Monday, July 27, 2009

Week in Review

Time is starting to go by really fast. This past week a rep from the moving came for a survey of what's getting packed up. The date is set, my stuff is packed up 8/11. While I still don't have final approval on my flight, I'm pretty sure there's no changing it now, 8/15. It'll take 6-10 weeks for my packed stuff to arrive, so anything I'm going to need has to go in the suitcase. I'm trying to take as little as possible.

Thursday, Dad came and more stuff left - the dresser, my big painting, VCR, crockpot, pictures and old piggy banks. Some have new homes and others will be waiting for me to return in 3 years.

Friday I showed Kotaro my apartment. He's recently arrived from Japan and will be in Peoria for the next 2 years. He's apartment hunting and if all works out well, he will pick up where my lease leaves off.

Then I took off for a weekend with the family. My Aunt, Uncle, Cousin and her husband came to town. We had a lot of fun, but unfortunately I realized tonight that my Aunt's camera has a lot of the good pics. Nevertheless, here's some of our fun:

We were putting together the ladder/golf ball game and one of the pieces was missing some necessary holes. So Uncle Craig and I found Grandpa's old tools and drilled ourself two holes. Worked like a charm! Took us a bit longer than it would have Grandpa though :).

Here's the mess of food we ate and then played some ping pong to work off those extra calories! Emily's competetive side took over and she was the clear champ with a 3/5 series win over Tim. It was quite intense.

We walked to the park and looked for a geocache ( Tim did awesome and logged his first find!!

Us big kids played on the playground for a while. It's a much better playground than we ever had.

Then everyone took off. There was still plenty of light in the day and quite a few caches out near mom & dad's, so Mom and I spent a couple hours wandering around looking like fools searching the trees :). It was fun. At this cache, we saw a fox run away as we approached and Mom made her first find in the culvert! Good job!

Side Notes

1. For those of you that did vote in the poll last week, the answer was Woodrow Wilson. He is buried in the National Cathedral, which is part of D.C. He is the only president. JFK was a little tricky because he is buried in Arlington National Cemetery, which is just across the river in Arlington, VA (not in D.C.).

2. Here's a link to all of the pictures from the road trip to NC, SC and DC.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Weekend at College & Maddox :)

In my quest to try and see everyone before I leave, I went to TX last weekend to see Sara & Sean (and Atticus) at their new house. Sara and I met when we were studying in Spain during college and we've been great friends ever since!

Sara's been reading my blog and took me to Sprinkles for some gourmet cupcakes as soon as I arrived. Yum! I got cinnamon & sugar, pumpkin and marshmallow & chocolate. My favorite was the pumpkin. I did bypass the shot of frosting, which some of you may be surprised at.

Saturday was a big day! Sara got me into her new salon for a much needed haircut and he did a wonderful!! job. I love it :). You can check it out in our pic below at the Cats baseball game in Fort Worth. It was such beautiful Texas weather that night. The game got good towards the end, but the home team lost. However, we did see an exciting "discussion" between the home team coach and the home base umpire. At the end of it, the coach walked away and the umpire had to wipe off his face.

We rounded out the evening with Sonic drinks on the front porch, talking and watching the neighborhood. All the good stuff happens after 11 :) - packs of dogs; cop chases; loud girls on their phone. Atticus was our protector.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Highlights from the South

As previously mentioned, my mom and I just spent the last week or so on a road trip. The primary purpose was to visit Kate and Panda in their new home state, but also some time together before I move. There's a lot I could share, but I'll keep it to the one or two highlights from each day. Sorry - this is going to be a long one...

Day 1 - Driving
From Peoria to Indy - nothing but hard rain. Stopped just short of Louisville. Southern Indiana is way more "southern" than I ever realized.

Day 2 - Asheville, NC
Drove through sunny skies. Visited the Biltmore Estate in Asheville ( at 3:30, before gates closed at 4 but late enough so that our one day tickets turned into two day passes. By the time we left, we were 1 of 3 cars in the parking lot and had it to ourselves. It was awesome. We found the hummingbird below in the gardens - it was so tiny!

Day 3 - NC to SC
It looked like more rain and opted to explore downtown where we could easily duck inside if needed. Lesson of the South #1 - These are not early morning people. There is nothing to do before 10am. Luckily the Urban Trail along the sidewalk is available 24/7. We had great cubans for lunch at a local cafe and mom fell in love :).

The drive to Charleston was easy. We arrived for dinner and drinks with Kate & Panda. Lesson #2 - every menu seems to have fried pickles and fried green tomatoes.
Katie wore stickers from the restaurant out as we walked around looking for a bar. An old man accosted her, only to give her a $25 gift certificate to go back to the restaurant!!
Day 4 - Charleston, SC
Now knowing we could sleep in, we did. Wonderful waffles were made for a late breakfast and we shopped along King Street. Got a couple items, nothing big. Eh, I spoke too soon - Katie's ice cream sundae was huge!! Must have tired her out - a 3 hr nap ensued (for mom as well) before Panda braved it and woke her up. We went for dinner, bought a few movies and watched Bella.

*From the pics you'd think all we did was eat, but trust me, there was plenty of walking to be done.

Day 5 - Charleston, SC
Again, slept in as much as possible. Visited one of the plantations, Drayton Hall ( It was pretty empty for us in the morning, which was really nice. Saw creepy spiders and had to quickly turn back on one of the trails around the marsh. I got a quick nap this afternoon - then we headed for the beach. Sorry, cameras did not come out here. We had a fun couple of hours, the water was sooo warm and sand so soft. My water toys have found a new home :). Ended an early evening with the Dark Knight.

Day 6 - Driving to DC
Dropped Kate off for work in the morning and headed out of town. Long drive, but we arrived in time for dinner with J&A. Spanish tapas - it was wonderful! Needed our sleep for a big day tomorrow.

Day 7 - The Mall, DC
We started off with a tour of the Capitol Building; although, it was just up to the dome, the old senate gallery and the visitor's center. Note to self: reserve tour through congressman's office to go to the senate and house galleries. The new visitor's center was pretty cool though, learned some new stuff, like you can a request a flag flown at the Capitol through your congressman. Then we walked to Native American museum for lunch, down to the Washington Monument and then the memorials: WWII, Korean War, Lincoln and Vietnam War. I think the Korean is my favorite monument in DC. We walked around the White House - no appearances. Went back for ice cream and J&A took us to dinner in Georgetown. After dinner, we got a night time tour of the monuments and got to see the all important Iwo Jima.

Day 8 - DC
Slept in a little, checked out and headed for the National Cathedral ( If you haven't been, I highly recommend. We had a tour, went up to the observation deck and stayed for the organ demo. Found our way back to a metro stop and headed out of DC right at 3:00, just getting a taste of afternoon rush hour. We continued through Maryland, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Ohio to our stop for the evening.

Day 9 - Driving
Checked out and headed for home. Made it to Peoria by ~5:00 or so and Mom continued on. Got myself read to head to TX the next day! :)

Hope you enjoyed travelling along with us. I'll try to share more of the pictures later.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Late, as always...

I had great hopes of updating my blog as we went along on our trip. However, I now find myself at home already and a bit tired from our adventures. Here are some preview pics....I'll try to share more before next week :).

Have a great weekend all!

Biltmore mansion - Asheville, NC
We were the last ones there and practically had the place to ourselves. It was great!
Mom, Panda (aka Tom) and Kate - the purpose of the road trip.
Drayton Plantation - excursion in Charleston.
Our day of monuments in Washington. Wish I had a pedometer for that day!
National Cathedral to wrap up the trip.

Monday, July 6, 2009

First Party Night at the new Party House

Two blogs in one night - I can barely believe it myself. Trying to catch up.

So, my first part night at the Party House was suppose to be margaritas and Pitas as eluded to in the previous post. So you can imagine the huge disappointment to me (and Gilbs - I'm not convinced the others were too hurt) when Pita's was closed Friday at 6:00. One can only assume it was for the holiday.

We went for Pizza Hut instead, which is always good. Made some cupcakes and played some Wii. I got my but kicked (don't know if I won any points) in tennis and bowling, but came back in a big way for boxing and prevailed.

It was a great intro to the Party House and I look for more fun to come this summer before I leave :).

Fun fact for the evening: Gilbs can raise a 35 lbs. dumbbell in the plank position. Score 1 for Shred!!

BBQs, bug spray and late-night fun

Happy 4th of July! For those of you that got rained out in central Illinois, it was beautiful and clear up north in Wisconsin. By late afternoon, we had blue skies and puffy white clouds.

There was plenty of time for Nerf dart shooting (?), bocce ball and relaxing before the dark set in and it was time for fireworks. My uncle cooked up a delicious pork BBQ (sorry, gotta say I favored the pork over the beef even though dad supplied the beef). And of course all of the great side dishes that come with summer BBQs. Here's me and my cousins (well kids of my cousin - so 2nd cousins?) at Grandma & Grandpa's farm.

My food contribution was red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese icing and 4th of July sprinkles. I can't take too much credit except for the icing. Friday night was margaritas and Pita's (well minus the Pita's, plus Pizza Hut - that's another story) at the party house. It seems the woman of the party house is great at making cupcakes and I easily let her take over :). I roped Curtis in to help with the sprinkles. A couple items of note for those of you thinking " velvet cupcakes and cream cheese icing, that sounds so good I think I'll make some..."
1. Careful on your red velvet mixes - mine had tendency to stain fingers red.
2. Because of point 1, the mini, bite-size cupcakes with no wrappers are a hit!
3. Cupcakes need to cool before icing; unless you like red crumbs in your container of frosting.

My other uncle provided the entertainment of fireworks. I was quite impressed with the show. If only the killer mosquitoes weren't there, it would have been a perfect evening. After the show, mom, dad and I piled into the cab of the truck (we're a very close family) and proceeded home. I slept most of the drive, making it fly by but putting a crick in my neck.

**Only 2 days to the SC road trip. See you soon!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

via Hong Kong? or Tokyo?

I chose Hong Kong. Yep, my flight is booked for August 15th. Now, it is a refundable ticket because it hasn't technically been approved yet, but I think it should go through okay. I'm on the priority wait list for an upgrade to business class. Only 15,000 miles. I have like 190K and for some reason thought upgrading my flight half-way around the world would be more than 15,000 miles. But I'm not complaining...more to keep for later :). Apparently business class is currently only 50% booked - so please, no one else book a ticket so that I can get my upgrade.

My desk chair has joined the couch in departing the apartment. My picture from the last blog also raised some interest. So here's a couple more items I have in case anyone needs some bar stools or a desk w/o drawers. :)

Not much else noteworthy occurred this week. Tomorrow will be shopping for my red, white and blue apparel. Then making cupcakes to bring to the family outing on Saturday. I will try not to eat them all before hand.

Next Wednesday Mom and I begin our road trip to SC to see Katie and Tom. I'm sure that will prove to be much more exciting material and some good pictures. Stay tuned 'til then......

I hope everyone has a happy Independence Day (4th of July)!!

*Oh! if anyone wants tickets (up to 3) to view Peoria fireworks from the rooftop terrace at my apartment building (front row seats), let me know. I know, you're thinking Peoria fireworks?, but really, it is quite an impressive show for all the other things that the city may mess up.