Wednesday, October 31, 2012


The most popular costume I saw out today? Person Dressed For Winter. I'm used to Halloweens spent covering costumes with winter coats; Chicagoans not as much (though it depends on who you talk to). I definitely went as "Bundled Up" today. I didn't trick-or-treat, but I got to hand out candy at work. That's my favorite part, really--loading other people's kids with sugar, scoping out the creative/scary costumes, staying warm inside.

I saw large women in tiny hats, little girls in giant hats, superheroes, wild creatures, cops, robbers, & dinosaurs. I wasn't stingy with the candy. The best part? I didn't spend any money on the candy and I get to raid the leftovers tomorrow.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Hurricane Sandy

The storm that's supposed to hit the east coast tonight has also managed to blow a bit further inland, tacking on several minutes to my commute. I'm serious--I couldn't figure out why it was so windy this morning (despite its nickname, Chicago isn't necessarily any more windy than other lakefront cities), but then I heard on the radio (NPR!) that parts of Lake Shore Drive could be closed today due to high winds and waves, effects of Hurricane Sandy.

We definitely aren't under any sort of storm watch here, but that doesn't mean we can't blame this week's inconveniences on Sandy.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Back on the Bus

Tonight I did something I haven't done since January. I took the bus home. Not any bus, dear reader, but the dreaded 49. Remember my trials with that line? I never thought I'd see the day, but today I couldn't find it in my heart to ride my Schwinn. Heading home, I didn't want to mess with transferring buses without a CTA card. The mile walk was welcome after an activity-filled weekend and hectic work day of cleaning, laundry, cooking, and lots of driving.

My wait was reasonable, the bus wasn't crowded, and I had 15 minutes of blogging time during the ride. I could have opted for reading The Hobbit since I promised to finish it before embarking on another (more welcome) book, but one does not merely dip into The Hobbit during one's commute. Truthfully, I'm having troubles dipping in ever and do more skimming than real reading (sorry Jesus). Whatever. I got a few thoughts down on my ride and got home only 25 minutes later than usual.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Twice the Nostalgia

In the past two weeks I engaged in two activities that reminded me of home/Wisconsin. It's nice to have that occasionally, a taste of another life and a change of pace from my current one.

Richardson Farm Corn Maze

This corn maze is the largest in the world--33 acres and four mazes--and provided hours of fun/confused wandering for Jesus, his family, and me (after the preliminary non-fun of finding the place and maneuvering around rural Illinois). Once there, we ate kettle corn while getting hopelessly lost in the maze. Eventually we figured out how to read the map, and from then on we had no problems finding the checkpoints scattered around the Girl Scout-themed maze.

St Robert Bellarmine Harvest Gala

This Northwest parish reminds me a lot of my home parish in Colby--a fun mix of little old ladies and men, young couples, and plenty of families with kids who attend the connecting school. Their Harvest Gala serves as a fundraiser for the community and school, and this year they honored Fr. Scott with their Guardian Angel Award. Father Scott, CEO & President of Mercy Home, is also a resident at St. Robert Bellarmine. I was at the Harvest Gala to volunteer as a MercyWorks alum. My job for the night: coffee. Brewing, filling carafes  pouring, keeping sugar and cream stocked...this took me back to working at the retirement center and Ryan's. Once the dinner and auction were done, we (other former MWers & I) got to dance and enjoy the party with the young couples who stuck around for the DJ.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Get Fit: Home Stretch

Alright, let's be honest: not a lot changed during this challenge. I have one week left, but once it's over things won't change much then, either. Since I've been eating healthy for a while and getting regularish exercise with my bike rides, so cutting out what little sweets and processed foods I was eating and doing a few more crunches hasn't made-over my body. I lost some water weight, toned certain areas, and my routine feels good, but I am in no way ripped. Even the small improvements I have made in physique can mostly be accredited to my teenage boy metabolism. I myself had little to do with this challenge.

But you know what? I'm okay with that. I'm okay with being hungry every two to three hours, allowing myself to pig out on whatever I want as long as its real food, and getting most of my exercise by commuting to work. Cheers to one more week & then the rest of my life!

Monday, October 1, 2012

Unprocessed October

This is actually a thing people are doing: no processed foods for a month. I already sort of follow that diet, trying my best to follow the "if your great-grandma wouldn't know what it is, don't eat it" rule, aka "if it is a plant, yes; if it was made in a plant, no" rule, aka the "can you make it in your own kitchen?" test. There's really nothing to lose by trying it out (besides probably a few pounds, unprocessed is undoubtedly healthier).

By these guidelines, fruits, veggies, pasta, bread, cheese, milk, meats, nuts, & even many sweets are fair game--provided these things don't have additives, preservatives, or other chemical fillers (think bread that also has high fructose corn syrup). Things like cake, cookies, & alcohol are fine, provided it's in moderation and preferably homemade.

The creator of this challenge usually allows for things you could make in your own kitchen, but for reasons of time and convenience usually don't: coffee, cheese, chocolate, pasta, etc. Then what it comes down to is checking ingredient lists and packaging. As a rule, the less packaging the better (think purchasing fruit vs fruit roll ups). Frozen fruits & veggies are better than canned when fresh isn't available and grass fed/sustainable/organic meats trump their corn fed/factory farmed counterparts. When grocery shopping, stick to the outside aisles, where most of the unprocessed food resides, and avoid all the canned, boxed, and chemical-laden inside aisles.

Don't go for the month right away if it intimidates you--but try going unprocessed for a week, or even one day a week. I promise it's actually quite easy once you've tried!