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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So Campy

September 16, 2013 at 10:54 am (Uncategorized) (, , , , , )

Over the weekend, I went camping for the first time years.  My mom recently gave Scott and me a nice big cooler on wheels and we bought a tent earlier in the summer so since the basics were covered, we were good to finally go.  Scott  found a state park on the beach about an hour north of the city and we planned on meeting some friends of ours out there.  We arrived fairly early Saturday morning and pitched our brand-spanking-new tent, then sat around snacking until our friends showed up.  The plan was for them to stay the night as well but my girlfriend announced she was pregnant as soon as they arrived and said they wouldn’t be staying all night.  How could we be mad about that?  Truth be told I’ve had some idea that she might be “in the family way” for a while now but I knew that she would tell us when she was ready.  So of course we had a lot to celebrate and we were able to gush with excitement all afternoon!

Campsite Sweet Campsite

Campsite Sweet Campsite

We had plenty of food and drinks (I tend to overpack and this trip was no exception) and after lunch we walked along the beach for a while.  There were a few trails we explored and the campground had quite a few people but not so much that it felt crowded.  The facilities were pretty nice and it was just so peaceful to be out in the woods.  Our friends left after a true campsite dinner of hot dogs (veggie for Scott and me), beans and s’mores and Scott and I stayed up late just enjoying the quiet and the fire.  It didn’t get too cold during the night but it did start raining about 5am and that just didn’t stop.  We had planned on hanging out for a while in the morning but the rain put a damper on things (literally) so we packed up and headed out as soon as we could.  After stopping for a greasy breakfast in a local diner, we were home and taking a nap by noon!

It’s so nice to know that this kind of reprieve from the city is so close and I can safely say that my urge to camp has come back with a vengeance.  The last time I was camping was during Bonnaroo (a huge three-day music fest in the middle of a field in TN, sort of like Woodstock).  That was fun but it was much different from having a place with an actual fire pit and real bathrooms, so I think I’ll stick with this type of camping from here on out.  There’s another local place that Scott really wants to take me to so we’ll try for one more outing in a few weeks, before the weather gets really cold.  The peace and quiet in the woods was exactly what I needed to recharge before another workweek in the city!


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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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Life’s A Beach

April 29, 2013 at 12:28 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , )

Although sometimes it’s a foggy looking beach that seems like something out of a post-apocalyptic movie.

Scott and I wanted to enjoy the beautiful day we had yesterday so we decided to bike to the beach.  The sun was shining, the birds were singing and people everywhere were out and enjoying the gorgeous weather.  However, the closer we got to the actual beach the drearier it became.  The sun all but disappeared and a hazy, foggy mess was left in its wake.  We looked at each other in confusion as we rode closer to the water because we weren’t quite sure what was happening.  Perhaps the combination of warmer weather and cold water created a mist like something out of a Stephen King novel?  Or perhaps the gods of good weather just wanted to give us a swift kick in the ass?  Regardless, it looked like we were on the surface of Mars with only a few other human survivors.  Or like we were visiting Los Angeles.

Scenic, huh?

Scenic, huh?

In case you can’t tell, there’s two people walking by the lake in this photo.

It was a surreal experience yet we laughed the whole time because that type of weather would hit just as we get to the water.  So we shrugged it off, walked around a bit then made our way back home.  But get this – as soon as we got away from the shore, the skies cleared back up and the sun once again made an appearance.  So obviously there was some weather phenomenon happening close to the water but I’m still not smart enough to know what it was.  What I do know is that the newly emerged sunshine was so warm and pleasant that we stopped for a drink and a snack on the patio of our neighborhood bar.  Maybe next time we’ll see some actual blue skies – fingers crossed, but it looks like this warmer weather just might stay!

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Like Riding a Bike

August 24, 2012 at 2:42 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , )


Over the weekend, Scott and I purchased bikes.  Or rather, Scott dragged me to Target and I begrudgingly bought a bike.  See, I’ve been extremely scared of owning a bike since, well, forever because where I grew up there were barely lines on the road let alone bike lanes.  I never had to deal with cars or traffic lights and the thought of navigating them on two wheels without the steel frame of a car pretty much scares the hell out of me.  I owned a bike in college and I believe I rode it once, and then I used to ride a little in the suburb of Chicago I (thankfully) briefly lived in before moving to the city.  However since being here I have not ventured out, mostly because I value my head not being a pancake on the sidewalk.  Nevertheless, Scott convinced me to give it a shot.

Not quite like this, though that would be awesome

And I’m actually glad I did!  This week has been a busy one with three different evenings spent with friends, the gym, the pantry and a book club meeting but I’ve managed to ride a bit anyway.  We also rode to the theater on Sunday, the day of the big bike purchase, and I only almost hit a parked car once.  Luckily for me, our neighborhood is fairly quiet and I’m surprisingly comfortable riding the streets (and yes, Mom, I have a helmet).  I’m excited to get back to it this weekend and Scott has actually planned a route that will take us to the beach, a butterfly habitat, an urban peninsula, the zoo and a beach-side bar near the zoo, all in one ride.  It sounds a little intimidating but also pretty nice, since walking or driving that route would likely take us all day.  Other than lots of bike riding and a little bit of last-minute shopping for our trip, I’m looking forward to a laid back weekend full of sleeping in and eating out.  Gotta enjoy those Chicago summers while they last!


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Just Beachy

May 31, 2011 at 2:32 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , , , )

It seems like every day I find something else to love about my new apartment.  Yesterday I was able to add one more item to the list when I realized that there was a beach no more than a mile and a half from where I was sitting on my couch.  Since it was actually sunny and in the 90’s for our Memorial Day, I figured I should probably hit the sand.

I would also like to take this opportunity to thank the Chicago weather for making me look like a lying fool.  I’ve had house guests two of the last three weekends and each of these visitors have had to put up with rain and unseasonably low temperatures for the

Beach Day!

duration of their stay.  Then, just as Mr. Murphy predicted, the weather cleared up and became downright beautiful once they left.  As an example, my old college buddy and I spent Sunday morning battling downpours as we walked to breakfast and then drove to the grocery (friends who stay with me and then drive me to do errands earn a special place in my heart).  These were serious downpours too – flash flooding was taking place and my friend actually had to climb in her passenger side to get in her car because the streets were so saturated.  It was miserable and I haven’t seen a drenching like that in a good long while.  After our brunch and errands, my friend departed into the storm.  Not even three hours later the rain had ceased and the evening became warm and pleasant with a nice sunset to boot.  Of course.  That was Sunday – Monday I woke up to 90 degree temps and abundant sunshine.  Double of course.  While I was bummed that my friend missed out on the nice weather, I did everything in my power to enjoy it enough for the both of us.

There are many beaches throughout Chicago and each of them are known for different things.  North Avenue beach is probably the most popular but as I’m not the type of person who goes to the beach to see and be seen, I’ll stick with what’s local.  Foster Ave. beach had plenty of kids and families but not so much that it made the entire experience ultra annoying.  There was some beach volleyball action going on and I definitely had some ice cream from a street vendor.  A friend of mine and I enjoyed the sun for a few hours and I even braved a walk in Lake Michigan before heading home – and it was freezing.  Lesson learned in that respect.  It’s nice to know I have such a sweet spot so near to my humble abode, even if I only get to enjoy it 3 months out of the year.

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Viva Mexico!

September 22, 2010 at 2:49 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Aaaand I’m back!

The trip was everything I expected and needed it to be – five days of beautiful beaches, sunshine, drinks and relaxation in Mexico.  To be honest, it’s kind of difficult to write this post because I feel like it was too short and I just want to go back to Puerto Vallarta!

This was the view from our hotel room

My mom, sister and I arrived Wednesday afternoon and were in our suits as soon as we checked in the suite.  We explored the pools and beach, as well as the buffet and bar, well into the night.  We happened to arrive in Mexico at the time of the bicentennial, so celebrations were everywhere and it was pretty cool to witness the way another country marks their independence.  On Thursday, we spent most of the day hanging out by the pools and beach, and of course the swim up bar.  My sister and I also made plans for an outdoor adventure, which we took part in on Saturday.

Friday, my mom and I took a cab into downtown Puerto Vallarta.  On the way, we spotted a pick-up truck that was completely full of avocados…I wish I had been quicker with my camera so I could’ve had a shot, because that was one of the most beautiful things I’d ever seen.  Anyway, we did some shopping and general wandering around, and I managed to find a place to buy some tennis shoes for my sister and I (we each only brought flip-flops and our adventure excursion called for something a bit sturdier than that).  Now, I’m not normally a woman who gets her panties in a twist over shopping and shoe stores, but I have to admit I was pretty thrilled at finding a place that sold me two sets of sneakers and some awesome fancy sandals for $40.  I may not be a crazy shopper but I know a deal when I see it!

The boardwalk in Puerto Vallarta had some really beautiful statues:

This one was probably my favorite

While this one really reminds me of Dr. Zoidberg from Futurama

It was a great place to hang out in and before we left, mom and I managed to find 2 for 1 beers at a place right off the beach.

On Saturday, my sister and I had our adventure in the jungle.  The excursion consisted of a speedboat ride across the ocean from our village to a smaller one further out, an open jeep ride up some extremely bumpy/rough terrain that often had potholes filled in with sandbags, a mule ride up the mountain, zip-lining through the jungle, rappelling down a waterfall and hiking back out.  Yes, it was as badass as it sounds.  Although if I’m going to be completely honest (and I guess I will), the zip-lining freaked me out more than I thought it would.  It wasn’t because I was flying high above trees and rocks – I was more scared of losing my arm while hanging on to the line.  We had to position our hand behind us to help with turning and breaking, and on my very first ride my clumsy self somehow managed to get my glove caught in the gears.  The instructors had made very clear the fact that doing something like that was wrong and could cause serious injury, so of course I was over thinking it to the best of my ability.  After getting my glove caught I was nervous to do any more but there’s not really another way off the mountain so I sucked it up and got through all 8 of them.  By the end I had pretty much conquered my fear but it was an adrenaline rush nonetheless.  The rappelling down the waterfall I loved from the beginning though and I wish we had more like that!  Of course we had guides and instructors there during all of this and they always had our backs, and they were a riot.  If any of you ever try zip-lining on the west coast of Mexico, I highly suggest you check out Vallarta Adventures.

They wouldn't let us bring cameras but it was something like this

The last few days of vacation consisted of more sun, beach, swimming, drinking and eating.  We met quite a few fellow Americans down there and made some new friends.  One woman in particular stands out in my mind, as she and her husband were down there for their 15th wedding anniversary.  They had just gotten in on the day we met and the lady was the textbook definition of drunk as a skunk.  She had 6 or so martini type beverages before we met her at the bar, and I watched her drink a few more.  She rounded out the night with a shot of tequila.  She was also convinced that she was going to be able to set me up with her younger brother so that one day she would be my sister-in-law.  She was really adamant about this and spent a good half hour trying to find a Facebook photo of her brother on her phone (despite the fact her husband kept telling her that she only had reception in the lobby, not the bar).  We ran in to her the next evening and my mom, sister and I are all pretty sure her husband had to remind her who we were.

All in all, it was a fantastic vacation.  We had great weather just about every day and the late nights had some strong thunderstorms, which was actually pretty spectacular to watch out over the ocean.  We all made it back safe and I didn’t lose my arm in an unfortunate zip-lining incident (although it was sore for three days).  The only trouble we encountered was at the end of our trip, where our flight leaving Mexico was two hours late.  That caused us to miss our connecting flight in Phoenix, which caused us to be rerouted to Charlotte before eventually going to Chicago.  At this point in the trip, my sister and I had been around each other longer than we had been in two years and had thus reverted back into our 12 and 13-year-old selves.  We were tired, pissy and hungry and therefore were fighting like teenagers, with my poor mom stuck in the middle per usual.  However, one of the good things about being a grown up is we are legally able to settle our differences over beer, a couple of which calmed us all down long enough to catch a few zzz’s on the way home.  We got back to my apartment around 10 hours later than we were expecting but the rest of the trip more than made up for it.

And sadly, back to work tomorrow.  But not before pizza with my book club tonight!

If only I was eating and reading back out on the beach…

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200th Post Song (to the tune of the Saved By the Bell intro)

September 14, 2010 at 8:06 am (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , )

I’m also including a link to the video of the original song, so everyone can get the tune nice and stuck in their head.  My last blog song was to Baby Got Back by Sir Mix-A-Lot and since my mom had no idea what that song was (or so she says), I figured a link would help her and those like her.

When I get to work every morning

and turn off the alarm that shouts in warning

I don’t think I’ll ever make it all day.

By the time I do my work

and check out some websites as a perk

all I really want to do is go outside and play!

It’s alright, because I’m Saved by the Blog.

After lunch I take a rest

sometimes more, sometimes less

’cause I’m too lazy to try to post on here late at night.

Riding low in my chair

I write what I think and don’t really care

and I’ll be back the next day on this WordPress site!

It’s alright because I’m Saved by the Blog

It’s alright because I’m Saved by the Blog!

Yup, you can tell I’m a product of the late ’80’s and early ’90’s.

So besides being the day of my 200th post, this is also the last day that I’ll be writing until after my vacation.  This time tomorrow I will be on a plane to Phoenix, where I will then catch my flight to Mexico.  As I sit here at my desk, it’s hard to believe that tomorrow I will have my feet in the sand and a drink in my hand.  In case you can’t tell, I’m just a little excited for this adventure.  My mom and sister will be driving up here tonight and our flight leaves bright and early tomorrow morning.  I’ll be back on here sometime late next week; try not to miss my daily musings too much while I’m away!

Puerto Vallarta, here I come!

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