Summertime Chi.

from Adler Planetarium on my lunch run.

It’s officially summer here in Chicago and I am loving it! What a difference from last summer. Seriously, last year, I was still pretty nervous to explore and wasn’t into ‘outdoorsy’ or many ‘non-drinking’ things so finding out how many summer hobbies I now have has been awesome.

Let’s do a few words to recap the past few weeks.

Bought a bike – became obsessed with biking – fell off bike – waiting for arm to heal (still – sigh).
Studied 3 months for GMAT – took GMAT – that was pointless to study for 3 months.
Bought 3923748 avocados – made amazing avocado dishes/sauces/spreads/smoothies – enjoyed eating it all.

bike ride to Irving Park/Lincoln Park

There that’s a verbal description of my past two weeks. I’m bummed I can’t ride because I LOVE my bike. I’m not really that disappointed about the GMAT, my scores are not ‘super competitive’ but they aren’t laughable either so… I’m gonna take some time to heal both mentally and physically before I plot my next move or bike ride.

Let’s look at pictures. I have been loving walking around downtown during lunch and I have really enjoyed discovering the lake and many other awesome running/biking trails/paths. Pretty much me and Leopold love summer Chicago!

summertime grilling – hawaiian chicken thighs and apple cider coleslaw
i made my own laundry soap with this and borax! it is great!.
just a five minute walk from my office 🙂
al pastor tacos from the taqueria down the street. NOM
spock.
oh just making up my own shawl pattern NBD.
lunch time walk
oh hai.

okay there is more but I promise I’m gonna start updating again WAY more often now that the GMAT is done and summer is here!

🙂
xxx
GFK

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Blog Break

Well, I sure did not mean to take a week long break from GFK. However, I was incredibly busy and distracted. First, my mom came into town over the weekend and we had a blast! Walking, hanging, watching Roku, crafting, shopping, and of course eating. Second, work has been kicking my butt. I start a new assignment and to say that I’m taking to it like a fish to water would be a lie. I’m struggling. I know things get better with practice and time, but it’s difficult at the moment. I’m mentally really tired. I haven’t been able to craft as much lately simply because my brain is overloaded. Third, GMAT prep is just crap. Wow the positive vibes are radiating out of me here – but – spending 15+ hours a week on something and seeing no improvement is just shitty. There I said it. I stand by my claim that I’ll pray to God I’ll pull a great score out of my ass on test day, but realistically it looks like I’ll need a formal ($$$$) class this fall. Le sigh.

Things getting me through the weather, life, work, and stress of May 2014: Long walks during lunch, epic BBQ sessions at my house at night, Yoga – handstands, Runs/Gym time, Candy/Sweets/Chocolate, T-we Tea, Roku 3, and the ugly tribe.

me and katy puggy

5-2013 vs 5-2014

Onward. zzzzz.
GFK

Centered Self May 2014

Happy Monday. I hope everyone had a great weekend. Mine was very nice aside from my normal GMAT angst. I’m sadly just not doing well in the practice exams anymore. I excel and make huge progress in the practice questions every night when I study for 2-3 hours, but not on the exams I take Saturday. I think, and I know it may sound like I’m ‘opting-out’, but that I may just stop taking the full length practice exams now that there is 1 month till my test. They do not help me confidence wise nor do they help me focus on my ‘weaknesses’ I seem to do poorly/strongly in a new subject each week – making it so nothing is consistent. I’m gonna try for this approach since my 8 weeks of weekly CAT exams have not seemed to help me. I realize that I am rushing, because once I ‘get it over with’ I can actually enjoy my weekend. Honestly, it’s going to come down to that day of the test. All I can do is keep practicing out of my OG book 2-3 hours a day and pray to God and to all the underdog stories of all time that I will pull a decent score out of my ass on May 31. But, worst case scenario I take a formal course with Manhattan in the late summer.

le sigh. Aside from that I had a really nice reflective weekend. I have to marvel at how much I have grown in the past 9+ months mentally and physically. I am able to do things and experience emotions I would have never thought I would work through and make work for me. Mentally, I concurred my anxiety and overcame the insecurities that plagued me for most of my adult life. I am able to accept my faults and to gain strength from my successes. I’ve kicked the negativity to the curb along with all the people that facilitate negative thoughts and actions for me. Living a life without being brought down by others is marvelous. I have never been so free in losing myself in what I love. I finally have found what true security and self-love means.

Plus, I am so lucky to have a strong support group, that only wants to support me and see me succeed. Likewise, I have found immense happiness in inspiring others and trying to infuse a positive support system from myself to anyone I talk to. That doesn’t mean I still don’t have emo or bad days, but I sure as hell snap out of them more quickly and find myself engaging in more meaningful ways of coping with ‘the blues.’ I do have a hard time with expectations, but honestly my core group of friends and family always exceed any expectations that I would have. I’m truly blessed to have people that genuinely care for me and want to see me succeed and be happy. On the physical side of things, I have never been more strong and motivated. I can run like the wind! Well an 8-10 mile an hour breeze, but still that’s GREAT! I also have achieved my handstand goals and now can do unassisted handstands for 30seconds – 1 minute. I’m working on movement poses, but with a curious unnamed kitten – being upside down and trying to switch pose positions is quite difficult. I have to say I really enjoy knowing that I am strong from the inside – humble confidence radiates out of me these days.

I also made this ADORABLE geisha girl from Benartex Panel Prints. I got mine here and it actually took about 2-3 days to receive her! I had a blast putting her together at my friend’s house (duel sewing machines!) and then hand stitching at home (which I still need A LOT of work on).

Last weekend I decided to plant some kitchen herbs and I was so excited to see that 3/4 have already germinated! I’ll have Basil (pictured), Oregano (still waiting on it to germinate), Cilantro, and Rosemary in a few weeks! I also bought an organic Mint plant from Wal-Mart on Saturday and made virgin-zero calorie-full fun juleps/mockjitos with some lemon-lime soda water and stevia. 🙂

I also will admit my favorite treat are those super cheap ice cream cups from Wal-Mart. They have a birthday cake one that is so so tasty. I have friends that help me eat it. *note I was done eating it – I am not that gross to share food with the cats.

I attempted to ‘sun-proof’ and thus heat-proof my living room this weekend also. I used some of those emergency thermal blankets, as I read a HOW TO HERE. Boris was the foreman for this job and inspected my work. I don’t know if this is gonna last/work. The crinkly noise is kind of annoying. TBD. If this <$5 experiment does not work I may splurge and get these real thermal black out drapes. Or I’ll buy those car window black-out foam things and suspend them… God things are getting weird at my house.

This might explain what’s up.

xxx
GFK

Chicago Modern Quilting Guild

Oh my cow. I can’t believe it’s already Wednesday. I swear I blinked on Sunday and here I am! Speaking of the weekend I finally hit 1000 followers on Instagram! Weee. To celebrate I made this cute little celebration cake cozy.

yay! 1000 followers!

On Sunday, I was so kindly invited to attend the Chicago Modern Quilting Guild and let me just say WOW. I didn’t really know what to expect. In crafting, I find that fellow crafters are either really friendly and welcoming or the other extreme of incredibly protective and clique-like. I was very pleased to find that CMQG was the former – full of enthusiastic and warm women. I seriously was jaw dropped at the kind of creativity and happenings in this local quilt guild. It was a ‘demo-day,’ which meant we had four different short, but informative demos. I learned a great deal focusing on ‘squaring up your quilt’, labeling your quilt, creating a sleeve to hang your quilt (yay! no more ruined door panels!), and finishing borders. Then during the show and tell portion. HOLY QUILT BATMAN. Let me just say I have always been impressed by traditional quilting, but modern quilting and concepts for inspiration BLEW ME AWAY. I seriously can’t believe how amazingly creative and talented this guild is.

Robbi Joy Eklow. QUILTING GENIUS & Epically wonderful lady.
by Emily at mommysnaptime – LOVE.
By Laura Hartrich – tiny scissor hands.

I was just so impressed and inspired. I think I’ll go ahead and work on some cute little beginner patterns for quilting some coasters or maybe a door panel. I was so jazzed up I came home and knocked out a cute little embroidered semi-reversible baby bib.

I have 31 days until my GMAT. Then, on June 1…. Quilting….. the final frontier.

XXX
GFK

Easturd Weekend

this photo is everywhere – BIG thanks to whom ever created it. i ❤ you.

Happy belated Easter! (if you're into that sort of thing) It was just a plain old Sunday for me since I have no family here to celebrate with, but with a rocking gym work out, candy, Ethiopian food, and Game of Thrones and lovely weather in Chicago it was a splendid day.

I had an unusual weekend. It was quite busy yet oddly relaxing when I needed it to be. I took a practice GMAT test on Saturday and well…. I should not have. Why you ask? Well, I ran so many errands and literally ran 5.5 miles prior so that when I sat down to take my exam my brain was just ‘mush.’ I could feel it as soon as I read the first question. I should have stopped and said ‘Not today.’ But of course being stubborn I decided just to power through and did better than my first GMAT but I did not increase my score as I was hoping to this time. Alas, I’m motivated to continue to study more effectively and to plan differently from here on out about taking the practice tests. ONWARD!

To ‘wind down’ I worked on a little tote-bag project of an alien babe. Verdict? WAY CUTE. I just love SUBLIME STITCHING’s embroidery patterns. I’m think of doing a 101 post here would any readers be interested?

Then, I went to a co-worker’s ‘going-away party’ Saturday evening and I had some of the best brisket of my life. Seriously. It was so amazing. It made me remember that on Saturday April 26th I will be entered into a raffle (of only 300 other tickets) to win a ‘BIG GREEN EGG.’ I am beyond excited I bought 2 tickets so that’s a 1/150 chance! (haha. hey someone’s gotta win it)

From that little shin-dig I went with my lovely co-worker to see Ghost BC. Now, I hadn’t ever listened to Ghost aside from a song or too. It’s not really ‘my style’ of music, but I had heard they are great showmen and was very curious. Well, they were incredibly THEATRICAL. Almost to the point of laughter – seriously it was supposed to be so ‘evil’ and ‘occult’ it was most often humorous. The fans were hysterical also – it seemed me and my friend were the only ones not in GHOST apparel and vehemently and vigorously singing along to every song while playing air guitar/drums. There were grown-ass men next to us hugging it out in sheer joy to have seen them live. Like ‘OH MY GOD MAN – GHOST!’ We got lots of funny looks and sneers over the shoulder, because we were giggling and chatting quite a bit. Oops…

plague doctor outfits + inverted cardinals robes = 1970s unicorn rock.

Sunday, I deep cleaned my house and it felt great! Re-energized and ready to dominate for the week on the home front. I started working on a little crochet project too since I hope to hit 1000 followers on IG this week and will thus host a giveaway! 🙂

Sunday night, I met up with my homie and had Ethiopian food (traditional Easter you know? teehee) and then binged on loads of candy/left over cupcakes while watching GAME OF THRONES! I have to say, things are becoming deviated from some of the book plot so I’m way excited to see what comes next.

carrot cake cupcakes. nom.

Working that Grind.
XXX
GFK

LET’S GET ALL SQUISHEE.


At the beginning of March I made a little ‘to-do’ list and I just wanted to revisit that and set some new intentions for Spring now that we are really getting into some wonderful weather.

1. Go to the dentist. I did it! After what seemed like decades of bad news at the dentist, I finally received an ‘outstanding’ review and found out more about my options for dealing with my 15 year old root canals. Since the integrity of my teeth is really great, the dentist told me I would have these ‘dead-teeth’ for a long time and could go with a ‘less invasive’ method of crowns for fixing the color issue I have going on. CUTE! I know right!? Anyways, maybe prepare yourself for the panic stricken dental posts that will begin to show up as I embark on this endeavor in the next six months.

2. Cheapskates are the BEST skates! Well my cheapskate lifestyle is really gaining momentum. I’ve managed to stop consuming new clothing and housewares items. I’ve cut my shopping bill to reflect a sustainable, yet low amount each week. I’ve even gone so far as to price compare at several store and online for the items I consume regularly. I signed up on Amazon’s FREE Subscribe and Save plan for several reoccurring items that I use such as face wipes, wet ones for the cats, allergy medicine, floss, toothpaste, vitamins, Vega protein powder, and lotions. The great thing about the subscription plan is that you can save up to 15% off each item and you can choose the frequency of how often you’d like to receive the item. Then you receive all your monthly subscriptions on the same day depending on your frequency selection. PLUS you can cancel or opt out of it at any time. It’s really a great program and there are quite a few discounts/coupons floating around that take 30% off your first Subscribe and Save enrollment. I even called up my current satellite and internet providers and negotiated new cheaper plans – and somehow got SHOWTIME and STARZ for FREE!!! (for three months). Cut my monthly bill by $30 calling on both! 🙂

3. Lent. Going strong with my GIANT reduction in froyo. Thank goodness. Adios frozen yogurt. I’ve only had it twice all of Lent. However, now is probably not a good time to ask me about all the Easter Candy and limited edition sugar I’ve consumed in place. SAY SUMTHING!

4. Positive Energy. In this goal I have made the most improvement. I really did kick the negativity to the curb. Both in my personal and professional life I’ve made immense efforts to be positive. Don’t get me wrong I’m still emo as hell sometimes and will readily drop a UGH MY LIFE IS OVER in jest (well mostly jest), but I’m not focusing on the negative. Life is wonderful right now and the fact that I am rocking it, is just glorious. I worked really hard to get here – I’m healthy, I’m sober, I’m busy, I’m creative, I’m excited and most of all I’m able to love myself and the great family and friends that have my back. I owe a lot to PMA and to my support group. I’d also just like to give a huge kudos and squeeze to my ‘heterolife mate’ and life-seester Tannith – she has been my sounding board and a great friend in all these changes despite being such a stupendous wife and mother to her own family!

For some new intentions I really want to find a balance in fitness. I love working out – for the physical results, but also for the mental benefits. I rejoined an online Yoga site to practice some things at home and so far I’m loving it. There is deep twisting for detoxification and wonderful work for tight shoulder (because the chiropractor visits are few and far between) and hamstrings. I think keeping with my existing cardio regimine but adding yoga to the mix will be splendid. Further, I really want to focus on being a leader and student in my health, crafts, and relationships. I’m so grateful I have this moment to be proud and look at all the gifts I’ve given myself.

See I told you I’m all squishee.

BARF RAINBOWS.

XXX
GFK

Productive Chicago Weekend

Gosh you would think I was sitting on top of some hot-burning fire this weekend because I got a lot done. (Does that even make sense? I feel like that was my attempt at some Depression era ‘talk’) I had to go to my local USPS office to find a missing package with some very special cargo in it. Thankfully, my post office is actually super close to my house and the people who work there are actually pleasant… I know right?

that's a whole summer's worth of HK sun protection.
that’s a whole summer’s worth of HK sun protection.

I also took another practice exam for the GMAT and did an astounding 60 points better in just two weeks! I’m very pleased with this progress and know it is just an affirmation that the studying I am doing is really paying off in a big way. After my CAT, I went ahead and ventured into my craft room for some wonderful sewing projects! I just used a basic bias skirt pattern from McCall’s similar to THIS ONE. I did however use french seams and wish I had known about those sooner – I LOVE their finish.

my new gray denim skirt.
my new gray denim skirt.
adorable fox skirt for lovie.
adorable fox skirt for lovie.

I also tried to make a little tepee for the cats, but they were no feeling it. I think I need to make it bigger, they just didn’t seem to think it was very cool. Cats… they love the ‘sack’ of cloth I made for them a few weeks ago, but don’t understand this has potential for the best photoshoot ever!

abandoned tepee.
abandoned tepee.

In pursuit of the cheapskates lifestyle, I decided to price compare Wal-Mart to Aldi on a few items that I consume a LOT of. Basically, I wanted to find an alternative egg/meat source aside from Aldi. Wal-Mart does have organic Eggland’s Best Eggs for $4.98 and a very very limited non-antibiotic/steroid chicken selection. Aldi rotates organic selections based on consumer buying patterns with a ‘features’ program so two weeks ago when they had the Organic Grassfed beef I was so happy but should have bought more to freeze and use later. Anyways, I’m thinking more about the antibiotics thing because my GMAT prep test actually had an article about how the EU has banned antibiotic use, but the USA hasn’t and well….. here we go. Also in my Wal-Mart escapade today I found some awesome products that made me proud to say ‘EASTHHHER IN AMMMERICCHHHAA.’

walmart is a great place.
walmart is a great place.
vanilla creme peep - limited edition. limited lifespan - CHOMP.
vanilla creme peep – limited edition. limited lifespan – CHOMP.

Sunday, I colored my hair, and while that was processing made that fox skirt up above! Then I went to finish my Dunwich Horror with Mister Josh Howard at Pioneer Tattoo. I love it.

josh howard monster
josh howard monster

There was also a Katy Puggy siting… I keep tweeting the real Katy Perry – maybe one day she’ll see.

katy puggy!
katy puggy!

Le sigh Monday….

xxx
GFK