12.28.2008

A sneak preview...

A little preview to wet your appetite before we hit the road!

Making ginger bread houses at Gaylord Palms


















Gaylord Palms' ICE!




















Defrosting from ICE!

12.27.2008

Hold on for One More Day

I just came across this skit on my video camera! This is not the one from my camera (I'm not techy enough to get it onto my computer), but I got this one from the CO website after New Year's Conference in 2006! I totally forgot about this amazing dance! I hope it makes you smile:D

video

12.25.2008

Merry Christmas!

I hope you have a wonderful day with family and friends!

12.23.2008

The 4 C's

So as I finished packing I was making a mental note trying to insure that I have everything. My conclusion was this: The four C's. When you shop for diamonds you're supposed to purchase based on carat, cut, clarity, and color. Well when packing for Christmas vacation every girl needs her four C's too: clothes, Christmas presents, Chi, and cute shoes! What else is there;)?

Let the adventure begin!

A Christmas to Remember

I thought I would fill you in on my upcoming endeavors and warn you that I may be M.I.A. for a week or so!

Family Vaca 2008!!!!!

I'm heading home for Christmas on the morning of the 24th. I get to do the family thing for a few days and then we're headed out on vacation to Orlando. My mom, brother, brother's girlfriend, Andrew and I are headed on an adventure to Gaylord Palms. We're going to visit Rollins, Winter Park, hang at the hotel, see ICE, build gingerbread houses, and go to Universal Studios! I'm really excited for the opportunity to all hang out together and relax a bit.

We'll head back home for a few days where Andrew and I will get to hang out with my family and see a few of my high school friends before heading out on the roadtrip of the century!

Day 1: Head out from Tampa towards Becka's in Port Charlotte stopping at the Roaring 20s Pizza and Pipes restaurant on our way. We will spend the evening with Becka, Jon and baby Reagan! I'm so excited to finally meet her and catch up with Becks.

Day 2: Depart from Becka's house seeing Jenn (Fort Meyers) and the Giant Head of Beethoven and Keri (Cape Coral) somehow on our way to the Everglades! Make a pit stop at the Smallest Post Office in the US and send a few postcards and head towards Miami via Alligator Ally. We'll hit up a few more random stops on our way to Jacksonville. We'll spend the night at Chateau Emy and take her hostage.

Day 3: Leave Jax, with Emy, for Hotlanta swinging by one of the Tiniest Churches in the US in South Newport, GA. Eat lunch in Savannah. Visit the Big Cow and the World Globe Gas Storage Tank. Then arrive in ATL!! Lots of options await us there: the Baseball Equipment Coke Bottle, the Varsity, Centennial Park and most importantly New Year's Conference where we will meet up with Erin and Claire!! We'll watch the peach drop in ATL and then leave Emy with Claire and head on our merry way.

Day 4: Destination: Tennessee. Check out the World's Largest Chair, Replica of the Statue of Liberty and arrive at Grandpas! Hang for a few days on the farm with the family!

Day 6: Head through Memphis visiting the Muffler Man, the New Urbanist Island and some historic sites on our way to Chi-Town. Keep ourselves busy by visiting Lambert's Cafe (Home of the Throwed Rolls), Superman, Big John, the Giant White Cross, and a few other random destinations.

Finally, make my way to O'Hare and back to Providence for work the next morning!

Wheew...I better have some good stories after all that!


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Not a good morning

So I woke up early this morning to do the dishes, clean my apartment up, and start the packing process. I was so impressed with myself for not hitting snooze 5 times and only watching a little of the Today Show. I checked-in online, checked my email, and then jumped out of bed.

Well, just as I started to put the shampoo in my hair I hear the fire alarm go off. It's never gone off before so I wasn't sure how to take it, but I didn't want to blow it off. I jumped out, wrapping a towel around my shampoo-filled hair, and ran out the door in my pink robe and slippers. Well, mind you, it's 12 degrees outside and covered with snow. It turns out there are only 2 out of the 6 tenants in town right now and we had no idea what set it off. My neighbor downstairs, the only other one home (also in a robe), called the property manager and even though I warned him he still proceeded to lift the "LIFT" tab on the fire alarm thinking that it would somehow turn it off. Oh no, he's now triggered a second alarm! Ruthless. Well, naturally, he had to be at work by 8 so he left. Now it's just me freezing and waiting for the property manager. I was so irritated at this point that I just went back inside, despite the alarms' warning, put on all black, threw my shampoo-filled hair in a ponytail with a polka dotted wrap, grabbed two packets of oatmeal and stormed outside to wait for the property manager in a quieter environment that won't cause my ears to bleed. He arrived, on the phone with the fire-alarm company and unable to talk to me, so just left and started my ice-skating journey to work.

So basically I got to work an hour early, cold, hungry, and frustrated. My boss, who was out sick yesterday but is feeling much better, said in a chipper voice, "What's the plan?" I think he meant for me to go home for Christmas, but I just blurted out: "The plan is for me to leave early today." I recounted my morning. Told him how I hadn't had breakfast and didn't have time to pack a lunch and still had stuff to do around the apartment and was feeling quite ornery. He concurred and said, "Well, do what you've gotta do." That was awful nice of him.

So this was the gist of my morning. Nothing too traumatic or life-threatening, but enough of an inconvenience to cause me to start my day in a foul mood. It's one thing for the fire alarm to go off in sunny, warm Florida, at Rollins College, when an annoying freshman sets it off and you can just go to Dave's and laugh about the unexpected FroYo break or excuse to see Mae and get a smoothie, but it's another when the temperature is just rising above single digits and you're soaking in a wet robe about to embark on a 7 hour day.

12.22.2008

Walking in A Winter Wonderland

It started snowing Friday afternoon and just never stopped until Sunday!! Here are some pictures of my beautiful neighborhood:

The East Side



















Main Street with real icicles!
















Walking to work has proved difficult. Illinois prepared me for the cold, but not the hills. Walking on flat land with ice is one thing, but to walk downhill on ice is a whole new story!! I'm pretty sure I pulled something in my back this morning when I saved myself from falling but looked as though I was enduring vertical convulsions.




















However, I must confess that I really enjoy living on a hill. I don't know if it's a sick pleasure or the feeling of success when someone conquers the challenge, but I love listening or watching cars try to go up the street to see if they can actually make it.
PS Who says people in the NE aren't nice? This guy pushing the truck was just walking up the hill when the truck tried to go up. Shortly after this picture the truck gave up and the guy kept walking.














Downtown Providence
















Also, there is no grass to distinguish the right-of-way between the streets and sidewalks so the snow clearing has turned into a battle of the piling. The plow drives down the street and pushes all the snow to the sides. Then the residents and landlords snow blow and shovel to clear their sidewalks since they have to (slipping is a liability), back into the street. It's pretty crazy. Needless to say, there aren't many sidewalks to walk on to work, sometimes you have to plow through the drifts and on roads with no traffic you just walk in the road.














So when I see this I think, "Guess they won't be picking that up tomorrow." Oh no, I was wrong. They still picked up our snow filled recycling this morning!














Too bad that I put off doing my laundry until Sunday...it's in this detached portion of the house.














Saturday night I decided to clear off my car (this is before I got it all off)...















Sunday I realized that it was all in vain, you couldn't even tell.




















Nothing escaped the elements.

12.21.2008

Happy Hanukkah

Hanukkah began tonight at sundown. I enjoy The Chanukah Song and Adam Sandler's ability to make all the names rhyme so I was delighted to discover three versions on YouTube. However, my original intention of an ode to the start of the Jewish celebration seems masked by the lack of seriousness on Adam's part.

Part I


Part II


Part III

12.19.2008

1st Winter Storm in RI

The first winter storm of the season is on its way and I'm so excited!! Luckily, I walk to work so I will be able to get home in 15 minutes regardless of the snow fall since I'm not dealing with the roads. I just have to be careful that someone doesn't slide of the road and onto the sidewalk:)

Well, as I eagerly anticipate the joy of being cooped up in my apartment, with a blazing fire, some hot cocoa, writing Christmas cards (a little late, I know), watching a holiday movie, and staring at the falling snow, Andrew's mom sent me the reality of what the future holds. A little heavier than I dreamed of!

That blob in the middle of the picture is their golden retriever in the driveway!! Notice you can't see where the driveway ends, yards begin, or the road runs through it! Good luck shoveling that, Andrew!

Doesn't snow just look so pure and perfect before there are any footprints to mess it up?!


Normally I wouldn't mind, but this is killing Jaso and I's plan to go to New York City for the day tomorrow. There is no way he is going to get out of Boston, let alone pick me up and get us 3 hours through the Northeast to NYC.

I'll be sure to post some more pics once it arrives in Rhody:)

Recipe of the Week

Tortellini & Ham (so bad for you, but so good!)

A Taste of Home Recipe, of course!













Ingredients:

  • 1 package (9 ounces) refrigerated cheese tortellini
  • 1 cup chopped fresh broccoli
  • 1/4 cup reduced-fat butter, cubed
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup fat-free milk
  • 1/4 cup half-and-half cream
  • 1-1/2 cups cubed fully cooked lean ham
  • 4 ounces reduced-fat cream cheese, cubed
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 medium tomato, seeded and chopped

Directions:

In a large saucepan, cook tortellini according to package directions, adding the broccoli during the last 5 minutes of cooking.

In a large nonstick skillet over medium heat, melt butter. Stir in flour until smooth; gradually add milk and cream. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 1 minute or until thickened.

Add the ham, cheeses, basil, garlic powder and pepper; cook and stir until cream cheese is melted. Stir in tomato. Drain tortellini mixture; add to the pan and heat through.

Yield:
6 servings.


Nutrition Facts

  • One serving: 3/4 cup
  • Calories: 334
  • Fat: 16 g
  • Saturated Fat:9 g
  • Cholesterol:66 mg
  • Sodium:865 mg
  • Carbohydrate:29 g
  • Fiber:2 g
  • Protein:19 g


Give it a Twist!

I'm not a huge fan of ham in my food, so I was thinking that you could probably exchange the ham for chicken or use chicken tortellini instead of cheese, since it's so cheesy anyway! Also, to note, I didn't use as much butter as they recommended and it still turned out incredible!

12.17.2008

Crafty Dreams

I want to be crafty someday! And not crafty as in conniving, but crafty as in "I make Martha Stewart look lame."

So when I got to work on Monday there was this adorable box sitting on my desk:












It's a present from a co-worker. She made one for each of us in the department! And inside...



















...an adorable legend and homemade cookies! She spent all weekend baking 300 cookies, Photoshopping together a legend to insert onto the box lid, cutting out the star/flower/snowflake decor, and hand-making 30 boxes!! How sweet and adorable!! Someday, when I have helping hands and free time I want to do cute stuff like this too for the people I love! What a thoughtful gift. Thanks, Becca!

12.16.2008

The 12 Days of Kimberly

Yea, that's right. While some of you were kicking back and sipping eggnog, a very important holiday was among us;)

I arrived home from Thanksgiving vacation to a letter from my sweet boyfriend explaining to me the 12 days of Christmas, the 8 days of Hanukkah and this year's specialty: the 12 days of Kimberly. My birthday is 12/12, so it was fitting to use the first 12 days of the month:)

Here is the fun that you missed out on over the past two weeks (I thought I'd do one big one at the end and spare you the excitement/drama/nausea each day):

Day 1: Letter announcing the celebration












Day 2: Pictures of Davenport Hall. The place on U of I's campus where Andrew and I first met. Not just pictures, but black and white, 8x10 pictures he took during each season of the year to capture the building in its entirety and the longevity of it's endurance!

















Day 3: Three U of I t-shirts so I could show off my grad school pride and reminisce about our memories in Cham-bana.















Day 4: An incredible poem! A perfect and sweet ode to our relationship.












Day 5: A beautiful bouquet of Gerber daisies!




















Day 6: One Fine Birthday Memory.

Andrew's favorite column in the Chicago Tribune is the One Fine Day feature on Saturdays. They select a Chicago neighborhood and give you an itinerary of how to spend one fine day in that area. Well, after I moved out here he would sporadically send me a One Fine Memory letter which would retell a funny or memorable event in our relationship. For example, in one he chose to highlight the evening he had a friend in town and we were at a school get together when I started having a terrible allergic reaction to the cat, swelled up, couldn't stop sneezing and coughing, and we had to rush to Walgreen's to get something for me and his friend was forced to spend the rest of the night catering to my allergic reaction and watching movies.

Day 7: Winter Crocs! Mammoth Crocs, to be exact! (The brown ones!)













Day 8: A Free Date coupon--homemade with a bar code and everything! (This is obviously not the one)










Day 9: A PBS JFK documentary! I adore JFK, which is ironic since the documentary turned out to be about the assassination, a conspiracy theory, and the Cuban Missal Crisis. "The Man, The President, and The Tragedy" turned out to be a very inaccurate title.















Day 10: A fancy kitchen knife. To our surprise, this is apparently a cultural no-no. I had a co-worker who flipped out and made me Google it. Not a good discovery if you're superstitious.















Day 11: A mini salad spinner!! I'm pretty pumped about this. You know you're getting old when salad spinners and chopping knives are exciting!















Day 12: A dinner date at the Melting Pot. I absolutely love fondue and it was incredible! All except a little trouble we had at the end of the date, when we thought we'd see how the lettuce/cabbage bed from our meat plate reacted to the boiling hot oil. You can only imagine, but it sizzles like bacon on Sunday morning--so much so that one may get burned by the splatter and drop the whole leaf in the oil, which then leads to sparks like a firework on the 4th of July. And what does my sweet man who dropped the lettuce in the oil do? He takes his napkin from his lap, motions towards throwing it over the pot to cover it, but at the last minute covers his face instead and leaves me to quickly fish the foliage out before getting burned to death or busted by the waitress! Classic;)

Anyway, the two week period was remarkably fun! I don't know if you can imagine what it's like to get one present every day for 12 days, but it's incredible. And I never knew what was coming so I didn't know where it would be sent. Packages were sent to work and envelopes to my apartment, but it was a constant guessing game. The hardest days were when two would arrive the same day and I was tormented by the early gift for hours!

I would like to congratulate Andrew for being 10 for 10 by being either on time or early with every gift!! (He brought 11 and 12 with him on the plane.) I don't know how he did it, but it was remarkable. I told him he would win a "prize" if he was 10 for 10, so now I have to think of a worthy prize. Any ideas? I feel like the word "prize" renders a child-like gift, but his parcel-mastering skills were anything but amateur! My co-workers even got into the spirit, checking to see what I was receiving each day. A highlight was when my co-worker, also named Andrew, brought in two parcels on Day 6, slammed them down and said, "This is sick. Who are you? Julia Roberts in some romantic comedy?!"

12.15.2008

Survey: Insight Into My World

Thanks Joy! I can't resist!

I love the smell of - Philly cheese steak sandwiches

People would say that I - am wordy. Gotten an email from me lately? If so, it was probably 5 pages;)

I don't understand why - people stay up late at night and then sleep the day away. I am not a night owl and can't make it through a movie after 7 pm so this probably explains my inability to comprehend people who enjoy staying up late. Me, I love sleep. The more the better. I'd be in bed by 9:30 if I had my way.

When I wake up in the morning - I turn on the Today Show to motivate me to wake up because I'm so interested in listening to Matt, Meredith, Al and Ann--Pathetic, I know.

I lost my willpower to - exercise...about sophomore year of college! Yikes. I just can't do it. A quarter mile into a jog I decide I'm not having fun and head home.

Life is - worth every obstacle and challenge. It's never what you think it's going to be and many things don't go your way, but I'm learning to roll with the punches, laugh at the trials, and enjoy every opportunity & challenge God gives to me.

My past made me - who I am today...the good, bad, and ugly have shaped and defined me and taught me valuable lessons. I am thankful for God's sovereignty over it all.

I get annoyed when - people correct others at inappropriate times. Like when a cashier mispronounces your last name or a strangers states an incorrect fact. You're never going to see them again, it's not hurting anyone, just let it slide. Please don't make me feel awkward and apologetic because you were rude.

Parties are not a good time to - fight with your significant other. Fighting in public is always awkward and unnecessary.

Dogs are - adorable, especially a little husky or malamute.

Cats are - not so cool. Well, on the contrary they think they are cool. Too cool for you in fact. They are not needy enough for me. If I'm gonna scoop out your poop and fight to wash your smelly furry self, you better be welcoming me at the front door when I get home, eager to play with me, and cuddling with me on the couch when I watch TV!

Tomorrow is - Tuesday. Just over a week until Christmas. Nine days until I get to go home:)

I have a low tolerance for - shallowness. Go big or go home. I love deep conversations, real people, and vulnerable friendships. I also have a low tolerance for littering. Just put it in the proper trash receptacle. Hold on to it for 5 extra minutes. I cringe when people toss cans or fast food bags out car windows.

I'm totally terrified of - bugs. All of them. Any of them. Always.

I wonder why I thought my life would be - simple. I thought around every corner and milestone that things would get easier, more relaxing and less complex. I was way off!

I always knew that I would - be organized. I just didn't know that I would be this O.C.D.

Never in my life have I - gone skydiving...and never will I. It really doesn't appeal to me AT ALL. Or bungee jumping. Or anything remotely spontaneous or dangerous.

High school was - amazing. I didn't appreciate it at the time and thought it was a lot of work and filled with drama, but looking back it was easy, carefree, and incredible.

When I'm nervous - I sweat.

One time at a family gathering - I was offered $5,000, a reception at a country club and a honeymoon in Cabo St Lucas by my boyfriend's grandfather if we were the first grandchildren to get married. I'm still seriously considering the offer;)

Take my advice - don't take some things too seriously. It just results in worrying about something you can't control, unnecessary stress, and an overwhelming need to control.

Making my bed - is the first thing I do in the mornings...with a studio, it kind of makes or breaks the place

I'm almost always - LATE...and not almost always, let's be honest, ALWAYS.

I'm addicted to - the Today Show

I want someone to - finish my sentences and laugh at my corny jokes. Luckily, I've already found him:)

I tag... Becka, Emy, Kelli

12.10.2008

Recipe of the Week

So I've got a song of the week and I'm hoping to implement a picture of the week, but first I'll issue the recipe of the week.

Winter is upon us and in full swing (in most places) and what better way to stay warm than with a nice hot bowl of soup?! [My mom is not going to believe that I eat this soup, let alone make it!]

A few notes: Two onions sounded like too much, but it wasn't. Also, before adding the tomato paste the soup had a nice beef broth base and I liked that. It tastes great with the tomato paste, but I think adding a can of stewed or diced tomatoes instead would allow the base to remain more broth-y than tomato-y. Either way, it turned out great and it's got lots of protein and fiber! So cook up and enjoy:)

Italian-Style Lentil Soup
(from my good friends, Taste of Home Healthy Cooking)
2 medium onions, chopped
2 celery ribs, thinly sliced
1 medium carrot, chopped
2 teaspoons olive oil

5-1/4 cups water
1 cup dried lentils, rinsed
1/4 cup minced fresh parsley
1 tablespoon reduced-sodium beef bouillon granules
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 can (6 ounces) tomato paste
2 tablespoons white vinegar
2 teaspoons brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons shredded Parmesan cheese


In a large saucepan coated with cooking spray, saute the onions, celery and carrot in oil until almost tender. Stir in the water, lentils, parsley, bouillon and pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 20-25 minutes or until lentils are tender, stirring occasionally. Stir in the tomato paste, vinegar, brown sugar and salt; heat through. Sprinkle each serving with cheese.

SERVINGS: 6
TIME: Prep: 15 min. Cook: 40 min.

Nutrition Facts:
One Serving: 1 cup
Calories: 122
Fat: 2 g
Saturate Fat: 1 g
Cholesterol: 1 mg
Sodium: 420 mg
Carbohydrate: 21 g
Fiber: 6 g
Protein: 6 g
Diabetic Exchange: 2 vegetable, 1 starch

12.09.2008

And What Did Dad Get?

In honor of last year: a little trip down memory lane...my favorite commercial of the season!

(You have to turn the volume up to hear it)

12.08.2008

Music to an Urban Planner's Ears


MSNBC Article:
Public Transit Ridership Soars 6.5 Percent


I realize this will make many of you cringe at the thought of using, let alone relying on public transit, but like I revealed last week, I have a crush on most large cities and all of their urban amenities.

12.07.2008

Brrr...It's cold in here....

1st snow of the season!!! What a great start to the day!! Unfortunately, I didn't know it was going to snow so it was quite the surprise to walk out of my apartment this morning, late for church of course, to the further delay of brushing off my car. I planned to take some pictures as soon as I got out of church, but it all melted by then:( Oh well, it will come again some glorious day!

On the downside of this fabulous day, the heat broke last night and the temperature has steadily decreased throughout the day. Current temp in my apartment: 52 degrees. There is a heating company working on it right now since it's getting down to 15 degrees tonight and that would cause problems on many levels: freezing pipes, freezing tenants, etc.

I'm currently in bed under the covers (the only warm place in the apartment). I'm using the art of layering to survive: I'm wearing sweat pants, a sweat shirt, a beanie, and socks which snuggling under a sheet, down comforter, quilt, regular comforter and a throw blanket. It's working pretty well--my hands are the only parts exposed and cold. The worst part is that I'm very unproductive when this happens because doing anything constructive requires me to abandon my cocoon and move about in the frigid apartment.

12.06.2008

Happy Birthday Mrs. Bellomy!!

Happy Birthday Erin!! I hope you have an incredible birthday! I'm so thankful that God brought you into the world 25 years ago today! Look at all the fun the world would have missed out on without you!

12.05.2008

A Holiday Homecoming

A video too sweet to pass up sharing.

12.04.2008

My Urban Fairytale

It doesn't matter if I'm in Providence or Boston, Chicago or New York City, when I'm riding through downtown at night, on public transit, with the skyline lit, streetscape decorated for Christmas, bald leafless trees greeting me, and the bitter cold just out of reach...it's an urban paradise to me! I think growing up in the suburbs, in the warm south, has given me an appreciation and fascination with cities and seasons. I can't imagine anything prettier than a city in the Wintertime. (Okay, I can, the Swiss Alps or Salzburg or a plethora of other places. Perhaps, to state it better, I can't imagine anywhere else I'd rather be than in a city at Christmastime.)

As I sat on the bus headed to the airport, forging through downtown Providence, vying through traffic for the right of way, with city lights twinkling and Christmas lights gleaming, and the warmth of the heat on the bus juxtaposing the pedestrians enduring the cold, I was overcome with a sense of excitement and bliss. Life felt surreal. Looking out the window I felt like a movie star. Like Meg Ryan in Sleepless in Seattle or in When Harry Met Sally. Or like Julia Roberts in Notting Hill or My Best Friend's Wedding or Erin Brockovich.

I think there is a reason why so many movies are set in cities, I'm just not sure what it is. We as a culture, have a history of love affairs with cities. Perhaps it's the allure of the urban lifestyle or the attraction of its efficiency. Or maybe it's the joy of watching the fast paced life, while being thankful it's not our life. Or even more plausible, it's the foreignness of it all; its rarity.

Thriving urban areas are a dying breed. With the invention of the automobile, assembly line, and cookie cutter housing, we spread out to the suburbs, yet we often find suburbia hopelessly unsatisfying. It's interesting that suburbs were created as a compromise between countryside and city. Frederick Law Olmsted, created one of the first "suburbs," Riverside, outside of Chicago, so he could have the best of both worlds. Ironically, we don't. We take vacations to get out and enjoy nature or make day trips to go into the city-- since we're not actually getting either. I don't really have a purpose of this blog and I didn't plan on going on an anti-suburbia tangent, but thought I would share with you my love for the city!

And who says fairytales never come true?! I think my urban fairytale is a present reality:)