"And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places." Roald Dahl

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Christmas Re-Cap

This is going to be a whole lotta pictures.  Enjoy. 

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Shopping seems to be my new hobby...

Today I met two of my good friends Ashley and Elizabeth for breakfast in downtown Geneva.  It was so nice to catch up with them!  Afterwards, I might have taken a detour on the way home...

Geneva is an adorable little boutique-y shopping town.  All of the stores are in old historic homes and it is right on the train route from the city, so its always busy.  You can never go there with the intention of finding one thing, because you will never find it.  But, it is a great place to go when you just want to meander through cute little shops and get ideas, or maybe make a spontaneous purchase.  Like today :).

I only stopped at one store...Cocoon (Store Website).  It is a home store, with lots of unique decorating ideas.  When I was in high school I would always look, but never really had a place to put anything.  Today I went because, hey, my house deserves a Christmas gift too! 

I only bought one little thing, a candle holder, but I have lots of new decorating ideas!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Playing Tourist

When I get back to NC and can get all of my pictures onto my computer I will document Christmas, but for now, I'm showing you my post-Christmas activities... These pictures were taken on my phone and are much easier to access.

My family and I spent all day today shopping on Michigan Avenue, in Chicago.  Perusing the Magnificent Mile, if you will :).  We started out on the south end, getting to see where Paula and Matt both go to school, The University of Chicago.  They are both getting their master's degrees at Booth Business School. 

I noticed that the NBC Chicago Building and Tower were right across the street, so so I had to take a picture of those buildings too.  This was just the beginning of my tourist self.  Yes, I lived in the Chicago area for 15 years, but its pretty exciting to go back and see the city now after being away. 

Then we headed to get som serious shopping done. 

 We went up one side of the street and down the other, hitting all the necesities...Nike Town, H&M, Nordstrom's, Macy's, Gap (which was 50% off!!), and much more. 

After shopping, we headed back to Paula and Matt's condo on the northside to eat dinner and relax.  Cath and Paula had started something in the crock pot before we left in the morning and when we got back it smelled so good!  They are great cooks.

It was a great day with the family, and I am happy to say I still have money left in my bank account :)  The sales were great!

I haven't seen Chicago covered in snow in a long time, so I took some more pictures to remember, and continue my tourist theme. 

 This is the Chicago Tribune Building.

Here is the John Hancock Building.

And the ice caps on the lake amazed me...

Sweet Home Chicago.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas!

Enjoy the time with your families and loved ones and have a wonderful day!!

Happy Birthday Dad!

My dad is amazing.  He always loved to come watch us swim, they now watch us in our triathlons, running events, life events, etc.  He once drove from Charlotte, NC to Columbus, OH for two days just to see us in a swim meet.  That's 9 hours in a car.  Each way.  He is one of the smartest, hardworking people I know. 

“My father gave me the greatest gift anyone could give another person, he believed in me.” -Jim Valvano

In DC this September with my mom.
Last Christmas.

Catherine's graduation at "The Big House".

As President of the United States.  ...Haha, just kidding.
 He's always had to share his birthday, but he's never complained and we made sure to celebrate special, just for him last night.  I'm just so glad we all got be be here, together to celebrate!!

Happy Birthday Dad!!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Christmas Begins!

On Monday night we went to Angus Barn to celebrate Derek's grandparent's 60th wedding anniversary.  Wow!  That is impressive.  Congratulations to the both of them!

Take a look at this picture...Look closely.

Does anyone notice the elf in the upper left-hand corner?

How about now?  Yes, The Angus Barn had live elves partaking in their Christmas festivities.  That, I was not expecting.

Last night we went to see the Lake Myra Christmas Show.  Check it out online.. Lake Myra Light Show...It is really cool, even with the man that talked entirely too much.  It is three houses, and one computer that run all of the lights.  They are timed to the music and they go pretty fast!!  We had a blast, all packed into Derek's truck and listening to Christmas music.

And a video to try to do this masterpeice justice...

Christmas is such a great time of year because there is so much family time and everyone is happy.  I love it!  I hope that you are enjoying your time with your loved ones and having a safe and happy holiday!

I fly back to Chicago tomorrow to brave the freezing weather and get to see my family for a whole week!  I cannot wait to see them!!.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

My Favorite Things

This time of year, everyone is asking about Christmas lists.  My favorite Christmas list to see is Oprah's.  Watching her "Favorite Things" episode is always one of my Christmas time faves.  It could be due to the fact that she finds the coolest things to put on there, or because she gives one of each to everyone in the audience!

This year, Oprah taped her Favorite things episode on a morning in November.  They always tape two shows in one day, so of course the people waiting in line for the afternoon taping realized that they had just barely missed the ultimate show-of-all-shows as everyone walked out with all of their goodies...wow, talk about bad luck.  Oprah, of course, had something up her sleeve...she had decided to do two "Favorite Things" episodes this year and the people in the afternoon taping were so surprised!  Ohhhh, what I would have given to be in the audience...sigh.

In honor of Oprah, and her last season on TV, I am going to show you some of my favorite things...These are things I am thankful to already have (sorry, no Christmas ideas here), but they are my favorites, and could give you an idea about what to gift someone else.  

1. My Uggs.  Yes, they are the ugliest things I have ever put on my feet, but they are also, by far, the comfiest and coziest.

2. My cowl neck sweater from Loft (40% off right now!).  With this crazy cold spell, I will be able to stay nice and warm (and maybe take the attention away from my clod-hopper feet - see above).

3.  My running shoes.  Nike has such a great selection of fun colored shoes. 
4. The Office, Season 2.  It's still my favorite season.  Check out the episode where Michael burns his foot on the George Foreman...I know what's coming, but I still laugh for the entire episode every time I see it.

5. My lime green computer.  (yes, its really lime green)  No one will ever confuse it with their own, it is uniquely mine.

6.  Portillo's.  Their food is amazing!  It is the only thing (other than my family and friends, of course) that I really miss from Chicago.  The best things on the menu are the hot dogs and the chopped salad, but you really can't go wrong.  Maybe I can petition for one to open in NC...

7.   The Ultra Marathon Man.  I have read it 3 times already.  It supplies me with endless motivation.

8.  My Keurig.  I have saved so much money on coffee this year...Dunkin Donuts and Starbucks were ringing me dry...Keurig takes all the work out of making coffee.  My favorite flavors are Island Coconut and Gingerbread.
9.  Christmas Music.  All of it.  I currently am loving the Glee Christmas Album, but I have always been a big fan of the Mariah Carey Christmas CD.  It reminds me of home and everyone in the family having fun together.

10.  A Christmas Story.  When they play the 24 hour marathon on TBS the day before Christmas I usually watch it at least twice...My parents actually bought me my own copy a few years ago and I have been known to watch it in the middle of summer (did I really just admit that?!).   This year I found "A Christmas Story" wrapping paper at Target...so if you are one of the lucky ones, Ralphy just might show up on your present.  :)

My favorite things might not be super high tech, and a crowd of people might not want one of each, but I love them.  What are your favorite things?

Side note:  I've been known to over-use the word "favorite" in the past...this might just affirm the belief, that I, in fact, have a ton of "favorites".   It's ok, I admit it.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Snow Day!!

Today, school was cancelled, and I couldn't be happier.  I got to sleep in because last night they already had announced a two hour delay, and as of right now, (11:30am) I am still in my pajama's!!  Now, I'm not that big of a lazy bum, because this morning I have already made Oreo Balls, wrapped presents, and done a little cleaning (a really little bit).

One of my coworkers is having a cookie exchange tonight, so I am lucky that I had time to make my cookies this morning (I obviously would have been showing up with store-bought versions otherwise).  I made Oreo Balls, which were surprisingly easy to make.  I used Mint Oreo's to mix it up a little bit and then I put dark chocolate under the white chocolate. Check out Corey's Cooking Blog for the full recipe. She made them last week, and they were a hit.  I hope mine are as well.

Last night we had our holiday party for the group I coach at WAVE.  The kids had so much fun and the hour and a half flew by (and I was worried that we weren't going to be able to keep their attention).  We all decorated Christmas ornaments.  I haven't done a craft in forever and I had so much fun...maybe more than the kids.  Surprisingly, even the 13 year old boys loved their ornaments.  Here are some pictures...

I was so excited to get some new ornaments for my tree.  Some were homemade, gifted during the party, but they were all beautiful (even the ones I decorated).  Annnnnnd, my team mom made me take home some of the decorations she had bought for the party!  They were ceramic mini Christmas plates.  I love them!! I am so excited to be adding to my decorations collection!

Back to the snow day... I'm sure the roads are bad (not that I would know), but I still giggle a little when I see how crazy (maybe over-prepared is a better word) everyone here gets when there is snow predicted.  Yesterday there was a forecast of 1-3 inches for today and when I went to get my mail around 3 in the afternoon, my neighbor had already salted his 12 foot long driveway.  I had to take a picture:

And it was maybe 45 and sunny at this point, so giggle I did, a lot.