Things I Love

February 14, 2017 at 4:15 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , )

  • My husband (we’re lovingly spending our first Valentine’s Day as a married couple apart – he’ll be in class all night so I’ll be cuddling with the cat – welcome to marriage!)
  • My family – even the crazy ones (and even my sister who is on a cruise to Bermuda right freaking now)
  • My wonderful, freaky, nerdy friends
  • My sickly, silly cat
  • My job (most days)
  • The country I live in (most days)
  • Chocolate
  • Cheese
  • Pizza
  • Wine
  • Museums, volunteering at museums and staying the night at museums with tons of kids and their families
  • Books and reading
  • Journals and writing
  • Also – Netflix
  • That feeling when you have freshly shaved legs and put clean sheets on your bed and jump in
  • Traveling and experiencing new places, people, ideas and things
  • Panko – this is a new discovery and I’m obsessed
  • Sunshine
  • My purple hoodie
  • My couch
  • The view of Chicago from the Field Museum (and the view of the city from just about anywhere else)
  • The fact that I’m getting better at yoga and can now kick my foot up over my head without falling and busting my ass
  • Being vegetarian
  • The fact that I can feel strongly about things, find like-minded people and then take action to do what we feel is right – without getting beaten up or jailed
  • Did I mention wine?

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Book Club Baby Shower!

March 15, 2016 at 2:49 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , )

Just in time to be a month late, I remembered I’d forgotten to post about our last book club meeting. Make sense? Thought so.

Our book club has been getting together for like seven years now and we’ve all grown pretty close. So when one of our members announced a pregnancy, we got all giddy and super excited. This particular member offered to host our last meeting at her house in the (almost) burbs and we managed to surprise her with a baby shower in her very own home! A home, by the way, that made me green with envy. After having spent the last five years in a one-bedroom apartment and sharing a single closet with Scott, walking through her four-bedroom domicile was like walking through a dream full of everything I’ve always wanted and nothing I could ever afford. Suffice to say – she’s got a nice place.

And we decorated it super fast! Well, a couple of us decorated it while the others got her to give us a tour. We totally stretched that out too, asking all sorts of questions about original woodwork and television screen placement. But our ruse worked and when we made our way downstairs, she was definitely surprised! And even a little teary-eyed, which we’ll just attribute to hormones and being surrounded by wonderful women.

dsc01548

We didn’t do anything like this nor did we bring baby books because we clearly suck at this shower thing. But we tried!

So we sat around and watched her open gifts while eating a ton of food and drinking wine that the pregnant lady can’t have right now. She was happy regardless though and I’m pretty sure she liked all of her gifts. As for the actual book club part of this party, we all read a book. But we all read different books because when we chose in January we were all exhausted from the holidays and couldn’t be bothered to be specific. We all read “romantic” books since we were meeting in February and I chose to re-read Great Expectations, which I read forever ago but forgot all about. And I really liked it! Miss Havisham is a great character and Pip is someone I love to hate. It also made me want to watch the movie starring Ethan Hawke but I haven’t gotten around to that yet.

The other girls read other books but since it’s been a month I’ve forgotten all about those. I do remember having fun though and unfortunately I won’t be able to attend the next get-together since I’ll be out of town. But soon enough we’ll all be together again celebrating our newest book club member and reading her nursery books so we can look forward to that!

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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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August Book Club Review

August 22, 2014 at 1:04 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , )

It’s been a little while since I’ve done one of these!

On Sunday, the girls came over to my place for some potluck/BYOB Book Club action. The original plan was to eat and drink before walking to a nearby comedy show but in the end we just ate and drank. And it was a blast! I always have such fun with these gals, although it was rough waking up on Monday morning after all the wine we downed Sunday night.  I guess there’s a reason we usually stick to Thursday or Friday for our meetings!

Not Into the Woods, as I misspelled on the invite to Book Club. Because that’s a musical.

The book we read was In the Woods by Tana French, which was a murder/crime/whodunit novel set in Ireland. The story revolves around two detectives, one of whom was the victim of some mysterious potential crime when he was a child. He had been playing in some nearby woods with two friends when they disappeared – the detective was found alone, clutching a tree, shoes full of blood and no recollection of anything that happened. So he grows up, moves away, changes his name and becomes a detective. Then he and his partner get called back to his hometown to investigate the murder of a young girl, not too far from where his old friends disappeared.

Intriguing enough premise and I did like the story but *SPOILER ALERT* they never find out what happened to those damn kids! The murder of the little girl is solved but I wanted to know what happened to the detective’s friends. His character was written really well and it was easy to kind of detest him while also understanding where he was coming from but he ended up treating his partner (and former best friend) like crap and that pissed me off. Though I guess if a fictional character has the ability to make me mad that means the author was doing something right. Anyway, it was a thicker book but I flew through it and enjoyed it for the most part. Just wish there had been some happier resolution at the end but life doesn’t always have a nice tidy ending so I suppose I can forgive it. Still would’ve liked to know what happened to those kids though!

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Mental Health Day

November 14, 2013 at 11:20 am (Uncategorized) (, , , , )

So, after I realized earlier this week that Thanksgiving is a week later than I originally thought, I also realized that didn’t leave me with much time to use my last remaining personal day at work before the end of the year.  Our paid time off doesn’t roll over and if we don’t use it we lose it so I decided to help get myself into the holiday spirit by taking a day off of work yesterday.  And it.  Was.  Glorious.

Ahhh…

I didn’t do anything and it was everything I hoped it could be.  I stayed up late Tuesday night watching one of my favorite shows and then I woke up early yesterday to treat myself to breakfast.  There’s a place I pass almost every day and I never venture there on weekends because it becomes stupidly packed super early, but the crowd isn’t too bad during the week.  So I braved the cold temps, packed up my book and enjoyed a nice breakfast all to myself.  Then I went home and took a three-hour nap and it was pretty much the best thing ever.

I was slightly more productive in the afternoon as I tidied up the apartment and went for a quick workout at the gym.  Then I made brownies and drank some wine, thus capping off my fantastic and wonderful day off of work.  Now it’s almost Friday, I have book club tonight and a weekend to look forward to!

Can I please take Wednesday off every week?

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Well Isn’t That Embarrassing

February 18, 2013 at 2:04 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , )

I had one of those publicly embarrassing moments this weekend where my debit card didn’t work at the register.

How rude!

This wasn’t my fault, mind you, as I had plenty of money in my account.  The whole demeaning debacle started when I got carded for my bottle of wine at Trader Joe’s.  I showed my license and the girl called me out on the fact that it’s expired (yes, I know this and I am waiting for a new one to arrive in the mail any day now.  I promise).  So Scott had to show his and then I thought things would be business as usual.  No such luck.  We split the total in half so I could put half on my card and Scott could put the other half on his and this is something we do all the time at Trader Joe’s and every other grocery store, with no problems.  Well, it apparently confused the sullen Check-Out Girl and she wasn’t able to split it the first four times she tried.  It eventually showed up as half so I swiped my debit card, which is when she first told me it came back declined.  What?  I had cash in my account and even if I didn’t, my card never declines, it just overdrafts.  But that wasn’t even the point since there was plenty of cash in my account.  So we run it through once more and it declines once more.  At this point there’s a line forming and I’m getting flustered so I pull out my credit card.  Check-Out Girl has more problems getting the bill to split again but she finally manages and I swipe the new card.  The machine asked me for a PIN number and I told the girl it needed to be run as credit.  She looked at me like I was an broke-ass idiot and told me to then run it as credit.  I told HER that there wasn’t an option for that anywhere on the screen and when I swiped it, it automatically brought up the PIN screen.  At this point people are moving to other lines and rolling their eyes while Scott has his hand on my arm to prevent me from grabbing Check-Out Girl by the hair and showing her the screen I was looking at.  She just looked at me, didn’t say a word and crossed her arms over her chest.  Because that will magically fix everything.  Scott eventually just put the whole thing on his card and I walked out, biting my tongue the entire way.

I know this isn’t a huge deal and my debit card worked perfectly fine at Target later that night so I realize I didn’t do anything wrong.  And while I know working at a grocery store probably isn’t all sunshine and giggles all of the time, I think maybe the Check-Out Girl could have at least apologized for whatever she did in her system that screwed it all up to begin with, or something.  Not treating me like a piece of crap on her shoe would’ve been a start.  I have NEVER had my card declined ANYWHERE and wow, it sure is a demoralizing experience.  I can’t imagine the drop-kick to morale people get if/when it happens on a regular basis.  My situation all worked out in the end though and when I got home, I truly savored that bottle of wine.

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Pop Pop Fizz Fizz

December 3, 2012 at 2:40 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , )

Friday night I was part of something I haven’t been a part of in a good long while – a Girl’s Night Out.  A friend of mine recently turned 31 and a group of us met at her place for some wine before heading downtown to Pops for Champagne, a fancy-schmancy champagne bar.  We all got dressed up (I even wore a new dress!) and gathered around a table to enjoy some light snacks and a huge bottle of champagne.  And, from looking at the scale shown, this wasn’t really considered a “big” bottle. There were five of us girls total and it took us a fair bit of time to kill it all, after which we were all feeling…well, fizzy.  The bar itself wasn’t one that I would frequent very often because 1) I don’t go to fancy bars all that much, 2) it wasn’t exactly cheap, 3) it’s far from the local dive bars in my neighborhood and 4) the majority of the people there were kind of snobby.  I’m really glad I went though because it was a blast, though I wish they had let one of us pop the cork instead of discreetly doing so in a cloth napkin.

Well, I thought a Magnum was big...

Well, I THOUGHT a Magnum was big…

By the time we finished our food and the biggest bottle of champagne I’ve ever had the pleasure of enjoying, I knew I needed to head home.  My five-hour stint at the Field Museum was going to come quicker than I wanted and trying to sound engaging and educational while really hung over isn’t something I wanted to experience.  So I bowed out early and I later learned that the others had a night which culminated in two other bars, buckets of booze, shots, someone throwing up and everyone almost walking out on a tab.  While that sounds entertaining, I’m kind of glad I wasn’t around to see it.

The rest of my weekend was a blur of museum stuff; driving around for nearly two hours trying to find parking for Lincoln Park Zoo’s Zoo Lights (Scott and I wound up giving up to the parking gods and we’re going to try again, but next time we’re taking the bus); brunch with a friend of mine from Kindergarten who was in town; an expensive trip to Target (though aren’t they always…); grocery shopping; cleaning my bathroom so well that I thought I was going to pass out from the fumes and watching the mid-season finale of The Walking Dead.  Which makes me wonder – just when the hell did a MID season finale become a thing?  Thanks a lot, cable.  And 65 degrees in December?  Thanks a lot, global warming.  At least it was warm enough for me to wear my new dress!

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Thanksgiving Recap

November 26, 2012 at 3:51 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , , , )

Even though it seems like I just left for vacation about an hour ago, I am indeed back and in the swing of things.  Here’s how my holiday went down:

The Good:

  • That I found $20 in my back pocket as I navigated security at O’Hare Airport.  Definitely got the trip off on the right foot!
  • The visiting with family, of course.  I normally only see the Southern side of my family once a year (twice if I’m truly lucky) so it’s always good to catch up.  My dad, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, sister and I were able to spend some quality time together around a fire pit and it was awesome.  However, after spending the week in the company of my 10-year-old male cousin, I’m now even more weary of ever having children.
  • The meeting my dad’s coworkers…it wasn’t good so much as very interesting.  I’m pretty sure they were all on their best behavior.
  • The weather was awesome, as usual.  Highs in the 70’s made me glad I brought my flip-flops out of hibernation and I enjoyed the warm sunshine on my face each and every day.  I did not enjoy returning to the 30 degree temperature in Chicago and it was a rude awakening back to the real world.
  • The Nook.  I received a hand-me-down Nook from an aunt of mine and while I was skeptical at first, so far it’s been really handy at the gym.  I’m still carrying around my paperback and likely always will but it’s nice to have options and I can’t help but feel a little more technologically savvy.
  • The fact that I went to the Mall of Louisiana with my family and spent less than $25, which bought lunch and a new work skirt.  My checking account thanked me later.
  • The food, which is last here but certainly not least.  Being a vegetarian never stops me from fully enjoying my Thanksgiving meal and a plate full of stuffing, sweet potatoes, vegetable casserole, green bean casserole, cranberries and apples and a family speciality called corn casserole proved that once again.  Not to mention the chocolate cheesecake and pecan pie…I’m getting hungry again just thinking about it!

This was the first of two plates, both this size. No shame.

The Bad:

  • Almost being late for my flight because construction caused the bus routes near my apartment to be all messed up and a well-meaning, idiotic couple gave me wrong directions.  Luckily I always give myself ample time and have superior navigational skills so I was still able to enjoy an overpriced beer before my flight took off.
  • We didn’t make our annual trip to the local dive bar Fluidz, mostly because it’s under new ownership and we were told it’s just not the same.  We still drank plenty of wine though so all was not lost.
  • Sharing a bed with my sister is never fun.  Enough said.
  • On my way home, I got stopped at security in the Baton Rouge airport.  They made me produce another form of identification because apparently they’d never seen an Illinois license before.  I gave them the photo ID I have for work and then, because I’m a bit of a smart ass even when dealing with TSA, I also produced a really old military ID from the time I spent on an Air Force base in South Korea.  I guess that did the trick because they let me through after that, though they did look at me like I was a bit strange.

The Ugly:

  • Scott turned into a crazy cat lady while I was gone.  Each time we spoke, he held the phone up for me to talk to the Dude and he swears the Dude knew my voice.  I’m not sure I should leave them alone together any more.
  • Speaking of pets, my grandparents’ poor dog is a bit of a mess.  He’s like 14 years old and totally blind and deaf.  Other than that he’s still healthy so they feel guilty thinking of putting him down, but watching him stumble into chairs that he wasn’t expecting was a sad sight indeed.  Just not for him, since he’s blind.  Yeah I’m going to hell.
  • One of my cousins is on kidney dialysis and has home treatments for three hours a day, six days a week.  She brought her giant blood-cleansing machine with her and shipped most of her medical stuff.  I always knew she was one of the strongest women I’ve ever met, but damn.  Seeing her stick herself with huge 15 gauge needles and just sit back while all of her blood was sucked through tubes and put back again really put things in perspective.  She’s beautiful but the stuff she deals with certainly is not.  It definitely gave me more to be thankful for.

All in all, the trip was another great one.  I’m really lucky to have such a wonderful family and I’m glad another fairly good year has come and gone for all of us.  The only thing that could have made it any better was if I had been sent home with leftovers…but they’re weren’t any, because I ate them all.  Now bring on the Christmas feast!

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October Book Club Review

October 26, 2012 at 10:49 am (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , )

For our book club meeting last week, we read Lord of the Flies by William Golding and ate at Vapiano in yuppie trendy Lincoln Park.  There were a couple of girls in our club who had never read Lord of the Flies before and since I own it (having read it in high school and again in college), I was all for reading it again.  For those who aren’t familiar, this book is about a group of elementary school British boys who wind up stranded on an island, sans adults.  As the reader comes to find out, there was some sort of atomic bomb (this book was written in the ’50’s) and the plane carrying these kids to safety crashed and burned en route.  So no one knows they’re there.  Cue melodramatic music here.

You know you have a classic when The Simpsons do a parody

In the beginning, the boys see this as an opportunity to run things the way they want and enjoy the freedom that those pesky grown-ups always seem to try to take away.  It doesn’t take long for them to nominate a chief and create grand plans of shelter, feasts and frolicking on the beach.  Of course, this doesn’t go as planned and soon kids are sick from the massive amounts of fruit they’re eating and their lack of protein, they’re living in shoddy huts and spending more time fighting and having nightmares than anything else.  They also manage to light the island on fire not once, but twice.  Kids I tell ya.  The fighting continues to worsen as the chief and the head hunter don’t always see eye to eye and before you know it, boys are being killed in barbaric ways as most everyone struggles for survival.  I realize that this is a bit depressing for some people but this book is really just a forefather to things like The Hunger Games.  I thought it also provided really interesting social commentary and while I won’t ruin the ending for those of you who might want to give it a go, I will say it was better than I had remembered.

Our dinner was also one of the better ones in my memory and was an interesting experience overall.  This restaurant looks swanky and super nice and when I walked in I was surprised at how large it was.  Wooden tables were arranged throughout with little lamps and greenery on each one and everyone sat on stools (not uncomfortable but not the nicest thing my butt’s ever had the pleasure of encountering…and that sounds much dirtier typed out than it did in my head.  Oh well).  The model of this place is unlike anything I’d ever seen and we were all given little menus with our own personal plastic cards upon entering.  There were various stations set up around the restaurant – the bar, pasta, pizza, appetizers etc. each had their own stop with their own respective bartender and chef.  I hit the bar first and enjoyed a rather large glass of $3.95 red wine, which can’t be beat (unless you’re buying a bottle for that price at Trader Joe’s).  After I ordered, the bartender swiped my little card and my purchase rang up on there.  Same thing for dinner – I had pizza and my card just kept accruing the charges until it was time to leave.  At that point I just walked up front and turned it in, then paid the balance.  I thought it was pretty cool to eliminate the need for a large tip (though there were jars for dollars at the various stations) and I don’t mind carrying my own food so it worked out.  I split two pizzas with a friend and both of them were huge and delicious.  I could’ve probably saved some for lunch the following day but once I started I just couldn’t stop.  At the end of the night (one big pizza and two large glasses of wine later), my tab was just over $16.  Not bad for an evening on the town!

I read some Yelp reviews and some people complained that such an upscale-looking place shouldn’t make its patrons carry their trays and use a soda fountain but you know me – I’m much more frugal than foodie and I honestly thought it was kind of cool.  The whole evening was fun and while we’re skipping a meet-up in November due to the holidays, we’ll be back on track in December with new books and new restaurants to check out!

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By the Numbers

October 24, 2012 at 12:46 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , )

Well, I’m glad I went to my reunion and I’m also glad it’s over.  It’s amazing what ten years can do to some people and I had to laugh as I witnessed the stereotype of the good-looking, popular guys from senior year who gained a huge beer belly and lost their hair.  Despite having a super drunk former classmate of mine dump red wine down the back of my favorite sweater upon my arrival (thanks for getting that stain out, Mom!), I enjoyed myself and Scott seemed to tolerate an evening full of strangers telling stories he wasn’t a part of very well.  It was good to see most everyone and it was also good to find out who was still a giant douchebag.  It was also crazy to see just how many visibly pregnant women were there – I counted at least 8, not including myself.  Haha, just kidding!  Trying to see if you’re paying attention.  I enjoyed catching up with old classmates but was also reminded why I don’t speak to more of them on a regular basis.  There was almost a fight between two guys near me too, so it was just like the good old days.

Too bad I was never any good in math…

My long weekend was, as typically goes for my trips home, a rather busy one.  Instead of writing about it in detail, I figured I’d just show you the stats:

  • Five days ago Scott and I drove 250 miles after work and arrived home around 2am.
  • Four days ago I received 1 haircut, visited with 2 grandparents, “napped” for 3 hours, met with 4 friends and attended my 10 year high school reunion, where I mingled with nearly 100 people and had lots of wine (yeah, lost count on that part).
  • Three days ago Scott returned home and I visited with 5 friends for 2 hours over 1 brunch, then I visited with 15 family members and 4 additional friends in 6 different locations across 2 states.  I was very busy.
  • Two days ago I had a nearly 3 hour brunch at Cracker Barrel where I visited with 12 more family members before boarding the Megabus and traveling the 250 miles back to Chicago.
  • Yesterday I enjoyed my day off by cleaning out 6 different cabinets and 1 drawer across 3 rooms.  Also, 1 trip to the gym, 1 call to my building maintenance, 1 apartment problem resolved and 1 more nap.

And now I’m back to work, counting down the hours until I can leave once again.

All in all, it was a great trip.  You can see how much quality time I got with my friends and family and I was also able to visit my still hospital-bound uncle, who is doing better.  Even though they accidentally broke his leg in physical therapy.  Granted, he’s a paraplegic and can’t exactly feel a broken leg anyway but c’mon.  Who does that?  Luckily he’s in good spirits even with this new setback and should hopefully be back in his own house this week.

I still can’t believe it’s been 10 years since I finished high school and I can’t help but wonder what the next 10 will bring.  I feel like I’m on a good track though and so I’ll just keep doing what I’m doing and see what happens.  At least I’m not bald!

 

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