Musings of a Museum Fanatic: October 2019


9 Things That Have Happened Lately

Before we head into the last two months of the year gotta take some time to look back at the last couple of busy months. It was a good start to fall and I expect the rest of the season to keep up the momentum. How has your fall been so far?

Becky Weekend
Another Labor Day another fantastic weekend with my unbiological twin! We decided on a low key, low budget weekend. There was a movie marathon day along with our annual attendance at the Naperville Labor Day parade with the family. It was nice to just chill out together.

Kevin and I had been looking forward to this trip for months. We didn't get to see my Uncle Lee & Aunt Carol at the reunion this year since they were travelling around Iceland so it was awesome to spend some one on one time with them. The first night we were there the four of us spent at least four hours at the kitchen table just chatting about anything and everything.

Kevin and I got to see all the historical sites that I wanted to see. From Colonial Williamsburg to Historic Jamestowne and we even spent a day in Richmond. Pretty sure I need to sit down and devote an entire post or two to our trip. This is probably one of my top five favorite trips I've taken. It was just a really good trip all around, amazing time with family and history every day. What more could I ask for?

Get Organized Challenge
As you've been able to tell from my Instagram feed I've really been able to sit down and scrapbook the past several weeks. A big reason for this has been the Get Organized Challenge. This is a scrapbook organizing challenge and I've been working my way through the 8 weeks. Every week there is a different area of your scrapbook supplies that you focus on organizing. The difference in how I'm able to use my supplies has been amazing. Especially with the paper and embellishments that I have the organization has made it so I can really just sit down and create!

DAM Chicago Conference
I haven't a chance to really go to any conferences this year for work since I switched to my new job. They were really early in the year and there was too much going on. I was able to attend DAM (Digital Asset Management) Chicago Conference in September. In addition to the conference I was able to go to workshops the day before and this year things really just clicked. I love that a topic I have been working to understand and learn more about finally started to make total sense.

Lane's 5th Birthday
I still cannot get over how big he is and the fact that he's 5. I kind of refuse to believe it. He has been obsessed with Frozen the last couple of years so of course for this birthday he wanted a Frozen themed birthday. Bethany went all out with some great decorations and a scratch made cake. I thought it looked a little like Sleeping Beauty's cake. Could anyone look any happier looking at a cake??

 Juliette turns one!
 Who knew that when you get to a certain age you become that old person who keeps thinking and saying I don't know how time is flying? I cannot believe this kid is one. She's right there on the cusp of walking and turning from that sweet little baby into a crazy toddler. Birthday was a nice chill family dinner. She even kept the crown on for a while.

Danielle's wedding
It's been a couple of years since we've had any wedding festivities on our calendar. Last week we went to the wedding of my good friend Danielle. The entire gambit of wedding events was a blast. I got to hang out with all my former work peeps. She looked gorgeous, the food was delicious and the dancing was non-stop.

Open House Chicago
Another Open House Chicago in the books. Mom and I decided to head to Evanston this year. I wanted to check out the American Toby Jug Museum as well as the Bahá'í House of Worship. We were able to visit both of those places on my list as well as several others along the way including a whiskey distillery! I can't wait until next year. I feel like they should do it twice a year it's so much fun!

Trunk or Treat
Kevin and I joined the family again for Trunk or Treat at our church. Probably a good thing too since it looks like snow here on Thursday! It was so bright at sunny I didn't get too many good photos of the kiddos in their costumes unfortunately. I did get this good one of Elowen and my mom. She was a ballerina, Lane was a star and Juliette was the girl from Bob's Burger. There was tons of candy and a huge pumpkin drop. We won for best car decoration with our Frozen castle. Everyone loved 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!


Guide to Chicago Pizza

If there is one type of food that Chicago is known for I would have to say it’s pizza. We are definitely the pizza capital of the Midwest if not the US. I mean come on we even have the pizza museum here. Most people only know Chicago for its deep dish but there is so much more to Chicago pizza than that!

Deep Dish

Let’s start off with the big boy. There are so many different deep dish options and if you ask any Chicagoan they have their favorites and have very strong opinions about why it’s the best. Chicago deep dish is typically a nice crust that goes all the way up the sides of that pizza pan followed by the mozzarella cheese then toppings and sauce. The sauce is more often than not chunks of tomato type of sauce. This is usually why I’m not a fan of Chicago style deep dish. As well all know I have issues with hunks of tomatoes. There are some places that do their own takes on the Chicago deep dish. Here are my top picks in the deep dish category.

Lou Malnati’s

Lou’s is the best. As I mentioned everyone has their own favorite and what they think is the best deep dish place and we are a Lou’s family. It’s really in the crust. Their butter crust is a-freaking-mazing. You can even get it half-baked or frozen to heat up at home. Not from the area or planning a visit? No worries you can have it sent to you!


I think most people I know who aren’t Lou’s fans are in the Giordano’s camp. They are famous not only for their deep dish but for their stuffed deep dish. Who wouldn’t love extra cheese goodness? Yeah that’s right no one. More cheese is always better.

Gino’s East

Another of the big three Chicago deep dish kings. If you’re looking for that stereotypical old school pizza experience head to Gino’s East Magnificent Mile. The atmosphere is fantastic and you can really leave your mark, along with everyone else on their walls!

Pequod’s Pizza

Chicago & Morton Grove
A lot of people consider their pizza more of a pan pizza than a Chicago deep dish but I’m keeping them in the Chicago deep dish category. I love their pizza. They have an amazing sauce and their known for their caramelized crust. I just found out looking at their website for this post that they actually get the caramelization from adding mozzarella on the crust! Knew I loved it for a good reason. They have a fantastic lunch deal too.

Thin Crust

Most people don’t realize that Chicago has a second amazing style of pizza and that’s the Chicago thin crust pizza. You’ll find this style of pizza at just about every local pizza joint in the Chicago land area. It’s a thin, crispy crust. Sometimes people refer to it as a cracker crust.

Dan’s Pizza

I had to throw in my own hometown favorite. Dan's has been rocking out the pizza scene in Lisle/Downers Grove for forty years! They've got the Chicago thin crust down pat but my favorite part is their sauce. It's sweet but in a good tomato sauce way. All in all it's the perfect Chicago thin crust pizza. Worth the hike if you're coming from the city!

Aurelio’s Pizza

With locations all over the Chicagoland area as well as several different states there is no excuse not try Aurelio's Pizza. They're not the cracker thin but they've got a great mouthfeel. They're a great option if you need a consistently great Chicago thin crust pizza. They can also hook you up with the amazing Bosco breadsticks.

The Crazy Pizzas

In addition to the main two of Chicago pizza there are plenty of pizza places who are cooking to the beat of their own drum. These are places making their own style of crust and toppings or are doing something totally different. Either way they make the Chicago pizza landscape a lot of fun.

Chicago Oven Grinder & Pizza Co.

Tucked right along Lincoln Park this place has been an institution for almost 50 years now. You won’t actually find your typical pizza here. The main staples of the menu are their oven grinders which are Italian loafs stuffed with all sorts of fantastic toppings. The star of their menu is actually the pizza pot pie. They start with cheese on the bottom of the bowl then the gobs of veggie and meat toppings with the crust on the top. You get a show when it comes out and the server pops it out for you! Be sure to bring some cash since that’s all they accept.

Roots Pizza

Roots takes special pizzas to a whole other level with their chef collaborations. With some big names like “Jimmy Bannos Jr’s Purple Pig ‘Nduja Sausage Pizza” and “Rick Ortiz’s Antique Taco Chili Cheese Curd Pizza” you know these pizzas are going to be like nothing you’ve tried before. With four locations around the city there is no excuse not to get to Roots and try one of these chef created masterpieces.

Parlor Pizza

From a pizza with Brussel sprouts and pancetta to one piled high with Maine lobster Parlor Pizza definitely shows up when it comes to unique pizzas. The crust is super crispy and has great flavor. You’ll keep coming back because you just have to try all of the different types. Make sure to save room for dessert because they have amazing dessert tacos. Don’t believe me check out their mouthwatering Instagram. It’s the stuff of a dessert lover’s dreams.

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!


How to Make a Good First Impression

A couple of weeks ago I was at a professional conference. It was a lot of fun. I had been to this one before so I was feeling much more comfortable with the subject matter and actually knew people from previous conferences. There were a few times where I was thinking about the impression that some of the vendors and other conference goers were giving off to me and others. So I thought I’d compile some tips of what I think making a good impression is. What do you think makes a good impression when you first meet people?


I feel like this one is maybe one of the most important things you can do to make a good impression. If you have a dour look on your face and don’t look like you care or want to be around the person you’re meeting then you’re not going make a good impression. In fact there is a good chance that the person you’re meeting will remember you for all the wrong reasons! Trust me I know someone who never approaches anyone with any warmth or a smile and people always ask me later if this person is always so cold and rude.

Plus smiling has some benefits for you as well. Smiling can help reduce your stress. I’m not sure about anyone else but I’m always feeling nervous and stressed when I am meeting new people. I’ve found a deep breath and a smile makes the knot in my stomach start to dissipate.

Make eye contact

People can really tell a lot from your eye contact. I’ve found that I can really tell when someone doesn’t want to be around me or doesn’t have enough respect to focus on me by their eye contact. Some people are just the type who are always looking for that next conversation and you can just tell. Take time to really focus on the person who is taking some time to talk to you. Now granted I’m American so eye contact is an important thing here. I know that in some other places it’s not appropriate.


Make sure to have a good solid handshake. Don’t crush the person’s fingers or anything but don’t be a limp fish either. I seem to be shaking a lot of hands the past couple of years and I’ve discovered that the people who really are interested in talking to me and make a connection show it through their nice, solid handshake. So I’ve tried to convey that as well. I feel that it shows in a physical manner your excitement to meet them as well as your focus on meeting them.

Remember their name

This is something I know I am terrible at!! A lot of times people say their name really softly and I miss it or you meet several people in the group and they get all jumbled. A lot of people suggest repeating it back to them. Like “Hi Tom, great to meet you. I’m Betsy.” Instead of just saying “I’m Betsy” I’m working on this tip actively so I'll be giving the repeating their name back trick a try. 

Speak up

I mentioned this is last tip but be sure people can hear you. If you’re at a conference there is the good possibility that you’re in an area with lots of people talking all around you. You could be out and about too with all sorts of noise. Pretty sure my hearing after years of concerts out isn’t as good as it was before so I find it difficult to hear people clearly sometimes. I always appreciate people who talk with a strong, clear voice. I work hard to make sure I give people the same courtesy. Although don’t pull a Kevin and get really loud when you’re talking. He’s working on that!

Business Cards

Business cards seem to be going the way of the dodo lately but I think that they make a huge difference. These days in a world where most job postings get probably a hundred applicants we all realize it's about who you know when you're trying to build business or getting a new job. You can't connect with those people you know if you don't have their information to connect after your meeting. Plus with all the fun designs you can really take the opportunity to stand out in people's mind too. 

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!


4 Sayings I Live My Life By

I am a person who loves a good saying or quote. You'll hear me rattling off a quote or a saying at least a few times a day. Over the years I've started to get my own repertoire of go to sayings. Not only are they go to sayings they're really ways that I live my life. Do you have sayings that you quote all the time? I want to hear yours! You can never have too many sayings that you quote constantly : D

Thanks so much for stopping by! You can also join me on Instagram, Twitter, 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!


30 things that happened in 1994

When I say 1994 I think of 4th grade. Of being in love with Devon Sawa and turtleneck tops with stirrup leggings. 1994 was a fun year. There was so much that was happening outside of my little elementary school world! It was clearly the year of the passionate ballad and a year for some great TV. What do you remember most about 1994?

Kurt Cobain commits suicide

Forest Gump

Tonya Harding wins the national Figure Skating championship title but is stripped of her title following the attack on her rival Nancy Kerrigan.

MLB Players Association begin 232 day strike causing 1994 season to be cancelled

My So Called Life starts it's short life but becomes a cult classic

Channel Tunnel opened on May 6th between England and France

Wonderbra was invented

Pulp Fiction

Lisa Marie Presley marries Michael Jackson

Lisa 'Left Eye' Lopes set fire to her boyfriend Andre Rison's tennis shoes. The fire spread throughout the mansion they shared and burned it to the ground.

We all are on the edge of our seats watching E.R.

Yahoo and Amazon are founded

OJ Simpson flees police in his white ford bronco

Winter Olympic Games are held in Lillehammer, Norway

Nelson Mandela became South Africa's first black president on May 10, 1994

The Lion King

Friends makes it's debut

Actor O. J. Simpson, was arrested after a police chase on two counts of murder after the June 1994 deaths of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and a waiter, Ronald Lyle Goldman.

Little Giants

John Candy dies

Nintendo releases the Play Station

D2: The Mighty Ducks

Michael Jordan makes his short lived baseball career debut with the Chicago White Sox May 4, 1994

Following the April assassination of President Habyarimana. Over only about 100 days between 500,000 and 1,000,000 Tutsi and Hutu were killed in the Rwandan genocide.

Whitewater scandal investigation begins

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!


5 Tips to Help You Break a Bad Habit

Habits are a tough thing. They can be our best friend if they're good ones but if they're bad then habits can be really detrimental. The longer you continue to do bad habits the worse things can be for you. The smaller ones might not seem so bad but they really add up. 

Be aware

We can't fix something if we're not aware of the bad habit right? Becoming more self aware of what we need to improve and those bad habits we need to fix are the first steps. This is a good opportunity to enlist help from others too. Sometimes it's tough for us to see our worst habits.

Replace it with a better one

A lot of times our habits become habits without us even noticing! Say you always have a dish of M&Ms or small candy bars out on the counter, you like a little sweet treat when you get home from work. You get home from work and you don’t even realize you eat a few pieces or handfuls. Before you know it you’re eating a lot of extra calories each day and you are too full for a good dinner.

Instead of keeping that dish of unhealthy treats out put out some grapes. You still get that sweet treat but you’re creating a good habit. Soon you’ll start craving the grapes instead of the unhealthy sweets.
The hardest part is to have enough control over yourself to start the change. After the first few days, it will get easier and easier. This is a technique you can use for almost any bad habit. Like when you’re upset with someone like your spouse or friend instead of saying something mean in the heat of the moment take a few seconds to breath in and out then talk to them.

One at a time

I know we all want everything to be perfect immediately but really change takes time. I’ve found that if you try to take on everything all at once it’s very easy to get discouraged and quit. It takes will power to break a bad habit or start a new one to replace it with; we only have so much will power in a single day. Keep it simple and try to break one habit at a time. Be sure not to move on to breaking another habit until the first one is out of your life. The changes might take longer than you expect or want them to take but if you keep plugging along you will tackle that bad habit.

Know your bad habit triggers

You need to know what triggers a habit. If you’ve been doing a habit for a long time you might not know why you started doing the habit, but you need to find out what triggers it. The trigger is why you keeps you doing the habit. I know for me one of the biggest triggers is stress, I’m sure for most people that’s a big trigger. Really emotions in general tend to be big triggers. Be aware of what triggers your bad habits so you can catch yourself before you do the bad habit again.

Enlist help

Doing tough things like breaking habits on your own can be extremely difficult. You can lose your motivation and sometimes the habit is so ingrained it can be tough on your own. Telling someone else that you’re working on breaking a certain habit will give you accountability. Not only can they call you out on the bad habit if you’re doing it but they can also work to help you not have the triggers in your life. One of my bad habits I’m working on is to not have the TV on while I’m working on stuff since it distracts, and I don’t get stuff done as much as I would like. Kevin knows that I’m working on this habit so when he catches me with a TV show or movie on he’ll suggest I turn on music instead.

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!


5 Things People Forget When Buying A Home

Now that we've been homeowners for a few months now we've been feeling a little more settled. There have also been a number of issues that we've discovered. A lot of these are the type of things where you don't know what you don't know. Although a few of these were things we could have fixed or changed if we had been aware of them before we bought. Here are five big things that we've noticed people forget when buying a home. 


We knew we wanted to live in a downtown suburban area and I wanted one that was on a train line. From the get go we knew that there would be train noise but we didn't think about other types of noise. Our new neighborhood has a lot of young kids right on our block so we've have a lot of kid noise since moving in. That was definitely a type of noise we didn't think about! There are all types of noise that you don't think about when you're only in a place for maybe an hour before you decide it's for you.


Most of the obvious appliances get checked when you're looking a new house but there are some that you tend to forget about. During our first look we didn't think to turn on the heater and check but then Kevin's dad suggested it during the second look. Since it was summer we didn't even think about it! Even though the heater was the newest appliance you should still check it out.


A lot of people think that associations are only something you need to worry about if you're in a condo. Well that is not the case. There are lots of neighborhoods that can have associations. They tend to be ones that have amenities like a pool or fitness area that all the residents are able to use. Townhomes are also good candidates for an association and the fees that go along with them. Always be aware of those extra monthly costs.

Inside of cabinets

This is one that we wish we had looked closer at. We knew we'd eventually redo the kitchen but on our looks before buying everything looked pretty good so we thought we'd be able to just repaint the cabinets. On a closer look we realized that there were lots of gashes and stains that won't come out along with braces and shelves that make certain cabinets difficult to use. I wish we would have realized those issues sooner so we could talk about it when it came to the price.


I feel like beyond the cursory yes there are enough spots for our cars most people don't think about the garage. We thought we measured ours properly but didn't realize until we got both cars in there that it's actually a 2 car garage not a 2.5. Which let me tell you makes things a little tighter since Kevin's car is a van! It's good to think through everything you'll be using the garage for just to make sure it's the space you need it to be.

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!


17 Buildings to See During Open House Chicago

Now that it's October that means it's time for Open House Chicago once again! There are way more sites this year with over 350! I've already decided this year we're going for the sites in Evanston. I've pulled together 17 unique and fun buildings that you should add to your Open House Chicago list. If you're not able to make it in person for Open House Chicago check out more about their fun history anyway. 

You might not this a ship counts as great architecture but the Columbia Yacht Club is here to show you it is. MV Abegweit started its life as a Canadian train ferry but now serves as the club’s headquarters. Stop on by for beautiful views of the city from the harbor. You know how much I love views of the city from the water!

Ever wonder what it’s like to be a Rockstar? Well during your visit behind the scenes at the House of Blues you can finally have your chance minus the booze and late nights. You even get to check out the super exclusive Foundation Room.
Zap Props is everything you’d think an prop emporium is and should be. With aisles of different items stacked up to the ceiling you’re bound to see something interesting! Who knows maybe you’ve seen the item in your favorite movie.
Edgewater Beach Apartments have been adding color to the Chicago skyline for over 100 years now. Known as the “Pink Palace” you get to see all of the beautiful amenities such as the elegant two-story lobby and the Beaux-Arts pool.

If you’ve ever visited downtown you’ve probably walked by this unique circular building. Lots of people think this is a Scientology building but Church of Christ, Scientist is a very different thing. Find out more about the building and the religion.

This is one of my favorite buildings in the Chicago area! I absolutely love driving by on Sheriden and seeing this gorgeous place. This year it’s on my visit list. You get to venture inside and take photos which is not something that is usually allowed so even for you city people it’s worth the hike up to Wilmette.
You can’t visit Millennium Park without catching a glimpse of this iconic structure. I’ve always wanted to see what it looks like behind the scenes and this year you can! Be sure to take some time for the make and take too.

When you think of the city of Chicago you probably don’t think about groundbreaking agriculture. Well The Plant is showing you how urban agriculture is changing the game. Be sure to check out the onsite brewery and tap room.
This building has been the house of worship to several different religions. Currently it houses the Ling Shen Ching Tze Temple of True Buddha School. The members of the temple will share details about the colorful building and about the sect itself.
Did you know that you can find a castle in Beverly? I didn’t know that either! The Givins Castle was built by real estate developer Robert C. Givins in 1887. Fun fact this castle is built completely from Joliet limestone from the nearby city.
Who would think a high school would make a list of great Chicago architecture but when you’ve got a library like the Carl Shurz High School you’re sure to be on the list.

Have you ever seen the big yellow door with the monster peeping out? That’s Big Monster Toys! I enjoyed peeking in to this toy design shop and we even got to chat with Resident Toy Inventors.

This unique theatre is one of four remaining atmospheric theaters in Chicago. It became part of the Polish Cultural Center in the 1980s and the exterior has been remodeled to reflect that.
As you can imagine this OHC location has a special place in my heart. Step behind the fences and see the beautiful Booth Manor that has been the home and training center for thousands of Salvation Army officers.
You’ll find fantastic views from this OHC location. It was put on top of the building as a sort of joke but has turned into a Ravenswood landmark since. Be sure to take in a view of it from the Brown Line too.

Héctor Duarte Studio
Enjoy not only this colorful studio but have the chance to meet with the artist himself along with enjoying a drop in art activity during your visit.

WGN Flag & Decorating Co.

This over 100 year old company specializes in banners, flags and buntings. You'll get the chance to see the workshop and store.

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!


S'more Cake

Unfortunately summer has ended and the fall weather has set in. Even though the weather has turned to fall there is no reason you can't enjoy summer favorites all year round. This Pampered Chef S'more Cake is one of my go to all time favorite desserts. You can whip up this delicious dessert in less than 10 minutes and no one can believe that such a delicious cake comes from the microwave.


3 milk chocolate candy bars 1.55 oz each, broken into squares
1 ⅔ cups devil’s food cake mix from a full pkg or a 9 oz pkg
1 egg
1 container 8 oz sour cream
1 bag 10 oz regular-size marshmallows or 4 cups mini marshmallows
3 whole graham crackers, coarsely chopped


Place the oven rack in middle of the oven and preheat broiler.

Microwave the chocolate in the 2–cup Silicone Prep Bowl on HIGH 30–60 seconds or until it’s mostly melted. Stir until smooth and set aside.

Combine cake mix, egg, and sour cream in the medium Glass Mixing Bowl and mix using the Small Mix ‘N Scraper® until blended. Pour the batter into the Rockcrok® Everyday Pan.

Microwave, covered, on HIGH 4–5 minutes or until center of cake is firm and springs back when pressed.

Remove pan from microwave; arrange marshmallows in an even layer over cake. Broil 30–60 seconds or until marshmallows are golden brown.

Remove from broiler; sprinkle with crackers and drizzle with chocolate.