Friday, December 16, 2011

Yee Haw! December Girls’ Dinner

We chose the brand new Bar Toma for our December dinner.  Tony Mantuano from Top Chef Masters is the chef.  It’s a cute little joint with an ample bar.  It looks like it would be a fabulous spring and summer spot because it has the big windows that look like garage doors that would roll up for some al fresco dining.

We were under the impression that the restaurant didn’t take reservations (it now does), so a few of us selflessly volunteered to belly up to the bar an hour early to put our names on the list.  Jodi and I arrived around 5:45 and got started on the wine.  Jodee and Heather arrived a bit later, and then it was time for more wine and snacks!  We had calamari, potato chips (that had a yummy orange flavor), a mozzarella cheese plate (that was freaking awesome), and a margarita pizza.  Hmm, did I say snacks? 

When the rest of our party arrived, we were seated and we started on the next bottle of wine. Yee Haw!  We ordered two salads and four pizzas for the seven of us.  We thought it might be too much food because of our earlier ‘snacks’.  But, don’t you worry, we did just fine.  We had a spinach pizza, goat cheese pizza, pepperoni pizza, and another pizza with meat on it.  Now, the pizzas are much fancier than just a ‘spinach’ or ‘goat cheese’ pizza.  They were really tasty.  I think most people favored the goat cheese pizza.  Oh, goat cheese, how I love thee.
My creation
Oh wait!  I’m ahead of myself.  After we ordered our food, we started in on our yearly grab bag gift exchange.  There were some damn fine gifts on that table: fancy pampered chef goodies, awesome earrings, a wine aerator, fancy lotions and pedicure socks, fancy lipgloss, cute fingerless gloves and candle, and an infinity scarf.  I think everyone went home happy with their gift.  I know I did.  I finally own a wine aerator. 
My creation
After dinner, we had some fancy gelato and were treated to some tasty prosecco.
My creation

After dinner, someone had the great idea to belly back up to the bar, so four of us went back to the bar.  Aimee, Jodee, Beth, and I chatted and laughed and drank more wine.  I really love public transportation. I never have to worry about getting home; I just hop on the red line and it lets me off at my front door.  The thing I do have to worry about is getting to the L station after too much wine.  We said our good-byes, and Jodee and I started walking a bit so she could catch a cab, and then I continued on to the L station.  But, then I figured out, I had walked too far.  So, I turned back and I figure I probably walked about ½ mile out of my way.  The funny thing is, is that I didn’t even remember about it until the next morning when Jodee texted me. That’s what happens when I try to keep up with Jodee at the bar.

Anyway, it was a REALLY fun evening, and those pizzas rocked!  I will definitely be back to Bar Toma.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

I'm Dog-Tired

I am dog-sitting for cute Gabby.  That means there are two cats and two dogs in my small condo this week.  It also means I sleep in the back bedroom on a twin trundle bed close to the floor so that the dogs are able to jump up on the bed without yelling (barking) at me for assistance.
Last night, as I was trying to fall asleep, I was wishing how I could have someone take a picture of me with my menagerie of animals.  But, if I were to ask Ignacio to come in to take a picture of the spectacle, most of the animals would jump out of bed, and then it would take me another 20 minutes to calm everyone down, and get cozy in bed.
So, I did the next best thing.  I hired an artist to draw their best rendition of my nighttime follies.
 So, there is Gabby, the dog, at my head (it is cold in the bedroom), Sweetness, the cat, next to the pillow, Camel, the dog, trying her best to spoon with me.
Yes, my feet hang off of the bed.
No, I dare not move the entire night, lest I wake someone up, and then they all get up, and want to pee or want to play or want treats or want a belly rub.  I stay as still as possible the entire night.
Yes, I wake up stiff and achy. 
No, I haven’t made it to the gym this week.
Yes, I am still waiting for the fourth animal to join us.

(I am really liking how thin the artist depicted me)

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Who Me?

I walked in the door from the gym this morning and my dog, Camel, came to greet me like normal, but there was something really big in her mouth.

When I go to the gym, I don’t wear my contacts, so I could not make out what Camel had in her mouth.  So, I went in for a closer look, and she had a big ass piece of bread in her mouth!

Here is what I think went down: Piccolo (one of the cats) jumped on the counter in an attempt to make her and Sweetness (the other cat) a picnic lunch.  In Piccolo’s frustration at her inability to get the twist-tie off of the bread, she knocked the entire package to the floor so that Camel would do the grunt work (and take the blame should they get caught in the act).  Camel obliged and went at that twist-tie and package. 
By the time I arrived, the bread bag had a nice hole in it, and I did find the twist-tie in the carpet.  Piccolo must have taken off when she heard my key in the door, and poor Camel just got caught in the act.
Who me?

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

November's Dinner: Bistro Voltaire

For our November dinner, Nancy chose Bistro Voltaire.

I am a Francophile and I love all things French: the food, the language, the country, etc.  So, I was excited to go to this restaurant.  It is right down the street from where I took French class at the Alliance Francaise.

It is a very French joint.  The hostess is an elegant French woman and our waiter was a French man.  I tried out my limited French skills, with limited success, but that is okay because I got to speak French!

The food was amazing.  I had the french onion soup and a french style gnocchi; both were fabulous.  Other dishes that were fabulous were: the coq au vin, the boeuf with mushrooms, the puff pastry, and the mussels.

The food was absolutely delicious.  I will definitely be back there.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Lofts, Hot Chocolate, and Sports Bras

This past weekend was my neighborhood’s annual Loft Walk. I live in the Printers Row/South Loop neighborhood of Chicago and the old printing houses have become some magnificent lofts, and once a year, they are shown off. My cousin, Melissa, just moved back to Chicago after a 30+ year hiatus in warm climates, so I invited her on the Loft Walk (all the while really hoping she moves to my ‘hood). There were five of us in our group, Ignacio, his son, my mom, Melissa and me. We saw 15 lofts. They were amazing, and one even brought tears to my eyes. It’s like a nosey Rosie’s dream to be able to walk into peoples’ homes and snoop all around and to see how they’ve rehabbed and decorated. The views in the place on Michigan Avenue were amaze-balls! I told the owner she might have to kick me out at the end of the day because I was never leaving.

While we were on the walk, I kept seeing people in these jackets:

(thank you, Sheree!!)

You see, that morning, there was the annual Hot Chocolate 5K/15K run; a run that ends with hot chocolate and chocolate fondue. Chocolate. Chocolate!! A run that ends in chocolate. A novel idea that just might make me get off my butt and RUN!

I told Melissa that I wanted to run the Hot Chocolate race next year. That is funny for a lot of reasons. The main reason: I can’t even *run* across the street. I have stopped and started the Couch to 5K app on my iPhone more times than I care to admit. But I get these crazy ideas in my mind, and become obsessed. Just because I become obsessed, it doesn’t mean I follow through.

Monday morning, I went to the gym to start (yet again) Week 1 Day 1 of Couch to 5K. I wore my heavy duty sports bra that I finally found in the back of my drawer. I need extra control up top when I ‘run’ (just saying “when I run” makes me giggle). So, heavy duty sports bra (I think I should name her “Madge”) and I hit the treadmill. Madge is one tight bitch! Yeah, Madge keeps me from giving myself a black eye, but she also makes it tough to breathe. I need to weigh my options here: black eye vs. ability to breathe while ‘running’ (I’m giggling again).

I got a cold that evening when I got home from work. I blame running. Madge and I haven’t been back to the gym since. I have a year to prepare to run a 15K. I don’t have high hopes for Madge and I to actually complete 15Ks. I might bronze Madge if I were to even complete 5Ks. I’m already thinking about the possibilities for next year’s Hot Chocolate race: pay the entry fee and just meet everyone at the finish line and indulge in the chocolate fondue, all the while wearing my KICK ASS HOT CHOCOLATE JACKET.

Friday, October 28, 2011

The only good thing is that it’s Friday

I prepared my elixir early this morning. I made two chai tea lattes and put them in the freezer so I could pour them into my sippy cup before I left for work. Wouldn’t you know it, I left my sippy cup on the counter, and now I have no morning elixir.

Ever wear something more than once before you wash it? That’s the name of the game for me. I put a sweater on this morning, and when I got to work, I saw that there is melted chocolate on the sleeve. You know how that happens, don’t you? Yup, you’re eating a dark chocolate bar after dinner, and the little slivers of chocolate sometimes break off into your lap (or sleeve). You try to brush all of the crumbs/slivers off, but sometimes there is a rogue sliver of chocolate, that when it melts, it becomes a huge chocolate mess on the sleeve of your sweater.

And last, but not least, I forgot to put on freaking deodorant before I left the house.

It’s one of those things where as I am leaving the condo and closing the door, I say to myself “Am I forgetting anything?” And I answer, “What could you possibly forget? You’re golden, woman!”

Yeah, I’m so golden that my pits stink, and I dying for some chai tea latte.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Is this heaven? No, it's Little Compton

Is this heaven? No, it’s Little Compton

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I have just returned from a fabulous weekend getaway with 7 other women. This is where we stayed:
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We rented an oceanfront house in Rhode Island, and had the time of our lives. As you can see, the house is A-mazing. There were six fantastic bedrooms, and we estimated about 7,000 square feet of space. Sitting on the deck was one of my favorite things to do. The sound of the ocean is intoxicating.

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Our first night, the eight of us sat around in our pajamas drinking wine and eating. Tracy and I really wanted to play charades, but no one else was really game. We decided to split into two teams, and Tracy and I would do all of the acting, and our respective teams only had to do the guessing. Well, guess what happened? The girls saw how much fun it was, and almost everyone ended up participating.

We also had a little mishap with the fireplace and set the fire alarm off; the owner of the house and to come and rescue us. While he was there, we learned that Richard Gere has stayed in that house. Julie is now able to say that she and Richard Gere have slept in the same bed.

These are the empties from night #1.

We kept a notebook of quotes over the weekend. No, they weren’t inspirational quotes or anything like that. Our notebook was filled with the silly shit that came out of our mouths all weekend long. With a bunch of silly girls, and a lot of wine, I laughed my ass off this weekend.
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On Friday, some of us went to the spa, some went to the winery, and some just stayed at home and enjoyed the house. That evening, we had reservations for a fancy restaurant, and Susan gave a beautiful toast that had most of us tearing up.
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Saturday, we drove into Newport for sightseeing and a bit of shopping. Saturday night was our night to cook dinner. We were paired up, and each pair was to prepare a course. Poor Aimee got stuck with me for the dessert course. I was great a holding the hair out of her face, but other than that, I was not much help in the kitchen. Actually, I was rocking it in the kitchen. Anytime someone needed something from a high cabinet, I was all over it! They would have been lost in the kitchen without me.

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Our table was beautifully decorated with the empty wine bottles from our previous evenings.
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After dinner, we went upstairs to the deck and had a champagne toast by the fire.
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Sunday morning, a few of the girls had to wake up REALLY early to get to the airport. The rest of us had a leisurely morning, and were very sad to leave our house.

It doesn’t get much better than this. I can definitely say it was a trip of a lifetime.
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Monday, October 3, 2011

Monday, Monday

It’s only 9am, and I feel like I’ve been through the ringer. I woke up a little bit late this morning, so that meant only a 20 minute workout. Well, that’s fine, it’s better than nothing, right? I go to the bathroom, flush, and out comes all kinds of water. I kind of stand there in amazement: Wow, I’ve never seen water this deep outside of the bathtub before. By this time, my feet are wet, and I grab the plunger and get to work. The toilet flushes successfully, but the damage is already done. There’s a lot of water on the bathroom floor. I go to the closet to grab the rags and realize, shit, all that purging of stuff I didn’t need meant I threw away a lot of old towels and rags. Grrrrrr. I do the best with what I can find, and all the while yelling at the dog that now is not the time and place to play tug-o-war with these wet pee-pee towels. I call Ignacio at work and ask him if he took a hell of a dump this morning, and I can almost see him pumping out his chest, “Yes! Yes, I did.” Well, that explains why the toilet didn’t flush.

I just want to shower so I can wash my wet feet and get some shoes on before I clean the rest of the mess. Now I’m thinking I can stop at Target before work because I’m running early, and I’m feeling a little under the weather, and I really need some Emergen-C.

I finish getting ready, throw all the wet towels in the tub (I’ll go down to the laundry room after work to wash them all), I send out Ruby the Roomba to vacuum while I am doing my thing. Yes! The house is shaping up (other than a pile of soaking wet pee pee towels in the bathtub).

I am ready to leave; I just need to make my chai green tea with honey into my travel mug before I go. I really need a big one this morning because of how ‘crappy’ the morning has been. Ahhh shit, there is only ONE of my very favorite K-cups of chai green tea left. Ok well, this one is going to make feel warm and cozy once I get to work.

My purse is ready; I put my travel mug filled with my morning elixir into my ‘other’ bag. (The ‘other’ bag contains a couple of journals, mail to sort through, knitting projects, books, etc. Yes, the thing weighs a ton). I make it to the hallway and am ready to turn the doorknob, and I feel that my foot is wet again. The feeling of wet feet is so familiar from the bathroom incident. I swear my brain is working in slow motion today. I look down, and SON OF A BITCH! My travel mug was turned to “open” and my precious morning elixir has spilled all over my finish knitting projects, my mail, my books, my moleskin journal, my to-do journal, my Christmas gift and New Years resolution journal. Seriously? What does all of this spilt shit mean?

I don’t even have the money to buy a coke from the machine today to make up for my morning elixir. I’ve already stolen $1 out of the F-box for my weekly lottery ticket purchase. (Ignacio and I have started an F-box. We are trying to stop saying the “F” word, and whoever says it has to put a dollar in the F-box).

I’ve made it to work and have no morning elixir and I feel like crap. I wasn’t able to purchase the Emergen-C. I just looked in my drawers and found a bottle of DayQuil. There’s a fourth of a bottle left. Maybe if I take the whole bottle, I can just pass out for awhile and forget this morning ever happened. But then again, it’s freaking DayQuil, not NightQuil.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

September Girls' Dinner

I chose Piccolo Sogno for our September dinner. It was chosen based on its fabulous outdoor patio. I made the reservation way in advance to ensure our seating on the patio. Unfortunately, there were a bunch of last minute cancellations, and we were seated inside. I’m sure some of the girls were relieved because it was a bit chilly that evening, but the patio was still packed, and I’m sure the heaters made the patio feel downright cozy.

Susan and Aimee
me and Heather
Susan and I ordered the halibut, and it was delicious. Aimee had the Cornish hen, and Heather had the ahi seared tuna.  Here is a photo of my dessert:

Uh huh, it happened again. The pull of chocolate is so strong, and I can’t wait to dig in, that I totally neglect to take a picture of it. As you can see, that shit was A-mazing.

Monday, September 19, 2011

This shit only happens to me

Every year at work, I get audited by an outside auditor. The audit takes place at our corporate office and because I am offsite, I have to send a lot of documents to the main office. My general manager (we’ll call him Bert) brings all the documents to the main office for my accounting boss (we’ll call him Ernie) to handle and give to the auditors.

There was a big box of documents that needed to be at the main office so the audit could get underway. Bert was going to the main office to deliver the large box, as well as some other envelopes for other peoples at the main office. Because the box was large, Bert put the additional envelopes inside the audit box so it would be easier to carry. When Bert gave the box to Ernie, Bert informed Ernie that there were other envelopes in the box. Ernie was either was too busy or forgot to take the envelopes out. Ernie delivered the entire box to the auditors.

Ernie also runs our office football pool. Since I am offsite, I pay Ernie for the entire season up front. Being the jokester I am I always try to be clever with my football pools; even with sending the money. So, on the envelope that contained the football pool money, I so cleverly wrote: HUSH MONEY.

Let me remind you about the point in the story where I said Ernie forgot to take the envelopes out of the box! The auditors got EVERYTHING in the box, including an envelope labeled HUSH MONEY.

Bert got a call from the auditors saying their big guy needed to talk to him. Ernie and I were shitting our pants. I was so hoping that this story would end up in a hilarious blog entry rather than the unemployment line.

So, this is a hilarious blog entry, right?

I swear this shit only happens to me.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Augusts' Girls Dinner

We headed to the river for Augusts’ dinner. Jodee chose Bridge House Pub for our dinner, and it was a beautiful evening with perfect weather and perfect sightseeing right on the river.

The five of us were not very original; there were four orders of halibut, and one order of grilled cheese. The halibut was hit, as was the grilled cheese.
What a great view of the city. Instead of foot traffic, there is all kinds of boat traffic: kayaks, tour boats, leisure boats, you name it!

Friday, September 2, 2011

Football Time!

I am so happy it is football season. Baseball is painfully boring, and I don’t enjoy watching it. My nephews are in baseball, wrestling, and football. Praise baby jeebus baseball is over.

Last weekend, I attended my nephews’ football games. Cooper played on Saturday, and I also got to watch my bro coach.
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Coach Tiger
Cooper came so close to making a touchdown. I’ll be so excited when he makes his first one.
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Cooper #33

On Sunday, I went to Carter’s very first game, and he played center most of the game. At the end of the game, he finally got to run the ball.
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run, Carter, run

This is so terrible, but the biggest cheer that came from me was for the other team. The other team had a girl! Her name was Sophia, and she scored their first touchdown. I would have loved to play football when I was little.
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the girl scores first!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

birthday weekend

Jodee, Susan and I went to Davanti Enoteca for dinner the Friday before my birthday. We ate upstairs on the patio. It was lovely and delicious, and I got presents! After dinner, we walked across the street for more libations, and the next morning I woke up with a bit of a hangover, and I didn’t even realize I was drunk the night before. I guess that is what happens when you get old.
my arms are so long, I can take my own group pictures
The next day, the three of us travelled to the new casino that opened in the suburbs. Our plan was to have dinner in one of their four restaurants, then hit it big, and walk out millionaires. Well, the first problem was that the restaurants were really tiny. I think we waited two hours to get into the fanciest joint. It was Hugo’s Frog Bar. Oh my, what a comedy of errors. We were so hungry by the time we were seated; we gorged ourselves on bread and soup. Oddly enough, we all ordered salads as our main course. Well, my salad took three times for them to get it right. THREE TIMES! For a salad! Susan didn’t like the peppercorn steak on her salad; it was too peppercorn-y. Jodee and I both felt that our salads didn’t have much taste. And seriously, three tries to get a salad right. Come on!! (I won’t even get into the story about the salad dressing...OY!) We started to get the giggles.

 I thought they might be able to redeem themselves with a good dose of chocolate, so I ordered the chocolate cake. I spotted the server first. She was walking out with the cake, and I kinda yelled, “holy shit!” The entire joint turned to look at us, and there were the three of us with a slice of cake as big as my ass. It was like the opening of the Flintstones when the slab of meat causes Fred’s car to topple over. The cake was that big. We started laughing so hard, we couldn’t control it. The entire dinner was such a comedy of errors. It was so bad that it was fantastic.
tyring to show that it is bigger than my hand

the cake is bigger than a purse!

Needless, I dropped a boatload of money on the stupid slot machines, and did not hit it big. The only thing that was big was that big ass piece of cake.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

july girls' dinner

Ummm…helllooo? As I am getting ready to write about August girls’ dinner, I realized I never wrote about July’s dinner. Seriously, wtf? What is my problem? No clue. I can’t even think of one excuse.

For July’s dinner, we headed to the Logan Square neighborhood to Dunlay’s on the Square. Our goal is dine outdoors for as many months as possible. So, Susan chose this restaurant for their outdoor space. It just so happens that on the particular day, it was hot as hell (literally, the devil met me at the door), so we had to eat inside and it was still that hot inside.
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There were only four of us in attendance, and one of our diners was my cousin, Melissa visiting town from the Dominican Republic. Because I am so damn late with the post, I have no freaking clue what we ate. The only thing I can recall is that Melissa was in heaven with the beet salad.
july's food
I think I need to give Dunlay’s another chance because the weather really had an effect on the evening.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Northerly Island

Northerly Island is a beautiful secret. Ignacio and I love to bike ride through the trails. It’s prairie, it’s lakefront, it’s cityscape, it’s magical.

I can’t remember how many years ago, but Northerly Island used to be an airport called Miegs Field; a small airport in downtown Chicago, right on the lakefront. Mayor Daley fought for years to shut it down. One day, in the middle of the night, Mayor Daley had huge “x’s” bulldozed onto the runway. No one could land or takeoff the following day. Miegs Field was done. It was so secret mission like, and for some reason, the whole episode just cracked me up. The Mayor then had Miegs Field turned into this sort of park.
There is also a small music venue at the beginning of the park. It’s an amazing venue, with the lake behind you, and the skyline in front of you. We’ve seen Chicago and the Doobie Brothers there more than once. Now, that concert, in that venue, brought me to my knees. “Saturday, in the park…..”