Where to Next?

It was a little back-and-forth over conversations in my boss' office: 'you're going' then 'you probably won't be going' but now I've got my plane ticket for a 23 hour flight. This July, I'm going to South Africa!

I'll be there for a conference, and plan to take a couple days to tour around, a safari? Maybe go up to Table Mountain which I hear is nice? I'm honestly a little bit tempted to do a shark dive. I know that sounds super crazy, and maybe stupid. But it's one of those things that once I kind of consider it, I start to wonder if I'll regret not doing it. But I also might chicken out. Reading about how they "chum the water" before your tour's arrival had chills running down my spine.

This is, by far, the best perk of my job.

Marking the Days

This adorable idea for marking baby's development in a monthly photo comes from Making it Lovely. Pin badge to babe for the monthly portrait, never have to label a photo again!

I also thought the idea of taking a daily photo and doing the YouTube video compilation might be intriguing. (You know, if I had a baby on hand.) I thought it'd make the transformation all the more amazing, but it's funny how aging sneaks up on you in thirty years, or even 30-something seconds of photos.Well, I'm glad I'm over that idea, since I'm sure as soon as I did have a baby, I'd have no time to be honoring the daily photo idea, much less compiling them and posting them to YouTube.

This baby-themed post brought to mind by the abundance of my friends and coworkers having babies lately. Time to make some more burp clothes!

Bet You've Wondered

I bet you've struggled to fold a fitted sheet so that it doesn't end up a lumpy blob that you lose patience with and shove into the linen closet in surrender. This video from Sweet Juniper shows you how, with a pleasant Breeders soundtrack too. I think the story goes that the guy you see mastering the domesticity grew up in a family that owned a dry cleaning & laundry business, where there was presumably a lot of folding.

How to Fold a Fitted Sheet from Sweet Juniper on Vimeo.

Farm Fresh

A couple of weeks ago my coworker asked me if I liked asparagus. The question took me a little off guard, since the questions I usually get from her are, "Are you coming to the meeting?" or "Did you hear what happened to that project at the printers?"
And I kind of wondered what I might be getting myself into when I replied yes. It turns out she was selling asparagus, grown at a friend's farm north in Wisconsin. I signed up for a bunch for $2.75.

I don't know if this was a bargain or a rip-off, since I'm not normally paying that much attention to the market prices for asparagus.

A couple days later, she called down to me as I was walking down the hall, "I have your asparagus!" An equally odd thing to hear across the cubicle walls.

Since I'm not the diligent foodie type who gets up early in the morning to go to the farmer's market, it was a neat experience that night to hold in my hands asparagus stalks that had only seen two sets of hands besides mine: the farmer and the friend. No supermarket clerk, no stockboy, no one loading them into a truck at a processing center. If I'd thought to ask, I could have easily known the farmer's name, and probably even what kind of car he drives.

More notably, this was the most gargantuan asparagus I'd ever seen! It was super tasty, as I wrapped it in with prosciutto with goat cheese the first night. (Second night it was added to a recipe for spiced chicken and vegetables.) It did cause me to wonder, probably for the first time in my life, 'how does asparagus grow?' I'm guessing it's not picked off of a tree, but does it sprout off a lot of stems, or pop up from the ground? Does only the little head peep up, or does the whole stalk grow upwards? (You have to scroll down, but there's a good explanation here.)

Thank You, Keyboard Cat

YouTube might not seem to have much of a useful purpose, but with a somber tone to this weekend being in Ohio for a funeral, YouTube is the chance for a small giggle to break through and distract for a minute.
Keyboard Cat, the internet meme that "plays off" many an embarrassing or awkward moment.
And I'm not sure that, when I go, I wouldn't mind Keyboard Cat playing me off.


One of the worst parts of being an adult, (besides that mail is no longer fun when it's addressed to you because it means it's a bill) is that cute toys are for giving away to friend's kids, not for keeping for yourself. These are from etsy crafter, Marjji.

I think even as adults, sometimes stuffed animals can play a role to comfort us or make us laugh, or help us remember when we were kids and things were simpler. And that envelope with your name on it was just a card to say hello. Not the cell phone bill telling you how much it had cost you last month for saying hello!

I love this last fellow's prominent forehead, the sign of a serious, thinking hedgehog.

Sunny Sunday

A sunny Sunday, for which plans unexpectedly developed late on Saturday night over drinks with friends. An extra Cubs ticket with brunch beforehand. I really overestimated the amount of time it'd take me to get to my brunch date so I walked to the lake to sit on a bench for a bit. Watching the sun glittering on the waves, and a dog climbing on the rocks chasing underwater shadows while his owner chatted on the cell phone.With tickets for the general seating bleachers, we arrived early. About an hour early to assure ourselves decent seats together.

We were directly underneath the scoreboard. Look closely for the faces of the two guys operating the manual scoring system.
Unfortunately, the Cubs lost to the Astros. And I ended up paying a ridiculous amount of money for sticky sunscreen since I'd forgotten my own. But at least the ticket price was worth it, even if I'm throwing away the gross sunscreen.

Postage Post

Did you know that they raised postage rates earlier this week? I had no idea. I only just overheard it as I was walking out of the Post Office last week and a fellow customer asked about buying stamps.

Do they not bother mentioning this on the news anymore because it's so routine?

I blame the Forever Stamp. No wonder it has the Liberty Bell on it, because now the Post Office takes the liberty to raise their rates every 16th Tuesday. (Or at least it feels this way.) They can do it because it's less disruptive if you've stocked up on stamps that will survive the increase.

A friend mused that even though it now seems inevitable that the rates go up and yeah, you expect it, just like Daylight Savings, you at least want to be reminded of it with a mention on the evening news.

I like pretty stamps though, so when taken by surprise by this price increase I had practically a whole book of spring flower stamps to use. With my next package to mail I put all 11 stamps on the box and then marched to the Post Office and just paid for the balance that I owed. I was returning my stupid camera to Canon to see if they'll repair it under warranty. I felt a little grumpy to expend all the good stamps on this nuisance. (I am a little insulted to pay for shipping on a camera that breaks at just six months old!)

So the question is, do I buy pretty stamps again? Or resign myself to the next price increase, coming soon?

Things I Like the Most: Politics & Jewelry

Mrs.O.org posted further details about Michelle Obama's necklace. The epiphany of today is that I must like Michelle Obama so much because she combines two things I like the very most: jewelry and politics. (Too bad she doesn't also write Latin American novels and chose a dog instead of a cat.)
The necklace was from designer St. Erasmus and I'll put this on the list for the day the lottery ticket is a winner. I can only imagine work that intricate, that finds itself on the collarbone of the First Lady, is expensive. (In the meantime, HSN is looking pretty attractively economical!)

Dress Up

Michelle Obama's necklace, worn to the White House Correspondents' dinner, is just so great. Bright and pretty. (From Mrs.O)
It reminds me of the slightly dressed down version that I covet, from HSN. (Which is the low profile name that the Home Shopping Network goes by nowadays.) Both adornments have the ability to make an outfit seem more classy, more dressy.

Now, if only my arms looked that terrific!

Feathered Friends

These are the corkscrews that you'll never have trouble finding in the drawer, from Conran USA.

Under Orders

Container Store: force for good, or evil?

Walking into the Container Store I feel like there's just a plenitude of possibilities ahead of me, all organized and orderly. A home where everything is in its place, and there's a place for everything.

I consoled myself for having to drive to work one day last week by allowing a stop at the Container Store on the way home. I thought I'd be responsible and just get the two things on my list. To reinforce my intended discipline I did not even get a cart. This seems a well-known retail strategy, when shoppers aren't carrying their goods, they won't realize how much they are about to buy. How many times has a shop assistant asked to start a fitting room for you and unburdened you of your hangers, just so that you could pick up a few more things to try on?

After dutifully going straight to what I wanted (shelf dividers to better organize my sweaters and a box for holding my growing collection of sewing supplies) I started to wander. I had been scoping out those shoe boxes online, and maybe they carried that cutlery organizer I'd wanted.

Suffice to say that by the end I needed a shopping cart to get back to the car. But, I had a very focused weekend of organizing ahead of me.

Look at that fabulous closet! Alphabetized spices too! (This was actually something I'd bought the supplies for months ago, but didn't get to until this weekend.)

Friday I'm in Love

The best thing about today was when I glumly reflected that it was only Wednesday, my friend turned to me and said, "It's Thursday." After a few, "Really?"'s and a check of my Blackberry, I agreed. The day felt better, all day long.
It seems like things rarely go this direction. Usually I'm sitting on the morning shuttle sad that there are more days to come than have passed in the week.
But, even better, tomorrow is Friday!

Orange You Glad You Know a Florist?

Early on in our relationship I advised Jason that I wasn't a huge fan of red roses. Yes, they were captivating when I was in high school and first started to know what it was like to receive flowers, but I've matured. So have my tastes in flowers.

At the grocery store I'll poke around for something left of center, even if it's a crazy bright green mum. But a real indulgence is visiting a local florist. I'm a sucker for an exquisite orchid stem, especially the orange ones. There are all sorts of unusual flowers, like ranunculus and pincushion proteas and others I know I like, but have no clue what they are called.

I must have been in a really orange mood last Saturday when I was picking up some flowers to decorate the house for our guests. (I conveniently also had an eye doctor appointment next door. The eye doctor selected because she takes my insurance, ... and her office's proximity to the florist. What a chore to have to go back to pick up my contacts next Saturday! *sigh*)

I picked up a great tip from my last florist visit: A fellow customer brought her own vase. She selected the flowers that caught her eye, the florist tossed in a few accents and made the arrangement in the customer's vase for no extra charge. Beautiful, easy to tote home, and saving the frustration of getting flowers home only to realize they are too short/tall or need something else to feel full and balanced. The florist makes the arranging look so effortless and quick. She does it with the same ease that I might arrange the milk and OJ in my fridge. Last Saturday I selected a unique green glass vase I received as a birthday gift probably 8 years ago to take to the florist. There was an awkward moment when the florist told me that it wasn't actually a vase, but a container to force a hyacinth bulb. "So... can I still use it as a vase today?" I asked. (Pretty results are pictured. I love the ghostly pale green of those floppy soft leaves.)(For days when I don't have an eye doctor's appointment, Apartment Therapy has tips for arranging grocery store flowers.)

Retail Endurance Challenge

After two days browsing the retail of Michigan Avenue this weekend, it's no wonder I eventually broke. Jason joked at one point that this is what you do as a tourist in Chicago, "you shop!" Despite 10%+ sales tax.

Sure there is lots more to do in our city, but it seems that shopping finds you, even when you do not seek it. We later walked into Navy Pier and Jason exclaimed, "A mall! What a surprise!"

I was initially fairly disciplined in my retail endurance challenge, only purchasing some hair stuff from Aveda which I'd been looking for. (I am conflicted about these fancy salon hair products. Yes, pretty results, but it becomes a separate chore to find them since they are not carried at the supermarket next to the Dippity Do.)

We addressed a second chore by crossing the street to the Room & Board while our visitors toured the Chicago Harley Davidson gift shop. After Jason's mom pointed out that our bed is the one he had in high school it seemed to emphasize the need for new bedroom furniture. We're thinking of these:
This was still kind of practical.

But my last purchase showed my decreased defenses. I bought a pair of Crocs! No, no, no, not the wide-footed, bright-colored, clog version. The wedges, instead. In chocolate.
A little bit better. I've already thought about how I could maybe discretely cover the brand name. Jason threatened our marriage, but I think he's over it. They are pretty comfy.

This is Where I Am

This is where I am after a weekend of touring about the city with Jason's mom. Phew, we walked 2.5 miles on Saturday, and went up to the top of the John Hancock building. (Gratefully by way of the elevator, not climbing.) Dinner was delivery in, since we were all a little tired. We were back at it on Sunday around Navy Pier too. It took the out-of-towner to point out the free trolley to and from Navy Pier that we could have taken instead of adding another mile to our feet.

I'm not sure what made Teedie so tuckered out, but maybe he was just expressing his sympathy.

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