So close!

T-minus 4 days and counting until Japan!!!! I’m already so over work this week, I hope they don’t expect much out of me… I can’t believe it’s so close.  I remember when it was t-minus 8 months. I’ve finished most of my pre-departure checklist, including doing my civic duty of casting an absentee ballot for the election (naturally I voted for Pres. Obama.  Despite being fiscally moderate, as an atheist and socially-liberal-minded member of society, I just don’t see myself ever voting Republican – especially for a candidate who flip-flops more than an Olympic trampoline jumper).  I’m also half-way through cleaning my apartment, 4/5 of the way packed, have all my bills in line (sometimes I hate being an adult), and all my travel docs are printed.  I have my Yen and my passport at the ready and am now trying not to let the anticipation get excruciating  Anytime I get too excited, I just remind myself that I have an over 13 hour flight straight from Chicago to Tokyo. That tends to lessen the excitement just a bit 😉

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Pumpkin Farm

I haven’t been to the pumpkin patch in I don’t know how long.  Last year I worked on the weekends, and for the 3 or so years before that I was always in NYC during October.  Yesterday I went with my mom and the two youngest kids and carved my first pumpkin in years.  I’d forgotten how fun it is to clean out the pumpkin guts 😉

Putting on a show

This is my brother’s first year in high school band.  And let me tell you, band in E’ville is serious business.  Guess how much money they had in their fundraising account at the beginning of the year, before any additional fundraising.  Just guess.  $56,000.  Nope, that’s not a typo.  See, in E’ville we’re….well, rich, for lack of a better word, especially in comparison to the rest of the non-Chicagoland schools.  And we have never been afraid to show it off.  Yesterday I drove up to Effingham with my mom to watch a band competition.  While the rest of the groups simply did their little marching exhibition, we put on a full fledged show, props and all.  Our theme?  Terminator. It started with a screaming girl getting dragged through a door to be “assimilated,” and included smoke, a singer, light up uniforms/instruments, and a giant terminator head.  And in the end, they all fell down dead, of course.  Sorry for the bad quality of the pics; iPhone + lots of movement + lights + having to use zoom + people’s heads in front of me = less than stellar results.

We had to leave before the awards ceremony, but I just checked the website, and all the money and neurotic preparation paid off.  They won:

1st in Percussion
1st in Color Guard
1st in Music
2nd Place Drum Major
1st Place Band and
Grand Champion at the Effingham Marching Hearts Invitational this past weekend.

Oh, and lest we forget we’re in the middle of WASPy IL, let this giant cross remind you that Jesus is always watching:

 

It’s Fall!

The leaves are changing, the temperature’s dropping, stores have their Halloween/Thanksgiving/Christmas (already!) decorations out, flanel sheets are on the bed…it can all only mean one thing: fall is here!  I’m not a fan of cold, but I am a fan of beautiful colors, wonderful holidays, and the perfect excuse to bake 🙂  The past few weeks I’ve been obsessed with apple bread again. I’d forgotten just how delicious it is, and how simple!  In case anyone wants to try it, here’s the recipe (with my changes in bold)

 

Ingredients

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 heaping teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil (1/4 cup oil + 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce)
  • 2 cups sugar (approx 1/3 cup brown sugar- trust me, it’s still sweet, at least to my taste buds)
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 cups apples – peeled, cored, and coarsely chopped (I like to use Golden Delicious)
  • 1 cup broken walnuts (I usually leave these out)
  • 2/3 cup skim milk

Directions

  1. In bowl, combine flour, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder and salt; set aside. In large mixing bowl, place oil, applesauce, milk, sugar, eggs, vanilla and apples. Stir into flour mixture. Add walnuts and mix. Divided mixture between two greased 8-in. x 4-in. bread pans (or use one giant bread pan). Bake at 350 degrees F for 40-45 minutes or until bread test done. Cool for 10 minutes on wire rack before removing from pan.

 

Strange Things

Life’s been surprisingly busy the past couple of weeks, and one major change has involved my (now-former) coworker Brian. His last day was Wednesday, so the Original Six went out for a long lunch at Steak n Shake, just like we had months and months and months ago.

(This photo was taken by a Samsung Galaxy, hence the quality. Smh, Brian, this is why you need an iPhone)

Two days later, Brian got married….

The food was great, the friends were great, and, most importantly, I’ve never seen a happier bride and groom. It’s obvious how in love they are and I wish them all the best. It’s going to be bittersweet tomorrow, when I’m at work and Brian’s not….and never will be again. Just more motivation for me to get out of there.  You go get ’em at Geico Brian! (After you have an amazing honeymoon in DR, of course) 🙂