Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Cantigny Estate

Last month we made a visit to Cantigny Estate in Wheaton, Illinois. 

Cantigny was the farm and estate of Colonel Robert McCormick.  Colonel McCormick was an important man in the history of Chicago and was the editor and publisher of the Chicago Tribune for 44 years.  Colonel McCormick was a full colonel in the US army during the first World War.  He took part in the capture of Cantigny during the war and he named his estate in honor of the battle.

We have an interesting connection to Colonel McCormick.  My dad's uncle, William Bockelman, was a tough ex-cop who was McCormick's personal driver and body guard.  My dad said he remembers being at Uncle Bill's house when he was a small boy and finding William's hand gun stuffed behind a pillow on the sofa.  Uncle Bill usually drove McCormick to work each day in a bulletproof automobile and one day he brought the car home and took the family, including my dad, for a ride.

When McCormick died, his charitable trust established Cantigny as a public park and over the years 29 acres of his property have been transformed into 22 individual spectacular gardens and his home is now a museum.

The house itself is massive and impressive looking.  I would have loved to take a tour but we had just missed the starting time and couldn't wait around for the next tour to start.  Maybe next time.  We wandered around with our jaws hanging at the size of this house.  Can you imagine living here???



Also on the grounds is The First Division Museum.  I'll be doing another post about that soon.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Cache Crazy Tuesday 10-29-13

Come join me over at Cache Crazy for one of my favorite geocaching adventures near The Mineola Hotel.  Geocaching, gangsters, a lake and a haunted hotel - what are you waiting for??

Monday, October 28, 2013

Locks of Love

Last week Chablis made a huge decision and cut off her hair to donate it to Locks of Love.  Locks of Love is an organization that provides hairpieces for children under the age of 21 who suffer from hair loss due to medical reasons. 

Except for occasional trims, Chablis hasn't had a haircut in over 3 years.  She has gorgeous thick and naturally curly hair.  She sat on my bed for 15 minutes and kept saying, "I don't know what to do.  Should I cut it and donate it or just trim it?  I don't know.  I don't think I can cut it off.  OMG, I don't know what to do."

Here's what she looked like minutes before walking out the door.  As she left, she was still undecided about what she was going to do.  I made her let me take some pictures just in case she decided to donate it....

She went to the salon and talked to her hairdresser and they discussed the options.  I think the thing that helped her decide to do it was that she read about a little girl who was sick and all she wished for was to have long hair.  Reading that broke Chablis' heart and in the end she decided to donate it.  She has hair that will grow back and if she can put a smile on one little girls face, this will definitely be worth it.

Jenny asked her if she was sure she wanted to do it.  Chablis said yes and before she could blink, Jenny placed her ponytail on the counter....

So here she is with her new, short and straightened hairstyle....

Chablis loves her haircut and I love her for doing this.  It's such a cool and generous thing to do.  I hope that sometime in the near future a little girl is brushing her new, long hair and it's putting a big smile on her face and bringing her a little happiness.  Because that is what this is all about.
If you are blessed with long hair and would like to make a difference in someone's life, please consider donating it to Locks of Love.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Standing Bear Update and Charity Video's

I know that many of you are familiar with my friend Mike McLaughlin, aka Standing Bear.  Last year Mike hiked the Appalachian Trail in the name of charity and abused children.  I blogged about it during his entire journey and you can go back through my posts to catch up on his adventure.  Here's a quick link to the very first post.

Mike himself is a survivor of childhood abuse.  He has risen above and beyond his experience and has dedicated his life to helping others.  Mike is inspiring with what he has accomplished so far with his Hike4Kids and United4Kids organizations.  But he's not finished yet - not by a long shot!

Over this past summer, Mike hiked to the summit of all the 4000 foot mountains in New Hampshire to raise awareness for neglected and abused children.  He had several charities that he was supporting in this grand endeavor, and at each summit he proudly displayed their flags and then did a video montage for each organization.

Please take a few minutes and check out some of his videos...

Next up for Mike is a bicycle ride/speaking engagement across America, beginning in January 2014.  He's going to be stopping and speaking at schools and youth agencies along the way. Mike has created a new webpage that lists updates, as well as recaps of his recent activities and charitable endeavors.  Please visit it here.

If you have an organization where you'd like Mike to make an appearance, you can contact him at .

On top of all that, Mike has also just put the finishing touches on the first draft of his upcoming book about his fund raising hike on the Appalachian Trail.  This is one passionate and organized man.  Mike is pursuing his dreams and perhaps more importantly, empowering others along the way.  I am proud to call him my friend.  Next week I'll have another update about his newest project, but in the meantime, please check out his videos and his website.


Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Refinished Make Up Table and Armoire

Chablis had an old make up table that we bought her when she was in grade school, and she decided to refinish it.  We removed the mirror and drawer, gave it a good sanding....

....then painted, distressed and waxed it.  The mirror side panels will hold photos and the mirror itself actually swings open for jewelry storage.

This armoire was one of the first pieces that we bought at a garage sale in the spring.  It was painted a hideous streaked brown and green.  The windows in the upper doors had decorative plastic pieces that we immediately ripped off.  I wish I would have taken a picture of the before on that.  The molding around the inside of the glass was also badly chipped.  Paint drips and drools were streaked down behind the molding and were visible from the front.  We ended up completely taking apart the doors, removing all the glass, scraping and cleaning it and then re-installing it.

Chablis gave the entire piece a good sanding and cleaning....

And then we applied 2 coats of a lovely grey/green paint that we then distressed and waxed.  The original hardware cleaned up beautifully by soaking it for a few hours in some vinegar.

Chablis is thinking of using it for her TV and DVD player.  There's a nice drawer for remote controls and plenty of storage for DVD's in the bottom.

Linking up at Sunny Simple Life.

Monday, October 21, 2013


5K Update - Success!!!!

I did it!  I finally ran the 5K.  If you've been following along, you'll remember that I started this journey as a result of my high cholesterol level of 290 at my last doctors appointment in June.   Tony and I decided to blog about my running experience in an effort to enlighten others and hopefully encourage people to embark on a healthier eating and exercise program.  I posted my first article about it here.

Since then, we've been doing updates on my progress.  I've done the entire Couch to 5K program in the comfort of my own home, on my treadmill.  It was hard.  It was a struggle.  I wanted to give up more times than I can count.  Twice I had to repeat a week's worth of the program because of going out of town and not running while we were gone.  I'm sorry I didn't write down the date that I actually began the program, but I did it in less than 12 weeks.

But last week, I did it - I ran the entire 5K on my treadmill.  I did the entire 3.1 miles in 39.02 minutes.  I know the time isn't the best - it equates to about 13 minute miles, but I don't care.  I did it!  I want to do a cartwheel across the living room.

So, what now?  Well, I'm going to continue running on the treadmill.  I need to bump up my time and I'd like to increase the mileage a little more.  At some point I'd like to run an actual 5K.  I also want to get out and run on some trails a little bit.  I think it would be more fun and definitely more interesting to run outside.

Some added extras to running the program:

  • I lost 6 pounds over all.  That's a lot of weight for me because I'm only 5'2" and I weighed 111 to start with.  I actually lost one whole clothes size.
  • My legs are more toned and muscular.  I used to have great legs, but age has taken its toll and I lost a lot of muscle.  I was getting flabby and lost muscle tone.  My legs are firming up now and I can really see a difference.
  • My breathing has greatly improved.  I can also notice a difference when I'm out walking or hiking.  I don't get as winded.
  • My endurance has vastly improved.  When I started running I could barely run 30 seconds.  Now I'm running for 40 minutes.  I have so shocked myself!!
  • I'm eating a lot better.  I couldn't tell you the last time I've eaten fried food.  I have a healthy smoothie everyday.  I've added a lot more grains to my diet.
I will continue to fine tune this program for myself.  I hope that after a year of healthier eating and running that my cholesterol levels will have gone down.  I certainly hope they will.  If you're thinking of starting a running program, I can recommend the Couch to 5K Program.  I bought it as an app from I Tunes.  I'm not endorsing I - Tunes or the app.  I've received no compensation from either of them.  I just used the app on the recommendation of someone else and it worked really well for me.  I can honestly say that I would not have been able to do the 5K without the app.  It pushed me and also had me progress at a pace that I wouldn't have known to do myself.  I definitely think I would have quit doing this without the app.  It also helped to blog about it because I felt an obligation to keep at it.  

If anyone is considering doing something similar to this, please, go see your doctor first.  Get a check up and his OK and his advise.  If you feel you need to make some changes, then do it.  The most important step is the first step. Do it for yourself.  Do it for your loved ones.  Go ahead - take a step.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Warren Dunes State Park

Over the summer we drove to Michigan to check out Warren Dunes State Park

The state park is located on the eastern shores of Lake Michigan and they are well known for their huge sand dunes.  The tallest sand dune is Tower Hill at 240 feet high.  So of course we had to climb it!

The view from the top....

Sliding down was fun.....

Looking back up at where we were.....

Mom chose to stay at the car because of her bad knee.  But now that's she's had surgery on it, I expect she'll make the climb with us when we go back next year! 

There's a geocache hidden along one of the trails and I definitely want to go back to get it.  The day we were here we weren't prepared to hike as far as the cache is hidden, so it's a great excuse to have to go back.

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