Sounds like lightening.


If you looked at the weather radar during the night of August 18th you would have seen that the worst weather in all of North America was centered over the greater Chicago area. In fact, for a good portion of that evening the most severe parts were centered right over neighborhood.

Right before Liam left work (approximately 5pm) he texted me that our area was in a tornado watch until 10pm. I’m not sure how it is elsewhere, but at least in Chicago those watches are issued pretty freely – a good thing! – and this was at least the fifth or sixth this summer. Tornados can happen rapidly and without warning (see: Plainfield, IL tornado of 1990) but only under very specific weather conditions.

Liam got home and we had dinner and sort-of forgot about the watch and went about normal evening tasks.

And then.

At 7:22 pm we heard tornado sirens. To me they mean: get in building’s basement and turn on the television. To someone who is experiencing them for the first time and has only the movie Twister as his point of reference for what happens next this was a Very Frightening Thing.

Most of our building headed into the basement and we turned on the local news looking for the weather. I’ve mentioned before that we live pretty far out in the suburbs, and when we were looking for news reports we had to go to a super-local channel to get anything because the main stations hadn’t switched over from regular programming. This was mildly comforting until we looked at the map.

The red cone of danger was centered right over us (seriously – over the nearest intersection!) and extended southeast to my parents’ current home and northeast to the area I grew up in where we still have many friends.

My family has a group text message and as soon as I messaged out to say Liam and I had heard sirens and were in the basement my mom responded that they had heard sirens and were in their own basement as well. My siblings both checked in: one of them was far to the south of the watch and the other said they were in the watch zone and paying attention but that not much was happening.

For 20 minutes we heard lots of thunder and lightening but the sirens weren’t continuous and even the local local weather station signed off their coverage of the storm to go back to regular programming. What i understand is that the sirens went off because there were “winds capable of rotation” very near us but that nothing materialized and they weakened enough to end the watch. I updated the family, we fist-bumped with building neighbors before heading upstairs and settled in to watch the storms. I think this was right about 7:50.

At a few minutes after 8:00 there were more sirens. Hi-ho, hi-ho; it’s back downstairs we go.  If you thought Liam would be more comfortable the second time around you were most incorrect.  However, the overall mood was significantly more joyous this time because there was one really excited bunch of kids who were able to avoid bedtime because of the storms.

This time our sirens stayed on longer and all of the main channels were carrying the weather. There were reports of rotations immediately to our north and south. At some point my parents checked in to say that their area hadn’t heard sirens but were put back under the warning zone for all of three minutes. Our power flickered several times but never went off. We heard a really loud bang of what we thought was thunder. Within the next few minutes the warning either expired or was cancelled because the storm was weakening; I don’t remember which.

At Liam’s request we slept in the family room with the weather channel on just so we’d be aware of what was going on if we were awoken by sirens. I don’t think the poor kid slept for more than 20 minutes at a time that night. Having been through the song and dance a few times before I didn’t really think much about the events of the night except to say a prayer of thanks that there was apparently very minimal damage as a result of the storms.

Being the more rested of the two I volunteered to take our dog out the next morning. I swung our building door open and my jaw dropped open. Lightening struck a tree not five feet from our building. Bark shot off of the tree in all directions, and though it didn’t fall over the tree was splintered into lots of thin strips where the lightening must have hit. It looked a lot like pulled chicken if that’s any sort of helpful reference. Our building does not have a lightening rod (it should!) so we feel very, very lucky.

Liam called his mother when he was on the way to work the next morning to tell her that we were fine, and about the lightening strike. Apparently she and my FIL were watching the weather on the nightly news and my normally very reserved FIL shouted at the tv “OH YEAH…HOW DOES HE LIKE IT NOW!?!??” in reference to our current residence.  We hear you FIL; we hear you.

Cross another item off of the Authentic Midewestern Experience list for Liam because his tornado experience was definitely the real deal.  Luckily there was very little damage that night – I believe about 30,000 lost power and there was some flooding and damage from a few lightening strikes…overall a very quiet night for such a stormy one.

August Shopping Summary

Before I start talking about clothes I want to thank you for all of the nice comments and messages that were left on the post about my aunt and her passing.  I didn’t mean for the blog to stay quiet for quite so long but here we are.  Given that this link-up is something I participate in every month I thought it would be a good way to get back into the groove.

Yay fall?  It seems now would be the appropriate time to comment on how excited I am for the change of seasons because OMGFALL is almost here but I don’t actually want this summer to end.  I’m currently sitting in Paenra, eating soup in a bread bowl while wearing flats, jeans and long sleeves and thinking about how not ready I am for all of this.

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Purchased: Banana Republic Striped Tee; $23  ($45)
Don’t buy this.  The fabric is terribly pill-y and looks quite cheap only after two wears.  I bought it knowing that it wouldn’t last forever but I didn’t expect it to be as crappy as it is.

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Purchased: Banana Republic Ashley ballet flat in cognac; $37.50 ($98)
Buy these.  These are extremely comfortable flats (decent padding and good fit on my slightly narrow foot) and were under $40. I wear a lot of navy and just don’t like black leather with navy, especially because my bag is navy as well.

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Thrifted: Sam Edelman Etiene Loafers in gray-beige (not ivory); $5 ($130?) 

I’m a pretty common size (9) and never seem to find anything at all in my size, much less anything good in thrift stores.  I took a chance with these shoes because there is a bit of a scuff on the front of the left shoe that I’m going to try and get out.  ETA: Success!  The vaseline trick worked perfectly!  


I also bought a pair of corduroys and a skirt secondhand that haven’t arrived yet so I’ll include them in next month’s roundup.

I had a lot of time this month to poke around on ThredUp and ebay, as well as drop in to the mall now and again.  My parents are still working through downsizing their things and I also spent most weekends hauling household goods to Goodwill and browsing while I waited.  Liam goes on another term break at the beginning of September and a charity event that I’m part of takes place at the end of the month so shopping will be the last thing on my mind for the most part.  We’ll see how that goes.


In Memoriam

This is not the post I intended to publish today. But as I was attempting to finish a post about my relationship with my mother in law (juicy!) all I could think about was drafting a post in honor of my aunt.  Late Monday night we got the news that one of the sick family members I mentioned in my post last Friday had passed away.

My aunt was a colorful person who lived an exotic, exciting and difficult life. The world is just a little bit less colorful today than it was while she was with us.

She was eccentric. Not in a crazy cat lady kind of way but more of a humanities professor at an East Coast college kind of way. KWIM? Her taste in clothing, jewelry and decor told the story of a wealthy, worldly person who wasn’t consumed by her wealth. There was always a constant and unspoken reminder around her that the best person you can be is yourself.

She was adventurous. My aunt lived all over the world. She married a man whose career would bring her to a part of the world that most of us know little about other than to be afraid of its draconian laws and culture. It’s not on anyone’s must-see travel bucket list. Her adventures were made possible by her bravery, which I can’t help but think was supported by her strong faith.

She was faith-full. To God, country and her fellow man. My aunt never met a stranger and she never failed to extend a Christlike compassion to anyone. Years abroad made her a very proud American with a vested interest in domestic politics. She was actually one of the people who spurred my love of politics and our discussions and debates go back to my early teenage years.

She was respectful. I realize that is a weird character trait to memorialize, but hear me out. Going along with the compassion that she extended to everyone was a hearty dose of respect. I distinctly remember that she treated me as an adult years before other family members did because that was her way. Not only that, but she treated difficult seasons with a brave face and a deep respect for everyone involved.

She was resilient. Neither oppressive political culture nor messy middle-aged divorce nor serious health issues could bring her down. LIfe was a thing to be fully lived within the bounds of one’s circumstances and she chose to continue to find ways to enjoy life regardless of the struggles she faced.

She embraced vulnerability. I wonder whether my aunt’s secret to staying strong was allowing herself to be vulnerable with the people she was closest to. I remember a visit when I was in my early teens where the women (and me…I got to count as an adult in her world) sat around our family room talking and laughing and crying with her as she detailed her recent (heartbreakingly messy) divorce and how she was really doing. This was a far, far cry from the stiff upper lip that my family operates with. I had never seen an adult cry outside of a funeral and I had never seen someone embrace feelings in the way that she was. Does that make sense? It floored my teenage self.

As this post goes live I will be packing up my black dress and sparkliest necklace to honor my aunt. (She loved jewelry and anything shiny, so it’s only fitting.) Memorials are always hard, but I know this one will be beautiful. My aunt had a huge number of friends and confidants and I’m sure the diversity of the gathering will reflect her eccentric spirit.

How we shall laugh at the trouble of parting when we meet again!  

July 2015 Shopping Summary

More clothing talk!  I’ll be back tomorrow with something not related to clothes, so feel free to check back then if my wardrobe just isn’t your thing.

I realized that I haven’t shown you two items that I purchased with gift cards from the holidays/my birthday.  Surprising no one who knows me in real life, I purchased shoes.

First, sandals.  Earlier in the summer I posted a blog of all of my shoes and I mentioned that one of the pairs of sandals was at least four years old.  Well, they died.  I wore them all the time when I was on vacation and they finally did snap shortly after we got home.  Feel free to tell me if you hate my new pair because I’m genuinely curious.  In New England (that place I think I live) plenty of adults wear these shoes.  But I know that in other parts of the country this brand is considered toddler shoes.  Behold, my Salt Water sandals:

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Now I could have gotten a more mature color (they come in black/navy/white/red/tan) but then I wouldn’t be me.   Besides – I already have a pair of sandals in a dark green leather.  They are between $35 and $40 on Amazon.  Be warned: some places like to mark these up a LOT.  I’ve seen them for $80 (!!!!!) in hipster-y boutiques.  Don’t pay that much.

I also bought a pair of Chelsea boots for fall.  They were from the Topshop pop-in at Nordstrom.  Special snowflake statement coming: I have a hard time finding boots without tongues that can fit over my really high arches.  Boo hoo.  Chelsea styles work really nicely for me because of the elastic pieces near the heel.  Hot feet are uncool so I’m not wearing these yet but I’ve worn them at home and they are really comfortable!

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So there you go.  I didn’t actually buy any clothing in July.  I don’t need anything else for summer – heck, I don’t want anything else for summer at this point.  It’s too warm to be thinking about fall clothing and that’s all that seems to be in stores right now.

And as always I’ll be liking this post with Franish once hers goes live.

Coffee Date: July 2015

Happy Friday y’all! Today I’m linking up with Jenna’s Coffee Date Friday to share a bit about what is going on lately in our lives. Hopefully you’ll enjoy these little tidbits and have a fantastic weekend!

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We’re on vacation!  Last fall I posted about a weekend getaway that we took to Galena, IL and we’re back once again.  About a month ago Liam and I realized that we didn’t have any plans to get away this summer and we decided we wanted to try and make it back here.  Well, as long as I don’t leave the state I’m able to work remotely just as if I was in our apartment so that’s exactly what I am doing for a few days to save vacation time.  As you’ll read below, this couldn’t have come at a more perfect time.

We had summer weather.  Chicago finally saw temperatures in the 90s toward the middle of the month.  I relished in this fact and then promptly burned to a crisp. My ancestors come from a cool and rainy place and I would do well to not forget that fact.

Unfortunately we also found out that three separate family members are having serious health struggles.  Two are acutely ill at the moment and we are praying for them and their closest family members during these hard times.

Our car was keyed.  I cannot express just how much this makes my blood boil.  I honestly would much prefer that someone would have smashed into our car…even without leaving a note.  Because this was just a senseless, wasteful act.  The huge scratch is on the sidewalk side of our car (so it wasn’t caused by another vehicle) and is at just the right height for someone to have walked by with their key sticking out to scratch the length of the car.  It happened overnight one weekend and we can’t think of why our car was chosen except for the fact that it’s the newest and darkest car in our lot.

Finally, and on a lighter note, I lost my favorite necklace.  I left it at my sister’s house one weekend and she didn’t bring it back to me the next time I saw her.  Instead she dubbed it #thetravelingnecklace and, like the pants, apparently it will now travel around our lady friends and cousins.  Goodbye bar necklace; it was nice knowing you.

The Next 5: Places I want to visit

A favorite recurring conversation that Liam and I have is on the topic of “the next five”. The next five meals we want to make, drives we want to take, beers we want to try, etc. Most recently the conversation turned to travel: both domestic and international. Today I’m going to share my next 5 North American travel desires.

1. Charleston, SC

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This list is in no particular order but I still think that Charleston tops it. The food, history and architecture are the main draws for me. We were talking about a southeastern road trip a few months back but I actually feel like Charleston would make for a better long weekend destination.

2. Prince Edward Island

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PEI is one of Canada’s Maritime provinces and also the setting for Anne of Green Gables. Most interesting to me is the fact that loads of Irish and Scottish emigrated here in the 1800s. As an Irish-American and a lover of history I am perpetually curious and eager to visit places where Irish emigrants came in search of new lives. Downeast Maine feels very reminiscent of Ireland; I wonder if the same will be true for PEI.

3. Texas Hill Country

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I have never been to Texas and want to right that wrong in the near future. I realize that the Hill Country is huge but I would love to spend a week exploring the outdoors, visiting small towns and wineries, and ending the experience with a weekend in Austin. Unlike a few other destinations I have done zero research into this vacation so it’s not unlikely that I have unreasonable expectations.

4. The Northeast Kingdom

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The northeast portion of Vermont is known as the Northeast Kingdom and it is a hauntingly beautiful part of the United States. Haunting because the natural beauty of the area’s topography is stunning but its poverty is pervasive. That fact resonates with me because it is something that Americans often point out about international destinations, not tourist spots in our own country. There is a fair bit of abject poverty in New England but most of it is far removed from tourists. I like and appreciate the fact that it is something even the most oblivious tourist will have to grapple with.

5. Las Vegas, NV

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And then there is Vegas.  This is a trip that I think would be fun to make with my parents and siblings.  We would all want to visit the Hoover Dam and explore some of the hiking destinations, and then we would probably splinter off into smaller groups on the strip.  We’d do a mix of gambling (I could probably be entertained for about an hour…I don’t know how people last longer), shopping and people watching.

Because I am not a gambling lover I think Vegas will be a one-and-done destination for me.  A friend and I have talked about this and her take (for the record she goes almost yearly) is that being from a big city spoils part of Vegas for me because the shows and fancy restaurants hold much less appeal.  She lives four hours outside of a major city and it takes quite a bit of effort and travel on her part to enjoy a professional performance or fancy meal.  A huge part of the Vegas appeal for her is the fact that those things are right at her fingertips.

Honorable mentions go to Arches National Park in Utah and the Mississippi Gulf Coast.  Tell me where you’d love to visit!

Month in Review: June 2015


road trippin'


Road trippin’

Alternative title: The color of my legs matches my iPhone cord :( :(

June was such a fun month!  Liam was free for most of it and I took a vacation with some of my best friends. We kept things fairly relaxed around the house for the most part.


The apartment gardening project is just okay.  Not much better than that.  I must have been right about the strawberries being diseased because they died almost immediately after planting.  We also think that we got a bad packet of bean seeds because only one spouted and it’s now dying as well.  In happier news, we have had lots of basil and parsley-filled dishes and just harvested our first pepper yesterday.  No tomatoes are ready yet but we added the plants kind of late.  Because the beans were totally unsuccessful we planted radishes the other day and those are just starting to show tiny sprouts.

empanada taco chips

Though we were out and about a ton last month we only had one real date night with just the two of us.  Early in the month we went to a Mexican restaurant for dinner and had some fabulous tacos.

ice cream pod

There was also one road trip: we headed to my parents’ house for a weekend of celebrating my dad.  Ice cream is our fuel of choice for these drives.  Culvers is a thing we will miss greatly if we leave the midwest.  We celebrated by power washing, sanding, staining, weeding, mulching, tree trimming…all the outdoor -ings, basically.  My dad is of the Puritanical “early to bed, early to rise” mindset and is always, always, always the first one to bed when we’re together.  Slightly embarrassingly all of the children were in bed before him.  We were so tired from the yard work that a few of us even fell asleep before dessert!

Books I read: Primates of Park Avenue; Where’d You Go, Bernadette?  I liked both!

TV shows: None from what I remember.  Hockey, obviously.  We’re both big Blackhawks fans (even though Liam *should* be a Bruins fan he agrees that Chicago sports > Boston sports!) and are very saad about the trade news.

Snippets:  This is the first month where I have waited until the end to draft this post.  Normally I will have it in the draft folder for the entire month and I’ll add little bits as I remember them.  There was so little computer time this month that it didn’t work out that way and I really have nothing else to add.  :)