Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Indiana: The Bahamas of the Midwest?

Pairs well with: Nuclear Meltdown Cocktail

First, a blog-theme amendment: I do, in fact, realize that I have posted three times about travel and only once about DIY projects.  Apparently this is going to be a DIY-when-I'm-home and travel-when-I'm-away blog.  Because we all know the embarrassing stories and wild antics like to follow me wherever I go.

I have a great DIY project to show you in my next post, but I couldn't resist sharing one more travel-related goodie...

Shawn and I recently found ourselves longing for some beach time, and the Chicago lakefront just didn't have that exotic feel we were craving.  (Note to self: I could possibly write a whole other blog post about the times when I have seen some quite... er, "exotic" things on Chicago's lakefront.  But I digress.)

Since we recently spent our life savings on our excursion across the pond, we had to keep our travel to within about a two hour radius.  Here's where we ended up:

So cute, right?  And check out the water!

Ahhh... who knew INDIANA of all places had such pristine beaches and gorgeous views!  I can't believe this place isn't more crowded!  This is like the Bahamas, but without the hefty price tag!  I'm thinking all this to myself as I stroll along... 

Blissfully unaware of...

wait for it...

Ah, there it is.  That's the Indiana I know and love... keep me on my toes by juxtaposing a serene beach vista with a ginormous concrete cooling tower.  

Now I will grant Indiana this: apparently, this is not a nuclear power plant but in fact just a regular, run-of-the-mill coal and natural gas power plant (conspiracy theorists, feel free to raise a suspicious eyebrow at that little piece of wiki-knowledge). 

We still thoroughly enjoyed our day at the beach.  Maybe my "glowing skin" did seem to have a bit of a green tint to it, but the funnel cakes were three times the size they are in Chicago.

So there's that.


Nuclear Meltdown Cocktail

triple sec
sweet & sour mix
Midori melon liqueur

Mix equal parts of each of the first five ingredients over ice.  Add Midori on top as a float.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

My Niece Sums It All Up

Summer Travels, Part Three
Pairs well with: Pimms Cup

You know how some people say that God teaches us a lesson by giving us children that act just like we did as kids?  I sort of thought I avoided that, seeing as how I have no kids of my own. 

Little did I know that this dose of reality, courtesy of karma, can also come in the form of nieces.

My niece is 9 years old, going on 16.  She is bubbly, intelligent, and hilarious.  We had a great time watching her experience London for the first time.  And yet, I found myself becoming increasingly frustrated by her tendency to complain about how everyone around her was being inconsiderate, breaking rules, or just being "totally unfair."

While trying to explain to her why adults who have front row seats for an Olympic event don't give up their spots just so children can see better, or why tourist shops charge such high prices for merchandise aimed at kids, one part of me wanted to tell her, "Hey kid, the world doesn't revolve around you."  But inside, another part of me was thinking, "Hey kid, you've got a point."

And then it hit me... I do the exact same thing!  A fact that my husband can attest to, as he is often the unwilling ear to my frequent tirades about how customer service is in a downward spiral and how I'm sure that other drivers are purposely cutting me off in traffic, just to be mean to me.  

So maybe it's just human nature, or maybe I have the emotional IQ of a 9 year old...either way, it was pretty funny (and just a little painful) to see myself reflected in my little niece.  

And she wasn't all complaints, either.  She actually held up really well, considering how much walking we did in London that week.  We walked a lot. And when I say a lot, I mean A LOT. 


Flip flops may not have been the wisest choice, but I couldn't bear to be "that American" in jeans and tennis shoes.  I just couldn't do it!  Apparently she couldn't either, because she insisted on wearing her bejeweled flat sandals.  (Has anyone else noticed that some children's fashions have become significantly more "adult" than those of their adult counterparts?  It's a little disturbing.  Just saying.)  

After a few days, neither she nor I could bear it any longer.  We both decided to (gasp!) wear our comfortable shoes the next day.  My husband said to us, "I don't know how you two lasted this long in the shoes you were wearing!"  And my niece turned to him and said, matter-of-factly: 

"Uncle Shawn, sometimes fashion means pain." 

This kid is pretty amazing, right?  So Shawn and I both got schooled by our niece on our trip to London, and had a great time in the process.  But alas, travel time is over and it's back home for a few weeks.  The good news is, this means it's time for some DIY projects!  Coming up next, I'll share with you a furniture repainting project I'm tackling.


Pimm's Cup:

This is a traditional English cocktail, and a perfect drink to enjoy in these last few warm days of summer.  But please don't hold up your pinky finger when you drink - the Brits actually consider that rude. (Who knew?)



1 orange, sliced 
1 lemon, sliced 
1/2 Persian cucumber, sliced  
1 cup Pimm's No. 1 (or gin)
2 cups ginger ale 
3 to 4 large mint sprigs, crushed 
Layer the fruit and cucumber slices in a pitcher over ice.  Pour in the Pimm's and ginger ale, and push the crushed mint into the mixture.  Garnish with a slice of orange. 

Monday, August 20, 2012

Virgin Atlantic (Almost) Saves My Life

Summer Travels, Part Two 

Pairs well with: Badger Golden Glory


After Florida, my husband and I agreed to take my 9-year-old niece to London to visit her mom (my sister), who was working at the Olympics (yes, my sister is much cooler than I will ever be).  We got super cheap tickets on Virgin Atlantic airlines, which turned out to be an AMAZING airline to fly.  During the 8-hour flight, I got two fairly decent meals and my own TV to watch.  (And if you know me at all, you realize those two things are high priority on my top 10 list of essentials for happiness at any given time.)  I think they also take my safety quite seriously, as evidenced by this sign I saw at the check-in counter:

So if you're planning a trans-Atlantic flight anytime soon, might I recommend Virgin Airlines?  Great meals, ready entertainment, and absolutely no chainsaws allowed.  

We made it to London in one piece (ha), and settled in with only a few small missteps along the way, including someone forgetting the passports in a hotel safe and traveling to another hotel almost two hours away, and then getting her niece's phone stolen on the trip back to retrieve said passports - but I'm not naming names.  

Coming up in my next post, I'll tell you all about my savvy little niece and how she schooled her Uncle Shawn.

Badger Golden Glory Ale:

According to their website, a crisp winter's day is the perfect time to enjoy the deliciously balanced peach and melon flavors of this award-winning classic.  Golden Glory is an ideal complement to sticky bbq ribs or an indulgent vanilla cheesecake.  (So how could I not love it?)


Thursday, August 16, 2012

Wal-Mart (Almost) Saves My Soul

Summer Travels, Part One 

Pairs well with: Redneck Cocktail

Four states, two countries, and 14 flights (whew!) over the last three weeks have prevented me from doing any significant DIY projects around Hamlin House, but fear not!  I have some interesting (read: random) stories from my travels to share with you instead.

Let's start with Florida, shall we?  

More specifically, let's start with Wal-Mart.  Oh Wal-Mart, you treasure trove of curiosities and disturbia.  While shopping there over vacation (I know, I know...but when a multinational corporation offers me cheap milk, how can I refuse?), I found a collection of notebooks in the back-to-school section that I found... shall we say, perturbing?

Now, if you want to use your school supplies to advertise your religious affiliation, I'm not gonna judge (mostly).  However, including the "You need Jesus, I'm just saying." among the other more (presumably) serious phrases is just in poor taste.  I would love to meet the person who sees this message on their classmate's notebook and says to themselves, "You know what? I do need Jesus!  I'm so glad I saw that!"  If it were just this notebook on its own, I could possibly appreciate the implied irony.  But put together with the other cringe-worthy notebooks, well... it seems very a la Mandy Moore in Saved

And the kicker is... I'm not seeing this in a Christian bookstore, but in Wal-Mart.  So the real bottom line is that the store has found yet another way to make a profit off of peoples' embarrassingly poor choices.  Another shining example of this at Wal-Mart: Pajama Jeans.  (Or maybe that's just the result of Wal-Mart's executives getting tired of people wearing their actual pajamas to the store.)  

Coming up: Summer Travels, Part Two - Virgin Airlines (Almost) Saves My Life
Redneck Cocktail

Southern Comfort peach liqueur
Mountain Dew

Mix one part Southern Comfort peach liqueur to three parts Mountain Dew in a mason jar.  Add ice.  

Sunday, July 22, 2012

We all gotta start somewhere...

Pairs well with: Corona Extra

Wednesday night, 7:30 pm

Man, it was a great night (considering it was a Wednesday)... I was hanging with my friend Emily in her backyard, enjoying some fantastic mojitos (thanks Adrian!) and having some great conversation about all sorts of randomness.  I mentioned that I've been thinking of starting a blog.  (Yes, I am on the cutting edge of trends in social media.  I realize this.  You can find me on the Facebook!) 

See, I attempt all kinds of DIY home improvement projects and crafts, and totally wouldn't mind exposing my epic failures (and random surprising successes) to anyone who wants to see them.  Sort of a DIY "flasher" if you will.  I've just never gotten around to actually documenting said projects.  Usually I only remember to take a "before" picture sometime in the middle of the project - or worse, not at all.  Then I spend way too much time showing people my "after" pictures and saying, "You should have seen it before! It was hideous!"

Anyone who knows Emily knows that she (and mojitos) can be very persuasive.  By the time I left her house that night, I was giddy with the idea of my soon-to-be-existence in the blogosphere.  I wondered to myself as I fell asleep, "What should my first project be?  How can I wow the world?"

"Sucker," said the Universe.  

Thursday morning, 2:00 am

There was a huge crash, like the sound of glass breaking.  I bolted upright in the bed, turned to Shawn and said (pretty calmly, I think, considering the situation), "Someone is breaking into our house!" 

Well, not exactly.  When we walked into the living room, we couldn't tell at first what had happened.  It wasn't until we got closer to the front window that we saw broken glass everywhere - all over the rug, the couch, the window sills, and... what was this on the end table?

A piece of a Corona bottle.

Seriously?  Seriously?? 

Someone threw a beer bottle through our window at 2:00 in the morning??

Yep.  Right through our double paned ginormous front window and onto our end table.

So, without further ado, here is the picture of my first blog-documented DIY project for you, friends... I call it: "How to Cover the Giant-Ass Hole in your Front Window Until You Get the New Window Back from the Repair Place."

Materials used: 

Cardboard boxes 
Duct tape

Time to completion: 

20 minutes 

Best tip from this project:  

If you're like me, you're going to want to plant the ladder and then just reach as far as you can to get this done so that you don't have to get down off the ladder, move it, and then climb back up all four steps.  (We'll discuss the merits of laziness in home improvement in another post.)  Please try to avoid this temptation!  I promise you, the ladder is not going to stretch with you.  It will topple and fall, and you may or may not (but will) end up flailing your arms and legs in the air in front of your neighbors, who are watching through the bottom half of your window as you fall unceremoniously, along with the ladder, onto the floor.  Just saying.