Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Chocolate Birthday

Has a year really passed since we were celebrating her birthday with the Nancy Drew/Sleuthing theme? Yes, it certainly has! Thanks to my friend Carol and her two daughters who took a walking tour in downtown Chicago as chocolate tasters this past January, I knew this would be my sister's birthday theme for 2011. We always do themes, you know. First, the gifts. Do you know how fun it is to shop for gifts with chocolate in mind? I assure you it is quite pleasurable. Each gift was wrapped in either chocolate brown or marzipan pink paper. Cupcake tags were made to give a one verb clue such as "write" for notecards (above), "soothe" for chocolate brown spa bootees or "sniff" for chocolate chip scented tealight candles.
The ribbons on the gifts were actually hand-punched scallops on wrapping paper using a Martha Stewart punch. Here the birthday girl poses with all her loot. Now, it's time to head to the train station to go downtown for the tour....all aboard?
Seriously. Chocolate is one of the finest tastes known to humankind. And my sister is one of the finest sisters in the world. So, merge the two and it is sure to be a memorable recipe for celebrating Sis's 2011 birthday!
We took one of the options offered by Chicago Chocolate Tours starting in the State Street Macy's this past Monday. (Check it out at ). We had treats from 6 different chocolate shops as we walked in the loop area for about 2 1/2 hours on a very chilly day. It was bliss. Pure chocolate bliss.
It is Monday now and the real deal day of Diann's birthday. Please join me in wishing her the
most delicious year ever! Love ya, Sis!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Mindful Schmindful

Perhaps you may recall my 2010 word of the year was Mindful. As in mindful where I put my keys, papers, receipts and such. Oh, how I had such high hopes for tapping that part of my brain where memory was reigning supreme. Regretfully, that dream remains rather cloudy to this day. Let's fast forward to yesterday when I know I left the house with my glasses on.

The only stop I made was to the library.

I know I left the library with my glasses gone. Twice - yes, twice, I went back to look for them. A mass email was sent to all staff employees to be on the lookout for my glasses. No one has yet called; I am assuming the glasses are really gone or lost. I am hoping that someone placed my glasses in their glasses case, and will discover that the pair perched on their nose will blur vision enough to realize, "Yipes, these are not my glasses!" and bring said pair back to the library to be reunited with their rightful owner, me. After all, this happened to my own Mom just a few years back! She was in her skilled care nursing facility at the time and her vision was really blurry. More blurry than usual, in fact, which called for a visit to the eye doctor.

My sister took her there, when - lo and behold - the doctor said that my Mom wasn't wearing her own glasses, but someone else's. Oh dear! What to do?

Mom went to dinner back in her nursing home. She talked to her table mates about her experience at the doctor's office. When she said she couldn't see out of her glasses, a table mate piped up, "I can't see either!" and they realized they had each other's glasses. They switched glasses with each other and both proclaimed with glee, "I can see! I can see!" Then they figured out that they had gotten the glasses mixed up when at the beauty shop a few days earlier. Much giggling ensued. (Mom was quite a giggler.)

Therefore, I am urging you, dear readers, that if your eyes are more blurry than usual, please check to make sure you are wearing the right glasses - not mine - and all will once again be clear and crisp (vision-wise) with the world! This is certainly my fault to be without my glasses. I know I wasn't mindful when I set them down somewhere in the first place. Mindful Schmindful.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Delight in DeLiterature in DeKalb

About one week ago, I was fortunate to be able to attend the 31st Annual Children's Literature Conference in DeKalb, IL on the campus of NIU. The conference started off with the announcement of two awards: the Caudill 2011 winner and the Monarch 2011 winner The Monarch winner, pictured above, is a hoot of a book for those who enjoy picture books. Kids won't realize just how much learning is going on while laughing their way through the antics of dust bunnies - yes, dust bunnies - in the course of this book. Grandmas laugh their way through the book also! The Caudill winner is a book you may have heard about: the Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. Most assuredly, this book appeals to older kids due to the content being a bit disturbing and controversial. This is a book often requested at our library, and is difficult to keep on the shelves.
Keynote speakers included Laurie Halse Anderson, Susan Prineas, Thom Barthelmess (great book reviewer of 32 books in under one hour), Mac Barnett and (drumroll, please) Jon Scieszka. I also attended a break-out session featuring 5 local Illinois authors: Sallie Wolf, Barbara Rosenstock, Marianne Malone, Andrea Beaty and Cheryl Bardoe. They are pictured above.
Jon Scieszka (tan jacket, above) presented an absolutely hilarious lecture with matching family photographs of his five brothers mostly wearing the same plaid suit jacket in their school pictures. I laughed so hard my gut hurt. These pictures - and more - can be found in his book
Knucklehead. Mac Barnett was his sidekick and side-splitting as well.
If you saw the recent blog post where Wes snapped a picture of me with Rahm Emanuel in the background, you know I like to be photographed with "celebrities" but am a bit shy to approach them I am with Jon Scieszka.
I love books, and going to conferences where they are celebrated!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Pink Suitcase Chronicles #36 - Celebrating Two Birthdays

What better reason to dust off Pink and head north and west to Minneapolis to visit Wes' parents? Because they are both celebrants of milestone birthdays ending with a 5! (In all fairness to Elder, he is not quite there --- he married an older woman by 37 days.) We tried to be there smack dab between their special days. In the picture above, you can see Pink resting on their den bookcase, home to woodcarvings, plates and collected treasures through their travels.
Our first celebration consisted of going to a rockin' jazz and gospel concert presented by North Park University students at Plymouth Covenant Church. Here we met up with their niece's daughter, Kyla Lindberg.
Following the concert we ate at Doolittle's and the food was fabulous. Especially when we threw our current food consumption plan out the window!
Elder and Muriel were surprised by the "Mudslide" birthday treat at the end of the meal. Yum!
The next day (thanks for the new favorite Norweigian sweater, Renee and Jeff), we had a little party for them in their apartment and served up the cake and candles. One of their friends played the pump organ while we belted out the "Happy Birthday" song, and I happily report that seniors are still loving their non-decaffeinated coffee before bedtime as well. More pictures of this birthday party can be found on my Facebook page, shouldst you decide you want to friend me.
We are so blessed to have these special parents, grandparents and great-grandparents in our lives and we wish them all the best as they go forward in the upcoming year! We love you!

Sunday, March 06, 2011

Joining Up on the "G" Word

Finally, I succumbed to the Groupon mass coupon world! And so glad to have done so as it allowed us to purchase a family membership at a reduced rate for entry to the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum for a whole year!
We had Miss Ellie for the day on Saturday and took her there, especially to see her reaction to the live butterflies in the Judy Istock Butterfly Haven.
Here you can see Ellie walking with her she is not totally ambulatory these days, but it is soon coming.
Once she saw the fluttering butterflies, she dropped to her crawling mode and took off! They are quicker, however, than she is so they were safe from her touch and reach. Here is the attempt to get a "group" shot as we left the exhibit - thanks to the mirror by the exit door to see if the little flutterers were hitching a ride out of their haven.
Most of the types of butterflies shown on this chart were spotted. However, no birds were. Surely they have other better places to be than in the city of Chicago in the month of March.
Ellie kept trying to reach for the preserved butterflies behind this glass window.
This museum has more places to explore as Ellie gets a little older. Again, we are loving seeing the world of wonder through the freshness of our Grand-daughter's eyes. We can become young once again ourselves by watching her reactions to life on this earth. It's a pretty wonderful place.