There is this little white table at my favorite coffee shop downtown. It doesn't match any other table, but that's OK because they are all different. This table, straight out of the 1960s, has one single drawer in the side. In this drawer are dozens of notes left by coffee drinkers for strangers. Most of the notes are sweet hellos or quotes for the next person who opens the drawer, but some are slightly goofier. This idea is so simple but so cute. It reminds me of Katie's antics at Color Me Katie. She constantly leaves reasons to smile around New York City. I have yet to write a note for the drawer, but I have to soon. 

{image via}


little notes

dear children at school, 
i know i teach you how to share, but i would really prefer that you keep your germs to yourself. i am not excited about being sick for christmas. 

dear eggnog, 
i love how much better and more "christmas-y" you make everything taste. i wish it was acceptable to drink you all year long. 

dear my oven/stove, 
sorry for making you do so much work lately... cookies, fudge, party appetizers... i want you to know that i truly appreciate you.

dear massive pile of presents i bought,
you would really make me happy if you could somehow figure out how to wrap yourselves. thanks. 


Welcome, Elijah.

I have to say a belated CONGRATULATIONS to my friends Jake and Laura on the birth of their son Elijah Dean. He was born on  December 7th at 4:13 a.m. Mother and son are doing wonderfully. As is Dad. I am so happy for Jake and Laura, I just know they're going to be amazing parents and Eli is lucky to have them. 

I met Eli just yesterday and he is absolutely perfect.


Christmas movies

I finally have extra time to enjoy the holiday season so I'm going to spend it watching Christmas movies. There are a few Christmas movies that I could watch any time of the year, but most I save for December because they make it feel like Christmas time, officially. My favorites {somewhat in order}:
  1. The Bishop's Wife
  2. White Christmas
  3. Miracle on 34th St {both versions}
  4. A Charlie Brown Christmas
  5. It's a Wonderful Life
  6. Home Alone
  7. How the Grinch Stole Christmas
  8. Santa Claus
  9. Holiday Inn
  10. Muppet Christmas Carol

*I know many people would put "A Christmas Story" at number one, but I think it was shoved on me too much as a kid to ever fully enjoy it. Remember, this list is of personal opinion and not created based on cinematic merit.


Classroom advent calendar

To make Christmas a bit more special for my very young students, I stayed up very late on night to make a classroom advent calendar. Since we don't have school on Saturday and Sunday, we'll have to do an extra one on Fridays and Mondays. I was worried that my kids wouldn't understand how the calendar, or worse yet not be interested, but they seem to be really enjoying it so far. Every morning, we take down one envelope and read what the little surprise the day is going to bring us. They love it. 

A few classroom appropriate ideas... 

  1. Open a new book to read today.
  2. Grab a blanket, stuffed animal and cuddle up for a holiday movie.
  3. Baby, it’s cold outside. Warm up with a cup of hot chocolate.
  4. Decorate Christmas cookies for Santa.
  5. We need a little more Christmas, add some cheer to the tree.
  6. Make a special craft for Mom.
  7. Must be Santa, let’s write him a letter.
  8. A special Christmas treat.
  9. Make Christmas cards.
  10. Spread the holiday cheer, go caroling around school.
  11. Let’s rock around the Christmas tree, dance party!
  12. Read a new Christmas story.
  13. Learn about holidays in another culture.
  14. Let’s walk in a winter wonderland, decorate the windows.
  15. Deck the halls. Decorate the hallway for a special holiday lunch.
  16. Color a Christmas picture.
  17. Read ’Twas the Night Before Christmas
  18. Learn a new Christmas song to sing to a friend.
  19. Celebrate Christmas.
  20. Pretend you’re outside and go ‘ice skating’ in your socks.
  21. Make a paper chain of our favorite part of Christmas
  22. Be a little silly and paint your faces.


Christmas in Chicago

As stated previously, I'm a Christmas nut. So to jump right into the holiday season, a few friends from out of town drove in to Chicago to start enjoying the holidays. We had big plans for the day. We were going to start by getting peppermint hot chocolate and go ice skating in Millennium Park. Unfortunately, thanks to the fickle Midwestern weather, it was raining instead of snowing... in December! We still tried to find other ways to begin the holiday season: Christmas flavored coffee drinks, shopping on Michigan Avenue, perusing the window displays at Macy's, enjoying the twinkling lights on Christmas trees... And when the disappointment of the crappy, non-Christmas weather hit us, about 20 or more Santa's ran down Michigan Ave. That was enough to bring a smile to even the grumpiest face. I had a great time. Nothing says holidays like spending time with loved ones.


So little time, so much to do.

Christmas is my favorite time of the year. I absolutely love everything about it: decorations, cheer, giving, egg nog flavored everything. It's fantastic. To ensure that I don't miss any joyous part of the holiday season, I've made a little checklist. I hope I do everything on this list and more. 


Hunger Games

Recently, I asked all of my Facebook friends for book suggestions. I got a wide range of responses, but overwhelmingly the vote was for Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. I'm not a big Sci-Fi fan so I wasn't going to read it, but since so many people recommended it to me, I thought "why not." Turns out, it was fantastic. I mean, it's definitely a youth literature book aimed and middle and high schoolers, but the story is completely original and interesting. The book takes place in a post-apocalyptic world with 12 districts called Panem, formerly the United States, and revolves around 16 year old Katniss. Every year two "tributes," aged 12 to 18, from each district are forced to fight to the death in the televised Hunger Games. Sounds morbid, and it is a bit, but it's really good! 

I even picked up the second and third books of the series. I can't wait to finally have time to read them. I heard that they're actually just as good as the first, which rarely happens. The movie also comes out in March: 


Christmas playlist

It's that time of the year when it is officially acceptable to listen to Christmas music again. {I've actually been doing this since about October, but now I don't have to in private.} Lately, I've picked up a few new Christmas albums, but to be honest, recent creations don't really compare to the classics. I already made my Christmas playlist on iTunes... and listened to it several times through already. {There are many more than just 14.}

But of course, the greatest Christmas song ever recorded...

German Christmas cookies

You know what's been on my mind lately? Cookies. But not just any cookies. I've been thinking, daydreaming, drooling over these German cinnamon star cookies that my brother-in-law used to make every year. They are quite possibly the best cookie I've ever had. They light and flavorful, but not too sweet. Christmas cookies always tend to be a bit too sweet, don't they? Now that Patrick is out in California, I guess it's up to me to make the cookies. 

I found a recipe for the cookies here. I doubt they'll ever be as good at Patrick's grandmother, but I'm going to try. The recipe seems a bit complicated though so I'll have to wait until Christmas break.

Thanksgiving with the Green Bay Packers

This Thanksgiving, instead of sitting around a table with family, eating delicious food, I cheered on my Green Bay Packers as they played the Lions in Detroit. I was sad at first that I would have to skip out on our family tradition... but, boy was it worth it. We drove out to Detroit on Wednesday night to make sure that we'd have plenty of time to tailgate before the game on Thursday. BUT it turned out to be a bit too cold to tailgate too long. {We could have stuck it out, but Detroit doesn't really seem like much of a tailgating town.} When we were tailgating, however, we did see the best thing ever: a man dressed as Clay Matthews, complete with a belt and Lombardi trophy. He was AWESOME. Since the Packers were playing to continue their undefeated streak, and not making any spectacular plays, I was a bit more nervous than usual. However, I should know better than betting against Aaron Rodgers, James Jones, Charles Woodson, Clay Matthews or any of the rest of them because they WON. We were cheering so hard my throat hurt. Most of the Lions fans had left by mid-way through the fourth quarter so it was easy to her the GO PACK GO chant echo through Ford Field.

After the game, we headed down to the field where FOX was filming their post-game show. My friend's Dad started chanting, "Go Pack Go! 11 and 0!" and it caught on. As we were heading back to our car, we happened to see the Packers boarding their buses for the airport, too. It was an amazing day! I can't wait for my next Packers game.


a little thankful list.

happy thanksgiving! today is the day we're supposed to take a minute and think of all the things we're thankful for {most of which we take for granted every other day of the year}. i am thankful for so much and am sad that i don't acknowledge it more throughout the year. i'm so wrapped up in what needs to be done, what i need, what i want, that i don't take enough time to simply be thankful for what i already have. 

so here's my little random list of things i'm thankful for...

cat naps {or in this case, puppy}
good coffee {the only way to wake up in the morning} 
my friends & family {who are always so supportive and encouraging}
a warm home to come home to every day
ice cream
mini vacations with friends
sunshiney days
books you can't put down
christmas lights
pumpkin pie
news podcasts
cuddly cats {even if i am allergic}
phone calls with friends
a job i love going to every day {well, most days}
my warm bed


Creative advent calendars

Typically, every year for Christmas I buy one of those cheap advent calendars that has a small bite of waxy chocolate behind every day. This year, I want to try something different. I'm not sure if making it myself and eating each goody myself is a bit of a waste, but it still looks like such a treat. Eventually, I'd like to come up with a creative way of doing this for my children {when I have them}. I found this blog that had a few fun, creative ideas I'm considering now. I especially love the coffee travel cup one! 

Jazz, wine and pottery

Last week, my friend Nikki and I went to a little art shop downtown {Alpaca Art}. Every few weeks the shop hosts a wine and pottery night. We brought a bottle of wine and a few glasses, they provided the hors d'oeuvres, pottery and a jazz band. It was a very nice, very grown-up night. You could pick whatever piece of pottery you wanted to paint and so I, the coffee addict I am, chose to first paint a coffee mug. It had an interesting shape so I was fairly excited about it. Problem was, I had no idea what to paint! And I had never painted pottery before so I doubted that I could do anything intricate. {I was right about that.} Instead, I picked two colors that I've been obsessed with lately, mustard yellow and gray, and painted a random design of squares and rectangles. It took me a while to finish painting my mug, but when I finished, my friend was still working on hers so I painted a few tiles and a circle pendant that I'm going to turn into a necklace for my big sister. 

Overall, for my first time out, I'm happy with how they all turned out. I'm excited to do this again, on wine night, of course. It was so much fun!


Marcel is back

This is the cutest shell I've ever seen. "Guess why I smile? Because it's worth it." You have to watch this.

A look back at the blogging beginning

When I first heard the term "blog," I thought it must be some trendy, nerdy thing. I swore that I would never do it. But, a few years later, blogging has expanded so much and become so focused that many even consider bloggers as citizen journalists {depending on their focus}. It's especially interesting to watch the evolution of technology today. It is almost impossible to immediately detect the impact and influence, especially that of social media. 

I recently read an interesting article in New Yorker article 'You've Got Blog' from 2000 near the beginning of the blogging phenomenon. 

{image via}


Future projects

I admit it, I'm somewhat of a Christmas fool. I love the music, the cards, the decorations, the present-wrapping, the food- all of it. I usually get pretty excited sometime around September {or earlier} for Christmas and start shopping. But this year I'm going to try something a bit different: for every person that I give a gift to, I'm going to try to also make him or her something. I consider myself a somewhat creative person, but as I can't sew, knit or crochet, this is going to be a bit of a challenge. Thanks to several blogs and Pinterest, I do have plenty of ideas. I really like the idea of personalized gifts. Sometimes buying off of a list or registry is just too boring and impersonal. I was at a baby shower last weekend where the host and baby received quite a few homemade itens: knit hats, sewn crib sheets and homemade toys. I loved it. {Actually, I was a bit jealous too. I hope when I have a baby, I have friends that will make cute personalized gifts like that too.} 

Here are a few of the crafts that I think I will actually try to make for friends and family members. 

Now I have to figure out how to make them each even more personalized. If this all works out well, maybe I'll even decide to make my own Christmas cards! {But I highly doubt I'll have that kind of time for this Christmas. I'd have to start earlier. 

{via 1, 2, 3, 4}


this weekend i took time for myself... no work, no studying, no cleaning, just enjoying the days. i ended up grabbing a latte and lunch with a grad school friend, starting and finishing a new book, watching a few episodes of missed tv, shopping on michigan ave and just generally enjoying myself.

i wish i could do this more often, but, unfortunately, avoiding the stressful reality is not always an option. especially considering how tough monday was when i had to make up for all of my lost time. anyway, i'm glad that i spent time on me. 


Water for Elephants

Typically, my kind of a book is one that involves factual, upsetting accounts of history. They're serious, dense and hard to read. Not you're average page-turners. So when I read and completely fell in love with Sara Gruen's Water For Elephants, I was pleasantly surprised. I think more than the painful love story, what got me was the incredible details of circus life in prohibition-era America. {I guess I don't stray too far from the typical reads.} I stayed away from this movie for quite a while because, honestly, I didn't want it to ruin my impression or opinion of the book {as if they are actually one in the same}. This week I broke down and watched it. Well, started to watch the movie, I didn't actually make it half way through. The visuals were incredible, but in a way, that is what ruined it for me. The thing I loved most about the book was her descriptive writing that stimulated my imagination. I realized that I didn't like the love story nearly as much as her writing. 

Also, Robert Pattinson {while better than Edward Cullen} is no Jacob. And Reese Witherspoon as Marlena? Not so much. I severely disagree with the casting choices. I do think I should give it another try though- one day- when I get over the shock. Or maybe I should just stay away from all book to movies. I don't think I'm ever completely satisfied, except for the Lord of the Rings trilogy. 

Also, I know I'm basically alone in this opinion. 


60 years and still going strong

My grandparents met as seniors in high school. On their first date he accompanied her home from school. Less than a year later, they were married. That was on October 27, 1951. 

Today, my grandparents, Edward and Marion, celebrate 60 years of wedded bliss, as my grandpa called it. I have heard the old say "You don't marry someone you can live with. You marry the person you cannot live without," many times. My grandparents say this is absolutely true. After 60 years together, they would know...

My family all gathered together to celebrate this extraordinary milestone a week ago with family and friends. It was a very large group since during their years together Eddie and Marion has nine children, 26 grandchildren and collected many, many friends. It was so nice to all get together, especially for such a happy occasion. 


Minimalist story posters

When it comes to home decor and design, I tend to be drawn more to the minimalist approach. I like things to be simple, uncluttered. All media now-a-days tends to be a bit overwhelming and over stimulating. I appreciate movie posters and advertisements from the 1950s and 1960s more because they are simple. 

I found these children's story posters on the Square Inch Design Blog and love the simplicity of them. Check out the rest too


little letters

dear brewers, 
you had a great run this year. sorry you didn't make it all the way to the world series. but don't fret, we partied like it was 1982. 

dear hailey,
i'm so glad that you and your mom were able to visit from california. your giggle, forehead crawl and scrunched nose are the cutest thing ever. visit again soon. 

dear pumpkin, 
how is it that you make every single thing taste a million times better? your cheesecake is irresistible. and i am madly in love. 

dear grandma and grandpa, 
congratulations on 60 years together. you make fairy tales and true love seem possible. 

{image via}


my weekend

photos from this weekend... activities included celebrating a little boy's third birthday, hanging out with my baby cousin from california, doing massive amounts of research for a project and eating lots and lots of candy. what a fun, childish weekend.  everyone needs those. 


Pumpkins, apple cider and goats

I was lucky enough to take my friend's beautiful one year old daughter to the pumpkin farm for her first time ever. We had a lot of fun looking at all of the different and weird pumpkins. But we had to find a "baby" one for her to carry around for the rest of the day. The entire time we were looking around at the pumpkins, Karina kept asking for the horses. The petting zoo area had pigs, sheep, goats of all sizes and two llamas that Karina was convinced were horses. She was soooooo cute with all of the animals. She would walk up to each one individually, say hello, introduce herself and then show them her Minnie Mouse shirt. I couldn't stop smiling. I tried to get it on video but my phone wouldn't work fast enough. I forgot how great the pumpkin farm is, but Karina reminded me. 


Milwaukee River shenanigans

I had the most ridiculous, crazy night last night. I met a few friends to enjoy a beer and a relaxing sunset boating down the Milwaukee River. It was beautiful-- the sun setting over the downtown Milwaukee skyline. As we turned to float down the river, we were stopped by cops in a boat for being too cautious. Seriously! We had too many lights on that they were "drowning out our other lights." Really?! So after idling for about  15 minutes while talking to the cops {who gave us a warning for the incident}, we put the boat in gear to continue our journey... and it died! We ended up floating "dead in the water" according to the cops until they literally shoved us into a restaurant/bar's dock. The entire incident was extremely comical, honestly, the scene from a movie. We ended up going inside for dinner and left the boat for our friend's dad to figure out. {Oops.} 

I don't think the night could have been any better if we actually made it down the river. It was a blast!

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