Morning at Wordcamp Chicago

Hey all! I can’t wait to tell you about my fabulous French dinner last night, but that will have to come later. First, I must tell you where I’m writing from today – I’m at Wordcamp Chicago! Woo hoo! My husband is presenting at a Wordcamp session again (you may remember that he presented at Fitbloggin) and I decided to tag along. I do use WordPress, so it’s not such a stretch for me. So, I’m in for a fun-filled day of learning more about WordPress and bloggin – and you all know how much fun that is!

Of course, I didn’t leave home without fueling up with a little Kashi topped with blackberries and strawberries! Once at the conference, I was then tempted by the cookies and the muffins – bad Wordcamp! I know, I know, it’s not Fitbloggin so I should not compare. I did have a cookie, but I also had some mighty nice Mighty Leaf citrus tea!

Anyway, back to the session for me!

Blackberry Martini – Sort of…

I have had this urge to purge all things unnecessary in my house. I seriously want to get rid of anything that does not have a purpose. As a result, Tuesday and Wednesday became huge cleaning days for me. I cleaned out drawers, cabinets, sorted through clothes, etc.  I contemplated giving away a good portion of our glassware that we received from our wedding. In the 9 years that we’ve been married, I think I’ve used our margarita glass once! I’ve kept them around all these years, just in case we had a margarita emergency, but that never happened. Now, all they do is take up space. So, I am donating them to a good home to someone at work.

As for the dozen Martini glasses –  I’m keeping them around to – what else? – hold my blackberries! Hmm, somehow everything looks and tastes better when it’s served in a Martini glass – don’t you think? Classy and healthy – just my style.

Now, on to more purposeful things….

Planting a Vegetable Garden

(Photo courtesy of Flickr)

We finally did it – we planted our vegetable garden! A few weeks ago, I wrote about how I had been wanting a vegetable garden for years. After removing a ton of stones and small boulders from our “rock garden” and turning over the land, we were finally ready to plant. However, one thing led to another, including my trip out of town, and we weren’t able to plant the garden until today.

Our first step was clearing the garden once more – this time of those spinner things that fall from the trees. They are such a nuisance because if they actually take to the soil they can sprout little trees anywhere and everywhere. Well, I couldn’t let that happen to my garden, so rake in hand, I removed as many as I could.

After that, we headed to Home Depot to pick out our plants. Unfortunately, there must have been a mad rush for vegetable seedlings on this 85-degree day, because many of the vegetables we wanted were not even there. Blah! So, it was off to another garden center for us. I had better luck at the garden center, but still had to buy seeds for some of the vegetables we wanted. I was told it might be “too late” to start from seeds, but what the heck. If it doesn’t work, I’m only wasting about $5 on 3 packets.

After over an hour of shopping, here is what we finally arrived home with:


  1. Cilantro – one plant
  2. Thai basil – one plant
  3. Roma tomatoes – two plants, plus two more for a Topsy Turvy hanging plant holder
  4. Red, green, yellow peppers – 4 plants total
  5. Cucumbers – 2 plants
  6. Jalapeno – about 8 plants total
  7. Watermelon – 1 plant (hey, it’s worth a shot!)
  8. Snap peas – 2 plants (heard they were easy to grow)
  9. Strawberries – 6 plants for a Topsy Turvy holder

Seed Packets

  1. Carrots
  2. Broccoli
  3. Spinach

Quite honestly, aside from finding all of the plants we wanted, the hardest part of planting our garden was deciding where to put everything. Each vegetable has special needs – snap peas grow up and they like to be close together; carrots can’t be planted too deep or shallow; watermelon vines spread out so they need lots of space, etc. We did our best to make sure every vegetable was given the attention it needed. We even got the kids involved – helping us drop the seedlings into the holds, pouring in the dirt, etc. They called it “making salad”, which was just too funny! Little do they know that in a few months, that’s exactly what they will have – all the makings for a salad!

Now, only time, and consistent watering/weeding, will tell how well we’ve done at our first attempt at gardening. I admit, we have probably gotten in over our heads. I’m not worried about recouping the $100 we spent on the garden, I just want to actually have vegetables grow and not have our efforts be completely fruitless (no pun intended). Stay tuned!!

Mother's Day Conundrum

Happy Belated Mother’s Day everyone!  I hope you all had a wonderful day. It was fairly chilly in Chicago yesterday, but I managed to get outdoors, go out to lunch, and do a little shopping – all by myself!

After an awesome 7-mile run, Scott and the kids surprised me with a bag of mother’s day gifts. As you will see from the photo above, they gave me:

  • Conundrum Wine – A few weeks ago, when I was in Orlando for work, a senior staff member ordered a bottle of Conundrum wine for the table. The wine was a little more expensive than the wine I’m used to, but hey, I wasn’t buying! I normally like Chardonnay, but I loved this wine. It is a mix of a variety of green grapes – the makers don’t reveal the exact blend, just to keep you guessing. I mentioned to Scott that I liked the wine and somehow he remembered! Then again, it is wine we’re talking about. I would not be surprised if I drink one glass and he finishes the bottle. Classy.
  • Tea Cup – Yes, I’m a lover of tea cups. And the one above probably looks familiar. I was actually given this anthropologie tea cup for a Christmas present. However, it fell out of the cupboard two weeks ago and broke all over the floor – ugh! I was so bummed thinking it was probably sold out by now. But alas, Scott managed to find one hidden away in the store.
  • Ruffle Blouse – I also received a very cute lime green (although it looks yellow in the picture) ruffle blouse from Anthropologie. The material for this blouse is incredibly soft and very light – awesome for summer. Although, it is a little too big and the color is definitely not idea for my skin tone. No problem, I’ve already seen several other tops from Anthropologie that I like – guess I have to go shopping again!

In other news…I’m leaving for Washington, DC on Sunday for a 5-day trip. I was suppose to go with a colleague from work. However, I just found out that I will be going alone! Traveling to DC for a whole 5 days by myself – oh the possibilities!! I plan to fit in a few runs around the capitol, dinner at an awesome restaurant with a friend, and maybe, just maybe, a fancy cupcake or two!

French Macaron Friday

This morning I ran inside on the treadmill for the first time in weeks. I have to be honest, I was not at all excited about running today. I’ve gotten so used to running outside that it’s hard to go back indoors. I’m hoping that this spell of rainy cold weather will not last much longer.

Because of the rainy and overall yucky weather, I spent most of the day inside the house with the kids – save for a Starbucks run around 11 AM. I contemplated taking the kids to an indoor play area, the movies, or the bookstore – all of which would end up costing me at least a little money. But instead, we played legos, built little hammocks for their stuffed friends, and built a fort/castle made out of sheets, blankets, pillows, couches, and little tables. It’s time likes these when I’m reminded that, unlike adults, little children don’t need to spend money to have fun, they just need to spend time with you.

And what did I treat myself to after spending the whole day inside with the kids? A beautiful, fluffy vanilla macaron – it definitely made up for running on the treadmill!

Growing Your Own Vegetable Garden

Late last night, I started watching the last episode of Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution on Hulu. I enjoyed the episode as always, but something toward the end of the show really hit home. The episode showed school children and families working in their gardens, harvesting their own vegetables. Scott and I have talked about planting our own vegetable garden for years, but have never really made an attempt. Then, last night, around 11 PM, I declared that we would start our own garden.

(Photo courtesy of Flickr)

There are many reasons why I want to have our own vegetable garden:

  1. Convenient, fresh produce – A vegetable garden, if it is appropriately tended, can yield an abundance of fresh produce, right outside your back door. So, if you’re lucky enough, you won’t have to make those last-minute trips to the market to pick up peppers or tomatoes, you can just meander into your backyard.
  2. Cost Savings – We all know that most fruits and veggies are very expensive these days. By planting some of the more expensive veggies – like bell peppers, tomatoes, and lettuce, you may end up saving quite a bit of money by the end of the summer.
  3. Life Lessons – Although my two children eat many vegetables, I would love for them to eat more. By getting them involved in the planting and care of the garden (and picking the veggies!), I’m hoping that they will be more excited about eating them.

So, after my garden declaration, Scott and I discussed where we’d like to plant a garden, what we’d like to plant, and when.

  • Where – The most obvious place to plant the garden is in our current raised garden which, before today, was home to a few flowers, weeds, and a ton of rocks that we had from a small pond we drained a few years back. The raised platform can help with water drainage and keep a few pests away.
  • What – Everything we’ve read about starting your first vegetable garden says to not take on too much your first year. We decided to pick a few of our favorites, particularly those veggies which are expensive at the store. These include tomatoes, bell peppers, cucumbers, carrots, romaine or spinach, jalapeno, possibly melon, and a few herbs like cilantro and basil. We also intend to grow strawberries using one of these hanging planters. I really hope it works because we love strawberries and they are so expensive at the store.
  • When – Well, there’s no time like the present! We decided that we would start today! Our first step was to get the garden ready to plant, which meant, taking most of the rocks away, digging up weeds and other plants, and turning over the soil. Little did we know that this first step would take nearly 6 hours – and we still have more to do!

Next week, we’ll tackle the potting soil and maybe even plant our first vegetables! Stay tuned…

Big Interview Tomorrow!

Big news everyone! I am interviewing a famous author tomorrow and can’t wait to tell you all about it! I’m keeping the name under wraps just in case things fall through at the last minute. I’m so excited and a bit nervous. I’ve interviewed celebrities in the past, but I always seem to get a little nervous before the big interview.

Wish me luck! And, check back tomorrow evening to find out who my mystery guest is!!

Stress and the Red Velvet Cupcake

Hey All – We had a bit of a shake-up today at work. There’s a ton of restructuring going on – not sure yet how it will pan out for me. I’m really hoping the changes are good for the organization, but for me especially.

(Photo courtesy of Flickr)

I was rather stressed the whole day – so stressed my stomach hurt. After an 1 1/2 lunch – which was basically a dazed and confused venting-fest, I decided to indulge in a Red Velvet cupcake. Obviously, stress eating – especially when it includes unhealthy food – is not a good idea. But today I let me good judgement slide in the food department. I’m glad the cupcake was on the small side.

Anyway, I’m off to do more work tonight. See you all sometime tomorrow.

Social Media-Free Birthday

Happy Birthday to ME!! Yes, today was my (add number here) birthday. For the last few years, I have spent my birthday away from home – in Orlando, San Diego, Key West, etc. But, because I’ve been traveling so much for work, I’m really glad I was able to spend this one at home.

Cupcake with colorful sprinkles

This morning, the kids woke up around 6AM and Scott so nicely got up with them, leaving me to “sleep in” until 7 AM. When I finally jumped out of bed, I was greeted by birthday wishes and homemade birthday cards – including one from Scott. Very sweet.

Birthday Run

Even though today was my birthday, I still went out for my normal Sunday morning run – this time, it was a 7-miler. For nearly an hour, it was just me and the road – which is precisely how I like it. The last time I ran 7 miles (I think on Wednesday), my legs were so heavy on the last mile. I really had to push myself to finish. Today, I felt much stronger, like I could have run another mile or two. I’ll soon see how I do with added mileage since I’m scheduled to run an 8-miler this week.

Birthday Treats

By the time I arrived home from my run, at least an hour had passed. When I walked through the door, the kids yelled “surprise” and presented me with an assortment of treats from our local bakery. Not the healthiest, but it’s ok once in a while, plus, it’s the thought that counts. The kids were so excited that they had picked out a chocolate coffee cake, a cherry danish, and a lemon bar for all of us to share. I have to admit, they all tasted really good, but I really can’t let myself get used to that type of breakfast. To offset the starch and sugar, I had some Dannon Strawberry Greek yogurt – high in protein, which is great for post-run fueling.

Birthday Fun

The rest of the day was spent with family – lunch, soccer practice, then onto the Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago. Although the whole day could be considered a wonderful birthday, I think my favorite part was seeing the kids “dance” in their car seats to Birdhouse in Your Soul by They Might Be Giants the way home from the zoo. Mr. C even declared, “This is the best song in the whole world!” Not sure how much weight that statement has coming from a 5-year old who has only heard the song a couple times!

Because I was away from home most of the day, I had nearly a social media-free birthday, which felt SO good! Having a computer/Internet/Social Media-free day every once in a while can feel so liberating. When I do have the chance to do this, I have to admit, it’s hard to come back.

Ok, I’m off to get ready for work tomorrow. Have a great night!


After I came in from my walk at lunch, the whole staff was called into our large conference room for an emergency meeting. Some people looked worried, others looked irritated, some even looked amused. I partially expected to hear that someone had quit to move onto another job somewhere else. I wish it would have been that. When I walked into the large room, I noticed one of the girls was crying, no sobbing. This can’t be good, I thought.

Then the bad news came. Our CEO announced that we had “lost” one of our family today – one of our own. Our beloved friend Marie had suddenly died earlier today. We don’t know how or why. The men just stared in disbelief while the women all cried. I cried then and on and off for the next few hours. She was only 32. She left behind a husband and a 2 year old son. I knew Marie since I started working at my office 9 years ago. I knew her before she had kids, before she was married. We talked about Disney World and Harry Potter, which we both loved, and how much fun our toddlers were. I’m still in shock that she’s gone. She will be dearly missed by all of us.

Later on in the day, I learned that Marie’s mother died when she was very young. Marie herself had been raised by her father alone. Now the same thing will happen to Marie’s son. The irony is chilling. I know he is only 2, but I hope that he will remember how wonderful his mother was.

I’m sad and tired from all of the crying. Thank you for understanding. Good night.