California Dreams

February 25, 2015 at 9:33 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , )

Did anyone else ever watch that show? Because that’s exactly what my recent vacation to  Long Beach, California was like.

Except not really. There were no angsty teenagers and certainly no band but my mom, aunt, cousin and I managed to have fun anyways. What did we do with our five days in the sun? Well, we enjoyed that sunshine to begin with! The weather was perfectly lovely the whole time I was away and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t get some enjoyment from checking Chicago’s temps while I was wandering around in sunglasses and flip flops. Of course, that warmth now seems like a distant memory but I have pictures to prove it did actually exist.

Sorry for the blurry photo but I was in a car. In California.

Sorry for the blurry photo but I was in a car. In California.

We took one day and drove south to Temecula, which is an old wine country that we absolutely took advantage of. We toured a few different places and did tastings at each one, while I wore a tiara made of wine corks that my aunt found at our first stop. Because you know, engagement. The wine was a little too good and luckily my mom fixed me some frozen pizza when we got back to my cousin’s place or I might not have been so chipper the next day!

We spent a lot of time walking through various beach towns and my mom and aunt accidentally wandered onto a CSI set and were reprimanded for playing with the props. To be fair, it did look like real fruit. We did some shopping, ate at some great spots, got our nails done and basically had a wonderfully relaxing time. I even got over my aversion to Bloody Mary’s and enjoyed two back to back while at brunch! Luckily I know a girl here in Chicago who knows a thing or two about that tomato based adult beverage so hopefully she can introduce me to some gems here in the Midwest.

It was a perfectly relaxing trip to take in the middle of February and I did NOT want to come back. But real life always awaits, right? And unfortunately sometimes real life includes real temperatures in the teens and tears that freeze to your face. At least there’s wine and vodka here in Chicago too!

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Have Suitcase, Will Travel

February 12, 2015 at 8:54 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , )

Tomorrow, I’m taking the bus down to my mom’s for the weekend and will spend time with my lovely family and friends for a few days. Then on Monday, my mom and aunt are flying to California to stay with my cousin in Long Beach for the week! It was a bit more of a last-minute trip than what I normally plan but everything worked out in such a way that I couldn’t not go, so tickets are booked and my bags are packed. Of course, it’s kind of difficult to pack for 20 degree weather for the weekend and then 70 degree weather during the week, but I think I managed. I am an expert traveler, or so I like to think.

Soon to be me, in girl form.

It’s kind of funny that I went 30 years without ever going to California and this is now my second visit in four months. We don’t have a ton planned yet but I know we’ll be hitting some wineries and obviously that’s all that really matters. I think we’ll go to Malibu and maybe San Diego as well but really, I’m just going along for the ride. I’ve been wanting to take a trip with my momma for a while now and my aunt and cousin are always a blast so I know we’ll have a good time. We’re all definitely ready for a girl’s week out! The only downside to everything is that my sister is unable to come with us but life can’t always be perfect, can it? I do get to see her this weekend and I think we’re going someplace where I can try on wedding dresses (whoa that’s weird to type) so at least we can visit a bit!

All in all, an exciting week coming up! Now if I could just bottle up some of that sunshine and warmer weather for my return to Chicago, I’d be all set.

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Just Call Me Grace

February 10, 2015 at 8:57 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , )

It’s no secret that I’m not the most graceful of people. In fact, when I was a little girl my mom refused to let me take ballet lessons because she said I was way too clumsy and I’d never be any good. The truth hurts.

About right.

For the most part I’m able to regulate my clumsiness to walking into doorways and tripping over my own two feet but this weekend proved to be the exception. I was cleaning off our coffee table in the living room Saturday night and I accidentally knocked over a candle that had still-fresh wax floating around inside. I tried to grab the candle and succeeded in only knocking the wax all over our living room. It spilled all over my hand, the floor (thankfully its hardwood), the curtains and our new couch. Scott was just sitting there trying not to laugh as I freaked out about what to do. I was afraid anything I did would make it worse so I just stood and watched the bright purple wax harden over all of my life. My hand and the floor have since had the wax scrapped off but the curtains are ruined – these are curtains that a college friend helped me sew when I moved into my first apartment on my own and I’ll be sad to see them go. As for the couch…well, there’s now a strategically placed blanket where one didn’t used to be. That said, if you have tips on how to get stained wax out of microfiber I’m all ears.

You would think that the above fiasco would be enough for me for the weekend, but no. As I was making dinner last night and moving around the contents of my fridge, I completely dropped a brand new glass jar of banana peppers onto the kitchen floor. Glass shards went everywhere (as did banana pepper juice) and Scott walked in the backdoor as I was frantically trying to erase the evidence. He got another good laugh out of my misfortune and said he was just glass I had made the mess and not him.

Of course I did. He probably would’ve been allowed to take ballet classes, too.

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An Ode to the Snow

February 5, 2015 at 8:30 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , )

There’s no end in sight for the two feet currently on the ground

as the weather won’t warm up anytime soon to melt it away,

we must get used to the workout of climbing over mounds

because it appears that winter is here to stay.

In fact, we’ll probably be cold and frozen for the rest of our lives

as we wear through coats and hats and our “new” winter boots,

we’ll probably freeze until we cry and break out into hives

of course this is after we go crazy and pull our hair out by its roots.

Sure, the snow is pretty at first and even kind of fun

but then reality sets when you eventually have to go outside,

you’ll never move fast because you just cannot run

unless you want to slip, fall and bruise up your entire backside.

And now the novelty has worn off and we’re left with the rest

which consists of yellow patches, gross colors and black slush,

getting through this season puts even the heartiest of us to the test

because we mostly want to kick, scream and wallow in the mush.

Then we have ‘dibs’, which are dangerous and full of power

because everyone takes the tradition deeply to heart,

if you take someone else’s spot your night can quickly go sour

as people have been known to tear usurping vehicles completely apart.

Of course, there’s not much we can do other than bundle up and bear down

since we’re all frozen here in this perpetually snow-covered state,

seriously, even our mouths are stuck in a frown

but at least we can keep warm with all of our winter hate!

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Birthday Girl

February 3, 2015 at 9:34 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , )

Well, technically my birthday is tomorrow but I celebrate my birth all week month long and I’m posting now. So there.

Blow me.

Scott and I went out on Saturday night to a cool Mexican place with some friends who were there to help me celebrate the fact that I manage to get older without looking a day over 25. The food was good (minus the mix-up with my meal that caused my vegetarian self to eat part of someone else’s beef burrito – luckily the tequila helped to cleanse my palate) and the company was even better so we all had a great time. I have some seriously great friends and they all chipped in to cover my food and drinks (which were ample, trust me – see above). After we ate most of us wandered to a nearby club and had a few more drinks before fighting a huge blizzard to get home. Yup, this is my second birthday week in Chicago where we’ve had a record amount of snowfall and this was the second week in my life where I was able to work from home due to the weather. Talk about an early birthday present!

Now what will I do to celebrate my actual birthday?  So far, the plan includes waking up super early to go to the gym (we’ll see if this actually happens or not…), stopping in for breakfast at this diner by my apartment that I always want to go into but never make time for, working, going to an after-work event which includes snacks and adult beverages, then coming home and enjoying some quality time to myself. Scott has class all night and most of my friends are busy so I think I’m going to get a huge frozen pizza and watch some of my favorite guilty pleasure television programming. And you know what? That day sounds just about perfect to me!

I must be getting old. And I don’t mind a damn bit!

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January Book Club Review

February 2, 2015 at 8:07 am (Uncategorized) (, , , , )

Well, I’ve kind of slacked on doing these lately but we ladies met again last week so here you go!

We went to Chez Simo, which is a French restaurant that opened last year in my neighborhood. It was a brunch place before it went all French and I used to love going there (the coffee was especially delicious). I was pretty bummed when that restaurant closed down and even more bummed when I realized that most French food isn’t exactly vegetarian-friendly, which may or may not be why I had never been there before. We were reading My Life in France by Julia Child so obviously the French theme was appropriate but my dietary fears were unfounded and I had a tres bien meal!  I started with an asparagus soup that had a generous chunk of brie cheese floating in the middle, which went really well together. It was delicious and inspired me to make my own asparagus soup at some point. Then I had a beet salad that had green beans and almonds, which was also very good. I’m not someone who eats a ton of beets but that may have to change! Chez Simo is also BYOB which is always super fantastic and there’s a liquor store right across the street so it was convenient as well.

Watch out!

As for the book, no one seemed too incredibly impressed. I liked it myself but will admit that it wasn’t exactly thrilling. Julia talks all about how she got interested in cooking and writing cookbooks and also describes her nomadic life in Europe and the US. Her husband worked for the government and was stationed in both Paris and Germany (and perhaps elsewhere that I haven’t read about yet) so they were constantly packing up and moving on. It’s all interesting but I’m not exactly a chef myself and a lot of the dishes she talks about have French names so I have no idea what she’s going on about. There are lots of details she gets into that I could live without but I guess it’s to be expected from a woman who experimented with dozens of different types of recipes for mayonnaise before finally being satisfied. And you don’t even want to know how long it took her to perfect her pie crusts. That said, it was pretty empowering to read about a woman who didn’t find her true passion in life until her late 30’s and then achieved success way after that. Gives me hope for writing that great novel yet!

 

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