how i wonder what you are

For the first time since I moved to Austin, I headed back to Chicago for a quick weekend to attend my friend Sara’s baby shower. It was great to see her and her growing belly (I can’t believe how much bigger it was 3 months later!) and my other girlfriends who attended. Of course, I also got to hang out with my mom and brother who are still in the area. It was weird to be chauffeured from the airport by my mom – I was always the airport chauffeur for family that came to Chicago. I was never in Chicago without my own car. I would have liked to spend more time, drive by our condo to see how it’s holding up, stop by my former place of employment and see people, but it was a very quick weekend. I hope to be back at the holidays!

Sara and her husband Brady are not finding out the gender of their baby ahead of time. So the girls who threw the shower did a great job by choosing “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” as the theme. The decor and gifts complimented the theme perfectly. They even had star balloons tied to the mailbox!

They strung a line of onesies across the fireplace where the gifts were placed.

Sara's Baby Shower

My friend Michelle made an ADORABLE diaper cake. I told her she should totally sell these on Etsy.

Sara's Baby Shower

Diapers circled little vases of flowers on the tables and stars hung from the chandelier.

Sara's Baby Shower

The food spread was nice and summery – fruits, cheeses, salad, chicken salad sandwiches, veggie pizza, and an apple tart pastry that my friend Jill made.

Sara's Baby Shower

The cake was so adorable!

Sara's Baby Shower

The mom-to-be was glowing and looked great!

Sara's Baby Shower

Everyone was invited to decorate a onesie for the baby.

Sara's Baby Shower

I kept mine simple with an iron-on elephant.

Sara's Baby Shower

Sara's Baby Shower

Michelle got a little more creative and made hers a Chicago Bears onesie with the butt saying “Packers Stink”. I doubt the daddy will allow it to be worn, being a die-hard Packers fan!

Sara's Baby Shower

Everyone brought a book to give the baby. Naturally, I called up my sister and told her to send me some!

Sara's Baby Shower

Sara got lots of awesome gifts. Just the gifts alone made me totally wish I had a reason to shop in the baby aisle – never mind that I can’t even look at a onesie without squealing. And don’t get me started on baby socks. I melt!

Sara's Baby Shower

Sara's Baby Shower

As if all the baby stuff was enough – there was also an actual baby in attendance! Sara’s friend Jamie recently had her second daughter. She was very well behaved the whole time.

Sara's Baby Shower

Sara's Baby Shower

After gifts, we took some pictures in the backyard. It was a HOT day in Chicago, but I’m used to the heat. Just kidding – I think it’s going to be a LONG time until I’m used to this kind of heat.

Sara's Baby Shower

It’s so exciting that not only Sara is having a baby, but my other good friend Jill is ALSO expecting a baby!! Sara is due near the end of August and Jill is due in early December.

Sara's Baby Shower

Sara had another friend there who is pregnant too – due any day now!!

Sara's Baby Shower

Sara's Baby Shower

Before we left, we all had to make a prediction for the sex of the baby, the birthdate, and weight and length. I guessed that she’ll be having a girl on her due date around 6 lbs 10 oz and 21 inches long. We’ll see if I’m right!

Sara's Baby Shower

Can’t wait to get word of the birth – just a few weeks left!!! I’m hopeful I get to meet the baby at the holidays – along with Jill’s newborn!!

she’s leaving home, bye bye

Yes, I’m leaving Chicago, my home for the past 7 years. In fact, I’m leaving Illinois, my home for twenty-some years. We are packing up and moving to Austin. As in Texas. As in a completely different state. In the south. Where they speak with southern accents and have warm winters. I will miss Chicago and my friends, family, and coworkers here. But, I can honestly say I won’t miss Chicago winters.

What prompted our move was that Drew accepted a job transfer with his company, KPMG. We discussed it and it sounded like a great opportunity and an exciting adventure to pick up and move. That meant I was on the job hunt.

I’m leaving my beloved Discover after 7 years. I’ll miss the work and the people and the culture of Discover. I really enjoyed what I did there. I still remember that fateful day in college when I took a quick walk through the job fair and saw that Discover was hiring web developer interns. I had already found an internship in Seattle, but I thought I’d take one last look. So glad I did – I was invited to headquarters for interviews, was offered the internship, and went on to have the best summer ever. It didn’t even feel like work.

I hoped that I could find another job that I liked as much. Leaving is harder than I imagined, but I’m taking with me a lot of memories, some awesome ninja web skills, and lots of friendships. You never know when you’ll run into people again. Since I’ll be living in a tech hub, I’m bound to run into someone at a conference or festival.

I’m leaving behind a lot of family and friends, but that just means I have plenty of reasons to come back to Chi-town to visit. And now they all have somewhere to visit during those harsh winters!

Drew’s been in Austin since early March and already started his new job. He moved into our apartment with just an air mattress and a few other things. I told him he couldn’t do anything fun until I got there. So I’m left to pack up the condo, which I’ve spent the last few weeks doing. The moving company comes in on Saturday, then I’m outta here. It’s a 2-day drive down and luckily I have family conveniently located halfway down in Memphis, so I can crash at my uncle’s house. Then I’ll be hightailing it to Austin to finally see my hubby after a month!

After I settle in, I’ll start my new job at Dell and start becoming a Texan. Which should be easy because I’ve seen a lot of Friday Night Lights episodes. I’ll let you know if I run into Sandra Bullock or Lance Armstrong. I suppose I need to get me some cowboy boots?

*Blog post title is a lyric from the song “She’s Leaving Home” by The Beatles

i’m coming home via chicago

Chi-town. It’s our home, yes, but there’s so much to do here that we’ve never done. We had been putting off some of this fun for years. So we decided to spend a night downtown and see how it felt to truly be a Chicagoan. I’m glad we chose a weekend that was scorching hot. But lots of fun was had nonetheless.

We started Friday morning at Rock Bottom watching the World Cup with my B.I.L. and S.I.L. U.S. vs. Slovenia was a pretty exciting game – I wouldn’t have missed it. Screaming, clapping, falling off chairs from excitement, and toss in a momosa, a bloody mary, and some beers.

Yes, we were totally robbed that last goal. That was hard to watch. But we’re happy with a tie. And the day must go on.

After the game, we headed up to the Lincoln Park Zoo. It was so hot and sunny that day. The poor animals didn’t move too much.

Although, there was this one meerkat who loved to pose for the camera!

“All right Mr. De Mille, I’m ready for my close-up.”

After we headed back to the hotel to relax, a big storm headed into Chicago. We watched it swoop in from the 28th floor of the Sheraton. It was nasty – it even took out a window of the Willis Tower! After the storm quickly passed through, we met up with my S.I.L. and her fiance and our friends Sara and Brady for dinner at The Publican. They’re known for their seafood and pork from local farms served family style. It was delicious!

Then we headed up to Fado’s for some drinks.

The next morning we headed to Navy Pier to ride the ferris wheel.

And then we boarded a boat for an architecture tour along the river and Lake Michigan. We learned so much about the architecture and history of Chicago. Plus, we got an incredible view of the skyline.

The sun was pretty hot out there, and it got in the way of a lot of my pictures.

There’s the Sheraton – where we stayed for a night!

After the boat tour and lunch we headed to the Art Institute to check out the new modern wing.

Don’t look too closely at a Seurat, or you’ll go nuts like Cameron did in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.

Edward Hopper’s “Nighthawks” is one of Drew’s favorites.

After the art museum, we spent the rest of the afternoon in Millenium Park.

Taking pictures of “the Bean” was pretty fun. Although, that thing is covered in fingerprints. Someone needs to shine her up!

After all that walking, I was more than happy to sit and stick my feet in some cool water. Apparently, so was everyone else.

After grabbing some pizza, we headed home to chill out. We always need a little break after vacation to – you know – rest up. Whew – vacation takes it all outta ya.

See the rest of my pictures from the weekend on Flickr.

*Blog post title is a lyric from the song “Via Chicago” by Wilco

in an ocean of noise

Yesterday my mom and I took the train downtown to Shedd Aquarium on a lovely July Saturday (finally!) Of course the nice weather brought out the crowds (plus Chicago was prepping for Venetian Night later that night.) Shedd Aquarium on a summer Saturday is chock full of kids and strollers! But it’s cute to see kids squeal when the dolphins swim by the window.

Because I had visited Shedd Aquarium back in December and saw all of the indoor exhibits, we just checked out the newly renovated Oceanarium. While they were renovating, they relocated their Beluga whales to Connecticut for 9 months. We watched the dolphins and Beluga whales practice for their upcoming show Fantasea. Very well trained animals! It’s always impressive to see dolphins jump in unison, and we got to watch the show from above and below the water.

Here are a few highlights from the day:

These little guys weren’t part of Shedd Aquarium, but they were hanging around outside hoping for a fish to get loose.

Check out the rest of the pictures from the day on Flickr.

*Blog post title is a lyric from the song “Ocean Of Noise” by The Arcade Fire

gonna take your mama out all night

For my mom’s birthday, I surprised her by taking her downtown to The Wooden Spoon for a cooking class. As if the woman needs any instruction in the kitchen. But we love to cook together and this was a fun reason to go downtown on a nice spring day. There were 12 people in the class and together we created a meal of crab fritters with curry dipping sauce, goat cheese salad with roasted beets and fig-balsamic vinaigrette, pork medallions with arugula cream sauce, roasted potatoes, and a lemon custard fruit tart with raspberries. And we brought our own bottle of wine to sip on while we cooked.

Yes – those are onion goggles. Both stylish and functional.

Check out the rest of the pictures on Flickr.

The best part of the class? You got to eat what you made! It was all muy delicioso!

i survived that’s good enough for now

I am finally back with a long overdue post for my anxious readers! j/k. Now that we’re almost a quarter of the way through the year, here’s my first real post of 2009. Sheesh.

A lot of things contributed to my digital silence: school and homework (lots of it), a frizzled-out computer, and the general non-excitement that is Chicago in the winter. This is really the best you can hope for during the winter months—just surviving another one. My car seemed to handle the ice a bit better this year tho.

This birdy perched on my balcony was enjoying the winter about as much as I was.

This week was spring break and while it wasn’t very springy, I’ve had a week without night classes or homework—and it felt wonderful. The winter quarter consisted of 11 weeks of 3 classes a week with lots of assignments and group projects. But now I’m on the home stretch. Just 2 more classes and I’ll graduate in June with a shiny new piece of paper to hang on the wall.

Of course we chose this week to replace our old desktop computer with a new HP Elite. It’s taken the better part of 4 evenings to get the thing up and running. Now that it’s all done, I can finally breathe. For a minute. So here’s what’s been up for the last few months.

Back in December, we picked out bamboo flooring to replace our carpet and, after a lot of false starts, finally got it installed in mid-February. It looks gorg and really warms up the place. The hardest part (besides the wait) was relocating all of our furniture and books to other rooms. Because we were expecting installation in early Jan, our living room was pretty bare for over a month. Our bathtub became a catchall of picture frames and candles and our kitchen table became a library.


This was just half of Drew’s book collection.


Bamboo flooring

The finished product is well worth the effort.

In February, we had some extended family pay a visit to Chicago and we enjoyed a couple dinners out with them.

Oh yeah, and in the middle of all that, I turned a year older. We can gloss over this point real quickly.

Mah Birfday

mmmm cake

We finally planned a trip to Flagstaff, AZ to visit my dad in June. We’re looking forward to driving through Sedona, seeing the red rocks and the Grand Canyon. And, of course, getting lots of smooches from this guy.



i say, a little ol’ wine drinker me

On Saturday, we went to Winefest in Chicago for a bit of wine tasting to get us prepped for our upcoming Napa Valley vaca.  The Californian wines we tasted included a full-bodied blend from Paso Robles, a Pinot Noir from Mendocino, and a Hawk Crest Merlot.  Wines from other regions that we liked were a Pinot Noir from Oregon, a French Pinot Gris, and a Vinho Branco from Portugal.  It was fun to try a bunch of wines while listening to music and perusing the local art collections.