Live & Local: Music Memories

Back at the end of June, Darth Husband, The BFF and I went to House of Blues to see an school lineup of local music: Lucky Boys Confusion, Penny and the Loafers, The Waiting Game, and Inept with the new (as in new to me and younger) opener, Steve Knecht. (I use “old school” as a term of endearment since I have many fond memories of years of attending local shows.) I have loved live music for a long time but having it be a band from your area, or in some cases somewhat your area, makes it different. The following was rattling around in my head after the concert and the weeks following.


Since the days of the kid version of me blasting Poison on my Care Bear tape player, I’ve grasped that music is powerful and the concept that music connects people. As the tapes moved to CDs, I still kept my love of hair metal (a guilty pleasure even today) but then as bands like Nirvana, Green Day, Nine Inch Nails, and Soundgarden blasted from my CD player, local music entered the mix. There are lots of bands that are somehow located in or near Chicago, but I am talking the local bands: The kids that played in garages and church basements. The names on the high school battle of the bands lists and the hand drawn show flyers. The bands that played to three people in a local bar but still played their hearts out.

I have great memories of going to shows of friends’ bands. It was one thing to go see a great show but knowing both the performing and non-performing side of the people on stage made it even better. I was the girl in high school with the show flyer stapled to her band-patch covered green Jansport backpack (that logo, of course, covered with a patch) and the one making flyers for upcoming shows in college. I loved doing my part of help out my friends and finding great new music as well. It was exciting to be part of that era of local music.

I use the word “era” on purpose. When I was in high school and college, there were a number of local all ages venues: Oak Lawn Ice Arena (or OLIA if you were “cool”) The Coffee Lounge in Palos Hills, Cafe Nisa in Oak Lawn, Sputnik in Homewood, Mojoes in Orland Park, Lighthouse Cafe in Burbank and others that I can’t remember anymore. Plus add the local high school battle of the bands to the mix. Of course, when I turned 21 that meant I could see shows at numerous bars, including Champs in Burbank, but this is where it started.

The days of me painting blue streaks in my almost Bettie Page style bangs and putting on my plaid pleated skirt with combat boots are long gone as is the brand new age 21 driver’s license but all it takes it a song to step right back there for a moment. That moment when you hear a song and immediately start singing along as if you are in some sort of memory induced auto-pilot. That moment when you start dancing and don’t stop until the set is over not even thinking that you aren’t as young as you used to be and might be sore in the morning (or motivated to go to the gym even more.) That moment when the concert ends but you still have a mix-mosh of the nights songs stuck in your head for days.

Now that is an earworm that I don’t mind at all.

Gardening Road Trip: Woldhuis Farms Sunrise Greenhouse

Back when Nikabee and I went to the local nursery, I only purchased one plant, a Cheyenne Spirit Coneflower. I had a plan for the yard that was still in the early stage so buying a ton of plants without even the slightest idea is not a good idea.I know this for a fact after buying black-eyed susans one year and even though I tried to keep them alive, they died before I got them in the ground. My attempt to just bury them and cross my fingers for the following year failed too.

So this year was hack, attack, and start with a few spots. Redoing an entire section along the side of the house would be really amazing but also really out of our budget. I try to get the most bang for my buck, or should I say the most bloom for my buck, and so I watch the ads for when perennials are on sale. Yes, that is right, the ads.

I’ve had success with the garden centers of the big box home stores the last few years. As with any plants, some would die and other would come back with a vengeance. The heat wave summer of 2013 took a few as did last winter’s frigid weather, or Polar Vortex if you’d prefer. This year I had planned to thin out some areas and move some tiger lilies which meant I’d have some spaces to fill.

I know several gardening people who talked about Sunrise, a greenhouse that was a ways away but definitely worth the trip. Woldhuis Farms Sunrise Greenhouse is family owned and operated with three generations working within the seven acre greenhouse.


My thought was always that I’d eventually go but I didn’t know exactly when. When I mentioned a trip to Darth Husband, his reaction was like those opposite mirrors in some old cartoon. I was the excited crazy-eyed person and he was the calm one, though with a raised eyebrow. He knows how I can get with plant shopping. It is like the chorus of Want It All / We Will Rock You Mash-Up from the Sucker Punch soundtrack on repeat.

“I want it all, I want it all, I need it all right now, I want it all.
I gotta get it, I got gots to get it, yo-
I want it all, I want it all, I need it all right now.
I want it all, I want it all and I want it now.”

I knew he would go if I asked but after a while he’d be done and bored. I don’t think they have benches like outside of the women’s dressing rooms at some department stores. (Must try on all the clothes… and then buy like two things.) I wanted this to be a fun gardening based adventure and so I knew exactly who to talk to – Nikabee! Since she has been having success with her newbie plants, I had a feeling that she would think this was a good idea as well.

After a little coordinating work, we had a date set and that day also meant an early alarm. Usually pre-7am alarms on a Saturday have me grumbling and stumbling about.  Not this time since I knew earlier the better since this wasn’t a small greenhouse. The key was to be able to spend as much time as possible and not let the weather stop this.

Sunrise is SEVEN acres. Adding in that you are also inside a greenhouse means starting before the sun really starts blazing was ideal. If we had gone earlier in the season, the weather would (hopefully) been cooler but this was a hot day.

The early alarm was totally worth it. Believe me, I sleep in when I can. This place is amazing. If it was in a movie like Roger Rabbit, there’d be cartoon garden gnomes fluttering around on cherubic wings. Yes, I know me and garden gnomes.

Though their website is great and highly informative with an extremely useful plant finder search option, when we neared Sunrise I couldn’t help but be wowed by the actual size of the place. Reading seven acres is one thing, having the span actually stretched out in front of you is another.


We grabbed a double-decker cart with an attached map and once we got inside why there was a map made sense. If this was a cave, there’d be an awesome echo.


We wandered the garden tchotchke and planter sections a bit before finding the correct street to the perennials. The aisle have names and street sign inspired signs and so we started using them like driving directions.



Though I did want some annuals for my planters, my goal was to get some more perennials and to get some interesting ones. On the top of my list was Gaillardia Goblin. Nikabee was on the hunt for more perennials as well though our plants did vary mostly by leaf type. She goes for the more feathery types while mine were more on the ordinary side. We did share a similar warm color palette filled with oranges, yellows, and deep pinks. I added a bit of white and light purple to mine as well. 

Since we were winding down and our bill totals were moving up, we decided some would have to wait until next year. After a quick, or quicker than the earlier section, spin through the annuals, I had flowers for my pots and planters back home and we were ready to check out.


That is when I saw it – the gnome watering can. Did I already have a watering can? Yes, it is blue. Did I need another one? No, but it was a GNOME! Some people think they are tacky, or in Darth Husband’s case creepy, but I think they are hilarious. Onto the car it went. (I didn’t get a picture until I got home though.)


Our purchases just fit in the car so it was a good thing we decided to leave some things for next year.


Yes, there will definitely be a trip next year.


Trying a New Pinterest Recipe: Healthy Turkey Meatballs


When crazy storms tore through the Chicagoland area earlier this month, there were numerous power outages. Our house was smack dab in the middle of one of them. The fridge ended up running on a borrowed generator but the stove sat mocking me as we ate takeout and deli sandwiches for a few days. I missed real food and Nikabee came to the rescue. She invited me over for a dinner that included great turkey meatballs. Before I had even left her house, the link to the pin of Luv a Bargain’s Healthy Turkey Meatballs was in my inbox.

Here is my breakdown of this recipe.

  • Ingredients shopping:  Easy. I just needed to get the ground turkey. Since this is often on my weekly list and readily available where I shop, this was really easy. The panko breadcrumbs I had picked up, but never used, for a different recipe and so they were already in the pantry.
  • Prep: Easy. Basic cutting and measuring
  • Cooking: Easy. I used a 11 x 17 glass Pyrex baking dish to be sure they were spaced out. The other glass baking dish I have is a smaller square which would have had them too close together.
  • Make it again: Definitely! I had to stop myself from eating too many of them straight from the baking dish. I also like having meatball options for parties and potlucks that I put with sauce in a slow cooker. This worked really well with a basic homemade tomato sauce.
  • Modify it: Yes. I could see myself altering the amount of onion and/or garlic depending on who else would be eating it.
  • Works for leftovers: Yes. I actually made this the night before we actually had it for dinner. True, I was snacking on them straight from the oven but that was standing at the counter and not sitting at the kitchen table.

Trying a New Pinterest Recipe: Turkey Stuffed Peppers


Bell peppers are a standard grocery purchase for us. From salads to sauces, they work well as part of so many meals. This time they were more of the main element of the meal. I had been wanting stuffed peppers but not the tomato-heavy base of past meals. The Love Nerds’ Turkey Stuffed Peppers had just enough tomato without it being overkill.

Here is my breakdown of this recipe.

  • Ingredients shopping:  Easy. Almost everything was already in the kitchen.
  • Prep: Easy – Basic cutting and measuring
  • Cooking: Easy.
  • Make it again: Definitely. It is a different spin on stuffed peppers and it worked really well. I could see making this if we were having dinner guests as well.
  • Modify it: Yes. I thought I had tomato sauce in the pantry but it was a can of Italian seasoned tomato paste. Since that would change the flavor too much, I didn’t use it and only had the diced tomatoes and chicken broth. I added a slight bit more broth to balance out missing liquid.
  • Works for leftovers: Yes. I didn’t want them to dry out so I made sure to add a bit of the broth to the bottom of the small glass Pyrex dish when I packed up the leftovers for lunches. Heating them whole took a bit longer than if I cut them up and then reheated but they still reheated well.

Run, Turtle, Run: Slow and Steady to the Next 5k


I had originally planned to participate in two 5ks this month but some plans fell through. I’m not really upset since there is always next year for one. Plus, a discussion regarding potential costumes/theme for the group has already begun. This means a new crafty plan and a year to actual make the craft project a reality. For now, I am looking ahead to August and getting myself moving… slowly.

I’ve joked around on Instagram with the hashtag #runturtlerun but it is pretty realistic. I am a slow runner. I should probably say jog rather than run but if I have a bounce decent enough to keep a ponytail swinging back and forth I count it as a run. Ironically, I am a fast walker too.

With the deadline of August 2, I’ve already started working my way up to the full 3.1 miles of the Graffiti Run.  I’m participating with Nikabee and her husband who actually run 5ks. I know “actually” makes it sound like running it is a shocking new thing. It is that I’ve just participated in a number of walking friendly 5ks as a walker and not a runner. This time I want to run a majority, if not all, of it.

My cousin and I have made it a point to get to the gym once a week. I don’t mind the treadmill, or dreadmill as people call it, since I can watch some cable TV, which I don’t have at home, and get some miles in. As long as the mileage goes up, even just a little, every week, I’m feeling good about August.

Influenster Review: Go VoxBox

Once again, I had the opportunity to try some new products when Influenster sent me the Go VoxBox.


I have found some great products (and some not-so-great products) for me in prior boxes. Here is how this batch of products did.


  • Description: “The PROFOOT Pedi-Rock is the first soft foot file ergonomically designed delivering the ultimate foot file experience. The silicon carbide crystals gently remove even the toughest calluses in the shortest amount of time. Pedi-Rock can be used wet or dry and simply rinse with water and let air dry for the next use. Keep our feet Spring soft with Pedi-Rock!”
  • Listed price: $8.99
  • Thoughts: I absolutely loved the PROFOOT Pedi-Rock. I have used flat foot files in the past for my at-home pedicures and at times this can be very awkward. A wrong angle or too much pressure and things can even be slightly painful! This is a thing of the past thanks to the Pedi-Rock. I was able to hold it easily and turn it as needed to take care of the rough spots on my feet. The “I’m soft – Squeeze Me” sticker on the packaging tells the truth and it having a bit of a give works great to not accidentally overdo it in places. It also cleaned easily and dried quickly.
  • Like it: Yes. This has already been added to the products for my foot care routine.
  • Love it: Yes.
  • Gift it: Yes. I could also see adding this to a manicure/pedicure themed gift basket.
  • Buy it: When this one is worn out, I can definitely see myself buying a replacement.

Blue Diamond Fruit Flavored Almonds (Blueberry)

  • Description: “Loaded with antioxidant Vitamin E, our Fruit-Flavored Almonds combine the delicious crunch of almonds with the subtly sweet flavors of strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries.”
  • Listed price: $3.19 for 4 oz bag
  • Thoughts: There are always plain almonds in our house. In the past, I’ve tried savory flavors but not fruit. I tried the blueberry flavored almonds while out and about as a quick snack. The flavor was blueberry but not overly fruity and sweet. I’m planning to try the other two fruit flavored options, strawberry and raspberry.
  • Like it: Yes
  • Love it: No. I still prefer plain or savory.
  • Gift it: I don’t see it as a solo gift but I could see adding these to the mix of various snacks at a party.
  • Buy it: Yes. I’m curious to see what I think of the strawberry and raspberry.

Platex Sport Fresh Balance

  • Description: “Introducing NEW Playtex® Sport® Fresh Balance™ with Odor Shield™ technology. It’s designed to neutralize odors for ultimate freshness on and off the field. Combined with a 360o® design for Sport Level Protection®, you can go the distance. Play On®.”
  • Listed Price: $3.99-$4.99
  • Thoughts: I tried this out when I went to the gym. I don’t play any team sports so my experience was a short time at the gym. The tampon stayed in place and since I had no issues with it, I pretty much forgot it was there. The packaging is what made me raise an eyebrow, however, since there were outlines of sporty women on the wrapper and it also included a bright pink applicator. I don’t need wrappers and applicators to look cute. I just want them to keep sealed yet open somewhat easily and be smooth and easy to use.
  • Like it: Yes.
  • Love it: No.
  • Gift it: This is not an item that I would give someone as a gift.
  • Buy it: Maybe. If I had a 5k, attended a fast paced fitness class like spinning, or something where I was going to be very active, this could work.

Müller® Greek Corner Yogurt (Coupon)

  • Description: “Müller® Greek Corner Yogurt is a thick and creamy Greek-style lowfat yogurt that comes with fruit or crunchy mix-ins”.
  • Listed price: $1.29
  • Thoughts: I tried the Chocolate & Cherry Greek Yogurt Corner which reminded me chocolate covered cherry smashed in vanilla yogurt. It was creamy but not as thick as some other Greek yogurt that I have had. The fruit mixed in well and there wasn’t a lot of extra fruit stuck in the side corner. A pet peeve of mine is when toppings are stuck in the side section and then not easily added to the yogurt section.
  • Like it: Yes.
  • Love it: No. Though the flavor was really good, I like my Greek yogurt a bit thicker.
  • Gift it: Not an item I’d give as a gift but Darth Husband has since bought another flavor.
  • Buy it: Maybe to see what other flavors are out there.

Next Step Fit N Full Protein Shake

  • Description: “Take your NEXT STEP toward your weight management goal: add a delicious meal replacement to your diet. Supports reduction of body fat (as part of a healthy diet and exercise program.) Reduces hunger and cravings. 14g of protein per serving”
  • Listed price: No price given in box
  • Thoughts: There were three flavors of shake mixes (Swiss Chocolate, Fresh Berries, and French Vanilla) that came with a shaker/mixer bottle. Darth Husband and I have larger bottles of this type so I knew already that I would need to really shake the bottle so that the mix blended with the water. I made sure I did this for quite some time and the majority mixed well. There were still some smaller bits but not gritty. The texture was fine but I couldn’t get past a slightly bitter aftertaste. It was chocolate but it wasn’t. It smelled like hot chocolate which was great but it didn’t taste like it. I made a point to drink as much of it as possible to give it a fair review and I did minus maybe a half-inch of the bottom of the bottle. I wasn’t hungry after drinking the majority but after about an hour later I was hungry.
  • Like it: No. It isn’t a meal replacement or a match for me.
  • Love it: No.
  • Gift it: Yes. I will be giving these to Darth Husband who said he’d drink it.
  • Buy it: No.

PROFOOT Triad Orthotic

  • Description: ”This original, three zone everyday orthotic is clinically proven to relieve knee, leg, and back pain when worn in your favorite shoes. With Ultra-Fresh® protection and ¾ length, your feet will feel fresh, free, and experience a new level of comfort. Treat yourself by treating your feet!”
  • Listed price: $10.49
  • Thoughts: The packaging lists this to work for womens size 6-10. Though this is a wide range, I was hopeful. Then reality hit. These inserts do not fit/work for me. I wear a 9/9.5 shoe and they were too short.
  • Like it: No. I couldn’t wear them
  • Love it: No. I couldn’t wear them
  • Gift it: Yes. I will be giving these to someone with a smaller sized foot to try.
  • Buy it: Only if there were better sized options would I consider buying this.

Aqua Spa Relax Collection – Aqua Spa Relax Bath Soak

  • Description: “Aqua Spa Relax Collection  gives you a hydrating beauty boost when you need it most so you can skip the spa and bliss out at home, leaving your skin and mood all a-glow. Relax mind and body with the calming relief of lavender and chamomile. Revitalize tired muscles salts with the gently foaming, bath salt treatment. Protect skin from stress-induced aging effects with Mineral Youth Complex.”
  • Listed price: $9.99
  • Thoughts: It has been too hot and humid lately to even think about taking a bath though the fragrance is nice. I have sensitive skin and so am hoping this will work for me. I’ll post some sort of review either here or via one of my social media accounts once I’ve used it.
  • Like it: TBD
  • Love it: TBD
  • Gift it: TBD
  • Buy it: TBD

Disclaimer: I received these products complimentary from Influenster for testing purposes. All reviews within CSYA are my own and were not influenced by the company or individuals associated with the company.