Wednesday, February 27, 2013

What I'm Into (Feb 2013)

My friend Leigh does these great posts on her blog every month and recently started letting people link up their own so that we could all share the awesomeness! So, I thought I'd join in the fun and list the things I'm into these days. I'm hoping it will keep me accountable to a few things too - especially in regards to books. I've been a reading slacker these days and I want to change that! So, here goes!


Gone Girl (Flynn) - Wow. That is all I have to say about that book. Oh, and "That woman was CRAY-ZEE". Nuff said. Really.

A Year of Biblical Womanhood - (Evans) This was certainly an entertaining read, very thought provoking. I have honestly never given a whole lot of thought about "biblical womanhood" - but I've heard some of the stereotypes of being a "Proverbs 31" woman. I certainly never thought of it being a "to do list" of qualities though. Even so, it was interesting to read about how Evans turned those stereotypes on their head. Highly recommend!

Casual Vacancy (Rowling) - I waited with great excitement for J.K. to write another book after Harry Potter ended. But then I found it very hard to work up the nerve to read this book! In fact, I bought it in November and just got around to reading it. I think I was scared of disappointment. I love HP so much! Still in the process of reading, but while the storyline is far from Potterish, the writing still feels nostalgic.


I am a television LOVER and I am not ashamed to admit it. But I did recently give up cable completely in an attempt to at least make my TV watching more purposeful and less "just flipping channels aimlessly". Well, it worked - but I think it may have made my addiction worse. Netflix has not only opened up a whole new world of shows that I missed getting in on at their beginnings - but it means that I can watch episode after episode if I'm so inclined! Even worse? Netflix so politely queues up the next episode and asks me if I'd like to watch it! It takes a lot of willpower to tell it "No". Even after 10 episodes in one sitting. Anyways - here are my current faves!

Show Catch-up:

The Walking Dead - O.M.Goodness! I know folks have been talking about the Zombie apocolypse for a while now and this show has come up more than once in my group of friends. But I was always kinda like - "Nah, I prefer aliens to zombies..." Well, I stand corrected! Turns out, I am FASCINATED by zombies. And zombie apocolypses. And Steven Yeun. Don't watch this show if you can't handle bloody gore. But you can't blame me if you don't watch and then get eaten during the Zombie apocolypse.

Private Practice - I know this show is kinda cheesy and just ended like two months ago. But I've enjoyed rewatching it via Netflix. Kinda like visiting old friends...

Current Season:

SMASH - so glad this show is back! I love it. Everything about it. Just bought the first soundtrack and it makes my day in the car. If you aren't watching, I'm not sure we can still be friends.

Scandal - or, as my co-worker Heather has convinced me to refer to it, "Scandals". Wow, everyone on this show has some serious issues. Week to week it is hard to decide who is the most devious. Right now though - Mellie is winning, hands down.

Routine loves - Grey's Anatomy (yes, still!), Castle, Bones, Biggest Loser, Once Upon a Time


I made it my goal to have seen all the Oscar nominated movies this year. I had actually caught most of them before they were even nominated (which means the Academy had good taste this year clearly!). I didn't finish seeing all of them, I missed Lincoln, Django, and Amour. But I did see Zero Dark Thirty just before the Oscars. And I thought it was amazing - gripping, good character development, and Jessica Chastain was brilliant. I actually think she should have won - even though I have a soft spot for Jennifer Lawrence.

On the Web:

From #WhatShouldWeCallSocialWork -

Caregivers Asking you to "fix" their child:

About to close a case and your client brings you a new and more serious problem
(Generally right before court)
When you become immune to your clients angry outbursts and tantrums
Stuff I pinned:

Source: via Rachel on Pinterest
Totally using one of these colors on a rocking chair I just bought,
 I have been wanting to spray paint something for a while now!
I dream about having more bookshelves. And more books to put on them.
And to be able to style them. Its an obsession really.
So excited to try this out! Butternut Squash is my new favorite food.
I'm going to be so sad when it goes out of season soon!

And some more links:

When Love Hurts and Grace is Required

5 Ways to Improve Hair Naturally

Food is Not Cheap: 4 Steps to Budgeting for Real Food

"Food Rules" for Picky Eaters

Extraordinary Science of Addictive Junk Food

Best Day of February:

I already blogged about it, but hanging out with Lisa - watching old movies, eating popcorn, singing along with Chicago was definitely my best day of February. XOXO

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Perfect Moment Monday

Lori from Lavender Luz started Perfect Moment Monday to help us remember to stop and notice the perfect moments all around us. This falls right in line with my One Word for the year, as I try to be more present in my day to day. So, I'm linking up because last week was just full of perfect moments.
I visited one of my favorite families, my dear friends who have let me be "Aunt Rachie" to their kids for the past almost 8 years. And between two snow days, lots of baking and other adventures with the kiddos, there were many perfect moments to soak up.

Snow is not really my favorite thing, but it was so much fun to see the kids enjoying it! But the indoor activities were right up my alley. In the space of three days we baked so many goodies - banana bread, two types of cookies, and homemade ice cream! (To give credit where it is due, it was Lisa who actually did most of the work!) There were also lots of sweet and funny moments with the kiddos. They really are some of my favorite small people in the world.

But the best part of the whole week was actually after the kids were asleep in their beds. Lisa and I had a fantastic time watching some favorite old movies. Back when we were roommates, the movie Chicago was out in theaters and we used every excuse to go see it! Good day, bad day, whatever! So we settled in and watched it the second night I was there. There was quite a bit of singing along! The next night was "Moulin Rouge", another college fave. Again, we could recite almost the entire thing word for word, song by song. We didn't take any pictures, but they were still some of my top perfect moments of the week. Love you Lisa!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Outrunning Ovarian Cancer

A little over a year ago, I was diagnosed with Ovarian Cancer. It turned my life upside down in more ways than one. But I was lucky blessed - my cancer was caught early. And as most of your remember me posting back then - that is likely what will make all the differnce in my survival.

Early detection is KEY for beating Ovarian Cancer.

And right now, there is no way to detect it early enough to make a difference.

85% of women diagnosed with OVCA will already be Stage 3 when it is found.

Only 30% of those women will live 5 years after diagnosis.

That is unacceptable. Compare that with breast cancer survival rates - where almost 90% of women diagnosed will survive for more than 5 years!

So, what needs to happen here? More research, more studies, more attention, and of course - more money.

I have a team that will be running in the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition's first 5K - and we are begging you to participate or donate!

Check out my team page here:

~ Team Lucky Girl ~

If you live in the Chicago-land area - please come and run (or walk) with us! I'd love to see you there - and please let me know that you are joining because we are putting together some fun "team" activities and ideas! Its going to be such a fun day!

But if you can't join us, you can still help! I set a very low fundraising bar - $200 - because I have a phobia about asking people for things! But some of my team members have set individual goals too! So, if my bar reaches its limit please click on my members' pages and donate to one of them!

Thank you so much for your support - it means the world to me!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Girls' Christmas

Ever since college it has been an annual tradition for my best girlfriends and I to have a "Girls' Christmas" get together. It used to just be exchanging Secret Santa presents in our dorm rooms. Then it progressed to "fancy" dinners at our first apartments. As time as has gone on our group has dwindled as friends moved away or simply grew apart. About 5 or 6 six years ago it became just us four, and we started going away for our get together. We don't go far and some years are more exciting than others - but we always have a wonderful time together and I wouldn't trade these weekend trips for anything!
This year, we decided to stick close to home and stay in a hotel downtown. We took the bus into the city and then walked to the hotel. It was a beautiful room and we brought the best part of the tradition - wine!

 After we were all checked in, we went out to do some shopping and then had a yummy dinner. Sadly, our hotel's pool was closed for renovation - major bummer since we'd been really looking forward to time in the hot tub! So, we just hung out in our room - I swear we could do absolutely nothing together and still never be bored. The sign of true friendship right?
The next morning, we checked out and then headed to the highlight of our weekend. We had a private party booked at a salon downtown! We all got manicures and pedicures, along with complimentary strawberry mimosas and cupcakes! Another four hours of just hanging out and being pampered.
We've already bought the same package for another get together this summer!
I'm going to go right ahead and add this to my "Lucky Life List". After all, not everyone get to be part of such a wonderfully close group of friends that are always there to laugh, cry, and occasionally do both at the same time! I have other friends that I do those things with too - but this foursome is truly special to me. Love you girls so much!


Friday, February 15, 2013

One Word 2013

Last year I picked one word to focus on for the year - Pursue.

It turned out pretty well - I pursued better health, more exercise, more time spent with loved ones and most importantly I pursued becoming a parent. I didn't achieve all of those goals, but I made a lot of progress and I think I'm on a solid path.

So, as I thought about picking another word to focus on, it was tricky and took me a while to actually find one that summed up what I want this year to be about for me.

And I think I've found a pretty good one:

  1. The period of time now occurring.
  2. A thing given to someone as a gift: "a Christmas present".

I love that my word has two very distinct definitions! I actually picked it because of its dual meaning. 

The first definition was my original choice - I wanted a word that would help me in my quest to not worry as much about the future. Last year was full of anxiety - a constant roller coaster of wondering what was going to happen next. And I don't want this year to be the same way. I don't want to spend my time waiting for the other shoe to drop or anxiously worrying about my next doctor appointment. So, the idea of "being in the present" was the orignal reason for choosing the word.

So the alternate meaning - "gift" - was a happy bonus. A constant reminder of how blessed I really am these days. I want to be more conscious of the little presents that fill up my days. I hope to add a lot of things to my "Lucky Life List"!

So there is my One Word for the year! Overall, I am excited for this upcoming year and all the things it has to offer!

Monday, February 4, 2013

December Recap: Part 2 - Little Girls' Weekend

Just after Christmas I got to spend a little time with my favorite little girls. I just love it when they come to visit Rachie! It was only for 24 hours, but we packed that with fun!

First, present opening!

Julia loved her haul of American Girl stuff. Ava was more interested in her fluffy skirts! (That's my little diva girl!) Then it was time for a treat of egg nog and a movie in (Rachie's) bed. Julia didn't love the egg nog, but Ava drank all of hers! And we watched "Brave" while snuggling in for the night.

The girls drifted off to sleep with no problem afterwards....Rachie was a different story! I ended up on the couch around 3am! Its hard to sleep with two little girls AND two little dogs in your bed!

(Click to Zoom)

The next day we woke up bright and early - okay, they were bright and I was focused on the "early" part - and headed out to Navy Pier's Winter Wonderfest! We took the bus, which I'm pretty sure was actually the highlight of the whole trip for the girls! Both thought it was so cool! And they were so great - waiting patiently at bus stops, sitting nicely on the bus, and Julia loved pulling the cord to signal the driver that this was our stop!

We also had a great time at the Winter Wonderfest - lots of fun rides and things to do! We stopped at Chick-fil-a on our way back and enjoyed lunch. Then it was time to go meet Mommy out in the suburbs.

Love you, Sweet Girls!

Saturday, February 2, 2013

December Recap: Part 1 - Christmas

I can't believe its already the end of January! Where did the time go?

Before I get into the excitement of January, I need to recap December. (Will this blog ever be up to date? Probably not!)

(And, I actually also have one more post about something that happened in November too, but it ties in with something that happend more recently...)

So, back to December! First up - Christmas!

It was supposed to be the first time in I-don't-know-how-long that EVERYONE in my family would be together for some part of Christmas. I was SO excited!!

And then my sister had to go and get the flu two days before she had to get on a plane to Chicago.

Cue tears. For both of us.

Despite fervent prayers and lots of medicine, she just couldn't get on a plane.

So, instead it was just Mom and I driving east towards Ohio/Kentucky a few days before Christmas.

Despite horrible rain the entire way there, we made it without incident. It was great to get to see my brother and sis-in-law. And their new house - which I love! And their FOUR dogs - who kinda made me miss mine. The first night there Natalie and I took ourselves to see "The Hobbit". Movies are a Hoyt family tradition. I can't ever remember a vacation that didn't include at least one. Mom and Jason were not in the mood for a three hour movie - but Natalie and I enjoyed it! Except, how come no one told us it was the first of three again?? We were both very confused at the end!

The next day, Jason, Natalie and I took a trip to meet Dad and Emma for a Christmas lunch/dinner. It was so nice to see them and exchange gifts. The meal was good too - compliments of another Hoyt favorite, Cracker Barrel!

Christmas Eve started off uneventful, a day of last minute present wrapping and cooking. Mom tried to get out of it, but we demanded cornbread dressing! And it was perfection, as you can see below! The rest of dinner was good too - but cornbread dressing will always be the highlight.

After dinner, it was time for gift opening! My most exciting gift - my not too subtely wished for Roku box! Buh-bye cable! Also, Mom cracked us all up by having stolen random things out of Jason and Natalie's pantry to disguise all the gift cards she gave us. We all totally scored and I have been extending Christmas through those gift cards all month! Even the doggies got in on the gift opening - well, really just Sammy.

Then a minor incident happened - which is also kinda a Hoyt family tradition - and instead of us all going to Candle-light service together, Jason ended up in the Emergency Room! Turns out that two of their dogs were not sharing the new Christmas toys. Jason tried to break up the fight and ended up getting bitten! It wasn't a terrible bite, but since it was in the palm of his hand we demanded he have it looked at by a doctor.

It ended up needing ONE stitch.

But its a great holiday story now!

The next day, we all went to see Les Miserables. Cue more crying. But not just us, pretty much everyone in the theater. It was fantastic. If you haven't gone to see it, you really need to do so right now. And if you didn't like it, we can't be friends anymore. Sorry.

Mom and drove back home that night. I had to work the next day but we managed to squeeze in ONE last movie before I drove her to the airport that night! Parental Guidance - we laughed our heads off!

(Click to Zoom)
So, even though it wasn't complete without Leah, it was a really nice holiday! I'm so lucky to have such a wonderful (albeit a little crazy/quirky) family.