January 27, 2010

Free Stuff + Recycling = Freecycle

Did you catch the title of this post?! What a great equation, right? I am huge into recycling. It's not convenient for me where I live because recycling is not made available. (which is a whole other topic of concern, that residents must pay to recycle...what is wrong with this picture!?) I, however, recycle everything that I possibly can. If I had a garbage disposal, I'd probably say that 90% of my garbage is recycled. (and no, I am not into the whole compost thing...that's just gross.) So I bring my huge bags of recycling down to the city and drop off here. I also take my recycling to my parent's house when I am in the burbs for long lengths of time.

It will come as no surprise then that when I came across a fellow blogging friends status on facebook about getting free stuff from freecycle, I immediately began googling it. Let me share with you what I found and welcome you to the world of Freecycle:

Welcome! The Freecycle Network™ is made up of 4,880 groups with 6,936,000 members across the globe. It's a grassroots and entirely nonprofit movement of people who are giving (& getting) stuff for free in their own towns. It's all about reuse and keeping good stuff out of landfills. Each local group is moderated by a local volunteer (them's good people). Membership is free. To sign up, find your community by entering it into the search box above or by clicking on “Browse Groups” above the search box. Have fun!

Okay so hopefully if the importance of recycling making you jump, then maybe free stuff entices you? Not to mention the shape that our economy is in, I'm sure you can value from the old saying, "Someone else's trash is someone else's treasure." My friends, treasures galore can be found on this site!!

I had my first chance of being a freecyler last Sunday. I responded to a post about some old bridal magazines and books. I set up a time and location to pick up the books and met with fellow freecycler, Daniele around 2:00 in the Lincoln Park neighborhood. Not only did I receive some old books and magazines, but she was also planning a wedding AND is a wedding coordinator and told me her best tips about planning a wedding on a small budget. She even told me she'll keep my email address handy for any other magazines or tips she comes across in the next few months. (*sidenote...yes, I brought Jason with me in case Danielle ended up being Danny, the creepy stalker or mass murderer. And yes, I thought it was a tad weird to be sharing bridal tips with a complete stranger, but it was nice to meet other nice people out there in an otherwise pretty self-centered city.)

Once I got home and reviewed the materials, I realized when she said "old books," she really meant "OLD...as in early 90's." But as much as the styles have changed since then, the books still had some great tips of how to budget for a wedding. And one of the magazines she gave me was from the UK and though that wasn't much help in finding local deals it was helpful with honeymoon ideas Jason and I wouldn't have normally thought of.

Take a minute to click on the link above and register yourself for freecycle. You never know what you may find...or what in your house you may not want that is certainly someone else's treasure!


I had a digital back in the day but the zoom stopped working. Jason had a nice camera that I borrowed from time to time and then I sort of took possession of it since I take pictures of everything! Well, sadly the last time I saw it was on December 20th at my parents house where we took some really cute pictures in front of the Christmas tree (and a really cute framer of me and the puppy!!) I've since had to use my iPhone to capture all my memories which doesn't have a flash and requires the steadiest of hands to capture anything. (so pretty much rule out most living and moving things) Jason, being the wonderful, loving, kind and giving person that he is, went and bought us a new camera last weekend. This will be the camera we use at my showers, my bachelorette party, his bachelor party, all our candid wedding pics and everything in between both wedding and non-wedding that you'll read about in the coming months here on my blog. I am beyond excited to have a new camera! Say "Cheese!"
*kinda funny that I had to take the picture of the camera with the iPhone!

7th Grade All Over Again...But Even Better!

My friend, Carli, decided to spend her 27th birthday at Medieval Times. Little did I know how much I'd enjoy this birthday party. Not only was it different than a typical bar or house party but it brought back so many memories of when I went there in 7th grade for my birthday party.
And yes, it brought back the memories of my birthday party but it also brought back memories of who I was and where my life was way back in 7th grade...who I was friends with, how much I loved horses and riding, what my big concerns were as a 7th grader, how I still keep in touch with some of those friends who were at my 7th grade party and how I'd never have guessed when I was there cheering on the blue knight back in 1992, where I'd be in my life16 years later cheering on the black and white team. What a wonderful night of flashbacks and appreciation for how blessed my life is! And even more fun being able to celebrate with a dear friend of mine and 15 of her friends eating with our fingers, shouting at the knights and pretending like we're in 7th grade all over again. Go Black and white night!! And Happy 27th Birthday Carlina!!

January 16, 2010


Jason and I spent most of Saturday at (stay tuned for store name) registering for our wedding gifts!! When I say most of Saturday, I really mean SIX hours! We went in thinking we'd just get started and spend a couple hours but six hours later with achy feet and empty stomachs, we had completed the registry. We had a lot of fun picking everything out. Both Jason and I have a lot of stuff to combine but a lot of my stuff is from college and being that he is a boy, he doesn't have matching towels, decorative bathrooms or any color in his place so there is definitely room for a girl's touch. Jason and I have a hard time making the smallest decisions together. What to eat each night is a constant battle of, "I don't care, what do you want?" until one of us finally has to decide. I figured registering would be just as difficult, but we worked so well as a team!! (or maybe I cared more about what color towels we have than what we eat for dinner? LOL) We will be registering at one or two more places. Hoping it doesn't take us as long as the first but either way, I love every second of this wedding stuff!

January 15, 2010


I grew up loving horses. At age seven I was given the choice of horse back riding lessons or piano lessons. (we had just moved into a new house which had an old piano in the basement which I loved to play on each night.) I chose horse back riding. I can tell you exactly where I was standing in our house when I made my decision too, but little did I know how much that one little choice would completely change my life.

I started with riding lesson once a week, switching from private lessons to semi-private to group lessons. Then I was up to one group lesson a week and one semi-private. Then on December 23, 1989, I got every little girls most desired Christmas present, a pony. But in my case, it was a horse. A white, black and brown spotted appaloosa named Calico, to be precise. From that day forward, until I went away to school, I spent every day at the barn. This meant every day after school, and every Saturday all day and Sundays right after church, I'd be at the barn. I was also in other sports through-out junior high and high school, had an active social life and was very involved at my church but the barn was where I had the most fun. After Calico was a thoroughbred named Coyote who was followed by my baby, Stetson - a paint, who was the sweetest, cutest and most comfortable horse. My last year before college, I had to put my Stetson to sleep. It was one of the hardest things I had to do.

Lucky for me, I got another chance to ride again later in life. I joined the equestrian team at Northern Illinois University. I got to ride at a very discounted price and loved every second of it. It also came at a time in my life where I was going through some really difficult times and was it was confirmed just how therapeutic riding and being around horses is.

I miss horses and riding so much. I wish I had a way that I could ride, but anything related to horses it is not anywhere near my budget. So to make up for that, Jason and I go down one of the very few stables in the city. You may think that's weird, but where do you think the horses are boarded that walk up and down Michigan Avenue which pull carriages? One of those barns in just a couple blocks from Jasons, so we pet and feed the horses as often as we can. There has been a new addition to the group who I have fallen in love with! He looks just like a horse who I named Chester in a dream I had a few weeks ago. So of course, I named this guy Chester.

Isn't he cute?!?

The horses who live at this barn aren't very friendly but Chester comes up to me every time! It's silly that I get so much joy from seeing these horses every day, but I love it! I've always thought about the possibility of working with children and horses, as therapy. I wonder if with my future as a Special Ed teacher may open that door for me, but we'll see! For now, I cannot wait until the day I get to ride again or have the opportunity to be around horses regularly.

*A special note to Mom and Dad - thank you so much for allowing me to have one of the best childhoods I ever could have asked for and the opportunity ride and have a horse! Thank you!!

January 11, 2010

I Found My Dress!!

It is beautiful and I am so excited to wear it to marry my best friend! You can find out all about it in 250 days! :) Thank you Mom and Dad!!!

January 10, 2010

Bridal Expo with the Girls

My mom and closest friends went to the Schaumburg Bridal Expo. I knew there wouldn't be many vendors for me being that we're having a destination wedding but I felt that attending a bridal expo was something every bride should do. Also, being that we're having a destination wedding, Jason and I have selected a much more intimate bridal party. I've been trying to figure out a way to include my closest girlfriends in everything and one of them was for us all to go to the bridal expo together. We met for lunch at Houlihans and then went to the expo. Just as I expected, 98% of the vendors won't be needed for our Mexican wedding, but we still had fun going to each booth for their stamp (complete the card and you are entered into a chance for some drawing - probably like a .0001% chance of me winning but was you never know?) The most common question today was, "Have you picked a venue/DJ/photographer?" When I responded with, "Yes, it's in Mexico!" They'd always respond with some witty remark that I should take them with, or how well they travel to Mexico.

After the fashion show, we had a lot of fun trying out all of the photo booths and finally had luck in the last one...the others are too bad (and funny) to post! Virginia was also with us today but she left right before we did the photo opps. Sadly, Stacy wasn't able to come after she had car troubles and Meredith had family obligations. Laura was at her own expo in Iowa, Tiffany is busy preparing for the work week after being off school for so long and Judy had a friend in town all weekend. I'm really looking forward to all the other fun things that go along with being a bride-to-be for the next 251 days!

Thank you girls and Mom for sharing in this special day with me as a bride-to-be!!

January 8, 2010

The McRib is BACK!!!

I look forward to November for one reason, McRibs come back to Chicago. However, this year, November came and went without any McRib sightings. Trust me, I know. There are other McRib freaks out there like myself. Click here to see what I'm talking about. I promise, you'll laugh!

Yesterday I got word that there were two sightings, one on the south side of Chicago and one in the loop. So I picked Jason up from work and we headed straight to McDonalds and ordered 2 McRib meals (minus the onions, of course...just as my dad taught me).

Sadly it will be the last one of the year because it doesn't go with the wedding diet, but oh my gosh was it good! Just as I remembered it! :)

January 7, 2010

I Declared Today a Snow Day!

We got a lot of snow today! And it's still snowing! I love it, if it's going to be cold, I want snow! When I scraped my car off about 2 hours ago I think I scraped about 4-5 inches, maybe more? It is so pretty!

I felt that today was the perfect day to take the Christmas tree down. I don't usually like to go much past January 1 but I was downtown much of this week. I decided to buy myself the new Norah Jones CD to keep me company as I took the ornaments off; it's always sad taking down the tree and decorations. But how fun to think of where I'll be living and where my life will be the next time I put it up!?

Happy Snow Day!

January 6, 2010

No Texting and Driving

No texting while driving. I knew this was inevitable. I'll be the first to admit that I do a lot of texting while driving...and emailing and facebooking, and internet searching... But I also know the hazards of this and the reason for the law. I am completely FOR this law and am going to do my best to avoid getting any tickets for this. It's just that I am in the car ALL the time driving back and forth to Chicago usually during very slow traffic and I get bored! Or if I am really good, I'll make it through all the traffic but then once I hit a red light, I'll cave and have to respond to a text or research whatever it is that has popped into my head on that 2 hour drive. My car is at a stand-still...I'm not going to hit anyone. But even then, it is now illegal. I am doing my absolute best and hope by the middle of the month I'll have completely worked out all my needs to do anything phone related until my car is parked and I'm no longer in the driver seat. Wish me luck.

January 5, 2010

Go Hawkeyes!

I've never liked the Hawkeyes. Matter of fact, I would go as far to say they were my least favorite college team, and I don't even watch college ball, so that's saying a lot. The reason for my strong feelings is that everywhere you go in Chicago there are Iowa fans. And they all think they rule Chicago. I went to a Cubs game with my dad a couple years ago and we get there to find out that half the stadium is full of Iowa fans because it's some "Iowa Day" or something. (Northern Illinois University was playing Iowa at Soldier Field the following day) Everyone there was wearing gold and black for Iowa and that almost put me over the edge. Who goes to a Cubs game and wears a different sports teams colors (unless you're the opposing team?) Obviously Iowa fans did!

Well about a year after that Cubs game, I started dating Jason. Jason is from Iowa. Jason is a Hawkeyes fan. Jason was also at the Cubs game with a bunch of friends who were sporting yellow and black! I have had a hard time with this. Our first Christmas together, Jason bought me my own yellow Hawkeyes t-shirt to rub it in a little more. Isn't he sweet? From there on, it's been a little joke about the Hawkeyes. He's given me an Iowa item each year at Christmas so I am now the proud owner (and wearer) of 2 sweatshirts, one sweatpants and one t-shirt. However, I still haven't given in to calling myself a fan.

Tonight the Hawkeyes played in the Orange Bowl at 7:00 but I had an interview at 6:00. It was this afternoon, that I finally realized I was disappointed I would miss part of the game! I've always told Jason that as soon as we're married, I will make it official and become a full-blown Hawkeyes fan. It'd be different if I had a college team who I loved, but since I don't I'll (secretly) admit I'm kinda liking the Hawkeyes!

January 3, 2010

New Layout and a Season of Preparing

Last night I spent some time updating the layout for my blog. Seems like everywhere I look, people are making change in 2010 and I felt the need to participate. When I changed my blog layout, I lost a lot of the features I had on my last one so it took a long time to update. Think everything is back in place but we'll see. I still have some minor adjustments and edits to make.

So along the lines of people making changes, this new year feels different for me than others; there will be so many changes for me in 2010! Obvious ones are that Jason and I are getting married, and I'll be starting grad school. Less obvious ones are that I am very emotional and analytical, so with both of those changes there's a lot of emotion and preparation that go into that. For today, one I'll focus on are Jason and I moving in together. Jason and I are committed to not cohabiting until we're married so I also have a major move that is happening this year. YAY, I'll be back in the city again but I also realize I haven't had a roommate since 2005. It wasn't be accident or chance that I haven't had a roommate since then. I like my space and want things quiet when I want them quiet. I'm a little messy and when you live alone, there's not one to tell me when I need to clean up. I could list a million other advantages of living alone. Yes its certainly been lonely at times, but that's why I have a cat! I plan to use these last 8 months as a time to appreciate my solitude and prepare for this major change in my life. I know I don't have many people who follow this blog, but if you do, I'd love for some words of wisdom on this. If you're single and reading this but have experience in your adulthood with sharing a home with someone or other wisdom you may have on this topic, please do! I may be jumping the gun a bit on this being that it's a long ways away, but as I said, I'm extremely analytical and the more time I have to prepare, the better.

Coming up in 2010 and beyond...I'll be asking you to share your wisdom on the first years of marriage. Raising a puppy as a married couple. Preparing to a child into our lives and more. Oh the joys of what my life will bring in the coming years!

January 2, 2010

I Love to Sleep!

Growing up, I was one of those kids who would sleep until noon every day. Even on Christmas morning my brother would have to come wake me up to open presents. One year at ISU, I had to take an 8 am class three days a week and though I managed to get there every day it was only because I knew I was going back home to nap. One of the best things about being unemployed right now is how much shut-eye I am able to get. For the first 6 months or so, I would get up at a reasonable hour but then took a nap every single day. I've kicked the nap habit (except for lazy Sundays after church) but still get a lot of sleep and love it! I am so appreciative of how many hours I am in a horizontal position. Some people think it's such a waste of time to sleep, but not me! I need a solid 8 hours a night to be at my best and really do much better on 9 or 10!