October 2, 2015 at 9:14 am (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , )

It’s been quite a week.

On Tuesday, I attended a luncheon/30th Anniversary Celebration for the Chicago Foundation for Women. There were roughly 1500 people in attendance and we had speakers who told us the impact that this organization has made in their lives. The Mayor of Chicago also spoke and the key speaker was Ashley Judd (yup, the actress). It was an informative and inspirational event and I’m really lucky that my company had a table that allowed me to go!

I may not eat chicken but I can beat it!

Tuesday evening, I had a meeting for the Volunteer Committee I’m on for the food pantry. We had our biggest annual fundraiser last Friday (and yours truly may have had too good a time…Saturday was a little rough for me) so we had a lot to discuss. I write a newsletter for the Pantry once a month so I’ve been working on that this week too (not to mention the old magazine articles that I still write each month but those are so habitual I barely register them anymore).

Last night, Thursday, I worked an event sponsored by the Chicago Ideas Week at the Field Museum. I basically hung out in one of my favorite exhibits for a few hours after work and talked to hundreds of teenagers who wandered through. It was fun but not going to lie, my voice was leaving me by the end of the night.

Today, I’m leaving work early to attend an outing with some of the women I work with. We’re going to The Chopping Block, which provides cooking classes and a cooking class is something I’ve never done. Prepare for highlights on that sometime next week – at least, if I don’t somehow manage to cut off a finger. My culinary skills are a little haphazard so we’ll see how this goes!

Finally, tomorrow I’ll be working at the first event with Boy Scouts at the Field Museum for the season (I have three total this month). I’m teaching groups all about archaeology and we’re doing mock digs. I totally dig it! Yes, I went there. It should be fun but it’ll be a long day.

What will I do on Sunday? Probably hide from all adult responsibilities for as long as I can. At the laundromat. Hopefully with all fingers intact!

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Foodie Friday

October 4, 2013 at 1:17 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , )

So this isn’t the normal food-related post.  Some of you may remember that I’ve been volunteering for the Common Pantry for about four years.  They provide food, toiletries, resources and education to just about anyone in the area who has a need.  The pantry is a big part of my life and I’m proud to be involved with an organization that helps to give back so much.  The food that the pantry distributes comes from the USDA, Feeding America and donations from various people and places all over the city.  Unfortunately, the government has been cutting back on the funding provided to these types of pantries and the need hasn’t exactly decreased.

Where some of the magic happens!

There are many things that can be done to combat this and a fellow volunteer of mine named Chris is going the extra mile – 26.2 miles in fact – to help.  He’s running in this year’s Chicago Marathon and I think it’s pretty awesome.  I could never run in a marathon and I honestly think that people who willingly sign up for such a thing are a little nuts but more power to them.  There’s about a week left until the big race and if you’re interested in making a donation to a truly great guy and truly great cause, go here.  See that picture of Chris?  Yeah, I took that.  We’re all about teamwork at the Common Pantry, unless you’re running a marathon.  Then you’re on your own.

Anyway if you choose to donate (seriously, every little bit helps!), here’s a huge THANK YOU!  And even if you don’t, just the reminder that there are people out there struggling to meet their basic needs is something worth keeping in mind.  Here’s hoping Chris runs like the wind!

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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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Won’t You Be My Neighbor?

October 1, 2012 at 11:01 am (Uncategorized) (, , , , , )

As I mentioned last week, Friday night Scott and I volunteered at a big fundraiser for the food pantry I help out at.  This fundraiser was the biggest one they’ve ever had and it was a huge success!  The whole night was based around a book release and the book is called I am Your Neighbor, written by David Brown and Roger Wright.  It’s a collection of stories from people who live in our area and the stories tell the history of the ‘hood while giving background information on the types of people who share the space in which we live.  As part of the book release party, local restaurants and bars donated tons of food and drinks to the event and set up tables all around Architectural Artifacts, which is an antique store/museum/event space just a few blocks from our apartment.  The space is huge, very interesting and managed to hold our 450 some-odd guests quite nicely.  The ticket price for entrance was more than I make in a full day of work and we had a great turn out so everything really helped out our local pantry.  Scott and I basically checked people in all night while listening to the live music and people watching, then we were able to try some of the food and beverages ourselves before the night let out.  Everything was delicious and it seemed like all the guests had a blast, plus the booze was flowing which definitely helped one other aspect of the evening – the live auction.

Fancy Shmancy

There were five prizes auctioned away, including a week’s vacation in a beach house that sleeps 12 up in Michigan, a sports package with tickets for many Chicago games, a spa package and a few other things.  It was really entertaining to watch the auction, especially since neither Scott nor myself would be able to bid on much more than a paper napkin.  There were some big movers and shakers there though and they had no problem racking up the going rate until all items were sold, which once again was awesome for our pantry.  We stayed until a little after 11pm but as we both had to be up for another (slightly less exciting and much more sober) event at The Field Museum on Saturday morning, we didn’t close the food pantry party down like so many seemed to.  We both had a really good time though, as did everyone else, and I’m really glad we went.  I felt like a real grown-up and maybe one day I’ll go to such an event as an actual guest!

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Busy Bee, Busy Me

September 28, 2012 at 12:24 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , )

It has been a super busy week and there are no signs of it letting up.  I’m not complaining because pretty much all of my busyness has been for good reasons, but I’m still exhausted.  Here’s a rundown of what I’ve been up to:

  • Last Saturday – treated an old coworker friend to dinner for his birthday while navigating the drunken streets of Wrigleyville
  • Sunday – made a spaghetti squash dinner (which was easier and tastier than I had anticipated!) for a couple that Scott and I are friends with and played the role of hostess with the most-ess
  • Monday – came home after work and entertained a buddy of mine with wine and my fabulous conversational skills
  • Tuesday – hit the gym then got to catch up with a lovely lady pal of mine on the phone for about an hour
  • Wednesday – met my cousin and aunt downtown (who are checking out grad schools for my cuz) after work and helped them drink two bottles of wine at a fancy roof-top bar
  • Thursday – rushed home after work to hop in the shower before rushing back out to meet said aunt and cousin for a brew, then gave them a tour of the neighborhood and our apartment before going to another bar for dinner and a few more drinks
  • Tonight – right after work I’m meeting Scott and we’re going to volunteer at a fancy event for the food pantry I help out at, where I’ll be taking money, passing out a book where the proceeds benefit the pantry, doing whatever else they ask and trying to sneak food and drinks when no one is looking – this will likely go to 11pm or midnight
  • Tomorrow – gotta be at the Field Museum no later than 10am as all of the docents are having a special going-away luncheon for the president of the museum while welcoming the new guy – after that I’ll be doing the regular docent thing for a bit
  • Sunday – HOLY CRAP RIGHT NOW I DON’T HAVE PLANS ON THIS DAY so I will probably sleep in, go back to the gym, go grocery shopping, sleep some more, etc.
  • Monday – a fundraising event for two friends who are preparing to run the Chicago Marathon – they’re doing all the hard work so going out for a night to a restaurant I’ve never been to is the very least I can do


And that’s it, because I refuse to plan any further ahead than that.  And yes, I’m tired just thinking about all of this.  But like I said, I can’t really complain as all of these things are good things and involve the people I love.  And tomorrow night I’ll spend some quality time with something else that I truly love – my living room couch.

Hope your weekend is a good one!  And if it’s a nice relaxing one, try to get some relaxation in for me.

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Do It For Chicago

June 27, 2012 at 11:05 am (Uncategorized) (, , , , , )

No, not that.

On Saturday, Scott and I joined a group of other volunteers from the food pantry and participated in the 27th Annual Hunger Walk.  The proceeds from this event benefited the Chicago Food Depository, which is where our pantry receives a large percentage of the foods that we in turn dole out to hungry residents in our own neighborhoods.  This 5k began at 8:30am near Solider Field and luckily it was a beautiful morning for a long walk.  Our route took us through a parking garage in McCormick Place (very random and not so nice) and then along the lake, which was very pretty and worth trudging through the depths of the parking garage.  Sort of.  Also, notice I said walk – I don’t run 5ks or anything else but even if I had wanted to, there were so many people there that running would’ve been just about impossible.  According to the website there were 13,000 participants and I know that our local pantry received a certain amount of funds from every walker that we brought, so that’s awesome.  The walk was packed but everyone was in good spirits as we were all doing it for a good cause.  It was a little annoying that to begin, everyone had to pass under a small arch that wasn’t much bigger than a set of double doors – you can imagine how long it took thousands of men, women and strollers to get through there.  We still managed to be finished with the walk in about an hour, which is about what I expected.  It took twice as long to get there and back on the trains as it actually did to walk, but that’s okay.  We were able to swing by a diner for brunch once we were finished and, after loading up on pancakes, hash browns and omelettes, enjoyed quite the nap later in the afternoon.  Hey, we earned it!

The last time I did any sort of walk like this was probably back in high school, where we had annual 10 mile Walk-A-Thons to raise money for our school.  They were basically an excuse to take the day off from class, walk a few hours then eat a bunch of pizza.  I may or may not have spent a Walk-A-Thon or two a little hung over, so at least this time I was alert and sober.  Relatively speaking.

Anyway, it’s hard to believe I’ve been helping out at the pantry for nearly three years.  I’ve met some really great people and even added a new member to our book club through my network of pantry volunteers.  I’m actually going there tonight so hopefully I’ll hear just how well we did during the 5k but since every little bit helps, I’m sure they’re happy!

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Look Who’s Talking

August 31, 2011 at 9:42 am (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , , , )

The past few months have seen an interesting turn in my extracurricular life, as for some reason I seem to be involved in more media than ever before.

  1. The IT guys at my office decided they wanted me to be “the voice of the company” and so I recorded all of the greetings and voice mails for the firm.  Which is funny because I had a speech impediment as a kid and am still slightly self-conscious about the way I talk.
  2. The sex/dating column I started writing for the entertainment mag about two years ago now includes beer and liquor reviews, news shorts, photo captions and a video blog.  Yes, a video blog.  This was pitched by my editor recently and while I’m not entirely sure I like the idea of being on my own YouTube channel…I’m giving it a shot.  I’m basically just putting another spin on the column I’m writing but saying lines into a camera is a little different from what I’m used to.
  3. I was also recently recruited to shoot a volunteer testimonial video at the food pantry I volunteer for, as they’re re-vamping their website.  So I’ve been spending a bit more time in front of a camera lately and while it’s not something I’m extremely comfortable with, it’s been at least interesting so far.

By interesting, I mean nerve-wracking.

You never know when you might need a place like this

Okay not totally nerve-wracking, but seeing myself on film and hearing my voice through a speaker is something it’s taken a bit of getting used to.  I like to pretend that after I finish these videos, they go out into cyberspace where no one really watches and if they do, they soon forget.  If I ever meet anyone who recognizes me I’ll officially have a freak out moment but until then I’ll just assume the only person watching will be me.  And now you, maybe.  And even I don’t really watch because it makes me feel all weird inside.

Hey look at me in a church basement

Hey look a way to donate

But obviously I’m sharing the pantry video here anyway.  The Common Pantry does a lot of good work for the men, women and children in the neighborhood and they deserve some good recognition.  So here’s a link above to the video and another to the donation page, should you find yourself inclined to do so.  I’m aware I look nervous, awkward and tired but you try filming something off the cuff after a long day of work and night of filling grocery bags in an unconditioned basement.  It’s not as easy as I make it seem.

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