Musings of a Museum Fanatic: 2014

12.31.2014

Off the 2014 Roller Coaster

2014 is coming to a close and everywhere you look you see the best of, here's what happened and reviews of 2014. I usually am kind of meh about those sorts of things and have the mind set of yeah we were all there we know.

This year though was such a roller coaster in my world I want to close out 2014 with a little bit of closure for myself.

January started off the year with a pretty good start. I was doing really well with my job almost a full year at full time. We found out that the artificial insemination had been successful for my brother an sister in law. Then the roller coaster hit it's first major downward turn. My Dad went in to the doctor for what was thought to be something minor but ended up being diagnosed with a tumor pressing against his bladder.

The rest of the winter and into spring was spent pushing that car back up the tracks.  Learning from my parents how strong they are and working on a plan to fight the cancer. My own car had a bit of a dip this spring when I was insanely over stressed by work that I needed a jaunt to the ER. Right at my birthday time too! Still never seem to be totally well around my birthday haha.


The spring stalemate at work continued into summer and brought with it the excitement of friends visits, trips and friend's wedding festivities. I loved that I was able to see my best friend Becky and couple that with a day in the city, a fest and seeing Stache play ... Still three of my favorite things! I finally crossed one of my bigger 101 tasks off my list in July and headed west to Seattle to represent my Gamma Phi alumnae group for the international convention.


Everyone, especially mom and I were in full on new baby mode by the middle of summer. We then had a pretty shaky low with Kevin's job telling him in one breath that things weren't working with him as a project manager then in the next saying they didn't want to loose such a hard working and dedicated person like him.  I was finally able to take Kevin up to Minnesota to see my aunt and uncle's fishing resort near the end of the summer. Since we got together I've been telling Kevin how much he was going to love being up there and he definitely had a blast. It was amazing to get to see so much of the family and celebrate Baby G with the family baby shower.


Just a week after the reunion and the day after my parent's 40th wedding anniversary we experienced the lowest low. My dad passed away. After battling the cancer and getting a bad infection he could not fight off. This low has continued for the rest of the year for me, affecting so much of daily life. A good friend of mine, who lost her mom five years ago, said to me this week that you never really get over it and the void will never be truly gone. My fall and beginning of winter has been a little shaky as I've been working through my grief and how life has been since losing my dad.


September brought multiple celebrations though. Starting off with two of Kevin and my good friend's wedding. The end of September gave us my sweet baby nephew Lane! Not gonna lie being an aunt is a lot of fun. It's great to get to spoil the kid, have fun with him and yet not have to do too much of the other serious stuff if you don't want to!


 Starting off the holiday season with Thanksgiving we've been able to see so much of both our families. Kevin's uncle Mike came up from Dallas twice, which I loved because he's definitely my favorite! It also brought with it Lane's somewhat last minute baptism, Kevin and I were asked to be godparents and Kevin has approached the role with a lot of seriousness and excitement (which has been somewhat surprising to me).


Getting to spend Christmas Eve and day with family was wonderful, bittersweet and just a little concerning what with Kevin's trip to the ER (he's all good though!!). As I hang out with my mom today on New Years Eve, just an hour away from starting to get ready for our fondue dinner, I'm a little torn about how I feel about 2014.

Overall I'm ready for 2014 to be over I think. For all it's ups there were too many extreme lows this past year that I'm just ready to leave in this past year. Even through I'm ready to move ahead I'm definitely taking the lesson's I've learned into the new year. It has really been made more evident to me that we're only living one life and to not be comfortable in bad situations, let the drama consume me, get bogged down in stuff, etc. etc. 2015 will be a better year and a year of major changes!

12.29.2014

Searching With Swagbucks

If you've ever heard me talk about Swagbucks, you know that one of the easiest ways to earn Swag Bucks, which come in very handy when you want a gift card. Well, here's a way to make earning with Swagbucks Search even easier: make Swagbucks Search your default search engine on your browser, and you'll NEVER miss a Search win again!


With Swagbucks, every time you search online is an opportunity to win, and another step closer to a new gift card from Swagbucks. In fact, users who default their search to Swagbucks can earn 3x more than the average user! Here's how you can too:

Defaulting your Search Engine in Chrome

  1. Go to Settings on your Chrome browser (the 3 lines on the top right of the browser)
  2. Click on “Settings” from the dropdown list
  3. Click on “Manage Search Engines”
  4. Look for Swagbucks under “Other Search Engines”
  5. Click “Make Default”

Defaulting your Search Engine in Firefox

  1. Go to your browser search field, this can be found on the right of your address bar, and click the drop down menu and look for Swagbucks
  2. Click on Swagbucks
*Please Note: If you’ve never performed a search from search.swagbucks.com you may not see Swagbucks in the list. Perform a search from Search.Swagbucks.com and then follow the instructions to set it as your default search engine. Haven't signed up yet? Join now and start earning like a pro to get your first gift card in no time!

12.19.2014

6 Projects I Will Probably Never Finish

For most of us there are those ever elusive projects. The ones that are always just sitting there on our table, tucked into the corner of our closest or hanging out in the back of our minds. These are the projects that we add to our to do list with the best intentions of "this time I will ..." or " I'm going to do it I swear".

1. Organizing my digital music files
Thanks to the wonderful days of burning my own CDs I have hundreds of songs that don't have proper names to them. The insanely never ending task of plugging in the right name then figuring out if I have a better Mp3 file than this one just goes on.

2. Scrapbook projects for myself
I print out all the photos, find cute paper & stickers on clearance but it just never seems to get done for myself.

3. Organizing any of my digital files
Like most of my projects I start out so hopeful and full of drive. I work so hard on my external hard drive then a few days later realize I've got multiple thumb drives hanging out that I keep working on documents from. Those little buggers just never seem to get taken care of and combined with the large hard drive.

4. Getting enough posts scheduled
I seem to be able to get a few scheduled but then life happens and I run through the scheduled posts. Then I don't seem to have time to work on the new ones ahead of time. Although I am hoping that since I'm starting on my topics lists now that by the time Stephanie and I have our second annual blog day I can just sit down and write. Hopefully getting myself ahead of the game then!

5. Read all the books I own
This is an especially annoying one that I know I should do better on. I've purchased these books throughout the years and I know I'm interested in the subject matter but I just can't bring myself to pick up certain ones but I can't get rid of them either.

6. Simplify my Blog Pinterest board
I keep telling myself I'll actually sit down and look through all the posts I pin and learn from them. So far I've only made a separate board for social media since the board was getting too big!

At the end of each year everyone always seems to take stock of what they've accomplished and what they've left undone. There are definitely those projects that one just can never seem to quite finish all the way! What are your projects you can never get done?

12.17.2014

Christkindlmarket

Last Sunday Kevin and I board the Metra for our annual trip to the Christkindlmarket! This Chicago Christmas staple started in 1996, based off the Christmas markets of Germany.




This year it was abnormally warm which brought out quite a lot more people, so it wasn't quite as magical as when it's snowy but we still got to enjoy our yearly favorites. Every year we have to make sure to take a photo in front of the Daley Plaza Christmas tree! One year I'll actually be smart and get someone to take a photo of the entire group. This year was not that year.




After four years we've come to realize that we need to visit the large ornament shops first. Later in the day the lines get even longer and it's not as much fun. My favorite ornament house is definitely the K├Ąthe Wohlfahrt of America. There are always a bunch of crescent ornaments here. It's always tough to splurge on just one of the wooden works of art. The glass ornaments of the other two large ornament buildings are always a hit as well. It's a wonder all the different sizes and shapes, I love to see the different Chicago ones each year. Someday I'll actually splurge on the amazing Bean ornament with the skyline painted on it.


One doesn't just go to the Christkindlmarket for the ornaments, they go for the food! Well at least that's one reason I go! I always enjoy having lunch at the market. Kevin loves to try a new item each time, last year he had a brat and this year he tried the schnitzel sandwich, which is my favorite. We must have gotten them from a different vendor or they changed their recipe, this years schnitzel had a bit more spice to it and was wonderful. We also made sure to get our hot chocolate in the mug. Which is a must do when you go to the Christkindlmarket..The color and shape changes each year. I love how this year's really looks like a traditional stein.




I always love to visit the candy shop. This year I got my usual favorites but Kevin decided to get one of the hanging gingerbread hearts. He was definitely a fan! We almost forgot to stop by the chocolate covered amazingness booth. I enjoyed my chocolate covered marshmallows & brought home a chocolate covered rice krispie treat, which was insane! I need to work on making my own. Kevin enjoyed his chocolate covered pineapple very much.


If you're looking for a Chicago tradition this Christmas or any Christmas definitely check out the Christkindlmarket. It's also a budget friendly, you can spend as little as $2 for your chocolate covered rice krispie treat up to hundreds of dollars for authentic handmade German Schwibbogens. I can't wait until our annual trip next year!


12.10.2014

Puppy Chow

Growing up one of my all time favorite things to make was Puppy Chow. I can remember making big batches of it with my mom and brother when I was little. Every time we would make it my brother and I would argue over who got to shake the bag to mix the powdered sugar on it. Looking at these photos is making me hungry for it ... I guess I'll need to make some for the holidays this year! 

Puppy Chow

Ingredients: 

9 cups Crispix cereal (I am a purist NO Chex here!)
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips or 6 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
1/4 cup butter
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar 

Directions: 
1.  Measure out cereal in large bowl and set aside. Measure out powdered sugar and set aside. (doing this for both will help later!!)




2.  Heat chocolate chips, peanut butter and butter on stove until everything has melted and combined.3.  Pour mixture over cereal, stirring until coated.



4.  Pour mixture into large paper bag and add powdered sugar.  (You can use a Ziploc bag, very large plastic Tupperware or a paper bag ... Do NOT use metal.  I tried it doesn't work)


 5.  Shake until well coated.

This is me shaking around in the kitchen.  Seriously don't use a metal mixing bowl.  It just sticks to the sides.


6. Enjoy!!

12.09.2014

Peter Pan Live

I'm hoping that I'm not the only blogger who tuned in last week for the amazingness that was Peter Pan Live. I grew up watching and loving the Mary Martin version so needless to say I was pretty excited for this show. After hearing about the live musical last year I was a prepared. 

Overall the show was good but there were definitely things that made it pretty ridiculous and not just musical ridiculous : ) 



I realized about ten minutes in to the show that I should go online to Twitter and see what people were saying. I was soooo not disappointed. What ended up happening was that I was waaaay more focused on what people's reactions were on Twitter than actually watching! So worth it. Here are some of the favorites I grabbed from the #PeterPanLive.




So apparently my Tinkerbell hating people are on Twitter! Love it. There were definitely some great Tink posts.








This. On so many different amazing levels.


Probably by far the best tweet all night! 

Did you watch Peter Pan Live? What are your thoughts on it?

12.04.2014

Choose Your Own Adventure [Link Up]

Not Entirely Perfect

Holy cow I can't believe I'm already linking up to share how the past month went! That one went by in an instant. Looking back at my goals for November I did really well!

1. Organize my Pampered Chef papers - Unfortunately I'm not totally finished on this one, I found a stack of my PC materials hanging out in a box in our storage room and some at my parents house but I was able to get the rest of it sorted and in their proper folders. I've also typed up the labels for the folders. 

2. Work on my magazine hoarding issues - OH my gosh I rocked this guy out! It took a little bit to figure out what I was going to do since the ones that were being stockpiled were the recipe mags. With a little advice I decided to pull out the recipes I wanted and send the magazines on their way. Surprisingly there weren't as many recipes that I was keeping as I thought.

3. Pack more boxes - Kevin and I both rocked this one! Since we're putting the condo up for sale January 14th we definitely need to keep up on this one.

December = Simplifying

I feel like some of what I've been doing already with my organizing has also been trying to simply. Like with my Pampered Chef papers I organized them I also did things like getting rid of my monthly news bulletins from the past few years and kept only the ones from 2014. 

1. Continue to pack & get rid of stuff to sell condo

2.  Add 7 items of clothing to my "get rid of pile"

3. Simplify my blogging for 2015. Meaning I will need to do some planning ahead!

12.02.2014

Now It's Time For Carols!

Every year it feels like the Christmas decorations come out a little earlier, the stores put out their Christmas sections just a few days before they did last year and the Christmas carols take over the radio well before any of us are truly ready!



It feels like every year I'm never prepared for any of that to happen. We all know that retailers can get pretty greedy when it comes to making money so the Christmas decorations that were up before Halloween weren't really a surprise for anyone. For me it's when the carols start to take over those certain radio stations that it really is time. Maybe because when the carols come out it usually is right before Thanksgiving which means Christmas is now imminent.


With Thanksgiving a week later this year the crunch between the two holidays is even more tight and the fact that Christmas seemed to come really early even more pronounced. So now that it's actually December I feel like I can actually sit back and enjoy Christmas carols. Anyone else finally ready?


11.25.2014

5 Musicals That Try But Fail

Like any entertainment genre, musicals definitely have had their flops. These five are not the cream of the crop but some definitely have their moments and maybe aren't quite so floppy. What's your favorite terrible guilty pleasure musical?


Glitter
Sorry Maria this was just not good. Those outfits! I know it was sort of the style but it was a total caricature yech! Plus what was with that swipe of silver paint everywhere? Don't get it.



Xanadu
Even though this has a great soundtrack and top notch cast (Gene Kelly what!) the 70's camp and roller disco-ness of this musical is just too much. Plus the plot is just a bit crazy. I will say when we saw this one at Drury Lane last year it was pretty fantastic on stage and the story wasn't so campy.

Burlesque
Not terrible but not necessarily great, just ok.

Rock of Ages
Not gonna lie I actually really enjoy this one! It's definitely terrible but in an awesome 80's hair metal kind of way. Not going to lie some of the costuming and looks drive me nuts. They are more like the 80's inspired clothes you see today not actual 80's clothing and styling.


From Justin to Kelly
Becky and I rented this during our senior year of college. Let's just say that was one of the biggest mistakes we made during our college careers! I'm pretty sure Blockbuster owes us money for paying full price (aka like $4 back in the day!) to rent this loser. It was just bad!

11.21.2014

Ariel Turns 25!


Earlier this week, November 17th to be exact, The Little Mermaid by Disney turned 25. It's amazing to think such a wonderful movie has been around 25 years now! I can remember early in my childhood just being mesmerized by The Little Mermaid. Watching it all the time with different friends. Not realizing until we were much older how dirty the cover of our precious VHS tapes were!



The Little Mermaid was kind of a big deal for the Disney Studios. After Walt and Roy's deaths in the late 60's and early 70's Disney went into a slump. One of Disney's long time animator's left in the early 80's to start a rival company (think An American Tail and Land Before Time). While Disney was cranking out enjoyable movies like Oliver and Company and The Great Mouse Detective there were definitely some flops like the totally underrated and somewhat scary Black Cauldron. Even with some success the rival company's out performance and internal struggle kept Disney in the Dark Ages.


Then came the Renaissance for Disney which started with a little red-headed mermaid. Disney had been developing The Little Mermaid since the 1930's but when they revisited it in the late 80's it was decided to make it into a musical. The awesome talents of Howard Ashmanand and Alan Menken were brought on to the project and The Little Mermaid as we know and love her was born.


So Happy 25th Birthday you old seadog! Go rent yourself a car with those stems of yours : )

11.18.2014

15 2000's Songs You Totally Forgot Existed

One of my favorite things is when I've got all my music in one large playlist and I hit shuffle. It's almost like a treasure hunt because you never know what is going to pop up. It can start out with one of your favorite current hits but all of a sudden an old school obscure song from the 90's comes up that you haven't heard in forever. Almost like pop rocks for your ears!

The 2000's haven't been that long gone but with the ever moving forward music industry it seems like everything is always on to the next thing and never looking back. It's sad because there are so many great songs that only exist when we open up our own archives and hit that shuffle button! I could probably expand this list to like 50 songs but I thought I'd limit myself : ) Some of these are those first hits by artists that have grown since, some are one hit wonders and some are in between. I was even able to get Kevin's picks tonight!

What was the latest forgotten gem that popped up on you playlist recently?



Wherever You Will Go by The Calling


Boyfriend by Ashlee Simpson


I Wanna Be Bad by Willa Ford


Dance With Me by Debelah Morgan


Right Thurr by Chingy


Why Can't I? by Liz Phair


Chain Hang Low by Jibbs


Here (In Your Arms) by Hellogoodbye


Black Horse and the Cherry Tree by KT Tunstall


Smooth Criminal by Alien Ant Farm


All Around The World by ATC


Buttons ft. Snoop Dogg by The Pussycat Dolls


Lady Marmalade by Christina Aguilera, Lil' Kim, Mya, Pink


The Way I Are ft. Keri Hilson, D.O.E., Sebastian by Timbaland


Without Me by Eminem

11.13.2014

All time Favorite Museums

Throughout the past couple of years of blogging I've shared this post through guest posts on other blogs but never here on my own home turf! To me knowing someone's favorite museums shows a lot about them. I decided to take you to my top three favorite museums I have ever visited.  If you know me even a little bit (or have just stopped my blog too) number one is quite obvious ... The Field Museum!





I was an intern/volunteer there for a little over three and a half years.  Who knows maybe sometime someday I'll actually end up back there and they'll be paying me! The photo above is actually the view I see when I used to come in.  It was so awesome to walk past that view!  I love it every time. This is a photo of Stanley Field Hall.  I took this one the first winter I was there waaaaay back in 2009.  This is the coolest museum in the Chicago area and definitely gives you the most bang for you buck!

My second favorite is Colonial Williamsburg.  I know some people might consider it a cheat but it is actually considered an open air museum.  I visited CW way back in the summer of 2007 for my annual family reunion, one of my aunts and uncles lives in Williamsburg.  My absolute favorite part of CW is the fact that the staff are in period dress and they are doing  first person interpretation, acting as if he or she were an actual person from the era or culture he or she is representing.  As someone who always always felt they were born in the wrong time period this has always appealed to me!    
      

Here are some photos of my parents and I in the stocks!  What can we say we're trouble makers.  I can't wait to go back and visit again, there is so much we missed the first time around. They have historic hotels to stay at, two museums on the property and tons of events that go on throughout the year. Around Christmas time they have so many historical Christmas events going on it would be the perfect time to visit. 



My final top 3 favorite museum I've ever visited was the British Museum I went as part of a school group EF Educational tour to London & Paris the summer of 2003 after I graduated high school. I had taken French for four years and was really going for Paris but fell in love with London and am dying to go back for a visit.  The British Museum was amazing! It is a museum dedicated to human history and culture with over 8 million objects in it's collection.  Check out A History of the World in 100 Objects, a very cool page I found playing around on the website.

The photo to the right is of the Rosetta Stone.  It is an amazing piece of history, it has three different languages written on it, Greek, Demotic script and Egyptian hieroglyphs.  Since all three portions of script say pretty much the same thing this allowed Egyptian hieroglyphs to be translated, which had previously been impossible to do.  The one below is of my good friend Rachel.  Like typical high school students of course when you find something neat you have to act like a dork.  Gotta give the first bump to the large fist of course.  She was not actually touching the object though no worries!!    




Here is a quick look at my top three favorite museums in the world .. I have a feeling there are some pretty amazing ones I have still to visit though! What's your all time favorite of favorites museum?!