Archive for the ‘autumn’ Category

This was the first Thanksgiving that I’ve ever traveled, and what a whirlwind trip it was.  My uncle recently purchased a house in Niles, Michigan, and we wanted to go out and visit him before the weather turned too cold for us wimpy Californians.

His house is so cool, especially the 2-acre grounds.  I imagined huge garden parties in the summer, my nieces running with wild abandon in the backyard, and sipping cocktails in lounge chairs.  At least, that’s what I’d do with the place if I had it.  Not sure if my uncle has those same plans, but maybe I can convince him.

The city of Niles, Michigan is very quaint, especially the downtown area, which is peppered with funky stores, antique “malls,” and old-time businesses.  They city is so much smaller than the one we’re from, so it was very interesting.  My uncle seems to be making some friends which is good.  The main thing that I noticed is that the people are much more conservative there than they are in the Bay Area.  Then again, I think most small towns in middle America are much more conservative than the Bay Area.  😉  The one example I have is that we went to a converted mansion in South Bend, IN for Thanksgiving dinner.  When we arrived in the dining room we ordered two bottles of wine – one white and one red – for the table of four of us.  You should have seen the stares!  The woman at the table next to us nudged her husband and sat there agape, as if we were slugging back wine by the gallon.  I looked around and saw that every other table in the room had either iced tea or water – no alcohol of any kind. So weird!

After a day and a half in Niles, we left for Chicago.  I had seen pictures, heard stories, but nothing compares to actually being there.  Chicago is a stunning, immaculate, architecturally gorgeous city!  I still think San Francisco is more beautiful, but I do love Chicago.  I wish we had more than two days in this fun, lively city.  I’ll definitely be back.

I could fill many more paragraphs with all of our adventures in the two day trip, but for now, I think I’ll let my 200+ photos speak for themselves.  I tried to get some artsy shots, so I hope you enjoy them.

Thanksgiving 2009 – Michigan & Chicago

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One of the perks of being a teacher is having long weekends and other vacations from time to time.  This weekend was one of those times.  Unlike so many of my friends and family who won’t be getting even 1  day off for Veteran’s Day, I got 2.

So what have I done with my glorious 4-day weekend so far, you ask?  Not a whole lot of anything.  Which is exactly what I needed.

It seems that for the past month, every day of every weekend has been jam-packed with parties, dinners, events, etc.  Which is all fun and great and everything, but once in a while it’s nice to just be at home doing NOTHING.

Well, not nothing, exactly.  So far this weekend I’ve:

  • Completely reorganized my closet to move out my warm weather clothes and replace them with cool weather ones.  The problem with this is that I don’t have a whole heck of a lot of clothes that fit me anymore.  But this is a good thing!  It means I’m quite a bit smaller than I was last year at this time, which is exciting.  I have quite a bit of clothes that I’m thinking of swapping/giving to someone.
  • Done a ton of laundry.  I had so much to do that the washer and dryer have been on for the past two days, practically without end.
  • Finally finished reading American Wife by Curtis Sittenfeld.  It was supposed to be my book club book that we were going to meet and talk about last Sunday, but since no one had finished it yet, we put off the meeting until this Wednesday.  The only probably is that now AM and I are the only ones who can meet. If you’re looking for a good, long book you can sink your teeth into, this is the one.  I absolutely loved it.
  • Spent too much time and too much money on QVC.  I really don’t order things from QVC ever, but somehow I got on some list that sends me emails about when Bare Escentuals or Philosophy is going to be featured on air.  Saturday night happened to be when Bare Escentuals was on, and being such an admirer of their cosmetics, I had to tune in.  I ended up buying a great holiday collection of colors for a really good price.  And I ended up getting some Amazing Grace items as well.  (These weren’t featured, but I started clicking on QVC.com and, well, $70 later….).  I have to say, it’s DANGEROUS!  They make everything sound so good that you’re tempted to buy way more than you should.  Thank goodness for “easy pay” and for the fact that I’m smart enough to only buy products that I know I love.  Otherwise I could’ve gotten into even more trouble.
  • Begun grading some essays.  Yes, I know, I said that with my new plan, I wouldn’t need to bring any work home.  Well, the plan has been working really well, but I have gotten a bit backed up with essays because I have an essay on The Crucible and then we also had a district-wide writing assessment in the same week, so I’ve had 6 sets of essays to grade.  I figure taking one day of this 4 day weekend to grade isn’t so bad.  Plus, it helps so that next weekend (the weekend before grades are due) I’m not so stressed.
  • Almost finished Thin is the New Happy by Valerie Frankel.  I have mixed reviews so far for this book.  There are parts I love and can totally relate to, and then there are parts where I feel she has completely overshared.  And that’s saying something, coming from me.  I’ve been accused of “oversharing” myself.  Overall, though, I’m glad I’ve been reading it, and I’m equally as glad that I got it from the library rather than paying for it.
  • Caught up on all my t.v. shows.  Last week was such a crazy week that I hadn’t really watched any of my normal shows.  I had episodes of Desparate Housewives, Gossip Girl, Grey’s Anatomy, Ugly Betty, and Tim Gunn’s Guide to Style to watch.  Now, many of you may be saying, “you watch too many shows,” and you’re completely right.  But that doesn’t mean I’m going to stop.  🙂

The plan for the rest of today is to finish grading, finish the laundry, go to the grocery store, and get in a workout.  Tomorrow I’m meeting my sister to go shopping and have lunch, since she has tomorrow off.

It’s been so nice to feel like I’ve had enough time to get everything done.  October was such a long, busy month that it’s nice to be in November, when we get two longer breaks.  Finally a bit of breathing room.

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It seems appropriate to take a minute today and explain what I’m thankful for. I am lucky to lead a really good life, and here are a few things (people) that I’m thankful for this Thanksgiving:

1. My Parents. They have always been there for me through everything. They are supportive, critical, inspirational, and so proud of me. They make me feel like the person they know I can become.

2. My Sister and my nieces. My sister and I aren’t as close as we were growing up, but I still love her so much. I am so happy to see her with her two little girls, ages 5 and 4 months. She is such a great mother, and every day she amazes me. I don’t know how she manages to do it all — family, husband, career — and still stay sane.

3. My Friends. My friends are the ones who have seen me through my highest highs and lowest lows. They are used to my overly excited, energetic ways, and love me anyway. They are wonderful, and I don’t think I could make it through the day without all of them.

4. My Determination. I am thankful that I am an ambitious, determined person. I set my mind to something and I can make it happen. I have learned this through the example my family has set for me, and I’m so happy that I have such a strong mind.

5. This Blog. I don’t know what I’d do without a place to get my feelings out. This blog allows me to tap into my creative side and it chronicles my musings and hopes for the future. I may not write to it as often as I’d like, but I am so glad I have this outlet.


Today I’m also glad (or thankful, if you will) that I got up this morning and worked out with BFF. It wasn’t easy, but we did it. I feel so much better knowing that I can go into Thanksgiving Dinner 350 calories lighter. 🙂

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Since the weather outside is so beautiful — the leaves turning colors, the air is crisp and cool, and it’s FINALLY time for sweaters, I thought it was time to update the look of my blog, too.

I thought this picture that I found on Flickr was beautiful and would add a nice seasonal touch to the blog. I plan to change the picture from time to time with the mood strikes or the season changes.


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