Summer Reads

Monday, August 6, 2012 | | 5 comments
My favorite part about summer is having more time to READ. And I spent this summer reading many really good books. Some of these were for a book club and others were for work. But they were all great reads.

Little Bee by Chris Cleave. A story of a little girl running away from the corruption of her country.

State of Wonder by Ann Patchett. This book reminded me of my trip to Ecuador! 

The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor. A nonfiction book about how being happy can make you more successful.

The Ecuador Reader by Carlos de la Torre and Steve Striffler. I read this book prior to visiting Ecuador to get a better idea about their history, culture, and politics.

At Home by Bill Bryson. A nonfiction book about the history of private life and everyday objects. The book takes you through a home, room by room, and gives the relevant history that made that room what it is today.


July in Photos

Friday, August 3, 2012 | | 1 comments

1. A beautiful view of a nature preserve just outside of Otavalo, Ecuador
2. A gift from an artisan in Quito, it is a bracelet with my name carved in it
3. A cuteness war between my Mom's dog, Truman, and my dog, Huxley
4. When I returned from Ecuador, I got very sick. I wasn't able to leave the house for about a week, so I took lots of photos of Huxley
5. Huxley really liked to snuggle with me when I wasn't feeling well, he did everything he could to make me feel better
6. We slept on the sofa for about a week straight, it was a rough week
7. My friend and colleague, Mary, brought be these flowers from the local farmer's market to help me feel better
8. When I started feeling better and stopped sleeping all day, I began reading The Happiness Advantage. This book was assigned to me for a Faculty Learning Community I joined about playing games to help students learn in the classroom.
9. I was in desperate need of a pedicure after returning home from Ecuador and spending a week sick, this made me feel so much better!
10. Eric got me a new watch as a surprise "welcome home" gift!
11. I went to work to learn how to use a computer aided design program called Lectra. We designed knits, weaves, and even styled our designs into garments.
12. After a year working at IU, I finally got my very own business cards!
13. This photo was taken at Food Truck Friday in St. Louis, we had just eaten way too much and we were feeling good!
14. A family photo at my parent's new home! We were getting ready to drop off our dog while we vacationed in Seattle. We missed Huxley so much while we were gone!
15. I'm posing here on Whidbey Island, just outside of Seattle. We took a ferry to get there and visited a few wineries. Don't I look completely content?! I was.
16. The Space Needle! Classic Seattle.
17. This photo was taken on our way to Lake Chelan. We stopped to take in the view of this beautiful river and stretch our legs. It was a long and winding road from Seattle to Lake Chelan.
18. I'm relaxing at Lake Chelan, toes in the sand and the water is splashing my feet. Life is good.
19. We saw the midnight showing of Batman: The Dark Knight Rises at a theater with reserved seats that recline, a blanket and pillow provided, free popcorn, and a waiter. It was incredible.
20. We saw the brand new ferris wheel at the pier in Seattle.
21. Flying home. It nearly took us all day to fly from Seattle back to St. Louis. I look forward to a day when I can afford direct flights wherever I want to go.
22. We drove back to the town where I grew up to see my dad's band, 2 Car Pile-Up perform at Prison Brews
23. Mom got me a manicure while I visited her in St. Louis, it is the trend now to paint your ring finger a different color than the rest of your fingers.
24. While in St. Louis, I met up with my sorority sister, Lauren Goth! She called me out on Facebook about not calling her while I was in town. It was so good to see her!
25. Eric is playing hopscotch on the sidewalk in historic St. Charles. 
26. I'm back on campus in Bloomington to meet up with a group of faculty members who play games and talk about how games can be used to facilitate learning in the classroom.
27. Eric and I took a weekend trip to Chicago and got dinner with another sorority sister of mine, Sarah Crumbaugh.
28. Our friends Dan and Hannah took us to Wrigley Field to see a Cardinals vs. Cubs baseball game. Wrigley Field might be the second best place to watch baseball.
29. On our last day in Chicago, we took a river boat cruise to learn about the architecture in Chicago.
30. I discovered this beautiful stained glass window at a local Mexican restaurant on the square in Bloomington.
31. I attended two IT Training workshops today to learn more about Microsoft products.

Chi Town: Part 2

Thursday, August 2, 2012 | | 0 comments
Continued from yesterday...
After walking along the lake, we ordered Chicago style pizza takeout and headed to the Jay Pritzker Pavilion to hear the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Chicago offers many free concerts and this one was absolutely incredible. The guest conductor walked us through the songs and explained the story behind them in a beautiful French accent.



The evening still wasn't over. At 10:15pm every Wednesday and Saturday, Navy Pier offers a lovely fireworks display. I was sick over the 4th of July and I missed the fireworks, so this was a real treat for me! We stood at the end of the street where Dan and Hannah live, we only had to walk a few blocks to get a great view of the fireworks.


We capped off the night with a sweet treat from Magnolia Bakery. I've heard of the infamous Magnolia Bakery in New York City, so I was delighted to visit the bakery in St. Louis. It certainly lived up to its reputation. We ordered a vanilla cupcake with chocolate buttermilk icing and a vanilla bean cheesecake. Delicious!



The next morning we had a wonderful breakfast and then had some fun taking photos at The Bean! The Bean is actually named "Cloud Gate" but got its nickname from its bean-like shape. It is highly reflective and reflects the beautiful sky scape of Chicago.



We ended the day with a river boat cruise by the Chicago Architecture Foundation. It was a beautiful day with a high in the mid-80s. We couldn't have asked for a better day for the cruise, actually we couldn't have asked for better weather all weekend! We learned so much about the architecture and history of Chicago. Sometimes when I'm walking around the city all of the sky-scrapers start to look the same. I loved seeing the differences between architectural styles!



We had a truly wonderful time visiting our friends and getting a little taste of the city. A huge thank-you to Dan and Hannah for hosting us! We look forward to seeing you again soon!


The Windy City: Part 1

Wednesday, August 1, 2012 | | 0 comments
We've been busy this summer! Our travels didn't end in Seattle. We spent a few days in St. Louis with my parents (posts to come!) then headed to Chicago to visit our friends Dan and Hannah. We met Dan and Hannah about a year ago when they lived in Bloomington. We quickly hit it off so when they invited us to visit them in their perfectly located apartment on the Chicago River, we couldn't say no!



That picture above was taken from their living room window. I'm so jealous that they get to wake up to this view everyday! I could have stared out of that window all weekend. Luckily, Dan and Hannah had a lot of fun planned and encouraged me to get out of the apartment. We started with a baseball game at Wrigley Field!



FYI: We have forgiven Dan and Hannah for being Cubs fans. I have to say, Wrigley Field is crazy fun! I love the historic significance of it being one of the oldest (if not the oldest?!) baseball stadium in the nation. But it was the 7th inning stretch that really did it for me. The entire stadium stood up, put arms around each other and sang "Take Me Out to the Ballgame." Although the Cardinals lost, I did enjoy hearing the Cubbies winning song! Again, the whole stadium stood and sang along. I think the Cardinals need a winning song!


After the game we took a walk along the lake. We discovered an amazing view of the city and the water. It was a great opportunity to get a little exercise and chat with friends. This trip has been all about visiting with friends. The first night Eric and I arrived, we ate dinner with my sorority sister, Sarah Crumbaugh. She suggested we try The Purple Pig and it was incredible. Tapas might be my favorite type of meal and Sarah chose a great tapas bar!

Tune in tomorrow for the second half of our trip to Chicago!

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