Wednesday, August 25, 2010

21 x 2, 7 x 6, whatever it takes

I celebrated my 42nd birthday on August 10, and my nephew, Cooper, celebrated his 7th birthday on August 15.

I had a great birthday celebration. The Friday before my birthday, my beautiful friends, Susan, Aimee, and Jodee took me to dinner at Cibo Matto. It is a swanky place with very good food. I am just so thankful that even though I’ve known these women for over ten years, the past year has brought us so much closer, and that really is the best gift.

The Saturday before my birthday Ignacio, Jodee, Gabby, Camel, and I went to my mom’s house and my bro and his family went as well. It was a very low key day spent poolside, and it was great. It was just what I wanted: calm and easy.

On my actually birth day, Ignacio, my mom and I walked to Trattoria No. 10 for my birthday dinner, then walked to State Street for a little shopping at The Body Shop, and a little frozen yogurt for dessert.

Carter, Cooper, Gabby, and Camel

Carter, mid-trick
Ignacio and Cooper, discussing ab workouts

Jodee, Gabby, and Carter discussing the meaning of life

The Friday after my birthday, my friend Don came to stay for the night before jetting back to LA the next morning. Our old dancing school friends Jenn and Jean stopped by, and we had pizza and snacks and watched the finale of So You Think You Can Dance. Ignacio came home a little later and we started playing some dancing games on the Wii. There was nothing better than watching Ignacio get a higher score than Don whilst dancing to show tunes. Classic!!

Now for Cooper’s 7th birthday, his parents gave him a choice of having a kids’ party or going to the Bristol Renaissance Faire. My man Cooper chose the Ren Faire. We went two years ago for my 40th birthday celebration and he had a good time, and he wanted to go back. So, umm yeah, I chose to go to the Ren Faire when I turned 40, and Cooper chose it when he turned 7.

We had a blast at the Renaissance Faire; it’s really an amazing place. I laughed so hard when Tiger and Cooper were in the ring to fence one another. Tiger had to sit down since he is so much bigger than Cooper, and Cooper got the advantage of being mobile. The object was to pop the balloon on top of your opponent’s helmet with your sword. Tiger and Cooper had on so much protective gear, that you couldn’t see their faces at all. But once the first match began, Tiger starting yelling really, REALLY loud, and scared the crap out of Cooper (and the audience) and he popped Cooper’s balloon. Then entire crowd booed Tiger, it was hysterical.

Enjoy the slideshow.

Bristol Renaissance Faire 2010 from Natalie Mikolajczak on Vimeo.

Monday, August 23, 2010

August’s Dinner: Girl and The Goat

For August’s monthly dinner club, I chose Girl and The Goat. I made the reservations over a month ago (and lucky thing I did!) because the restaurant is the baby of season 4 Top Chef winner Stephanie Izard, and it is very popular.
The day of our dinner started out roughly. Like I said, I made the reservations over a month ago, and I made the reservation for 7 people having no idea how many people would actually be able to make it. There are 12 people or so in our dinner club, and every woman is assigned a month to pick dinner for the third Thursday of that month. It’s great because you can put dinner club in your calendar for the next five years because you always know when it is, and there are never 153 e-mails going back and forth asking “does this date work for you?” So the girl picks a restaurant, and sends out an e-mail a week or two in advanced with the details of the restaurant asking for a “yes” or “no”. The average turnout for a dinner club is maybe six folks, except for December’s dinner which has a gift exchange involved, and no one wants to miss that one!

Anyway….I made my reservation a month in advance because Girl and The Goat is brand spanking new, and Stephanie Izard is famous, and and and….

After I sent my e-mail to the ladies, I got 8 “yeses”. I thought, okay, fine, I told the restaurant 7, but there is often a last minute cancellation due to lack of childcare or work or or or….. and besides, what is the big deal with adding a chair if 8 it is.

Well, apparently the difference between 7 and 8 is a big freaking deal at this restaurant. I called to confirm on the day of dinner, and told them we would have 8 people instead of 7 for our 7:30 reservation. I was told that they couldn’t do 8 people until 10:45, or we could go to a nearby restaurant.

What?!?! You can’t squeeze a person in? Ahhhh shit.

I was so mad and frustrated, and panicked. How could I tell someone they couldn’t come to girls’ dinner?! I had a pit in my stomach the entire day until around 6:30 when Aimee texted to say that she couldn’t make it to dinner because of childcare.

Phew. But, poor Aimee, she missed out.

The food at Girl and The Goat is meant to be shared, sort of like tapas. We started with goat cheese bread, and went ‘girls gone wild’ from there.

We had chickpeas, cauliflowers, green beans, scallops, skate, octopus, chicken, goat pizza, crab, fries with like a ham salt, and one of each dessert (our server, Tony, called one of the desserts “where gelato meets heaven”, and heaven it was). And, we ended up, or I ended up ordering two more loaves of bread (one of which smelled like beer---yum). The girls were full. I was okay as I don’t eat meat, so I stuffed myself with the veggies, bread, dessert, and wine. Some of the gals ordered coffee, and the cream was a cow/goat milk combo which pushed the girls over the edge—they were in love the restaurant. Seriously, everything was delicious.

I was disappointed that we didn’t order the fried pig face. I had heard it was really good (not that I would have eaten it, but I wanted someone else to try it).

So, after a rocky start in which I thought one of us was going to have to sit in a high chair in the corner, we had a fantabulous time. We really laughed a lot at this dinner; I think three bottles of wine helps loosen my laugh muscles (zoinks—my laugh muscles are pretty damn strong).

*photographers note:  I am trying to learn how to shoot in 'manual' mode which means it takes a couple of tries until I can get a decent you try telling 7 women they can't dig into their food because the photographer is trying to get the perfect shot...yeah, now you understand why the shots are blurry

Wednesday, August 18, 2010


I have written about my Mondo Beyondo (a class about dreaming big) experiences here and I wanted you all to know that the next Mondo class starts August 30. I can’t think of a better way to celebrate fall and yourself than by the special treat of this class.  If I had the funds, I would give this class away as a gift to many of my friends.

I definitely plan on taking the class again at some point to remind myself of my dreams and to create new ones, as well as meet new friends.

It is very hard for me to meet/make new friends. I have a fear of social gatherings of people I don’t know well. Small talk is painful to me, thinking of things to say is difficult for me, and listening to things I’m not interested in is very much like nails on a chalkboard.

Surprisingly for me, since taking the Mondo class, I have gained a pen-pal, Holli, who lives in Kentucky and writes the Wondering Spirit, and I actually met Laura (in person!), who lives in North Carolina, and writes Laura's Mommy Journal.

Laura e-mailed me and told me she would be in Chicago for business and asked if I wanted to meet up for wine and cheese (I told her she had me at “cheese”). I told Ignacio I was going on a blind-date with someone I had met on the internet, and off I went to meet Laura at Bin 36. Believe it or not, it was painless and I had a great time! I could even say it was easy, and for me, meeting new people is anything but.

Do yourself a favor, and treat yourself to a Mondo Beyondo class. Click the button on the right to sign up and tell me all about how your life has changed at the end of five weeks.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

if I were the Bachelorette...

Last night was the finale of The Bachelorette and the final two guys had to meet the girl’s family. The entire time I was watching Ali, the bachelorette, I was chuckling and giggling as I thought about how everything would go down if I were the Bachelorette and my final two guys had to meet my family.

(for those of you living under a rock, on the show The Bachelor/Bacherlette, after 8 weeks of weeding out potential spouses from a pool of 25, the final 2 ‘candidates’ meet the Bacherlor/Bachelorette’s family so that the family may bond with the candidates and give their 2 cents as to whom the final pick should be)

On the shows I’ve seen, when the final two meet the family, it’s always a normal dinner and normal conversation, and everything seems so comfortable.

My family has always been a family of few words. We don’t say much, but I think when we do say something, it’s either important and you’d better pay attention, or it’s funny/sarcastic, and you’d better get a tough skin.

I can just see it now if I was the Bachelorette, and I brought Ignacio as one of two men to meet my family.

Take one:

Mom: You know Ignacio [obviously of Hispanic heritage], we love Mexican food, and always eat tacos and salsa.

Dad: So, after 2 months, you really think you love my daughter? Did you know she can be a real bitch sometimes?

My bro: You’ve got to be freaking kidding me…you had to come on a television show to meet a chick? What kind of loser are you?

Take two:

Mom: [crickets chirping]

Dad: [crickets chirping] I can’t believe I am forced to have a conversation with you on camera. This is ridiculous, why the hell would my daughter go on a television show? I can’t believe I had to buy new jeans for this.

My bro: [crickets chirping] Do you like Walter Payton? Yes? Cool.

I would be scared to death to bring someone to meet my family on camera. Do they have Photoshop for TV? Because my family would make me so nervous, that they would have to Photoshop the pit stains out from my underarms.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

best movie I've seen in a long, long, LONG time

The Kids Are All Right is the best movie Ignacio and I have seen in a very long time.  I wish I were a better movie reviewer so I could give the movie justice, but I'll just have to do the best I can.

The movie stars Annette Bening, Julianne Moore, and Mark Ruffalo.  Bening and Moore are lesbian mothers to a teenage son and daughter.  Ruffalo is their anonymous sperm donor.   The movie is smart, sexy, and hilarious.  During the movie, there were times that I wished I was a lesbian because they were so tender and thoughtful to one another.  And then there were times when I wished Mark Ruffalo was my man (hubba hubba).

I loved the wrinkles on Moore and Bening's faces; their laugh lines, and crow's feet.  There was such beauty in their years.  I loved the freckles on Moore's arms.  I loved the way Ruffalo rubbed his face when he was stressed.  There was just a natural way about everything that was so beautiful to me.

I also loved it when Moore said that she would like to start composting.  I thought it was hilarious because I recently told Ignacio the same thing.  I am a hippie just like the characters in the movie, and maybe that is just one element of why I fell so in love with this film.

The movie made us laugh (really loud), and it, naturally, made Ignacio cry.  And I was all like, "SHUT THE FRONT DOOR!"  (a great line from the movie)
Do yourself a favor and see this one.  It had me at "composting".