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Bonnie and Claire’s trip to Chicago

You may have seen us writing lately about the trip Bonnie and I planned to Chicago to celebrate her birthday and St. Patrick’s Day. It was a milestone for Bonnie for a few reasons. It was her first trip away from her family ever (first time away from the kids in seven years) and although she won’t like me to say it, she also turned 30. We had a blast on our sisters’ weekend heading home to Chicago and the suburbs we hail from. So of course, as we have with past trips, we thought we’d share our adventure with you.

We flew in late Thursday around midnight into Midway and just stayed at nearest decent hotel that wasn’t rented by the hour (wish I was kidding). We tried to get to sleep early, but we knew that was impossible due our body clocks being in a different time zone and our excitement just brimming. So, we finally fell asleep at 3 am and dragged ourselves out of bed at 8 am (6 am to us) to get Dunkin Donuts!

We dreamed about Dunkin Donuts, because the don’t exist in the western half of the United States and also because they are also the only type of donut I can stomach. Donuts are my most hated food, but somehow cake donuts from Dunkin Donuts are amazing. So, we got our donuts and breakfast sandwiches, but were dismayed to discover how horrible the food was. We could only conclude that either Dunkin Donuts had gone way downhill or this hotel had a deal going with them for stale donuts. We hoped it was the latter and moved on to get our rental car.

After forging through a seedy area, we fought with employees are Enterprise to get a car without buying insurance (that costed more than the rental itself) an hour after we were meant to pick up our reserved car. Our start in Chicago had been rocky, so we wanted to get out this area and head into downtown where it could hopefully recovered. First, we had to stop at Trader Joe’s for some familiarity and then we were off! Because our morning problems had taken all of our morning, we had to rush to make a tour Bonnie signed us up for at 1 pm. I’m a history nerd and Bonnie was actually interested, so we decided to take a tour of Chicago to learn its history. Honestly, we just wanted to go in the freight tunnels below the city. So, we rushed to Congress Plaza Hotel where we were staying and parked our car for $40 per night (ouch) and got on our way to our tour. We were running late, so we actually ran half a mile to the tour. Do our dismay, we were the youngest people there by 30 years, and this tour was more of a high school history class than a fun thing to do…..and pay for. We knew we couldn’t have our afternoon ruined as well as our morning, so we ditched class (honestly, that’s what it felt like) and made our way to Greektown.

We stopped by St. Patrick’s Cathedral (Chicago’s first church) and admired the architecture and the Irish flags that adorned it. Then, we came to Greek Islands and got some amazing dolmades, kolokythakia tiganita with skordalia, greek salad and gyros. It was a feast that brought me back to Greece. Although somewhat different than I’ve had on most of the islands, it was still delicious and authentic. No trip is completed without dessert though, so as full as we were, we headed to Artopolis to desserts and frappes. We were uncomfortably full though, we had to save the desserts for later.

We walked back east toward the hotel and stopped at Union Station.

We remember it somewhat from our childhood (and shootout scene in The Untouchables). It’s also just a gorgeous building nostalgic of a time where buildings were ornate art. Bonnie also loves trains, something I didn’t know.

After awhile, I forced Bonnie to come to Sears Tower (I can’t call it Willis Tower) with me. She tried everything she could to deter me, but nothing worked. The wait was supposed to be an hour and a half, so she tried to lie promising we could come back another day. She also hoped that they wouldn’t allow food into the building, knowing I wouldn’t throw out desserts from Greektown, along with complaining about the costs and more. She just hates heights and didn’t want anything to do with a glass ledge on the 103rd story of a building. It didn’t help matters that a guy standing in line with us confirmed Bonnie’s observation that the building does in fact sway and added that winds can exceed 100 mph on the top floor. I made her go, though. It’s a cool launch from the main floor to the 103rd in one minute with ears popping with the altitude.

We looked around the city from every aspect. Soon, it was our turn (more like my turn) to stand the on the glass ledge, and Bonnie wasn’t having it.

Luckily, there was too big of a line for her to try to slip away and a few nice girls forced her out onto the ledge with me.

After recovering from the shock, we made our home just stopping and admiring building as we went.

We loved the bridges and old brick buildings along with the art on the sides and antique lettering from decades ago. But we got caught in a thunderstorm (that I haven’t experienced in years) and Bonnie wanted to get her leather purse and suede boots out of the rain.

We made our way back to the hotel where we searched for the phantom Gold Room, but alas couldn’t find it. So, we headed to our room in the elevator which smelled like what can only be described as an old grandmother’s house who smokes. Bonnie was nauseous in it every time and really thought that someone would throw up in there on St. Patrick’s Day. In the room, we dove into the dessert and quickly became sick again. We just had had way too much rich food for one day.

We had a groupon deal for a Japanese restaurant in Chinatown, though, and decided the simple food might help our stomaches. We were wrong, though. I don’t want to mention the name of the restaurant, so I don’t their business, but I also feel somewhat obligated to warn people. Just to be nice though, I won’t say the name. We did have some great seaweed salad and spicy truffle fries, but the rest of the food won’t bring them anything good. The decor and ambiance was also weird to say the least including very odd videos which showed people eating a lot of cupcakes. We just had to get out of there and get back to the hotel.

We tried to go to sleep early, but as you can probably guess, that didn’t happen. So, we were woken up by the maids at 9 am and got ready for St. Patrick’s Day. We stopped by Dunkin Donuts to see if the donuts actually were bad or if we just had stale ones. They were awesome as we expected and made our way through the sea of green to the parade.

It was great, full of marching bands, bagpipes and everything Irish. The only downsides were too many floats and politicians using the parade to campaign for the impending election three days away. Afterwards, Bonnie decided she needed some authentic Irish green, so we walked around looking for green suspenders (because that was the best idea to her) and also some pubs.

As you can imagine, downtown Chicago on St. Patrick’s Day is crazy and crowded. We had fun, though.

We had to stop and admire the river of course. We then tried to find a few pubs, but of course there were either cover charges or crazy wait lines.

So, I got to choose a pub, and we went to the Emerald Loop. We had some corned beef and cabbage along with Magner’s Cider. We also met quite a few friendly people and just hung out and had fun with people. I saw some Irish dancing and heard some bagpipes as well, so we had found the right pub. We headed to another street full of bars, but only stayed for awhile, because Bonnie wanted to get dressed up to go out at night. So, we stopped off and got some deep dish pizza and head home.

We headed out again for a classier place to hang out on St. Patrick’s night as Bonnie wished. Not really sure where to go, we wandered until we chose a place. We hung out for awhile because Bonnie just wanted to go out like she is never able to back home. We then went home and went to bed late again as usual.

The next day was Bonnie’s birthday. We checked out of the hotel and finally used our car to drive to Graylake to attend service at Living Waters, the church we grew up in. It was great to come back, like coming back home. We saw some old friends that watched us grow up and our pastor who didn’t recognize us at first.

We then headed back to our old town of Round Lake for some Scotty’s dogs and shakes. We ate here all the time as kids and it brought us right back to our five year-old selves.

We then visited the beach we spent most of our summer days at and were shocked to discover how small everything was. It was an even bigger shock driving down our street. I couldn’t believe how short the road was. It seemed so long when I was six. I honestly also thought someone cut my front yard in half, because there was no way on God’s green earth that it was as tiny then as it is now.

I was truly in shock throughout the entire car ride around our neighborhood. The hill we raced our bikes down, which we dubbed Dead Man’s Hill was barely a bump to us now. The creeks where we watched storks from were barely there and generally everything was smaller and seemed rundown.

We checked out a few other spots including Hart’s Hill, Village Elementary School and a few stores, but only a few things looked the same or resembled what they used to be. It was a crazy step back in time and soon it was too much for us to take and we had to leave.

After apparently outrunning the tolls on the interstate southbound, we arrived at our uncle’s house on the Irish south side of Chicago. We hung out for a little while and then went out to dinner with all of our dad’s brothers, Ray, Brad and Joe, our aunts, Kathy and Janice and our cousins Jackie and Colette. We had a great time and heard tons of stories about our dad growing up. We then went back to our uncle Brad and aunt Kathy’s house and heard even more stories now with family photos. Bonnie was also surprised with a cake and a few gifts. We were just happy to see family that we hadn’t seen in years and in Chicago no less. It was like coming home even if our entire family wasn’t there. After the birthday celebration, we headed back to uncle Ray’s house and had to look around the place. It was where we spent Christmases and Thanksgivings while we lived in Chicago and it also hadn’t changed. We even got to hear our uncle Ray sing the superbowl shuffle while we watched espn. We had a blast but I was falling asleep by 1 am though, and we all went to bed.

Bonnie and I spent the next day with Colette before leaving for our flight. She took us to do a few things that we hadn’t done yet, aka eating Italian beefs and frozen custard. After much eating and cruising the streets of the south side of Chicago, we were off to the airport to bid one final goodbye to Chicago. After lots of sleep in the airport, we boarded the flight and caught up on even more lost sleep.

Overall, our trip was a blast and Bonnie had a 30th birthday that she will always remember. We got to visit our home and family and join in one of the greatest, if not the greatest, celebrations of St. Patrick’s Day in the country. I just hope Bonnie doesn’t expect something like every year on her birthday for now on.




When Wedding Photos Go Wrong Revisited

It’s been quite awhile since I posted about the parts of weddings that aren’t splendid; those moments that eek into the day that is supposed to be perfect, and make it awkward. I’ve argued before that these off-putting photos are equally as great as good photos. They must simply be appreciated in a different way that is just as entertaining if not more entertaining than good wedding photos. Enjoy the proof below! Check out our other When Wedding Photos Go Wrong editions as well here, here, here, here and here.

If you liked this, check out our other editions of when wedding photos go wrong (onetwothreefourfiveseven and eight) as well as our awkward engagement photos and Worst Christmas Photos collections.

photos @ Awkward Family Photos & Awkward Family Pet Photos


Wedding Photography Sydney - April 3, 2012 - 10:21 pm

Weddings are about enjoying – they should be fun. The more fun you have as the photographer the more comfortable those you are shooting will be. Perhaps the best way to ease individuals up is to look as the photographer (warning: I always come house from shooting weddings with aching lips and cheekbones because of of my happy strategy).

Jim Bath - March 28, 2012 - 3:57 am

The “naked” bridesmaids photo is brilliant! There are certainly some great photos here to look back on and laugh for the people involved…

How to Repurpose Shutters Around Your Home

As of late decorating has not been a focal part of my life.  Which is a shame, because it used to be.  In fact, before committing to an architecture major, I considered becoming an interior designer.  I subscribed to several design magazines and would pore over them with every free moment I found.  I would earmark the pages of all the styles I planned to explore once I was released from my stark white apartment and into a house of my very own.  But when my husband and I did move into our own home, I was too preoccupied with our 7-month-old son to launch into my ambitious desires.  So we threw up some paint, laid down some flooring and called it a day.

It looks pleasant, but lacks that certain niche appearance that I was so fond of in my magazines.  Now that my boys have almost outgrown their destructive phase, I have decide to scratch that decorating itch once again.  My style is shabby chic, vintage and antique.  Anything that feels like it has had a past life instantly draws me in.  So naturally repurposing has become an obsession of mine.  And reclaimed shutters, forget about it.  Does it get more shabby chic than that? They add instant cool and provide ample opportunities to add interest and function to your home.  Here are a few of my favorite ideas of repurposing shutters from around the web.

Message Center

@ MarthaStewart.com

@ CraftyNest.com


@ myrepurposedlife.net

@ BHG.com

@ virtousstyls.com


@ HGTV.com



@ oliveandlove.com


@ Ella Dining Room



@ CottageInTheOaks.com





All About Shutters - March 26, 2012 - 4:26 am

Thank you for the inspiration. We always encourage recycling old shutters for great new designs.
All About Shutters recently posted..Painted Wood Exterior ShuttersMy Profile

Wordless Wednesday: Lovin’ The New Shades A Little Too Much


Bonnie - March 22, 2012 - 8:30 pm

Thanks for the comments everyone. He thinks that it’s so cool to see himself on the computer! He’s been strutting around here like a little celebrity all day.

Trisha G. - March 21, 2012 - 8:48 pm

Cool shades!

Sarah - March 21, 2012 - 8:22 pm

He he. Cute.
Sarah recently posted..My Little Model {WW #32}My Profile

Bree @ Twinkle in the Eye - March 21, 2012 - 8:14 pm

Thanks for stopping by Twinkle in the Eye :-) Happy WW!

Claire - March 21, 2012 - 5:05 pm

and on a pillow pet, that is one cool kid

Dave Keller - March 21, 2012 - 3:31 pm

Cool Shades. I don’t blame him for wearing them all the time.

Thanks for linking up this week.
Dave Keller recently posted..Wordless Wednesday – CloseupsMy Profile

Tiffany - March 21, 2012 - 1:10 pm

I think it makes me very old and lame that as soon as I saw this, “too cool for school” popped right into my head.
Tiffany recently posted..{Sort of} Wordless Wednesday – Playing Catch UpMy Profile

Monica - March 21, 2012 - 11:55 am

haha…those a major league cool!!

Thanks for linking up your WW post at OMSY.
Monica, Older Mommy Still Yummy
Monica recently posted..~ Healthy Living ~ Important Earth Day information for all parents and teachers.My Profile

Sayumi Kamei - March 21, 2012 - 8:41 am

Looking cool dude. Good think you remembered to put those shades on when you went to bed, cause you never know when someone’s going sneak up and take your photo and post it all over the web.
Sayumi Kamei recently posted..What is the best medical route for my new puppy?My Profile

Studying the Book of James with Beth Moore: Week 3

Well as you may know I did not post anything last week. Unfortunately or fortunately (depending on how you look at it) my grandmother passed about a week ago.  I say fortunately because she is now in the loving arms of her savior Jesus Christ. I am jealous with a Godly jealousy. But I am also sad which makes this an unfortunate incident as well. Anyway, it was hard for me to get a post out to you all.  It was hard for me to even get my James Study with Beth Moore homework done but it’s done and here it is better late than never.

I left last time telling you that I had more to say on God giving good gifts to His children. When I wrote that last post I had already done a couple days worth of homework and everything the Lord was showing me pertained so perfectly to what was happening in my life.  So, I’ll start with that.

Moviestar and I are what Claire calls “Fogies”. We love old things: old music, old houses, antiques and old cars.  That being said, Moviestar has always wanted a 1960’s muscle car.  Now thats not as old as some other things we love but it’s the kind he adores.  He was blessed a few months ago to be given 2 muscle car engines for free.  Since then they have been sitting in our carport taking up space.  But the Lord began to press on him that he should restore an old car and put one of these engines in it.  So, the search for a car began.  Some weren’t the right model, others the wrong price.  But eventually he found one.  The price was more than he wanted to spend but he was confident that he could haggle the owner down.  Moviestar and I have come too far in our walk with God to not pray before pretty much every decision, so we prayed about this and Moviestar was confident this was the car.  Not only that, but he felt the Lord was telling him that the owner was selling this car because he desperately needed money.  So, we went to see it and Moviestar fell in love immediately.  Now, I love old cars too but seeing as how muscle cars aren’t really my thing I didn’t see what he saw.  It reminded me of how God sees us. To another person (me in this case) we look worn down, tired, in need of a makeover and some serious emotional therapy. To them we look hopeless.  But when God looks at us, He just sees potential.  He sees how one day we’ll look fresh, clean and rejuvenated.  He sees how we will eventually do great work for Him and help make others smile.  Thats what Movistar saw.  He saw it all fixed up.  It heard the engine roar and paint shine and he saw himself driving it around making people stop and stare.  And then we were hit with a brick wall.  This owner wasn’t willing to budge on the price. Oh he dropped it a hundred or two but that simply wasn’t going to fit our budget.  Moviestar was so defeated.  You may be wondering when the book of James is going to come into play…. and that’s right now.

We had so many questions. We needed answers. For days he and I would talk, talk, talk about what happened and how we were so sure this was what God wanted.  How could it turn out like this?  So, instead of talking I suggested we just pray.  I had just done the first day of the study where James says,

“Everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger.” (James 1:19)

We needed to stop talking so much and try to listen.  And let me tell you that all that talking sure didn’t make us feel more at peace.  Haven’t you ever realized that talking a lot about something thats bothering you can sometimes make you more upset?  It causes you to feel angry. Mmmmm…… “slow to anger.” So we prayed.  Moviestar was feeling ansy and remembering that we must be hearers of the word I told him that we needed to just wait and listen for our answer.  A few days went by and during those days the Lord gave me more insight through James.

“The one who looks intently into the perfect law of freedom and perseveres in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but one who does good works-this person will be blessed in what he does.” (James 1:25)

I thought about the word ‘forgetful’… had God already given us His answer? I had to continue in my homework.  The verses leading up to James 1:25 talk about being a doer of the word and not simply a “hearer”.  Oh how I wanted to listen for the answer but had forgotten that we had already heard our answer and now must be doers. The second day of study Beth delved into being doers. About hearing from God and then doing what He says.  How this applied to our situation!  But, what exactly were we to do?  God had told Moviestar that this car was for him, but where is the doing?  Well, first we needed to have faith.  That’s a “doing”. But it felt like there was more.  So, I kept on studying away.

“Pure and undefiled religion before our God and Father is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself unstained by the world.” (James 1:27)

Beth began with this passage but used it as a catalyst to discuss how we are to help not only orphans and widows but also the hungry, the naked, the foreigner, the poor.  She quoted Isaiah 58:5-7 which tells us of the kind of fasting that is appropriate to the Lord: One that frees spiritual bonds, feeds the hungry and clothes the naked. I didn’t see it then but God was beginning to raise His voice so I could hear. Day four was where James tells us not to show favoritism among brothers (James 2:1).  Basically, we should not hold someone of financial stature higher than one of poor stature. For me, this began to hammer in the word “poor”.  Moviestar and I have our money troubles and we are on the lower end of the totem pole when it comes to financial stature, but we also know there are others out there who are in graver danger financially than we are.  Plus, we have our faith that God will provide and some people don’t yet have that faith.  All this to say that I began to think about poorer people than me.  And Day five spoke that if you:

“…Love your neighbors as yourselves; you are doing well.” (James 2:8)

Beth loves to take bits and pieces of scripture and dissect them.  Sometimes it’s too much for me and I get overwhelmed, but other times she helps bring to light something I had overlooked every single time I read the verse.  She wanted us to see the last part of that verse, “you are doing well”.  She asked us to think carefully about how loving others as we love ourselves could become liberating for us.  So, think about that.  It makes you feel good to treat others well doesn’t it?  And doing something to benefit them lifts your spirits.  That why people always feel good after volunteering somewhere.  They gave their time and service to help others and it feels good.

Okay, so what happened with the car!!??

Well, after this study’s help, some more serious prayer and a God-inspired sermon from our Pastor at Metro Calvary Chapel we realized God was practically screaming His answer at us: We were to help this man who was poor and in a desperate situation (for he had lost his job, needed money to pay his bills and feed his family and we were the only people interested in the car) and buy the car for the price the man asked.  God wanted to provide for this man and we were His “vehicle” of doing so.  We could afford the price, we just didn’t want to spend it.  However, God had been giving us extra finances recently and it seemed that this was where that extra was to go.  And boy were we blessed.  Though it did cost us, the car was a gift for Moviestar.  And though we received an amazing gift in return, we felt so liberated in being able to help this man and his family. Praise the Lord.


And thank you James bible study.  Sometimes God puts something in your hands and on your path at the exact moment you need it. That’s how we hear from Him.  That’s where He meets us. And I love it.


rebecca satterfield - April 19, 2012 - 1:08 am

please pray for the healing of our family

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