Friday, May 27, 2011

Moving Weekend

This weekend is kind of a big deal....we're moving into our house!!! By the time you read this, we'll (hopefully) be packing everything into boxes. And instead of that cute outfit, I'll be wearing scrubby shorts, T-shirts, and tennis shoes. Hopefully we'll take a break and sneak away for a Memorial Day BBQ. I'll pull out the cute clothes for that....if I can find them :)

While owning a house is huge and really exciting, I'm a little sad about leaving our neighborhood in the city. The lake is only a few blocks away and everything is within walking distance. Or an easy ride via public transportation. Plus, it will be a little harder to get together with friends. I guess it's all a part of growing up.

And nothing makes you feel more like an adult than a 30-year mortgage. Well, maybe having a family, but we can't speak for that one yet. Yes, we have the pleasure of making our first payment on June 1. In preparation for that momentous event, I checked out our loan amortization table and made a few additional calculations.

Our monthly payment is pretty reasonable, so I calculated how much we could save in the long run by paying $100 more towards principal each month. Through the magic of compound interest, we could potentially save $35,000 in interest and pay off our mortgage a little over 4 years early! Sweet! John and I decided to pass on cable for now and use that money towards larger loan payments. And if we ever need that extra $100/month, we can make the standard mortgage payment.

And since it is Memorial Day weekend, I'd like to say a big "thank you" to all who have served in the armed forces, especially those who have fallen in service to our country.

PS - More Friday's Fancies can be found here!

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Thursday, May 26, 2011

Juan for the Home Team

I think one of my favorite aspects of blogging is thinking of creative titles. Puns flow like water in our household. Both John and I have been pun-ished with the gift of "Midwestern Dad humor." Think of family-friendly jokes full of corn and cheese.

the kings of cheese
Our most recent barrage of puns occurred at a White Sox game:
John: Juan Pierre, lead off man and outfielder for the White Sox, joined the South Siders and was welcomed immediately. Unfortunately, his English needed improvement. Whenever he couldn't communicate, he'd just say the same thing over and over again.

Friend: Huh...didn't realize that. How did that work?

John: His first day, Ozzie Guillen and him had the following interaction:
Ozzie: Hey buddy! What's your name?
Juan: Juan
Ozzie: Alright...what number do you want to wear?
Juan: Juan
Ozzie: Okay...what order of the line up do you want to bat?
Juan: Juan
Ozzie: Didn't you play for the 2003 Marlins who went to the World Series? Did you guys win or lose?
Juan: We Juan!
And so the evening went. My personal favorite was when the White Sox were charged with an error: "Wahh Juaaan!"
We attended the White Sox game on the cheap thanks to some fiscally chic thinking by our friend Anne. Turns out, the White Sox have "Value Mondays" throughout the season when tickets are half-priced. That meant our upper reserved tickets were a whopping $12 each. Anne is also quick to point out that registered designated drivers can get a free soft drink. Not a bad deal if you're looking for a quiet weeknight at the ballpark.

What are some other discounts throughout the MLB?
  • Search for "ticket specials", "value", "ticket pack", or "promotions" on your favorite team's website.
  • Many teams have value packs, which bundle tickets with a hot dog, chips, and/or soft drink.
  • The St. Louis Cardinals just rolled out "dynamic pricing" that's based on the market value (demand). Supposedly tickets can be as low as $5. Though I'm sure prices will increase if they're playing the Cubs or are on a winning streak.
  • The Cleveland Indians have Sugardale Dollar Dog Nights throughout the season. The Indians also have Student ID nights where tickets are half-priced.
  • Many stadiums allow you to bring in outside food and drinks. Though alcohol, bottles, cans, thermoses, hard-sided coolers, hard plastic cups/mugs are not permitted. Non-alcoholic beverages including water and soda in open cups or in clear plastic bottles no larger than 2 liters are allowed.
  • And of course you can tailgate before the game :)
Any other grand slam ideas to share?
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Tuesday, May 24, 2011

What's Bugging You?

Phew! Things have been busy over here! Between being in Cleveland for the funeral and half marathon a few weekends ago and then being in St. Louis for my sister’s graduation, there hasn’t been much time to blog. Not this week! Even with our impending move (did I tell you we’re moving this weekend? Eeek!) I'm going to catch you up on what’s going on in my budget-friendly world.

While in Cleveland, we obviously spent time with family and friends. John and I also attended the International Beer Fest with my high school friend Liz. On Saturday, there was a mini blogger meet-up with Piper of One Sydney Road and Brigitte of Unfettered Ink at The Root Cafe in Lakewood. And of course Sunday was the Cleveland half marathon. It was my Mom’s first half! She walked the race, finishing under 3:15, and placed 19th in her division. I had a super race as well and finished in 2:03.

It wasn't until we returned to Chicago that we saw some uninvited guests. While we were gone, the wet and warmer weather brought ants. I’m not sure why this happened after more than 1.5 years in our apartment, but a miniature army of ants has attempted to take residence in our kitchen. Did they know we're getting ready to move out? And these aren't your regular ants. These are high-class foodie ants. They completely ignored the Apple Jacks on the counter and headed straight towards the fruit-filled Frosted Mini Wheats and booze.

Seeing that I didn’t want to make a special trip to the store to rid ourselves of ants, I tried a few natural and homemade remedies. The obvious first step was to take out the trash and seal up any food. Next, I wiped down the kitchen, floor, and counters. In light of "My Big Fat Greek Wedding," I thought I would try Windex with a cocktail of original, antibacterial multi-surface, and some natural all-purpose cleaner. Ants leave a little trail of pheromones to tell the other ants how to find food. I figured if I washed away their trails, they wouldn't be able to find the food. That didn't quite work, so I had to step up my game.

Mint had a post about unusual uses for household products. Cayenne pepper and cinnamon are natural ant repellents. The post said to sprinkle cayenne pepper or cinnamon around the baseboards or wherever ants are seen. Cayenne pepper didn't seem to work on its own (I told you the ants were foodies), so I also sprinkled some cinnamon. Since I have good cinnamon from Penzeys Spices, I used some old Chinese five spice blend. The spice blend includes star anise, cinnamon, cloves, fennel, and black pepper.

So far, the combination of Windex and spices seems to work and the ants have stayed away from our kitchen. Yes, it looks a little funny, but I'll take it. And if I've seen a few stragglers, I've hit them with the Windex.

Anything else "bugging" you? Or any homemade remedies for dealing with pests?
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Thursday, May 19, 2011

Happy Weekend!

cards from kathrynwhyte's Etsy shop

Have a super weekend! Are you doing anything fun? My sister graduates with her MBA, so we'll be celebrating that.

After a little hiatus, there will be new exciting blog posts coming next week. Some house related :)

Until then, here are a few recent posts I've enjoyed from around the internets:
  • Young House Love painted a graphic canvas using paint samples from the hardware store. Makes me want to paint something for our house.
  • Mmmmmm.....maple cinnamon twice-baked sweet potatoes from Daily Garnish.
  • Peppermint Bliss shares her top Chicago restaurant picks. I've been to DMK Burger Bar and will have to check out a few other of her recommendations.
  • Looking to woo a boy with baked goods? Or need some new baking inspiration? Here's Joy the Baker's love and sugar recipe primer.
  • Design*Sponge just added a city guide for St. Louis! I lived in St. Louis for 7 years and it hit all the good spots. Schlafly (especially the Bottleworks) is amazing for beer and food. I would also add The Scottish Arms and Urban Chestnut Brewing Co in Midtown and Zia’a for Italian food on the Hill. And don’t forget the free musical festival at the Missouri Botanical Garden during Wednesdays in the summer. You can bring blankets, picnic baskets, and drinks.

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Sunday, May 15, 2011

Travelling Lightly

Hi, friends. Thank you sooo much for the thoughtful comments, messages, and emails during this past week. As losing a grandparent is never easy, your outpouring of love and prayers are greatly appreciated. The love shown for my Grandma and family in Cleveland was also a blessing. There were sad moments, but the overall tone of the week was a celebration of her life.

Me, Grandma, and my sister at Niagara Falls
One thing I forgot to mention last week was that my Grandma loved to travel. Around the world, around the country, and around Ohio. As my aunt said during the eulogy, when Grandma could no longer travel for a week, she would go somewhere for a few days. These became overnight trips, to day trips, to a quick getaway around Cleveland. As her body began to age, she had to use a wheelchair, and this limited the places she could visit. She became worried that she wouldn't be able to visit everywhere on her wish list. 

The priest beautifully tied this love of travel into the funeral homily. As exciting as a trip may be, a traveler always looks forward to returning home. To friends, family, and familiar surroundings and routines. I know that I enjoyed my trip home to Cleveland and my subsequent return to home in Chicago. On a greater scale, my Grandma's life was an incredible journey on this Earth. Now she is returning home to Heaven where she is reunited with Christ, her husband, brother, and others that passed before her.

And now my Grandma can continue exploring the planet and the universe.

Bon voyage.
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Sunday, May 8, 2011

Laughing with the Angels

This Mother's Day weekend was bittersweet. I had a great time with friends and family. Went to Three Floyds Brewery, baked amazing champagne cupcakes, and did some yard work at the house.

I also learned on Saturday that my Grandma passed away. She was 95 years old and lived an incredible life. I have to believe I am who I am because of her. She loved to bake, did amazing things with a sewing machine, and worked at a brewery at one point. She had seven children, including my Mom. And even at 95 years of age, she was full of laughter and sass.

One of my favorite recent memories of my Grandma occurred at our wedding. First off, I was so excited she made the trip from Cleveland to St. Louis. The picture above was during our wedding ceremony, during the Sign of Peace.  Shortly afterwards, John and I prayed in front of the Virgin Mary, while the cantor sang "Ave Maria." While walking to the Blessed Mother, John stepped on my dress. We stumbled a little bit and my Grandma noticed since she was sitting near the front. And she proceeded to laugh. Now everytime I hear "Ave Maria," I think of our wedding and my Grandma's laughter.

Since Mother's Day was this Sunday, the choir sang "Ave Maria" during Mass. And I automatically thought of my Grandma and started to cry. John comforted me and reminded me that this time, my Grandma is laughing with the angels in Heaven.

My family is making the arrangements and we'll be driving to Cleveland this week. Therefore, I'm going to take a little time off from blogging to spend time with my family. If you could, please keep my Grandma and my family in your prayers.
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Friday, May 6, 2011

Front Room Friday

Hi, friends. It's Friiiiday!! I never thought this week would end. Thanks for toughing it out with me. To celebrate the weekend, how about another little look at the house? And maybe some decorating inspiration.

These original blueprints are currently in a drawer in the kitchen. There are quite a few, including interior and exterior plans. Our house was designed in 1955 and built in 1956. We're thinking about making a copy of a least one of the blueprints and framing it. A little something like these:

left, center, right

My first thought is to hang them in the front room. Though I also really want to paint that room blue and hang white crown molding. Add some bamboo shades and white curtains. Think we can go from this:

To this? 

April/May 2010 Lonny mag, photographed by Patrick Cline
I'm mildly obsessed. It's so soothing with a few pops of energy and color. Yes, we need furniture, but I haven't made it that far in my imagination. Possibly some lighter colored chairs and sofa with a graphic rug. If the room is blue, I don't think we'll hang the blueprints there. We'd probably put them in the family room, office, or the man cave.

Or we could go the complete opposite with something along these lines and be able to hang the blueprints:

From Design*Sponge
We definitely plan on working with what we already have, so the final paint and decorations will coordinate with our current art. I guess that's another post for another time.

Hope you all have a fabulous weekend! We're going on a tour of the Three Floyds Brewery in Indiana.

Don't forget to check out the rest of the Friday's Fancies at Long Distance Loving.
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Thursday, May 5, 2011

Ole Ole!

Happy Cinco de Mayo! This day has always been fun since my birthday falls at the beginning of May. I've been to Chi Chi's, Qdoba, and Nuevo Acapulco for birthday dinners. In honor of Cinco de Mayo, I thought I would share a few pictures from our honeymoon to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. And maybe enjoy some guacamole :)

And yes, we were fiscally chic on the honeymoon. I used to travel all the time for work, so I racked up quite a few Marriott Rewards points. Between points and a AAA discount, we saved quite a bit on our hotel stay. Plus, the deep sea fishing, snorkeling, and zip line tours booked through the hotel accumulated more points for future discounts. More importantly, we have some incredible memories and pictures to enjoy for a lifetime.

Where is your favorite vacation destination?

And if you're looking for more Cinco de Mayo inspiration and fiestas, go check out the Let's Fiesta blog crawl over at cornflake dreams.

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Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Weekend in Pictures

Hi, everyone! Thanks for the birthday greetings and congrats for the house. It was a busy weekend, so I guess I'm having an exciting-weekend-hangover. Plus, the weather is finally improving, so I'd rather be outside.

As you can see, we're super excited about the house! And there are a few small pictures of the kitchen and front room. Yes, we brought over a few things, including a picture. What do you think about that light fixture? I think we might need a new one. It's a little too blah for my taste.

After stopping by the house, we went to David Burke's Primehouse for dinner. A-mazing! Plus, John told them we were there for my birthday and for closing on the house. So they gave us complementary champagne and dessert. Those are little donut holes we filled with sauces from the squirt bottles. The ceasar salad was made table-side and we also had steak. Those pictures didn't turn out too well. Or was it because we were too busy enjoying them??

On Sunday, my actual birthday, we spent time with friends and had lunch at Giordano's since our friend never had Chicago-style pizza. And John did quite well with the presents. The Jess LC "Dream Bigger" necklace and some glass hanging vases from CB2. Just like I asked!

How was your weekend? Anyone else recovering from a too-fun weekend?

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