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Monday, December 22, 2014

It's My Thursday

This 'weekend' is going to be here before I know it. :) And look how quickly I am writing about last weekend. Ha! That's because we actually did something this time.
 
Friday evening Matt and I hung out at home after going to the gym. I think I laid around reading while he watched TV. Love being lazy and doing nothing.


Saturday morning we went and blew glass. A month or so ago I had seen a Groupon for half off and I figured I might as well buy us 2 since it was something we had never done before.
Our Groupon was to make a ball glass ornament. We choose are colors and he started our ball. We both got to turn the rod around mixing the color in the fire which he said was 2200 degrees. After being in the fire for a few rounds, we got to blow into this tubular thing (after wiping it with an alcohol wipe, but still kinda gross) and he shaped the ball. He then made a loop on it to allow it to be hung.
He had us go one at time after listening to a quick one minute spew and we were still done within like 20 minutes. 
Overall, this was a fun experience at $20/pp - I would not pay $40/pp. Was definitely something different from what we have ever done. We both like doing new things so I am glad we are able to cross this off our 'doesn’t exist' list.
 
Afterwards, we went to Target and I bought some shampoo and conditioner - fun times! Stopped at Starbuck's for half off Peppermint drinks. McDonald's is MUCH better! Why do people insist Starbuck's is so good??? Just me??? Maybe. Had lunch at Chick-fil-a and redeemed our last 2014 calendar free item. I already have our 2015 cards activated and ready to be used in my purse.
Back to the house to do a little more research... because I for a Kindle Fire HD 6. It is a birthday present from me and Matt to me since I failed to ever find a new purse for my birthday. This device was on sale for $80 opposed to its normal price of $100. I already downloaded some free books from Amazon and I have 'checked out' some books from my local library. I have already read one book on it and it worked out nicely. I still prefer to read actual books, but this will be nice too.
We finished out the day with a little more shopping and some movie watching.
 
Sunday I didn’t want to do anything. So I didn’t. I read my Kindle until noon and then we ate lunch. Spent the rest of the day watching movies and more reading. I only left the house to go to Kroger and return some items to the library.
 
Movies we watched this weekend:
If I Stay -
I read this book awhile ago and the movie did not disappoint. I loved it! I think I cried twice. I hope they put the second book into a movie as well. 4.5 stars out of 5
The Maze Runner -
I also read these books and was curious as to how the movie would hold up to the books. And it didn’t disappoint. I can barely wait for the next movie! 4.5 stars out of 5
TMNT -
Talk about a disappointment. I remember watching these movies as a kid and I thought for sure this would be good. Nope. I sat through it all, but I stopped watching about 20 minutes into it. Did not hold my interest at all. 1 out of 5 stars

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Happy Hump Day

Only 4 more work days for me until Christmas vacation! Yay! I am GREATLY looking forward to having an extra long weekend... don’t know what I am going to do with myself! I do know I plan on lounging around the house doing nothing except for reading my new books (I bought myself 3 of my favorites for Christmas) and watching a bunch of movies. Then I go back to work for three days followed by a four day weekend. I am very thankful I have vacation time saved up and can take a few extra days off around the holidays. I thought about taking an entire week off, but in the end, I decided that was wasteful since I have nothing to do and nowhere to go and I should really save my days for future cruises and hopefully future maternity leave. Just saying!
 
I have almost all of my Christmas shopping done and all my presents are wrapped. I am on a roll!
I spent ALL day Saturday shopping - two malls, plus JC Penny's at another mall, Kohl's, Sam's, Best Buy and Meijer. Yep, that’s a lot of shopping. My legs ached from all the walking I did...
I bought myself several items for Christmas. After two hours, I had only been to one mall and Kohl's and had only bought one gift for someone else and a bunch of clothes for myself. Kohl's was having a great clearance sale and I had Kohl's cash and a coupon. But you know what? I barely spent any money. For $25 (after $20 Kohl's cash and a 15% off coupon), I bought 2 pairs of jeans, 6 shirts and panties. I previously bought a pair of jeans at Old Navy which ended up not fitting well and need to be returned... the price of those jeans are what the 2 new pairs cost me ($8 each). But everything else, I wrapped and they are under the tree. We set ourselves a spending limit this year and are allowed to buy ourselves some stuff we have been wanting to purchase. (Hence the new clothes and books.)
 
I feel bad I have barely bought Matt anything and I know for a fact he has bought me several things (I peeked at the credit card statement). Shhhhh!!! Don't tell him. He shops almost exclusively online which makes it hard to tell what and where he bought from though. That’s okay... I secretly like surprises even though they almost kill me because of the unknown. I usually annoy him until he gives me hints.
 
We have watched several movies lately:
The Giver - I LOVED this book when I first read it back in the 7th grade and while I re-read it about a year ago. I had been wanting to see this since it was in theater. I'm glad we waited until it came to DVD. It was alright and pretty true to the book, but I guess I was just expecting more. I give it 3.75 stars out of 5.
Let's Be Cops - Started off very funny and then quickly turned boring. I would have stopped watching had it not of been for Matt still watching it. He too thinks it was just okay. And I hate to say that because I LOVE these two on the show New Girl - Nick and Coach. BTW - hilarious show if you have never seen it. 3 out of 5 stars.
Reclaim - Had some boring parts, but I liked this movie. The entire concept was a bit nerve wrecking. I cannot imagine going through what these people go through. 4 out of 5 stars.
Good People - We stuck with this movie for 28 minutes... could not get into it.
We rented all of these movies from our local library. For free! If you haven’t discovered your local library, you are missing out. Check it out!

Phone picture

Going back to Christmas... I never did show you a picture of our tree this year.
Our tree has white lights already on the tree, but I wanted some color. I added three strands of color bulbs and I like how it turned out. I would have liked more color, but I refuse to buy any new lights. Especially considering next house (no current intentions to move), I hope to buy a new bigger tree. I recently saw a tree at Home Depot which had a remote control... push the button once = white LED lights, push it again = colored LED lights, push another time and get alternating lights and then push a fourth time = get different alternating light patterns. It was awesome! But cost $300 or $350 = not in my budget.
Besides, where would I put it? My current tree isn’t very large yet the only place we can put it in our living room is blocking the front door. We don’t use our front door, but it still looks ugly right there. Next house will for sure have a larger living room with a good spot for the Christmas tree.
 
I learned a secret while shopping on Amazon yesterday that I would like to share with you. If you don’t have $35 worth of participating products to qualify for free shipping, add a $25 gift card into your cart. I added one for Red Lobster and received free shipping. Yay! I think we are going to be subscribing to Amazon Prime in the near future and will no longer have this issue, but this is still good to know.
 
Speaking/Typing about Amazon... did you know you can download some free Kindle books? I knew this, but never took advantage of it. Monday, while at work, our computers weren’t working correctly and we were unable to work and I was bored out of my mind so I downloaded a few books and actually read a full book on it. The phone is too small to read on, but I think it would be fine reading on Matt's iPad. This does not mean I plan on reading this way normally, but it is nice to have the option while I am away from home with no books. I doubt I will buy any books though - what's the point of buying something I can never touch? Can get free books from the library as well.


Friday, December 12, 2014

The Wheels on the Bus Go Round and Round

 
I saw tat least hree of those little guys above throughout the city within the crosswalks. Any ideas what they are there for??? They seemed so out of place.
After eating our hotel breakfast, we got guidance from the wonderful hotel staff and headed to Walgreens to get our transit passes. Transit passes are on Mastercard credit card like things and cost $5 for the card. You then load money to your card to use the transit system within the city. For $10, you get all day access for 24 hours on the buses and trains. This is what we did on Saturday.
If you remember to register your card online the first day, you get your $5 back in the form of a credit on your card. Easy enough to do from my phone. Plus, the card is good for 5 years and between Matt and I and my parents, I am sure someone will use the cards over the next 5 years.
We learned a very important thing on our first bus ride... We thought you just stood up and got near the door to be let off. This is not the case. After missing two bus stops, my mom asked the driver if we could get off the bus. We were then informed you have to pull the cord above the windows to notify the driver you wanted off. This would have been embarrassing if there had been people on the bus, but luckily, we were the only ones on it and he seemed pretty nice about the whole thing. Lesson learned.
In case you are wondering, the buses were heated, clean and seemed safe. I would definitely ride on them again.
 
Our first bus ride took us to the Shedd Aquarium.
Took some good shots of downtown Chicago and then headed into the building. Which, by the way was stunning with all the attention to detail in the ceiling tiles to the molding around the doors to the light fixtures.
We had purchased a Groupon ($48) for our admission into the aquarium so we stood in a different line then the people waiting to pay. Took such a long time to actually get into the place. Locker rental costs $0.75. Well worth it since it allowed us to not have to carry anything.
Admission included a free show with dolphins and beluga whales and a 4-D showing of Ice Age. I believe this was my first time seeing beluga whales and I gotta say, they are beautiful animals. I think they are even prettier then dolphins.
He looks like he is smiling.

Navy Pier from the aquarium...
After three hours of wondering around the aquarium and seeing all there was to see, we took another bus to Navy Pier. It was freezing being out on the water! Thankfully, most of the pier has an indoor area which will take you down most of the pier, but once we were exposed to the wind outside, it took everything in me to enjoy the views and take a few pictures. Good thing I enjoy a good adventure!
The above picture is out of place. I just left it though.

I can see how this place would be fun during the warmer months though. I would want to ride the Ferris wheel here in the summer. And I imagine there are a bunch of vendors with carts selling all sorts of foods.
 
Once done at Navy Pier, we took another bus to Portillo's for lunch. This was my choice to eat and it was exactly like I remember it. So damn good! The food and the environment were exactly what I was wanting to experience.
Back to the hotel for a quick stop before walking back to the bus stop to take a bus to see Lincoln Park's Zoo Lights. They had the entire park decorated for Christmas. No cameras can do this place justice. It was beautiful! And free!
Check out this view from the zoo - wish I lived here!
They had a few indoor areas where you could see some of the animals.
Aren't they cute?
This is where/when we messed up with the bus routes.... we went to the same bus stop as where we had been dropped off... Not thinking about the direction it was headed, we got on that bus. After about an hour of it not turning around, we finally got off of it after I asked a guy next to us if it was ever going to turn around. He said it would get to the ending point and then they usually make everyone get off and go on another bus. We should have caught a bus on the opposite side of the road. In hindsight, DUH!
So we got off the bus, crossed the street and noticed we had just missed the bus. Dang it! And on top of that, the bus stop sign said one only comes every 30 minutes opposed to the less than 10 minutes we had gotten used to within the city. Not only was it cold, but it also seemed like we were in a bit of a sketchy area with nothing too close to us. I would have preferred a store nearby with nearby people. Thank GOD a bus came after about 15 minutes! 2.5 or 3 hours later, we were back downtown. Yay! Lesson number 2 learned.
 
Next stop was to the John Hancock Building to experience 360 Chicago. Only when we got there, we were told they had just closed early for a private party. Well dangit - had we not of taken the wrong bus, we would have made it! No worries - thanks to my in-depth prior research and the girl at the counter, we knew to go upstairs to the Signature Room for drinks to take in the views. Chicago at night was absolutely stunning to see from way up on the 96th floor. Beautiful! We only stayed for about 5 minutes though since my mom couldn't tolerate the thought of being so high up (she's afraid of heights). I managed to snap a few pictures.
Off to the Magnificent Mile to walk the road at night and see the lights! We shopped around Eataly where we had authentic cannolis. YUMMY! I could have ate like five more if they would have allowed me to have them for free and I wasn't worried about gaining 10 pounds. Ha ha ha! If only!
After desert, we went back to Portillo's to bring dinner back (ribs for me) to the room and then went to sleep. I was pooped - didn’t stay up very long to read.
 
Sunday morning we slept in a bit, ate another hotel breakfast and headed out for our last few hours before heading to the airport. We knew we wanted to see the Hershey store and Water Tower Mall which is 8 stories of shopping.
While at the mall, we saw Garrett's Popcorn and I knew we had to try it. (I had read about it online.) It didn’t disappoint. I had cheddar and bought Matt and a bag of the caramel pecan. He enjoyed his as well.
 
Ate one last time (third time) at Portillo's for lunch. I had the hotdog, cheese fries and strawberry milkshake again. It was all delicious! I already miss it!
 
Well, that's our weekend trip.
Had lots of fun. Like all my vacations, it went by too quickly.
I really don’t have anything negative to say about the entire experience. I hope to come here again within the next few years during the warmer months and have a whole other experience. Maybe I can convince Matt to come here and we can explore the streets together. Probably not though - odds are, the next time I come here will be with my mom again. Matt hates 'the big city'.