Thursday, May 31, 2012

May 31st - Heather

1.  A productive day!  And more to do tomorrow!

2.  Since I was upstairs all day working with my books, the cats came up and curled up on my bed and slept all day.  So cute.

3.  Strawberries marinated in chocolate balsamic vinegar and chili olive oil....makes an amazing salad with goat cheese and greens.

4.  I'm thankful for all of my's been a lot of work to catalog and categorize them....but I love looking at my wall of books....and I'll love it even more when I'm all done!

5.  Finding receipts and other random bookmarks stuck into books that were purchased while traveling.  In an odd way it's almost like the books are the souvenirs of my travels. 

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

May 30th - Heather

1.  As alluded to a few weeks ago...I have a ton of books and I decided it would be a good idea to get them organized.  I decided to use to record and categorize my library.  I'm not quite halfway through all of my books.  But I love that Goodreads lets you set up your own categories and tag books in multiple ways!

2.  But what has been AMAZING is that Goodreads has an app for android.   So instead of entering each book title or author into the search engine on the website, I can scan the ISBN and categorize!!!  Some books are too old to have barcodes or isbn's...but it's saved so much time, that I don't even feel put out about entering the rest manually.  I'm so excited to see just how many books I have once I get them all loaded!

3.  That my mom's phone's camera works better than mine....and that she was willing to relinquish her phone so that I could scan away!!!

4.'s a weight loss app that I've had on my phone for awhile and use with some frequency...well, about as frequently as I work out.  You can just select a type of exercise and tell it how long and it calculates the calories you've burned.  I've been amazed at just how many calories house cleaning adds up too!  I love seeing the little badge on my phone's top banner that says I've burned over 3000 calories in the last 7 days.

5.  Extra vacation sleep....I fell asleep on the couch curled up with one of my kittens this was simply divine!  :)

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

May 29th - Heather

1.  A very productive day!  Moved furniture, began washing an embarrassingly ridiculous amount of laundry...yep, I'm sore...advil in the morning so I can achieve more tomorrow!

2.  This new cleaner that mom got talked into at the Chocolate Fest...I know, random place to buy household cleaning products.  It cleaned up the mess that one of our kittens' paws made overnight...I think he broke open a scab on his paw trying to kill a fly.

3.  Getting to chat with my dad and one of my friends in Vietnam on really has revolutionized the way we communicate!!!!

4.  New sheets....i'm just about ready to crawl into bed....we'll see if I wake up purple! :)

5.  Four more vacation days! :)  Gotta love it!!!

Monday, May 28, 2012

May 28th - Heather

1.  On Memorial Day it is only fitting that the first thing I'm thankful for today is our Armed Forces!  I grew up as an Army brat and I have many friends and family in all branches of the Military.  I know the sacrifice that our men and women - active duty, reserved and their families - make in service around the world to this country.  And I am thankful for that sacrifice!

2.  We were looking for some place that we could take our kitties we packed them up and took them to the outlet mall!  :) (And, can you believe it, I bought nothing!!!!)
Shop 'til the kittens drop!

3.  Air conditioning!!!!  In the house, in the's been up in the 90's the last couple of days and it's so much more comfortable with air conditioning!

4.  New vitamins that I can take in the morning without getting sick...and they kind of taste and smell like malted chocolate!  How can anything that tastes like malted chocolate be bad?  Thank you GNC!!!!

5.  The new collage feature on  Allowed me to put all my pics of the Chocolate Fest into one fun collage!
Left top/bottom & right top: Chocolate Sculpture

Middle: Chocolate Fest Gate

Right bottom: fashions made from candy wrappings

Saturday, May 26, 2012

May 26th - Heather

1.  All of the fun goodies we found at the chocolate festival!  Many pictures to come!

2.  Putting a huge chunk in the amount of cleaning to be done!

3.  When I wake up it will be time to pick up the kitties and bring them home!!!!  Miss them like crazy!!!

4.  My was the first time I wore it and it was so comfortable in the humidity of the day.

5.  That the weather stopped raining just as we got to the festival grounds...and started to rain again as we were leaving.

Friday, May 25, 2012

May 25th - Heather

1.  I'm thankful for the very unexpected email that I received this afternoon...even though it has me second guessing my very tenuous life plan that I've only just settled into and made peace with.  I was the type of person who had her whole life planned out before I entered college and stuck to that plan all through college (then decided I didn't want to be a lawyer any more).  I went about life without a plan for so long that making those decisions was slightly uncomfortable, albeit necessary.  Now I'm having to ask myself some tough questions all over again. 

2.  The new case I just bought for my's pink and padded and zips up nicely.  It will make holding my kindle to read a little nicer too.  :)  I have a great utilitarian carry-case that I love, but this will be great when I'm just reading for leisure.

3.  I'm officially on vacation!  Let the cleaning begin!!!!  I have a very full week of organizing and cleaning out ahead of me!  I want to get my space ready to be study efficient!  We'll see how many trips to the Goodwill that takes!

4.  That the kitty procedures went well....we still don't get to pick them up until Sunday, but they are doing well.  We had Edward neutered and microchipped and had both of them declawed (front paws only) using the laser process which is supposed to be less painful for them.  No bandages!  And no pain!  Win-win!!!

5.  Minnibons at's like the big ones...but smaller....less guilt...makes the extra frosting go farther!!!!  Heehee! 

Thursday, May 24, 2012

May 24th - Heather

1.  Amazing dinner (as it always is) at Taste of India!

2.  The most amazing shot I snapped this afternoon.  I was trying to take a picture of the surface of my tea...this is what I got instead:

3.  Not having to worry about freezing anyone else out during the work day because everyone else that works in the same house I do are upstairs (and on their own thermostat)!!!!

4.  Mango was the drink I ordered at the Indian restaurant.  I ordered it because I always have something sweet to rescue me in case the food is too spicy (which it wasn't at all tonight, in fact it could have been much spicier).  It was cool and sweet and mango flavored...yummy!

5.  The latest piece of kitty accoutrement arrived super fast from amazon....we now have a kitty stroller so that we can take our cats on walks....we may have some of the most pampered cats on the face of the earth....of course, pictures to come the first time we use it!!!  :)

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

May 23rd - Heather

1.  Dinner with Thinh and his family last night!  We were so honored to be able meet them and to join them for dinner.  It was a true pleasure.  And as promised yesterday, here's a group shot:

 2.  I'm pretty thankful on a somewhat regular basis that there is an Au Bon Pain so close to my office...there's something about a sandwich wrapped up in butcher paper that makes me smile!

3.  Tabitha at  for blogging about where I did all the snazzy editting to the photos above.  So much fun!!!!

4.  As many of you know, this daily 5 things started for me as an exercise is positivity.  It was something my friend and co-conspirator, JJ, had been doing with a handful of her friends.  And when she added me to the list of lucky recipients I started thinking about how much I needed to focus on the positives everyday.  Having said that, this blog post really struck me today...reminded me that we create our own happy.  So, one of the things I am thankful for today is this quote from the aforementioned post:

“Let us rise up and be thankful, for if we didn’t learn a lot today, at least we learned a little, and if we didn’t learn a little, at least we didn’t get sick, and if we got sick, at least we didn’t die; so, let us all be thankful.” Buddha

5.  I'm also very thankful that my mom was willing to stop on her way home and pick up dinner...I just didn't feel like being creative in the kitchen tonight!!!!

May 23rd, 2012 - JJ

1. Fresh berries. SO delicious! My fingers are stained from eating the blackberries and raspberries that Derick packed me for lunch, and I love it. I'm also thankful that Derick packed things for me to bring for lunch, and that the container he put the berries in fit perfectly into the drink holder in the car, so I could eat them while driving back to work from my meeting.
2. I will be in Seattle in 12 hours! YAY! Then the insanity of trying to pack in as much as possible with friends and family, get Derick's touristing needs met, and take advantage of all that the ABAI conference has to offer will begin! Sleep? Who needs sleep?!
3. That I'm finished with A Dance with Dragons. Loved it! and now Mr. Martin needs to get a move on the next one, asap!!  Also, I have the best theory EVER about who Jon Snow's mother is. E-mail me if you're interested. If I'm right, it's AMAZING! Heather Brackett, I'm going to be e-mailing you about it soon!
4. Warm weather. I'm thankful for it today especially, since I'll be trading it for the cooler Seattle climate this evening. The sunshine here is so nice. I'm hoping we don't get rained on the whole time we're in Seattle.
5. Adventures in the future!  We booked tickets last night that I'm REALLY excited about!!!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

May 22nd - Heather

1.  Dinner in Chicago!  Last summer my mom and I opened up our home to four Vietnamese high school students for a home stay weekend while they were at Carroll for a summer camp.  One of these four is currently visiting the States for his sister's college graduation.  We met them in Chicago for dinner tonight!  We're very excited to have had the chance to visit and meet more of Thinh's family!  Pictures to come tomorrow!

2.  I'm very thankful that I have more brains than the fly that spent all day flying into my windows in a futile attempt to get to the world beyond said windows.  I'm not sure where the fly came from....and it's not even like I can crack one of my windows and help him out of windows don't open...I know....historic building and all...

3.  Finding a train solution that prevented me from pulling all of my hair out driving into downtown Chicago at rush hour....this way, I drove the part of the way that is the least likely to have standstill traffic and got to ride, completely at ease, into Chicago....without having to worry about where to park and how much it would cost!  I love big cities with well planned rail commuter systems!!!!!

4. Gabbing across lines of language and culture!  It was fantastic to sit and chat with the Vietnamese women in Thinh's life even though we'd never met and even though our primary languages differ.

5.  The yummy macarons we found at the little French bakery inside the train station in downtown Chicago!  Such an amazing variety of flavors!!!!

May 22nd, 2012 - JJ

1. Derick, for handling my mood swings pretty well. I've been trying to limit sugar and carbs in my diet and the result has been that food, or really the absence of food, has a HUGE effect on my mood, usually making me grouchy even though I don't necessarily feel hungry. I feel like a crazy person and I'm glad Derick has a lot of patience. Hopefully in another week or two I will have this new life style of eating figured out and have my mood back under control.
2. Jessica, for being able to follow what I was talking about last night even though I went off on several tangents and couldn't really stay on topic. I confused myself, but I didn't confuse her.  That's what best friends are for!
3. That the whoopie pies I made last night are actually much softer than I thought they would be. They had the density and feel of cookies last night when I put them in a ziplock bag, but this morning they're really soft and cakey, which is exactly how they should be! I was worried I'd ruined them for a minute there. Phew!!
4. That tomorrow is our intern's last day, so I can stop worrying about being a bad supervisor for a little while. Also thankful that we won't have another intern until the fall (if we can help it, that is), by which time we will have a program set up to make the process better for everyone.
5. I can fit into the smallest pair of jeans that I own. Are they comfortable? Heck no. Do I have a serious case of muffin top? Sure I do.  But I didn't have to lie down to zip them up, and I'm pretty sure that if I lose just 3-5 more pounds I'll be able to rock 'em.   That makes sacrificing bread, pasta, cookies, coffee, chips, etc. all worth it! Now let's just hope I can keep this up while in Seattle over the next week, and on the road between Seattle and Chicago for a few days after that...

Monday, May 21, 2012

May 21st - Heather

1.  Body wash that smells like the spray sunscreen I used the summer I got my first tan.....ok....that may not sound super memorable...but for anyone who's seen my sunburns it was incredibly momentous that I tanned instead of burning.

2.  That it's cooled off enough that the cats want to cuddle...well, at least Edward...Jake's got a little too much angst for cuddling.

3.  A morning at the zoo with my camera.

Bongo...interesting coloring!

Poopless Elephants...I swear...first elephants I've ever seen that haven't smelled like poop!

Pondering life by the water...onlookers?  What onlookers???

4.  The kids finally moved so I could snap some kitty shots:

5.  The amazing shot of the peacock!

May 21st, 2012 - JJ

1. The awesome drink dispenser that Tammy bought for us!!  It's going to make serving Mai Tais so much more fun. :)  I think I'll have to make a batch as soon as we get home from Seattle. :)
2. My shoes arrived today!
3. Kate, for donating a window AC to the cause of keeping Derick and I happy at home when it's hot out. It even has a remote! I love it!
4. Fawna, for finding my True Blood books and returning them to me. I can now put them on my book case and make them look pretty all in order (except for book 3 which was lost so long ago).
5. Free parking when I was meeting Fawna, which led to the purchase of a new phone since my old one no longer went on silent when I was in meetings, but also would randomly refuse to ring when a call was coming through.  I love my shiny new phone and it's functioning volume control options. :) I also love Siri, and the new "love birds" phone cover I got for it. Too fun!
6. This blog: for giving me a recipe for eggplant that Derick actually enjoyed.  We have to tweak it a little for next time (half ricotta, half mozarella....would like it to be gooey with cheesey deliciousness! also, skin the eggplant, use WAY less lemon, fewer bread crumbs, and add some salt, and  finally add a little heat to the sauce.....ok, maybe we're tweaking it a lot...), but I'm glad that he wants to try it again. Progress!! Also thankful for the blog for inspriring me to find a way to make ganache with glitter in it, like in the picture! I have so many experiments to run over the next few weeks! Many thanks to Heather for bringing this blog to my attention!
7. Tammy's pickled beets. Yeah yeah, you've heard me sing their praises before and you're sick of it, but I can't help myself! They're so delicious and I'm thankful for them all the time!!!
8. Will power.  I've been trying to seriously cut back on my sugar and carb consumption, and have surprisingly not had too difficult of a time. It's amazing what a little will power can do! 
9. Seattle in 3 days!!!!! I wish today was Wednesday already!
10. My friends who are so loving and understanding and are not giving me a hard time like I thought they would. Cryptic, but I'll illuminate for you all soon, I promise. 

Saturday, May 19, 2012

May 19th -Heather

1.  Spending an afternoon chatting and laughing hysterically with an older crafter in Joann's.  We started chatting as strangers and, after two+ hours, departed as friends.  Such a great time!

2.  My head was not, in fact, bashed in by the walnut dispenser in the grocery store by my mother...."Just shake it!" she says.

3.  Cold water on a hot day!

4.  A trip to the grocery store for all vegetables.

5. Being the passenger. Sometimes it's nice to ride and let someone else drive!

Friday, May 18, 2012

May 18th - Heather

1.  All of my friends that have ever had the fortune/misfortune of eating my cooking!  I posted a comment about my favorite thing to cook when I'm blue...which is totally my enchiladas....and it made me think of all the people that I've cooked for....not always with the best outcomes but always to rave reviews!!!!  I have some of the best friends and family!   Some of you will read this and remember enchiladas on the roof of an apartment building overlooking the tops of the DC skyline...the first time I made enchiladas and I was totally faking it, but they came out amazing!  Some of you will read this and remember when I ignited a fire in the oven baking Pillsbury breadsticks...yes a fire with flames in an electric oven....never a good sign!

2.  Not only am I thankful for the persons who have endured my cooking over the years...I'm very thankful that my skills have evolved and I'm a fairly decent cook now.  I'm still pretty hopeless with recipes...but I can whip up some tasty meals with some random ingredients!!!

3.  Planning a trip abroad...even when it's nothing more than daydreaming.  I'm researching details for a trip that may or may not happen next summer and I just love the unadulterated excited that comes, for me, of thinking about traveling abroad!

4.  My leftover salad and bread from dinner last's even tasty without the wine! :)  Sometimes left over salad is questionable...but this is still in good shape and the bread is like a big salty soft pretzel.  Yum!  The only downfall to this is that I've eaten them before "lunch time" and am now going to be hungry sooner than is desirable!

5.  This early lunch leaves room for a yummy indulgence this afternoon.....I think I'll be wandering down to see what caloric trouble awaits at Au Bon Pain today! :)

Thursday, May 17, 2012

May 17th - Heather

1.  The combination of wine and poetry.  I was on my own for dinner tonight, so I geeked out over dinner with the current issue of The Paris Review, a glass of rhubarb wine and a bbq chicken salad.  Simply divine!

2.  Car-eokee!  You know...when you are in the car and have the windows rolled up and the radio turned way up and you're belting out the notes with the radio....I'm not the only that does that right?!

3.  In belting out tunes on the drive home....this song came on and it seems like a perfect anthem for those of us hitting that three-decade milestone this year.  What do you think?  Good idea or crazy wine-fueled lunacy?

4.  Discovering a new potential-favorite periodical at Barnes & Nobles - always a dangerous place for me - called Monocle.  It's a British publication that's been around since 2006, but I just saw it today because it was sitting next to Foreign Affairs on the shelf...enticing me with a travel guide to Thailand rubber-banded inside.  At first flip it seems pretty eclectic...I'll report back after I've read through most of it.

5.  Youtube...I hadn't thought about this song from Blue Scholars in quite some time...but looked for it after I pulled up We Are Young on Youtube.  A few years back I used to log on to MySpace just to pull up my friends profile because he had this song playing....hadn't thought about that in awhile either.  :)

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

May 16th, 2012 - JJ

1. Green tea. It's not as awesome as coffee, but it's so much better for me.

2. That I've FINALLY gotten to the part of A Dance with Dragons where time catches up to the end of the 4th book. I need another Arya chapter ASAP!! Also, I love Dorne and the sand snakes. <3

3. Heirloom tomato caprese salad with fancy oil & vinegar from Old Town Oil. SO yummy!!

4. That Derick is so good at cooking chunks of meat. I always cook everything too long and it's dry, but Derick makes delicious chicken and fish and pork chops and for that I am thankful! The salmon he made for me last night was delicious!

5. That I get to go to Seattle in a week!! I can't wait! I wish it was tomorrow!

6. My job, for being so flexible about time.

7. Archer's Farm Salads from Target. They are so delicious! It's an addiction.

8. Allagash, who is just so funny. He likes to sit on my lap when I play bejeweled butterflies on my iPad, and he tries to bat at the spider that moves back and forth at the top. It's so cute!

9. Warm, sunny weather!

10. Potential thesis participants. Fingers crossed, guys.

May 16th - Heather

1.  The stairs from the garage to our front door have finally been recarpeted!  I know, it's kind of an odd thing to be thankful for....but they ripped up the carpeting a few weeks ago and those stairs are scary with just cracked linoleum covering them.  It smells like new carpet...but I'll take it over fearing my death every time I have to walk down them.

2.  My morning meeting was rescheduled...I am not a fan of morning I get to not be a fan of it tomorrow instead of today.

3. Slacker....internet radio in general...for those days when I want to listen to something that's not on my iPod! :) 

4.  Pumpernickel bread...I may or may not have eaten pumpernickel bread frequently as a child...but as an adult it scared me to buy because I couldn't remember if I did like it or not.  We bought some recently and used it in our breakfast strata (amazing) and ate it last night with our cold chicken salad.  It's like reconnecting with a beloved friend after so many yummy!

5.  The sense of accomplishment that comes from placing a memory that is tingling at the edge of remembrance.  I couldn't place the song that one of the stars danced to last night.  It was driving me crazy because it just seemed so familar, and I just couldn't put my finger on it.  A little time spent on youtube took care of that!  The song is Vem Magalenha by Sergio Mendes.  As soon as I saw Sergio Mendes, I remembered that it was on one of our discs at Starbucks.  Then I saw another video for the song on youtube that was a clip from Dance with Me..and in that moment I knew I wasn't crazy...well, mostly not crazy.  What did we do before the internet?  Did we really remember all these things?  Or did we just let them go and forget?  I can't imagine disconnecting completely with fringe memories like this one.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

May 15th - Heather

1.  Not twisting my ankle in my cute flippy floppy wedges.

2.  That Au Bon Pain was able to accommodate a last minute order for today's committee meeting.  I'm pretty sure the catering staff would not have been too happy with me if I had gone to them the day before commencement to place a catering order.  But we're under contract...and luckily for me ABP is technically part of that contract!

3.  Spare moments to read late this afternoon....well the few pages I got through before my reading moments became napping moments.

4.  An easy cold may have only been in the 80's, but it was warm enough that I didn't want hot food for dinner.

5.  A surprise three day weekend...I forgot that this coming monday is one of my vacation days!  So I work for three days, am off for three days, work for three days and then I'm off for 11 days....I'm so excited!!!!

Monday, May 14, 2012

May 14th - Heather

1.  Lighter than air scarves.  I love the feeling of being wrapped up in a scarf...but as the weather climbs higher into the 70's it's less necessary and...well...unbearable to be that warm.  But I've found a couple of scarves from Lane Bryant that are very large and very light weight.  It's just a huge, soft piece of feather light fabric that I can wrap around my shoulders and tie in a nifty little knot.  C'est manifique!

2.  Uneventful they should be.  It's nice to start the week gently...before you hate me too's only this calm because graduation was yesterday and the Monday after graduation on a college campus is not dissimilar to working in a ghost town. 

3.  Google for putting websites like this at my fingertips when said fingertips desire the craziest pieces of information: Private Islands Online.  After a couple days of conversations amongst my immediate family regarding the (dream) purchasing of a houseboat and whether or not our combined library of books would sink aforementioned houseboat...I googled "buying an island" to see just how expensive it was to do such a thing.

4.   My office plant is not dead!!!!  This is an amazing feet for me!  The last "plant" I wanted to be responsible for was in El Paso....two cacti...which I killed!  I assumed they only needed to be watered when it rained.  This was very logical to me.  I was in middle school.  So now I have a Kalanchoe on my desk and a green (hard to kill) plant on top of the cabinet in the corner of my office.  I was too afraid to pot them myself, so I asked my mom to pot them (in pink pots, as if you had to ask).  When I first brought them to my office I didn't think the Kalanchoe was going to make it....I had to cut off some leaves that had dried up and turned brown (this may or may not be known as pruning to someone more adept at gardening than myself).  But it's started to bud again!  And the flowerbuds even look like they may bloom soon.  Today I cut back some more of the bigger leaves, not because they were dying but because I was afraid that the buds weren't getting enough sunlight.  We'll see how it goes!  Pictures to come!!!

5.  Working in a renovated historic house, instead of an office building, in which I feel no compunction to keep shoes on my feet all day long....whether my feet are under my desk or not.  It feels perfectly acceptable to make the 3 step journey to the copy room or 6 step journey to the powder room in bare feet.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

May 13th - Heather

My appreciation for my mother is the unspoken part of many of the things I'm thankful for everyday!  Today is the day we honor our moms...I try very hard to honor her on more than one occasion a year....but since it is Mother's Day it only seems fair to share with all of you reading how much I appreciate my mother!  She has taught me so many things, but most importantly she taught me how to love and to give and how to chose my battles....I was born a stubborn fighter...  and she taught me to fearlessly try everything and explore everywhere!

1.  Big Screen Bistros!  Woke up this morning realizing that I didn't have anything planned for brunch (the original plan had been to go to the Japanese Gardens today but after looking at the weather we decided to do that yesterday).  I knew that going out to eat would be nearly impossible without a reservation.....then I thought to look and see if Dark Shadows was in the dinner theatre and it was!  So I bought tickets online for the first showing of the day!  Perfect start for mom to an unplanned day!  :)

2.  Cold Stone Creamery.  I hadn't been in forever....seriously...I can't remember the last time I was there.  But after the movie ice cream sounded really good and mom suggested we go many new additions to their menu since I was there last.  Some very yummy addictions...I mean additions!

3.  Half Price Books.  The pharmacy we use is just a few doors down from HPB and it's all too easy to wander through the bookstore while waiting for a prescription to be filled!  Brought home four books that I have absolutely no clue when I'll have time to read.....but they'll be waiting.  [Can we say 5th bookcase coming soon???? No really...I've considered sorting out clothes for donation out of my closet JUST so that I can move my shelving unit out of my closet and fill it with books!!!  That's serious up clothes for books!]

4.  Upcoming vacation...everytime I look around the apartment I'm increasingly more thankful that I have a good chunk of vacation time coming so that I can clean and organize some things before the lunacy of grad school work begins this June!

5.   The serenity of working on a college campus in the summer when the majority of students and staff are on vacation and the pace of work becomes less frenetic.  It's still busy and there are still plenty of things to keep this salaried girl's just an opportunity to get all of the those things done at a peaceful pace!

May 12th - Heather

1.  My camera!  Finally got a digital camera and, as it turns out, it's awesome!  And getting it set up to upload the pics turned out to be super simple!  Prepare to be inundated with fun pictorial evidence of my life and insanity!!!!

2.  Day trips!  Mom and I went to the Anderson Japanese Garden in Rockford, Illinois to celebrate Mother's Day.  Here are some of my pics:

 There were many great Japanese statues like this around the grounds.

 This is a stone bridge that you can walk on to cross in front of one of the larger waterfalls at the gardens.  I loved the way the stones were set.

You know me...I had to find something pink to take a picture of! :)

3.  The amazing restaurant that's just a couple miles from the gardens and was recommended by the gardens' staff: The Swedish Inn in Rockford, Il.  It was really tasty.  Had Swedish breakfast at 3 o'clock in the afternoon!  Brownie points already...just for serving breakfast all day.  Even more brownie points for the food itself!  We shared pigs in a (Swedish) blanket made infinitely more yummy with Lingonberry jam and a chicken fajita omlette.

4. Our kittens...and great pictures of their infinite cuteness!

Oh, why yes, I am ready for my close-up!

 Yep, that's my brother cleaning my belly...he likes doing it, I swear...I'm not lazy!

I'm Edward (on the left) and that's my brother Jake to the right.

5.  Perfect weather for walking around outside at the gardens.  It was kind of cloudy and not too hot.  We saw none of the rain and thunderstorms that were expected today, but it wasn't super sunny and unbearably humid either.  It truly was perfect!

Friday, May 11, 2012

May 11th, 2012 - JJ

Okay, I've been slacking and a few of you have called me out on it, so here are many, many things I'm thankful for to make up for my lack of e-mails/posts.
1. Time with Heather & Kathy over the weekend!  I had so much fun hanging out with them (as usual!) and can't wait until the next time!!
2. Old Town Oil. We took Kathy there so she could pick out an oil and balsamic combination and had so much fun tasting all the yummy combinations they come up with!!  I could destroy my bank account in that store!
3. Vulcan fire salt!  I put it in Nika's green bean recipe this week and it was amazing!  Also thankful for The Spice Shop in Old Town, right next to Old Town Oil, and all their amazing spices.  PS: I'm pretty sure I saw the mean girl from the last season of Top Chef leaving The Spice Shop the first time we went!
4. Jewelry cleaner. I'm thankful for this often, but it just makes my sparkles so much sparklier and I love it!
5. That having 4 cats in the house over the weekend didn't result in the total chaos I was imagining.  They didn't destroy anything!
6. Marty and the opportunity to babysit him while Em was out of town. He was always so happy to see us when we came home and I loved it!
7. Houseboats in Seattle, and Heather for sending me pictures of them. I have secretly always wanted to live in a houseboat, even though I know it would be cramped and all my books would probably sink it. They make me happy!
8. It's finally skirt weather. Thankful for that and for the fact that my skin tone is kind of pinkish so my legs don't look too reflective in their whiteness.
9. For Derick who takes such good care of me and makes dinners and gets up to get me things I need when I'm too lazy to get them. He takes much better care of me than I do of him most of the time, and I'm very thankful that I'm spoiled rotten in that respect.  He's a keeper!
10. Fast deliveries on items shipped, and the humor in having the package arrive prior to the "your items have shipped" e-mail being delivered to my inbox.  Too funny.
11. That I've been mostly able to keep up with everything that needs to get done at work despite my partner being out for a week and a half.  I was worried I was going to be drowned in work, but it's finally Friday and I've survived! Horray!
12. The days when I have to leave after Derick does in the morning (which is most days), because when I go in the bathroom to brush my teeth and wash my face it usually still smells like his cologne and that makes me happy. If I can't have him next to me to sniff, having left over cologne smell is second best. Also thankful for Dirty English, which I still maintain is the most delicious smelling cologne on the planet. I bet if Daniel John wrote his daily 5 things he'd be thankful for Derick pretty often too, since I no longer have to cozy up to Dan to get my fix of Dirty English.
13. That I got to work directly with one of my clients yesterday, and that I haven't lost my ability to deal with problem behavior effectively.  The guy scratched me until I bled (just a little, no biggie), and hit me several times at one point, but after he realized I wasn't going to give in to his aggression he shaped right up and was pretty awesome the rest of the day.  Feels good to know I can still apply ABA to real life situations since I spend most of my time at work telling other people how to do it.
14. Dinner at Revolution with Megan last night. Always good to have some girl time!!
15. The opportunity to babysit for Dane's aunt and uncle.  I love that family.  But at the same time, I'm also thankful that they cancelled for tonight. It's been a crazy week and I'm a little excited to be able to go home and relax tonight. I'm going to do some cooking and some baking and some cleaning and some reading. Can't wait!  Is it quittin time yet??
16. My heating pad. I love that it can make my achy back feel better in minutes. The same for heated seats in the company car. Best ever!!!
17. Starbucks and toffee nut lattes. Also iced soy caramel macchiatos. Probably I'd lose weight if I just cut out Starbucks, but the happiness i'd be sacrificing for weight loss just wouldn't be worth it. The sugary caffeinated goodness that is Starbucks gets me through my rough days and if it means a little extra weight then so be it! Stephanie Plum would approve and that's good enough for me.
18. Agencies that are a joy to work with. I love it when people do their job well and communicate frequently. Makes everything in my job easier.
19. Anti-bacterial cleaner for wounds.  The client who scratched me has some inappropriate bathroom behaviors, and I couldn't help but be worried about infection when I realized he'd drawn blood. I'm not much of a germaphobe, but I am very thankful that the agency had an anti-bacterial wipe to clean it off with which put my mind at ease. Lord knows what was under those fingernails!!
20. Music.  I'm not a huge fan of music as most of you know and I realize that makes me a little weird. But I'm so thankful that so many of my clients love music and I love seeing the atmosphere in day program transform when a musician comes in to play and sing for them.

May 11th - Heather

1.  Facebook!  I posted a few pictures this morning because of a conversation I had with one of my bosses yesterday afternoon.  The pictures have created a flutter of reactions and it's all making me smile! 

2.  Houseboats.  I googled someone and ended up on real estate website for houseboats in the Seattle area.  I've been in love with the idea of living in a houseboat ever since I saw Sleepless in Seattle for the first time!  But JJ's right...we'd have to figure out what to do with all of our books, they might sink our boat....HA!  I've got it...we'll get a house barge!?!?!?! 

3.  I woke up in a good mood this morning...the weather was beautiful...the cats were playful and's Friday...I mean, really, what more can you ask for?

4.  Genius mixes on my ipod.  It's playing songs that I haven't listened to recently enough to remember that I even had them on my ipod!

5.  Free fish fry!  The coworker whose fish fry dinner I paid for a few weeks ago, bought a gift certificate for my mom and I for our next fish fry!  :)

Thursday, May 10, 2012

May 10th - Heather

1.  Free bbq!  There was a cookout on campus for faculty, staff and seniors to celebrate graduation this weekend.  It's hard to believe it's been eight years since I donned cap and gown and made my way across that stage myself.  So many, many things have been crammed into those eight years. 

2.  I'm thankful to be in a better mental space than I was after graduating from college.  There is still so much undone and unknown but I've allowed myself to let go and focus on the journey.  There's something to be said for that.

3.  Beautiful weather.  Jeff convinced the team to have our 2:30 meeting outside at the senior bbq, so I've spent the last two hours enjoying the incredibly pleasant 63 degree weather under the shade of an open sided party tent.  The weather and conversation were so nice that I didn't even mind the folding chair...ok...maybe there was just a little fidgeting.

4.  The endive apple salad that I made for dinner last night.  In a slight variation from the very basic recipe I chopped up two Belgian endives, one granny smith apple, half a brick of swiss cheese and mixed that with sauteed sweet onion and walnuts tossed with a wonderfully yummy blood orange evoo and chocolate balsamic vinegar. 

5.  The walk to the grocery store to get the above mentioned ingredients and some stuffed chicken.  It reminds me very much of living in Europe.  I love being able to walk to the grocery store and just buy the few things that fit in my little cinch bag for dinner.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

May 9th - Heather

1.  My sapphires!  I'm wearing blue today so I pulled on my two favorite sapphire just makes me smile to see their facets sparkle.

2.  Handwritten a Pen Pal Project!!!  A daisy chain of blogs led me to Glitter & Ganache this morning where, after reading the intended post, I saw a link to the pen pal project.  Intrigued I unknowingly clicked away and found myself giddy with anticipation.  I love to write letters!  I'm still very close to a friend I would have lost over a decade ago if we hadn't written letters back and forth (this was before the current commonality of cell phones and cheap long distance).  And I cherish those letters still.  But the aforementioned commonality of cell phones and digital communication has rendered letter writing a less than common act.  I'm excited to break out my stash of stationary as part of this project....and a few other letters to a friend that is long overdue!  (Yes, that's you Miss Julie!!! )

3.  My water bottle...flooding my bladder without killing the environment day after day! 

4.  Images of Hilary Clinton without gobs of makeup and Hollywood hair.  Politics aside, it's refreshing to see images of a powerful woman not succumbing to the pressure that some of us women feel to wear tons of makeup and have perfectly coiffed hair.

5.  Days like today make me thankful for my unruly curls.  When it rains it's funny to me to see women running for shelter because the rain will ruin the time spent flat ironing or otherwise primping their locks.  The rain most definitely won't do anything but make my curls curlier!  So I can saunter through the rain without fear!  I love that feeling most of all...the feeling of the rain on falling on my skin!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

May 8th - Heather

I've been following a few blogs for a short awhile now.  One of them about a guy in Chicago with a fantastic mission to perform a random act of kindness for everyday of the year.  Another about an expat in Paris.  I read her most recent post this morning and decided instantly that this would be my 5 Things for today.  I'm not as brave as Lindsey to layout 10 insecurites, but in hommage to the "Things I'm Afraid To Tell You" campaign, my 5 things today will be things I'm afraid to admit.

1.  I'm so worried that I'm not motivated enough to accomplish any of the things I truly want in life.  A master's degree, a PhD, losing 100 pounds and learning to live a healthier lifestyle.  These are all things that require great dedication.  And it's all too easy to choose staring at the big tv screen like a hypnotized oaf over reading the thousands of books on my shelves or exercising or cleaning the house.

2.  I'm afraid of being old.  I'm not afraid of dying, quite the opposite, I'm afraid of living.  The idea of having to endure the health concerns and monetary concerns that come with living to an advanced age scare me greatly.

3.  I'm afraid that deep down I do want a loving husband and children.  Some days I think my insecurity protects me from wanting what I'm not convinced exists and that which I don't feel worthy of having.

4.  I'm afraid that my sense of humor will turn into a dreadful bitterness as I age that will render me a hateful angry person in the advanced age I already fear.

5.  I almost joined the Navy.  When I was in high school I was in JROTC.  I disliked very strongly all of the recruiters that came to speak with us except one.  The Navy recruiter was a great guy and he was very close to successful in getting me to commit to the Navy after college.  I convinced myself that I my weight would be too much of an issue and so I cast it aside as a non-option.  I regret that.

We go back to the positivity of thankfulness tomorrow!  But for today, I'm thankful for the mental space to consider some of my insecurities without feeling overwhelmed by them....that's not always easy to do and I hope you're striking that balance successfully!

Monday, May 7, 2012

May 7th - Heather

1.  Dr. Horrible's Sing-a-long Blog.  It was fabulous!  Thanks Derick!

2.  The blood orange EVOO and the chocolate balsamic vinegar on our dinner salad!  It was amazing.  Thank you to JJ and was mom's mother's day gift...and we both loved it.

3.  Walking to the grocery store....more for the walk than for's a great walk and it felt good to walk it tonight.

4.  Monday is over!  It was a busy day.

5.  Playful kittens...even when they're getting into who knows what...

Sunday, May 6, 2012

May 6th - Heather

1.  The Hombre burger at Revolution!  It was soo tasty!

2.  The random bookstore we wandered into after Revolution: Bucket O' Blood Books and Records, Speculative Fiction, Fantasy, Horror, Vinyl, Awesome...and yes all of that is on the sign that hangs outside the door.  We wandered in because you know I can't resist a bookstore.  And with all of the vampire and fantasy books I've been reading as of late it seemed like a suitable detour on the way to the next stop.  And it was!  Great little find! 

3.  The "next stop," which was a great little mexican bakery...even though she thought I was crazy when I asked for Mexican Wedding cookies. (I even asked using the Spanish word that I remember using in El Paso.) 

4.  That Derick is STILL convinced that he can find a beer that I'll's been over a year and I'm so impressed that he hasn't given up on me!  I tasted like 6 different beers success....the search continues!!!!

5.  Playing Apples to Apples.  It so made me miss the monday game night tradition we used to have with our little group in DC.  I miss those nights often, last night was just the most recent that I've been reminded of how much fun we had!!!!

6.  Uncle Julio's!  Some of the BEST Mexican food we've had since we left El Paso!!!!  Not nearly as good as EP...but a much shorter drive!

7.  Trying a new driving route to Chicago.  It's kind of a back roads state highway route.  It's benefits: no tolls!, and tons of new little shopping opportunities.  Disadvantages:  more shopping means more stopping which means no time savings.  But a less stressful route for my mom which is what really matters!

8.  Finding a random little bakery that had an amazing lemon lavender Parisian macaron....among many other lovely little treats!

9.  All of the exclamation points in this post!!!! :) Mom and I really had a fabulous weekend, as always, in Chicago with JJ and Derick!!!

10. The random guy in an old white cavalier who waved us down while we were both driving down the highway to introduce his puppy Buddy!  Our little kitten, Edward, was curled up like a baby in my arm (while I was driving) facing out the drivers side window.  And he was flexing his paw so when I looked down at him it looked like he was waving out the window.  When I looked to my left there was a guy with a huge friendly smile waving at Edward (and me).  We were at a red light a little ways down the road and I rolled the window down and we introduced our pets.  It was really hysterical!!!!

Friday, May 4, 2012

May 4th - Heather

1.  It's Friday!  There were a couple times earlier in the week, I wasn't sure I was going to make it in one piece through the week....but I did! :)

2.  Tomorrow will be filled with kitties, mexican food and frozen maragritas!!!  Oh yeah, and the wonderful JJ & Derick too!  ;)

3.  Kitten kisses in the middle of the night.  Edward is so a near pitch black room...he walks up to my face and then waits to see my eyelids flutter signaling some level of awakeness on my part...then basically headbutts me.  Purring like a boat motor the whole time.

4.  Making peace with the frizz this morning.  It's humid.  It's chilly.  My hair looks like I rubbed the cat on my head to create static more than it looks like I sprayed it down with "curl revitalizers" but whatever...I still had fairly good curl I went with it.

5. One of the summer courses I was signed up for was cancelled..but it's offered during another summer session using the same book...which is really good because I already bought the book!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

May 3rd - Heather

1.  The story below that I saw on Facebook when a friend reposted it!  The perfect thing to read first thing this morning!!!

2.  My mayo jar...even though I favor Miracle Whip.

3.  My golf balls....even though I've only played putt-putt a few times.

4.  Even my pebbles...even when they feel bigger and sharper than the golf balls.

5.  Coffee....even though I'm presently drinking tea.

And now that you think I'm crazy, read on and it will all make sense! 

The Mayonnaise Jar and Two Cups of Coffee

When things in your lives seem almost too much to handle, when 24 hours in a day are not enough, remember the mayonnaise jar and the 2 cups of coffee.

A professor stood before his philosophy class and had some items in front of him. When the class began, he wordlessly picked up a very large and empty mayonnaise jar and proceeded to fill it with golf balls. He then asked the students if the jar was full. They agreed that it was.

The professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured them into the jar. He shook the jar lightly. The pebbles rolled into the open areas between the golf balls. He then asked the students again if the jar was full. They agreed it was.

The professor next picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar. Of course, the sand filled up everything else. He asked once more if the jar was full. The students responded with an unanimous "yes."

The professor then produced two cups of coffee from under the table and poured the entire contents into the jar effectively filling the empty space between the sand. The students laughed.

"Now," said the professor as the laughter subsided, "I want you to recognize that this jar represents your life. The golf balls are the important things--your family, your children, your health, your friends and your favorite passions--and if everything else was lost and only they remained, your life would still be full.

The pebbles are the other things that matter like your job, your house and your car.

The sand is everything else--the small stuff. "If you put the sand into the jar first," he continued, "there is no room for the pebbles or the golf balls. The same goes for life. If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff you will never have room for the things that are important to you.

"Pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness. Play with your children. Take time to get medical checkups. Take your spouse out to dinner. Play another 18. There will always be time to clean the house and fix the disposal. Take care of the golf balls first--the things that really matter. Set your priorities. The rest is just sand."

One of the students raised her hand and inquired what the coffee represented. The professor smiled. "I'm glad you asked.

It just goes to show you that no matter how full your life may seem, there's always room for a couple of cups of coffee with a friend."

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

May 2nd - Heather

1.  The toothbrush and toothpaste I keep stashed in my's a regular old toothbrush and not as cool as the one I have at home.  But I was especially thankful for it living in my desk after today's lunch meeting at our favorite little mexican restaurant.

2.  Having a job that involves (expects even) a majority of sitting during the workday....there are definitely days where I miss being more active during the workday, but today I'm glad to not have to be up and bouncing about...I wouldn't have made it through the day...maybe not even the morning!

3.  Deadlocked, the newest Sookie Stackhouse book....made that much more enjoyable and difficult to put down on my spiffy Kindle....I was up into the wee hours reading....oh how I love these books!!!  It was just a wonderful added bonus to not have to wait for it to be shipped or have to make a special trip to a store wherein I would have bought many other things and essentially paid WAY more for the book!

4.  The appreciation dinner we are having for our student workers tonight.  This time last year we were a merry band of 7 dining and laughing....tonight we will be double that.  It's been such a busy year that I feel as though I haven't spent nearly enough time chatting with our students.  They work so hard all year and it will be nice to sit down, relax, eat and enjoy the evening!

5.  Falling asleep AND waking up to the sound of the rain!  There is no better sound and to be lulled to sleep and gently woken by a sound I love so much was a special treat.

May 2nd, 2012 - JJ

1. Sarpino's pizza.  They have this awesome special for two medium sized pizzas, any way you want them, for $20, which is pretty great since one medium is $16. Such a great deal!  Also, their wings are amazing!
2. Hot sauce.  Making everything more delicious since I finally started liking spicy food.  I brought the whole giant bottle of Franks with me to work today so I could put it on my pizza for lunch.
3. The new Sookie book. I didn't read as much of it as I was hoping to yesterday, but it's good so far. I hope Sookie gets some of her old self back though. She's turning into a character I don't much like lately.
4. That Derick won movie screening tickets for tonight. Not sure what movie it is, or what it's about, but I do enjoy going to see advanced screenings of movies for free!  I'm also hoping Laurel and Jackie will be there since I haven't seen either of them this year.
5. That I'll be in Seattle in a matter of weeks! Can't wait!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

May 1st - Heather

1.  Clorox wipes!  Making less than fortunate situations easy to clean up at equally unfortunate times of the day.

2.  Lessons learned...this lesson being that it is better to choke down vitamins on an empty stomach than 15 minutes after eating breakfast.

3.  The extra sweater in my office!  So that when I realize my outfit makes no sense (say covering a purple and orange floral cami with a matching orange shirt to then realize you can't see the pattern just the purple lace around the edges of an orange shirt)...I have options that I don't have to think about. 

4.  The granola bars in my here's to hoping they settle my stomach.

5.  Instant wireless delivery of the newest Sookie book to my Kindle! :)  No waiting and no going to get the book!  I love it!!!!

May 1st, 2012 - JJ

1. Revolution Brewing's applewood smoked wings. SO delicious!!  We had the pleasure of eating tons of them last night at a charity event that Derick bought tickets to. We also got to try their sweet potato fritters, which came with a delicious curry sauce, and their pulled pork sliders that had a sauce that reminded me of one that Tammy had made over Christmas. Everything was so good!!
2. That I was able to finish book 4 of Game of Thrones last night, just in time to quickly read the new Sookie book before starting book 5. :)  I fully plan on having Sookie's new story finished before I go to sleep tonight. I can't wait!!
3. The conversation Derick and I had recently about our priorities in life and how we can work toward them together. Having always been single before Derick, it's been a little bit difficult to get used to having shared goals and shared priorities. I'm really excited that we've mutually decided to make adventure travel a bigger priority. It's something I've really missed since moving to Chicago (aside from that one trip to Italy and Turkey in 2010). I'm looking forward to watching our travel savings grow and grow, and even more looking forward to spending it!
4. Teeny little hair clips. Also giant large hair clips! Hair clips of all kinds. Anything that can restrain my crazy hair, actually. I spend way too much money on hair clips and hair bands since my hair destroys them so quickly and since the cats think that hair clips are fun toys and they are constantly disappearing from counter tops and table tops, never to be seen again! So I am thankful for packs of multiple clips, especially when they're on sale at Target.
5. Warm weather. It's supposed to be in the 70's today and in the 80's tomorrow. I'm excited to finally be able to sit outside on our new patio furniture.