Tuesday, November 29, 2011

NAPERVILLE!!: A Historical Snapshot... Dreams DO Come True: Part 2

Alright. So, to truly exhibit how impartial an individual I am, I definitely just did a little Googling of my dream suburb and... well, so it doesn't have THE most exciting history. But whatever... there are definitely components to Naperville that made me... well, just so darn proud I could hardly sit still.

First, a little background. Did you know that Naperville was founded in the 1830's by some man named Joseph Naper? Originally called Naper's Settlement, Naperville was home to about 100 settlers before being displaced by some massacre during some war (detailed, I know).

Okay, so Wikipedia can only go so far. I got a little bored as I was reading this history (and normally, I love history!) because a lot of it had more to do with how the counties were established and that kind of thing does NOT interest me. HOWEVER! One interesting point I learned was that Naperville's population basically exploded during the 1980's and 1990's (due to the construction of a couple of highways) and has nearly quadrupled in size over the past 20 years!

And no WONDER! Of course there is nothing BUT exponential growth and delight here... it's a utopia! I mean, did you KNOW that it was voted the second best place in the entire United States in which to live (c/o Money Magazine, 2006)??? I simply don't know why it wasn't number one, but that is just my own little opinion. Even more importantly... did you know that the Naperville Public Library has been the NUMBER ONE RANKED LIBRARY in the United States from 1999 through 2010?!?!?! What the heck?!? If that isn't enough to win one over, I just don't know what IS! (You better believe the Naperville Public Library is now totally on my list of things to see/do... one of my own Seven Wonders of the World, if you will...)

Of course, my favorite part of my brief historical research (solely consisting of some Wikipedia reading... sigh- I know. I just didn't have a lot of time tonight!) involved the "famous people" who are from Naperville. Sure, Paula Zahn was the first person to catch my eye (I mean, hello! She's a news reporter! My DREAM!!!). But then. Well, THEN... ummm... did you know that EMILY GIFFIN IS TOTALLY FROM NAPERVILLE?!?!?! Author of Something Borrowed?? Author of Something Blue?!?!?! God, who knew that Naperville could produce such literary GENIUSES?!?!?!

Not wanting to let Giffin totally dominate the Naperville celebrity scene, I definitely continued to scroll through the list and my eyes lit upon... Chris Brown?!?!?! Sure, I'm not a fan of his (I mean, hello. I don't advocate abusive relationships obvi), but STILL. I mean, he's a pretty huge celebrity!! Upon reading THOSE details a little closer, however, I quickly learned that this Chris Brown is actually some running back for the Tennessee Titans? Alright... clearly my interest levels dropped exponentially at that point. I mean... who ARE the Tennessee Titans anyway?

Okay, so maybe this historical snapshot wasn't exactly the most well-researched... nor the most interesting (I'm the first one to admit that!). However, you better believe that I will still continue along with my research (perhaps more luck will be had with the cultural opportunities Naperville has to offer... or the holiday festivities which Naperville has in store for me...) all week long.

lfsakjfls! 4 days and counting!!! Naperville, here I COME!!!!

Monday, November 28, 2011

NAPERVILLE!! 5 Days and Counting... Dreams DO Come True: Part 1

Weeeeee!!!! I never thought I'd see the day when I'd FINALLY get to visit my dream suburb!!!! I've been dreaming of this day for at LEAST six years... I mean, who would have thought it would take THIS long to get out to Naperville? Not me, that's for sure. Thankfully, with the holidays quickly approaching, I finally convinced at LEAST one of my friends to venture out to my dream suburb with me this upcoming weekend, just to get an idea of how Naperville does the holidays (or something like that).

Sigh, don't you just love the holidays? You can spin like ANYTHING to tie back to the merriment of the season, if you tried really hard. But I digress.

In any event! There's still so much to DO to prepare for this momentous occasion! I wonder what kind of holiday festivities Naperville has? I wonder how cute that downtown ACTUALLY is? I wonder... holy mother, what should I WEAR?? I mean, I don't want to be underdressed in like jeans and a fleece but... well, I don't know, is a cocktail dress too much for Naperville?

Ha. Please. WHAT was I thinking? NOTHING can ever be too much for The Dream Suburb.

Okay. I need to take a few deep breaths. (I have a feeling I'm going to have trouble sleeping tonight...) Let's start at the beginning because, quite frankly, many people are so thoroughly confused (and think I'm joking... which I'm definitely NOT) when I start animatedly discussing 1) that I have a dream suburb to begin with, and 2) that that suburb is, of all places, Naperville, IL. (lksjflkdsf! Just typing out the NAME MAKES ME SMILE!!!)

Ahh, Naperville. Even though I've never been (yet!!), just the name of the town evokes such sunshiney thoughts in my head. My love of Naperville began at least six years ago when I was still in undergrad. While Ohio State has some students from out of state, the overwhelming majority of undergrads are from the grand home state (ah, Ohio), itself. My senior year, I ended up becoming friends with two girls who just happened to be from... where else? Naperville. Of course, I totally became an active advertiser of these two girls (who had been best friends back in Naperville as well) because, well, they just happened to be two of the nicest, smartest, most good-natured people... like, ever.

And that, my friends, is all it took for me to establish my dream suburb. Now, where in heaven's name is the connection, you ask? Well... upon realizing just how down-to-EARTH and genuine were these two girls (Millie and Emily), I of course, naturally pinpointed that I wanted my kids to grow up to be just like them.

I mean, isn't that the connection that any normal individual would draw? Duh.

But hey, it can't just be a COINCIDENCE that Naperville produced two such great people in LIFE, right?!?!? Right.

But it's not just that! Sure, my love for Naperville started way back in the day, but it has only continued to grow... exponentially, at that. Ever since I moved to Chicago, I feel like I have met SO MANY PEOPLE from Naperville. And, sure, while they are all very unique in their own right, the one common thread among them all? They are like the FRIENDLIEST (and, for the most part, smartest) PEOPLE EVER!!!! GOD, it's like the EPITOME of Midwestern charm and, well, just plain genuine HAPPINESS all in one happy dreamland of a suburb!!

Not only that, but you know how some people brush aside where they grew up because it was super boring or hickville or whatever? NEVER have I encountered such a situation with individuals from Naperville. No way. I honestly have never experienced such overwhelming PRIDE from people growing up in a suburb! From its fantastic education system (you know me and education... staunch supporter, that I am) to its adorable downtown area, people were HAPPY growing up there. Can it BE any more utopian?

Whew. Now that I've given you a little (or a lot, whatever) of background on my dream suburb, I have simply GOT to focus on next steps here to prepare for my grand Naperville debut!! First, there's the whole research component that's involved. I mean, I don't want to make my grand entrance into my dream suburb completely IGNORANT- hello!! Therefore, for the next five days, I've taken it upon myself to educate myself bit by bit about my dream suburb (whether it involves learning more about Naperville's history, Naperville's cultural goings-on or what Naperville has in store for the HOLIDAYSDlkfjsalkdfj!)... and blog about the fun facts/informational GEMS that I find along the way.

Get ready!!! Naperville: A Historical Snapshot will coming at ya tomorrow...

Friday, November 25, 2011

Saks & Dunkin' Donuts... Good Times.

Most people are quite surprised when they hear about how low-key my holidays at home actually are. For a girl who believes it her true mission in life to spend the last three months of the year actively spreading holiday cheer to all who will hear, my actual holiday festivities are fairly mellow. This Thanksgiving was no exception.

My sister and I arrived in Cincinnati around the same time on Thanksgiving afternoon. While Thanksgiving typically consists of my parents cooking up a variety of dishes (most concoctions a derivation of some Food Network idea or other), this year was... slightly different. Let's just say my sister and I entered our house to the sight of... well, this:

A readymade meal from the local grocery store. Haha- good times. If you're going to go, go all out, right? Sure, this meal was huge and complete with all the trimmings but, well... there was just some necessary supplementation that HAD to take place. No better way to supplement than by...

Heading to the local Boston Market. Well, hell, if you're going to go, go all out, right? I mean, have you HAD Boston Market's cornbread?? A-maze.

Anyway! Now that Thanksgiving is outta the way, we can FINALLY focus on the REAL holiday at hand... ljfaldsfkjl!! Welcome to Christiemas!!!! While many individuals also assume that I would be all OVER Black Friday (because of that Christiemas zest I tend to spread to all the land), I actually can't. stand. Black Friday. Sure, I can appreciate an economic boost as much as the next person. But seriously? Pepper spray? Trampling people in lines?

I. Do. Not. Think So.

Therefore, when my parents had the brilliant idea of getting out of our house today to do some shopping, I was the first to nix it. As if shopping isn't annoying enough on a regular basis, you better BELIEVE that I have zero interest in shopping on today of all days.

Rather, we decided to head to downtown Cincinnati, since my sister had to return something at Saks. (I know, right? Don't ask. I'm not sure how we are related, myself.)

What better way to start off an afternoon of high-class downtown shopping than with a cozy cup of coffee? I mean, there's nothing like a cozy little latte or espresso to sip on whilst perusing those high-end shops, right? This explains how we ended up at our first stop of the day...

Sigh. Way to really plummet those classy levels, I know. But oh WELL! Dunkin Donuts coffee is just so darn delicious it surpasses all rules of classiness.

Yum, yum, yum. But I digress. Next stop...

While I could not care LESS about anything high-end retail, I have to admit it was more than a little entertaining partaking in this shopping experience with my parents. While most of this experience involved my parents picking up various items and commenting in hushed (and not-so-hushed) tones on some of the ridiculous prices, at least my sister got some decent shopping done...

Haha- she WISHES. It was at this point in this little shopping experience that my parents shifted their attention from the exorbitant prices to... well, health and safety issues. I believe the words "Will you take those shoes off? You are just going to fall and break your leg" (complete with genuinely concerned tones and "looks" exchanged between my mom and dad) occupied the majority of the conversation at this point in the shopping experience.

Ahh- good times. Welcome to Thanksgiving and Black Friday festivities, Maliyacks-style. Classiness, at its finest.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Evan!!!!!! (Plus or Minus an Exclamation Point)

LklAjf;ldskajflkjdsf!!! I think it is only fair to start off this post with some spirit fingers since, well, that pretty much epitomizes Evan's and my friendship. Well, so does the term "hugfest", but you can't exactly relay THAT concept via a computer keyboard... wait, can you?

Anyway! Let's back up. So, why, all of a sudden, a post about only one of my Favorite (understatement) people alive? Well, when Evan mentioned that he was stopping by Chicago en route to New York this weekend, you KNOW that my mind instantly toyed with the idea of... what else? A tribute, of course. A tribute to one of my Favorites, if you will. I don't know why I didn't think of this grand gem of an idea when he came to visit earlier in the year, but whatever. Better late than never, right? Right.

Yeah, the tribute idea was pretty much signed, sealed and delivered as soon as we reunited on Saturday. I mean, what do you get when two of the happiest people to ever grace this fine planet we call Mother Earth (deep, I know) reunite?

That's right. Pearly whites GALORE!!! (Just disregard that minor face invasion I call a godawful cold sore... darn drastic weather changes. TMI? Eh, oh well. Hahah.)

Anyway! Evan and I used to work together at my first job ever, out in San Francisco. No joke, two of the greatest highlights of my career were when:

1) I had to write Evan's project evaluation. Considering it was my first project as a senior, I knew I was supposed to be all professional and whatnot, but... well, screw it! I couldn't hold back the exclamation points!! Whatever, at least I refrained from incorporating smiley faces into that official document/permanent record. Sigh. Oh well. I tried. Kind of.

2. Evan requested that I be his mentor!!! lkjfsadlkjdsflk! lkafdsjlkj! I remember the day I got Emily's email coordinating this request as if it were yesterday. Hahahah- seriously! As a select few people know (read: Jenna), one of my FAVORITE things about my job was mentoring people... and by mentoring people, I really just mean... well, instilling the general Christie-ridiculousness (but that I like to spin as "words of wisdom", if you will) upon those lucky individuals who were my mentees. Sigh. Good times.

Sadly, I decided to peace outta Triage about a month after Evan became one of my mentees. While my adoration for dear Evan was totally OBVI from the first day I met him, I suck at keeping in touch with people so I figured that he would just be "another person that I knew at Triage". But no, no. It turns out that Evan, himself, is actually quite phenom at keeping in touch with people (and by "phenom", I just mean that he's better than me). And thank GOD! I mean, Gchat at work just wouldn't be the same without Evan on my little contact list! Hahaha. Lord, I'm divulging way too much information at this point, but I don't care! I get so excited when I pay tribute to a Favorite!!

Seriously, the few times that Evan and I actually get to reunite are such happy little hugfests, I can't stand it. (It certainly doesn't hurt that he totally has all this faith and confidence in me "making it big" with that TV show I am SO ASPIRING TO GET!!! Omg, can you imagine? He would obviously be the manager and... well, how could you NOT want to work for either of us?!!? Hahaha just kidding. Just KIDDING!) But seriously. He's just one of those genuinely good-hearted, genuinely happy people. Even when he's having a bad day, his reactions come across as more entertaining than anything else (well, at least on Gchat. And at least to me. So I find everything to be funny... so sue me).

No, but seriously. You know how you can just tell "good people" when you chat with them for a few minutes? That pretty much defines Evan. Sigh. While I do proclaim a lot of people to be my favorites, it takes a LOT to make "Favorite" (note the capital F) status. And for Evan, I can honestly say "Favorite" is a total understatement.

Lkjfdslkajfdljdslkfjlkj! TOTAL HUGFESTLKjdsflkajfdslkj! I'm already so excited for our next reunion!!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Do You Oovoo?

Have you guys heard of Oovoo before? I certainly hadn't until... well, yesterday.

A couple of weeks ago, my company sent out an "all company" email indicating that, in honor of an all company meeting coming up in a few weeks, we were encouraged to submit videos of ourselves speaking to what the company means to us in three words, ten seconds.

For those of you who know me, all you had to read was the line "submit a video of yourself" and you KNOW I got right ON THAT PUPPY!!! Well, WHAT?! My company is pretty large and spans the country!! Who knows who could be watching and... weeee!!! DISCOVER ME?!?!

Naturally, I'm sure this is the thought process of most persons who would read such an email. All kidding aside, I certainly DID email a couple of my friends who are on opposite ends of the country with the prospect of doing a group video... and, well, thank God they are as shameless as I am, because... wowza! I wasn't expecting such enthusiastic responses! (Okay, this may be a point of SLIGHT exaggeration, but only a SLIGHT one! They really were excited!!I think.)

Anyway! After the respective parties had agreed to this "event", if you will, I went to town trying to figure out the appropriate technologies to utilize for this cross-national video extravaganza. Skype was the first option, but GOD! There are so many additional apps that you would need to download to display video, video record, etc.* F that!

Next up: Oovoo... I know, right? What kind of name IS that? Ironically, I hadn't heard of this thing until just yesterday and now I'm so actively advertising it, it's not even funny. I have only my dearest twinster, Mars Bars (formal name: Maria), to thank for introducing me to this wonderful source of technology. You can video record with up to six people for free! Screw actual person-to-person parties anymore! Oovoo is the new party for the digital age, if you will...

Okay, another slight exaggeration. But whatever- it certainly was the closest thing that came to a party today, when I was in my office, and had the brilliant idea of testing out my very first Oovoo experience with the one and only Maria herself! I was so delighted when Maria responded to my text, indicating her willingness to help me navigate this Oovoo thing this afternoon... not only was it an opportunity to test out this wonderful work of technology but HELLO! TWINSTER REUNION!!!!!

And, oh sigh. What a reunion it was. I literally got SO EXCITED when I saw Maria's face pop up on my computer screen!! And thank GOD I'd moved into a conference room for this, because you better BELIEVE no reunion would be complete (virtual or otherwise) without the standard squealing, giggling, general chit-chatting.

I can't get over how much this delightful experience MADE my DAY!!! I was initially going to post our "test" video but realized a couple of things:

1. I ended up recording essentially ALL of our reunion, rather than just a portion of it (like I had thought), and there is no way you are going to listen to our conversation in its entirety.

2. Since Internet security is my middle name, I wasn't sure about posting something like this video without Maria's consent. I mean, we are fairly shameless people, but within the fine bounds of Internet security. Obvi.

3. Let's be honest, I look like a TRAIN WRECK today! (So I didn't have time to straighten my hair this morning, so sue me.) Granted, I normally couldn't care less what I look like (so long as those pearly whites are preserved haha), but this is different... if I posted this video for all the world to see, who knows when it could come back to haunt me? I mean, for all I know, I could end up on Ellen someday and she'll just showcase this as a "Before She Was Famous" type of dealio. But I digress.

Anyway! I would highly, highly recommend this application if you're not already using something that you are attached to (like Skype). The video quality is fab and SIGH- it's the perfect forum for REUNIONS!!! THANKS, TWINSTER!

*Special thanks to Hazel for assisting in this effort as well. I cannot tell you how much I appreciate your additional Skype research- you are a GEM!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Internet Gem of the Day: From Pi to Pie...

Today's fun Internet gem...

Isn't that crazy?!?!? When I saw this picture pop up in my news feed from one of my newfound Facebook friends, my mouth literally dropped open! I seriously can't get over it!

Maybe this is totally lame-o but WHATEVER! I'm sure your mind is blown as well... whether you care to admit it as openly or not...

Thursday, November 10, 2011

First Class?! YES, PLEASE!

After a long week traveling for work, the last thing ANYONE wants to hear is that their flight is delayed. Talk about the buzzkill to end all buzzkills, really. Of course, if you are flying back into Chicago's O'Hare airport on anything BUT Southwest*, you KNOW that the likelihood of a delay is more than inevitable.

Alas, this is what I get for following the crowd (read: my team) and flying United. I'd checked in to my 5 PM flight and gotten my 2E seat with the usual lackadaisical fanfare. I just figured this was one of those tiny planes where you can pretty much feel the propellers all along the way, but I didn't care as long as I was near the front so I could peace outta that plane once it hit ground.

A seat's a seat- I just wanted to get HOME (which, to be honest, was slightly questionable considering Chicago had its first snow of the season today...). When we got to the airport and found out our flight was delayed by an hour, I actually wasn't too put off- I mean, I'm a seasoned enough traveler to expect SOME sort of delay flying in and out of O'Hare, who are we kidding here?

As my teammates and I were chilling in the airport, I brought up how delighted I was with my second row seat... you better believe I was going to be ready and SET to peace outta that plane the instant it landed! It was only through this conversation that one of my teammates mentioned that the plane was, in fact, one of the larger planes and not one of those tiny little planes like I'd previously expected.

And that's when the lightbulber went off... I. Had totally. Gotten. A FIRST CLASS SEATlkjfsakdjlkfjsl!!!!

I honestly could not contain myself!! I don't know HOW this happened, aside from the fact that I had booked my flight super last minute and some sort of plane angel just had to be looking down upon me at that moment in time. I mean, I've never flown first-class before! I had no idea what to expect!! If I'd KNOWN such a momentous occasion was going to be happening, I would've totally dressed in my Sunday best for the experience! Duh.

Instead... I just shamelessly took pictures to document this entire experience. Whatever, I turned my flash off so hopefully no one really noticed (HA- because discretion is my middle name? PLEASE. Oh well).

First class is NO JOKE. My experience started with me quickly shoveling away my luggage in order to quickly get cozy in...

Heaven in a seat. I mean, can it GET any plusher? Any cozier?

Even before the flight took off, the stewardess came around asking the first-class people for beverage orders. Ummm... I don't even really LIKE wine all that much, but I figured I simply HAD to order some... to get the full first-class experience (or something like that).

I felt so refined, so high-class (well, as high-class as I could get sporting my puffy Gap vest rather than my Sunday best... SIGH)... so SHAMELESS. Yes, my friends. I certainly did ask the random businessman sitting next to me (who, quite frankly, looked like he was going to fall asleep... but whatever- shamelessness has no bounds, after all) to take my picture!

All in the name of documentation. You're welcome in advance.

And to think- all that over-stimulation happened BEFORE the flight even took OFF! Okay, sure, I didn't exactly get to enjoy my entire glass of wine (well, what? How was I supposed to know that the stewardess would come through and snatch up the cups before takeoff?), but it was more the thought that counts, right? Right.

Once we were nice and turbulent-y in the air, the stewardess came around with cashews and another beverage order. I settled for water this time (gotta stay hydrated!) and reached for a cashew... but lo and behold! These weren't just ordinary cashews! These cashews were PIPING HOT!!!!

Ummm!! All I have to say is it's amazing what heating up some cashews can do to the experience of eating cashews. A-maze.

I swear, the food wouldn't stop COMING! Once those cashews were devoured, the stewardess whisked up the empty little dish in order to place... dinner on my tray! What the heck! I can't even remember the last time I was served a meal on a plane! But check out this meal! It was no. joke.

So colorful! So... well-balanced! You would think that would be it... but no. What dinner wouldn't be complete without a dessert, after all?

Just like those cashews, this cookie was piping hot and everything. Need I say more?

God, this seriously was one of the best flights ever... delays and all. Normally, I tend to nap on flights just to make the time go by faster but not today. Today, you better believe I was wide awake to fully cherish every single moment of my first class experience.

I can safely say that I am now officially spoiled rotten.

*Just a friendly FYI: I'm a die-hard Southwest supporter. I actively advertise just how splendid and delightful of an airline they are to pretty much any and everyone. Any airline that promotes rapping stewards to enhance your flight experience is a complete and total winner in my book.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Youtube Gem: I Told My Kids I Ate All Their Halloween Candy

Everyone knows that the Internet is a world of opportunity in terms of useless videos that seemingly spark such interest and/or ENTERTAINMENT! Lately, I feel like I've become a lot more appreciative of such Internet videos- primarily thanks to Ellen's heavy incorporation of ridiculously, laugh-out-loud funny videos she's found on the Internet.

As such, I've decided to take the liberty of sharing some of my favorites as I come across them. Keep in mind that it takes a LOT to make me laugh aloud at movies/TV/books/Internet stuff. (Seriously! It does- I know this is hard to believe since I laugh a lot just in general, but trust me on this.) Therefore, you can rest assured that each and every video that will subsequently be posted will be nothing short of hilarious.

Today's video? "I Told My Kids I Ate All Their Halloween Candy"

I don't know whether this video is hilarious because of the kids' reactions or if it's simply an awful trick to play on your kids. Whatever the case, I was definitely laughing out LOUD... the last segment of kids is the funniest! Enjoy!!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

It's Official!! Starbucks Has Brought Back Their Christiemas Cups!!!!

OMG!!! Today just keeps getting better and better!!! I started off the morning all ready and excited to head over to my local Crumbs bakery to pick up some cupcakes for some new members joining my work team (you know, the usual corporate America welcome, welcome, welcome!!... Christie-style, at least).

However, my plans took a slight detour. I hopped off my bus this morning, and was wandering to the corner of the block when... I literally stopped dead in my tracks. You would think that I had just witnessed a car accident or a murder or something. Because not only did I stop short, but my jaw pretty much dropped to the ground.

What in heaven's name would spark such a reaction? Welllll... it's November 1st. How could I forget? Now that Halloween is over, we are in FULL-BLOWN holiday MODE!!!!! And no holiday would be complete without... the return of the Starbucks Christiemas cups!!!!!!! To me, it really does kind of symbolize the start to the grandest season of alllll (aside from Falllll!).

So, that's right. I totally saw someone standing at the corner of that block... HOLDING A CHRISTIEMAS CUP!!!!!!

Well, SCREW getting coffee from Crumbs Bakery, itself! I HAD to pay tribute and honor where such tribute and honor is very well DUE!! Starbucks, here I COME!!! You know it!!!!!

OMG, I was literally BEAMING in excitement as I waited on the third street corner block and could just see my little Starbucks, ready and waiting for me!!!! The closer I got to the Starbucks, the more and more people I could see with their Christiemas cups!!! I wanted to seriously just go up and hug them. Each and every one.

No worries. I have social boundaries. So I just kept the merriment to myself (minus the beam, but WHATEVER) as I headed in and... TOTALLY SCORED MY FIRST CHRISTIEMAS CUP OF THE SEASONlkfdjasldkfjoIJ! Let's take a moment, please.

Don't worry! After all the internal chaos of those ten minutes, I didn't forget about the cupcakes! Duh. I have my priorities aligned. You better believe I just headed right into Crumbs after the magical Starbucks Christiemas cup experience and bought... well, $40 worth of cupcakes. So I get a little carried away- so sue me.

Sigh. Christiemas cups and cupcakes... can this day GET any BETTER?!?!?!?