Category Archives: Personal

January 2016 in Review

Days of Note

It was weird to write down notable dates from this month because the only thing notable about the beginning of January was ringing in the new year with my family…and then turning around to come back to our city.

January 12: New England winter bucket list item crossed off: we ate dinner in a beautiful restaurant with huge, wide-paneled windows that overlook a cobblestone street (and the ocean!) during the most beautiful snowfall of the year.  Norman Rockwell would have been impressed.

January 16: A Nor’easter kept us inside for most of the day.  We made beef stew and snow ice cream and enjoyed going for a bit of a walk during a break in the precipitation.

January 18th: MLK Day was a holiday for both of us.  Though we were housebound for three days (see above) the long weekend came at a perfect time.  We did homework, cleaned house, baked cookies and relaxed after the hardest work weeks of the year.  (Coming back from the holidays is rough!)

January 24th: Oss Bed and Breakfast in action!  Friends from out of town crashed here over the weekend.  Even though visiting with us wasn’t the purpose of their trip we got to catch up and hang out a fair bit.

January 31st: Dinner with friends at a new restaurant

On the whole, January was notable for its relatively mild temperatures.  Liam started a new school term at the very beginning of the month so it was mostly work-school-house work for both of us.  I really enjoyed the month at work and it seems like I started to get into a groove by the end of it.

Books read

The 1950’s Kitchen.  This was probably someone’s thesis, but I thought it was a fascinating read.  Granted, I thought there was going to be a little bit more socio-cultural analysis of the role of women in the 1950s but it even as just a discussion of kitchen designs, placement and materials kept me interested.

I tried to read The Husband’s Secret.  I really did!  I got past the first few pages and realized that I was annoyed by the main character and really didn’t care what the husband’s secret was and whether or not he was cheating, which I think is what you were supposed to be assuming at that point.

Miscellany 

This month I taught myself how to crochet!  I’m not saying that I’m very good at all, but it’s really enjoyable to do while watching television, and I think I would like to make a granny square quilt for our next place.  I mean…we could use it in our current place too, but I doubt I’ll finish it any time soon.

On another note, I applied for a few new jobs this month as well.  I love my current job and am very happy there for the time being.  Heck, I only started in October and feel very much like I’m still in the learning phase.  However, it has been several months since I have applied for anything and I like to keep my resume fresh and in circulation.  So I applied for a different job that is very related to what I do now.  Another few jobs that I applied for were part-time retail jobs.  Budget-wise I do not need to work another job, but at the moment I am happy to trade my time for a bit of extra money.  Have I mentioned my ten-minute commute?  That’s a big part of why I have free time.  Also, the downside of renting a furnished apartment is that we are going to need to purchase several big-ticket items once we leave this unit.  It would be nice to not have to use our “normal” money to do that.  More importantly though is that I would feel better with an additional income stream.  Maybe it’s the Millenial in me, but I don’t know that we will ever feel completely secure in our jobs without a bit of extra money coming in on the side “just in case”.

Other than returning to New England there wasn’t any traveling in January. We might try to take a weekend or day trip in February but I’m totally okay with that not happening.  March is going to be crazy busy and February is so short that it’s over in the blink of an eye.

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Month in Review: November 2015

After the massive catch-up at the beginning of the month it’s time to go back to doing these reviews monthly.

November was my first full month at the new job and things started to feel more normal. I have settled into a comfortable routine and I feel like a part of my office rather than just a visiting worker. From both a professional and a personal standpoint I work with a really great group of people. And perhaps most excitingly, I’m no longer the newest person in the office.  I’m technically still the newbie because this person transferred from another site…but it was still nice to be able to let someone else know where the coffee was and which printers are where.  It wasn’t that long ago that I was on the receiving end of such helpful hints.

For the first time in at least 15 years I dined at the Cracker Barrel this month.  We also tried a poutine place (extra delicious late-night food) and a distillery that are walking distance from our apartment.  There is such an amazing food scene here that it’s going to be a real battle to stick to a meal plan regularly.

Thanksgiving happened!  After work Wednesday we headed up to Liam’s hometown to be with his family.  We had a midday meal on Thursday because one of his siblings had to work that morning and I had to work on Friday and we wanted to get an early-ish start back to our place because night driving and moose don’t mix.

To continue with the food theme of the post, we kicked off the week of Thanksgiving with a potluck Friendsgiving celebration hosted by one of Liam’s acquaintances.  I knew no one and Liam only knew a few people, but it was lots of fun.  And the food was amazing.  I had to laugh because we were in charge of making a vegan recipe and the joke was that we were set up to have the least favorite dish of the night.  (Curried pumpkin soup if you’re curious; I happen to think it’s quite good but it didn’t really go with the non-vegan offerings.)

Now that we are settled I feel like I can get back to enjoying hobbies that I had set aside while we were working toward relocating.  I attempt to become a “good” knitter each winter and this year is no exception.  I’ve been re-learning everything that I forgot over the warmer months and I have also picked up a set of crochet hooks although I haven’t touched them yet. I got my new library card and have been enjoying the vast e-lending library that I have access to as a result.  Though I try to avoid going to the library on my lunch hour (it’s amazingly crowded during the workday) I may have to drop by soon and see whether they have a foreign language children’s section.  I’ve been working on a new language – possibly in preparation of a trip next year and kids’ books are a great supplement to my daily practice.

My Christmas shopping is entirely done, although if we’re being totally transparent the last gift is still on its way to me and all of them need to be wrapped.  But as a result I had the time (and desire) to do some selfish shopping this month.  I was crushed to realize that secondhand shopping is terrible here – especially the thrift offerings.  So I wound up coming home completely empty handed.

And finally, can we talk about the weather?  Forgive the shouting but it’s necessary because WE STILL DO NOT HAVE SNOW.  I think that the northernmost part of the state finally has some in the 10-day forecast but we are looking at the mid 40’s for the next several days.  I’m not complaining but it is so, so weird.  Remind me about this when I’m whining my face off in March, okay?  Maybe when I’m complaining about wearing my winter boots to Easter services.

 

Month(s) in Review: July, August, September, October (!!!) 2015

1015 color

Hi.

Remember me?

This summer and early part of fall were fraught with stressors. And there were sad things, too: if you’ve been following along you’ll know a few of my family members passed away this summer. These are the first members of my parents’ generation to pass and it’s frightening in many ways.

Lots happened over the past few months that I didn’t want to dwell on (at the time) or remember in detail anymore. The sinking ship that was my mood and my life (so dramatic) finally righted itself toward the end of September. So, let me start there in catching you up on what has been going on around here lately.

1. We moved! I don’t just mean moved to a new apartment. I mean we moved states. And time zones! And climates (sob). That’s right; this is hello from New England! And yes, I already miss Chicago and its pizza.

2. New job! I was in an okay-but-not-great situation back in Chicago. I had a job that I was able to do mostly from home but that wasn’t related to my graduate degree. I got my new job as a direct result of what I studied in grad school – so, yay! I don’t think this is a permanent position for me (as in, I don’t expect to retire from the office I’m sitting in now) but I do think the job has the potential to propel me to that ‘forever’ job.

3. Job offer! Shortly after I began training for my current position I was actually offered another relatively local job. It would probably have required a move to be feasible in the long-term and it was slightly closer to what I dream of doing but there were a few factors that made the role I stayed in much more appealing. Still, I seriously considered switching and it was ultimately a very tough choice.

4. Interview offer! Immediately after I turned down the second offer I was asked if I was interested in interviewing for a third position. The interview will be later this winter. Job #3 is actually a blend of my current job and the one I turned down so I am going to take the interview if timing works in my favor. (If it doesn’t; no big deal.) I’ve never interviewed from a comfortable position before – I’ve always wanted out of the role that I was in, and I feel like I want that experience just so I’m comfortable the next time the situation arises. And I’m not just taking advantage of the opportunity; this is a job that I would also give serious consideration to if offered.

I typed this up on my lunch break and got distracted by the ocean view from my office. I’m going home to my small, quirky apartment that is walking distance from where I work. We may get lobster rolls while running errands on Saturday. My in-laws will likely come down this weekend for dinner and to see our new place. And though my family doesn’t (yet!) have tickets out here there is discussion of their coming once we start to thaw.  Things are very, very good right now.

Liam also had a very stressful summer at work and that was ultimately what pushed us into trying to relocate as quickly as possible. He is currently debating between two job offers here in New England. Neither are the dream job he thought he would have (something fell through; I haven’t pressed much) but both are good options for him while he looks for the next great match.

And that’s where we stand.  Hope things are well with you!

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.

tomatojune

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.  🙂

Blood moons, brunch and backyard chores: Easter 2015

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Easter is my favorite, and I love, love the fact that we were blessed with such excellent weather for all of the Easter 2015 weekend.  As usual we spent the holiday weekend with my parents in their newish home.

We all made it to the house by about 7:30 on Friday afternoon and had a small meal of white fish and water then.  (Good Friday is both meat-free and a fasting day for adult Catholics.)  My dad had had a long day and went to bed after dinner was cleaned up.  We then decided it would be fun to teach my mother how to play beer pong.  It was all about the mechanics.  We weren’t drinking; we had water in the cups and were drinking tea…it was the squarest game ever, but also so much fun.  My mother was hilariously excellent (are you sure you never played before?!) even if she did walk up to the table like she was bowling every single time.  Great memories!  And now her friends cannot tease her about how she doesn’t know how to play!

Did you catch the blood moon (early) Saturday morning?  Even though the reports were saying that there wouldn’t be much to see in Chicago we got up for the blood moon anyway and watched it for 30 minutes or so.  The reports were right – there was very little to see, and to add insult to injury there was a cloud covering the moon at the very moment we were at “peak moon.”

After that it was all about doing yard chores around the house.  Most of the landscaping and outdoor furniture is leftover from the previous homeowners and some of it is in rough condition.  We got to work re-screening the porch (truth: this was mostly a boy job), power washing concrete and iron furniture, pulling up weeds and mostly-dead shrubs and adding new mulch to the beds.  Plenty of work remains for us next time, but we really enjoyed spending the day out in the nice weather and helping to fix up my parents’ house.

While we were slaving outside my parents were making homemade pizzas for an Easter feast.  As always the margherita pizza was the favorite.  So simple, but so delicious.  Others included a taco pizza, sausage and onion and an I-don’-t-know-ask-the-boys-but-I-think-they-put-Cholula-on-it that the boys devoured on their own.

Because the college kids had a decently long drive back to campus we went to early mass on Sunday morning and came home to an easy brunch.  Fresh fruit, scones (made the night before), bacon (because, boys), quiche and toast and spreads.  It was decreed that we will do something similar from now on: big dinner on Saturday evening; smaller, lighter brunch on Easter morning.

After brunch we exchanged Easter baskets (candy and socks; the usual) and then took turns heading home. My mom took several pictures of her kids in dressy clothes but other than that the weekend was under-documented.  Must fix that next time!

2015 Word of the Year

I realize that we’re already halfway through March (goodness!) and that everyone and her sister has already done this, but I wanted to share my word of the year for 2015.

The idea is something that I have been tossing around in my head since January, but couldn’t get myself to commit to until this past weekend. I picked a bit of an odd word – you’ll see – and I kept trying other words on to see if they would fit better. But then something happened this weekend to absolutely convince me that I had chosen the right word.

You know how people say that sermons and homilies really speak to them? How people will say that something they heard touched them and was exactly what they needed at that very moment. Yeah….that has never been me. I appreciate a good homily as much as the next person. A good argument well presented is one of my favorite things.

So imagine my surprise in typing out these next words: the homily at Sunday’s mass really convicted me. I now see that my chosen word is completely appropriate for this stage in my life. The priest used my word not once, but twice in his homily. And the message was exactly what I needed to hear at this very moment.

My word for this year is redoubled. Redoubled? Yes. Odd, right? It means to “make or become greater; more intense”. The homily itself was about Lent, and how we’re at the part of the season where our resolve is fading, our excitement over the changes that we are making in our lives is waning. This is the point at which we need to redouble our efforts so that we can live well during these last few weeks rather than slog along until Easter.

There are a few aspects of this stage in my life that aren’t all that great. There are projects that I’ve started and am stalling on because we’re in that stage where it is hard to see progress.

Do better. Work harder.

I need to redouble my efforts in a few areas of my life in order to see the progress that I am looking for. And last Sunday gave me even more motivation to do so.

Month in Review: January 2015

ETA: Mea culpa.  I was a total space case and forgot to give credit where it’s due.  The idea for a monthly review came from Amanda (The Lady Okie) and I’ll be joining in with her link up this year.

One of the things that I appreciate most about maintaining a blog is the ability to record even the seemingly mundane parts of life because these can be my favorite to look back on after the fact.  Special occasions and fun trips are great but those tend to stay at the forefront of my memory anyway.  Lots of blogs do week or weekend in review posts; that’s too much for me.  I loved the idea of a monthly recap, and I’m so glad that Amanda decided to make it a linkup this year.

I think I’m going to include a recap of the first day of each month and then add a few details about the month overall at the very end.  Feel free to skip this post if recaps aren’t your thing.

January 1 2015

Our location: Chicago(ish)

Temp: 29 —–> That’s pretty warm!

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Even with a huge tumbler of coffee I still managed to take a seriously indulgent nap on New Years Day.

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But I also made it to the gym!  (The closest thing to a gym selfie I’ll do.)

We woke up hangover-free on January 1 but had a lazy day nevertheless.  We watched a soul-crushing Chicago Blackhawks loss, saw a good portion of the Rose Bowl Parade and used our favorite Christmas gift (the Starbucks January mugs!) for the first time. We also checked in with both of our families to see how their year started off, hit the gym and made an apple and pork salad for dinner that night.

We discussed our goals for the year and what we hoped to accomplish – it was an exciting conversation, and one that we’ve decided to revisit each month.

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Month in Review: January 2015

Places traveled: New England! Instead of stressing ourselves out with holiday travel and fitting all the things in with both sides, we decided to wait until the first week of January to visit L’s family.

States we slept in: IL, OH, MA, ME, NH —–> next year we’re heading south instead…

Books read: The Hunger Games.  Liked it for the most part but I found the beginning really slow.  Catching Fire.  Ditto my thoughts on the first book.  Mockingjay – because I had to finish the trilogy.

TV shows watched: Downton  Abbey is getting so very soapy but Maggie Smith’s character is brilliant.  At this point I pretty much watch just for her.

Projects completed: I have nothing to show for this but I was able to sell/donate/toss a bunch of random stuff we weren’t using.

Dates: Well, we took a road trip together so that was quite a bit of quality time.  I guess we did have one date night at a nicer restaurant while we were out east.

Snippets: We filed our taxes.  Survived a nasty car accident.  Bought a new car.  Enjoyed a moderately mild month weather-wise.  Liam began another school term.  We both dealt with different work-related stressors.  It was an eventful month.

January 2015; I don’t miss you one bit.