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Wednesday, May 27, 2009

This week...

Monday, May 18, 2009

Summer Alcohol a la Trader Joe's

As I sip on a glass of wine tonight while watching the season premiere of The Bachelorette (don't judge), I thought I'd pay tribute to my two favorite alcoholic indulgences from Trader Joe's.


Although I'm a red fan in the winter, I really like having a nice glass of white wine when the weather warms up. I'm not a huge Chardonnay fan, and though I used to drink Rieslings I now find it a bit too sweet for most occasions. So I usually settle for a nice Sauvignon Blanc. Then last summer, I was introduced by my sister-in-law Beth, to this gem of a bottle of wine from Trader Joe's: Honey Moon Viognier.



It's both fruity and floral, but not overly sweet with a hint of honey. The PERFECT $5 bottle of wine. Some other cheap wine tastes cheap, and this does not. At all. It tastes great! One of my favorite whites, even compared to pricier bottles. Try it :-)

Now, for the beer category, I love, love, love a good wheat beer and again Trader Joe's carries one of my faves: Trader Joe's Bavarian Style Hefeweizen.



According to the description, in Bavaria, a unique strain of wheat beer yeast produces an array of distinct flavor qualities typical of a true Hefeweizen: citrus, bubble gum, clove and banana. But have no fear...this beer is not a sweet bubble gum and banana explosion. Again, I'm no connoisseur and I may not know all the flavor "notes" this hits, I just know it's really, really good. And for $1 a bottle it's also a good deal!

I hope you get a chance to enjoy some of my affordable summer faves and feel free to recommend any of yours to me as well!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Our 12 Night Italian Itinerary

So we have officially paid our deposits for our lodging while in Italy, so it's time to reveal our travel itinerary! Right now we just have our plane tickets & hotels booked, no tours or anything, but we have time to think about those.


We will start our trip by landing in Venice and spending 3 nights at the Hotel Santa Marina:



We will then take a train to Florence to spend 2 nights at the Principe Hotel:



Then we'll take a very short train ride to the charming Tuscan town of Lucca. This town is also very close to Pisa, so we hope to take a 1/2 day trip there. In Lucca, we will stay for 3 nights at the Palazzo Alexander:



From there we will take a train south to Rome and finish our trip, with 4 nights at the Rezidenza Antica Roma:


Now on to the fun part, researching and planning all of our activities and site-seeing! Oh and of course, learning some Italian!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Buona sera!

Look what I got in the mail this week....





Level 1 of Rosetta Stone Italiano! 

I haven't opened it up yet, but I hope to start working with it soon and to become somewhat conversational by the time we leave for our trip to Italy in 4 months. I took 5 years of Spanish and can read it much better than speak it. When I am on vacation in a Spanish-speaking place, like I was in Puerto Rico on our Honeymoon, I can read a menu or a sign and can order food, etc., but that's about it. That's all I really hope for while in Italy as well.

Since Spanish & Italian are both romance languages & have many similarities, I'm hoping my spanish background will help me out a bit here. By the way, I always use the term "Romance Languages" just from knowing the department and classification in college, but just tonight I looked up what it really means, and also found this helpful diagram:




I'll let you know how the Rosetta Stone goes once I break it out and start using it :-) 

Has anyone else had luck learning with it before?

Telephone Bench Makeover Revealed

A few weekends ago, I ventured to the suburbs and came back with some contraband spray paint (since spray paint is not sold in the Chicago City Limits) in order to finally makeover my telephone bench! I bought primer, clear gloss and yellow, green and aqua blue spray paint.


After much debate I decided that the yellow looked best with the yard of green printed fabric I had picked out, so I went with that. Here is the fabric:


Here is the "before" photo:



And now to the dirty work. First, I removed the seat and sanded the bench with the electric sander:


Next, I primed it:



And finally, I sprayed it yellow and also with a clear gloss:



I also tore the disgusting green vinyl off of the seat, added some new batting and reupholstered it with the new fabric:


And ta-da! My new and improved Telephone Bench:


And here is where it currently rests in our entryway!


Monday, May 4, 2009

'Mine That Bird' is buying me a Camera!

I have had just about the luckiest year in sports that a girl can ask for. So far in 2009, I won our office "Super Bowl Squares" Pool, I won our office NCAA March Madness Pool and then to top it off I just won big this weekend at the Kentucky Derby!


My coworker, Emily, goes to the Derby each year, and on Friday on her way to catch her flight she asked if anyone wanted to give her money to bet on a horse. My coworker T gave her a $20 bill and I handed her a $10 and that was that. She instructed us that we could review the horses on Saturday morning and text her our picks. Well, when the horses were announced, she texted me to tell me that there was a horse called "Mine That Bird" that she was going to bet on for me, being that I am a tiny bit obsessed with birds. I wrote her back and said, "Perfect!"

WOW! It was perfect indeed! A minor obsession of mine really paid off big. 50/1 big! (And, man I should have given her a $20!) Talk about a major ROI in this crappy economy.

So thanks to Mine That Bird, I had a nice chunk of cash sitting on my desk this morning when I arrived at work. And that unexpected cash payout is going to go towards a new DSLR camera! (heck, it will almost cover the whole thing!)

I seriously feel so lucky to even be posting about this right now, and am happy that I will hopefully be able to learn to use my soon-to-camera before our trip to Italy!

I have been following some blogs, doing some research on my own and also asked two of my photog friends their advice for an amateur like moi, and have all but settled on a Canon Rebel XSi. But I could be talked into another model/brand if anyone wants to steer me in another direction. For instance, I had really good experience with a Pentax digital point-and-shoot in the past; does anyone have experience with Pentax DSLR's?

Also, where is the best and most reputable place on the net to find a camera? I'd love the advice of any owners out there!

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About Me

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I'm a St. Louis native, but I have been living in Chicago since 2005 and am loving every windy minute of it. I enjoy cooking (more-so eating), home decorating and really anything creative. I'm a supporter of DIY & handmade goods, a fledgling foodie and a connoisseur of kitsch. I spend my days filling online shopping carts, emptying them and repeating the process all over again. Most of all I love spending time with my husband, Dave, our first child, Claire and my dog, Louie.

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