Saturday, December 31, 2011

Same Old Lange Syne - Dan Fogelberg

This is such a sad-sounding song, but to me, it will always remind me of my parents, and make me smile.    Happy 15 year engagement anniversary to my wonderful mom and dad.  How different my life would be if you didn't say "yes" to each other 15 years ago today.

Happy, happy 2012!

Zeitgeist 2011: Year In Review

Have you seen this?  Chills.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Book Review: It Sucked and Then I Cried: How I had a Baby, a Breakdown and a Much Needed Margarita

I’ve been a fan (and reader) of Heather Armstrong and her blog for years, checking her blog often for new posts, and literally LOL’ing at frequent intervals.  She is the kind of funny that translates well over the internet, but she’s also really intelligent, and well spoken (written?) which makes me wonder if she’d be funny in real life, or just a genuinely nice person (I suspect some of both).

A brief background: Heather grew up Mormon, and then moved to Los Angeles to work.  Somewhere during college at BYU, she started questioning her faith (and the restrictions that came with it).  She’s now a “recovering-Mormon”, and married with two young daughters.

Her blog,, is about life – her life – with a family, dogs, Mormon relatives, and her life with depression.  One of the things I like so much about her is the way she writes about such a personal (intimate?) topic.  (If you’re going to read only one of her posts, let it be this one: 

Like many of the books I read, I placed the book on hold at the library and then promptly forgot about it until I got the email that it was available for pick-up.  I started the book on my bus ride home, and didn’t look up from it until I was 15 blocks North of my condo.  (For non Chicagoans, this means I missed my stop… and then each of the next ten).  I don’t even know what to say about it – it made me sad?  It scared me?  It made me think about Post-Partum Depression in a way I never had before?  It made me grateful to live in a time and place where mental health professionals can help me if I need it? 

My only criticism is that it was a little hard to read.  She writes like she blogs (lots of capitalization, etc), and while that is entertaining for a 6-paragraph blog entry, it’s a little bit distracting for a 200-page book.

Overall, I did really enjoy it. There is so much said - rightfully - about the miracle of pregnancy and childbirth, and all of the beauty that comes with new life and motherhood.  But there's a flip side to the coin, and that is the scary, and unpredictable way that some of our bodies and minds react to all of these changes.  I think it was a good book for me to read, both because I'm a fan of the author, and because it's a good reminder of the preparedness that can and should go in to an eventual pregnancy.  

Quote of the Day: He's Just Not That Into You Edition

Girls are taught a lot of stuff growing up. If a guy punches you he likes you.  Never try to trim your own bangs and someday you will meet a wonderful guy and get your very own happy ending. Every movie we see, Every story we're told implores us to wait for it, the third act twist, the unexpected declaration of love, the exception to the rule. But sometimes we're so focused on finding our happy ending we don't learn how to read the signs. How to tell from the ones who want us and the ones who don't, the ones who will stay and the ones who will leave. And maybe a happy ending doesn't include a guy, maybe... it's you, on your own, picking up the pieces and starting over, freeing yourself up for something better in the future. Maybe the happy ending is... just... moving on. Or maybe the happy ending is this, knowing after all the unreturned phone calls, broken-hearts, through the blunders and misread signals, through all the pain and embarrassment you never gave up hope.  - He's Just Not That Into You

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Pacific Taupe

My new nail polish color - Pacific Taupe.  Love.

Quote of the Day: Love Actually Is All Around

Whenever I get gloomy with the state of the world, I think about the arrivals gate at Heathrow Airport. General opinion's starting to make out that we live in a world of hatred and greed, but I don't see that. It seems to me that love is everywhere. Often, it's not particularly dignified or newsworthy, but it's always there - fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, husbands and wives, boyfriends, girlfriends, old friends. When the planes hit the Twin Towers, as far as I know, none of the phone calls from the people on board were messages of hate or revenge - they were all messages of love. If you look for it, I've got a sneaking suspicion... love actually is all around.

- Love Actually

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

9) Give someone the perfect gift

I like to give good gifts.  Gifts that the recipient loves, or wants, or can't wait to use.   Rather than to call this the perfect gift, let me simply say that it was the gift I've been most excited to give - ever.

My brother Matt has a really cool bar (his inspired mine).  He always has cool liquor, tons of options, and is a great entertainer.

The last time I had drinks at his house, I saw his two "M" wine glasses.  (A glass wine glass with a large "M" etched on the side).  When I began thinking about Christmas, I decided I wanted to build on his collection and get him 4 more "M"s.  But when I started researching it, I saw that the options were endless - what font for M, what size lettering, what size glasses, etc.  Rather than try to match those glasses, I decided to start fresh and get him "MALONEY" glasses.

I loved giving this!

ESPN: The Finish Line 2

Cheesy, and sappy... and really, really good.

GPOYW: Champagne Edition

First time ever opening a bottle of champagne solo.  Even better, just before NYE.  Even better yet, I was taught by four wonderful teachers, my cousinfriends Anne, Jane and Jenifer, and my friend Kelly.

(How have I lived 27+ years without knowing how to pop a bottle of Bubbly?)

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Staloney Christmas 2011

Christmas 2011 is going to be hard to beat.

This was the first Staloney Christmas that Scott has ever joined in on (due to logistics, we did not join in on each others family celebrations until this year) and it was extra special.

(Was that a pun?)

Anyway, as my brothers and I get older, it gets more and more important to really enjoy the time that we have together, especially under the same roof.  

...and there's just something about coming home for the holidays.

There were amazing presents given and received (like the above - if I do say so myself - a personalized wine of the month) but more importantly, there were jokes told, delicious food eaten, and memories made.

I love being a Staloney.

Monday, December 26, 2011

24) Try a new type of sushi

I'll admit, this was one of the easiest tasks to accomplish on my Twenty Eight by 28 list.  I love Sushi, and Scott does, too, so it was not hard to recruit him to accompany me.  We went to Wakamono (a new sushi joint here in Chicago) and it did not disappoint.  I'd heard a lot about it - all good.  The first thing to note is that this place has a steep corkage fee ($8) which I absolutely hate paying.  I have to pay you to bring my own wine?!  No thanks.  Anyway, I typically gravitate away from BYOB places that charge one, but Wakamono is a good place to make an exception.  

First of all, the ambiance was crazy cool.  A little waterway flowed across the storefront, and all of the chairs were bamboo.  Pretty cool.

We tried Spicy Tuna (an old standby) but also tried two new kinds - Maki Mexicano and a sweet potato roll.  (A sushi place with a Mexican roll?  Obviously this was a must).  The Mexicano featured yellowtail, jalepeno, and some other crazy spices.  The sweet potato roll featured.. sweet potato (shocking) and some other delicious elements.  

Unrelated to the goal, I also tried my first wasabi.  Um, YES.  (Also unrelated- if you look closely, I'm wearing the sock bun).

All in all, a delicious (and super fun) goal.  Check!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas

Merry Chistmas, to you and yours.  Wishing you a wonderful day full of love and laughter.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Hair Tutorial: The Sock Bun

Have you guys heard about the new trend in hair?

It's called a sock bun, and it basically involves using a sock (like, from your feet) to provide more volume in your every day bun.

I've always been a fan of the classic hair bun - easy but polished.  I became even more of a fan after Carrie Bradshaw frequently sported it.  But even when my hair was at it's longest, I struggled to have enough volume to make a significant bun.
regular bun 1

regular bun 2

And then I heard about the "sock bun" which brings me to tonight.  Tutorial (and photos) after the break:

Monday, December 19, 2011

My Chicago

As we ride past, I fall in love with my city all over again. Yes, it’s crowded and expensive and full of people who annoy me, but at this shining moment, I’ve never seen anything more gorgeous. I realize Chicago’s a great city not because it’s glamorous, but because it’s real…People come from all over the world live here, and each of them fits right in without missing a step. The beauty of this city is not that it’s exclusive but that it’s inclusive.

Made Me Think

I came across the "101 short stories that will leave you smiling, crying and thinking" and they were too powerful not to share.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

RFC 2011

There have been times in my life where my family has driven me crazy.

(2004, mostly, also known as my Ashlee Simpson phase).

(This probably had more to do with me then them).

This weekend was not one of those times.

Nearly 50+ of us met in Cedar Rapids for the annual Rank Family Christmas (RFC).  It was by far the best Christmas we've ever had, and as I reflect on the weekend I am feeling a bit overwhelmed.  Overwhelmed by the hilarious moments like seeing my grandmother and youngest cousin learn the rules to flippy cup, or participating in a round of "Aunts/Uncles vs Cousins".

(photo borrowed from JMR)

Also overwhelmed by the more sentimental moments, like meeting the youngest member of the Rank family for the first time and being back at the hotel where Scott and I celebrated our wedding reception.

All in all, a wonderful weekend.  I feel very lucky to be a part of RFC (Rank Family Christmas AND Rank Flippy Cup).

One final thought - not many families can boast that their matriarch learned both Soulja Boy dance moves and how to play Flippy Cup.  Probably just ours.  Here's the photographic evidence:

Christmas 2011 (photo borrowed from JMR)
Christmas 2007
Being part of the Rank family is a really special thing (and not just because we produced 9 crock pots).  Can't wait for RFC 2012.

Monday, December 12, 2011

November 4, 2008

On November 4, 2008, I was at Grant Park as the polls were closing across America and Barack Obama was announced our new president.  As a Democrat (and an Obama voter) - this pleased me.  A lot.  The next morning I sent an email to a few of my relatives, recounting what the experience was like to me.  I stumbled upon it this weekend, and I decided to put it up on my little corner of the internet.  Not because I am a die-hard Obamaholic (although, I am certainly still a supporter), but because I like the archival purpose that this blog has in my life, and I want to remember how it felt that night: special, inspiring, and like something important was happening.

Here is the un-edited email from 11/5/08:

I thought I’d share my experience of being in Grant Park last night… if you were watching CNN, then you saw what a crazy, inspiring, unforgettable experience it was. 

I brought my friend Melissa as my guest (each ticket was for the ticket holder plus one guest) and we got to Grant Park around 6:30.  We had been told that doors wouldn’t be opening until 8:30, so I thought we’d just get in line and wait.  That wasn’t what happened though - the line started moving through almost immediately after we got there. To say that there was a line is kind of misleading - it was more like a moving mass of people.  There were uniformed police officers EVERYWHERE.  They must have outsourced and brought in cops from all of the suburbs as well… there were literally hundreds.  At one point one of the officers said “ladies, if you move over to the right there’s no line” so we hustled over that way and were able to move up in the line significantly; this maneuver literally saved us an hour of waiting in line! It took until 8PM to get through security, because there were SO many levels.  First we went through a level where they matched our names and IDs to the ticket.  (They gave me a hard time because my ID says Katharine and my ticket said Kate, but ultimately let me through).  Then we went through a security checkpoint where they searched our purses & bags.  Then, finally, we went through Metal Detectors.  As an interesting side note, the metal detectors were on loan from O’Hare Airport, and were manned by TSA (airport) employees! It was very similar to going through airport security. 

Once we got through security we were in.  That first moment of seeing the field and all of the people with news crews and lights was really overwhelming.  I was so excited to be there! There were Obama vendors all around the field selling t-shirts, buttons, “Obama Water”, etc.  I bought a button that says “I was there when history was made 11/04/08”.   We wandered around for a while, taking it all in.  There were 37 news crews (at least that’s what we counted!) around the perimeter of the field, and several more throughout.  We found a spot about 30 feet from a jumbotron and hung out. It was standing room only, so I was glad I had worn comfortable shoes, because we didn’t move from that spot until we left.  We were just a few feet away from the ABC News camera crew and the CNN camera crew, which was kind of cool.

They had 2 jumbotrons (huge tv screens like you’d see at a sporting event) that were on either side of the stage… we were on the left side as you’re facing the podium.  The jumbotrons had CNN election coverage on, so the crowd was kept VERY up to date on what was happening.  It was pretty cool - every time CNN said that they had a “CNN Projection” the crowd would go silent.. then when they announced that a state went Obama there were cheers.  Other times someone nearby would get a phone call and shout out something like “We’ve got Pennsylvania” and then it would spread like wildfire around the crowd.  There was a huge level of camaraderie.

We made friends with all of the people that were standing around us.  One woman, Shawn, was a volunteer who had moved to Battle CreekMIfor 2 ½ months to work on the campaign.  She was there with her 10 year old niece.  This other woman was there alone.  She had lived in Floridafor 5 months with her daughter as campaign volunteers.  Both of those states ultimately went to Obama and it was so cool to see those women when the states they had worked in went their way… they were laughing and crying and just so joyful.

One of my personal favorite moments of the night came when CNN projected that Obama would win Iowa.  We had been waiting to find out since the polls closed, and had known that Iowa was leaning Obama but nothing was set in stone.  The people that were standing nears us knew thatMelissa & I were both from Iowa and knew that we were waiting for Iowa to be announced, so when it was announced that Iowa went Obama and the crowd started cheering, those people around us started hugging us and giving us high fives and telling us congratulations.  Melissa and I just looked at each other and started jumping up and down…I was SO proud of my home state, and of my Iowa relatives!!

As more and more states started getting turned “blue” on the map, the mood got more and more lively. When they announced that Virginia was projected for Obama, there was an audible gasp from the crowd… it was like “Oh my god… is this really happening?”

One of the best moments of my life (and I’m really not exaggerating) is when CNN projected that Barack Obama would win the nomination.  I cannot adequately explain how it felt in that moment to be surrounded by hundreds of thousands of his supporters.  To say that the crowd went wild is an understatement.  Men and women were crying, people were hugging strangers, the cheers were so loud. It was unbelievable.  I will never forget it.. It is one of the highlights of my life so far.  To look around and see the faces of his supporters… I was overwhelmed.

When Barack finally came out to speak (around 11PM) the crowd started cheering “yes we can” and “yes we did!” and it was a really special moment.  I read somewhere that he spoke from inside a bullet proof casing around the podium, but from where I stood, we couldn’t see it. When he walked out, I couldn’t see the stage or the jumbotron because everyone was jumping up and down and screaming and taking pictures and hugging each other and laughing and crying.  Anyway, I’m sure you all watched his speech, so I won’t go in to that, except to say that it was definitely a highlight.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Song of the Day: I Don't Want This Night To End (Luke Bryan)

Current fave song- and I must admit I feel a similar sentiment about this weekend.  Too.  Darn.  Short.

Book Review: Truth and Consequences: Life Inside the Madoff Family

A few months ago, I caught Ruth Madoff, Andrew Madoff, and Catherine Hooper (Andrew's fiancee) on The Today Show. They were promoting their new book, Truth and Consequences: Life Inside the Madoff Family, and I was fascinated. Both Andrew and Ruth were claiming to know absolutely nothing of Bernie's crimes. How was it possible? Was it even possible? I placed the book on reserve at the library, and last week it became available.

I devoured it, and less than 24 hours after I picked it up, I was finished.

(Spoiler alerts after the jump).

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

25) Decorate for a holiday

Look, I'm not one for over the top decorating or knickknacks. Not my style. But a strategically placed (and decorated) Christmas tree plus a few other extra specials? That's more like it.

Our condo building does not allow "live" trees (terrible name considering the trees are actually dead, yes?) so instead we purchased an artificial tree and decorated in all sparkle-y silver-y. I love it.

Less than 3 weeks until Christmas!

Monday, December 5, 2011

13) Send out Christmas Cards

I love Christmas, and all most that comes with it.... including Christmas cards.

I was super excited to send them out this year, and my goal was to have them in the mail on December 1st.

Done and done!

Quote of the Day: Vincent VanGogh Edition

"I am seeking, I am striving, I am in it with all my heart" - Vincent VanGogh, borrowed from my friend Melissa