Wednesday, February 23, 2011

second annual road trip

The last weekend of January was our second annual road trip to Indy to visit our friend, Tracy.  Last year's road trip was chronicled here.  Tracy lives in Indianapolis, Julie lives in Kentucky, and Susan, Nancy, and I are in Chicago.  The five of us met at Tracy's around 1:00pm, and we were drinking wine by 1:03pm.
One of the many tidbits I learned about my friends is that Nancy is a singer.  Who knew?? Not me.  Here is Nancy giving a wonderful rendition of the "Star Spangled Banner" (I only had to ask twice before she burst forth in song).
I think our dinner reservations were for 7:30 or something like that, so we had quite a while to drink wine.  So drink we did!  We drank and chatted for a few hours, then it was time to get ready for dinner, and then the required group shots.  I put the remote on my camera, and we had a mini photo shoot of ourselves.  I had to laugh when I saw the pictures, because like I said, I had a remote, so all the five of had to do was sit there, and move a bit, and make sure we were "smiling with our eyes", but so many of the pictures feature a blurry Nancy who must have thought that Tyra Banks was right there in the room taking her picture.
Nancy Julie Susan me Tracy
I think our pre-dinner wine guzzling may have gotten the best of us.  Our dinner was relatively quiet and tame.  Well, tame except for the orders of shrimp cocktail that contained a heavy dose of horse radish that had Nancy sounding like Meg Ryan in the diner scene of When Harry Met Sally and had Susan claiming that her eyebrows were tingling.
I think that next year we may have to consider staying in for dinner, that way we don't have to halt our wine consumption, and can continue our silly streak for the entire evening.

Monday, February 21, 2011

february girls dinner: sawtooth

Six of us headed to Randolph's street restaurant row to eat at Sawtooth for our February dinner.  Sawtooth is a Vietnamese restaurant, which was a first for me.  As appetizers, we ordered spring rolls, calamari, and eggplant.
The eggplant was delicious.  It just melted in your mouth.  I have never tasted eggplant like that before.
For our main course, five of us chose the seafood clay pot rice (I had it without the seafood), and Susan chose the shaking beef.
The seafood clay pot rice without the seafood was basically just rice and vegetables which I was afraid might be boring and bland, but it was very tasty, even without the seafood.  The gave us chopsticks as utensils and also one of those big ceramic spoons.  I was not about to let any of my rice go to waste, and my chopsticks were inhibiting my ability to get every last grain, so I picked up the rather large ceramic spoon and went to town on the remnants of my clay pot.  Delicious.
As I was telling Ignacio when I arrived home that evening, I sure am glad us gals go out to dinner every month, otherwise I wouldn't have a clue about the great restaurants Chicago has to offer.  As it is, I'm only aware of a tiny fraction, but maybe by the time I'm 80, I might make a dent in Chicago's restaurant scene.

Monday, February 14, 2011

another episode of: Conversations With My Mother

mom:  Hey Nat, I got a wonderful facial today.

me:  ooo, sounds good, I would love to get one too.

mom:  The lady was really good.  She said she was from Macadamia.

me:  Macadamia, you say?  I bet they have really good nuts there.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

and this is why I don't clean

I love my Ruby.  She is a great help around the house.

Shot with 8mm App from Natalie Mikolajczak on Vimeo.

I usually send Ruby the Roomba to vacuum while I get in the shower and get ready.  When I send Ruby to work, that means I have to pick up everything that is on the floor which includes my dog, Camel's, pee-pee pads.
Saturday morning, I went to the gym and got home and sent Ruby to work while I showered.  While I was in the bathroom getting ready, Camel kept coming in and looking at me.  She didn't lay down and relax like she normally does; she just kept coming in and looking at me.  I really should have known she was trying to tell me something.

Camel was trying to tell me that she went poop on the rug, and Ruby ran right through it.
Ahhhh shit.  [Oh yes, pun intended]

Yep, and this is why I don't try to clean.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Scott and Poi: a great night

Friday night, my friend, Scott, and I went to see our favorite band, Poi Dog Pondering.  I wasn't that excited about the concert.  Scott and I have seen Poi Dog many, many times together.  20? 30 shows?  I wrote about another Poi Dog experience with Scott here.  But the thing about the concerts is that they tend to start and end late, and for this 9:00pm bed-time chick, that's tough to do.
Before I continue with the story of our evening, I want to share a story about Scott and myself.

I met Scott in June of 1990.  He was my boss in my first job out of college.  Scott and I worked next to each other, and when I say right next to each other, I mean our desks touched each other.  Anyway, after working there for six months or so, Scott asked me if I wanted to go out for a drink after work.  After sitting side by side for six months, I thought for sure Scott asked me out after work so that he could tell me how he really felt about me.  He was going to tell me he loved me!!
I was nervous all afternoon.  Finally 4:45 (our quitting time) arrived, and Scott and I headed to the bar at Chili's.  We each ordered a strawberry margarita (that should have been my first clue).  We chatted, and then Scott was ready to confess his love for me.  [sound of needle screeching on the record]  Scott didn't tell me he loved me.  Nope.  Instead he told me he was gay, and that he had been with his partner close to four years (they will be celebrating 25 years together this year).  Anyway, that was the beginning of our beautiful friendship that is now over 20 years old.  Holy shit!  20 years!

So, back to the Poi concert.  Scott and I met for dinner before the show, and we really took our time because we were so used to Poi starting late, or after an opening act.  When we finally arrived at the theater, Poi had already taken the stage.  Luckily we had only missed about 30 seconds of the show.
We took our seats, and got comfortable, and that is when it hit me.  Poi Dog makes me happy.  Seeing Poi Dog with Scott makes me even happier.  I had forgotten how happy their shows make me until I was there in the thick of it.
Untitled from Natalie Mikolajczak on Vimeo.

Scott noticed that the theater had new seats and that explained why my ass was stuck in them when I went to get up!  They must have installed new seats, but much smaller chairs so that they were able to squeeze more seats in every row (that's my story, and I am sticking to it).

It was a fantabulous evening and it is always nice to be reminded what makes us happiest: favorite friends and favorite bands.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

blizzard '11 or BEST DAY EVAH!

I've been meditating on a blizzard for a few years now and I finally got my wish:  we got 20 inches of snow!  My wish was dampened for a few hours when my good friend, Scott, called me from his car Tuesday evening in a panic because he had been trapped in his car off of Lake Shore Drive for four hours*.  Once I found out he was safe, I was able to continue with my regularly scheduled blizzard celebration program.
Ignacio was his usual crazy self, woke up early Wednesday morning, and left the house at 5:45 am to walk to work.  He called an hour later to inform me he landed safely.  A couple of hours later, he walked  an hour back home.
Ignacio and I love this weather.  We live in a great location, and we can get by without a car quite easily.  Once Ignacio got home, I laced up my snow boots, and out we went on our Blizzard Adventure.  The first thing we saw was this car stuck in the middle of the street facing the wrong way.

Next, we ran into our friend, Walt, who we have been meaning to get to know better.  Walt treated us to coffee, and the three of us had a great blizzard chat.  Then, Ignacio and I headed towards the lakefront.  We just had to see Lake Shore Drive which had been shut down for close to 24 hours at that point.

Crossing Lake Shore Drive was crazy.  Normally, LSD is a mini expressway, and difficult to cross.  Today, I could have done cartwheels up and down LSD as it was still shut down. (Why in the hell didn't I do cartwheels up and down LSD?)
On the lake side of LSD, we found this bicycle.

As we approached the lake itself, I was surprised we were even allowed to get near the lake.  It was difficult to see where the road ended and the water began as everything was covered in snow.  If you looked closely, it seemed like the snow was breathing, but it was just the water moving underneath the inches of snow.
This is Ignacio pretty close to the water.  It's hard to tell where the water starts.

Then we continued south towards the Museum Campus.  Here is the Shedd Aquarium.

It was an amazing Blizzard Adventure.  It was so quiet and peaceful.  There were few cars on the road, and the city was much more quiet than usual.  The people that were out and about were just as happy as we were.  Everyone had their cameras, and who knew that so many people owned snowshoes!  

 To be honest, Ignacio and I were a bit disappointed in the amount of snow.  I was expecting (and hoping) for so much more.  The news reports say this was the 3rd largest snowfall on record.  I wasn't all that impressed.  I'm hoping that winter is still young and that there is a chance for a real blizzard.  

*Scott turned out to be a lucky one.  There were 700-900 cars stuck on Lake Shore Drive for eight hours.