Thursday, March 31, 2011

Photo of the Day: My View (AGAIN) Edition

Though I'm thrilled to be moving to my our new place in just a two short months, I'm also taking a little time to savor my current life, apartment, marital status and life.

It's not that I don't want to marry Scott and jump in to our new life (I so do want those things), it's just that I realize that I'm never again going to live alone as a twenty-something, I'll never again have this exact life, and I want to embrace it thoroughly these next two months.

The fact is, this IS the end of an era. I'm so excited for the next era, but I think it's appropriate to properly say goodbye to this one.

And the early morning view that has gone with it for the past two years.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Photo of the Day: Celeb Sighting Edition

Scott and I had our condo inspection the other night (it passed without any major issues!) and to celebrate, we went out for a beer after. Not only did we find a bar with $2.50 Budweiser products (a rarity in Chi) we also found a bar with.... Ryan Atwood Benjamin McKenzie!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Two Months

Two months from today will be quite acelebration :)

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Photo of the Day: Steps Edition

My senior year of college was one of the best years of my life. I lived with four of my best friends, less than two blocks from my sorority. I was thirty minutes from home, but in a totally different world.

The photo below is of the steps of our iconic (to us) blue house. Those of you familiar with Iowa City may recognize the apartment building. It was bright blue, on stilts, and three blocks South of the Old Capitol.

I loved that apartment.

(Thanks Melissa for pointing out the photo. I kind of want to frame it?).

Thursday, March 24, 2011

the one where we buy a condo

For the past few months, Scott and I have been debating - should we buy a condo? Should Scott move in to my apartment? Should we rent a new apartment? What neighborhood should we live in? What do we need in an apartment?

We crunched the numbers and decided that if we could reasonably swing it, we'd really prefer to buy. Rental properties are very expensive in Chicago, especially when you also rent a parking spot (for instance, a parking spot in my current building runs over $200 a month!) so we quickly realized that by adding just a few hundred dollars a month, we would be able to cover our monthly mortgage.

So we put the spending on lockdown. We had some savings, and we wanted to add to that - just in case we found a condo and needed a down payment.

We found a realtor. We set our criteria. We dug through hundreds (literally) of apartments online that met them, factoring in previously unconsidered terms like "assessments". We considered "deeded parking spot" vs. "street parking" vs. "nearby rental parking". We visited 30-40 condos, focusing on the actual unit, the building, the neighborhood. We discussed our commutes, our expenses.

And eventually, we found it.

We went back to the unit a second time. We drove around the neighborhood during the day. We walked around the neighborhood at night. We researched proximity to public transit (for me) and accessibility to the expressway (for him). We became grownups by researching washing machines, and the possibility of installing one. We discussed price per square foot, the health of the building, the upgrades we'd require.

In short, we fell in love - we could see ourselves living there, and moreover we wanted to live there. We wanted it.

We put in an offer.

It was declined.

They countered with an offer that was obscenely close to their original ask. We countered. The countered. We countered. They countered. We countered. They countered.

And then, yesterday, we agreed. Pending an inspection and lawyer review, we close April 29th.

Fact: the apartment condo needs updating. The kitchen is old, the walls are ugly colors, and it needs a facelift from a couple of 26 year olds. While I don't know much about the current owners, they have lived in the unit for 15 years, and I think it's safe to say that we don't have similar taste in decorating. Eventually, as our budget allows, we plan to redo the kitchen and hopefully put in hardwood floors in the living room, and maybe bedrooms.

Decorating aside, the unit has, as Scott put it, "good bones". It's much larger than the apartment I live in now, and has room for both of us, along with all of our stuff. Happily, it is also in a doorman building (you know how I feel about that) and has an accompanying parking spot. Excitingly, it's also on my favorite street.

I'm very excited about our new place, and getting it put together exactly how we want it. More than that, I'm so excited for our new life together - for living with a BOY - my (almost) husband (!!) - for the first time - and for making this jump in to homeownership together.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

on Christine

Exhibit A of us:

Kate: Did I just cross the line?
Christine: WHAT LINE?

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Photo of the Day: Signs of Spring


A tale of two Tory's

For years, I've coveted the Tory Burch ballet flat: a practical black flat, made exciting with the signature Tory emblem.

I tried them on half a dozen times, each time deciding that while they were comfortable and wear-able, the price tag made them far too impractical.

When exchanging gifts with Scott this year, I was shocked (and thrilled!) to find a pair of beautiful gold flats wrapped up in the signature Tory paper.

I enjoyed these shoes thoroughly over the next few weeks, wearing them to several Christmas and New Years parties, and enjoying having these luxurious shoes that I wouldn't buy myself.

In early February, on a particularly warm day, I wore them at work. While walking around the office, I noticed one of the heels kept sliding off my foot, so I examined that foot and discovered a small hole forming in the back seam. Horrified - and incensed - I fired off an email to Tory Burch customer service. "I've had this pair for only 6 weeks, never worn them outside, probably worn them a dozen times or less, the pricepoint doesn't match the quality, etc etc" and to my surprise - and amazement - less than 36 hours later I had an answer and a refund in the works.

I was provided a pre-paid mailing label and given the choice of cash back or credit to Tory Burch.

And in exchange, they got a lifelong fan of Tory Burch (and a very happy customer with an excuse to purchase a replacement pair).

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Flogging Molly at the Congress

This past Saturday, Scott and I celebrated St. Patty's in good form by attending our first ever Irish rock concert, Flogging Molly. While I can't say that either of us loved the music, it was a very interesting thing to see, and a very cool venue: Chicago's Congress Theatre. (One downside to the venue was that it was entirely General Admission, and since I am not a big fan of getting elbowed, spilled on or stepped on, we stayed pretty far back).

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

GPOYW: Bachelorette Edition

I'm not sure if it's my hair or my chipmunk cheeks, but I love this picture - I look so happy (and I was! What an amazing night).

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Laura & Joe: Part 1

This weekend I had the privilege of being invited to my cousin Laura's bridal shower. Laura will marry her love, Joe, six weeks after Scott and I get married (what a fun summer, eh?!)

Stupidly (what was I thinking!) I didn't take a single picture, but here's one of the two of us at a family party last summer:

Here's to Laura and Joe and 7.9.11!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Quote of the Day: Britney Edition

"No. All of my songs are f-ing awesome" - Britney Spears, on whether she has any regrets about any of her music.

Marriage Monday: What's In A Name?

Since the day I realized I was going to marry Scott Special, I was excited to have his last name. It's interesting, original, and - yes - special. There is no denying - I'm excited to be Kate Special.

But, there's a part of me that feels strange about throwing away the "Kate Maloney" name. I've been this name for almost 27 years. I earned my degree with this name, started work with this name, earned my reputation with this name. I only share this name with two relatives - my brothers Matt and Joe. I very much AM my name.

The thing is, I grew up in a family of mutiple last names, so in a way, I am very used to names not signifying a family. My mom had my last name until I was twelve, and then she was somewhat hyphenated. My dad and two of my brothers have a different last name. We have dozens of names in my extended family.

I've always felt that I was a "Rank" even though that's never been my name, so I guess that brings me some comfort about dropping the M in KJM - I'll always be a Maloney, no matter what name I sign.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

March 13, 2011

There are two days a year that I grieve this loss, and today is one of them.

Today would have been Mike Maloney's 63rd birthday.

It seems weird to say that I still grieve him, more than eleven years after I saw him last, but I do. I will say that I don't really think of him often, except at this time of year: even before his death, his involvement in our lives was so limited that he was more of a supporting character than a major player.

Though he wasn't a "father" in the traditional sense of the word, for a time he was ours and I won't discount the ways that his life shaped mine - both by his presence in my childhood and his absence in my adulthood. I will even say that he taught me a lot about what a husband and father should do - mostly through lessons on what a husband and father should never do.

And that's ok - it's life, we lived it, and now we are better for it.

I would be lying if I said that I didn't wish Mike could have been a different kind of man, a kind that relished surprising his wife with flowers for no reason, or the kind that signs up to be a Tee-Ball Coach or Field Trip Chaperone. Even just the kind that is there - day in and day out - raising his children and living his marriage vows.

I wish he would have been able to do those things, but he couldn't or wouldn't. And that's ok. Both in his life and in his death, the way Mike was - the kind of husband and father and son and human - helped shape me (and probably the rest of my family) in to the kind of people we are today.

So even though I miss him on days like today, or think on questions that will never be answered, I know that he contributed the best and worst parts of himself to us, and through the worst parts of him, he helped us to be better than that, better than him, and in some ways - that's what a parent should do.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Photo of the Day: Boot Camp Edition

I've talked a bit about boot camp, but haven't ever shared any photos. They are blurry and not the best of shots, but I think they show the layout of the gym pretty well - it's definitely a "bare bones" kind of place where there isn't much money devoted to ambiance, but I like it - I feel more at home working out in a place like this.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Photo of the Day: Mushroom Edition

Portabello burger with a side of asparagus:

This was shockingly easy (and delicious). We purchased big portabello mushrooms and scored each side with a knife. Then, we marinated them for an hour in a soysauce/olive oil mix and broiled for eight minutes on each side. It was fantastic (I'm making them again this weekend!)

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Photo of the Day: Boot Camp Edition

I've discussed Boot Camp classes a few times, mainly the talking points about boot camp, and why I love it and why I'll probably do these types of classes forever.

A few days ago, our instructor showed us these to-scale examples- the difference between five pounds of muscle, and five pounds of fat. Crazy, huh? (And kind of gross).

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Apartment Hunting: Part 1

As Scott and I search for a place to live after we get married, I sometimes find myself already missing my current apartment. It's the only place that has ever been just mine and my sanctuary of safety after the Marvin fiasco. I have lived here for 19 months and if I wasn't getting married, I would further extend my lease.

I AM so excited to live with Scott, and I'm getting more and more excited every day. We have been apartment hunting for months now, and while it's getting a little discouraging that we haven't found "the place", I know we will eventually. If not to own, then to rent.

In the meantime, I will savor my downtown life and some of the beautiful scenery that goes with it:

Friday, March 4, 2011

Dierks Bentley - How Am I Doin'

An anthem for anyone who's ever been dumped (I'll admit I've played this song a fair amount over the past ten years).

March Forth

My dad is the hardest working guy that I have ever met. If you met him, you'd agree.

Today, he retires after a long (and successful) career.

(What an aptly titled day to retire, eh?)

I love you Dad and I am SO HAPPY that the day is finally here!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Don't You Wanna Stay - Jason Aldean (ft. Kelly Clarkson)

This is the newest song I'm including in "Country Music Week". It's recently (I think?) started playing on the radio and I am loving it. It's a slower, romantic song (so a little different than a few of the others I've included) but I like it a lot.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Toby Keith - How Do You Like Me Now?

I'd be remiss if I didn't include some Toby Keith in my list.

There's something about Toby that reminds me of Mike Maloney (not necessarily in this song, just in general) and I think that adds to his appeal.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Travelin' Soldier - Dixie Chicks

This is the first country song I ever loved. I can't find a clip of the actual video (just live versions of the song that aren't super high-quality)... sorry! I debated including this song because I couldn't find a good video, but decided to leave it in because the lyrics are so heartbreaking and beautiful. Certainly not an uplifting song, but I love it.

on Charlie

The past few weeks, Charlie Sheen has consistently made the front page news. He is obviously struggling. I won't claim to know what his demons are, but they clearly on display. (Though many people in his life disagree, he currently claims to be on no drugs except to be high on "Charlie Sheen").

You can't watch TV or read the news without facing accounts of his most recent antics. Many people seem to find it somewhat entertaining, or at least amusing.

I don't. I think it's scary and sad, and I feel for his parents, his siblings, his wife and yes - his children.

I won't claim to be an expert on addiction, but I will say that it should be obvious to us all that he is a man in trouble - big trouble - and I don't think we're helping by laughing at - or even with - him. Addiction is scary, consuming and unmanageable - period. By making his plight - and his family's plight - a public laugh-in, we're failing addicts everywhere.

Is it Charlie's job to manage his issues? Of course it is, but I still think that society is doing wrong by addicts everywhere by turning this saga in to a public laughfest.