Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Chicago Part Three: Architectural Review (October 24, 2008)

On to Friday. Mark and I set up the perfect architectural tour day. Although the plan deviated a bit, we really enjoyed the day.

We ate breakfast at the Artist's Cafe which is on S. Michigan. It was delicious! I had a mad craving for pancakes and I got my fix. We hustled a bit because we had to catch the boat for our architectural river tour. On the tour, we learned a little bit about the buildings and the city's history. For example, this building has it's own zip code:Al Capone used to dine in the restaurant on the spire of this building:
Did you know: They reversed the flow of the river in Chicago? The river was the sewage system for the city at the time but it flowed into Lake Michigan, which was their source of drinking water. Some 30% of the population died from drinking tainted drinking water so Chicago dug the river deeper and wider causing the river to flow the opposite direction and into St. Louis. St. Louis sued Chicago in federal court but lost.

Next we went to the John Hancock building (we heard it had a better view of the city and it was true). Here is the view. They even let me wash the windows for them! As you can imagine, it was quite nerve wrecking to be that high in the air...
On our way to catch the train for what was supposed to be our next adventure (Frank Lloyd Wright's home), we stopped to eat a Chicago Hot Dog. What makes a Chicago dog different from another? A bun covered in poppy seeds, mustard (NEVER ketchup), neon green relish, a tomato slice, a dill pickle (inside the bun)...I think that's it. Anyway, I liked it. Mark hated it. What can you do?

We didn't get to go to Mr. Wright's house. The last tour started at 3 p.m. and we didn't get to the train until 2:30. Ooops! No worries. We went to the Sears Tower instead.

Interesting history but overall rather anti-climactic. Here are the pictures.

The rest of the evening was spent wandering around the city and stopping into interesting bars/restaurants which consisted of mainly Irish Pubs. We did happened to find a place where they played beerpong at the bar! I think TABC would have fit if we did that here but it was pretty fun to watch.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Chicago Part Two: Museums Galore (October 23, 2008)

We woke up at 7 a.m. on Thursday. Again, not sure why. Our timing was off the whole trip. I guess we were just really excited to do EVERYTHING! My plan was to go purchase our Chicago GoCards which allow us access to most of the museums, tours and give discounts to restaurants and gift shops. I wasn't thinking about the fact that the store that sold them didn't open until 10 a.m. After this discovery, we spent 8 - 10 a.m. wondering around Grant Park. I'm glad we did; we saw some interesting artwork.

Let's back track for a second to breakfast (we'll discuss artwork next). Mark and I made a stop at Dunkin Donuts before starting our big adventure for the day. After picking up our donuts, we decided to walk across the street to some park benches to eat. There was barely room to stand in Dunkin, so eating inside was out of the question. As we approached the crosswalk, a bum walked right up to Mark. This is the 'conversation' they had:

Bum: 'Gimme that bag.'
Mark: 'Excuse me.'
Bum: ' I said, Gimme that bag.'
Mark: 'I'm afraid I can't do that.'
Bum: 'Hahahahahahahahahaha'

Can you say crazy?!? I would have gladly bought him a donut but the thing is...he knew we were tourists and he was just seeing how far he could push Mark. Jokes on him. He didn't know how much Mark likes his donuts. The bum never stood a chance.

Back to the artwork in Grant Park. I can't remember who commissioned the series, but the artists were asked to produce art from used car parts and other mechanical pieces. The first picture is Mark sitting on a park bench made of car windows and the second is a jumble of car exhaust pipes.
After picking up our GoCards (I highly recommend can get them in most major cities), we went to the Natural History Museum. There were a lot of really cool exhibits but they are famous for having the most complete T-Rex Skeleton. It is over 90% complete. Its head is so heavy (600lbs...i think) that they had to make a replica for the skeleton and display the real skull in a glass box.
Mark had to start a fight with the statue in the museum.
Next up was Shedd Aquarium. Mark and I agreed that this was the worst aquarium we had ever seen but the Dolphin and Shark exhibits were closed and we all know the only reason you go to an aquarium is to see sharks, whales, dolphins or seals (of which, they had none). LAME.

So we left the aquarium in a record 30 minutes and hopped a cab to the Science and Industry Museum. This was one of the coolest museums we saw. Mark played Godzilla in the replica of Chicago (can you see him?) and I drove a submarine!

When we were finished playing (yes, playing. we are both kids at heart and we aim to stay that way) at the Science and Industry museum, we took a cab back to our hotel, rested for a few minutes and took off to find a restaurant. Let me be clear that we did not plan our dining experiences in advance so we simply wandered around the city until we found something that looked interesting. What we found was Harry Caray's Italian Steakhouse. It was neat (everyone loves Harry Caray) but the dinner was overpriced, the atmosphere was touristy and Mark's steak was far from being Texas quality. Still, we enjoyed it.

We were much too tired to take on anything else...we walked ALOT! We were back at the hotel by 8 p.m. to call it a night.

I know, I know. Who's LAME now?

Click here to look at more pictures from Thursday of our trip.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Chicago Part One: Leaving for Chicago (October 22, 2008)

Preface: Please forgive any pointless rambling. This is also documentation for Mark and I to remember our trip.

We left for the airport around 9:30 a.m. for a noon flight (thanks to Steph for driving us there). Not sure why we left so early but I'm glad we did. Around 11:00 a.m. the alarm system in the airport was sounding: *civil defense sirens* "Attention. An emergency has been reported. Please move to the closest exit."

Needless to say, this was disconcerting. About the time we reached the stairs to leave the secure part of the airport, security told us it was a false alarm set off by a kitchen fire. Still not comforting but better than a bomb being reported. After this, I noticed that we were going to be sitting in row 13 of the plane. I was ready to abort our mission and stay in Austin. Nevertheless, we were off to Chicago at noon!

Once we arrived in Chicago, we successfully found the train to take us downtown from O'Hare. It cost us $2 to get to the city! Public transportation is awesome. I wish we had a better system here. (Hopefully the train from Leander to downtown Austin will be completed soon so I can take the train to work.) Imagine no car payment, no car insurance, no gas money. Everything you need is a short train ride or walk away.

We checked into our hotel which was amazing. Sorry no pictures. Just trust me. We stayed on at the Hilton Chicago on South Michigan Ave across from Grant Park. Below is the view of our hotel from Grant Park. It's the big red and beige building that looks like four separate's huge!

After checking in, we decided it was time to eat. It was 6 p.m. and we hadn't eaten since 9:30 a.m. It was worth the wait. We ate at Giordano's across from the Sears Tower. Mark's friend Jordan called us to meet up and he happens to work at the Sears Tower so he met us for Pizza and beer.

After dinner, we left Giordano's to go to Jordan's place in North Chicago. The apartments/condos in Chicago are amazing. They have aged brick walls, fantastic patios on rooftops and beautiful old architecture. I wish I had a picture but I was too excited to take pictures the first day so the ones you see are ripped off from the Internet. After dropping off Jordan's things at his place, we went bar hopping (We were told that Chicago is known for its dive bar scene). We went to the Gingerman and Toons.



We were soooo tired from traveling that we left around midnight to get sleep for an early Thursday.

To be continued...

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Celebrating One Year

As you read, Mark and I celebrated our 1st year of marriage on October 20th. We made a huge deal out of this anniversary, even though we've only just begun. Hey, we'll look for any reason to PARTY!

Our celebration started with a romantic dinner at home. I cooked chicken parmesan and we had a glass of red wine.

In tradition, we thawed the remaining portion of our wedding cake. Surprisingly, it was still really good. It hadn't dried out much at all. But still, we didn't eat more than a bite. I bought a strawberry shortcake for us to share with champagne instead.
We reminisced about the past year. We agreed that our favorite events this year have been:
  1. Our wedding!
  2. Our honeymoon trip to Playa del Carmen, and...
  3. Buying our first home.
Next on our list, a first year anniversary trip to Chicago. We returned today. I'll be posting pictures and sharing highlights from the trip so keep an eye out.

Monday, October 20, 2008

One Year!

Happy Anniversary to US!!!!!
October 20, 2007

Thanks to everyone who supported us throughout the course of our relationship. This year has been nothing short of amazing. We are excited to embark on our 2nd year as...
Mr. & Mrs. Mark Grantham

Friday, October 17, 2008

Crocodile Tears and more

Warning: This blog may bore you to crocodile tears!

They give paint the strangest names. Crocodile Tears is the color we used in our bedroom.

This post is a bit late but Mark and I had an eventful weekend. I put him to work, again. Surprise, surprise! First up, Mark spent all day Friday painting the bedroom. I helped a little but not much which is a change because I'm the one who usually paints.
The room is still not complete. That's right! Mark won't hang the picture above the bed untill I put something in the frame. I guess that makes sense. I'll try and take another picture when it is finished. For now, Mark and I are content to not have yellowish-white walls (that's the only way I know to describe the nasty color they painted THE WHOLE HOUSE to try and sell it. What's wrong with a nice beige?

On Saturday, we woke up, went to Lowes, bought winterizer (yes I know I'm about a month late but it just cooled off in Austin) and rented an aerator. We are trying to thicken up the lawn. The people that lived here before us rented and thus did not put a lot of effort into improving the least they didn't let it die.

This weekend? We are excited that we will be going to Lubbock this weekend to attend my roommate and friend from college's wedding. Kayla is marrying Todd and we are excited to witness the nuptuals. They are a great couple!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Mr. Mark

I realized today that I hardly ever talk about Mark on here. There are a two reasons for that (that I can think of at this very moment):
  1. He doesn't get on here and write about himself. Although he won't help with the blog, he does enjoy reading it.
  2. He is always with me so when I write about something, it can be assumed that he is a part of the topic being discussed. this post is dedicated to Mark!

My stud of a husband was busy last weekend in Dallas playing lacrosse. I didn't get to go b/c someone had to take care of the mutts. From what I hear, the tournament went really well. It was an alumni tournament of sorts. The old Texas Tech guys got together to play the old A&M and UT guys...among other teams.

Tonight he is busy coaching lacrosse for McNeil High School in Round Rock. They don't pay him much but he enjoys nurturing the love of and talent for lacrosse. I'm really proud of him for doing it! I think it shows off some of the characteristics I love about him the most: patience, understanding and selfless dedication.
  1. Patience for dealing with parents, coaches, players and the politics that come with it.
  2. Understanding for the players (coaches and parents, too). Last year, Mark had one student that had some issues at home. I saw in Mark's eyes when he told me about it that he truly felt for this teen and wanted the best for him. Mark is very compassionate.
  3. Self-less dedication. I know it makes Mark happy to be around lacrosse but he doesn't get much out of it monetarily and it takes a lot of time. Despite all of this, Mark decided to coach this year. It's hard to put this into words but I can sum it up with this. Anyone who can be that dedicated to anything is someone I want on my side when the ship starts to sink.
The best part is: As much as Mark loves lacrosse, I know he loves me even more and that makes me HAPPY!

I love my husband!

Monday, October 6, 2008

As most of you who read this blog probably know, I occasionally help out with contract projects. I want to share GreenHomeLove with you! This website is great for Do-It-Yourself home improvement people and those of us who need to hire a service professional to complete the job.

What makes this site different? It helps you find green home professionals plus it gives you insight into the sustainable community by allowing you to read about green options for your home.

Need to find a roofer to put a living roof or metal roof onto your home? No problem. GreenHomeLove gives you information about green roofing and gives you a quick comparison of your options.

Ever thought of installing solar panels? If so, you probably want to know: How much does it cost? Are they ugly? Are there different kinds of solar panels? If you’re like me, you probably don’t know much about your solar panel options. The idea is that this site will give you the tips you need to make a decision about the best way for you to go green.

The site will also allow you to connect to other green people. It’s green social networking! (Sorry, if you don’t live in Austin…you won’t be able to sign up but you can still look at the site…you just can’t post topics) If you do live in Austin, I encourage you to sign up and check it out! Let me know what you think!

Once you are signed in, you can ask other green people questions about sustainability or going green. You can leave messages for other green Austinites and find out about green events in our city!

My favorite part of the site? Say you need to replace your roof and you decide you want a green roof. You can find a service professional on this site and contact them via GreenHomeLove. You’re one step closer to helping save the environment!

Let me know what you think! Be Honest.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Austin City Limits

This past weekend was a fun one (and a long one)! Mark and I went to ACL. It's a 3-day music festival here in Austin. It was Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The music starts at 11am and ends at 10pm. By the time Sunday was here, we were exhausted and needed a weekend for our weekend. (That guy you don't recognize is Mark's buddy from work, Josh...he'll be going camping with us in a few weeks!)

Friday we saw Dan Dyer, Asleep At the Wheel, What Made Milwaukee Famous, Vampire Weekend, Slightly Stoopid, N.E.R.D., David Byrne (formally with the Talking Heads) and G. Love & Special Sauce. I would say the best was probably G Love or What Made Milwaukee Famous.

Saturday we saw The Fratellis, The Band of Heathens, Eli 'Paperboy' Reed and the True Loves, Robert Earl Keen, MGMT, John Fogerty, The Black Keys, Robert Plant & Alison Krauss and Beck. Robert Earl Keen is always a good time and we enjoyed Jon Fogerty (CCR)!

Day 3 was a doozy! I was sooo tired but we wanted to get our money's worth so we toughed it out for another long day. We saw Nicole Atkins & the Sea, The Kills, Octopus Project, Flyleaf, Massacoustics, Joe Bonamassa, Silversun Pickups, Blues Traveler, The Raconteurs, Kevin Fowler and Foo Fighters.

I would recommend that you check out: Nicole Atkins & the Sea, The Raconteurs and Joe Bonamassa if you like music.

My favorite was The Raconteurs...hands down.