Musings of a Museum Fanatic: April 2016


Halve Your Recipe Infographic

When I cook I always find they usually make waaay too much food for just Kevin and I. Sometimes it's ok because we want the leftovers but sometimes, like when it's more expensive ingredients it's nice to cut the recipe in half. When you're dealing with measurements it can get tricky. So I thought it would be fun to try my hand at my first infographic and give an easy chart for halving your recipes!


Elmhurst History Museum

My favorite part about living in the Chicago area is not only do we have world class museums, like the Field Museum and the Art Institute, but we also have so many community museums  as well. Almost every suburb/town in the Chicago metropolitan area has their own! I'll admit that I haven't been as good about visiting these gems as I would like, which is why I made sure it got on my current 101 list.

In March I had Good Friday off and decided it was a good day to visit downtown Elmhurst and the three museums it boasts! I had been wanting to visit the Elmhurst History Museum for a while but now that I'm working with one of the staff members on a project it made me want to.visit even more.

This 59 year old museum is located in a beautiful historical building right in the heart of west suburban Elmhurst. I'm a big fan of historical building type museums, in addition to the exhibit that are put on you get to experience some great architecture too!

At the end of March the travelling Smithsonian exhibit Patios, Pools, & the Invention of the American Backyard kicked off it's Chicago debut and it's run at Elmhurst. I have never experienced a Smithsonian exhibit so getting to see it was a real treat. While I wasn't around during the time of the backyard that the exhibit focused on, I grew up hearing stories and seeing photographs of my parents childhood and teen years. So seeing the photos was very familiar and I could definitely relate. Not gonna lie I was a big fan of the little back yard set up to take selfies in. Who doesn't want to try on a pair of red cat eye glasses! Pretty sure I found my new style.

Heading up to the second floor you'll find the year old permanent exhibit. After talking with a number of people about great the updated exhibit is, I was definitely looking forward to seeing it and the exhibit did not disappoint! 

I really liked the way the information about Elmhurst was shared through little topic vignettes, like "Play" and "Travel". You are able to focus on what you're interested in if you are the type of person who prefers not to read everything. I'm also a big fan of the shadow box effect that really shows off each object and make you focus on one at a time. 

There were several large architectural fragment pieces that were part of the exhibit. You round the corner and bam there was this beautiful ticket counter! You can see the beautiful barber pole in the back of the photo below.

Exhibits in the more recent years have incorporated technology from the beginning and the permanent exhibit at Elmhurst History Museum is no exception. The video below is of my absolute favorite part of the exhibit. The Curator of Exhibitions took photographs from the collection and animated them. They took a green screen and had actors in period costumes interact then filmed it. The film was then put together to look like the actors were always a part of the scene. Seriously it is soooo cool. Watch the clip below! 

Elmhurst History Museum is a great museum that you really need to visit. If you're coming from downtown it's within walking distance of the Metra plus it's right off 294/290 so it's accessible by car really easily. Make a day of it and experience all that downtown Elmhurst has to offer. 


Naughty Brownies

Every season Pampered Chef comes out with their Season's Best Cookbook, if you ever need a card for someone use this $2 and it's something people will want to keep! One of the recipes popped out to me ... the Naughty Brownie recipe! Being one of my work friend's birthday this past weekend I thought it would be the perfect treat to bring in Monday to celebrate.

 Naughty Brownies

Nonstick cooking spray
1 pkg (16.5 oz) chocolate chip cookie dough
1/2 pkg (18.3 oz) fudge brownie mix (2 cups plus 2 tbsp)
1/3 cup vegetable oil
2 tbsp water
2 eggs
24 miniature peanut butter cups

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray wells of Brownie Pan with nonstick cooking spray.

2. Cut cookie dough evenly into 12 slices. Place in wells of pan; gently press dough into wells.

3. In Classic Batter Bowl, combine brownie mix, oil, water and eggs.

4. Place 2 peanut butter cups on top of cookie dough, pressing down gently.

5. Using Medium Scoop, place 1 scoop of brownie batter into each well, do not overfill wells.

6. Bake 19-21 minutes or until brownies pull away from sides of pan.

7. Remove pan from oven to Stackable Cooling Rack and let cool 5 minutes. Serve with Mini Nylon Serving Spatula.

8. Enjoy!!


They Say It's My Birthday ...

They say it's my birthday ... yes today! : ) Even though today is the actual day of my birthday Kevin organized a little get together over the weekend with some of my favorite ladies!! We went to Weber Grill for dinner. I tried to write down all the ridiculous things we said throughout the evening since we're hilarious and I actually got a few written down, those will be in blue.  
Becky (in the car on the way to dinner) are you telling me I should hit a few Verizon signs on my way home
Kevin: yes go for it. 
Becky: Challenge accepted
Me to Becky during dinner ... he's a douche cube. We don't need douche cubes in our lives.

I have no idea what we were doing here. Kevin said get up on the bench and do something. This is how fabulous my friends are they go with it no matter how silly. 

​Everyone to me after the above photo:
I think you should get in the ash bucket and take a picture
No one is looking.
That's how you roll when you're 31

After we got  back to our apartment for board games and some lovely cocktails. Ever the practical person Stephanie not only brought the stuff to make cocktails but helped me work on a 101 list by making sure it was one of the Disney inspired cocktails. We made the Stitch cocktail, with the added bonus of the worms on a stick. 

I was terrible and didn't end up taking any photos of our Apples to Apples time before Stephanie and Lauren had to head out. I did how ever get some good photos of the ridiculousness that happened during the round of Sweet Valley High the board game. The best part? We were all totally sober and majorly ridiculous.

Jackie: Trading boyfriends until you get yours adds some mystery.
Bethany: that's the story of my life

Jackie: This (Sweet Valley High the Board game) would be a really fun drinking game.
Becky: Every time they day Enid waterfall

​On relating Sweet Valley High the Board game to politics
This is why international politics is so hard.
Iraq I've got your boyfriend 
Iran I've got your prom dress

Becky won and since Jessica (her player) was prom queen we decided to make her a sash to show her victory. Since we all know every victor and prom queen needs a sash.

Kevin decided we needed to bring out the party poppers that we had leftover from NYE like three years ago. 


 All in all it was an amazing night with amazing friends. I'm so thankful I got to ring in 31 (well almost) with such great people!!


Becoming Like Our Parents

When I was younger I always thought I wasn't anything like my parents. I didn't think I really looked like either of them and I definitely didn't think I acted like them. I mean come on they were my parents and parents are like totally lame right?

As I progressed through high school and then college when I really started to develop into my own person little did I realize how I was developing that resembled my parents. Mid way through high school I really got into classic rock and my love progressed from there. The Doors ended up becoming one of my favorite bands, I would listen to their music all the time. One day when I was looking through my Dad's records I discovered that he had several Doors albums.  He just chuckled at my astonishment that he could like such a cool band and commented that he enjoyed them way before I'd even been a thought!

The past few years I've noticed that I have acquired a lot of the same mannerisms as my Mom. It was never a really evident thing before but it hit me one night as we were both talking. Not even talking to each other mind you. I could see her out of the corner of my eye making the same gestures. Needless to say I was totally taken aback since I knew I had been making certain ones for a while now. Ahh! You do become your mother don't you?!

Last night I realized another way I'm becoming more like my parents. Through my grandfather becoming sick, passing away then the last few years of my grandmother's life I saw my parents being so caring and compassionate with the situation. I can't speak for my brother but I know at the beginning I was uncomfortable with bringing my grandmother to the retirement community and how to act there. It wasn't just the more we visited that made me more comfortable but the way my parents helped me adjust to the situation helped as well.

It's somewhat hard to describe without actually having a video to show you an instant replay. Yesterday Kevin and I went to see his grandmother in the rehab facility. She was not feeling well and after a hospital visit needs to be in assisted living now. We sat with her while she ate dinner and I could tell Kevin wasn't feeling quite as comfortable. I just started chatting with her, talking to her about how she was feeling and such. Topics that I know Kevin's parents had been stressing about came up and I tried to be very positive about them and not let his grandmother get negative about them.

When I was driving to Kevin's parents for dinner after I realized that most of the conversation we had was so much like many my parents had had with my grandmother. When we retold our conversation to his parents I could tell they were relieved how she responded and discovered that she had felt comfortable enough to tell us things she had not mentioned to Kevin's parents. Instead of freaking out that I'm becoming more like my parents in that respect it feels wonderful.

Maybe it's OK to take on some of our parents best traits!


Walk & Roll Chicago

Last year Bethany decided that we as a family (Lane included) were going to participate in the American Cancer Society's Walk & Roll Chicago. Besides the fact that it being a walk which made it perfect with Lane in the stroller, she picked this walk since it was just a few days before Dad's birthday. 

I miss Dad all the time still and you know what cancer freaking sucks. So many people we know have been affected, I know there are so many people who have kicked it's butt but too many who haven't. That's why raising money for combating it is so important. 

We're participating in the Walk & Roll Chicago again this year on April 23. If you're in the Chicago area and want to join Team Giles head to Walk & Roll Chicago, search and join our team. Want to donate? Do the same. I'd love to have some encouragement that morning too! I'm hopefully going to be sharing photos as we walk this year so be sure you're following on social media. The weather looks to be better than last year. 

I didn't share my photos right after the event last year so I thought I would do that now. A very wet Walk & Roll Chicago 2015 but it was great to walk around Museum Campus and Soldier Field with so many people united for a good cause. 


5 Tips for Planning a Killer Stay-cation

It can be really great to go on vacation to some exotic location but having a great stay-cation can be just as fabulous.  I have some tips for planning a stay-cation that will rock your world.

1. Pick a location
Really think about the options for your stay-cation. If you live in a suburban area right by a city you have several options like having a city weekend or staying the burbs. Maybe you live in a more rural area where there might be some amazing camping or outdoor adventure type of stay-cations.

2. Decide on what you're doing 
For our stay-cation weekend we went with a theme and tried to do more adult type of activities, like high tea and massages. You might want to do a recapture your childhood weekend, which could include trip to an arcade (or if you're in Chicago the beercade!) or ice skating in the park.

3. Check things off your list
When you live in a certain area you always tend to take things for granted or are always saying I'll visit their or eat there eventually. Either way think about some of the things you always talk about how fun it would be to do and just add them to your list!! For our weekend I wanted to have meals at a couple of the restaurants on my list and get the cupcake from the cupcake ATM so we made sure that those were on our weekend itinerary.

4. Splurge
Since you're familiar with the area & don't have to travel very far you can afford to splurge a bit. Haven't had a massage in a year? Find a good place and get one! You've been dying to try out the new fabulously expensive restaurant? Go for it! Then eat cheap for the rest of the weekend ha. By staying close to home you save on the travel expense and can splurge on fun stuff.

5. Be in good company
For my recent stay-cation weekend it was a bestie weekend but it would have been awesome to do a girls weekend with my mom and sister in law. You don't always need to bring someone with to be in good company. Sometimes you just need a fun weekend for yourself! That way you know you'll get to see and do what you want.

Just because you aren't going somewhere totally new doesn't mean you can't have an amazing stay-cation! What is your best stay-cation tip?


Get to Know You Disney Quiz

I always enjoy getting to know other bloggers and I especially love it when they share posts about topics I really like ... like Disney! Stephanie shared with me a fun post from Audrey over at Life as Louise who did a get to know you through Disney. I did end up changing around a few of the questions because I thought there were some important ones that needed to be addressed.

So I thought I'd take some time and share my answers to the same questions because you can never know too much about someone and it can say a lot about them with what Disney answers they choose!

1.  Favorite Character: Aurora
I mean come on if you've talked to me for even an hour you know this!

2,  Favorite Princess: Aurora
She's everything and totally under appreciated!

3. Favorite Heroine: Megara
She's just so sassy it's fantastic but she can be vulnerable and caring when it counts.

4.  Favorite Prince: Prince Phillip
He is one of my all time favorite cartoon crushes. So dashing it makes you swoon!

5. Favorite Hero: Basil of Baker Street
He totally kicks butt again the evil Professor Ratigan (who is actually kinda scary)

6.  Favorite Animal: Pascal
He is hilarious! Both Kevin and I have adopted him as like our family spirit animal it's great.

7. Favorite Sidekick: Timon & Pumba 
They're a pair that you just can't split up.

8. Favorite Villain: Hades
He's just so sassy it's ridiculous and I love it.

9. Favorite Original Character: Minnie Mouse
I was obsessed with her when I was little. I had everything Minnie! She is definitely my go to for my favorite original character still. Totally loving the new Pandora charms that are Minnie!

10. Favorite Love Song: Bella Notte
It's actually a pretty underrated love song, as far as Disney love songs go. Since the movie came out in 1955 it has that vibe like so many of the good crooners did from that time.

11.  Favorite Song: Once Upon a Dream
Seriously I can listen to it over and over again every day of my life. Also the cover by No Secrets Once Upon Another Dream when the DVD first came out is not too shabby either, it's a great workout song.

12.  Favorite Villain Song: Be Prepared from The Lion King
When Lion King came out my best friend growing up and I LOVED that soundtrack. We would seriously listen to my cassette tape over and over again while dancing/acting around the house. This was our favorite song.

13. Least Favorite Song: Very Good Advice from Alice in Wonderland
I just find the song really annoying.

14.  Favorite Kiss: Lady and Tramp
It's just so iconic you can't go wrong.

15. The First Disney Movie You Saw: Cinderella

16. Favorite Classic: The Three Caballeros
This is definitely one of those movies that people just skip over and don't pay attention to. You're really missing out. It's a classic for a reason.

17. Song that always gets stuck in your head: Let It Go
The Disney Pandora station just loooooves to play that song. As much as I enjoy it Disney Pandora station you really need to branch out. There are some other great tunes you can play.

18. Favorite Pixar Film: Wall-E
Kevin and I just really love to watch that one together.

19. Lease Favorite Pixar Film: Toy Story
I know I might get tarred and feathered for this one but I have just never been into Toy Story that much. *ducks as things fly at her*

20. Favorite Sequel: The Return of Jafar
To be honest it's really the only good sequel. I know I googled what other sequel's there are just to double check!

21. Overrated Movie: Toy Story

22. Underrated Movie: Muppet Treasure Island & Bedknobs and Broomsticks
I find that a lot of the live action movies don't get their due and they're actually pretty amazing.

23. Favorite Outfit: Sleeping Beauty the blue dress
Seriously I want that dress. I want someone to make it for me and I will wear it around the house ... all the time.

24. Movie that Makes you Cry: UP
Really any of them where anyone dies I get choked up.

25. Which food dish from a Disney movie would you most want to eat:
The grey stuff from Beauty & The Beast. They actually now have the grey stuff at the Be Our Guest restaurant in Magic Kingdom. It was delicious!

26. Saddest Death: Athena in Little Mermaid: A New Beginning
It sounds bad because it's a sequel (not even since it was the 3rd one haha) but they way they show her getting crushed by the ship was actually kinda really graphic. I made Kevin watch it with me and we might both be a little scarred from it still.

27. Favorite Quote: When do I not talk in Disney quotes? That would be interesting to try and talk that way all day sometime ... 

"The problem is not the problem. The problem is your attitude about the problem." -- Jack Sparrow (Pirates of the Caribbean)

"All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them." -- Walt Disney

To name just a couple

28. Favorite Theme Park: Epcot
I love getting to go around the world without actually needing a passport.

29. Favorite Theme Attraction: Pirates of the Caribbean 
I was really bummed because when we went last October it was closed for most of the day we were there.

30. Favorite park food: Rice Krispie treats
Seriously all of the different Rice Krispie treats are just sooo good. I'm partial to the peanut butter ones as well as the chocolate dipped ones. In case you're in need of a birthday present for me since it's coming up quickly feel free to send some my way ; )

Now that I've shared my results to this quiz I want to see yours!!!