welcome ... enjoy yourself

Monday, April 29, 2013

make me smile monday

This weekend, Paul and I drove to Indiana to pick up our new beagle Diego!  He's already been making us smile and bringing us lots of joy.  Check back for more photos tomorrow.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

josh ritter concert

Josh Ritter came to Milwaukee this week and played at the beautiful Pabst Theater.  Paul and I went to the concert with some friends to celebrate his birthday, and we had a blast.  I love going to see shows at the Pabst; the musicians usually make comments about how much they enjoy playing there, and I like to think that improves the quality of their performance.  I think Josh Ritter smiled through his whole performance.  He was so happy!  The show had a great energy, their set was really long, and it was super fun to hear our favorite songs live.  

This is his song "Kathleen": if you haven't heard it, I recommend taking a few minutes to listen.  It's good stuff!

Thursday, April 18, 2013


No big post today.  I'm enjoying time with our visitors!!!  Here's a picture of us from our trip to the Oregon coast last year.  Life is good.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

art in bloom

This weekend, my friend Mary and I visited the Milwaukee Art Museum for their Art in Bloom event.  The curators of the Art in Bloom exhibit pick forty-eight pieces from around the museum for local florists to use as inspiration for  floral sculptures.  The results were breath taking - not least of all because they combined art and flowers, two of my favorite things! 

Here are some pictures of my favorite designs.  I apologize for the quality of the photos; the lighting in the galleries was not ideal for my camera.  I think you can still get the feel for how impressive these floral interpreations were.  Most of these pieces received people's choice awards and some were official winners as well.   What do you think of the floral interpretations?  Think they nailed it or missed the mark?

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

the night circus, book club, and chocolate covered strawberries

The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazements. It is called Le Cirque des R礙ves, and it is only open at night.

But behind the scenes, a fierce competition is underway—a duel between two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood expressly for this purpose by their mercurial instructors. Unbeknownst to them, this is a game in which only one can be left standing, and the circus is but the stage for a remarkable battle of imagination and will. Despite themselves, however, Celia and Marco tumble headfirst into
love—a deep, magical love that makes the lights flicker and the room grow warm whenever they so much as brush hands.

I am proud to say that I am part of a fantastic book club.  My former coworkers and I used to meet from time to time to discuss books during lunch breaks, and after some of us moved on to other organizations, we decided to revamp the old book club so we could hang out more.  We chose The Night Circus for our first read and met last week for a black and white themed book club party. 

The feast - just as important as the book discussion.  As another friend's book club likes to say: "half read, well fed." 

We even dressed in black and white (with splatches of red!) drawing our inspiration from le reveurs in the story.  

The general concessus from our discussion was that The Night Circus was like a really pretty movie.  The story was really enjoyable, the descriptions of the circus were so fun, and the turn of the century setting left me feeling very nostalgic.  But when it was all over, I thought "wait, what did I just read?  I don't think that made a lot of sense."  If you like the books you read to make sense and have some meaning, my recommendation is to do exactly what I do with pretty movies: enjoy it for what it is and don't ask a lot of questions.  For this reason, I think The Night Circus would make for great summer reading.  And speaking of movies, I think this story would translate better as a movie than as a book; you could get carried away with the magic and imagery of the circus without worrying so much about character development and plot consistency. 

My contribution to the black and white feast were these chocolate covered strawberries.  I had never made them before, and I was surprised by how little effort they required.  I rinsed and dried the strawberries, melted a few squares of baking chocolate (found in the baking aisle at the grocery store), and dipped the strawberries in the chocolate.  I let them dry on parchment paper and stuck the white chocolate strawberries in the fridge for a bit because they weren't setting quite right.  Et voila!  A delicious, simple treat for all of us reveurs

Do you have any ideas for fun themed parties?

Monday, April 15, 2013

make me smile

Two things have me smiling today.  One: VISITORS!!!  We will have five (count them five!) visitors staying with us throughout this week, and I am sooooo excited!  My sister and sister-in-law are included among the five, and I cannot wait to get some good quality girl time with them.  Looking forward to showing them around our fair city and making new memories. 

Two: FLOWERS!  You may have noticed that I've been including more flower pictures here than usual.  I confess, it's a crappy weather survival technique.  Spring is refusing to come to Milwaukee - snow actually stuck to the ground yesterday (see below) - so I've been cultivating spring in our house and on the blog.  I also recently discovered that Whole Foods has great prices on cut flowers (to make up for their not-so-great prices on other things), so I've been buying myself weekly bouquets.  I am quite the fan of this week's - picked it up for less than $10!

What has you smiling today?

Friday, April 12, 2013

gone girl

On a warm summer morning in North Carthage, Missouri, it is Nick and Amy Dunne’s fifth wedding anniversary. Presents are being wrapped and reservations are being made when Nick’s clever and beautiful wife disappears from their rented McMansion on the Mississippi River. Husband-of-the-Year Nick isn’t doing himself any favors with cringe-worthy daydreams about the slope and shape of his wife’s head, but passages from Amy's diary reveal the alpha-girl perfectionist could have put anyone dangerously on edge. Under mounting pressure from the police and the media—as well as Amy’s fiercely doting parents—the town golden boy parades an endless series of lies, deceits, and inappropriate behavior. Nick is oddly evasive, and he’s definitely bitter—but is he really a killer?
WOW.  Gone Girl is exactly what it promises to be - a mystery thriller about a missing wife and her suspicious husband - but doesn't follow the normal trajectory.  I love being surprised when reading, and this book has two big plot twists that left me reeling.  And if for no other reason, I would recommend this book because the story is so engaging that you simply can't put it down.  I was turning pages and staying up late the same way I did with most of the Harry Potter books.  

With that said, the book left me with a strange "huh" feeling after reading, and I didn't end up liking any of the characters.  I found the plot to be too far fetched - and that's coming from a person whose favorite series include Lord of the Rings and the Walking Dead.  I can believe that goblins and monsters and flying witches exist, as long as they make sense within the world the author has created.  

But Gillian Flynn has done masterful work in this book because she knows exactly what she's doing.  She has a reader on a string, getting you to think and feel exactly what she wants you to.  So maybe her plot was believable within the world she created; maybe The Gone Girl world was just meant to be really twisted.  You've been warned.  

Thursday, April 11, 2013

things work out

I woke up deliriously this morning at 6:00 am to the fourth straight day of rain and clouds.  I blame my tiredness for my brain wondering back in time to old boyfriends and old crushes.  I was thinking of some boys I had liked who didn't respond to my awkward flirting and mixed cds and other boys who liked me back but just felt off.  There were so many years of feeling slighted or unwanted or like I wasn't quite enough.  I'm sure many of you have experienced a variation of those feelings at some point and know how yucky it feels.  Now, believe me, I still was having plenty of fun in my pre-Paul days and still had a healthy self esteem, but the search to finding a good partner was frustrating. 

I still remember how amazing the first few weeks of dating felt because it was the first time someone had really feltright - and thought that I felt right too.  I'm still slightly amazed by how well Paul and I fit together and how happy I am with him.  It was silly, but I had really questioned whether I would ever find a partner I meshed with.  It was really just a matter of being patient. 

I'm writing this down so I have hard evidence of how happy I am with Paul for the next time he drives me absolutely crazy.  Just because he's a good fit doesn't mean he doesn't annoy me, it just means I still want to spend my life with him even if he acts like a weirdo sometimes.  That's love for you. 

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

milwaukee public museum

A great perk of jury duty in Milwaukee County is a free pass to the Milwaukee Public Museum.  Just a week after adding a visit to the Public Musem to my goal list, I got to check it off!  I thought the museum sounded interesting, but since I haven't heard much about the museum living here, my expectations were (I'm sad to say) very low.  But the nice thing about low expectations is that it's very easy to blow them out of the water.  Which is exactly what happened.  My favorite parts were the life size walk through old Milwaukee exhibit, the European cultural rooms, and pretty much the entire second and third floors.  The cultural and natural exhibits reminded me a lot of the Canadian Museum of Civilization - every corner I turned I felt like I was in a new part of the world.  The curation was so well done and definitely deserving of a second visit. 

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

libby's half marathon

On my visit to St. Louis this weekend, I cheered my sister Libby on during her first half marathon race.  Libby works as an oncology nurse at a St. Louis hospital and ran the race in honor of one of her patients who passed away who had been training for a marathon.  It was so inspiring, and I felt so proud of Libby!

Music along the route to inspire the runners - I enjoyed listening to it too!

All finished!  Pretty sure that medal is weighing her down. 

Libby and her coworkers - they ran for Jenny.  

Libby and her cheerleaders!  Don't know how she would have done it without us.  

Way to go LIbby!  She has me inspired to start running again, though I don't think a half marathon will be happening ... ever. 

Monday, April 8, 2013

make me smile monday

There's nothing like a picture of a puppy to brighten your morning!  Especially since it accompanies some exciting news.  Paul and I have decided to get a brother for Pedro!  More exclamation points!!!!!!

The details aren't finalized yet, but within a few weeks, Pedro will have a beagle brother to keep him company, chase squirrels with, and wrastle with.  Unfortunately the new beagle is not a pocket beagle (those things are expensive!), but he will be adorable!  Yay for little beagle brothers! 

Friday, April 5, 2013

29 goals before 29

Oh look, another goal list!  What can I say?  I just love them.  Writing lists and making goals is a great way to daydream, and it makes the daydreams even better knowing that there's a good chance that they'll become reality.  

I got the idea for doing this birthday goal list from Elsie at A Beautiful Mess who got the idea from Andrea at Hula Seventy.  I turned 28 yesterday and made 29 goals to accomplish before my 29th birthday.  And yes, I'm still working on that other goal list I started too.  Happy goals makes a happy Mary.  

1.    Send care package
2.    Try three new restaurants
3.    Write a list of dreams (personal and professional)
4.    Keep a 2013-2014 memory jar
5.    Visit Holy Hill in fall
6.    Attend 5th JVC reunion
7.    See a hippy doctor
8.    Make truffles
9.    Visit Milwaukee Public Museum
10.  Make my own tea
11.  Save $500 in emergency fund
12.  Try gluten-free/elimination diet
13.  Illustrate children's book
14.  Plant bulbs in the fall
15.  Make a fancy scarf [or] learn to embroider
16.  Close Wolski’s 
17.  Organize my "files"
18.  Make "sun" dried tomatoes
19.  Update blog design
20.  Organize online/digital photos
21.  Visit Madison with Paul
22.  Say "yes" to something challenging at work
23.  Take a visitor to the Safe House
24.  Repot house plants
25.  30 days of apartment photos
26.  Try to grow lettuce in our house year round
27.  Decorate our apartment
28.  Camp on a beach
29.  Stay the night in a yurt

Do you like making goal lists?  What's on (or would be on) yours? 

Thursday, April 4, 2013

today i'm thankful for (birthday edition)

waking up to the love of my life ... messages from family and friends ... being reminded of how lucky and loved I am ... living in such a happy home (thanks to that adorable dog we have) ... ackowledging that birthdays bring high expectations but gratitude makes everything enough ... flowers that remind me that spring is on its way ... Jimmy Johns ... french dinners ... looking forward to seeing Madeleine Peyroux tonight ... amazing coworkers ... loving my job ... a pretty day ... joint finance committee public budget hearings ... hearing great facts from April 4th (did you know that this is also Maya Angelou's birthday?! hot damn!) ... did I mention Jimmy Johns? ... trip to St. Louis on the horizon ... feeling happy ... taking time to remember that even with everyday annoyances and challenges life is still so good 

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

fall in love for life

Maybe when a couple meets and fall in love, that plants a seed, and if they are very fortunate and work hard together in time it grows into a vine, which truly does entwine their souls together.  A sou mate seems to me something that you must work to enjoy, not a connection you could just stumble into. 

This great little book was another Anthropologie find.  Fall in Love for Life is 200 pages of inspiration from Barbara Cooper, a 93 year old widow telling the story and sharing advice from her seventy-year marriage to her husband Harry Cooper.  I loved this book because Barbara's advice was so authentic and so simple.  It reminded me of one of my grandma's favorite sayings: "keep it simple stupid [kiss]."   

Barbara has kept a positive attitude and repeats her belief that if you stay committed, work hard, and want what's best for each other, you and your "sweetheart" will do alright.  She realistically admits that not all marriages will work out and not all people are meant to be together.  When dealing with mid life crises or a partner being unfaithful, Barbara advises people to take care of themselves and be grounded in who they are, saying this will help them move on rather than waiting around for a person who may never come back.    

Barbara also had some of the best insights I've heard on the aging process.  Her wisdom was so refreshing in a society that repeats "it's hell to get old."  This "super senior" embraces her age, aches, and pains and says, "if you live your life one day a time, then you ease into the changes.  If you have friends, if you have family, if you love yourself and do what you can to help others, then you can forget about again and just focus on living."  Amen! 

I highly recommend this book to anyone who is currently married, engaged, or thinking about getting married in the future.  Her book is definitely aimed at heterosexual couples and includes gender generalizations, but overall the book is a really joyful read. 

I debated whether to share this picture, but I was thinking about our marriage so much while reading this book, hoping that we could enjoy a long, happy marriage like the Coopers (my new super senior inspirations), that it seemed authentic to include it.  Thanks for indulging me.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

my easter

Paul and I spent Easter in Milwaukee this year (the life of being married to a nurse - a life of a spouse who has to work holidays).  Luckily, we have a great Milwaukee family we could celebrate the holiday with!  Being in Milwaukee for Easter meant we had a chance to attend Easter services at our church, which were so energizing and were such wonderful celebrations of community.  The Spanish and Gospel choirs came together and played some fantabulous music.  On Easter Sunday, we got together with friends for a late brunch and enjoyed some DELICIOUS home cooked food.  Seriously, we went all out.

Included on the menu were these cinnamon rolls, my first attempt at making them from scratch.  I'm happy to say they turned out really well.  Check out America's Test Kitchen for the recipe

Mouth watering yet?

I also shared my first quiche attempt!  I replaced the cream and some of the cheese with actual cream cheese and thought it turned out well.  I added vegetarian sausage to the top for extra taste (and because I'm a sucker for vegetarian sausage). 

And what brunch is complete without a tasty mimosa?  We made ours with fresh squeezed orange juice and the champagne of champagnes: Andre's.  Also on the brunch menu: crepes with nutella and whipped cream, spinach caserole, and fruit salad.  YUMMAY. 

And since this brunch post has focused almost entirely on food, how about I add a picture of my other favorite post topic?  PEDRO!  How adorable is that beagle?  Answer: too adorable.  

Hope you had a great weekend!

Monday, April 1, 2013

make me smile monday

Here's what has me smiling today: we put an offer down on this house!  What a dream come true!

Believe me? 

Ok, April Fool's!  

Even though I love and patiently wait for this holiday, I've been tricked three times already today (thank goodness the Game of Thrones announcement wasn't true!  My heart was broken for a few seconds).