The novelty of being back in school has officially worn off. As I was leaving the office this afternoon, I dreaded the idea of coming home to cook dinner and then sitting down at my computer to do my homework. Thursday night homework is the easiest part of the week: read and respond to two other students’ online discussion posts, and reply to anyone who may have responded to my discussion posts. Easy, right? It’s not the difficulty of the work that has finally gotten to me so much as the looming deadlines that are ever present.

I don’t think I’d mind it all so much if I wasn’t also working full-time, in addition to the daily responsibilities at home. Thank goodness I don’t also have kids to factor into the equation!

Yes, I’m dreading tonight’s homework, but procrastinating by posting here isn’t really helping. So, I will do what I always do: suck it up and keep on plugging away.


Better late than never.

We were late to the gardening game this year because we needed to do some prep work to build up the retaining walls to create a vegetable garden.  However, now that everything has been planted, and tended regularly, we’re starting to see the fruits of our labor.

Our jalapeno pepper plant has been steadily producing peppers all season.  It started in a pot so it had a bit of a head start on our other veggies.  Now, the yellow squash has started producing and we’ve already eaten two squash from that plant.  We have three more that are almost ready to be picked.  Soon, our tomato plants will be ready.  We have three different types of tomato plans and they all have green fruit on them.  Just a little bit longer until those are ripe and ready for picking. Lastly, we have four yellow pepper plants.  These plants still seem quite small and, until now, haven’t produced anything.  I was beginning to think they were a failure, but yesterday I noticed one very small but cute green pepper. I am assuming that it will turn a bright yellow when ripe and I can hardly wait.  Hopefully, more will follow!

When I was growing up, my family never had a garden.  In fact, we ate very few vegetables and those that we did eat came from a can. Now that I’ve developed my own tastes and preferences, I just can’t bring myself to eat canned vegetables anymore. I prefer fresh veggies (though can sometimes be persuaded to eat something that has been frozen).  As Cliff said to me this morning, it’s amazing to think that humans have been growing vegetables for years, but we’re just now experiencing the joy and satisfaction that comes from growing your own food and knowing exactly where those vegetables came from (and what has or hasn’t been sprayed on them)!

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Master Bath

I spent most of yesterday selecting fixtures and tile and everything else for our master bath.  But, now, I’m second guessing my selections.  Help me out, okay?

I selected this vanity and chose modern fixtures in brushed nickel.  However, I just discovered this bathroom and I really like the look.

Am I over-thinking this?  Keep in mind, we live in a 1920’s Chicago Bungalow.  We’re adding shed dormers upstairs to build out a master suite with bathroom, and a loft-style office.  So, the upstairs will be (in my opinion) kind of modern, whereas the downstairs looks more tradition (though our furniture is modern/ contemporary).

I am definitely not an interior designer!

Retro Reno

Our downstairs bathroom has a few plumbing problems.  The plumbing problem is big enough that we’ve decided that we might as well tear out the bathroom and replace it all (plus, it’s ugly, so we might as well make it pretty!).  Unfortunately, the size of the room limits our options: the current vanity is 19″ deep – anything deeper would prevent the door from swinging shut.  Most vanities are at least 21″ deep.

I suck at visualization, so we decided to buy a few design books while we were out yesterday.  We finally found a design idea that we both agreed upon, so we’re going with it: Vintage.  Subway tiles on the walls (white porcelain), 1 inch hexagonal glossy white porcelain tiles on the floor, chrome fixtures, pedestal sink.  What do you think?

Subway Tile

Floor Tile

Pedestal Sink

Chrome Faucet

Amazing Grace

You may have recently heard about Grace Groner and her gift to Lake Forest College.  As a Lake Forest College staff member, I am truly touched not only by her very generous gift, but also by the way in which this story has touched so many lives.  This topic is trending in the top Google searches, shows up on the front page of Yahoo news, was featured on Good Morning, America and the Today Show!  Who would have thought that this very small, private, liberal arts College would become known across the country because of such an amazing story?!

I hope that Grace’s story will inspire you to give back to the communities that inspire you.  We can’t all donate $7M, but we can certainly give much smaller amounts, or even give our time through volunteer programs.

Making progress on the house?

When we bought our house, we knew we wanted to do some work on the upstairs.  We even brought a contractor through on one of our walk throughs once we had the place under contract!  Once we moved in, though, it seemed like everything started conspiring against us and planning for the upstairs came to a screeching halt.

Instead, we turned out attention to the kitchen because our refrigerator was drying.  Unfortunately, the idiot who installed the kitchen had notched the granite so that it surrounded the fridge, thus making it impossible to get the fridge out without first removing a cabinet (or lifting the counter-top).  It took us a couple of weeks, but we managed to get that taken care of.

Then, the first floor toilet got clogged.  The plumber came out to fix, and we thought we were in the clear.  We should have known better…  The toilet clogged again a few days later, and this time it started backing up into the tub.  Oops!  The plumber came out again and took a look around, and quickly discovered that the piping for the bathroom was done wrong.  So, the next project is to redo the piping in the bathroom, which also involves tearing up the bathroom floor.  Good thing I didn’t really like this bathroom!  On top of that, the tub is cracked, so that needs to be replaced.  OK, let’s gut the bathroom and start over.

Now, back to the upstairs.  We own a 1926 Chicago Bungalow.  The attic space has been completed, and the former owners used part of it as a bedroom, and the other part is a “rec room”.  We decided that’s a huge waste of space, so we’re going to turn the upstairs into a master suite.  We met with a friend who’s also an architect, and he drew a couple of sketches for us.  But, he doesn’t have the time to work with us, and isn’t yet licensed in the city.  Thankfully, he recommended a former colleague who left the firm and started his own architecture company.  When we met with the new guy, John, we liked his ideas, and he seemed like a really nice guy (he had also clearly done his homework because he was thoroughly prepared!).

I’m hoping that we can keep this forward progress moving and get started on the bathroom and the upstairs project soon.  Let’s be real, I’m getting tired of going to the basement to use the bathroom.

Home Sweet Home Improvements

Greetings from our new home in West Ridge! (I’ve blurred the numbers in case you are trying to stalk me.)


Today, I stayed home from work to meet the furniture delivery people and the fence installers.  It feels like we’re actually making progress and soon this place will feel like “home”.

Our old living room furniture was stuff that we had to buy from UIC because Ella destroyed it as a puppy.  It’s been slip-covered for the last four years to hide the damage she did to it and I’ve been counting down the days until we could get rid of it (or move it to the basement).  That day finally arrived!  In addition to new living room furniture, we also ordered a dining room table (we’ve been eating from a Pub Table because that’s what fit best in our condo and it was high enough to keep the dogs from snatching unattended food), and a sideboard.  We’re sorely in need of more storage, so this sideboard will hopefully help us hide the clutter a bit.

Now that the furniture has arrived, I’m not TOTALLY in love with it.  It’s just okay.  We need to move things around a bit, and decide whether it all really “fits”.  The love seat in the pictures below looks much lighter than it actually is.  In reality, the couch, love seat and chair are all a dark brown (mocha).

In addition to the new furniture, we’re also getting a new fence.  I think this is the part that I’m most excited about!  We could have easily stayed in our condo for a few more years, but it’s getting harder and harder to walk the dogs in all kinds of weather, and spend hours at the park with them each week.  The one thing we wanted the most was a yard for the dogs to play in, but since our new yard wasn’t fenced, we’ve still been walking the dogs.  Not anymore!!  The fence guys came today, and began work at 8 a.m.  They continued to work, even when it began raining.  They stopped working at 3:00 p.m., and will be back tomorrow to put up the rest of the fence.  I can hardly wait.  I might actually be giddy with anticipation!