Friday, December 31, 2010

help a brother out.

As a brother, Bill is pretty awesome.

He also is a pretty amazing percussionist.  He's trying to raise money to put on a free concert.  They are so, so, so close- so if you are in the giving mood, check out this site to donate.  You can donate from $1 to whatever you please.  If they don't reach their goal, then they can't put on the show, and we all know how important music and the arts are.

Learn about the Landmark Percussion and Electronics Concert

Ryan and I were able to donate, and while we can't attend the show, we get a pretty sweet shirt.

fogged in.

Greetings from Chicago!  That's right, Ryan and I are still here, and aren't leaving for a few days.  We were all ready to leave for the airport, and I went to print off our boarding passes.  When I clicked ok, a error box popped up saying our flight was canceled.  I didn't quite understand since it was not snowing, and the roads were clear.

I called southwest and they said that Midway airport was closed due to fog.  Hmm- didn't look foggy to me, but what can you do?  We figured we'd be on a plane the next morning, but nope- not till January 2nd!  So we'll be here for a few more days and ring in the new year in Naperville. 

Oh well, the time off is nice and we are having fun with the family.  We've done a lot of hanging around, drinking wine and eating- it's been fabulous!

As everyone was hanging out, I spent a good amount of time going through my childhood memories.  I had a ton of stuff, and with the threat that these things would end up with me one day, I knew it was time to purge.  Things that I had no clue what they meant were the first to go.  I also kept some ridiculous things, like every mylar balloon I've ever been given.  There were fun things to look at, like a karaoke video of Matt and I, various essays and letters from old love interests from Junior High.  All in all, it made for a fun evening.  Some items I wanted to remember, but didn't want, so since it is the digital age I snapped some photos.

My only trophies to my name, slightly depressing

I also had a slight obsession with Orca's (note, they are not Killer Whales).  While I found orca trinkets thrilling and a good use of my money as a kid, I do not feel that way anymore, so I filled a box with the sea mammals to send to Goodwill.

yep, I kept an Orca puzzle.
On Monday the family loaded up the Pilot and head to Chicago's Museum of Science and Industry.  This place was HUGE.

Beyond being huge, since it was winter break, it was full of kids.  And annoying kids.  This trip helped to set our child wants/needs back a few years.  I thought an excellent exhibit would be to teach kids museum etiquette.

My favorite exhibit was the human body area.  They had real embryos and fetuses in formaldehyde.  While slightly eerie, it was really interesting to see.  I actually remember seeing these as a kid when we came here for my dad's work holiday party.

Creepy fetus photo collage with Ryan and I courtesy of my dad

The museum also had a toy factory/plant, exhibit on farming, a train set and mini Chicago, locomotive, baby chicks- and much more.  We were pretty exhausted by the end of the day.

Other than that, we've been just hanging around.  It's been fun, but feels slightly weird to be stuck somewhere.  We are looking forward to being reunited with Riley in a few days.  Ryan's also excited to go home since he was only in CA for 5 days last month. 

Saturday, December 25, 2010

merry christmas!

From Ryan, Riley and I- we wish you all a Merry Christmas!

Yesterday Ryan and I woke up at 3am, showered, finished packing, bid Riley adieu and head to OAK for our morning flight.  As a usual travel day goes for us, we arrived super-super-early.  But, we were amazed how empty the airport was.  As our flight departure got closer, more and more families arrived.  I couldn't believe all the gear that the families had to bring: car seats, portable high chairs, baby toys galore- and so on and so forth.  Not looking forward to lugging all that around.

Ryan did some work as we waited, I ate my Burger King french toast sticks. We boarded in A group of course, and were lucky to get the emergency exit row.  I slept most of the flight.  And, couldn't tell you what Ryan did since I was catching up on my Z's.

My dad pick us up in the Prius, stopped by Starbucks and then drove us to church.  Christmas eve mass was at 3pm, and was in Andrew's school gym.  Gym church.  The priest was funny, the choir was terrible and Ryan found a way to not have a host debacle like he normally does.

Here's the mass in all its glory:

Following church, Ryan ran around in the snow:

We then went home for appetizers and wine.  Every year we have a cheese ball, and this year did not disappoint.  We also had the largest bag of pepperoni known to man:

After snacking a ton, I jumped on the couch, and woke up at 11:30pm to find everyone had gone to sleep.

This morning we all woke up, opened presents, then ate scones and coffee.  One of my favorite gifts was this mug from Angela:

The rest of the day we've spent hanging out, eating, drinking and playing games.  Tonight we are having a Christmas feast and driving around critiquing Christmas light displays.  Hope everyone is enjoying the time with their families!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

who said it had to be a gingerbread house?

I didn't make a gingerbread house this year.  And, I usually do the less-than-creative route by buying a kit at Costco.  But check these gingerbread creations out!

christmas at the symphony

Last night Ryan and I went to the Davies Symphony Hall to see 'Twas the Night.  A few members from the symphony, a few choir members, a pianist and an organist performed a collection on holiday tunes.  It was fun!  They even had a few that were sing-a-longs.  It certainly helped to kick off the next few days of holiday cheer.

We arrived a bit later than expected, and didn't have time to dress appropriately.  But, luckily we were up in the nose bleeds, and everyone around us didn't seem to know that jeans aren't really acceptable symphony wear. So it all worked out.

The lead Soprano ran the show.  She was slightly obnoxious.  Ryan said she had too much vibrato.  I thought she had too many dresses. Every other song she came out in a new gown.  And the crowd would go wild.  It reminded me of the scene in Drop Dead Gorgeous when Kirstie Alley kept changing her dresses and said, "Is that applause for me, or my gown?" (In a Wisconsin accent of course.)  Good times.

During intermission I grabbed some Champagne, but had to down it quickly.  I don't know why the sell drinks if they don't provide enough time to finish.  We also ran into a family friend.

The second half was fun, and had more sing-a-long options.  Ryan claimed this was practice for church tomorrow.  And it's true.  They sang the fun songs, we sang O Holy Night.

After the show Ryan unwrapped his gifts, which compared to mine, kinda sucked.  Oh well.  There's always next year!  Tomorrow we are off to Chicago- and the forecast is calling for snow!  So it'll be a White Christmas for the Solomon-Mordoff clan.

Monday, December 20, 2010

made out like a bandit!

If getting older means you get cool presents- then sign me up!  It's official, I have gotten some pretty cool gear for my birthday.  A big virtual thank you to my friends and family for thinking of me!

I received a gift card to my favorite organic/chemical free spa, Threads, and had a lovely facial yesterday.  It was an hour of bliss, complete with a arm/neck/head massage.  I seriously wish I could do that everyday.

This mat now adorns our front door:

(Pardon the leaves.)  And yes, Riley guards this mansion!

I have a set of these kitchen-matching bowls:

This fun framed photo that matches my other old style prints:

These swanky wine glasses (which Ryan has been orientated on to handwash, or in Ryan's words, "not touch").

This adorable polka dot vase, of which I can't wait to buy some flowers for.

No birthday of mine is complete without a gift I give myself.  I know, it is sickening.  But I had a coupon, and I've been eyeing this vase forever, and Ryan abandoned me : (

And last but not least, the creme-de-la-creme, my beautiful (and first ever b-day/xmas combo) gift from the hubs:

If going to Mexico and missing my birthday means I get jewelry, then I'm ok with that : )

So there you have it.  I'm spoiled and a very lucky girl.  But beyond these things, I am so lucky to have such wonderful people that surround me.  Hugs to you all!

Friday, December 17, 2010

it's christmas tomorrow!

Well, for me anyway, because RYAN IS COMING HOME!!!!  (If you can't sense my excitement from my use of caps and exclamation points.)  Riley and I are anxiously awaiting his arrival tomorrow, so let's hope flights are on time and weather is clear.

We sent our Christmas cards out- which while fun, in no way topped last year:

In general, 2009 pretty much kicked 2010's butt.  Anyway, we luckily took our photo the weekend before Thanksgiving.  You're probably all thinking I'm a crazy person, and I am, but with Ryan gone and our last minute change of plans for the Thanksgiving weekend, it turned out to be spot-on planning on my part.  A few of our friends asked us how we got the photo, so I shall explain.

First off, I spend a good chunk of time online, and I save anything from room decor, to recipes, to that's right, Christmas card photos.  I had seen a family of five in a similar pose, and I thought 'hmm- this could work, and then if we are right justified, I could use InDesign to craft a message.'  Then, I had to solicit the help of my husband.  He was lighting and camera set up- I was wardrobe and post production.

We cleared our dinning room and flipped over a laundry basket to place the camera on (since our tri-pod was too high).  We then took countless unflattering photos on me sitting on the floor as Ryan messed with the settings, zoom and so forth.  It seriously took a good 30 minutes.  And by that point, my butt was numb.  Once we were good to go, we marked where to sit with sticky notes and hit up wardrobe.

I had found Riley's scarf in the dog section at Target.  We just threw on some winter-esque clothing.  I told Ryan to wear his beanie.  He came out of the room in this hat at first:

I decided it wasn't the look we were going for so he reluctantly changed.  We also all were very mismatched.  I had on mustard colored shoes, a teal shirt, Ryan in dark blue.  But it was ok, because I knew we were going b&w this year.

And the key to getting Riley to look at the camera?  No flash and mulit-frame shooting.  By quickly shooting a few frames, we are bound to get a decent photo of the star.  Also, we take a few brakes to let her cool down for a minute.

And, here are a few shots, including the final photo:

After scanning the photos in the camera, we knew we had a winner.  I put them on the computer, and we picked the one where Riley looked the best, because let's be real, we are just accessories.

I then opened the photo in Photoshop, cropped it to 5x7 and removed the wall plug, a few blemishes and the gross gunk on Ryan's shoe.  I'm not a Photoshop expert by any means, but am starting to learn my way around.  I also have downloaded the great, and totally free, actions from the blog, The Pioneer Woman (this site is great for photography and GREAT recipes).  This made the photo look better than your average turn it b&w tool.  And voilĂ , we had a clean and pretty b&w photo of our little family.

Then I pulled the photoshop file into InDesign, added the copy, saved as a jpeg and printed this sucker at  Costco.

So there you have it- pretty simple, cheap and fun.  Tomorrow the Mordoff Rents are having their annual holiday par-tay.  We are all pretty excited.  But, mostly for Ryan to come home (!)

Sunday, December 12, 2010


I had a better-than-expected birthday due to all of my awesome friends!  Between my work friends, old friends and new friends- it was a great weekend- so thank you all!

Saturday and today I went shopping, and I was able to conquer a good chunk of our list.  Just a few more gifts and we (I- since "we" is gone) will be done.  The gifts have been wrapped in coordinated paper, and and were placed under our tree.  I had to move them though, because Riley has taken to scaling our Christmas tree this year, which means I sit on the couch and squirt her with water, which means gifts were getting wet.  So, now we have a Christmas TV Table (since the gifts are under this).

I felt like baking some cookies, and I wanted coffee flavored ones.  I love online recipes, because I hate having cabinets full of books.  Especially since I usually only cook a few things out of each book.  But, I digress.  Within seconds I found the trophy winning recipe from Food52, Double Chocolate Espresso Cookies. They were easy to make, and I had all the ingredients on hand, including the instant espresso that it requires.  Between my Kitchenaid, awesome cookie sheets and my favorite, cookie scooper- I was set- and they turned out great.  If you decide to check them out, please note the dough is really, really thick.  Oh, and it needs 2.25 STICKS of butter, not cups (almost screwed these suckers up within the first few seconds. yikes.)

I'm now going to cozy up on the couch, grab a few cookies, some wine in my new cool glasses, and watch Christmas Cupid on ABC family.  I've been waiting weeks for this- it's going to be good!

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

christmas memories.

A few years ago for Christmas, Dad, Angela, Bill, Andrew, Ryan and I went to drive around Naperville to look at Christmas lights.  My mom stayed home to hang.  Upon our return, we found her in the den laughing over jib jab movies she had created.  It made the top ten Christmas memories list.  [Number one occurred last year with Ryan...]

Anyway, in honor of my mom, and since we miss Ryan, for your viewing pleasure:

Friday, December 03, 2010

baby it's cold outside.

It is.  You'd think I lived in the East Coast.

In other news, I love this rendition of the song.  Can't wait to buy the album and to watch next week.

back in the saddle.

Hope ya'll had a great Thanksgiving.  After a rough last week, and a crazy start to this one, I am back in the swing of things.

Ryan took off to Mexico on Wednesday.  He was stoked that they let him take his guitar.  He will be living it up in Mexico for about three weeks- dodging drug cartels along the way!

I on the other hand have tons-o-stuff to do.  I've finished the editing on our Christmas card photo, made dinner, gone to the gym, cleared out the DVR- and it is only Friday.  I plan on decorating for Christmas this weekend, maybe baking some cookies.  Who knows.

For now, the time alone ain't bad.  We'll see how this weekend goes!
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