Musings of a Museum Fanatic: September 2018


5 Things to Do This Fall in Chicago

The kids have gone back to school weeks ago and we've now set our fall goals. I guess it's time to accept that it's really fall! Sometimes fall get's overlooked sandwiched between lovely summers and brutal winters. There is so much that you can enjoy in this lovely season. What are your favorite things to do in the fall?

Enjoy the leaves
The north east might think they have the market cornered on gorgeous fall leaves but Chicago can definitely hold it's own in this department. You'll find amazing places all over the Chicagoland area to leaf peek. My favorites are definitely the Morton Arboretum and the Chicago Botanic Garden. If you're going to visit them definitely get there really early and be prepared for lots of people! Don't want to deal with tons of people there are amazing parks and forest preserves all over the area. 

Corn mazes
Corn mazes are definitely a Midwest staple. From simple ones to elaborate designs that look amazing from above you'll find them from Chicago to Nebraska. While everyone has them they don't have the world's largest like we do. You'll find that at Richardson Farm! This year they're celebrating the Illinois Bicentennial. For a little more adult take on a corn maze head to Goose Island for Jack's Pumpkin Nights where you'll find a corn maze with a bar. Well three bars to be exact. Who wouldn't want to get lost in a maze like that??

Pick your produce
Apple picking and pumpkin picking are staples to any Chicago area fall. We have amazing patches and orchards that have whatever produce you're looking to enjoy. For my personal favorite apple orchard you'll actually have to hop over the Indiana border. We discovered in college County Line Orchard when Becky had to write a story for the school paper. After heading home with our own pumpkins, apples, caramel apples and the most delicious doughnuts we were hooked! Don't want to go so far? Check out Goebbert's Pumpkin Patch in South Barrington. They have all the fall staples along with a whole lot of other produce options. Since they're right on my way home from work I've stopped to get corn all the time. 

Get spooked
This is one fall past time I tend to skip out on but if this is your bag there are some great options. For the big mac daddy of Chicago area haunted houses you'll want to take in the Statesville Haunted Prison & City of the Dead. Haunted houses too cheesy for you? Try a graveyard tour. For me who is a big wimp I'd go with a day time one that focuses on the history of who is buried there and the stones. Kevin definitely prefers the at night ones where you try and connect with the spirits. The best part is we've got both types in spades all around the area. You'll find probably half a dozen different tours that go through Graceland Cemetery alone!

Enjoy some beer
For some reason fall always seems like the perfect time to enjoy a nice cold brew. Whether you decide to head to an Oktoberfest or enjoy some brews tailgating there is no bad way to enjoy beer in Chicago. Don't want to socialize with too many people you can enjoy a brew at one of the many, probably hundreds of breweries that are in the area. Since the weather is more consistent in the fall you might even still be able to enjoy the patio.

Thanks so much for stopping by! You can also join me on InstagramTwitter, and Pinterest. In addition to life-capades and doing it for yourself, I love all things 'real life' so use the hashtag #museumfanatic on social media so I can see your beautiful unstaged life. Oh and on the top of the side bar to your right, you can follow me on Bloglovin or on social media to be alerted to each new post!


Crazy Sock Collection

Most people have something in their life that they enjoy collecting. That something that always catches their eye when they see it at someone else's house or out at the store. If you’ve noticed the past couple of years I’ve been trying to give up on buying things we don’t need but there is one thing that I just can’t give up. Lucky for me it’s a very practical item so I don’t feel so bad about purchasing my beloved crazy socks!

Yup I’m a sucker for a fun, silly and crazy sock. I have so many different kinds. From Disney socks to socks purchased during trips to my Christmas ones. While it’s always fun to find a silly pair it’s even better when the fit of the socks is perfect and they become my favorite pair to wear.

These bad boys are some of the few socks that I brought back from our trip to London. I was so excited to get the Rosetta Stone socks from the British Museum. They’re really the height of history and museum nerd fashion.

It’s well known that I am a crazy sock aficionado so sometimes I get great additions to my collection from friends and family. These were added to my collection by my mom. Her humor surprises me sometimes but I love them. I think most people can relate to these socks at least some of the time.

I have even had at least two pairs of socks that can trace their arrival in my collection as far back as high school. Yup these fabulous blue leopard print bad boys were a gift my sophomore year of high school from my flag corp secret Santa that year. They're from Delia's and everything! Peak early 2000s for sure.

This summer I was able to add some official Pampered Chef socks to my collection as well! Found these bad boys at conference this year. Best part besides showing off my business they're a little taller so they're perfect boot socks.

Of course I also have a sizable Disney sock presence in my collection. Would you expect anything less? Although the number did go up by a little last year when I added a gift set of 12 Disney socks on super clearance after the holidays. Being in Chicago and having to wear socks for a good chunk of the year you tend to wear a lot!

One cannot have a well rounded collection of anything without something holiday related. Socks are no different! While it's gone down over the years my Christmas socks are definitely still some of my favorites. One thing I love about holiday socks is there are always cute penguins on them. I mean come on how cute are those pudgy little guys?

Those are just a few of my favorite socks from my crazy sock collection. Do you collect anything? I love hearing about the interesting collections people have any why they collect. Definitely share!

Thanks so much for stopping by! You can also join me on InstagramTwitter, and Pinterest. In addition to life-capades and doing it for yourself, I love all things 'real life' so use the hashtag #museumfanatic on social media so I can see your beautiful unstaged life. Oh and on the top of the side bar to your right, you can follow me on Bloglovin or on social media to be alerted to each new post!


Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center

***This post contains Nazi symbols and other potentially uncomfortable images***

Tucked between a huge swath of forest preserves and the Edens Expressway you'll find a very odd looking building. From what you can see from Golf Road it's a very dark gray and industrial looking. It doesn't look very inviting at all. Don't let it's exterior fool you though, in this building you'll find a museum dedicated to very important world and Chicago area history, the Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center. Museums doing what the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center is doing are so important today. I can't say it any better than they did in their founding principal "Remember the Past, Transform the Future" You might think that walking in to a museum like this you're just going to remember but oh no you will be transformed, empowered and in the end inspired. Which in today's world these are three very important feelings to have and go out into the world with.  

Even before you step into the building there is symbolism and that continues through every exhibit and really every inch of the museum. I can't even begin to tell you what the meaning is behind the building there is just so much wonderful symbolism. The website does an amazing job of explaining that meaning. Needless to say you can definitely feel what the architect wants you to feel as you're walking through. 

When you actually enter into the exhibit itself you start your journey through before the war started. How the Nazis started their rise in power. Then you're led into how they started to turn against the Jews. You see all of the different propaganda and without even realizing it the physical space of the exhibit itself is telling you the story as well. You find yourself walking down slopes and moving through somewhat uncomfortable spaces. This theme of using the entire space to make you feel and react in certain manners is continued throughout the exhibit. 

One of the things I like most about the Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center is that they don't want the Holocaust to be this massive tragedy. Don't get me wrong it definitely was a massive tragedy but they want it to be people and their stories. In every room and corner of this exhibit you're confronted by people. It makes it real and makes you get to know these people.

Through my tour with the marketing department they wanted to point out the artifact below. This was a musical instrument case that was re-purposed as a map of the ghetto. This map was extremely important as the Nazi's cracked down more and more on the Jews.

As I look back on the photos I am actually realizing more of the feelings that I had while walking through the exhibit. I didn't notice while I was in the exhibit but the walls are really set up to feel and look in places like I would imagine prison walls, the ghetto walls or the walls at the concentration camps to feel. That really enhanced the closed in and trapped feeling in parts of the exhibit.

Even with all of the photographs and images the exhibit evokes nothing can compare to the feeling of walking into the boxcar. There are no lights or panels in the car itself. You walk into this inky black void. Without anyone else in the car it feels oppressive and then imagine that there are people taking up every inch. None of you are allowed out, there might have been a bucket for relief, and barely any food. I shudder now to think of how awful it must have been.

After you see the boxcar everything starts to get lighter. By no means is the terror over but walking through the exhibit you get the feeling that salvation is coming. Even though the walls are still well taller than any person you don't feel that they are closing in. 

The stories continue as you are walked through what happened to people after the Holocaust and the war was over. These are people who lived and still live in the Chicago area. The stories told are of their lives since then. Many of these people are the reason the museum is here in the first place and are still very active in both the museum and the community.

Speaking of people being involved in the Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center. The museum has one of the most interesting founding that I think I've ever heard. From what I've read and seen in various museums after the Holocaust many survivors did not talk about what happened much if at all. In the late 1970s time for silence was over. A group of neo-Nazis sent out fliers that they were going to march in Skokie, which was for a long time supposedly one of the largest areas of survivors outside of Israel. ABC News wrote a great article this summer talking about the would be march and it's legacy. This prompted the survivors and others to stand up to the neo-Nazis (who in the end didn't march) and they realized that people needed to remember what happened. So they started the museum. 

One thing I love about this museum is that it is more than just a museum or as some people would say a monument to the past. They do an amazing job of talking about issues that are happening today in their other exhibits. Part of these current areas is the Holographic Theater. As we get further away from the events themselves it's extremely important for people's stories to live on. They have done this through this insanely amazing project. 

To put it in really simple terms, you can actually ask survivors questions and the recorded hologram. There is so much to this amazing experience. I have actually had the opportunity through various professional meetings the past several years to see this experience in various states of production, from beta when it was just a video on a screen. Each time different questions were asked and even though I actually saw the same person it was like I was getting to know her even more each time. It really is amazing. 

While it is never ever going to be easy to walk through exhibits or museums about the Holocaust and World War II it is so important and vital that we do not forget that history. It's so important that we learn from that history, that we continue learning and changing what's happening now. The Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center is definitely one of those awe inspiring and maybe even life changing museums. 

Thanks so much for stopping by! You can also join me on InstagramTwitter, and Pinterest. In addition to life-capades and doing it for yourself, I love all things 'real life' so use the hashtag #museumfanatic on social media so I can see your beautiful unstaged life. Oh and on the top of the side bar to your right, you can follow me on Bloglovin or on social media to be alerted to each new post!


Fall Goals 2018 Link Up

journey of doing

It's time for fall goals!! As I write this my mind is yelling NOOOOOOOO. I'm in hardcore denial that we're saying it's not summer anymore. I'm not even sure where summer went. Did I even do anything this summer? Yes I did tons of things and it was so much fun! So here is my recap for my summer goals. I kicked butt this summer. I completed way more goals than I didn't complete. That feels awesome. So grab the image and link up. Can't wait to see how you rocked the summer and what you're planning on accomplishing this fall!

1. Enjoy at least three Chicago rooftops
Stephanie and I ended up getting to two different rooftops! This puts me at almost halfway through this 101 list goal.

2. Complete at least three puzzles

3. Clean out my entire car
Now to keep it clean for my 101 list!

4.  Schedule posts for during our Charleston Trip

5. Dabble once

6. Host garage sale with Mom & Bethany

7. Secret goal
I've done this goal as much as I could since the frequency (which was part of my goal) is unfortunately out of my control. So while I technically can't say I achieved it I pretty much did.

8. Cross off one 101 list item

Fall 2018 Goals

1. Plan out blogging calendar for the next year
I've been feeling the lack of any plan the last six months. So starting from right now I'm going to work on planning out for the next year.

2. Complete 4 courses from Genius Bloggers Toolkit
Last year I purchased Genius Bloggers Toolkit but haven't made time to do many of the courses. I think I just overwhelm myself since there are soooo many. Starting with three is a good number.

3. Work our way through three rooms of the Year of Organizing Challenge
Kevin and I have totally fallen down on the year of organization. We discussed it last week and decided that if we work hard at it we can still get it done by the end of the calendar year. So we're going to work hard at it!

4. Figure out one way to wear a blanket scarf and wear it that way twice
Figuring out how to wear a blanket scarf three different ways is a 101 list item. I have a couple that I got as gifts and love the way they look. Every time I try and wear them I feel like I have a huge puffy animal wrapped around my neck. So I've started to pin a bunch of examples and I'm going to work on it this fall! If you've got any good examples of how you wear yours let me know.

5. Have a scrapbook day where I finish my Disney scrapbook
I have literally been working on this one scrapbook for a year and a half. Not that I'm so slow it's that I never take time to actually work on the darn thing. If you saw my Instastories from a couple weeks ago you'll have seen that we changed around our living room a little bit. I saved up Amazon gift cards I earned and purchased a nice sized folding table. This way I can work on my scrapbooking more often! Plus when I need one for Pampered Chef events I don't have to figure out how to get Mom's table.

6. Spend a day organizing family papers
Mom has been rocking out her cleaning and organization of her house. This means that she's been pulling out more and more family papers that need to be sorted and gleaned. So I really need to get on it and work on those papers which is my end of the deal.

7. Do my first two week time spent tracking
This is a 101 list item that I've sort of been dreading. I can hazard a guess at how I spend my time but it's going to be a whole other thing to actually track it and see the numbers.

8. Figure out the crescent knitting pattern
I've found a great crescent dishrag pattern the only thing is it's huge! I need to figure out how to write out a knitting pattern so I can make it smaller. You would think that there would be some sort of online free tool so you can do something like that but I haven't found it yet. If you're a knitter and know a simple way to write patterns I'd love to hear it!!

Thanks so much for stopping by! You can also join me on InstagramTwitter, and Pinterest. In addition to life-capades and doing it for yourself, I love all things 'real life' so use the hashtag #museumfanatic on social media so I can see your beautiful unstaged life. Oh and on the top of the side bar to your right, you can follow me on Bloglovin or on social media to be alerted to each new post!


7 Ways to Clean up Old Blog Posts

What happens when you look through old posts? Not sure about anyone else but I definitely have some that I cringe when I read through them and see lots of issues that can be cleaned up. In an effort to work on organizing and getting my blog to the best level it can be I've been working on cleaning up old posts. Here are seven ways that I've found to clean up old blog posts. Have you been cleaning up old blog posts? What ways have you been cleaning up your old posts?

Check images
This is a huge one for me. I'm guessing I'm not the only one. I'm not sure why but at some point I was doing something wrong when it came to images and there are lots of posts that the images are broken now. There are too many that are like that unfortunately. I won't judge your broken images if you won't judge mine.

Change images
This is slightly different from checking old images. When looking back through my old images I find a lot of offenders that I posted with the black Instagram frame or you can tell that they were taken in the dark windowless kitchen of our old condo. These images can totally be updated. Make that old recipe or DIY project again and take some brand spanking new photos. It's amazing what that can do for a post. I've even gone back and added pinable images to a lot of older posts. If you don't have time at this point to change all the photos at least you can add a pinable image and pin those old posts!

Delete old posts
It's not a crime to delete an old post. In fact I've read in several places that it can in fact help. Say you participated in a giveaway in 2013 and the post was just for that giveaway there was no other content with it? Go ahead delete that post! It's not doing you any good to have readers see what an awesome giveaway it was and then get sad since they missed out on it. If you write about totally different content now you might want to delete old posts that have nothing to do with what you post about now. 

Check links
This is also an important one. I know we all like to be good bloggers and link to other blogger posts or even better link back to our own. If you're following the second one you might have linked back to an old post that you've now deleted. Make sure to update and remove that link! 

Clean up formatting
Did you used to center all the text in a post? Or make your photos small so the text would wrap around and no one could see those awesome images? Well now is a great time to go back and fix those issues. You want to make sure that older posts are looking similar to your new ones. As I was looking through old posts to get ideas of what could be fixed I noticed that I used to do a lot of crazy color stuff. Don't go crazy with colors when it comes to the main chunk of text it makes things reaaaaaally difficult to read. 

Clean up tag clutter
This is an area I know people tend to disagree about. I used to use every tag imaginable so there were tons of different ones in use. Sometimes I would end up with half a dozen on a single post that I would never use again. As someone who uses metadata tagging in their daily work life I was actually being pretty bad about it here. I've worked to simplify and use only a set 6-10 different tags. This makes it so much cleaner when you're going back to find a topic. 

This is an area I'm still just even working to figure out much less doing it as well as I know I could be. With that being said there are tons of articles that can help both of us with this. Going back and taking a look at how you were writing old posts and changing it up so they're more SEO friendly will definitely be a good thing.

Thanks so much for stopping by! You can also join me on InstagramTwitter, and Pinterest. In addition to life-capades and doing it for yourself, I love all things 'real life' so use the hashtag #museumfanatic on social media so I can see your beautiful unstaged life. Oh and on the top of the side bar to your right, you can follow me on Bloglovin or on social media to be alerted to each new post!


Fall Goals - Link Up Friday!

journey of doing

It's just about that time again! Friday Sara and I will be doing our fall goals link up. So start thinking about what you'd like to accomplish this fall with us. I know I've already got my list started. Can't wait to see what everyone is going to working on this fall. Be sure to grab the button and link up on Friday!

Thanks so much for stopping by! You can also join me on InstagramTwitter, and Pinterest. In addition to life-capades and doing it for yourself, I love all things 'real life' so use the hashtag #museumfanatic on social media so I can see your beautiful unstaged life. Oh and on the top of the side bar to your right, you can follow me on Bloglovin or on social media to be alerted to each new post!


6 Things To Do On Sunday To Have a Great Week

In my efforts the past several years to really work on improving my adulting I've discovered that I was starting my week wrong. I was using Sunday as a second day to totally goof off and do nothing productive. This led to Monday being stressful and feeling like I was behind all week. To work on changing that feeling I've had to work on changing the way I think about the week. I've discovered that there are a few things I do on Sunday to have a great week. Is there anything you do in particular to set yourself up for a great week?

Go over your calendar
Take some time and plot out your week. I like to take 20 minutes, sit down with Kevin and talk about our schedules for the week. We go through the calendar and make sure we know when we're both going to be home in the evening and who is out when. I've found that by actually taking a few minutes to look through the calendar together we're on the same page more. It has even helped catch some events and commitments that didn't end up on the calendar like they should. Take a few minutes on Sunday to make sure everyone know's what is on the schedule for the week.

If you've got a free Sunday take some time to relax during the day. If you're busy during the day make sure to take a little time before bed to relax. We have such a run around life these days even on the weekends that take an hour or two just to relax before the work week crazy sets in can really help. I find setting some time to get more read on the book I'm enjoying, scrapbooking for a bit or do a little self pampering. Taking that you time to relax just sets the week off on a good foot, hopefully a relaxed one.

Early to bed
Since we're all so busy I know a lot of us end up burning the candle at both ends. We're up late hanging out with friends or we allowed the kids to stay up past their bed time over the weekend. When we get out of that bed time routine it can really be fun but really mess with us. I know I've said it in the past but one Dad piece of advice I like to take now that I'm a ripe old age of 33 is to get my sleep on the front end of the night. Get to bed early! I always lump my relaxing and before bed time together so I can decompress before the week starts.

Focus on food
In addition to talking about our calendar for the week we do a rough talk about what we're going to do for dinner. Then I've even been taking it up a notch and taking whatever protein we want for dinner out of the freezer to make sure that whole chicken thaws by the time we want to eat it on Wednesday. In addition to figuring out what our dinners are going to look like for the week I make sure to prep parts of my lunches. I'm lucky that we have a hot lunch twice a week at work so I only have to prep for three days. I'll make sure my fruit is cut up and in individual containers as well as my veggies. So during the week I just need to plunk them in my lunch bag. Shoot go all out and do it for your snacks and breakfasts too.

Make a to do list
We all have those things we need or want to get done during the week. I have blog posts to write the night before they need to be posted or all sorts of Pampered Chef related business. I'm sure you're in the same boat where you want to get lots done during the week but half the time find yourself not getting things accomplished since you've forgotten half of what you need and want to do. Making a weekly to do list will help corral all of those tasks and make sure you're not forgetting anything

Clean ... a little
I find by the time Sunday night rolls around there are certain areas of our condo that have just exploded. Like the pile of clean clothes that I just haven't brought myself to put away yet or the fact that I felt the need to pull out all of my toiletries on our bathroom counter. Not sure why they end up so messy and I just can't bring myself to clean them but they sit. Take some time to clean up these well used areas of the house. I find when I start the week with those important areas messy I feel stressed and out of control. When I take a little time and make sure they're tidy the week starts off much better for me. Maybe it's the kids toys or you always tend to leave dishes from the weekend until Monday. Find your couple of spots where when they're clean it reduces your weekly stress and make sure to take some time to tidy them up.

Thanks so much for stopping by! You can also join me on InstagramTwitter, and Pinterest. In addition to life-capades and doing it for yourself, I love all things 'real life' so use the hashtag #museumfanatic on social media so I can see your beautiful unstaged life. Oh and on the top of the side bar to your right, you can follow me on Bloglovin or on social media to be alerted to each new post!


Pampered Chef Fall 2018

When September first rolls around most people are excited to go back to school or more importantly for their kids to go back to school. When September first rolls around in our house we're excited because it means it's a brand new season for Pampered Chef!! It means new fabulous products, tools and most importantly delicious recipes. Today I've got a round up of a few of my favorite products for the new season. 

Quick Cooker
This season's big product is definitely the Quick Cooker. It's Pampered Chef's version of an at home pressure cooker. I'm not going to lie I was a bit skeptical about this product when we heard about it in August. OH yes you're talking about all these amazing things it can do with it's 16 different settings and better safety features than other pressure cookers on the marker but in my head I was thinking about how this is just another fad. 

Since actually having the chance to see it in action and use it at several meetings I'm definitely changing my tune. At our last meeting we had some amazing carnitas and even cheesecake! All made in minutes not hours like usual. In the recipe video you'll be able to actually see it in action. 

Pampered Chef has come up with two accessory sets so you can make your Quick Cooker into so much more. I think my favorite might be the Quick Cooker Springform Pan. I mean come on look at the photo below? Can you go wrong with cheesecake like this? Nope never! It was stupid good.

Baking Pans
What is one of the main things you think about when it comes to holiday food? Baking!! This season Pampered Chef has outdone themselves with new baking pans to make your holiday baking, gift giving and enjoyment of food so much better. There is a new Donut Pan and Waffle Stick Pan why there are even new Fall and Winter decorative cake pans. 

I'm so excited to make all sorts of treats for friends, family and co-workers this year. I've already got tons of ideas swimming around in my head! Who wouldn't want to make chocolate donuts to share with everyone in their life? Well at least the second batch will be for everyone else, I'm not sure the first will make it out of the kitchen. I'm already planning on suggesting a waffle stick bar for Christmas morning with my family, pretty sure Lane and Elowen would love that. Heck I'm pretty sure all of the adults will love it. 

This time of year is big for entertaining. Granted Kevin and I don't tend to do a ton in our own house but I love to take my show on the road and bring whatever I can for a party at someone else's. This year there are some fantastic products for those of us who enjoy a good party. 

My favorite and probably most used of the new products is the brand new and super fab Premium Cocktail Set. I've somehow become the resident bartender at our Pampered Chef meetings, yes a bartender at a work meeting it's a good job! As someone who loves a good fancy drink but always thinks about how I could never do something like that at home I was stoked when this bad boy came out. I've totally fallen in love with this Citrus Berry Smash recipe. You totally use everything and do fancy techniques but it was so simple, I've even taken the basic recipe and changed up the ingredients and made it my own. So good. 

There is also a great Cheese Board Set (you can also buy them separately). This beautiful acacia wood set is available while supplies last since it's the holiday pieces but you can really use them year round. I have the one from last year and it's always such a statement piece in it's beautiful simplicity.

These are just a few of the new fall products there are a bunch more new wonderful products as well as some older ones that got fabulous new revamps. I can't wait to do more cooking this fall with Pampered Chef! What new product would you want in your kitchen?

Thanks so much for stopping by! You can also join me on InstagramTwitter, and Pinterest. In addition to life-capades and doing it for yourself, I love all things 'real life' so use the hashtag #museumfanatic on social media so I can see your beautiful unstaged life. Oh and on the top of the side bar to your right, you can follow me on Bloglovin or on social media to be alerted to each new post!