Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Banned Books Week

Ah, it's Banned Books Week. I love Banned Books Week.

There's fun stuff on the website, as the list of frequently challenged books, and the list of banned classics, as well as the list of most frequently challenged authors of color, and the
Virtual Read-Out.

On my personal bookshelves, I have a lot of challenged/banned books to choose from, but I think it's time to read Brave New World (again).

Thursday, September 15, 2011

The Purple Hotel

It's finally coming down, or so I read in my local newspaper.

I think I'll feel sad about that when it happens, even though nowadays the building is just an eyesore for the village of Lincolnwood. Still, it's big and purple. What could possibly take it's place?

It makes me think of the Magikist Lips that once stood over the Kennedy Expressway at the Montrose Exit. That familiar landmark was replaced with a big, boring storage facility.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

How to Change the Color of Your Walls (Painlessly)

In the summertime, I don’t mind the colors on our living room and dining room walls. But during the long, gray days of a Chicago winter, those same colors start to look too dark to me. I’ve been thinking about repainting…

…and then a bloggy friend of mine decided to host a paint event! We all met up at a Benjamin Moore store, where we listened to a professional presentation about using color, were encouraged to touch the finish on the store walls (really), and snacked on sausage and cheese trays.

Afterward, we journeyed to Kim’s new house for prizes and dessert and to help her select paint colors for the interior walls. The Benjamin Moore designer advising Kim had previously chosen some color palettes for each room, and the swatches were hanging on the wall. I voted for the light colors in every instance, but in truth I don’t think she can go wrong. The Benjamin Moore rep is leading her down the right path, and that’s reassuring to me. Her home will be a beautiful thing, no matter what colors she selects.

Not only did I learn that 1) there is such a thing as paint technology, 2) that painting a ceiling dark makes it appear higher, or 3) that you should pick the paint color before the bedspread/furniture/rug if you can, but I learned that hiring a professional is a great idea. I’m happy Kim hired one, and I’m happy she shared with the blogosphere what I can only believe is a very positive experience.

Please help Kim decide on her paint colors by voting here.

Monday, September 12, 2011

My Simple Plan to Save the Post Office

I have a drawer for storing stationery. It's filled will different styles of thank-you notes, leftover invitations, greeting cards, random post cards, note paper, and envelopes. At my current rate of thank-you note writing, I don't believe I will ever work my way through this supply. Sound familiar?

I'm sure this is a common scenario in many American households. And if so, then I know how to save the United States Post Office! All we have to is send some of this stuff through the mail now (not later). For example:

- In the last four days, I've attended three lovely parties. Instead of informally thanking my hostesses via email, I can write three formal thank you notes AND SEND THEM THROUGH THE MAIL.

- I was thinking of inviting some friends over for drinks. Now I have a good (and fun) reason to dig out a pretty invitations AND SEND THEM THROUGH THE MAIL.

- My daughters want to invite a group of friends over for some themed event, so instead of doing the Facebook thing, they can be creative/go the extra mile by designing an invitation AND SENDING IT THROUGH THE MAIL.

It's so simple. Everyone likes to receive a note or a card in the mail, right? Yet I can't save the Post Office all by myself. Please help me by sending someone a note, or sending a thank you to a special person for nothing in particular, or by sending out an invitation to...anything!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

End of Summer Reading, Part 2

I'm curious to see which teachers are returning to CPS this school year. I know of one who won't be. An amazing high school librarian friend of mine decided to retire a little early and build her dream home. When I saw her last week, she had begun cleaning out books she no longer needed. And, as is her way, she handed me a pile of books for my daughters to read.

And so, in this last week before school, our 15-year-olds got a heavy dose of dysfunctional YA literature, 1500+ pages of the stuff. They sat on the couch together and read Ellen Hopkins' Crank, Burned, and Impulse back to back, nonstop, handing off the books to each other.

"Wow, now I'm depressed," said my daughter, when she finally came up for air. "No wonder so many teens love Disney movies and My Little Pony."

Thursday, September 1, 2011

End of Summer Reading, Part 1

Chicago Public Libraries reduced the hours of operation for most branches a while back, and that's a big inconvenience for me, a heavy library user. Sometimes, the only day I can get in there to pick up a hold (or pay a fine) is on a Saturday. And if I'm busy on Saturday...then my whole reading life gets out of whack. I can't let that happen!

Case in point, I had a book on hold--Hot: Living Through the Next Fifty Years on Earth--and by the time I could get to the library, the book was returned to the branch that sent it. Bother. The clerk suggested I put it on hold again.

And I was just about to, but I realized I wasn't too excited about reading that one. Instead, I put some books on hold that my old buddies were reading and enjoying and talking about during our reunion weekend.

I'll save Hot for a rainy day....

Monday, August 29, 2011

How Not to Buy a Rug

After dim sum in Chinatown and before dropping my friends off at O'Hare, we all hit the shops on Armitage Ave. We stimulated Chicago's economy a bit Lori's, the Paper Source, and a beautiful shop that was new to me, the Green Goddess Boutique ("sustainable chic"). I saw a gorgeous rug there that would be just right for our little Chicago bungalow. I loved it so much, I was finally tempted to look at the price: $4,500+.

Since we had spent a good chunk of time earlier in the weekend talking about/comparing tuition at various universities, I laughed at myself for even fantasizing about owning that rug. My first thought was that the rug represented about a semester of college (at an in-state, public university).

My second thought was that I could probably weave a rug for less than that.

Friday, August 26, 2011


I don't get to see my college roommates very often...we all live in different cities now. But last Sunday morning before our reunion came to an end, my friend and I walked up Michigan Avenue, from Monroe to the Water Tower. Then we crossed to the other side and walked back down. We walked and talked and walked and talked.

It really is a Magnificent Mile.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Yoga Fun

The very accommodating staff at the Hotel Burnham, where my college roommates and I were reunioning, lent us some yoga mats on Saturday morning so that we could try the free yoga class in Millenium Park. I've always wanted to do yoga outside against a beautiful backdrop, like on the yoga videos. So I was pleasantly surprised to discover I could do that right here in my own urban setting. Savasana with my eyes wide open!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Gumbo v. Jambalaya

Do you know the difference? An infamous story in my household concerns a fourth grade reading teacher and her mind-boggling, multiple-choice pop quizzes. You now, the ones designed to make children hate reading? On one of these 5-question tests, my daughter incorrectly matched the definition of jambalaya to the word gumbo and the definition of gumbo to the word jambalaya. She ended up with a big fat "D" on the quiz.

I told this tale to my college friends at our roomie reunion this weekend, here in Chicago. While we were eating lunch at Heaven on Seven! So before we left the restaurant, we made sure we all understood what makes gumbo gumbo.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

The Interrupters

Tuesday night we took our fifteen-year-old daughters down to the Gene Siskel Film Center to see the documentary The Interrupters. This is the Alex Kotlowitz-produced film spotlighting violence mediators working in Chicago neighborhoods.

The theater was full, the audience engaged (including my daughters). It's a riveting movie for many reasons. Afterward, one of the interrupters (not shown in the film) was taking questions. Someone asked how many interrupters are currently active, and I think he said 15. But even if he said 50, I'd be discouraged. Seems like we need more interrupters on the planet.

So, consider a financial gift to the organization. Or consider seeing the film. It will be playing through August 25th. And if you go this weekend, the three interrupters featured in the film are scheduled to appear at some viewings.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Hello, Again

Recently my 12-year-old niece asked me, "Aunt Kathy, why don't you ever post anything on your blog anymore?"

(Ha! I just didn't see that coming. I had no idea she even knew I had a blog.)

Well, I've almost forgotten how to do it, but let me try a little warm-up exercise to see what happens...Quick! 5 things I love about Chicago in the summertime:

1. The beach. Last Friday afternoon I was thinking about my brother-in-law moving to California. I was sitting on the beach (Foster Ave.) looking out at Lake Michigan...and hoping he was able to spend one last peaceful afternoon on Chicago's lakefront. The Pacific Ocean is awesome and all, but I bet he will miss his beautiful view of the Lake.

2. Mexican ice cream carts. And those coconut ice cream bars. Delivered to me at the beach, at our block party, on my front porch!

3. Out-of-town visitors. This weekend 5 of my college roommates are coming in to hang out. (One from Minnesota, one from New York, one from Pennsylvania, one from Michigan, and one from England.) Woot! Woot! They'll be arriving just in time for the....

4. Chicago Air & Water Show. Still exciting after all these years.

5. Eating breakfast/reading the paper outside on the back porch.

Now that wasn't so bad. But I must go eat my sorbet now. Ciao!