"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

Monday, January 31, 2011

Spring is Coming!

Yesterday was 65 degrees and sunny!  Gorgeous!  I took advantage of the nice weather all day.  Started off with a walk around Lake Johnson with Rachael, then met Derek, Mandy, and Cameron for lunch at Ruckus, and then I grabbed a book and a blanket and spent two hours laying in the sun enjoying the early taste of spring.







Haha, the brown grass breaks this spring-like-dream-world, and reminds me that it is actually January (tomorrow is February!), but a girl can dream...summer is just around the corner :)

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Adventures in Furniture Building

Derek got a new TV and a new media console to go with it.  It took forever to pick out a media console, but he found one he liked and I think it looks awesome!!

I got to "help" him put it together.  I have to be honest, I was not a whole lot of help, but I did do some clean-up and some heavy lifting.  And I asked a lot of questions, "Where does this plug in?", "Whats that for?", "Where does this go?", etc.  So after a while, I think my lack of helping actually moved the process along (or it could have impeded it, but it depends on how you look at it).  Whoopsies...

But I did get to photo-document the event.

halfway there


So many wires.  I wanted to know what each one was for.  hahaha.  Maybe next time...




Everything fits!  

The end product.
What do you think??

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Kindle Cover

I love my kindle and have been bringing it everywhere with me, just putting it right in my purse and going.  Its so nice to have it for 20 minute breaks between school and practice when I can take a minute to relax.

My track record, however, of taking care of electronics, is noy the best.  So I figured that if I was going to continue "tossing" the kindle in my purse, a cover was a must-have investment.  I looked all over on Amazon.com and most of the covers were outrageous colors or huge.  I like the kindle because it is so small and I didn't see the point of getting a huge cover that would make it 3 times the size.  One day, I found this cute little knit one.  I ordered it, and it came today!!

The kindle lasted until today without a single scratch, and now I have the cover to protect it!  The odds of that happening were against me, I promise.



 I love it!!  It's lined on the inside, so it is actually a lot more durable than it looks.


Saturday, January 22, 2011

A Book Recommendation

In trying to keep my workout kick going, I headed to my neighborhood gym this morning to escape the cold.  The treadmills were full when I got there.  Grrr.  But I hopped on the elliptical and gave it a shot.  I hadn't really tried it out since college, and you know what? - it was a pretty good workout.  I did 35 minutes at a pretty good resistance.  Not bad.

By then a treadmill was open and I walked another 2.5 miles at 4.0 speed with a 3.5 incline.  I should have run, I know, but I was so into my book, I just couldn't.  I was afraid that if I ran I would bounce too much to read, or, worst case scenario, I would sweat too much and mess up my kindle.  I know, it sounds pathetic.

I am reading Born to Run by Christopher Mcdougall.  It is really good.  It has taken most of my beliefs about running and turned them completely upside down.  It supports barefoot running, comfortable paces, unique vegetarian diets, and using spirituality to improve your running.  It points out the cons of Nike, expensive running shoes, the current way of life of society in general, and eating meet.  Interesting.  I do not agree with everything it says, but it is one argument, and it does present an incredibly interesting perspective.  There are things I will take from it, and things that might just be a little too far out there for me to believe, but it is interesting, all the same.

Also, it is centered on the belief that humans have survived and evolved as an ultra-running species.  It has historical and scientific facts to support this.  It takes you into central Mexico and describes the tribes that still exist, running 60 miles back to back days and hunting animals simply by chasing them until they are too tired to go on.  Wow.  It finishes off by staging a race between ultra-running greats from around the world and members of the tribe in Mexico.  It was non-fiction, but had character development and plot like any other novel...with a whole lot of research jargon thrown in.  I couldn't put it down.



Both the Spanish teacher and aspiring runner in me are intrigued and inspired.  Who woulda thought?  I am 97% complete with the book (according to my kindle, they don't count by page numbers :) and I love it.  I want to read it again.

I am obviously no professional book reviewer, so go here  to see a real review.

**Sidenote - Illinois (22) plays Ohio State (1) today at noon central time.  Go get 'em Illini! **

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Ready, Set, Go

Today was a good day - I'm feeling pretty healthy, and I worked out again today.  That makes it 4 days in a row!  That's big for right now.  I did lots of core work, plyometrics, push-ups, etc Monday and Tuesday and made myself sufficiently sore (holy cow, ouch!).  But it was the good kind of hurt.  Then yesterday, I got in and swam 1500 yards.  I could really tell how weak I am, but it felt great and it loosened me up a lot.

 Then today, I went to Lake Johnson in Raleigh and ran around the lake.  I forgot how pretty that place can be.  I forgot my headphones and I was not happy about that.  I normally like running with music because it helps me to lose myself in my thoughts and just go.  It lets me tune everything out.  But today, I loved running without them.  Funny, how that is.  I think I was so excited to be outside (it was 55 degrees!) and running that I didn't even feel like I needed them.  I only went 3 miles, and it was slow, but I feel great!  I figure I have to start somewhere.

I even ran right past a deer.  Seriously, it was about 10 feet off the path just looking at me as I jogged by.

I'm calling this a personal victory (probably overkill ;) but...Here's to getting back into my workout routine and staying healthy so I can get into shape!

**My new years resolution was to workout 5 out of 7 days a week, so I have a little catching up to do.**

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Go Illini

The Illini basketball team beat Michigan State last night 71-62!

I don't know about you, but that's a pretty good day in my world.  Way to go Illini!!  I think March Madness might actually be fun this year. (I really hope I didn't speak too soon.  Keep your fingers crossed for me.)

Assembly Hall


ILL......................................INI

Throw-back...The 2005 team...they were good.

Pictures taken from www.fightingillini.com

Sunday, January 16, 2011

What I've been up to...

This weekend has been pretty busy for me, but thanks to NC for celebrating MLK with a day off, I still have time to relax!  No school 'til Tuesday!

On Thursday, I decided that I could not stand the "mustard-yellow" color of my master bathroom a minute longer.  Originally, when I moved in, the entire house was painted in this color.  I like bright yellow kitchens, and bright yellow living rooms, but this brown/yellow, was not good.  Within moving in, I had gotten rid of most of it by repainting the kitchen, living room, front hall, downstairs bath, bedrooms, and foyer within weeks of moving in.  But there were two pesky bathrooms that still remained in the awful color.  


The before pictures...

The bathroom has very little storage, only cabinets, and no drawers so I try to keep things organized, but it doesn't always work.

Nothing was coordinated, everything is just... there.

I could never decide which color went best with the yellow, so I ended up with a whole lot of mismatched accessories.

So, Friday night, I got to work.


  By Saturday evening there were two fresh coats of paint on the walls and accessories had been purchased.   The new paint is a gray/tan that I love!  And it even looks alright with the yellow/brown linoleum (obviously originally meant to match the yellow walls).  

The after pictures...



I found a basket at TJ Max for $4.99 to store my hair-dryer and straightener.  Good deal!

This ceramic pitcher is the first thing I bought on Friday.  I was sold the minute I saw it and I love it!  Its a good thing it was only $9.99!


The bath towels are a light turquoise and the hand towels are a mix of the light color with a darker shade.  I haven't decided if I like the big bath towels and I'm thinking of switching those to brown. 

The towels were all buy-one-get-one-free, after 40% off, at Kohl's.  Yes, mom, I agree.  That place is great.  There, I said it.  



I knocked two things off of my house to-do list for 2011!  

Is it too much turquoise?  Any advice?  What do you all think??

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Chicago

My friend Cassie is going to Chicago in March, and she asked for some ideas of things to do while there.  I thought that maybe other's would like to see this as well.  I have done my fair share of playing tourist in Chicago, but my sister is far more qualified than I to give advice on this, so I asked her.  This is her list of things to do in Chicago (with a few of my own comments added in). 


Things to see and do -

1.) Willis Tower (Sears Tower) http://www.theskydeck.com/   
                General Admission from 10am - 7:30pm is $16 per adult
                Make sure its a clear day!  They have a ledge with a glass bottom that sticks out from the side of the building.

2.) The Shed Aquarium - $27 per person


3.) Lincoln Park Zoo - Free admissions and its pretty cool to see considering its in the middle of the city right on the lake.


4.) Navy Pier - Its its nice it can be fun to walk around and it give you a cool view of the city.  Its free to go but you have to pay to do stuff there.  They have a ferris wheel that is huge!

4.) Museums - Some are good others are just ok.  It depends on what you're interested in.
              Museum of Science and Industry - http://www.msichicago.org/ 
                    Open 9:30am - 4pm   General Admission is $15 per person
              Field Museum - http://www.fieldmuseum.org/
                    Open 9am - 5pm  General Admission is $15 per person
              The Art Institute - http://www.artic.edu/aic/   $18 per person
             
5.) Shopping - Michigan Avenue, State Street, or in the neighborhoods such as Bucktown / Wickerpark.


7.) Millennium Park - Right downtown, on the lake.  There is an outdoor amphitheater and the "Bean".



The Bean


8.) Chicago Botanic Garden - I've never actually been but everyone who has, loves it.  I believe you can take the L or a train straight to it as well.  http://www.chicago-botanic.org/
9.) Sports - If you have time and are willing to pay for tickets the Bulls games or Black Hawk games are always fun.  And in the summer, don't forget the Cubs or the White Sox!
10.) Theater / Shows - There are tons of shows in Chicago.   I saw Wicked a few years ago and loved it!!  The Apollo theater in Lincoln Park is playing Million Dollar Quartet right now and its supposed to be amazing!
11.) John Hancok Building Restaurant (The Signature Room) or Trump Tower Bar - The restaurants are expensive but you can go up and just have a drink at the bar and not have to pay for a whole dinner.  They are both way up and the views are supposed to be amazing.


John Hancock Building.
Places to Eat -
1.) Chicago Pizza Places - Giordano's or Lou Malnati's have great deep dish pizza.  Art of Pizza is my sister's favorite but its located in lake view, north of downtown (I've been there, and I agree, it is goooood).
2.) Steakhouses - There are ton of great steak houses in Chicago - you really can't go wrong with any of them.  Wildfire or Weber Grill are less expensive ones and more casual as well.
3.) Chicago Pizza and Oven Grinders (Lincoln Park)  - they do an upside down style pizza but its very good! They take cash only and there is typically a wait.  This place is unique, delicious, and a must!
4.) Cafe Ba-Ba-Reeba - This is a fun spanish tapas place in Lincoln Park.  They do small appetizer size meals to pass around.  The idea is that each person picks a dish to pass and everyone gets to try it.  Very fun.
5.) Portillo's - Chicago specialty with great italian beef, hot dogs, salads and onion rings!  Its a mix between fast food and sit down.



6.) Sushi - Coast is a great sushi place and is delicious! - Its in Bucktown though, which is a neighborhood a little northwest of downtown.  My sister took me here last year and it was amazing!  If you are a sushi lover, you have to try it.

Paula and I at Coast last year.

7.) Grand Luxe Cafe or Cheesecake Factory can be fun and both are downtown right on Michigan Ave.
8.) Brunch - My sisters and I have tried out a bunch of amazing brunch places, ask if you are interested.  Too many to list.  I can say that Feast is my favorite.

I hope you enjoyed reading about my favorite big city!  Next time you take a visit you'll know where to go!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Ice, Ice, Baby

They have been talking about a "huge" storm that is rolling though the southeast for days now.  We changed the final exam schedule at school and everyone was all worked up because they were "sure" that we would have a snow day today.  I was extremely skeptical, and frustrated (I might have whined a little) that as of 6pm last night we had not seen a drop of anything.  Wilmington had 4 inches, Charlotte and Atlanta got dumped on too, but here, nothing.   Well, lo and behold, at 7pm it started to flurry a little, and then came the ice.

I woke up this morning to an icy winter wonderland.  It doesn't have quite the same ring to it as snow, nor do you get the pretty pictures and fun sledding, but it did get me a snow (or, ice) day!  So, here's to bunkering down inside and enjoying some time to relax  to catch up on grading.  

Ice, Ice, everywhere...

A layer of ice on everything!


View from the inside.


When the window was rolled down, the ice stayed...

Stay warm!!

Inside I will stay, all day long, wrapped up in my brand new Snuggie - thanks Derek!


Sunday, January 9, 2011

The Wolfpack and Some Lions

This weekend was exciting!

On Saturday we got to go to our first State basketball game of the season.  Our tickets were awesome! and they won!  - I even wore the right colors...



After that, my friend Andrea came into town from SC and we got to go to dinner and see "The Lion King"!  It was really good.  I loved the way the people really looked, moved, acted, etc like animals.  The giraffes absolutely amazed me.  They walked on their hands and feet, but had 6 ft long stilts attached to each of their limbs to make them really long!  Their heads held up their long necks too.  I don't know if this description gives you any idea of what I'm talking about, but I am still amazed.  


We weren't allowed to take pictures during the show, so this is all I could get, but check out our seats!  First row of the balcony!  Thanks Marie :)
It was so good to get to see Andrea and catch up, even if it was a short visit.  I am so glad that I have great friends living so close.  

Friday, January 7, 2011

Quonochontaug

I had a lot of questions about my # 5 Resolution, "To get myself to Quonnie" from this post, so I figured I'd give you all a little insight into my favorite place in the entire world.


This is a little stretch of beach in Rhode Island.  My family first started going there for the summers a long time ago.  I'd have to ask my mom the specifics, but there is a lot of family history there.  I know that the first cottage was destroyed in the 1938 hurricane, but they rebuilt, so we still get a chance to have it.


Basically, it is a family cottage on the beach that I have been going to my entire life.  My mother spent summers there most of her life as well.  The cottage has been added onto over the years and updated as time went by.  It sleeps 9, so we can get lots of family members together at once.  However, if you are thinking that we have a huge fancy beach house, that is not the case.  But don't get me wrong, it is perfect, just the way it is.  The cottage is quaint, cozy, and home to most of the best memories I have of growing up spending time with my family, grandparents, cousins, aunts, uncles, etc.

On 8/8/08 Paula and Matt got engaged at the beach!  I haven't been back since this visit.  How sad is that?!  They already celebrated their first anniversary!
As a child, my family and I used to pile into the van and drive the 18 hours east every summer in order to get there.  We normally stayed for two weeks and overlapped with my cousins visits, and it was heaven.  We had friends at the beach that we would play with.  We had met them when we were really young, introduced by our parents, who had most often played at the beach together as children.  We spent the days laying on the beach, reading book after book, building sand castles, digging to China, crabbing, and body surfing in the waves.  At night we were treated to Grandma's cooking and would all gather around the big table together.  If we were really lucky we got clam fritters, lobster, or blueberry cake.
Crabbing.  Matt even likes to get in on the fun.  


Each year we would have one "lobster" night.  Paula never eats the lobsters, but we still play with them before they are steamed and Paula normal names them all.  Yes, and then when they are put on our plates, she tells us who we are eating.  Good thing, I like lobster a lot. 

After dinner, we would go for a long walk on the beach or down to the breachway and then we would play cards.  Like I said, lots of good memories.  I had the good fortune of celebrating my birthday there most years because we would go during the first two weeks in August.  Lucky me! I know.  I can't think of a better birthday present each year.

This is Catherine and I when we celebrated my 24th birthday.
Now, Grandma has moved into a nursing home and the house has to be rented out, but my family still gets to go every summer.  I have not been able to get time off from work during the past two summers to get there, so you see, this is the longest I have ever gone in my life without being there.  I cannot wait to go this summer, smell the salty air, hang out with my family, and see my Grandma.  Like I said, its my favorite place in the world.

All the girls with Grams.



Taking a walk to East Beach.  


My parents at Watch Hill.



A shark washed up on the beach!!!


The Breachway

Heaven
Go to the link on the side of the page labeled "Cottage" to see more professional pictures and find information about renting the cottage and making some of your own great memories.