Tuesday, July 15, 2014

An end and a beginning

I sit on the train, trees whirring past my window. 

Cars look like ants, jammed together on the freeway. The train roars past the traffic, bringing me with it. 

I'm struck by this moment- caught, quite literally, between my past in this city and my future out there.  The ink barely dry on the condo sale, and our belongings packed in our new garage. 

An in-between stage, in so many ways. 

I have days left of my twenties. 27 of them.  But as I say goodbye to this, I welcome my thirties with an open heart, eagerly. 

On the edge of the future, the past still in the frame. A new life, a new home, a new decade.

The train bumps down the tracks, and I keep coming back to this: gratitude. For yesterday and tomorrow, and for being right here, on this very train, right now. 

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Scenes From A Week: June 1

Happy Sunday night!

My blogging has really taken a backseat in my life over the past few months, and in some ways I've missed it.  I've certainly missed the archival aspect - being able to look back at how we filled our days, and the different adventures that we've gone on.  I've also - really - missed the writing aspect.  Selecting a topic, writing, editing, writing some more.  I hope to get back to this soon.

The past week was a good one - kicked off by my favorite weekend of the year and then by our third (!!!) wedding anniversary.  It's an honor and privileged to be married to Scott.   The rest of the week was filled with projects around the condo (less than three more weeks until we close on our new house, seven weeks until the sale of our condo is complete).  Saturday night was the highlight of our weekend - we rented Divvy bikes, and rode them downtown to a concert at Northerly Island, a cool venue overlooking the Chicago skyline.  We had lawn seats, so we brought a blanket and bought some beers.   It was a Jack Johnson show, and at one point, there were Navy Pier fireworks immediately to the right of where he was playing - it was a true Chicago "moment" and one I won't soon forget.

dinner with scott's parents to celebrate our anniversary

first time wearing these shoes this season (they were
a really good purchase - literally less than $5 from target
on super-clearance three or four years ago)

renting bikes at dusk

gorgeous ride downtown (with a photo op stop) :)

view from our blanket at jack johnson
rooftop view at our friend's new apartment

Monday, May 26, 2014

Scenes From A Week: May 26

This was one of the best weeks I've had in a long time.  Memorial Day weekend is one of my all time favorite weekends, and this one lived up to the hype.  My parents came on Friday to help Scott and me with some last-minute condo details, and we spent more than a little bit of time talking about plans for our new home.

On Saturday morning, Scott and my dad started cranking on the condo refinements, while my mom and I headed out (to get out of their way... and get a few steps in while we were at it).  We set out for downtown (to achieve the reverse of one of the items on my Thirty by 30 list!) and did a few errands.


On Saturday afternoon, we departed for Blue Mound State Park in Wisconsin for a camping excursion (another item on my Thirty by 30 list).  More on that later, but for now - a fabulous weekend.




Saturday, May 17, 2014

1) Take an athletic class

I attended another aerial yoga class recently, and this time took a few more photos:




The class is way harder than it looks, but it's also really fun.  As an adult, how often do you get to mess around and climb things?  Very rarely in my experience.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

outward bound

Scott and I have lived in our condo for three years, almost exactly.  We closed on it one month before our wedding day, and almost immediately went to work making it "ours" with more than a little sweat equity from my favorite contractor (my dad). We updated nearly everything - from floor to ceiling and everything in between (with a heavy nod toward the kitchen, and a major hat tip to that incredible contractor I mentioned).  We gave it a much-needed facelift.

Two weeks ago, we finally made the decision and listed it for sale.  It was a very unsentimental decision, made because we wanted to move onward and upward - something bigger.  We started our search pretty open - we looked at both houses and condos.  We looked in the city, and we looked in the suburbs.  We saw places we liked, and places we hated.  We started looking last August, sometimes more seriously than others, and sometimes just for fun.  We went to private showings and open houses.  I estimate we looked at 75-100 different condos and houses in the area (and three in Iowa, actually).  We took my parents to see a variety (about 20) knowing that my dad would be our contractor, instrumental in making the house "ours".

We saw many beautiful homes - homes we'd be proud to live in and make our own.  During the course of our nine month search, we really narrowed it down: we wanted one particular suburb, in a one mile radius from either of the two train stations.  We wanted a house (not a condo) - but importantly, we wanted a house that needed a little updating so that we could make it our own.  We wanted an outdoor space (a yard), and we wanted at least a one-car garage.  We wanted at least three bedrooms, and ideally two bathrooms (or at least one bathroom that could be easily duplicated).  On our wishlist was a second bathroom, existing washer/dryer hookups, central air, and easy/quick walking distance to the commuter train that I'd be taking (a half mile or less).  The search was getting more focused, and more real.  We made plans with our realtor - figuring out the ideal time to put our condo on the market, how to price it, etc.  We picked a date, and then pushed it back and back again.

  Last weekend, we had six Saturday appointments set up - home tours at six wonderful houses that met our criteria on paper.  Included in that list was a showing of one home that we thought was a real contender (in fact, we'd already seen it twice).  Two days before the showing... three of the six homes went off the market (including the one we'd seen twice before).  We were bummed, of course, but chalked it up as a testament to the quality of the community.  We were down to three viewings, and my parents were coming all the way in from Iowa, so Scott combed the new listings and added three brand new lists to our itinerary.   Saturday came, and the four of us drove out there and toured the homes.  All great places, but one with real potential.  We liked it immediately.

We went to a local bar (a post-tour tradition with my parents!) and talked about it.  That night we got together with my in-town brother and sister-in-law and talked about it some more.  The next morning, we called to see if we could get in to it again before my parents left down, and found out that they'd received three offers since it went on the market three days earlier.  We scurried out and viewed it again and decided - we wanted it.

Scott and I went home, and our agent went to work - looking at comparables and crunching the numbers.  We made an offer late Sunday.  To our great pleasure, the seller countered on Monday morning.  At lunchtime I got the call - it was ours!  Scott and I were just... thrilled.  I called my parents to share the news, and almost immediately started mentally making plans.  I went back to work, so excited about what was happening.  And also hoping our condo would sell.

Three hours later, I got another call from our real estate agent.  We had an offer on our condo after just eight days on the market.

There are a lot of hoops to jump through before either sale is final.  Attorney review, mortgage brokers, interest rates, radon testing, inspections... and on and on.  My head is practically spinning from all of the details being exchanged, but mostly - I'm excited and hopeful for the journey ahead... and just as surprised as anyone else about what's about to happen:

We're moving to the suburbs!

The new home has all of the musts, and many of the "would be nices".  It needs a lot of updating and modernizing, but the projects will fun (hopefully my dad agrees :)  We're very excited for our suburban adventure, and all the fun that lies ahead in our new home.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Scenes From A Week: May 12

Since the last time I posted, so very much has happened and I'm eager to get back in to a solid blogging routine.  (This week?  Soon?)  We listed our condo two weeks ago, and sold it a week ago.  We found our next home - and made an offer on it.   Pretty huge week for the Specials.

In between this was, of course, the hum of regular life:

Monday night work dinner 
aerial yoga after work 
i love spring clothes (leopard shoes are hard to see.. but there)
homemade latte at matt/kelly's house
lunchtime walk - gorgeous chicago spring flowers
mother's day pedicure with my mama
flowers from my husband

Monday, April 28, 2014

29) Do a body detox

I originally intended to do a week-long body detox, but decided to dip my toes in with a 3-day detox / juice cleanse, and to be honest, I don't think I could handle a full week of it.

A few weeks ago, I bought a Groupon for a Peeled Juice Cleanse.  The cleanse came with six juices per day for three days.  The instructions were clear - no food, no alcohol, and no coffee/caffeine other than green tea.  The juices:


Green Lantern - kale, romaine, spinach, cucumber, celery, lemon, ginger
Haute Lemonade - lemonade with cayenne pepper
Maroon 5 - carrot, beet, lemon, apple, ginger
Cashew Milk - cashew, vanilla bean (maybe something else - I don't remember)

The juices were to be consumed in a very specific order: green, lemonade, beet, green, beet, cashew.  In between, you were to drink just about as much water or green tea as you could handle.

I thought that the green juice was.. alright.  The first one was refreshing.  The next five were ok, but certainly do-able.  I found this one to be quite filling, and knew that if I had that one coming up, that it would help satiate my appetite.

The lemonade was fabulous - I really liked it.  It was basically a spicy lemonade.  I didn't find it particularly filling, but since it was the second juice of the day, I drank it fairly close to the green, and thought that was a good strategy.

The Maroon 5... UGH.  Just thinking back to how it tasted gives me shivers.  I hated it.  I hated it from the first sip to the last.  I gulped each of them down without hardly tasting it because I thought it was so disgusting.  If you like beets, this one might be better for you then for me?  I don't like beets, and I didn't like this juice.  At.  All.

The Cashew Milk was the exact opposite - fantastic.  I loved it.  It was sweet, filling, and really like dessert.  It was a nice thing to drink in the evening, as it left me filling very full to last the rest of the evening.


So the purpose of a juice cleanse.  Some renewal, I suppose.  Detoxifying.  And a little bit to see if I could do it. In terms of tangible results, I got two random compliments on my skin in the days after the cleanse, and felt like I dropped a bit of water weight, but nothing too significant.  I really liked doing a few days of this, but don't know that I will do it again. From nearly the first sip of the cleanse, I was counting down until the last.  But... I did what I set out to do and am happy to have this accomplished!

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Scenes From A Week: April 20 and 27

It's been a wild few weeks, with too few hours in the day to sit down and devote time like I should to my corner of the internet.  I need to do some catching up - I hope to be back with increasing regularity over the next few days.

gorgeous bellinis at pops 
love the ambiance at city winery
spring apparel at special family easter
so obsessed with these shoes (gap!)
i did a juice cleanse this week - more on this later
i used the juice cleanse to further cut back my caffeine intake (this is caf free)
so many colors, so little time
we've been househunting for... a year?  not quite but feels like that sometimes

afternoon spent cleaning and tea-ing

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Scenes From A Week: April 13

This week (or weekend, really) was a splendid one - felt like it was finally, finally summer again.  I wore flip flops for the first real time since last fall, and ran in short sleeves once again.  Chicago is hard to beat when the temps are above 60.

This weekend was especially wonderful, including two dates with my husband, an overdue catchup phone session with a cousinfriend, multiple phone calls with my mom, finishing a good book, deep cleaning my closet and windows wide open.  Rejuvenating, for certain, and just what I needed before this coming work week.

such a beautiful downtown

i live in stripes all summer long

we used a groupon to visit a hawaiian themed bar/restaurant on saturday night
the lake front trail is very hard to beat

new beers (to me) - thought my "smitten" was pretty legit
scott racing to the car in the pouring rain... sweet husband
I hope to get in a better blogging rhythm again... it's one of my very favorite outlets, and one that I've been neglecting pretty significantly over the past few months.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Scenes From A Week: April 7

This was an excellent week and the fun continued throughout the weekend.  The week highlights included my one year work anniversary, a fun work event on Thursday night, the Cubs home opener on Friday, a couples massage with Scott on Saturday.  It kept getting better and better.  (And by the way, so did the temperatures... it's going to be a whopping 50 degrees in Chicago today!)

This weekend was especially hard to beat.  On Friday night, I had an hours-long excursion to Target, which I rarely take the time to do.  On Saturday morning, Scott and I had a belated Valentine's couples massage followed by complimentary mimosas and a stroll home.  We continued the day-date by viewing three more properties, followed by outlet shopping at the new-ish outlets in the suburbs.  The day was finished with watching "White House Down" on demand - although cheesy/unrealistic I actually liked it a lot.

April is one of my favorite months of the year... and it's here!


gorgeous tulips from my manager

summertime food

classy "dinner" (bellini + cheese board)

late night beer stop

opening day apparel

spectacular bloody mary spread at an industry event

the whole foods flower display is tough to beat

first time at the tory outlet (near rosemont).  thought
it was only okay... the sales associates attitudes were
a bit of a turn-off.

stalking my parents return flight!!