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Apple Bread, Apple Cake, Tomay-to, Tomah-to

It’s officially autumn, which means that it’s time for me to make hundreds and hundreds (or at least a dozen) loaves of apple bread. I got the recipe from Judy, an awesome woman with whom I worked at a craft store more than twenty-five years ago. Back then I was a young newlywed who was going to college and working at the craft store as head cashier and eventually custom framer—all of this seems like it didn’t even happen in this life, by the way, because it was so long ago. Judy worked in the floral department and basically spent all day restocking the silk flowers and creating beautiful flower arrangements. Every time we had a work get-together, Judy brought apple bread. I asked her for the recipe and she gladly shared it. I’m so happy she did! I am extremely sought-after, well-loved, and über-popular when I arrive anywhere with a loaf of this homemade apple bread in my hands and frankly, who wouldn’t want to be all of those things?

I posted the recipe once before, but didn’t use pictures (not even one!) and how weird is that, to post a recipe with not a single picture in the age of Pinterest??? So I’m posting it again.

By the way, ever since I nearly cut my finger completely off (Remember that? Good times.) when I was chopping apples to make—wait for it—apple bread almost two years ago, I use a fancy chopper.

apples chopper

Roxie doesn’t care for the chopper. I’m not sure if the noise it makes when I slam the top down on the apples is scary to her, or if she’s worried that by using a fancy chopper rather than a knife, I will forget to give her samples. (She Loves apples, with a capital “L”.) I do not forget. I love the sound of Roxie crunching apples. Weird, I know.

Vintage (2008) Roxie, accepting an apple gift:

apple

What I love about this recipe is that you (I) mix the ingredients in three separate groups (A, B, and C) first, and then combine it all in one huge bowl. You don’t even need to use an electric mixer. Mix it old school, with a big spoon!

apple bread

Also, each recipe makes either two loaves or one bundt-style cake, which brings me to the debate: is it “apple bread” or “apple cake”? You can decide. I lean towards cake.

apple bread apple cake recipe

 

Apple Bread (Apple Cake)
This bread/cake hybrid is a great way to make yourself very popular. It is sweet, moist, and screams "AUTUMN!"
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Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
1 hr 30 min
Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
1 hr 30 min
Group A
  1. 1 1/2 c. vegetable oil
  2. 3 eggs
  3. 2 c. sugar
  4. 2 tsp. vanilla
Group B
  1. 3 c. flour
  2. 1 tsp. baking soda
  3. 2 tsp. cinnamon
  4. 1/2 tsp. salt
Group C
  1. 3 c. diced apples
  2. 1 c. chopped pecans
  3. 1/2 c. raisins
Instructions
  1. In large bowl, mix Group A.
  2. Mix Group B in another bowl and then add to Group A.
  3. When Groups A and B are combined well, add Group C.
  4. Grease and flour either two loaf pans or one tube pan.
  5. Loaf pans cook at 325 degrees for 1 1/2 hours and the tube pan cooks at 350 degrees for 2 hours.
  6. Check with a toothpick and when it comes out clean, the apple bread is done!
Suburban Scrawl http://suburbanscrawl.com/
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The Writing Process Blog Tour!

My sweet friend (and LISTEN TO YOUR MOTHER Boston co-producer) Cheryl of Busy Since Birth tagged me for the Writing Process Blog Tour and although I almost always hate being tagged—which is hilarious because my friend Kari from A Grace Full Life just tagged me for another meme just this morning and she’s probably going to read this and go, “GULP”—I’m going to do it anyway.

I also have to point out that I absolutely adore that Cheryl sent me a Facebook message BEFORE she tagged me, to ask my permission first because she knows that some people always hate being tagged. (Did I mention how much I hate being tagged?) That makes me laugh too because Kari totally did not ask my permission today and even though I never, ever expect people to ask for my permission before tagging me and the thing with Cheryl was just a weird and wonderful flukey thing, I know Kari is double-gulping right now. Don’t worry, Kari. Your meme is hysterical and fun and I’m looking forward to it. Also Kari, totally unrelated but I just thought of it now: you still owe me a hot chocolate from what, almost two years ago? Huh.

Anyway, so this Writing Process Blog Tour. This is where you’re going to see how my brain works when it comes to MY writing process. I hope we all learn something about me that we didn’t know before now. Let’s see, shall we?

What are you working on?
Currently I’m working on trying to get back into a regular blogging schedule and change things up a little bit around here. I’ve been putting some post ideas in draft and looking for pictures I’d like to write about, and I’ve been trying to come up with posts that can be written in less than thirty minutes but still be considered “interesting” or “entertaining”.

As far as non-blog writing goes, I actually started an essay over the weekend for next year’s LTYM show. I didn’t start it because I’m so organized or because I had an unusual desire to write it up a full seven months before our show to be “on top of things”. I started it because it came to me in the middle of the night and I knew that if I didn’t put forth some effort to capture it, it would be lost forever. (THAT’S how my brain works.)

Though I have written business articles for NAILPRO magazine since 2006-ish, I don’t have any assignments on the horizon at the moment. I’m very proud of the many articles I wrote for NAILPRO for lots of reasons but the main one is because I believe non-fiction, which is not necessarily the most fun genre to read and definitely not the most fun to write, is where I have more talent.

That’s all I’m working on (and not working on), writing-wise. I’ll save the non-writing work scoop for another post.

How does your work differ from others in its genre?
I guess I’ll answer this in relation to my blog writing. Even though I wrote about my kids much more when I started blogging in 2007 than I do now, I have never considered myself to be a “mom blogger” because this blog has always been a mixture of whatever topics I feel like writing about at any given moment. I put myself in the “life blogger” category and to answer the question about how my work differs from others, well, I can’t. I like to think that people who read this blog are getting the real me; I don’t think that anyone is surprised at what they find when they meet me in person because I am as authentic as I know how to be when I write. That said, I know I’m not the ONLY authentic blogger out there. So I guess my work differs from others just because I’m the one writing it. Wait, is that lame?

Why do you write what you do?
I started blogging not only to hold onto family memories but also for writing practice. For years and years I wanted to be a writer, but I never spent time writing! (Crazy, right??) I like that people with whom I may never have crossed paths in any other way have become acquainted with my family from afar, and I love being a part of the blogging community. I have gained more from blogging than I ever could have imagined possible and I’m talking about not only knowledge and practical skills but also so many relationships that mean so much to me. The frequency of my blogging may fluctuate wildly at times, but I’m not going anywhere. I can’t imagine NOT blogging.

How does your writing process work?
This is where it gets tricky because my process depends on how I envision my result.

When I think of a blog post idea, I put it in one of two categories:
A. “I want this post to be beautifully written and dazzle the masses”
OR
B. “This is such a great story: I need to get it out NOW so people can read it! NOW!”

The process for category A is:
I. I obsess over the idea for hours, days, and even weeks.
II. I make notes in an actual notebook that contains actual paper. With a pen. No pencils.
III. When I finally start writing on the computer, I refer to my notes and cross things off as I include them.
IV. If the post isn’t turning out as good as it sounded in my head, I usually engage in some negative self-talk followed immediately by peppy, “Go go go, this is going to be awesome!” self talk because you know I can’t be negative for very long, even at myself.
V. I make about seventy-five to one hundred edits before I find the post suitable for other eyes.
VI. I hit publish and keep my fingers crossed that my readers respond to it.
VII. Regardless of the response, I am proud of the quality of my post and on occasion can’t even believe that I can write something so lovely.

The process for category B is:
I. I obsess over the idea for minutes.
II. I skip the notebook. THIS IS A WRITING EMERGENCY.
III. I crank out the post in less than an hour and hit publish after very few edits, which always means that I will find typos in the two days post-publication. I go in and fix typos when I see them because it’s MY BLOG.
IV. I often look back at these posts and shake my head—at myself—because I can’t believe that I have any readers at all after publishing that drivel.

The funny thing is, often (not always, but often) it’s the posts on which I spend the least amount of time that get the best response (comments, sharing, etc.) from my readers. IT’S ANNOYING. But I’ll take it. Things happen for a reason. Insert smiley-face emoticon here.

This would be a great time to mention how much I appreciate YOU (yes, you!) for reading. Because really? Most of my posts are pure drivel. Lovable drivel, but still. Ugh. I annoy myself. So thank you. Truly.

Keeping the tour going…

I completely planned on asking a couple of people for permission before tagging them like the lovely Cheryl did with me, but frankly I’m feeling lazy and I have changed my mind because I’m hungry and need to find something to eat for dinner. I’m totally taking the easy way out today.

I would like to hear about Kari’s writing process. She is one of the funniest bloggers out there and she has a very distinctive voice. I can also vouch for her authenticity. WYSIWYG with her.

I’m also tagging Shannon from Deepest Worth. Her posts about her family (and travels, and random thoughts, and…well, you get the idea) are so thoughtful and beautiful.

Finally, I’m tagging my LTYM Chicago partner-in-crime and Platonic Lobster, Tracey from Just Another Mommy Blog because she’s been having trouble finishing posts lately so YOU’RE WELCOME, TRACEY.

I know Kari LOVES MEMES so no worries there, but Shannon and Tracey, if you don’t want to do this I will still adore you forever.

Do you want to get in on the fun? Answer the four questions above on your blog, and then pass it along. Use the #WritingProcessBlogTour hashtag on Twitter and Facebook for sharing your posts!

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Back To Life, Back To Reality.

The past week was absolutely insane for me, and by “insane” I mean “moderately horrible”. I threw my back out two Saturdays ago doing who-knows-what (I think just walking?). Not knowing how an injury originated, by the way, does make the coping with it worse for me, mentally. I had to replace almost all of my normal activities with things like making sure to take ibuprofen regularly, sitting with a heating pad, laying down more than usual, and generally being miserable and crabby.

It was awful.

One bright spot came at the end of the week when I received a surprise flower arrangement from Kalla and the girls at Chicagonista Live (this post is not sponsored, promise!). Early in the summer I attended the Chicagonista Live show and learned all about Kalla, a new florist in the Chicago area. I fell in love with their arrangements and when asked about my favorite I truly couldn’t decide: I said I’d gladly take any of them!

Kalla Chicago

So late on Friday afternoon after having a terrible week with my back and general feelings of “I DON’T HAVE TIME FOR THIS LAYING AROUND, OMG!” it was an amazing surprise to receive the “Rosa and the Artist” arrangement from Kalla, right out of the blue. Kalla arrangements come in huge, beautiful boxes and it is quite the experience to open it all up and find the most beautiful (and whimsical) flowers I’ve ever seen.

Kalla Chicago

Kalla Chicago

Kalla Chicago

Kalla Chicago

So the flowers definitely set the weekend up right.

My back, however, wasn’t impressed. It kept hurting and I was pretty much useless on Saturday. On Saturday night I started suffering from a massive headache on top of everything else. I’m not sure where that came from but I have a feeling that a week of only sleeping three to four hours a night might have caught up with me.

Yesterday I never even got dressed and ended up staying in bed all day long which, if you know me is so incredibly unlike me it’s not even funny. Here’s what I got done yesterday:

1. Nothing.

Actually, not true. I watched a bazillion episodes of “The Cosby Show”, worked on some LISTEN TO YOUR MOTHER paperwork, played “Hay Day” a lot, and formulated an essay in my head. I also obsessed over the things I was unable to do. I’m really good at that.

Today though—TODAY!!!—I woke up after sleeping for nearly seven hours (that’s like, TWO NIGHTS’ WORTH!). Although remnants of my headache are still hanging around and my back is at about 95%, I loaded up on ibuprofen and I am pretty excited about today’s possibilities.

Simple pleasures.

If that isn’t a good way to begin a week, then I don’t know what is. Happy Monday!

{ 6 comments }

Just Do It.

Last month I wrote about the sad state of my family room walls. After living in this house for nearly fourteen years and using the family room more than any other room during our waking hours, I never made the time to finish hanging things on them.

Happy update: I finally did it. I received the photo canvas that I ordered online and hung it on the wall over the TV—i.e. the wall I stare at the most—and completed the wall behind my couch, which I adore so much now that it is the home of some of my favorite pictures.

canvas wall finished

family room wall finished

Getting the walls finished motivated me enough to tackle another project that was completely minor in scope but huge in impact: a kitchen cabinet switch.

When we moved into this house we thought that the best cabinet for our spices and other miscellaneous baking supplies was the one in the corner, above the appliance garage. The corner cabinet is shaped a lot like a wide letter “V”, with the door at the base. That’s top view. Wait, am I being confusing? Just nod while you act like you know what I’m saying, and keep reading.

corner cabinet

Anyway, that was an extremely silly and thoughtless decision, because have you seen the size of spice containers and most other baking supplies? They’re small, or as my dad would say, “Ess-Emm-All”. Putting all of those tiny things into a huge cabinet that has only one door and very little visibility from that one opening meant that we would spend (and have spent) nearly fourteen years nervously reaching into the Great Abyss, trying to locate the ground nutmeg or the food coloring and finding the taco seasoning or the garlic salt instead.

On the other hand, when we moved in and I unpacked my Grandma’s Desert Rose china collection, which I adore yet only use once every eighteen months at best, I stored it in two large cabinets that have equally large doors. I can access the heck out of that china I never have to access.

double cabinets

It suddenly occurred to me last year—which isn’t so sudden when you think about it but humor me—that I should put the china in the corner cabinet and the baking supplies in the two large cabinets. Delayed stroke of genius, I know.

I took the afternoon to make the switch two weeks ago and felt a little bit of relief with every move from cabinet to cabinet.

Sidenote: I don’t think Roxie was impressed at my triple-chair solution to the problem of having to jump down and climb back up every ten seconds. I, on the other hand, was totally impressed with myself. It was like I was carrying spices and measuring cups across a babbling brook on hefty stones. Or something like that.

Chairs

When I was finished, I started screaming at myself with joy, “THIS WAS A FANTASTIC IDEA! WHY DIDN’T YOU DO THIS EARLIER??”

spice cabinets

china cabinet

Kitchen life was immediately simplified. It is a joy to reach into the spice cabinet for ground nutmeg and pull out the ground nutmeg on the first try. I mean, can life get any better than that?

My point is, whether you’ve been “waiting” to do something around your house for nearly fourteen years or just one year (or just a week) and for some reason you’re procrastinating the job even though you are one hundred percent sure that getting it done will make your life easier or happier (or better yet, both!), just do it.

Now.

Why are you still here?

Go. Do it.

And then report back to me. I want to know what you did.

GO! OMG!

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Roxie: Keeping Things Unpredictable Since 2004

Roxie car

Last weekend my sister and I drove down to our parents’ house in Tennessee on a trip that was planned with less than twelve hours’ notice. For various reasons, I decided to bring Roxie along rather than board her as I normally would, and I was not looking forward to that part of the trip in the slightest. Roxie hasn’t been on a road trip since she was a puppy and, at ten and a half years old, she is set in her ways. She barks for the duration of every ride to the vet and every ride to Petsmart, both of which are less than ten minutes from my house.

I dreaded the idea of being stuck in a closed space with that dog for nearly ten hours, but bringing her was the right decision. My parents love her and I figured that my dad, who had just gone through a surgical procedure (everything’s fine), could probably use a canine pick-me-up.

Just like always, she surprised my sister and me. She barked for the first few minutes, but quieted down after a while. I was happy that I brought her massive bed and placed it across the back seat of my car (mainly to cover my leather seats but okay, to keep her comfortable, too) because she alternated pacing around and laying down. She may have even enjoyed herself?

This road trip was different from when Jim and I drive down there alone. On those trips these days we make a few stops, eating lunch or dinner casually while sitting IN the restaurant, and generally take our time getting there. This time, I was determined to stop only twice in each direction, for gas, food, and bathroom breaks for all three of us. Multi-tasking for the win!

Although I really don’t like when I take Roxie out in public and she barks her face off, I was happy to relax about it when I got her out on the leash on our stops. Better for her to pollute the outside with her noise than the inside of my car. I mean really. Here’s what that sounds like.

TURN YOUR VOLUME DOWN ALMOST ALL THE WAY BEFORE PRESSING PLAY. DO IT. DON’T SAY I DIDN’T WARN YOU.

She was positively adorable when she drank water right out of the bottle.

Roxie water bottle

She kept resting her head on the center console, cramming her body sideways and perpendicular to the backseat and for hours I thought it was because she wanted to be closer to us. As it turns out, the air vent for the backseat is in the back of the console so who’s the smart one? Roxie is.

Roxie vent

We had great technique for parts of the stops where we bought food to take on the road. I took Roxie out for a walk and for some water while Jules went to use the restroom and get her lunch. Then she came out to the car, I loaded Roxie into the backseat with one of her favorite bones, and—while she sat there guarding her bone and watching for me to come back—I went in for a restroom break and to buy my lunch. Upon my return, Roxie settled in and ate her “lunch” while we ate ours. No noise whatsoever.

Roxie bone

Roxie completely surprised me, again. It was so much easier than I anticipated to travel with her and I thought I might be dreaming.

Of course, on the trip home she ruined almost all of the great feelings I had about traveling with her by barking non-stop for the last ten minutes, when we were tired and just ready to be home and out of the car. I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised. She always has to have the last word.

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Take Action On The National Day Of Remembrance

National September 11 Memorial

In 2012, I started a new tradition for the National Day of Remembrance. I had visited the National September 11 Memorial when I was in Manhattan for BlogHer ’12, and was extremely moved by the experience (massive understatement). It occurred to me that, rather than passively watch the televised tributes and read what the rest of the internet had to say about 9/11, each year I would involve myself by actively remembering and learning about a couple of the victims of that terrible day.

Diane Marie Urban was 50 years old and worked at the New York State Department of Taxation. She was widely known for saying exactly what she thought without pulling any punches. Her sister said about her, “She never backed down. She was a pistol.” Shortly before 9/11, Diane had purchased a home on Long Island near her sister and brother-in-law and had plans to spend lots of time with them.

Chris Michael Kirby was 21 years old and had a personality that led to the nickname “Happy.” Chris was working as a carpenter in 2011 while taking classes to become a firefighter like his dad. He was born in the Bronx on New Year’s Day.

Carol Millicent Rabalais, 38 years old, was an administrative assistant at the Aon Corporation. A native of Jamaica, she was one of five sisters. She was known for never holding a grudge, never losing her optimism, and never doubting God. She had three children.

If you would like to do some learning and remembering today, here’s how. All you have to do is go to the September 11 Memorial website’s Memorial Guide and scroll down a little bit. On the bottom left of the screen you can click on North Pool or South Pool for a name listing. After that, pick a couple out and Google them. That’s it. It’s such a small task but so important, and the families appreciate any interest in their lost loved ones. THIS is something anyone can do.

Each year on this day I also think a lot about my dear friend Patty. When I attended BlogHer ’10 in New York, she and I were on a double decker bus tour of Manhattan together and as we approached Ground Zero she became tense and upset. I found out that she had not been to the site since before 9/11/01 because it was too emotional for her. It was the first time I experienced up close and personal how truly devastating that day was to everyone who lived in New York and the surrounding area when the attacks happened, regardless of whether they lost a loved one. Patty later posted her 9/11 story online and it gripped me; I will never forget it. You can read it by clicking here.

If you would like to read about my visit to the September 11 Memorial in 2012, click here.

Hug your loved ones today. Always Remember, Never Forget.

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A Little Like Stopping To Smell The Flowers

I’ve written a few times about how I don’t look too hard for souvenirs when I travel, because the photographs I bring home on my camera card or in my phone are the best takeaways, in my opinion. The very best thing about traveling is the potential for experiencing people, places, and things that you can’t find in your own neighborhood.

One day while in Costa Rica last spring, we were on a bus and traveling up a mountain to look at a dormant volcano up close. The bus trip seemed to take forever and the weather was terrible. It was a rainy day and visibility grew worse as we reached higher altitudes, but it was our only chance to go there so we had to try. Reaching the top was a major bummer; we could hardly see two feet in front of us; being able to see into the mouth of a volcano was impossible that afternoon.

We were all disappointed as we boarded the bus again for the trip down, and settled in for the long ride. The weather had cleared at the bottom of the mountain and I thoroughly enjoyed watching the scenery as we made our way along the curvy roads.

At one point the bus slowed down to a creep and when we looked for the cause, we saw a big, beautiful cow and a few dogs of different varieties just walking down the road, free as could be (as they do in Costa Rica, I guess?). Simple as it was, I’m so glad that we asked the driver to pull over so some of us could take pictures because it remains one of the most awesome things I’ve ever seen.

Cow and dogs

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Take A Hike.

When D was a Cub Scout and going on his first group hikes, he used to stay at the front with the other little boys. They would inevitably increase the distance between us parents and them by speeding up from excitement and not paying attention.

“Slow down,” we’d yell. “We need to be able to keep an eye on you.”

As one would expect, the boys learned very well as they grew older to pace themselves according to the rest of the group, and hikes became a little less stressful for the parents. A couple of years in, he and his same-aged friends hiked in the middle of the pack as the youngest scouts took their spot up front. As a teenager, D often hiked alongside the adults.

Now twenty-two, D is a full-blown adult. (How did that happen so quickly?)

It was last Thanksgiving when I wrote about the panic we had all been experiencing as he prepared to graduate from college (how did that happen so quickly, too??) and enter the “real world”, and how Jim and I finally learned to try and release a little bit of our parental worry (and control, ahem), cut back on the interrogations, and just let him try to figure things out. That’s exactly what he’s been busy doing.

Interestingly enough, this whole parenting thing has been a little bit like hiking. Lately he is spending more and more time walking alongside us rather than zig-zagging wildly along the trail way in front.

Over the past couple of months I’ve seen increased maturity as he has become more and more realistic about his plans for his future. He’s still got big ideas—I don’t think that’ll ever change and I’m happy about that—but the difference now is that he is formulating action plans that will get him where he wants to go. When he asks us what we think, he really wants to know. We’re honest but gentle with our words, and he really listens and seems to absorb. When he has what he thinks is a better plan than what we’re suggesting, we listen to his reasoning. Sometimes he converts us and sometimes he doesn’t, but we release. It’s his life. His instincts are important. I’m pretty proud of where he’s at in his process right now, and I’m pretty proud of us, too.

He came home over the weekend and asked us if we wanted to go on a hike with him, and naturally we went along.

When we first hit the trail, he put his backpack on (he never hikes without it!) and started walking in front of us. Suddenly he stopped and said, “Why don’t you two walk in front of me? I’m afraid if I’m in front I’ll walk too fast.” I had a little laugh about that because at this point his speed didn’t matter much, but I like to think that he wanted to stick with us so we could walk and talk at the same time.

And we did.

We stayed together but took turns walking in front, depending on whether we were on a flat trail, hills, or even stairs. Sometimes we paused for a quick moment to take a picture and sometimes we all scurried past obstacles like the much-younger families with toddlers, but we were always moving forward.

I think that’s how it’s supposed to be. Arriving at this stage of parenting isn’t much different from arriving at all of the other stages. It’s a matter of figuring out the balance of holding on and letting go, teaching a little bit and learning a lot, and most of all, taking the time to enjoy your surroundings and celebrate how far you’ve all come, together.

D hiking

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Pitbull In Pictures

On Wednesday I had the extreme pleasure of, along with my friend Samantha, being an audience member at the taping of the season premiere episode of Steve Harvey’s daytime talk show.

Steve is great and all (and in fact I found lots of his small talk between takes to be very inspiring), but the “extreme pleasure” part can be credited to the presence of his guest, Pitbull.

Pitbull is currently one of my very favorite entertainers. His music makes me very, very happy. His music also makes me dance, even if I’m sitting down. Sofa dancing? Totally. Car dancing? Yes, please.

When I’m standing up? Look out. For real. You might get knocked over.

Anyway, I was looking forward to getting just one picture, a selfie of Samantha and me with Pitbull in the background. After that, I was going to put my phone away and live in the moment and enjoy the experience fully. That picture was not to be. Unfortunately the penalty for taking pictures during Wednesday’s taping was an escort offsite and I didn’t want to risk it so I left my phone in my purse like a good rule follower. There were cameras (for the show) everywhere and I knew that my typical M.O. (ignoring the rule and being stealthy about taking a picture or two anyway) wasn’t going to fly. Also, the head of security was standing about five feet away from us. Sad trombone.

Then I remembered that, six weeks ago, I didn’t take pictures when Jim and I enjoyed dinner out with friends and instead drew it up for you. Why couldn’t I use that same method to give you an idea of my experience with Steve Harvey and Pitbull?

No reason. I COULD!

I even invested in a set of colored pencils this time.

The set was pretty amazing. We were on the rooftop of Navy Pier on a beautiful day, and the sight of the Chicago skyline in the background was perfect. On one end, there was the set where Steve would interview Pitbull. It was absolutely gorgeous and included the requisite couch and chair, plus lots of beautiful blue and white drapes that were blowing in the breeze. The pillows on the white couch were bright pink and orange. The set was very, very “Miami”.

interview set

The audience was seated on rows of long benches with a runway going down the center; the runway connected the interview set with the performance stage, which had orange “Steve Harvey” banners and lots of pink and yellow lights. It was a smart set up, as when it was time for Pitbull to perform we just had to turn around.

Concert stage set

Samantha and I were a little annoyed that we were placed on the outside end of our row rather than on the runway end but still, being about eight people away from Pitbull was still closer than 99.999999999999% of Chicagoans that day, so it’s all good.

Before the taping started we were entertained by Steve’s warm-up guy and we danced to the music that was being played. We were pretty psyched. That’s me on the left.

Melisa and Samantha before

After what seemed like forever (along with some time spent doing audience reaction shots for the cameras, on purpose), it was finally time to begin the show. Steve greeted the audience and didn’t waste any time in bringing Pitbull out, which made us all lose our minds. I mean, I can’t even tell you how exciting it was. HE WAS RIGHT THERE. RIGHT!! THERE!!

Steve interviewed him for about twenty minutes and it was nice to see the down-to-earth guy behind the artist. I won’t recap the conversation except to say that it was really awesome to learn that Pitbull has opened up a charter school in his old neighborhood in the 305 (ahem, Miami). His pride over this school and the students was palpable.

I tried to draw a picture of Steve and Pitbull together but I’m not very good at drawing clothing on actual bodies (I’m a stick figure-y type of artist) so after four attempts I gave up and just drew their heads. I mean, that’s cool, right?

Steve and Pitbull

I can tell you what they wore, in case you’re wondering. Pitbull wore his sunglasses, of course (they came off for the interview), a gray suit jacket with a white shirt underneath, and white linen pants. He also wore a pair of awesome burgundy suede loafers that had gold buckle embellishments. No socks. He looked amazing.

Steve wore…a suit. It may have been blue with pinstripes. I think.

Unfortunately for us, Pitbull only performed one song, “Fireball”, which is from his upcoming album (do we still say “album”?) called “Globalization”. I am completely obsessed with this song. He had four backup dancers performing with him. They wore bright blue dresses and I wanted to be up there dancing and wearing a bright blue dress, too. I told Samantha that we really should have been up there dancing instead of in the audience dancing, and that we would TOTALLY be fantastic Pitbull backup dancers in general. I think she was only moments away from storming the stage at any given moment the entire time Pitbull was up there.

All too quickly it was time for Pitbull to leave Navy Pier. I’m not sure where he was headed but I’m fairly certain it was going to involve a private plane, some Voli on the rocks, and multiple women fawning all over him.

Our fate was very different. We were outside for another hour, getting thirsty, hungry, and majorly sunburned. By the time the taping finished at two, we were hot, bright red, and hangry. Fireball(s).

Melisa and Samantha after

It was totally worth it.

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Up Close And Personal

Yesterday I was walking south on Michigan Avenue from Tribune Tower so I could meet a friend at the Cultural Center. As I approached Lake Street, I glanced upward (as I often do; I’m always looking for photo opportunities!) and noticed a mural on the side of a building that I had never seen before. That’s pretty amazing since I have walked by that corner approximately twenty five bajillion times in my life.

Anyway.

I saw this mural, and I could tell that it was vibrant in color but couldn’t see the whole thing due to the fact that the adjacent building was blocking most of it from where I was standing on the corner.

Chicago building mural

I looked at the time and decided that I wanted to take a couple of minutes to discover a little more, so I turned right on Lake and got closer.

Chicago building mural 2

The problem was, I could see more gorgeous color and I think I made out some people in the design but I still couldn’t tell what it was about. When I walked on the same side of the street, the wide base of the adjacent building blocked my view of the mural. When I crossed the street to see what I could see, I couldn’t figure out the whole story, even when zooming in.

Chicago building mural 3

I finally concluded that in order to see what this mural is about, I would have to go into the building next door and take an elevator to one of the upper floors and walk over to a western facing window so I could get up close and personal.

Then I concluded that this mural is a lot like people in general. It’s easy to get a sense of certain parts of a person—their color, their physicality, their fashion sense—from far away but in order to truly get to know them, you usually have to invest the time in order to get a little closer and learn their story.

I don’t know about you, but for me the investment ALWAYS pays off.

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