Monday, September 26, 2011

10th Annual Pink Ribbon Society Breast Cancer Awareness Tea

The link above will take you to a Northwest Indiana Times article about the Pink Ribbon Society Breast Cancer Awareness Tea that I attended yesterday, with some 700 other guests!!  My cup runneth over because I was able to get 9 other ladies to attend with me and fill an entire table! 

This was my fourth Tea, with my long-time friend, Deb, who has joined me every year!  It is our thing!!

Deb's daughter, Peyton, joined us years 2 and 3.  While Deb's mom, Andrea, has joined us years 3 and 4.  My friend Kim joined us 2 & 4 (should have been there year 3, also, but had to back out that day).  This year we added 3 more high school friends (Nikki, Nicole and Becky) plus another mom (Nicole's mom, Roz) and my friend from the gym, Mary. 

I thank, from the bottom of my heart: Kim, Deb, Andrea, Nikki, Nicole, Roz, Becky, Mary and Mikki (who had to cancel at the last minute). 

Roz & Nicole
Andrea & Deb

Kim & Becky

Mary & me

Me & Kim

Me, Kim & Nikki

So, I hope that the ladies will carry on the tradition next year (I plan to be living in Colorado). I will sure miss it!!


Fall Recipes

I simply adore cooking, mostly baking, with fall flavors ~~ pumpkin, especially!  Since Friday was the official first day of Fall, I decided to head into the kitchen for some Kitchen Witchery!!!  I made 2 new recipes on Friday (baked chicken & acorn squash plus pumpkin cranberry muffins) and a third on Sunday (pretzel-topped sweet potatoes).  WOW!  All completely delicious, if I do say so myself!

Chris wants the chicken and acorn squash to be a regular and I couldn't agree more!  A local produce market has the squash for 49¢/lb, so I will be heading there this week.

Pretzel-topped Sweet Potatoes

Baked Chicken & Acorn Squash

Here is our "First Day of Fall 2011" tablesetting

Fall-flavors and decorating plus Witches Brew

Friday, September 23, 2011

Museums & Sailboats

If you live in the Chicagoland area, or are planning a visit, make sure you check out the museums in the city!!  We are BIG fans of Field Museum and Shedd Aquarium.  Over the years, we have been members at both (currently, we are members at Shedd).  I encourage purchasing a membership (if you live here) because it could be a real money saver!!  The admission tickets to these museums are pretty steep, then you add in the cost of special exhibits and attractions ~~ your head will spin!  However, memberships get you free admission, exhibits and attractions, as well as discounts for restaurants and shops ... plus invitations to exclusive members-only events!  We get an individual membership which allows for the member and one guest to receive all of the perks (there are usually several family options, too).  Oh, and I almost forgot to mention: a portion of the membership fee is tax-deductible! 

One of our Field Museum memberships got us in for a free members-only viewing of the Cleopatra exhibit!!  Our next one allowed us free access into the King Tut exhibit!!!  Amazing ~ both!!!

Right now, we are members of Shedd because they are having a jellyfish exhibit, called Jellies!  Jellyfish and sea horses are my favorite sea creatures!  So, with a membership, we are free to peruse the aquarium and all exhibits as often as we want!  We can stay the day or pop in for an hour ~~ which is exactly what we did Wednesday afternoon.  We went to Shedd specifically to see Jellies! and then leave!  How cool is that?!  I know!

Upside-down Jelly

The primary reason we headed to the city was to redeem vouchers for a sailboat ride on Tall Ship Windy.  I bought a Living Social deal earlier this summer and it expires on September 30.  Wednesday was to be a beautiful day, perfect for a sail on Lake Michigan!!  We decided to work a half day, rendezvous at home and head into Chicago. 

Tall Ship Windy

Our first stop was Shedd and then we headed toward Navy Pier, where the Windy is docked.  We wanted to do the 5:30 Pirate-themed sail and needed to get our vouchers redeemed at the ticket booth at least an hour prior to sailing.  To be sure we got the reservation, we headed straight there, even tho it was only about 3:00.  The day was gorgeous: sunny, not hot and a tad windy ~~ perfect for a sailboat!  Unless that sailboat is BROKEN!!!  Yep ~~ we get up there and it isn't sailing!!!  Fortunately, they were extremely accomodating and offered to extend our vouchers until June 2012  (they will run into October and reopen in April). 

We will have to keep our eyes on the weather and give a call before heading up the next time!  We might even do the later (7:30) sail as it is a haunted-theme!!!  We'll simply dress appropriately and order a hot drink (we have vouchers for that, too!!) on-board.

To make lemonade out of lemons, we decided to walk around the city (our usual way to spend time up there).  The weather was so perfect for strolling!  We ate at Corner Bakery and hit Urban Outfitters and Anthropologie.   Got a large Chicago Mix from Garrett's Popcorn.  Walked thru Millenium Park and the gardens.  Took a different route back to the parking garage and found the Cancer Survivor's Garden (LOVE!!).  Stumbled upon a great park with cool water features.  By 7:00, we were ready to head back home  ~~ lots of walking and tons of fresh air had us pretty relaxed for the drive (even if we had gotten stuck in traffic, which, luckily, we did not!).   

You just never know what you might find when you take a new path.  In the City of Chicago, as in life!!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011


Pumpkins, gourds, indian corn & haybales
Bonfires & hayrides
Leaves changing color and crunching underfoot
Cool, crisp air
Sweaters & sweatshirts
Roasting marshmallows
Baking with squash & pumpkin
Smells of cinnamon & clove
Snuggling under blankets
Candy corn
Apples & caramel

Friday, September 16, 2011

3 Seasons in Less than a Week

Fall officially arrived on September 1st.  The chill soon entered the air here in northwest Indiana and the mums and autumn decorations abound in the stores and on doorsteps!!  I LOVE IT!! 

In the midst of this seasonal transition, I took a little trip back to Summer!  I flew to Florida for a few days to be with my family and celebrate some birthdays.  Most importantly, I spent time with my super smart and adorable niece, Shyla Lynn, who turned 2 on September 8th!!! 

She is the star of the show!!! 

We celebrated Shy's 2nd birthday, my sister's 24th, my nephew's 12th and my grandma's 83rd!!!  And to throw a little more celebration in the mix: Grandparent's Day (my grandparents and my mom!!)!! 

We bought Shy a Halloween tshirt (of course!!) and something leopard (double of course!!)

Pretty little kitty!

I am amazed at how smart this little pixie is!  She knows her alphabet and can sit by herself with a book and read the letters of words!  She also knows the sounds that certain animals make ~ my favorite being a monkey.  She does the "ee-ee, ooh-ooh" with a big grin on her sweet face!
Shy with her monkey from Gigi and G-pa

She feeds herself, too!  She eats "salad," iceberg lettuce with a little dressing; applesauce; Velveeta shells and cheese (and don't give her regular macaroni noodles or Kraft cuz she knows better!!); chicken nuggets; pizza, crackers...

And, Aunt Jennie got her to try watermelon ~~ which she now loves!!!  She gets her own pieces (I always cut my watermelon into bite-sized squares) and just nibbles on them.  It is TOO cute! 

She picked up some new words during my visit, too.  My favorite: thank you!  It is the cutest to hear in her sweet little voice, "Thank you, mommy!"

Ahhh, I can't even convey how much fun I had with her and how hard it was to have to leave, knowing that I don't know when I will make another visit. 

Aunt Jennie and her favorite girl

I loved being able to see all 3 of my siblings this trip, plus my mom, my grandparents and one of my nephews!  It was a very short visit, but accomplished exactly what I wanted ~~ to just hang with my family. 

I had lunch my first day with my mom, grandparents, one sister (+ her boyfriend) and my brother!  My brother was a surprise that day and it made my heart happy!!!  And, of course, my eyes water!  One of my sisters came to see me everyday (thanx, Kel!).  I lunched with my mom & grandparents on the day before I left.  My mom & I took Shy to the park one evening and Aunt Jennie did the slides with her ~~ and I had to crawl thru a tunnel, too!  (We didn't do that particular slide a second time!!!)

It was typical Florida hot and I spent as little time outdoors as possible.  So, no, I didn't make it to the beach. I NEVER even put on my bathing suit to swim in my grandparents' pool and I am totally fine with it.   (I don't sunbathe anyway ~ it ages the skin!)

My return brought me to chilly, chilly temps and rain!  We have sort of skipped over Fall for a few days this week and entered early Winter (yuck!).  However, there was a sight that delighted my eyes during our drive home from the airport:  Pumpkins for sale at the farmer's markets!!!  Looking forward to the 70's that are to return Sunday (but bringing that dreaded rain).  My mums are doing fabulous and the front steps are full of fall foliage ♥♥♥  The Halloween decorations aren't too far in the future.

We are having a yard sale tomorrow and I hope we sell most, if not all, of our things.  If we could sell the living room furniture that would be a bonus!  (Note to self: print a flyer before leaving work.)

Happy Weekend!!!


Tuesday, September 6, 2011

All Signs Point to Fall

We visited our local apple orchard on Sunday, where we bought apple butter and THE most delicious apple cinnamon and pumpkin spice donuts!!  Only got a mixed 6-pack of donuts, so I know we will be back for more.  They are simply melt-in-your-mouth!  For years now, we have referred to the apple cinnamon ones as "Cider Sliders"!  As soon as we got home, I made a fresh pot of coffee and we sat outside enjoying our sugary confections! 

We bought a few things in the loft area of the Barn, where they have Halloween, Fall and Christmas stuff.  Snagged a clear skull wine stopper!  (It will be perfect for Leelanau Cellars' Witches Brew.)  I also got the coolest fingerless gloves: a brown pair AND a black pair.  They are suede with fur!  LOVE!!!  They are perfect for those chilly fall days when gloves are just too much and I don't want to walk around with my hands in my jacket pockets!  They will make it in a pic that will end up on here, I am sure.  ;)

After devouring my donuts, our backyard was beckoning.  I took some creative shots to commemorate how the plants and flowers look in early September. 

We also worked on our tombstones, that we are selling in anticipation of our move to Colorado.  They needed a little touching-up, according to Chris. 

And, of course, we listened to Halloween music whilst we worked!  Just as I have for the past week at work ~~ Streaming the Halloween channel on AOL!! 

Also indulged in a Barnes & Noble cafe mocha yesterday and a Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte today! 

Fall pleases all of my senses!!!

Friday, September 2, 2011

Harvest Moon House

I got a little creative this weekend and stenciled one of our outdoor wooden benches with the name of our house.  Have a look:

It is a Martha Stewart craft paint that is a glittery orange!  LOVE!!

And since yesterday (September 1st) was the first day of meteorological Fall, I put out a few harvest decorations Wednesday nite.  I already had mums on display out front, so I added my metal pumpkins to the display on the stairs.  I put up my "Autumn Greetings" sign on the side door and our small "Fall is in the Air" decorative handtowel in the bathroom.  Now, I await the cool, crisp weather that is Fall ~~ I believe it arrives on Monday and I pray it stays until, at least, November. 

We also discovered the most delicious hard cider.  We were already fans of Woodchuck Amber, but I happened across a seasonal brew called...of course, FALL!  I bought a six-pack to try it out and on our first sips, we knew we had a winner!  Later that same week, I returned to the same store and bought all of the six-packs they had left (7, to be exact)!  Here I am at 8 in the morning, just before work, wheeling a cart full of alcohol to the register!!!  HeeHee!!!   Chris wasn't able to find it at a couple of liquor stores near us, so I just knew I had to stock up.  I will continue to keep an eye out for anymore. 

When you like something and it is a limited release, you grab as much as you can!  In this particular instance, if that means there isn't any left for anyone else, I am okay with that!  We have the hardest time finding beer we like (plus we hate the bloating), so a cider that tastes like fall (cinnamon, nutmeg and oak are the flavorings) belongs at Harvest Moon House.


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