Thursday, December 29, 2016

Catching up on some randomness...

Every time I even think about writing here I think about how much there is to update on and it's almost overwhelming!

So if you wonder why I haven't been crazy blogging lately, you're about to find out ALLLLL about that.

I could start with the Andrew Jackson spoon ring my cousin made me for my birthday:

It came with a matching magnet...kind of. The magnet has Andrew Jackson with hamsters crawling all over him. (Told you it only kind of matched...)

Or how I just bought Run Fast. Eat Slow and am anxiously awaiting it's arrival tomorrow (yay two day shipping!). I found a few recipes online and tried some out last night, and I think my only New Years "resolution" will be to actually make every recipe in this book. This book has been cropping up all over my life lately - on Facebook and Instagram and other blogs, and it looks promising!

Or we could go with BIGGER changes...(like for real, here's an announcement for you!)

...Anthony and I are going to be moving and buying a house! We officially start looking next month! As in January. Like...three days away. We're currently setting up our first few viewings, and it's already the most stressful thing I've ever done.

Aside from a fridge to put my Andrew Jackson magnet on, I'm just hoping for something with more than one toilet and a yard a) because who wants to shower when someone needs to poop, and 2) because a dog will follow super soon after the house!


So besides that bombshell, what else have I got?

How about I throw some pictures at you from the day (way back in October) that Anthony and I took his nieces and nephew to Goebbert's Pumpkin Patch?

We spent most of our time in the petting zoo area (including feeding birds, which was so fun!) and then managed to be the highlight of the show when we went to feed the giraffe! We also saw the pumpkin crushing dragon, bought some pumpkins of our own to paint/carve before Halloween, and let the kids bounce off some energy on the various play things available. Not only are these kids super good (most of the time), they're fun and adorable to hang out with!

On our way!
For some reason Anthony has said we can't get a Capybara when we move in together. #notfair

Showing off my bird catching skills!

Don't let that cute, brave face fool you. She was totally terrified of the birds.
The forced perspective here is great. She looks so tiny next to gigantic me!

Anthony's face here is ridiculous!

The pumpkin crushing dragon!

Little was completely enthralled!

When we went up to feed the giraffes they seemed totally disinterested...until I dumped out my entire cup of carrots on the balcony. That got them interested!


Mild interest.

Moderate interest.


Definitely over you guys!

Oh...what's this you have to offer>

I'm interested.

The kid wasn't too sure.

Hey, you have a whole cup of these things??


Alright, I like you for real.

You my fave!

Bye bye raffi'.

We take lots of kissy photos.

It was really hard to get the little one to pay attention for this. Note: She didn't.

I heart...!

And for now...that's it. But I'm pretty sure that's enough for today, haha.


Friday, December 16, 2016

Camping at Starved Rock

So it turns out that if I post 9 more times in December I'll hit 100 posts in a year.

Yeah, okay, like that will happen...but who knows, maybe I can make it! :P

I feel like all of the posts I still want to write happened soooooo long's crazy to think it's already been almost 2 months since most of this stuff!!!

But anyways...time to post about one of those things! I'm excited to revisit this camping trip since we had perfect weather the whole time (unlike now...Chicagoland is stupid cold and covered in snow with more coming...).

So here goes!

When I went to Europe, Anthony and I were talking one day and decided that we really wanted to try to fit in a camping trip during the fall. I recommended Starved Rock because I'd never been there, and we booked a camp site right away, picking the only weekend with sites still available (October 21-23). We also both took the Friday off work so we could pack up all of our camping gear and make the ride south without any pressure, and without being all strung out from the craziness of a work day. (Good decision all around.)

That Friday morning we woke up and combed through my family's camping stuff to pick out what we'd need, then loaded up my car. We made a few stops just before leaving (including lunch with Anthony's mom!) then started the 2-ish hour drive south to Starved Rock State Park in Oglesby, Illinois.

After something flew off my car about 30 minutes from the park, we decided to stop at a Walmart to check it out, and buy all the food we'd need for the weekend. It turns out the thing that flew off my car was a wheel well guard thing (I don't know cars so I really don't know...). Nbd for the short term.

We piled all the food and firewood we'd gotten into the cooler and stacked the car even more full, and made it to the campsite around 4...just enough time to get things set up and to start making dinner before the sun went down. We were both actually very tired from all the packing and traveling and site setup, so we decided not to try and fit in a hike before dinner and bed (that had been the original plan).

We really made up for it the next day though!

But we had dinner (pudgy pies...basically the best campfire fancy grilled cheese kind of sandwiches), and then started on some s'mores...and we took advantage of the lack of technology to do a lot of talking... ;)

And now a note to any of my cousins reading this...I had this brilliant idea to make a s'more in the pudgy pie iron. I was so prepared to post on Facebook that I was the pudgy pie champion:
But I definitely did not champion the pudgy pie. I made a total mess, and I actually destroyed the pudgy pie iron trying to clean it, lol. So...yeah that was a fail!

We hit the hay early, and in the morning I looked crazy:
I told you so.
We made a great breakfast (eggs, hash browns, sausage, and coffee...I taught Anthony all about how coffee is the most important thing in the morning no matter where you are!), and then we packed some sandwiches and snacks for our hike.

We cleaned up around the site (not hiding any alcohol at all since you're not supposed to have it there) and got moving. The weather was a bit chilly, but seemed totally perfect for a day of hiking!
We had to stop at the Lodge to park the car and go to the bathroom, but the trail head from the Lodge will take you to any trail, and we wanted to see how many we could hit up in one day. We knew from the maps that, starting near the Lodge, trails extended for nearly 4 miles, and hiking out and back seemed the best way to go.
We started by hiking the tops of the canyons (French >Wildcat > down the line to Tonty), at which point we ended up going totally off the hard beaten path, and taking some side definite trails other people had taken before, but not the main trails. This took us to that hidden canyon, and also to some cool spots right along the river. We made it to Hennepin Canyon overlook which was right around when we ran out of water...about 4.5 miles in. Those first miles were definitely a hike, that included a lot of climbing and steeper areas. But since we were out of water at this point, we decided that it would be best to take the easy trail along the river back to the lodge - and to stop and actually see Starved Rock! So our trip ended with stops at Beehive Overlook, Eagle Cliff Overlook, Lover's Leap Overlook, and Starved Rock Overlook.

We saw a ton of people in the mile or so closest to the Lodge, but by the time we got further out there were fewer and fewer people, and almost no one on the trails around Hennepin and further out along the river.

Of course, I took plenty of pictures to share, so enjoy!!

This tree had cool roots!

French Canyon...look at the tiny people at the bottom!

We took pictures like this specifically because our parents told us not to :P

The first waterfall we saw!

Someone dropped something.

I loved this dog's little pack!

One of my favorite pictures from the day!

This was where we stopped to have lunch. We were alone the whole time we ate, which made it a great little break.

I totally didn't know that's the face Anthony was making when I took this -_-
This was when we left the beaten path for greater adventures...!

It does not look very steep here, but we climbed up this little cliff to get back on the main trail. I almost fell and died (slight exaggeration)...but Anthony pulled me up.

We found a nice little over hang for a photo op!

We climbed up these wild looking stairs on our way back to the start of the trail.
I didn't take any pictures on our walk back (since we'd seen it all on the way in), and because we booked it back to the Lodge. By the time we got to the Lodge (which was slightly harder to find on the way back) we'd gone another 4.5 miles! A total of 9 miles hiking for the day, and all those miles back were without water (I'd planned poorly and forgetten my Camelbak...whoops).

But we made it back to the Lodge, then on the way back to our campsite we stopped for some firewood and extra food and water. The place we stopped was definitely the cutest podunk place ever. It was on some random 80 year old's farm, and it was called "Jack's Camp Store". He had a little store set up in his garage with all of the essentials (cereal, bread, milk, cheese) and tons of firewood. Pick your own...something like 24 logs for $15. So we bought our items from Jack (bread and water and beans and wood) and mosied on back to our campsite.

It took us forever to get a fire going, and once we did it was super smokey (I not-so-secretly believe the wood was a bit wet). We managed to cook some brats and beans, and then I attempted to make a Peach did not work. We won't even talk about it. Some bits were salvageable though, so they did get eaten!

After that, we curled up in bed (it had gotten pretty cold out!) and slept the night away.

In the morning we were pros with the site take down. We started cooking the rest of the food we had for breakfast, and took turns tending the camp stove as we packed up the car and took the tent down. By the time breakfast was ready, we were ready to eat and go (for ease of take down, I put all of our dirty dishes in a garbage bag and washed them when we got home).

And I didn't forget the selfie right before we left ;)

Saying goodbye to our campsite!
We both had a great was so long ago but it was fun to have the whole weekend to ourselves and outside with each other, just hanging out. It was time much needed and well spent!
And to wrap things adorable picture of Stewart when we chilled on the couch that night: