Musings of a Museum Fanatic: October 2014


Me Version Two

If you're an active Weight Watcher you've probably seen this phrase this week. The past few weeks have been discussing the levels of change and this week was changing identity.  It's gotten me thinking. Well to be totally honest I've been doing a lot of thinking since the end of this summer

The thoughts started out very small. Like the one day I was looking at Facebook and thinking to myself "Man 2011 was a great year" or "Geez I sure wish I could go back to Valpo". Then things have turned into more like "Why can't things be like they were in 2011" and "Man everything was so much better in college". I've become so wrapped up in those types of thoughts that it has just been consuming. Like in my mind if I went back to those times things would be so much better. I would be back to my big weight loss, I wouldn't have wasted years attempting to get into my career field, and people I've lost would still be in my life. 

Some time this week the switch was flipped. I realized things like 2011 while pretty great there were a lot of issues. We had major issues with Kevin's brother and his fiancee throughout much of the year. College wasn't so great I wasn't happy with my love life (or lack thereof), grad school allowed me to gain back 27 lbs, the years right after I bounced between internships and couldn't land a permanent job. This being said there were great times and I really have enjoyed most of my 20's but looking back at the past years with rose colored glasses has not been helping me at all. 

Bringing back to this week, my leader posed a few different questions that got me thinking about not only my weight loss journey but my life journey of late as well. What I saw was not good. I can't stay stuck trying to get back to Me Version One. It's just not possible anymore because I want to change! I want to be that Me Version Two! 

Whew *wipes brow*. Sorry I went a little serious today but it feels good to share those thoughts with you. I've know I've been a little all over lately and I know that the focusing on Me Version One has been a big part of why. No more of that silliness!

Bring on Betsy Version Two! I'm ready : )    


Hidden Gems of Chicago

Over the years I've acquired a number of hidden gem places that I really enjoy, from restaurants to fun places to see. Here are a few of my favorites.

First up on my lesser known gem tour of course would have to be a museum.  I can't give you a favorites list of anything Chicago without one!  Number one would have to be the Chicago History Museum.  2.5 miles north of the Loop and right at the southern edge of Lincoln Park (the actual park and the neighborhood) this is a perfect place to head to get away from the craziness that can be the Loop during tourist season.  This museum is a great place to learn about Chicago past and present.  I actually just went this past weekend with my good friend Lauren.  I won't tell you too much cause I'm going to have a nice big post for you next week on my blog.  Needless to say it's worth the 156 bus ride north.  The Chicago History Museum has everything from the 1893 Columbian Exposition (a favorite of yours truly) to Al Capone to current temporary exhibits like the fashion of Ebony Magazine (a Chicago based gem!).  Oh in case you're wondering that's me as a Chicago style hot dog at the Chicago History Museum.   

One of my all time favorite places in the Chicago area is Russell's BBQ.  It's located in Elmwood Park just outside of the city.  Unfortunately the easiest (and safest!) way to get there is driving.  We have been going here since I was little, heck I think my dad (and various aunts and uncles) have been going here since he was a kid, the place has been open since 1930 after all.  The best thing is their BBQ pork sandwhich.  MMMM!  I'm salivating just thinking about.  When I say bbq pork you probably think of shredded meat doused in BBQ sauce well not here. At Russell's they slice their pork, and probably the beef and ham too but I've never gotten those, and you can add as much BBQ sauce as you like at the table. 

Bad Apple is a yummy place I found a couple years ago when my friend Saige was in town.  It's just a bit south of Montrose and Lincoln, so there are definitely public transportation options to getting there.  They are known for being a gourmet burger joint but what really sets them apart is the gourmet frie upgrades.  Definitely try the fries with the truffle or garlic seasoning ... but beware of the garlic YOWZA!  Not for date nights, unless the person really likes you already, like the hubby and I cause I know he would most likely go for those fries and I would let him cause I'm an awesome wife like that.  I actually didn't end up even having a burger that night I had the Hickory Hillbilly (pulled pork) and it was delicious.  I did try a bit of my friends Edmund Fig-Gerald (Edmund Fitzgerald porter, fig & bacon relish, goat cheese, smoked onion) and it was so good.  I would do it without the onions though (yech!).  If you're going on a weekend I would head there early because it was packed but they are open super late so maybe your chances would be better then.

One of my favorite activities that I really haven't done in forever is Whirly Ball!  It's bumper cars, lacrosse and basketball smushed into one big awesome time.  I mean seriously how incredibly amazing does that sounds?  There are actually three locations in the Chicagoland area, one by my parents, one by where I live now (which I didn't know before yesssss!) and one in the city in Lincoln Park.  The one in Chicago is right at Fullerton/Damen/Elston so there are a bunch of buses to get there.  You could probably walk from the L if you really wanted to but I would take a bus.  The whole point is to get the whiffle ball into the basket but most of the time I never got the ball so I was more of a defender.  What I can I say I really like bumper cars.  It's great when you've got a big group of people who know each other, you always feel a little bad ramming into someone you don't know ... or maybe you don't : )

My last hidden gem of Chicago is the Frango Mint Cafe in Macy's on State St.  Can you tell I like to eat?  This place is one of my favorites when we're in the Loop.  Most people tend to go to the Walnut Room while they're at Macy's but I prefer the Frango Cafe.  It's only open for lunch so be sure to take that into account.  They have a  yummy half sandwich, cup of soup with chips and a pickle meal for a great price (last time I was there it was $7.95) but the best part of the meal is that it comes with either a piece of Frango Mint Cheesecake or Frango Mint Chocolate Ice Cream Pie!  The ice cream pie is AMAZING!  If you don't make it for lunch at the Frango the Walnut serves the ice cream pie as well.  MMMMM!  

Hope you enjoyed some of my favorite Chicago hidden gems!  


10 Songs From 50's & 60's Musicals You Should Hear

One area of music that doesn't seem to be appreciated as much anymore is that of the musical. I love love love musicals. I think it probably started when I found and started listening to my parents records which included musicals like Fiddler on the Roof and Hair. I was hooked.

Today I'm going to focus on the old school, classic musicals, from 1970 and earlier. The 1950's and 1960's was the heyday for musicals including huge timeless ones like Singin' in the Rain and My Fair Lady. Everyone today only ever seems to know the big show stopper tunes. While those are always well and good I've always been the person to really enjoy the B-side type of tunes.

Make 'Em Laugh from Singin' In The Rain
While the movie's namesake is a classic tune this one from later in the movie will have your sides aching from laughter. Donald O'Connor's slapstick physical humor in this song (and really the entire movie) is amazingly hilarious.

Goin' Courtin' from Seven Brides For Seven Brothers
This is probably one of the more under appreciated musicals from this time period with so many great songs and dance numbers.

The Lonely Goatherd from The Sound of Music

Officer Krupke from West Side Story

Lechaim from Fiddler On the Roof
This is one of my all time favorite musicals. I used to dance around to it all the time when I was younger. Seriously I still know all of the words to all of the songs. Be sure to check out the killer dancing starting at about the 2 minute mark.

Get Me to the Church on Time (I'm Getting Married in the Morning) from My Fair Lady
Audrey's songs are usually the ones that people think of when they hear My Fair Lady but I am all about this song.

Getting to Know You from The King and I

Tom, Dick or Harry from Kiss Me Kate

42nd Street from 42nd Street
Even though this is the namesake song people aren't as familiar with 42nd Street, maybe because it's black and white or because of it's age. Either way it's definitely worth a watch, especially for all the amazing tap moves.

It's A Grand Night for Singing from State Fair


Top 11 90's Alternative

Lately I've been in this mood where the only music that seems to speak to me are the angsty grunge tunes of my middle school years. Since I haven't done a favorites music list lately I felt it was only time to pay tribute to my top 11 90's alternative tunes! Yup top 11. I have spent countless hours switching back and forth between songs (much to the angst of Kevin) and it's been really hard to narrow it down to just 11.

90's alternative has a really unique sound to it and it's almost hard to describe the slight differences between it and say early 2000's alternative. To almost anyone it might sound the same but they're most definitely not! Some of these bands have multiple songs that I would include in my top 11 in a heartbeat but I definitely had to force myself to pick one. Take Live for example, I feel that some of their other songs like "I Alone" or "All Over You" would be perfect representations as well.

Grab a Surge, your best flannel shirt and enjoy some totally awesome tunes with me.

Possum Kingdom by The Toadies

If You Could Only See by Tonic

Plush by Stone Temple Pilots

Man in the Box by Alice in Chains

Shine by Collective Soul

Lightening Crashes by Live

Come As You Are by Nirvana

Everlong by the Foo Fighters

Desperately Wanting by Better Than Ezra

Bullet with Butterfly Wings by Smashing Pumpkins

Jeremy by Pearl Jam

What do you think of my list? Is there songs that are on your top 90's alternative lists that I didn't put?


Crispy Parmesan Shrimp With Spaghetti

3 oz. Parmesan cheese
1 egg white
1 garlic clove, pressed
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp coarse ground pepper
1 lb frozen large uncooked shrimp (21-25 per lb), thawed
2 T. snipped fresh parsley
8 oz. uncooked spaghetti
2 C. broccoli florets
1 C. marinara sauce

1. Pre-heat oven to 435 degrees. Bring salted water to a boil in 4 qt. Casserole

2. For Parmesan topping, lightly spray NONSTICK 12 in. Skillet with vegetable oil using the Kitchen Spritzer. Heat for 1-3 minutes (or until hot) over medium heat. Grate cheese evenly over the bottom of the Skillet using the Rotary Grater. Cook cheese for 4-5 minutes or until it turns golden and lacy. Start at the edges and immediately loosen cheese with Small Slotted Turner. Slide it on to a cutting board and allow to cool completely. Place cheese crisp into a plastic bag and crush with with side of Meat Tenderizer

3.  For shrimp, whisk egg white, garlic salt & pepper in Classic Batter Bowl. Peel, devein, and remove tails from shrimp. Add shrimp to the egg mixture and toss to coat. Arrange the shrimp in a single layer at the bottom of the Deep Covered Baker.

4. Snip parsley with the Mini Professional Shears then toss with the cheese crumbs. Sprinkle the cheese mixture over the shrimp. Bake 10-12 minutes or until the shrimp are cooked through.

5. Add pasta to boiling water, cook for 4 minutes. Meanwhile cut broccoli into small florets and add to boiling pasta. Cook 1-2 more minutes or until cooked to desired tenderness.

6. Place sauce into Small Micro-Cooker and microwave on high for 2-3 minutes or until warm. Drain pasta and broccoli. Divide pasta among plates, top with sauce then shrimp.


5 Resources To Help With Your DIY Projects

There are so many issues that you can face when starting on a DIY project like where to find the materials (at a cheap price!) or how exactly to do the project (thanks pinner who only pinned the photo!). Lately I've been branching out and trying to find new places and websites that can assist with my projects. Here are some of the new favorites I've found

Fire Mountain Gems
Need cheap beads for your project? Need beads you might not be able to find in Michael's or Jo-ann? Check out Fire Mountain Gems! They have everything from crystals to charms to tools to make jewelry. When I discovered them this past spring I went a little nuts during one of their $1 sales. If you're a jewelry crafter or use beads for other crafts check them out.

New Ideas
For new ideas trying heading to actual company websites instead of Pinterest this time. Jo-Ann Fabrics and Michael's both have really great Projects & Inspiration pages. They have both idiot proofed a majority of the projects with step by step directions and downloads so you can make them on your own, you can even find baking projects under these as well.

I'm a huge fan of Michael's including photos and links for each other products used in the project. Yes Yes I know what they're doing but sometimes it's really helpful to have that photo so you know what you're looking for (just be sure to check who has the good sales this week!). Specific product websites have gotten in on this action as well so be sure when you're looking for that Wilton pan or Lion Brand Yarn to check out their websites

Save On Crafts
This website is every DIY fanatic (and bride's) dream come true. There is literally everything you could imagine to make a craft on this website. Need burlap? They have it in rolls, already cut into pennants, bags, there are even ready made burlap flowers!

Local Library/Park District
Mom would give me a big hug for adding this one to the list! Seriously you have no idea how big a resources these can be. Most local libraries will have tons of books on every type of craft. It's a great way to be inspired without having to fork over dough for the actual books. Check out the programs at the library and your local park district as well. The past few years I've seen a spike in craft related classes and they're usually very low priced or free! I've seen ones from Beginning Sewing to Making a Popcorn Garland.

Become a Joiner
There are so many groups out there that you can join that will encourage and bring you new opportunities. My mom is involved in a knitting group through our church, this group of ladies get together weekly to knit, talk about projects and share ideas. She's been involved with a group through another church that knits and sews baby blankets and hats for preemies. Check out things like Meetup for crafting groups in your area.

Maybe you don't want to make new friends but there is that one friend of yours who is into scrapbooking too. Make a monthly date to bring the three pages & supplies you're working on right now. Create your own little group!

What are some of your hidden resources for your DIY projects??


Choose Your Own Adventure (Link Up)

Not Entirely Perfect

I'm linking up with the awesome Stephanie from not entirely perfect, Stephanie of life according to steph, and Ashley keeping up with ashley and cody! I started off the month thinking I would accomplish my one mile per day for a month 101 task. Unfortunately other things came up so I didn't end up looking into a pedometer or fitbit. Not going to drop money on something that won't work for me!

So I decided to just move more. I made a concerted effort to do things like park further away from the store, walk up a couple of floors at work then take the elevator, and get up during commercials and put items away around the condo. The extra moving has definitely paid off this month since I maintained two weeks and lost two! I'm at 15 lbs total lost now : )

I'm super excited for the adventure this month ... food!! This is one adventure I know I can excel at!

1. Cook six recipes out of 29 Minutes to Dinner cookbook. I've been rocking out one a week for the last month but I need to step it up if I'm going to get through the entire thing by the summer. 

2. Hit up one of the two restaurants I need to complete that 101 task. 

3. Keep reducing my snacking. That's my biggest downfall when it comes to losing weight. 

You should really join in this next month and choose your own food adventure!!