April 30, 2010

Earth Day Update

I never posted what I decided to do for Earth Day 2010. I have given up paper towels. I used to be terrible with paper towels and used them to dry off my hands after I washed them. Yes, I know, awful! So I haven't been using them at all the past week 1/2 and its been great! I even added some extra dish towels to our wedding registry and hope to encourage Jason to knock the habit. Did anyone give anything up or make any changes for our environment this year?

April 29, 2010

Road-trip to Milwaukee!

Jason had a hotel room that was already paid for and had to be used so we planned a trip to my favorite state, Wisconsin, to hit up a Cubs/Brewers game and spend Sunday in Milwaukee.

We got to Milwaukee around 1:00 on Saturday and went to the Miller Brewery and got a tour of the facility. It was very informative which challenged my attention span but it was a really great tour, and the beer sampling afterward was great! I've always been a Miller Girl, plus they sampled my favorite summer beer, Summer Shandy - what a treat!

Then we went to the Cubs game at Miller Park which is always a blast. And, the Cubs WON!! Two highlights of Miller Park is the Sausage race, it never gets old to me. And during the 7th inning stretch, they play "Beer Barrel Polka," how classic for Wisconsin! (Shout out to my grandma and grandpa for making sure I know that song along with every other polka!)

Sunday we went to this area my friend, Stephanie, told me about called Third Ward, which had so many cute shops, but they were all closed on Sunday. :( We did find a delicious place to have brunch...and a bloody Mary.

On our way home we stopped at the outlets in Kenosha and Mars Cheese Castle. The Cheese Castle was AMAZING. We made up for all the times we've just driven past by purchasing a LOT of cheese. I think we may have both been mice in a previous life with how much we love cheese! I can say with absolute certainty that we will not be driving past Mars Cheese Castle without stopping, probably both in and out of Wisconsin.

Thank you Wisconsin for yet another great get-away, you never seem to disappoint me!

song-of-the-day|Beer Barrel Polka

April 22, 2010

Happy Earth Day!

Happy Earth Day!

Last year I decided to give up bottled water for Earth Day and I am proud to say that one year later I am still not buying bottled water. I have had to purchase them in very rare instances where a drinking fountain wasn't available but generally I'd try to buy Vitamin Water or Gatorade to avoid purchasing something that is available from the flip of a faucet. Instead I carry my stainless steel water bottle everywhere and refill at the drinking fountain. (and if you're worried about germs, there are bottles sold with filters to catch anything that could be harmful.)

According to www.treehugger.com (ignore the name people!), approximately 1.5 million barrels of oil, enough to run 100,000 cars for a whole year, are used to make plastic water bottles, and transporting these water bottles (usually from overseas!) uses even more oil. During the purification process, two gallons of water are wasted for every gallon that goes into the bottles and that's in addition to the millions of gallons of water that's used in the plastic-making process. The real kicker for me, is that nearly 90% of water bottles are not recycled and wind up in landfills where it takes thousands of years for the plastic to decompose.

I also learned in my Environmental Health class years ago that tap water is safer for you to drink because it is regulated by the EPA whereas bottled water is regulated by the FDA which has less strict guidelines.

Is there anything you're doing this year to make a difference for Mother Earth? Maybe consider giving up bottled water for a week, month or forever? I'm still looking for something to do for this year so if you have any suggestions, please share!

April 21, 2010

Happy Tax Day!

I've never gotten anything worth mentioning back from my taxes and have often had to pay instead. This last year I have been earning next to nothing to live off...but have been blessed by my parents who allow me to live in their apartment building much cheaper than my Chicago apartment and have an amazing fiance who takes me out for delicious meals and entertainment. I really can't complain too much, right? But when I see the amount of money that's taken out of my unemployment check each month it baffles my mind. But I was really shocked and overly excited when I got my tax return and it was more than I'd ever imagined! I really needed a new computer for my schoolwork. Being that Jason's just a tad savvy with computers we headed off to Best Buy to price them out. He managed to cut a deal with the manager and we got a really nice hp with all the tools I'll ever need for school and all the fun features I'll need for wedding planning, pictures, blogging, and whatever else technology comes up with in the next couple years!

Plus, I was able to buy Jason his wedding band which was something I had no idea how I would be able to purchase. But I am proud to say I was able to buy him just the perfect ring and cannot wait for him to wear it in September!

Plus I have a little extra remaining, which will be put toward something I am very passionate about and the rest will be saved. Not a bad deal at all! Now if I could just figure out a way to make the student loans disappear in a couple years!

April 19, 2010

Wedding Season Has Begun!

This past Saturday was the beginning of 2010's wedding season! My friends Andi and Albert were hitched on Saturday April 17 in Schaumburg. The ceremony was absolutely gorgeous and Andi made a beautiful bride! The cocktail hour was fun, they had some specialty table featuring Korean food which I tried and actually enjoyed! It was comical because Andi is a big food lover and has introduced me to my first vegan, Mediterranean and Thai restaurants so how fitting for me to try Korean at her wedding! The dinner was delicious and reception was fun. (I'm a huge fan of photo montages and theirs was really cute) I will post pictures as soon as I get them! Congrats Andi and Albert, you make a wonderful couple! I wish you all the happiness in the world! :)

Long weekend

Jason had surgery this past weekend to hopefully rid of all the sinus infections he gets. (and he can't complain about my cat anymore!) The surgery was on Friday afternoon and he was out of commission all weekend. It made for a long weekend since I wanted to help in every way but there really wasn't anything I could do to help. Plus I am very lonely on the weekdays since I don't work and have too much adult interaction so the weekend is when I recharge for the week and that didn't happen. This weekend reminded me of when he traveled and I had to do things alone all the time and missed him. It, once again, reminded me how much I love being with him and spending our weekends together and how much I value our friendship. I am very happy to report that he is doing MUCH better and already went back to work today!

April 16, 2010

Slow Traveling

Welcome to the new speed for the Eisenhower while it's under construction. Do not expect to go any faster than this until the construction is complete. Oh, and this picture was taken at 10:15 IN THE EVENING!! This is going to be one LONG summer of commuting back and forth.


Spring is here! The trees are blooming in the courtyard. they're so beautiful and just scream SPRING! :)

April 12, 2010

Celebration of Hope

Did you know that every day, almost 16,000 children die from hunger-related causes and one child dies every five seconds. Or that our country has enough food to feed the entire world 5 times around!?

Last Sunday was the kick-off for Celebration of Hope, of my favorite times at my beloved church. Celebration of Hope is one of Willow Creek’s ways for the congregation to express God’s love, bringing compassion to our very broken world.

We Stand |We Serve | We Give

He has showed you, O Man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. Micha 6:8

This week was the just the beginning and Willow challenged all of us to participate in the 5 Day Food and Water Challenge where we are to Stand in solidarity with our global brothers and sisters by eating as half the worlds population for 5 days. The meal options were as follows:
  • Plain oatmeal or Cream of Wheat
  • Rice and Beans
  • Rice and bits of chicken or fish
  • A small portion of carrots, cabbage, onions, tomatoes, squash or broccoli
  • Tap water
I decided that I wanted to take part of this challenge and just eat oatmeal and beans and rice. I'd like to share with you what I felt through the process. This was what I journaled when I had the time or thought to journal.

10:00 Oatmeal
11:40 Rice and beans because I am so hungry I cannot wait any longer
3:36 REALLY hungry - I'm thinking I need to eat something because this is so unhealthy to not eat! I'm trying to study but can't stop thinking about how hungry I am. I cannot wait for dinner but know I need to wait so that I can make it the rest of the night.
3:54 Am I really supposed to be this hungry?
4:45 Cannot wait any longer - Ate some beans and rice...the beans were gross
7:40 In Class - I'm so hungry but my stomach hasn't growled yet!
8:00 Officially CRABBY, Irritable beyond what I have felt in a long time
9:30 home from class and cannot just go to bed like this
9:40 - had 1/3 cup of milk and a granola bar (I cheated)
Notes: I was really craving Starbucks White mocha today! No idea why since I don't normally have Starbucks? I was really bummed I couldn't bring my Seltza water to class (my treat) and my pretzels (also a treat and to help me from being too bored)

10:30 Oatmeal (seriously bored with plain oatmeal)
1:30 Really hungry! I've been cleaning at my parents house all day so I didn't notice it nearly as much as yesterday.
1:35 Had some beans and rice with my mom, but it was good rice and beans (from a box) so I know it was a treat
7:00 Ate brown rice and beans...ugh, no more beans!
9:30 had 1/2 cup milk and a little bit of imitation crab meat (again, I cheated)
Notes: As I passed a Caribou Coffee, I just shook my head. It seems like it was such a luxury. Then I noticed the McDonalds, Burger King, Taco Bell, Giordano's, and then passed Jewel (ohhhh the food that was inside of Jewel!!) Really craving Jamba Juice today.

Started out the day completely unrested, couldn't sleep at ALL last night.
9:30 Oatmeal
10:30 Extremely irritable at babysitting. I mean REALLY irritable
12:30 Rice and beans
3:45 -4:30 Napped, I cannot tell you how tired I felt!
4:00 Stomach growling like you wouldn't believe!
5:00 Rice and beans
6:45 Not necessarily hungry yet but want to eat because I'm bored sitting in class
7:35 ate a granola bar during break - really crabby (Cheated!)
9:30 1/2 Cup of milk (Cheated again!)
Notes: I was thinking about food all day. The girl next to me in class didn't eat all her popcorn...POPCORN, my favorite food! I couldn't believe she was just going to throw that away, I was so hungry! While that sounds like I am being dramatic that was seriously what I was thinking. Though I got a nap in, I was still so tired after class and didn't have any energy.

10:30 Oatmeal
12:45 beans and rice - cannot stand this anymore.
4:00 went into Dominicks to buy carrots for my horse friends and just stood in the produce department in awe at what we have available.
6:25 I'm writing this blog...I know that was going to be the last meal I ate as part of this challenge. I have gotten what I think I am supposed to get out of this challenge. I know I am cheating but being finished and going out to dinner tonight but I have certainly gained a stronger appreciation for what it means to be hungry, though I never ever will really understand that considering I am healthy and being malnourished hasn't stunted my health/growth. Plus every time I was hungry, I'd just fill up my water bottle and drink some tap water. Most of the people who are starving don't have safe water to drink. And to think that these people are having to walk miles just to get water to drink, then lug it back to their families. I was so tired all week, I didn't have the energy to work out. I was a crab to most people I encountered. Tuesday night Jason and I didn't really even talk much because we were both too irritable.

God has really been working on my heart and joked that I didn't think I could be any more broken for the poor but this challenge has really made a lasting impression on me. Though I will eat too much food at dinner tonight and enjoy my seltzer water I've been craving all week and probably treat myself to the Jamba Juice I've also been craving, I am going to do my best and always remember all the families over seas and even in our own country who don't have enough food in their bellies every night. I am very thankful that I had this opportunity this week and look forward to the next part of We Serve...to be posted on later this month.

April 11, 2010

My Study Spot Last Week

Before I discovered the library yesterday I was studying at Starbucks and when I looked up I realized this was my view. Amazing, right? Definitely put a smile on my face. It is so hard to study at Starbucks though, the music was too loud and there were way too many people talking, not to mention that this view made me want to look out the window and day dream. I think I got done in about 2.5 hours what I will get done in an hour at my new library spot. But still enjoyed the view!

April 10, 2010

Library Card!!

This is my new library card. First time I have ever had a library card! I grew up in unincorporated West Chicago so we didn't get to use the library, park district, pool, etc. (without paying out of resident fees!) I thought I had to wait until I was living in Chicago again to get the card so I had Jason get one that I was going to use, but truth be found that all you need is your license...which mine still has my Chicago address on it. I am so excited! Today we checked out 7 CD's but I plan to do some research to find some books soon! Plus, what I am most excited about is that while I was in there I realized what a perfect spot to study!! I've always been into the library to study but National-Louis doesn't really have a library...and this one is literally next door to Jasons (AKA, my future home!)

I cannot wait to use this card every week! (to check out books...the studying thing, well it's not that exciting!)

April 9, 2010

Spin Class

So I have been biking a lot at the gym since my knee is still giving me problems and I finally got up the courage to try a spin class.

As with every first group fitness class, I worry about the unknown. So for spin class it was,
  1. Do I need to wear bike shorts?
  2. So I need to have those fancy bike shoes?
  3. Will I be able to figure out the bike?
  4. What if I can't do it?
  5. Do I bring a water bottle...and is there a fancy "biking" water bottle I need?
The list goes on.

So I walk in and there's about 65% of the bikes taken so I find a bike in the last row (which of course what I wanted). Once it's noon, the instructor walked in and class began! From about the first 5 minutes I was having a blast, loving every second of it. The music was blasting, my heart rate was going. I was thinking about all the things I was going to put into this blog entry, I was practically writing it as I peddled away. But then it went something like this...10 minutes into it, the sweat was pouring off my face so much I could hardly see the bike in front of me. 20 minutes into it, I was shocked I hadn't had a heart attack yet. 30 minutes into it, I considered packing up my things and calling it a day...40 minutes and I was pretty sure I wouldn't be able to walk out of the class, let alone get myself home to be able to write the post I was so excited to share but I made it. Honestly, that had to be the hardest workout of my life! Kicked my butt! I cannot wait to take my next class! I'm pretty sure it'll have to wait a few days though because I'll be lucky if I can walk tomorrow! Awesome, awesome awesome, I recommend it to anyone looking for a good workout with a lot of sweat!

April 7, 2010

I'm a Grad Student!

I have completed my first week of grad school and I can still hardly believe it! Even tonight I had to enter my information into this website for my portfolio and I had to check the box for "graduate school" and I just shook my head saying, "Wow, I'm in grad school." What was even more exciting was that I had to pass COD to get home tonight and every time I pass that school it brings back memories. How much I have struggeled with school since the first time I went there to apply. The school doesn't even have the same entrances and buildings as it did when I attended and I mean come on, it wasn't that long ago! I'm just really excited to be journeying down this road in my life. I know it's a long road ahead and many many hours of studying, writing and observing students but I am excited. I can only imagine what kind of classroom setting I'll be teaching in a few years from now. A new chapter has begun!

April 5, 2010

Chicago with a Car

Last week I was sitting outside a Starbucks and a tow truck pulled up. Within literally 3 minutes, it had pulled away with this car behind it. Yes the car was parked illegally but have you ever experienced coming back to your car and having it not be there? It's so scary and it is not an easy task to get your car back...not to mention the cost to get it back! So after seeing this I thought I'd share my past month of parking in Chicago.

There's been no parking allowed by Jason's house due to some construction. So I've been parking in the Visitors lot, AKA "the courtyard." Last month, I find my car with a $120 ticket for not having a city sticker on my car! It was March! Don't you think I'd have a city sticker on my car by now if it was registered here?! (they begin July 1!) In order to contest it, I had to get a new registration card printed by the Secretary of State (no, having a copy in my car would be way too organized and easy!), make copies and write a letter to the City. Seriously a big pain.

Then last week I was parked at the gym in their parking garage. I get back to my car with a warning sticker saying that I was illegally parked because I was "taking up two spots" and that next time I would be towed! I literally had to get out of my car to see what they were talking about. Yes, in fact, I was parked over my line, but only by about a quarter of an inch! The next day I was there I decided to take pictures of how everyone parks there to show how unnecessary this notice was. Needless to say now when I go, I make sure I'm parked perfectly between the lines (even if this does mean having to up pass up a bizzilion spots that I can't fit into anymore)

Parking in Chicago is the biggest pain...even when you think you're legally parked they'll find a way to get ya! And if you ever want to park in a meter, forget about it! No one can afford those anymore! And don't get me started with potholes in the city...the last time I had a tire blow from hitting one, I just never heard back from the city who claimed to have a system in place to help pay back your cost for new tires! A year and a half later, I still wait.

At least it's Spring! Maybe I'll start leaving my car safely in my lot in Wheaton and take the Metra here and walk everywhere...at least the CTA is on time, clean and reliable in Chicago! (that was a joke for anyone reading who hasn't experienced!)