Monday, January 27, 2014

30 things it took me (almost) 30 years to figure out

I don't know much, but over the past 29 years, I've found a thing or two that I believe.  This blog post took me months to write.  I'd jot a note down, and then another wouldn't come to me for weeks.  But I believe all the below to be true, or at least... true for me.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Scenes From A Week: January 26

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, this week was snowy and cold.  As a result, I spent a lot of time indoors, only venturing out for work and an occasional walk around the block to combat cabin fever.  Scott was in Michigan for a bachelor party all weekend, so I took the opportunity to deep clean our house.  I had the tunes cranking, and it was a surprisingly cathartic way to spend a few hours.  I also took a yoga class, painted my nails my all-time favorite color, and watched two movies on Netflix - Mitt and "Playing For Keeps".  (See the former, skip the latter).   On Sunday afternoon, Scott arrived back in Chicago with two of his buddies (one of whom has been living in Hawaii, and I haven't seen since our wedding!)  We had a leisurely lunch, where I discovered that my nails matched my beer ;)

I'm gearing up for another cold and snowy week.  It's January in Chicago... what do I expect?

Friday, January 24, 2014

Movie Review: Mitt

The documentary "Mitt" was released earlier today as  Netflix exclusive, and I rushed home to watch it.

As I may have mentioned before, I'm very intrigued by Mormons in general, and the Romney family in particular.  I was a little nervous about how much Republican propaganda would be included in the film (especially after hearing the filmmaker was Mormon as well) but I was pleasantly surprised - the film focused primarily on Romney's family and interactions with them versus any hard-core politics.  Though there was plenty of election sparring, I don't recall any specific democrat-bashing; it was more in the vein of "us versus them" in the general way that a competitive person always wants to win.  As a quickly-on-the-defensive Democrat, I thought it was appropriate and that the filmmaker seemed to go out of his way to make it a comfortable viewing experience no matter what your politics.

As somebody who's interested in politics, I thought it was a really fascinating look in to the behind-the-scenes parts of a presidential election.  I found it really hilarious that two hours before the second presidential debate, the Romney boys were joking around and teasing each other.  It reminded me of my brothers, actually.

I also think it made the Romney family seem more normal, and... more real to me.  I've always thought of them as somewhat... stuffy?  Snobbish?  And while I probably still feel that way to some degree, it was interesting to see their family dynamic - there seemed to be a lot of genuine affection.

Lastly, and I'm deeply ashamed to admit this, but I cried at the part of the movie where Romney lost the election.  (I know.  I know!)  It's kind of like watching Titanic - you know the ship is going down, but somehow you're invested and you think that Hollywood might tweak it for the movie's sake??  I dunno.  The fact that I'm so prObama (see what I did there) makes me realize how well done the film was - I was actually rooting for Mitt - despite... well, everything.

Anyway - highly recommend it!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

to sochi or not to sochi

This week I've been tuned in to the coverage of the so-called "black widows" in Russia.  There is a very real threat during the Russian Olympics, and many people are worried about what will happen - will terrorists strike?

This got me wondering: if I had tickets to Sochi, would I still go?  If tickets fell in my lap tomorrow... would I take them?

The answer is "yes", I would go, I'd wear red, white, and blue, and I'd cheer for the Americans competing.  Would I be more subdued, more cautious?  Would I look over my shoulder?  Probably.

The threat of terrorism exists anytime, anywhere.  I take public transportation every day, I live in a hugely (and densely) populated city, and I live and work in high rise buildings.  The terrorism threat is not new; it's been in our lives and on our radar since September 11th at least, and probably earlier.

The reason that this instance scares us is because of how real the threat is - and how catastrophic it could be.  Right now we can live in a safe land of denial, believing - not wrongly - that our lives are reasonably safe, and that other threats are more imminent.  The situation in Sochi seems ripe for terrorists - people from all over the world, patriotic pride, lots of people in small areas, worldwide media coverage.

But I (think) I'd still go.  Not going means the terrorists have already won.  It means that they have defeated us without having to lift a finger.

Being cautious is just good sense, but missing out on life because of fear is not something I ever want to do.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

The Fitbit Bug

I've been meaning to post about my newest accessory for a month or more, and realized this week that it was time.

In November, I got a Fitbit!  Have you heard of it?  It's an electronic monitoring system, which can be used to help with a variety of different fitness goals: daily steps, calories consumed/burned, water intake, sleep quality, weight.  My parents have Fitbits and love them, and one weekend in November when we were together, I got one, too!  I use mine primarily to track my daily steps.  My goal is 10,000, and I make it a priority to meet or exceed that number every day (my record is 23,000!).  I also use it to track my daily water intake (I'm a pretty big water drinker, so this is mostly just for fun).  I have also begun using it to track my sleep (although occasionally I've taken it off in my sleep accidentally... whoops).  Getting to 10,000 steps is the highest priority for me, and the primary reason I use my Fitbit.

I wear it all day, every day except for showering.  The first workday that I had it, I deliberately went about my daily routine, as normal - I wanted to establish a baseline, to see how many steps I'd naturally take in one day.  My answer is under 5,000, or about half of the recommended number for healthy adults.  A little alarming actually. That first day, I hit the treadmill to get to my 10K. Since then, I've made getting my steps in a high priority, and can count on one hand the number of days that I haven't reached it (I failed on both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, for instance).  Once you get in to the routine, it's pretty easy.  I "walk and talk" on the phone with my mom on Saturdays and Sundays (since we both need to get in our steps).  I get on the bus 3-5 stops away from my regular stop on both directions of my commute.  I use the treadmill at the gym.  I walk a circuit in my condo parking garage.  (Hilariously, I did this with my parents last weekend since we all needed a few thousand more steps... and this was after a few G&Ts!)

I'm rambling!  The point is, I'd encourage anyone interested to learn more about the Fitbit (or any other similar device).  It's a bit of an investment, but very worth it.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Scenes From A Week: January 20

Another week in the books, and I'm slightly ashamed that I haven't posted since last week's "Scenes".  Oh well - I guess that means that I'm spending more time offline than on, which is always a good thing (especially for someone like me, who has a hard time really disconnecting).

It was a wonderful week, filled with walks outside every day but one (a record for January, I think), a few marathon phone conversations with my mom, two open houses, a three day weekend, a few delicious "Daisy Cutters" on Friday night, and a protein shake and my vitamins every day.  Although January isn't traditionally my favorite month, I could get used to weeks like this one.

breakfast protein shake

snow, snow, snow

we had a car keys-locked-in-the-car snafu this
week.  which was solved by my incredibly
capable husband (aided by his antenna & youtube)
mason jar beers
live music = win in my book
homemade, healthy(ish)  dessert in our ice cream machine! 
homemade manhattans courtesy of my favorite bartender
a beautiful, snowy view at one of the open houses
pretty obsessed with my new walking shoes.  i've been doing
a lot of walking outside, and felt like i was wearing out/ruining
my nice running shoes... so i found these at target for walking
and i love them!  verdict after two days: still love 'em!

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Scenes From A Week: January 12

This week was completely crazy, and the temperature seemed to agree.  It started around -40 range with windchill, and ended on a 43 degree Sunday.  What the?!

The early part of the week was spent indoors as much as possible.  One highlight was a night spent with a Pumpkin beer and as many pages of "Dark Places" as I could read before I forced myself to get some sleep. (Hope to write a book review on this soon).  My amazing parents swooped in on Friday night to spend some time with us... and to tackle my condo to-do list.  (My dad is a real-life superman who can - and will - do ANYTHING, particularly any home-improvement projects).

January is almost half over, which means... spring is a'coming.  I can feel it.

excellent book (so-so beer)

looking at fixer-uppers ;)
father/son in project-mode at matt's house
do we look related?!  
flowers at whole foods
one of the perks to my parents visiting?  my mom makes
amazing green smoothies every morning
nbc fail - last i checked, that wasn't melissa mccarthy...

Monday, January 6, 2014

Christmas with the Staloneys

Scott and I arrived in CR just in the nick of time - we pulled in to the church parking lot at 3:40, for a 4pm Christmas Eve Mass.  (Thanks for saving us seats, family!)  I really wanted to make it to church with my family, especially since the service was led by our family's priest, the incomparable Father Vu.  My parents see him every week, but I haven't seen him since Matt and Kelly's wedding, and it was fun to say a quick hello.  During Mass, they even played my favorite Christmas song, and I'll admit that looking down the pews, it was hard to not burst in to tears at the sight of my parents, Joe in from DC, Austin in from dent school, the newlyweds... it was a "moment" for sure.

After church, we came home for some shenanigans :)  My mom had a ridiculous spread like always, and we had several bottles of red wine flowing.  After a happy hour, we sat down to a family dinner.  Now that we have several "new" members around our table, I made a comment about when we add someone else to our table, that we may need to expand to the kitchen island, or the dining room table... and my parents immediately responded that they have other "sleeves" for the table.  Amazing.

After dinner, we reconvened around the Christmas tree to continue the fun.  My Ukulele playing husband was our entertainment.

We exchanged gifts, too, and I was spoiled tremendously!  I can't get over how generously Scott and I were gifted. I was even given a giant tub of protein powder, as I'm working to increase my protein intake each day.  Love it.

One of the hilarious moments involved two of my brothers giving my parents a gift that they can't receive until it comes out in September - and it involved a YouTube link.  (Homeland Season 3!)

There were many favorite moments for me, but one of them had to involve a gift that my mom gave my dad - registration for July's Chicago Half Marathon.  My parents are going to run it!!!  Not only am I super pumped to have this experience with them (again!  this time with them as official runners!) but I'm extremely PROUD.  How many people can say that about their parents?  Talk about saying "yes" to life!

The next morning, we woke up, ate brunch as a family, and then said our goodbyes.  Scott and I drove back to Chicago for a wonderful Christmas Day celebration with his family.

It was a very merry Christmas, and reinforced what I already knew: I am so, so fortunate.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Scenes from a Week: January 6

The past 16 days have been a total whirlwind - family, friends, snow, travel, wine.  And repeat.  They were 16 of the best days I've had all year, but with "normal life" resuming tomorrow, I must admit how exhausted I am.  It's time for a detox of mind and body, and tomorrow sounds like a great day to start.

One of the many protein shakes I've had in the past few
weeks (thanks to one specific christmas gift!)
it was 41 degrees a few days ago and i thoroughly
enjoyed an outdoor four miles - sans coat.
i snuck up on scott in our condo gym - love.
view out my bedroom blinds - before the 8 inches of
snow arrived.
watching the bears (lose - boo) at full shilling last weekend
lets do this 2014
ended 2013 with a bang roar
a sweet gift - a growler to the new brewery down the street

causing trouble (and carrying jenifer?) at her 24th birthday party! 

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Quote of the Day: Marriage Edition

"I Give It a Year" movie: "The first year of marriage is the hardest!"
Scott: "What about the second?"

Scott and I watched this movie over the holidays, and while it wasn't very good (and the ending was terrible) it was an interesting premise.  It's currently available on Netflix, if you're looking for a fluffy way to spend an evening.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Midwest in December

When Scott and I were figuring out the logistics of Christmas, we realized we had a few days free. We also realized that we wanted to be in my hometown on two separate occasions/days - two days apart!  Rather than drive back to Chicago, we decided to make a little vacation out of it and explore two cities.  And thus a plan was hatched!

After RFC, Scott and I got in to the car, and drove two hours west - to West Des Moines, IA.  I have several friends and family members in that area, and we wanted to explore it!  I'd been to WDM a few times before, but never like this - where my sole purpose was exploring, and having some fun.

When we got to town, our first stop was Zombie Burger, a cool burger joint/bar that was recommended to us by my cousin who lives in town.  She thought Scott would like it especially... and she was totally right.  It was completely up Scott's alley.

After lunch, we walked a block away to another spot she suggested - a cool tshirt/gift shop called RAYGUN, which had some hilarious Iowa-themed gear, including a shirt that said CHICAGO and then below it had the outline of the state of Iowa.  I mean, seriously?  That is so me.

We stopped by a local Trader Joes (sidenote: I had no idea that Trader Joes was now in Iowa - omgggg).  This particular location was especially entertaining, with a huge and awesome map of the state of Iowa and hilarious quotes above the wine selection.

During our time in WDM, we stayed at a hotel that was recommended to us by my friend Kelli (which was another perfect recco).  The hotel had a Happy Hour which included free popcorn and cocktails... what?!  Of course we took advantage of that... :)

We also went to Jordan Creek mall for a while, which was only a few blocks away.  We were there longer than you might suspect given that we didn't purchase anything.  I needed a few thousand more steps that day, so that was a great way to get some in after a day spent driving (and Zombie Burger-ing).

That night we went to a nearby bar (walking distance from the hotel!) to watch the Bears game.  (The lost, horribly, but the loss was sweetened by being in a really cool bar called Wellmans, which was yet another recommendation, from another Des Moines cousin).  Scott had his first Moscow Mule cocktail, which was something he'd been wanting to try, and I had a Guinness.

The next morning, we got up "vacation-early" and turned the car north - Minnesota bound!

Three or four hours later, and we were checked in to our hotel next to Mall of America, and were headed there to explore.  The mall is massive and we walked our feet off exploring, and doing some last minute Christmas shopping.  (True story: the only thing I purchased at Mall of America was a bar of soap).  We walked about 15,000 steps (about 7 miles) inside the mall alone, which was much needed, to combat the time in the car.

After our shopping excursion, we walked back to our hotel (which was a 10 minute walk from the mall, nicely) and got ready for a night on the town.  My Minneapolis cousins knew we were coming to town, and we made plans to meet up for a cocktail or two.  They picked a really cool place, called Psycho Suzi's which was just our style - hilarious decor, themed drinks, and so much fun.

One of the things I love about my cousins is the ability to pick right back up where we left off, like no time has passed.  I only see these girls a few times a year, but you wouldn't know that from overhearing our conversations.  Inside jokes, tons of laughter, and more than a little teasing.  :)  We had so much fun, we even went to a second bar to keep it going.

The next morning, Scott and I woke up, checked out of our hotel, and left the city - en route to my favorite state, and my favorite destination: the place I still think of as home.

Shout out to Scott, for being an amazing travel agent and companion, navigator and driver.  He drove all but two hours of our 1,200 mile trip, and there is no way I would have had as much fun without him.