Musings of a Museum Fanatic: July 2015


The Next 101 List

HOLY COW! I'm almost done with my 101 list! It's amazing how quickly 1001 days (about 2.75 years) flew by. I'll recap my past list next week when it's officially over but right now I want to share my next list with you! I spent a lot of time researching and writing this second list.

There were definitely things I learned doing my first list that I have since changed with this list. Such as being more specific with a goal is way better since it really nails down something for you to do and doesn't give you room to come up with excuses on why you couldn't complete the task. Let me know what you think of my new list!

1. Spend three weekends at Mom's helping her declutter & organize
2. Organize all of the photos from my grandma
3. Digitize all of the photos from my grandma
4. Organize my craft supplies
5. Scan all loose leaf recipes & recipes from cookbooks I don’t need to keep
6. Put all loose leaf recipes into properly labeled folders on computer
7. Organize all of my hard copy photos
8. Have a get rid of 50 items weekend once a year for 3 years

9. Go on a Chicago Segway Tour
10. Take 3 Chicago tours (walking, food, etc.)
11. Go on a Festa bar crawl ... preferably Mardi Gras one
12. Go to a restaurant downtown during Restaurant Week
13. Eat from a Chicago food truck
14. Go to 3 big Chicago festivals
15. See the Chicago River dyed green
16. Visit 15 smaller Chicago area museums/historical societies
17. Eat at 10 iconic Chicago area restaurants
18. Attend Open House Chicago each year
19. Take Kevin on a Chicago brewery tour

20. Join a CSA
21. Get a cupcake from the cupcake vending machine at Sprinkles
22. Cook one thing I'm scared of from each Pinterest board
23. Eat a raw tomato
24. Host a crawfish/lobster low country boil
25. Have a cook with Jackie day each year
26. Make bread in my Deep Covered Baker three times
27. Make and consume 3 Disney inspired cocktails
28. Make homemade spaetzle
29. Make 10 freezer meals
30. Pre-cook two weeks’ worth of breakfasts (sandwiches, oatmeal, muffins you can freeze then reheat)

31. Go on Splash Mountain at Disney
32. Make Kevin go with me on a Surrey Bike ride at Disney
33. Do one Disney cosplay while we're there
34. Get a photo with each Disney Princess
35. Watch All Disney films

36. Make 75% of Christmas presents one year
37. Have Mom teach me how to perl
38. Make a door wreath for 3 different holidays/seasons
39. Learn how to metal stamp & complete 3 projects
40. Make a gallery wall

41. Have an entire month of blog posts ready to go one month ahead of time
42. Attend three Windy City Blogger events
43. Make all of my relevant past posts Pinterest friendly
44. Host one large giveaway per year on the blog
45. Get my list of blogs I follow down to the ones I actually read on a daily basis
46. Comment on the blogs I read at least three times a week for 4 months
47. Develop and host a link up for one year
48. Get 3 paid sponsored posts per year
49. Have a once a year blog day with Stephanie

50. Do AncestryDNA
51. Family tree maker/ancestry something
52. Update family information binder to bring to family reunion
53. Visit Tamara in San Francisco
54. Surprise 10 people I love with homemade treats and a handwritten note
55. Have professional photos taken
56. Pre-write celebration (birthday, anniversary etc.) cards for close family & friends for one year then send them out as the dates come up

57. Have two PC shows booked for three months in a row
58. Go to the Chicago Gamma Phi Christmas party
59. Complete 3 oral histories for the Gamma Phi History committee
60. Go to 3 local professional organization meetings (CAA, IAM, KDRMA)
61. Join a board (preferably of a museum)
62. Figure out my personal best for Pampered Chef (using worksheet) and try to top that in three categories
63. Organize and digitize Gamma Phi paperwork then add to Google Drive
64. Do something awesome relating to my job (write a professional article, submit an exhibit for an award, etc.)

65. Invest in the stock market
66. Donate to Gamma Phi Beta Foundation each year
67. Donate to Valparaiso History Department each year
68. Create a budget
69. Stick to budget for 3 months
70. Go on a spending frost for two months each year
71. Achieve the daily goal for the entire month on Swagbucks, one month per year

72. Read 5 classic books
73. Read the harry potter series
74. Watch 4 of Ken's Burns' documentaries
75. Read 7 books about adulating
76. Take an intensive French class
77. Loose and keep off another 20 lbs

78. Splurge on a spa day (at a really nice spa) for myself
79. Find a new hairstylist I like
80. Find a more flattering pair of jeans (signature jeans)
81. Pull together 15 new head to toe outfits out of my closet. Photograph and print idea photos
82. Have color analysis done
83. Figure out exactly what make up works best for me and get rid of all the extra products I have
84. Take stock of my wardrobe, like pull everything out and list everything I own
85. Decide on what to do next with wardrobe ... attempt capsule, reduce by 1/3, etc.

86. Complete 365 Photo Challenge
87. Attend a Murder Mystery dinner
88. Go to a gala event
89. Go on a BIG trip with Kevin
90. Let Kevin pick something to add to this list and actually do it
91. Take a quick weekend road trip
92. Dress up as Bill & Ted with Becky for Halloween
93. Get a new mattress
94. Visit a UNESCO World Heritage Site
95. Make two life recap multi media videos

96. Help Stephanie complete one item off her 101 list
97. Cross off 85% of my 101 list
98. Celebrate finishing up the list and make a new one


99. #1
100. #2
101. #3


Time Bandits

As I've mentioned before I'm on Weight Watchers again for the third time. The meeting topic this week really hit a cord with me. The topic for this week is watching out for time bandits. I've been actually working to improve on this.

Like a lot people I can sometimes get sucked in by those annoying time bandits. My biggest two time bandits are probably getting sucked in to Netflix when I have on as background noise and the sometimes compulsive social media checking. I've noticed some mornings I'll get sucked in to scrolling through Facebook and boom 15 minutes later I'm rushing.

What are some of the time bandits you see stealing your time??

Yesterday I left my phone at work. Yesterday evening and this morning my routines were definitely different! Instead of getting myself sucked in to things like Facebook and Bloglovin this morning I took that 15 minutes and put away a bunch of my jewelry along with pulling out items to sell at a consignment store. Getting that stuff accomplished this morning felt awesome.

With the topic of the week there is always a call to action question and the call to action this week is reduce one time bandit and what will you replace it with. This week and I am going to work on reducing my social media scrolling bandit. I'm going to replace it with mindful social media and even more time with Kevin!

Which of your bandits would you reduce and what would you replace it with?


Dallas Part 1

Earlier this year Kevin and I decided to just go for it and book a trip we'd been talking about making for a while ... a trip to Dallas, TX to visit Kevin's uncle Mike. Neither of us had ever been to Dallas and with my two days off from work for the 4th of July holiday it was perfect. This might sound a bit silly but I was a bit nervous since this was the first time we were on our own for rental cars, driving in a new city and the like, usually Kevin and I are just along for the ride on trips. So starting off Thursday I was a bit anxious but things were smooth like ice. Uncle Mike wasn't able to meet us right away because he had to show a few houses to clients so we went and chilled out at our hotel (yay for the the Hilton Garden Inn Dallas Market Center for letting us check in early!!). It was decided that we'd meet up for lunch at the Pecan Lodge.

Lunch was amazing and if you're really interested in the barbecue check out my post from last week about the Pecan Lodge v. Lockhart Smokehouse. Then we headed to the Sixth Floor Museum. I knew we had to go see this museum and I was not disappointed. Unfortunately we could not take photographs on the actual 6th floor where a majority of the exhibits are but their website has a great overview of the exhibits. I found it fascinating that the majority of the exhibit was told through photographs and every visitor was given an audio guide because of this the exhibit was a huge wealth of history, sometimes it was even a bit of a history overload.

As a museum person it's interesting to compare an event like presidential assassination and how different the information you have is, like comparing Lincoln's to Kennedy's. With Kennedy's there is so much photographic and even video evidence that it makes it easy for the visitor to get immersed in it. On the 7th floor you were able to take photographs and then we went outside to the plaza to see the X's where the shots hit along with just enjoying the beauty of the plaza area.

After our visit Uncle Mike just drove us around for a little while and gave us a tour of Dallas. It was neat because we really got to see all of Dallas. Went by Uncle Mike's first house when he moved to Dallas, went through a number of different neighborhoods, and got to cross the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge. These were just a couple of the things we saw! We caped off the night with some fabulous upscale Mexican at El Bolero, just a two minute walk from his apartment. There was a special rose sangria, it was amazing.

We kicked off our second day with a visit to the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden. Clearly in this case a photo is way better than words so here is a little photo dump of our morning at the Arboretum.

Lunch at local burger spot, Rodeo Goat, was followed by a trip to Reunion Tower. We loved the views from the Tower but I was definitely a little freaked out leaning out to get some good photos! It was nice to see all where we had been and to get a birds eye look. Maps and layouts definitely tend to make more sense that way!

So that's all for our first couple of days in Dallas. We had a few more adventures but I didn't want to overload too much on the photos!


Knitted Dish Clothes

Knitting is probably one of the only crafts I haven't totally gotten hooked on. My repertoire now includes one dish cloth style, scarves and a baby hat. Today I'm going to be sharing my killer dish cloth skills.
Seriously this thing is so easy! If you can do the very basic of basic knitting you can do this pattern. I have no idea where mom found it for me since I've been using it since college but here it is.

1. Cast on 4 times. If you're not familiar with casting on check out this video explain how to do so.

2. Then you're going to knit two, add one then knit until the end of the row.

3. You will continue this pattern until you have about 6 inches of washcloth. I usually do it until about the span between my thumb and pinky finger but if you want it to be a larger dishcloth then go for it.

4. Then to start finishing your dishcloth you will decrease your stitches. So knit one, knit two together, add one, knit two together, finish the row.

5. Then you keep repeating this until you've only got 4 stitches left. Then you will bind off. I would follow what the video says!


Dallas BBQ: Pecan Lodge V. Lockhart Smokehouse

Besides hanging out with Uncle Mike all weekend I knew when we booked our trip to Dallas there was one thing I wanted to make sure we got ... some awesome Texas barbecue. When I was looking into all the things to do in Dallas I searched long and hard, looked at websites, asked advice from friends, family and bloggers on what they considered the best 'cue in Dallas. In the end there were two stand out choices from all this research. Pecan Lodge in the Deep Ellum neighborhood and Lockhart Smokehouse southwest of downtown in the Bishop Arts District. We kicked off our trip with our first Texas meal at Pecan Lodge.  

While we waited in line outside Uncle Mike was telling us how he'd never been but had heard great things. We were pretty amazed that he had never been but I guess when your wait for lunch on a Thursday is 45 minutes not only is that tough on a work day but means the food is fantastic. Yes we waited 45 minutes for food! Let me tell you it was very much worth it.

I ended up getting the brisket and pulled pork since they were unfortunately out of ribs by the time we got up to place our orders. The brisket was so stinking tender it was ridiculous how easy it fell apart. No fork or knife needed. The pork was just as tender and juicy although I think next time I'd prefer it in sandwich form.

Kevin of course went for the craziest item on the menu ... the Hot Mess. A jumbo sea salt-crusted sweet potato, South Texas barbacoa (shredded brisket with southwestern seasoning), chipotle cream, cheese, butter & green onions. I got a taste and actually it was really good, I'd probably get another time as well. The sweet of the potato really paired well with the kick of the barbacoa. Kevin even tried fried okra for the first time and loved it. We did decide that anything fried has to be good though.

On the 4th we spent the late morning and lunch time in the Bishop Arts District at my second pick for barbecue, Lockhart Smokehouse. Surprisingly it wasn't crazy busy but it seemed that a lot of people were getting their lunches to go and take them home for their 4th celebrations.

I love being able to see the brisket and everything getting pulled out of the smokers and chopped up for us right before your eyes. At Lockhart you could do as little or as much as you wanted since it was done by weight. That was heaven for me since we all know I always like to try a little bit of everything.

We ended up getting a couple of sausages (hot and mild), brisket, chicken and I got a rib plus some amazing sides, deviled eggs, mac & cheese and baked beans. As you can tell by our wrapped up pile just below it was a good amount of food. They wrap up everything in butcher paper, you just unwrap it and dig in. If you couldn't tell by the last photo below we really enjoyed it. The mac and cheese was insane it was so good, it was rich and creamy and just melt in your mouth delectable. I thought the chicken was the best of all the meat (sacrilege right?), the white meat I had was tender and juicy. Pretty sure I didn't let anyone else get much.

The Verdict

After much discussion we decided that both places had some amazing barbecue. There were certain items we liked more at each place. Uncle Mike and I decided we enjoyed the brisket more at Pecan Lodge since the cuts we got were much leaner and we didn't realize we could get a leaner cut at Lockhart. I loved the rib at Lockhart and it totally stood on it's own no sauce needed. The mac and cheese at Lockhart topped the Pecan Lodge's for sure but the Pecan Lodge's sweeter bbq sauce won for me over the more vinegary one at Lockhart. So when in doubt go to both and enjoy it all because really no matter what it was all scrumptious!!


Perot Museum of Natural History

Obviously we all know I'm not going to to go a new city like Dallas and not go to at least one museum. We ended up going to several! The Perot Museum of Natural Historywas a must see suggestion from several people including Helene.Since we splurged and got a CityPass, which in the end wasn't a splurge since it saved us a bunch of money! Seriously check them out when you're going to a big city soooo worth it, the Perot was one of the institutions that was part of the ticket.

The first thing you see when you visit the Perot is the architecture. It's very modern cube shape but in a nice clean way and when you come from the east you can see the escalator from the 3rd to the 4th floors. This escalator was awesome since you get stunning views of the city when you're going up. Be sure to watch for when it ends though! The building itself has some pretty neat features as well, such as being a sustainable building.

My favorite exhibit halls were the 2nd floor exhibits, Texas Instruments Engineering and Innovation Hall and the Being Human Hall. I loved that a majority of the information presented in these halls was through interactive displays. Whenever I can touch or play with something in an exhibit I know I'll remember that part the most. The manner in which they presented the information was not simplified too much either, sometimes in an attempt to make sure every single person no matter their age the information can become too simple to where it can be boring for adults and a lot of kids. These exhibits were the right level to catch everyone's interest.

Like a majority of natural history museum's the Perot also sported some pretty impressive dinosaur fossils as part of their T. Boone Pickens Life Then and Now Hall. I wish there had been a bit more connection made between the fossils and Dallas, it was mentioned but I would have liked a bit more detail. Like the the other areas of the Perot the Life Then and Now Hall had amazing interactives. I think Kevin's favorite part of this exhibit was the large sea turtle you can see in the second photo below. It was probably twice as big as us!!

Overall we really enjoy visiting the Perot Museum of Natural History, There were exhibits for everyone of all ages and great extras like the 3-D movie, we got to see James Cameron's travels to the deepest part of the ocean. The parking nearby is abundant and from what I can tell it's definitely accessible by public transportation. The price of general admission is average ($17 per adult) and it's a good deal when you do the CityPass because you get a 3-D movie with the ticket. You should definitely add this to your must do Dallas list!