Sunday, July 29, 2012

Life Tales: Little Brothers

A bit o' history on myself: I have four brothers. And several male cousins.

One would imagine that I would be tougher, seeing as how I am the oldest. But no. I'm fairly feeble. When my brothers would harass me, instead of like, tackling them, I would say something pathetic-sounding like "You know, that really hurt my feelings" and look sad. It usually worked.

But anyway, I have three stepbrothers and one brother from the same mother. And father. One is about to be a freshman in high school, two of them are 18, and another is 20, off in the Marines.

While they all have their quirks, my blood brother (sounds legit) and I have the most colorful history together. His name is Ryan, and he is 18.

Hey, Ry. Remember when you stole my laptop and had yourself a little photobooth photo shoot?

Because I do.

So anyway, I am taking this moment to retell a few of my favorite brotherly moments in my life, because I haven't seen him in forever and I miss him. All of them.

Enough sap.

For those of you with younger brothers, I KNOW you dressed them up. You just couldn't help it. Headbands, dresses, the whole lot. The thing brother liked that. I'd put him in a sparkly purple getup and he would own the hallway like a catwalk.

Around that same time, when I decided my brother's sole purpose was a living toy for myself, I fancied myself an inventor. I had grown weary of constantly having to walk down the stairs using my legs, so I thought I would invent a contraption to do that for me. (I just casually ignored the fact that elevators already existed. I figured I was a visionary.)

So there's little two-year-old Ryan, seated cozily in a plastic toy box, a fake army helmet on his head. At the top of the stairs. Since I wanted to be extra safe, I tossed in a few teddy bears to cushion the blow if he fell out. (I was five at the time. Lots of teddy bears in my collection.) Then, moments before sliding the toy box down the stairs, my mom comes out of the room, freaking.
"You can't push your brother down the stairs!"

My response? 
"He'll be fine, there's a pillow at the bottom of the stairs."
ONE pillow. Like a little throw pillow. I figure I still owe him big time for that incident.
That is why I'm terrified to have children.

Our trip to the Dominican last summer. Groovy. The one in the flower shorts in the back is my cousin.

This would be the night he convinced to me to try vodka cranberries and I got way too sick....He may or may not have had to hold my hair back while I commented on the vibrant green leaves of the plant I was throwing up on. Really glad I just revealed that story here. We were both of legal drinking age there!

Yes, the blonde one is our mother.

So then, Ryan gets older. And while he has been a ladies' man since birth, it's only gotten worse over the years.

Case in point: Day after Christmas, a year or two ago.

Our hometown is also home to Woodfield Mall, one of the largest in the country. So the day after Christmas is NOT the time to be there. It was swamped. Like well over fire code swamped. Because I think about those things.

We decide to part ways for a bit, and that I will call him when I'm done in the store. So I go, shop around for an hour or so, call him, call him again. 

And suddenly, I remember a conversation we had in the car.
Ryan: "My phone's been lost for a few days."
Me: "That sucks."

I immediately panic. I run around, almost in tears, thinking that I would make the worst mother ever. Suddenly, I spot him in a crowd, but because there were too many people I couldn't get to him, or even yell to him.
He must be afraid. He must be so afraid and nervous all by himself.
Never mind the fact that he's seventeen, not seven.

So finally my mom calls me, because my brother had the brains to borrow someone's phone to call her, and tells me where to meet him. When I finally find him, I realize that he hasn't been panicking. In fact, he used the situation as an opportunity to flirt.

He found a cute girl, played the whole "I'm here with my poor dumb sister and she's probably lost and scared somewhere, can I borrow your phone?"
He convinced her to walk around with him for half an hour, made out with her somewhere, then found me.

Meanwhile, I was literally sitting on the floor hyperventilating.


Love you, Ry Guy. Please stop growing. You're already too much taller than me.

(P.S. I helped pick this prom getup. Go me.)

Do any of you have brothers?

If you have stories, I'd love to hear them!


Saturday, July 28, 2012

Girls' Weekend


We are in the midst of a pretty sweet girls' weekend round these parts. My roommate Jess is in town, and I have so loved having another girl around.

The festivities started Thursday night with avocado hair masks (Horribly disgusting. Fabulous results.)

1/2 avocado + 1 egg + 1 teaspoon olive oil+1/2 hour wrapped up in a towel
=Happy hair for a week.

(I have to double that recipe. Lotta hair.)

Then we took a stroll along the appropriately-named, ritzy neighborhood of Grand View Drive.

And then went to a local concert, where middle-aged drunk women flocked by the dozen. It was lots of fun. And we got lei'd. (Ha Ha?)

More to come! 

my coworker showed me this online.


Maybe I only think that because I'm an old woman at heart, but it's like the handiest thing ever.
So those bananas sitting in your kitchen? Maybe they're too green or too brown for you. You just don't know what to do with it for now, because it's certainly not to your liking.

Not so fast.

Behold the handiest banana ripeness recipe finder! Click the link, and in the lower left-hand corner, there is a button that says "Recipes for all stages of ripeness." You will be amazed. 
Or I am just very easily amused...

I don't even like bananas that much, but it's just too much fun. I will buy bananas now for this reason alone.

Happy Weekend!

Friday, July 27, 2012

Guest Post


Today I am over at Across the Pond for a guest post. I love LOVE Megan and her fabulous blog, so if you haven't been, be sure to pay a visit! 

T.G.I.F., ya'll <3

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Carp and Jenna Marbles

Howdy there!

It is raining outside. It hasn't rained here in weeks. WEEKS.
Everyone's all "drought this, drought that. What will become of our corn?"

Side note. 

I have a girl crush on Jenna Marbles. And this morning, I felt as though we really bonded over this video. Because it's so true. And I want her dog.
"Makeup getting everybody pregnant!"
She cracks me up!

Also, because I haven't formally introduced him here, this is my fish, Lloyd. AKA Lloydy Pants, Lloydy Butt, and Good Lloyd. (Bad Lloyd if he's being bad.)

A face that only a mother could love.
He's a betta fish, and there is a huge array of gorgeous, brightly-colored bettas.
But I saw him and thought, "Yes, that one."
He's so sassy.
Sometimes he sleeps at the bottom of the bowl with his eyes open, so I poke him with a pencil to wake him up, yelling into the water. Then he gets mad and hides in his squid home for awhile, except at feeding time.
Then he comes out slowly, attacks the food, puffs his face out at me and retreats to his squid.
Best friends, going on one year now.
Which is a major achievement, considering I can't even keep a cactus alive. 

Speaking of fish.
If you either a.) are deeply fascinated in the Asian Carp presence on the Illinois River and how their arrival has affected the recreational sector or b.) want to laugh at my reporter voice, here is a three-minute feature I did, which took me like a month and a half to put together. Now your week is complete.

Happy almost Friday!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Life Tales: Waking Sleeping People

It's always the way, isn't it?

Your friend or significant other or whomever is asleep, very near your high-traffic area for the morning.
(For example, my friend was sleeping on the couch this morning, while I was bustling around in the kitchen.)

On regular mornings, it seems to go like this:

I get up. I am feeling remarkably graceful. I quietly brew some coffee, enjoy it over a bowl of oatmeal, watch the sunrise.
My hair is behaving well, so I wash my face, brush my teeth, put on a dot of makeup and leisurely make my way out the door. All is well.

On days like today, where I am deliberately attempting not to wake someone:

I get up, walk down the hallway. Stub my toe on the door, yell expletives in my head. Go to the bathroom, bang the cabinet closed. Walk slowly on tiptoe, trying to be stealthy. Knock over the metallic hairspray container, which makes the WORST NOISE EVER when it hits the ground.

Stare at it angrily.
Make a mental note not to knock over anything else. Only allotted one loud noise. My friend is probably still asleep. She's a heavy sleeper, right?

Go into the kitchen, brew some coffee. Holy hell, has the coffee maker always been that loud?! It sounds like an angry cat that is also on its deathbed. Look over. Friend is still sleeping.

Mug slips out of hands into sink. Fridge door slams shut. Loud sneeze. Stumble over chair, proceed to whisper angrily. Hiccup. Annoying talking ad pops up on computer, volume is turned up all the way.
Phone rings. Telemarketer who speaks Spanish.

I walk to the door, ready to leave in a puddle of shame. Turn lock. It makes the slightest clicking noise. That does it. Of all the things, THAT causes friend to stir. I quickly walk out and lock the door.


So this happens to other people right?
My mom used to grind her coffee beans in the bathroom when I had a friend over. It was a nice gesture, but it didn't matter because the dog would jump on anyone's head who dared to sleep on the couch.
Then she would lick them and likely sneeze on them. (The dog. Not my mom.)

Happy Tuesday!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Roller-coaster weekend, and photos

"In order for the light to shine so brightly, the darkness must be present."
-Francis Bacon, Sr.

It has been kind of a draining weekend.
Lovely, fun, terrific moments. But an underlying dread to all of it.

I work in the media, so I see a constant stream of news updates from the Associated Press. Missing people, murder, war...we get updates on all of it. It's not something you can ignore, not when it's your job.
Sometimes, that gets awfully depressing.
Just when you feel like the world is a place filled with love and miracles and a whole lot more good than bad, something makes you question that. I read about mourning families and missing kids who never come home, and it's hard to go off and enjoy your life, knowing there are people out there who aren't sure they'll ever be able to smile again.

I question the miracles. I question the merits of humanity. But all those acts that force me to take a good, hard look and who we are as a species, (like bullets unleashed on an unsuspecting theatre of sitting-duck targets) also brings out the very best. The very brightest.

I question the goodness, yes. But I never once stopped believing in it. And as long as there are people in the world who perform selfless, incredible acts of love every day, as long as I have people to love me who I love back, as long as there are adorable dogs in the world (and all dogs are adorable), I will believe that the world is good.

I am so grateful to have all the people that I love, because nothing is guaranteed. We aren't promised the chance to see another sunrise.

And we who are alive need to take advantage of every day for those who don't get to. There are always beautiful things in store, no matter how difficult things get.

And now, to offset this Eeyore-esque post, some happy weekend photos:

Kitty says "Take me home, I'm precious."

Brewhaha green tea, delicious.

German chocolate cake whoopie pies=GENIUS

Barbecue by a lake

Have a great week!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Thrifty Thursday

I don't normally do outfit posts, but I do get really excited about thrift store finds, and today, my whole outfit came from thrifting excursions.

A grand total of $12 for the whole thing? SCORE.

Happy Thursday!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Tuesday. And words.

Two days in, I can already tell it's one of those weeks. I've needed a trough of caffeine, for example. Anyone else?

"The dawn anew breaks cold and harsh,
Startled from a dreamless sleep.
They shuffle through the deadened leaves,
Renounce the hours they beg to keep.

A mousetrap pattern, day by day,
Littered with dreams too great to be sown.
Grasping at the trophy of a minted success,
When all that is gold is love alone."


"I like ice cream.
I like cakes.
It's too freaking hot in this city.
Spiders have too many legs.

...Guess which one I wrote?

Trick question. I wrote both. This afternoon.


I like poems because you can use words like "anew" and not get made fun of.


I am at Starbucks right now sitting next to THE MOST. ADORABLE OLD COUPLE.

I want to kidnap them and put them in my pocket.

They are wearing flowery shirts and sharing a chocolate chip cookie. The old lady has fabric butterflies on her shoes. I WILL become that one day.

Speaking of Starbucks. The cool lime refresher is so. good.

And I'm picky when it comes to beverages. Water. Tea. Coffee. Amen.

But this is special.

Also, as a special Tuesday feast, here are some images from pretty places near my abode.

(P.S. Another cute old couple just walked in??!! What is this place?!)

I'm going to brag a little right now and say I LOVE this picture. Mostly because it reminds of those simple, 13-year-old summers at cheerleading practice. (We practiced at a baseball field, yes.)

The church near my apartment where I sometimes go to sit outside and think. Fun fact: The boyfriend's parents were married here.

Have a happy week!

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Meet me in St. Louis

Yesterday I trekked a couple hundred miles to visit my dad, stepmom and stepbrothers in St. Louis.

(I like where I chose to go to school, especially because it's pretty much the halfway point between my dad in St. Louis and my mom in Chicago.)

Let me just tell you, in case you haven't experienced it for yourself: Illinois is the most flat, redundant state to drive through. It goes like this: cornfield, barn, cow, antique mall. Small town. Repeat.

But first, a totally random aside...maybe it's just me, but why does every symptom I ever type into Google result in a pregnancy search result? For example: I get migraines. So whenever I type that into Google, one of the top results are always "migraines from pregnancy." I've got a toothache now (last time this happened I needed a root canal. Would really rather not go through that again.) So I typed in "tooth sensitivity" and got "tooth sensitivity when pregnant."

If I've had it, apparently some pregnant woman out there has also had it. Heart burn, fever, sore throat, sensitivity to light, poison ivy...likely attributed to a growing fetus. (I'm not positive on the poison ivy, but it's probably there.)

Does this happen to everyone?

I'm also a hypochondriac. So typing things into Google whenever I have a mysterious ache is really not a good idea.

Anyway, some photos from the journey and the cutest dog in the world. Seriously. Try and refute that. You will fail..

Truck stop, USA. Hot coffee on a ninety-degree day.
(Yes, I am capable of sometimes taking a picture with my eyes open. I forgot sunglasses. Dumb move.)

My favorite point in the St. Louis journey! Coolest antique mall ever.

Xena! I will steal her. It won't be difficult, either. Because she loves me, and hiding in sweatshirts.

Have a relaxing weekend!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

My Town, and Nancy Drew

This is not really my town.

If I were to consider anything "my town," it would be Chicago. Because I am from the suburbs, and like everyone from the 'burbs, whenever someone asks where we're from, we say "Chicago." I fancy myself a city mouse even though subways give me panic attacks and pigeons make me scream.

Those beady little eyes.

But for now, Peoria is home. So I'm trying to adopt it.

Working in the media has helped a lot. I sometimes feel like Peoria is like something out of a comic book, like Gotham City. Where the cops, politicians and reporters all run in the same social circle. Not to say it's corrupt, but it's like this weird small-town city thing. So strange. Anyway, my jobs have helped because I've had to get out, explore and get to know people. That is when my job is pretty neat.

For those who don't know, I work at the local NPR affiliate as a reporter, and a magazine company as an editorial intern. So lots of interviewing and writing. I get to do cool things like see the behind-the-scenes at the oldest bakery in town and talk to carp hunters and chat with congressmen and women. Neat, right?

Today I felt like Nancy Drew, as I sometimes do in my line of work. (Not that it makes sense, seeing as I am not a wealthy young detective, but whatever. I can dream.)

Today I had to go to the library to research an old theatre that I'm writing a feature about. Whilst there, I filed through endless piles of newspaper clippings (which I LOVE to do. So cool to see old stuff, old writing styles.)

Then I researched an old, supposedly haunted building called the Cornerstone Building. Since I'm a sucker for a good ghost story, I paid a visit to it. Too afraid to go inside? Yes. But when I bring my boyfriend with? I will probably succeed. On my bucket list (AKA how I convince myself to anything.)

I dug. Through that. Entire pile.

In the library, my favorite place!



Creepy. (That thing in the upper left hand window is a photo. Don't be afraid!)

I wear glasses to feel smart. Like Nancy Drew.

My favorite coffee shop in the world. (Took this in the car while driving. Don't try this at home.)

Tomorrow's Friday! Enjoy!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Bad Habit

There is this thing I do.

I am perfectly capable of talking to people, but only on my terms. I have to set up the interaction.

If I see them suddenly, out and about, I get flustered and weird and I usually turn bright red. Not because I have crushes on absolutely everyone I know and run into by chance, but because I am not smooth enough to just say "Oh, hey. How's it going?" Well I do say that, it's just at a really high pitch and super fast.

So to combat that ordeal, I pretend to talk on the phone. A LOT. I've been doing this for years, since high school, when I just really do not want to talk to people. (Real people.) The thing is, I've gotten really good at it.

One time my boyfriend called me when I was at a bar. After we hung up the phone, there were some really shady guys looking at me by the front doorway, so I continued talking. I said something like "Yeah, Monday. What? But that's when we have to have the meeting, she already told him about it."

I talked like that for awhile, and all of a sudden I hear, "Heather?"

My boyfriend was listening the entire time. I was totally found out. All he said was "Wow, you're really good at that."


I'll even make up fake names, usually Tim or Ashley (I have no super close friends by those names), and pretend I have a party to go to or something. To make me sound cool. That was more of the theme in high school.

Also, my friend reminded me of this yesterday. Remember inflatable furniture?

Ohhh yeah. Except (and this, unfortunately, isn't a joke), I didn't have a Barbie Chair.

Mine was Jar Jar Binks.

Enjoy your Wednesday!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Getting Old

When I was a wee one, staying up all night was all sorts of fun. Watch Animal Planet until midnight, play Sims with my friends until two, come up with new food concoctions at four, watch the sunrise, sleep until two. It was a fabulous system.

Sometimes, when I think back on those days, I forget I'm not twelve anymore. And now...sleeping is the new staying up.

I conveniently forgot that Friday night, when I thought staying up to watch the sunrise would be magical. It didn't start out that way; I just didn't realize how late it was until the Proactiv infomercial came on.

At that point it was 3 a.m., and I figured, why not?

But no. Those two hours between 3 and 5 a.m. are critical. I hit a roller coaster array of highs and lows at that point. It was rough. Especially after the coffee.

You know how it is. On normal days, when you sleep, coffee feels good and cozy in your system. When you haven't slept at all? It just amplifies the slap-happy and the being cold.

(I hope that happens to other people too?)

Anyway, it was on my bucket list to watch the sun rise overlooking the entire city.

I dragged my boyfriend. He had been up all night with his friends, too, so it was totally acceptable to convince him to go with me at five in the morning.

Bucket list item number 27? Check.

Ignore the grainy-ness of the photo. And the fact that we look like zombies.

Pretty, right? This town has certainly grown on me.


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