Oh, the places we’ve “Bean”

Once upon a time, two kids fell in love. After a few years of dating, they got engaged. They had the most magical wedding ever with lots and lots of guests. And after living happily together for 19 years, they decided to celebrate with a trip to Chicago. This is the story of our little weekend get away.

I try not to make you guys think that my life is perfect. But this weekend came pretty darn close. The weather was sunny, warm (well, warm-ish) and it was an all around delightful weekend.

Ken found our place on airbnb.com. If you’ve never tried it, I recommend it. You rent accommodations from regular people all over the world. You can rent a whole house, a floor in a house, a room, a tiny house (some of these look enchanted) or even an artists’ flat (that’s what we did). We stayed in a house built in the 1880s in the Historic Pullman neighborhood in Chicago. George Pullman built the town and the row houses for the employees at his railroad car company. He charged them rent and even established behavioral standards that his employees had to meet in order to live in the area. After a depression in 1893 the demand for his rail cars declined and the company laid off many workers and changed many other employees to pay-per-piece work. Even though the company went through these cutbacks, rent was never reduced for employees. After Pullman’s death the state of Illinois told the Pullman company that they had to sell the town since it was operating outside the company’s charter. And within 10 years the company sold the houses to its occupants (seemed to me that was a long time coming). Since that time, the town has gone through many changes (including being absorbed into Chicago) and was almost demolished for an industrial park! The residents were responsible for saving their neighborhood and I’m so glad they did.

This is the outside of the house. Charming, isn’t it?


The owner is an artist and you can see his touches all over the house. I could have stayed there for a month!IMG_1113 copy"IMG_1109IMG_1256 copy 2
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I love how he left the lath and plaster still visible inside the medicine cabinet.

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And then we were off to the city. We were walking distance to the train station and it was a short 15-20 minute ride and there we were. The city was in bloom all over the place. It was a perfect Spring day. Our first stops were Millennium Park and the Bean:

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And of course, we did our jump/levitation photos:

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We had lunch at one of our all time favorite places:

"IMG_1202Hey, it’s our anniversary and we’ll celebrate how we see fit, thankyouverymuch.

After lunch, we walked all around the city, went to the top of the John Hancock building:"IMG_1216 Navy Pier, along Lake Michigan and to Lincoln Park to theeee best pizza place I’ve ever been to, Chicago Pizza and Oven Grinder Co. It’s a tiny place in Lincoln Park that has the best only pizza pot pie I’ve ever had. Yes. Pizza.pot.pie. There’s the cutest little old man who doesn’t keep a host ledger. He remembers your face and comes to find you when your table is ready. Even if there are 10 other parties ahead of you he will remember your face. It’s amazing. If When you go, I suggest you get the Mediterranean bread, the chef salad (and try both the sour cream/garlic and sweet and sour poppy seed dressings) and the meat lover’s pizza pot pie. You will not be disappointed. After we had finished stuffing our faces, we decided that the walk to the train station was too far so we took a bus there instead. We’re such the city folk. Well, ok, maybe the real city folk don’t get excited about taking a train, bus and walking all over the city. But I can pretend.

It was the perfect day in such a great city. I wouldn’t have changed a single thing. The next day we got up and drove to Oak Park. Can’t wait to tell you what we saw there!


I love technology

Here’s another movie for you: Napoleon Dynamite. Did you see it? Did you see the song at the end? Where Kip sings to his bride about his love for technology? If you haven’t seen it, click here for a 30 second clip of the song. Just like Kip, I love technology. And here’ why: all through my vacation, I was posting photos & updates on Facebook so my family & friends could follow along. I emailed a fellow blogger from the shore and even had a couple of friends download the Find My Friends app so they could follow me on my adventures (thanks Anthony & Melissa!). It was so delightful sharing my fun experiences in and around Santa Monica.

After my time at Leo Carillo Beach, I was hungry. Before I even left for California, my friend Vickie from Lilacs and Cupcakes had told me that I just had to eat at one of her favorite cafes. She couldn’t remember the name, couldn’t remember the address but knew it was across the street from the beach & the Malibu police station. But when I looked up the police station, it was miles from the beach. We went back and forth with text messages and she told me it was right in the middle of a shopping center on PCH. We were getting close: I only saw two shopping centers on PCH. I took a guess, pulled into one, took a picture & sent it to her asking if this was the right one. Lo and behold, it was! Now do you see why I love technology? My friend in Missouri was giving me “directions” to a cafe in Malibu! 

I had a delicious burger at Coogi’s Beach Cafe. Inside, it looks more like a diner than a cafe but the food was divine. I had the pesto burger and oh.my.gosh. So very good.

When I left Coogi’e I decided to head up toward Los Angeles. My friend, Kevin (who lives in Florida), has a brother, Tom, that works at Fox Studios and I was going to meet Tom for dinner. This isn’t something I normally do; meet strangers for dinner but I just had a feeling that this would be fun. Since I still had a couple of hours before dinner, I thought I’d drive around Beverly Hills and Rodeo Drive for a bit. I posted on Facebook that I was heading that way and I really felt like everyone at home was cheering me on as I went. I got requests for pictures (but they felt more like threats if I didn’t get pictures). I rushed to get there before dark but the California traffic was working against me. I got there in enough time to snap this picture from the car:

Not a great picture, but proof that I made it! While receiving directions from my dad over the phone, I found The Witch’s House. This old house was in several silent films and can also be seen in Clueless (one of my guilty pleasures).

I told Facebookland that I was now heading to Rodeo Drive. Again, I got requests (or threats) for pictures. Most of the stores were closed when I arrived but, like Beverly Hills, I got some pictures to prove that I was there. I didn’t realize that the window displays are so extravagant there.

Ralph Loren:

Most of the other pictures are too dark to see much of anything but I still had fun wandering around pretending that I could go into any store and buy whatever I wanted. From a new Hugo Boss suit for Ken to some jewelry for me from Cartier. And then I found the mothership: Paper Source. It’s a cute little shop with all things paper and paper crafts including books, wrapping paper, cards, rubber stamps, home decorations. I could have spent an hour in there! But I think the craziest thing I saw at Rodeo Drive were parking meters that take credit cards. Super convenient and a great idea but I never thought I’d see this.

And now it was dinnertime! I followed Tom just a few minutes down the road to Farmer’s Market (be sure to watch the video). And this is why I love meeting people that live in places that I’m visiting: I would never have gone to this place, I would have missed it completely. I highly recommend this place. There’s something for everyone at Farmer’s Market. It was so much fun. So many different places to eat and if I wanted I could have picked up some fruits and veggies. We walked around and decided on a place for dinner – The French Crepe Company.

We ate dinner and then walked around The Grove. Tom is the most fascinating person I’ve met in a long time. He’s a foley editor currently working at Fox Studios. In case you don’t know what a foley editor is I’ll tell you. Anything you hear in a movie that isn’t dialogue is the direct result of foley artists. Background noise, footsteps, cars crashing, keyboard tapping, punches being thrown…all that is created by the foley guys. I could have sat there and listened to his stories for hours. Wait…that’s exactly what I did. Let me stop here and say that I really hate people that are name droppers just for the sake of impressing others. And Tom was nothing like that at all. He had story after story of people he’s worked with but never made it sound like he was trying to impress me or those around us. I know the secret (maybe it’s not a secret but I like to think that it is) of how they made the sound for Face/Off when the boat crashes. I know how they got the sounds for the fight scene. I know that Jim Carrey is most likely a great guy to work with but I probably wouldn’t want to work with director William Friedkin.

Tom and I spent four hours talking movies, his journey to working in the movies, my interview with Roma, houses, the economy, Florida, California. It was so much fun. And like I said, not something I normally do, but I trusted my friends Raegan & Kevin and it payed off. I feel like I have a new friend for life now.

My California trip is quickly coming to an end. My dinner with Tom marked my last night in California. I was to leave the next day. I’ll only have one more post to tell you about the canals in Venice. This was not something I had seen on any of my previous trips to the West Coast and it was amazing. Can’t wait to show you pictures!

Vacation and the important stuff in life

I promised a cool, new (well, new to me) web site today but first I’m going to bore you with the 2011 version of vacation slides. We decided to break up the trip home and make it a two day affair. The first day, we stopped in the cute little town of Newnan. My childhood friend, Jeni, lives there with her family and she met us for a day of shopping and coffee. Her son, Carter, and Ethan have been friends since day one. We were pregnant together and I just love that we’re still friends even though she’s so far away.

Newnan has the cutest little courthouse right in the middle of downtown. 

The next day we stopped in Tifton. I have to say that I agree with their advertising blitz – they are a friendly little town. And they have the cutest theater. Wouldn’t you love to see at night?


As you can see, I was loving the iPhone by this time. My purse was getting heavier and heaver every day and by the last two days I wasn’t up to having the camera around my neck as well. Ken is the ever-helpful husband but he wasn’t up to carrying my purse. So the camera stayed in the car and I took my phone with me instead.

It was a great vacation long weekend get away and we were busy as usual. There’s no vacation like a Long/Cunningham vacation!

OK, onto the cool website. It’s called The Burning House. You submit a picture of the stuff you’d take with you if your house were on fire. It’s quite a lot to think about. I actually ended up choosing less than I originally thought I would. Honestly, the important stuff in my life isn’t stuff at all. I’d love to take my grandmother’s china but I can’t see myself lugging the china cabinet through the front door. Same goes with my coffee table that my dad made. Here’s my list:


I’d take the following:

  • My two boys
  • MacBook Pro
  • external hard drive with countless pictures and music
  • iPhone
  • camera (pictured on iPhone)
  • wedding ring
  • husband (not pictured because I’m pretty sure he’ll be helping me get the heck outta there)

So there you have it. My whole life summed up in 8 items. What would you take with you?

Mountain getaway

We’re back from our little getaway to the Georgia mountains. I had every intention of blogging while gone but internet service was spotty up there and it was more frustrating that rewarding to blog. Here’s a rundown of what we did (warning: not blogging for almost a week makes this blog post picture heavy)…

This is our cabin where we stayed. Believe it or not, I didn’t get a shot of it but my mom took this with her cell phone.

Our dear friend Jane met us up there. She lives in North Carolina and decided to meet up with us for the weekend. The plan for our first night was to hit Walmart to pick up some food and grilling necessities. However, on our way down to the town, Jane heard something while driving and her oil light came on immediately. We were all afraid that something had punctured her oil pan. So, under the car my dad went. Most of you don’t know this, but it’s almost a Long/Cunningham tradition to have car problems while on vacation (sometimes even before leaving the state)! Luckily it was only the plug to the oil pan! She had her oil changed before coming to Georgia and they didn’t screw it on tight enough. My dad made a run to a local auto parts store (thankfully there was one close) and bought a new plug and more oil. We thought we were on our way. Boy, we thought wrong! As he was checking the oil levels, the top of the dipstick came right off with the dipstick still in the car!

We tried everything from tweezers to bobby pins to pry it out of there with no luck. Then a Long/Cunningham vacation first: a stop by the Sheriff! He wanted to make sure everything was ok. When we told him the whole story, he replied in the deepest southern drawl, “Man, that’s some bad luck.” Ya think? My dad figured it’d be ok to leave it like that for now (and keep checking it throughout the trip) and we headed to town for some Mexican food, margaritas and then Walmart. This is when I downloaded Instagram for iPhone. I’ve heard all about it but never played with it much. My first “share” was my margarita. I swear this thing seemed to be 5 gallons!

The next day took us to Helen for tubing and shopping. If you ever get the chance to go tubing there, you must do it! I managed to get stuck on every rock possible but it was the most fun I had on the trip! There was tons of laughing, tons of opportunities to make fun of my family and tons of fun. Obviously, I didn’t take my camera down the river so I don’t have any pictures of the trip but trust me: it’s a hoot. Helen is a cute town with a German feel to it. We had lunch at one of the German restaurants. The best part: baked pretzel! 

Just a few minutes from our cabin, on the side of the road was a junk yard. Tons of cars and parts just piled on the side of the road. Only in the country! Oh, the stories these cars could tell.Views like this were all over the place:

One of the things my mom and dad really wanted to do while up there was collect some rocks. Not just the “put them around the house” kind of collection, though. They’re adding a waterfall in their backyard and need lots and lots of rocks. Rocks are really expensive here in Florida and we don’t have a river in our neighborhood (or anywhere close). One of the vacation goals was to fill up the trunks of my car (and Jane’s) with rocks. Lots of them. We found a small creek (not to be named just in case some sort of rock authority is reading this blog) and hit the jackpot! Here’s my mom and dad showing off their spoil (taken with my mom’s phone). Can you tell she’s excited?

Everyone got in on the action:Then it was off to Anna Ruby Falls. It’s a great place and the rain held off just long enough for us to climb to the top and get these:

Jackson didn’t want to jump at the top of the falls but promised me he’d let me take a jumping picture later at the lake. The boys had never swam in a lake before but they took to it like white on rice. I’m not sure why, but in this picture Jackson looks like he has dislocated his shoulder. I assure you, he’s perfectly fine.

The next day, we headed to Dahlonega. Coffee shop, guitar shop and an antique mall made this trip well worth it. Lookie what I found:See the green one on the top of this next photo? She came home with me:Anyone know anything about taking pictures with the Instamatics? I know I’ll have to get the film online and Ritz said they send it out for processing. Any other tips?

The last day included a quick trip to the creek by our cabin for fishing. No fish were caught, but I caught these pictures! All the same to me.

Checking out the lure:That’s it for now. I’ve got a couple more pictures from our trip home but I’ll save them for tomorrow. And I’ve got a cool website to share with you, too. Don’t let me forget, ok?