Suburban Scrawl http://suburbanscrawl.com Ramblings From Thirty Miles West Of Chicago Fri, 19 Aug 2016 17:57:45 +0000 en-US hourly 1 22620185 When Pinterest Was Heavy http://suburbanscrawl.com/2016/08/pinterest/ http://suburbanscrawl.com/2016/08/pinterest/#comments Fri, 19 Aug 2016 17:40:16 +0000 http://suburbanscrawl.com/?p=11731 I’m working diligently on cleaning out the cabinets above my kitchen desk. Yes, again. They’re the bane of my existence, truly. I even met my friend Natasha at IKEA on Sunday so she could help me pick out some containers that will help me wrangle all the things (and keep them wrangled). Creating a system […]

If you are not reading this on Suburban Scrawl or your RSS reader, then it's been plagiarized!

]]>
I’m working diligently on cleaning out the cabinets above my kitchen desk.

Yes, again. They’re the bane of my existence, truly. I even met my friend Natasha at IKEA on Sunday so she could help me pick out some containers that will help me wrangle all the things (and keep them wrangled). Creating a system that works for the long term is hard.

My first step was basically pulling everything out and tossing it onto the desk and the kitchen island haphazardly. That was also probably my first mistake because it might take me a week to slog through the piles, but I digress.

In the middle of all that chaos, I found my old school Pinterest “account”.

Old School Pinterest account

Yes, that’s a plastic envelope with torn catalog pages and swatches inside. That’s how we used to have to do it, kids.

When we were in the early stages of getting ready to look for a house, this house, in the fall of 2000, I started looking around for inspiration. Pottery Barn’s catalog was my favorite and in it I found the poppy rug that I wanted to design my whole living room around, the rug that we called “Bijoux’s rug” and had to replace three years ago with what ended up being “Roxie’s Rug”. Once I found that centerpiece I started collecting ideas for the rest of that room and the others, too. Right there in that envelope, preserved for posterity, are the shade of yellow we applied to our bedroom walls before painting anywhere else, the green swirly velvet that we used to reupholster a chair that belonged to my grandparents, and the Mission-style furniture pieces we purchased for our family room (Jim’s chair) and bedroom (bed and dresser).

Old school Pinterest

There’s something fun about ripping a page out of a catalog or pulling swatches out of your purse when you’re at the store and need to see if something matches. I remember carrying that folder in my car for months during that fall season sixteen years ago. I’d pull the items out of it occasionally, spreading them out on the dining room table and wondering what I still needed.

I even had some old school Pinterest fails, in that I chose these items for the house on paper along with the others but never managed to bring them home:

Old school Pinterest fails

And suddenly we’re closing in on the fall of 2016.

Last week we covered that buttery yellow on our bedroom walls with a cool blue-gray hue. It was definitely bittersweet as I reflected on the passage of time, particularly the last sixteen years in this house. There are some changes on the horizon here; I’m not ready to go into detail just yet but I will when it’s time. For now, as I clean out those stupid cabinets and throw away all kinds of things I don’t need to keep, I’ll tuck my old school Pinterest folder away for old times’ sake and upgrade my inspiration collection method to the online version.

If you are not reading this on Suburban Scrawl or your RSS reader, then it's been plagiarized!

]]>
http://suburbanscrawl.com/2016/08/pinterest/feed/ 3 11731
The Cross http://suburbanscrawl.com/2016/08/la-croix/ http://suburbanscrawl.com/2016/08/la-croix/#comments Mon, 15 Aug 2016 19:19:34 +0000 http://suburbanscrawl.com/?p=11716 This story actually began in 1999 when I was working at a local health club. I was friendly with the general manager–well, we all were–and whenever I met him in his office he would open his dorm-sized refrigerator and offer me a can of flavored carbonated water. I hadn’t heard of La Croix before I […]

If you are not reading this on Suburban Scrawl or your RSS reader, then it's been plagiarized!

]]>
This story actually began in 1999 when I was working at a local health club. I was friendly with the general manager–well, we all were–and whenever I met him in his office he would open his dorm-sized refrigerator and offer me a can of flavored carbonated water. I hadn’t heard of La Croix before I met him and always politely refused the offer because it just didn’t sound very good to me. He drank it like it was going out of style. I mean, he had a refrigerator in his office for the sole purpose of keeping his La Croix cold.

One day, after many days of sticking to my plain, non-sparkling, filtered tap water, I told him I’d try it.

It was disgusting.

I chalked it up to the flavor (I can’t even remember what flavor it was) and went on with my life, never to look at that sparkling water again.

Until this summer.

I had been contemplating giving up Coke Zero (again; this happens every couple of years) and suddenly I started seeing La Croix everywhere. EVERYWHERE. It occurred to me that much like I have become a fan of avocado and salmon as an adult when I never touched them years ago, perhaps I could enjoy La Croix. I’m seventeen years older than I was in that health club manager’s office, after all.

I suggested to Jim that perhaps we should try La Croix because, well, it was better for us than soda/pop/Coke (whichever term you use depending on your geographic location). We picked up a twelve-pack of Berry, because I thought that Berry sounded like the most innocent and the most delicious. We couldn’t miss with Berry, that’s for sure!

Um.

Berry was a miss. A TOTAL MISS.

La Croix La Cross

As it turns out, my friends are totally worked up about La Croix. Many are passionate in their love for it and many are passionate in their hatred for it.

Some of the friends who love La Croix really love it. They asked, “Maybe you just don’t like carbonated water?”
I answered, “I don’t now about THAT; perhaps I just didn’t like that flavor.”
Many of them mix La Croix with other things (especially vodka), and I can get on board with that but if I don’t like La Croix, why would I force myself to drink it by adding vodka when I can just stick with my favorites, Coke with either Jack or Bacardi?

The friends who hate La Croix really hate it. One of my friends commented, “You should reconsider who your friends are….I would never have done such a horrible thing to you…or him!” Others are flavor-specific in their hate. I was told that Berry really is terrible and that I should try Grapefruit. Or Lime. Especially Lime. Apparently Lime is the shiznit.

One day I found myself at Target in the beverage aisle, picking up another flavor. Naturally I had to tell Facebook.

La Croix again

But I didn’t buy Lime that day. My friend Vikki, along with everyone else apparently, loves Lime and sent me multiple reminders that I should buy some Lime before making my final decision about La Croix in general. She saw that Facebook post and texted me immediately (and simply): “Lime,” adding “Maybe you just don’t like carbonated water?”

Vikki La Croix

Spoiler alert: we hated this flavor too.

The fact is, as much as I tried, I couldn’t get away from it. La Croix sponsored a local concert Jim and I attend every summer. COINCIDENCE? (Okay, probably.)

La Croix sponsor

My friend Angie called me out on Instagram.

Angie La Croix

Jen told me she really likes the Pamplemousse (French for Grapefruit) and I asked her to bring me a can to try when we met up one night. Unfortunately she forgot to take it out of her purse and hand it to me so I have yet to pass judgement on Pamplemousse.

Pamplemousse La Croix

Vikki taunted me with her Lime La Croix.

Vikki La Croix

One day while I was off running other errands, Jim did the grocery shopping and I came home to this. Lime.

More La Croix

I have news for you. Lime is terrible, too, in my opinion.

Don’t get me wrong; if you love La Croix, more power to you. I respect the brand. They definitely have a huge fan base of people who love love love love the many flavors that are out there, as well as those who think the flavors make good add-ons for vodka and limoncello.

Me?
Maybe I just don’t like carbonated water.

Besides being a Lime La Croix Booster, Vikki is also a great accountability partner. I nagged her nearly to death to finally write something new for her blog this week, and I think she still likes me. Check out her amazing writing at Up Popped a Fox.

If you are not reading this on Suburban Scrawl or your RSS reader, then it's been plagiarized!

]]>
http://suburbanscrawl.com/2016/08/la-croix/feed/ 6 11716
#StreamTeam Summer Catch-Up http://suburbanscrawl.com/2016/07/streamteam-summer/ http://suburbanscrawl.com/2016/07/streamteam-summer/#respond Sat, 30 Jul 2016 20:10:43 +0000 http://suburbanscrawl.com/?p=11699 I am a member of the Netflix #StreamTeam and will be happily sharing monthly tips and stories about how my family uses Netflix on a regular basis. (Okay, that’s an understatement. I should say CONSTANTLY. We use Netflix CONSTANTLY.) This post is sponsored by Netflix, of course! While you might think that my level of […]

If you are not reading this on Suburban Scrawl or your RSS reader, then it's been plagiarized!

]]>
Netflix Stream Team

I am a member of the Netflix #StreamTeam and will be happily sharing monthly tips and stories about how my family uses Netflix on a regular basis. (Okay, that’s an understatement. I should say CONSTANTLY. We use Netflix CONSTANTLY.) This post is sponsored by Netflix, of course!

While you might think that my level of activity would ease up after the curtain comes down on LISTEN TO YOUR MOTHER CHICAGO right before Mother’s Day, the season of summer is also conference season, and work actually ramps up in a direction that approaches complete insanity. It’s for that reason that I have to make really good viewing choices, because the time I have to pay attention to what’s on the television is almost non-existent.

Season 2 of “Grace and Frankie” started streaming on Netflix a couple of months ago, and I didn’t get to watch it until last week.

325440id1_GraceAndFrankie_S2_24w_x_26h_4b4p_1200.indd

In case you’re not familiar with the premise, Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin star as former rivals who become the best of friends after finding out that their long-time husbands (Robert and Sol) had been cheating on them for two decades, with each other. Jane’s vodka-swilling, retired business owner Grace is about as uptight as you can imagine and Lily’s pot-smoking artist Frankie is completely hippie dippie. Of course, they end up perfectly balanced in their friendship. Season 2 sees the twosome continue to deal with Robert and Sol’s marriage, Frankie’s attempts to get her lube produced for the masses, Grace’s reunion with a long-ago boyfriend, and a brief visit from an inspiring old friend. I binged the entire season and, when it was over, became a little angry that I have to wait until next spring to see season 3.

*shakes fist at Netflix*

WHY, NETFLIX, WHYYYYYYY?

It’s so good. The writing on this show is on point, the characters are diverse, and I can’t think of another show that has made being in one’s 70s look like this much fun since “The Golden Girls”.

Other titles I’ll be catching up on this summer:

Jane the Virgin: This is a quirky romantic comedy about a woman who learns she’s pregnant as a result of a medical error. It stars Gina Rodriguez (who won a Golden Globe for the role) and I was literally ordered to watch this by my friend Lisa. With exclamation points. She’s really demanding. I’m glad both seasons are on Netflix right now, and it’s next on my list.

Tony Robbins: I Am Not Your Guru: This Netflix original documentary goes behind the scenes at motivational speaker and powerhouse Tony Robbins’ major annual event. I have always been fascinated by Robbins and so when I saw this pop up I added it to my list immediately.

tonyrobbins

Special Correspondents: Another Netflix original film, this stars Ricky Gervais (so how could I go wrong) and Eric Bana as a radio team that invents phony reports from a combat zone after they lose their passports. I’m intrigued.

The Big Short: This one will be an encore for me, when I sit with it this summer. It’s a film about how a few opportunists saw the housing market crash coming and used that information to make a fortune by battling the banks. This dark comedy is based on truth and stars Ryan Gosling, Steve Carrell, and Christian Bale. The story is amazing and scary, and while it’s not a happy movie by any means, the presentation is excellent and completely fascinating. I saw it twice at the theater–once with friends and once with Jim, the first time feeling like I didn’t understand it and the second with so much more clarity–and I’m looking forward to catching it again.

Shameless: Starring Emmy Rossum and William H. Macy, this is a dramedy about a Chicago-based group of siblings and their struggles with their alcoholic father. I saw it in my Facebook newsfeed–another recommendation from a friend–and decided to add it to my list and give it a shot. Netflix is streaming seasons 1 through 4 right now.

Will I get through all of these great shows and films by Labor Day? I’m not sure, but I’m definitely going to give it a shot. Have you see any of these? Do you have other Netflix recs for me? Leave it all in the comments. I’ll have more Stream Team goodness for you next month!

If you are not reading this on Suburban Scrawl or your RSS reader, then it's been plagiarized!

]]>
http://suburbanscrawl.com/2016/07/streamteam-summer/feed/ 0 11699
I Saw The Signs http://suburbanscrawl.com/2016/07/i-saw-the-signs-dnc/ http://suburbanscrawl.com/2016/07/i-saw-the-signs-dnc/#comments Wed, 27 Jul 2016 15:58:45 +0000 http://suburbanscrawl.com/?p=11681 Sometimes my curiosity is overwhelming. Take yesterday, for example. I was watching the roll call at the Democratic National Convention (DNC), sobbing my eyes out when Hillary Clinton was officially nominated as the Democratic candidate for President of the United States and then sobbing my eyes out again when Bernie Sanders moved that Hillary be […]

If you are not reading this on Suburban Scrawl or your RSS reader, then it's been plagiarized!

]]>
Sometimes my curiosity is overwhelming.

Take yesterday, for example. I was watching the roll call at the Democratic National Convention (DNC), sobbing my eyes out when Hillary Clinton was officially nominated as the Democratic candidate for President of the United States and then sobbing my eyes out again when Bernie Sanders moved that Hillary be nominated by acclimation, trying to unify the party.

(I’m just setting the stage for you.)

While all of this history was being made, convention attendees were holding up signs. And more signs. And more signs. There was no sign shortage at the Republican National Convention (RNC) either, which I watched last week. Signs are commonplace at every political convention.

dnc signage

ALL THE SIGNS.

DNC signs

But where, I wonder, do they come from? Printers, of course. I know that. That’s not my real question.

My question is WHERE do they come from, within the venue? And that’s not all.

How do they get into the hands of the attendees and where the heck are they stowing those signs when it’s not time to hold one up? How do they know if it’s time to hold up the one that says “Change Maker” or the one that says “I’m With Her”? What happens to the signs after the DNC and RNC? Do they fit in a Chevy for the ride home? Do they end up on eBay? These questions, even in the midst of a crazed BlogHer conference season and a crazed home life at the moment, have been bugging me for a week.

Michelle dnc

I decided to take my curiosity to Twitter, and I wasn’t disappointed. This is the best extended tweet exchange I’ve had in a while:

DNC signs 1

DNC signs 2

DNC signs 3

DNC signs 4

DNC signs 5

DNC Signs 6

Now that I have a glimmer of an answer, I feel better but feel the need to know more. Is there a documentary out there about the people who run these signs over when the cameras are pointed toward the stage? A book? SOMETHING?

I tried to do research this earlier today but didn’t get anywhere, which is totally frustrating for a Type A, curious, control freak whose work title includes the word “RESEARCHER”. I need to know things.

I did find out that the items on the following list are not allowed inside the DNC:

-Aerosols
-Ammunition
-Animals other than service/guide animals
-Backpacks
-Bags exceeding size restriction 18″ x 13″ x 7″
-Banners, Signs, or Placards of any type or size (WAIT. Oh okay, nothing from home. Got it.)
-Bicycles
-Balloons
-Coolers
-Drones and other unmanned aircraft systems
-E-Cigarettes
-Explosives
-Firearms
-Glass, thermal, or metal containers
-Laser pointers
-Mace / Pepper spray
-Noisemakers, such as air horns and bull horns (Pennsylvania Convention Center only)
-Packages
-Pocket knives
-Selfie Sticks
-Structures
-Supports for signs and placards
-Toy guns
-Weapons of any kind
-Any other items determined to be potential safety hazards

I also learned that if you are a delegate using the “home away from home” lounge at the venue, you have certain exceptions and MAY bring:

-Backpacks
-Bags exceeding size restriction 18″ x 13″ x 7″
-Glass containers
-Unopened packages

So I learned some good stuff today. I’m still hungry for more details on those blasted signs, though. Know anything about them? Have your own theories? Lay them on me. Thanks.

If you are not reading this on Suburban Scrawl or your RSS reader, then it's been plagiarized!

]]>
http://suburbanscrawl.com/2016/07/i-saw-the-signs-dnc/feed/ 1 11681
Fruitastic Salad 2.0 http://suburbanscrawl.com/2016/07/fruitastic-salad-2-0/ http://suburbanscrawl.com/2016/07/fruitastic-salad-2-0/#comments Sun, 03 Jul 2016 18:28:27 +0000 http://suburbanscrawl.com/?p=11675 Knowing what you know about me regarding my control freak tendencies, it probably doesn’t surprise you that I am tremendously more comfortable following recipes to the letter than I am experimenting with a little bit of this and a little bit of that. I’m certain that’s why I enjoy baking more than cooking elaborate meals […]

If you are not reading this on Suburban Scrawl or your RSS reader, then it's been plagiarized!

]]>
Knowing what you know about me regarding my control freak tendencies, it probably doesn’t surprise you that I am tremendously more comfortable following recipes to the letter than I am experimenting with a little bit of this and a little bit of that. I’m certain that’s why I enjoy baking more than cooking elaborate meals that leave lots of room for improvisation.

My sister, while definitely knowing what she wants, when and how she wants it, is more laid-back than I. She is not only an excellent baker but also a tremendous cook when it comes to all dishes. A few years ago she brought what she called “Fruitastic Salad” to a get-together, and it was an instant family favorite. What I love about it, besides its deliciousness, is that it’s a recipe that makes it easy to play with a little bit of this and a little bit of that without messing it up.

I posted the recipe previously, but it’s been years. Since I just made it today with some beautiful golden raspberries I bought at my local farmer’s market yesterday and it is completely gorgeous, I thought I’d post it again in time for your Fourth of July celebration. That said, it’s great for any celebration or any day. Enjoy!

Fruit salad

Fruitastic Summer Salad
This fresh and fruity salad recipe can be altered to use whatever is seasonal! The fruits listed are just a guideline!
Write a review
Print
Ingredients
  1. 1/2 cup loosely packed fresh mint
  2. 5 tablespoons sugar or sugar substitute*
  3. juice/pulp of one lime
  4. 1/2 lb seedless green grapes
  5. 2 firm-ripe medium peaches, cut into bite-sized pieces
  6. 1 package strawberries, cut into bite-sized pieces
  7. 1 package blackberries
  8. 1 package blueberries
  9. 1 package raspberries
Instructions
  1. Pulse mint, sugar and lime juice in blender or food processor until mostly liquified. You want the mint to be small.
  2. Put fruit in a large bowl.
  3. Pour mint/sugar/lime juice mix over fruit, lightly toss. Refrigerate until serving time. Excellent with cool whip on top!
  4. *The sugar can be omitted entirely or halved, if you're watching intake!
Suburban Scrawl http://suburbanscrawl.com/

If you are not reading this on Suburban Scrawl or your RSS reader, then it's been plagiarized!

]]>
http://suburbanscrawl.com/2016/07/fruitastic-salad-2-0/feed/ 2 11675
Garage Sales. Don’t Get Me Started. http://suburbanscrawl.com/2016/06/garage-sales/ http://suburbanscrawl.com/2016/06/garage-sales/#respond Sat, 25 Jun 2016 17:04:52 +0000 http://suburbanscrawl.com/?p=11668 Garage sales. Sigh. I’m not a fan of attending them, and I’m not a fan of hosting them. When I was a kid, my mom hosted multiple garage sales every year, and I wasn’t enamored with the process at all, to put it lightly. Sure, my sister and I got to be the creative geniuses […]

If you are not reading this on Suburban Scrawl or your RSS reader, then it's been plagiarized!

]]>
Garage sales. Sigh.

I’m not a fan of attending them, and I’m not a fan of hosting them.

When I was a kid, my mom hosted multiple garage sales every year, and I wasn’t enamored with the process at all, to put it lightly. Sure, my sister and I got to be the creative geniuses behind the signs, which took hours thanks to my mom being an evil genius (story here), but we also had to do the work of going through our stuff, helping to price it, and sitting outside watching strangers pick through it all.

Of course I completely get that many people LOVE garage sales as a fun activity. Garage sales can also be great for finding bargains and for making money, especially if you’re in need of finding bargains and/or making money.

Still.

The last time we had our own garage sale had to be a dozen years ago. Since then, we have regularly purged closets and dressers and the crawlspace, donating the discards to Goodwill, Amvets, or other worthy places. It’s easier.

This summer we’ve gone a little deeper with the purging process—finding a bunch of higher-value items we didn’t want or need anymore—and when the Homeowner’s Association announced the Annual Subdivision Garage Sale, we decided to jump in.

So here we sit, and traffic is less than ideal.

Some random thoughts for you while I wait for customers:

Contrary to popular (my) belief, enjoying a #PinkDrink from the Starbucks secret menu at the start of a garage sale doesn’t do much (or anything) to help increase sales.

Starbucks' pink drink

I started out by saying that the only way I’d do a garage sale is if I could make $500, and now, halfway through the second day, I’m just thrilled for every little dollar sale because that’s less I have to pack up and donate when we’re done. Perspective.

Though I know we haven’t reached the $500 goal at this point, I’m not sure how close or far we are because one of my mom’s cardinal rules on garage sales, one that I enforce with vigor as if she is taking over my mind and body, is that you don’t EVER COUNT THE MONEY until you’re finished. It’s bad luck. You might as well wish that you end up with a negative balance when you’re packing it in. Jim tried to count money mid-morning yesterday and I sprang to my feet, shouting “NO YOU CANNOT COUNT THE MONEY YET!” It’s Sylvia’s Law. Truth.

Another garage sale tradition is that Jim always has to call out some ridiculous item as something that will never sell. Back in the early 90s when we did garage sales as adults with my mom, he had three consecutive years where he would pick up a television remote first thing in the morning and say, “Nobody’s going to buy this!” Each of those remotes was gone within two hours, always purchased by men and I have no idea why.

It always helps when Jim says something like, “We’re NEVER going to sell all this crap,” even if it’s not crap. (It’s not.) Typically after he makes that declaration, business swells for a while. This, I believe, is completely related to how he’ll say “We’re NEVER going to get out of here.” when we’re trying to make a left turn without the benefit of a traffic light and then, like magic, the cars part and we do indeed get out of there. Never say never, unless you’re Jim in which case you should say it early and often.

I will totally go down on price (to a reasonable level) for people who are kind and don’t act like jerks. I’m getting rid of the stuff anyway and unless it’s an item whose value indicates I should try to sell it on eBay or Craigslist instead, I’m happy to adjust my pricing. Take it. Bye.

If you are a total jerk and act amazed and put off that I won’t give you a 90% discount on the armload of stuff you have picked up, bye.

An older woman just bought my “Brüno” movie backpack. It was a great backpack, blue with dark gray trim, with “Brüno” embroidered on it in yellow. I somehow doubt that she knows anything about “Brüno”, which is one of Sasha Baron Cohen’s more offensive movies (second to “Borat”, in my opinion). That’s why, when she smiled and asked if I’d take one dollar for it instead of two, I said “Sure!”

Every other time we’ve had a garage sale, people come by and ask if we were selling tools (we weren’t). This weekend, we ARE selling tools and naturally nobody is interested. The world works in mysterious ways.

I had a great conversation about DJ mixes with a guy who was looking through my old CDs that I used for spinning classes. We reminisced together about the good old days of Chicago’s DJ Markski. Conversation is one of the best things about garage sales. We have chatted with total strangers, some who are actually neighbors and some who aren’t. An old friend whose daughter and son are the same age as my older son and younger son (each pair went to school from kindergarten through high school together) stopped by yesterday. She lives two streets over and we haven’t had a conversation in years. YEARS.

When traffic came to a standstill yesterday, Jim started talking to the birds.

Garage sales and birds

They didn’t.

I have found that I get a little on edge when people pick up something from the table, inspect it, and say “This is…interesting.”

I adore watching little kids shop at garage sales with their little wallets. The following things found great new homes with the under-nine set today:
1. Two Discovery Channel DVDs, one about sharks and the other about tigers.
2. A Harry Potter cake pan
3. A camera lens coffee mug
4. A sun-shaped paper punch
5. Four cookie cutters

Someone bought my Crunch Fitness Boot Camp Training DVD for a dollar this morning and her selection made me almost as happy as doing the workout myself, back in the day. She’s going to love it.

I still can’t stand garage sales. Four hours left. Maybe I need another #PinkDrink.

If you are not reading this on Suburban Scrawl or your RSS reader, then it's been plagiarized!

]]>
http://suburbanscrawl.com/2016/06/garage-sales/feed/ 0 11668
New Food Swap Book! (Get it.) http://suburbanscrawl.com/2016/06/food-swap-book/ http://suburbanscrawl.com/2016/06/food-swap-book/#comments Sat, 18 Jun 2016 12:25:09 +0000 http://suburbanscrawl.com/?p=11663 Local food swaps have become a thing. What are they? Well, they’re all a little different but the basic idea is that a bunch of people from one community come together to trade homegrown or homemade items. After everyone arrives, time is spent walking around, checking out what everyone brought (and sometimes sampling), and then […]

If you are not reading this on Suburban Scrawl or your RSS reader, then it's been plagiarized!

]]>
Local food swaps have become a thing. What are they? Well, they’re all a little different but the basic idea is that a bunch of people from one community come together to trade homegrown or homemade items. After everyone arrives, time is spent walking around, checking out what everyone brought (and sometimes sampling), and then when it’s time to swap there’s a negotiating frenzy. Typically everyone goes home with a bag (or box) full of goodies, extremely happy about trying some new things.

My friends Emily Paster and Vanessa Druckman created the Chicago Food Swap a few years ago; the first one was held in December 2011. I was able to attend the second one in March 2012, and fell in love with the process. The subsequent times I’ve been able to be a part of the swap, I’ve watched it grow, I’ve seen many of the same swappers along with lots of newbies each time, and most importantly to my family, I’ve brought home some amazing things (salsas, jellies, cupcakes, produce, lemon curd, dressings, the list goes on!) that we probably wouldn’t have sampled otherwise.

Emily, who is now running the swap on her own, has just published the most beautiful book: Food Swap: Specialty Recipes for Bartering, Sharing & Giving.

food-swap-cover

The book is full of recipes, instructions on how to join a local food swap (or create your own!), and resources like gift tags and the swap cards that are so important for negotiations. One of my favorite parts of the book starts on page twelve: it’s the history of the Chicago Food Swap. It was exciting for me to read about something I’ve been a part of since the very beginning, and I’m just so proud of what Emily and Vanessa started, and now what Emily has accomplished.

If you’re local, you can catch Emily on her book tour TODAY at Sugar Beet Co-Op in Oak Park from 1-3 pm. She’ll be there signing books and being generally charming as usual. Go see her and pick up a book for yourself and maybe an extra one for a friend. As for me, I’ll be making a shopping list for some of my favorite recipes from the book because I need to bring some of that into my life.

Many thanks to Emily for sending me a book, and congratulations too: I’m so proud of (and happy for) you!!!

My other Chicago Food Swap posts:
March 2012
June 2012
November 2014

If you are not reading this on Suburban Scrawl or your RSS reader, then it's been plagiarized!

]]>
http://suburbanscrawl.com/2016/06/food-swap-book/feed/ 1 11663
Getting Musical With the Netflix #StreamTeam http://suburbanscrawl.com/2016/06/streamteam-broadway-musicals/ http://suburbanscrawl.com/2016/06/streamteam-broadway-musicals/#respond Wed, 15 Jun 2016 13:00:16 +0000 http://suburbanscrawl.com/?p=11650 I am a member of the Netflix #StreamTeam and will be happily sharing monthly tips and stories about how my family uses Netflix on a regular basis. (Okay, that’s an understatement. I should say CONSTANTLY. We use Netflix CONSTANTLY.) This post is sponsored by Netflix, of course! It probably wouldn’t surprise anyone, knowing how much […]

If you are not reading this on Suburban Scrawl or your RSS reader, then it's been plagiarized!

]]>
Netflix Stream Team

I am a member of the Netflix #StreamTeam and will be happily sharing monthly tips and stories about how my family uses Netflix on a regular basis. (Okay, that’s an understatement. I should say CONSTANTLY. We use Netflix CONSTANTLY.) This post is sponsored by Netflix, of course!

It probably wouldn’t surprise anyone, knowing how much I love almost every genre of music, that I adore Broadway musicals. Stage shows have had a special place in my heart ever since I was a kid, and if I could go to one musical every week for the rest of my life I’d be thrilled.

broadway musical

This has been hanging in my kitchen for years. That chick on the right? ME, every day.

That’s why, when we were watching the Tonys on Sunday night–one of us because I love the Tonys and two of us because they’re nice guys–I was inspired. I was inspired by James Corden’s opening number. I was inspired by Lin-Manuel Miranda’s sonnet, a tribute to the victims of the mass shooting at the LGBTQ club in Orlando the night before. I was inspired by Bebe Neuwirth, who looks and sounds amazing. (She was there to celebrate twenty years of “Chicago” on Broadway, making it the longest running American musical in history.) I was inspired by the cast of “Hamilton” (freshly awarded with the Tony for Best Musical) in their closing number. Finally, I was inspired, after all of that, to check out which Broadway musicals are currently available to stream on Netflix.

There are quite a few; I’ve got some streaming to do! If you’re like me and always on the verge of breaking out into song, try a couple of these musicals on Netflix:

Grease (1978): Please tell me you already know all the words to the songs in this classic musical starring Olivia Newton-John and John Travolta about a greaser and the good girl he falls for. I am not kidding when I say that I have seen this movie nearly 100 times. (Bonus: While not a Broadway musical, Grease 2 is also available to stream, as is the recently-aired-on-television, celebrity loaded Grease Live!)

White Christmas (1954): It doesn’t have to be December in order for you to watch this one starring Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, and Rosemary Clooney. Two war buddies fall for two sisters and follow the girls to a resort owned by their former commanding officer, who is in danger of losing the place.

State Fair (1945): This romantic classic stars Jeanne Crain and Dick Haymes. When a small-town family of four heads to the Iowa State Fair with their prized pig, they bring home more than just a few blue ribbons.

Carmen Jones (1954): When a free-spirited factory worker lures a straight-laced airman into a torrid romance, he abandons his girlfriend and deserts the military. This one stars Harry Belafonte, Dorothy Dandridge, and Pearl Bailey.

Rent (2005): Another favorite of mine, this one is based on Puccini’s opera “La Boheme” and follows a group of scrappy bohemians who face true love, drug addiction, and AIDS in New York City. It stars six original Broadway cast members, including my “Wicked” crush Idina Menzel as Maureen and scene stealer Wilson Jermaine Heredia as Angel. La Vie Bohème!

Shrek (2013): The Broadway adaptation of the lovable ogre in “the greatest fairy tale never told” is actually based on the animated film. I might have shrieked a little bit (not “Shreked”: that’s different) when I found it on the Netflix website. I’m amazed that I can actually sit at home and watch the stage play from my couch.

I don’t know about you, but I think I’m going to make it a musical weekend, thanks to Netflix.
Popping popcorn in 3…2…

If you are not reading this on Suburban Scrawl or your RSS reader, then it's been plagiarized!

]]>
http://suburbanscrawl.com/2016/06/streamteam-broadway-musicals/feed/ 0 11650
Picture Perfect Memory http://suburbanscrawl.com/2016/06/picture-perfect-memory/ http://suburbanscrawl.com/2016/06/picture-perfect-memory/#comments Tue, 07 Jun 2016 01:00:39 +0000 http://suburbanscrawl.com/?p=11643 Recently I saw a meme floating around Facebook that said something along the lines of “I’m so old, I remember days when I didn’t take one picture”. I laughed, because I am that old, and then I stopped laughing and thought, “Huh, wow.” That meme was a think piece. There really was a time when […]

If you are not reading this on Suburban Scrawl or your RSS reader, then it's been plagiarized!

]]>
Recently I saw a meme floating around Facebook that said something along the lines of “I’m so old, I remember days when I didn’t take one picture”.

I laughed, because I am that old, and then I stopped laughing and thought, “Huh, wow.”

That meme was a think piece. There really was a time when we didn’t take pictures of everything, every day.
When we weren’t all that concerned with remembering each moment.
When only professional photographers knew anything about filters.
When we–ack!–didn’t even have cell phones.

Developing photos taken with traditional cameras, the ones that don’t allow you to talk or text with others or surf the web, is expensive. Always was. Back in the day, at least a little bit of forethought was required before taking pictures: “How much film do I have?”

Snapping just as many pictures as we want to in order to get “the perfect picture” (or something darn close) as we do today was never in the realm of anyone’s imagination back then. Picking up a freshly-developed roll of film–because the whole roll had to be finished before removing it from the camera–was a lot like picking up a box of chocolates, if I could borrow a Forrest Gump-ism: you never knew what you were going to get. Sometimes we were filled with horror because the pictures we looked forward to keeping forever as tangible mementos of a special day came out blurry, double-exposed, or cursed with a variety of other upsetting photo defects.

I didn’t think about the meme again until today while working on my latest project: I’m taking my printed photographs (pre-2008ish) OUT of the photo boxes they’ve lived in, in chronological order, for the last decade or so and going through them. I’m tossing random pictures of things I don’t think anyone in my family will care about (extensive coverage of zoo animals, crowd shots, random buildings WHUT) as well as blurry pictures, and I’m actually putting the keepers in three-ring photo binders with acid-free pages. The reason I put the pictures in the photo boxes in the first place was so that when I finally got back to scrapbooking, my work would be easier.

Welp. I think my scrapbooking days are over and anyway, if I did have the time I’d probably make photo books online rather than hand-cropping my photos and cutting cute shapes out of colored paper.

I decided I’d rather streamline the pictures and put them into books that we can actually look at and enjoy now and then, so I started yesterday with 1982.

I filled one 500-picture album with pictures from 1982-1989.

I know. That’s an average of seventy-one pictures per year. Even though I didn’t have a kid until 1992, it was still shocking.

Today I started on the second book. The lack of photo coverage of 1991 was jaw-dropping to me. It was a huge year for us: our first beagle (the late, great Bijoux) was still a puppy, Jim returned home from Operation Desert Storm, I graduated from college, we moved from Norfolk, Virginia to my parent’s house in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and then into our own little house in Kenosha, my sister graduated from high school, and I became pregnant with our first child.

I have less than sixty pictures from that year.

Less.
Than.
Sixty.

I can hear and feel the gasping of my younger readers.

Highlights of 1991 according to my photo album are:
~ Bijoux and Rex playing together on her first birthday, in February
~ My college graduation, in May
~ Apparently I spent some time washing dishes (with Bijoux looking on) while pregnant, in December

Rex and Bijoux

Melisa college grad

Melisa three months pregnant

I’m still stunned.

But then I think about today, modern times. We take so many pictures.

Wait, let me speak for myself. I take so many pictures. Sometimes I get so focused on preserving moments for the future that I don’t enjoy them as much as I could in the present. What if my kids don’t remember that we did such-and-such? What if I don’t remember that we such-and-such?

Does it really matter?
I look back on these old pictures and sure, there are countless moments that are lost forever. Only a handful of my undocumented moments have earned permanent spots in the recesses of my mind…but I remember the important stuff. I can easily piece together memories of my life lived happily. It makes me think that I should make a genuine effort to put my phone/camera down more often and let my brain do the heavy lifting for the long haul. On the other hand, the technology is available and it’s not expensive to create a running memory book in the Cloud; is it really so bad that I enjoy trying?

There are pros and cons to both extremes and figuring out how I can land softly in the middle makes it a matter of, like everything else, moderation and balance.

I’m going to make it my mission to be successful in finding the middle. In fact, I can picture it.

If you are not reading this on Suburban Scrawl or your RSS reader, then it's been plagiarized!

]]>
http://suburbanscrawl.com/2016/06/picture-perfect-memory/feed/ 4 11643
#MemorialDaySuperSale at Gurnee Mills: Don’t Miss It! http://suburbanscrawl.com/2016/05/gurnee-mills/ http://suburbanscrawl.com/2016/05/gurnee-mills/#comments Sat, 28 May 2016 03:17:43 +0000 http://suburbanscrawl.com/?p=11630 Jim and I moved back to the Chicagoland area from Norfolk, Virginia in the summer of 1991, just a couple of months before an amazing new mall opened for business. Gurnee Mills was its name, and we were so excited about it. The two shopping centers closest to our house were sorely lacking in many […]

If you are not reading this on Suburban Scrawl or your RSS reader, then it's been plagiarized!

]]>
Jim and I moved back to the Chicagoland area from Norfolk, Virginia in the summer of 1991, just a couple of months before an amazing new mall opened for business. Gurnee Mills was its name, and we were so excited about it. The two shopping centers closest to our house were sorely lacking in many areas and the possibilities this new thing had in store were thrilling to think about.

Our home in Kenosha, Wisconsin was only about twenty minutes away from Gurnee so we made frequent visits to the mall. When D was a toddler, we went to Gurnee Mills on Halloween for trick-or-treating. There were always things going on there and deals to be had. It was easy to spend an entire day shopping, eating, and just spending time together under that big roof.

“Big” is an understatement, really. Gurnee Mills is huge. It is currently the third largest mall in the state of Illinois and houses more than two hundred stores. It has a most unusual setup, too; rather than a relatively compact and two-storied layout, Gurnee Mills has only one story and seems to stretch on forever. In fact, it’s shaped like the letter Z.

Gurnee Mills map

Now that we live in Naperville, Gurnee Mills is about an hour away. We don’t visit very often but that’s going to change, after today. I was invited by Gurnee Mills to check out their Memorial Day Super Sale, which (obviously) goes through this Monday. Several other bloggers and I were given $100 gift cards and asked to go shop with them, so it was pretty much a Dream Day. First of all, I was so pleasantly surprised to see all of the new stores that have moved into the Mills since I was last there. Not only are most of the stores outlets, but the prices were ridiculously wonderful. This weekend, lots of stores are taking an additional fifty, sixty, or even seventy percent off of their already reduced clearance items, and the regular sale pricing was pretty tremendous too.

Memorial Day Super Sale Gurnee Mills

I love a challenge so I decided to totally focus on making my $100 gift card stretch as far as possible, and stretch it I did.

Gap Outlet Gurnee Mills

Charming Charlie Gurnee Mills

Sears Gurnee Mills

Bath and Body Works Gurnee Mills

Dippin Dots Gurnee Mills

You guys. SO many deals, not enough time. But YOU have time, perhaps, to check it out for yourself this weekend. Now through Monday:

A major holiday of savings during the Memorial Day Super Sale at Gurnee Mills, May 27-30. Even deeper discounts on spring merchandise from your favorite retailers including Macy*s, Neiman Marcus Last Call, Saks Fifth Avenue OFF 5TH, Forever 21, LOFT Outlet, Charming Charlie, Buckle, PINK, Bachrach, Guess Factory Store and more!

I hope you’ll go see what I’m talking about firsthand. And…whether or not you make it there THIS weekend, I’ve got an incentive for you to go back in June: I’m giving away a $50 gift card to one lucky reader! All you have to do for an entry is leave a comment and tell me what you’d look for at Gurnee Mills if you were to win. That’s it! Easy peasy! You’ve got until 11:59pm CST this Tuesday (May 31) to enter: I’ll draw the winner on Wednesday.

Housekeeping:
~Only one comment per person will be entered into the random drawing.
~The winner has 48 hours to reply to my email with a mailing address; if I don’t hear from you I will choose someone else.
~Note that I will be sending the winner a voucher from Gurnee Mills that can be exchanged for the $50 gift card at the Management Office on site.
~I may want to go shopping with you; just saying.

Good luck, and don’t forget to check out the Memorial Day Super Sale if you can make it there this weekend. You won’t regret it! Happy shopping!

(And many thanks to the folks at Gurnee Mills for such a fun day! THANK YOU!)

EDITED ON 6/1/16 TO ADD: Congrats, Cher! You are the winner of the gift card! I’ll be contacting you today! 🙂

If you are not reading this on Suburban Scrawl or your RSS reader, then it's been plagiarized!

]]>
http://suburbanscrawl.com/2016/05/gurnee-mills/feed/ 13 11630