Wednesday, May 30, 2012

18) Make my own jewelry

Since the snowball fight didn't pan out, I decided to replace this goal with something that I've been wanting to do for the past year or two - make my own jewelry.  At the craft store, the choices were astronomical - every kind of jewelry imaginable was available to make yourself.  Having no training, I decided that making my own necklace would be a good first step, and enlisted Scott to help me. 

I picked out the supplies (beads, a chain, clasps) and Scott assured me he had the necessary tools at home (pliers and scissors that would cut metal).

So.  I got started, pushing each bead down the fine metal chain.  That proved to be quite the challenge, because the chain that I selected was extremely delicate, and kept getting caught on the small interior of each bead.  Scott rigged it up using a small amount of the clear cord (picture fishing line) that had held the beads to the packaging.  (A needle and thread would work even better, but do you think I have that on hand?  No.  My grandma would be ashamed of me).  Anyway, once we got that down, the process went more quickly.

That is, until we got all the beads on the chain.  Then it was time to put the loop on the end of each side (the loop would have the clasp affixed to it, so that I can take the necklace on and off just like a normal necklace).  Due to the delicate size of the chain I selected, the loops would not fit (whoops).  My favorite engineer had the idea to take a very small nail and softly hammer it through the last link on the necklace - turning it from a very narrow oval to a wider circle.  And voila - it worked like a charm and my project was saved.

Once I got in to the swing of things, I hammered (pun intended) out two necklaces in no time flat.  

I bought all of the supplies at Michaels - a chain, an assorted package of loops/clasps (42 pieces - so enough for many more necklaces) and four packages of beads (5 beads per pack).  For the black and white necklace (pictured above) I used one and a half packs of beads, and the coral and white necklace (below) I used one pack.  My total bill was under $25 and I got two necklaces and a fun experience out of it. 

Not to mention, I also got the jewelry makin' bug.  I LOVED this project, and cannot wait to make more necklaces.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

happy birthday melissa!

My friend Melissa is one of my most interesting friends.  We went to high school together, and then college, and now we both live in Chicago.  We have done some really interesting things in Chicago - the ballet, Barack Obama's election acceptance rally, etc etc.

I emailed her a week or two ago saying "I'd like to take a hip hop dance class - interested?" and in true Melissa form, she responded by saying "I already do one - join me!" Love it.

Anyway, happy birthday Melissa!  I'm sorry to miss the birthday trolley extravaganza this weekend.

Memorial Day 2012: Recap

Though no Memorial Day will ever compete with 2011, this Memorial Day was packed with fun - a 30th birthday trolley with the Specials, lunch at my favorite sandwich shop, first anniversary wedding cake, homemade salsa and mojitos, a new necklace from Scott, fancy jello shots, dinner with Matt and Kelly, an anniversary couples massage, at-home jewelry making, and lots of sun and happiness.

Here's to the summer!

Monday, May 28, 2012

Happy birthday Jennie!

Happy 27th to one of my favorite people - my friend Jennie.  We lived together during college, and she was a bridesmaid in my wedding one year ago today (on her 26th birthday).  Funny enough, she was actually friends with Scott before I knew either one of them.

the first photo i could find of us - at a sisterhood event in college

chapter three: the gift of phyllis

The day that my grandma Phyllis left this earth was a Tuesday in March.  Even to me, a nine year old, it was obvious that the cancer was winning, and the end was near.  She was dying.

March 8, 1994.  Mike Maloney was at our house first thing in the morning, before school.  This was unusual, but there it was - his car parked just out front, outside the side door.  In the living room, he and my mom told us.  Grandma was gone.  And just like that, the idea of life and death and heaven and hell was introduced.

I don't remember knowing about death before then, but perhaps I did.  It's strange thinking back and trying to remember what I knew and what I learned and when it all entered my consciousness.

But here is something that I knew: Phyllis was truly special.  She was my paternal grandmother, Mike Maloney's mother, and the lines of her story were established before much of it was socially acceptable.  Born in 1917, she was a college graduate, a divorcee, and a strong businesswoman - all before the close of the 1950s.  She was well ahead of her time, and though my youth prevented me from recognizing it at the time, her strength is something I try to emulate today.

In fact, there is a lot I try to borrow from her because though she's been gone for almost twenty years, her influence has not waned.

We remember her on Christmas Eve, during a quiet toast with Matt, Joe and my mom.  We say "to those that have gone before us" and drink to the memory of Christmas Eve's gone by, and those that we once celebrated with.

I remembered her last week, in the aisle of Whole Foods next to the Macaroon display.

I remember her driving through Iowa City, when I pass City Park or drive near Normandy Drive on the Coralville Strip.

Our lives overlapped for less than ten years.  Though she died before my tenth birthday,  it is not a stretch to say that her influence shapes the world as I know it today.  And perhaps that is the point of it all -  to live a life that people will remember.

On this Memorial Day, I am remembering.


One year ago today I got married.  

Married.  With a husband.  

I'm a wife.

It's still a conscious effort to call Scott my husband instead of my "boyfriend".  It doesn't seem possible that it's been a whole year, but indeed it has.

 At the risk of being cheesy, it's been the best year of my life, for many reasons.  I love having him as my boyfriend husband, and I can't wait to see what the next year brings.

(Duh, I'm also super jacked to eat our wedding cake and drink our wedding wine).  

Friday, May 25, 2012

the story of kate - chapter two: the end and the beginning

I don't remember when I first realized that Mike Maloney was not a normal dad.

I do remember his truck, the beloved grey Dodge Ram, and him in the driver seat playing Leann Rimes and Alison Krauss.  He had a huge coffee thermos - the biggest one I had ever seen, and when the three Maloney kids were riding in his truck, one of us would hold it to keep it from spilling.  It would almost inevitably spill though, and the floor was colored with the stain of black coffee.

He lived on a campsite, the type of place that that college kids or families would rent for a weekend, to live almost in the woods.  Caught somewhere between civilization and the wilderness, not unlike himself. He had the back site - the farthest left in the backrow, and his one-room camper seemed rugged, and outdoorsy.  It smelled like patchouli and outdoors and cigarettes.  It was near the Bait-and-Tackle shop, where everyone knew him and everyone knew us.  It was next door to a walk-up-restaraunt, where we used to get ice cream cones and jalepeno poppers.

For a time after he and my mom separated, he was pretty involved in our lives.  Thinking about it now, I'm not sure if that was just the way it appeared to a ten year old - I wonder how I'd see it now.  He'd pick us up in that grey truck, and drive us to go fishing at City Park or out by his place in the woods.  He'd insist that I put my own bait on the hook, and if I caught anything he'd help me to take the fish off.    Many times he'd take us to get pizza at Godfathers, or to McDonald's where we would all "pool" our fries.

Those were good times with Mike Maloney, and they are good memories.

But there were bad times, too, and bad memories.

I remember pretending to be asleep when the cops came over one night to haul him away.  I don't remember being afraid of him, but I certainly knew that if he arrived it wouldn't be a good thing.  I remember us once having a garage sale (maybe it was before our move to Cedar Rapids) and before the sale began my mom told me that if he showed up, that I should grab my brothers, go inside and lock the door behind me while she fixed the situation.  Sure enough, before the day was over, he was there, and we were inside with the doors locked.  I don't remember the outcome of the event, but somehow my mom managed to calm him down, weather the storm, and keep the trouble at bay.

The soundtrack to my childhood is not Raffi or Beauty and the Beast (although, we listened to those too!).  It's songs like "Free Fallin'",  "Mr. Jones", "Fields of Gold".  I can't hear any of those without thinking back to the time spent on Koser Avenue and the simple happiness that we had there.

When my mom told me that she was going to meet a friend in a "similar circumstance", I assumed she meant a female friend.  As she told me, we were standing in the living room, by the door that led to the kitchen.

I had no idea how much that evening would change the rest of the story.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Photos of the Day: Four Favorites

A few of my mid-week favorites today:

new favorite "everyday" candle
Skinnygirl vodka
new wallflowers courtesy of my mama - perfect scent for summer
new precision tips q-tips.  ever heard of 'em?  they are pointed q-tips!
they are perfect for eyemakeup, cleaning tiny areas
(like in between the keys on a keyboard), etc

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Photo of the Day: Grinnell Graduation Edition

Though I was home this weekend for Joe's Phi Beta Kappa ceremony and my mom's birthday, I needed to be back in Chicago one day too early.  Monday was both my mom's birthday and Joe's actual graduation date.  Though I was sad to miss (both!) I was able to watch Joe actually graduate via the magic of technology today.  I was cheering (and possibly shed a tear) as I watched him cross the stage.  

It's tough to be apart from the people you love, but technology sure does help.

Photo of the Day: My Dad Edition

I was home for my mom's birthday and brother's Phi Beta Kappa ceremony, and while I was there, I took a couple of epic walks with my mom, where we talk about everything under the sun.  Anyway, when we came back from one on Sunday morning, I found my dad polishing up the newly washed Scion.  In Scott's words: "What a guy!"  Thanks Dad!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Photo of the Day: Margarita Edition

Y'all, I love margaritas.  In my opinion, there isn't a whole lot better than an icey marg on a hot summer day.  Which is what made last Friday night at home extra special.

My mom welcomed me home in style Steil.

Monday, May 21, 2012

the story of kate - chapter one: koser avenue

I don't have any memories from the first house I lived in, on Melrose Court in Iowa City.  My earliest memories involve Koser Avenue, and my Koser friends, my grandma Phyllis, my grandparents from Bettendorf, and of course, my mom and Mike Maloney.

I had a good childhood, and a mostly normal one.  I've heard stories about being a toddler and sitting on Mike's lap eating apple slices and watching our fish swim around the tank.  I have heard the story of the first time I was allowed to eat popcorn dozens of times (if I wanted to eat like a big girl I had to throw away my pacifier in to the garbage can first, which I did and never looked back).  (I still love popcorn).

I remember being eight or nine or ten and being at the park at Roosevelt and playing on the playground until someone found a real-life gun in the Roosevelt Ravine.  We were with the Ponterelli's, and I can visualize Liz Loeb matter-of-factly picking it up, holding it above her head and marching it down the street to a police officer.

I remember my uncle Steve parking at our house for Hawkeye games, and how he always brought us snacks and bought brownies from our stand.

I remember going to the Roosevelt kickball court to play kickball with my grandparents when my mom was out of town.

I remember that the police officers knew our names, and how we called him Officer Friendly.  I remember how he used to drive past our house, checking on us, making sure Mike wasn't causing us trouble.

I remember Matt's birthday party (or maybe it was Joe's) where we had a pinata tied up to the south tree in our front yard and one of them hitting it square on, spraying candy across the whole yard.

I remember our house, and how much I loved it, with the creeky wood floors and the shutters, and the computer upstairs where I first tasted the internet.

I remember the backyard and how I hated going barefoot because I was convinced a snake was going to slither across my feet.  I remember the huge row of peonies and the lilac bushes and the flowers around the two big trees in the front yard.

I remember the front porch, and sitting out on the stoop with Mike Maloney.

I remember the basement, where we built forts and rollerbladed in the winter and learned all the words to Paula Abdul's greatest hits.

I remember my bedroom, with the pink and green flowers stenciled all across the top.  I remember my bed, with the reading light where I first fell in love with reading, and would stay up late until my mom commanded me to turn off the light.

I remember the 4th of July, going to Coralville with my brothers and cousins Christine, Laura and Jen, and lighting "snakes" and laying on blankets by the lake watching the fireworks.  (Early cousinfriend years).

I remember my grandma Phyllis' house, with the molasses cookies and the river in her backyard.  I remember her cranapple tree in the front yard, and the big yard next door that we always called the "vacant lot".   I remember driving the "double dips" street near her house, and I remember the park a few blocks away where my brothers played baseball and I ate yellow popsicles.

I remember the Willow Tree park where I had soccer, and when Shawn Steil tried to drive me home from practice, how I wouldn't go with him until he called my mom to find out what our secret code word was.  I remember that our secret code word was chocolate.

I remember our backyard, with the garden that had rhubarb and lettuce and carrots.  I remember the clothesline, and the berry-patch behind the garage.  I remember the compost pile and the apple tree that we beat up by climbing every summer.

When I think back to my childhood, Mike's bad behavior is a footnote, a paragraph.  The rest of the story is loud and carefree... and joyful.  Riding bikes up to Sunset and then whizzing down around the block.  Playing at Marjorie's house with the neighborhood kids.  Sparklers on the 4th of July and birthday parties and running through the sprinkler on a hot July day.  The Melrose Market.  Parking cars on Hawkeye Football game days.  Sledding on the hill by the yellow house.  Piano lessons at Nadine's.  The embroidered toothfairy pillow.  Santa coming early.  The foosball table.  St. Thomas Moore.

All of that and more, I owe to the biggest influence in my life, my mom, the birthday girl.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Song of the Day: "Goodbyes Made you Mine" (JT Hodges)

If you like country music, turn up the volume and rock. it. out.

Phi Beta Kappa and JFM

This weekend, my little brother was inducted in to the oldest honors society in the country - Phi Beta Kappa.  Approximately 1 in 100 college students are invited to join.   Notable members include: John Quincy Adams, Eli Whitney, Samuel Morse, Nathanael Hawthorne, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Oliver Wendell Holmes, John D Rockefeller, Henry Kissinger, Ruth Bader Ginsberg, John Updike, Gloria Steinem, George HW Bush, Condoleeza Rice, Theodore Roosevelt, George Stephanopoulos.... and Joseph Maloney.  

(Proud sister much? Yes).

Anyway, I was thrilled to witness the ceremony.  I know how hard Joe worked during college, and I'm thrilled that his hard work paid off.  Tomorrow he graduates with a degree in Economics, and I am so proud of him and humbled by him.  Something tells me that I'll be bragging "I'm Joe Maloney's sister" for years to come.  

Friday, May 18, 2012

Quote of the Day: Modern Love Edition

"I thought about the fact that eventually one of us will stand at the other’s funeral. That day will come, and no amount of list making or numbness can keep it away. I didn’t know if the moments between my sitting on his bed and a funeral were few or many. All we can do is make the moments we have matter." - Michelle Fiordaliso

The article is well worth reading... it's about single motherhood, but I'm neither of those things and I still found it profound.  And what a quote!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Photo of the Day: Sunset over Chicagoland

Our condo faces west, and our sunset view was really cool one night earlier this week.  It's hard to tell from the photos (partially due to the window screen obstructing the image) but the sunset was especially cool.  The sun looked so much like a ball of fire.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

the "hospital survival kit"

Subtitle:  #23 Plan a surprise!

My cousinfriend Megan is expecting her first child next month, and I literally could not be happier for her.  I can hardly think about her bundle of joy without getting choked up.  You know those times when you want something so badly for someone else?  This is that for me.

When I heard that she was pregnant, my first initial reaction was to scream in happiness (we were driving, and Scott's ears haven't quite recovered - sorry).  Anyway, my second thought was that I wanted to do something unique to share in the joy and celebration.  

I'm not a mom, so it's not like I could give her my favorite baby product, or favorite toy or favorite anything.  In fact, there's not much I can add in terms of babies.  But creature comforts for mom?  That is something I could take a decent stab at creating.  

Enter: the "Hospital Survival Kit".  

The idea was to put together a basket (the "kit") full of goodies to make Megan's time in the hospital a little more cozy.  (And can I tell you - selfishly - how fun this project was?  Picking out my favorite travel-size goodies and things I think would be helpful?  So fun).  

I first started off with a tentative list.  A little google searching suggested socks with sticky-things on the bottom for traction, headbands, chapstick, etc.  For the remainder of the items, I just thought about what I would want (and then eyes-open, wandered the aisles of target, Ulta and Sephora for ideas).

Once my items were assembled, I found a basket to put everything in.  For me, it was a basket that was originally used as an Easter basket.  (I think any basket or bucket would work - but I chose this one in particular because of the handles).

For a final touch, I found a onesie to add in.  Not really a gift for mama, but when I saw this onesie, I literally could not resist.  It was perfect.

Lastly, I put everything in the bucket.  (I added a bottle of my favorite champagne because after nine+ months of not drinking, maybe mama will want to toast with some bubbly.  If not, she'll have lots of milestones to celebrate over the coming weeks and months).

And there you have it!  The final product.  Not pictured were a few little incidentals - a canister of my favorite sugar-free mints, a Clif Bar, some chocolate.  The other thing not pictured was a "Chicken Soup for the New Moms Soul" book that I added in.

Lastly, I just got a cute gender-neutral baby card to write my personal wishes and voila!

Can't wait to meet the newest Rank!