Musings of a Museum Fanatic: January 2014


Blogging Weekend

A couple weeks ago Stephanie and I had our blogging weekend.  I know I did a little bit of a recap then but I thought I should share more of what I did and what I've been working on since then.  Sound good?  Good!

That weekend my goal was to get myself organized.  I started off with Stephanie's model of working out what I wanted to post for each day of the week for four weeks.  Each month will have at least four weeks so it's a good base, some months have that pesky 5th week so I just decided to have it be it's own randomness week.  Here is a lovely and probably somewhat confusing photo of what I set up.  I realize that's an actual month to month calendar but I like to actually see things sort of spelled out so setting it up that way to figure out my different topics really helped.

Next was the really difficult step ... being creative!  Being creative isn't extremely difficult for me, I like to think I usually come up with pretty interesting things right?  Don't answer that!! : )  The idea of sitting down and planning out creative topics for at least six weeks of posts is pretty daunting.  It means you actually have to focus, put pen to paper and commit!  Again I don't know about anyone else but that step has definitely been difficult and kinda scary for me.

I decided that if I was going to take things seriously with blogging and getting my entire life more organized this year I was going to invest in a fancy planner that could handle multiple types of things I needed to keep track of.  Most of you I'm sure can tell already what planner I invested in but there is more to come on that another day : )

The weekend also consisted of quite a bit of pinning and pin purging.  It's actually kinda satisfying hitting the delete button for pins that you know you'll never make, the link doesn't work or you just don't like anymore.  I highly recommend it!  I need to work more on my blog board, I keep pinning what look to be some great blogging tools but still haven't taken the time to go look at them again.     
The cherry on top of a productive weekend was the fun to be had with our twitter party and all the blog questions everyone asked and answered.  It was so much fun interacting with everyone, I need to join in on these twitter party type things more often!

Taking the time and really committing to working on my blog felt great.  I was able to get a bunch of ideas on paper and get myself more organized.  Even if you're only able to take half a day one weekend I would highly recommend it!  Trust me you'll feel less stressed with your day to day blogging.


Historical Places I Want to See

One of the things I love most of all is to actually see and, if they'll let me, touch and experience the historical places I read about and study first hand.  There are so many places around the world that I have yet to experience but want to.

Charleston, SC is probably one of the top places in the U.S. I'd love to visit right now.  It makes me sad we didn't get a chance to go there while my brother and sister in law lived in South Carolina.  Besides just being completely steeped in south history and tradition it's where the Civil War started.
downtown charleston, sc
Fort Sumter, South Carolina
Civil War history has always been a time period I've enjoyed learning about and in some cases dressing up as.  I haven't gotten the chance to see as many of the monuments, battlefields and military places related to the Civil War as I would like so it seems only fitting that the place that started it all should be near the top of my list!

Probably the top spot in my list right now is to visit Germany.  The past few years my dad has gotten really into our family genealogy and since we're from Germany I keep hearing about where ancestors came from.  You would think being in to history as much as I am I would be fascinated with my own but I've always left that up to my dad.  Maybe I need to see where my family came from first hand to really get that going.  It also peaks my interest because of the many fairy tales that were written down from this area of Europe, thank you Grimm brothers.  Every time I look at photos like the ones below I just think of all the wonderful and magical things to see.  I mean come on that cottage in the Black Forest had to have had something really awesome happen there.    
Old Mill, Black Forest, Germany. 
Neuschwanstein Castle, Germany...perched on a craggy hillside and surrounded by a backdrop of spectacular snow-covered mountain peaks.
It also doesn't hurt Germany's case that they were a major power during one of my favorite centuries, the 19th century!

Australia was never a continent that I really had a strong urge to go see in the past but for some reason it seems to be growing on me.  To be honest I don't know much about the history of Australia other than convicts, aborigines and AC/DC but from what know of those three things it seems there is a ton of exciting history to be explored there.  Plus the scenery isn't too shabby either.  
Beautiful Noosa, Sunshine Coast, Australia

For some reason one of my favorite time periods in history is classical.  Mostly Greece and somewhat Egyptian with a touch of Roman.  I've already been to Greece and it was amazing, I would go back in a heartbeat.  Seriously the urge to hug some sort of column was really really strong and the only reason I didn't was cause they're really anal about their history there which I can totally respect.  Next I want to see all the other types of places I would read about connected with ancient history.  Who wouldn't want to see Troy and walk where Achilles walked?  It can't just be me!  Marvel at the sheer magnitude of the pyramids and realize that you're looking at one guy's grave.  Pretty sure if the Pharoh's had cameras back then they'd be the kings of selfies. 
Troy | Turkey  
The Great Pyramid of Giza, Egypt.
Petra, Jordan... One day i shall be like indiana jones and find the knight and be a part of the last crusade... like a boss

There is so much amazing history in the world and I'm pretty sure I'll need to live until like 120 to see and learn about it all.  Wouldn't that be nice!  What historical place is on the top of your visit list?


Tunes on a Tuesday: Top 10 Ridiculously Good Looking Lead Singers

We all have that on member of the band that we just go gaga over right? Some of us go for the drummer others that guitarist just plucks the right cords in our hearts.  The one person in the band that never fails to make girls of all ages swoon is definitely the lead singer.  Maybe it's the songs, maybe it's the fact that when they sing it right at you it's an amazing, giggle inducing feeling or maybe it's just because they are right there in the front getting all the attention ... who knows!  Either way here are my top 10 ridiculously good lead singers in no particular order of course.

10.  Eric Burdon from Eric Burdon & The Animals
Eric Burdon
Brooding looks with an amazing voice make for a wonderful front man.  

9.  John Bon Jovi
Marry me Hot stuff!  Oh, wait, you are already married and so am I.  Besides, Dorothea could kick my ass!
Like a fine wine Bon Jovi has definitely gotten better looking with age.   

8.  Adam Levine
Adam Levine
I'm not sure I agree with him being the sexiest man alive but he's definitely good looking and you have to love that rugged, chiseled jaw line.  

7.  Gwen Stefani
Gwen Stefani 
Can't forget the ladies!!  I've loved Gwen since I first heard her sultry voice singing "Don't Speak" oh so many years ago.  Also I am totally digging this photo of her too.  

6. David Lee Roth
Putting the whole Roth v. Halen feud aside ... he's just so darn pretty.  His hair looks more fabulous than mine does which is a tad depressing haha. 

5.  Marcus Mumford
Marcus Mumford
Marcus definitely has that vintage, dorky, cute type look going on.   

4 & 3.  Justin Timberlake/JC Chasez

We all know that Justin is really the unspoken lead singer but JC always puts up a really good fight.  Both of them are super cuties, even Justin during his whole ramen hair phase.

2.  Jim Morrison
Jim Morrison 
Another brooding and soulful guy Jim Morrison is oh so good looking.  He went a little down hill right before he died so we will just think of him in this lovely photo.  

1.  Debbie Harry of Blondie 
Blondie,,,,,Debbie Harry
I obviously have a thing for blondes!  Hitting high notes with that cool demeanor Debbie is definitely rounds out my top 10 list of most ridiculously good looking lead singers.  


Venus Embrace Sensitive Razor

***I received this razor to review through an Influenster VoxBox***

In the past I have used Gillette Venus razors and was very excited to be able to try out the new Venus Embrace Sensitive.  I have sensitive skin along with having eczema and the past couple of years have actually gotten more serious about making sure I'm using the best products to protect my skin.  This razor came at the perfect time since Chicago winters in general and especially this one do a number on my skin, drying it out really bad and just aggravating my eczema in general.
Going in to using the razor I knew it would be a good one since I have used the Venus brand before and liked it.  The only reasons I switched were the prices when the time came to get a new one.  I had never really seen much of a difference between Gillette and the Shick razor I'm using now.  They both performed exceptionally well, clean close shave,  all that jazz and as usually both would irritate certain parts of my legs.  That's just always been a given because of the way my skin is so naturally I was expecting that little bit of irritation from the Venus Embrace Sensitive.  It always happens so why wouldn't I expect it.  Needless to say I was very pleasantly surprised!

First time I used the razor there was no irritation in the usual spots!  It was fabulous.  Unlike the usual times I didn't have to endure that first day of irritation and red bumps.  The only thing that I found a little annoying was that the Ribbon of Moisture or the Lubristrip left a little bit of a sticky feeling.  I'm not sure if it's just this one razor head or if this would happen with all of them.  Either way a quick wipe of the towel and everything was silky smooth.  Hopefully as I use the razor more it will continue to give me the great silky, smooth, non-irritated shave it's already been giving me!


Dear People of my Facebook

Dear friend of mine, sweet friend of mine, naive friend of mine ... Yes that's great that your boyfriend at 4 months of dating proposed and now at 8 months of dating (halfway across the country long distance) is moving to you and moving in but seriously?  Also he has a name ... use it!  We know you're engaged you don't need to call him your fiance every. single. time. you refer to him.

Dear 50+ year old mom ... You're 50+ you should NOT be wearing clothes from the juniors section.  Especially those clothes, trendy does not mean wear every single trend at once.  Plus you made it really really obvious which of your children you prefer.  STOP it!  It's plain as day and just darn mean.
Dear person I know trying to change jobs ... I'm pretty sure your grammar is not helping your pleas.  It's "some" not "sum".  Is it really that difficult to type "be" and not "b"?  "Cuz" is so early 2000 get with it and grow up please.  None of this makes you sound like a functioning adult.

Dear vaguely cryptic friend ... We all know you're trying to garner attention and it's not going to work.  At least on me it's not.  So you can just stop it now.  P.S. I might not ask but you bet I will religiously stalk your Facebook page in the hopes that you will spill your guts even though I know you probably won't.

Dear compulsive meme sharing friends ... We get you believe in X, you love Y, and you think that you're Z but seriously do you have to share 50 million memes about it every day?  Nope you don't.  Also you might want to rethink some of those since I know you aren't that type of person, 50+ mom I'm looking at you.

Sleep tight people of my Facebook I cannot wait to enjoy your craziness next week : )


Chocolate Turtle Ice Cream

Since I'm a fantastic friend I, last weekend when Stephanie and I had our bloggy/organize Betsy's kitchen weekend I decided to make a special ice cream just for her.  After getting some background info on her favorite flavors I figured out that this recipe is probably the closest I could get and still have the ice cream be easy!!  This recipe was adapted from Pinterest and pinned from Cravings of a Lunatic

Chocolate Turtle Ice Cream

  • ¾ cup cocoa powder
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ⅓ cup dark brown sugar
  • Pinch vanilla salt **
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla 
  • 10 Turtles, chopped (If I do this again I would chop them smaller!)
** I had noooo idea what vanilla salt was and didn't realize it was a weird salt until I was home.  I ended up just doing a pinch of regular salt and adding a couple drops more of vanilla.  Didn't affect it at all!


1.  Combine sugars, cocoa, salt and whole milk. Mix until sugar dissolves. (I used the wisk attachment on my hand mixer.  Calls for stand mixer but the hand one worked very well.  Also the cocoa powder will fly everywhere be careful!!)

2.  Add heavy cream and vanilla. Mix again.

Be careful not to drop your knife into the heavy cream while poking through the film.

3.  Cover and place in fridge for 1 hour.

During step 3 things got a bit messy for me, didn't read carefully enough and sorta started up the ice cream machine.  It made for a messy time trying to pour it back out to do step 3, then cleaning the frozen part so I could use it later.  I feel like if I had just skipped over this step it would have still been ok.  Might try it next time.

4.  Transfer mix to frozen ice cream maker bowl and mix for 20 minutes (or until it has the thicker consistency).

5.  Add turtles and stir.

6.  Freeze for a couple of hours.  

Before you serve I would let it sit out for 5-10 minutes or you might crack a tooth on the caramel!  Enjoy! 


Working on the 101 list oh yeah!

Lately life has been pretty darn good.  I've been accomplishing quite a bit so far in 2014.  The things I'm probably most proud of so far has been my commitment to organizing along with my starting of 2014 with a bang and getting things crossed of my 101 list.

The one I'm probably most excited about completing is the one involving the ice cream maker.  You would have thought I would have that one done as soon as I started the list.  I think I was just afraid it would be super difficult but starting out with ice cream mixes and then moving up from there made it seem super easy!  After making Turtle Ice Cream totally from scratch (check back tomorrow for the recipe!!) I'm not worried about it at all anymore.  I can make any ice cream from scratch!
Our blogging weekend was a big help to my 101 list, in addition to finishing up my ice cream task Stephanie also helped me start my 3 iconic Chicago food things.  I left that one purposefully vague so it could encompass different things.  We decided that Billy Goat Tavern definitely fit the bill as something very iconic.  It was actually a really good burger and now I can go to the off shoot out by me with a clear conscience since I went to the original first, plus I didn't get yelled at!  Double score!

Kevin's parents, Kevin and myself also enjoyed working on my chocolate fondue task!  Now all I have left to check off is to make an entree/meat fondue.  I'm still working a lot on my electronic hoarding issues and my scanning.  Both of which are definitely much bigger projects than I had thought.  I'm ok if these tasks don't get fully crossed off because they're such momentous projects that there will still be a lot accomplished.  My new camera finally came and I've got it all set up.  Tonight for our Gamma Phi brewery tour I'm going to break it out for the first time and hopefully I will have some good photos to share!
Also I have been pilfering my dad's record collection!!

Looking at my 101 list I'm feeling alright about the progress I've made but I do know there are some simple tasks that I could be working on and already completed.  I think that's going to be my next goal, identify and complete some of the one time numbers and have them accomplished!!


Tunes on Tuesday: The Cover Band Scene

One of my favorite things about the Chicago area is the vibrant cover band scene.  I know if you've been around for a while you've seen me extolling my love for 'Stache, Kevin's former band but I haven't really talked about any of the other great bands that are in the area.

Most people would think of the words cover band and immediately some crap band comes to mind that just torture the songs you love by the big time artists alllll evening but seriously it's not like that ... at all!  Most of the bands in the Chicago area are amazing musicians and will rock your socks off.  Yes I will admit there are definitely some that are just terrible and not worth your time but there are definitely some that you should be seeing.


They will obviously always be my favorite and probably the one band I will see the most.  'Stache is a great band for rocking the night out to some of your favorite high school (well high school if you're in your late 20's currently haha) and current hits along with a little sprinkling of everything.  You will be listening to your favorites from Blink-182 then all of a sudden it's a great current hit like "We Are Young".  Trust me you will have a great time!

Hairbangers Ball
Hairbangers is probably the first coverband I ever saw and they are awesome.  If you don't need anything but a good time these guys are it!  Playing the best of the 80's hair metal and seriously bringing everyone in the room to a frenzy all the while looking fabulous while doing so.  If you don't like 80's hair metal you probably won't like Hairbangers.

Sixteen Candles
Moving to the other side of 80's music ... pop!  Sixteen Candles is another band that I've been in love with for years.  It makes me feel kinda old thinking that it's been eight years that I've been going to see them.  Yikes!!!  Rocking out with some seriously kicking dance moves these guys know just what 80's dance music to play to keep you going till the bar shuts down.  Also be sure to check out the 80's movie poster of the night, I've never seen the same one twice!

Rod Tuffcurls & The Bench Press
Rod Tuffcurls and The Bench Press are a bunch of crazy guys playing some crazy music.  When you say they play everything it means they play EVERYTHING.  Including hits from some big names like Madonna and the Beatles to some not so known pieces like the Golden Girls theme and the Wrigley Gum commercial.  A bunch of wacky guys in probably too short of shorts they're always a great show.  

Honorable mentions:
Being someone who tends to see the same bands over and over again because I love them so much I don't get out very often but have heard some amazing things about these bands.  Maybe I should start a band 101 list?
Modern Day Romeos
Wedding Banned
7th Heaven
Hi Infidelity


Five Throwback Photos for Friday

It's been a while since sharing any old school photos or anything at all for that matter so I thought I'd do a little walk down memory lane this cold Friday.  Hopefully it's warmer then where you are.

Senior year of college we decided to make a Thanksgiving meal for the radio sports staff aka us three girls and a bunch of guys.  It turned out awesome!  I also enjoy playing with the electronic carving knife, that was fun.  

Found this old school gem on my friend Rina's facebook page.  I have no idea where we are or what we're doing ... actually it probably involved a terrible college bar but we are having an awesome time!  I also really miss that shirt, that was a really comfy shirt.  

When Harry Potter came out Barnes and Noble did like this huge thing where they gave away all these glow in the dark glasses and obviously my friend Rachel and had to do a lovely photo shoot with them.  I actually just put those guys in the giveaway bag a couple years ago.  Pack rat right here!

This is what my friends and I do when we go to the Lincoln Park Zoo.   We try and recreate the animals.  I think we were pretty successful!  Don't you?

I think I might have shared this one before but I don't care!  My best friend, Becky, and myself Halloween our junior year.  This was the first photo I put on Facebook!  Way back in 2005 ... 

Have a great weekend!


Can I Get Away With That?

Previously I've shared about my Gamma Phi Beta alumnae experience a couple of times.  I was fooling around on Pinterest, searching online and looking around at the jewelry on the official jeweler's page, just for the heck of it.  Looking at the different merchandise got me thinking about how being an alumnae initiate I did kinda miss out on all the ridiculous swag with the letters pasted all over them and in the bright see it from across the room colors.

 It got me thinking about what kind of Gamma Phi Beta stuff could I really get away with having out and about now that I'm supposedly well into adultness.  I feel like there must be SOME things that could display my Gamma Phi love proudly but not have people saying "and how old is she now?"

ΓΦΒ I think I can handle this craft considering i don't usually do crafts. this seems like a beginner level

Anything that is just sporting a crescent is probably a definite yes I could still get away with it.  I'm a big fan of this sparkly crescent because you could do it with any color jewel and it would be sooooo easy.  Heck you could probably make one for each month in different colors it's that darn easy.  If I didn't have so many crafts I needed to get through I'd so be buying and gluing some jewels ... well at least buying them!!

Gamma Phi Beta Greek Coasters

These are getting us into that realm of hmmm not quite sure.  I think I still could because they're coasters and with the vintage/worn look of them it's not neon letters screaming "squeeeeee I'm a sorority girl!!"  Kevin wouldn't care as long as he can put a beer on them.  

I wonder if I could make this on my own for Gamma Phi?

I've been really embracing the whole wreath on our door thing since we live in a condo and don't have an outside to decorate.  This guy (obviously with a Gamma Phi theme instead) is so pretty.  Subdued but all the right elements are there.  I feel like this one I probably couldn't get away with.  Little bit weird to put a sorority wreath on your door when you pretty much live in a retirement community aka we have a lot of very elderly people in our building.  

This is something I could definitely get away with!  Most of it is the crescents and it looks like Gamma Phi Beta is only there a couple of times.  Everyone is always carrying the lame freebie mugs and as nice as they are because they're free it's nice to have something that screams you.  Plus no one is going to mistake your pink mug for theirs.  

Every time I see this little cork board I'm always wanting it and thinking "how cute!"  No matter how cute items like this are I know I'm just too darn old and to darn alumnae.  

As much as I love my Gamma Phi gear I know that some things are better left collegiate.  I guess I will just have to resign myself to buying the very nice and somewhat expensive jewelry!  


Tunes on Tuesday: Four Tunes for a Blah Day

The title of this post might seem a bit misleading, I'm not talking about tunes to enhance that cruddy mood.  I'm talking about the type of tunes you need to bring yourself OUT of the funk.  Lately it's been so gloomy and today it was snowing again for a while, which definitely puts me in a blah mood.  Not sure about you guys but it's that time of year when I definitely need a little pick me up and the tune-age I listen to is the cure!

1.  I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles) by The Proclaimers

You can't go wrong with anything 80's, especially this march inducing tune.  I mean seriously try to listen to it and not start marching in place.  Yup I knew you couldn't do it!  March around the room a couple of times while you're at it and get some activity points, I'm doing it.

2.  Hey Ya! by Outkast

Like "I'm Gonna Be"  this one also seems to have the ability to get body parts moving.  In this case though it's usually the butt wiggle a la Cameron Diaz in Charlie's Angels.  My wiggle isn't as good as hers but at least my butt is having fun.

3.  I Love It by Icona Pop

You can never go wrong with any song that talks about not caring and loving it.

4.  Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go by Wham

Do I even need to explain this one?  If you're not dancing and snapping like an idiot by the first minute ... mor like the first 15 seconds you have no soul!  It's so upbeat and catchy you can't help but be happy.

My playlist is obviously lacking and will only last me 20 minutes ... what are your best pick me up songs that should be on my list??


Hairstyles I Wish I Could Master

When it comes to anything beauty related I always seem to be behind.  It took me forever to master the half up hair bump, probably like a year after the trend became big.  I really only mastered the whole smokey eye look four years ago and only in black, I have yet to master it with other colors.  Not sure what it is but it's like my hands just don't want to do the correct thing.

I keep pinning these great looks on Pinterest.  Maybe some day I will have some fancy occasion where I can pay someone to do a perfect version of these dos.  For now I will have to settle for my not so perfect attempts!

Poofed Pony

Romantic side bun - Here's the step-by-step: 1.Tease hair all over the upper half of head. Make sure there is more teasing towards the sides of your head, and less teasing closer to your part (hair sticking up around your part is just TOO much). 2. Secure hair with an elastic in a mid-low side ponytail a couple of inches behind your ear. 3. Roll up and pin 4. Adjust...