Month: September 2013

visiting ohio.

jacket: levi’s | jcpenney
pants: rockstar | old navy
sweater: mickey mouse | kohl’s
scarf & arm warmers: five below
purse: rosetti | kohl’s

Last week, Adam and I drove out to Ohio to visit my mommy for our annual September trip. I was very much looking forward to visiting my mom, getting the heck out of Chicago, and eating at Bob Evans!


One thing that Twinsburgh, OH has that Chicago doesn’t is trees. Lots and lots of trees. The highways here are clogged with cars, and on the sides are buildings or grassy knolls… but the highways in Northern Ohio are bordered by woods. Actual woods. It’s gorgeous and refreshing to see. I always forget how thirsty I am to see trees until I’m around them and can’t stop looking.

Anyway, we arrived at my mom’s at about noonish Monday morning. We wanted to be there earlier, but the drive took forever! I-80 was just stuffed with construction, and that’s never any fun. And there were cops everywhere there wasn’t construction. But we made it and immediately headed to Bob Evans for lunch. :) We shopped and then went home and hung out for a while.

My cousin Falandos came over and we headed out for Mexican food at this place called El Camino. I’d been there only once and remembered amazing margaritas. The margaritas are just as delicious as before. We may or may not have made our way through two pitchers.

Best margarita ever!!!!

Some more of my family met us at the restaurant, and we had a lot of fun eating delicious food and catching up.

aunt geneva, me, terri

me, falandos, janae
i am totally not drunk

my cute mommy

It was a good night.

The next day, I could not wake up! I was trying to work from home but kept falling asleep at the computer. It was so annoying. But I finally got the work done, and we headed over to the west side for Adam’s book event. While we were there, Belinda and Patrick showed up! :D We ended up going with them to dinner at this wonderful little place called Cafe Stratos.

patrick, me, belinda,
and stella the greek

We had the cutest server named Stella, and the food was SOOO GOOD. All homemade. Everything was good, the soups, the dessert (I had blueberry pie), and the crusty bread that came to our table before the main course.

Also, it was customer appreciation night, so our entrees were half price with the purchase of a beverage. The menu had a ton of stuff that looked good. I went with the veal which I think was an excellent choice. It reminded me of the veal at Marone’s, a place I loved when I lived in Columbus.

belinda and patrick
i adore this couple
my mom said she loves their energy

After dinner, we headed to my friend Andy’s to FINALLY meet Odin, his rottweiler who’s now seven months old. Odin is huge but he’s got a sweet heart. It was funny, he’s so protective of Andy. When we first arrived, he seemed all tense and all, you know how dogs do. But then I hugged Andy and I could see the dog visibly relax. It was amazing. After that, Odin and I were totally BFFs.


The next day, we hung around the house relaxing. We were all tired from a whirlwind two days, so we watched The Food Network and talked. Later that evening, the cousins visited again and that was fun.

Thursday, we were slated to leave, but Adam started craving sandwiches after watching them create such lovely ones on Food Network shows. Now, I am always up for a good sandwich but Adam rarely is. My mom mentioned Corky & Lenny’s and we were on our way.

corned beef, juicy
smothered in mustard
sweet damn

mommy biting into her delicious sandwich

adam got some fancy sandwich
with corned beef and pastrami
and cheese and i think some sort of dressing

We did some more shopping, and I took the chance to spoil my mommy a bit. :) Then it was time for us to head back to Chicago. We made it after an uneventful trip back that didn’t seem nearly as long as the trip to Ohio. Maybe because I had a good book to read in the car. Or maybe because there wasn’t nearly as much construction.

Anyway, it was a much too short trip, but it was a lovely trip nevertheless. I am quite blessed.


30 week blog challenge – week 4: favorite books

New Bookshelves! :)

I’m a little late answering this link up… I was in Ohio this week and not only was there limited internet time, I was busy visiting my family and friends!

This week, Marie asks us what our favorite books are!

Now, to know me is to probably have a vision of me with my nose stuck in a YA novel, especially if it’s a love story. I LOVE to read and I’ve been an avid reader ever since I COULD read, really.

I like to tell about how, when I was younger, my mother and father would go “heavy shopping.” That’s the big grocery shopping, when they’d both get a cart and fill it to overflowing and come home with all sorts of great things to eat. My mother would always get me a stack of books, so not only did I have all the treats in the world, but I had new books to read while munching on said treats. It was pretty awesome.

I became a huge bookworm when I was in the fourth grade. Every time I had downtime, I was reading. My mother never grounded me by taking away books. I’m so glad for that. I got in trouble in fourth grade once and the teacher wouldn’t let me read. I hated it. I mean, her idea of a good punishment was for students to just sit there. So stupid.


I love lots of books. Lots and lots. No, you have no idea. I have a BOOKCASE IN MY BATHROOM. Actually, every room in the apartment has at least one bookcase. Between me, Adam, and Aidan, there have to be nearly a thousand books in this place. I love to read that much.

The funny thing is that I’m probably not well-read by academic professor standards. I haven’t read a lot of classics. I just read what I like.

It’s really hard to pick favorites. I do know this. I reread them at least once, and often multiple times, a year. They’re familiar. They’re worn. Some of them have had to be replaced more than once. Some of them I have multiple copies of for various reasons. A few of them are even inscribed to me which makes them even more special. My friend Julie (Ivy) has a very extensive and exhaustive list of her favorite books on her site, but I am not that thorough! Still, this entry is going to be long, so settle back and hopefully get some good book recs!

And with that said, on to the list!


One summer night many years ago, I was at Target. I was in the book section, and there were Harry Potter books on palettes (Target totally had a different look in the early 2000s). By now, the books were way popular. The movies had been out for a while now, and there were toys and games and costumes. I was just kind of oblivious to it all even though a few of my friends had been suggesting that I get the series a try. I decided to finally see what the hype was about. I picked up HARRY POTTER AND THE SORCERER’S STONE. I read the first paragraph and knew I needed to buy that book. I also gauged the size of it and picked up CHAMBER OF SECRETS as well.

That was a good decision. I remember feeling very certain that it was a good decision.

I blew through both of them in a day. I was at Target the next night looking for THE PRISONER OF AZKABHAN. And GOBLET OF FIRE. I know I had trouble finding one of them but I can’t remember which one. I think it might have been GOBLET OF FIRE, although my brain wants to say it was PRISONER. Anyway, I finally got ahold of the elusive one and managed to get them all read in time for ORDER OF THE PHOENIX. Which I didn’t (and still don’t like as much as the others). So now I was caught up and had ot wait for the last two with everyone else. I bought Harry Potter toys and DVDs and saw the movies in the theaters. I was officially a fangirl and loving every minute of it.

I could go on and on why I love the series so much, but this entry is already long and I have a bunch of other favorite books to list.

Screen Shot 2013-09-27 at 9.37.43 PMANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS by Stephanie Perkins
A love story, set in Paris. How much more awesome can you get… except the AUTHOR TOTALLY MAKES IT EVEN MORE AWESOME. It’s an easy book to read, and I don’t mean it’s “fluffy” or a “beach read”… Anna’s voice is just that relatable. She’s someone I LIKE reading about, and I love the way she expresses herself. The other characters are just as complex as Anna and Etienne/St. Clair, which a lot of love stories don’t do. They mostly tend to focus on the main couple… so it’s nice to know that these other people have things going on in their lives, they have full personalities and aren’t there just to accentuate the couple. On top of that, the descriptions of Paris are so vivid, I feel like I’m there.

I want to write stories that people love as much as I love this one.

Screen Shot 2013-09-27 at 9.38.06 PMSWEET REVENGE by Nora Roberts
I got this book as part of a book club. I was in a couple when I was in college. Both romance. One of them used to send a pile of books along with a wine glass. I still have some of those wine glasses! Anyway, this was a different book club, one that sent hard covers. It wasn’t cheap, but I really enjoyed trying out authors I never would have otherwise. And this book… it was so intriguing. The language in it is definitely dated and would probably not pass the PC police these days, with is narrations regarding Middle Eastern culture… but Adrienne. Oh, Adrienne. She inspires FEELS. So many feels. It’s a very different sort of book, with mystery and romance. I was attracted because the story was so unique and I still love it for that reason.

Screen Shot 2013-09-27 at 9.38.15 PMTHE GIVER by Lois Lowry
I read this book when I worked at Zaner-Bloser. I was new, and there wasn’t a lot of work for me. Someone suggested I read the books that they used for their Voices Reading material, which was actually a brilliant idea. What, get paid to read? SIGN ME UP PLEASE.

I read THE GIVER at my desk. It didn’t take me long–I was instantly hooked. Lois Lowry does an amazing job with descriptions and when the big twist happened, well, let’s just say I was sitting at my desk bawling. Because it is that emotional and gut-wrenching. THE GIVER is a true dystopia.

Lois Lowry and Me
Me and the writer of this brilliant book, Lois Lowry

Screen Shot 2013-09-27 at 9.38.25 PM by Sarah Dessen
I became a Sarah Dessen reader back in 2005. I first read KEEPING THE MOON, then I read THE TRUTH ABOUT FOREVER. I liked them both a lot, I remember really enjoying them. But then I picked up DREAMLAND. That book made me fall in love with Sarah and her work. It’s a book about a relationship turning violent. But it is so beautifully written. It’s called DREAMLAND and the book definitely has a dreamlike feel to it. The best part is that you’re in her head, so you can completely understand why she stuck around, and why some women don’t leave right away. I was so engaged in this book that I actually got a speeding ticket because I was rushing home so I could read it. It is that good. I finally got home and emailed Sarah about it. She’d put on her website that she read all of our messages but probably wouldn’t respond. So WHEN I GOT AN EMAIL BACK FROM HER THE NEXT MORNING I WAS THRILLED.

Years later, I was lucky enough to have met her more than once and now she knows who I am and gives me hugs when she seems me. This fangirl over here LOVES THAT SO MUCH.

My favorite author @sdessen and me!!!! #sarahdessen #lilrongal
Sarah and me, earlier this year

Screen Shot 2013-09-27 at 10.23.23 PMCONFESSIONS OF A SHOPAHOLIC
Oy! What can I say about this awesome book that kicked off the “chick-lit” revolution a few years back? Becky Bloomwood is a fun character to read. Not because SHE’S always fun. She’s not. Often I wanted to shake some sense into her. OK, a lot of times. She’s frustrating! I mean, to the point where I don’t see how the people in her life put up with her…but then, you do realize that she does have good intentions at heart. Things just go all awry. A LOT. There were so many times that I related to her so much. I understood those feelings, those insecurities, the compulsion to buy a bunch of stuff to cheer myself up, the worry about how I was going to PAY for all of that shopping. It’s simultaneously sobering and funny.

Here are some other books that I love just as much as I love the ones with the fancy covers and things, but I’d like to finish this post sometime… ;)

THE WILD CHILD by Mary Jo Putney
POP PRINCESS by Rachel Cohn
SPEAK by Laurie Halse Anderson (another amazing author and another friend of mine!)
SMALL TOWN GIRL by LaVryle Spencer
THE HUNGER GAMES by Suzanne Collins

And that’s not even close to all of them. Click here to see the list. And just in case you’re interested, here are more pictures of me with authors.

And hey, add me on Goodreads, why don’t ya?

OK, FINALLY signing off. :)

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i confess part 2


i confess… sometimes i look through old photos and miss some parts of the life i used to have. not the entire life. because life now is pretty darn sweet and there were things going on back then that i do NOT ever want to live through again. here is what i do miss: having the big house, hanging out with certain friends from 2004–2005 (most who no longer speak to me, some due to genuinely falling out of touch, others i suspect purposefully), being a short drive from so many state parks, no sales tax on groceries, and a 6% sales tax overall (so cheap!), marone’s italian villa, el vaquero, le chatelaine, eating bob evans any time i wanted, being able to drive without feeling like i was in a race for my life in the midst of big black suvs driven by backwards-baseball-cap-wearing dudebros or tiny ladies with ponytails (although in ohio, it was all about pick up trucks so i don’t know if that was much better), seeing stars at night, how tiny i was (i was about 105lbs. and i thought i had a fat stomach. pssh. would love to go back to that and stay there).

i confess… that although i miss things about living in columbus, i don’t want to move back there. and there are things i love about chicago. things like moksha yoga, molly’s cupcakes, block 37, butterfly sushi, shopping….

i confess… sometimes i wish my hair was straight. like this:

New Hair!
my last really good relaxer…
back in freaking 2005

but… then i look at my hair on a good day and go “no way, dude. i wouldn’t trade what i have for the world.” it’s just a weird phase i go through from time to time. i am never relaxing my hair again, and i haven’t straightened it since 2011. i don’t even know how long it really is.

look at my hair here!
why would i want to mess with that????
god bless coconut oil.

i confess… i lie awake some nights fretting over dumb ass things i did many years ago. i’m sure the people involved have forgotten all about some of that stuff..or maybe not—it would explain why some of them aren’t speaking to me—but i bet they don’t stay up for hours tossing and turning over that stuff like i still do. i wish i could just cut out those parts of my memories and throw them away forever.

i confess… sometimes i lie awake for hours spinning elaborate daydreams about “my dream life”. my dream life involves way more disney world trips, a warmer climate, a big house, trees, a dog, cats who actually use their litter boxes 100% of the time, a private yoga instructor who comes to my house every day, two walk in closets just for me, a jacuzzi, lots of money… yeah.

i confess… i miss big, huge, christmas celebrations. adam’s just not into christmas like i am, so until i’m around aidan and my mom, i feel very lonely during the holiday season. he just doesn’t understand why i go gung ho with decorations and wrapping gifts and holiday music and the specials. omg the specials. especially how the grinch stole christmas.

I Love Christmas!
hmm, 1983. that means i was nine here.
holy shit. this picture is nearly 30 years old.
but see how happy i am?
cause mommy made christmas special.
she still does. :)

now… celebrating thanksmas (yes, we sometimes combine christmas and thanksgiving, what!) with adam’s family is amazing and reminds me of when i was a little girl. they really go out of their way to make it a special double holiday! big meal, yummy desserts, lots of presents, lots of pictures, a big tree… thanksmas is amazing and reminds me a lot of my mom making christmas super special for my sister and me.

Family Pictures
family pic from thanksmas 2011

i’ve already started christmas shopping in my brain and by way of making/updating amazon wishlists. :)

i confess… sometimes, i think i want to do *real* acting, but i’m terrified. and i think i’m too ugly to be onscreen. and my voice is weird. and my body isn’t a ten. and did i mention i’m terrified? i learned about the auditioning process at a workshop i attended a few weeks ago. that made me even more scared. but i don’t think i have to worry about it because i don’t think i’ll ever get an audition…. oh right, and i am pretty sure i’ve lost all the acting skills i used to have when i was in high school and college. which means taking acting classes. which i doubt i’ll commit to over the winter. jeez. i suck.

i confess… i miss being kinda fearless. i used to write unabashedly. i used to go for it with acting and drama and stuff. now? i’m more likely to talk myself out of everything and hide in my room behind a thick book.

i confess… most of the time, i like it when i have the place to myself while adam’s working a double tour. there are some people who don’t like to be separated from their partners ever ever ever. that’s not me. i think i just like the quiet time to do whatever i want without judgement (real or imagined) or feeling like i’m inconveniencing someone.

i confess… aidan is growing up so fast. he’s already nearly eleven. i remember when i was that age, girls in my class were getting serious boobs. i’m sure he has questions about things. as my friend ryan says, he probably knows a lot more than i think. i know i’m going to have to sit him down and talk to him about really serious stuff, and i’m so nervous. i want to teach him so much. i want him to rise above this rape culture we live in and be a gentleman. respectful. but still cool. right? so how do i even go about that? i am so not ready for those hormones to kick in on him. i am already missing my little boy.

ok, this was sort of long. thank you, those of you who stuck with it and read all of this. i feel a bit lighter now, at any rate.

till next time….


taking stock.


Making: a mental list of things to pack for ohio and things to do before ohio. and another header for my blog. i just can’t get satisfied!

Cooking: nothing right now because as usual, i can’t decide what i want to eat for dinner.

Drinking: zevia ginger ale. ginger ale is the only pop i allow myself to drink.

Reading: harry potter and the deathly hallows. again.

Wanting: my pink combat boots to arrive already.

Looking: at my computer screen.

Playing: lego harry potter years 5-7 on the 3ds.

Wasting: time. always time.

Wishing: i could decide what to eat.

Enjoying: these relaxing days i’ve been having.

Waiting: to see my mommy and cousins next week.

Liking: new music on my playlist. and ios7. it’s so cute.

Wondering: when disney will put out its winter/spring 2014 promotions.

Loving: my family.

Hoping: that adam doesn’t make me drive the whole way to ohio. also that the leaves have started changing colors. i want to take some pictures!

Marveling: life in general.

Needing: to figure out what i should have for dinner. i actually want sushi but the hermit in me doesn’t want to go pick it up. i know, it’s bad.

Smelling: skin.

Wearing: pink leggings and a shirt with dancing bananas on it.

Following: too many blogs.

Noticing: anything plaid. boots and bags.

Knowing: it’s going to be getting cold soon and i don’t like that. but i have autumn to get through first, so that’s good. our leaves haven’t even started changing yet.

Thinking: about things to do next week.

Bookmarking: nothing.

Opening: nothing.

Giggling: some gifs on tumblr. people are crazy on that site.

Feeling: a little tired and hungry.

what can I say? illy has the best posts. she got it from here. :)

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i confess.

Morton Arboretum Autumn 2012

i confess… that my internet connection is driving me bananas. everything is taking ages to load. every site has these huge dynamic images and infinite scroll and my connection is like “i’m just going to sit here and spin my wheels for five minutes wheee!” it’s not my computer. i just got the thing in february. all my software is up to date. i’ve tried different browsers. same issues. and i know it’s the connection because sometimes it fixes itself for a few minutes and works great. then it messes up again. and some of the work i do? completely internet-based. this needs to resolve itself NOW. (I know I know, first world problems blah blah blah….)

i confess… part of the reason i’m excited to visit my mom soon is that i’ll get to eat breakfast at bob evans. i haven’t had bob evans for nearly a year! okay, that’s not true. i’ve been eating the sausage that i have to cook–but it’s not the same as getting it from the restaurant. although it is close.

i confess… i am not completely happy with my blog header at the moment. it’s the same one i used last autumn… i want something simpler but not too simple.

i confess… i kinda suck at designing anything for my blog.

i confess… that as much as i used to love the disney channel, it’s getting to a point where i can’t stand it now. everything is too sharp and bright and it hurts my ears and brains. was it always like this? i don’t think so. i don’t remember mmc being so… jarring.

i confess… that i feel like i’m floundering. my loyola work is starting to settle down. i want to do stuff like go out and take pictures or travel or even go to the library or grocery store but then my energy level plummets and i’m like “lol just kidding time for sleep.” i just feel… blah. like, so much is happening inside me, but it’s too far away for me to get a grip on it. but it’s close enough that it’s weighing me down.

i confess… that i often feel awkward, ugly, and dumpy. even when i put on my cute new clothes (and boots) and makeup, i look often in the mirror and go “ugh. wow, god. ugh.” my eyes go straight to the flaws. trying to take a selfie with the back camera on the iphone? god bless us everyone. the funny thing is that people have been telling me lately, more so than i’m used to hearing, a lot of really nice things about my appearance. i don’t know why it’s so hard to believe them most of the time.

i confess… my hair has been awesome though. soaking it in coconut oil and then keeping it in braids for one or more nights is like…the best thing ever. i love how it smells and it makes my hair so pretty. coconut oil is amazing.

i confess… i think autumn colors are so beautiful and i’ve been obsessed with looking at the autumn-themed tumblrs. there are tons of them and the photos they post/reblog are gorgeous. my own tumblr is starting to take on that fall-like mood as well.

i confess… i have been super lazy in regards to my yoga practice. and adam did all the laundry so there really is no excuse. i have clean yoga clothing now.

i confess… i feel like i’m turning into a grumpy old lady. :( that’s not the way i want to be. i’m so sensitive to everything now. noises. smells. bright lights. loud music and television (even more so than usual). i just want to hide in my bedroom and read. the mere thought of interacting with a lot of people overwhelms me. i make myself do it when i have to, but lately, i’ve been avoiding most social interaction.

i confess… i go through this every few years. i spend some time, about one or two years, being very social and very busy (hello, yoga teacher training and workshop management!), and then i shut completely down and keep to myself. the last time i was like this was in 2007. it’s weird.

what are your confessions?

post inspired by ilene at much love, illy.

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