Sunday, December 06, 2009

Still in the Bend...

I've had more than a few people ask about the status of this blog. Basically my only news is that I'm getting old (Big 3-0 in January!), nursing a back injury that refuses to go away, and am heading back to Oz in February. My plan is to start a new 101 list in January and to use this blog to document my trials and tribulations! Stay tuned!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Ms. Frugality

I think it’s fair to say that this economic “crunch” or whatever you want to call it has made an impact in most everyone’s lives.

Two weekends ago, I stood in Pier 1 with two really great Asian sconce things and because they were on clearance ($8 from $36), I walked back and forth across the store debating whether to make the purchase. Did I need sconces? Did I love them because of the price or because I really just loved them? Would they make my life more fulfilling on my wall? Where would I even put them? So, as usually happens when I make Pier 1 visits these days, I walked out empty-handed. As I thought about it that evening, I was happy that I put them away and didn’t buy them. I later used the $16 I would have spent for some really cute flipflops (gold) that will go with anything because my two pairs are over 6 years old. Oh, and they’re Havaianas and have a supercute peacock design on the bottom. Score!

The other day my colleague said to me as I walked in, “Wait, I have to see what you’re wearing today. I never know what to expect these days.” That’s because I’ve taken to “shopping my closet”… dragging out items from past seasons and working them in with my normal clothes. This morning I put on a shirt that I originally thought might be inappropriate for work, added a higher cut camisole, and a little sweater on top and TADA --- new outfit! Plus I went through my old jewelry and took an old charm to put on my necklace instead of my usual. Love it! It does take me an extra 7 minutes to get dressed in the morning, but it’s worth it. I’ve resisted buying new clothes at Kohl’s and don’t plan on adding anything new to my wardrobe for the rest of the summer. (Once everything is on clearance in September, I might need to stock up for next summer, though.)

I also applied this to decorating my apartment over the weekend. I got out some old frames, went through old photos, and added a little pizzazz to the walls. I also found a photo coaster set I got for Christmas and added ticket stubs from our journey around the world instead of photos. They are great and it didn’t cost me a dime! I still think about those cute Pier1 sconces, but I don’t even know where I’d put them at this point…

It’s nice to feel in control of my spending and by the way, if you *do* want to spend some cash on a cute gift, hit up Ten Thousand Villages. Seriously. Their stuff is awesome and it truly is for a great cause. 80% of the artisans who make the products displayed in the stores are women. And everything is very high quality and unique. Just a little plug.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Awesome! My tattoo is on Dawn's Flickr stream now. Check out the whole gallery here!

Two weeks in, I still love my peacock. I wanted it to be so great that I could never imagine what would have stopped me before and also that it was always meant to be on my foot. I honestly think that I've achieved that. I've semi-named the peacock, but am a bit concerned because the name I picked is the name I would pick for any future male children. Is that weird? To have a tattoo and a son with the same name?!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Topless Sandals --- My letter of appreciation.

Good morning,

I purchased a pair of topless sandals in anticipation of a foot tattoo that I was planning on receiving. Amazingly enough, I went through with the tattoo and even more amazing --- your sandals have been a lifesaver! I couldn't comprehend how a shoe with adhesive could ever stand up to normal day-to-day usage. When I first popped them on after receiving my tattoo and started walking, I felt like the back heels were already dislodging themself. Despite this, I pressed my feet down hard and 12 hours later, the shoes were still sticking!

And now, two weeks after the fact, I am still wearing the sandals on a daily basis while my tattoo finishes healing. I've washed them down a couple of times, some of the adhesive is migrating to the edges, and I believe they might be on their last legs, but I absolutely would recommend these shoes to anyone.

Besides the help in healing, these shoes are also a great coversation starter. I can't tell you how many people have told me to "Put those away! They're freaking me out!"

I will definitely recommend Topless Sandals to anyone who is receiving a foot tattoo or anyone who wants to stick out in a crowd!

Thanks for producing a great product at an affordable price!

Best regards,


Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Growing Old

My new peacock is molting! The top skin layer is gradually working its way up and leaving behind a shinier version of the tattoo.

I can’t believe it’s already July 7th. Summers go so quickly! I haven’t consumed nearly enough watermelon, corn on the cob, lemonade, soft-serve ice cream, or brats yet!

I just sent out an invitation for my 11 Year High School Reunion. Why 11th? Essentially, I was in the middle of moving jobs and apartments last summer and couldn’t be bothered with another thing on my plate. Our high school closed its doors for good this year and as there is a huge alumni day being planned, I thought it would be easy to tie it all together.

What did I see myself doing 11 years ago when I graduated? I went to university as an “Exploratory Major” and was seriously considering going the Pre-Med route. When I signed up for classes in the summer, I was placed in a biology class that I later found out was for nursing majors, not pre-med freshmen. Needless to say, that Anatomy & Physiology course almost did me in and I found myself enjoying my humanities courses much more. Hence, I found myself with a teaching degree, which led to three years of teaching, then 4 months of traveling, then some time off, then a year in Japan, then a job in the luxury travel market, then onto my current position in study abroad. It’s been a crazy 10/11 years! Where to next? Just kidding, Mom.

Anyway, the tattoo was partly inspired by my impending 30th birthday and one of my relatives is getting some ink done this weekend in celebration of her … we’ll say 40th birthday (even though it’s not). It would be kind of interesting to get a tattoo before a new decade begins to symbolize the last 10 years.

What will the next 10 years bring?

I could end up with a full back piece of Dwight Schrute.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Back Where I Belong

I feel almost guilty for switching blog spots and like I am slinking back with my tail between my legs. :) I thought I'd like On Sugar better, but in fact, it's still a Beta program, it's mostly for fashion and style, and it's difficult for people to make comments. So here I am, back blogging at my old haunt. I just need to keep blogging and not get lazy!

Happy 4th of July!

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The reveal

About 8 weeks ago I was a bit bored and randomly started wondering if any tattoo artists are capable of making a tattoo look like Indian-inspired henna --- only permanent. I did a few google image searches and was brought to the image of an absolutely fabulous tattoo that looked like it could be henna. I looked around the flickr site that was associated with the image and one thing led to another…. I was soon at the website of The Tattoo Factory in Chicago where the tattoo artist who made the amazing design works. Strange that she would be in Chicago… Then I read a bit about her and found out that she was voted #1 in Chicago for 2008… Even better. So then I thought about it for a day or so and decided that it could be the perfect time to get inked! I’m turning 30 soon and all that jazz. Plus, I had some henna done while I was in India and I didn’t want it to disappear. There was a particular peacock segment that struck my fancy and I kept staring at it, not wanting it to fade.


I emailed the parlor and within 10 minutes, had an email from Dawn, the tattoo artist. As she’s #1 in all of Chicago, she books far in advance so I made an appointment for June 28th. I knew that I could always change my mind, but honestly, in those 8 weeks, the only issue I had was trying to talk myself out of where I wanted the tattoo placed – the foot. I was thinking that I should pick somewhere less conspicuous… But what would that be? Basically my lower back or my stomach. As I don’t show off either of those areas very much, I was not too thrilled. Plus I couldn’t picture a henna design in either place. I read and read and read all that I could about foot tattoos – healing times, difficulties, pain. It’s a place on the body that some artists refuse to tattoo because of the discomfort as well as getting it “just right.” I knew that Dawn could do it, though, as I had seen some of her other amazing works. Plus, I decided that if I’m going to sit through the pain, I want it where people can see it and also, it was my vision and getting it somewhere else would be quite disappointing in the end.


I committed. I also managed to get Ken to decide to get a tat as well.


And then I waited. And waited. I ordered Topless Sandals and canceled my gym membership for the month of July.


The weekend finally got here and I was kept occupied with numerous parties and times with friends. We managed to score a place to stay for the weekend and I chatted with some friends who have foot tattoos to see about the logistics. One of the parties we attended was literally sharing a wall with the tattoo parlor (ironic). We chatted with a guy named Hank outside at 10 p.m. on the night before the big day. He really put things into perspective and calmed our fears. He said that human nature is to shirk from pain, not to push yourself to do something that inflicts pain, which is why it can be altering and so important (and addictive).


On Sunday morning, we ate a large breakfast at Kitsch’n and I stored up energy with chocolate chip/banana pancakes. We got to the parlor supremely early and despite being in Uptown, there was nothing to do except visit Aldi or open a cash account.


In the days leading up to going to get the work done, I started getting nervous more about the pain than anything. I have seriously bony feet! But also a very large canvas to work on….


Ken went first at the parlor and was quickly in the chair and getting a permanent quote on his shoulder blade – “i tramp a perpetual journey”… He was very honest with me as I started to settle into my chair that it does hurt. That it does not feel pleasant. And I think he was a bit worried about the outcome of my decision.


Meanwhile, Dawn began to prep the area and had printed out a couple of photos from the internet that I had passed on to her. And then she started drawing. I soon had a lovely, lovely, lovely paisley peacock on my foot. Larger than I had originally planned on, but I told her I wanted detail and not a big black blob on my foot. I fell in love with the design immediately and told her to go ahead with it without any changes. While she started, I began to get really nervous about the pain factor as just drawing with the pen was hurting a bit! But we proceeded and after the first few minutes where my foot kept twitching involuntarily, I got my hip in the right placement and we rolled on through. One hour later and numerous visits from Ken to check my well-being, I stepped out of the chair with the most perfect tattoo that I could have ever imagined!


Dawn is truly talented. And although she probably wasn’t too thrilled with my nervous chatter she gave me a sucker at the end for being a “good girl” on my first tattoo.


And did it hurt? Heck yes. It did not feel good, especially at certain bony points. But was it going to make me cry or meltdown? No. Could I sit through it for a 4 hour piece? Probably not.


I’m so pleased! And those Topless Sandals stuck to my feet from 3 p.m. – 2 a.m. without budging. In fact, I’m wearing them now. I show people my ink and they say, “Awesome! But, what is the deal with those SHOES?! Those are crazy!!!!”

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Barter time?

I’m thinking of quitting the gym.


Shocker, I know. It’s $62 a month which I find to be ridiculous considering that I only use it for spinning classes. I usually go to 2 - 3 spinning classes  a week, so 8 - 12 a month. It’s over $5 per class on a good month when I’m actually available to go to the gyms on weekends. I have Jillian at home. I can run outside until about November. But I really like spinning. Has anyone had any success with bartering with gyms? I have suspended my membership for the month of July but still have to pay $15 to keep it active. For that $15, I am getting 3 visits that I can use. What if I offer the gym a deal? I’m willing to spend $35 a month for just spinning capabilities. Obviously they have a way of tracking a certain amount of visits per month since they are doing it for me for July. Can’t I just spin for 8 – 10 times a month for $35? If they think they are going to lose the full $62 as an alternative, maybe they’ll consider my deal. I can see desperation in their eyes during this touch economic crunch. They are doing all sorts of contests, painting rooms, adding lockers, and throwing up posters with new upcoming events. Ever since they lost their top instructor and classes dropped from totally full to about 8 people showing up, things are looking a bit down for the gym. I could threaten to join her gym instead…


The reason that I’m suspending my gym membership for July? Still a secret.


And the reason I might also be suspending my gym membership for August? A potential work-related journey to China (and maybe Thailand)!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Hilarious. And sad.

Hilarious. And sad.

Wow. That's all you can say to that. (Click link above)

Friday, June 19, 2009

A little mood booster.

Why my job is worth the stress ----

Students are returning from their semesters overseas and this morning I got an email from one of my favorite students who simply stated, "Hell of a semester, Rach."


Thursday, June 18, 2009

Who knew?

I’m a big fan of reading recipes online and then storing them away to be made at a later time. Unfortunately, I’m the ultimate kitchen klutz and generally anything I touch while cooking turns inedible. So, if I think there is actual potential, I forward it on to Ken to get him involved in the process. This week I was inspired by a “french fries” recipe that involved butternut squash. Essentially you peel and deseed the squash, cut it into little “fries,” salt and pepper to your heart’s content, and bake in the oven. With ketchup, it was supposed to turn out like actual french fries, but a healthy version. Ken was quite keen to try this recipe and we decided to give it a go yesterday. Unfortunately, it’s not really squash season and the store only had acorn squash. I pretty much though that by buying the wrong type, I had already cursed the recipe from the beginning. After 40 minutes of baking, though, some lovely little fries emerged from the oven. With a dab of high fructose corn syrup-infused ketchup, deliciousness ensued!


Ken affirmed that this was one of our greatest successes of all time in the kitchen and the recipe will be repeated on a regular basis. In the words of that other Rachel/Rachael, “YUMMO!”

How does she do that?!

I’m still on my “I heart Jillian Michaels phase” and finally opened up the third DVD that I purchased online. It’s called “Banish Fat, Boost Metabolism” and I was a bit skeptical of how good a cardio-only workout can truly be in a living room. Despite the 5 star reviews, I had put this one off. I cracked it open on Monday and did the full 7 cycles that are included in the workout. The first cycle left me wondering if I was actually going to get a good workout. It was okay, but nothing that left me “gurgling my heart” like Jillian goes for in her other DVDs. Then as the second cycle began, I realized I was sweating and by the 4th cycle, I had turned a lovely beet red and was cursing Jillian’s existence as I contorted myself upside down, inside out, topsy turvy during her “core” circuit. After three more cycles, which thankfully allow a bit of time to catch one’s breath, I went back to tell Ken I was done with the living room. One look at me and he said, “What happened to you?!” Yes, once again, Jillian beat me up. And I loved it.

Monday, June 15, 2009

A taste of summer.

We’re on a rotation at work where each coordinator gets a ½ day on Friday every couple of weeks. Last Friday was my lucky week and I refused to just go home and watch TLC. I ran out of the office at 1:00 on the dot and headed home for a nutritious lunch with Ken before I shattered all calorie counts for the rest of the afternoon. We drove up to Michigan and the so-called “Wine Trail.” We went back to Tabor Hill winery where I tasted some of their wines and Ken helped himself to some highly addictive truffles by Norman Love. We sat outside and soaked up some sun and information from a highly-knowledgeable owner/employee. Wild peacocks, wild turkeys, goldfinches, hummingbirds. Tabor Hill is a happening place! After taking care of my thirst at the winery, we headed just down the road to Round Barn winery which has a lovely little barn. I skipped the tastings here and just settled in under a tree with a nice Riesling. I might have been getting a bit giggly and unfocused at this point, but I knew that I wanted mussels for dinner and I was going to do whatever it took to get them. Luckily, Ken doesn’t take much convincing and we bought some lovely bivalves at the grocery store, some fixing for a summery bruschetta and a sushi roll. With the help of more white wine, we feasted on amazing mussels and I could literally taste summer.


On Saturday I started my stint as a volunteer at Ten Thousand Villages. It began with a lady sprawled out on the floor after passing out from sudden pain, but then got to be more normal. It’s a really pleasant experience because, while it is retail, the people who shop at this store and the other volunteers make it a friendly and pressure-free atmosphere. I resisted buying everything in the store and settled on some fairly traded chocolate as a treat. I really enjoyed myself and signed up for my second day of volunteering in July.


Then after a wonderfully weird and tasty dinner that Ken made (sweet potato with black bean/tomato mixture on top), we headed out to eat our chocolate bars at a movie, The Hangover. OMG. Hilarious. I can’t say anything else. I might start laughing outloud and that would be embarrassing.


On Sunday, after hitting the gym, we grabbed lunch at the Uptown Kitchen and had the most delicious Soft-shell Crab Po’Boy. Wow. And we dined al fresco with a cute puppy to watch. Sitting outside inspired us to head to the apartment complex pool that afternoon and although the water was way too chilly for grown-ups, it was nice to be out in the sun.


Essentially, I ate my way through the weekend and it was fabulous. Can’t wait to do it again!

Thursday, June 11, 2009


The gym has purchased 10 spanking new spin bikes. Which means… they have to ditch some of the more rundown versions we were using before. I was thinking of purchasing a used spin bike and had actually recently spent some time gathering advice. Now all of a sudden 5 bikes are calling out to me. “Buy me! Buy me!” But they are $200. And we have one bedroom. A bike in the middle of the living room? I think not. And if I bought a bike, I’d really need to cancel my gym membership since that’s the only reason I even go to the gym any more. I have Jillian now afterall. But would I get the same benefits at home? I’m hypercompetitive and I’m not sure I could push myself as much alone. If I did spend the $200 and quit the gym, I’d have paid off the bike with 3 months of gym memberships and then I’d be free and clear.


My coworkers tell me to buy a bike because if I ever *gasp* have children, it would be good to have around the house since apparently gym-going disappears with small babies and tots. Who’d have guessed it?! Maybe I should buy the bike now, keep my gym membership and just be ready to use it later on? Or I could just wait until a gym is getting rid of a new set? And these bikes are notoriously horrible. There’s a reason they were selected to leave the gym premises. They squeak and stick and cause general misery. I could get it refurbished though.


I guess if this is my biggest dilemma in life, things must be going pretty well.


I have suspended my gym membership for July and the reason why will be revealed in due time. I may also be suspending it for August (also a bit of a secret for now). Exciting!!!

Monday, June 08, 2009


I’m not sure if it’s completely normal or not, but I go through some serious food stages. I’ll get on a kick and eat the same thing over and over and over again. Recently, it’s been peanut butter & jelly sandwiches. I went for years without having one of these and now whenever I’m trying to decide what to have for lunch on a weekend or even for dinner, my cravings come back to glorious, ooey, gooey PB&J. In fact, I ate two PB&J sandwiches yesterday alone. Although that has something to do with the fact that the Boyfriend (now known as Shugerhugger) is out of town.


For lunch the past 8 months I’ve been eating Progresso soup, carrots and an apple every single day except Fridays in which the entire office knows I’m going to “go all out” and get Subway. But it’s warm now and I’m tired of soup. Plus, Shugerhugger keeps warning me about the whole MSG thing and those “Natural” soups are absolutely foul. So since my appetite has been through the roof lately (thanks to working out with Jillian and building muscle?), I’m switching up my lunch routine. I wanted to buy some Kashi frozen meals last week, but the local grocery store doesn’t carry their frozen lunches, so I bought some of those new Lean Cuisines. They were tasty, I must admit, but the ingredient list made me ubernervous. What are those things that they put into my panini? Is that really necessary?!


So this weekend, I went to the “fancy” grocery store and grabbed up some Kashi lunches. I had the Southwestern Chicken dish just a few moments ago and it was absolutely amazing! And although the ingredient list is quite long as well, I knew what everything was! Cilantro! Lime! Wheat! Score! I’m superexcited for my selections for the rest of the week and might even have to opt out on Subway on Friday. Whoa. Going all crazy this week.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Should I do the Avon Walk again in 2010?

It's already time to start considering a potential return to walking next year. And Houston's event is in April which takes off two months from my fundraising/training time. PLUS, I just really want to post my first poll!

  • Save Second Base in 2010! (4 votes)
  • Perhaps wait until 2011 or later to hit the ground for boobies. (0 votes)
  • There's plenty of time to think it over. (1 vote)

Trekking for Ta-Tas.

This time last year I was walking in the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer. It became one of the biggest accomplishments of my life so far --- raising a ton of money and walking a marathon and a half. Nothing to sneeze at. I was so inspired during that weekend and yet knew that I wasn't going to be capable of participating every year. Thankfully, plenty of others took up the challenge and Laura and I headed downtown to cheer on my old colleague and walker buddy, Patty. We found her at the cheering station at the 10.7 mile mark, and joined others with sizably bigger lungs than us in rah-rahing the walkers. It's unfortunate that the weather wasn't as amazing as last year, but I'm sure that everyone still had a fabulous time!

Laura and I also hit the Printers Row fair/sale and I had my first bite of falafel. I've never had it in New York so I'm not sure what I'm comparing it to, but it was delicious! Unfortunately (or fortunately), the rain kept us from really getting our "shop" on and we left empty-handed.

I'm contemplating doing the walk next year. Perhaps in a different city besides Chicago?! Perhaps...Houston? Perhaps with a couple of people I know down in Texas?!?!

Friday, June 05, 2009

New blog, perhaps?

I'm currently testing out the internet waters with a new blog host at: Come and check it out!

I think mostly chicks follow my blog anyways (if anyone does!)... This is definitely a girl-geared hosting site.

I might be back to blogger in the future, but for now...check it out at

Vitalicious & Totally Not Lying!

Vitalicious & Totally Not Lying!

I'm very much addicted to Vitatops. They aren't cheap but with just 100 calories and 1/4 of my daily fiber and tons of vitamins and minerals, they're a great investment for my health. Don't tell, but they're even better heated up and with just a smidge of ice cream and warm chocolate syrup. Keep those light and it's still a healthy and chocolate-y option!

A bit of sweating, a bit of swearing

Recently I decided to fight impending workout boredom with a brilliant idea to get workout videos via Netflix. A free and easy way to try out new routines without committing to anything extraordinary. I started my experiment with Jillian Michaels – 30 Day Shred. It received amazing reviews and boy, oh boy, I was sweating like a freak at the end of my workout. It’s rare when you can push yourself so hard in your living room that you feel like passing out. And it’s not just the exercise. It’s the motivation that Biggest Loser’s Jillian provides. “There are no shortcuts with jumping jacks. If I can get 400 lb people jumping, you can do it too.” She's one tough cookie.


So that was the end of my Netflix experiment. I promptly ordered not only this video off of Amazon, but also two of her other videos which also got rave reviews.


Now I find myself shaking the walls of the apartment as I jump around like a lunatic and am totally loving the challenge. It’s so much fun and is keeping me motivated! I highly recommend the set to anyone (even without trying the third DVD yet… it will get cracked open this afternoon). The carpet is going to need to be cleaned because of the amount of sweat that I’ve poured onto it. Go, go Jillian and go, go Rachel!

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Something fresh & new---

Why the new blog location? Why the new look? Why not?

I have found it difficult to get inspired looking at my blogspot page. I needed a new location to make myself feel more interesting. Plus, I tend to work with smaller tidbits of information these days as I don't have long sagas to write about. I think this onstar will be better for that. And polls! And quizzes! Fun!

Why the paisley theme? Hmmmm... that's going to have to remain a mystery for about 4 more weeks.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Links ----

Here’s a great website that I’ve discovered recently: You can connect all of your various checking and savings accounts, including investments like any 401(k)s and IRAs, as well as credit cards into one spot. After doing the initial steps, once you log in, you can see immediately how much cash you have available, how much you’ve overspent for the month, whether you’ve gone over your pre-determined budget, etc. It’s unbelievably fantastic! It will also send you emails when you have unnecessary charges like ATM fees and they give you a bit of a slap on the wrist when you incur such charges. It’s like having a friendly little accountant following you around.

In other news, I’m going to be volunteering at this store very soon: They have incredibly high-quality products and focus on trade that is fair and sustainable. I gave some gifts this past weekend from there and they were a big hit. Since they are a non-profit, all stores are worked by volunteers and I am hoping to spend one or two Saturday afternoons there. If you haven’t been to a store in person, they’re really lively and fun. Usually there are coffee and chocolate samples and music from around the world playing. I’m excited to help out and do my part!

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Long Live the RSS Happiness

One of the mysteries of life. How did I not know about the glory of RSS feeds until about 2 months ago?!

When my poor Mac (RIP) died in October, I lost all of my favorites. And I had a lot. Remember that I spent 1 year in Japan exploring the internet A – Zed. Even though I don’t cook or bake, I followed the tireless efforts of bloggers who do. I followed celeb trash news. I had shopping sites. I was obsessed with my favorites.

As work has slowed down thanks to the season, I have managed to start the spiderwebbing back to my old haunts (and new favorites). And I have discovered RSS Feeds and how amazing it is to see a lovely large list in my Microsoft Outlook inbox. I get excited when my favorite bloggers post a new entry that I know about IMMEDIATELY. No random visits any more. I know you can do this through gmail too, but I find the Outlook to be the most efficient way for me. It’s one of the little things that I find so thrilling in life.

Yesterday, none of my websites showed any new postings. I was distraught. I even added a new site and read those articles. Then today, still no entries. It was perplexing, but when I added yet another site, BAM! Backlog of entries to amuse me all afternoon. (*Dance time*)

Saturday, April 25, 2009


Tally so far:

Lawyer letters in mail: 3
Chiropractor letters in mail: 3

What a society.
Tally so far:

Lawyer letters in mail: 3
Chiropractor letters in mail: 3

What a society.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Car Woes

What a week.

Last Friday was an absolutely lovely day. A perfect day for a cold drink after work and then some ribs for dinner. Ken and I had two separate cars and on the way home, I managed to get rear-ended by a crazy Hoosier driver. It's actually amazing that it took 8 months for it to happen. Seriously, I want to sit in on a driver's ed class in this state. What are they teaching?!

So the weekend started with a slight bump in the road since my car, while not terribly injured, is not legally driveable any more. I've spent the last two days picking up police reports and calling insurance companies. I have to say, both insurance companies have been absolutely amazing and I'll be getting a rental car today and the car should be taken to the shop as well. It's been very seamless so far and I hope it continues until my poor little car is okay again. My car has been slightly cursed lately --- a new timing belt at the 120,000 mile mark, 4 new tires, a rock to the window, and now this accident --- all in the last 3 weeks.

In other news, I've suddenly found a new hobby. Investing money! I rolled over my retirement money from teaching into an IRA and now I'm figuring out how I want to invest. It's a whole new world out there --- mutual funds, index funds, stocks, bonds. I actually find it all quite fascinating and am reading books, blogs and financial websites. I read Suze Orman's "Women and Money" in one sitting on Monday and she talked some sense into me.

Perhaps I'll become a financial advisor. Perhaps not.

Thursday, April 16, 2009


Chicago on the architectural tour...

2009's lamb cake!
Chicago on the architectural tour...

2009's lamb cake!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Back to the grind.

Five-day weekends are lovely.

Last Tuesday, I headed home for our guest speaking engagement on Wednesday at a local high school. Ken and I served on a panel of three with a Lebanese man who emigrated to the United States and is a successful local businessman. He actually showed us up since he had free taco tokens to throw around, knew the kids through his own children, and generally had some really interesting information regarding language. We were speaking to the French and Spanish classes and Ken and I tried to pass it off that knowing a language is very important, even though both of us stumble when it comes to taking up a new tongue. It was a nice day although students totally did not get our jokes. They did pay attention, however, and had some great questions at the end of each hour. Most revolved around Mr. Habeeb’s dreaming in English and how Ken and I have managed to finance our travels. I did meet two students who were both born in Okinawa, one of which did a lot of bowing and had a Japanese flag scarf tied around her neck. I pretty much just handed her a JET application.

On Thursday, Ken and I headed downtown to do the Chicago architecture river tour. I got some great shots and it was a beautiful day. The tour was really fascinating and worth the money! We ate lunch at Heaven on Seven and I had one of the best dishes of my life – shrimp and grits with cornbread. The grits. Doublewow. The shrimp. Wow. I also gained 5 pounds in 20 minutes.

Friday was spent with my mom working on our world famous lamb cake. This year, we went all out and bought tips and bags for the frosting. As a result, we ended up with a lamb that looked like it was “covered in potato salad.” (Quote – Mike) It was cute.

Saturday involved eating my weight in mashed potatoes at Ken’s house and then heading to a bar near my parent’s house with my parents and Brooke and Mike to hear my cousin play in a Nirvana tribute band. It was odd that he was playing in the Middle of Nowhere, Illinois, so we couldn’t miss the opportunity. This bar also broke all rules and allowed smoking which eventually did everyone in.

Sunday – church, ham, food, good.

Then after a great weekend, complete with $3 martinis and plenty of time with friends, I came back to work to find out that Thailand was experiencing another fabulous uprising. Perfect timing considering I currently have 76 students there for spring break. I got to spend most of yesterday putting out that fire and dealing with some anxious parents.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Speaking to the Masses

This week Ken and I are giving presentations to high school students regarding travel and living internationally. It took me some time to get my thoughts together, but now I think I have a pretty funny presentation.

Essentially I am relating the nasty side effects of prescription medications with the side effects of travel. In a purely humorous way, of course.

Here is my Top 10 list of the potential side effects of travel:

1. Weight Gain - nutella, Pocky, gelato, pretzels, fish 'n chips, Vietnamese coffee... time to get on the treadmill.
2. Loss of Appetite - yak momos; rotton meat, flies in soup, etc.
3. Shortness of Breath - Taj Mahal, Angkor Wat, etc. will leave you breathless
4. Increased Urination - quick mention of Tibet... haha
5. Trouble Sleeping - mention of hostel experiences and overnight trains
6. Uncontrollable Outbursts - flashing peace signs in every photos, random Japanese being thrown in for good measure in a conversation
7. Restless Leg Syndrome - Where to next?
8. Dizziness and Disorientation - Some India photos
9. Unexplained fungal infections - with reference to the various wildlife encounters we've had
10. Dry Mouth - Avoiding giardia by not drinking local water

And a bonus - 11. An obsession with Hello Kitty.

Hopefully I can make it quite funny and not at all boring. My photos are quite priceless for some of the points.

The main point is that I should have been warned by my study abroad advisor and now that I am actually an advisor myself, the advice I give my students is to have a great time and love it all.

Anyways, this weekend was a good one. I did some spring cleaning, spent yesterday with a colleague and today was going to settle in for the Chicago Tribune crossword puzzle at the cafe. Imagine my surprise when I see that the Tribune has reformatted their Saturday paper and no longer has my favorite crossword. I'm not pleased.

Guess I'll just spend some time surfing the internet, hit Target and then watch America's Next Top Model for the rest of the afternoon.

Rough life.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

More Veggies

Ken and I also love these chips... Terra Chips. Try them! They're good for you!

Also, last night we had to say goodbye to another one of our plates. We're down to two and one has a giant crack. It's getting desperate. We need some 70s-style plates and we need them now!

Monday, March 30, 2009

Eat your vegetables. And lamb cake.

I have a new food that I am loving. I adore the Morningstar Asian Veggie Patties. Has anyone else tried these?! They don’t taste a thing like meat, but are absolutely delicious. I’ve tried the regular Garden Veggie patty and they’re good, but not as good as the zingy deliciousness of the Asian ones. I wonder which to try next…

Last weekend we headed home to see some friends, watch some high school baseball, eat chicken salad sandwiches and ended up hanging with the ‘rents for awhile. Brooke is getting married and Mom and I pored over the websites checking out gowns and getting excited for Brookie’s wedding!  Yesterday we faced snow --- lovely --- and went through old photos in anticipation of….

Ken and I are speaking next week at an “International Day” at a high school. I thought we’d be chatting together with groups of 20, but we actually found out that we are members of a 3-person panel (separately) and will have about 100-120 students each hour. Right now we’re scrambling to put together a couple of PowerPoint presentations and trying to think about how to make it nice and flashy.

The good news is that because the presentation is on Wednesday and we have Good Friday off, once I add in a vacation day on Thursday, I have a five day weekend to look forward to. Mom and I are totally making a lamb cake again and I have a couple other cute little cake-related things that I’d like to attempt for Easter. I’m trying to figure out how to top last year’s lamb cake extravaganza. I need some cute candy and actual cake decorating supplies…

Thursday, March 26, 2009

The New Face of Spinning?!

It has been a very traumatic week for me.

On Sunday (on a whim and feeling regret at how much junk I ate on Friday night), I started considering a bit of old-fashioned workout punishment for myself. I thought, “Hmmmm….maybe I should do a spinning class with Ms. X at 5:15 a.m. and start the week off right…” (Ms. X is not her real name. Obviously.)

So I pop on the computer and visit my gym’s website, bringing up the month’s schedule and I see that Ms. X is not teaching at 5:15 a.m. but some completely random name is there instead. I found this to be a bit startling and then when I realized that Ms. X’s name (which, again, is not Ms. X) was nowhere to be found on the schedule, I started to freak. I mean, FREAK.

You see, Ms. X is the most hardcore, craziest, most motivating spinning instructor ever. She makes my Thursday evenings both horrible (as I almost puke into my towel) and amazing (as I leave in triumph after surviving). She is the reason that I have to get dressed at work for class, drive like a lunatic and run in to claim a bike. She is one popular lady.

I was hoping against hope that she just decided to take the rest of the month off because her daughter is returning from the Peace Corps.

There were whispers at the gym and I kept trying to find out what exactly happened on Monday. And then yesterday the ax fell. A letter explaining that Ms. X has taken a different career path and they tried to retain her. (Doubtful.)

And now we’re stuck with mediocre instructors who smile during spinning and who think it’s really fun to know everyone’s names and keep saying, “You can do it! Don’t quit on me!” when the reason I want to quit is because I’m bored and not being challenged.

It has been a sad week. The question is… do I stalk Ms. X and switch gyms if I find her somewhere else?!

In other gym news, I have taken up Zumba which is a mixture of Latin dance (salsa, cha cha, etc.) and hip hop. It’s not the best workout and I look the fool, but they dim the lights and everyone looks just as white as me out there on the floor. It’s a mood-lifter and I’m starting to look forward to my Wednesday evening release through dance moves and Shakira music.

But it’s still not Ms. X.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Girl Time

On Friday, I headed over to Valpo for some girl time with Tammy, Carly and Laura. We gorged ourselves on junk food, decided that mojitos and sangria can now substitute for candy, and got out "Girl Talk." And --- OMG --- Tammy had to call a boy (oooooohhh!!!!) and tell a joke. And then we had to whisper secrets. And I'm pretty sure at some point in the evening I was hee-hawing like a donkey.

Yes, it was classically fun and it was decided that these evenings should really become a staple in life. And wearing the plastic zit stickers is still superfun.

I'm at work a bit early today because my car is in the shop. I think it's time to get cracking.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Wanted: Awesome vintage-y mod plates with lots of orange, yellow, brown, etc. Would love doves, apples or peacocks. Or paisley. I love paisley.

Anyone have parents with such plates lying around?

The ones we use (direct from the parents and the 70s) are cracking and falling apart. We need new plates! But we want to keep with the vintage vibe.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Ring of Kerry - Dear to my Heart

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

I’m wearing green, I’m sporting my Ireland socks, I blared some Chieftains on the way to work, and I briefly considered having lunch at the Irish bar next door. I love Ireland!

Of the places that I’ve been, Ireland still holds a magical place in my heart. Maybe it’s “Foxy Mike,” perhaps the little leprechaun man on the boat, or the live music and Baileys at the pub… Whatever the reason, I still consider Ireland to be near the top of my list. I was thinking yesterday that I should really send a letter to the study abroad office at Valpo and explain what a difference studying in England made in my life. I know that most of my fellow Cambridge-ites still have the travel bug and I really should warn the students that I send to Australia that going abroad can be damaging to all future career goals and general direction in life. But, I consider myself blessed to have been where I’ve been and to have the desire to trek to more places.

Back to Ireland and St. Patrick’s Day, though. We’re living here in the Land of the Fighting Irish and it’s 70 degrees out. Ken and I were originally planning on having a quiet evening in because from what I hear, the pubs and bars are madness. We plan on celebrating on Saturday when things have died down a bit and I fully intend to hit the restaurant next door and enjoy some lamb stew with a big pint of cider and maybe a couple of hits of Ken’s Guinness.

I made Irish soda bread on Sunday and although it was edible directly out of the oven, it wasn’t fantastic and I knew it would be a weapon once it cooled down. I’m not feeling lofty enough to try to make corned beef and cabbage at home.

Hope everyone has a great day and enjoys a bit of luck and magic!

Friday, March 13, 2009

I blame the leprechaun for the missing posts...

So if I borrow a cute background "a la Kimi," I guess I better put an actual post on my blog! How in the world did 2 months pass so quickly?

What's new? I'm back from Oz and surprisingly, I still really enjoy my job and plan on keeping with it. I'm not even itching to do anything new, although getting a permanent position in Sydney would be nice. :)

I had a great time in Australia as was to be expected. Besides working with 200+ students, I also spent time with my colleagues who are based in Sydney. It was a nice mix of being really busy and stressed and then having a few hours here and there to sit by the Harbour, eat a baquette, sip on an Orangina and watch boats come in and out. Or catching up with Ken's old friend, dining on 1 kilo of prawns early in the morning and chatting about this and that. Then there was the delicious Japanese food available near the student's hotel. I really love Sydney. It's an amazing city.

Being back with Ken in the States is great too, though. We haven't done anything very exciting as of late, but we're ready for some great weather. This weekend I'm at home dog-sitting The Izzy and have plenty of time on my hands. I'm going to start planning our first-ever herb/easy veggie garden. I'm thinking ... Basil.... Cilantro... Tomatoes... hot peppers.... But what other herbs? Anyone had any success with anything? Remember, we're dealing with a small little deck off of an apartment.

We've been spending a lot of time at a local cafe, eavesdropping on conversations and drinking lukewarm coffee. The evenings are spent watching Rambo and weirdo documentaries. Is warm weather on the way or what?!

I've been updating my 101 list here and there and am crossing off some more items soon, including the slumber party one, the dress-up dinner (thanks to 1/2 gift certificates through the radio), some more recipes, and maybe breakfast with Grandpa this weekend. I'm going to try some Irish soda bread this weekend, I think, as a test run. If it works, I'll make it again for Tuesday.

This was a random entry.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Put another shrimp on the barbie!

Yep, I'm heading out of the awful winter mess for Australia next month. I'm leaving on February 12 and heading back on March 1. Hopefully by then we'll just have a couple more snowstorms to endure and the end will be in sight.

Basically I'm going to be flying into Sydney a day before my students arrive and I'm going to assist with their orientation. Besides important things like giving them cell phones and teaching them how not to offend the locals, I'll be going with them abseiling in the Blue Mountains and cruising on the Harbour. We'll be hitting the zoo and petting koalas and kangaroos. In fact, I hope to eat kangaroo on this visit. Especially since all my meals will be comped.

It's going to be lovely to get out of Indiana and into beautiful, beautiful, beautiful Sydney, but it's also going to be tremendously hard work with extremely long days and hundreds of slightly spoiled college kids to keep track of. I can't wait to meet some of them, especially the ones who call me day in and day out.

I've been told by my co-workers to insist on an afternoon off so I can at least spend a few glorious moments basking in the sun and jumping into Bondi or Coogee Beach.

Work is incredibly busy since all of these students are leaving next month and they are starting to pack. "Should I bring my hair dryer?" "How do I call home?" "Do I really need khakis?" "I have an arrest violation and my visa isn't approved!" (True story)

Things at home are good except this weather. It's incredibly frustrating and the snow never seems to end. The highlight of the upcoming week? The Killers concert in Chicago! YES!

Hope all is well with each of you. Will finally have some fun photos soon!

Friday, January 02, 2009

2009 - Year of the List

I have done a horrible job of updating this blog. I’m surprised blogger hasn’t closed my account!

Things are going well in Indiana. Ken and I have basically been splitting our time at the apartment during the week and near our hometowns on the weekends. For January and February, it is our goal to stay put a bit more and get to know the surrounding area a bit more. I think some cross country skiing is in our future.

With the new year comes new resolutions. My 101 list is up in September 2009 and I am currently trying to get a ton done quickly in January. So right now, I am making my tub slippery with exfoliating body wash, running to the bathroom because I’m trying to drink 8 glasses of water a day, chugging huge glasses of water to take my horse pill of a multivitamin, and burning a nice doublewick candle to relax. I have also contacted some guy to help me set up an IRA and am making a visit to the bank today to continue with my savings plan.

There are some items that should be easy enough to complete, like eating a hot dog in Chicago. I’m thinking a trip to a pre-season Detroit Lions game should be cheap and could be easily coupled with a trip over the border to Canada. I’m heading to Australia next month and if they send me to Brisbane, I can count it as a new state (Queensland).

Last year I made a fitness related goal of working out at least 20 times a month. I was supposed to reward myself with a delicious treat for achieving 20 and then give myself $5 to spend on cute workout wear for every day above 20. I made my goal every month except April (12) thanks to India and December (19) thanks to bad weather and too much going on. I’m proud of myself! And I never did the treats/money thing either. It was all willpower! This year, my goal is to increase my strength with more weight-related exercises.

Since this is my last year in my 20s, I plan to try to make it memorable and to make it count for something. Crossing off items off of my 101 list will help and I have some other ideas of how to make it better. Brooke gave me a great book of crafts and I’m going to try to be artsy for once in my life. I also have a big trip planned (in my mind at least) and will reveal it once it all comes to fruition. I’m also thinking of starting some volunteer work next month and Ken and I are exploring our options. I want to give blood once a year has passed since India --- apparently they still have malaria in India or some jazz like that. I also need to start working on my next 101 list!

I’ve had a bit of a lull at work compared to the past couple of months (hence the Friday morning blog post). It will pick up again next week and will continue until my students (and me!) leave for Australia in February.

Hope you all are having an excellent ‘09 so far! I have updated my 101 blog and will continue to do so at a more regular rate from now on.