Friday, December 23, 2011

Our Christmas Card

T'was the night before Christmas and we wanted to make sure you got our Christmas card in time. Sue and I have been at this blog now for about 8 months and it's been an absolute joy to share our time with all of you. Thank you for the comments and thoughts, both on our facebook walls and right here. We're truly happy to have the opportunity to get to know you better.

If you'll simply click above on the cover of our Christmas Memories album, the interwebz will whisk you away to the actual card. Once you're there, click the exit (the little door) button on the left to come right back here. We hope you enjoy it, and we wish you a very happy Christmas!

We are planning to take the week off - but who knows - we might slip something in for New Years. Otherwise, we'll see you in 2012!

Sue and Brian

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Christmas Jesus

It's Christmas time and I would be remiss if I didn't go off on Jesus!
So - here we go - three good things about God-Jesus-Holy-Spirit at Christmas.

Let me start by saying I'm not anti-Santa. I think that Santa is very cool and a really fun traditional part of Christmas. He looks way better on a Coke bottle than a polar bear does. Having said that, I do think that sometimes we get confused about what Christmas really is all about and confuse the unconditional love of God with being good for Santa. So - love God, and I think Santa is cool.

If you don't want to keep reading - at least watch the Charlie Brown Christmas video here.

2) Who gets gifts?
While Santa Claus gives gifts to the good little girls and boys, God’s gift to us is for everyone.
John 3:15 Then everyone who has faith in the Son of Man will have eternal life. [CEV]

3) What kind of gifts? and why?
While Santa Claus gives us toys that break, socks that wear out and candy that is gone in minutes, God gives us Jesus and eternal life.
John 3:16 God loved the people of this world so much that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who has faith in him will have eternal life and never really die. [CEV]

John 3:16 God loved the people of this world so much that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who has faith in him will have eternal life and never really die. [CEV]
Santa Claus is making a list and checking it twice making note who is naughty and nice, God gives us his gifts out of his great love for us.

John 3:17 God did not send his Son into the world to condemn its people. He sent him to save them! [CEV]
Santa Claus gives bad girls and boys lumps of coal, God wants to save us.

1) How do we respond to gifts?
John 3:21 But everyone who lives by the truth will come to the light, because they want others to know that God is really the one doing what they do. [CEV]
Children write letters to Santa Claus asking for things up-front but with no thank you afterwards. We respond to God’s gift to us with thankfulness for his love and personal change to be better for him.

I know that the idea of a God with no conditions on his love seems strange to some. My hope is that if this does seem odd to you, that you'll see that it's in the Bible - that I believe is God's word to us - and feel free to let me know if you have any questions.

And Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Merry Christmas Munchies

You've got Andy Williams on the turntable and one or the other treatments of A Christmas Carol on the flatscreen. What are you going to eat and drink?
Friday list-day again and after a week of music and then movies, it's time we got to the munchies.

Let's be honest food is a pretty serious component of our holidays. From your Thanksgiving harvest feast to the Christmas Roast Beast, we love our main dishes, festive sides, sweet desserts and the snacky things. Here are our lists of good Christmas food sure to get the visions of sugar plumbs dancing in your heads.

Sugar-coated Sue because she's so sweet!

2. Potica: What? Pronounced (paw-tee'-tzah), it's a Slovenian pastry - a bread-like nut roll stuffed with walnut filling, and really, really yummy with coffee. My late grandma T used to bake them at Christmastime. Delicious!

3. Christmas cookies: Sugar cut-outs with sprinkles, chocolate chip, nut crescents, oatmeal, magic cookie bars, mini pecan cups, peanut butter with a chocolate kiss on top, thumbprint cookies with jam, and so on. I like them all. Every year since I was a child, we've baked dozens and dozens of cookies for snacking, gifting, and leaving out for Santa along with a glass of milk and some carrots for the reindeer.

1. Eggnog: Unless you're Martha Stewart, most likely you simply pick up some nog at the store. The best around these parts is from Oberweis Dairy. Even better with a little nutmeg sprinkled on top, and a little something-something added for the grown-ups ;)

Brined Brian (it sounds the same when some of my relatives say it)

2) Caramel Corn - I don't know why I associate this with Christmas, but I do. Pop the corn, make the caramel, pour, stir, bake, stir... mmmm so good! If you're not into making it yourself, I highly recommend getting it from Nuts on Clark.
(ahem, Sue here, the top caramel corn in Chicago is from Garrett's just like the best pizza in the windy city is from Pizzeria Uno downtown, silly Brian!)

3) Gingerbread - but not just any gingerbread man or house. This is Nigella Lawson's Sticky Gingerbread. So good - that's a link to the recipe.

1) TURDUCKIN - this is the holy grail of feasting. You stuff a chicken into a duck and stuff that into a turkey. Roast/Bake and carve it up. WOW!
(Sue again, putting in my two cents - meat stuffed in meat stuffed in meat. BLECH! You kind sir, can have your funky chicken and my portion, too. In my cookbook, that ranks right up there with fruitcake (which T loves to eat), and figgy pudding. What the heck is that anyway? But to each his own)

So what tastes good to you?

Monday, December 12, 2011

OH Christmas Tree!

Because my December birthday has come and gone, the official start of decking the halls here at the Borowiak household kicked off this weekend with the selection, purchase, and set up of a lovely Frasier Fir from a local garden center.

It's been about three years since we've had a real tree in the house, so the kids and I were very excited about this endeavor - T not so much, but he played along with just a little bit of Scrooge-like grumbling!

There are lots of good things about trimming the tree, especially when it is real, like the nice, fresh Evergreen smell, or the pretty and green, but not-so-perfect branches.

But my favorite part of decorating the tree is unpacking all of the ornaments, and remembering the stories that they tell. "My ornaments have lots of wheels," exclaimed A excitedly, who does have a wide collection of planes, trains, and automobiles. A's collection of ornaments that "go" are among the hundreds and hundreds of ornaments in our vast array of Christmas decor.

We have so many ornaments that we barely cannot squeeze them all onto the tree, and that's a good thing, and here's why:

2. Memories: Like I said, each ornament has a story to tell. We have ornaments from our honeymoon trip to Maui including a colorfully painted starfish Santa (which btw the kids think is stinky, so they won't hang it up), and a small bride and groom that says "Just Maui'ed". I have many ornaments from my childhood including a little plastic sheep given to me at religious education classes, while T has a snowman shaped like a bell that he chose at Marshall Field's downtown when he was a boy. We have a variety of ornaments given to us by others as souvenirs from their travels, and we have a shiny Mickey ornament from our family trip to Disney World in 2007.

3. Milestones: Many of our ornaments mark important events in our lives such as Our First Christmas ornament from 1995. Both kids have their Baby's First Christmas ornaments from 2000 and 2002, respectively. We also have two very special handmade ornaments, one with Miss O's tiny baby footprint, and a small felt replica of A's hand. Every year, they match up their hands or feet to see how much they've grown over time. We have a New Home ornament from 2003 - the first year in our humble Yorkville abode. I also cherish many ornaments from my past life as an elementary school teacher. One of my favorite's is a small felt mouse with a mini-chalkboard given to me by my former colleague and good friend Kate.

1. Merriment: Many of our ornaments reflect the many interests and activities that bring us joy, happiness, and inspiration such T's collection of bicycle ornaments, A's soccer ball ornaments, Miss A's ornaments that feature polar bears and penguins, or my huge collection of snowmen/women ornaments - most of which could not fit onto the tree so they were designated to the garland on the stair railings, well, except for one of my favorite's from T ~ a Christopher Radko glass snowman that is holding a string of hearts.

Click to play this Smilebox collage
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~ All photos by Miss O
Hint: If you click on each photo, you can see a close-up!

Ornaments - good memories, milestones, and merriment.
What stories can be told from the ornaments on your tree?

Friday, December 9, 2011

Going to the show with Sue and Brian

It's Friday Dec. 9!

16 more days 'til Christmas. There's still time for shopping, wrapping, baking, caroling, eating cookies, sipping eggnog, ho ho ho-ing, mistletoe-ing and more!

Amidst all the holiday hoopla, it's nice to sit back, relax, and take time out to watch a good Christmas movie. Most likely, you have your favorites, so do we here at the 2-3-1 blog.

Let's begin . . .

Suzi Snowflake

2. A classic classic - Charles Dicken's A Christmas Carol, the 1938 black and white version presented by Family Classics with Frazier Thomas on WGN/TV-Chicago back in the day when me and Brian were just tiny tots with our hearts all aglow. My favorite scene is when Bob Cratchet hits Scrooge with a snowball knocking off his hat!

3. A magical journey - The Polar Express, the 2004 motion-capture, computer-animated film based on the book by Chris Van Allsburg. An enchanting story capturing the spirit of Christmas, and the notion that you're never too old to believe. My favorite scene - Hot Chocolate!

1. A delightful comedy - A Christmas Story starring the bespeckled Peter Billingsley as nine-year old Ralphie whose ultimate Christmas wish is to receive a Red Ryder BB gun. Too many funny scenes to list. If you haven't seen this 1983 film, you've truly missed one of the greatest holiday movies of all time. Fa ra ra ra ra, ra ra ra ra!

Merry and Bright Brian

Sue called *dibs* on my favorite version of "A Christmas Carol" above, but that doesn't mean I don't have some good stuff too!

2) Scrooge - it's the 1970 musical version of "A Christmas Carol" with Albert Finney, who won a Golden Globe for his performance. The film earned 4 Oscar nominations and a slough of others, but only one win. The music by Leslie Bricusse, known for music in over 100 movies and television shows from the 1950s to present day - from Goldfinger to Glee, is infectious! I defy you to get "Thank You Very Much" out of your head once you've heard it.

3) Elf - I just love that movie. Sure, it's newer (2003) than our others here, but it's become part of Christmas for me. Will Ferrell is simply amazing as the wide-eyed innocent Buddy the Elf (what's your favorite color?). His performance makes the movie. The rest of the cast, including James Caan, Mary Steenburgen, Ed Asner and Bob Newhart ain't too shabby either.

1) Quick list of "I'll bet you didn't think of these as Christmas movies"
Sure - anyone can like the Christmas movies with a clear message - but what about the ones that slip under the Christmas radar?
The Godfather - Key plot line develops when "The Don" is the victim of an assassination attempt at Christmas. Meanwhile, the adopted son, Tom Hagen, is held captive in a trailer at a Christmas Tree lot while the family gathers to war.
Citizen Kane - Following the death of a publishing tycoon, news reporters scramble to discover the meaning of his final utterance. (Spoiler Alert) Hint - there's a Christmas present involved...
Die Hard - New York City Detective John McClane has just arrived in Los Angeles to spend Christmas with his wife. Unfortunately, it's not going to be a Merry Christmas for everyone. Plus, you get Alan Rickman as The Grinch! "Die Hard so perfectly represents the Christmas spirit, it makes It's a Wonderful Life look like a brutal Nativity-themed snuff film by comparison." (5 Reasons Die Hard Is The Best Christmas Movie Ever Made - Don't follow this link - not for the faint of heart)

AND not to mention... The Shop Around the Corner, Anne of Green Gables, The Thin Man, Rocky, and Twelve Monkeys!

Okay... despite what Brian likes to call Christmas movies, what's on your must-see Christmas movie list? Do share your thumbs-up choices with us, and your popcorn, too!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011


I cannot contain myself. I have a love affair with boxes. Boxes are handy things. They can be plain and simple, or pretty and embellished. They can be big, small, wide, or tall. Cardboard, plastic, wood, glass, ceramic, and so on . . .

Think about how boxes are an important part of our lives. A festively wrapped present brings joy to young and old alike. And for many small children, the box is often more fun that the gift itself! Have you seen the recent commercial with a cute toddler crawling in and out of a box? Priceless! A box can be a house, a car, a hideout, or with some paint and a few holes cut out – a costume for dress-up. The possibilities are endless.

Boxes are good things. Here's why:

2. Everyday boxes are useful. They store lots of things like cereal, macaroni, shoes, mail, crackers, and even juice. I like boxes because they can hide things like the clutter that piles up on my countertop. They are a home for old toys, books, magazines, paperwork, or outgrown clothes. I even have a decorative box that houses many of my medication bottles. It sits on my kitchen counter within easy reach, and most visitors don’t actually know what’s inside.

3. Many boxes are the keepers of memories. I have boxes holding tons of photos, my children’s artwork and school projects, momentos from special occasions like our wedding or the kid’s milestones such as their births, baptisms, and first birthdays. Tucked away in my dresser drawer, I have the tiny red box from one of the most precious gifts I ever received– my engagement ring.

1. Boxes help us move our treasures (or junk) for one place to the next. My husband has unpacked boxes stored in the basement that we moved from our first home to our present home more than eight years ago! We have boxes for our holiday decorations – Christmas, Halloween, Easter, and more. I also have boxes storing my books and supplies from my past teaching days. We even have boxes that hold empty boxes! Needless to say, our basement is just one HUGE box holding many, many other boxes!

The list of wonderful boxes goes on and on – pizza box, jewelry box, hat box, Monopoly box, a box that holds a shiny new pair of shoes, a Chinese take-out container, a heart-shaped box filled with chocolates, a music box that plays a favorite song, a box for tissues, the 64-box of Crayola crayons . . . like I said, I just can’t contain myself!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Christmas Music Friday

Here at the 2-3-1 blog we like to post the occasional Friday list of good things.
Andy Williams: The Godfather of Christmas Music
Andy Williams: The Godfather of Christmas Music

Now that it's finally December we can get to some Christmas lists. (that is... lists of Christmas good things, not lists of things you want for Christmas, though - those can be good too. I guess we could do that later on this month - right now we're doing Christmas music... but I digress)

Today's list is good Christmas music. I grew up on Gene Autry, Bing Crosby, Mel Torme, Nat King Cole - also Brenda Lee, The Drifters, Burl Ives and of course James Brown. In my mind, no one holds a Christmas candle to Andy Williams; the Godfather of Christmas music. The man had a golden voice and his Christmas specials on TV were something I looked forward to.  However, there is plenty of really bad Christmas music out there as well, so before we each give our list of good tunes, here's a short list of the worst Christmas music ever recorded.

Worst Christmas Music on Record
2) Please Daddy (Don't Get Drunk this Christmas) - I like country music, but this song is everything that has ever been wrong with the genre all wrapped up in a shiny red bow and doused with Jack Daniels and Pabst Blue Ribbon. Anyone got a match?

3) Santa Baby - that's right, sexual overtones for Santa Claus. The Madonna version has got to be the worst version.

1) The Christmas Shoes - undeniably the worst Christmas song ever (possibly worst song ever) and a horrible movie. Yes, they made a movie out of it. This is a prime example of maudlin, manipulative, and moronic.

Now on to the good stuff.

Sleigh bells Sue

2. Linus and Lucy by Vince Guaraldi, released in 1964, and made popular by the classic TV special "A Charlie Brown Christmas." Not really a Christmas song per se, but it has a nice beat and you can dance to it just like the Peanuts gang!

3. Winter Wonderland, circa 1934, music by Felix Bernard, lyrics by Richard B. Smith. This Christmas time pop standard has been recorded by 150 different artists including THE Andy Williams. It's a catchy tune, and it conjures up warm wintry memories.

1. O Holy Night composed by Adolphe Adam in 1847, originally a French poem (Midnight, Christians) by Placide Cappeau - who was asked by a Parish priest to compose a Christmas poem. I think it's a beautiful song, and illustrates the reason for the season! I like the versions by Jewel, and my dear friend, Josh Groban.

Bah Humbug Brian (I actually love Christmas, but you try to find something alliterative)

2) The Christmas Song (Chestnuts roasting...) by Mel Torme - he wrote it and I like his recording best.

3) White Christmas by Irving Berlin - first performed in 1941 by Bing Crosby and subsequently included in the movie "Holiday Inn" where it won the Oscar for best original song in 1942, and the movie "White Christmas" in 1954.

1) It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year - written in 1963 by Edward Pola and George Wyle and sung by the Godfather of Christmas Music, Andy Williams.

So, break out the Christmas music, fire up the turntable, or the CD player, iTunes, Pandora - what-have-you, but do it. Christmas music is a great way to get the good stuff into your heart.

Honorable Mention:
Baby, It's Cold Outside by Frank Loesser - This one also won an Academy Award for best original song in 1949 in the movie "Neptune's Daughter".  Try to imagine two versions - one performed by  Ricardo Montalb├ín and Esther Williams and the other by Red Skelton and Betty Garrett. The one I like best is by Diane Reeves & Lou Rawls, though the Dean Martin recording is pretty good.

Friday, November 25, 2011

A Wedding

A wedding is a good thing isn't it?
This past weekend, I had the pleasure of attending a friend's wedding in south-western Virginia and I have some good stories to share.

2) Weddings in general
I've been to a bunch and I've been in a few - perhaps more than my share. When you're of a particular age, or perhaps have been in your own wedding(s) in the past, or are unhappy about singleness, it's somewhat expected to have a somewhat reluctant approach to weddings. Yeah, it stinks when you're there and wondering "why not me" - but I prefer to turn my thoughts to the joyful way a marriage should be and pray for the bride and groom that way.

3) This wedding in particular
This, comparatively very young, couple have known each other for many years.
Both had siblings standing with them and each took a turn to speak about them and bless them and their marriage. Some had words from scripture, others shared deeply heart-felt thoughts and all came with genuine tears or laughter. It was amazing to hear their parents talk to and about them in such glowing terms. There was so much story there that is good and interesting.

Her parents know and understand who he is, and his parents know her. Their admiration for each other's parenting, their children, now poised to become one with each other - it was written all over their faces. I particularly enjoyed his father's thoughts on marriage.
Scripture commands husbands to love their wives sacrificially as Christ loves. It does not command wives to love (it's ok if they do) but to respect their husbands. A wife who respects her husband is easy to love, just as a husband who loves his wife is easy to respect. Not one before the other, but both. 
My challenge to those reading this is to be sure you follow your own commands, and let God hold the other accountable to theirs. In other words, it's not your job to point out how your spouse doesn't do what they are supposed to, but rather to take care of your own assignment in marriage. That's kind of like grace.

The pastor gave an impassioned, scripture-filled, albeit somewhat rambling message. His key thoughts were about God's amazing love.
To have a manifestation or a revelation of that love
Hope will not disappoint
And that their grace for one another and others will be evidence of that love
Their words to each other focused on lifting each other up for Christ's purposes. They both spoke about their roles as husband and wife. Then the pastor started with the ring and vows. He asked the groom to repeat after him. Then, he announced that he had the wrong notes. The groom repeated that announcement - hilarious of course. Thankfully, the pastor was able to complete his work from memory.

1) What story do you want to tell?
The bride and groom at this wedding have an amazing story to tell about knowing each other, figuring out each other and in a beautiful old-fashioned way, court each other. I personally admire their commitment to each other and to doing things in the way that honored God and each other. They honored their families, their friends and there was nothing about their experience where one could have said, "gee, it's too bad that they..."

It's really a blessing when things work out that way isn't it? It's awesome when you know up-front what story you want to tell about your life and then go about living in such a way that you get to tell such a beautiful, good story. If you have the opportunity to tell such a good story, I highly recommend it.

Not everyone gets that opportunity. I'm so in awe of God's amazing love in this. I've messed up and I can't get back anything that's lost to me. There is nothing I can do, no magic incantations, surgeries, or penalties I can pay to start my life again. So, here's where God comes in. We have an extraordinary opportunity for a do-over. It's not license to keep messing up, but loving grace to keep trying. So, if I ever do get married again, I can be assured that I can bring her, the purest me I can, and a forgiven, new creation because of Christ.
2 Corinthians 5:16-20
17 [CEV] Anyone who belongs to Christ is a new person. The past is forgotten, and everything is new.

That is unfathomably good.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thanksgiving Good Stories

It's Thanksgiving! And it's not just about food. I swear. Thanksgiving has a rich history and good things that transcend green bean casserole.

2) Not just a harvest festival
Its roots as a national holiday are grounded in thankfulness to God.

We all know the pilgrim/indian story. In 1621, the Plymouth colonists, religious separatists all, and Wampanoag Indians shared an autumn harvest feast that is acknowledged today as one of the first Thanksgiving celebrations in the colonies. For more than two centuries, days of thanksgiving were celebrated by individual colonies and states.

It was September 25, 1789, when Elias Boudinot introduced to the United States House of Representatives the case for giving thanks to God. His strong resolution declared:
"that a joint committee of both Houses be directed to wait upon the President of the United States, to request that he would recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging, with grateful hearts, the many signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a Constitution of government for their safety and happiness."
In response, on October 3, 1789, George Washington issued a proclamation designating the first day of prayer and Thanksgiving. It wasn't until 1863 that President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national Thanksgiving Day to be held each November.

3) Thankfulness in the face of difficulty
The pilgrims arrived in September 1620 after over two-months at sea. The winter was so brutal, most stayed aboard ship where they suffered from exposure, scurvy and outbreaks of contagious disease. Only half of the Mayflower’s original 102 passengers and crew lived to see their first New England spring. In March 1621, the remaining settlers moved ashore and established a colony at Plymouth. They gave thanks.

In the day of Elias Boudinot, the USA was a fledgling nation, barely six years old. The country was recovering from war. The post-war economy was in sorry shape. Jobs were scarce. They gave thanks.

It was in the midst of the Civil War, among the darkest days in this nation's history, that President Lincoln established Thanksgiving Day. With the nation divided along geographic, social, economic, religious and idealogical lines - they gave thanks.

1) A long weekend
What does a long weekend do, anyway? Psychologists (and the travel industry, naturally) have said that several short breaks can do a body more good than one big one. Humans need downtime, frequently. In international vacation comparison charts, the United States is typically around 13 days per year, compared with Britain’s 26 or Italy’s 31.

I don't know about you, but I feel gloriously refreshed after the long weekend, whenever I take one.

Sue and I both wish you and your friends and families a wonderful, restful, full... Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Warm and Toasty!

The temps are a droppin' here in the Midwest leading us into what most people call winter, but what I call my worst time of the year. Sure, I like watching the snow fall, drinking hot cocoa, snuggling under a warm blanket and all that, but cold weather makes the harsh symptoms of my illness flare up big time.

Therefore, it's very important for me to keep my body, especially my hands and feet, as warm as possible during the long cold winter months. Because moving to a warmer climate is out of the question at this time, I need to rely on good things that will keep me warm and toasty. Here are three of my favorites:

2. Our electric blanket. My parents gave this to us as a gift a few years ago. It has controls on each side so I can crank mine up to high, while T keeps his turned to low or off. When our furnace went out during the night one time, I didn't even notice because I was snug as a bug under . . . my blanket. No doubt with my fleece jammies and socks on, too.

3. Heated seats. I do not drive a fancy car. It's a 2005 Subaru Outback (for the very outdoor-sy person hiding inside me - go ahead and laugh all of you who know me well) Besides not being a mini-van and having an awesome turning radius, it has heated seats up front. Yep, those darn kids just have to freeze their little bums off in the back 'til the car warms up, while I do not.

1. Gloves and mittens. I have a wide variety of warm gloves and mittens - some are small and stretchy, some are thick and woolly. I have a new favorite pair given to me recently by my good friend Barb. They are soft and knitted in pretty shades of aqua. They are my indoor gloves because they are fingerless, which is great for me when I'm typing on my computer or texting.

*Bonus good thing: My Uggs - My mom gave them to me for my birthday last year. Some say they are ugly, but I don't care. They keep my feet and toes warm and toasty, too!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Short and Sweet (weekend-y good things)

For today's post, I am getting right down to business with three good happenings from our busy and tiring weekend.

2. Homemade banana bread. I left a recipe for quick and easy banana bread on the counter the other day. T gave it a go Saturday morning. It was quick and easy, and tasty, too. I just gobbled up the last piece for breakfast today.

3. Birthday sleepover. O turned 11 last week, so we hosted her first ever sleepover party for her and five friends. With the help of my sister J and her friend Miss L., the party turned out fabulous as did the chocolate "fun" due! Yummy!

1. 15 seconds of fame. Pie lovers T and I made the editing cut on the Cooking Channel's For the Love of Pie show. T is ordering pie, I'm stuffing my face with my favorite - the chocolate cream, and we both are exclaiming how creamy, and good it is at Hoosier Mama Pie Co. in Chicago. Check the TV listings here so you can catch the show, but don't blink or you will miss us!

Ciou for now, here's hoping your weekend was full of fun and tasty happenings, too!

Friday, November 11, 2011

100 Good Things

It's the boiling point of water for those of us using the metric system. (100 degrees Celsius)
It's a square number. You know, 10 x 10!
It's C in Roman numerals.
It's been 100 years since Crisco, the all-vegetable shortening, has been on the market.
It's the age my kids have labeled as the "Super Oldie Moldies" However, many famous people have lived to be 100 like comedians Bob Hope and George Burns, and composer Irving Berlin.

and it's our 100th post today! wOOt hOOt!

In celebration of this momentous event, we've invited our family, friends, and fans to share 100 Good Things with us. We snuck in some good things of our own as well, so pour yourself a cuppa, pull up a chair, and enjoy!

100) My husband and I volunteer at the County Animal Shelter on Friday mornings cleaning cat cages. These cats are so grateful for the attention we give them; they purr when we pick them up. It is very heart-warming to help homeless animals. We are very happy when animals are adopted, and feel like we are making a difference in the world, even if it only is in the life of a kitty cat.
Chris K.
Lombard, IL

99) Knowing that good or bad your true friends will always be there!!!
Michelle B.
Virgiani Beach, VA

98) A good thing is a six-week old kitten we recently brought home. She has brought so much love and laughter to us and our six full grown cats. Her name is Sheba and she is amazing and quite a snuggle bunny.
Debbie M.
Spring, TX

97) My WARM winter boots. No more cold, pruned toes for me!
Amanda B.
New York State

96) Standing in front of the ocean with the anticipation of running in and diving into a wave!
Beth T.
Chapel Hill, NC

95) A good thing is Thai that is just the right distance from my house to make for a good run and then carry food home :)
94) Holidays with family.
Anna L.
Celebration, FL

93) A clear, cool fall day.
Mark G.
Burnaby, BC

92) My daughter's face when she saw Cinderella's Castle for the first time.
Vicki B.
Yorkville, IL

91) Jumping in the car on Saturdays, heading to the beach with my husband!
Joan K.
Tallahassee, FL

90) A reliable car that hasn't had any issues in a long time.  that is something you don't think about every day, but you would if the car did have issues.
89) A baby smiling just because you smiled.
John N.
Royorsford, PA

88) Forgiveness.
87) Two Words - Pet Costumes!!
Pennie R.
Stafford, VA

86) One good thing . . . the sound of my children laughing. They crack me up!
Eva S.
Wheaton, IL

85) When a good friend sends you a quirky card and some candy in the mail in an envelope with Toy Story stamps!
Sue B.
Yorkville, IL

84) A good thing: freshly laundered, crisp, cool sheets on your bed.
83) Oh, another good thing: my dog, Batman
82) Bob (a good name) B.
81) Fishers, IN (a good place)

80) The smile on your firstborn’s face . . . both as an infant and as a young man.
79) Acting insane and still knowing there is a special someone who 100% accepts you the way you are.
78) Biking a hilly 54 miles in the blistering hot summer sun and 95% humidity with salty sweat dripping down your face. Accomplishment never tasted so sweet.
77) Riding up the steepest hill you’ve ever seen and feeling a good friend’s hand on your back to give you that extra push to let you know that you can make it up without walking.
76) The embrace that envelopes you after surviving an extremely difficult situation. It magically melts away all the pain and self-doubt.
75) Getting that short text message to let you know that someone thinks you are memorable.
74) Knowing that someone is thinking about you.
73) Hurting and coming to terms with it.
72) Feeling strong after a hard workout.
71) Knowing that you are stronger than you ever thought you could be.
Julie L.
Plainfield, IN

70) A good thing is sneaking up on a coworker and scaring the bejeezez out of them.
Brian A.
West Chester, PA

69) Saying the word "bejeezez!"
Sue B.
Yorkville, IL

68) Sitting on the porch swing on a warm spring day, listening to the birds sing and reading a good book.
67) Finding a REALLY good book on a cold winter day and spending the whole day reading until the book is finished.
Connie M.
Chillicothe, MO

66) One good thing about being an American living in London is introducing the non-Americans to interesting American traditions . . . like pumpkin pie. At first, most non-Americans wrinkle up their nose to a vegetable being used in a pudding (Brits call it pudding, not dessert!). But, once they taste it as homemade by me and with loads of whipped cream (not Cool Whip because you cannot get that in UK), they are hooked. I get asked every year now to make sure I make pumpkin pie. So, good for Brits to try something different, and good for the pumpkin farmers, too. Pumpkin... it's not just for soup ya know!
Deanne T.
London, UK

65) I'm going to spend three weeks in Cancun - wonderful Caribbean ocean, beach, warm weather, and good Mexican food. Life is Good!
Kathleen B.
Bolingbrook, IL

64) The movie "Solyent Green" with Charlton Heston.
63) That someday we will be able to have a happy, joyful, and easy end of life.
John B.
Bolingbrook, IL

62) Breakfast for dinner is a fun change once in awhile.
Scott B.
Lockport, IL

61) Being with all my good friends in (pulmonary) rehab and sharing each other's experiences with this dreaded disease.
Jim B.
Naperville, IL

60) Having furry, four-legged friends to love and curl up with is a good thing.
Barb J.
Warrenville, IL

59) Looking down the street seeing trees in full color.

58) Trying a new recipe - fun!
57) Having it turn out - satisfying!
56) Giving it away - rewarding! "Everything is better when shared with a friend!"
55) Oh, and making the recipe from an heirloom rhubarb plant!
Marilyn D.
Naperville, IL

54) Not having to bake on a busy day because a friend gave me some extra rhubarb cake to share with the teachers at my children's school. (Thanks Marilyn!)
Sue B.
Yorkville, IL

53) Yesterday was one of my grandson's birthdays - Collin turned 4 years old. I brought over his little gift: a tool box with a battery-charged jigsaw, and he told me after pretending to saw for an hour, "It's the BEST EVER present, Grammy!"
Karen K.
Naperville, IL

52) Comfort food (chocolate, mac & cheese, mashed potatoes, etc.)
51) Good friends who like to laugh and have fun, and with who you can be 100% yourself around without being pretentious
50) Good genes (no early signs of aging and everything works good internally)
49) Good health (good test results)
48) Good family/in laws
47) Good fortune (inheritance, bonus, etc.)
46) A job/career that fits your passion and skills
45) The ability to laugh.
44) Kids getting good grades
43) Kids growing out of stages where you have to focus 100% of your life on them
42) Helpful people
41) Investments paying off
40) Discounts/bargains!!!
39) Music variety
Melissa G.
Phoenix, AZ

A FEW of the MANY things I LOVE about your Blog!
38) Always relevant and well-written by both co-authors!
37) I look forward to reading it as soon as it is published!
36) Your blog inspired me to begin my own! (THANKS!)
Ronda M.
Houston, TX

35) Inspiring a friend who's a fan to write her own blog. Way to go Ronda!
Sue B.
Yorkville, IL

34) My daughter Leigh Ann baked a batch of HUGE chocolate chip cookies, and a dee-lish banana bread. Om, om, om. Thank you Lord for these delicious treats through my daughter. Perfect snacks with hot cocoa on this brrrrrrrrrrr...cold night. ♥
Miriam M.
Matthews, NC

33) The beautiful Autumn colors... The Maple trees are stunning right now :)
Donna M.K.
Harrison, AR

32) No alarm on Saturday morning.
Robin H.
Aurora, IL

31) A scoop of mint chocolate chip in a waffle cone from Ozzie's Frozen Custard in New Buffalo, MI.
30) Doing upper level gymnastics skills when you are only a Level 5 like aerials and fly-aways.
Olivia B.
Yorkville, IL

29) Waking up thinking that it's Friday, but it's really Saturday.
28) Good eats in downtown Chicago like: Pizzeria Uno pizza, Garrett's caramel corn, MK Burger, and chocolate cream pie from Hoosier Mama Pie Co.
Tim B.
Yorkville, IL

27) My family and friends' love and support is a good thing.
Becky M.
Aurora, IL

26) Enjoying a powdered-sugar donut and the best hot chocolate ever at Munster Donuts in Munster, IN after winning a soccer game 3 to 1.
25) Jammin' on the drums with my percussion teacher Vern.
Adam B.
Yorkville, IL

24) Faith in God has given my life meaning and purpose.
23) A positive attitude. As Abraham Lincoln said, "Most folks are as happy as they make up their minds to be."
Donna S.
Downers Grove, IL

22) I am in love with the crisp smell drifting through the air in New York City that somehow combines fallen leaves, hot pretzels and roasted chestnuts into one olfactory sensation that reappears every year, right on time with the first day of September.
Karin R.
Bronx, NY

21) A sincere smile given out and a dozen received!
Brittany L.
Sebring, FL

20) About 2 1/2 years ago, I was blessed with a wonderful friendship that was a total surprise to me. My friend Lissette tells me that she was also blessed because she had just lost her life-long friend, Maru, to cancer. That is my good thing.
Juli T.
Batavia, IL

19) Waking up in the morning and feeling like it's Christmas and you are 6 years old. I feel like this a lot. LOL
Donna C.S.
Dallas, TX

18) A good thing is keeping connected with friends/alumni from previous years; and making new memories for years to come.
Kelly B.
Spring Hill, FL

17) Reconnecting with old friends.
16) When your child still wants you to hold them.
15) Food from Chicago like pizza from Giordano’s or beef from Portillo’s.
14) Friends and family you can count on in good and bad times.
13) Grateful for God's healing hands. He helps us rise. Everyday is a precious gift!
Daphne B.G.
Dundee, FL

12) There's nothing like playing with a puppy!
11) There's nothing like how a dog is so excited when you get home, like you've been gone for weeks!
Deb T.
Aurora, IL

10) Playing with a newborn and the baby smiles, and then he smiles again - that's a good thing.
Karyn W.
Blue Island, IL

9) Smiles on the faces of the nursing home residents in response to greeting them in the hallways!
8) Friends and family together for the holidays!
Ginger Y.
Morris, IL

7) Seven is an awesome number to me. My birthday is 7/7. My middle name has 7 letters and begins with the seventh letter.
Brian A.
West Chester, PA

6) Getting married next weekend.
John L.
Kingsport, TN

5) My two awesome sons! They make me smile everyday! I am truly proud of both of them!
Pam S.B.
Plainfield, IL

4) A cup of tea - it’s good on any day. Bad day, sick day, day with friends, day alone with a cat and a good book.
Holly K.
Havertown, PA

1) A best friend who knows when I'm up and when I'm down and knows how to be there for either.
Brian A.
West Chester, PA

3) I can think of endless good things, but if I can only pick one I will say God's love, because I would have nothing without that.
Lori I.
Lisle, IL

2) A good Bible verse - Psalm 100:1-2
"Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all ye lands. Serve the Lord with gladness: come before his presence with singing."

Thank you all for sharing your joyful, good things with us!

Sue and Brian

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

and a bug

There I was minding my own business, when suddenly.... (insert ominous and scary music here)
a bug

This BUG dropped down onto the back of my neck. Gah!!!

I don't mind bugs.

I dislike when they are sneaky and try to surprise me.

(I put it outside into the cold and told it to fend for itself. I felt very Dickensian about it but it's not Christmas yet, so I doubt I'll be visited by the bugs of the past, present and future anytime soon.)

However, I do like to be surprised by people. I think it's so much fun when a friend tries to sneak up on me and scare me or wait for me around a corner and jump out at the last second. It's the adrenaline. It's the laughter afterwards. It's the camaraderie.

With that, here's three good things about being scared!

2) What a rush! I don't care if it's a scary movie, a roller coaster, or something that jumps out at you from nowhere. There is a physical response. Scientist-types call this fight or flight and it's really fun. The adrenaline shoots into your system and hits your brain and muscles hard. Your heart races and if you've been in the presence of a major dose of Gamma radiation, you might turn into a big green rage monster. Regardless, it's fun! Give me scary movies where things jump out and make me jump - and I'm a delighted man. (notice that I'm not talking about the slashers or things like that. I want something to go bump in the night)

3) Oh my sides! Immediately after the rush and you realize that you're ok, the laughter sets in. It doesn't matter if you're the one on the scaring end or the being scared end, everyone laughs. That is unless you're five years old and freak out. That's not good. But, as an adult, it's a riot. A friend of mine came out of the bathroom the other night to find another friend hiding next to the door. She got so scared that she reached out to smack him on the face, but realized in mid-swing that it was him. The slap turned into this pseudo-tender stroke on his cheek and we all just lost it. I haven't laughed that hard in a long time.

1) It's what friends do! As in the story I just relayed above, that's a way for us to have fun together. It's child-like, prank-ish and so much fun. I do enjoy being the perpetrator of such a scare, but it's even more fun when someone gets me. When your friend really gets you, this is called "having a good time."

and a bug.

Now - to bug you a bit... please help with our 100 Good Things 100th blog post coming up Friday 11/11/11. That's this Friday! We are getting close to our 100 good tings goal, but you are critical to making that happen and we need your help!

Send your good things to twothreeoneblog-good at yahoo dot com. Thank you!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Catching Up

It's been almost two weeks since I last posted on this here Good Things blog. Geesh, I'm a slacker!

As for Brian, I will not call him a slacker, he is just very busy! After all, he does have a real, full-time job with deadlines, commitments, phone calls, meetings, commuting, pay, and a brand new office that sadly does not have a proper window.

Sometimes the busyness of life simply takes over, in turn, making the business of writing about life take a back seat.

But I'm jumping back in with this little catch-up post, highlighting three recent good things.

2. Good grades, good kids. Because I'm a parent, I'm proud of my children and I have to boast. They both received excellent report cards last week, and very good reports from their teachers at parent/teacher conferences, too. I suppose we must be doing something right?!?

3. A good check-up. I met with one of my many docs last week - Dr. B, the gastroenterologist, or GI guy. It was a good visit because everything is stable on that end (bah dum dum) which means no new meds, and even better - no poking or prodding tests. He's on time, has a good sense of humor and rapport, and he wears gym shoes, too!

1. Monthly support group. Once per month, I meet with a group of people who are also living with lung disease like me. I always look forward to our meetings because I'm surrounded by people who get it. They understand, they listen, and they offer insight and advice. There's also treats like coffee, fresh fruit, and baked goods - yum!

At last week's meeting, I encouraged my support group friends to contribute to our 100 Good Things 100th blog post which is coming up very soon - this Friday 11/11/11 to be exact. They shared many good things, and so can you! We have not yet reached our goal of 100, so we still need your help!

If you have already shared your good things, thank you so much! If you are so inclined to share some more, go right ahead. Invite your friends and family, too. There are plenty of good things out there, we just need to find them. If you have not yet shared a good thing with us, then we will simply think you are busy, and not label you a slacker like me ;-)

Send your good things to twothreeoneblog-good at yahoo dot com. Thank you!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Trick or Treat!

Smell my feet, give me something good to eat!

Since Halloween is just around the corner, today's post features good things about this spooktacular fall holiday!

Candy that I would steal out of a child's trick or treat bag when they are not looking:

Slightly Scary Sue

2. Hershey's bars
3. Reese's Peanut Butter Cups
1. Twix

Barely Batty Brian

2) Snickers (but seriously, what's so much fun about "fun size"?)
3) Mr. Goodbar
1) Sweet Tarts

Fantabulous movies or TV shows that are fun to watch around Halloween time:

Screeching Sue

2. Beetlejuice
3. Halloween
1. It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown!

Braaaaiiinnnssss... Brian (I agree with Sue's choices completely)

2) Shaun of the Dead
3) Fright Night (1985)
1) So I Married an Axe Murderer (but then... it's always a good time to watch this one)

Memories from past Halloween Happenings:


2. Dressing the kids up as a monkey and a turtle when they were just tots, and visiting "Boo at the Zoo!" at Brookfield Zoo.
3. Turning my classroom into "Camp Boo-rowiak," complete with a "flashlight" campfire, sleeping bags, and spooky ghost stories. I even dressed up as Viola Swamp, a character from the children's book, "Miss Nelson is Missing."
1. Winning first place in a costume contest as a child by dressing up as the Pillsbury Dough Boy, hee hee hee.

I want my Mummy - Brian

2) Simpsons Halloween Episode Marathon
3) Costume contest winner: Mr. Potato Head (complete with movable face-parts)
1) Costume contest winner: Head on a Table (I sat motionless for a hour before someone lifted up the cover on the hors d'oeuvre table to find me hiding under there)

Happy Halloween!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

That's what she said

Sue's take-2-on-friendship post was spot-on about friendship!

When Harry Met Sally
It takes a very special pair of friends to be able to handle friendship and keep it out of the realm of potential romance. If you remember the movie, "When Harry Met Sally", the movie is centered on the idea that men and women either can or cannot be friends. Sally contends that they can, Harry contends that they cannot, they do eventually become friends, and then not, and then they fell in love. See - even that movie doesn't think friendship across the boundaries of gender can work. However, always the optimist, I believe.

I have a preponderance of female friends. They live all around the country, from many walks of life and many ways of thinking. Their input into my life is incredibly valuable and I hope that I'm able to help them.

Here are three good things about having female friends.

2)  Men need help dressing themselves. I've spent years under the tutelage of women and I think I've improved over time. But without their initial opinions and advice, I wouldn't have figured out any of it.

3) Women talk. I've seen different statistics, but it basically works out to men (in general) speaking about 1/5 as many words in any given day as women (in general) do. Men need to up-the-ante on words and women can help draw them out of us. That doesn't come from a woman saying "what are you thinking?" because we're not thinking anything, I promise you. It does come from women starting an engaging conversation and helping to keep it going.

1)  Women are pretty. Yes, all of them. They are nice to look at, they smell good and remind us that we are gentlemen. When faced with a woman we remember to hold doors, offer chairs, throw our coats on puddles, and generally become nice creatures again. That doesn't mean we don't make bodily noises and laugh, but it helps.

Besides, who would laugh at us otherwise?
“Behind every great man is a woman rolling her eyes.” Bruce Almighty

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Take 2 on Friendship - what she (that's me Sue) says about . . .

The age old question ~ Can men and women just be friends?

I say YES, but culture, society, books, movies, TV, magazine articles, and curious nosy people tend to disagree. While T is my very best guy friend, I do believe there are good things about having male friends to whom I am not married to, like my former carpool buddy Rog, the wisecrackin' gang at pulmonary rehab, or you know who - the one and only Mr. A.

2. Insight: Having a good friend of the opposite sex offers me the opportunity to see how the other side sees a situation in an objective way (without trying to read the mind of my hubby.)

3. Advice: Depending on the friend, I can solicit advice on a variety of topics such as home repair, tech issues, travel, relationships, food, and even fashion. In most cases, men will offer practical ways to fix a problem. I might not always take their advice, but it’s good to know it’s there.

1. Comic relief: Let’s be honest, men are funny beings. Sometimes funny in a make you laugh so hard you’re crying sort of way, or sometimes funny in a shake your head sort of way. Either way, it’s all good because they keep me smiling (most of the time!)

Insight, advice, and comic relief – my three good things about male/female friendships. What are yours?

** 100th post reminder! We are s-l-o-w-l-y inching are way to collecting 100 good things for our 100th post. Please share ONE good thing with us at twothreeeoneblog-good at yahoo dot com. It’s easy! Just do it!

Monday, October 24, 2011


Today I'm cheating!

Instead of sharing three good things with you, I'm sharing a little piece of writing I submitted to a blogging contest a few months back. The theme of the contest was to write about an unexpected, surprising friendship. Sadly, I didn't win the contest (boo!) But I did enjoy writing the piece, and I hope you enjoy reading it.

Like Apples and Oranges

Me and my friend Brian.

We are different in many ways.

I am married with two children. He is single, divorced three times, and not yet a dad.
I am a stay-at-home mom and sometime freelance writer. He is a web communications professional, public speaker, and voice actor.
I have a rare, chronic autoimmune disease called scleroderma. He’s in good health.
I live in the Midwest in a far western suburb of Chicago. He lives in the East, just outside of Philadelphia.
I’m Catholic. He’s Protestant.
I will eat lemon cake and orange scones. He dislikes cooked citrus.
I am short. He is tall.

But we are alike in many ways, too.

We attended the same high school in the early 1980s.
We love all kinds of music.
We offer each other words of encouragement and support.
We like to make people laugh including each other.
We pray.
We like to eat pizza, guacamole, pie, Chicago-style hot dogs, and a good cup of coffee.
We have hazel eyes.

I am surprised by this unlikely friendship because we lost touch many years ago when he moved away after our sophomore year. We reunited last fall at our 25th high school reunion, and now we frequently chat, email, or text. Sometimes, we discuss serious life issues like relationships, health, or religion. Other times, we talk about the weather, weekend plans, or what we ate for lunch that day.

Both of us face difficult challenges in our daily lives. These challenges have led us to create the 2 friends 3 things 1 blog a few months ago. The goal of our blog is two-fold: to help each other look at the positive side of life, and to inspire others to do the same.

**Which leads me to this reminder . . . our 100th blog post is coming soon! We want your help! Please send one good thing to us at the following email address: twothreeoneblog-good at yahoo dot com. Be sure to include your name, and where you are from with your email. We want to post 100 good things from our friends and fans, so email your ideas lickety-split, on the double, or just as fast as you can! You can do it! Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Friday, October 21, 2011


Today, the newest version of the Three Musketeers comes out. It apparently has nothing to do with the Alexandre Dumas novel, with the exception of a few character names and that it's in France. Here's the trailer:

I don't know if it's going to be good or not, but it looks good to me. Regardless of adherence to the written word, I still love these kinds of movies. The sword fighting, acrobatics (even the clear Matrix-style effects in this one), the adventure, rescues, and true love.

With that, here is your Friday list of good Swashbucklers! or... Buckle Squashers... oh heck - just call them MAN MOVIES! With my apologies to Sue.

Geesh, he always does this to me. I'll play along, but I won't follow the rules!

Any of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies: I have seen several, not in order, and I don't know the names of all of them. Just a few weeks ago, I believe we watched the first one, The Curse of the Black Pearl, but no matter, because there's just one good thing, no great thing, about the Pirates series . . .

1. Johnny Depp as Capt. Jack Sparrow (Who's with me, ladies?)

2) Highlander (It won the academy award for best movie ever)
3) The Three Musketeers (Gene Kelly version)
1) Captain Blood (Errol Flynn)

COMING SOON!!! Our 100th good things blog post. Help us celebrate! We want to get one good thing each from 100 of our friends, fans, loyal readers, strangers on the street, etc. - you get the idea. So, start thinking about good things, and good things only. Soon we'll let you know what you need to do to join in the fun! Stay tuned . . .

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

My Auntie

"We do not remember days; we remember moments." ~ Cesare Pavese

My Aunt Eleanor passed away last week at the age of 85. She was a wife, mother, sister, grandma, great grandma, great aunt, cousin, neighbor, and friend, but simply "Auntie" to me and my sisters.

It's sad when someone dear passes away, but memories of that special person can be a source of comfort for those left behind. With that in mind, I share with you three good memories of Auntie, who is on the left in the photo with my mom in 1995.

2. Haircuts: When we were kids, my mom took me and my sisters over to our auntie's house for haircuts. She had a small salon set up in her basement complete with a shampoo bowl. She would give us really, really short cuts, which I guess at that time were quite the fashion!?! Now when we look at photos of us with those hairdos, we crack up with laughter (and shake our heads!) But back in the day, it was always fun to visit Auntie's basement salon.

3. The Christmas Tree: One Christmas, many years ago, Auntie did not want to put up her Christmas tree. I can't remember why she did not want to deck the halls that year, but me and my sisters would not stand for it. We went to her house, pulled out the decorations, and helped her trim the tree. We were happy to help, and I believe she was happy we did!

1. Ceramics: At one point in time, Auntie took ceramic classes. She made many things including a covered mashed potato dish shaped like a potato for my mom. She also made small Christmas gift boxes for me and my sisters. Every year during the holidays, I put out my small ceramic box with a bright red bow on top. It's a special gift that I will always treasure.

My Uncle Lee, me, and Auntie Eleanor on my high school graduation day in 1985.

Rest in Peace, dear Auntie. We will miss you.

Monday, October 17, 2011


Moving - it can completely tucker you out.

Your hands hurt from taking apart and putting together. They get chapped from all the tape and cardboard. Your arms and elbows hurt from the carrying and lifting. At the end of the day, you really want to just be done with everything, but it seems like there's always something more to do. Relationships with dear friends falter. There's not enough time for sleeping, let alone doing things you enjoy. Never forget, however, the joy of a fresh-start in a new place... a little life-reboot if you will.

I've rented a new pad and moved in. The boxes are all unpacked, the furniture is in it's final resting places, and I've got pictures on the walls. I've got one day of vacation left in this process to get the cardboard off to recycling and pick up a few things I need - then I'm going to crash. My list of good things about moving:

2) Out with the old.
Whether it's old stuff or old memories, it can be good to clean out the cobwebs and get rid of the things that vex you - or things you just don't need or want anymore. I've donated a monstrous garbage bag of old clothes, a giant box of clothes hangers, and a few other items. I've thrown away things that I had held onto - thinking that someday I'd use them. It's also leaving behind some things that need to be left behind. I'm taking steps in my emotional state that need to happen and the new surroundings help.

3) In with the new.
Little things like a new rug or a new duvet cover (I'm not gay just because I know what a duvet cover is and have one) or some plants can make a tremendous feel of a fresh start. The new place of course is a major part of that, but go ahead - splurge on that shower curtain, or something to brighten a room.

1) A new community.
In this case, I moved about 15 minutes down the road. I can still go back to my old stomping grounds anytime I like, but I'm looking forward to all that the new are has to offer. There's the new faces at the bank, the grocery store, the people at the hardware store are waving at me when I come in now, and there's a great little general store/restaurant just up the street owned and run by Mr. and Mrs. Pakel. I need to find a new church and I hope I'll build some new friendships.

Now I just need to circle back and see where I left everything and everyone in my life before two weeks ago when the move started to consume me.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

H U S K I E S! Gooooooo Huskies!


It's Homecoming at my alma mater Northern Illinois University this weekend. In honor of this annual event, I've invited my NIU friends to share three good memories from our college days back in the mid/late 80's to the early 90's. They didn't disappoint!

So without further fanfare, not in any particular order, and mostly in their own words, I share these happy memories with you. Of course, I chimed in here and there as well!

2. Hanging out with friends in the Plaza eating beer nuggets.
3. Going to Ollie's for frozen custard.
1. Developing my own photos in the darkroom ~ Mark G. (Ohhh, I loved that, too. Hallie H. was one of my favorite journalism professors!)

2. The marching band with all the trips and football games.
3. Loving those beer nuggets.
1. The parties we had in our triple dorm room. ~ Kathy A. O. (Wasn't it amazing how many people we could stuff in a dorm room?)

2. Playing football on the field before Thursday night marching band practices with the KAB - Kick Ass Brass. (Thursday night practices at the stadium were my favorites!)
3. Stand cheers from tuba player Andy R.
1. Any weekend get-together with friends. ~ Todd M.

2. On the second day of my NIU career . . . I had not intended to join the marching band at all, but my high school classmate Steve U. convinced me to come to the first band meeting, so I went back home and got my clarinet. I realized it would be something much bigger than I could have ever imagined. Best decision ever . . .
3. The band trip to West Virginia . . . all of it, having to get out of the bus because it was too heavy to make it up the hill to the stadium, the halftime show, partying in the hotel parking lot at night (dancing on the buses), and convincing the Pizza Hut delivery guy to pick up some kegs for us . . . (Wow, I was on this trip and I don't remember half those things! I must have been in my hotel room studying . . .)
1. The trips to Disney . . . all of them have a story!
And so many more memories . . . ~ Ed H.

2. Marching band with all the wonderful trips and football games. What a great way to make so many instant friends. Go Huskies!
3. Late night beer nuggets after parties. I wish I had the metabolism I had back then. I can't imagine drinking beer and eating beer nuggets then going to bed now. (or late night cheese fries from Lukulo's)
1. Joining a sorority and having amazing times on Greek Row.

I think college was the absolute funnest (is that a word?!?) time of my life. So many friends and parties. It was a great campus ~ Kelly M. G.
(I wholeheartedly agree - FUNNEST times ever!)

2. Going to Ollie's for frozen custard.
3. Beer nuggets (Do I see a recurrent theme here?)
1. My roomies (lifetime friends) ~ Paula S. (Yes, building lifetime friendships is a very good thing!)

2. University Band and playing euchre with Eddie and Sue V.
3. McCabes on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights (Don't forget growler night, too! Wednesdays I believe.)
1. Meeting some awesome and wonderful people! ~ Robin W. H.

And because there are so many good college memories, I'll add three more of my own:

2. Honing my writing and editing skills in the lovely, er, very old, sorta run-down, Campbell Hall - home of The Northern Star, and winning the Roy G. Campbell Award aka "The Best Damn Reporter Award" sometime in the late 80's.
3. Living "off-campus" in the blue-ish gray, or the grayish-blue townhouses, with the greatest bunch of roommates ever, and eating the famous "tuna noodle s*&%", and sugared-popcorn.
1. Doing the band dance to Al Jarreau's "Boogie Down" at various marching band festivities such as road rallies, Halloween parties, Lake Lawn Lodge band banquets, and whatnot:

FYI: What is a beer nugget? A tasty late-night treat or party food essentially made of chunks of deep-fried pizza dough invented in DeKalb, IL mostly for broke students from Northern Illinois University. It's usually served with a dipping side of marinara or pizza sauce, but can also be served with a cheese or garlic butter sauce or sprinkled with or dipped in cinnamon-sugar. ~ Urban Dictionary (We loved to dip them in ranch dressing. Oh, my mouth is watering just writing about them!)

Thanks to all my NIU friends who helped out with this post. Very good times indeed!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Yummy Fall Goodness

This past long weekend offered up some sunny skies and warm temps. The perfect weather to visit an apple/pumpkin farm for some fall fun, and of course, good food and drink!

Three tasty treats from our fabulous fall weekend:

2. Homemade pumpkin muffins: Freshly baked by T Saturday morning - YUMMY!

3. Freshly picked apples: When they were not eating the apples right from the trees, T and the kids picked this bounty on Sunday afternoon. I see at least one apple pie and some caramel apples in our future.

1. Freshly pressed apple cider: Delicious! We've tried it cold, but I'm thinking warm apple cider with cinnamon sticks. That's if we don't run out soon!

And a bonus good treat: We picked up our third package of 12-count Pumpkin Pie Pop Tarts for the season. Not healthy, nor freshly picked or baked, just simple bad-for-you goodness!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Our house in the middle of our street

I've not been feeling well during the past two weeks, so I've spent a LOT of time lounging around the house resting, watching daytime TV, and other exciting activities such as coughing, taking antibiotics, coughing, napping, drinking fluids, coughing, and whatnot.

I'm feeling better now - thank goodness, but when I spend so much time in the house I tend to go a little stir cRaZy! I also tend to contemplate my surroundings, and dream about all the changes we could make to our humble abode especially after being inspired by Nate Berkus on NBC, and other home improvement gurus a la HGTV.

We've lived in our house for nearly eight years now, so of course, there are big changes we would love to make like remodeling the yucky blucky basement, installing hardwood floors, or creating a backyard oasis with and an inground swimming pool and a cabana, and . . . Hey, a girl can dream, can't she?

Despite my big dreams for our little house, there are many things I do like about it.

Here are three of my favorites:

2. The porch: It's great for sitting, holiday displays, and photo ops. So homey - it was a must-have feature when we built our house years ago.

3. The island: The hub of our kitchen! Great for cookie baking, meal prep, storing stuff, plopping down groceries, mail collecting, and more!

1. The laundry area: It's not really a room, but a nook off the kitchen. For six years, our washer and dryer was located in said yucky blucky basement. I'm NOT a fan of the basement, and lugging laundry up and down two flights of stairs had started to become increasingly difficult for me due to the limitations from my illness. Cue the laundry room make-over by Mike the carpenter, and his buddy Joe the plumber - not THE Joe the plumber, but just a plumber named Joe. Those guys made all my laundry dreams come true! Not really, but the relocation/remodel has made doing this household task much easier for all of us, and I think it looks pretty cool, too!

A porch, an island, and a main-floor laundry area - three good things in our house in the middle of our street. What are yours?