December 29, 2010

My Christmas Cactus

I love houseplants, love them, but I can't keep them alive for anything! I've had them infested with bugs which eventually kills them. I have over-watered them, usually my favorite way of killing them. I once had a mushroom growing out of one (however, that wasn't my fault...I wasn't home for over a week and my place was all closed up and it was HOT and obviously very humid in there) A few months ago I came home to a plant upside down knocked down from the counter by Sam, who is NOT allowed on the counter. (I wish I had a camera to see all the places he goes when I'm not here) Most recently I had a plant take a fall when a book shelf crumbled to the ground and the plant went right along with it. I'm still trying to salvage parts of that one in a cup of water by the sink. I've even managed to kill several cacti before. But a couple years ago I became slightly obsessed with the Christmas catus because a girl at work had one. I eventually got around to buying one and figured with my history of plant-killing, I'd never see it bloom. You can imagine my surprise and excitement when it started blooming a couple weeks ago! Its not exactly blooming all at once, it's taking its sweet time, but that's even better, each one blooms and gets me excited all over again. I think I've found one plant I've managed not to kill, we'll see if it's still around next year at this time!

December 28, 2010

A Perfect Christmas

Christmas was so special this year! Every card, text, email and note I received reminded us how special our first Christmas as a married couple would be and it surpassed my expectations! We got up early on Christmas Eve to head to my brothers house where would spend Kaylee's first Christmas opening gifts. She is just precious, all smiles and giggles as Mom helped her open gifts. Then we went to lunch together in Naperville, Kaylee slept through the entire lunch! It was great to be able to spend such a good amount of time with my Shawn, Tiffany and Kaylee. After we stuffed our bellies we went to pick up my parents and head to the Willow Creek Christmas Service. I was most excited to go to church on Christmas Eve! It's always been a tradition to go to church on Christmas eve with my family so to be able to go to a service again on Christmas Eve and have it be at our own church was fantastic! To have it be the Willow Christmas service too was an added bonus. For anyone who hasn't been to their Christmas service, it is just amazing and this year was no exception. It was heart-warming and was so wonderful that my parents were there with us too. After church, we went to Fridays to kill some time and grab snacks before heading to Grandma's to meet the rest of my mom's family who were in town this year. The kids are all so darn cute and always the highlight of my Christmas Eve. While they're all ripping open their gifts, then playing with them us cousins and aunts/uncles catch up while eating more good food. After all the fun, we drove back to the city. Jason and I watched Christmas Vacation while waiting for my parents to arrive. I think we went to bed later that night than I have in a over a year!

Christmas was spent with my parents (and Sophie) at our condo downtown. Jason made cinnamon rolls for breakfast then the rest of the day was spent watching Christmas movies, dad taking a nap and snoring, lots of food and lots of talking. We had some snacks while opening presents, followed by our Christmas dinner (on our new table!). It was so much fun cooking dinner for everyone and I was really glad everything turned out okay. I had my mom cook the ham so it would taste okay and I paid close attention so hopefully I can do it all on my own next time. After my parents left, Jason and I opened his families gifts and then each others. We then laid on the couch watching more Christmas movies and was just perfect! It's hard that we have to split our holidays between our families and couldn't see Jason's family but since we were able to see them for Thanksgiving, it was nice to be home in our own home for our first Christmas. I will remember this year for years to come, I hope your Christmas was just as special as ours! Merry Christmas!

December 27, 2010


Jason and I are getting a puppy! If it was up to me, I'd have 3 dogs, 4 cats, a few horses, some bunnies, ferrets, hamsters, lizards and pretty much anything that breathes but living in the city doesn't allow for that. Ever since Chaz died, I wanted to get another cat right away (Sammie's can't just have one animal!) but Jason said no because we had always planned to get a dog when we were married. Well, that time has come, we're married! After discussing what we wanted, we determined that I want a shelter dog and Jason wants one that doesn't shed. After checking many shelters and looking at daily, we realized that we were not going to get his wish with a shelter dog, unless it was a little dog and we don't want a little dog (at this point in our lives). (*note...most that we found on petfinders wouldn't allow us to take their dogs, we did apply for a few but since we live in the city without a fenced backyard, we weren't approved) Jason and I agreed a couple years ago that we wanted a goldendoodle and a couple months ago started looking for breeders and with a lot of prayer we found one that we both loved. It's a family farm up in Wisconsin where two sisters breed their family pooch. We talked on the phone with each sister for about 30 minutes and decided that from all they had to say, they truly love their dogs and weren't in this for the money, but instead for the love of their furry friend. We put down a deposit about a month ago and have been patiently waiting for updates of our puppies birth and today we finally got the email that he/she was born yesterday! There were 8 boys and 2 girls in the litter, we're not sure which sex we want but are so excited to go to Wisconsin to pick out our little bundle of joy as soon as possible. We were told we can take him/her home after 8 weeks and we can't wait! Let the countdown begin! Until then we have a lot of picking up to do around here and I need to start getting lots of sleep to prepare for some sleepless nights and early mornings!
one of those little cuties is ours!

December 23, 2010

December 23, 1989

I've blogged about horses before (you can read by clicking here) but 21 years ago Thursday my life changed. I remember the details like it was this morning! I woke up and my family and I were all supposed to head to the mall, but my dad said he had to make one quick stop for work to look at the someone's furnace. (totally not out of the norm for those days) I was especially excited for this stop though, we needed to stop at Dunham Woods, where I took horse-back riding lessons twice a week. My brother, the kid who hated all things horse-related was less than thrilled but I was ecstatic! When we got there, I was walking around talking to everyone I knew and my dad asked me to show him my favorite horse, so away we went to the back corner stall and showed him Calico, the spotted appaloosa who I loved! Even though there was a big red bow on the door, I hadn't caught on, and we walked into the stall and began petting him. Then one of my parents said, "Merry Christmas Stephanie!" I still didn't get it, but looking back I think it was like when Jason proposed, I think I was in shock. I was SO EXCITED. Only a few minutes later, my grandparents came around the corner to meet Calico. I remember telling the few people that were there that Calico was now mine and nearly jumping up and down as I said it. We all went to lunch at one of our favorite after-church restaurants, I was sitting in the booth with lunch in front of me untouched, I was too excited to eat and just wanted to get back to the barn to ride. That day was the end of my life I had formally known and was the beginning of my new life which was spent doing everything horse-related and the barn becoming my second home...or more like my real home only being where I slept at night. Thanks again Mom and Dad for the best Christmas present anyone could ask for!

Introducing Grandma and Grandpa to Calico. (awesome glasses, I know!)

One of the Joys of Chicago

Just in case you were wondering if the Chicago PD enforces their "No talking on cell phone while driving", I'll tell you that they do. I got a $100 (AGHHH!) ticket for it last weekend and am not happy about it. Whats a joke is that I was only on the phone for 47 seconds AND in a parking lot and not moving. I was waiting for the cars in front of me to turn but was off the phone before I was on the road. Yeah, yeah I know technically I was driving and shouldn't have been on the phone, therefore putting me in the wrong, it's just annoying given the situation. Plus the call was to Jason just to make sure he had his warm jacket because we were meeting at an outdoor mall and it was freezing out. Pretty sure I could have bought him a really nice warm jacket for the $100 I wasted on the ticket! For now on, I will pull over to talk or use my hands-free headset, although I'm pretty sure untangling the wire to my headphones will distract me a lot more than any conversation I'm having, but I'll follow the rules! Don't talk and drive friends!

December 21, 2010

We Got a TABLE!!!

We got a dining room table tonight! I feel like I should insert the word 'finally' in there but we've only been married 3 months, so I certainly didn't have to wait long! We're hosting Christmas this year and I'm going to attempt to cook Christmas dinner (with my mom's help with the ham) and we felt that we really wanted a table...and it's the piece of furniture I have on our list to buy sooner rather than later. We purchased it at a warehouse so we got it for a great price and our intent is to just hold onto it while we're living in the city, but we'll see where we end up. I am SO excited for the many memories that will be created around the new table! I hope you'll join us for dinner soon!

December 20, 2010

Oh Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree

Our Christmas tree...thank you Grandma and Grandpa,
it's brought lots of cheer to our condo this year!!!

It's a Wonderful Life

Can you believe I've never seen the movie? I've been wanting to for the past few years but for one reason or another, haven't been able to. Finally after a few trips to Blockbuster (and a lot of searching on demand) we were finally able to get our hands on a copy. I absolutely loved it. During parts of it, I was a little bored, very curious how it was considered a Christmas classic (there's no reference except the opening prayers until the end!) but by the end I was a sobbing mess. It was so good, I must have said 10 times, "I just love this movie, that was so good, that was so sweet, oh what a wonderful movie!!!" I'm excited to watch it again and see how it all comes together, what a great movie!!

Feel Better Virginia!

My dear friend, Virginia, had surgery last week and she is besides my mom, the only person who I know will have the hardest time being home stuck on the couch. I've been praying for you girl and hope you're healing fast and hope that my blog has given you some smiles the past week!! Love you and FEEL BETTER! xoxo

December 19, 2010

The Not-so-homemade Cookies

On the other end of the kitchen spectrum is the baking that's going on...or should I say the lack of baking that's going on. Over Thanksgiving, Judy gave Laura and I a set of Christmas cookie cutters which I was super excited to use but the only problem was that I've never baked anything from scratch and to be honest, I've managed to burn plenty of boxed brownies and tubes of chocolate chip cookies. I decided to keep my chin up and try to make some sugar cookies. That weekend when we got home I found a pre-made bag of sugar cookie mix at Dominicks and bought it so I could use the cookie cutters. I mixed the dough with the eggs and whatever other ingredients it called for and away I began with my rolling pin...and away went the dough all over the counter. I turned to Jason, who has numerous times bailed me out of my cooking/baking frenzies and he told me to use flour. (please note...the recipe on the plastic wrapper did NOT say to use flour...I know with homemade ones, we are to use flour but I was following it as I was supposed to.) Basically I lost interest in the cookies as soon as the mix wasn't coming apart from the cookie cutters and went to watch TV. Jason ended up finishing them. (definitely not because he was enjoying cutting out the cookies but more that I think he wanted to eat the final product!) They turned out okay but tasted awful! Neither one of us had more than a needless to say I am less than thrilled to take on that challenge again! However, after I had already bought the mix, I did get a sugar cookie recipe from Judy that is her mom's famous recipe that she uses every year so I am excited to at least give it a try. I envision having a lot of fun decorating the cookies with the frostings and holiday sprinkles I've bought so I have to give this another shot! At the very least I want to get a dozen cookies out of each of the shapes I have. I'll be sure to let you know how that goes, wish me luck! :)

Cooking Update!

Lots of people have been asking how my cooking has come along since I started a few months ago. I'm pleased to say that it's been going well, I have really enjoyed cooking!! A lot more than I ever thought I would. I've stuck with simple recipes so I can learn the basics but with each recipe we decide to add more or less of some ingredients and I am having so much fun with it! Lately I've most enjoyed cooking soups, I found a really good cheese tortellini soup online, last week I made my aunts minestrone soup that I love, tonight I'm attempting my mom's chicken noodle soup and later this week I'm attempting an Asian dumpling soup. It'd be a lot more fun to cook for more than just Jason and I, but I think I'm learning the best with just the two of us since I know Jason will eat almost anything I make for him! If anyone wants to come over soon while I'm still learning, we'd love to have the company and I would love for your help in perfecting the recipe, as long as you're willing to order take-out as a last resort!

I Can Smell!!!!

Yes, I can smell!! Its been a long time since I've been sick where I lose my sense of smell, but the past 4 days I can't smell or taste anything. I'm known to have a really good sniffer, I can smell anything from miles away, which is not always a good thing!! ;-) But these past few days have been weird! I'm so excited to smell again, this morning was like a whole new world to me, everything was like a new smell! :) I will say though, cleaning the litter box and the primates house at the zoo on Friday night were both a lot more enjoyable with a clogged nose!

Christmas Shopping is DONE!

We did it, the shopping is complete! Ever since I moved to the city, I take a day off from work to head to the burbs and do all my Christmas shopping. I have a blast when I do it because Yorktown and Oakbrook generally have every store I need to check everyone off my list. This year, my schedule didn't allow for a full day but on Monday I had planned to head out for a half day after small group. Small group was canceled so my day got all messed up and I started to feel really crummy with my cold so I stuck around Chicago to finish my shopping. It wasn't nearly as much fun as years past. There's something fun about bouncing around from store to store trying to find someone that perfect gift, but we're pretty limited on the stores I like to shop at in the city, not to mention the traffic in between each store. Yesterday Jason had a credit to a car wash that he had purchased from Groupon which closed in the city so we had to take his car to Deerfield (real convenient, LOL!) for it to be detailed. So we had several hours to kill and finished all our shopping in Northbrook and at Old Orchard. We had fun trying to find all the extra little add-ons together. It's great to know we have all our shopping done, now it's time to wrap everything!

Zoo Lights!

Friday night Sarah invited us to go to see the Zoo Lights at Lincoln Park Zoo with her, Nathan and the kids. (Kaitlyn and Brandon who I babysit now during the day) We met them around 6:00 and despite the freezing temperatures, the lights and exhibits were a lot of fun! They had all sorts of activities for all the kids, complete with Santa inside the Lion House ready to take pictures with all the kids. There was coloring and ornament making in the Primate House while the monkeys swung in the trees. Of course we got hot chocolate and popcorn which was delicious. It was a lot of fun and would (obviously) be a lot more fun if we had kids to bring, but got to enjoy the night with Kaitlyn and Brandon. Thanks Sarah and Nathan for the invite!

December 17, 2010


I've said it before...I love sleep. It was definitely one of the best things about being unemployed and is one of the worst things about babysitting Brandon because I had to be there by 8:00am. I've never had a job where I've had to be there at 8:00, I have had to work really late hours but never started before 9:00. (Is this where I mention that teaching jobs start in the wee hours of the morning...) As I wrote yesterday, I've been sick all week, and though I was sleeping well at night I was just dragging during the day. Last night I went to bed what I think was hours before Jason, but thats typical. (he goes to sleep at 12:00 or 1:00 on some nights!) This morning I woke up at my normal time of 6:30ish but being that I don't work on Fridays, I tried to go back to sleep. And sleep I DID! I didn't wake up until 10:12. My first thought was guilt. It's interesting that we see repeatedly in magazines and health articles that we need more sleep. And when we're sick, everyone says, "go home, get your rest, go to bed early," but no one ever says, "sleep in late." There's so much pressure put on us by society to constantly be on the move, to jam pack our schedules, to do it all which means the more we do, the less sleep we get. Even when I woke up and realized how late I slept, I texted Jason that it was Sam who convinced me to stay in bed and that it was his fault. (yes, I texted him, when we was only about 30 feet away from me working from his office at home, and yes, I blamed it on my cat.) I felt like such a bum for sleeping in. Well you know what? I feel like a million dollars today! I can finally breath through my nose, I'm not coughing up my lung, and I finally feel better! I constantly hear from friends (and see on facebook) how ever since they had kids, they never get to sleep past 6:00 and even that is late and ahhhh what they wouldn't give for sleep and all this other stuff about being parents. Well yes, good...that's exactly why I don't have kids right now! Honestly, that's probably the biggest reason, I can't imagine how it'll be having to get up every 3 or less hours the first few months, then not getting a full nights rest until they're married (and will I even sleep soundly by then?) My days are limited before I have real responsibility of a full time job or a new puppy...or a BABY in the house. So yes, today I slept in, really late and it felt good. Np, not just good, it felt really good and I am not going to feel guilty about it because 99.9% of the population my age has kids and responsibilities they have to get up for. I feel like I could conquer the world right now!! Maybe I'll even hit up the gym for the first time in 3 months, or maybe I'll just save it for another day and take a mid-afternoon nap.

**Yes, I feel like I have to add a disclosure to this since I know some people read this who may be freaking out...Yes, I want kids, actually I want a LOT of kids (and I pray so very hard that I am blessed with easily getting pregnant and carrying them full term without any challenges or hardships which I know so easily can come our way) And yes, I want a real job...that's more than half my sadness these days (maybe I'll blog about that some day?) But since I don't have either one of those right now, I'm relishing in what I do have and appreciating every second of it so that when I do have those things I know I've appreciated the time and life I am living right now...and will never look back and won't some day wake up at 3:00am in the middle on the night nursing my precious baby and wonder why I didn't take advantage of sleep when I could. :)

December 15, 2010

Sick and Sick

Last weekend I had some weird flu-like illness. I came down with it on Friday with the worst sore throat, headache and just achy all over. I went to the Walgreens Clinic (I'm a huge Walgreens fan but their clinic reminded me of my high school nurse, which is not a good thing!) and learned that it wasn't strep so was sent home to get rest. Rest I did, until Monday night. Not the most fun way to spend 4 days! I was able to get out for the Christmas service at our church and then our Registry Completion Event at Bed, Bath and Beyond (another post to come)but it was very chill for a weekend! Then a week later, both Jason and I started feeling sick (me again!) He had a sore throat so I was convinced he was getting what I had, but we both decided it's just a bad cold but it's made for a long week of work. After work, we've laid on the couch together catching up on TV series eating soup and grilled cheese. (Why when we're sick do we still have appetites? Its seems like the perfect time to lose some weight but we're both always hungry no matter how sick!) Last night we ordered in chinese (which is actually a treat...we never order in, Jason has something against ordering in and paying for taxi's...odd bird that kid is! :) We're both ready to be healthy and get out of the house at night, hoping that tomorrow will be the day!

Congratulations Ellis!

My wonderful friend, Ellis, got engaged on Friday to her (now) fiance, Josh! I am so excited for her!! Congratulations Ellis, I know you will LOVE this time of planning, I couldn't be more happy for you guys!! :) :)

(sadly, my camera was dead on Friday so I don't have any pictures to include here.)

December 7, 2010

I found the song...

I knew that after I posted the entry on Thankfulness that our church would post the song we sang. Sure enough I checked today and here it is. What a beautiful song right? Definitely one of my favorite Christian songs from the good old green hymnal that I remember singing from when I was a youngster. :)

December 6, 2010

RIP Ronnie

I woke up on Friday morning and wasn't feeling well so I lazily checked my email and facebook from bed. I saw two posts on facebook side by side which read "RIP Santo" and my heart dropped. I literally ran to the living room to my computer and learned that he had passed over night from bladder cancer. I didn't even know he had bladder cancer?! I just sat there taking in the story as tears fell down my cheek. I was at a loss for words and even more confused as to why I was crying for the loss of a man who I had never even met. Later in the day, I saw this post on facebook,

"Its weird that though he was a celebrity and I never met him, I think a lot of cubs fans feel they lost a friend with the passing of Ron Santo. Many of us got to know him well through the years and he was hard not to love."

That was exactly how I felt. Like I just lost a dear friend. I must have said 50 times that day, "WGN Cubs Radio will never be the same." I know I'm not the only one who muted the TV and replaced it with Ron and Pat. I'd only have to listen for five minutes before laughing out loud at something he had said, completely unrelated to whatever was going on with the game. Then he'd chime in as soon as something big happened in the game, always with some form of grunt or yelp. How many times had I heard his own heart break on air with loss after loss of the Cubs? And when the Cubs were doing well, his smile and excitement shined through the airwaves, giving all us Cubs fans reason to believe "this was the year!" or sometimes, just "YAY, we finally got a Win!" After 3 days, I'm still at a loss for words, I just know that there will always be a part of Ron missing from my Cubs heart.

My heart and prayers go out to his family, we loved you so much Ronnie, thanks for showing us what it means to never give up on our Cubs but even never give up on your health and life which did its best to bring you down. Rest in peace dear friend! And remember that we're all still rooting for you to be inducted into the Hall of Fame!

December 2, 2010

Happy 9 Months Brandon!

Brandon turned 9 months yesterday! It's hard to believe I've been watching him since he was 3 months old, I look at the pictures from then and he was so tiny! It's been fun being part of your life Brandon and watching you grow. You're the smiliest little guy I know! :)

December 1, 2010

Christmas Traditions

I shared this last year, but a couple years ago I started a new tradition of "preparing" for Christmas. I lit my tree-scented candle, drank hot chocolate and played Christmas music while decorating the apartment with bright white lights. Last year, I put up my first (big) Christmas tree which was my grandma and grandpa's from a few years ago. It was my last Christmas as a "single" girl and one that I truly cherished and am so glad I embraced it!

Now this year we have our condo to decorate and new memories to be made. Another tradition I started a couple years ago was that I buy one new Christmas CD to listen to as I decorate. This year I bought "Now That's What I Call Country Music." Please take a minute to laugh at that one! I love Country music and Christmas music...I figured I couldn't go wrong. Only problem was that Jason's not too into country so I decided not to subject him to that CD as we decorated. Plus, he wanted to watch football so while I did get to mute the TV, we just listened to other Christmas songs. (and now I have a new Christmas CD to make other new memories too this season!) So with the tree-scented candle glowing, our Christmas tunes on and sipping hot chocolate we decorated the tree together. Jason and I carried the tree up from storage and he put it together, then assembled the ornaments that have since come apart since last year (random.) and I hung them on the tree. Good team work if you ask me. The tree looks much smaller at my new home but that's because our ceiling is that much taller here! It's beautiful and reminded me of Grandma and Grandpa again, just as I remembered last year. I'm waiting to post a picture once we have the tree skirt which I had to order online that's hopefully in route as I type. I'm so excited to bring old traditions and start new ones into this Christmas season this year with Jason...and someday with children of our own. Are there any traditions you have or would like to start, I'd love to hear them!