Monday, December 22, 2014

The Past Month

To start off, Happy Hanukkah to all of my Jewish friends and family!!!  I hope everyone is having a happy and healthy holiday season so far.  I've obviously been busy, and hence the lack of posting - my apologies!  But now I've got a quick update on what I've been up to since Thanksgiving:

We flew to Chicago to spend Thanksgiving at my parents' house.  They are retiring in 2016 and will be selling the house in Fox River Grove and moving down to Florida, so this was the last year that we will ever celebrate Thanksgiving up in the Chicago burbs and it was definitely bittersweet.  I kept thinking to myself "this is the last time I'll ever see/do _____ here" and it felt quite sad.  But on the other hand, we got to spend a wonderful holiday weekend with family that included a huge Thanksgiving buffet for 28 friends and family members cooked entirely by my mom, sister-in-law, and myself, a fun Thanksgiving evening of spiked spiced cider, catching up with family, and a rousing game of Cards Against Humanity with my cousins, waiting in a crazy long Black Friday line out in the cold with my sister-in-law just to get some special release Chicago craft beer for S, and a girls afternoon with pedicures.  And that was just the first 2 days!
The line for beer
On Saturday we had our classic Thanksgiving Weekend Family Day which always includes a movie (we saw Interstellar in IMAX - so good!), dinner (last time eating at our favorite Chinese restaurant in FRG), and bowling.

On Sunday we spent our morning sifting through boxes in the basement helping my parents clean out some stuff before their big move.  I took a whole extra suitcase worth of stuff back home with me and my brother took an entire truck full (he drove obviously) of stuff back with him, so I hope we helped make a dent.  We followed that up with some Mr Beefy's for lunch (an old jr. high favorite) and Julie Ann's frozen custard for desert (flavor of the day was a family favorite: blueberry cheesecake!)  We definitely tried to hit up as many of our old favorites as possible, this being our last time back and all.  My dad and my brothers all had to head out on Sunday, but S and I were in town through Monday evening, so  we spent Sunday night and Monday having some quality time with my mom.  Big story, though, is me realizing that I forgot my purse at my parent's house after we'd been in the car for an hour and 15 minutes in traffic on our way to Midway Airport on Monday evening....  believe it or not, you can get through airport security without an ID, but it's a bitch to do.  Luckily we got home ok (and thank goodness I had my cell phone on me!!)
 We arrived home (lighter one purse) to two very happy kitties.  As soon as my luggage was cleared out Dante made it known that next time he's coming with!  I also spent that following week decorating the house for the holidays!  Since Thanksgiving fell so late this year and we had travel plans coming up the following weekend, we decided to forgo a big tree this year.  But I went to town with all of the rest of the decor!

The weekend after Thanksgiving we drove out to San Antonio to visit our friend K, who had been staying out there on business.  I was still short my purse (the US Postal Service is currently on my shit list....), so I dug out my passport so that I could have some sort of ID on me and of course so I could drink at all of the breweries and bars that we planned on going to.  It was my first time in San Antonio, so we did a lot of the touristy stuff, but it was such a fun weekend with K!  We ate lots of tex mex, hit up 2 local craft breweries (Freetail was actually a brewpub, and the pizza was delicious! And the second was Busted Sandal, which was quite small but had some interesting offerings), and of course went to the Alamo and the Riverwalk!

On Tuesday my purse FINALLY arrived and so I celebrated by going on a huge buying spree at the grocery store.  S had been treating me to most of my meals since we got back from Chicago, so I made it up to him with a solid week of homecooked meals.  I was also supporting on console at work that week, so there was plenty going on to keep me busy.   The next weekend we actually didn't have anything planned, and yet we somehow managed to completely pack the weekend full of stuff including a huge baking spree.  I baked over 200 cookies, made 2 gallon size bags full of homemade chocolate covered pretzels, and did some pickling over the course of two days.  Throw in a friend's birthday party and some holiday shopping and I was BUSY and exhausted!

This past week I found out that the hardware that I'm lead for at work is going to be installed on-orbit on Christmas Eve, so there's been plenty of prep work involving that.  I've also been working on cleaning the entire house before the holidays (a habit I learned from my mom) and celebrating Hanukkah (tonight is night 7) at home.  This past weekend I helped S's brother move, met up with my Aunt B for dinner and a show (we saw the Radio City Christmas Spectacular with the Rockettes!), finalized holiday gifts, and finished cleaning the house.  So that's what we've been up to!  It's definitely been a busy and fun holiday season and we're looking forward to getting some time off of work in the next couple of weeks and celebrating Christmas and the New Year with family!

Monday, December 8, 2014

Kate Spade, You Slay Me

My inner design freak and my inner space nerd are both geeking out together over Kate Spade's new monthly releases, which for the month of December are SPACE THEMED!  A Kate Spade Space Shuttle purse?!?!?  Be still my beating heart!  To say I'm completely and utterly obsessed would be an understatement.  Now if only they'd go on sale.....
I love the glittered space cadet clutch with what appears to be a bejeweled, gilded Saturn clasp as well.  Kate Spade and space in one - truly a dream come true.  Time to start saving up!!!
In the event you're just as space and design obsessed as I am and just absolutely cannot stomach the Kate Spade prices, I've also come across this delightful little space themed wallet from Marc by Marc Jacobs that happens to be on sale!  PLEASE designers, take note and run with these space themed products as I am love, love, loving it!

On a space-related side note, finally saw Interstellar over Thanksgiving weekend (an update of the past 2 weeks is coming up  soon, I promise) and it was AWESOME!  Was a little disappointed that the ending had to get the Hollywood happy ending treatment, but I was definitely having a major space nerd moment during that film!  And while there were a few moments where I questioned the physics, I LOVED how they were so true to most physical explanations like the Theory of Relativity.  Neil deGrasse Tyson even gave the movie his seal of approval! (although he admittedly questioned parts of the plot as well...).  If you haven't been, you must go see!

Friday, December 5, 2014

Orion Test Flight Launches Successfully!!!

NASA's Orion test capsule successfully launched at 7:05 this morning from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on top of a Delta IV Heavy rocket!!!  NASA TV dropped the ball big time, starting to peter out around 30 seconds before launch and completely losing signal (for me online at least) at 8 seconds til launch, so I was FURIOUS that I missed it.  However, there is already a spectacular video online for everyone's viewing pleasure:
So why is this unmanned test launch so important?  Because this is THE next generation NASA space vehicle.  The Orion is what is going to take astronauts back to the moon, to asteroids, and even to Mars.  We're looking at the start of the next 30 years of NASA spaceflight here.  This test vehicle is the first spacecraft to go higher than ANY OTHER spacecraft since Apollo (it travelled to to a distance of 15x higher than the orbit of the ISS!!!).  Since we haven't sent any manned or soon-to-be-manned vehicles this far in over 40 years, this important Orion test flight will get NASA (and primary contractor Lockheed Martin) real-life data on the performance of Orion’s avionics, software, radiation protection (this is the first time since Apollo that we'll be traveling through the Van Allen Bbelts), heat shield, parachutes and recovery systems. 

The entire test flight only lasted four and a half hours.  Most of that time was flight powered by the Delta IV Heavy and it's associated rockets.  The Orion test capsule took 2 orbits around the earth before reaching it's peak orbit at 10:11 am (EST) and starting it's insanely fast return trip to Earth, which engineers estimate will take it to a top speed around 20,000 mph with a peak acceleration of 8.28x the force of gravity and reentry temperatures near 4,000 degrees Fahrenheit!  Those are some big numbers and you can start to see why this test mission is so important if we want to eventually man these Orion capsules.  Orion successfully splashed down into the Pacific Ocean at 11:29 am EST.  You can see here a visual overview of the test mission:
If you are interested in more information about the Orion Program, you can check out NASA's Orion webpage, and you can also see the timeline of the test flight and read the real time play by play of the mission at