Monday, September 27, 2010

The Heat Is On

I sat at my computer today for four hours straight, conducting my job search and applying for jobs.  I was so focused on what I was doing, that when I finally looked at the clock, I was shocked that four hours had passed.  Then, I realized that my fingers where icey cold, and the tip of my nose was not only drippy but was also completely frozen.  (Sorry about the drippy part -- TMI, I know.)   So, I went to the thermostat to check the temperature, and it read a frigid 63 degrees inside the house.  Now, 63 degrees may not seem very low, but a 63 degree indoor temperature makes for a very chilly house, especially on a gray, cloudy day like today.  So, even though the calendar still says "September", I decided to bite the bullet and turn on the heat.

Turning on the heat is a big deal for me.  See, I try to wait until the latest day possible, because somehow, having the heat on at home makes me feel that my house has been sealed up for the winter, and I am NEVER ready for winter.  Winter in Chicago means blustery winds, layers of clothing, cold cheeks, hats, gloves, scarfs, snow, ice, and boots.  Definitely not ready for that.  Having the heat on means no more sunny and warm days, no more soft breezes coming through the windows and fresh air flowing throughout the house, no more sitting outside on the patio watching the birds and listening to the trees sway, no more driving with the car windows down. 

Now that the heat is on, I'm beginning to thaw.  And while I sit here and think about winter, I also remember one of the sayings Chicagoans have here -- if you don't like the weather, give it an hour, as it will surely change.  So maybe in an hour, the sun will come out, warm things up a bit, and I'll turn the heat off and open the windows!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Home Sweet Home & Star Wars

Well, as my few friends and followers know, we spent the last week at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida.  We arrived home late yesterday, completely exhausted but filled with so many great memories.  While we LOVE to travel, we also love coming home.  Yeah, I hate the part of unpacking and doing vacation laundry, but I love the feeling of being back in my own space -- in my own warm, cozy home.

Our vacation was absolutely wonderful.  There is nothing like visiting Walt Disney World and seeing it for the "first time" through the eyes of a three year old (Ella) and a seven year old (Katie.)  Both Leanne and I have many stories to tell of our vacation; here's is just one that I'll share, and it is about my beloved CT.

CT is a fanatic about all-things Sci-fi, specifically, though, Star Wars and Star Trek.  The guy has seen all Star Wars and Star Trek movies at least 100 times, and our DVD library is filled with CT's own personal copies of the movies.  And every time there is a Star Wars or Star Trek movie on TV, CT insists on watching it -- commercials and all -- because, you know, there might be a good part coming up that you don't want to miss.  (Side note:  coming soon, my blog about CT's Star Wars and Star Trek Christmas Tree - stay tuned for that one!)

Anyway, here we are at Disney, browsing around a gift shop, and CT stumbles upon the following:

CT's eyes light up - really big, as he begins to browse through this cookbook.  Yes, a Star Wars Cookbook, featuring "Darth Malt" and more "Galactic Recipes".  It takes but a minute before he is at the cash register making this purchase.  Now, the funny thing about CT making this purchase is that the guy DOES NOT cook - AT ALL!  The poor guy doesn't even know how to boil water!  Yes, my CT is clueless when it comes to the kitchen.   And considering that he was a bachelor until age 43, I wonder how he survived, and my guess is that he survived on cereal, bananas, coffee, and the good graces of his mom (who is a great cook and probably stocked him up with weekly meals.)

So, tonight as I'm taking the photo of CT's new cookbook, I shout out to him, "Hey, do you know that this is Volume II of the Star Wars Cookbook?  That means that there is a Volume I."  And he shouts, back, "WHAT? VOLUME I?"  And then, I hear the click click and tap tap of the keyboard as CT is on-line with searching for Volume I.  Oh yes, he found Volume I, and it is called "Wookies Cookies".  CT yells out, "Oh, I've got to buy this one too!"  So, the non-cook will own two Star Wars cookbooks. 

Anyway, CT has promised me that he will make something for me from his Star Wars cookbooks, and while I'm not going to hold my breath, I'll definitely blog about it should it ever happen!  Yes, it is good to be home.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Disney Here We Come

CT LOVES to travel.  He traveled extensively before we met, and when we met, we continued to travel.  Since the six years we have been together, we have been very, very fortunate to travel to some really great places, including:
  • Hawaii (Maui)
  • Dominican Republic
  • Italy (Rome, Florence, Venice)
  • Mexico (Playa del Carmen)
  • Florida (Orlando)
  • New York (NYC)
  • California (Napa Valley, Mendocino, Carmel)
  • New Mexico (Santa Fe)
I truly loved each and every vacation we've taken and would quickly pack a bag and go back to any of these places tomorrow.  Oh wait - I am!  Tomorrow we embark on an extended family vacation -- 10 of us are venturing down to the Wonderful World of Mickey Mouse in Orlando, Florida.   

Planning for the trip began in May, and let me tell you, trying to plan a vacation with 10 people can be a little challenging -- trying to incorporate different budgets, wants, needs, etc.  It took hours on the computer and countless phone calls to Disney, but in the end, we managed to plan what will be a really great trip.

Have you ever been to Disney?  Well, if you haven't, I can honestly say that it is truly a happy, happy place.  You are practically transported to another world, where you forget your old world and the trials and tribulations of home life.  In the countless phone calls to Disney over the last couple of months, I noticed that at the end of every conversation, the representative would always say, "Have a magical day today!"  The reps always sound so sincere and HAPPY when they say this to you, that it just leaves you in a good mood. I think my sister-in-law has the Disney phone number on her speed dial, as she calls them every day trying to secure the best reservation times for dinners, etc.  Personally, I think she just likes to be told, "Have a magical day today!"   

While this is a return visit for us, most of the family has never been to Disney, and I think they will find the experience truly MAGICAL. 

Ok, I gotta run and go finish packing.  Until next week, here's to YOUR magical day!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Sunday, Sunday, Sunday

Today should really be a national holiday.  And do you know why?  Today is the start of one of my favorite seasons all year long - SUNDAY FOOTBALL SEASON!  Wahoooooo!

I have been looking forward to today all week long (maybe my life is just a squosh pathetic).  I love Sundays during Football season.  I start my Sunday ritual with drinking my morning coffee out of my favorite Chicago Bears coffee mug (and I only use this mug on Sundays during Football Season).

CT is not a big fan of this day, because he knows that come 11 a.m (Central Time), I will be in front of the TV watching the pre-game shows, followed by the 12 Noon games (Bears play the Lions at 12 Noon today), and that means I'll be running around like crazy trying to get chores done, etc., before 11 a.m.  And while CT is not the biggest football fan around, he will watch the games with me.  Still, I can't help but wonder:  if he had a better offer to do something else on a Sunday afternoon, would he take that offer in a New York second?  I'm not even going to ask him, because I don't want to hear the answer!

I got my love of sports from my dad.  And since we live in the Chicago area, we follow Chicago sports teams.  My dad was a big sports fan, and here's how he watched his various games:  he would sit in his recliner, with his small transistor radio balanced on one SHOULDER, and he would have the game playing on the radio, but then he would also have the TV on, and he would listen to both broadcasts at once -- the radio in one ear and the other ear tuned to the TV.  (Side comment:  do they even make transistor radios any more today?  You know, the small kind that take 9-volt transistor batteries?)   Many-a-time you could hear my dad yelling at the TV when you were outside.  One time, a neighbor ran over and asked, "Is everything all right?"  And we replied, "Oh, everything is fine.  Dad is just watching his game."

Transistor Radios
Image search from Google found at

So, yes, I am a Die-Hard Cubbies fan, I followed the Bulls through the Michael Jordan era (not as much today, but I'll keep up on their season with sports reports), and I even became a big Blackhawks fan this year which ended with the win of the Stanley Cup.  In addition to inheriting this love of sports from my dad, I also got my potty mouth from my dad.  WHY IS IT that I insist on yelling back at the TV using all kinds of not-so-pretty and not-so-lady-like language while I'm watching a game?!?!  Although I do refrain from using The Big One (that beginnings with the letter "f"), I just can't help myself from calling out all kinds of nasty names to the idiot players, the dumb coaches, and the incompetent referees.  Because, as we all know, I can do a much better job myself!!!!

Back to football season... In addition to watching the football games, I also love Sundays at home.  During the chilly fall days here in Chicago, Sunday is my day to make some good comfort food for half-time:  a good pot of chili (no beans, per CT's request) with macaroni noodles and cheddar cheese, or a pan of nachos, or some homemade chicken noodle soup and crusty bread.  Then there is always a quick apple pie that I whip together and throw in the oven -- gotta love the smell of an apple pie baking in your oven during football season.  Now, THAT is what CT loves about Sundays at home too.  He's already asked me, "So, what are you making today?"  And it is even better as the weather changes, and we have more cloudy days than sunny days, and the temperature drops to the point where you really don't want to turn the heat on just yet, so you snuggle up on the couch with a comfy blanket.  (Heck, I am seriously contemplating buying one of the snuggy thingies.... I understand that you can get them with your favorite football team logos.)

So, here's to the start of Sunday Football Season!  May you watch your favorite team today and may they win (except if they're playing the Bears!!!!)  GO BEARS!!!!!

Chicago Bears
Image search from Google found at

Saturday, September 11, 2010

September 11

So, today is September 11.  Nine years ago, a very tragic event changed the world.  I remember it like it happened yesterday, yet I wish I could forget it.  But I can't.  I don't think anyone can.

Do you remember what you were doing on the morning of September 11, 2001?  I do.  I will always remember that day... for a lot of reasons... partly because of my job at the time, partly because of the souls that were lost that day, partly because of the families who lives would never be the same, and the world, as we knew it, would never be the same.

So, take time out of your busy day today, pause in silence, and just remember.      

Friday, September 10, 2010


Hello friends and followers in Blogland.

Well, it's been five days since my last post (remember, I'm still new to this), and the only reason why I haven't blogged is because I don't have anything to blog about.  Do you REALLY want to hear about my week?  My on-going job search, which is so depressing that I don't really want to talk about it?  Or the fact that I worked at Leanne's garage sale today and didn't even make one penny (because I did not have anything of my own to sell)?  I doubt it.   (Although, I did enjoyed a delicious lunch, complete with homemade potatoe salad, compliments of Leanne's mom-in-law.  And I did enjoy the company of my nieces too. )  Speaking of nieces, I've decided not to let the following comment from Ella, age 3, bother me... today, we had a discussion about why she could not stroll down the block, to the neighbor's house, and bother the neighbor.  I gave her a very logical and good explanation that ended with me saying, "Trust me, Ella.  Jenny is really busy today, and you cannot visit her."  To which Ella replied, "I don't trust you Auntie."  Arrrghhhhh!!!!!!!  From a three year old!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Well, like I said, I doubt you don't want to hear about any of that.

I will say that I do have a post that I will publish on Sunday, so stayed tuned.  But in the meantime, what do you blog about when you have nothing to say?  Leanne told me to "google" this topic, and I did, but it left me completely blank.

So, if you have any suggestions, let's hear it.  I'm afraid that if I don't post something really great soon, I'll loose the few followers I have!

Monday, September 6, 2010

To Shuck or Shell - That is the Question

Yesterday, we stopped by my mother-in-law's house for a quick visit. Brief background about my mother-in-law, AT, mom of CT:

AT is one of nine children, born and raised in Italy, in a small town just outside of Venice.  After AT and BT (CT's dad) were married, they decided that they would have a better life in America.  So, they packed up their few belongings and traveled to Chicago, where they began a new life.  For a brief time when CT was about six or seven years old, they moved back to Italy and lived there for about a year, but then eventually came back to Chicago.  AT was the only one of her siblings to have left Italy; the rest remained there, and for those who are still with us, remain there today.

I give credit to AT and BT for coming to America, not knowing the English language and the ways of the culture here - which is SOOOOOO much different than Italy.   AT said she learned English from watching TV.  Her English is pretty good, although she has such a thick accent, it took me a while to understand her pronounciation of some words.   CT and his brothers speak fluent Italian, and I always laugh because sometimes AT forgets that I do not speak Italian, and sometimes she'll leave us voicemail messages in Italian, or she will be speaking in English to us, and without realizing, change mid-sentence to Italian.  Then, I have to remind her, "English, please."  And she laughs.

So, back to the original point of this story.  We stopped by AT's yesterday, and there we found her sitting at her kitchen table with a big bushel of beans. 

Not green beans that I'm used to, but these long, white and pink-ish/red-ish colored beans.  She apparantly went to a farm not too far from her house and actually PICKED this entire bushel herself!   It looked like she had a thousand beans there, and she was preparing them to be frozen, so she could use them throughout the winter for soups and sugo (AT's italian word for "sauce".) 

Then I asked her, "So, what do you do with these beans?  Do you shuck them?"  (Heck, what do I know!)  She looked at me and started to laugh.  She said, "No, you shell them."  Well, what can I say, I'm an American city girl who buys her GREEN beans frozen in a plastic package from the grocery store.  Oh, yeah, then I nuke them in the microwave.

Anyway, CT and I pulled up two chairs and we began to help her shell her beans.  With the three of us working, it took us 2 1/2 hours to shell those beans.  At the end of our visit, she had all her beans neatly shelled and stored in freezer bags in her "frigidaire" (as she calls her refrigerator/freezer).


I never thought I'd enjoy shucking shelling beans as much as I did.  I had such a great sense of accomplishment after finally seeing the bottom of the bushel empty.  Ok, my thumbs hurt a little, but so what.  And I know that over the upcoming winter months, I will have the pleasure to enjoy some great soup or sugo - courtesy of AT.

Friday, September 3, 2010

The Dessert - Take It!

Growing up, ethnic food to us was not Mexican food or Chinese food.  It was Czeck or Bohemian food.  Things like beef noodle soup, breaded pork tenderloin, roast pork, beef with dill gravy, bread dumplings with gravy, sweet & sour cabbage, sauerkraut, homemade rye bread, and yes, kolacky.  Ok, not the healthiest, but oh so yummy.
Breaded Pork Tenderloin
Image search from Google found at

Back in the day,  "Little Europe" was a restaurant that we would visit often with my parents and my grandmother.  You could get all this food - soup, full dinner, dessert, and an unlimited pot of coffee or coca cola for less than $10.  Also, we never went home without a doggie bag, because the portions were so generous.  The food was SOOOOO good and it was all homemade.  Truly homemade, from scratch.

Bread Dumplings
Image search from Google found at

On one of our visits to the restaurant, it was just me, my mom, my grandma (mom's mom), and my dad.  We proceeded to have the exact dinner I described above.  I remember sitting there like it happened yesterday.  At the end of the meal, the waitress came to our table and asked us, "What kind of kolacky would you like?"  Grandma began: "Oh, I'll have the apricot kolacky."  My mom:  "I'll have the cheese kolacky."   Me:  "I'll have a the poppy seed kolacky."  My Dad:  "I'm too full.  No dessert, thank you."

Image search from Google found at

You can only imagine what was going through the minds of my grandma, my mom and me: 

What?  No dessert?  Are you crazy?  It's kolacky, it's homemade, it comes with your meal, and heck, you know one of the not-so-svelte women at your table will eat it! 

So, without warning, without planning, and in complete unison, we shouted at my poor dad, "TAKE THE DESSERT!"  This was just so spontaneous and as soon as we shouted it out, the three of us gals looked at each other with shocking looks on our face - we could not believe that we said the same thing at the same exact time.  I think my dad jumped out of his chair when we heard the three of us yelling at him to take the dessert.  Then we all just started laughing.

So, whenever you are offered a good, homemade dessert that comes with your meal, be sure to take it.  More importantly, extended that dinner with your favorite family members and have dessert, because someday they will no longer be around and you will certainly wish you had more dessert time with them.

P.S. And my dad and the dessert?  Well, he was one wise man - he followed our advice and took the dessert.