Sunday, June 28, 2009

Amazing birthday weekend

Saturday morning I met up with Jenny for some quality time - we hadn't seen each other in 2 months! And our real purpose for getting out was to go apartment hunting. Of course, in Lincoln Park, our hunting basically turned into lots of ogling at large, single-family homes. We took pictures of a few we liked . . .
and some places we found monstrous and horrifying.

We also happened upon a spot of sidewalk that is possibly the coolest I've seen - I threw my shoe out there to pretend we were playing Monopoly. If only there had been a Scotty around! After a good walk and a nice lunch (complete with a pitcher of cranberry margaritas) I left Jenny to go down to the Taste of Chicago with Ruthie, in the hopes that we would get to see Counting Crows. Alas, the CC's were going on stage too late, so we enjoyed Augustana then headed home to put on party clothes.
The party this year was Nantucket theme. Most of my friends were born ready for a party like this but still managed to go out and buy a new ensemble for the occasion. A few guys picked up some new topsiders. . .
And the girls were looking spiffy as well. All in all, it was another hit of a party - the punch was plentiful and the collars were popped. Nate the Great did himself proud!

On Sunday afternoon, Nate treated me to a tour of Wrigley Field. We got to see the visiting teams's clubhouse (the smallest in the Major Leagues), the press box, etc. etc. And we really lucked out because the Cubs were not yet back from their away game which meant we got to see their clubhouse as well. Look at all of those perfectly laundered jerseys, just waiting for some dirt and grass stains.
The tour ended at the Cubs' dugout, and we got to walk on the ground brick, but NOT the grass (although I stuck my toes on the grass, just to see how it felt - luscious!) We ended the day with a birthday dinner at Soprano's, an Italian restaurant near our house we had always been meaning to try.
I got some great (and crafty) gifts from family (loyal blog readers). Please check back because as I use/read/bake with my bday gifts, I'll post about them! 27 - so far so good!

Friday, June 26, 2009

Thursday afternoon at the ballpark

Yesterday I had 2 firsts: my first birthday present of the year (some have arrived in the mail, but I'm saving those to open on Sunday) and my first game at U.S.Cellular (White Sox) Field. Nate's friend Bob, being a Dodger's fan, was dying to go to the game (ok I may be over-dramatizing) and since I was free, he offered to treat me to my first White Sox game. So we took the red line train farther south than I ever have before and got off at 35th Street.
Our seats, cleverly in the shade (my pale skin thanks you Bob), were behind home plate, which is a good view overall, but a poor spot to tell if a ball is really going to leave the ballpark - pretty much every fly ball looks like it'll be a home run. But we could see into the dugout, although we were quite high up and I'm not too familiar with the players. . .
I do know who Paul Konerko is, and he had a home run (I remember this because I scored the game - I'm nerdy like that). Whenever a White Sox player hits a home run they set off fireworks. Not too impressive in the daytime, but it still makes noise, so hey, all in all not too bad. It is a very different experience, I must say, than going to a game at Wrigley Field. Yes, the park is still relatively new and nice, and there are more food options than at Wrigley (thanks to Bob, I have now had a churro) but the experience all seems so much more manufactured than a game at Wrigley. The jumbo screen and loudspeakers keep urging me to "clap your hands!" and telling me to chant "Paul-eee" when Konerko comes up to bat. Maybe on a weekend, when the game is sold out, these things catch on and are more impressive, but on a weekday afternoon, when the stadium is less than half full, it just seems anti-climactic. True, I've been spoiled by the energy at Wrigley, but it is all very natural and organic - people decide to chant because they want to, not because a television monitor tells them.
On our way out, I had to stop and get a picture of the city. This view from the south is one that I rarely see. And any view of the [Sears] tower makes me fluttery.

Friday, June 19, 2009

12 Films. 12 Weeks.

A handful of very creative people I went to high school with have been making some short films and posting them on the internet.  Their goal is to create one film each week from the beginning of June through the end of August.  Please check out their website.  Each of these short films have given me a little smile.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Jess's scrapbook, continued.

On Saturday, Jessica will start her residency at Northwestern Memorial Hospital.  What better way, we figured, to spend her last day of "freedom" than to go outlet shopping.  So tomorrow morning, I will pick her up at her new apartment downtown, and we'll head off the the Aurora outlets for some much-needed shopping time.  
I can also give her her wedding gift, which I finally finished today (almost 2 moths after the wedding).  As I've written before, I was putting together a scrapbook for her to remember all of the wedding planning and festivities.  I had a little mishap along the way and the nice canvas cover of the scrapbook got some water damage on the binding.  I remedied this by ironing on some fabric to cover up the spots.  The fabric I used is some that I had left over from the bag I made her for her bridal shower.  
Here are a few peeks at more pages from the book, including pictures from the rehearsal dinner

and the reception.  Overall, I'm pretty happy with this, my first attempt at scrap-booking.  I will definitely do it again someday, especially since I bought a LOT of paper and things for the project, and I had a lot of fun with my new sticker maker.  In the meantime, I think it's time to do a different project for the summer.  Any suggestions?  It may be time to think about the Amy Butler contest that Jenny told me about.  

Make way for Ducklings

The other day, as I was driving away from a lesson in a very wooded neighborhood, I had to stop my car to let a husband and wife duck waddle across the road in front of me.  Unfortunately, there were no ducklings, but maybe they were on their way back to the babies.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Old Town Art Fair

Today was a perfect Chicago day!  Nate and I made blueberry oat scones for breakfast - a recipe from our latest issue of Bon Appetit.  Then, because the weather was too beautiful not to, we made our way down to the Old Town Art Fair, one of those things I've been wanting to do every year since I moved to Chicago and today was finally the day to do it.  
The fair is nestled in Old Town, one of the nicer (richer) neighborhoods just north of the Loop.  The smaller streets and older, single-family homes made me feel like I was at an art fair in my native New England.  Many back- and side-yard gardens in the neighborhood were open to the public and Nate and I were happy to go snooping.  
       We also saw a lot of great art, but none that were either the right size or, more commonly, the right price for us to take home with us.  I did pick up a lot of business cards though, so I would like to share with you, dear readers, some of my favorite artists from the show.
Nick Wroblewski makes some really neat wood cuttings - in a style that seemed very Arts and Crafts to me.  Hiroshi Ariyama does prints of my own beloved Chicago.  John Petrey makes very sturdy dresses for very little people - okay nobody would ever wear them, but they're 3D and very neat to look at.  Giampietro Filippetti does very simplistic and beautiful mosaic tile wall hangings.  Betsy Youngquist makes little statues - they're kind of like dolls, but kind of like collages of found objects.  Audrey Heller photographs tiny dolls tampering with everyday objects.  And last, Michael Schunke blows glass - this was the closest I came to buying anything today - very simple, average shapes, in such great, bright colors.  And that was it for us and the Old Town Art Fair.  We finally went.  Maybe next time we go, we'll be ready to buy something.  
Now I'm off to enjoy the rest of my Sunday by reading and doing a puzzle.  Tomorrow marks the beginning of my summer - full days of work on Mondays and Tuesdays with the rest of the week off (crafting?).  Yay for my students being out of school!  Hopefully they will use some of that free time to practice . . .

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Recitals and Post-its.

I meant to write this a week ago, but I always feel bad when I don't have a picture to put with a posting.  Oh well, words will have to suffice this time too!
Last Saturday, my student piano recital went very well.  16 kids played, as did I, and everyone emerged smiling and looking forward to the next recital.  One of my students was a little more nervous than usual - actually, he was shaking he was so nervous.  I gave him a chance to get through the piece on his own, then I finally went up to him, put my hand on his back just to give him a little stability, and pointed out a good starting point in the middle of the piece; from there on out he played very well.  In the next lesson I told him that that happens to a lot of people, including yours truly.  One time in college, I remember my leg shaking so badly, I was afraid that it would make the whole piano shake when I went to use the pedal!
I made some sugar cookies to serve after the recital and some of the parents brought cookies and juice as well.  The cookies I made I really like - they're a recipe from a Colonial Williamsburg cookbook that I got a little while ago from my Aunt Mommy (you know who you are - and if I remembered it wrong and it was actually from my mom, oh well!) but instead of using orange zest I used lime zest and pressed them with some green sugar I bought around Easter.  They were a hit!
On the way back to the car, Nate the Great said "there's a post-it note on the car!"  and indeed there was.  Over my First Cavalry magnet (showing support for my step-brother who is currently serving with the 1st Cav in Iraq) was a note which I have up by my desk now: "First Team All The Way!!  I served with B-Co-8th Engr. Bn 12-Bravo, Vietnam '69-'70.  John S."  Thanks for the note, John S. of Park Ridge, IL.  

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Another reason to love the internet

So the Spring Piano Recital is in less than 2 days.  I show up at a student's house for his final lesson before the recital - by the way, one of the things I like about teaching at my students' homes is that the piano music is never conveniently forgotten - and his music isn't there!  It turns out he had removed his copy of Fur Elise from his music binder to take in to school and play for Jazz Band auditions.  As cool as Jazz Band sounds to me, I am not jazzed about this at all.  Luckily, it being Fur Elise, a copy was easily found on the internet, printed out and played multiple times in this all-too-important lesson.
And by the way, he made the Jazz Band, and he is section leader for piano (with one other kid playing piano as well).  My student.  I taught him everything he knows!  Well, maybe not everything . . . but you know what I mean.  I guess we're going to be playing some jazz this summer.  

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Colgate Reunion 2009

Nate the Great and I had an epic weekend back at Colgate, for my 5 year reunion.  It's hard to believe it's been 5 years, but I won't dwell on that . . . 
Lots of drinking and talking in the tents down on good old Whitnall field, and Friday Night was marked with Torchlight - a true Colgate tradition where all of the alums (or, at graduation, all of the graduates) walk down the hill each carrying a torch.  It is a really beautiful tradition.
This year was not only my reunion year, but also the Swinging Gates reunion - the 35th anniversary of the group's founding.  My a cappella group was well represented by singing ladies from all different eras.  We had singing in the tents all weekend, as well as a big concert on Saturday night. 
I was reunited with all of the Alto 2's (my voice part) from my year - we had 4 in our class which was a lot - and it was so good to see each of them.  They are all as silly and beautiful as I remember them (the picture, left, is from our senior concert 5 years ago - and we had to get it recreated, below, after the concert this year).  
Our group went on first at the concert, but Nate the Great stuck around until the bitter end, and he was glad that he did.  The most senior of the Gates really put on a great show.  I love those old songs, and I hope that as the group's alumnae become more connected, as they made plans to do at reunion, I might get to learn to sing "Red Sails in the Sunset" and "A Pitchpipe, A Song, and A Smile"  (to name a few).  I got to sing "White Flag" which was my senior song, and it really meant a lot to me to have the younger girls, including the current Swinging Gates, singing it with me.
I was also glad to spend SOME time with my class and hear how well everyone is doing and see how great everyone looks.  Walking up that hill again really brought it all back, but then again I never have felt that far away from Colgate, even though I've been out here in Chicago for longer than I was at my beloved Alma Mater.  
I'm glad that Nate the Great is an '05 - I can't wait to go back next year!