Amy Scott's Thoughts

Sharing the thoughts that bounce around in my brain!

Autumn Obsession September 29, 2011

Filed under: Simply Me — Amy Scott @ 3:00 pm

I think I’ve made it pretty clear that autumn is my favorite season of the year. I’ve really enjoyed all these sunny days in September, but now that it’s the end of the month, I want things to cool down. I have a bunch of sweaters and fall clothes in my closet that are just waiting to be worn.

Apart from the fun wardrobe changes that came in the fall, I’m very excited by the smells of fall. Pumpkin and cinnamon are two of my favorite things and I love to make my house smell as autumn like as possible this time of year. I use my Scentsy products to create that smell in my home, but I also discovered something fun and new.

I know I shared a while ago about my favorite cleaning products. One of them is Arm and Hammer carpet powder. Normally I use the pet fresh scent because I have a pet (logical, right?). At my last shopping trip to Walmart, I discovered they have a limited edition scent called Autumn Spice. This made me happy on two levels – my cleaning side and my scent obsessed side. I’ve used it once now and I really enjoyed the apple cinnamon scent it left in my home. The boost of freshness mixed with the fragrance of autumn made me a happy camper. I just thought I would share with you my fall find!


Applesauce Cookies! September 24, 2011

Filed under: Cooking Experiments — Amy Scott @ 2:41 pm

A couple of weeks ago, I was flipping through my trusty cookie book (the one mentioned in my previous blog). The title “Spiced Applesauce Drop Cookies” caught my attention. Since I didn’t have any applesauce at the time, I flagged the page and knew that was a recipe I would be coming back to! Being back in a somewhat normal routine this week meant that I had my Wednesday night class of girls to teach and a snack would need to be provided. I had purchased a large container of applesauce the day before and I was ready to tackle another cookie experiment.

These cookies turned out amazing! The cinnamon and cloves that are added to the cookies make them taste like a cup of apple cider. The recipe called for raisins and walnuts, but with the crowd I was serving these cookies to I thought it might be a little too grown up of a taste palette for them. I was worried the lack of raisins and walnuts would cause the cookies to bake up funny, but they turned out just fine! They are extremely fluffy, soft and moist! I love baking with apples and cinnamon during the fall. It makes my house smell wonderful and these are the flavor combinations I crave this time of year. Each cookie tasted like autumn.

I didn’t really think through how much applesauce my cookies would be needing and I found myself left with a rather large container of applesauce that was still almost full. According the the label, it’s best to use the applesauce within a week of being opened. I love applesauce, but I knew that I couldn’t eat all the applesauce in a week’s span of time. I would simply need to look for another opportunity to bake with applesauce.

I leave tomorrow for a three day retreat with the staff of Bethel Church. I decided that this trip away would be the perfect time to bake another new treat and not have to eat the results entirely on my own. Yesterday, I pulled out all my cookbooks and started to search the index for applesauce. I found a couple of really yummy sound recipes and I settled on “Iced Applesauce Oatmeal Cookies” from my Martha Stewart cookie book.

Just as before, I made some changes to the recipe. This cookie called for golden raisins. I’m not a huge fan of raisins (no matter what the color) so I decided to use chunks for fresh apple instead. I also added a little bit of cinnamon to the batter for an extra fall flavor. The cookies by themselves were very moist and soft. The apple chunks make you feel like you’re eating a pie or a crisp. I did decide to take them up a notch by adding an icing glaze. The glaze the book pairs with the cookie called for pure maple syrup. Now I’m a Mrs. Butterworth’s fan and I’m pretty sure that is no where near pure maple syrup! I took the glaze another direction.  Just this week I reading on a friend’s blog ( how she added cinnamon to regular Betty Crocker frosting.  I had a container of vanilla frosting in my pantry so I decided to add cinnamon to it and turn it into a glaze.

I always have the hardest time when I try to drizzle glaze over cookies. I have no skill with it. Most of the time it makes the cookie look it’s been in war with frosting and lost the battle. I decided to use my pampered chef frosting bottles to help me achieve a cleaner appearance. I mixed the cinnamon and the frosting together first. I did this to taste and after the flavor was right, I put the bowl in the microwave for 20 seconds and melted the frosting. While it was still warm and liquid, I poured the frosting into the bottle and set to work glazing my cookies!

The final product turned out very well. I used my husband as a guinea pig and he was very pleased with the cookies. Now he has to wait until staff retreat to get more of them! Poor guy! I’m excited to share these cookies with my co-workers and I hope they enjoy the flavors of fall as much I do. Baking for others is a great joy! It’s been fun to work with applesauce as a theme ingredient. I have a couple of cake recipes that are calling my name when I get back from retreat! I look forward to trying and learning new things in the kitchen!


Adventures in Chicago! Part 6 September 23, 2011

Filed under: Family Time,Travels — Amy Scott @ 2:35 pm

The final installment of the Adventures in Chicago blog series. Oh my! Just like the trip, I am sad that it all has to come to an end!  Maybe I need to visit another new city so I keep up my travel blogs. It’s been fun to recount the details and relive the moments! Here are my ramblings on our final hours in the Windy City.

I’m sure by now you’re guessing that our last day in Chicago started off with Starbucks… and it sort of did… April and Jeremy really like Caribou Coffee and try to visit their stores when they are in an area that has them. So we set off on Thursday morning in search of the closest Caribou Coffee. Turns out its actually right next to a Starbucks! I needed one more purchase so I could get my free drink, so I headed over to Starbucks while the others went to Caribou. What I did next was very brave – a took a competing beverage into Caribou! They didn’t kick me out so we spent the next little bit of time enjoying our morning beverages at Caribou.

As usual, we had some time to kill before the places we planned to visit opened. After a little more research I discovered that the Cultural Center was right next to our coffee shop and it was open at 8:00am! That was good news! The Cultural Center used to be the old public library and it has two beautiful stain glass domes in it. Admission is free and along with the beautiful architecture of the building, they have local artwork displayed on the many levels.

Once we had completed our tour of the Cultural Center we took off down the street toward Barnes and Noble. I needed a new journal and this one of my favorite places to shop for journals. The building that B&N was located in was also used for a local university. B&N doubled as their student store there was all sorts of university merchandise everywhere. It was well stocked with school supplies and textbooks. It was the strangest set up I’ve ever seen. It was certainly interesting and I had a fun time exploring.

We spent the rest of the morning, looking through shops. Jeremy and I both started our fall clothing shopping which is weird for us, because we don’t normally buy “practical” stuff on tourist trips. We had room in our suitcases so decided to go for it. It’s hard to be beat a well-stocked store with good prices. We didn’t have a lot of time in the morning before Dad’s classes ended, so after the shops, it was back to the hotel to check in with Dad.

Dad didn’t have the opportunity to souvenir shop with us the day before, so we stopped by a store we thought he would like. He successfully found some souvenirs of his own and we went around the corner for lunch location. Since we enjoyed the Corner Street Bakery so much at the Field Museum, we decided to check out their store next to our hotel. I had an amazing apple chicken sausage panini (which I copied Jeremy in ordering) and a slice of pumpkin pound cake. Oh my goodness, I couldn’t finish both of them, but I’m so glad I ordered them! Amazing! I’ve never had pumpkin in pound cake form before and it was worth every bite. I even shared with Jeremy so he could experience the goodness!

We finished our lunch in time to head back to the hotel for check-out. Our hotel offered to keep our bags secure until we were ready to leave. Since our flight wasn’t until evening, we had some time between check out and when we needed to be at the airport. With the hotel storing our bags for us, we didn’t have to take them along with us everywhere we went.

Chinatown had been originally on our list as a place to visit and then had been taken off the list because it wasn’t super close to anything. Since we had a couple of hours before we needed to meet our airport shuttle, we decided to put Chinatown back on the agenda. April really struck gold in Chinatown when it came to shopping. She walked away from our time there with many Chinese treasures! We went through the stores and the thing that stood out to me was the smell of them! Some were very intense and very unique smelling! Also we saw some pretty unusual things for sale… Like really expensive dried shark fin and caterpillar fungus.

Once we felt like we had roamed Chinatown to the fullest we headed back into the heart of downtown so Dad could stop by Millennium Park. The boys had mentioned how cool Crown Fountain was and my dad wanted to see the Cloud Gate since it had been featured in a movie he had recently seen. Along the way we got Starbucks because it was very cold with the wind and it was nice to have something warm in our hands!

We got back to the hotel and claimed our bags. We didn’t have a lot of time to venture off and do something else, so we hung out at the hotel and just chatted until our airport shuttle arrived. Everyone was very tired on the ride to the airport. My dad chatted away with the driver, Jeremy and Andrew stared out the window, Mom dozed, and April and I chatted in the back seat. It was a hard conversation because I knew once we got out of the shuttle we would have to part ways and say good-bye.

At the airport, our group of 6 had to split. Andrew and April needed to look for the shuttle back to their car and we needed to check our bags and begin the long process of going through security.  I don’t think anyone was really ready to keep going forward, but it had to be done. Hugs were exchanged and we talked about seeing each other again in December. Knowing that it would be another 3.5 months before I saw my sister and her hubby again was hard on me. I will admit that I was in a bit of funk as we waited for airplane and flew home. It just didn’t feel right to be flying home and not having them be with us like they had been the whole trip.

Overall, it was amazing trip! We got to see and do all we planned and more! We walked a ton and ate a lot of good food. It was an awesome experience to all be together and explore a new city. The memories made on this trip were priceless. I sure hope the warm glow of those happy memories keeps me through to December! Family is a precious gift and this trip was a wonderful family reunion! I look forward to our next reunion – here in the Northwest!


Adventures in Chicago! Part 5 September 22, 2011

Filed under: Family Time,Travels — Amy Scott @ 3:20 pm

Wednesday started the last full day of our adventures in Chicago. It was a different day because it was cloudy and up until then it had been sunny all week. Jeremy promised me that the forecast didn’t call for rain, so I left our hotel that morning wearing a light jacket that didn’t even have full sleeves. This was a bad decision… If I would have known the cold and wet I was going to experience that day, I would have bundled and put on my rain jacket. There is nothing worse then packing something for a trip and not having it when you need it. I’m guessing you’ve figured out – it rained!

We hit the L that morning and headed out toward the Lincoln Park area of town. Instead of stopping by a Starbucks near our hotel, we went to a HUGE, 24 hour Starbucks on our way to the Lincoln Park Zoo.  It was the biggest Starbucks I’ve ever been in! Very cool! We continued to make our way toward the zoo. We stopped by the Green City Market which is a local farmer’s market that takes place in the park.  Once we had wandered through the market, we kept trekking toward the Zoo.

Around the time that we reached the zoo it started to rain. Also the animals weren’t out for another hour even though the zoo gates were open. We decided to switch our plans up and head to the Lincoln Park Conservatory so we could stay dry and hopefully let the rain pass. The Conservatory is a beautiful structure and over 100 years old! The plants are lovely and well taken care of. One room we entered said that a small dinosaur would enjoy the plants and climate in that space. Someone must have a sense of humor, because small dinosaur toys were hidden throughout the room. We all had a really good laugh about that! I enjoyed taking pictures of the flowers and plants. I also really enjoyed not being rained on.

Once we were done with the conservatory, we headed back outside to find that it was still raining. Oh joy! So much for the weather passing! Our game plan for the zoo quickly become all about the indoor exhibits. We headed into see the wild cats. The tiger had just eaten and was passed out in his space. The lion was released into his home with a fresh piece of meet waiting for him. All the other cats looked very hungry because they had been watching the lion and tiger. At one point the tiger made a noise which caused the lion to respond and the whole exhibit was filled with loud cat noises. It was quite the sound! After the cats, we headed into the monkey house! They have great monkeys at the Lincoln Park Zoo. They were very active and expressive! Next stop was the small mammals and reptiles. Most of the exhibits after that were outdoors. We had a great lunch at the zoo – I had an awesome cheese quesadilla.  We wander the zoo for a couple more hours after lunch. It became very apparent by the loss of feeling in my hands that we needed to move on from our outdoor activity. It rained even harder on our walk back to the L. We stopped by a pastry shop so some of our group could get a snack. Aside from that stop, we made a very quick wet walk back.

Getting back to the hotel felt amazing!!! We all were able to get warm and dry. The cool thing about our hotel was there is a washer and dryer in room. April and I were able to dry our jeans and it felt so good to put on warm jeans after being so cold. I know this is girly, but I had to redo my hair and fix all the water damage. Luckily, the weather dried off going into the evening.

We set out again after drying off and getting warm. We didn’t have any major plans and stayed around the area of our hotel doing souvenir shopping. We went over to Fannie May which I know sounds like a branch of government banking, but in Chicago they are a local chocolate company. We got some souvenir candy as a gifts and Jeremy and I each bought one of their specialty candies. Jeremy got a white chocolate covered pretzel and I got a coconut treat called a Pink Lady.

As usual we met up with Dad once his class was over. Tonight we were going to dinner with some of his accounting peeps from the northwest. They decided on Pizziaria Uno, which is a Chicago landmark for deep dish pizza. We ran into some trouble with finding enough seats for the group and the ordering process… it was quite the ordeal. By 7:30pm we were finally seated and ready for pizza. Just as before I was in love with the deep dish pizza. I’m positive that I will try to recreate it at home because it was amazing! After dinner we went to the Grand Lux Cafe for dessert. April and I had gotten dessert their before my dad when we had gone to Las Vegas.  The portion sizes there are huge and it was sooo good! I had strawberry shortcake that looked almost too pretty to eat. I’m glad I did because it was worth every bit! Jeremy got a burnt cream duo – one vanilla and one chocolate.

We were all sad for the last day to be over. The trip was certainly packed full of good times and Thursday was another almost full day together, so we knew we had to make the most of each moment while it was there.  Once we got back to the hotel, everyone started to work on their suitcases and packing so we could have the most free time possible on Thursday!



Adventures in Chicago! Part 4 September 21, 2011

Filed under: Family Time,Travels — Amy Scott @ 3:59 pm

I will admit that giving these play by play accounts of my trip really makes me want to go back and do the whole thing all over again! Reliving the memories has been fun and it’s been a joy to share them. Nothing can replace time spent with family. This trip was truly a blessing for the fact that I got to share these experiences with the people I love the most. I miss them greatly and I look forward to us all begin together again in December. Until then, I will have the memories of this fabulous trip to keep me going.

I left us at a cliff hanger in the last post. Tuesday afternoon turned out differently than expected! After walking around the park, we were all a little warm and wanted to head back to the hotel to freshen up and regroup. The rest of the afternoon’s plans hadn’t been solidified, but I’m positive they would have involved more walking. We had thought about maybe hitting more shops on the mile that we had yet had a chance to go in to. However, our plans ended up keeping us very close to the hotel!

To explain our afternoon I will need to fill you in some details. My dad invited us all to join him on this trip because he was taking a class in Chicago. He walked about 2 blocks each morning to the location of his class. He mentioned to us one day that they were filming a movie in the hotel he was taking classes in. Another class attendee mentioned it was the next Superman movie. Now we had noticed some unique things around our hotel – specifically people wearing earpieces standing on all the street corners. When asked about the movie these people would respond saying they were apart of a movie called “Autumn Frost”, in fact some had shirts that said that. I didn’t know this because I’m not a movie buff, but while filming a movie they will give it a code name so people don’t know what’s really going on. Autumn Frost turned out to be code name for the new movie Man of Steel coming out in 2013. When my dad mentioned this I instantly hopped onto my IMBD app to see who was going to be in this movie. Turns out some big names like Russell Crowe, Kevin Costner, and Amy Adams.

I’m not really the type of person to stalk a movie set, but there was something exciting about having a movie being filmed so close to us. After we returned to our hotel, Jeremy noticed that people on the street below were being asked to stand in place. It would seem that people were being selected to be in the movie. Jeremy and Andrew got very excited about this so we all headed downstairs and outside to see what was going on. There were crew members all around and you could tell that people were being placed and staged. Jeremy went up to one of the extras and asked he had been told to stand there like that and the man broke out in a big smile and said yes.  We could tell they were preparing to film a scene and we wanted in on the action.

Now we were not chosen to stand there… I’m actually glad because those people stood in their spots for over 2 hours before there was really any action. We decided to sit in front of a coffee shop on the street to see if we could see a movie star or a watch a scene being filmed before our eyes. Since we were seated in the coffee shops outdoor area, we went in and bought some water and coffees so we would actually be paying customers. We ended up sitting and watching the crew and the extras for about 2 hours. Nothing exciting did happen, however, at times it seemed like it might. We generally chatted about how cool it was to be on a set and to see the extras in place. We talked about how awesome it would be to see a movie star and maybe even be included in the movie.

Our time at the coffee shop ended when we realized that we need to connect with my dad and that the scene were hoping to see filmed wasn’t going to start rolling for a while. We headed back to our hotel rooms across the street and met up with my dad to discuss dinner plans.  As we discussed the rest of our day, we noticed that something was going on down below. The extras were now moving! They had been standing in the same place for hours, so something must have happened! Then we saw a Metropolis cab and taxi… Then we saw a film crew following a man on a bicycle riding down the street! It was Clark Kent! We’re assuming he was riding his bike to work at the Daily Planet, but I guess we’ll have to watch the movie to really know for sure! In a flurry of excitement we again ran downstairs to get in on the action.

Once on the street again, we could tell that they were looping the block and would be back for another take. We stood across the street as Clark Kent again rode past us on his bike! It was very thrilling and I must say I got a bit star stuck and giddy! We had literally been feet away from the filming of a major motion picture! We set off down the street and round the block so the guys could show us some fo their finds (Jeremy and Andrew had gone exploring around the set just a few hours earlier). Just a block away from our hotel, you could see the trailers they had set up and the extra vehicles – police cars and taxis all saying Metropolis on them. This was the last day they would be filming in Chicago and you could tell because everyone was packing things up. We turned the corner just in time to see Clark Kent flying by for a third time. We were told by the crew member on the corner of the street to not look into the camera because it was riding right past us. So… who knows! We might be in a split second of the movie!

After watching the same scene being filmed three different times and from three different angles, we decided to leave the set and search for dinner. Our dinner location was The Cheesecake Factory. This restaurant is always a special treat and it was just as yummy as I always remember. The store front looked like a mushroom (weird, I know) and the inside decor had the same feel. My family joked that it looked like we were heading into a hobbit version of Cheesecake Factory. It was a very funky experience. It was certainly decorated differently then the other ones I’ve been to. I ended my meal by ordering my favorite lemon raspberry cream cheesecake! I was a very happy camper.

With dinner over, we took off to do some looking through the mile shops. April, Mom, and I explored a four story Crate and Barrel. The boys went to the Harley store! We enjoyed looking through some nice stores and letting our tummies settle a bit after all that good food and cheesecake. Once our window shopping experience was complete, we headed back to the hotel for a good nights sleep before another busy day!

Thus, Tuesday came to an end!


Adventures in Chicago! Part 3 September 20, 2011

Filed under: Family Time,Travels — Amy Scott @ 3:54 pm

I’m finding it’s a good thing I’m writing this all down! Just a week after my trip, I can tell that the details are getting hazy in my mind! This may seem strange you, but while I was actually in Chicago I kept a notebook entry on my phone of what we did each day. It’s coming in handy right now as I try to recollect the details!

Tuesday was our 4th day in the Windy City and just like all the rest before it, we had it filled to the brim with things to do and places to go! As usual we had breakfast at the hotel and then headed off to another Starbucks. We rarely hit the same Starbucks  more than once. There were just so many to choose from that we stopped by a new one each time.  We wondered from Starbucks to the Magnificent Mile. Our plan was to stop by the Water Works. I know that sounds weird, but the Water Works building is one of the few building in Chicago to survived the great fire. It’s also built like a castle and now in the heart of the Magnificent Mile. The Water Works building housed a visitor center and a theater. You can enter part of the building and look in on the water works in action. It is still in use today. Across the street from the Water Works is the Water Tower which now houses a gallery of city photos. It was very interesting to see many shots of Chicago in the past and what it looks like now. The gallery isn’t very large, but it was worth seeing the history inside of it.

From the Water Works, we headed over to 4th Street Presbyterian Church. The church had it’s first services just before the great fire. They only met together once before their new building was damaged by the fire. The church rebuilt and reopened it’s doors in 1914. At the time it wasn’t  in a very busy part of town and now it’s in the middle of commercial and retail shopping! Parts of the original structure did survive the fire and along with the Water Works, it’s one of the oldest buildings in all of Chicago. The stain glass in the sanctuary is beautiful. The church had a very sacred and reverent feel to it. It was a lovely stop. We spent some time in their beautiful, green courtyard as well. Even though it was off of busy Michigan Avenue, the courtyard is tranquil and secluded. There is a fountain that offers the calming sound of water flowing and the courtyard is shaded by trees and the church structure.

The major stop of the morning was the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA). When we arrived at the museum, we were surprised to see a farmer’s market in front of it. It was fun to look around the different booths before heading into the MCA. Many of you who read this blog know that I am not an arty person. My mom and sister got that gene, but I didn’t really… I would love to explain to you in accurate detail what I saw at the MCA, but I know that is not possible! Sorry! My favorite piece at the museum was one that looked like waves and the ocean. In fact, it was called “Waves”, so I’m fairly confident that I interpreted it somewhat correctly! I may not have and that’s okay, because isn’t it really about what the art says to you!

Our lunch stop was at the coolest and most upscale Chick-Fil-A that I’d ever been it. It was a huge restaurant and it was completely full! The only reason we got a seat was because a man offered us his table when he got up. They had staff waiting around the dining area to wipe down tables and reset them after guests. Very classy for fast food in my opinion! April and Andrew had never been to Chick-Fill-A so it was fun to see them enjoy it for the first time. The ketchup packets where the highlight of our stop there! I know that might sound strange but they were shaped like ketchup bottles and you could open them two ways. One way opened it like a dipping sauce and the other way opened it so you can squirt out the ketchup. We were all impressed! Of course, I have to mention the waffle fries! They were awesome! I’m a fan!

We hopped onto the L and rode to the library. That might not sound like a must see stop, but trust me it was! The Harold Washington Library is the largest public library in the United States! We rode by 8 floors of books! The 9th floor was what they call the Winter Garden. It’s a huge open space with a glass roof. It was beautiful! I could just imagine reading a good book there or being a student and studying for a test! After the library was got an afternoon snack at Dunkin Donuts. They are everywhere in Chicago, so it seemed fitting. Most of us got caramel apple spice donuts.  Seemed like a nice choice for a fall afternoon! We took off to explore Millennium Park with donuts in hand! Our first stop was Buckingham Fountain which is actually in Grant Park. From there we wondered through gardens and green spaces. We saw some funky art sculptures and Crown Fountain. You can play in Crown Fountain and there were families splashing around it. The fountain looks like glass blocks and it creates an image of a face. The face changes from time to time and they smile and blink. Pretty crazy stuff! The last stop in Millennium Park was the Cloud Gate. It’s a big, shiny object that looks like a giant bean. You can get close up for some fun photo opportunities. Also the many reflections you see when walking under the Cloud Gate is pretty crazy!

This blog is getting longer then I like, so for the conclusion of day four tune in tomorrow! Trust me – it will be worth it! I will share how my family and I becoming movie stars… well, sort of! It’s a fun story, so come back tomorrow!


Adventures in Chicago! Part 2 September 19, 2011

Filed under: Family Time,Travels — Amy Scott @ 5:00 pm

This blog is a continuation of the one below! I had such a great time in Chicago and I want to share all the details, but I don’t want each blog to get too long to read in one sitting… So I will highlight my trip in installments! Here is the second part of my adventures in Chicago!

Day Three (Monday), started off with Dad having to go his conference, so it was just the 5 of us that set off that morning. After breakfast at the hotel, we went to a Starbucks down the street and lingered there a while. One of the highlights of the trip for me was the amount of times we went to Starbucks. In fact, upon returning home, I do believe I experienced withdrawals! I’m not a coffee drinker, but I had a fair share of hot chocolates and caramel apple spices while I was there. Another exciting thing was since we were in the city, the stores opened early and stayed open late! It was a nice treat compared to our store that close so early!

Okay, I’m done with my “I love Starbucks” monologue! Our first stop was the Shedd Aquarium. In true fashion for the entire trip, we arrived early. This allowed us to explore the museum campus and walk the waterfront of Lake Michigan with the skyline in the background. It was going to be a warm day, so we changed our plans so we could be indoors with our activities. Even though our walk around the campus was before 9:00am, you could tell it was getting warm. The Shedd Aquarium was the highlight of my Monday and possibly the highlight of my trip (other than all the good food I ate)! The exhibits at the aquarium were wonderful, but the best part was the beluga whales and dolphins. We caught the belugas while they were training and the it was a very enjoyable sight! They seemed so happy as they swam around their tank and responded to their trainers! We thought we were going to miss the dolphins because the “show” they were in was about to start. We didn’t pay the extra to see the show, but we did catch an amazing show in the underwater viewing area. The lower level was not blocked off during the show, so we were able to watch the dolphins from down below! It was an awesome sight!

Once we had seen all there was to see at the aquarium, including the gift shop, we moved on to the nearest museum right down the street. The Field Museum is a museum of natural history and is named after it’s prime benefactor. We  had lunch at the Corner Street Bakery and Cafe inside the museum. The panini I had was very good, but the best part was I got a free cookie for giving them my email address. I had been eying the cookies while ordering my sandwich, so I was tickled pink that I got one for free! My favorite part of the Field Museum was the fossils and the ancient Egyptian exhibit. They had a lot of mummies in the Egyptian exhibit and it took me by surprise. It was a little freaky, but also very interesting. I also learned something new about myself at this museum – I’m not a fan of stuffed animals. Not the cute, cuddly ones you find a gift shop, but the ones that are dead, stuffed and made to look live. The museum had a large collection of them and it felt like a dead animal zoo. I know that’s not a very cultured things to say, but that is how I felt!

The last activity on the schedule for Monday was a trip to US Cellular Field to watch a White Sox game. I think we all would have preferred to see a cubs game, but they were out of town while we were in town. I will admit that I’ve been spoiled by Safeco Field. The game itself was quite good, but the ballpark left me disappointed. They have a strange rule that was created because of a one-time issues, where you can not go to a level where you are a ticket holder. That means that you stuck on whatever level your seats are. The whole group was really excited to explore the ballpark and then we realized that we would only be allowed in a small section of it. Also the food at Safeco Field is a lot better. This may seem silly, but I’m not really a sports fan, so I lot of my ballpark experience revolves around food. I was disappointed with the selection for both meal and dessert options. The White Sox ended up losing to the Detroit Tigers (by quite a lot)… the best part was the view of the skyline at night after the game finished. With an L ride back to the hotel, we all went to bed very tired from a long day of walking and sightseeing!

Stay posted for more Chicago adventure stories coming soon!


Adventures in Chicago! Part 1 September 18, 2011

Filed under: Family Time,Travels — Amy Scott @ 5:01 pm

I think I’m finally getting back into the right time zone! My body seems to adapt pretty well to the time change while I’m there, but I have such a hard time getting back into routine when I’m home. Now that I’m starting to feel like my head is on straight again, I would to share with you all the fun and adventures that we had in Chicago.

The trip started early Saturday morning. Jeremy and I rode up to SeaTac with my parents in anticipation of our 8:40am flight to Chicago. My dad is one of those guys who strongly believes in being to the airport 2 hours before any flight. The line through security was very long and the line for Starbucks seemed just as long. With all the standing in line, things worked out pretty well so we weren’t waiting at the gate too long before boarding.

Once we arrived in Chicago, we reunited with my sister, April, and my brother-in-law, Andrew. It was an exciting greeting full of hugs and chatter! We were glad to be together and looking forward to all the week held for us. Once we claimed our bags, we made our way to our hotel. We stayed at the Comfort Suites on North Michigan Ave. This was a prime location because it was near public transportation and the Magnificent Mile where all the shops and restaurants are. We set off to find dinner once we had gotten settled into our hotel rooms. We decided to celebrate our first night in Chicago with deep dish pizza. Our dinner destination was Lou Malnati’s. We had discovered this pizza chain by watching Throwdown with Bobby Flay. Bobby had challenged Lou’s son, Mark, to a deep dish pizza challenge and Mark won. We figured anyone who could beat Bobby Flay must make good pizza! Oh boy, were we right! Deep pizza is so thick that it only took one yummy slice to fill me up! We walked around a bit and got some frozen yogurt for dessert at Froyo. Once back at the hotel, my parents decided to call it a night so the kiddos decided to go back out and explore. We had two locations in mind – the Hershey store and the Ghirardelli store! April and I split a chocolate cupcake at the Hershey’s store that was almost like a brownie! The Ghirardelli store gave out samples of their new pumpkin caramel chocolates (we went back almost daily for those free samples).

Day two started early… maybe a little too earlier… We weren’t sure how long it would take all of us to get ready, so we got up at 5:00am… We were ready to go by 6:15am. My parents were not… I think I was a little excited to get the day started. Each morning we had breakfast at the hotel and then headed off to find good coffee else where. I’m not a coffee drinker but those that are in the group needed another source for their morning java. We got our CTA passes which allowed us to ride the “L” all week. We made our way over to the Willis Tower (formerly known as the Sears Tower). We got there a bit early so we made a stop at Starbucks. The Willis Tower Sky Deck is amazing! At 103 stories up in the air, you sure can see a lot! Plus they have built plexiglass ledges off the side of the building so you can actually step out on them and look down below. It’s really quite a sight! After the Sky Deck, we went out to Wrigley Field for some photo opportunities. From there we made our way to the Navy Pier.  We rode the Farris Wheel and got to see the Chicago skyline and be right up against Lake Michigan. We took at a walk through a stain glass museum and then played mini-golf in the shadow of the Farris Wheel. The day ended with dinner at the Weber Grill. It was amazing! I’d never seen a Weber Grill Restaurant before! The whole restaurant is themed around Weber grills, the food is made on them and the store is decorated with them! We did more walking on the Magnificent Mile after dinner and got more froyo at Froyo! Sunday was the only day we had my dad with us all day so we packed it in with as many touristy opportunities as possible!

To keep the length of this blog manageable, I will have to leave you with a cliff hanger! I’ll continue the play by play of our trip to Chicago in upcoming blogs! Stay tuned!


Rushing the Gift September 16, 2011

Filed under: One Thousand Gifts Challenge — Amy Scott @ 5:07 pm

My week in Chicago afforded me another light bulb moment through this One Thousand Gift challenge. I was really looking forward to this trip because I knew that the gifts would abound. I was very excited for the amount of gifts I would rack up in a short period of time. Now the joy wasn’t in the fact that I was going to do it quickly, the joy was knowing I was entering a highly gifted season. I was ready for it… or so I thought.

I am now over half way through my gift list and I was sadden to realize that when you live life at a fast pace, you can’t enjoy the gifts as much. I just had a great week in Chicago with my family. There were so many moments that I enjoyed with them. I kept notes on my phone throughout the day so I wouldn’t forget gifts when I tried to write them down in my journal. Moving through life so quickly meant I couldn’t savor the gifts. I acknowledge them and enjoyed them, but I didn’t let them sink in because I was quickly moving on to the next thing.

It was surprising to me that things turned out this way. Each gift that I wrote down in Chicago was truly unique and I am thankful for each one of them. I have always learned that gifts are best enjoyed when you have to drink them in. This gift challenge isn’t like McDonald’s where you are in and out in 5 minutes. This gift challenge is 5 star dining with multiple courses. It takes time to enjoy a gift to it’s fullest. It’s not about the quantity of the gifts (which I know sounds deceptive based on the 1000 gift goal), it’s about what you really get out of the gift – the quality of your thankfulness and gratitude.

I know that in the moment it can be hard to contemplate all the goodness of each gift. Sometimes you are thankful for the moment and move on to the next thing in front of you. The great bonus of a gift journal is I can now go over those hurried gifts and relive them. I can lengthen those moments of reflection and gratitude. What you get out of the gift is what you put into seeing it and appreciating it. It’s not really a numbers thing.


Off to the Windy City! September 9, 2011

Filed under: Family Time,Travels — Amy Scott @ 12:39 pm

Tomorrow (very early in the morning) my travel adventures to the Windy City of Chicago will begin! I’m so excited for this chance to see a city where I have only ever been in the airport before. I love exploring new places and seeing sights that I have never seen before. What I love even more than going to new places, is going to new places with people I love!

This trip will be the first time the Vitzthum, Scott, and Gallaway clans will all be together since the end of May when we left April and Andrew to start their lives in Kansas. It’s been strange to have a 1/3 of our family so far way. This trip in a sense will be like a family reunion. I am beyond excited! My sister and I were talking just this week about how blessed we are to be a in family of friends. Yes, we are related, but we all really do have solid friendships. We enjoy time together and are deeply connected with each other. I am blessed not just to be a daughter or a sister, but I am friend and that means a lot!

I look forward to updating you upon my return with all the joyful stories of our time in Chicago. It looks like the weather is going to be good and the itinerary is all set for an awesome time! I’m all packed and ready to go!