Wednesday, August 29, 2012

on Ann Romney and Modern Family

I just saw this morning that Ann Romney claims her favorite show is Modern Family.  Hilariously, the creator of Modern Family heard about this, and responded via Twitter:

Thrilled Ann Romney says ModFam is her favorite show. We'll offer her the role of officiant at Mitch & Cam's wedding. As soon as it's legal.

Though I don't actually watch the show (I've heard amazing things though), I know that Mitch and Cam are a gay couple.  Ann's religion and husband are both anti-gay marriage.


Monday, August 27, 2012

Photo of the Day: iPad edition

I promise I won't post iPad photos every day but this one is too good not to share. I got to say I love it and the things it can do like write entire posts using the dictator app.

The OTHER New Addition

Just purchased an iPad and it's love at first sight. I'm especially loving the camera :)

to Matt & Kelly

As I mentioned yesterday, I had the honor and privilege of hosting a post-engagement celebration immediately after Kelly accepted Matt's proposal... and it was a thrill.

From the beginning, my mom and I had planned and plotted my menu.  My goal was to serve appetizers that were unabashedly THEM - foods that they either love, or that really remind me of them.  So that's where I started.  I ended up adding a few additional items to be crowd-pleasing, but I was really happy with my menu.  I served cheesecake stuffed strawberries (tutorial on these to come), sweet bacon wrapped chicken, Florentine cups, tortilla wrap-ups, individual relish trays (pictured below), blue cheese stuffed olives, and a variety of different sweets - my mother brought engagement ring cookies (which Kelly had raved about during my engagement, and my mom promised to make them for her someday), and Kelly's mom also brought sweet treats.

In the end, everything came together perfectly and it was a terrific way to celebrate the newly engaged.  And drink some champagne :)

 One of my favorite additions to the party were the "K&M" letters.  When it was decided that I was hosting the party, I sneakily looked at Kelly's Pinterest and saw that she had pinned these cute letters.  I loved them, too, and decided to order them to surprise her :)

The guest list was great - in addition to Scott and me, and our bride and groom, there were Matt's mom and dad (they are my parents too, ha!), our brother Joe,  Kelly's parents and two sisters, Matt's Godparents (and my aunt and uncle!), and a couple of close friends of the couple.  It was terrific.

And then there was the glowing and happy couple.  They were just thrilled.  I've never seen my brother act like this before, and it was - to borrow one of his favorite words - phenomenal.  Their love was clear.

I had the chance to say a quick toast to the newly engaged (I'll be honest - I made the chance, figuring that I should take the opportunity while I had it) and I got a tad choked up, which is strange because I do a lot of public speaking for my job, and I was well practiced at the words I wanted to say.  I'm not sure that I said them exactly, but here is the gist:

"I would like to be among the first to propose a toast to the newly engaged, Matt and Kelly!  I think I speak for everyone here in saying that we are thrilled for you, and excited for what's ahead.  

Kelly - I stumbled upon a quote the other day, that said 'Love is just a word, until someone comes along and gives it meaning'.  Thank you for loving my brother, and for making him so happy.  Our family is lucky to have you.  

To Matt and Kelly and the adventure ahead - cheers!"

(I just awkwardly got choked up again typing it out).

Anyway, every word of the toast is true.  I am thrilled for them, and for myself (a new sister that I'm lucky to be able to call a friend!) and for our families.  There is so much excitement ahead, and I can't wait to watch it unfold.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

on Kelly

A few months ago, my brother called me and told me he was thinking about proposing to his longtime girlfriend.  No plans yet, but something that he was thinking about, and after nine years together, he felt it was the right time.  Most importantly, he was ready.  They were ready.

The Sunday night he called me, I was at an outdoor patio with Scott, having a drink having just completed an art class.  I don’t know if I thought about anything else for 24 hours straight.

A while later, Matt mentioned that it’d be nice to have a party afterward, where her family would be invited, and ours too, and it would be a time to celebrate and pop some champagne and toast the new bride-and-groom-to-be, and obviously, I jumped on the chance, telling Matt that I love to host parties and could easily do it since he was thinking of asking in Chicago.

And of course that’s true… I do love to entertain.  But that’s really just a footnote.

The real reason – I love my brother.   Matt is 25 months younger than me, but in many (all?) ways I look up to him.  He is smart and well-read, which means he can hold his own in any conversation.  He is outgoing and interesting, and can talk to anybody, anywhere.  And he is charming as hell… I’ve never met someone who doesn’t like Matt.   (I’d like to think he got the “charming” thing from his big sis, but… uhhhh no).  I have always felt close to my brother, and even more so over the past three plus years that we’ve shared Chicago.    He is a truly good brother, and man.  

When Matt was figuring out the logistics of the perfect proposal,  we had a random phone call about some detail.  After we hung up, he texted me a reminder that no one knew his plans yet, except the parents and me.  And I wrote back “secrets safe with me” and he wrote back “I know”.  Those two words were so profound to me… and I’d never felt closer to Matt, or, frankly, more trusted in my entire life.  Knowing his plan – and having a small role – was both a joy and an honor in my life.

All of this as a prologue to say… Kelly.  Where can I even start?  Kelly has been an unofficial part of our family for almost nine years, and I am beyond thrilled that it’s now official.   I first met Kelly somewhere in the early 2000s, during our shared time at Xavier High School, and while I don’t recall the first time we met, there’s something poetic and fitting about that… it’s almost like she’s always been around, because she fits so perfectly in to our family.

There was never any doubt in my mind that Kelly would say “yes”.  And not because Kelly isn’t a hot catch (believe me, she is!) but because Matt and Kelly belong together, and that is obviously to those that know and love them.   Kelly has been a part of so many of my life experiences and memories… like the time that she picked me up at 2am from an Iowa City FAC turned all night ragefest after a particularly challenging breakup.  Or, something a little less embarrassing, like the support she gave me during my engagement and on my wedding day.  Helping to ring in the 2011 New Year. Our first wedding anniversary.  Birthdays, holidays, trips to the Field of Dreams and Minneapolis and bachelorette parties and weddings and anniversaries and pool parties and countless trips to Cedar Rapids and everything in between.

Matt is lucky to have you; we are lucky to have you.   Thank you for making my brother so happy.

Welcome to the family, Kelly. 

Side note: I was writing this post, and the song “Our Song” by Ron Pope cycled on my iPod.  It’s a little uncanny how appropriate the lyrics are so…

Suggested listening: “Our Song” by Ron Pope
so won’t you take my hand,
and take my heart,
promise to never stop dancing, once we start

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Internet, Reconnected


Cable guys came over today during their 5-8 window (they actually got here early).  They swapped out the modem, and the problem was solved.

Nice, right?  Yes, except that's the exact effing thing they were supposed to do at my house last Friday. You know, BEFORE I spent 12+ hours of my life fighting with them over this exact. same. issue.

I started laughing when recounting this story to my mom, and I am still chuckling over the sheer incompetence of it all.  When I first called, I told them I suspected the modem was bad because the "cable" light was blinking on-and-off, and a two minute google search (on my BlackBerry since, y'know, I didn't have internet) said that was likely caused by a bad modem.   So yeah, I have to laugh, because otherwise I might want to punch a wall.  Or a modem.

Anyway, first world problems.  I'm grateful that the worst problem of my day is unrelenting aggression toward my cable company and a new modem.  

To summarize my fabulous friend Melissa:  What RCN lacks in actual service they make up in customer service.... said no one ever, in the world.  

Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to cram as much Netflix and as possible in to this evening.

Photo of the Day: Kate-wich

Sandwiched between my cousinfriend Anne and her man-friend.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Jill's Bachelorette Extravaganza

My college friend Jill is getting married in October, but before her big day, we celebrated Chicago-style with a Bachelorette bash.  (This post is super delayed, as the actual bash was on my 28th birthday).

One of the things that made it so fun, was that this was among the first time that the five of us from college were in one space since we lived in the blue apartments on Iowa Avenue. 

Chi O's grown up

With the Bachelorette
Can't wait for 10.20.12! <3

Quote of the Day: Benjamin Button

"For what it's worth: it's never too late or, in my case, too early to be whoever you want to be. There's no time limit, stop whenever you want. You can change or stay the same, there are no rules to this thing. We can make the best or the worst of it. I hope you make the best of it. And I hope you see things that startle you. I hope you feel things you never felt before. I hope you meet people with a different point of view. I hope you live a life you're proud of. If you find that you're not, I hope you have the strength to start all over again" - Benjamin Button

Scott and I watched Benjamin Button this past weekend (split over two evenings, as the movie is around 3 hours long) and we both really enjoyed it.  It wasn't at all what I thought it would be, and I give this a high recommendation.  Also, you know how I feel about good quotations, and this movie was full of them (like the beauty above). 

Monday, August 20, 2012

Quote of the Day: Sweatpants

"Sweatpants are a sign of defeat" - Karl Lagerfeld

I giggled when I heard this.  I wore sweatpants (or their classier older sister, leggings) for a significant chunk of my college career, and even now, change in to comfy clothes almost as soon as I hit the door after getting home from work. 

internet, interrupted

So, longtime readers may wonder what happened to the more frequent posts... and the answer is, I have been without internet service at home for more than three weeks.  It's been really frustrating, made significantly worse by the constant run-around I've been getting from my cable provider.  Do I understand that none of you can fix this for me?  Yes, but in the wise words of my friend Anna, I just wanted someone, somewhere to know.  (Plus, this serves as an easy way for me to reference the details later).

I first called my cable company on August 10th, well after a week of having only intermittant internet service, and after a 60 minute + remote troubleshooting session, I was told a technician would need to come to my home, and that the first available time slot (where I wouldn't need to take off work) would be Friday August 17th.  Seeing no other option, I took the timeslot.

A week passed, and the day was finally there.  My timeslot was 2-5pm (I had a pre-arranged vacation day) and the techs arrived around 4:45 - certainly within the window, but barely.  Although I didn't record their names (mistake on my part), I will say that they were marginally professional, swapping out each of the components of my internet setup (ethernet cable, modem, splitter, etc) and determining that there was nothing wrong with those devices.  My gripe about these techs were that one of them received 5+ phone calls while he was in my home... and they were very obviously not work related.  (In fact, after hanging up on one of those calls, he complained, "G*ddamn woman's trying to ruin my credit").  At that point, the two men told me (and Scott, as he'd arrived home from work at this point), that it was none of the devices within our home, and rather, that it was the cables in our building.  Since it was now well after 5PM, someone would need to make a secondary visit to our location to check those cables and fix the issue.  Fortunately, the called dispatch and were able to make an appointment for the following day, Saturday 8/18 between 11a-2p.

At 11:30am, two (new) techs arrived at our place.  Marvin was the main guy, who did all of the talking and working.  He had a partner with him, but the partner was in training and primarily observed.  Marvin went to the room within our high-rise apartment where all the cable connections were located, and less than five minutes later knocked on our door.  He took a brief look at the place in our wall where we plugged our internet cable in to the wall and removed the face-plate from that spot (leaving wires hanging out and exposed).  He told us that "nine times out of ten, this situation is caused by cupplings that have gone bad" and said that a supervisor would need to be the one to rectify this, but - good news - the supervisor ("Vermil") would "definitely" be able to do it today.  Marvin promised a call back shortly with an ETA of when the supervisor would be at our house to fix the problem.  Marvin was in our condo and condo building for no more than 20 minutes.  After he left, I admit - I did a happy dance.  I thought our problem was almost fixed, and was excited at the thought of having internet again at home.

Over an hour passed, and we'd received no call-back, so I phoned Marvin (we had his number from when he called us to say he was in our lobby) and asked for an update.  He said a supervisor would be calling me within the next hour.  Nothing.  An hour passed again, and I called him again.  He said he was personally learning how to make the adjustment, and would be at our apartment at 9am the following day (Sunday, 8/19) to fix the old cuppling.  Scott had him on the phone and confirmed again - "ok, see you at nine am for sure?"  Confirmed, and he said he'd call at 8:30am as a reminder.

The next morning, we were expecting a call at 8:30am, nothing.  Finally a little before 9, I called Marvin and he did not answer.  At 9:15 I called again, and he did answer and said "I'm so glad you called, I was actually just calling you, or phones must have been calling each other at the same time".  (Yeah, right).  He said he was en route to pick up the peice that he needed, and would be at our house by 10am.  At 10am, I called him.  No answer.  10:05, same thing, 10:10, and so on.  At 10:30, I gave up and called the cable company.  After a 50 minute conversation with a tech named Andrew (who was actually very nice and helpful and made tons of notes in my account record so that I wouldn't have to repeat this saga every time I called in) I learned that Marvin had no intention of ever coming to my house on Sunday.  In fact, he had (unbeknownst to me) scheduled an all-day appointment for us for Monday 8/20 for a technician to come and work on the wires within our condo building (that are not located within our unit).  To my understanding, this was the very work that Marvin had ruled out during his visit on Saturday.  Furthermore, the fact that Marvin had told me at 9:15 that he'd be over by 10am was a bold-faced lie (and one that caused us to change our plans as we sat around for almost 2 hours waiting for a technician that had no intention of ever coming).  Lastly, Marvin had told us that it was "9 times out of 10" a bad cuppling, and therefore had left exposed cables and electrical cords sticking out of our wall, so that it'd be quicker to replace them (remember he had said it'd be later that same day).  Marvin left these exposed wires, and told us it was the cupplings, and told his company it was another issue altogether.  I'm truly not sure what the truth is at this point.

As it stands, the company has escalated our work-order, and a representative is scheduled to come to our home today between now and 3pm to work on the cables outside of our condo unit but within the building (the opposite of what Marvin told us, but at this point, I'm willing to try anything).  I'm crossing my fingers (and saying my prayers) that this will do the trick, however after spending countless hours on this, and getting the complete runaround, I'll admit that I'm not getting my hopes up.

Do I realize that this is a classic case of a first-world problem?  Absolutely, but right now, it's really frustrating, and has been drastically affecing my weekends and evenings. 

Thursday, August 16, 2012

on chivalry and the CTA

Chicago's public transit is both my saving grace, and the bane of my existance.

Scott and I share a car (his car, which I inherited through marriage) and he uses it every day to drive to and from work.  Since I work in downtown Chicago, I am able to take a bus.  It's a pretty ideal setup for me.  The bus stop is less than a block from my front door, makes two stops, and then goes "express" (non-stop) to downtown.  With no traffic, fifteen minutes (and about the same as it would take to drive).  (With traffic is another story for another time).  Most days, I actually like my commute (time to pleasure read in the morning, time to chat with my mom in the evening).

Anyway, so often I roll my eyes at the people on the bus.  For example, the girl dressed in head to toe designer labels with an oversized purse needs two seats.  Or the man with headphones BLARING rap. 

This morning, I witnessed some really touching moments which made me stop and smile and remember that good people are all around me.

A blind woman and her seeing eye dog got on the bus, and a 25-year old girl hopped up out of her seat and and silently walked to the back of the bus, freeing up her seat for the blind woman.  Another woman quietly told the blind lady "there's an open seat immediately to your right" and guided her to the open spot.

Not two minutes later, an gentleman in his 70s got on the bus, and a 30 year old guy silently hopped up, giving up his seat.

The city gets a bad rep sometimes, for the cold anonymity.  But sometimes - even on a rain soaked chillly morning - it can make you smile.

Monday, August 13, 2012

last Cubs game of the season

To kick off the weekend, Scott and I went to the Cubs game with our friend Brad Y and Scott's sister.  I'm not generally a huge fan of Cubs games, especially bleacher seats at the games (first world problems, I know) but this game was particularly fun.  The game was rain-delayed by 90 minutes, but we found out about that before leaving home, so we stayed home and had a few beers, and then headed to Wrigley just in time for it to start.  

Because of the rain, the stadium was half full, and we got awesome seats.  

This last picture is one of my faves from the night.  If you click on it, you might be able to make out the ball, and the base runner hurdling toward second.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Twenty Nine by 29

1) Visit Europe Venice 8/31-9/4, Florence 9/4, Rome 9/4-9/6
2) Try a new food that makes me squeamish  2/2/13
3) Finish my blog-biography July 2013
4) Run a half marathon 7/21/13
5) Submit a piece of writing to something, somewhere
6) Cook an awesome meal in my own kitchen (with no helpers) 2/14/13
7) Participate in a bonfire 7/13/13
8) Travel to a part of the US I've never been (Boston, St. Louis, Seattle, etc).  St. Louis 10/20/12
9) Master a yoga position
10) See a country concert 7/19/13
11) Dance in the rain
12) Interview a series of interesting people for this blog Yes!
13) Take a dance class
14) Watch the sunrise and the sunset  Sunset - done!
15) Perform a random act of kindness 4/6/13-4/8/13
16) Take a picture by the Iowa and Illinois state borders/signs
17) Take a boat ride Water Taxi 8/31, Gondola 8/31, Venice Tour Boat, Architecture Tour
18) Finish watching Mad Men 12/1/12
19) Host a theme party 8/24/12
20) Go to New York with Scott  November 2012, April 2013
21) Complete the 30 day ab challenge
22) Pay off our car 10/12/12
23) Participate in Fantasy Football Fall 2012
24) Go skiing Make a blog improvement 3/20/13
25) Bake/cook something from my grandma's "From Thy Bounty" cookbook  11/12/12
26) Run 5+ races (more than I ran at 27) 1: Firefly 10K 9/15/12 2: Hot Chocolate 5K 11/4/12;  3: Rave Run 4/30/13, 4: Burgers & Beers 5K 7/15/13; 5: Rock & Roll Half Marathon 7/21/13
27) Take a spontaneous trip 7/1/13
28) Take my mom out to dinner (just the two of us) 7/13/13
29) Plan (and execute!) a surprise for someone Done!

So!  What do you think?  Anyone up for joining me on a few of these?

Thanks for reading my corner of the internet.  My blog started three years ago today (on my 25th birthday!) and writing it has been a true joy in my life, and an amazing way to capture the experiences I've had along the way.  Thank you for reading!

Friday, August 10, 2012

The Year of the Kate: A Recap

I said it last year, too, but twenty-seven was among the best of years of my life.

There is something about birthdays that serve not just as a clean start and new year, but make me reflective, thinking back to the year of being 27, and thinking about what I did to make it worthwhile.

I traveled.  (To Minneapolis twice, Bloomington, Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, Milwaukee, Des Moines, Iowa City and of course Cedar Rapids).  I booked my first trip to Europe (Italy!)

I danced like a mad man, at bachelorette parties and weddings and random nights out.

I put on my tennis shoes and slowly took up running.  (And ran races for Summer Shandy's, pineapple hats and in underwear).

I chopped my hair and started taking vitamins.

I went to a Sox game, and watched the Cubs from the stadium, a rooftop and the bleachers (twice).

I celebrated and gifted and toasted.  And loved and cherished and reflected.

And in between the haunted houses and Christmas cards, and the crossing the boxes off the list, I unceremoniously embraced a new life - a life before children.  And while you could say I've been on that particular journey for the past 27 years, this year it became a conscious choice, and a decision to cram as much fun in to our pre-children life as possible.  Putting down the remote, and with Scott as my partner and primary motivator, I branched out and breathed deeply.  Going kayaking and taking a painting class, signing up for crazy races, going out for a drink at midnight, booking trips and tickets and rocking blue nails.

As a 27 year old, I contemplated motherhood and family and my family.  I questioned my faith and authority and right versus wrong and tradition and feminism.  I loved deeply, and cherished my friendships and my family and especially the huge overlap between those.  I laughed and partied my ass off, and though not nearly as often as I should have, I told people what they mean to me.

27 was a great year - a great year among 27 great years.  And I feel lucky and blessed and thankful.

Oh, and excited.  Bring it on 28.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Rank Resort 2012: 65th Anniversary Celebration

This past weekend, just under 40 Rank family members gathered at my aunt and uncle's house to raise a little hell celebrate my Grandparent's 65th wedding anniversary. 

(Too many photos and recap after the jump...)

Quote of the Day: Marriage Edition

Chains do not hold a marriage together.  It is threads, hundreds of tiny threads which sew people together through the years.  ~Simone Signoret
(Pretty good, huh? I love this one).

Friday, August 3, 2012

Photo of the Day: Blueberry Margarita Edition

My parents hooked me up with the most delicious light-Margarita mix.  It's only 5 calories per serving (plus the tequila) so it's a very guilt-free way to enjoy the drink.  Recently, Scott and I decided to mix it up by adding fresh blueberries to the mix.

Happy Friday, ya'll!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Photo of the Day: New Dessert Edition

I was recently introduced to the "simply fruit" line of fruit rolls.  They are just like fruit roll-ups, except they are made from 100% fruit, have only 50 calories and are just delicious (and guilt free).