Thursday, November 19, 2009

What do you think?

I have been thinking for awhile about changing the look of my blog, well I FINALLY made the leap. What do you think?

I think it is perfect...classy, simple, elegant and timeless. LOVE IT!!!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

A sleepover....


Jeff and I hosted an overnight guest at the beginning of October. His name was Marble, he came to us all the way from North Carolina. He was found tied outside and office building with a bag of food. An office worker took him in and found a rescue to take him in. He is now in Wisconsin with a lovely foster family.
Sasha, wasn't too fond of him...he was 7 months old and had a bit too much energy for her. He was a good boy while at our house...only pottied outside, ate his food, chewed on a bone and slept soundly in his crate.

In our short time with him he also learned "sit"...he is super smart. Here he is showing off his skills.


I transported this guy (Comet) from Downers Grove, IL to Gurnee, IL on October 24th. He was found in NY and had been neglected and left for days to fend for himself with no food.
Of course on our short journey up to Gurnee, I feed him a whole baggy of treats (shhh...don't tell). He was a good boy, just sat in the passenger seat and slept.
He has made it to his foster home in Minnesota and doing well.

Friday, August 28, 2009

The lake house....

This past weekend we went to Jeff's Aunt's and Uncle's lake house somewhere in WI. I can't remember where. It isn't your typical lake is amazing. It is a log cabin type home with 3 bedrooms, 2 baths, kitchen, laundry, garage, sun porch, outside porch, pier. Plus the toys...boat, pontoon boat and a jet-ski. It was a bit cold that weekend so we weren't able to get into the water, but we managed to get in a few laps in the boat.

Here is their house...nice, hey?

Here is Jeff relaxing...yes it was that cold out in August that we had to wear pants and jackets at night :-(
Sasha came with us, she wasn't sure about this whole outdorsey thing. We tried to get her in the water, but no luck. After a day she was comfortable going on the pier and she was a little leary of the boat. A city girl...just like her momma.

She finally relaxed.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009


We moved into our home in May 2008 and always said "someday we will have that tree removed"...well that someday came mid-July 2009. Our neighbor was having three of his pine trees cut down and asked his tree guy to give us a quote to take down our tree. Jorge ended up quoting us $330 to cut down our ugly pine tree, ground out the stump and put sod down. SOLD!

I think it really makes a difference.

Here is our house from the street before.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Click it

As most of you know our girl, Sasha, came from a shelter in Indiana. The shelter she was in was going to close and she was set to be euthanized. Luckily a rescue organization in Illinois snapped her up before her number expired. Since adopting our beloved Sasha, I have tried to give back by transporting dogs (to their foster homes) that were to be euthanized.

I know not many have the time to donate to rescues so I ask that you click the link below daily. Every click will provide food and care to rescued animals in a shelter or sancutary, Sasha thanks you!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

The Pyramids

While I was in Mexico City for two weeks in August I finally made it out to the pyramids. I have been to Mexico City almost a dozen times and this was the first time I actually stayed over a weekend. The pyramids were a neat experience, you can even climb them. At our own risk of course because they are VERY steep and there are no railings ;-). I can tell you in the US they wouldn't allow this. Our tour guide did tell me last month there was a tourist that fell and had to go to the emergency room. A emergency room in Mexico City, no thanks!

I did meet some really nice people on my tour...couples from Australia, Italy, Peru, Miami, London, etc. I did help that I know a little Spanish so I was often included in conversations. Well I could understand it, I didn't speak much....which is unusual for me ;-)

Here are a few pics from my trip.

That is me...someone graciously offered to take a picture for me. I usually don't get pictures of me at places unless I do a self-portrait or ask someone to take one for me.

Here are some "crazies" climbing one of the pyramids. You can see how steep it is.

Here is one of the three pyramids. This is the largest one.

I did climb a pyramid and it was probably the smallest of the three. Going up was fine, but coming down I thought for sure I would trip and fall down the pyramid face first. Luckily, one of the friends I made spotted me the whole way down ;-)

Friday, August 14, 2009

NYC love...

Jeff, Katie and I went to NYC two weeks ago to celebrate our friend Mike's 30th Birthday...we had a great time. I do love NYC, but I wouldn't want to live there.

We did a lot of things in the city in one day, but I would have to say my highlight was our trip to a new cupcake place. We usually frequent the uber-famous Magnolia bakery in Greenwich village, but this time we tried another new bakery. Oh my, I was not disappointed...CRUMBS bakery. They have lots of fun flavors like...Watermelon, Key Lime, Grasshopper and Cookie Dough. The best part is they deliver. Although, it is quite pricey since they pack them in dry ice. I think I will just wait until the next time we go to NYC to visit Mike. Unless he delivers them the next time he comes to the Midwest (hint, hint).

So the other stuff we did that day was...

took the Staten Island ferry to see breeze past the Statue of Liberty (tickets were sold out so we had to do the poor mans tour)

Here is us on the ferry (minus Jeff).

Went to the Pier....I forget which one it was.

Katie took the bull by its horns.

We went to a museum ;-)

Had some fun in Chinatown (although Katie was the only documented one).

After a long freakin' day we satdown and rested with some JUMBO Margaritas...oh yeah!!!

We had a great time in the short time we were there...Friday to Monday morning. I hope we can do it soon...assuming Mike will have us again.

Monday, July 27, 2009


I saw this article on-line and had to share.
30 Household Products VINEGAR Can Replace
by Nora Dunn

All Purpose Cleaners

Vinegar in general is a natural (and inexpensive) disinfectant. It can be used on almost anything except marble. So stick it in a spray bottle and get to work! Here are a few more “recipes” for various cleaning purposes:

All purpose cleaner:
2 parts vinegar, 1 part water.

Extra dirty spots:
Scour dirty areas with baking soda, then spray the all purpose cleaner (recipe above) over the area and wipe clean.

Floor cleaner:
Brew a cup of peppermint tea (use 1 tea bag: one cup for you, one for the floor). Squeeze half a lemon in to the floor mix, and add 1 cup of vinegar. Mop away with your solution; the vinegar disinfects, the tea has antibacterial properties and removes marks, and the lemon freshens & disinfects.

Pee stains on carpet (presumably from pets):
Blot up the initial stain, flush it with water, then apply equal parts vinegar and cool water. Blot it all up, rinse, and let dry. This will eliminate odors and stains.

Hard water stains and mineral deposits:
Allow a cloth soaked in vinegar to sit on a hard water stain (for example behind your faucet) or mineral deposit for a few hours. Wipe clean.

Appliance cleaning:
Clean your coffee maker or laundry machine or dishwasher by running vinegar through it, followed by water. This reduces soap buildup and keeps everything in working order.

In The Kitchen

Remove labels from glass jars:
Saturate the labeled area in vinegar and scrape the stickiness right off.

Dirty pot bottoms and cooking utensils:
Fill the pot with enough water to cover the stain, add 1 cup of vinegar, and boil rapidly for 5 minutes. Let cool, then scrub the stains off. While you’re at it, put your stainless steel cooking utensils in the pot to get them sparkly clean too.

Fruit stains on hands:
Had a little too much fun making that cherry pie or berry salad? Just rub your hands with vinegar to remove the stains.

Coffee stains on china:
Use a mixture of salt and vinegar to clean coffee stains from china.

Wooden cutting boards:
Wooden cutting boards are great, except they can be a hothouse for bacteria (especially if grooves have been cut into the board with use). Disinfect it regularly with vinegar to keep it (and your food) clean.

Veggie maintenance:
Clean and crisp up your veggies by soaking them in a mixture of water and a tablespoon or so of vinegar. Any bugs lingering on your produce will float away, and your soggy celery will come to life again (depending on how far gone it was to begin with).

Smelly onion hands:
Eliminate onion odor off your hands by rinsing them in vinegar. This also apparently works with other stinky parts of your body that soap isn’t cutting through, such as underarms.

Clean sticky scissors:
Sometimes those scissors get so gummy you can’t even make them work. Just wipe them down with vinegar, and they’ll be like new again.


Fabric softener:
There are a few fabric softener strategies you can play with:
Add equal parts vinegar and baking soda, OR just ½ a cup of vinegar to your wash when you would add fabric softener (final rinse cycle). Line dried towels will come out softer with a vinegar-based softener.

You can also add 1/2 to 1 cup of vinegar to your wash water, which does the following:
Reduces the amount of soap you need to use
Reduces lint
Brightens colors, and stops them from running
Acts as a rinse aid
Keeps the washing machine running clean and well

Stain removal:
Use vinegar on stains before washing to remove stubborn ones like perspiration, fruit, mustard, and coffee.

In The Garden / Around the House

Kill grass and weeds:
Pour or spray full strength vinegar on grass or weeds poking through your driveway or rearing their heads in other unsavory places.

In The Car

Frost-free windows:
If you know a chilly night is on the make, you can ensure that your windows will be frost-free when you wake up in the morning. Simply mix 3 parts vinegar to 1 part water, and coat your windows with the mixture the night before.

In The Bathroom

Kill soap scum:
Wiping a “scummy” area with vinegar and rinsing with water will do as good a job as any at attacking your bathroom shower grime. If the scum is particularly stubborn, scrub with baking soda (a great natural abrasive) after wiping with vinegar. Rinse with water.

Unclog your shower head:
Unscrew it, throw it into a pot of equal parts vinegar and water and boil for a few minutes to loosen deposits that are blocking your shower head.

Personal Use

Hair rinse:
If vinegar removes soap scum on your tiles, it stands to reason that it will also remove soap scum on your hair. Rinse with a cup filled with ½ a cup of warm water and ½ a cup of vinegar, and your locks will be shiny and free of buildup.

Dandruff treatment:
Using the same technique as the hair rinse above but with a higher concentration of vinegar, also acts as an effective dandruff treatment.

Acne treatment:
Apply equal parts vinegar and water to problem areas.

Facial toner:
Using vinegar as toner is a great (and inexpensive) alternative to using alpha hydroxyl based products.

Athletes foot (and other fungus):
Apply full-strength vinegar to the affected area twice daily until symptoms abate.

Miscellaneous Uses

Eliminate smoke odor:
Simply put a bowl of vinegar in the offending room near the offending source. Smoke odors be gone!

Air freshener:
If you would like to reduce icky smells but would like a nicer room smell than vinegar, add some fragrant spices (like cardamom) to your bowl of vinegar and leave it in a warm corner of the room.

Chrome polish:
Use full strength vinegar with soft cloth to make that chrome shine.

Insect traps:Vinegar is an active ingredient used to various
insect and pest traps.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Brandy...not the liquor, the dog

I was asked to do another transport earlier this month. This time there was only one dog that was an owner surrender all the way from North Dakota. Her name is Brandy, she is 5 years old. I was the last leg of her transport, I was able to deliver her to her foster mom, Heidi. After meeting Heidi, I know Brandy will be in good hands and hopefully adopted soon. This is her in her foster home, doesn't she look happy!! If she was picked up by the English Setter rescue she would more than likely be in doggy heaven right now...can you imagine. I wish I could take in all homeless dogs, but Jeff or Sasha isn't too fond of the idea.

If you are ever looking for furry family member, remember please adopt don't shop.

Friday, June 19, 2009

So here she is....the new addition to the family

Isn't she a beauty. She arrived in June. Jeff even went to pick her up from the furniture store all alone (doesn't happen often) so I know he was excited to get her. We are really happy with her. She was a custom order from Rowe furniture, who actually make furniture for Pottery Barn/Crate and Barrel. Of course we didn't have to pay their mark-up...I love a deal.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

New addition to the family...

We purchased a chair for our living room. After having our housewarming party we realized we were in desperate need of additional seating.

Look at this beauty...

It is from ROWE furniture, the Quincy chair. We custom ordered it so we should be getting it soon. The fabric we choose is different than shown here. When we get it I will post a picture.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Lookin' good

As some of you know I like to decorate and re-decorate our house based on the season or my mood. I feel in love with the paisley pattern a few months ago, but wasn't sure where to incorporate it into our house. Well I found this beautiful slate blue paisley patterned duvet cover at the Crate & Barrell Outlet. It goes perfectly with the curtains that are already in our was meant to be. I was beyond ecstatic when I looked at it was a full/queen and on clearance, it was my lucky day. Now to convince Jeff that we NEEDED it. I finally did convince him that we can use it as our "summer" duvet cover. At $49.50, regularly $99 how could I refuse.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

A day at the park...the dog park

We take Sasha, our four legged child, to the dog park every weekend. Here are some pics of a trip a few weekends ago.
She can't sit still she is sooooo excited to be there.
Practicing "shake" with daddy.
One more time...
Posing for the camera
Here she is getting chased...her favorite thing. She is the blur in the right hand corner.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Golden Retriever Transport

At the beginning of May I got the opportunity to do my first transport. For those of you who doesn't know what a transport is, it is a network of people who drive "transport" animals from shelters(kill and no-kill) to their foster or forever homes. Our girl Sasha was transported from Indiana to Wisconsin, so I felt like this was my opportunity to pay it forward.

These boys and girls were in a kill shelter in Athens, GA and were saved by a Golden Retriever Rescue in Minnesota. I drove them from the Chicago suburbs to Janesville, WI. Were I handed them off to Lauren and Jason who were going to take them to Madison, WI. Eventually they got to their new homes in Minnesota later that day.

Hatch- 10 year old stray
Bear- 6 year old owner surrender

Chloe- 4 year old owner surrender
Them hanging out in the back of the car...napping

Next time your looking for a new family pet I urge you to adopt...not shop.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

I'm back

Sorry for my has been usually for us. I promise I am re-committed to writing in my blog at least weekly.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Hoppy Easter!!!

Happy Easter everyone!!!

Bon Voyage

My BFF (Katie) and I are going on a cruise...stopping in Jamaica and Grand Cayman. She asked me to go with her and of course I said yes. We are going to have the BEST time, she can be a little crazy...that is what I love about her. Of course I will miss Jeff and Sasha for the 5 days I am gone, but this will give them some time to bond.

Thursday, March 19, 2009


As you all is my birthday. Well my husband is out of town and has been the month of March, that is right the WHOLE month. Well today he sent a yummy cake to my office for my birthday. Red of my favs. Thanks dear...I wish you were here to enjoy it with me.

Happy Birthday...

to me. Today is my 31st birthday. Gosh, saying that out loud makes me squirm. My 30th was a piece of cake, but for some reason 31 is hitting me hard. Too be young again...

Monday, March 9, 2009

You spent what???

With the state of the economy the way it is, everyone is looking for ways to cut back. I saw this article and thought...duh, money-saving 101, but thought I would post anyway.

The top 10 overspends

Afternoon snacks:

Do you munch protein bars as a healthier alternative to a chocolate pick-me-up? You could easily be paying more than $2 per bar and consuming just as much sugar as you would with your favorite candy bar. Stock up on fruit for a fraction of the cost when you do your grocery shopping. You'll be fitter and save a bundle.

Bottled water:

Yes, it's important to drink water every day. But picking up the bottled variety with your lunch is an expensive way to stay hydrated. Rather than spend $2 a day for water, buy a pitcher and a filter for about $20 and drink as much as you want for pennies a glass.


Can't get through the day without at least one cuppa Joe? Stopping at Starbucks or Dunkin' Donuts can set you back as much as $1.65 per cup. Splurge on a pound of gourmet coffee for $8 to $13 and you can make 40 cups for about 20 cents to 33 cents each.


Do you rush out to buy the latest CD by your favorite group even though there are only one or two songs you really like? Instead of paying up to $18 for the CD, download those cuts you want from iTunes for 99 cents each, or from Amazon for as little as 79 cents.
A night at the movies. An evening for

The movies:

An evening for two at your local theater costs an average of about $20, including the popcorn -- and closer to $30 in major cities. And that doesn't even count the babysitter. For just $5 a month, you can watch two movies from Netflix or pay $9 for unlimited viewing. If you're willing to wait a little longer for new releases, borrow them free from your local library.

Fresh flowers:

A bouquet of spring blooms brightens up a room and your mood. But purchasing it from a florist at $25 and up can quickly put a dent in your budget. Check out your local grocery store, which offers a selection of seasonal bouquets for $5 to $10.

Fruits & Veggies:

Sure, precut vegetables and salad mixes that are washed and bagged save a little time. But you'll pay for the convenience. Broccoli florets and sliced peppers cost $6 per pound, compared with one-third to one-half the price for the uncut versions. Lettuce varieties that are pre-washed and bagged sell for $5.98 a pound. But it takes just minutes to wash and spin dry enough arugula for your evening salad, and you'll pay one-third as much. Buying whole strawberries rather than sliced ones that are prepackaged cuts the price by 75%.

Credit card fees:

Every month, millions of credit-card customers pay their bills late, and they're assessed as much as $39 each time. Set up an automatic debit and you'll never incur another late fee.

ATM fees:

Each time you use an out-of-network ATM you pay an average of $3.43. Do that once a week and you'll rack up almost $180 in ATM fees every year. Avoid those charges by selecting a bank with a large ATM network or an online account that reimburses your ATM fees -- such as the eOne no-fee account from Salem Five Direct bank. Another alternative: Get cash back at the grocery store.

Packaging and mailing services:

Instead of paying FedEx $1.49 to fax one page, sign up to send free faxes from a provider such as faxZero or Save on shipping with the U.S. Postal Service's priority mail service. You'll pay just $4.95 to mail an envelope or small box anywhere in the U.S., and your parcel is likely to arrive within two days. Larger packages cost $10.35. That saves at least 50% compared with UPS's two-day service, the cost of which varies by weight and distance.

The above 10 Overspend items are from

I am/we are guilty of the following:

purchasing bottled water when we could have brought my own bottle and filled it up

purchasing coffee when I could have made it before I left the house instead I slept the extra 5 minutes

eating at the cafeteria at work instead of making my lunch at home and bringing it in...hey, it is really hard to give up my sleep

I/we save in the following areas:

I bring fruit to work everyday. I also have a stash of snacks at my desk or in the office refrigerator (crackers, pretzels, cheese, carrots, etc) in case I get hungry. Not only does it save me $$ these are healthier choices than going to the vending machine.

The husband and I make conscious efforts to only use our banks ATM, since we get socked with a huge fee depending on what the ATM banks charge...usually around $5.50 per withdrawal. Another helpful hint is when you are at the grocery store or Target and are using your debit card withdraw money.

I send faxes at work (yeah we all do it...just admit it) not that it happens very often. I send all packages through the USPS, which is much cheaper than FedEx or UPS.

All of our monthly bills are set-up on automatic debt...we never get any late fees.

When purchase anything on-line I always look to see if there is a coupon code available for the store I am making my purchase from. My favorite is

We only purchase items that are on sale or if we have a coupon...whether it be at the grocery store or a department store.


What are your tips for saving a few dollars?

Banana Cream Pie

Another co-workers birthday and this time I attempted to make a pie from scratch.

Banana Cream Pie (adapted from

9 graham crackers, processed to fine crumbs (about 1 cup)
2 tablespoons sugar
½ banana
2½ tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

6½ tablespoons (2.8 ounces) sugar
¼ cup (1.1 ounces) cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
1¼ cups whipping cream
1¼ cups whole milk
3 large egg yolks
½ vanilla bean, split lengthwise
1½ tablespoons unsalted butter
¾ teaspoon vanilla extract
4½ ripe bananas, peeled, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices

For crust:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Process graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and banana until evenly mixed and there are no visible chunks of banana. Add unsalted butter and process to moisten evenly. Press onto bottom and up sides of 9-inch glass pie dish. Chill until firm, about 30 minutes. Bake crust until set and pale golden, about 15 minutes. Cool completely.

For filling:
Whisk sugar, cornstarch, and salt in heavy medium saucepan to blend. Gradually whisk in whipping cream and whole milk, then egg yolks. Scrape in seeds from vanilla bean; add vanilla bean. Whisk over medium-high heat until custard thickens and boils, about 6 minutes. Pour through mesh strainer into medium bowl. Whisk in unsalted butter and vanilla extract. Cool completely, whisking occasionally, about 1 hour. Remove vanilla bean.

Stir custard to loosen, if necessary. Spread ¾ cup custard over bottom of prepared crust. Top with half of sliced bananas, then ¾ cup custard, covering bananas completely. Repeat layering with remaining bananas and remaining custard. Chill banana cream pie until filling is set and crust softens slightly, at least 8 hours and up to 1 day. Cut pie into wedges and serve with sweetened whipped cream, if desired.

Friday, March 6, 2009

When life gives you lemons....make Lemon Pound Cake!

I hate letting food go bad so when I saw a lemon in our refrigerator about read to go bad I went out looking for a recipe. I found this is sooooo easy.

One Egg Lemon Pound Cake

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter
1 egg
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon lemon extract (I used juice from a whole was as lemony as I would have the future I am going with the lemon extract)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) grease and flour an 8x4 inch loaf pan.
2. In a large bowl, mix flour, baking powder, sugar and salt. Cut in butter. Break 1 egg into a measuring cup and then fill to the 1 cup line with milk. Add to dry ingredients and beat well. Add vanilla and lemon flavoring.
3. Pour batter into an 8x4 inch loaf pan. Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of cake comes out clean.

My co-workers gobbled this right up...another winner.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Vote for Sasha

for Bissell's most valuable pet photo contest, now through March 10th.