Friday, October 30, 2009

"I want to be a part of it - new york, new york"



Nate woke up and started singing New York, New York today. I thought I would barely make it through my last day of work, but here it is...almost 4:30!

Only 15 hours until take-off time!

Photo Source: Naumachos_1963 via Flickr

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Photo of my Napkin Rings

Coyotes ARE Dangerous!

Remember my coyote story from Phoenix?

Well my sister just emailed me this story.

I guess I had a reason to be afraid! ha ha ha

Deal of the Century


Nate turned me on to shopping at Boston Store, which is a Macy's-like department store in the Midwest. (Or maybe they are everywhere, I'm not sure).

Boston Store has these yellow-dot sections where things are 85% off. I am in love with these sections. Nate & I will go there and only shop the 85% off racks. Last night, I was in Boston Store to make a return and I thought I would peruse some of the racks. I found this cute Ralph Lauren dress that looked like a short sleeve white shirt on top with a black skirt with a scalloped/eyelet edging and a patent black belt. It was very Kristin Davis/Charlotte York (as in the picture above). I looked at the tag and it was still $156 even on clearance. Then i noticed a TINY sign that said: "Dresses: $4.99". Well, if it WAS going to be $4.99, I had to try it on. It fit perfectly. I took it to the counter and asked how much it was. "$4.99" came the reply! The original price on the dress was $168! I think this might be the best deal I ever have gotten.

It is going to be a great Cruise outfit!

Photo Source: MSNBC Media

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Recent Crafting

Saturday morning I made my 2nd Birdie Sling.



I made this one without the fusible fleece lining. I really love it and hope the recipient does too!

The band and handle fabric (and also the interior pockets) are made of the Mid Century Modern Wave fabric in Mustard. I got this fabric in the fabric.com clearance section and notice it isn't there any more and I have no idea who makes it. The blue floral fabric is Anna Maria Horner's Garden Party Fabric in AH15Navy.

Last night i also finished some napkin rings. The napkin rings were our October sewing club project:


I like how mine turned out - I will have to upload pictures. These are really easy:

1. Out of fabric 1, cut as many 4" x 8" rectangles as you want napkin rings. I made six. Out of fabric 2, cut the same number of 4" x 8" rectangles. Out of fusible interfacing, cut the same number of 4" x 8" rectangles. Each napkin ring will contain three rectangles: Fabric 1, Fabric 2 and the Interfacing.

2. Fuse your interfacing to one of the fabrics for each ring.

3. Place your fabric 1 and fabric 2 rectangles right sides together and pin. You should have 6 rectangles.

4. Using a ruler, draw two angled lines on one short end of each rectangle to form a point. See photo below:

Repeat for all six rectangles.

5. Sew along the lines that you just drew as well as around each rectangle, using a 1/4" seam allowance. Leave a small opening on the other short end of the rectangle so you can pull them right side out. You will probably want to clip the corners before doing so.

6. Turn right side out and fold in the opening and press. Topstitch along the entire napkin ring. This will close the hole and finish them off!

7. Now for the grommets. I used 3/8" grommets for each. I measured 1-1/2" from the point and make a mark. You will need a grommet kit to attach the grommets. I bought mine at Lowe's for $8. Follow the instructions on the grommet kit to install the grommets.

8. Cut 18" of coordinating ribbon and feed it through the grommet. Wrap napkin ring and ribbon around napkin and tie a bow near the grommet. Voila! Perfect project for the upcoming holidays!

Cruising into 2010

While at the moment I am very excited for our upcoming 11-day jaunt to NYC and Philly, I am happy that our next vacation is not too far away: We will be starting 2010 off right with a seven day cruise through the Caribbean!

Our stops are in St. Maarten, St. Thomas & St. John and Castaway Cay.

Merry Christmas to us courtesy of my in-laws!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Noooo Reservaaaations

Anyone who claims to NOT find Anthony Bourdain entertaining must watch the No Reservations episode where he goes to Romania. So many great one liners...we were cracking up.

I think my favorite part was when Zamir, his travel companion, took him to a hotel that was a result of a "motel 6 having sex with a renaissance fair". The hotel was catering to the tourists that only came to Romania to indulge in their Dracula fantasies. I wish I had thought to tape the episode so I could pull it out on a bad day for a laugh.

I am a few chapters into Kitchen Confidential and am enjoying it.

The Beauty Sample Sale is Coming to MKE!

Ok, it is quite obvious how excited I am to go to NYC on Saturday. HOWEVER, I am bummed that I will miss out on the Milwaukee PrettyCity.com Beauty Sample Sale!

Tickets cost $10 if you purchase by Thursday.

What is The Beauty Sample Sale™

A beauty bonanza bringing together the best names in beauty, all under one roof.

Guests will sample complimentary beauty services courtesy of the world's prettiest brands, from hair care to skin care from cosmetics to cosmeceuticals.

The sampling doesn't stop there; sample on the go with goodie bags featuring full and sample size products.

Oh, and did we mention "samplings" of cocktails, sweet treats and more?

OH MY GOD I am a sucker for the goody bag. BOO to missing this!!

Click here for more info and to grab your tickets!

Pumpkins are Carved

Last Friday we crossed another of the 30 best restaurants in Milwaukee off our list. We had dinner with a bunch of friends at Maxie's Southern Comfort. I had pumpkin chicken soup, sweet potato frites, a pulled pork sandwich and bbq beans. Nate had jambalaya. We shared oysters with some others. All in all I have to say it was a good meal, although nothing that really knocked it out of the park. After dinner we headed to the C's house for Apples to Apples. Given my love for any board game, I had a great night. Oh, and I won 2 of the 3 games. ha ha ha

Saturday I made another birdie sling and we made two different pot roasts as my dad, his GF, my bro, niece, sister & her BF were coming over for dinner. The roasts turned out really well however, our house smelled like beef for a couple of days. After dinner we brought in our pumpkins for Toni to help carve. She loved it and even tried a bite of the raw pumpkin!



We also had birthday cake as the birthdays of my dad, brother and sister are pretty close together. The cake made Toni a little spastic and she entertained us for the rest of the night.

I also gave my sister her birdie sling as we are going to be in Philadelphia over her real birthday. She loved it! Woohooo.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Countdown to NYC: When You're a Jet, You're a Jet All the Way



We just purchased our West Side Story tickets!!! One week from tomorrow it'll be Jets vs. Sharks for us!

Photo Source: Harpers Bazaar

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Our dinner with the Tsar

Thanks for all of the comments on the shoes! One of my pairs of clarks is in fact a privio (black ballet slipper type) and the mary janes are from the artisan collection. So I guess I'm not all that old, ha ha ha.

Old MD Girl is right though - the bunions are starting to hurt. I had my ankle/foot x-rayed after my wedding mishap in August and the doctor called me - "your foot is not broken, but you do have a bunion starting. you should really try to avoid pointy toed and high heeled shoes". Yeah. right. Anyhoo, thanks OMDG for the recommendations. {BTW, do YOU know the story behind the invention of latex gloves? Scandalous - and I love it. ha ha ha. Check it out.}

Silky J, I am jealous that you will have the Puma shoes. I felt like Cinderella's ugly stepsister willing them to fit me that day in the store :)

SO. Enough about shoes. I must report on our most excellent dinner with the tsar last night! I mentioned we were going to check out Lagniappe Brassiere for their special menu:

A Warm Taste of The Eastern Blocks

Закуска

Prussian White Borscht
Delicious Kielbasa and our own fermented rye

Siberian Salad
Diced beet, egg, herring (just a pinch), sweet onion, cucumber and cottage cheese

Доступ

Petrograd Stroganov of Beef
Choice beef tenderloin, button mushrooms, Osborne oak sherry and soured cream with cornichons

Kubiak of Alaskan Salmon
Layers of tarragon scented crepes, shallots and rich wild salmon

Chicken Kiev
Free range breast of chicken with a rich European style herb butter


десерт

Strawberries Romanoff
Ripe fruits, Curacao, whipped cream and fresh mint

Yes, part of the menu really was in Russian!!

The waitress brought out a variety of warm breads with duck liver pate, butter and oregano infused olive oil. All were very good.

Both of us chose the salad over the borscht for the first course and it was a wise choice. I must say I never have put cottage cheese on a salad before but I liked the mix!

For the entree, I selected the beef tenderloin and Nate went with the salmon crepes so that we could go half-sies. I can't say that I really preferred one entree over the other - both were really delicious.

The dessert was a cashew cookie with strawberries, whipped cream and mint. I had mine sans strawberries (allergy) and it was divine. I seriously have been tempted to email the chef for the recipe for those.

All in all, it was a fantastic night. Nate even let me call him Yuri a couple of times. :) Apparently the restaurant frequently does these theme nights so we can't wait for the next one! In case you are in the mood for some Dr. Z action, click here

Next up on our restaurant list...tomorrow night at Maxies!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

I bit the bullet and bought not one but TWO pairs of practical shoes...I AM getting old.

We leave for NYC in a mere ten days. AAHHH!HH!!

I am already having a panic attack over what I will pack. I basically have 9 days of fun clothes to pack and 3 days of work clothes. and shoes. I have a tendency to overpack and to spill on things the first time I wear them. Therefore, Tide pens are a travel must for me. I am attempting to actually think about and plan what I will bring rather than throw a bunch of clothes in my suitcase an hour before I leave (the usual plan).

Admittedly, I am not one that NEEDS much in the way of shoes and/or clothes. However, I tend to buy shoes that are on sale and I don't ever really think about comfort. There are two exceptions to this: Boots and Running shoes. I actually have researched and sought out nice black and brown boots since they are somewhat of a staple. Same for running shoes.

SOOOO Nate warns me that NYC will be a lot of walking. (Read: Don't bring any shoes that will cause you to whine to me that your feet hurt). Again, besides sneakers, I don't really have any shoes that fall into this category. So... I was looking for was a pair of black shoes that were comfy to walk in but still stylish enough that they could "toe the line" (pun intended) of dressy/casual the way that sneakers cannot. Again, my newfound love of Land's End provided a few options that I was interested in. AH also confirmed that she in deed had a few Land's End shoes that she was in love with. I tried a few on at the inlet but wasn't that sold on them. I have difficulty finding flats that actually fit my foot. My foot is long and thin - so I need a size 10 but often they are too wide for my foot so then they a) are not comfortable and b) look bad. I felt like many of the land's end shoes made my feet look enormous.

Then HC came to the Badger game wearing these cute Puma shoes in a perfect grayish/brown color. SOLD! I wanted to buy them ASAP. They were at the Puma outlet but again - the size 10 fit the length of my foot but was way too wide. Not Sold!

After a few other attempts, I ended up going with a pair of Clarks. Seriously - I shopped for my Clarks with the 82 year olds and bought not one but two pairs. A pair of patent brownish/purple mary janes (photo below) and a pair of black leather skimmers (couldn't find a photo). Both were comfy and because it was the outlet, I got a good deal. My footwear for NYC/Philly is complete! (Although I may have to sneak in just ONE crazy pair ha ha ha).

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Lara would love my $12 Target Dress Too

Ahhh. Our massages and steam treatments were nice. If I could figure out how to make one of those steam canopies for my bed, I would. So nice & warm!

After massages Nate-O & I took his brothers through the third ward before the rehearsal dinner. I found this Jamie Oliver cookbook at Retique for $8 so I was excited. Friday night was Gallery night in the 3rd ward so Blush was at Retique doing makeovers so I also got some fun eye makeup done.

The wedding was fun - our last of the 2009 season! And we actually cannot think of one engaged couple so the 2010 season is looking slim!

The ceremony was very beautiful and incorporated a lot of wonderful music. The bride is a music teacher and was a soloist in our wedding so we knew the music would be stellar. The reception venue was actually really classy - we didn't know what to expect from the Harley museum. There were Irish Dancers and matchmaking abound during the dance. Congrats to the newlyweds!

Nate wore his three-piece suit, ever the showstopper. I recyled my dress from the Wilde Wedding (a $12 Target special). This dress is now my go-2 dress. During wedding #1, I received a ton of compliments on it. One bridesmaid even went so far to say that it was the best dress of the wedding. The same thing happened at wedding #2 over the weekend. I think the server at our table was secretly plotting how she was going to rip it off me and run away. Ladies, next time you are searching through those Target clearance racks and find a fancy brown dress that you have no idea what you would wear it to, just buy it. It may become the best thing in your closet! Unfortunately I bought this dress last summer before BLK's wedding so I don't think it is available anymore.

We are now addicted to the show, The Wire. This was recommended to us by several friends so we put season one on hold at the library. It is an excellent show. We are just five years late to the table.

This Wednesday we are excited to check out Lagniappe Brasserie. We first heard of this restaurant at the Wisconsin State Fair, after eating a lamb sandwich prepared by the LB chef. I gave him my email to get the recipe for the lamb, which he sent and I now am on the restaurant email list. They are having a special Russian menu this Wednesday only. In my fantasty, I will be pretending to be in Doctor Zhivago. I told Nate my plan, that he could be Yuri and I would be Lara, and he just laughed. I had to remind him that HE gave me a musical card that plays the Zhivago theme once upon a time. Anyway, LB is on someone's list of the top 30 restaurants in MKE that we have been working through.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Our New Toy



Ha! These are the types of fun pictures you get when you get invited to a wedding at the Harley Davidson Museum. Fun times!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Free Linda & Harriett Notecard



Enjoy pretty paper? Linda & Harriett is giving away notecards in honor of Liz's mom's birthday. Click on the link above for details - deadline is Monday October 19 at Noon EST.

Photo from Linda & Harriet

Our last wedding of 2009

I am excited that it is finally Friday. This week was a long one and I didn't get to bed before 11 PM one night. This is an hour and a half later than I try to get to bed. (I know - this is super early but I NEED my sleep!)

Later this afternoon JN & I are getting customized steam treatments and 30 minute massages at Metamorphosis for only $31 as part of the Pretty in Pink deal at prettycity.com. After that Nate & I are headed to the rehearsal dinner of JS & CG at the usual Schlotty-Speiser hangout, Joey Buenos. The wedding's tomorrow at the picturesque Holy Hill Basilica with dinner and reception at the Harley Davidson Museum. Yes, you heard (actually, read) me right. I am excited as this is one reception venue we have not been to before!

Enjoy the weekend!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

It's in the Bag

The bags are done!

First up, the Birdie Sling:




I am very pleased with how this turned out and can't wait to give it to she who shall not be named that is turning 2-1 next month. (and also doesn't read my blog so I know this will be safe)

The inside is also lined with several pockets:



The yellow fabric is Amy Butler Lotus Wall Flower Mustard and the green (top border with handle) is the Amy Butler Midwest Modern Garden Maze Olive. I know for a fact that the inteded recipient will like the mustard fabric - she was here when it was delivered and was oogling it.



Now for the pattern review:
I thought this was an easy pattern. I thought that the material requirements listed were very generous - I used maybe 3/4 yard of the mustard and not the 2 and 1/4 that is called for in the pattern. I think the fusible fleece is a bit overkill. It makes the bag a bit heavy, although I think one could carry heavier items with it in there. Some reviews of this pattern that I found online said they had a hard time with the gussets. I think because my bachelorette bags and the clutch I made both had gussets, I didn't have an issue with them. I plan on making a few more of these for some upcoming November Birthdays.

And Bag #2: The Frenchy Bag Handbag.

This is the smaller version of the shoulder bag I made for BLK. This is also a birthday present getting shipped off tomorrow.




It is lined in some fun fabric as well:


Fabrics used for this bag include Mid Century Modern Wave in Mustard, the Blue fabric is Arcadia by Sanae for Moda Fabrics, and the Lining Fabric is Joel Dewberry Rose. I ordered the mustard and lining fabric from fabric.com and the moda was in a fat quarter bundle that i bought from Patched Works in Elm Grove.

The Frenchy Bag pattern is VERY easy. It is a good beginner bag. Again, I would say that you don't need nearly as much material as Ms. Butler says you do, especially if you mix and match materials for the pockets, lining, etc.

Countdown to NYC: We'll be roommates with Penelope Cruz, ha ha ha



You may have heard that Penelope Cruz will make a cameo appearance in the second Sex & The City movie.

What you may not have heard is that she is staying in the Empire Hotel.

THE SAME hotel that Nate & I will be checking into in a mere 16 days.

Hot Damn, I'm excited!

(BTW, Her 2007 Oscar dress (above, Versace) remains one of my favorites.)

Say it with me now: WOOHOO!

A lot of woohoo!s to share with you today:

1. I {finally} sold my old sewing machine on Craigslist. And the person that came to my house to buy it was not a creepy psycho. (I always worry about that!)

2. I made my aunt Jane's meatballs, homemade arrabiata sauce and spaghetti for dinner last night and it was fabulous.

3. I am a new found lover of the Land's End Inlet store. I got a pair of cords and a pair of slate chinos for $19.88 total. They fit perfectly and even were long enough! This store was basically in my backyard for the last 2 and 1/2 years and I never went in because I thought LE was for "old" people. Well maybe this is one of the signs that I am getting old.

4. My birdie sling bag is almost done!

5. Midterm grades are done and handed in!

6. We leave for NYC in 16 days!!

7. A paper I have been working on for work was FINALLY submitted!

8. And my biggest woohoo occurred this morning. As is well known, I am a huge fan of Bruce Springsteen. Nate even drove me to Cleveland over the summer to check out the special Bruce exhibit at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. My friend CP and I have tickets to the 11/15 show in Milwaukee. I will don my homemade I HEART BRUCE shirt and we will get there early in hopes to get as close to the front as possible (we ponyed up for the most expensive general admission seats). This tour, Bruce is playing entire albums from start to finish. This morning they announced that the Milwaukee show will feature BORN TO RUN! I love this album and it contains one of my all-time favorite songs, Thunder Road. I MISSED the announcement because I was in the shower, but thanks to my mom and Nate who called me to tell me and the several emails I got this morning as well. WOOHOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Don't "Squash" My Plans, Jo-Ann Fabrics Lady!

A coworker recently went on vacation and another coworker and I split her CSA box of veggies. We took home 3 delicata squash. I had never had this type of squash before and last night we took the plunge. Well, Nate & I each ate a squash EACH. They were so yummy! We may have to fight over the remaining one, ha ha ha.

Check out Alex wearing the onesie I made him! So cute! I might have to make more of those.


My latest project is the Birdie Sling for a certain girl turning the big 2-1 next month. I have all the pieces cut out and half of them are fused with the interfacing. I am having a little difficulty with the fusible fleece in that it is not fusing. I almost think that the woman at Jo-Ann's sold me the wrong thing. I'm not saying that if I worked at Jo-Ann's that I would be the most pleasant woman on earth (that store is always ALWAYS crazy busy) but seriously - the employee is crabby in 85% of the interactions I have there. The woman cutting all of my interfacings a couple of nights ago was certainly no exception. "What do you need all of this for". "I'm making a bag". "Oh, well i've made millions of purses and have never used any of this before." Well lah-de-dah lady. I'm sure the fusible fleece is likely optional but I always like to try to make one bag how the instructions indicate and modify from there.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Books!



Our October book was When Crickets Cry by Charles Martin. In general, I would say this book was a quick, easy read but a little too melodramatic and unrealistic for me. Not that every book I like has to be realistic (e.g. Harry Potter) but, in my opinion, it seemed like the author was trying to get you to identify with the characters and I didn't. Someone in the club mentioned that the book reminded her of one of those nicholas sparks movies, which I would say is right on. I gave this book 2 stars on my Goodreads profile (out of 5).

Since we did a bit of travel via Amtrak recently, I have also read a lot of additional books. Case Histories was recommended to me by an avid read friend and I really enjoyed it. It is sort of a combo mystery/novel. I started this in the morning and finished it by evening because I couldn't put it down. I really like books that intertwine bunch of characters and stories and bring them together. I gave this book 4 stars on my Goodreads profile.

Speaking of which, People of the Book (which I mentioned yesterday) is another type of those intertwining books. I LOVED THIS BOOK. A bookseller from The Little Read Book recommended it to me when my mom, aunt & I went there during Diva Night otherwise I'm not sure that I would have come across this gem. I gave it 5 stars in my Goodreads profile.

I also read The Wonder Spot, which was sent to me ages ago by CD. This is by the same author as The Girls Guide to Hunting and Fishing, so if you liked that book, you will probably like this one. I actually liked The Wonder Spot better than The Girls Guide but both received 3 stars in my Goodreads profile.

Next up:

I am currently reading (if you count being on page 3 as "reading") The Map of Love. This book was a Booker Prize finalist. I have a very strong bias towards Booker Prize books - I had never heard of the prize until college when I took an English course which was all about books of the Booker Prize. It was one of my favorite classes I have ever taken and one where I was way out of my league, surrounded by English majors that I had major crushes on.

November's book club selection is The Sportswriter by Richard Ford. I will be missing the meeting due to being in Philly but will probably still read this.

Anything good that YOU have been reading?

Monday, October 12, 2009

Rando Recap

We've been busy!

Friday night we checked out Haute Taco with a colleague from work. We both really liked it - beware the pork taco is SPICY.

Saturday we were hit with the "F" word, which for this time of year in Wisco, means FROST. Just like that, our gardening was done for the year. I am happy to say that our zucchini, tomato and basil were very kind to us this year. Our cucumbers, not so much. Something kept eating them and therefore we did not get one. There is an awkward row of bushes in our front yard that we have been wanting to get rid of or move. One of the most annoying ones was this half dead chokeberry bush. Nate went in with an ax and shovel and voila! no more chokeberry bush!

Saturday evening we saw Spring Awakening. It was a great musical! We both really enjoyed it.

Yesterday we made a big pot of beef stew, went to the outlet mall and settled in with some stew & wine for Amazing Race. Nate recently was in Iowa for work and on the way home, he & his colleauges stopped at a winery. He brought me back two bottles for a souvenier. We had the Coco last night and it was tasty - great with the stew!

I also finished a great book - People of the Book. I highly recommend it. Speaking of books, tonight is book club!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Man Shops Globe



Are you an Anthropologie fan? If so, you may want to check out Man Shops Globe tomorrow night!

Sundance channel at 9 PM Central Time.

I Heart Anthony Bourdain

Now that the Green Bay Packers vs. Minnesota Vikings game is over, we can move on from Brett Favre vs. Aaron Rodgers to more important things like:

Adam Richman of Man vs. Food


vs.

Anthony Bourdain of No Reservations (among other things)


Both shows are current obsessions of ours. I would definitely pick Anthony, and although I haven't asked him, I think Nate would pick Adam. Kitchen Confidential is now on my must-read list.

More blood draws and the freakin' health insurance system

I called the pharmacy to refill my Astelin nasal spray yesterday and found out I didn't have any refills. I then called the doctor to get a refill and ended up having to go in for an annual physical...I suppose so they don't think I'm OD'ing on nasal spray.

I was in the room and she mentioned that it was time for a cholesterol test. ICK. More blood draws. Luckily it was only one tube and I actually made it through SITTING UP in the chair and no woozy feeling. That is two successful blood draws in two weeks!

I also got my flu shot yesterday...except I could get the nasal mist instead of the shot! I was pumped about that!

Along with these successes, yesterday was also a glorious occassion because I finally "settled" a insurance saga that began with a routine eye exam in JULY 2008.

My health insurance is VERY good given that I work for an academic medical center. The vision coverage is a little tricky, however, because the exam is covered by my health insurance and you can opt in to take on a supplemental vision insurance plan to cover either one pair of glasses or one pair of contacts per year. It also gets complicated by the fact that you have to go one place for the exam and ELSEWHERE if you need glasses. My first year working here I wanted to go to one place to get it all taken care of and I checked with my HR office AND my insurance before I went and they said it was fine - it would be covered. I got my exam and glasses and voila - had to pay out of pocket the $250 for the exam because in all actuality, the provider was NOT covered. I called both HR and my insurance back and they said, as you might expect, "too bad. so sad". Sigh.

So, I ended up going to an opthamologist here on last year. After my routine eye exam last year (which is suppossed to be covered by my health insurance), I received a $55 bill. Without inquiring WHY I had to pay $55, I gave them my supplemental vision insurance information, which paid it.

Then, because I get either one pair of glasses or contacts "free" from my supplemental vision insurance per year, I ordered glasses on 12/27/08. I didn't really NEED new glasses, but I figured since i had paid for the insurance all year, I might as well get a pair. On 1/10/09 I got a bill for $155 saying the insurance did not cover it. WTF. WELL, the $55 charge back in July 2008 was for a contacts fitting fee so my insurance assumed I had gotten contacts and therefore used up my one freebie per year. HOWEVER, I did NOT get contacts at the visit - it was an erroneous charge. I then had to call my eye doctor to get the charge dropped and have them refund the insurance company before the insurance company would pay for my glasses.

Most people would have just said screw it and paid the $155 bill.

NO NO NO. NOT ME.

I made countless phone calls and emails to the eye doctor billing office to get the the $55 refunded to my insurance company. Although the billing agent agreed that I was charged this fitting fee erroneously, I had to call her weekly for a period of four months until she actually sent the refund through in JULY 2009. ONE YEAR AFTER MY EXAM! Because this billing agent apparently never answers her phone, OR returns voicemails, I wasn't ever sure if the check had been cut so I also called my insurance company weekly to see if they had gotten the refund.

MEANWHILE, I was calling the place where I got my glasses promising that their $155 was on the way...

I thought this was all settled then last week I got another $155 bill for the freakin' glasses?! ARGH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Yesterday I made ONE MORE phone call to the insurance woman who confirmed that they received the $55 in July and then sent the $155 to the glasses place on 8/13/09. I called them to confirm this and they received the $155. "The bill must have been sent in error".

And THAT ladies and gentleman, is how you handle having eye insurance these days.

This whole cycle almost started AGAIN when I received a bill after my July 2009 eye appointment for the EXACT SAME CONTACTS CHARGE! WTF? This time, though I knew enough to call and ask what I was getting charged for and they realized (again) that the charge was made in error.

My friend HC and I were recently talking about how we (she also works for the same place) have the most optimal insurance of anyone using this facility and if we have these kind of problems, what does that mean for everyone else?!

Monday, October 5, 2009

9 months down...Return to the Resolution List

The year is three-quarters over so I have been reflecting on my new years resolutions.

1. Logging my running miles. Ugh. This one is down the toilet. I started off strong, made it to the one-quarter mark and that is that. Maybe it will reappear on the 2010 list.

2. Triathlon. Definitely not happening in 2009.

3. Clean/Organize closets: Done!

4. Read 30 books. I think I can do this. As of today I have read the following 23 books since 1/1/09:
White Teeth
The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao
The Girls Guide to Hunting and Fishing
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Julie & Julia: 365 days, 524 recipes, 1 tiny apartment kitchen
The Great Man: A Novel
The Boy in the Striped Pajamas
Anna Karenina
Revolutionary Road
Animal Vegetable Miracle: A Year of Food Life
North River: A Novel
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
Possession: A Romance
The God of Small Things
Love and Other Impossible Pursuits
The Book Thief
Commencement: A Novel
Farm City
The Girl who Played with Fire
The Likeness: A Novel
When Crickets Cry
The Wonder Spot
Case Histories: A Novel

Only 7 left to go!
Sidebar: What is up with books having ":A Novel" in the title?

5. Various cooking-related goals. I have to retry the lemon meringue pie before new years eve and try making ribs.

6. Send 52 letters/cards to family friends for non-birthday reasons. This is not going to happen either. But, I really want to get on Press & Post subscription next year to help me fulfill it.

7. Learn to knit. Done!

8. Make the Stitch Skirt. I started making a different skirt in this magazine and I'm not sure about it. It is kind of a wrap skirt and first I sewed the pieces together wrong, ripped it out, and then sewed them the EXACT same way the second time. Luckily the 3rd time was a charm. Then I had to sew the placket on. I wasn't really sure what a placket was and attached it to the skirt on what I thought (based on reading the instructions) was correct. I even had to HAND STITCH part of it and I got it all done and it looked beautiful and then I looked up what a placket was. Turns out it is NOT suppossed to go along the waistband, like I thought. It should go down the front to provide reinforcement for the buttons. After I realized that, no more work has been done on the hot pink linen wrap skirt. And now that hot pink linen really won't work for the fall/winter season, I'm not so sure I'm going to finish that anytime soon!

9. Vacation. We had to abandon the Europe trip and instead are spening a week in NYC! WOOHOO!

And now...the house related resolutions:

1. Finish the kitchen. We have to convert our current situation from electric to gas and buy the stove. Seriously..we are dragging on this! This exact same sentence appeared in my 6 month recap. No work in the past 3 months on this! however, we did schedule an appointment to do the conversion so this will definitely be done in 2009.

2. Replace all heat vent covers. Done!

3. Bathroom. We are having a plumber come and assess the moving the toilet situation. It all depends on that, folks so we'll see what he says!

4. Landscaping. Done!

5. Move the piano. Done!

It looks like nine of my fourteen resolutions will be accomplished. 64%. That is a "D". Oh well. I would say 2009 has been a really great year regardless.

Leggings, Skinny Jeans, Yummy Cheese, Birthdays and of course, Magazines!

We came home from Chicago on Friday afternoon quite exhausted so dinner consisted of frozen pizza and Orangina. We watched Away We Go which we both liked. It is a very sweet movie, with a lot of laughs. The soundtrack, aka Alexi Murdoch, also is a delight.

Saturday Nate cooked me my favorite breakfast (two over easy eggs on top of sauteed red potatoes with herbs de provence AND coffee). He settled in for the long haul that is college football while I checked out the new Goodwill that opened nearby. I love Goodwill and spent two hours digging through all the racks. I ended up with 2 dresses, 2 hoodies, 2 piano books, and 4 shirts all for $25. For shiz. Then I made the big switcheroo of my summer/spring clothes to fall/winter, getting rid of another 2 huge bags of clothes in the process. After Nate helped me whittle down items last spring, I had a few items that I couldn't part with then but after another season of not wearing them, they are going out the door.

Two things that I finally broke down and recently bought: skinny jeans and leggings. My sis was forever trying to get me on the leggings bandwagon and I didn't budge until now. And now, of course, I am always wearing them - so comfy! I also am obsessed with my skinny jeans. I actually did buy a pair months ago and returned them because I was on the fence. This second pair I think fits me better.

Saturday night we were invited over for a spontaneous dinner and Scrabble playing with R&JN. I don't think that Nate or I won either of the two games, but it was a fun night.

Sunday Nate made grilled cheese (our Staple Sunday Lunch) with this fresh Basil Farmer cheese from Brennan's with Tomato Soup and fresh french bread from the Breadsmith. My mouth is actually watering for this meal again b/c it was so good. Sunday afternoon we headed to the Hartford Rotary Art Auction with Nate's parents and my mom. Nate is a Rotarian and the art auction was a fundrasier for his club. It was a fun time as well!

Happy birthday to my little bro who turns the big 2-6 today!

OH! And I have a zillion Google Reader items to catch up on but check out Lonny Magazine - a new online magazine that is very similar to Domino but only available online! I am not so sure about these online magazines - I would much rather have the print version, I think. Boo to the news that both Gourmet and Cookie magazines are dunzo.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

The Windy (and Rainy) City

We are back home after a whirlwind 3 days in Chicago.

Wednesday
We took the train to Union Station and decided to walk to our hotel. We decided that we would eat at XOCO right away since we would be walking past it. The wait was a mere 30 minutes and we dove into our sandwiches:
Jamon: La Quercia Prosciutto Americano, Otter Creek Organic cheddar, black beans, avocado, chipotle mustard and a fried egg. &
Milanesa: Crispy Gunthorp chicken, black beans, artisan Jack cheese, pickled jalapenos, tomatillo-avocado salsa.
It was DELICOUS. Our trip was off to a great start!

We arrived at our hotel and decided to walk up Michigan Avenue and Oak Streets. I had fun making Nate guess how much certain shoes were. After that Nate headed off to his conference and I met up with EA & DB to do a short run. It was great to be on the lakeshore path again. After our run we joined SR, LS & NA for dinner at Wilde. It was great to see my Boston training group again.

After dinner I met back up with Nate & TS at Hub 51 for a beer. They continued bar hopping but I headed back to bed.

Thursday
I got up early to meet MH for coffee before she had to be at work. After that I headed to Oak Park to see JT squared's new house and their dog, Mini. We had lunch at Francesca's Fiore. I had rigatoni with italian sausage, lentils and goat cheese and profiteroles with pistachio gelato covered in a warm chocolate sauce. YUM. After lunch JT and I went to the Frank Lloyd Wright Home & Studio tour which was also great. I was ready to move into the house!

I left Oak Park and went back downtown to meet Nate. I went to his cocktail reception with him where they had they really great mini tacos with steak or chicken, queso fresca, tomatillo salsa and onion. We weren't really hungry after the tacos so we went to Nordstrom. After that, we took advantage of free HBO, watched a few episodes of Entourage and went to bed.

Friday
Another early morning to meet BM before her morning lecture. We ate at Orange. Another great meal - I had an omelet with leeks, brie, bacon & avocado cream, rye toast and this DIY juice combo of pear & pineapple. After breakfast I took the train back downtown to meet Nate as his conference was closing. We walked to Millenium Park where we saw MANY dejected people in their Oympic hopeful gear walking back. This was shortly after it was announced that CHI would not be hosting the Olympics. We had to take our picture in the bean:

We walked over the bridge into the new wing of the Art Institute, walked to Macy's (formerly Marshall Fields) on State Street, and got some Garrett's Caramel Corn.

We checked out of the hotel and decided we needed to stop at Fox & Obel. This was a long walk out of the way with our suitcases and then it started raining. After getting a homemade marshmallow and a red velvet cupcake, we headed to Perry's Deli, for a corned beef deli sandwich, stopping for a white tea sparkler at Argo Tea on the way. It was my first time to Perry's - I realized I had a voicemail so I called my voicemail. All of these alarms started going off and people are looking at me and laughing. Apparently Perry's has a no cell phone rule with MANY signs that I had somehow missed all over the place. People were coming up to me thanking me for the laugh. It was pretty funny.

After Perry's we were back at Union Station to take the train back home. It was a great trip but we were both happy to be back in our house too!