Our Boys

Friday, July 30, 2010

How many licks does it take?

Lucy and Tucker were stuck inside all day because I was outside with my best girlfriends having a yard sale. Tucker was quite anxious and took to licking the window...

(sorry the video is sideways...I took it with my phone and can't flip it!)

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Words to live by...

She may not be my fairy godmother, but I feel like she's always out there...with just what I need to hear...

"I'm realizing more and more and more that life is
exactly that. A day, a moment of pure joy, perfection, interspersed
amongst confusion and chaos. THAT IS LIFE at its most real reality.
They all blend us to make us what we are, what we are becoming ~ what we choose to do with our joy and sorrow is a constant
struggle. If we didn't have a perfect day, a disastrous day once in a
while amidst the majority of the "boring is good" days and weeks, it would just be too vanilla."

Amen, sister!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

And it all falls apart...

How funny to think a few short days ago I wrote about finally getting things together and feeling as though my summer has been very worth while. Well, this weekend we ran in to some trouble - water trouble. Our basement flooded again and it's worse than ever before.

Several months ago Brett had planned a "Guys' Weekend" that included friends from out of town staying here and going to the Cubs/ Cardinals game on Saturday. Things started out great on Friday as everyone arrived safely and the boys had a great lunch at The Tilted Kilt. They came back to the house for a bit and then we all headed out for a fun night in Naperville.

At 6:30 am on Saturday morning, one of the guys knocked on our bedroom door letting us know that his air mattress had turned into a raft! We went to check things out and the basement was full of water and the water was still coming in! Everyone went to work - putting stuff together to take the water from the pumps away from the house, trying to open drains, going to Home Depot, manually sucking up water with a wet vac, etc. It was a mess. We had two functioning sump pumps, but it had rained so much that the city's drainage system couldn't handle it. Water was coming in the shower drain, the floor drain - everywhere!

Once the water had stopped coming in, I finally convinced Brett to go to the game so they all showered and we hopped in the car and who knew? 290 was closed! We physically would not be able to get to Chicago. So, we drove for an hour and a half and ended up at Buffalo Wild Wings to watch the Cubs beat the Cards. That night the guys ripped out all the carpet and padding and continued with the clean up and preparation for more rain that night.

The damage is done. Our basement is a wreck and we have a lot of work and expenses ahead of us. Because this is not the first time this has happened, our insurance will cover none of the damages. My Dad is coming out next week to hear what Perma Seal has to say and we will go from there, either by doing more preventative work (like
when they installed the sump pumps)or just reconstructing the basement into something livable.

Although this has been a very difficult weekend for us, there is something to be said for good friends, good family and good people in the world. I don't know what we would have done had it not been for Mark, Paul, and Aaron being at our house and being willing to do manual labor for what should have been a fun relaxing weekend. My Dad coming out next weekend will be a huge help and probably a big money saver. My good friend Natalie who offered me moral support today (because I should not be left alone with my own thoughts) and ripped up all the tack strips in the basement! Rick, the good man who owns Olde North Pancake House, who heard us talking about the water damage on Sunday morning and came and took care of our check! Our wonderful neighbor who shared info regarding issues with the city and our other wonderful neighbor who brought us dinner tonight! We are blessed to be surrounded my people who love us and are willing to come to help when we need it. Thanks everyone!

The Dream Team - in the rain - saving our house!

How many guys does it take to....?

"This is the greatest weekend ever!"

Paul saved my Uggs! He found the perfect spot on the ladder in the garage to dry them out!

My closet with about two inches of water that just wouldn't go away.

Mark's feet, completely submerged, as he manually pumps out water.

Our bedroom furniture - on bricks!

The end of our street completely flooded.

Brett looking so happy to be spending more money at Lowe's. This trip was for fans and a dehumidifier.

Monday morning - all the carpet waiting for the garbage man.

And through it all, I love this guy more than anything!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Getting it Together

Last week (and this week too) I finally felt organized. I had a plan to the week, stuck to it and got a lot accomplished. The house actually feels clean and while there are always little chores to be done I felt comfortable in knowing I was caught up on most of the big stuff. I created a menu for the week and was able to shop for most of the things we needed in one trip. I finished the class I was taking this summer and got it in the mail. While I am not always the most organized person in the world, it is amazing how much better I feel when I am. I feel like my like is less chaotic, I am less stressed and I am able to enjoy the time I have much more. I also feel like I am a better wife to Brett and a better puppy mama to Lucy and Tucker. When Brett gets home at night I am ready to listen to him about his day and I don't feel like my time has been wasted but rather I have contributed to making our house a home.

Planning our menus for the week seems to really save me a lot of time and stress when it comes to "what's for dinner?" A while back I found this (via According to Nina) at The Project Girl and it was a huge help, both in shopping and planning. I was able to make notes about what days Brett would need a lunch and when he wouldn't and what we were having for dinner. I was able to shop more efficiently because everything I needed was already divided into categories saving me time when at the store.

I have had a few misses, but hey, that's what I love about cooking - you never know what you're going to get. Here's a little summer specialty and while it may not constitute a "meal", it was a great week night dish. I ended up making something more filling to go with it, but this would make a delicious appetizer or a side to perhaps some Italian chicken.

Rustic Tomato Basil Tart

***Although I did get the idea for this from a recipe, I did not follow it.

In addition to the fresh tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, and basil straight from the plant, you will need this

a balsamic glaze made simply by simmering balsamic vinegar until it reduces by at least half. It will be thick enough to coat a spoon.
  • Unroll a pre made pie crust and roll out slightly. Layer sliced mozzarella over the pie crust leaving about 1 1/2 inches around the outside. Top with a single layer of sliced tomatoes, drizzle with balsamic glaze, and top that with roughly chopped basil. Top with another layer of cheese.
  • Fold the edges of the crust over your toppings life this
  • Bake your tart at 375 for about 25-30 minutes until the crust is golden brown and the cheese is also has a nice brown crust.
Well, the tart was delicious! However, Brett and I dove into it before I was able to snap a good picture of the final product. You'll just have to make it yourself!

P.S. The new changes t blogger are not cooperating with me! I have no idea why my last post looks as though it does. I have tried formatting it 7, 000 times!

P.P.S. I still owe you all a chocolate chip cookie recipe. I have not forgotten!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

What am I reading?

I can't believe that my summer vacation is already about half over! What have I been doing? More importantly what have I been reading? So far, I am pleased, not ecstatic, but pleased with what I have read so far.

  • My Fair Lazy by Jennifer Lancaster - Her funniest book yet!

  • Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte - I read this in high school and I enjoyed and appreciated it so much more now as an adult!

  • Best Friends Forever by Jennifer Weiner - Ms. Weiner is an incredible writer. Unfortunately, the plot of this book did little for me personally. I am excited to read more of her books, but this was not my favorite.

  • sTORI Telling by Tori Selling - Loved the book. Love her.

  • Sundays at Tiffany's by James Patterson - A thoughtful and enjoyable, yet VERY quick, read.

  • Mommywood by Tori Spelling- Loved this book even more. Love her even more.

  • Reading Now - Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen- I'll let you know what I think...

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Support Bear Photography, Support the U.S.

Several weeks ago I mentioned that Brett and I had traveled home to PA to celebrate my brother Ben's high school graduation. Before I get to the purpose of this post, I would like to tell you a little about Ben.

Ben is about 9 1/2 years younger than I am making him currently 19 years old. My parents tried to conceive shortly after I was born with no luck. After a series of failed fertility treatments, an adoption that didn't work out, they finally found out that their last fertility attempt had worked and our family of three would become a family of four. (Scott who is eighteen month younger than Ben was truly a beautiful surprise!) I was the proudest big sister you could imagine. Growing up, Ben was a quiet kid - gentle. He became known for a long time as gentle Ben. He had a talent for sports, academics, and music. A while back Ben decided that he wanted to apply to the United States Military Academy at West Point. This is one of the most prestigious and competitive schools in the country requiring an impeccable academic, athletic and leadership resume, as well as an appointment by a congressman. Ben found out late this spring that he was deemed "Qualified but not Selected". While this was a hard dose of reality for someone who is used to getting what he sets out to achieve, Ben took this setback in stride and enrolled at Washington and Jefferson College, a very reputable school (that just happens to be in our hometown). For the 2010/ 2011 Ben will play football for W & J as well as dedicate himself to being the high caliber of student that he is used to being. Ben has decided that he will make the most out of this freshman year and treat it as a transition year. He may reapply to West Point in hopes to be accepted for the following academic year. Ben has decided that whether or not he is accepted to West Point, serving his country in the U.S. military is something that he wants to do. Tomorrow, Ben will be sworn into the Army and participate in the ROTC program for at leats the next year. As someone who cares very much for Ben, joining the military with our country still at war is a scary venture, but I am filled with pride that this young man, who I have watched grow from a gentle and quiet young man into a strong and loyal young man, wants to serve our nation.
During his senior year in high school, Ben developed an interest in photography and developed a creative eye for turning pictures into art. He enjoys editing pictures on the computer just as much as he enjoys taking shots with the camera. He has decided to turn this into a small business that he can hopefully earn some extra money while he is in school. (He intends on going to medical school and knows the road will be paved with bills and loans!) I have been impressed with Ben's photography since he started, although I understand I may be a bit biased. Several days ago, Ben launched a website to showcase his work to this point. On the site are some beautiful images he has taken of the city of Pittsburgh, nature shots, and portraits, as well as some artsy photographs created with a technique call light painting. If you are in the Pittsburgh area and are looking for an inexpensive photographer to take say some shots of your dogs (there is a great image of both Lucy and Tucker on his site), your new baby (he doesn't have a lot of experience photographing babies, but he's cheap), you (don't feel vain) or you like his stuff...get in touch with him. He would like to sell prints of work he has already done as well as create a client database that he can offer quality shots at a lo cost. Without further ado, I present to you -

At the very least, check out the site, read the blog, and leave him a comment. If you are feeling daring, shoot him an email and buy a print....here's a sneak peak at one of my favorites...

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Summer Treats for Us and Puppies

Lucy and Tucker have had a guest for the past three weeks - there cousin Hera! Hera's mom was away on a pseudo-vacation so we kept Hera while she was gone. She is such a great dog (except that she sheds big time and it kind of makes me cray but I love her) and Lucy and Tucker love having her around. They especially enjoyed chasing each other around the yard and then relaxing with an ice cream treat....
I used to buy the peanut butter Frosty Paws for the dogs, but they are a bit pricey at about $1 per cup. I started making my own and the dogs love them just as much, if not more. I started making them in Dixie cups, but Lucy tends to get overly excited about the ice cream and eat the whole cup so I started using recycled plastic cups from individual serving sized apple sauce, fruit cups, and jello that Brett and I take in our lunch and then wash out. Once you have a few you can sue them over and over. I simply fill the cups half way with either plain or vanilla yogurt and then put a dollop of peanut butter right in the centre. Place in the freezer and the puppies with have a delicious and inexpensive treat on these hot summer days!

Now, we wouldn't the puppies getting all the good stuff so here's a recipe for the humans in your family....S'more Pie! I am a sucker for a S'more and I have to say this is pretty good.
1 graham cracker crust (the 2 extra serving size)
2 1/2 cups cool whip, divided
1 bag regular size marshmallows
3/4 cup milk
6 oz. hot fudge
1 reg. size Hershey bar + some to shave
  • Place marshmallows, milk, and Hershey bar in a saucepan on low-med. heat. Cook until all ingredients are melted and mixed together, stirring constantly. Remove form heat and let cool.
  • Mix 1 c. cool whip into marshmallow mixture.
  • Spread warmed hot fudge evenly in the bottom of the crust.
  • Pour marshmallow mixture over hot fudge and top with remaining cup of cool whip. Garnish the top with shaved chocolate if desired.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Life is Good

WOW! What a weekend! We had talked about a few things we wanted to do but when Brett got home I presented him with an entire itinerary for our weekend. He could not have been happier because I am the queen of "I don't know, what do you want to do?"

Friday night we had dinner at Genghis Grill. It's so funny but we just love that place...even if I do have to basically cook my own food :-) After that we walked around Wheaton and took in all the old cars. Each Friday in Wheaton is Vintage Ride Night where people from all over the area park their vintage cars for people to check out. Some of the little sports cars are so cool! We came back home to relax and have a little dessert (recipe for the greatest cookies EVER to follow in another post) because we were in for a long day on Saturday!

The alarm went off at 7 am on Saturday...we were about to set out on our longest bike ride to date - 30 miles. Although we didn't actually know how far we were going when we left home, we had an idea of where we were headed. We started out going North on the Illinois Prairie Path until it met up with the Fox River Trail just past Geneva. We made it into St. Charles for lunch at The Filling Station. We were exactly 15 miles from home. After lunch we contemplated going farther but decided it best to just head home. That was a smart idea because on the way home it was HOT and my legs were getting pretty tired. We made it home though and were pumped that we could make it that far. We're already trying to decide where our next adventure will be to. Here are a few photos taken near the Fox River.

My favorite - the blue heron - made an appearance on our way home!

If you're interested in our exact route, click here. We used my Garmin Forerunner 405 for the first time biking! I love this thing!

On Sunday we finally made it to the Kane County Flea Market! What an experience! I love flea markets and this one did not disappoint.While we did not buy anything (except for Italian Shaved Ices) we were on sensory overload with all of the unique items for sale and the unique people to watch! This place was full of some of the neatest pieces of antique furniture; if only we had a place to put them! When we left the flea market we stopped for lunch at the Claddagh Irish Pub in Geneva Commons. The food was delicious and this place was full of character! After lunch we went to the Chicago Premium Outlets where we did buy a few things. Brett needed some new shirts for work from Brooks Brothers and I found a few cute things at Banana Republic. The best part was this outfit that Brett picked out for me - I bought it without trying it on and it is super cute!

When we finally got home we were exhausted. We settled in for the night and watched Stepbrothers!

By Monday we were in need of a little R and R. We did decide to do something we have been needing to do for a while - clean out our closets. We were both running out of room due to having SOOOO many clothes. We are planning a garage sale in August and this definitely gave us a head start!

I hope everyone had a wonderful July 4th holiday and spent some quality time with friends and/ or family!
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