly are bizarre.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Holiday TV Specials

I found a great list of holiday TV shows and movies on the Cincinnati Enquirer website. It includes everything from classics like "It's a Wonderful Life" to Food Network holiday cookie specials to "A Very Brady Christmas." My favorite is the description for last year's movie "The Nativity": Mary gives birth.

Even if you don't live in Cincinnati, the list might be useful since many of the programs are on cable. I printed the list (16 pages!) and set my DVR to record everything I want to see.

Melissa: Don't miss this year's airing of "The Christmas Shoes." ;-)

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Nerd Alert

Check out my latest Cin Weekly "article," a mini review of some new flavored chips. Excuse the goofy photo.

Friday, October 19, 2007

New Articles

I have 2 more reviews in CIN Weekly this weekly. One is a review of The Bar at Palm Court in the Hilton Netherland downtown. The other is a restaurant review of Sweet Basil, a Thai/sushi place in Northern Kentucky. We enjoyed both! Hope you enjoy the articles.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Freelance Update

This week's CIN Weekly features my review of Market Street Grille, one of the few West Side restaurants I've found to satisfy my East Side taste. I know, I sound like a snob, but this vegetarian isn't down with all the meat and potatoes-style home cookin that my hood has to offer. You fellow westies must check out Market Street if you haven't been there already. It's worth the drive to Harrison.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Giddyup

I think I had too much fun last Friday night. We started off at The Palm Court with Doug and Sue to collect info for my article. The space was beautiful and we had excellent half-price drinks. Next we checked out Trattoria Roma, an authentic little Italian Restaurant, and had yummy dinners and a few glasses of wine. It was really warm out, so we decided to sit outside at Cadillac Ranch, a new mega-bar downtown, and have a few more drinks. I hardly ever drink too much, but I always seem to overdo it a bit with Doug and Sue. I think I get so wrapped up in talking that the liquor just slides on down without my noticing. Anway, I had a pretty good buzz going, so I decided I wanted to ride the mechanical bull. Totally out of character for me, but it seemed pretty harmless (there's a big inflated ring all around it), and Sue said she'd ride with me. After standing in line for a while and making sure to tip the bull operator, it was our turn. The only time I had second thoughts was when I had trouble actually getting ON the bull, but adrenaline (and a helping hand from Sue) were on my side, and I eventually pulled myself up. I clutched both the leather strap and the horn, while poor Sue only had the back of the saddle to hold on to. We didn't last long, but it was fun. Sadly, the camera phone pics were really bad.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Back from Hiatus

Like many of our favorite television shows, I'm back from hiatus. I didn't take an intentional leave of absence from the blogging world; life just got busier than usual for a few weeks.

As many of you probably read on Katie's blog, Katie, Casey and I took a long-weekend trip to visit our uncle Mark (my mom's youngest brother) in Tampa near the end of September. Mark and I were very close when I was growing up, and we've kinda lost touch since he moved to Florida, so it was awesome to spend some time with him. We also saw Grandma Marie and Uncle Dave (another long-lost bachelor uncle) while we were there. It was very relaxing, and it was fun to spend some concentrated time with my perfect little nephew.

I've been doing a lot of freelance work since then. For our anniversary, we went to Market Street Grille in Harrison, and I wrote a review about it. I'm also writing 2 reviews this week—one of Sweet Basil, a Thai and sushi place in N. Kentucky, and the Palm Court bar at the Hilton Netherland. We're actually scoping out the Palm Court tonight with our friends Doug & Sue then dining at Trattoria Roma. And freelance proofreading has kept me busy too. I'm trying to take on as many projects as possible to pay for our latest unexpected expensive household repair: a new central air conditioner and furnace, which we had to replace at the beginning of September.

And I won't lie: TV has my full attention again now that the new season is starting. I still love Heroes, Brothers & Sisters, The Office, America's Next Top Model, 30 Rock, and I'm keen on a couple of new shows too: How I Met Your Mother (new to me), Dirty Sexy Money, and a few others I've yet to check out (thank god for the DVR).

So that's the high-level recap. Hopefully I'll find more time to post more in the coming weeks. And I'll be sure to link to my 3 reviews when they're published in a few weeks.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Dog Daze with the Reds

Last night Sarah and I took Gilmore to his first Cincinnati Reds game! The local SPCA hosted an event where dogs and their owners could get into the park, parade around the field, and watch the ball game in their own section. We all loved it, especially Gilmore. He is such a social dog and this wound up being a very social event for all of us. We met Bryn and Rob with their dog Wrigley (who switched from a Cubs fan to a Reds fan for the night). Before the game they had several different dog contests, but since Gilmore wouldn't be the biggest or the smallest and he doesn't enjoy costumes, we didn't enter him. We paraded around the entire field with the other 248 dogs and finally found our way to our seats. As we were sitting down Sarah realized that she used to work with the person sitting next to us so they enjoyed getting caught up on life. While they were talking I glanced down about five rows and saw my cousin Ryan, who lives in Columbus. He is a big Reds fan and heard about the Dog Zone so he came down with his dog, Bosco. It was great to see him and catch up. We exchanged phone numbers so next time he comes down we can get together.
Then our friends Tricia and Michelle showed up Tricia was checking out a very cute rescue from the SPCA named Wendy. I told her they would look very cute "walking down the streets of the city, smiling at everybody she sees." We'll see, finding the perfect pet is a big decision...
I've posted some pictures here and you can see that we had a great time. Hopefully they will put this event on next year, I think it was a huge success. Gilmore is ready for us to "take him out to the ball game" again!!



Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Look what I got...



This is the exact Smurf's record player that I had growing up. I could not tell you what ever happened to mine, but I saw this on eBay (in the original box!!!) and had to get it. It is being shipped to me soon, I can't wait! It is supposed to be in perfect working condition, so I can't wait to set my old Shirt Tails read along record on and be living in 1984 again...

Friday, September 07, 2007

Sob Songs

I was scrolling through my ipod this morning on the way to work, trying to decide what to listen to, and I landed on Simon & Garfunkel's Bridge Over Troubled Water album. I've loved that album since junior high, but I don't listen to it too often. When "The Boxer" started playing, I teared up as I always do. I'm not sure why this song moves me so much, but it always has, especially since Paul Simon performed it at the start of the first "Saturday Night Live" episode after 9-11. Then-NYC mayor Rudy Giuliani introduced him, and I always think of that moment when I hear the song. I know that's a weird association, and it's not particularly sentimental to get teary-eyed over a now Republican presidential candidate, but it still chokes me up.

Another song that always grabs my heart and gives it a twist is "Return to Pooh Corner." It's insanely cheesy to get worked up over a Kenny Loggins song, but it's just so heartwrentchingly, innocently sweet, that I get this big lump in my throat and my eyes get all watery every time I get to the verse where he's looking at his own son in his bed with Pooh by his side. Every time.

I feel a little guilty for not noting a more significant tear-jerker, like a song from my wedding. But the truth is, those songs don't really make me cry. They make me happy and nostalgic, but not teary-eyed. I'm sure that seems unromantic, but it's often the songs that are seemingly unrelated to my own life that sneak up and kick-start the waterworks.

But maybe that's just me. What songs move you to tears?

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Family, Festival, and a new job!


This holiday weekend we went to visit my family in Edgerton. We enjoyed seeing everyone and got to celebrate three birthdays with three cakes! Thanks Mom!
My brother gave us passes to the Auburn Cord Deusenberg Festival while we were home. For those of you unfamiliar, this is an annual festival in nearby Auburn, IN where you can see all kinds of automobiles. Old and new, basic and extravagant, you will find everything here. We went just about every year when I was growing up and I always loved it. They have a big auction along with an area for people just showing and selling their cars. Sarah had never been so I was really excited to go with her. As you can see, we found a couple of things we liked. I've always wanted a Delorean, but after finally having the chance to get behind the wheel, I don't fit so well. I see why tiny Michael J. Fox was cast in Back to the Future. I've also always wanted some kind of roadster like an MG or an Alpha Romeo, but now I'm thinking maybe an old BMW 3 series convertible would be a better fit and just as fun.
I also wanted to let all of you know that I'll be starting my new job in less than two weeks. The "official" title is "Retail Conversion Specialist" but basically what it means is that I'll be responsible for overseeing the branch aspects of any new systems or processes as well as any new bank acquisitions. I'm really excited about it. I've been looking for over a year to get into this group and I think this opportunity will be perfect for me. It will be strange not to work in a direct customer service environment, but I think I am ready for that change. I'll let you know how things are going as I get into the role. Wish me luck!

Friday, August 31, 2007

Twosies

It seems like everything going on in my life lately is private or just hush-hush-for-now, so sorry I haven't posted much lately. I thought I'd steal this fun little idea from Joan to tide me over for the holiday weekend. Enjoy!

1. Two Names You Go By: Oddly enough, Kevin and I don't really have nicknames for each other the way we do for our pets and our friends. I'd have to say "Sarah" and "Small Sarah," although in the past it was SaMo, Morty and Sally.

2. Two Things You Are Wearing Right Now: Jeans and Nike flip flops (big surprise)

3. Two Things You Want In A Relationship: Good communication and laughter

4. Two of Your Favorite Things to Do: Eat great food and watch TV (I sound interesting, huh!)

5. Two Things You Want Very Badly At the Moment: To be outside (it's finally a gorgeous day) and a yummy breakfast

6. Two Pets You Had/Have: Kenzie & Tosh

7. Two People Who Will Fill This Out First: Hmmm, maybe Kevin and Tyana

8. Two Things You Did Last Night: Watched Friends re-runs and did laundry

9. Two People Who Live in Your House: Kevin and Gilmore

10. Two People You Talked to Last: Bryn (my co-worker/friend/manager) and Vicki (my production coordinator)

11. Two Things You're Doing Tomorrow: Driving to Edgerton and having a belated birthday celebration with my in-laws

12. Two Longest Car Rides: Hmmm, probably to Florida and to Eastern PA (I never seem to drive west)

13. Name Two of Your Favorite Holidays: Christmas and Halloween (mostly because I just love fall)

14. Name Two Favorite Beverages: Earl Gray hot tea and gin & tonic (especially when Kevin makes them with a splash of sweet lime juice)

Monday, August 20, 2007

Lucky Girl

I've been very lucky when it comes to sweepstakes and raffles in my adult life. Today I found a box in the mail full of goodies from Everyday with Rachael Ray. Turns out I won their Ultimate Movie Night Sweepstakes, which came with the movie "Elizabeth I," the first season of "Sex & the City" and lots of little goodies I can use to host a movie night with a bunch of friends. Fun!

Last month, I won one of three grand prizes at my company picnic: a very nice Nikon Coolpix digital camera. I also won the grand prize at my company party in 2005: a pair of Southwest Airlines plane tickets. And when I was planning my wedding, I won a box of goodies from a bridal magazine--all stuff that actress Leah Remini (Carrie from "King of Queens") gave to her bridesmaids at her then-recent wedding (bath products, candles and other stuff like that). I even won a very cool vase at a Macy's bridal registry event.

I guess I'm a pretty lucky girl!

Monday, August 13, 2007

Week In Review

I borrowed this template from Tyana, thought it was a great way to keep you up to date. This was a busy week!

Favorite moment: Hmm, three favorites.
One - having Sarah's brother and his girlfriend over for dinner.
Two - Going to the Nickel Creek and Fiona Apple show in Columbus and meeting Liz and her friend Sarah there.
Three - Going out to dinner with Matt & Amanda to celebrate our July birthdays (Amanda's, Sarah's, and mine).

Most stressed moment: I work at a bank. Every day is a stressed moment.

Song downloaded off iTunes: Ben Lee's EP tracks from his new album coming out next month.

Song I’m wearing out on my iTunes: How It Ends - Devotchka

Book I’m trying to read: "The Good Guy" by Dean Koontz

Biggest laugh: Flight of the Conchords on HBO, "Part-time Model" song

Best TV of the week: Flight of the Conchords (hilarious, check it out!)

My favorite person of the week (other than Sarah): These people aren't my "favorite," but I did make two new friends on Tuesday. I always get really excited when I make friends with random people, because it doesn't happen too often. They were having dinner at the table next to me before the Nickel Creek show and it turned out that we have been to several of the same shows together, they're from Cincinnati, and big fans of Ellery. So I'll probably run in to them at the next shows I go to. Small world!

Stupid people moment: I work at a bank. Every day is a stupid people moment.

Our pet update: Gilmore got some kind of scratch on his left eyebrow that caused a small patch of hair to fall out. I think Kenzie shaved it as a prank.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Family Fun

This weekend, Kevin's mom, Kathy, drove down to Cincinnati by herself. She's never made the trip alone, so we were very proud of her independence! We got take-out from Thai Taste Friday night, and she tried edamame and sushi (California and Shrimp Tempura rolls) and actually liked both, much to her surprise.

Matt was home for a short leave before they ship out to Iraq this weekend too. Katie threw a fabulous party for him at her house Saturday and had a great turnout. It was nice to see so many different people come together to support Matt before he leaves. I'm sure Katie will post more about the party and their time together when she recovers from all the driving back and forth to Wisconsin, where he's currently stationed. I hope she got some pictures, because I didn't. I think Kathy did, though, so maybe she'll post them on her blog.

Last night, my brother, Michael Seth, and his girlfriend of a few years, Joslyn, came over for dinner. We had lots of leftovers from the party, so Kevin just grilled some burgers to go along with them. It was so much fun just to hang out and talk to the two of them. There are usually so many people around and so much going on when I see them that we really don't talk much at all. I'm amazed at how much Michael has matured in the past year, and how funny and talkative he's become. And Joslyn is such a sweet--and beautiful!--girl. I hope we can see more of them now that Seth has his license and can drive to Cincinnati.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

A Very Good Day





On Saturday, Kevin, Gilmore and I headed up to Yellow Springs, Ohio, near Dayton, around lunchtime. We didn't really have an agenda, but Kevin wanted to take a little day trip, and I've always wanted to visit Yellow Springs. It's a village, centered around Antioch College, with that hard-to-find combination of small-town vibe and big-town culture. The downtown is just a few blocks of little restaurants and shops. We started our adventure at a dog/cat boutique, where Gilmore got some biodegradable "oops I pooped" bags and some treats. All the other customers told us how friendly, sweet and well-behaved he was. That was really the only store Gil could go into, so we decided to eat lunch at The Corner Cone, an ice cream stand with a grill and a big patio. It was a perfect choice that served up bowls of water for dogs and amazing veggie burgers for me. After lunch, we popped into a few of the other shops while Gil waited outside, then we headed to a farmer's market about a mile away and got some homegrown veggies and jam. Located right behind the market was a plant nursery that also served as an animal sanctuary. Our clerk at the market told us that the nursery owner leases the land for only $1 a year, and in return he cares for unwanted/abandoned exotic pets. We decided to check it out, thinking that it would mostly be cats and dogs. So we were surprised to find roosters (lots of roosters!), emus, goats, pot belly pigs, horses, donkeys and, of course, a few cats, which every good nursery should employ. After that we headed back into town to get soft serve ice cream cones at The Corner Cone. When we approached the window to order, the server told us that dog cones are free, so Gilmore got his own vanilla cone, which he quickly devoured. Of course, being the odd dog that he is, he actually ate the cone like a human would, biting off little pieces and working his way to the bottom. Next we took a long walk around the town and through Glen Helen, a wooded nature preserve. It was a hot day, but overcast, so it was actually very pleasant.

To wrap up our day, we decided to check out a free concert the local public radio station was sponsoring. The had food vendors there so you could get dinner, and the bands were pretty good. We threw down a blanket, got a shrimp basket, some nachos and some sweet tea, and listened to 2 of the 3 bands. We headed home around 9, very relaxed and pleased that we had found so many fun things to do on our spontaneous adventure with our little dog.

I've posted a few of my favorites photos from when we were fooling around waiting for the show to start.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Parties and Parades

This weekend our very good friend Liz came to visit for two reasons, my birthday party and Harry Potter. She, Sarah, and I all went down to Barnes & Noble Friday night so that we could be among the first to get our hands on the seventh and final book of the Harry Potter series. While we were there we had a lot of fun perusing the bookshelves, playing Potter trivia, and checking out all the Muggles dressed up in wizarding wardrobes. We got our books and read for a few hours that night. I got up early the next morning (thanks to a barking Gilmore) and read some more to catch up with Liz. I determined this weekend that I am not a super fast reader; I'm not terribly slow either, but Liz literally doubled my pace. We read most of the day Saturday and all day Sunday, which sounds like kind of a weird way to entertain out of town guests, but none of us could put the book down. Liz finished Sunday afternoon; Sarah and I read into the night and we both finished Monday night (we did stop to go to work). I'm not going to tell you anything about the book, but if you haven't read all of the Potter series yet, do it. If you enjoy fiction ( I know not everyone loves it) but these are really great, well told stories. Anyway, I'll let you enjoy this lovely picture of the three of us at the party on Friday night.

Saturday we took a break from reading to go out to dinner for my birthday. Matt and Amanda met us at Teak in Mt. Adams for sushi and afterwards we met up with some more friends for drinks across the street. It was a really nice, low-key evening spent with some of my best friends.



Tonight was the 115th annual Norwood Day Parade and my staff at work and I walked in the parade, waving at our friends and customers as their children begged and screamed for candy. Sarah and Gilmore joined us and we had a lot of fun. What better way to spend your birthday than walking up "Main Sreet" with everyone cheering and waving.
So that's how I celebrated entering into the last year of my twenties. Reading, eating sushi, and a parade!

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Birthday Recap

My birthday was so much fun! I had a great little family party Tuesday night with yummy food, including homemade chocolate cake and raspberry chip frozen yogurt. And I got great gifts, including a Tommy jacket and lots of other goodies from Dad and Candy, and 3 Coach purses from Kevin and anyone who sent me money. The Coach purses were from the outlet, so I got a leather everyday bag (the Chelsea field bag in pebbled chocolate brown leather), the tan mini-signature bag (for times when I want something a bit smaller) and a matching wristlet (for times when I really want to pare down). So thanks everyone!

We arrived for the midnight showing of Harry Potter at 10, and Newport ended up selling out 14 theaters! The movie was great, but it was equally cool to see all the teenagers so geeked about Harry. Normally, something like that would be very uncool, but they were so excited, all dressed up like characters from the books and yelling back and forth.

Wednesday, we drug our tired butts to King's Island, which turned out to be perfect. There literally were no lines for anything. We were only there for 3.5 hours and managed to ride The Italian Job, The Vortex, The Beast, bumper cars, Adventure Express, Top Gun, The Backwards Racer and Son of Beast. Honestly, it's harder and harder to ride coasters and run around the park all day as we get older, so I was glad that we could squeeze so much in so quickly (this 32-year-old still had it in her to keep her hands up on The Beast, though!).

Thursday, my staff took me to Jalapenos for my birthday lunch and decorated my office.

In other news, I got a new stereo for my car that allows me to play my ipod directly through it. I can control it with the stereo and everything, which is so convenient! I'm also feeling a great sense of accomplishment after completing 3 freelance assignments this weekend--a 30-page proofreading assignment, a 40-page proofreading assignment and an article about couples sharing household chores. Now we're off to dinner at Bob Evans with Katie and Casey!

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

An Evening With Ellery

Back in March, Sarah and I, along with several of our very good friends, had the privilege and the pleasure to attend a live performance of Ellery, the musical duo who also happen to be very good friends of ours. It was amazing and I've been waiting to blog about it until you could see for yourself, so here it is. Click above to see a preview and click here to order your own copy on DVD. Also, PBS will be airing the performance in August on several networks throughout the country (Cincinnati, Dayton, and Toledo for sure). It is not to be missed so order your copy today and be sure to check your local PBS listings in August!
They are awesome!!

Monday, July 09, 2007

Checkin' In

I know I haven't posted much lately. I've been busy with the usual: freelance work, work work, and all the stuff in between. I've been reading the last three Harry Potter books (4 through 6) to refresh my memory before book 7 comes out July 21st. I've already pre-ordered a copy to arrive that day. So I've been reading in all my spare time!

I don't know if I already mentioned this, but lately I've been doing a lot of freelance proofreading, which I love. It's dull, but it's second nature to me. Plus, I don't have to interview people and I can do it when it's convenient for me. I charge hourly, so it's very straightforward. Of course, I can't turn down the writing assignments if they pay well, but I find them to be a colossal pain when I'm already working full time.

We have fun festivities planned for my birthday this week. Tomorrow, Mom, Katie, Casey, Gran, Tim, Art and Pam are coming over for a cookout and cake. (Art and Pam, Matt's parents, just moved here today from Pennsylvania so they can be closer to Matt, Katie and Casey.) Then at midnight, Kevin and I are going to see the 5th Harry Potter movie (that's the first showing!). Wednesday, we both have the day off, so we're going to King's Island. We both earned free tickets when we worked at the park to help out Save the Animals Foundation last year. I keep telling people I'm having a "little kid birthday," LOL!

Sunday, July 01, 2007

This cracks me up every time!

What Have I Been Doing










As I mentioned in my last post, I've been doing a lot of stuff around the house, so I thought I'd give you a couple of details. Here are some pictures of our basement, which has been the bulk of my busy-ness. After we had the "flooding" (which quickly drained away and dried out. This has happened about three or four times to us) I decided that it was time for me to repaint the basement walls and the floor. So I decided to do this while Sarah was at the HOW Conference. Like most projects I choose to tackle, this one involved about 130 "prep" steps that I was not really anticipating. I usually like to just start a project with the step that will get me to the final product, but I'm learning that it really doesn't work that way. I had to scrape off all of the loose paint on the walls, ceiling, and floor, sand everything down, wash everything, wash it again, vacuum, and then all of the other little projects that come up as I'm moving things around. So I didn't actually get into any painting until the second day of the project and painting a basement is a lot more involved than painting a bedroom. With all the pipes, uneven surfaces, wires, and on top of it all had to do all of the trim! Usually Sarah and I work as a team on this stuff, but I was on my own (I owe her a lot of credit for everything we've done together, trim is the hardest part!).
So as hard as I worked on my own, I didn't get everything done while she was gone. I had to save the floor for the next weekend. While she was gone, I also refinished the kitchen sink; which was another tedious, multi-step process. I felt bad because the sink required 5 days to cure, so when she got home on Wednesday I had to tell her that we couldn't use the sink until Saturday. But that's all over and it looks much better than before.
The pictures of the basement don't really do it justice, you'll have to stop by and see for yourself. We did some reorganizing along with this project and I ended up moving my work area out into the garage, but I think that works better. When I'm making a mess I can just sweep it outside!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Yay for The Fray

I know it has been a while since you've seen a post from me, but I had to let you know about our amazing evening Tuesday night. Sarah and I drove up to Indianapolis with our very good friend Liz Truitt to go to an outdoor concert downtown, showcasing three bands, two of which are currently among my absolute favorites, OK Go and The Fray. OK Go is best known for their "treadmill" music video. Check out the link on You Tube, it's pretty cool.
But The Fray was the headliner and they were awesome. They've had some pretty big hits that have had a lot of radio play but I really love every one of their songs. Check them out as soon as possible. They played a few new songs for us and this is one of their last shows for a while, hopefully they'll get a new album out soon!
I'm planning to make it out to a few other shows this summer, probably with Liz, who is my guide in the world of music discovery.
I've been pretty busy with work and some other projects lately, I'll try to get some updates on things around the house for you soon!

Thursday, June 14, 2007

HOWCon Rocked!

Our tired crew got home from the HOW Conference late last night. We had such a great time. The Hyatt Regency was such a great venue, the program was super strong, the party at the Georgia Aquarium may have been the best in HOW history and everyone seemed so pleased. Our honorary staffers, who help us introduce sessions, were all great pals so it was fun to catch up with them. The food at the Food Studio and South City kitchen was fabulous. And did I mention that closing party? Seriously, if you ever get the chance to go to the Georgia Aquarium, don't pass it up. We saw the coolest stuff there. Here are some photos of our trip. And just so you're not confused, the party was called the "Descenders Ball," so everyone was supposed to dress as something type-related.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Hi from Hotlanta

I'm down south for the HOW Design Conference in Atlanta. Everything's going great! I got a sweet suite (I really don't need all that space, but it's cool), we had a fabulous dinner at The Food Studio last night, and sessions are off to a good start.

Friday, June 01, 2007

The End of an Era


Today is senior art director Tricia Bateman's last day at HOW. Bryn, Tricia, Megan and I have all worked together for 5.5 years. And Carmen and Susan have been part of the HOW team for nearly 3. That's a long run! Here's a shot of all us HOWgirls, minus Susan, who left early before we could rope her into a photo. Three cheers to Tricia and her new job at a cool design firm in Northern Kentucky!

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Let's Cruise

A few weeks ago, we took a 5-night cruise on Royal Caribbean's Enchantment of the Seas. The ship sailed from Ft. Lauderdale, FL, and stopped in Ocho Rios, Jamaica, and Georgetown, Grand Cayman. Rather than give you the hour-by-hour replay, we thought we'd share our 11 favorite and 10 not-so-favorite (in no particular order) things about the experience, which, overall, was fabulous! I've linked to some photos throughout, and you can see the whole set here. (And I assure you that we only played Bingo once!)

Top 11 (This one goes to 11.)
1. Royal Mojitos. These yummy, trendy drinks were served up with lots of mint and Bacardi Limon instead of regular rum. Out of sight for $4.25.
2. Ulimited Room Service. We love it when people bring us breakfast in bed. Plus, our "dinner time" in the dining room was 8:30, so room service hit the snack spot around 5:00 every day when we were famished from our excursions at the ports of call. I had a cheese plate every day, I kid you not.
3. Joe & Carlos. This fun couple from Tucson shared our dinner table every night. Despite the fact that they're 10 years our junior, we had lots in common and tons of fun with them.
4. Multiple Entrees at Dinner. Joe, who had cruised before, initiated us in the art of glutonous dining, by ordering not one but two entrees (or appetizers or desserts) for dinner. We didn't go overboard, but we did double order a time or two when we just couldn't choose.
5. Our Room. Cruise ship rooms are small. But they're also loaded with storage space a la dorm rooms. And unlike hotel room beds, there's room to store your luggage under cruise ship beds. We grew to love our cozy little piece of the ship . (Could it have anything to do with turn-down service including chocolates and animals made out of towels?) We were on the 2nd deck, near the rear, with a full-size window.
6. Climbing a Waterfall. In Jamaica, we joined hands with 20 other people and climbed a 650-foot waterfall in a bizarre, chain-like fashion. It was a fun-filled, soaking wet experience for which we weren't prepared. Had we known better, we'd have bought a disposible, waterproof camera. Needless to say, we left our new digicam on the dry bus and, sadly, have no shots of Dunn's River Falls.
7. Snorkeling in Grand Cayman. After I got the hang of the gear (i.e., don't breathe through your nose and fog up your mask), snorkeling was really cool. We saw some pretty fish, coral and a fish that camaflouged itself on the ocean floor.
8. Sun and Fun. At both ports, we scheduled excursions that included time at the beach, which was money well spent. The beach in Jamaica was a little rocky and murky, but hey, it was the beach nonetheless. Hanging out at the pool on the ship was fun too. There was even an indoor, adults-only, saltwater pool with a solarium. And laying out on the top deck with the wind whipping through my hair as we cruised past Cuba literally and figuratively took my breath away.
9. Rum Cake. In Jamaica, we visited a rum cake "factory," which was really just a store where you could sample all the rum cake and rum you wanted then buy some to take home. Nuff said.
10. Retro TV. You know we love the tube. And although there was no access to or time for regular programming, our tiny TV included a channel that played retro sitcoms, which we flipped on whenever we were in our room.
11. "No Problem." This Jamaican phrase means no worries, everything's taken care of, etc. And it summed up the trip quite nicely. We had all-inclusive food at our fingertips, even in our room. We didn't have to decide when and where to have dinner. We didn't have to call cabs, rent a car or (more importantly) pay for either. This has to be the most mentally relaxing way to vacation.

Not So Top 10
1. No Pets. Of course a cruise with pets on board would be a disaster, but we still wished Gil, Kenz and Tosh could have come along in our suitcases.
2. Power Cruisers. OK, the "power cruisers" were actually a plus, but what stinks is that we didn't get a photo of them. This was the couple that we saw literally everwhere we went. His name was Terry and he was working a wicked mullet. And he sang "Sweet Home Alabama" at karaoke. Three times. (BTW, karaoke sucked. You'd think there would be a few good crooners in a group of 2,500 people.)
3. Motion Sickness. I know it's shocking, but I felt perfect the whole trip. Kevin, however, experienced a bit of motion sickness. The Dramamine helped, but next time we cruise (and believe me, we will), he's going to look into those prescription dots you stick behind your ears.
4. Rain. It rained the first day at sea, but there was plenty to do inside. And it rained a bit in Jamaica. It also poured on us at the very end of our Grand Cayman Jeep tour, but that was actually pretty fun.
5. Bingo. We played Win a Cruise Bingo the day it rained. We didn't win.
6. Jump Zone. We wanted to try out this giant jumping apparatus on the front of the ship, but it was closed due to high winds. We did get to climb the rock wall on the back of the ship, though. I rang the bell.
7. Irish Ladies. The first night a mother/daughter duo from Ireland joined us for dinner. They never came back, though. Joe and Carlos figured out that they switched tables when we saw their "dinner photo" later in the week (RC takes a photo of everyone at dinner every night, then displays them so you can buy them for $20). We're hoping they just switched to the 6:00 seating; otherwise, we're not sure what we did to offend them.
8. Tiny Shower. Our shower was miniscule. I was hitting the walls with my elbows, so I can't imagine what it must be like for an average-sized claustrophobic.
9. Elevators. One of our pet peeves is people who get onto an elevator before you've had a chance to step out of it. I guess elevator etiquette flew out the window when we left land.
10. Over Too Soon! Although a 7-day cruise would truthfully probably feel a bit long, we were sad to leave our temporary floating home. We can't wait to take our next cruise!

Friday, May 25, 2007

Top 12 Ways to Reduce Global Warming

As a follow up to yesterday's slightly depressing post, here's a more hopeful article about ways to reduce global warming, courtesy of the National Resources Defense Council. If you're skeptical about global warming or just don't know a lot about it, I highly recommend watching An Inconvenient Truth.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Our Oceans are Turning into Plastic ... Are We?

This article about plastic and its affects on the environment and our own health is shocking. It's long, but very interesting. Makes me want to buy fewer plastic items, reuse grocery bags or ask for paper, and be less careless about "replacing" things that still have life left in them. Thoughts?

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

I Heart IKEA

The crawl on the morning news said they're breaking ground for the new IKEA in West Chester today. That's about 20 minutes from our house! It was originally supposed to open this fall, but I think it will more likely be 2008. Oh how I love cheap, well-designed housewares.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Happy 5/3 Day!

Get, it... 5/3... May third... Fifth Third... Bank.

And more importantly,

HAPPY BIRTHDAY DAD!!!

Oscar II

Subtitle: Why we love AppleSo a couple of weeks ago my iPod nano (who I named Oscar, for obvious reasons) started acting goofy. It was playing music without a problem, but the screen was all garbled and I couldn't read anything. It would only do it sporadically, so I wasn't sure if there was a big problem or not. I tried all of the troubleshooting tips and it was still doing it, so I decided to take it to the Apple Store. I didn't know if they could or would do anything, but I had no where else to turn. So I ran over on my lunch break, told them what was going on, they looked at it and said, oh yeah, we need to replace this. Within five minutes, I had a brand new iPod, working perfectly. I can't explain why, but I was a little sad that Oscar had to be completely replaced. I guess because he goes everywhere with me and brings so much enjoyment to my life. Anyway, Oscar II and I are getting along great and this is why we love using products from companies like Apple. They know how to make great products and they know how to take care of their customers. I can't imagine using anyone else for music devices and computers. And maybe phones, if I can convince Sarah that I need a new iPhone. Don't hold your breath.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

We Love Brunch




We've had brunch dates the past two Saturdays and it's been a great way to kick off the weekends. We can still sleep in a little, we knock two meals out with one check, and we get out of the house and socialize much earlier than usual.

Two weeks ago, we had brunch downtown at First Watch with a friend and colleague of mine, Darin. I met Darin at OU, and since then we've become great pals and have done some freelance writing for one another. He lives in Strongsville, OH, now, but was in Cincy for a conference.

Last Saturday, we dined at Price Hill Chili with Katie and Casey. It was Casey's first restaurant outing and we did it up in true West Side style.

If you'd like to be our next brunch date, just give us a call!

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

By S. Whitman

Here are links to two more articles I've written recently.

The first is for HOW, and it's more of a compilation of interviews I did. The full text of the 5 interviews is posted online, but edited versions ran in the magazine. Collective Consciousness

The second is a review of a new, local bar for Cin Weekly, the publication for which I recently wrote the restaurant review. Raising the Bar

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Cruisin...

Yesterday morning I decided to hop online and start looking into some vacation options for us. We've been talking about going somewhere for a week this year since we haven't really been on vacation since our honeymoon. After checking out a few things I decided to check out some cruise ship options, just for fun. I've ALWAYS wanted to go on a cruise, but we felt like it would probably be out of reach for us this year. And we were planning to vacation in the fall, which is right in the heart of hurricane season for all the cruise destinations we were interested in.
Well, I happened to find a cruise on Royal Caribbean that takes place in May. At first we were like, "no, that's too soon" but a quick look at our calendars revealed that both of us would be available that week. So after some deliberation and number crunching, we booked a cruise to Grand Cayman and Jamaica!! Click here for all the details!
See, we can be spontaneous...

Friday, April 13, 2007

New Baby and Old Friends




Thursday evening, Susan Murphy (one of my oldest and dearest friends) visited with her daughter, "Little Katie," and mom, Sondra. (I'm sure you're all familiar with their family from reading Susan's awesome blog.) It was a whirlwind visit that included a trip to the hospital to see Baby Casey, dinner at LaRosa's and a little time at our house where Katie alternately ran from Gilmore and chased Toshie. It was great to see them. It had been TWO YEARS since our last visit together, and of course Katie had changed so much. Hopefully less time will pass before our next visit. In the meantime, I love having blogs to stay in touch. It was a bit chaotic for picture-taking, and I think Susan got a little more variety with her camera, but here's a shot of Susan and Casey.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

More photos of Casey

We've added a few photos of Casey to the Flickr photo set. You can see his full head of hair in these. Everyone is doing fine, and they're scheduled to go home tomorrow. Thanks for all your congrats!

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

It's a Boy!

Our new little nephew, Casey Lee Hulme, was born at 7:03 p.m. today! He's 8 pounds, 6 ounces and 21 inches long. He's perfect and oh so sweet and cute, with a full head of hair! Katie had a rough time with delivery because his shoulder didn't want to come out, so they had to use forceps. But all in all, everyone is doing well. Matt is a very proud dad, as you can see in the photo. He did a great job. Matt's parents (Art & Pam), Mom, Kevin, and I were all there waiting when he was born. We can't wait to go see him again tomorrow after everyone gets a good night's sleep. Be sure to visit Katie's blog with more info and photos from Matt. And you can see all of our photos here. Thanks for all your well wishes and prayers.














Baby Bulletin

I just wanted to let everyone know that my sister is having her baby today. She went to the hospital yesterday evening so that they could do some things overnight to prepare her to be induced this morning. And they started the induction around 7:00 this morning (i.e., they gave her pitocin, which I'm not sure how to spell). Hopefully, I'll have pictures and stats to post later today.

She told me to ask everyone to send good vibes and prayers for 1) an easy and speedy delivery, and 2) that she gets one of the new, single-occupant hospital rooms after the baby's born. Thanks!

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Weekend Update

I thought I'd recap what's been going on in the world of Whitman the past few weeks.

The weekend before last, Jason and Liz came to visit, and we had a little get together at our house Saturday night with the two of them, Josh & Tyana, and Matt & Amanda. We each made our own calzone for dinner, then we played Apples to Apples and had lots of drinks. Sunday, Liz and Jason were able to hang around, so we went to First Watch for brunch and made our traditional voyage to the Gap Outlet. It was a treat to eat outside for the first time this year, and we all found some good stuff at the outlet.

Last weekend, Kevin had plans Friday night, so Katie came over and I made dinner. We ate on the deck, then sat in the living room and talked for hours. It was so nice to hang out with no agenda, which we hadn't done for a long time and probably won't be doing for quite a while again. Saturday night, Kevin and I went to dinner with Matt and Amanda at Song Long, a great Vietnemese restaurant in Roselawn. I had been there before with Megan. Everyone was a little intimidated by the menu, but after some guidance from our waitress, we all chose yummy dishes. Then we headed over to the bar I'm reviewing for Cin Weekly for a couple of hours. I'll post a link to the review when it's published. Sunday, Kevin mowed the lawn for the first time this year.

Tonight, Kevin is at an OAR concert. I'm home loving on my cats and dog and fighting a cold. Spring allergens plus this crazy weather are wreaking havoc on everyone I know. Kevin is headed up to Edgerton tomorrow through the weekend to help his parents get ready to move. I would have tagged along, but I'm busy at work right now, and I wanted to be in town in case Katie has her baby.

Speaking of which, Katie is scheduled to be induced on Tuesday, which I'm sooooo excited about. I can't believe my little sister is going to be a mom! I'll post pictures of our new little love as soon as I can next week. Susan and little Katie are coming up for a visit next week, too, so it's going to be a busy week full of rare treats!

Thursday, March 29, 2007

one a week

I was reading the Cincinnati Enquirer at lunch today and they had their big full page "upcoming events" calendar for April, so I decided to take a look. The first thing I noticed that Wednesday, April 4th listed the O.A.R. concert that I am going to with my friend Mitchell. I always get very excited when I see something that I am doing in the paper, it makes me feel like I'm really "in the know" I guess. So then I scanned down to the bottom of the page and saw that the Over The Rhine concert is also listed. I'm planning on going since my good friends Ellery will be opening for them! So since I already had two things on my calendar, I decided that I should start trying to do one thing each week that I find on the Enquirer's upcoming events. I'll have to talk to Sarah about what else we can do, but I have a couple of fun things in mind.
I guess this year is all about doing new things for me, but I LOVE it!!!

By the way, let me know if you might like to go see OTR and Ellery with me, I'm getting tickets soon...

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

The Write Stuff

I've never written a restaurant review before, unless you count the one I did in college for Southeast Ohio magazine where the restaurant owner knew I was coming and comped my meal. A few weeks ago, I took my first stab at a much more legitimate culinary critique of Rondo's for Cin Weekly, the Cincinnati Enquirer's free weekly entertainment guide.

Also, I worked on some articles last summer for a new website called Revolution Health. The site is up and running if you want to check out my contributions:
Busy Couples Reconnect: 12 Ways to Have More Fun
Prenatal Vitamins: The Right Plan for Every Mom
Safe Exercises During Every Stage of Pregnancy
A Prenatal Testing Decision Guide
Navigating Dangerous Waters: What Foods Are Safe To Eat?

Next up is a Cin Weekly review of a bar in Clifton. I could get used to being paid to eat and drink!

Monday, March 19, 2007

Whitman's Sampler Update!

Check out our recently updated sidebar with new "STUFF WE LIKE" and a brand new feature, "ON KEVIN'S IPOD" that includes some of the bands I've been listening to lately.
Enjoy!

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Shower the People You Love

I know it's a bit overdue, but I finally posted the photos from Katie's baby shower on Flicker. You can see them here. I included some that Katie sent me from her camera, so they may not all be new to you. Unfortunately, we didn't really get any posed shots because things were chaotic before the shower started and then it ran pretty late. But here's a glimpse of the very fun day.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

per the pregnant lady's request


try not to get too enamoured by my beautiful simulated children...
she is working that side ponytail.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

is this my new nephew?

Sarah told me that her sister Katie is due one month from today. I thought it was the perfect opportunity to submit my estimation of what our newest member of the family is going to look like. This "composite sketch" comes to us courtesy of the Dave and Buster's Photo Morph booth circa 2005. We'll see how accurate it is next month!

Say Hello to My Little Friend


I recently joined a gym that I actually like. And although I love my 30GB video iPod, it's a bit cumbersome to tote around while lifting weights. So I decided I deserved a tiny treat in the form of an iPod shuffle. I really had no idea how small they were until I popped into the Apple store yesterday. Bryn had commented that a shuffle was smaller than the the clip alone on my video iPod case, but I thought that was a slight exaggeration. It wasn't. This thing is miniscule. And the device functions as a clip, so there's no need for a case or an armband or a pocket to tuck it into. Plus, it holds 240 songs, which is just crazy. I'm not usually a gadget freak, but I'm pretty smitten by my little blue friend.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Help Hannah Help the Homeless

My friend Keith recently launched a nonprofit organization along with his mom and his little sister. Called "Hannah's Socks," it's a Toledo-based charity that provides socks for the homeless. For the next few weeks, a nice woman has volunteered to donate one pair of socks for every new member that signs up for "Hannah's Sole Patrol." Keith said there's no catch; they just capture your name and email in their database and will send you a newsletter (eventually), if you opt in. Please consider checking out this great charity and signing up.

You can read the very heartwarming story about how Hannah's Socks started here: www.hannahssocks.org/hannahs-story

And you can join Hannah's Sole Patrol here: www.hannahssocks.org/user/register

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Unfortunate Web Addresses

File this under "slightly inappropriate," but it cracked me up. Megan sent this to me today: All of these are legitimate companies that didn't spend quite enough time considering how their online names might appear ... and be misread.

1. Who Represents is where you can find the name of the agent that
represents any celebrity. Their Web site is www.whorepresents.com

2. Experts Exchange is a knowledge base where programmers can exchange advice and views at www.expertsexchange.com

3. Looking for a pen? Look no further than Pen Island at www.penisland.net

4. Need a therapist? Try Therapist Finder at www.therapistfinder.com

5. There's the Italian Power Generator company, www.powergenitalia.com

6. And don't forget the Mole Station Native Nursery in New South Wales, www.molestationnursery.com

7. If you're looking for IP computer software, there's always www.ipanywhere.com

8. The First Cumming Methodist Church web site is www.cummingfirst.com

9. And the designers at Speed of Art await you at their wacky Web site, www.speedofart.com

What were they thinking? A dash or an underscore would have made ALL the difference!

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Spay Day USA


Today is Spay Day USA, sponsored by the Humane Society of the U.S. If you or someone you know has a dog, cat or even a rabbit that's not spayed or neutered, consider a trip to the vet. There are lots of clinics around the country that perform both procedures at very low costs. There are so many unwanted puppies and kittens in our country, and not all of them turn out to be as lucky as these guys.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Best Calendar EVER!


This year I bought myself a page-a-day calendar for work. I wanted something that would make me smile everyday, so I bought the Bad Dog calendar. It is based on the Bad Dog book that came out a few years ago. Basically, they take a picture of a dog, give it a caption and give the dog a name and hobby. SO FUNNY! This one is the funniest yet. Enjoy!

am I old????

Today at work I was in the break room and someone was watching The Price is Right. After I got over the shock of the fact that this show is still on the air... with Bob Barker... I noticed that the game they were playing was "Then and Now" where they pick a year and you have to determine if the price of an item is today's price, or from that year. But the year was 1997. I know that was 10 years ago, but I feel like a bottle of Tylenol Cold and Flu should cost the same as it did in 1997. Then I thought about watching this show when I was a kid and I remembered the year for this game at the time was like 1976, which seemed like 100 years ago to me at the time. I don't know if this makes sense to anyone but me, but it made me feel old!

Saturday, February 24, 2007

pickin' & grinnin'... eventually

So about nine years ago, my parents bought me a guitar for Christmas. I was in college at the time and a lot of my friends were music majors, so I thought I needed learn to play an instrument (besides the bass drum, a la high school marching band). Well, nine years later, that guitar has moved with me about seven times, but I've never learned to play. So I decided that 2007 would be the year I'd learn and today I went to the guitar shop, had them tune it for me, bought a electronic tuner, an instructional DVD, and some picks. When I got home today, I popped in the DVD and got started. When I positioned my fingers to play my first chord, I suddenly remembered why I stopped trying to learn nine years ago... it hurts!!!!! Your fingertips have to build up a callous where you press down the strings, and when you don't have one, it's like pressing your fingers onto a dull razor. And then holding them there!! Plus my fingers are kind of big and I had a hard time fitting them all in and not hitting other strings.
The instructor suggested using liquid bandage on the ends of your fingers until you build a callous, so that is what I'm doing! But it was pretty cool. I was actually able to play two chords, D and A. Now I have to practice moving from one chord to another. We'll see how it goes. I figured I would post about it so that all of you can hold me accountable!

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Chi-Town... brrrr

While Sarah was busy cooking up potato soup, I had a weekend getaway with Matt Hood to the Chicago Auto Show. You may remember hearing about our trip to Detroit last year, well we had so much fun we decided to do it again this year but opted for Chicago. We headed up last Thursday and stayed with his parents that night (they live north of Indy, near Monticello, home of Indiana Beach). Friday morning we left for Chicago and went straight to the Auto Show. I always love checking out what's new and different. Since I just bought a new car a few months ago, this was an opportunity to confirm that I made a good choice (I did). But you know I'm always looking for our next car and I found some pretty good options while I was there. Probably my favorite car at the show was the Acura RDX. This car wasn't in production last year, so it was cool to check it all out this year. I also thought the new GMC Acadia/Saturn Outlook was a pretty dynamic vehicle. But we're set for now (that's what I had to keep telling myself).
So after the auto show, we checked into our hotel (just off Michigan Ave!) and relaxed a little, went to dinner and ended up turning in pretty early ( it had been a long day and I was trying to fight off a cold.
Saturday we did some shopping, some more relaxing, and spent the evening in Old Town for dinner, drinks, and non-stop laughter at Second City Theater. If you are ever in Chicago, go to Second City! You will NOT regret it!
Overall it was a great trip. We had a nice mix of activities and relaxation, which I was in need of. It was cold there, probably never into the double digits. But I was prepared, they don't call it the Windy City for nothing!

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Happy Day!

In addition to Valentine's Day and Gilmore's birthday, it's also Dad and Candy's anniversary. Happy anniversary!

No School, Mom!





F+W is officially closed today! I can't remember the last time I had a snow day. Yesterday I worked from home because we got a big snow/ice/rain/sleet/freezing rain storm, which made for layers of icy fun. Kevin had to work and actually was able to take the one completely clear route home so he didn't get home too late. Of course, Fifth Third is open today.

There's so much ice on the trees and power lines that 80,000 people are without power (it was 122,000 when I went to bed last night). Ours went out for about an hour twice yesterday, but luckily it came back on. They're saying some people may not have power back until tomorrow night because they have to bring crews up from the Carolinas to help out. I guess many of the problems are individual lines to houses, so they're having to literally restore power house by house. There's a line down in front of our house, but I guess it's not ours, thank god. We do have two evergreens reaching all the way down to the ground (in the pic above); they're usually about 15 feet tall! Our giant oak tree in the back has limbs hanging down past our deck. So even though it's very pretty, it's pretty scary too. A 9-year-old girl was killed by a falling tree while walking her dog yesterday before we had even half of the ice we have now, which is so, so sad. I've been very cautious about keeping Gilmore out from under the oak tree in the back. BTW, he loves the snow!

I've heard from Katie, Matt, Melissa and my mom, and everyone is fine. I'm just crossing my fingers that no trees or power lines fall around my house while I'm home today. They're expecting a lot more of that to happen. I'll keep you posted.

In other news, today is Gilmore and Valentine's 2nd birthday. For those of you who don't know, Valentine is Gilmore's biological sister/cousin (Katie's dog). And happy Valentine's Day to all!

Thursday, February 08, 2007

You Say Potato

I've received quite a bit of interest in my mom's potato soup after mentioning it at the end of my last post. Here's the "not very exact but it turned out great when I made it this way" recipe. It's pretty basic and oh so buttery!

Chop up half a small onion and 2 stalks of celery and saute them until tender in butter in a large pot.
Peel and chunk 5 medium potatoes and add them to the same pot.
Add water to the pot until it barely covers the potatoes.
Boil the potatoes until they’re tender but not mushy.
Stir in 2 cups of milk and allow it to heat through.
Stir in 1 stick of butter.
Stir in salt, pepper and seasoning salt to taste.
Allow to simmer until you’re ready to eat!

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

'snow fun at all

So my 25-minute, 15-mile commute took me 6 hours last night. I'm not exaggerating; I left work at 3:30 to BEAT the snowstorm traffic and arrived home at 9:30. After 4 hours, I finally was able to exit I-75 at Hopple Street and decided to pull into Wendy's to use the restroom and get some food. As I pulled into the lot, I hit a piece of median that was detached and buried under the snow, and ended up straddling it with a flat front tire. Luckily, I was in a high-traffic area and lots of good samaritans rushed to my aide, building a snow ramp and pushing my car up over the median. Two of the men who were helping me were on-duty at CSX and were warmly dressed, and they put my spare tire on while I used the bathroom and bought them some coffee. (Irony #1: Wendy's dining room was closed, so I had to go somewhere else to use the restroom anyway. Irony #2: The flat tire incident only made up about 30 to 45 minutes of my ridiculous commute.) After that, it took me about an hour and a half to get home via Queen City with a donut for a driver's side tire. It didn't matter, though: My spedometer didn't register out of the zero bar for 5.5 of the 6 hours I was on the road.

Kevin, on the other hand, went to BW3 after work rather than venturing onto the already gridlocked roads. He left there around 8:15 and luckily could take all back roads home because the highways were still jammed up. With the aid of 4-wheel drive, he made it home in 45 minutes. I was glad he made it home quickly, though, so he could let Gilmore out and we could unwind together before bedtime. He was sweet and made me some dinner since I was starving and exhausted.

Today, Kevin worked from home and cleared our drive while I took my car to the shop. I have a big hole in my tire, but they don't think I did any other damage. I left the car there to thaw out, and they hope to have a replacement tire this afternoon. So I'm working from home this afternoon, while Kevin is at a meeting downtown. I also decided that my mom's homemade potato soup was definitely in order, so I have a big pot simmering on the stove. Hopefully, you're all safe and sound at work or home too and we have a better second half of the week.

By the way, we got about 7 inches of snow, most of it between 1:00 and 7:00. And it's about 15 degrees. So much for a mild winter.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Busy, But Warm

Sorry you haven't heard from me lately, but this has suddenly become a really busy time for me.
First I want to give you the details on our new vent-free gas fireplace. When Stan was in town a few weeks ago we didn't really make any set plans, so we ended up at Home Depot. I had mentioned at lunch that I had been thinking about getting a gas fireplace insert for our wood-burning fireplace in the living room, but I didn't really know anything about installing it or the cost. And I'm never too keen on working with natural gas or electricity (some irrational fear of being blown up or electrocuted, I guess), but Stan made it all sound very simple. So we did a little shopping and ended up finding fireplaces 50% off at Lowe's. We bought all the pipe and tools we needed and headed home to run a gas line. Part of the project involved me drilling a one inch hole through eight inches of concrete. Hammer drills are AWESOME! I didn't think I could do it and felt a great sense of accomplishment when it was done. The project took most of the evening, but we didn't encounter too many problems. Thanks again, Stan. You were really helpful, there is NO WAY I could have done it on my own. So now we are enjoying lots of warm, cozy evenings by the fire. It heats up the living room really quickly.

Extra projects at work have been running me ragged the last few weeks. I'm currently working on a project to develop a training program for new managers. My piece is due this week, so I'm here working on it at home tonight. Last week I got a call from my manager, who asked me if I could participate in a training video that night. I hate to say no and it sounded like fun, so I was working on that until about 9:30 that night (but I was the lucky one, my manager was there until almost 1:00 am!). So I'm going to be portraying the drive-thru teller in an upcoming sales training video that will be rolled out to every branch in the bancorp (over 1100 offices!). Don't worry, I didn't get anyone's finger caught in the drawer. I've also been helping to train a new manager who has been a handful (I don't even want to get into it, he makes my blood pressure go up...). Additionally, I was asked to take on more of a leadership role in our Young Banker's Club. So this year instead of just leading one school, I am helping to facilitate the program at six schools. The last two weeks have been packed with training sessions, school meetings, and team meetings.
I'm not complaining about any of this. I love being busy and really appreciate all of the opportunities I've been given. But Sunday Sarah and I were so exhausted we didn't get off the couch all day. It was awesome. I highly recommend it whenever you have the chance.
So anyway, that's most of what I've been up to. I'm hoping some of this activity will level out in the next few weeks, but somehow I doubt it.

Good Friends, Good Food

We had a nice weekend catching up with our friends. Friday, Matt and Amanda called and invited us to Vinoklet Winery where they had their rehearsal dinner. They have a Friday night dinner where you get a bottle of wine, a salad, your choice of meat or fish, buffet of sides and dessert for a set price per couple. You get to taste all the wines before you choose, and you cook your own meat out on this huge grill. It was a long, relaxing, last-minute treat to have dinner with 2 of our very best friends.

Saturday, our friends Doug and Sue came over for dinner at our house. We made a big Italian meal starting with good crackers and cheese, and ending with gelato, amaretto, cream soda and coffee liquor floats. And of course we drank more wine and lots of gin as usual. We've hung out with Doug and Sue a few times lately and are really enjoying getting to know them better.

Tonight, I'm meeting my friend Brian for dinner. He used to work with me, and now I don't get to see him very often, so it's a treat when we can get together.

Monday, January 22, 2007

A Long Winter's Nap

I know Whitman's Sampler has been in hibernation much of January, but we've been super busy as usual. The week before last, Dad came to visit and was able to spend 2 nights with us and 2 nights with Katie. It was so nice to see him without an agenda, and of course we kept him busy with (unexpected) projects (more on that later from Kevin). I was sad to see him leave, but it's nice to know that he'll be back in a few months with Candy when Baby Hulme is born. The day that Dad arrived, Kevin's parents passed through town on the way to Florida, so we all had dinner and Kevin got to show off our new kitchen. It was nice for Dad, Keith and Kathy to see each other in person since they keep in touch by reading each other's blogs.

That weekend I spent nearly 9 hours shopping for and making Katie's baby shower invitations. It was fun, though, and they're so cute, IMHO. I've gotten lots of compliments on them, and they really set the theme for the shower (ABCs), so I'm pleased. Katie really likes them, too, which is what matters most. Shower preparations will keep me busy the next few weekends, but I like doing that kind of stuff and want to pace myself so I don't have a hundred things to do the weekend of the shower.

This past weekend we relaxed a lot and watched 4 movies. Saturday night we had a "fiesta" at home and made enchiladas, pico de gallo and guacamole; drank sangria; ate fried ice cream; and watched "Nacho Libre." It was a good winter's night en mi casa. Sunday we woke up to 3 or 4 inches of snow, the first accumulation of the season. Kevin got to use his snowblower, I did laundry and we made a big pot of vegetable soup. And watched more movies.

Tonight, Katie and Matt are coming over to eat pizza and watch the new "Heroes." I can't wait!

Monday, January 08, 2007

Speaking of sinks...

We had an awesome time at my staff holiday party on Saturday. It was a little bit of a smaller group than usual (we're down one employee right now and a few others couldn't make it) but definitely no less fun! We had a gift swap (I almost ended up with a Scarface Pimp Cup *don't ask*), played some games, and had some drinks and good food. The party kept going until about 1:30 am, I'm always happy when people stay late. I assume it means that they are all having a good time!
There seems to be some kind of tradition forming for someone to break something every year at this party. Three years ago, someone broke Toshie's holiday food bowl. Two years ago it was a wine glass. I can't remember last year, but I'm sure there was something. This year, someone broke my bathroom faucet! It wasn't really his fault though. I knew that the "cold" knob had not been working very well for a while, but hadn't done anything to fix it (the "hot" still worked fine!). When he went to turn it, the ceramic handle just broke in half. He felt really bad, but I told him not to worry about it. I got a new one today, I'll try to get it installed this week.
Sunday we got our decorations down. I always love getting the decorations out, but it is always nice to have the house back in order.
Aunt Linda called us on Saturday and invited us to join them for dinner at the Montgomery Inn Boathouse Sunday night. We didn't have anything planned and haven't spent much time with them lately, so we gladly accepted the offer. We had a really nice time catching up with them, we need to get together more often.
Actually, that's one of my New Year's resolutions; to have dinner guests in our home at least once every month. We always talk about having people over, but never really do. Hopefully we'll follow through with it. I love having people over and we have so many good friends that we rarely get together with. So be prepared, you may be getting an invitation soon!