Thursday, July 24, 2014

Summer Camp

Fifteen years ago on July 24th 1999,  I left for my first week long stay away from home at summer camp. After watching and obsessing over the Parent Trap I begged my parents to send me to camp to find my long lost English twin. After checking into Camp Walden For Girls in Maine (the camp from the movie) and learning that it was around $5,000 to stay for the week, my parents chose to send me to a camp in Iowa instead. 

A little place of outdoor heaven called Camp Foster in Okoboji.

I was sent a pack-list in the mail about two months before camp started. I can still picture the small booklet in my head because I studied it almost every night leading up to the big day. There were some nights I even fell asleep reading it in bed. If I had my camp scrapbook in front of me I would take a photo of the booklet to show (because yeah, I made a camp scrapbook obviously) but sadly all 482 of my scrapbooks are in Nebraska.

What I'm saying is that I was excited. I started packing about two weeks early to ensure I wouldn't forget any of my best Umbro shorts, my favorite Nike one-piece swimsuits, my coolest Rider sandals (so silver or pink obviously), or any of my classiest athletic t-shirts- i.e. any shirt that read "Eat, Sleep (fill in the last word with any sport and I owned the shirt.)

When I finally got to camp it was full of every camp cliche I had ever hoped for. Bunk-beds in cabins and a mess hall and canoes by a lake and a huge a flag pole in the middle of it all (which I would come to hate once I learned "flag call" was every morning at 7:00 a.m.)  The only thing missing was the dirty mirror outside the rec room that said "this mirror is clean, are you?" Please someone get the 90s Nickelodeon reference.

Anyway, if you've ever been to camp you know that there is always a "cute girl" cabin. Because I watched Bug Juice before leaving for Foster, I had high hopes of being in that cute girl cabin, and perhaps even finding myself a camp boyfriend. I mean why not? It was summer camp after all, crazy things were about to happen! And what I failed to mention above is that beyond all of my athletic attire I packed, I also packed a few sunflower outfits from Limited Too, you know for special occasions.

But sadly reality was about to hit me right in the face.

I think I first realized I was in the weirdo cabin one morning in the mess hall when suddenly almost all of the other tables started the "we want back rubs" chant. The girl cabins would demand back rubs from their favorite boy cabins and vice versa. It looked like fun so God bless our hearts, Hakowie #137 (that was my cabin) decided to join in as well.

"Hakowie wants some back rubs, some back rubs, some back rubs. Hakowie wants some back rubs, some back rubs, some back rubs, so who will come on over?" Kind of a creepy song for little kid campers to sing, but that's not the point. The point is my cabin continued to sing and yet no one came over. No one wanted to back rub the creepy Hakowie girls.

Then I realized we were definitely the weirdo cabin. There was no way around it.

And it made sense. We had two girls who only dressed as wizards (this was pre Harry Potter hype) one girl who wore her backpack at all times, but she refused to wear it anywhere but her front, so it was more like a stomach pack. Another girl in our cabin liked to wear pant-suits with her sneakers like she was always late to a business meeting, I still don't know what that was about. And then we also had the camp smelly kid, the girl who pissed her bed every night yet never seemed to show up for shower time. I know a lot of kids suffer from bed wetting, they just don't usually go to camp and take a top bunk. And then refuse to shower. Ah Shawnie. Wonder where she is today. And I wonder if she's still wearing the same red shirt that hangs to her knees that says, "Beef. It's What For Dinner."

Besides the rest of the crew I just described,  there was my friend I came with, Sarah, and myself. We were the same age, but she looked at least five years older- a quality that would serve her very well in middle school. Luckily I had a very inflated self esteem at that age and failed to realize both my teeth and ears were about two sizes too big for my small body. I was 12 but looked 9, perhaps even 8. My feet however were bigger than most adults. And I almost always had chip crumbs in the corner of my mouth/chip mouth sores because I was always eating chips at camp. I packed like ten bags of Doritos just to be safe, they were like my security blanket.

So for our seven days at camp, Cabin Hakowie never once got back rubs. Well that's not technically true I guess, on the third day we asked and no boys came over the mess hall staff felt bad for us so they came out from the kitchen (and even removed their plastic gloves) to cheer up the weird cabin. That's kind of when you know things are bad. When the lunch ladies in hair nets and orthopedic shoes feel sorry for you.

And so I slowly gave up hopes of finding a camp boyfriend, who if I had to choose would have been a boy named Clayton who had spiky bleached white hair and wore a white puka shell necklace... Not that I remember him or anything. One time I got to talk to Clayton because our two cabins had a scheduled lake activity.  I thought he was going to touch my face, but he was actually just pointing to seaweed that was stuck to my forehead. It must have gotten there when I had fallen out of my canoe.

Oh, camp memories.

Even though I quickly started to hate camp after just a day or two because of all the bullshit we had to do- get up early to go to the flagpole, participate in stupid activities all damn day, eat crappy food, sleep in bunks that always seemed wet (thanks Shawnie) take cold showers, spend long nights singing the worst songs around the campfire, just to name a few things... Looking back I couldn't be happier about the experience. It was as "cliche campy" as it gets.

I think every kid needs a camp experience. Or at least the realization that the cute girl cabin probably isn't that fun anyway, and maybe it's not so bad to belong with the weirdos after all.

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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

20 Things We Unexpectedly Become Obsessed With Because Of Blogging

Today I'm teaming up with Ash from The Grits Blog. If you don't already know about this girl, you should. She's honest, she's funny, and she blogs about everything from style, to hair tutorials, to makeup stuff, even wedding details- she's basically as versatile as a blogger gets! And to top it all off she also has her own blog design service. Like I said, she does it all.

And now we present: 20 Things We Unexpectedly Become Obsessed With Because Of Blogging.

Ash says...
1// Twitter. Seriously! I had never realllly used Twitter before blogging. I didn't get what the buzz was all about. Now. I. Do. It's the bomb!! I obsessively check it through out the day and read what's going on with my fellow blogger friends.

2// How to make a cool design. Everything from glitter layers to fonts - I am always on the hunt for some cool layer and font. (P.S. - Custom designs are on sale for 25% off!!! Check out my portfolio here and shoot me an email!)

3// Obsessing over why someone unliked my bloglovin or other social media site. Seriously, I always wonder why and what I could have done differently.

4// Well this isn't exactly unexpected, but it's sure been exaggerated - taking thousands of pictures of my dogs and posting them to instagram. THEN hashtagging them with tags like #chihuahuagram #ilovemyfrenchie and so on. THEN getting depressed when I don't get a ton of likes.

5// This a new one. Wondering if I am being catfished...

6// Not caring if I fit the blogger mold. It seems like there a ton of blogger "rules" - the only one that I really stick to is responding to comments...even though it may take me a while sometimes. HEY! I've got a job and two precious pups at home!

7// The pressure of writing good comments. Now that I blog and understand the whole good comment thing and why it's important, I try to comment in the way that I would like to get comments. Oh. The. Pressure.

8// The self reflection and understanding. Prior to blogging, I was conflicted and emotional. I think a lot of this was due to the fact that I really didn't have a place to get it all out - and get support. It's absolutely amazing at what writing it all out and reflecting on that writing has done for my soul. 

9// I learned how to curl my hair...and thusly, became absolutely obsessed with hair and makeup tutorials. 

10// The community. When I started blogging, I really expected to deal with a bunch of trolls. I was so wrong!! I have never met such awesome ladies and have made so many friends. It's been the biggest blessing.

And compared to Ash's, my list seems a little more shallow... But here it is.

11// Camera accessories.  I just got my first "decorative" camera strap and I suddenly feel really cool about it. If it weren't for blogging I wouldn't even feel the need to have a "fancy camera," let alone a col camera strap.

12//Juicing. I don't technically know what juicing means, or how to do it, but when I see all of the delicious smoothies bloggers are creating because of their juicers I know I NEED ONE.

13//Acquiring a planner. I haven't actually bought one yet, but every time I see new one pop up on a blog I think to myself, "I'm going to get a planner."

14//Having a cool home office. The best I can hope for is a cool desk space because rooms are limited. I look at gorgeous photos bloggers' post of their work areas and I can't help but wonder how they keep it so clean? Are they really working there? Like really? Because where are all of the empty coffee mugs and post-it notes everywhere?

15//Hashtags. It's hard to resist the hashtag when they're getting so fun.

16//Birkenstocks. I haven't owned Birks since the 70s but I'm seeing them all over the place and I really want to get a pair.

17//Floppy hats. I wasn't nearly as into floppy hats until blogging. Luckily they're great for bad hair days.

18// Blogging about blogging... cough cough.

19// Having a morning blog routine. Or trying to at least.

20// Tutorials. Here's a hair tutorial I once did called "The George Washington." Check it out and let me know what you think.

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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

"You Hang In There" -advice from a married woman

Last month I was at a wedding reception having a wonderful old time, like I typically do at receptions, when the woman sitting next to me at our table casually asked how long Chris and I have been dating.

"Oh just about seven years," I responded.

I could tell right away she didn't like my answer. Her tight face went from shock, to horror, and then immediately to pity in just about two seconds. And then she delicately patted my knee and said, "You hang in there."

Well okay.


I'll do that.

So here's the thing. I don't mind that Chris and I have been dating for longer than "the norm." If I did mind, I wouldn't be doing it... And I don't even mind when people consistently ask me "so when are you getting married?" Hell, I think it's nice they're even interested or want to know about Chris and I, and it's a logical question after all.

What I do mind however, is when someone tells me to hang in there.

Hang in there. It just gives me this image of a sad pitiful kitten hanging on a rope, because that exact poster was taped up in my guidance counselor's office in elementary school. And yes, I had to see the guidance counselor/speech pathologist because I had a "speech impediment" as a child. Sally sells seashells by the seashore is a terribly evil verbal exercise for a kid with a lisp.

But I digress.

I don't like being told to hang in there because it makes me think I'm this little girl just waiting and praying for that one magical day when I can finally fulfill my dream of becoming... a wife! As if I really don't have much say in this rather large life step and my only choice is to sit around and twiddle my thumbs and Pin wedding ideas onto my Pinterest board called "The Day I Marry My Best Friend."

*disclaimer: I know some girls are waiting and dreaming of this day and that is completely fine! Cheers to them, in fact. We are all different people.  To each their own.
*second disclaimer: I don't have a Wedding board on Pinterest. 

I guess I just get a little annoyed that so many people assume every girl in a long-time relationship who isn't yet married, is just dying for that ring. But darn it, we just can't get a hold of it! For whatever reason we haven't managed to tame our wild bachelor boyfriends yet... Or whatever it is some people think about us sad lonely "girlfriends" who just can't talk our guys into marrying us... Because it's just not how it is anymore.

Chris and I aren't trying to be this uber modern couple resisting marriage either. We're just doing us. And for whatever reason, marriage isn't a huge priority at the moment.

So while "hang in there" might be good advice for a few, it's not for me. Because I don't plan on going anywhere, anyway. And even though I've also been told "our bond" just isn't as real as those who are bonded in marriage, we're doing okay. Our relationship feels real to us, that's good enough for me.

Whether we get married in two years or twelve, I guess we'll just hang in there together.

But thanks again for the solid advice, maam. I hope you give it to your daughter someday.


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Harlow's Guide To Chicago

After writing my guide to Chicago last week, someone got a little jealous I didn't ask for his input. Thus he's requested to make his own guide today.

(As told by Harlow, don't act surprised I'm doing this.)

1. Um for starters I really like this tree. Because it gives the best view of the squirrels in Lincoln Park. Just be careful of the ducks. They hiss. And sometimes they donkey kick you in the face.

2. And then this jungle gym at Wrightwood Park is pretty cool. Because it's the best jungle gym ever and there's usually Cheetos under the wobbly bridge.

3. And you have to make sure to walk by the crazy dogs (coyotes) at Lincoln Park Zoo. But be careful! They seem pretty angry. And don't try to sneak your head in the fence, it's not as wide as it looks.

4. Then there's the tennis court at Oz Park. Because tennis courts are CRAZY. Like what's that net doing there? It drives me nuts but I also love it for some reason.

5. And you can't miss this water bowl in Old Town. Because it's cold and good and sometimes there's treats next to it.

6. I also like this place in Wicker Park because they give me beef jerky.

7. And if you see a street festival, RUN TO IT! There is food everywhere. Most people aren't paying any attention and if you sneak up behind them real good you can just take their food from their hand.

8. This fountain is pretty cool I guess. It's a nice one to take a quick dip.

9. And this place is just the best. You gotta come here when you come to Chicago. I got to jump hurdles and run through tunnels and everyone was always cheering me on and giving me treats.

10. And I really like this drinking fountain in North Pond. It's second only to the one at Jonquil Park.

11. The rock slabs by the lake are fun too. Just be careful because the rocks get slippery and sometimes you fall in.

12. And I saved my favorite for last. The beach. Because it's just AWESOME.

Honorable mention goes to the dry cleaner on Clark street because they keep a bag of treats hanging on their door and I think that's pretty neat. And I also like the dumpster behind my house because one time I found an entire box of Chinese food! It was the best day ever.

And that's my guide to Chicago.

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Monday, July 21, 2014

Pork & Pineapple Tacos

On average, I eat tacos about three times per week. And I'm not even exaggerating here. Chris and I (and Harlow) are taco maniacs. If we weren't always running out of our favorite tortillas, we would probably eat tacos seven times a week.

I like them because they're easy to make, they're pretty affordable, and I like to think they're semi-healthy. And Chris grills all of the meat outside so the kitchen clean-up is super minimal. I'm all about minimal kitchen clean-up.

Because we're always eating tacos, it's usually our mission to put a new spin on them and recently our favorite recipe involves pork and pineapple. The combination of these two ingredients together is simply amazing. If you're doubtful, just give it a try and you'll see why.

In the photo above I used:
Thinly slice pork chops
Freshly cut pineapple
White onion

Chris grilled the pork, pineapple, and onions, but that's only because I'm a sucker for grilled pineapple. You could also serve it on top cold and it would be just as good I bet.

Throw it all into a tortilla and you're good to go. I put a bit of salsa on mine and Chris smeared his with Siracha because he smears everything with Siracha.

Have a favorite summer recipe you always make? Share it below, especially if it involves tacos...

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A Summer Weekend In Chicago

The Knox and Lola family showed up around 5:45 a.m. last Friday morning, excited to be in Chicago and ready to play! Below is the only photo I managed to catch of Knox, at least he made sure it was a good one.

We went to the park, the zoo, ate brunch, watched trains go by, played "dogs," rode Harlow, you name it and we did it- and this was all before noon... When the kids left around 6:00 p.m. to go play with their cousin in Lincoln Square I felt like I needed to take a long hot bath surrounded by candles with Enya music playing in the background. And I don't even like baths. Or Enya.

Don't get me wrong I absolutely love getting to play with Knox and Lola and have them in town, but playing with toddlers is a level of exhaustion I'm just not used to. It's a combination of being so mentally and physically tired, and when it's all over I kind of just want to crawl into bed and suck my thumb for a bit. 

So what I'm saying is kudos to moms and dads for doing it everyday, it impresses the hell out of me. And it also scares me.

Home T can be found here. Check out their great cause here.

Lola's loves brunch as much as I do.

It was a great day for the Lincoln Park zoo on Friday. Except for the fact I realized I've become a bit of a cynic and zoos only make me sad now because I feel like all of the animals look so sad...

After the zoo we ditched the boys for some rooftop drinks at the J Parker.

And afternoon nachos are always a must.

And here's a few other photos from the weekend...

Harlow finds a bubble machine.

Harlow finds free bones at a church.

And Harlow dips his face in mustard because of the sandwich you see below.

All in all, another great weekend in Chicago.

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Saturday, July 19, 2014


Introducing Renae from Tealaholic.

Hello everybody! My name is Renae and I post my thoughts over at Tealaholic.
I have a lot going on in my busy life. 
1. I am attending college full time for marketing and advertising 
2. I own a home-based cake pop business (I just recently added french macarons to my menu. YUM!)
3. I intern at the number one Yahoo! Developer as an administrative assistant
4. I'm a mom to a rambunctious two year old son, Jagger
5. In the little free time I have, I show horses and just started my Tealaholic blog!

1. Let's start simple, how did you choose the name of your blog? 
If you ask anyone who knows me, they will tell you that I have a nearly unhealthy obsession with the color teal. If something can be purchased in teal, I will own it in teal. I have teal socks, bags, shoes, pens, notebooks, shirts, underwear, nail polish, you name it.
I feel like Tealaholic is just one word that helps describe my fun personality and crazy life.

2. What made you decide to start a blog? 
During classes on campus, I used to write long notes to friends since I would get bored during lectures (don't worry guys, I have a 3.9 GPA and I do take notes too!). One friend told me that I should start a blog since I always made her laugh in my notes and other people would probably enjoy them too. So due to positive peer pressure, I created Tealaholic. 

3. Have you done anything fun this summer?
This summer I made a bucket list and I'm hoping to get everything crossed off by the time I start the fall semester. Fingers crossed!
While you guys are reading this, I'm actually in Chicago for a huge all-day music festival. 
After the festival, I will be running a week long series on my blog about music, festival fashion, and I'm sure there will be embarrassing stories about meeting band members. I'm the typical fangirl, I admit it. 

4. What do you hope to do after college?
Since I don't graduate until 2016, I have been thinking of a few different options. I either a) want to attend graduate school at Notre Dame University or b) want to start a career in social media marketing. I grew up literally a block away from the Notre Dame campus and it has always been a dream to attend the school. GO IRISH!
Another possible option would be to attend Northwestern College for grad school since Chicago is pretty much my second hometown. But honestly, I have no idea where I will be in two years! I will let the God guide the way.

5. What has blogging taught you thus far? 
So far blogging has made me think a lot more about what I am doing and notice details in everything around me. I have a long running list of just random topics to write about that are inspired by my daily life. Prior to blogging, I wouldn't have found the significance in the little things!

*Comments have been turned off, to say hello to Renae click here.

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