Friday, June 3, 2011

fill in the blank friday

Happy Friday! I'm excited for this weekend because on Saturday I begin my new job as a server at Swanky Seafood Place. It's super far from our apartment, but it's a nice place, and I need to bank some cash before beginning the school year-- applying to PhD programs is EXPENSIVE. Aside from work, the hubs and I are having a picnic by the lake (see the post below-- I'm sorry about the layering; I think it's a widget problem but I am really bad with technology). I also have a book club meeting, and since OOTBF is back in town, we're going to dinner. I hope everyone has a great Friday!

 I love       baking   because      it's cathartic when I'm stressed, and it's one of my favorite ways of showing affection. I love providing for the people I care about, and cake makes everything better!

2.  A time that mama knew best was    when she warned me about this jerk I was dating. He was controlling and demeaning and awful, but my 15-year-old self was not listening to anyone! He was a huge waste of time, and I should have heard what she was saying.

3.  My first kiss went a little like this    ... it was on a cruise, actually (commence Love Boat jokes). My mom took my sister and me on vacation, and there was a boy in the "teen lounge" who I thought was really cute. In reality he was way older than me, and I should have held out for someone I would know longer than a week!

4.  My celebrity crush is   Sean Connery. Yeah, yeah, he's a million years old, but have you ever seen "Darby O'Gill and the Little People?" Google it. He's like 25 in it, and smokin' hot! PS, he sings in that movie :)

5.  My splurge of choice is     definitely going out to dinner. I know we won't always live in Chicago, so I keep wanting to try new places and enjoy everything in the city. It makes me cringe to think that between the two of us, we haven't even saved $1000 a year since moving here, because we eat all our money! 

6.  My biggest accomplishment is       is it weird that it's hard for me to answer this? I always need to challenge myself and work on these huge projects, so I never feel like anything is "finished" or that I've "accomplished" it. I think I will definitely feel accomplished when I get into a PhD program  .

7.  My dance jam of choice is       always dependent on my mood! I dance around to Rihanna and Britney, but I definitely like shaking it to jazzier instrumental stuff too  .

picnic by the lake

For some reason, I've been fixated on the idea of a picnic by the lake for a couple of years, and we've never actually done it. In my head it's a cross between a garden party and going to the beach, but lugging a bunch of stuff downtown and trying to make sure food doesn't spoil or get squished kind of kills my Martha Stewart buzz, you know? Even though we're probably just going to bring some PB&J's, I'm pretty excited! Aside from the inevitable spillage (I have a hard time not wearing my food sometimes, I hate to say!), I wouldn't have to worry about this outfit spoiling in the June sun! The layers are perfect for Sunday's mid-70's temps, and I'll be perfectly relaxed and ready for Book Club in the evening. I hope everyone has a good weekend!

picnic by the lake

Friday, May 27, 2011

fill in the blank friday

I can't believe it's Friday already! This week has flown by. I'm off to see one of my friends for her birthday this weekend, eat some yummy barbecue, and *hopefully* find my phone (which I misplaced last night) before I go... anyway, on to the blanks:

.   If I could get away somewhere for the weekend I would go       Alaska, because I've never been there & it's probably going to change a lot (you know, glaciers melting, etc.), and plus it's supposed to be so beautiful in the spring   and I would bring      the hubs, who SO deserves a vacation, some binoculars to see some whales, and my my winter jacket, which has never been packed up. Stupid Chicago "spring"-- worst I can remember!   .

2.  Something I often rant about is    how messed up education is in this country, and how almost all you ever hear about it how much the teachers are to blame. Teachers seem to be the only professionals who are never given any input into decisions that are made about their lives, from curriculum to class size to length of school year to importance of standardized testing, to even their pensions (THEIR earned money), being cut, and yet it's always the teachers who "don't perform." I can't stand how few people de-value teachers, it's outrageous! (oh man, sorry, I could go all day.)

3.  One item I need to have in my fridge at all time is     milk-- the hubs and I drink tons of it, and I always need it for recipes (next week I'll share more of what I've been baking).

4.  My "life-saving" product is   sunscreen-- I've had a few bouts of skin cancer already (I'm not even thirty, people!), so I'm sort of obsessed with sunscreen. Luckily there are so many good kinds out there now; I don't have to choose between sunscreen and other face products, because it's usually built in.

5.  A friend is someone who     you can talk to after a long period of not talking, and it's like you pick up right where you left off, and it's not awkward at all. Also, if something uncomfortable needs to be said, a friend knows how to be honest with you without hurting your feelings.

6.  If I could write my own blank it would be       If I could have invented one thing, what would it be, and why?" My answer to this is odd, because I don't have one and don't think I ever will, but I'm going to say the e-reader. I think they're going to keep getting bigger and bigger, and even though they have disadvantages, they're doing a good job promoting reading as "cool." Also, I think being the sole inventor of the iPad would be pretty sweet, mostly because I would have one. :)

7.  My favorite kind of art is       hard to say. I love art a lot, even though the only kind I'm good at is the food kind, if that counts! I really love etchings and woodcuts, because their incredible detail makes up for the lack of color, and astound me with their technical complexity. What does one do when s/he makes a mistake? I also have illuminated manuscripts on the brain, because I just saw a bunch-- no one does that anymore, and they're so beautiful! I think anything made by hand is much more special and worthy of awe (and purchase-- I love etsy!)
I hope everyone has a wonderful Memorial Day weekend, and that the weather FINALLY gets warmer!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Blustery Day

It's been pouring here for hours. Someone on the news used the word "blustery," and for some reason Winnie the Pooh's Blustery Day and the big flood popped into my head. I wish I could channel Christopher Robin and  throw a "hero party" for everyone who has volunteered time, effort, and personal safety to help those whose homes are affected by the wind and floods, but I can only send good energy and gratitude their way.

 I hope you all stay dry and safe!
This clip is long, but worth it:

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

my staycation: or, i need to go on a veggie detox

I LOVE seeing friends that I haven't seen in a long time. My college roommate/best bud came to Chicago last week for four days (he called it my staycation-- I'll take that), and it was great to see him. When I see people I was close to in college or high school, we kind of revert back to our sillier, more care-free ways, you know? And also back to college eating and drinking (you know what I'm talking about): cheese, beer, and anything deep-fried are what's on the menu for the entire week. Having someone in town is a great excuse to visit all your favorite places, and try places that have been sitting on your list for ages (calories be damned). And as if blowing my diet and my, ahem, bank account, weren't enough, I had to bake too! Here's what we were up to:

In the middle of baking raspberry thumb-print sugar cookies with vanilla icing drizzle (if they didn't flatten out to hideous pancakes I would have taken a photo), I got a call that he was off the plane. Woohoo! I went to meet him at the train, and we had to grab some caffeine at Wormhole.

                                                                                  photos from Metromix

Why yes, that is a Delorean in their window. It's an 80's-themed coffee joint, and they have all kinds of paraphernalia from my childhood. Part of me would love to lend them my My Little Ponies lunchbox for their wall of lunchboxes, but I can't part with it...

Sufficiently caffeinated, it was on to Big Star for "lunch" (read: drinks, and if we felt like it, maybe a snack).

I live on this street, and trust me, Big Star never has this many tables open, especially at night-- this place has some of the best and most ridiculously strong margaritas in Chicago.

I got something strawberry-y (and then two more, which is why I don't remember what they were), and college buddy, who works in a Mexican restaurant in Manhattan and is a tequila snob aficionado got straight tequila with some lime juice. This is our tasty mess of cheese and chorizo. Oh my god do I love chorizo! Reason number one to eat straight veggies for a week.
After this I decided it was a good idea to drag him to my apartment so he could help me make this:

...a whole-wheat pizza dough with fresh mozzarella, pepperoni, and sausage. Can't have the hubs go hungry when I'm out all week ;)

I've been here a couple of times and it's pretty unremarkable, except that night was an important first for me, my friends-- it was the first time I had ever had friend pickles. They were so good, my life will never be the same!
On Wednesday we meandered around downtown Chicago, it being too late to go to the Art Institute.

                                                                (weird leggy statues)
...and ended up at Carmichael's steakhouse, a place hidden in a residential area of the Loop, where one of our other friends works. She went all out for us, giving us this seafood sampler of their appetizers-- lobster, crab cake, calimari, bacon-wrapped jumbo shrimp... it was some of the best food I'd ever eaten.

We split a steak after this, but it was all I could do to finish only most of my half (I had no trouble with my own bottle of wine, though). If you live near Chicago, and you're in the mood for an mind-blowing meal, GO GO GO to this place!

On Thursday we made a half-hearted attempt to eat a bit better, so I took him to Handlebar, an all-vegetarian restaurant on North Ave. Now, I like my meals meat-tastic, mind you, but Handlebar is no salad joint (although their salads are actually quite hearty and delicious). You should go there too :)
If you at all like pickles, you should definitely eat here-- they make their own, and their pickles are so subtly spicy and outrageously good. College buddy got a bloody mary, and it came with a fried special pickle... I about told our server I was moving in. After Handlebar we stopped at Myopic Bookstore, a humongous used bookstore that is one of the best places to lose yourself for a few hours in the city (which we promptly did). I will be so sad when we move away from walking distance!
After Myopic, we stopped for some coffee at Killer Espresso, and then headed to Floyd's pub to meet some other buddies. We had hours of laughs over the Rapture (and this velocirapture). [btw, I'm glad the world did not in fact end!]

On Friday, I was pretty spent already-- I am definitely not used to eating and drinking out this much, and I was definitely feeling it. I made some brownies and toffee-chip and pecan cookies from scratch for the hubs' game night with the boys, and met up with college buddy for a rapid-fire tour of the Art Institute. He made it with 40 minutes left til closing, so I took him to some of my favorite exhibits, and to the Modern Wing so he could see some of his favorite stuff. I'm glad I had just been there last week so I remembered my way around! At 7 we headed to the Chicago Center for Performing Arts to see my friend in her show Passing Strange. It has one weekend left, and you should go! It's about finding yourself through art and travel, and the frustrations we think we can escape by running away. My description sounds a bit cliche, but it was fresh and funny, and everyone in the show is an unbelievable singer.

I had to be up early Saturday morning, so I didn't go to the after-party, and I'm pretty sure my liver thinks that was a wise choice! I came home hoping to find the hubs and his guys still around, but all I found was this:

Which ones do you think were the cookies that I asked him to take out of the oven? Sheesh, I even set the timer for him...

Anyway, that was my staycation. Sorry this is such a monstrous post, but I hope you all got some good recommendations for eats if you ever come to Chicago. I hope everyone has a great week! Now I'm off to make a veggie burger :)

Friday, May 20, 2011

fill in the blank friday

Happy Friday, everyone! I've had a whirlwind couple of days this week-- my roommate from college is here from New York, and we've had lots of (culinary) adventures so far. I'll post about that this weekend after he leaves, I promise! And now for some blank-filling:

1.   People always tell me I look like      Scully from the X-Files. I do have red hair, but I never really saw the connection.

2.  Friends don't let friends    miss out on great opportunities (even if they're scared), and friends don't let friends' significant others mistreat them .

3.  A sunny day is perfect for     being a tourist in your own city, and reading in a park by a fountain .

4.  My favorite accessory is   an Irish trinity necklace that I got a few years ago. I wear it every day. I'm also a big scarf girl.

5.  If I could afford it I would     buy a house (or 3) in Europe-- one in London, because that's our favorite place to be, one in France, to work on my slipping language skills, and one in Italy (or maybe Greece) for the winter :) 

6.  The cure for boredom is       to bake!!  .

7.  I am currently "in like" with      Adele's music, especially when paired with a Blueberry Thrill (blueberries, gin, club soda and lemon twists-- the recipe is in June's Cooking Light magazine). 

Tonight I'm off to see my friend in a show called Passing Strange. It was written be Cee-Lo Green, and it won a bunch of awards on Broadway. My friend is an amazing singer and actress (and hilarious to boot), so I'm super excited! I hope everyone enjoys the beautiful spring weather today!

Monday, May 16, 2011

making the best of a gross "spring" weekend

If you're in the midwest, you know that the weather has been brutal the last few days-- blustery wind, rain/sleet/hail, and nearly freezing temps. I'm pretty sure Chicago only has two seasons-- we've alternated between air conditioning and heat probably four times this month. Outside activities were sort of out of the question!

On Friday, a few girls from my class and I went to the annual Northwestern University Library book sale. I love library discard sales, because I love the kinds of books people no longer want! I scored a book on textual studies and one on politics & culture in the 17th century. It's times like this that make being a huge nerd awfully convenient. :)

 And the campus is beautiful too (although it was really too cold to walk around).

Saturday was rainy and windy ALL day, but I went out to Wrigleyville to see some college friends (one of whom was my maid of honor) and have a drink before they went to the Cubs game. They were so brave, they even stayed until the game was called in the 7th inning! While they were freezing their butts off, I was busy tidying the apartment, since my father-in-law was coming. He had driven the hubs's sister and her fiance from Michigan to their new place in Memphis. They are so lucky to be in an area of Memphis that isn't flooded; my heart really goes out to everyone who has been affected by the Mississippi.

For dinner we went to Folklore, an Argentine steak house. I love Folklore and its owners' other restaurant, Tango Sur (although Folklore isn't BYO like Tango Sur). Argentinians know how to cook!

 Folklore has a beautiful interior, but the acoustics are terrible-- all you could hear was people shouting over each other. The hubs is from a small town, and his dad isn't too comfortable in the city. At one point he literally had to get up and stand outside for a minute, it was so loud! I felt pretty bad, but I'm pretty sure the bacon-wrapped scallops and meat-tastic para dos (a platter covered with 7 or 8 kinds of meat, including chorizo, steak, sweetbread, ribs, and black sausage-- my favorite) made up for the uncomfortable atmosphere.
                                                                 (photos from metromix)

On Sunday, the hubs and I saw his dad off, and headed off to the Art Institute of Chicago. I love that my teacher ID gets me into all the Chicago museums for free! I don't go as often as I'd like, but there was an exhibit I really wanted to see-- Kings, Queens & Courtiers: Art in Renaissance France. It was great-- statues, a video on chateau architecture, tapestries, and early books.

I learned that I wasn't supposed to be taking pictures inside the exhibit, but here are some of the photos I snapped before I got busted:

After seeing the main exhibit, we spotted another special exhibit that I didn't even know was there: Altered and Adorned: Using Renaissance Prints in Daily Life.
I was pretty excited-- they had prints from books of hours, woodcuts, bestiaries, and this really cool pop-up book!

It was for educational purposes; anatomy students could lift the flaps and explore the organs within.
After the exhibits, we walked around the rest of the museum for a bit....

...and after heading out to brave the sleet (again), we warmed up with oatmeal pancakes for dinner. I hope everyone has had a great weekend. Now it's time to be productive and find a summer job. Have a great Monday, and wish me luck on the job front!