July Book Club Review

July 31, 2013 at 12:20 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , )

The night before my last day of work before our vacation, the girls and I met up for our monthly book club happenings.  We went to a place we’ve been before but it’s one of my favorites so I didn’t mind and it was close enough to home that I didn’t feel guilty knowing how much packing and preparing I still had left to do.  We met at Bad Apple which I know I’ve reviewed before, and it was just as good this time around.  I had a few summer cocktails in honor of the nice weather and the fact that I was already in vacation mode, and all my drinks were all delicious.  And strong.  Bad Apple also had a substantial beer menu which a few other girls enjoyed.  I ordered a veggie burger with goat cheese, spinach and a sage marmalade sauce and it was amazing.  Their fries are also really tasty and they make their own awesome ketchup in house.  I was able to save half my meal for lunch the next day and it made for a great second meal.

Stories are like spiderwebs.

As for books, we read Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman.  His books are usually have a touch of sci-fi and there are often ghosts, goblins, ghouls and spirits that appear as everyday creatures in the worlds he creates.  This book told the story of an unremarkable man who, after his father passes away, realizes he’s got quite the remarkable family.  It took me a little bit to really get into it as the beginning started off slowly but once I got about a third in, I was all in.  It was definitely entertaining and unlike anything I’ve read before though the ending tied together almost a little too predictably.  The story itself had so many original elements that it was easy to lose myself in and most of the other girls in our group had to agree.  This is the third book of his I’ve read in a relatively small amount of time (The Graveyard Book and American Gods were the others) and I can’t say I’m complaining.  So if you’re up for something a little different and out there, pick this novel up.  And if you’re hungry, head to Bad Apple!

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We Made It!

July 29, 2013 at 1:25 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , )

I haven’t had time to download any of my pictures or really even think about writing a wrap-up blog post on our recent trip, but I’ll get there.  Sometime.  I promise.  In the meantime, I can give you these breakdowns:

  • 2 countries visited: Costa Rica and Nicaragua
  • 1 bed and breakfast that housed us for all 7 nights
  • 3 bottles of sunscreen used
  • 1 bathing suit broken
  • 2 types of monkeys I saw: Howler and Spider
  • 3 hours spent attempting to learn to surf
  • 4 bottles of rum I brought back (don’t judge me, they were cheap!)
  • 2 humpback whales I saw and captured on video
  • 1 octopus I held
  • 5 other couples/people we met from the Chicago area
  • 13 bug bites on my legs
  • 2 pair of sunglasses that Scott lost/broke
  • 5 hour flight each way
  • 0 movies or TV shows shown while on the flights
  • 0 snacks served while on flight (thanks for nothing, United)
  • 2 horrible dreams I had about work while I was away
  • 1 volcano I got to peer into the bottom of
  • 100 virgins who were once sacrificed into said volcano
  • 0 virgins on our trip
  • 300 photos taken overall
  • 1978490732509843 wonderful memories and experiences that I had over the course of 1 week

More updates to follow as soon as I can!

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Costa Rica, Here We Come!

July 19, 2013 at 11:06 am (Uncategorized) (, , , , , )

This time tomorrow, Scott and I will be thisclose to the beaches in Tamarindo, Costa Rica!  We have an early (8am) flight and a one hour bus ride to the hotel, then we’re free!  We’ve booked a day trip to Nicaragua to hike a volcano and tour some towns and chances are we’re going to go scuba diving and to a monkey sanctuary and rehabilitation center as well.  We’re also going to try to learn how to surf and maybe even hit up some mud spas.  And of course – relax on the beach.  Our hotel has a nice pool too so we’ll probably spend some time there, not to mention wandering around the town itself and checking out restaurants and shops.  And we can’t wait!

24 hours and counting!

We’ve had a tight few months since Scott’s been dealing with some worker’s comp stuff and while this trip doesn’t exactly fall during the best of times, we’re making it work.  Besides, we could both use a vacation!  I just have to get through this workday and I can fully enter vacation mode…too bad this day is super busy.  Oh well, at least it’s passing fast I guess.

Scott brought up our suitcases from storage and that’s as far as we’ve gotten with packing.  I’ll be doing that this evening, then trying to force myself to sleep so we can wake up at 4am and get ready to head to the airport.  Of course it’s not like I care if I’m tired when we get there – I can always take a nap on the beach!

Hope everyone has a great week – I know we will!!

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Yay for the UK!!

July 17, 2013 at 11:12 am (Uncategorized) (, , , )

Look at the UK, with their progress and equality! Love it!

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So Much Talent, So Little Space!

July 16, 2013 at 11:54 am (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , )

One of my friends from Chicago (who has since moved on to bigger and better things in California) is one hell of an artist.  She’s into graphic design, animation and architecture and she now does so many artsy things for her new employer that I can’t even begin to keep up.  A long time ago and a little before my beloved Catsby fell ill and passed away, this wonderful friend surprised me with a portrait she painted of my wonderful kitty, which my wonderful boyfriend later framed and hung on the wall.  When Scott’s family dog Daisy passed away a while ago, we commissioned my friend to paint a portrait of the dog for his parents.  They loved it and it’s on display in their living room.  I knew how much Scott missed Daisy and since most of the stuff on our apartment walls is mine to begin with, I decided to ask my artsy friend to paint one more portrait of their dog for Scott to hang in our place.  She did because she’s so awesome and Scott was able to hang it up last week:

Told you she was talented.

Told you she was talented.

Since the new piece is on a canvas, we probably won’t end up framing it.  I think that our new “Pet Corner” looks great and it’s a nice reminder to us of some of our all-time favorite pets.  The paintings look so much like Daisy and Catsby that sometimes it gets us a little emotional, but these pieces of artwork are a great addition to our living room walls.

I just felt like I had to give a shout out here to my friend and once again express my gratitude for all her hard work.  If I had done this myself, we would’ve wound up with pathetic stick looking figures with little squiggles of fur drawn in.  This is so much better!

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Piloxed

July 15, 2013 at 10:48 am (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , )

Last Thursday, I attended my first ever hardcore cardio class at the gym.  Called Piloxing, it’s a combination of both boxing and pilates, meshed together in a one hour work out.  And it was not easy.  The instructor we had was a sub for the regular woman and this girl also incorporated  a lot of Zumba/dance type moves into the class.  I’m not going to lie, I looked like Big Bird having an epileptic fit for much of the hour.  I’ve never been the most coordinated person and my sense of rhythm has always been lacking, so it was pretty funny trying to keep up with all these girls who had clearly done this type of class before.  There were a few times I almost fell over and I definitely burst into laughter more than once after catching a glimpse of myself in the mirror, but it was still pretty fun.  And apparently these classes can burn up to 800 calories in an hour!

I absolutely did not look like this.

Besides the dance moves, there was a lot of kicking, punching, jabbing and running around.  We also did quite a few ballet poses and holds, which was surprisingly difficult.  I knew the class wouldn’t be easy and it definitely kicked my ass.  As in, I was sore for two days and doing anything that involved using muscles just plain hurt.  But of course, it hurt in a good way.  I was very proud of myself for sticking through the whole class, especially since two girls gave up and left about halfway through.  I didn’t even vomit once, either.  There weren’t too many of us to begin with and I really preferred that, since my flailing attempts at dance could have seriously injured someone had they been too close.

The whole class was a nice change of pace from my usual workout routine and I think I’ll try to incorporate it whenever I can.  If I’m lucky, I won’t feel like the world’s oldest and most arthritic woman after another session or two!

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Foodie Friday

July 12, 2013 at 10:34 am (Uncategorized) (, , , , )

Scott’s the baker in our household.  I’m perfectly happy grabbing a package of Oreos to satisfy my sweet tooth but he’s a little more health conscious than I am and doesn’t always have the best reaction to dairy so he often makes dairy-free desserts at home.  Which is more than fine by me, not going to lie.  But when he told me he was making a peanut butter and chocolate silk pie using tofu, I was not too excited.

Tofu is something that I enjoy eating if it’s been cooked properly in the right dish.  It’s not something I really like cooking myself because I seem to wind up with a tasteless blob that otherwise ruins a perfectly good meal.  However when it’s done right, it can be a really awesome source of protein and can be quite tasty too boot.  That said, I really didn’t think it would go well in a dessert.  But Scott ignored my trepidation and used a recipe similar to the one below to create something that shut me up for good:

Ingredients:

  • 16 ounces soft (silken) tofu
  • 1 cup creamy peanut butter

    Not the exact pie he made (because we ate it) but it looked just like this.

  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tbsp soy milk
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 pre-made pie crust

Preparation:

Combine the tofu, peanut butter, sugar, soy milk and vanilla in a food processor or blender and blend until smooth.

Spoon into the pie shell. Refrigerate at least 2 hours and serve.

Recipe courtesy of About.com, though the exact recipe he used was found in a vegan cookbook my sister bought him for Christmas.

I digress.

Obviously the recipe is pretty easy and the hardest part was convincing myself to try a bite when it came out of the fridge, even though Scott assured me it was delicious.  And truth be told, he was right.  It.  Was.  Delicious.  If I hadn’t known it had tofu in it I never would have believed it and the peanut butter and chocolate on the top of the graham cracker crust melted in my mouth.  It instantly became a new favorite dessert and Scott completely agreed.  Who knows, maybe we’ll sneak it into a family function and see what everyone else thinks before revealing the ingredients!

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Get Me Out of Here!

July 11, 2013 at 11:53 am (Uncategorized) (, , , , )

So, I was briefly trapped in our building’s elevator yesterday.  Since we’re 51 floors up, I must take two separate elevators and an escalator in

Thankfully I didn’t have to resort to this. Yet.

order to reach my office every day.  At the end of the work day yesterday, all I wanted to do was get out of the building and on with my night but nooo, technology didn’t want to cooperate.  I was the only person in the first elevator ride down which in itself is unusual for 5pm on a work day, and then when we arrived at the floor the doors didn’t open – also unusual.  I made some disgruntled noises, hit the ‘Open’ button a few times, jumped up and down in hopes of dislodging whatever was keeping the doors shut then realized if there was a serious mechanical issue jumping up and down might not benefit me in the long run, and then began frantically jamming the ‘Open’ button.  A few (long) minutes passed and I was almost to the point of hitting the ‘Help’ button when I decided to go for broke and choose a random floor instead.  Lo and behold, the blasted thing moved and the doors opened when we arrived at the floor in question.  Since I’m a risk taker, I stayed put and hit my original destination once again.  It worked that time and I was able to make a graceful exit, even though on the inside I was hollering and creating a scene from my near-stuck experience.  I’ve mentioned before that they always seem to be doing work on the elevators here and it’s not exactly comforting.  I didn’t have any mishaps this morning but who knows what lies ahead in my future.

I should probably start packing snacks, just in case.

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STOP

July 10, 2013 at 11:59 am (Uncategorized) (, , )

As seen in my neighborhood:

Collaborate and listen

Collaborate and listen

This sort of makes me want to go around and put all kinds of random words under Stop signs.  But since I like spending my days not having to pay back tickets for vandalism, I’ll just enjoy the works of someone else.

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2013 Hunger Walk

July 8, 2013 at 12:05 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , )

On June 29th, thousands of men and women met at Soldier Field and walked a 5k to benefit the Greater Chicago Food Depository.  The food pantry I volunteer with was part of the crowd and we had a decent number of people show up to support our local pantry.  Each person who walked for us earned the pantry $12 in food credits at the depository, so it was definitely for a good cause.  Of course, waking up earlier on a weekend than I normally do on work days wasn’t exactly fun but it wasn’t like I was running the 5k or anything so I managed.  There were people everywhere which warmed my heart, and there were groups grilling out and celebrating at the end of the walk.  It was a festive spirit and it was really nice to see so many groups and organizations coming out to support the hunger needs of our neighbors in the city.

People, people everywhere!

People, people everywhere!

The weather was just about perfect for the walk, too.  It was warm but not hot and cloudy so there was no real danger of overheating or getting a sunburn.  Last year it was really sunny and warm which was pretty for the first five minutes, then turned into a sweat fest.  Scott and I were able to walk and talk with some other volunteers from my pantry, then we kicked it into overdrive and power-walked the rest of the way through.  We stopped at the Trader Joe’s in the South Loop on our way to the train and by 11am had eaten breakfast, walked a 5k, done our grocery shopping and spent roughly 2 hours on the train.  I was amazed by what can get accomplished if you just wake up early on a weekend!

Not that I did that this weekend.  Sleeping in is pretty rad, too.

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