Sunday, July 12, 2009

Hiking at Eagle Creek Park today with Cory and the dogs. Getting ready to eat our Jimmy John's subs - yum!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Cubs Game and Tour

We went up to Wrigley about a month ago to catch another Cubs night game, and see the behind-the-scenes Wrigley tour. It has taken me so long to do this post because I had to let the memory of the trip's aftermath fade before I could even think about it (I fell ill the next day, and we had to come home early).

Nonetheless, we had a good time as usual. We arrived in the morning at the Lincoln Park Days Inn, dropped off our bags, then walked up to Wrigleyville to get tickets for the tour. We visited Cory's brick (of course), and got in line for the last tour of the day.

The tour was great, it took us to the bleachers, the press box, the suites, and down onto the field and into the dugout (the highlight). Wrigley may be humble (and the tour showed just how humble it really is) but it is a magical place.

Before the game, we ate at Harry Caray's Tavern outside Wrigley. We both had the best burgers ever. Mine was served with sprouts and swiss cheese on a whole wheat bun. Cory went out on a limb with the Wayuga Burger: peppercorn crusted with brandy and gorgonzola on a pretzel roll. They were delicious. Uncharacteristic of us both, we ate every bite.

The game itself was a stinker. The Cubs basically lost it in the first inning, giving up 5 runs from which they would never recover. But it didn't matter, any game at Wrigley is a good one. Plus, we were sitting a mere 13 rows back from the dugout. Of course, being a Chicago evening in May, it was absolutely freezing despite my three layers. I happily forked over $49.95 for a fleece blanket from one of the vendors. He was handing them out to eager buyers like candy.

After the game, we ducked into a dive bar on Clark Street for the after-hours Wrigleyville experience. The patrons, most of whom I'm sure we out-aged by at least ten years, were packed in like sardines, but we went in anyway just for fun. We stayed there for about an hour, listening to everyone belt out the tunes the DJ was blaring. Talk about entertainment. We spent most of our time giving each other knowing looks at the antics of the people around us, and just laughing. Above all, it made me thankful that I'm not 21 years old anymore. I couldn't handle that kind of atmosphere on a regular basis.

Tired, we walked back to the hotel for a good night's rest. For a "cheap hotel", that place has the most comfortable beds ever.

We love Wrigleyville. Can't wait to go back!

Sunday, May 31, 2009

We're at Harry Caray's just outside Wrigley. Just did the tour there, got to sit in the dugout- awesome! Gotta buy a sweatshirt before the game. It's cold!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Broadripple Art Fair

We made our fourth annual trip to the the Broadripple Art Fair yesterday, and I think it was the best one we've been to yet.

As you may know, it is hard to trust the Indianapolis area weather forecasters in May (Cory's convinced that they're encouraged by Speedway officials to be incredibly optimistic in order to keep people coming out to the track), so it was no surprise that the predicted "clearing skies" were still ominously grey in the morning. We set out for Broadripple anyway, not afraid of a little rain. The deluge from the night before left its mark in mud on the Art Center's grounds, and as a result my tennies are no longer white. Oh, well. It was so worth it.

Last year I loved Lisa Vetter's work, but didn't buy anything (I must've been on a tight budget at that time). Passing up a purchase in her booth haunted me for the rest of the year, so I crossed my fingers that she would return in '09. And she did, with even more delightful things. Her booth was one of the first we came across. Lisa calls her work "functional mixed media" created at her studio in Spencerville, IN, "The Art Farm". She had an assortment of clocks, tables, lamps, and jewelry artistically crafted out of such items as bottlecaps, vintage tins, bowling trophies, vinyl records, and more. Love her stuff! Here is a sampling of her things. Even her business card was cool - an old 8 of hearts with a sticker on it. I couldn't decide what to get on our first pass through, so we returned later to her booth to see what really spoke to us. I decided on a clock made out of a vintage hammered aluminum tray. Lisa filled me in on it as I wrote my check, saying it was fresh out of the studio. The blue disk is half of an old film cannister, the "Virginia" component is a souvenir coaster, and the tips of the clock hands were snipped out of an old tin. I LOVE IT.

Near Lisa Vetter's booth was another one that really caught my eye, Dolan Geiman. He also does mixed media, although mostly in 2-D. His stuff was amazing, but a tad out of my price range. Geiman uses found objects and reclaimed materials, making compositions that remind me a little of my scrapbooking process. He has a nice website here, and sells his stuff on Etsy. I must have something of his one day.

We also discovered Xavier Nuez's photography. The series that caught our eye (and my checkbook) was "Alleys and Fire Escapes". We picked up a trio of small 4 x 6's (all highlighting Chicago streets, of course). He probably explains his subject matter best on the back of the prints that we purchased:

Long after dark, I venture into bleak urban settings, seeking out dramatic stories and elusive splendor. With the city humming in the background, I find inspiration where there should not be any. Alleys for me are an inverted reality and I have developed a need to create monuments out of these irrelevant places.

We listened to the artist explain how he used colored lighting to bring his subject matter to life. Who would ever think that urban decay could be beautiful? When we got home last night, I checked out his blog on his website, which had some pretty interesting stories behind some of the shots. His site also showcased another series, "Glam Bugs", where he photographs dead bugs in theatrical settings. OK, that's just a little too weird for me. Still love his work, though.

Another booth we discovered was "The New Homestead", a couple from Illinois that creates pieces from antique silverware. They had bracelets, rings, windchimes, vases, bookmarks, you-name-it crafted from cutlery. Loved this place too. I settled on a ring, although I wish I would've gotten one of the windchimes. Here is their website.

My final purchase was two pairs of earrings by enamelist Laura Chaiken. I love wearing handcrafted jewelry, and these were so unique. I just loved the white doves, and the blue in the ovals was so striking that I couldn't pass them up, too.

We didn't just shop. At one point the rain was coming in sideways, so we sought shelter in the Art Center, watching people demonstrate their arts. The glass-blowing was particularly fascinating. I have long been eager to try my hand at that. However, a closer look at the multitude of burn scars on the artists' arms may have convinced me otherwise. We also ate: rib tips from Uncle Artie's, beers from Broadripple Brew Pub, and some kind of sirloin tip, potato, onion, and mushroom conconction from an anonymous vendor that was DELISH. Oh, and who could forget the requisite roasted almonds and kettlecorn to take home. That goes without saying.

Since Cory has been so busy with work lately, it has been a while since we have been able to spend the day doing something so leisurely. It was so relaxing and enjoyable that we had a hard time tearing ourselves away. We're already looking forward to next year.

Let's see if I can do this.... Just testing my mobile posting abilities. Maybe this will help me stay updated?

Monday, February 23, 2009

Sunday Visit

Ian and the kids came by yesterday, and we had a nice visit. I planned what I thought was a simple menu: homemade mac-and-cheese, Mom's spinach salad, baked ham, and apple crisp for dessert. I guess you could call my selections "simple" only when prepared individually. I got up at 8 am and chopped and boiled and baked until their arrival at 12:30. Don't get me wrong, I loved every minute of the chance to cook for an audience, even if a few innocently uttered "yuck"s and "I don't like that"s permeated what would have been the Sunday afternoon silence normal in my house. I must hand it to those kids though. They bravely tried everything I fixed and made the most of it. And no one spilled anything. Yay!

I continue to be challenged by photographing those little people when they're on the move, which seems to be pretty much all of the time. All of my digital albums from our get-togethers are filled with ghostly images of the kids in various stages of movement. They don't make the best scrapbook pages, but who cares, those blurry pics really capture the essence of what it is to be a Murdock kid. Even though the pics below are a little blurry, I still love them. So nice to see everyone smiling and laughing together doing something as simple as eating lunch.

Our afternoon was filled with various pursuits, including a rotation of Animal Crossing on the Wii. What a hit. Who would have thought that a game where you have to earn money, pay your mortgage, go to bed at the end of the day, and get along with your neighbors would be so addictive. Of course, in real life you don't have animals living next door (as homeowners, at least). Maybe that's why it's so much fun?

After the family left, I set to work trying to catch up with my scrapbooking. I am now about halfway through our New York trip (yes, I realize that was last September), and created some layouts that I love. I will post some of them soon. Right now I have more pressing things to do, like deciding what flavor of ice cream I want from the Schwann man tommorow...

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Our Seaside Escape

Normally, my vacation entries require multiple posts in order to cover all of the events of our journey. This little excursion warrants only one, but not due to lack of quality. What we did can pretty much be summed up in one brief sentence: comb the beach, lounge on the beach, read, lounge on the beach, eat, lounge on the beach, sleep..... repeat.

OK, so that might be exaggerating just a tad. Well, not really.

We arrived in Sanibel on Saturday after an incredibly easy journey. The only not-easy part was getting up at 3:45 am to catch our 7 am flight, but that isn't really so hard when you're headed somewhere wonderful. Our non-stop flight arrived in Ft. Myers 30 minutes early. We picked up our rental car and drove out to the islands, which only took a matter of about 45 minutes. By 11 am, we pulled up to the Sanibel Inn, the little seaside place where we had chosen to stay. Our room overlooked the gulf and had a tiny screened lanai on which to lounge. Each night, we left the sliding door open and let the surf lull us to sleep.

The weather on our first day was warmer than Indiana, but the cloudy skies in the afternoon and the crisp ocean breeze made beach-going a chilly endeavor (the high only reached 68 degrees that day, but would be almost 80 every other one). We ate at a few local restaurants to pass the time: the Lazy Flamingo near our hotel for lunch, and the Mucky Duck on Captiva Island for dinner where we sat huddled by a kerosene torchiere on the beachside veranda while waiting for our table. The island is peppered with local eateries and small independent inns and high-rise condos and hotels are not allowed, so the landscape was very quaint and full of old-Florida charm. The only chains that we saw were a few 7/11s and one Dairy Queen, but even those blended right in. For two people that love eating out at new places it was culinary heaven, especially since local seafood was the standard fare. Not an Applebee's or Chili's in sight!

I awoke on Sunday with the rising of the sun, which glared pleasantly directly into our room. On the beach below were dozens of people combing the tide pools and low tide lines for treasures of the sea, striking the local pose called the "sanibel stoop". I had to get down there with them and join in the hunt. Who would have thought that I would want to get up at 6:30 am on vacation? Even in Florida, daylight is a premium in winter and I hated to think of wasting even one minute of sunshine. Cory graciously obliged me as we braved the chilly morning air and did some beachcombing of our own. We saw a little bit of everything: seashells galore, jellyfish, skate egg cases, sea cucumbers, crabs, corals, algae, and my personal favorite: starfish. Local laws prohibit the collecting of live shells, so we carefully inspected our finds for signs of life, returning those still among the living to the safety of the surf. I'll admit, it was tempting. I so wanted a starfish for my collection, but settled for a picture instead.

We spent the day lounging and reading in the sun on the beach chairs that the hotel provided. It took a few hours for the worries and cares of everyday life to melt away, but somehow they did. The only thing we had to do was decide where to eat dinner. No rest for the wicked.

Dinner on Sunday night was one of the highlights of our trip. We selected the Mad Hatter, a tiny restaurant on the beach on Captiva. Run by a husband-and-wife pair (chef and front-of-the-house manager, respectively), this quaint little place had all of twelve tables. We had one of our own, and enjoyed gourmet fare that was artistically presented. My favorite was the Strawberry Blue salad, a medley of bleu cheese, fresh greens, herbs, and sliced strawberries with a truffle vinagrette. Cory ordered the chef's special, a bouillabaise with fresh catch spiced up with saffron and a side of spicy horseradish sauce. He was blown away. He wouldn't touch anything like this when I first met him. Just goes to show that trying new things is the key to good living. The Mad Hatter was the best restaurant at which we have ever had the pleasure of dining.

Monday was much the same, arising early to search for shells, then lounging by the sea for hours and hours. Desperate to cling to the feelings of relaxation and peace that Sanibel Island had helped us to achieve, we even toyed with the idea or extending our stay for another day. We came pretty close, but I'm glad we didn't. The secret to enjoying travel is to always leave wanting a little more.

I probably have a longer list of things we didn't do on this trip than things we did do. We didn't visit the Ding Darling Wildlife Refuge, or bike on the islands many trails. We never took a boat ride or cruise to Cayo Costa or Cabbage Key, where we could've had a "cheeseburger in paradise". We didn't set foot in the Bailey-Matthews Shell museum or see the Sanibel Marina, or parasail, or canoe in Tarpon Bay.

But we did rise with the sun, look for shells, learn about beach treasures, eat a hot, filling breakfast each day, and enjoy each other's company immensely. I have no regrets about the things we didn't do, because what we did was make some priceless memories and find a retreat that I'm sure we will return to for many years to come.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Happy New Year!

Enjoyed a leisurely day off today, thanks to a generous co-worker who volunteered to work my part of the shift since I'm also working Saturday.

Caught up on a little email correspondence and stripped the house of all things Christmas... that is besides my poor three poinsettas that I just didn't have the heart to throw away. I guess I'll just let them die a slow death in my house instead of the garbage.

Also spent some time tonight working with one of my newer Studio Calico kits. I scrapped an event from April - our trip to a Cardinal's game. I guess you could say I'm a little behind. I really need to catch up on my albums. If I were to have a New Year's resolution that would probably be it. But I decided to pass on that again this year.

It's back to work tommorow and back to reality...
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