A Little Illinois Love

June 30, 2011 § 2 Comments

I had to drive to Congerville today. I was dreading it; the drive was going to take one hour round trip. I got a very large iced coffee from Coffee Hound and started my journey. Once I got past the construction and begin the rural drive, I started to enjoy myself.

the lonely road

The land in central Illinois is flat, but it didn’t bother me today. It was a very solitary drive – almost therapeutic. I loved driving past the occasional house protected by its lonely waving tree. I loved seeing the breeze blow through the corn stalks, giving the fields animation.

When I was a little girl my dad told me that corn should be “knee-high by the Fourth of July.” All the corn I saw today was “way past my ear before July’s even here.” Farmers are sure putting a lot of growth hormones in corn these days, huh?

wind turbines among the corn fields

Wind energy intrigues me. Having lived in the farming area of Illinois for the past few years, I know that many crop farmers have made money by leasing land to wind energy developers for their windmills. There’s a boost for the poor little Illinois economy! My dad is a chemical engineer currently working in a power plant in Ohio. When I asked him about wind energy I got a comment I wasn’t prepared for: modern, large wind turbines require electricity to operate – a fact which is often not considered when calculating the turbine electrical output. Interesting. Also, considering the energy it takes to create each turbine, the energy balance ends up being almost the same as creating a coal power plant (in which he works). Clearly, a wind farm doesn’t put off the fumes that a coal plant does, so I’d rather have a wind farm nearby. But, it’s good to know that if global warming ever does happen (and we never get wind), a coal power plant is just as energy-efficient as a wind farm.

You’re welcome to rip me apart for that paragraph. I really don’t care. That’s what a blog is for.

flat but beautiful, huh?

Illinois has an ugly reputation for being corrupt. That is true – it is extremely corrupt. But the rural, flat land is beautiful, melancholy, and peaceful. It’s the people that mess things up. Sometime, let me tell you about the City of Bloomington: its magic and its malpractice. Or Chicago – that one might need a whole category of postings. And some clever guest bloggers.

the road seems to go on forever. that can either be dreadful or delightful.

A Discontinued Product that I Want Back

June 28, 2011 § 2 Comments

Crystal Pepsi. Remember that? Only vaguely? That’s OK. It was on the market in the US for only a year or so.

I’m guessing it only graced the doorway of our home when it was coming off the market. (My parents tended only to buy things on sale.) It probably only graced my lips because it was left over from a party we had. (We didn’t have pop in our house unless there had been a party the night before.)

I remember being allowed to drink it because it was caffeine-free. Well done, Pepsi.

I don’t remember if it tasted good, though. Back then, I didn’t eat/drink for taste; I ate/drank because I was told to do so.

I want Crystal Pepsi back to know if it tasted good. And, if it didn’t, I want them to fix it.

Until then, I will drink Sprite or Canada Dry Ginger Ale. I like Coke products better anyway.

Going to the Studio

June 25, 2011 § Leave a comment

Going to the Studio

Marc Jacobs flat shoes
$333 – lagarconne.com

Straw Studios straw handbag
$28 – lorisshoes.com

Vanessa Mooney bangles jewelry
$250 – calypsostbarth.com

Pearl jewelry
$9.10 – kohls.com

Paisley scarve
$17 – alloy.com

Plastic shades
$9.99 – tillys.com

The Affect of the Economy: A Reminiscent View

June 22, 2011 § Leave a comment

In 2008, the economy took a downturn. I’m sure I stole that sentence from someone, but I don’t know who it was. Maybe it’s so commonly said that it’s become free for anyone to use.

on the train from Chicago to our "new-to-me" home together in Milwaukee. it was a very exciting trip.

Josh and I got married at the end of 2008, and when I moved up to Milwaukee to be with him, I couldn’t find a job. No one was hiring. Not even fast food joints. 
So, when Josh went to work, I stayed at home and caught up on reading, movies, and general interest trivia. (I would have crafted, but there was no room.)

bathroom to the left, closet to the right. obviously, this was after i had moved in.

kitchen to the left, bed to the right. i'm very proud of how uncluttered it was.

From December to April, I learned about LORT, Ten Chimneys, Anthropologie, vegetarians, downtown Milwaukee, food stamps, the Actor’s Equity Association, and bilateral pneumonia. (Poor Josh. He was in 3 shows at once when he got sick. Thanks to Larry Shue‘s foundation for paying for his medication.) I learned about other things, too, but they don’t affect my life quite as much today as the afore mentioned items do.

We were freshly married, so it was nice to have that time to get acclimated to being a wife. I brought Josh lunch daily and ate with him. I got to know Josh better and more quickly since we were alone up in Wisconsin with no family to run to if we were not seeing eye to eye. I became creative in ways that I never had to be creative: living in a cramped room with a new roommate who had just as many things as I did, creating a clever chocolate concoction to pacify my chocolate craving (we couldn’t afford a Snicker’s bar), having an awesome day out on a date and spending less than $10 all day, learning how to bundle up tightly but fashionably to walk anywhere between December and March, etc.

After our time in Milwaukee was over, we went to Normal, IL so that Josh could go to graduate school. With the economy in turmoil, the best thing we thought we could do was go to school. (Josh went first because I’m indecisive about what I want to do.) We rented an apartment (sight unseen – yikes), moved our 2 pieces of furniture into the 2 bedrooms, and sat on the floor in awe of all the place we had in our possession. Taj Mahal.

roomy closet to the left, bedroom to the right. (we got a mattress and boxspring about a week after we moved in. $150. used. the air mattress had holes in it.)

kitchen to the left, living room to the right. yes, those are car seats you see as furniture. we took the seats out of the van as they were more useful in the house.

bathroom to the left, bedroom 2 to the right. we did eventually get furniture for the second bedroom.

Over the past 2 years, we’ve inherited furniture from family members and collected odds and ends from thrift stores. Our possessions no longer fit in two minivans. (Thanks for helping us move, Mom!) Oh, and I got a job. I figure that means the economy is doing a little better.

All that to say, the economic climate affected us, but perhaps unlike the way it affected the rest of the world. We didn’t really know anything different than what we were experiencing at that time. I’m not saying we didn’t worry about money – I cried when I found out exactly how much we owed for Josh’s undergrad school bills – but I think we rolled well with the punches. I’m thankful we are where we are, and I’m excited to see where we go when Josh graduates!

Pinterest

June 13, 2011 § Leave a comment

Have you gotten hooked on Pinterest yet?

If not, go create an account and get ready to have creative fun and lose track of time. I have spent a lot of time browsing the internet just looking for things I love and “pinning it” to my Pinterest page.

All the things I love are organized into categories. While I’m browsing other sites, I can fall in love with something, pin it, and continue browsing. I love the convenience and the cleverness.

After I’m done browsing for things I love, I can go back to Pinterst and look at my pins. Pinterst has already documented where I got my pin from, so no worries about copyright issues!

Another feature I love is the fact that I can follow other people’s boards and see what they pin. If I love what they pin, I can repin it to one of my own boards. Brilliant!

Thank you, Pinterest for being so clever.

p.s. Dear Readers, please forgive me if I don’t post again for a while – I’m probably distracted by Pinterest.

Fiction vs. Nonfiction

June 9, 2011 § 6 Comments

Despite my love for a good character-study (hooray for Henry James!) and my guilty pleasure of historical fiction, I gravitate toward non-fiction for my every-day reading.

 

You can keep your Pride & Prejudice, Harry Potter, and Twilight; I’d rather read a good memoir or biography any day. When I walk into a bookstore or a library, I head for the cookbooks or crafting books immediately. Then to the foreign-language section. Then to the biographies. Then to the sheet music section. Then to the children’s section.

We’re taught to read non-fiction at a young age – my first reports in school were on people (Clara Barton, Florence Nightingale, etc.) and on places (Ohio, Louisiana, Austrailia). I read fiction in school, but all I did was take quizzes on the content until I was in junior high and had to write a book report. At age 12, I read Doris Day’s autobiography of my own free will. Twice.

That being said, my favorite book is definitely Little Women. I read it when I was about 13, and Meg became my hero. She learned about responsibility, good friends, and vanity – all issues I was dealing with. “What about Jo?” you say? I think Jo is annoying.

My picks for non-fiction pleasure reading:

Please Don’t Eat the Daisies by Jean Kerr

A Year in Provence by Peter Mayle

My Life in France by Julia Child

Puttin’ On the Ritz: Fred Astaire and the Fine Art of Panache, A Biography by Peter Levinson

The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America by Erik Larson

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My Future: 10 Years Ago

June 5, 2011 § 2 Comments

Ten years ago was summer 2001 – and so much was happening in the present I didn’t have time to think about the future!

me with my best girlfriends in my class: Becky, Amanda, Tiffany, and Niki

At the end of my junior year of high school, I was quite certain I would be going to a small Christian college in Florida like most of my friends who were graduating that year. Though I had friends in my own class, I treasured the ones I had made in the grade ahead of me, and I almost dreaded my senior year without them. Fortunately, my senior year turned out to be a blast. Thanks to those who helped make it awesome.

Summer of 2001 I turned 17 – ready to start my senior year of high school! It was a good time. I had a job at a summer camp as a nanny, and I was thinking about being an au pair for a while in a foreign country. At that time I was waffling between majoring in acting and majoring in architecture. By the end of the year, I was gently talked out of acting by my mother and convinced that being an architect was not as exciting as it seemed. (I wanted to design cool houses – not office buildings!)

me pushing my ward Joshua in his stroller at camp

While nannying many of my extended family members visited the camp for a week of Family Camp. That was awesome! I stayed up until the wee hours of the morning playing games with the cousins while the adults sat around and gossiped talked. I know that I thought we’d be doing this regularly for summers to come.

some of the aunts & uncles chatting with Grandpa, Grandma, & Gram

We have gotten together for Family Camp once since that summer.

sweet Dad took the picture while we stood in front of the infamous lighthouse.

Later in Summer 2001 my immediate family took a trip to Cape Hatteras in North Carolina. (A place my mom and dad still go about every other year.) While we were there, we visited my aunt and uncle in Jacksonville at Camp LeJeune. While visiting, I remember seeing a picture of my cousin Andy and his girlfriend Katie. (Andy was on a mission trip in East Europe at the time, so I didn’t get to see him.) Katie wasn’t the girlfriend I had met last year; could she possible be as nice as that other girl? I was skeptical. Little did I know that Katie and I would become great friends – nor did I know that Andy and his brother Joe would become like my own brothers while I was at university.

As a 17-year-old, I thought I would graduate from college (no more than 4 years! no siree!), get married, and have kids a couple years later. On that timeline, I should have had my first kid in 2008. Yow.

I’m glad I’m not where I thought I would be – my sights are broader, my expectations are higher, and my family is dearer.

 

Edit: Incidentally, Summer 2001 was a pivotal summer for decisions. Being together with my family so much allowed for perspective in choosing how to spend my free time, how to conduct myself socially, and where I was headed after high school. Parents, do not forsake the importance of vacationing with your immediate family – and leaving friends behind.

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