Thursday, April 29, 2010

Tart Deco

[Tart Deco, by Essie]

I love color. Don't you? Especially as spring blossoms and begins to give way to summer. If you're looking to enjoy a new color on your sandaled feet for the new warm seasons, let's talk about Tart Deco. (Tart what?)

This color is part of Essie's new Spring 2010 line, and as you can see above, won one of Oprah's Spring 2010 Makeup awards. Reviewers say of this color, "chic and modern, this dreamy coral is an artistic burst of color."

Verdict? Not quite as dreamy as I had hoped. The color is much more "orange" than it appears in the bottle. It does fade a bit, however, into a more creamy, bright cantaloupe color that looks really lovely and fresh on your toes. I tried it on shortly-trimmed fingernails over Easter weekend, and I'd have to say I probably won't do that again- just a bit too bright, at least until summer, the beach, or other such things come along.

If you think you can't do anything but pinks or reds, think again! Edging over just a tad into this creamy orange will give you the perfect hint of chic and modern. It looks just that on toes peeping out from your cropped jeans and sandals for spring and early summer. Enjoy!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Sweets for my Birthday

I savored so many sweets for my birthday last week.

Sweet breakfast and conversation at Original Pancake House with my husband.
Sweet, beautifully wrapped gifts from him who knows me well.
Sweet phone chats, texts, and messages from family and friends.
Sweet, sweet time with three of the people dearest to me in the world.

Really, spending the day in Chicago with Mom, Tiff, and Lilly is the sweetest of sweets to me!
It was the best birthday gift and filled my heart with such joy. It just goes to show that people we love are the greatest gifts! And Neal is always at the top of that list as well.

What do a three-year-old niece, a 5-months pregnant sister, a mom/grammy, and an Epstein-Barr inflicted girl do for a day in Chicago?

Defy all odds, throw off all restrictions and schedules for a day, and enjoy each other to the fullest! When the four of us are together, we eat, talk, walk, shop, repeat. And as Neal says, if he didn't call and check on us, he'd be concerned at what odd hours of the day we might be eating and what time we'd get home at night. The world fades around us and we just talk and laugh and talk and laugh in our own little world. How we end up anywhere in this fashion, I'm not sure, but we do be sure to keep favorite food stops as all the starred places on our map. They say there's a Thompson party-gene inherited by the women of the family traced back to Grandma Lotz, and no one has any doubts about that.

Some pictures from the day.

[Spending the morning with my love at Original Pancake House. Opened my gift from Neal's parents- a calligraphy class!!]

[I took so many pictures at American Girl, because it was so sweet watching Lilly!]

[Wonderful birthday dinner at Grand Lux Cafe. Try their new dessert, the Cupcake Collision- it's so good!]

[The next evening, we went out to a track meet at Wheaton to watch Parker compete.]

[My favorite picture of the weekend.]

[Could it be any sweeter? Okay, it could have been a little warmer!]

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Ilene, Kirra, Molly, & Me

Meet Ilene

Meet Kirra

Meet Molly's....Mmmmm

Ilene, Kirra, Molly & Me for my birthday!
Such sweet, lovely friends they are as you can see!

Staycation Snapshots- An Ending at Belmont Harbor

It's about time to wrap up these stay-cation chronicles, don't you think?

Wrapping up a vacation for Neal and I usually means starting to prepare ourselves for re-entry into life. Think calendars, planners, pencils, erasers, and highlighters... and in this case, lawn chairs.

We went here to synchronize our calendars and look ahead to the rest of this school year- of which only a few mere weeks remain!

[Belmont Harbor]

If the city is an onion, I feel like we peeled back a layer over our staycation
. And while some days or afternoons I still had to stay home sick, we made the most of this vacation in this season and truly loved getting to know our city more! Chicago, thank you for being a wonderful host and home!

Staycation Snapshots- Comedy Show

This venture was a fun one, and definitely a new experience. We took the El out to Wrigleyville to see an improv comedy show. Two of Neal's old friends from Moody now act in this improv group, and it was great fun to get to meet up with them there and watch the show.

The setting was a small stage with just a few rows for the audience of chairs grouped around tables. Such a fun place to sit back, enjoy a hot pretzel as I did (not nearly as good as Auntie Anne's), and laugh. It was a world so different than our usual that we felt we had traveled much farther than just a 10 minute El ride. If you're interested in going to a show, let me know, and I may be able to get you tickets!

[Brown Line El Train]

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Staycation Snapshots- Favorite Day

Frank-Lloyd Wright Tour in the Gold Coast
Lunch at 3rd Coast
Walk to the River
Warm sunshine

[Charnley-Persky House]
This Frank-Lloyd Wright Chicago historical home is 100 years old and belonged to one of the richest men in Chicago. He had this home built after the great fire, establishing what we now know as the Gold Coast as a wealthy area. This tour is really interesting and a fun way to get to know our neighborhood. Free on Wednesdays at noon!

[3rd Coast]
My favorite time had over our staycation was at 3rd Coast. I tried their Cilantro Bean Soup & the Diablos' Tacos, and they were absolutely, absolutely delicious! I mean reaallly good-go- there-as-soon-as-possible- good! Conversation with Neal was just as good as the flavors of lunch, and I left knowing I had just found a favorite memory of spring break.
[Chicago River]
After lunch, we walked to the river, hoping to see it turned green from the St. Patrick's Day parade a few days earlier. Most of the dye seemed to have worn off, but the sun shining on the buildings and the water and warming our faces was beautiful!

Staycation Snapshots- A Walk Up Wells Street

Shopping for a Scooter!!!
Twisted Sister Bakery
A New Leaf Flower Shop
Lovely, sunny, spring day

[City Scooter]
We will be back here soon to buy helmets to go with our new Vespa! It's just up the street from where we live, which is perfect.

[Twisted Sister Bakery]
I love their carrot cake cupcake with cream cheese frosting.

[A New Leaf Flower Shop]
An aesthetic, creative paradise! I was hoping to take a piece of this place home with me in the form of a new green houseplant, but they were $30- I guess I'll just have to stop in and visit, if you know what I mean.

A walk up Wells St. is one of my favorite things to do on a lovely, sunny day, and this spring day was particularly lovely. The shops are fun to poke in and out of, and there are opportunities for cupcakes, Starbucks, smoothies, chocolates, and more along the way. If you go far enough, you'll reach one of our breakfast faves, Nookies, and just a bit farther, Lincoln Park. What's not to love?

Monday, April 19, 2010

Book Review

Someone lent me this book, "Where Is God When It Hurts?" by Phillip Yancey, a few months back when they heard about my ongoing health struggle. I didn't feel ready or able to read or intellectualize about my pain yet; all I could do was feel.

But one day, weeks later, something changed, and I picked up the book. I loved every page, and I just finished it tonight. I am convinced that at least one copy belongs on my shelf now at all times!

I can't wait to own this book, because it has meant so much to me in this time of "hurting," and it has treated the question of "Where is God?" in such a helpful, practical, sensitive, and honest way, not to mention the fact that it approaches the question from composite medical, psychological, and biblical perspectives. If you've talked to me in any depth in the past two years, then you know that that last phrase equals I heart this book! This was my first Yancey read, and I am ready for more.

If you're in a time of suffering in your life, don't borrow this book- get your own copy so that you can underline and highlight and note to your heart's content as you read. I know I wish I had been able to do the same.

If all is well for you in this season of life, this book is still relevant for you; "Where Is God When It Hurts?" is so helpful in learning how to understand, relate, and minister to others in pain, and it helps answer the deep-seated question in all of us about why our good God allows such suffering.

I couldn't recommend this book more highly- it will leave you greatly enriched!

Some of the best additional resources I have come across on trials and suffering:

-"Turning Your Trials to Gold" Audio or DVD series by Dr. James MacDonald
-"A Grace Disguised" by Jerry Sittser

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Birthday Bouquets

Tomorrow I turn 26. All week has been reminding me so, as the trees around campus have blossomed with their beautiful white blooms. The dogwoods bloom every year right before my birthday, and I mean right before- like a couple days, and always the week of.

I don't know that I would pay so close attention to the timing, except for one flirtatious, sweet comment five years ago that I haven't ever forgotten...

Five years ago today, Neal and I were both college students at Moody, and he was about a week away from asking me to be his girlfriend. The weather was warming and the plaza was the perfect place to smile and talk and laugh and tell stories about our day and make nonchalant plans to hopefully see each other the following one. It was there in the plaza that Neal said one day, "You know, those trees are going to bloom on your birthday."

I laughed and smiled inside and out, still so excited that he finally liked me. Even now, I can feel my heart squeeze in a smile as I remember it. "No, I'm serious," he said. "Wait, you'll see."

For the next week or so, I watched and waited and much to my delight, it soon became apparent that he was right. My birthday came, the trees bloomed, and we went out on our first "dinner-date." For all the moments in life that don't actually turn out to be magical, my 21st birthday truly was. I was so happy then that Neal was just coming into my life, and now on my 26th, I'm so thankful he's been in my life ever since. And always will be.

And I think I might be just as happy and excited that tomorrow he's taking me out for breakfast as I was about that first birthday date five years ago.

Here are the lovely birthday bouquets this week. Enjoy! Mom, Tiff, and Lilly will be here tomorrow to see the blooms in person, and I can't wait!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Staycation Snapshots- Work & Rest

"The rhythm of work and rest" is a phrase that a former president of Moody, Dr. Easley, used to refer to often when speaking to us students in chapel. It is a phrase that has since stuck with me, and it has become a regular part of my own vocabulary and thoughts about life patterns. I find that to work hard makes rest so much sweeter; and to rest makes good work possible and more effective. To have a rhythm of work and rest is to have an equilibrium in life that seems to agree with our divine design.

Neal and I enjoyed this work-and-rest rhythm over spring break, as we spent each morning studying, with the plans to be on our way to do something fun for the day by 1:00. It was a great little schedule and kept us both on track with the work we needed to do and excited for our freedom to explore and let down each afternoon. You could say we mixed a little business with pleasure as we got to settle into some pretty neat urban nooks for our study dates!

My favorite was Filter Cafe in Wicker Park, and I'm only telling you this because you're not a Moody! Wanna keep that place a little tucked away from the whole student body if possible. Speaking of Moody hot-spots, we finally got to visit Noble Tree, which is a three story old house with eclectic furniture and fun mugs for tea or coffee. Loved it.

Then there were a few days where the rain poured down and we didn't want to be anywhere but home. A cup of tea and a cozy blanket sent me right on my way to that sweet rest.


[Noble Tree]

[One of my favorite Starbucks, Chicago Ave.]

[Rainy day at home]